like i was saying yesterday, i grabbed my joy wheel while running out the door for my long trip home and tossed it into the back of the car with a variety bag of wool rovings. i wasn’t really thinking straight—just that i always turn to the wheel when i need calm.
as for the rovings i chose, well, chose might not be the right word; i pretty much just opened the first boxes i saw in my work room and grabbed what was on top—a couple of grafton fibers
batts still in the bag from SPA
and an 8-ounce hank of crown mountain farms hand-dyed superwash merino that had arrived just the day before, in the secret agent man colorway.
(this picture shows the predrafted fiber, so it appears softer than it will on the CM website)
my mom doesn’t have room for all of us in her new, smaller home, so my brother joe, david, and i all stayed at a cousin’s house. the house was an incredible refuge for us during the week we were all together. our cousin was away for the winter in florida, so we had the place to ourselves. it was a quiet, comfortable, and restful place to go at the end of each day, and provided a nice environment for us three to have our own time and stay up late shooting the sh*t together. joe has a large family who stayed in texas, so it was nice for him and us to have time alone together.
i set up my little wheel right away on the first night we were there; i thought my brother would be completely taken with it, and he was (smile). it was like watching him watch a fire—all the time we talked he couldn’t take his eyes off it as i spun, and kept stoppping the conversation to ask questions.
it was great to show him about how the flyer works and how using the different whorls affects what happens to the wool and then, how the hands are involved. he completely understands all of this stuff mechanically, though he didn’t even try his hand at actual spinning. i was further impressed by the way he noticed that the dyed fiber looks so completely different as it is taken from one stage of spinning to another. first it is more intense in the roving, then it softens aftter predrafting, and then, more changes to the colorway as it is spun, then plied. he was extremely interested in the fact that an experienced fiber worker can control and manipulate all these variables to get a desired product. it reminded me of the intense discussions we used to have years ago about my painting and drawing, and how he always offered suprising and uncannily astute observations on art, though he is not an artist himself.
i love my brother.
seriously, i could sit and talk to him about all this stuff for a week . . . well, ok, i pretty much did. and we could do it for another week straight, i think. he always understands exactly what i’m talking about—even the most esoteric things. and he can’t even hear that well . . .
first i spun up the brown and turquoise grafton fibers batt. i was anxious to spin this fiber since i had heard so many wonderful things about it. though it’s not marked, i believe i have here their corriedale fiber. the batt was a mix of natural and dyed fiber, with the turquoise concentrated in the center. i tore the bat into strips, working from one side to the other in order so as to maintain the color sequence it came in. no special reason for that—alternatively, i could have mixed the strips up to get more color mixing throughout the yarn.
so what i ended up with was a skein that starts out dark brown and shades to turquoise in the middle and then back to the brown at the end. the fiber spins beautifully, acquiring the right amount of twist to make a nice-looking two-ply without much effort, probably due to the fact that the corriedale is still quite bouncy after carding, and the fiber is not combed.
i intended the yarn to be used for socks, but did not do a sample, so i ended up with a yarn that could have been a tad finer, after it was washed and dried. nevertheless, it is very attractive and i love it. i just wish there was more—i didn’t realize the batt was 2.5 to 3 ounces, and i only got about 230 yards. we all liked it so much though, that i’m checking in to see if i can get another. the men will have to fight over who gets these socks.
speaking of men fighting, the whole male half of the tribe went out on the last night they were together to see the 300, which was advertised as being “manlier than manly” (eye roll). they all came home grinning, grunting, and beating their chests . . . so it must have been good.
so let me talk the crown mountain farms fiber.
first of all, i need to sing the praises of teyani and klaus—they run a very tight ship at their place, and there is are few things i like more than an efficient operation. their attentiveness to each order is thorough and personal.
i went there looking for an additional hank of some silk to match one that i bought at rhinebeck. while i was there, i picked out another silk colorway and some superwash merino rovings in several colorways to spin for socks, since the actual sock hop yarn they offer is so rarely available. my order was at my door less than 2 days later, except for the additional silk which they needed to special order for me (no problem; i did not need that right away).
one thing i love about the way they sell the dyed merino roving is that the bundles are 8 ounces. there is plenty there then to spin the same colorway in different weights. often, when working with the usual 4-ounce bundle, i find i wish i had a few more ounces so that i could spin some for socks, and some in a heavier weight for a hat or scarf. with the CM bundles i can try the roving in several weights and have plenty for a project in each.
anyway, i spun up about 3 ounces of the secret agent man for socks and it looks like this
now, i have a thing about secret agent men; when i was small, in the early 60s, my favorite show was the saint. the green hornet was another favorite, but i later found out that was sort of a spoof. i also loved all things mission impossible as well as get smart. i’m attracted to anything that has a spy theme.
naturally, this yarn caught my attention. and it does have spy written all over it, don’t you think?
it has all the mystery and shadiness of a shadowy figure, with a hint of pink as a telltale sign of a secret lady friend. ok, that might be investing the yarn with just a little more life than is warranted, but hey, it’s a game i like to play, ok?
(i can’t decide which picture is the best of all, so you’re getting more than one of each today . . .)
teyani puts a lot of care into her dyeing and it really shows in the finished yarn. i can’t wait to knit it and see what it looks like in a fabric. i think it will be somewhat stripey, but not too. the fiber is superwash merino combed top, so it’s slippery; it was a little hard to spin on the joy wheel; i thought i was putting way too much twist into it, but then when i plied it, it’s actually looser than i’d hoped for. and the joy just doesn’t handle merino all that well in my experience—it jerks it around too much and it’s hard to get consistency in the singles. and then, while plying, the brake kept seizing up the bobbin for some reason.
it would have been better to spin on my schacht. that’s why i saved the remaining 5 ounces or so to work with here at home—i can’t wait; i know the schacht will handle it much better. i am spinning the remainder into a bigger, loftier yarn to use for other kinds of projects requiring worsted weight yarn. once i get it done, i’ll show you how the color compares when changing the yarn weight. one other note about the color—i washed this yarn in water that was a little too warm and it lost a tad of it’s intensity; next time i’ll use cooler water as teyani suggests
(yeah, yeah, i didn’t see that part before i plunged it into hot water . . .).
now that i’m home and have completed the two pair of sox from last month, i needed another desk sock, so i went foraging in my drawer and dusted off this one that i started last summer from a wool/hemp/mohair blend yarn. it’s a little heavier weight, and not very soft on the hands to work with, but i think david will really get into having hemp-blend socks, so i’m going to persevere on it.
hopefully they will knit up quickly on the bigger needles compared to the size-0 sock knitting i’ve been doing so much of lately.
you’ll also be glad to know that i got right back to the starlight evening wrap last night and am working away on the edging for the second end.
i am about two evenings away from being finished! i better get busy on the pattern because i know a bunch of people are looking forward to it. i finally broke down and bought some new software from knitfoundry that i can use on my mac for charting stitch patterns. previously, i had to work between two computers and that got to be a real hassle. i’m looking forward to putting the new software through its paces on the starlight pattern.
well, that’s about it for today, and good thing, too, because i see i have run on and on and on.
good thing there’s pictures, eh??