Handspun Flight of Fancy

So much of my handspun starts simply with the urge to spin and these skeins were no exception. I had no end project in mind and went digging through my fiber for the first thing that caught my eye.. The winner was 4 oz of Falkland top from Cosy Makes. She no longer dyes and this bump was one of the last she sold to clear out her stock. It was also the last bit of her lovely work in my stash so I wanted it to be more than mindless spinning.

I had a few unwatched Craftsy classes on spinning (still do) and picked Jacey Boggs’ Drafting From Worsted to Woolen. What better way to keep my mind on the fiber than to learn how to spin better. Those 23+ minutes I watched about worsted spinning were golden. My singles were smoother and more consistent. Plus, they were finer than I usually spin which is something I’ve been working towards for a few months but haven’t quite figured out yet.

The singles sat until I decided it was time to empty the bobbins for Tour de Fleece. Plying was easy, and the first single only broke once. Once it came off the bobbin though it looked like I hadn’t put enough twist, despite frequently checking that the twist was equal. Thankfully, the fiber relaxed a lot after a long soak and let the twist do it’s thing. The finished yarn is plump and soft with plenty of twist. It’s not as shiny as the singles, but that’s probably because it’s Falkland, and the fact that I gave it a few good thwacks across the shower wall. 

The grand yardage total came to 514 yards between the main skein and the plied leftovers, but that was before setting the twist. After last week’s experiment remeasuring the yardage of finished yarn, I’m sure that I have far less than that to work with. I’ll figure out the exact number when the yarn tells me it’s time to knit it up. 

The Specs:

Fiber: 4 oz Cosy Makes Falkland - Flights of Fancy 

Drafting Method: Short-forward draw

Construction: 2-ply fractal

Weight: Sport - Worsted

Let’s Get Ready For Tour de Fleece 2015

Tour de Fleece, the grand summer spin-along to the Tour de France, is coming up on July 4th. I am so excited to spin more yarn for my fourth Tour! Part of the why I look forward to it every year is that I add lots of new handspun to my stash. I haven’t knit it all up yet but that’s okay. The reason I’m most excited for Tour de Fleece though is that I use it as a time to learn new techniques, try different fibers, and level up my skills.

Before the 2014 Tour I wrote a post with 5 training tips for Tour de Fleece. This year I’m taking my own training advice which means the first thing to do is empty all my bobbins. I only have 3 bobbins that I can use on my Sidekick and one of them is a Jumbo for plying. My current project, 4 oz of hand dyed falkland,  has been on the wheel for far too long and I finally finished spinning the second single last Monday. Tuesday, I started plying. I’m still plying today, but I’m always happy to see how much faster the bobbin fills up. One more skein before Tour de Fleece! Well, at least one more.

I’ve also set my goals for 3 weeks of dedicated spinning. The first and most important one, don’t hurt myself. My shoulder wasn’t pleased after I spent so much time drafting long-draw last year. I had no choice but to take a spinning break. My second goal involves this yarn I’m spinning right now. Before I started drafting I watched the second segment of Jacey Boggs’ Craftsy class, Drafting From Worsted to Woolen. The difference in my worsted spun yarn before and after watching the 23 minutes of this segment is incredible. My singles are smoother, more consistent, and much finer. So, for Tour de Fleece I’m going to spin and ply my way through the rest of Drafting From Worsted to Woolen. This is going to be fun. 

Happy spinning and training for Tour de Fleece!

Stash Documentation

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In February, I signed up for the Spun Right Round Fiber club as soon as it popped up in the Etsy shop. Doesn’t hurt to obsessively stalk a shop’s RSS feed, right? Please tell me I’m not the only one that does this. Joining the club was a consolation prize, albeit an awesome one, for not being able to make the trip to Stitches West. Eventually, the shipping notification arrived in my inbox and I waited none too patiently for March’s shipment to show up in my mailbox. The fiber is soft and the colors are definitely outside of my usual color spectrum. Riotous neon pink doesn’t often make it into my stash but this bump makes it look fun. Can’t wait to start spinning it up. 

When I went to add the fiber, appropriately named Color Bot, to my Ravelry stash, it looked it was the only fiber I’ve bought in months. Definitely not true. I was also pretty sure that I’ve made more than 21 skeins of handspun. Oh, Ravelry, I have not forsaken you! I’ve just been a little distracted by spinning and writing and websites and knitting and video games and…you get the point. Over the past few days I’ve been adding to, photographing for, and updating the stash catalog. The whole process can be slow going but it’s worth it and I recommend it. A happy, up to date Ravelry stash let’s you see all your fiber at the click of a finger. Makes it easier to decide what to spin next. No need to drag it all unless you want to. Plus, it’s a great reference when you’re trying to decide how to further enhance the stash. 

I almost forgot I had some this stuff. Shame on me. 

Malabrigo Nube - Glitter Colorway. This Merino is ridiculously soft and the colors are everything you’d expect from Malabrigo. 

CosyMakes Falkland - Flight of Fancy

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More CosyMakes Falkland in Honey Bear. Before and After.

Gale’s Art Corriedale Top - Limited Edition Color

6 oz of un-dyed Corriedale Cross. Sometimes you just need a few neutrals to balance out all the color. Thinking about about pairing it with the purples, greens, and blues of the Corriedale from Gale’s Art. Maybe I’ll try spinning my first skein of sock yarn. 

Honey Bear Handspun

I can’t remember exactly when I first started following CosyMakes but I’m fairly certain I was still in college. I liked her blog, her patterns, and her hand dyed yarn and fiber.  Still do. I wanted to join her fiber even though I didn’t know how to spin. So, during a February Sale, I snapped up a few bumps of fiber. The Falkland was every bit as pretty in my hands as it was on the computer screen. Soft too.

