I came home early this afternoon with a wicked bad cold, and was thrilled to find the November installment of the Hello Yarn Fiber Club on my doorstep. Meet Toxic:

Toxic superwash corriedale

8 oz of superwash Corriedale top. Can you say socks? I love the colors, and have great plans in mind for the 3-ply yarn I want to end up with. I signed up for the doubles option, so instead of getting 4 oz, I got 8 oz. I figure that should be enough for some serious socks. I can't wait to get started on it, but it will have to wait until I finish the Wild Raspberry Targhee that is currently on the bobbin.

There has also been some serious work on The List. I finished one entire Endpaper Mitt (sans thumb ribbing) and discovered that, while it fits me perfectly, it is a wee bit large for its intended recipient.

Endpaper Mitt, version 1.0

My gauge was only off by 0.5 stitches per inch, but over 56 stitches, it works out to 7.5 inches around instead of 7. My Fair Isle gauge is definitely looser then my non-stranded gauge.

Endpaper Mitt, version 1.0

I loved the pattern, and it went incredibly quickly. I went down a needle size on both the ribbing and mitt (from 0 and 2 down to 00 and 1), and the new version (not pictured) seems to be the right size. Hopefully those will be done by next week, but we'll see.

Progress is also being made on Mr. Redjeans, but the pictures wouldn't be terribly interesting, so I'll save it until the body ribbing is done.

FF: Baked Alaska

Baked Alaska

Fiber: Hello Yarn Fiber Club October 2007 fiber, Romney wool in Baked Alaska colorway

Spun on ST Lendrum at 10:1, plied at 7:1, 12-13 wpi

200+ yds, 5 oz

Baked Alaska

This was my first attempt at both spinning from the fold and spinning long draw. I didn't mean to try two new things at once - spinning from the fold was the goal, but once I started I was having so much fun letting the fibers flow off of my finger that I tried just pulling back with that hand and, lo and behold, I was spinning long draw (or sort of long draw. Maybe more like medium draw). And boy, is that a lot faster then inchworm drafting.

Baked Alaska

I split the top lengthwise in to two equal sections (by weight). One half I tore into 4-5 inch chunks, stuck them in a ziplock bag, and pulled them out randomly to spin the single. It took me about 1.5 hours to spin the first 2.5 oz (hardly any time at all, for me). The second half I also spun from the fold, but tore off pieces as I went down the length of the top, maintaining the color sequence as dyed.

Baked Alaska

I've become a big fan of rough finishing my handspun, aka soaking it in really hot water with a bit of agitation, so that any changes that are going to happen, happen before the yarn gets knit up into something. I also tend to overply, so this kind of finishing helps even out the yarn and get it closer to balanced once it's dried and ready to go.

Baked Alaska

Some very over-plied yarn before its bath

The spinning for this was fast and furious. It was all done (spun and plied at least) in three days, assisted immeasurably by the fact that I was home with sick kids for at least two of those days. It is pretty fuzzy around the edges, due to my attempts to spin "woolen". Now that it's done it's very pretty - I love the combination of the colors - but I'm not such a fan of the Romney wool. It just feels coarse to me. Maybe I'm spoiled from the merino I've been working with recently, but this feels too scratchy for me.

Baked Alaska

I'm thinking this one will go in to the stash to marinate for a bit. Maybe it will be a wee Christmas present for one of the few friends/relatives I have that knit. And now I may have to call a moratorium on spinning for a while until I get my list down to something more managable.

FF: Thistle Redux

The spinning has not been happening so much. When last it made a serious appearance in these pages, I had started spinning Adrian's June offering (nothing like attending to these things in a timely fashion, yes?) after a long time away from the wheel.

Thistle in progress

My plan was to spin up the entire 4 oz as one single and then chain ply it to keep long stretches of color. This fiber was just wonderful to spin - soft, easy to draft, flowed through my fingers so smoothly that before I knew it I had a full bobbin.


Once again, I was pleasantly surprised at the difference between the fiber as dyed top and the fiber as singles. I wasn't convinced by the colors as roving, but the combination as a single was just gorgeous.

About the time I filled this bobbin there was a thread on the Spin Tech group at Ravelry about chain plying. One general consensus was that de-energized singles were easier to chain ply then active singles. So I decided to let the bobbin sit for a few days so that the plying would be easier.

Ahem. A few days stretched into a week. And then another week. And finally Ironman went off to South America for a few days for work, and I was free to stay up too late watching the Jon Stewart show and Project Runway reruns and ply to my heart's content. Which I did. The first 2/3s of the bobbin were plied in one go that took about 4 hours*. This was my first "real" attempt to chain ply, and I used the plying head for my Lendrum and went very, very, very slowly. It took a little doing, but I eventually got comfortable with the motions. And the finished yarn is absolutely gorgeous!

Picture 522

This shot is truest to the colors on my monitor

I finished it by submerging in very hot water, agitating a bit as the water cooled. Then a dunk in cool water, a squeeze to get the extra water out, and hung to dry.

Picture 524

Fiber: 18 micron merino from Hello Yarn Fiber Club in Thistle colorway, June 2007

Spun at 10:1 on ST Lendrum folding, chain plied at 5:1.

Specs: 204 yds, 10-12 wpi, soft and cushy!


I've decided that I'm a big fan of the three ply yarn. It's just so round and bouncy. I can see why you'd want to do a two ply for lace projects, but for anything else, I think I'm going to go for the three ply.

I couldn't stand not knitting with this stuff, so after some searching on Ravelry for an appropriate project, I'm going for a mini-Clapotis scarf. I'd like to pretend that it will be a Christmas present, but who am I kidding?

