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Posts Tagged ‘wool’

Sticking to my knitting

So much happening, and so little show-and-tell. I think maybe I’m abashed at how many different directions my mind has been going off in lately. So, for today, I’ll fall in with the old cliché, and ‘stick to my knitting’. Because, sometimes, simple is best.

Look at this, will you?

I picked up a couple of braids of this Bluefaced Leicester/silk blend from All Spun Up in a swap on Ravelry, months ago; fell in love; bought some natural oatmeal BFL/silk to go with it, and eek it out, and began spinning.

I got this:

At this point, it occurred to me that I needed MORE. A lot more. Enough to make a sweater with. But it was a club braid, and therefore not obviously available. So I scoured destashes until I found someone with some to sell/trade, and proceeded to trade for dyeing services (since I also like dyeing, that is practically the definition of win-win).

Every now and then, over a couple of months, I would spin a bit more of the beautiful, intriguing, but resolutely brown yarn, and dream of the garment I would make. And then, I did other things for a few months. Many other things, of which I will speak again. And then, it came finally time to knit the beautiful (but resolutely brown) yarn into um… something.

It was supposed to be a large hooded cardigan/coat-like thing, but that was just going to be too large, and too brown, and besides, I decided that the gauge was going to be off for the pattern I had in mind. So I did a little swatch, and it told me it wanted to be an awesomely simple sweater. Not, as I’d imagined, a cardigan (with a steek), not a big, hooded thing, but a plain sweater. With, um… some kind of simple edging, but probably not ribbing, and er… sleeves of some kind, and presumably, at some point, a neckline.

As you can tell, I’m winging it.

I started with a provisional cast-on, for superior procrastination, and just knit for a bit. The fabric is, frankly, amazing. Not because I’m any great shakes as a handspinner, because I’m surely not, but the combination of fibers is a delight to touch, and – for once – I’m knitting at a tight enough gauge for it to retain some body. There is something about the texture of handspun (imperfect stuff like mine, anyway – I know it’s not an intrinsic quality of handspun) that is appealing. It’s somehow very deeply, movingly alive. It occurs to me that I should have made a three-ply rather than a two-ply yarn, but I didn’t, and I don’t care. if it wears badly/pills horribly, then I shall care, but for now, I’m just too much in love. (And as you can see, I eventually decided on the edging – it’s seed stitch. Or do I mean moss stitch? Whatever. How much? Enough to not curl… I think.)

I’m using one of my favorite stitch-markers too, as it harmonises with the yarn, and is the right size. This was once a pendant, picked out for me by a very wise and spiritual Navajo friend as an appropriate totem-animal for me, and while I love it, I don’t wear it as a pendant any more. A few months ago, I converted it (along with most of the costume-jewelery I inherited from my mother and also don’t wear, but can’t bear to discard). Now I have a diverse range of eccentric stitch-markers I love and use, and that carry history, or meaning, or both.

 

 

 

 

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Perhaps I should have thought to mention in advance that I was feverishly preparing to list a few things in the Etsy shop, but I was so busy working on the update that I didn’t get around to it on Friday, when the process started. So here’s some fiber-y eye-candy, with apologies for the delay:

 

As I largely follow my own whims, and I’ve been all about the fiber lately, this has been a spinning-oriented update, but naturally there’s some yarn too:

Should I mention that some of the yarn is the most gorgeous, to-die-for soft sportweight sock yarn, in an obsession-inducing MCN blend (merino, with 10% nylon and 10% cashmere)? This stuff is like crack for knitters – I could not possibly comment on rumors that I may have earmarked quite a chunk of the current batch for myself. And I placed quite a small order, and some of the rest is already sold, or spoken-for. So, it was probably cruel to even bring the subject up: pretend I never mentioned it.

There’s still a fair bit more to come, however, including more yarn, more fiber, and for the first time, some jewelry: those spindle earrings, and some of my glass pendants with knitted wire –

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With an election looming, and my mood glowery and looming, I was glad today of a distraction.

