Archive for December, 2006

Paying homage to the muse of color and soft yarn

Tuesday, December 26th, 2006

I posted this picture of the yarn I was spinning back in September.

With all the glove, sweater, and snake making for the holidays, I didn’t have time to get back to spinning and being the addict I am about it, I’ve really been jonesing to get back to working with raw fiber.  After going to the fiber festival in September, I had this grand idea of using my hand carders to blend my own mix and spin something quite unique.

I had 1 lb of gorgeous smoky grey mohair roving, 8 oz of jet black alpaca roving, and 3 oz of various source dyed wool locks in a rainbow of colors.  I wanted to blend the mohair 2-1 with the alpaca, and then add a shock of color.  The idea was to roll up a bunch of rolags with varying colors and spin them randomly together.

This picture shows a close up of the spun single with at least 3 colors.  You can see the color fibers shot through, with the occasion deliberate small nub of color.

The last little bit of the rolag is on the left and you can see how the color blends in.

I did a small photo montage of the process I used to make the rolags.

  1. shows the 2-1 blend of mohair to alpaca.
  2. gently holding on to the rovings and dragging them across the carder to cover it.
  3. some of the color locks on the coated carder.
  4. the locks combed out and positioned near one end
  5. picking up the fiber from the teeth on the carder.
  6. rolling the fiber into a rolag

Here’s what that rolag looks like finished:

You can see a little bit of the color fiber peaking out on the near end.  When I spin this, I get a nice mix of the mohair and alpaca.   I put a concentration of color at one end, which ends up being most of the first part that gets spun.  The color doesn’t span the entire length of fiber, but gets slowly more concentrated and then blends back to the mohair/alpaca.  This gives more distinct color to parts of the single and the blackish grey to the rest so that the color ebbs and flows.

And this would be the entire 1.5 lbs of fiber rolled up.   I sorted them by colors and then hands mixed the colors and bagged them up for spinning.  There are 139 rolags in this picture, plus 10 already spun.

The current plan is to ply these together to a 2 ply.  If I decide to attempt a 3 ply, I might try to use Navajo plying to maintain the single color.  I haven’t decided yet if multiple colors in a strand of yarn would be more fun than keeping the colors more distinct.  If I try Navajo plying, it will be my first attempt to learn, so that has an appeal as well.

This project has really helped me feel like an artist, and not just a hobbyist.  It’s really satisfying to take the raw fiber and make it into something that existed only in my head.   Once I spin up the entire lot and see what my yardage is, then I will decide on a project for this.  I’m currently leaning towards a tunic type sweater to show off the color in a simple knit.

Playing Catch Up

Monday, December 25th, 2006

I was so busy making presents and filling orders that I didn’t get to update much. At least I made sure I got pictures of everything before they got to their intended recipients.

One of my favorite things that I made was a 40″ stuffed snake for Christopher, who is 3. He just happens to be about 40″ tall himself. I stuffed this guy pretty full of batting, so he’s perfect for cuddling, or using as a pillow, which Christopher was happy to demonstrate for me. Little guy was too hyped up on the gift getting that he was moving too fast to photograph.

I found a stash of near antique plastic buttons and lucked out that the best ones were yellow, the right size, and even had a slit cut in them to give the snake even more snakiness!


I got a really nifty knit toy book, but the only thing about that patterns that I don’t care for is that every piece is knit flat and sewn. I’m not crazy about unnecessary seams. Truth be told, I like to avoid sewing as much as possible. It’s my least favorite task, right next to making fringe.

So I made a very easy modification to the pattern and used Double Point needles. Because it was stripes, there is a little jog, but as you can see in this picture, it is a far less noticeable thing than a full up seam.

Another fun bit was the tail. I wish I would have started this about 10 rows sooner. I just alternated 2 knit and then 2 pearl rows to give the tail a rattle like shape. The decreases helped to make that even more evident.

Another modification was crocheting a tongue, which I think will hold up a lot longer than the suggested felt. In any case, it was a huge hit.

My love/hate relationship with eyelash yarn

Monday, December 25th, 2006

The good news is that my niece Britts loved her gloves. She wore them for most of the evening and her friends seemed a tad envious. I was enormously pleased. After I made her gloves, Brian liked them enough that I made him a short pair. He wore those to work and one of his coworkers fell in love with them, but she wanted them with, and I quote, “the fuzziest, most obnoxious yarn you can find in jewel tones.” So I found the exact yarn she wanted and made her a pair. They have dubbed them “road kill gloves” 10 days before Christmas, she told me she loved them so much, she wanted a pair for her sister, but she needed them in time to ship. *chuckle* So…I did it.

Without a doubt, these are the most difficult things to photograph since they truly do look like a mop head. Or leftover muppet.

I also made her a matching scarf as a birthday gift. It earned me a big hug.

There’s something totally wonderful about getting paid to knit. But…just as I had vowed to swear off eyelash yarn forever, I got another order. Honestly, this stuff is so difficult to work with because you can’t count stitches or rows, so you have to be very diligent in paying attention to the pattern. Heaven help you if you drop a stitch. If you catch that you did. *rolls eyes* At least I insisted on a new color.

At the Christmas party at Brian’s folks, his mom let me know she’d love a pair in black. *sigh* I will never get away from eyelash yarn.

At least folks seem to love these fun gloves. It takes me an evening a glove, working at an easy pace, and since I combined patterns to get the effects I like, this pattern is now something I can do without grabbing for the instructions.