Monday, June 27, 2011

Finished skeins of Alpaca blend...

Finally got a couple skeins done of the Alpaca/Dusty/Blue Faced Leicester.  Thought you might like a peek:

Back in January I finished the BFL handpainted roving and I remember not liking the magpie nature of the other handpainted singles that I Navajo plied.  So I sampled it with some pure black alpaca (back on 5/25/2011 in Next Up... Alpaca!)

I finished maybe a quarter of a bobbin of the pure alpaca and decided I was tired of all the drifting apart, it was forcing me to spin singles heavier than I really wanted for this yarn.

Having just washed Dusty's fleece, a lightbulb lit in my brain (don't worry, there wasn't too much smoke) and I decided to blend the two fibers and see what the result would be - sure couldn't be any worse to spin!
Here's a reminder shot of the original skein where the two black plies are pure alpaca:

Those two up above are the blended plies - the smaller one has one ply of the pure alpaca and one ply of the 50/50 blend.  Visually, they are identical.  You might be able to enlarge the pictures enough to tell the difference, but I really doubt that I'd let someone close enough to me to do that kind of visual inspection of any finished garment of this yarn!

These new singles are a lot more fun to spin, I can draft in my usual way and spin it up as fine as I want.  No slipping, no drifting apart and lovely fine singles so that the three ply finished yarn will be more like fingering or DK weight when it is finished.  Best yet, this is some of the softest yarn I've ever spun.  The fine wool and the alpaca seem to be made for each other!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Finished one and started another...

Here's the finished shots of the navy blue tam that I finished on Friday.  It worked out well, a little different from the first one, partly because it is all one color and partly because the single color band felted far differently than the multicolored band of the one I did for George.  Evidently the second layer of wool in the Fair Isle dice pattern makes for a more rapid and firmer felted band on the finished hat.  I'll keep that in mind in case I ever do another one in a solid color.  Felting certainly is full of surprises and isn't an exact science!

The next one I've started is for another order - this time three matching tams for a group of three brothers.  This set matches the Buchanan tartan #151 (if you want to look up tartans, here is a great site to do it:  Could not find a way to cut and paste the image of the tartan, but it is a lot of fun to look up family tartans on that site.

Tam to match Buchanan tartan #151

Here's a shot of the work in progress: 
This is one of the most complex tartans I've ever seen.  Not only is it asymmetrical, it has more colors than any other tartan I've found.  There may be others - but I did the best I could to match it.  Missing the blue in the original, but this was getting pretty busy with color already.  Vertical lines are tough in this kind of knitting, I think duplicate stitch would be the only way, and I'm not sure how the extra layer of yarn would behave in the felting process, so I'm not taking any chances.  That is an experiment for another time - when I don't have a tight deadline to meet!

I'm up to the point where I knit even for 20 rounds or so, which forms the outside edge of the turned edge before the tam begins to flatten out across the top and the decreasing rounds.  These are a lot of fun to do, even with all the surprises that happen in the felting process.

Onward and upward...

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Another felting project... big wooly bag part is done!

Well I'm finally done with the knitting part of my next big, wooly bag.  It will become a rather stylish hat for a man who saw the other one I did and wanted one for himself.  Just waiting to hear from him to find out if he wants to be here for it to be fitted exactly to him.

This yarn knits up beautifully - the heathers from Knit Picks are just to die (or maybe dye?) for in my opinion.  This one is Solstice Heather in the Wool of the Andes Worsted yarn.  It looks like navy blue, but has touches of purple, teal and even fuschia if you look really close.  My camera didn't even come close to capturing all the colors - so I fiddled with it so it looks pretty close on my screen.  Anyway, here's a close up of the fabric of the hat as it is now.  Maybe you can see a little of the color range here.

This was done up on size 10.5 needles and took about three balls of yarn.  I've got the yarn ordered for the next three hats like this - they'll match the colors in the Buchanan tartan.  Wowee - it is a bright one too!  So, next thing is to felt and finish this one for Jeff, then I'll be knitting more wooly bags in very bright colors!

On the spinning side - I found a fascinating blend of fiber from a mill in California - Corriedale wool and Samoyed dog hair.  I can hardly wait for it to arrive!  I used to have a Samoyed and I collected a lot of fiber from him.  Beautiful stuff - develops a halo like angora rabbit fur and is exceptionally warm to wear.  Many of the people who climb Mt. Everest are said to have worn dog fur blend hats to stay extra warm.  Of course, I don't know any of them personally, so it is all hearsay... but I'd believe it.  Statistics say that dog fur is about 10 times as warm as wool.  This particular roving is a blend of 80% wool and 20% dog, so it should be easier to spin and a lot more wearable in a finished item.  Besides, the halo is really a neat effect in a finished piece.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Meet Dusty...

Dusty - Corriedale
Ahhh, nothing like the joy of a freshly washed fleece!  This is from Dusty, a covered Corridale fleece from my favorite shepherd in Colorado.  I have a number of fleeces from this flock. I was pleased by the color and couldn't wait to start spinning, so I grabbed my hand cards and made a couple rolags.  Dusty's fleece is very fine and has a nice sprinkling of silver fibers mixed in that sparkle in the very fine singles I'm spinning. No idea what I'll do with this yet, just sampling a bit for now.  Plenty of wool for several projects here - the raw fleece was 6.75 pounds.  I'll post pictures as soon as I get a little skein of the yarn done.

Frene Creek Farm roving in process
Also in the works... this pretty handpainted roving from Frene Creek Farm.  Originally, I thought I'd blend it with a couple plies of purple merino, but as it is spinning up, I think I'll do a pale gray instead.  I've got some very soft Rambouillet/Finn that will be just the ticket.  I'm about halfway through the 4 ounces of roving.  This is such pretty wool that I am always disappointed when I have to stop spinning for a while.