A Finished Sweater for the Mini

A cool and comfy baby sweater with room to grow. #knitting | withwool.com

#The100DayProject has been a great kick in the pants for my knitting. Not only am I knitting at night again, instead of scrolling through my phone, I’m actually finishing stuff. My first finished item is a Marigold Fields sweater for the Mini. I know baby/kid sweaters can be ridiculously fast knits, but the push to do something every day kept me from tucking this away to work on later. I got through the hard work of swatching, and figuring out mods for gauge, and actually starting which was the hardest thing of all. Working on the sweater, even as the yoke rows seemed to get longer and longer and longer, was the easy part.

This is only the second sweater that I’ve ever knit for the kiddo. I’ve got plans for a few others to make over the summer and fall, but this is the second which makes it special. The first sweater I finished before she was born, and it’s a special sweater too. That sweater was about what I wanted to make, and I planned it just so from the yarn to the pattern. It’s a warm, cosy welcome to the family even if she did have to grow into it. Now, well, she’s just about grown out of it. This second sweater isn’t just about what I want to make because now I have an idea of what she likes. And she likes the color yellow. So, I can make a sweater more for her and less about me. I’m looking forward to seeing what she wants in the years to come.

A cool and comfy baby sweater with room to grow. #knitting | withwool.com

I couldn’t resist dressing up her in the sweater the other day after I’d wove in the ends. While she didn’t immediately wriggle out of it, she did put the sweater through its paces. I’m hoping she’ll like it better now that it has buttons. I haven’t actually put it on her since sewing on the buttons, because I made the next size up. So, it’s a bit big which is so much better than a bit small. She’ll have the rest of spring and the whole summer to grow into it. Probably won’t take that long though.

Finishing the sweater turned out to be more interesting and collaborative than usual. I did the usual first step of dropping it in some cool water with a squirt of Eucalan, and gave it 20 minutes to soak. Then I laid it out to dry on a mat on my studio floor. That only lasted until the Mini crawled in and got a good grab of it. To prevent any more drastic adjustments to the shape, I put the whole blocking rig on top of my printer. The problem was that the sweater was much bigger and stretched out than it had been before going in the bath. Plus, it was still rather damp even after sitting out all night and most of the morning. Something had to change. The yarn, Knit Picks Comfy, is a blend of cotton and acrylic. I’ve had good luck putting similar blends in the dryer before so I chucked this one in the dryer too. On low, of course. The dryer did the trick! The yarn plumped up, the stitches got neater, and the sweater went back to its original size. That’s a win on all fronts. Once I had some free time that night, I sewed on the buttons. The cuteness was complete.

A cool and comfy baby sweater with room to grow. #knitting | withwool.com

What am I going to do for #The100DayProject now that this sweater is finished and documented? Next on the list is sewing buttons on a pair of slippers so I can finally wear them…next fall. Then I need to get started on a pair of fingerless mitts, including rewriting the pattern for scratch, to match a lace hat. My plans after that are still nebulous, but I’ve got some time to figure it out.

The Specs:

Pattern: Marigold Fields by Taiga Hilliard

Yarn: 251 yds Knit Picks Comfy - Semolina

Needles: US 8 (5mm) and US 9 (5.5mm)

Dates: April 13 - 30, 2019

Full modifications and notes listed on Ravelry

Yarn, Knitting, and #The100DayProject

#The100DayProject is helping me feel like myself and remember what I like so much about yarn. | withwool.com

#The100DayProject, a project dedicated to 100 days of whatever you choose, kicked off earlier this month, and I decided to join last minute. I’ve tackled this project in previous years with the goals of daily art, and spinning. For this year’s project, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to commit 100 days to. All I knew was that I was so bored of starring at my phone when I plopped on the couch at the end of the day after putting the Mini to bed. I wanted to do something or make something instead of endlessly scrolling through whatever or playing another game for the Nth time. So there was my project. My goal for 100 days was to put down my phone and make something. It’s been an interesting and fun change of pace. I haven’t done a great job of posting my daily progress online (mainly because it’s already after 11PM when I’m done), but I have put down my phone to make tasty desserts, write tutorials, take photos, pick out buttons, and knit lots.

