The cure for grumpy pants

I've been in a crappy mood all week. Grouchy, out of sorts, irritated by everyone and everything around. I'm not sure what's going on, but I'm pretty much ready to be done with it...

I think I've found a solution to my mood, though, and it involves wool (big surprise, right?) Lots and lots of wool.
Hello Yarn Fiber Club Shetland, colorway "Dark and Stormy", June 2013 offering
Spun singles on Lendrum, 15:1 ratio
Plied (3-plied) on miniSpinner

WPI: 8-10, so somewhere around aran/worsted weight.
Grist: still needs to finish drying, so check back later
Yardage: 1100 yds total.

This comes out at heavy worsted weight according to wpi, but it feels bulkier to me. I pulled out all the fiber I had and tore each length in half, and then each piece into fourths and mixed them all up randomly before spinning. I spun the singles woolen, using a long backwards draw, to get fluffy, airy singles. The yarn is super light and cozy - I can't wait to knit it up! I'm thinking this is going to be a sweater with deep ribbing at the hem and cuffs, a loose fit and cables around a turtleneck or cowl. Kind of like this sweater that Allison pointed out to me this week, only my own design because I don't have the pattern.

So my cure for the grumpies is Shetland wool. At least this week - next week it will probably be merino and silk...

Seeing improvement

I noticed something during my whirlwind Christmas weaving frenzy that really brought home how quickly spinning can improve in a short period of time. Take a look at these two scarves.

Notice anything about them that strikes you, from a spinning perspective?

Let me clarify a bit. Both scarves are woven from SW merino handspun - the first is from fiber that I dyed at Yarn School in 2008, so about a year and a half after I started spinning. I spun it up in December of 2008, and ended up with 185 yds/4 oz of 14 wpi 2-ply yarn (approximately fingering weight). As I said in that post, this is some seriously dense yarn (740 ypp). I also made the comment that I was much happier with this SW spinning experience, as it was a lot less overspun then my previous attempt at a superwash fiber.

The second scarf is also woven from SW merino, this batch from Hello Yarn in the colorway "Peat" (March 2009 Fiber Club). This arrived right before we packed everything up to move to the UK, and might have been the first yarn I spun after we moved. I ended up with 200 yds/4 oz, about 12 wpi, a true 3-ply, coming in at 800 ypp. I loved this yarn so much I hoarded it away until the perfect pattern came along. Strangely enough, the perfect pattern was no pattern at all - just simple warp faced weaving with some brown sock yarn for weft.

After I washed the two scarves and let them dry, I noticed some really striking differences in the feel of the fabric. Note: they were both woven at the same epi and same ppi. But the blue scarf is much stiffer and has a less consistent fabric surface then the brown scarf (which I think you can see in the above pictures). Here's a few more to emphasize:

It's really obvious if you look at the fringe.

Although I may have felt (with my vast experience of 1.5 yrs spinning time) that the Yarn School SW Merino was an improvement in terms of overspinning, it's clear that another 6 months of spinning (and a sweater lot in the middle there) made a huge difference in the quality of the yarn I was making. The brown yarn was much more flexible and pliable, and the resulting fabric was super cozy. The blue yarn ended up making a fabric that, while still lovely, was quite a bit stiffer and crunchier.

Suffice to say that it was desperately hard to let the Peat Scarf go off to it's new home, but it's one of the few times I've finished something and thought: this has to go to Person X. I hope he appreciates it!!! I know the other recipient appreciates his...

Fiber Friday: Messier 51

At the beginning of the year, I made myself a really quick and fun hat from some gorgeous handpainted singles.
I'm pleased to say that, not only have I finished working up a handspun version, but the pattern is just about ready for release this evening.

 This version was worked up in 100 yds of Corriedale singles in the "Parakeet" colorway (spinning and prepping of the singles was blogged about over here at the Porpoise Fur blog). With that minimal amount of yardage, I ended up with a hat that is slouchy on Dev, but a closer fitting toque on me. Perfect!
The pattern for this hat, Messier 51, is going to go live sometime this evening. Shortly thereafter, the next issue of the Porpoise Fur newsletter will go out, and will include a coupon code for getting that pattern for free. In addition to the actual knitting pattern, the file also includes instructions and tips on spinning singles. If you're interested in getting this little beauty for yourself (it's perfect for holiday knitting!), please go over to Porpoise Fur, and sign up on the right sidebar for the newsletter to get your free copy. Happy November everyone!

Fiber Friday: Porpoise Fur Socks

So, those socks I started at the Small Wool Gathering last Sunday evening?
Autopilot socks
Finished. I know, right? There are bonuses to knitting worsted weight socks...but here they are, all done,
with almost perfectly matched stripes (pats spinning self on the back),
a great fitting heel,
Autopilot socks
and absolutely no yarn left over.
Autopilot socks
Pattern: Autopilot Socks by Amy R. Singer
Yarn: handspun Porpoise Fur Cheviot in "FRET BFP-RFP". I split the length of fiber down the middle vertically, spun the singles with a short forward draw, and chain plied.
Needles: US 4/3.5 mm circular needles, magic looped
Gauge: dunno. I just started with a smaller needle size then I would normally use to get a tight fabric, cast on a bunch of stitches for the toe and increased until it was big enough.

Now I am very sad because I can not find my matching skeins of Turkey Day Cheviot which are also going to be turned into matchy matchy striped socks. Also for me. Bliss!

Fiber Friday: A different sort of Panda-Cam

Since the US Government shut down has axed the National Zoo's Panda-Cam coverage of their newest addition, I've decided to try and make up for the deprivation sweeping the Intarwebs by presenting my own interpretation: the fibery Panda-Cam.

Fiber: Spunky Eclectic's Panda (SW merino/bamboo/nylon), in "Winged Insects", 6 oz
Spun/plied: since it was a 6 oz braid, I did it all on the miniSpinner because I wanted a single skein. Chain plied the singles.
Stats: 370 yds/6 oz, about DK weight, 10-12 wpi, 990 ypp.

This was a challenging spin for me. Maybe it's because I've been spinning so many toothy wools of late, but the Panda was INCREDIBLY SLIPPERY!!!!! It was real work to keep focused enough to maintain any semblance of consistent wpi, and it shows in the yarn (damn you chain plying!). However, these colors could not be more me if they tried, and I'm desperately in love with this yarn. So much so that I'm greedily keeping it for myself and not sharing it with anyone.

Now I just need to figure out what pattern will fit for 370 yds of DK weight yarn...anyone have any suggestions?