Friday, October 29, 2010

Knitting with handspun!

I've been knitting with my handspun yarn!

The first project is a vest. The yarn was spun from 8 oz of coopworth purchased at MDS&W in 2009. It was my first ever big skein of handspun yarn. I spun about 410 yards.

Then, I had the inspiration to make a striped vest by combining my uneven handspun with rustic noro kureyon yarn.

I looked at few vest patterns, both free and for purchase. There were universal things I did not appreciate: vests should not have any sleeves. When there's no shaping to the armhole, you end up with a funky triangle thing resting on your front shoulder like this and this. It's personal taste, but I find it sort of getting in the way. Also, without shoulder shaping, the vest will fit sort of awkwardly because a person's shoulder is not a straight line. There is curvature on the top of the back. There is a gentle slope from the neck to the arm. All that had to be incorporated.

I had this all worked out: the shaping, the math, everything. I'll do a provisional cast on, so if I do run out of yarn, I'll just do an extra-long ribbing at the bottom. I made 180 sts, and knitted in the round. After few hours of knitting, I tried it on. It could fit another me. Waaay too big. So measured how long I knitted and weighed how much yarn I had used. The calculation came out that I should have enough for the whole length of the vest.

I recast on 160 sts and instead of stockinette st, I worked in k3p1 rib using #5 needles.

That's looking better.

I did not want to interrupt the gradual color change of noro yarn, so I decided to add 5-stitch steeks for the front, back, and the armholes. Basically, you pretend like the 5 stitches aren't there, and work the decreases just like you would for a vest shaping. When I got to shoulder shaping, I used short rows so I would be able to use a 3-needle bindoff. That is way stronger, neater, and easier than seaming.

With the steeks worked in, the vest looks like a cone: Here it is from the front

and back.
Here you can see the steek stitches--it's the five stockinette stitches in the middle. I saved one stitch from the body designated as the center stitch for the rib edging.
I chose to use the crochet steek technique, described in great detail by Eunny Jang here. The grey yarn is the crochet chain I made. I'll be cutting between the two crochet chains.

...and..cut! Now it looks like a vest!
Whilst knitting the body of the vest, I was pondering about the rib edging. I knew I wanted a k1p1 rib, but nothing else. Should I use some commercial yarn? I didn't think I would have enough coopworth for the entire edging. I wanted something darker.

I searched through my fiber collection, and found just enough of the border leicester fleece in dark chocolate. Perfect!

I flick carded all the dark chocolate fiber, and spun it up in sport/dk weight yarn. In the previous photo there were 56g of fiber, but after flick carding and spinning and plying, I only had about 46g. It must have been dusty!

Here is the photo of the yarn spun-up. It was late and dark when I finished, so the colors came out all weird.
Anyway, I spun about 80 yards, and picked up the stitches for edging. For some reason I was listening to the BBC documentary on history of Scotland, so seeing this makes me want to talk in my best Scottish accent.

For the edging, using #4 needles, I picked up 4 stitches every 6 rows. I then worked 6 rows of k1p1 rib. on the 7th row I decreased by 10% , then used the tubular cast off technique to retain elasticity of the ribbing.

And here it is! Take a look:

I'm so happy with this! It fits perfectly, and it's super duper warm. I mean, it's warmer than normal knitting. I'm cold natured, but this vest kept me piping hot with just a tshirt underneath.


The next one up is this handspun: Merino/silk blend and Corriedale plied together. The fiber was from Eatonton when I borrowed the spinnning wheel. I managed to spin the merino silk using the wheel:

...but only could spin corriedale using my home-made spindle.

Anyway, I plied it up in October 2009, and it sat waiting for its turn. Plied, it was about 300 yards and 2oz.

I wanted to knit the Annis Shawl from for a while, but wasn't sure if I wanted to use my wollmeise yarn or not. I looked at the yardage again, and thought maybe this yarn was the better option.

So I casted on using the knitted cast on with size10 needles and worked one row of knit to make a sturdy edge:

Then worked the rest using size 7 needles. See the brachial plexus illustration on the book? I've been illustrating that for few months now. When not illustrating, I worked on the shawl monogamously. Few days later, I had this:

I had about 2 feet of yarn leftover. Asher keeps making fun of me for worrying that I will run out of yarn, but I can't seem to get rid of that fear. Maybe it's a subyardagephobia or something. :)

I love the result! Lovely color, and wonderful drape. It can only get better with blocking!

Again, this shawl is super duper warm. When I had the shawl resting on my lap, I could feel the warmth oozing out from the fabric. I can't wait to knit some socks with handspun yarn. Hopefully they will finally keep my feet warm!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Knitting Season is in full swing!

Wow I haven't blogged in a long time. Work got busy and it was ridiculously hot. Around Labor Day, the weather was starting to cool off a bit, just to make it hot again. Now I'm in my cozy knitted sweater I knit a long time ago (first knitted sweater I think).

So here's what I've been doing:

1. Lots of spinning: from about August to now, I've been working on my little bags of wool from different breeds of sheep. So far I' ve spun:

Blue Faced Leicester:






I only have 3 more bumps to spin to complete my spinning project! Very exciting!

From the drop spindle, the fiber I got at SAFF last October is finally all spun up:

From this 4oz bump:

To this:

To this.

So exciting! I think I want to knit the Leaf & Nupp Shawl from Nancy Bush's Knitted Lace of Estonia.

I'm going to write about my knitting another day. Now, back to work.