Sunday, October 5, 2008

I've been working my fingers to the bone.

I've been working my fingers to the bone on knitting for the Christmas present box. Because the two projects currently on my needles are with yarns that are certainly not my favorites to work with. The black things are coming along, slowly; they're big, they're black, and they're boring. The Blob, however, is finished! Well, mostly. It's cast off, blocked, and sewn up; it just needs a final blocking and buttons. It, I like; after the holidays, I just might make one for myself.

The other things I've been working my fingers to the bone are are some techniques I got from Barbara while she was here. First, the crack silk haze knockoff.

No, I didn't spin the silk thread for the middle; I bought it at a nearby big box craft store. This is 2 plies of silk yarn with some kid mohair caught in the plying.

Not bad, but certainly not as consistent as the commercial stuff, but it IS addictive to make. So much that I gave it a second shot and added a twist.

For the second batch, I tried adding some glass beads. I learned that trying to add beads AND kid mohair all at once was possible only if I suddenly sprout as many arms as Shiva.

I quickly abandoned that idea in favor of plying with the beads first, in order to control their placement, and the plying again to add the kid mohair.

Pretty, but the beads are lost in the haze. Next time (Oh yes, there will be a next time!), I'll either add larger beads or leave them off completely. Not technique I'll use frequently, but a good one to have in my toolbox, nonetheless.

Inspired by Barbara's ability to spin sewing thread (Can you believe it? Freakin' sewing thread!), I wanted to see how thin I could go with The Incredible Hulk roving.

Not bad; it's not sewing thread, but I'm working my way there.

That's a 2-ply; this is a pretty coarse wool so I'm pretty happy with it.

And I did finish up The Incredible Hulk roving! WHOO FREAKIN' HOOO! Jeez, I'm glad to see the end of that stuff! And finishing it up put me at 3.43 miles for this year. Me and Robert Frost, we have miles to go.

Encouraged by minor successes in spinning thin, I dug some roving out of the stash that been lingering a while to spin in laceweight. The weather has turned chilly and damp, as usual for the Pacific Northwest in fall, and the colors in this roving were definitely autumnal. I thought I'd do a laceweight and then knit up a shawl in a leaf lace pattern, similar to Branching Out.

First of all, this roving was from an indie dyer that I had never purchased from before. It came twisted up in a skein, similar to the way yarn is packaged, and I really liked the colors that showed up. Beautiful gold, deep burgundy, some mossy green, and little bits of fiery red; the colors of a maple tree in fall. Only 3 ounces, but if I do a laceweight, I should have enough for a small shawl or stole, just to cover the shoulders when it's chilly outside.

But, when the skein was unwound, what I found was that there really wasn't any pattern to the dye job. Hmm . . . I had envisioned subtle striping but that obviously wasn't going to happen.

Then, as I'm looking at this to decide if I'm going to split this lengthwise and try to maintain the color changes, I notice that some of the color sections don't go the entire width of the roving; some of them are just "blotches" where the dye has been randomly splashed on. Meaning that it's going to be nearly impossible to maintain the variety and intensity of the colors.

Then, I see this:

A single blob of purple. What the hell? WHY is there this single glop of a totally random color in the middle of this roving? Then I realize it's because the dye wasn't thoroughly mixed. In fact, as I look closely, there are areas where the green and and red have overlapped into a barfy brown color, and other places where the greens weren't mixed well so I get blue-greens instead of mossy green. This is a Blue Faced Leicester with a fairly long staple; the fibers are probably 4 or 5 inches long. But this dyer has splashed them in in such small areas that the fibers often have 2 or 3 colors along the length. Which means even more muddying of colors.

I suspect the reason the fiber was twisted into a skein, rather that loosely looped or coiled as most dyers do, was to hide a bad dye job. I don't mind buying an "oops" now and then, as long as they are marked and priced as such. I've had some really nice yarns come of an "oops" roving. But I really dislike paying full price for someones experiment.

In the end, I decided to just start at one end and spin, then eventually I'll Andean ply it which should give me a marled yarn over the entire length. It'll be pretty, but not what I expected or what I paid for.

I just wish it was what I had thought I was buying. The colors which drew me in the first place will be entirely lost in this yarn when it's spun and plied. It's too bad that this indie dyer has lost a customer.


  1. Beautiful spinning, and even more beautiful dyeing. Great color variations.

  2. How disappointing. It feels like you've been lied to, doesn't it?

    Hey--I'm going to start working in Beaverton/Hillsboro again soon (we should talk!), so I might be able to make some Wednesday evenings for a change.

    Yahoo! :)

  3. Hey sweetie - glad you like the batts.

    Take that roving you are spinning and ply it with a solid single about the same color of one of the colors in the roving.

    That will pop out the other colors and turn it into an entirely different yarn. Go ahead, try it - you already don't like it - nothing to lose.

    I love what you are doing with the silk and kid mohair.

    (taking over the world, one new spinner at a time)


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