After a long hiatus from my wheel, I was inspired to get back to it by this:

The Painted Sheep alpaca/merino/silk fiber in Dublin Lake

It’s alpaca/merino/silk fiber in Dublin Lake from Kris, The Painted Sheep. Absolutely yummylicious fiber, and beautiful colors! It was wonderful and very easy to spin.  I managed to get the whole 4oz of singles on the bobbin.

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I wound it into a center-pull ball.

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And here it is as a 2-ply. I was lazy and didn’t measure the wpi, but it is worsted-ish.

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Skeined up!

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Up close. I love how the colors blended together.

2-ply

I got about 110 yards. I think it would make a nice scarf.

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Yesterday was my sister Pat’s birthday, and I gave her the fingerless mitts I knit out of the first yarn I spun on my wheel, which I have been keeping secret. They can now be revealed!

Pat wearing handspun fingerless mitts!

  • Pattern: Lace Mitts from Too Much Wool
  • Yarn: My handspun from Spunky Eclectic BFL in Mahogany, 2-ply, 15 wpi
  • Needles: Bryspun circular size 4
  • Gauge: 5 stitches per inch in stockinette
  • Mods: Changed yarnovers to M1’s for slightly warmer mitts, changed stitch count to 36 around, used Ann Budd’s “Handy Book of Patterns” for thumb gusset structure

The yarn was somewhat thick and thin, and underspun in places but knit up beautifully. I finished them on 11/9/07, and as expected, they are fraternal in terms of the color changes. I did take out some sections of yarn that were glaringly different and would make them look unrelated rather than fraternal.. And the thumb is longer on the second one than on the first. I always have trouble getting pairs of things to match exactly when I don’t knit them at the same time..

As you can see in the picture, she likes them! I thought they’d be good for cold New England evenings when she has to do a lot of computer work. Here they are close up.

Finished handspun mitts!

I also gave her Woolpets needle felting kits that I got from The Loopy Ewe. One bunny and one sleepy sheep, which we’ll do over the holiday break. Here she is with her hubby Rob, me, and her kitty cat, Ghirardelli aka Sweetpea.

Pat with Woolpet gifts

Happy birthday, sister!

The additional superwash merino fiber that Amy of Spunky Eclectic dyed for me arrived today! Can you believe it took less than a week?  She titled it cleverly, “special brown.” 🙂

8oz Spunky Eclectic

In my previous post about the Dinosaur Surprise Jacket, I had said I’d stop knitting to wait for a brown stripe, but I did get a little impatient and knitted two more rows. Here it is with the predrafted “special brown” fiber. I think it will go together nicely.

Predrafted roving with the Dinosaur Surprise Jacket

I was so excited I spun up two bobbins of singles today..

Singles on the bobbin

then plied up two skeins of yarn. I think I managed the get the wpi roughly the same.

2-ply sort of bulky weight

They are washed and hanging to dry now. Hopefully they’ll be dry by tomorrow so I can continue knitting!

As soon as my yarn was dry, I wound my Dinosaur handspun into center-pull balls.

Dinosaur wound up for knitting

Here you can see all of the colors.

Handspun Dinosaur!

I swatched it for the Baby Surprise Jacket and got 14 stitches/4″ with 10.5 needles, and a nice fabric. With the smaller needles and all that garter stitch, I would have gotten body armor. Hopefully, it will come out the right size.

Dinosaur swatch

I realize that is a very small swatch, but I felt I had to be stingy with my handspun, and I wanted my cast-on edge to have brownish hues, which came up at that point! I cast on with a size 11 needle using the cable cast-on, which allowed me to pull it snug and neat without worrying that the edge would be too tight. This is what I have after 8 rows. I love the way the colors are blending together.

Baby Surprise Jacket beginning

Here’s a closeup:

Baby Surprise Jacket beginning detail

I’ve already used up a lot of yarn for just this much! I will definitely need more, and Amy of Spunky Eclectic has graciously agreed to dye some more superwash merino fiber for me. It will be predominantly the darker brown, with some of the lighter shade too. I know it will be gorgeous!

After browsing through some of the 1200+ BSJ’s on Ravelry, I decided that I want to have a brown stripe at this point, so this project will be on hold until I get more fiber to spin. Can’t wait!!

