21 September 2012

A Test Knit and A Chance With A Spinning Wheel: Part III

Hello there! It's Friday again and that means it's time for some fibre arts fun. Before I continue the story of my spinning adventure I want to show you a small project I just completed, it's a test knit of a new pattern from the talented Shui Kuen Kozinsky. I love Shui Kuen's designs, to me they are poetic and each tells a story of romance, nature or a reminiscent of the bygone years. I was chilling out on Ravelry one day and saw the call for test knitters for the Gentle Beauty Cowl, both the name and design spoke to me so I put my hand up and got started straight away, and here is the finished piece:

It took me six days to complete and only used less than 40g of kid mohair blend in lace weight. The grafting was a little tricky in mohair but a little uneveness is hardly noticeable in this yarn. The design is really simple yet elegant (tick all the boxes for me!), I think it would make a wonderful gift or I might just keep it for myself :) ... In case anyone's interested, the pattern is on sale at half price until November 15th and there is a KAL in the Fans of SK Kozinsky group.

OK, now about spinning! In this week's lesson we learnt about different types of fibre, if you are a seasoned knitter/crocheter you will already know that there are animal fibres and plant fibres. From a dying perspective the fibres are categorized in protein, cellulose and manufactured, we were told to pay particular attention to these as each type takes to the dye differently. Talking about dying, I resolved my last week's dilemma of whether to dye my lovely first handspun - I decided to keep that skein as it is but I spun another one with the stained fleece to use for the dying practice in the next class. Thank you all for your advice and suggestions, as it turned out it wasn't just me, everyone had the same problem. Apparently that fleece was donated to the Guild and if it was sold commercially the stained bits would have been removed.

We had a lot of fun in class experimenting with different fibres: alpaca, cashmere, silk, bamboo, soy... There are so many possibilities one could spin, it's mind boggling but very exciting! Things I learnt from this class:
  • Alpaca fibre is hair, not fleece, hence it's non-greasy.
  • Angora is harvested by brushing the rabbits everyday.
  • Tussah silk is from wild silkworms whilst mulberry silk is from domestic silkworms. 
  • A silk hankie is not something you blow your nose on ;)
  • Bamboo breathes easily and has deodorizing properties (perfect for socks!!).
  • Possums are culled for their fur, they are considered pests in New Zealand. 

This is a mini skein I spun using some practice fibre I got from the class, it's Corriedale Romney cross, both are natural colours. When I was plying I watched the two colours came together to make the new yarn, it reminded me of the book I just finished: Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. This is not the sort of books I normally go for, but it's the book of the month from my book club and I am so glad I read it.

In the book an (quite) ordinary young man called Richard Mayhew helped a fallen young girl out of kindness in a London street, unbeknown to him his actions set certain things in motion and got him inadvertently involved in a world he never knew existed: the London Below. Eventually he teamed up with the girl he helped, who was on a quest of her own, and began his journey of finding his way back to his old life in the London Above. Neil Gaiman is a master story teller, his unequivocal English sense of humour gave me giggles and I found myself feeling quite nostalgic for London: the long underground passageway between Monument and Bank stations (I used to walk that passage quite often), the announcement in the Tube stations "Mind the Gap", Earls Court, the British Museum, and even the occasional rats one sees next to the underground tracks...  all the familiar sites of London took on new meanings in the book, you recognised the names but it's not the London as you know it,  yet somehow the human tragedies - betrayal, revenge, honour, bravery, loyalty, love... are just as real in the world Below as in the world Above.

Well, that's pretty much my week wrapped up. Thanks for dropping by, there is more fibre arts fun at Wisdom Begins in Wonder. Indulge your creative side and join the party!


  1. That cowl is lovely and it looks like your class was very educational.

    One thing, Alpaca is not hair. I'm not sure what your instructor's background is with the fiber but as someone who breeds them, raises them for their fleece and also sorts fiber for production for other farms, I can tell you that it is fleece. Just like Angora, Lincoln, etc, it has different characteristics from "standard wool" especially because it doesn't have lanolin but that does not make it hair.

    1. Thank you for the clarification!! I'm so glad I have you here to provide this knowledge, nothing like getting it from someone who's really in the know :D

  2. Nice looking yarn for a newbie spinner! Ah yes, the toils of alpaca fiber. I think most of us breeders just prefer to call it "fiber", it's definitely not a wool and we do consider it to be a "fleece" ... I personally am not picky as to what people call my alpaca as long as they aren't calling them Emu's LOL.

  3. I love that cowl! I'm surprised it only took you six days to knit it, looks like a pretty good sized project. You are speedy!

    Your books sounds interesting. Sometimes I'd read a book or magazine article for the nostalgia. Yesterday I bumped into someone graduated from 北师大附中. Nothing like being able to recall the same places when I'm away for so long. Need to plan a trip back!

  4. What a soft and light cowl! Yes...possum fur is supposed to be lovely mixed with wool for felting or knitted up. The shaft of each hair is hollow, so it is supposed to trap heat and make very warm garments!