#The100DayProject is helping me feel like myself and remember what I like so much about yarn. | withwool.com

#The100DayProject might be bringing back my knitting mojo. I returned to a pair of floundering socks for the Bearded One. I finished a pair of slippers, and now just need to sew on 12 buttons. The main project that I’ve devoted the past few days to is a new sweater for the Mini. She’s almost outgrown the first sweater I made her, and I want something she can wear through the Summer and into Fall. All of my perusing through Ravelry for baby stuff while I was still pregnant left me with lots of options to choose from. I picked out three sweaters and first up is Marigold Fields by Taiga Hilliard I had the yarn and the pattern already, but the 100 Day Project gave me the kick I needed to actually start. Casting on turned out to be harder than expected because I couldn’t get a fabric I liked at the required gauge. So I came back the next day to figure out how to make the yarn and pattern work together.

#The100DayProject is helping me feel like myself and remember what I like so much about yarn. | withwool.com

And here we are now. The lace yoke is finished. The arm holes are bound off. My mods went off without a hitch. Now I’m zooming through the body with 3” left before the bottom edge. I’m making the 2T size which will probably be a bit big for her right now, but should hopefully fit her for a long time.

I’m glad I committed to #The100DayProject after taking a break from it last year. It’s helping me feel like my old self and remember what I like so much about yarn. Anyone else tackling the Project with me?

A Handspun Purple Gradient

8 handspun skeins, 6 ounces of roving, and 1 beautiful color gradient. I spent almost 2 months spinning this yarn, and it was worth the effort. | withwool.com

And done! The extra long purple gradient I’ve been working on since mid March is finally yarn and ready to knit. I tackled the last bit of spinning and plying last week, and got the handspun off the bobbins on Sunday. Then the later skeins got a bath to set the twist before I hung them up to dry. In fact the bigger skeins were still a wee bit damp when I took these photos.

8 handspun skeins, 6 ounces of roving, and 1 beautiful color gradient. I spent almost 2 months spinning this yarn, and it was worth the effort. | withwool.com

This felt like such a big project when I was in the middle of it. I usually spin 4 ounces at a time and keep it as one big skein. Working with 6 ounces and splitting it into 8 mini-skeins definitely changed things up. There was more upfront prep. More bobbins. More plying. More letting the twist rest overnight. More baths to set the twist (otherwise I would have mixed up the gradient order).  All that extra work tricked me into thinking it was a much larger project than it was.  An additional 2 ounces of fiber isn’t all that much, nor is 6 ounces anywhere close to a sweater quantity of handspun. When I look at the skeins all lined up, they still seem like a big project because I know just how much work, time, and brain space when into making them. Because of that, I’m proud of all 8 of these skeins. They’re the same weight and have the same finished texture. I feel like I can move onto bigger and more involved spinning projects now. Might not be all that long before I start spinning yarn for a sweater. Or a giant blanket.

8 handspun skeins, 6 ounces of roving, and 1 beautiful color gradient. I spent almost 2 months spinning this yarn, and it was worth the effort. | withwool.com

I really enjoyed spinning this fiber, and I wish I could remember the vendor I bought it from. All I know is that it’s wool and that it was one of the last things that caught my eye at Interweave Yarn Fest 2016. I wish I’d put all the details up on the Ravelry stash page when the info was fresh in my mind. Maybe I’ll find the receipt, but I doubt it. 

8 handspun skeins, 6 ounces of roving, and 1 beautiful color gradient. I spent almost 2 months spinning this yarn, and it was worth the effort. | withwool.com

Now for the technical details. Since it had been so long since I saw what was in the middle of the roving ball, I laid it all out flat. Wasn’t sure what I wanted to do before, but seeing the complete color gradient made my decision easy. I split the gradient into its 8 major color sections and wound them into nests, making sure to keep the colors moving in the same direction. I wanted to preserve the colors and variation within each section as much as possible so I decided to chain ply. 

I started with the smallest nest of fiber which just so happened to be at one end of the gradient. Then I treated this first skein as a sample to figure out how I wanted to spin the 7 other bigger skeins. You can read more about that process here.

Once I figured out which drafting method worked for the fiber and the finished yarn, the only thing left to do was to get spinning. This fortunately coincided with the start of #the100DayProject where I dedicated myself to making yarn everyday for 100 days. That little bit of daily spinning, even if it was only 10 minutes, really added up. And the 100 Day Project kept me spinning even on busy days when I would have skipped it otherwise. 

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Almost 2 months later, I’ve got about 560 yards of sport weight yarn. I’m sure that number shrunk when I set the twist, but there’s still plenty of yardage to make a cosy shawl. I have an idea in my head for what that will look shawl will like, and I’m almost ready to get that down on paper. I think it’s time to get swatching.  