After my last post, I got a great suggestion from Necia, who has been giving me a lot of advice and encouragement for my spinning, through blog comments as well as e-mail. Thanks again, Necia! Her suggestion was to use a ball winder, given the limited number of bobbins I have, and to let the singles relax a little before plying. Unfortunately, I was itching to spin and didn’t read my blog comments before finishing up the whole thing yesterday afternoon. So I plied the singles off 2 bobbins, finished spinning what I had left after freeing up a bobbin, then plied the rest. Amazingly, I had only a small portion of one ply left at the end of the 8 oz! Much better than my last 2-ply project, where I had about a 1/3 of a bobbin left to ply with itself!

Only a tiny center-pull ball!

Here’s what I got.  I haven’t soaked it yet, but I’m just impatient to show!

2-ply not-quite-bulky handspun from Spunky Eclectic superwash merino in Dinosaur

  • Spunky Eclectic superwash merino in “Dinosaur”
  • 2-ply, spun worsted
  • 12 wpi (heavy worsted)
  • 8oz, about 240 yards

I don’t know how I was thinking that 8oz would be enough for a 4T-sized sweater, or even an 18-month-sized sweater.  So I e-mailed Amy to see if she has anything to match the brown.  I still think it’ll make a nice Baby Surprise Jacket.

Well, shoot. My goal for this handspun project was to spin a 2-ply bulky weight, and as detailed in my previous post, thought I had a pretty good plan for overcoming the spinner’s “sophomore jinx” of not being able to spin heavier than laceweight. Well, I tried my best, but as I was plying today, I found that there were a lot of spots where I was obviously not paying enough attention. Some of the singles were maybe fingering at best, and the 2-ply came out to about 12 wpi which is heavy worsted. Lots of thick and thin, and I’m sure that I’ll have a lot of one ply left over. Ooops! It’s still nice though, and I’ll see if I can still make a Baby Surprise Jacket with it.  I was thinking that if I run out of yarn, I could buy more roving to spin in a semi-solid of the brown and use it for the rest of the sweater, as contrast.

Plied Dinosaur

Since I have only 4 regular sized bobbins, and I have singles on 3 of them (the tail end of one ply is still unspun), I have to ply, break the yarn, empty the bobbin, ply, break the yarn, empty the bobbin, and have separate skeins, which kind of stinks.  I’ll have to think about the plying head with the jumbo bobbin, or again, maybe a Woolie Winder?  It’s just so much money..  I already blew my Christmas budget on the wheel itself!

A common problem I’ve heard about and have now experienced, is that new spinners who become relatively proficient at spinning fine singles have a hard time spinning anything heavier than laceweight! Erin of the damknit podcast even mentioned this on her latest show. This bothered me because when I was thinking of what to do with my Fractal Stripe handspun, I thought “wouldn’t this look great as a Baby Surprise Jacket?” Then I realized that since it’s about fingering weight, it would probably be big enough for a newborn. I don’t know anyone pregnant right now, and I’d rather make it for my little Tim, who is a rather tall 3-1/2 year old. This is a really clever Elizabeth Zimmerman pattern that requires different yarn weights for different sizes, and for a 3-4 year old probably needs bulky weight yarn. I haven’t spun bulky yarn since I learned to spin on a spindle! This is the very first yarn I ever spun.

The very first wool I learned to spin

I don’t even know what it is. It’s whatever Amy from Spunky Eclectic used to wrap around my spindle for safe shipping. And it’s bulky! Now for this project I bought some superwash merino in “Dinosaur” from Amy again.

Spunky Eclectic superwash merino in

That’s a 4 oz braid in the foreground, and 4 oz predrafted in the back. I think the colors will be good for a cute boy sweater. So, in my attempt to spin bulky, I put my Lendrum wheel on the lowest ratio, treadled slowly, and concentrated hard on not spinning laceweight! I plan to do a 2-ply, and here’s what it looks like compared to Peruvia, which is a heavy worsted (I don’t actually own any bulky yarn..)

Comparing to heavy worsted Peruvia

It comes to about 8-9 wpi, which is definitely bulky! I have a nifty little wpi tool but of course I can’t find it so this has to do.

Goal wpi!

And here is my bobbin filled up. I didn’t get the whole 4 oz on it. Maybe I need a Woolee Winder! And I think I started spinning thinner as I got to the end. Oops! I should have checked my wpi more frequently.

Dinosaur singles on the bobbin

I’ll try to spin the rest of it over the weekend, and see if it comes out right when I ply it. If the sweater turns out too small, I can just give it to Tim’s cousin Baby Andy (who’s actually almost 18 months but will always be Baby Andy to us).

As for the Fractal Stripe yarn, I think I’ll use it for a feather and fan scarf. That should show off the color changes nicely.