Saturday, September 11, 2010

As promised

Spinning!!

As I've mentioned, I've been working my way through 15 lovely ounces of Blue-Faced Leicester (BFL) from Briar Rose. This fiber spins like a dream, and it has the gorgeous longwool luster that I adore. When I was in Ohio looking at fiber in the Briar Rose booth, I kept finding myself reaching for those lustrous bumps of wool, and every single time it was BFL; I feel the same way about some of the other longwools, there's just something about them that looks like silk. They are definitely not as soft as wools like Merino (nor as soft as silk, for that matter), and I think that if I were to try to spin them worsted, as my spinning preference lies, they wouldn't be as gorgeous as they could be. But this experiment of spinning this fiber woollen has worked out beautifully, I think. For non-spinners, it basically means that instead of getting a tighly-spun yarn with very little air in it (the kind of yarn that's perfect for socks), I ended up with a bouncy two-ply yarn with lots of air and loft in it. I am so glad that I didn't keep saving it "for best", because now I have five skeins of lovely yarn; I haven't counted just how much yardage I have exactly, but I think it's about 220 yards per skein, so, if I'm calculating correctly, that's a sweater's worth. Hooray!


Chris is truly an artist with color. I never cease to be blown away by the things she can do with dye; her colorways are so organic, every one of them tells me a story about something that I love. The colors in this wool remind me of the blues and browns and grays of Sierra granite, perhaps my favorite rock on earth, up to and including the big rounded river rocks that make me so happy. (Am I the only person who has a favorite rock? Maybe it has to do with all of my early childhood memories of playing on huge boulders in the mountains or in Yosemite, with that particular feel of decomposed granite and pine needles under my feet, and the smell of cold pine and campfire in the air, the way that smell changes as the sun begins to warm the trees and the rocks, the sound of a creek nearby, the rough stone under my hands when I climbed, and the give of the earth when I jumped off and landed... There's nothing like a good granite boulder.)

My woollen spinning still isn't even, which means that the resulting yarn isn't even, so I'm not sure how this will knit up. It seems to range between a heavy sport and a worsted weight yarn, and one skein (in spite of mixing up the bobbins as I plied) feels like it's a lighter yarn that the others, so I may have to mix that in as I knit to keep it from being too obvious.
You can see the changing weights there. Does anyone who is more experienced at knitting their handspun into sweaters have a sense of whether I'm in trouble here?

I am thinking that I have finally spun the yarn that I need to knit Cloisters, a sweater I saw in Spin-Off ages ago, and that I've been wanting to knit ever since. (There's a better picture of it here; it's the green sweater fifth from the left in the top row.) I think that the plain stockinette body will show off the colors nicely, and the lace pattern is simple enough not to be too obscured by the vagaries of handspun yarn. I also think it'll be a simple enough knit that it will be soothing during this busy time of the semester, and one of those really wearable sweaters, like a sweatshirt, but uniquely mine.

I will leave you with some granite to consider.



18 comments:

lori said...

I have a particular fondness for arrowheads, where were easy to find in my childhood in Texas. You'd have to watch out for copperheads and rattlers, but it left me with a particular fondness for flinty rocks. And your yarn is gorgeous!! You have my envy and admiration!

lori said...

oops. Typos and poor sentence construction. I are not a perfessional editor.

twinsetellen said...

Yes - I do have a favorite rock, thank you for asking. Ohio flint.

And Cloisters does look like a dandy sweater for handspun yarn. I am currently in the market for ideas for sweaters from handspun, so thank you for this timely post!

As for the "how will this uneven woolen yarn knit up?" question, I admit to spinning uneven woolen yarn, but I have yet to knit any up. I am on the verge of starting to knit my handspun skeins, which it seems I was keeping as pets instead of actually considering knitting with them. I think that is about to change, so watch the blog for how that goes. I suspect you'll get to it first.

FUZZARELLY said...