Bringing Back The Creative Mojo

#The100DayProject got me spinning yarn again, and brought back my creative mojo! | withwool.com

There’s been a lot of making going on around here, and I have #The100DayProject to thank. I was in a bit of a making rut the past few months. Didn’t really want to knit, spin, or draw beyond the simplest doodle. Reading, video games, and staring on my phone claimed my free time. I don’t regret how many books I read or hours spent playing games, but I knew I’d need a push to get making again. #The100DayProject turned out to be just the thing. 

#The100DayProject got me spinning yarn again, and brought back my creative mojo! | withwool.com

I had started spinning the big purple gradient in March in bits and pieces. It certainly wasn’t the every day project that it is now. I’m glad that changed because there’s no way I’d have 4 finished skeins and have started the 5th otherwise. Being halfway through with what feels like a rather large project - at only 6 ounces of fiber total, it’s not - is rather nice. I had a sneaking suspicion that would be the case. 

#The100DayProject got me spinning yarn again, and brought back my creative mojo! | withwool.com

What I didn’t expect was that a routine of daily spinning would bring back my drive to knit on slumbering projects, draw more complicated sketches, and even fiddle around with video editing. At the beginning of March just the thought of that stuff made me tired. Now now. My Sockhead Hat is a few rows taller and my past due gift knitting is almost done. My sketchbook is getting full and I put together a short video of a bobbin filling up with chain-plied yarn. 

I wish I could put my finger on exactly why a daily project recharged my creativity. I’d certainly use the trick to hack my behavior on a regular basis. Maybe it’s seeing daily progress. Maybe it’s because I’m solving puzzles and focusing on the details. Whatever the cause, this high tide of creativity isn’t going to last forever, so I’m going to enjoy it while it’s here. Then I’ll enjoy the low tide too and take a break. When I’m ready to start making again, I’ll pick another daily project and see where it takes me.

A New Eye For Spinning Color

I took a class with Maggie Casey and have new tools on how to manipulate and work colors for handspun yarn. | withwool.com

I’m happy to say that the #100handspunday project is still a daily thing. Aside from 1 day during the first week, I haven’t pushed a day off to do on the next. It’s hard for me to get going again once that little chain of “x’s” breaks for any reason. So I don’t stop, even on the long days. That’swhen I get handspun off the bobbins and measure yardage. Then there are the days when I can spin for an hour and go back for more after stretching my wrists.   

A little bit of flexibility has been key for me keeping this project going. The second part of Maggie Casey’s You Can’t Tell A Braid By It’s Color has also helped me spin every day. First, it’s a spinning class and you actually have to spin yarn. That took care of 2 days right there. Second, I had to spin samples for homework which took up a good chunk of last week. Third, the class pushed me right out my usual spinning comfort zone. 

I took a class with Maggie Casey and have new tools on how to manipulate and work colors for handspun yarn. | withwool.com

We worked with several colors and fiber that I liked and wanted to try, such as the blue silk/wool single, but also colors that wouldn’t be my first choice. The rainbow single is a mix of bright saturatedcolors that I drafted together with more muted tones. I didn’t expect to like the combo (wish I’d taken a before photo of the fiber) and was pleasantly surprised at how the colors melded.

I took a class with Maggie Casey and have new tools on how to manipulate and work colors for handspun yarn. | withwool.com

When I was spinning samples for plying, I paired like colors together. There was a semi-solid dark blue paired with bright blue and purple. Another pair was a solid red single and a striped blue and red single. The blues turned into the really interesting 2-ply on the left. 

The red pair turned into first attempts at different yarn constructions. There was a 4-ply cable, which I’ve only got a yard of, and the chain-ply, above right, spun with 2 plies instead of 1. I could have used an extra hand or two because you’re only looping 1 ply at a time and bringing the other along for the ride. Getting the tension right is trying. 

The skein in the middle is a bright red and purple fractal yarn. I’ve spun plenty of fractal yarns, but chugged along on this one because the colors aren’t my usual pick. Curious to see how it knits up. 

I took a class with Maggie Casey and have new tools on how to manipulate and work colors for handspun yarn. | withwool.com

I had a few samples leftover so I spent yesterday plying them in different ways. Now I need to get them off the bobbins and set the twist. Also plied a few other leftovers that had been hanging around. Looking forward to all the mini-skeins that will come out of this. 

The class got me thinking about color and spinning in a new way. My previous modus operandi would be to to spin yarns to preserve the color with clear distinct stripes, chain-plying, or singles. If I was feeling more adventurous (and the dye pattern of the fiber was clear), I’d aim for a fractal. Or I wouldn’t bother at all and just spin a 2-ply or 3-ply. 

