Beginnings

Meet my newest spinning project! I’m pretty excited about it; the flecks of green, yellow, and red peeking out of the brown remind me of spring, of those brave first crocuses peeking out of the ground absurdly early. The fiber is llama mixed with bits of dyed merino, sari silk, and sparkles, purchased from local llama ranchers at the Southern California Weaving and Fiber Festival in the fall. It’s spinning up incredibly fast; I just started this last week and I’m already 2/3 of the way through the 2 ounces. It hasn’t been easy, though; I’ve been discovering that llama is kind of a bitch to work with. I think it’s because its staple length is so damn long that the fibers get all tangled up with each other, which makes drafting a struggle. This is also the most heterogeneous fiber I’ve ever worked with — the merino and sari silk behave very differently from the llama, which contributes further to the annoying drafting. But I’m excited to see the finished product!

I’ve also gotten started on an Ostrich Plumes Scarf, seen here in extreme close-up.

The yarn is Kidsilk Lace in the “Dove” colorway from Hedgehog Fibres, one of my favorite indie dyers. Just look at the delicate modulations of silvery gray in this yarn! I love it to pieces. My justification for buying this skein, apart from the gorgeous dyejob, was that I’m thinking about knitting a whole sweater out of Rowan Kidsilk Haze in the near future, and I’ve never actually worked with a mohair yarn before so I wanted to make sure that doing so didn’t make me crazy. There are definitely some annoying things about it; it sticks to itself like crazy, which is both a blessing and a curse when you’re trying to tink back mistakes in a lace pattern. It’s a blessing when your dropped stitches don’t go anywhere, but a curse when you’re trying to unpick an SK2P and it behaves like it’s never been anything but a single unified stitch. All in all, though, I think I’m okay enough with the experience to tackle that sweater. All in good time.

I also started knitting up my most recent skein of handspun, but I wasn’t too thrilled with the results:

This is the (free!) Haiti Scarf by Ilsa Leja, a designer I’ve recently discovered who seems to have a whole lot of patterns that look like they’ll work great in handspun. I chose this because I was looking for a scarf knit lengthwise so the long color repeats would be stretched out thin, and also for something with a really simple lace pattern that wouldn’t be undercut by the variegated colors, and this basically succeeds at those two objectives. But at the point you see here, I was 4/5 of the way through the pattern and only 1/2 way through my yarn, despite the fact that I’d added several repeats of the lace pattern when I was casting on. So either her yardage estimate is off, or the fact that I’m using fingering instead of worsted weight (on smaller needles, too) is making a huge difference. So yesterday I unraveled this and scoured my stitch dictionaries — I’m designing my own damn scarf! I’m optimistic so far; I’ll show it to you when there’s more to show, and I’ll write up the pattern if it ends up working out. Wish me luck!

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2 thoughts on “Beginnings

  1. Pretty colours on your handspun llama! I have a similar problem with Alpaca, no matter how carefully I spin, the result always feels and looks like wire, not like yarn. I agree, spinning a mix of fibres can be hard, I’ve been struggling through a Merino/silk/flax mix some time ago and it was quite stressing but well worth the effort in the end! Do you spin on a wheel as well?

    • No, I just started spindling about 5 months ago — plus I’m in graduate school, so a wheel would be a pretty big expense. But I hope to be able to buy one eventually!

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