Thistle Clapotis
Thistle Clapotis

After one bus ride home (~1 hr) and a couple of hours in front of the TV last night, I'm well into the straight sections and flying along. Watching the colors come together is so entrancing that I even knit a few rows this morning as I waited to head out to meet my neighbor for a run. Usually I'm not much for scarves (neverending...), but this one looks to be a winner.

* Ow my aching right knee!

FF: Thistle

I know, I know, I was supposed to post the second half of my fiber sampler review. But I can't because...I'm not done with the samples. Of the 1.5 I had left to finish, I still have 1.5 left. And I'm afraid I'm terribly unmotivated to do those last samples because I've gotten distracted. By this:

Picture 481

Wild Raspberry Handpainted Targhee top, Woodland Woolworks

And this:

Picture 487

Maldives, 21 micron merino, Hello Yarn Fiber Club September fiber

And this:

Picture 492

Mollusc, Wensleydale, Hello Yarn Club August fiber (I have 12 oz of this!)

And this:

Picture 496

Thistle, 18 micron merino, Hello Yarn Fiber Club June fiber

It's been a tough few weeks for me, with Devil being home sick more often then not, and me having a paper to revise and resubmit that I had just gotten started on when she got sick. I've been pretty wound up with trying to get work done, and take care of her, plus the fact that I am so not cut out to be a stay-at-home mom. I have infinite admiration for those who do stay home with their kids, but I am too much of an introvert to be happy taking care of someone all day without a break. So with the sick kid, and then the sick husband and the sick me (how Boo did not pick up this bug with forever remain a mystery on par with the final resting place of Mr. Hoffa*), and then more sick kid, I haven't been getting enough down time, which means I haven't been doing any spinning and hardly any knitting.

And on Monday I realized that I truly needed to just sit down that night and do my own thing. So I pulled out the big pile of Thistle roving, split it in two long strips and predrafted it. I wound it up into a ball and grabbed the wheel to get started. Before I knew it, it was almost 11:00 pm, and I had this:

Thistle in progress

What's more, I had some semblance of my sanity back. Phew.

*Literally 10 seconds after I typed this sentence I got a call from IronDad, who had just left the daycare after his lunchtime Boo visit. I asked him how she was doing, and he said "Well, it's kind of up in the air as to whether or not she's getting sick." I'm glad someone up there has a fucking sense of humor. But at least I have some merino waiting for me at home...

FF: Tour de wool, Part I

Earlier this spring I decided that the easiest way to get a bunch of different fibers to spin would be to get a sampler pack. Off to Woodland Woolworks went my busy little typing fingers, and I ordered their Natural Colored Wool sampler pack: 0.5 oz of 16 different wools. Over the course of the last couple of months I've been spinning up these little samples, and I've pulled together some thoughts about them that may be of interest to other spinners out there. There are other reviews of these wools out there, but maybe I can contribute some further information.

All the fibers were spun under (more-or-less) the same conditions. I stripped each top in half lengthwise and spun from the end with a short-forward draw, smoothing the fibers as the twist entered (worsted spun). Samples were spun on a ST Lendrum folding wheel at 8:1 (I'm still a beginner!) and plied at 6:1 immediately after spinning the singles. Twist was set by submerging the skeins in very hot water, and skeins were agitated slightly as the water cooled. Finally, the skeins were dried hanging without weight. All of the samples were easy to draft and spin.

The samples in the pack broke down into softer and coarser wools. In this post I'll talk about the coarser wools, and save the softies for the second installment.

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(left to right - Grey Swalesdale, Romney and Jacob Brown)

1) Grey Swalesdale - 4" staple, didn't make note of the crimp. This stuff was probably the coarsest of the samples, and even after washing only really feels suitable for heavy outerwear. The final sample ended up at 8 wpi, about 11 yds from 0.5 oz.

2) Romney sliver - 6" staple, some crimp. Had to keep my hands farther apart then with the Swalesdale, which took some getting used to, but aside from that this was easy to spin. It feels ok in the skein - a bit coarse, but much softer then the Swalesdale. It has a nice sheen to it as well. 8 wpi, about yds/0.5 oz.

3) Jacob Brown - 4-4.5" staple, crimpy. A beautiful dark brown color. This was the only sample that had any real amount of VM, and even that was minor and easy to pick out as I was spinning. The fiber felt sort of clumpy - it was harder to draft evenly, and ended up being much thicker. The final stats were 6 wpi, only 8 yds/0.5 oz.

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(from left to right - Finnsheep, Grey Icelandic, Wensleydale and Corriedale Cross)

4) Finnsheep - >6" staple, no (low) crimp. This was particularly easy to draft, and I found myself doing quite a bit of backdrafting with this. Spun up quite similar to the Romney, and also had a bit of a sheen (maybe a function of the longer staple?). 8 wpi, 10 yds/0.5 oz.

5) Grey Icelandic - 6" staple, medium crimp. Slightly coarse fiber, slightly fuzzy when spun up. Good for sturdy outerwear. 8 wpi, 11 yds/0.5 oz.

6) Wensleydale Longwool - 7+ inch staple. Slightly coarse but spun up beautiful. Nice and smooth, it softened up after setting the twist and has a beautiful sheen to it. 8 wpi, 9+ yds/0.5 oz.

7) Corriedale Cross - 4" staple, medium crimp. Coarse as fiber, but felt much nicer in the skein. And such a pretty chocolate brown! 9 wpi, 12 yds/0.5 oz

That's it for this installment - next week the softer samples.