Monday, May 30, 2011

You spin me right round

Yes, a quote from a Dead or Alive song to talk about spinning yarn! I spun last night for the first time since becoming a mom. It's been nearly 4 years since I've used either of my spinning wheels. Lately I've been dying to get back to spinning, so a couple weeks ago I oiled my main wheel, a Cherub (a wonderful wheel from New Zealand that I don't think is produced anymore) and got it all ready to go. Then I set about finding all of my spinning stuff. Lazy Kate, bobbins, niddy-noddy, spinning fiber. I found it all and finally last night, I sat down and spun a bobbin full of Blue Faced Leicester (yummmmmmmmmmmmm) to match one that I spun years ago. I was so happy to have found the remaining BFL in a box in the garage. Now later today I'm going to ply it, and despite its lovely cream color, I'm going to dye it a deep red.

I was terribly out of practice and overtwisted it a bit, but whatever. It'll mostly even out when I ply it, and it's handspun, right?

I am not a great spinner even when in practice. I have a lot to learn. Last summer at the farmer's market, I saw a woman spinning alpaca roving and she was drafting the fiber so effortlessly right from the big, thick roving. I can't do that yet. I have to tear it into thinner strips and then I draft from that. I hope I see that lady at the farmer's market again. She sells alpaca fleeces, for one thing, and I totally want to ask her to teach me how to spin as awesomely as she does.

I hope to ply it later and dye it tonight or tomorrow night. I plan to use my favorite dyeing technique, Rita Nauman's brilliant Jar Dyeing technique. It's so easy and not at all messy.

Aside from spinning, I made some progress on my Rose Lace Stole. Here it is, 25 rows in.

Not the best picture, but you get the idea. The Lanas Puras Melosa Laceweight is knitting up so nicely! It's super-soft, yet strong. This is the first time I've ever knitted with laceweight yarn, and I have to tell you, I'm glad that I did a few lace projects with thicker yarn first so I could get a feel for how lace works before attempting to knit with laceweight.

I am loving it and I'm totally addicted to lace. I foresee many laceweight projects in my future. Next will probably be the lovely Cold Mountain stole from Knitty. I have some Misti Alpaca Lace that would be perfect for it! After that, I am thinking Rock Island. That one is unbelievably beautiful and irresistable.

Cold Mountain wasn't even on my radar until I got the latest Jimmy Beans Wool catalog on Saturday. Oh. My. God. They are brilliant over there at Jimmy Beans Wool. This is the prettiest catalog I've ever seen. Cold Mountain is featured on the cover and the entire catalog is all about hand-dyed yarn. It features Lorna's Laces, madelinetosh and Misti Alpaca. It's a remarkably effective catalog, because there are now several new yarns I want to try, particularly madelinetosh, since I have never tried any of their yarns.

Also in my mailbox this weekend is the Early Fall 2011 issue of Vogue Knitting. LOTS of great patterns in here and lots of inspiration. Several things went into my Ravelry queue, such as this cowl AND this sweater:

I have not yet made a cowl. I didn't like them at first, but this is now the second one that I want to make. The yarn called for in the pattern is, extremely oddly, discontinued. That must have happened recently for it to be used in this issue. No problem, I wouldn't have used that yarn anyway. I'm probably going to double-strand my favorite Blue Sky Alpacas Sportweight.

I also really like the simple sweater in the above photo. It calls for Bergere de France Origin Bambou, but that's one of those yarns that I hate, which has only 87 yards per ball. Looks like it goes for about $11 per ball. $11 for 87 yards. That is ridiculous, unless it contains gold. I hate patterns that call for 20 balls of some yarn that has only 80 or 50 yards per ball and costs an arm and a leg for that pathetically small amount of yardage. No, I will not be using Bergere de France for this pattern. I plan to make it with the lovely, soft, affordable Lion Brand LB Collection Cotton Bamboo. At $7 per ball and 245 yards per ball (which is how it should be!), it'll cost me less than $30 to make the size I want.

I love yarn manufacturers like Cascade and Brown Sheep, who create wonderful, high-quality yarns with tons of yardage per ball, and do not charge an arm and a leg for them. I'm always going to reach for a yarn like that instead of an 87-yard ball that costs more than a nice lunch!

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