Intentionally Spun

Skeins of yak/silk with spindle

I’ve finally done it. Only what, three years now after picking up spinning? I’ve finally spun something on purpose with a specific target in mind. And do you know what? It’s the first bit of handspun that isn’t sitting listlessly in my stash, waiting for me to figure out what to do with it. Who knew that when you plan the project out in advance, it’s almost impossible to wait long enough to let the twist set before you ball up and cast on.

Skeins of yak/silk with spindle
4 oz. / 375 yards 50% yak, 50% silk from One Lupine

This is roughly 375 yards of 17 wpi 50% yak, 50% silk. The roving was hand-dyed by One Lupine, a Christmas gift from my most excellent sister-in-law who lives in their general corner of the globe. I worked it up on my 23-gram spindle from Port Fiber. Quick review on the spindle: the spin was lovely, but I won’t buy fancy shaped edges on a whorl any time soon. The nature of the wood means that you get splinters, which means snags. Bad news for a 28 wpi single ply. The curvature of the whorl also made it hard to get the budding cone of yarn to sit snugly against the whorl, which made it trickier to build the cone in a balanced manner. Once I replaced the hook with a sturdy 1/2″ brass cup hook from Home Depot, I found it much easier to get a good, centered spin going and the weight distribution was good for what I was working with.

I knew from the moment I opened the box Christmas morning that this gem of a fiber was destined to be long fingerless gloves for me–my hands get severely cold when typing. I wanted them to be thin to avoid dealing with bulk in between by hands and the keyboard (the reason I don’t use the gloves I have), which meant aiming for a fingering weight yarn…which is about what I’ve figured out how to spin with some consistency, so that worked out nicely. 🙂

I did the math and figured out that with a 2-ply (again, only plying technique I’ve picked up to date), I would want my singles to be about 28 wpi. My mother gave me this little treasure for Christmas:

Spinner's Control Card
This control card makes it quick to check my gauge.

And let me say, I found it to be extremely useful.

The roving was a rainbow mix and a bit thin, so I split the colors apart and then split each of them into four parts of more or less equal weight. (Having a digital scale is unavoidably useful for spinning, I am finding.) That allowed me to spin four single of roughly equal length and roughly equal color variations so I could make two 2-ply skeins so I can make one glove from each and know (a) how long to make the gloves and (b) that they’ll more or less match.

Yak/Silk Rainbow Handspun
Hard a hard time getting the lighting right, but you can see the color variation.

Both of the balls came out weighing the same, within two yards of being the same length, and with fairly even color variation…though I got over-eager and started knitting before taking a shot of the balls together.

Pomatomus Glove
I love the subtle color variation with this stitch pattern.

And here’s a sneak picture of glove number one, sans fingers and thumb. The stitch pattern is from the Pomatomus socks on Knitty. I’m not the first person to have made this transition, but the other instructions out there are disappointingly lacking in specificity, so I’ll share my pattern notes when I finish working this out. Come back in a week or two for the details!

Update: Here’s the pictures of the finished gloves and a free pattern for them!

Happy Birthday, Indeed!

So…there is almost nothing good about having a birthday on the 16th of December. No matter how many people love you, snow and flu and holiday bustle have a way of sweeping December birthdays off to the side. This year, however, my family and friends defied all odds and managed to throw me a surprise birthday party that was completely delightful. I won’t bore you with all the details since I didn’t save any cake to share, but there is one gift that I must tell you about.

PortFiber

I was given a gift certificate to this lovely little fiber shop that I was previously unaware of. They have a few things on Etsy, but if you are a spinner or a felter and live within a few hours of Portland, it is well worth the visit. Casey Ryder, who teaches some of their spinning workshops, was supremely helpful in choosing a beautiful undyed BFL for a Swivel Pullover.

BFL Roving for sweater

It’s as soft as it is lovely. This will be my first exercise in intentionally spinning for a project…wish me luck!

I still had money to spend because of the generosity of the gift-giver, so I got to pick up even more for my spinning delight.

23 Gram Spindle

This 23-gram spindle is not only pretty, it’s got a lovely balance and weight distribution. I think it will be excellent for spinning my final, delightful purchase…

Undyed Yak/Silk Roving

That’s a 50/50 yak/silk roving. Spinning yak is on my bucket list, and I can’t even described the lustrous deliciousness of this roving. It’s deadly soft and super shiny. Now if only I can make myself plow through the second half of my sister’s Christmas scarf so I can pick up the spinning again…