30 November 2012

The Beginning of a Sweater ....

Last week I told you about my visit to a sheep farm and the fleece I bought to make a jumper for the old man, this week I can report that I had started the long arduous process of making that sweater. I say arduous not because it's really that hard but the reality presents various difficulties...  The concept is easy right? First you spin some yarn, then you knit the sweater. Well that's the idea, but as soon as I started spinning, no, as soon as I was about to start spinning I realised that I had some decisions to make.

First of, since I started spinning two months ago my yarn has got progressively thinner and thinner, to the point that I was spinning lace weight pretty much all the time. I have no intention of making a man's sweater in lace weight yarn, or even finger weight yarn. But if I were to have at least double knit weight yarn with my regular lace weight handspun I would have to make it into a 8 ply, and that would be very time consuming and tedious. Also, the fleece/wool has a shorter staple than the corriedale and BFL I have been using and it's really quite fine, therefore making it a little hard to spin fine yarn (for me anyway). So I thought I would try a semi woollen or semi worsted approach in the hope that a) I would get a thicker yarn; b) it would be quicker to spin. So now I have a plan.

Secondly, I needed to decide whether I wanted to spin in the grease or to scour it first. Since the fleece is a coated one and there is hardly any VM,  my lazy streak kicked in and I started with spinning in the grease. But somehow this fleece is a bit too greasy for me, so I scoured it. And because it's so fine it matted (not felted thank goodness!) in the scouring process, therefore I had to card it rather than just flick it before I could spin. One thing led to another and before I knew it I was making rolags, which turned out to be perfect for my purpose! It's all part of the plan of course, ahem....
There you have it, in the picture above from top left to bottom are the steps I've been through this week: scoured fleece, card it into rolags, spun yarn (semi worsted & N-plied) and a swatch! Yes, you are not seeing things, I did make a swatch. I spun this sample mini skein to check whether it's doable before I start on the mass production, and it seems to have worked. I'm pleased with the navajo ply which gave the yarn some body, but my yarn is not consistent as you can see from the swatch, the bottom part is wider than the top part, that's because that length of yarn is thicker. Keeping it consistent is going to be a battle of wills between my fingers and my brain!

I also started a new project this week, well I really didn't have a choice if I were to complete the International Seater-a-Month Dodecathon 2012 (IntSweModo2012) challenge. Whatever possessed me to take up the challenge is now back to haunt me as we head into the last month of the year and I am still two sweaters short!!

Project Name: Fern Amiga Cardigan, project page here
Pattern: Amiga by Mags Kandis, free from Knitty spring + summer 2011
Yarn:  Fern by Moda Vera in pink colourways
Needles: 5mm circular
Although it's officially summer tomorrow you can never be sure with Melbourne's weather, for example the mercury hit 39C degrees (that's 102F for you folks from North America) yesterday, down to 24C today and will be lower still tomorrow, so a cardigan is always useful. Just hope I can get it finished in time, and then there's the matter of one more!!

Thanks for dropping by, there is more fibre arts fun at Wisdom Begins in Wonder. Indulge your creative side and join the party! 

23 November 2012

Baa baa black sheep ...

I visited a sheep farm with my spinning friend Deb on Monday, it is a small farm in the Macedon Ranges called Fairfield Finns. They have around 130 sheep and specialise in Finn sheep and Finn crosses. The owner Maureen is a lovely lady who took us to the field to meet her flock which is guarded by two gorgeous looking alpacas, some of her sheep are coated so the fleeces from these sheep are nice and clean. She also took us to the wool shed where she stores her fleeces, as it's spring in Melbourne her sheep have just been shorn. She has all these fleeces hanging up in pillow cases (to let them breath and to prevent moths) as you can see here:
Maureen is very organised, every pillow case has a label with the breed of sheep, weight of fleece, colour(s), staple length, price and a code to indicate which sheep it's from. We were encouraged to look around and spread out the fleece on a table if we saw something that we might be interested. Maureen insisted that we should check out the whole fleece and feel it before we made a decision, but making a decision was the hardest part because all her fleeces were just so gorgeous, it was really hard to choose from. I'm sure if we were able, physically and financially, Deb and I would have gladly taken a lot more! In the end Deb chose seven and I chose six, mine were three coloured and three white. I won't bore you with photos of bags of wool but I would like to show just one:
I got two bags of this lovely black fleece, both from the same sheep and totaling 1.7kg. Maureen was disappointed with the brown tips as the fleece came from a coated sheep, she thought that the coat would prevent the sun bleaching the tips. But I love it! I think once spun up it's going to be beautiful. My plan is to make a jumper for the old man, I don't often knit jumpers for him because, well, men's jumpers take too long to make. But he's turning 50 (shhh!) in a year's time so I thought I'd make him one with my handspun. I don't know how long it will take but at least I have a head start :)