I have been waiting for this to arrive since some time last week. Originally I hoped to bring the baby home with me from Wonderwool Wales, a couple of weekends ago, but I had to order… and wait, and then see out a bank holiday weekend. But today, my waiting was mercifully over, and I entered into the newest  phase of my fascination with wool.

8.15 a.m.

3 p.m.: I am continent. I am restrained. I am adult. I went to my silversmithing class, came home, finished binding off a sweater neck, put a child to bed, and only then get out the Swiss Army knife.

4. p.m.: the thing isn’t even set up, and already it’s a kid magnet. I realize how very smart I am to have bought a folding model.

5 p.m. I have only a few minutes before I need to go to a parents’ evening at the high school. Do I really need to talk to that maths teacher? I definitely have moments of genius. Picking up a hank of effectively pre-drafted pencil roving may just have been one. Either that, or I’m a spinning natural (I know where the smart money is on that one):

For my next trick – and I’m already developing a sense that this is foolishness – I’m going to play with some native Welsh Black wool. Call me sentimental, but I want Welsh wool to be my first proper spinning. Meanwhile, look ato those singles.

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Wool vs. Yarn

img_2904Here’s another thing I don’t really get (and I’m sure I’m not alone).

When I was a child, the stuff that jumpers were knitted out of, the stuff my grandmother could knit into motorbikes, country mansions, whatever (given enough of the stuff), well – it was called WOOL. All of it. No matter whether it was, actually, wool or not. In fact, most of it probably wasn’t (then as now). The knitting of the poor was acrylic in the last quarter of the last century, though when my mother was growing up – in knitted socks, knitted vests, and knitted swimming costumes – wool really was wool. And it had a bad rap. Which if you’re going to turn it into serious bathing wear you can, frankly, understand. [If you can’t understand, stop for a moment and imagine a wet woolen bathing suit, and it that doesn’t worry you, start looking to develop your empathy skills.]

Now I never really got the acrylic thing. It wasn’t nice, or desirable (and I’m sorry, but it’s why all the pastel acrylic baby sweaters my ex-mother-in-law knitted so very beautifully were only very occasionally and dutifully put on my daughter, primarily in the presence of the said ex-mother-in-law). It didn’t make me want to pick up those sticks myself. Maybe that’s why I failed so miserably to learn to knit every time she tried to teach me. (Or maybe it was her Euro-knitting style – complemented by muttered Spanish incantations – that was so mind-boggling).

However, not having cause to analyse it, I pretty much continued to think that wool meant wool right up until recently. As in, up until a few weeks ago, when I started looking to buy some. (It was a little akin to the way I assumed as a child that “shot” implied “fatally”, and was for a long time profoundly confused by various news stories suggesting otherwise.) Then I discovered that wool rarely means wool.

Yarn means wool. Wool means acrylic.

Well I never. I thought yarn was maybe an American term for wool. Perhaps it once was. Now I can state with fair conviction that it means wool – and fancy wool at that. Or other nice natural fibre. Angora, mohair… The more expensive, luxurious and hand-painted the better. If it’s nice, it’s yarn. If it’s nasty and horrible and a yarn-snob wouldn’t touch it with a six-foot stick, it’s probably “wool”.

I’ve been resisting calling wool yarn, but now I think I might have to give in because I’m getting too confused. Sometimes, you just have to go with the zeitgeist or become incomprehensible, not to mention anacronistic. Sometimes that’s worth fighting (I intend to continue saying fewer when I mean fewer, andless when I mean less, for instance) and sometimes it’s not. My father claims to resent having to give up ready access to the word “gay” in all the contexts he used to use it in: I always tell him it’s gone in a good cause, and gay people needed a decent word more than he needed another synonym for lighthearted. I’m not really convinced “wool” is worth fighting for. But I do wonder when and how this happened.

This wool is yarn, not wool

This wool is yarn, not wool

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