31 January, 2010

Sidetracked by Snow

In the South, snow is a big deal. On average, we get one snow event a year, usually in January. My children were starting to get quite disappointed this year as January came to a close with not a trace of snow to be seen. But we were not to be let down, and Friday night, it finally came. All in all, about five inches of snow and sleet fell throughout Friday night and Saturday. Very pretty for me to look at while curled up in front of a window with a cup of hot cocoa, and much fun for all the little children to romp around in.

Unfortunately, it also necessitates that many plans for the weekend have to be re-thought a bit. Even though my original plans did not involve being out and about town or anything, there is still something about the snow that sidetracks everything. Maybe it is the fact that getting children ready to go outside is suddenly a major undertaking that involves unearthing outerwear that rarely gets pulled out in the South, and then getting them all properly dressed so they don't freeze. The reverse of this is also a major undertaking not usually expeienced here, as children wait in line to shed frozen wet clothes while Mom frets over wet floors and muddy boots. Or maybe it is just that the view is so pretty that you end up looking out your window much more than usual. Regardless, as I said, sidetracked.

But not totally. I'm still in the honeymoon phase of my latest project, fascinated by each step, even, to some degree, the sampling. So I did spin.

I even finished a step in the process, sampling!

I decided early on that the best way to approach this would be to start with spinning a single that I was comfortable with and rely on the plying process to create the yarn I desired. I hoped it would work out, since the alternative was to try to spin a single I was not used to and risk inconsistency. I was not disappointed, though I was fully prepared to be. I spun my single, and plied the majority of it, about 100 yards, as a 3-ply. The smaller sample is about 10 yards of cabled plied yarn, not much, but enough to knit up a small swatch. After washing, the 3-ply is a pretty consistent 14-15 wpi, the cable ply about 13 wpi. Both fall well into the range of the yarn I intended to create, and today, that makes me a very happy spinner!

I also managed to complete a knitting project as well, so maybe I wasn't as sidetracked as I thought. For one of my closest friends, I knit Yarn Harlot's One Row Handspun Scarf out of some yarn I finished back in December.

She doesn't know my blog exists yet, so I think my surprise is safe!

In other news, my middle son tested for his orange belt in Shito-Ryu on Friday and passed! I am very proud of him, he took a year off of training last year after getting quite frustrated and returned to karate a few months ago with a new determination and focus that is wonderful to see. He stayed after his test to watch one student advance to black belt and left with a renewed determination to be the best he can be.

27 January, 2010


Sampling. It is kind of like the dreaded gauge swatch in knitting. On the surface, a spinner should be fine with it, it is, after all, spinning. And we all enjoy that, right?

So, why does it seem so tedious? I'm not doing anything differently than what I would normally be doing if I were already spinning for the sweater, right? I don't understand this phenomenon, but there it is and no spinner or knitter can deny it

Usually, my sampling consists of a half hearted effort, kind of like my attempts at gauge swatches in knitting. I spin a bit, pull out a length, let it ply back, check the wpi, tinker with the wheel a bit, then lather, rinse, repeat until I get the results I want. Then, I tape that sample to an index card along with a sample of the single. If I'm not planning on spinning, say, a 3-ply or a cabled yarn, I'll also do a sample length of 2-ply for quick ply-back checks on the fly.

This time, however, I'm planning on making a lot of yarn. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 2 lbs of it. And then turning said yarn into a sweater. So, I'm going to do it right. To that end, I'm spinning a sample that is actually going to be substantial enough to knit a swatch with. Then, I'm going do all of those things you are supposed to do in the spinning and knitting process when you are "doing it right." I'm going to set the twist, knit a swatch (or maybe a few swatches), wash and block that (or those), and then I'm going to wear it around for a few days to make sure I've made a durable yarn that will make a good sweater. And, if that doesn't go well, I'm going to start the process all over again. I won't like it. But I will do it.

And yet somehow, I know there will still be problems. Just like the knitting swatch, spinning samples can LIE.

26 January, 2010

Knock knock

Is anybody out there? Of course not.

I'm Amy. I'm a mom, a spinner, a knitter, a library science grad student and hopeful future librarian. At any given time, I may blog about any of those aspects of my life, or something else entirely. Mostly though, if I can manage to be a good blogger, I imagine that the majority of my posts will concern my obsession with fiber related activities.

So, my first post will exist to hold me accountable for my grand plan, to spin for and knit a sweater out of this

That, my friends, is 1 kg of Polwarth wool top from Rovings. I love Francine, she is so wonderful, and this wool is simply a delight to spin. And, there's a lot of it. A LOT.

The way I figure it, between parenting duties and school obligations, this project will take me at least a year. More if I get distracted, which, well, I'm pretty likely to do!