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I’m sure I’ll still do all of those things, but now I’ll sample to see how colors will blend and heather in the drafting. I’ll try to figure out how to pair wildly different colors and braids together to create a specific effect. I’ll give more consideration to how construction and yarn weight affect color. I’m also going to sample more and do it for fun. I really liked those bite-sized chunks of spinning because of how wild the results might be. It’s also given me an appreciation dyed with bright saturated colors because I know they can be tamed and changed. 

If you get the chance and you want to explore spinning color, You Can’t Tell A Braid By It’s Color is a class worth taking. You can read my thoughts about the first part of the class here. It’s changed my outlook on dyed fiber and gave me the tools to manipulate color through every step of spinning. Plus, it’s given me plenty of ideas for what to spin for the rest of my #100HandspunDays. 

#100HandspunDays and Homework

Taking a spinning class about color was a great way to start my #The100DayProject, #100HandspunDays. |    withwool.com

#the100dayproject and my 100 days of handspun started last Tuesday. I already missed a day, but I did make it up when I had both the time and energy to spin yarn. And, in a happy coincidence, the project kicked off the same week that I was going to a spinning class. Maggie Casey was teaching You Can’t Tell A Braid By Its Color, a 2-part class about different ways to spin and manipulate color. 

Part 1 focused on drafting. We got a few different kinds of dyed fiber to work with: top made of longitudinal stripes, semi-solid colors, heavily blended heathers, splotchy dye jobs, and top with long sections of color. I made fine fingering samples and bulky samples. I spun worsted, long-draw, and even over the fold. I spun the fiber as is, pre-drafted, and teased out sideways. I divided fiber into narrow strips to change the ratio of colors. All of this to see how these methods affected the color in the singles. Then I plied the singles back on themselves in either a 2-ply or chain-ply. 

Going into this class, I thought I knew a decent amount about how to spin with color. I’m not a beginner, but there’s clearly still a lot to learn. The thought isn’t disappointing or depressing. It’s exciting because there are still things to try and and techniques to play with. Learning anything is a journey, not a destination. 

Taking a spinning class about color was a great way to start my #The100DayProject, #100HandspunDays. |    withwool.com

2 of my favorite samples came from fiber that’s way outside my usual picks. I sampled with Northern Lights top in the very bright Circus colorway. The top yarn is spun without changing anything about the color at all. But for the bottom yarn, I held two sections of the top together so that drafting created an eye-catching heather. I’d knit with this yarn. 

Taking a spinning class about color was a great way to start my #The100DayProject, #100HandspunDays. |    withwool.com

My other favorite sample came from roving dyed by Hummingbird Moon. It’s splotchy with black, white, purples, bright green, and neon pink. Drafting mellows and heathers the colors so that they work together. The bright green and pinks create interesting pops of color that draw the eye instead of push it away. I’m rather smitten, and happy to have some of this fiber stashed away for later. 

Taking a spinning class about color was a great way to start my #The100DayProject, #100HandspunDays. |    withwool.com

I came home with a lot of samples and a bit of homework too. The next class is all about how plying affects color and I need to bring well-rested singles. Won’t be waiting to the last minute to get this done. I’m actually happy to have this assignment because it gives me a non-negotiable deadline inside my 100 Day Project. No figuring out what to do that day from a dozen possibilities. No convincing myself that I could just do it later.  Plus, the different colors and methods are a nice break from my long-term projects. Time to get back to spinning. 

100 Days of Handspun

I’m tackling #The100DayProject this year and spinning yarn every day! #100HandspunDays |    withwool.com

One of goals for 2017 is to get back to my wheel and spin more yarn. Writing it down is one thing, actually doing it is another. So to keep myself accountable and accomplish this goal, I’m joining #the100DayProject. Simply put, the 100 Day project is a world wide art project where you do one small thing for 100 days. This cute video explains it well

I’m going to keep my rules simple and convenient so I can keep the project going for the long haul. Plus, I want to improve my improve my spinning skills and knowledge.

  1. Sit down at the wheel and spin!
  2. Fiber prep counts. So taking a few days (or weeks) to learn how to make batts or practice hand carding is encouraged.
  3. Work out of the fiber stash and see just how far it’ll go.
  4. On busy draining days, reading about fiber, breed characteristics, and yarn construction is a-ok. What good is having a spinning reference shelf if I never use it?
  5. Share the day’s spinning on Instagram and in blog posts. I’m using #100HandspunDays to keep things organized.  

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Today, April 4th, is Day 1 and first bit of handspun is on the bobbin. I’m continuing with the purple gradient - nothing said I had to start a brand new project after all. I’m on the 3rd of 8 nests and curious to see it all spun up. 

Are you doing #the100DayProject? What’s your one small thing?