Other than my little fleece hunting adventure life ticks along, but this week I was reminded of something important by my little man Elli. I was experimenting with dyeing (of course!) and I thought I'd try a semi solid effect, and I followed the instructions from Teach Yourself Visually Hand-Dyeing by Barbara Parry, which involves making up the dye at a certain temperature and dip the prepared yarn in the dye bath to allow certain colours to strike first before simmering it. Sounds easy enough but my yarn didn't come out as I envisioned, it came out all uneven with light and dark patches...
 ... so I was grumbling to myself when Elli said to me: "Be happy with what you have Mummy, because we're lucky." So we are, my dear boy, so we are! On that note, I wish you all good day and have a nice weekend!

Thanks for dropping by, there is more fibre arts fun at Wisdom Begins in Wonder. Indulge your creative side and join the party!

16 November 2012

Paris in Melbourne Finale, and Spinning With Friends :)

My Paris in Melbourne Tunic didn't make it to my last week's post but here it is now :)
I am very pleased with the result, the decision to use smaller hook for shaping instead of following the instructions paid dividends, I much prefer it this way. The only problem I found after wearing is that the neck opening is a bit too wide, it became "off shoulder" by the end of the day, so I might run a round of slip stitch to bring it in a bit. It is very light weight and I can see a lot of use out of this :D Project page here.

Today I had a fun day spinning with a couple of ladies from my spinning class, we all have come a long way since that first day in class when we struggled to coordinate our hands and feet while cursing the lumps and bumps that went into our yarn. It was wonderful to just spinning away and chatting about all things in our lives, from children to husbands, from food to fashion, and of course about fibre! The conversations flowed easily accompanied by the soothing whirling sound of our wheels, it was such a shame when 3 o'clock came and I had to chuck everyone out so that I could do  the school pick up. But there is always next time :)

I've been spinning a BFL roving in Humbug and I just love the natural colours of the wool :)

Thanks for dropping by, there is more fibre arts fun at Wisdom Begins in Wonder. Indulge your creative side and join the party!

09 November 2012

I dream of Monet

In this week's post I had hoped that I would be able to report that my Paris in Melbourne tunic was finished, unfortunately that was not the case. But I'm almost there, (most) definitely next Friday...

I am rather pleased with myself on my recent dyeing and carding experience though. Remember when I first started spinning I had some bright blue fibre on a spindle? Well, my spindle spinning hasn't improved much since then because I got completely obsessed with the spinning wheel, and I used some of that blue fibre and some silk hankie to spin up this. But I still had some left over that I wasn't sure what to do with, then I got some sample fibre in a jade marble colourway which was also too little to spin on its own, apart from that there was still a handful of scoured corriedale locks left from my spinning class... and all these little bits of fibre just sitting there looking at me as if to say "Come on, you've got to do something!" So I did, first I over dyed the blue fibre with some yellow food dye to match the jade marble, then I dyed the corriedale locks with blue food dye, and I carded all three together:
I really am quite pleased with the result, the colours blend well together and they remind me of Monet's Waterlilies. I can't wait to see the spun up yarn!

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02 November 2012

A Weekly Update :)

Hello there! Thanks for visiting me on this fine Friday :)  It has been a good week in the fibre world, I was having so much fun that I nearly forgot to write this post! So without further ado I will give you a quick run down of this week's happenings ...

My Paris in Melbourne tunic is progressing steadily, I've done the yoke and now working towards the bottom hem. I'm rather liking the colour variation so far.

Hubby is pestering me for socks again so I started a pair for him, project page here.

Pattern: Simple Skyp Socks by Adrienne Ku
Yarn: Vera Moda Noir (I have tons of this yarn in stash, went a bit crazy in the sale one day!)
Needles: 2.75mm circular
Cast on: 29 October 2012
Mod: Making the socks toe-up instead of top-down, I'm partial to toe-up socks :)

Most of my knitting is done in the car these days while waiting around for kids, even the update photos were taken in the car!

I haven't mentioned spinning in the last couple of posts but I'm still spinning everyday, not fancy stuff, just practicing making even yarn and I taught myself to Navajo ply which is really cool. I'm also learning to blend fibre and making my own batts, most of my fibre supply is in ecru/undyed natural state because I want to experiment with dyeing (also I have a limited budget :)). My spinning pleasure this week has got to be joining a spinning group and catching up with the ladies from my spinning class, it's so much more fun to spin with friends!

Now what have you been up to this week? :)

Thanks for dropping by, there is more fibre arts fun at Wisdom Begins in Wonder. Indulge your creative side and join the party!