Monday, January 11, 2010


The oddest thing happened to me on Saturday night. I cast my scarf off as I was watching a movie, and then it hit me. I have absolutely no active projects on the needles. (Yes, I do have a couple of those lurking sorts of projects, but there are only two, which isn't bad. But I don't want to be working on those; if I did, they'd be active projects.)


Talk about weird.

So I spent a pleasurable Sunday morning puttering about, setting up to get a couple of new projects on the needles (winding yarn and swatching), and doing some long-neglected spinning. First, the scarf I finished:
This one's for me, and I'm quite happy with it. The colors are very nice.
This (Rav project page) is another Barb's Koigu Ruffle, from Churchmouse. I really do like the results of this pattern, although I admit that the first few and last few rows are a bear. I knitted the whole thing on size six needles (instead of switching to fours for the middle part), using (I am pretty sure, and will correct if I am wrong) Schaefer Nichole yarn, which is quite lovely, having a high twist and gorgeous colors.

So, there I was on a Sunday morning, wondering what to do. I decided to think about it while spinning up the rest of the sock yarn that I started oh so long ago, which resulted in this.
Those are both three-ply yarns. The yarn that's already washed and skeined has one ply each of silk, cashmere, and a long-staple wool. I ran out of the silk without having enough yardage for socks, so I spun up more of the long-staple wool, and the yarn on the niddy-noddy has two plies of the wool, and one of the cashmere. You can see the difference between the two; the new stuff doesn't have that lovely silk shine in it.
I haven't checked wpi yet, but I think that's a fingering weight yarn there. I washed up the new yarn yesterday, and it's bloomed a little bit since then, so they're closer in weight to one another than they look in that picture. I have a total of about 350 yards, and I'm thinking that I'll knit the legs of a pair of socks out of the yarn with the silk, and the feet out of the rest. There's a great pattern that I got ages ago from BMFA that I may use for this; a linen stitch seems like it would show this yarn off beautifully, and the legs and feet are already separate in the pattern. So I may wind this up and add this project to my newly-enhanced list of Things I Am Knitting.

I also started sampling the alpaca for the Tibetan Clouds Stole. I got a terrified lurchy feeling when it suddenly occurred to me to wonder if a) alpaca is going to be too drapey for this, and b) if it's going to do the surface fuzzing/felting that alpaca tends to do to me (see the sweater I'm wearing in the scarf pictures above? Alpaca). If so, it won't work for lace. But I decided that the only way to find out is to sample, and then knit little swatches and throw them in my purse and carry them around for a while. Right? That won't answer the drape question, but it will answer the fuzz question.

My thought was that I'd want a four-ply yarn for this, and the question in my mind was whether I'd like it to be a regular four-ply, or a cabled one (in a cabled four-ply, you spin singles in one direction, then create two 2-ply yarns by spinning the singles together in the direction opposite to which you spun them, then ply those two plied yarns together, spinning in the opposite direction of the first plying pass = same direction in which the singles were spun). I really like cabled yarns, as I think they have a lovely texture, and seem geared towards showing off a beautiful gleaming fiber like this alpaca.

After all of my experimenting and note-taking, I have this:
On the bobbin there, I have the singles, the two ply, and the cabled four ply. I haven't done a regular four ply yet, but I did end up liking the two ply more than I thought I would, so I may knit a swatch in that as well. For those who are interested, the singles came in at 30+ wpi (wraps per inch), the two ply at 21, and the cabled four ply at 18, which is a laceweight yarn. I have eight yards of the cabled four ply (2 gms), and 30 yards of the two ply (3 gms).
There they are, two ply on the left, cabled four ply on the right. Isn't that shiny? It has that distinctive oily alpaca feel, too. (This is a good thing, in spite of the way it sounds when I type it.)
Cabled four ply.
Two ply.

I think I like the cabled four ply, but we'll see how they act when I knit little swatches (and whether I can get beads on them, but I think I can). What do you all think? I should have plenty of fiber either way. I bought 400 gms (14 ounces), which means I should be able to get the 1,000 yards I need with no problem, even if I go the four-ply route.

OK, I think I'll stop there, and leave the question of the rest of the list of Things I Am Knitting (none of which are even cast on yet) for the next post. There's some pretty stuff in there, so be prepared.


Jane said...

It must be a lovely sense of achievement to knit with yarn you've spun yourself,can't wait to see how it all turns out

Helen said...

The Clara Parkes book is brillo. I still think her publishers should have the guts to publish one of her books without adding patterns, because the content is interesting enough on its own, but the patterns are good too. I look forward to seeing your Tibetan Clouds.

Rachel said...

No knitting on the needles?!? oh my,,, it's been awhile since I was there but I can remember the feeling.

The yarns you are making look lovely to me!

Wool Enough said...

Two-ply versus cabled four-ply -- that's a tough call. Just judging from the pix for some reason I prefer the two ply. Maybe cuz it looks . . . um . . . less busy? But, of course, I'm just looking at pictures; you have the actual yarn there in your hands. And they are both gorgeous.

Anonymous said...

That's amazing! I'm still only working with a drop spindle so I can't get thiner than a fingering weight yarn. Or if it's possible, I haven't figured it out yet. I can't wait to see how they come out.

Take care.

EGunn said...

It's such a strange feeling when that happens! Usually happens to me when I've been knitting socks; I look up, and suddenly there's nothing OTN. It's fun to get more projects going, though.

I love the alpaca yarn. I'm still envying your ability to get such fine spinning; I don't seem to be there yet. I wonder; would a cabled yarn cut down on the fuzzing since there are more strands twisted together?

EGunn said...

Just checked the Knitter's Book of Yarn (the other Parkes book). She says "the presence of so many layers of twist gives cabled yarns an incredible stability and the strength to withstand far more abrasion than their once-plied counterparts." I think I'd try the cabled (or a swatch of each).

twinsetellen said...

Oh, that unsettled but free feeling of nothing OTN. The possibilities are endless! I'm afraid I don't have to worry about having that feeling for quite some time, lol.

And your post gives me one more nudge toward learning to spin, just to learn more about yarn architecture. I am looking forward to learning vicariously as you work this out.

Bea said...

Love the scarf and the sock yarn. I have to say my spinning skills are so poor that I'm little help with the sampling. I like the looks of the 2-ply best, but it will be interesting to see how they look swatched. I'm thinking it seems reasonable that it would have a halo just because I've never seen alpaca that doesn't.


Your spinning is wonderful! I need to get back to my wheel.....

Mary Lou said...

I was in the practically no knitting on the needles myself. Well, my briefcase socks aren't done, but I need a big project. A morning of pondering and puttering sounds perfect. Too bad I have to get to work.

Jen said...

Lovely! You are obviously a very accomplished fiber artist.

Gwen said...

There you are! No problems here at all. I love it when my brain lets me enjoy all the puttering and prep and gathering of info to make decisions. Whatever you end up with will be lovely. Will it be as lovely as possible? Who knows.

Nana Sadie said...

LOVE the scarf. And you look good, so the cold must be better?

I'll leave the spinning to better minds, but I'll comment that alpaca can be lovely in lace.