Thursday, March 29, 2007

My First Ball

I wound my first ball of handspun yarn yesterday.

I was right that I spun it too tightly but fortunately I've been able to correct it. I first followed the suggestion of placing the yarn in warm water, which helped loosen it a bit. It's interesting how when wet you can smell the grass in the fiber, it reminded me of being on a farm. Not sure if that would be the case with the dyed wool, I'll find out eventually though when I spin the blue batch.

Since then I've wound the yarn into a ball a couple of times, twisting the yarn in the opposite direction of the spin just enough to un-kink it where it curls over on itself, then work that down towards the end, and so on. The end result turned out rather decent for a first effort, I think:

I'm guessing this is about half of one of the ecru/natural balls of wool fiber, or two ounces. That's about a fourth of the total amount I bought in this color - it's going faster than I thought it would. I'm still entertaining whether I want to leave the yarn as is or wind it with another strand to make it two-ply.

In the meantime I'm still working on my nephew's hoodie. I've gotten the front and back done and am almost finished with one sleeve, so we're getting there.

I also gave the hoodie I made for my friends' son to him at his birthday party over the weekend. His parents pointed out that when he's outgrown it, with the neutral colors his little sister can have it afterward, and with their beautiful complexions it will look great on both of them. So it will get plenty of use down the line. Hooray!

Monday, March 26, 2007


All right, all right. I admit, the sweater knit from cat fur got me all fascinated. NO, I am not pinning my long-haired baby to the floor and shearing him, you can relax.

"Don't you EVEN THINK about it, lady!!!"

But, it put a bug in my brain nonetheless and I started looking up resources about handspinning my own yarn. I started out by looking at The Joy of Handspinning, where you can see mini-videos that demonstrate how to use a drop spindle or spinning wheel, as well as pages upon pages of where you can get fibers, wheels, spindles, and even shop at an online store.

Eventually I stumbled upon a site for a local handspinning supply shop called Shuttles, Spindles and Skeins over in Boulder. I dialed them up - do you have drop spindles? Why yes we do, the nice lady said, and our spinning instructor will be in the next day if you're interested!

I wasn't able to get there in time for the instructor. But, I was still able to talk to a couple of really nice ladies who shop there regularly, one of whom told me more about drop spindles than I could have imagined. She helped me pick out a good one, a gorgeous 3" whorl Schacht Hi-Lo Spindle that she said is fine for beginners.

From there I picked out several ounces of a natural Corridale wool and a few ounces of Corridale in a pretty lighter colonial blue to spin - I'd read wool is the easiest to start with, plus it appears to be some of the least expensive fiber. To be honest the cost of buying your own wool to spin is I think comparable if not even a little less than buying wool yarn.

I started spinning Saturday night (why does that sound like the beginning of a rock and roll song?). While I think I'm still doing it kind of tight and I had a couple of fits and starts, this was my first effort:
This is where I ended yesterday after continuing it: I am learning how to get a feel for the fibers and just what thickness gives me certain widths. Again I'm not sure if I'm doing it too tight, it wants to twist around itself at points and I'm worried that means it is. I sure hope that doesn't mean I'm going to have to undo it and start over.

After watching me quietly the past couple of days, my husband wondered aloud where we might be able to scam a spinning wheel. He knows I plan to use the yarn to make a surprise for him, perhaps he's trying to hurry me up :-)

But I told him that is QUITE the pricey investment - you're looking easily at $400 to start in some cases and it only goes up from there. Maybe if I got my business started again and was whipping out items left and right it might be something that paid for itself, but as it is I don't think I'd ever get there.

For now I'm having fun learning for now with the spindle. Not to mention it's proving a fantastic stress reliever, even when I huff and grunt because parts of the yarn unravel or break and I have to start over.

But my troubles sure do seem to disappear when I sit down with that spindle. Whodathunkit??

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Hooded Sweater

I've finished a hooded sweater I mentioned in another post. It's for the son of my friends for whose daughter I made the matching sweater and hat last month. It was her birthday then and now his is coming up later this month.

I used a free pattern off Lion Brand's Web site designed for their Homespun Yarn. I used the Sierra shade to do this one. I love the earthy, rich colors that come out of it and I think it'll look good on the birthday boy.

I'm currently working on another one for my nephew who just turned five last week. I got a little burned out on doing so many projects at once and had to take a break so this will be a belated present. I'm using Bernat's Soft Boucle yarn in Slate Shades for his, it's a lighter weight yarn but it's almost as bulky so it's knitting up in about the same dimensions. It'll be nice for these upcoming spring days.

On a side note, I found an awesome Web site I've added under my Good, Bad and Interesting section called the domiKNITrix. It came up in a Google search I was doing for knit skull patterns (my husband has been bugging me to do something for him with a skull in it for years). Definitely worth checking out.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Colorado Woman Knits Sweater From Cat Fur

From the "What the...???" department: A Colorado woman (no, NOT ME, so don't even ask!) saved up all her cat's shed fur, sent it off to be spun into yarn, and then had one of her coworkers knit it into a sweater:

I mean, sure, it's pretty... but what do you do when it coughs up a hairball on you while you're out shopping? Or begins clawing its way to the top of your head when a barking dog comes rushing towards you?

I can see all her friends getting mad at her. "Damn it, you've shed all over my couch! Off!"

Seriously, I think we can label this as being overly devoted to one's pet. I'll stick to the sales at Hobby Lobby for my yarn, thank you :-)