Thursday, 24 February 2011

SPIN013 & SPIN014

It had been 3 weeks since my last post. Was really busy for my Computing assignments and Diving exam. Not much knitting has been done. I did spin a bit while watching TV though.

First I've spun 200 grams of natural grey Shetland from World of Wool. Shetland wool is one of my favourite fibre to spin. It's not as soft as BFL but I find it easier to handle. Also there's a Cardigan SAL (Spin along) happening in Wildcraft's Ravelry group. I've got some Shetland custom-dyed by Karen of Wildcraft in Oak Leaves (a beautiful shade of greens, greys and purple). This grey Shetland is like a practice before I spin the "real thing".


I read from somewhere before that beginning spinners tend to spin something really chunky and uneven. But after they learn how to spin thinner, it becomes more difficult to spin chunky. I find it quite true. Undoubtedly I need  more practice until I can spin some consistent chunky yarn good enough to do a cardigan. Hum... maybe I should set my heart to some other patterns calling for DKish yarn for the SAL?

Another problem I got is the way I spun it. I don't know if it's true or not, but I got a feeling that Shetland is best spun woollen or at least semi-woollen. After all it's how Shetlanders spun their yarn for their super warm sweaters? Unfortunately I don't know how to do long draw. And I was too lazy to hand card 200grams into rolags. Therefore I only did a forward short draw directly from tops. I did try to keep my hands farther away than usual and not to press the single too hard after each draw, hoping to have more woollen-looking and airy singles. But I think my poor technique didn't do Shetland wool the justice it deserves.


On the left is about 170metres of 2-ply yarn. It's now sort of aran weight but will likely bloom to chunky after washing. The right was a bit of leftover chain-plied from one bobbin. Already chunky. But I get no idea what to do with 24 metres of chunky wool.

Apparently the 2-ply yarn is quite underplied. But I really want it to bloom and remain soft so I gave up doing another round of plying. I guess I quite like its rustic look though I can imagine people may hate it for its hairiness. Let's see how it looks after washing. Maybe it'll become a pair of mitts or a hat or maybe both?


Another braid I spun is the Superwash Merino from Alchemy Fibre Arts.


Navajo plying should be the best way to preserve the colour repeats. But I don't have confidence in spinning merino yet. I was afraid my single would have lots of thicks and thins - which turns out to be quite true. Chain-plying would amplify the unevenness and that's not what I want for sock yarn. Therefore I decided to do a fractal 2-ply.

I first split the roving into two long pieces across its width. For the first piece, I did a bit LOADS of pre-drafting before spinning up. It gave a bobbin of single with very long colour repeat, kinda like Noro, a lot softer though. The second piece was further divided into 4 pieces across its width to achieve a shorter colour repeat.


I got about 235 metres in 89grams after plying. Again, a bit underplied. Sigh... But I guess I can't say I am unhappy. After all it's merino! It is was my fear factor. Though I still can't spin it very well but I guess I no longer fear it. :)


The colours are very cheerful though I find it a bit too neon-y. Next time I think I may try to ply it with another strand of white or semi-solid merino. I am quite eager to knit it up as soon as I can. Really want to see the visual effect of fractal spinning. I am still debating if I should knit my very first pair of handspun socks, or to knit another One-Row Handspun Scarf using very big needles (but given its vibrant neon-y colours, I probably will overdye the scarf with coffee or tea to "sadden" the colours before daring to put it around my neck!)...

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

*SPOILER* January Sock Club parcels

I am so lucky to be in two sock clubs this year. Both my January sock club parcels arrived yesterday!


The first one was from Socktopus Knit Love Club. The yarn is Sokkusu-Xtra hand dyed by Alice Yu (Socktopus). The colourway is called Coralina. As a serious hard-core pink/purple sucker, I screamed when I wrapped off the parcel. Different shades of pink and purple. What more can I ask for?

(Sokkusu Xtra: 70% Merino, 20% Cashmere, 10% Nylon. 366m/113g)

However I probably won't knit it into the designated sock club pattern. The yarn is soft and squishy. But I have a bad record and memory of felting and wearing out socks. Guess my gauge is not tight enough or my handwashing is not gentle enough or both. I really don't want to knit any sock with cashmere content -- I'd be too scared to actually put them on. So there's no point for me to knit some socks that I won't wear right? Luckily this Sokkusu Xtra is only a special treat by Alice to celebrate the start of the year. The normal sock club yarn should be a high-twist 100% merino, which I should feel more comfortable to knit socks with.

I still want to attempt the sock club pattern though. The skewed construction of the club pattern looks really interesting. I will probably knit it up with a skein of variegated Wollmeise or Blue Moon Socks that Rock.


Another parcel I got yesterday was from Blue Moon Rockin' Sock Club. Two skeins of STR medium weight with two mini skeins of emergency yarn!


The colourway is called Pinkie Swear & Aubergenius. I think Pinkie Swear is the colourful variegated one while Aubergenius is the semi-solid one in aubergine brown?


Each skein has about 102g and 228 metres.


There are two printed patterns and dyer's notes in plastic sleeves.


The first pattern is called Social Network. An interesting pattern combining cable and colourwork. I love the cable part. And honestly I think this pattern shows the yarn better. But I am really not that into the cuffs, heels and toes knit in garter stitch. If I really make this, I'd love to make modifications on cuffs, heels and toes...


The second pattern is Distelfink. The colourwork looks very complicated but the birds, hearts and flowers are so cute. The variegated yarn is a bit busy but guess I will still try to give it a go!

Alright. Time to wind some yarn up!

FO: Green Marlene Socks

Another FO off the needles in January!


My knitting goal for 2011 is to knit 12 pairs of socks (well, my real goal is to knit 20-24 pairs... but it may be too ambitious to voice out). The project information can be found at the bottom of this post. For more detailed (and boring) progress notes, click here.


In short, it's an enjoyable pattern. The lace pattern is easier than it looks. The only problem is its lack of elasticity. The twisted rib makes it not too stretchy. If I made this pattern again, I'd definitely cast on 4 or 8 more stitches to expand the lace panels and give more leg room.


Project name: Green Marlene
Pattern: Marlene by Cookie A (can be purchased at $4 on Vogue Knitting Online Store)
Started: 9 December 2010
Completed: 29 January 2011
Needle: US2 (2.75mm) Knitpick Symfonie.
Yarn: Wollmeise Sockenwolle 80/20 Twin
Colourway: WD Frosch (it means Frog in German)
How much? 0.54 skeins = 251.8m (275.4 yards)