Handspun yarn is very forgiving in the knitting thereof. The slightly less heavy skein could be used for ribbing (on smaller needles)

Miss 376 said...

What gorgeous yarn, it's going to be wonderful to knit with

Rachael said...

Lovely yarn, whatever you make with it will be absolutely scrumptious!

I love bfl, in yarn it's pricier than merino and hard to find outside of hand dyers, but it wears wonderfully and it's the only yarn I've found that I can wear directly on my skin. And it's shiny, what's better than shiny wool???

EGunn said...

Oh, beautiful! That looks absolutely wonderful. I really must try spinning a real woolen one of these days (I tend to prefer semi-worsted). 15 ounces is enough for a sweater? And it takes my worsted self about 2 lbs. =)

I think the unevenness will almost entirely disappear when knit. Most of my yarn still has variations in it, and I hardly notice them as long as I set a pretty firm gauge to begin with so that the lighter sections don't get too loose. If there's a really bad section, you could always just snip out the thin part and keep going. It's going to be wonderful!

Bea said...

The yarn looks great to me. I have no skills in the even spinning so I can relate. No favorite rock here. But slate is abundant so if I wanted to pick something that might be most convenient.

Gwen said...

Lovely skeins!

I'd forgotten about the big rock we visited often in Wisconsin. Full of rounded out spots and holes and definitely big enough for kids and goats to climb over and under. Limestone was the common rock, but I don't think that's right. And we found limestone rocks with little sea creature fossils in the old quarry (walking home from the school bus drop was fun!) Not to mention the little beach rocks on the cold beaches of the Marin Headlands.

I have rocks (not a formal rock collection) from my grandparents. And maybe a stick too. The family inheritance. I will probably pass them on to my poor son.

We like rocks.

Debbie said...

I, too, love the Sierra granite. I can see why your yarn colors make you think of the rock. I don't spin, but I have made two sweaters out of yarn which had intentional variations in thickness. It went from almost bulky to almost sock-like in thickness, and I was shocked at how very little difference it made in the knitting. Gauge and fabric seemed very, very consistent. It was odd, but happened with both sweaters. It makes me think you're going to be just fine, though I also liked the suggestion of ribbing with the thinner stuff.

Carrie#K said...

That looks gorgeous! I can't wait to see your Cloisters - I love the color.

Hmm. Doesn't everyone have a favorite rock? I have a sandstone that looks like a chair while the BFF prefers diamonds.

fiberjoy said...

Definitely Sandstone. The smell, all the warm colors in dizzying arrays of red/peach/pink shades. Wonderful for climbing except one has to be careful that it's not crumbly...

What gauge does Cloisters call for/what size of needles? Measure your yarn so you'll know exactly how much you have then if you need to break away some of the very finest areas you'll know you still have enough.

It's beautiful yarn and would make a gorgeous Cloisters sweater!

KnitNana said...

Not a spinner so can't answer, but yes, it's lovely, yes, Chris is amazingly talented, and I can't wait to see it knitting up!

A favorite rock? Hmm...I love rocks, and I love hand polished woods...not so odd, I don't think? Mostly I love geodes - Amethyst is my favorite...but we have a "bluestone" here in this part of the world that I adore...
(I don't really know what type of rock it is...)
(((hugs)))

AlisonH said...

That colorway: I'm taking it for granite.

Laurie said...

What lovely yarn!

I grew up in central Ohio, less than a mile from the Newark Earthworks. We lived in a new housing development and whenever a foundation was dug, the dirt was hauled to an empty lot and kind of graded down. I spent hours there as a kid digging up amazing fossils and arrowheads. Some of my favorite memories involve digging for rocks. :-)

PammieJR said...

That yarn is the bomb!!!

Can't wait to see what you do with it!

Alwen said...

My favorite rock is white quartz. When we go to the beach, I'm always picking up those smooth white pebbles and thinking of Hansel and Gretel!

Alwen said...

PS: You've probably heard about this, but I thought it was pretty cool that two of the MacArthur grants this year went to linguists!