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The first word that popped into my head when I unchained the top was, Fractal. The small color palate was clear and distinct with an obvious repeat. A perfect dye job for fractal yarn. I didn’t hesitate to split the fiber lengthwise and then split one half three more times. It’d be so easy to divide the stripes further but I like to keep the repeats longer rather than shorter. 

Spinning the singles long-draw was easy but it took me awhile to ply them together. When it came time to soak the yarn, I had to wash the dishes to clear the sink. Annoying but handspun is worth a little scrubbing.

I’m not sure what the yarn’s next step is. Maybe a shawl or a cowl or simply a gift. I can think of a few people who would gladly take this yarn off my hands. 

The Specs

Fiber: Cosy Makes Falkland Top

Color: Honey Bear

Fractal 2-ply

340 & 32 yards

~ 10 WPI; DK to Worsted Weight

February - March 2014

Button Back Mitts

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Wednesday night, I heard rumors of approaching snow and was quite skeptical. I’ve heard these tales before but this one actually turned out to be true. When I looked out the window Thursday morning, snow was falling at a lovely diagonal. The flakes were so heavy that they didn’t land. They plopped. Dry snow this was not. Still, it’s snow and I took the opportunity to get some photos of knitwear in it’s natural environment.

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Button Back Mitts by Cosette Cornelius-Bates

Needles: US 7 (4.5 mm) 

Dates: December 29, 2012 - January 17, 2013

@Ravelry

This is another pattern that’s been sitting in the queue for ages. I finally decided to cast on for them the last time it got cold and didn’t have anything wooly or long enough to cover my fingers. Putting these mitts on instantaneously warms my hands. I’d like to think that it’s because I’m using my own wonderful 3-ply handspun (it debuted as the sea a few months back) but it’s probably just the thicker than normal layer of wool. Either way, still great. 

The mitts are also extra special because this is the first time I’ve really knit with my own handspun. To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I worried about the gauge. I worried about the stitches being too open where the yarn was thin. I worried about the stitches being too bulky and bulging where the yarn was thick. I worried about running out of yarn since this was the only skein I had. Eventually, I just put those anxieties on the shelf and knit a swatch. I picked the needle size that gave me a nice fabric and got to work.  I kept an eye out for problems and tried on the mitts frequently. Know what I found? Perfectly good yarn that knit up evenly and at a consistent gauge. There were no open spots or bulging stitches. There were no breaks. There was just a good, solid yarn that I would love to knit with again. Handspun, I’m officially and unapologetically in love.

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Back to the mitts. The fact that I could knit them long enough to cover my fingers and fold back the extra fabric when it wasn’t needed is what made me queue these mitts to begin with. Cute buttons don’t hurt either. To get the best coverage and the most out of the yarn, I knit the mitts from the fingers down and completely reversed the pattern. Used the same numbers though. 

While I was photographing the mitts, the snow was already starting to melt and turn to slush. See you next time, snow. I’ll be waiting with handspun mitts.

It's a hat!

You can blame this one on a freezing, early morning. A few weeks ago, I was working an early shift that had me out of bed at 4:45 AM and out the door an hour later. I had a hat, a heavy coat, and a pair of fingerless gloves. These things were not enough protection from the 19º temperatures. After a 5 minute drive to work, an altercation with a security guard that I’m not going to go into, and walking into the building, I was freezing. My hands were so cold that it felt like my fingers were burning off. It was at that moment that I decided to make that pair of convertible mitts. This particular pair had only been in my queue since before Ravelry.

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Pattern: Squares Squared Hat by Cosette Cornelius-Bates | ravelry |

Yarn: Mission Falls 1824 Wool - Curry, Heath, and Amethyst

Needles: US 7 (4.5mm)

Dates: Jan 14 - 17, 2011

@Ravelry (public link)

Obviously, this is a hat and not a pair of mitts. This is also a hat that matches those mitts. The hat came first since I knew how much yarn it would use and it would make a good swatch. Plus, two layers of wool is warmer than one. It’s oversized, slouchy, soft, and I love wearing it even on days when it’s not 19º outside. The Bearded One thinks it’s one of the coolest hats I’ve ever made and he’s not the only one complementing. I’m kicking myself for not starting this (and the mitts) sooner. 

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When I finished the hat, there was more than enough yarn left for a pair of mitts. I’ve almost finished the first one too. It might be not be cold enough again to wear them this winter but I’ll be ready for next time.

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My boss. He's a demanding taskmaster.

Snow Cat Set

Usually, I don’t put much stock in New Year’s Resolutions but the start of a new decade seems too powerful not to take advantage of. I have my small list of resolutions but, before I can get started, there’s some unfinished business from 2009 to put to bed.

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Pattern: Snow Cat Hat from Cosymakes.com

Yarn: Patons Classic Wool - Burgundy

Needles: US 7 (4.5 mm)

Date: Oct 29-31, 2009

@Rav

I thought the Snow Cat Hat was really cute when I first saw it and I was thrilled when I won the pattern. After some obligatory yarn shopping and during a break from Christmas knitting, I quickly cast on. The hat was a fun, quick knit that I finished just in time to wear for Halloween. The only change was an additional .5” to get one more full repeat of the lace pattern.

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@Rav

Since there was half a skein leftover, I decided to make a pair of matching fingerless mitts. The base pattern is my own with the lace and a similar rib pattern added in. I had just enough yarn to make them too but I was a bit worried over the last few rows.

These hat and mitts have become my go-to set ever since, not only do they match my coat, they also keep me warm near drafty windows. You can’t beat that.