A little bit of color

I love color. During the spring and the summer I feel like wearing colorful clothing, or knitting, or spinning. Days like these make me fully appreciate the fact that I love to spin, knit and to be creative with color and fiber and other stuff.

Since my last post I’ve talked to my mom about what she wanted and she has chosen the knotty gloves. Ever since I knit mine she’s fallen in love with them and she even tried to persuade me to give her mine.. 😛 Well not really, but she really does love them. So what better way to knit her a handspun and handdyed version of her own.

When I showed her a few possibilities (I carded small bits and spun them to show her the difference it makes when you either card the colors all together or when you keep them separate. She told me she loved the way the colors looked and that she’d like the colors to stay separate. Meanwhile I carded them in three different groups.

BFL for mom's birthday present

There’s the reds, the blues and the mixed colors I really can’t tear apart. I’m thinking of making a navajo plied fingering weight yarn to match the weight of the malabrigo I used on my own gloves. I don’t remember using all of the malabrigo so I’m not sure if the 100 grams is too much for a small project like that. I might make her gloves a bit longer or maybe I’ll have to make the yarn a bit heavier. I’ll see what I’ll do when I get there but for now I’m loving the carding process.

BFL for mom's birthday present

I love how the carding opens up the locks and the whole thing becomes all fuzzy and poofy. It seemed like it was just a little bit of yarn but it’s actually quite a lot. I’m still planning to card everything first and to spin them up later. I’m not sure how to get the gloves to match but that too will be a thing for later.


BFL for mom's birthday present

I wonder how the colors will come out once it’s all spun up, as you can see in the foreground the locks seem much more saturated than the rolags. Though this could also be caused by opening up the fiber vs the condensed locks. Maybe the spinning will open it up a bit.

BFL for mom's birthday present

One of the things that seem to cheer me up most about this whole carding process is the ‘happy little accidents’ you seem to get, like this one rolag with the gradient. I’ll keep you posted on the progress. To my shame, for now I’ve only been working on this project and have neglected the others a bit.

Strange birthdays and stuff..

So tomorrow, April 21st is my moms birthday. Last year I gave her (though a bit late) this present and I believe she was happy with it. Today she told me the knit turned out to be quite warm for such a fine stole and she also told me she’d worn it all through this years cold winter.

So this year I wanted to do something equally cool, so I thought.. hmmm how can I give my mom something awesome for her birthday and enjoy the process..? I decided to introduce her to my world of spinning. I decided to dye 100 grams of the white BFL my boyfriend had gifted me (and I don’t think he’ll mind I’ve already used the stash here(the creamy alpaca), here(the chocolate wensleydale) and here(the wensleydale x gotland cross), so I believe it’s ok for me to use a bit for a gift (not that he would mind tho, but still.. I don’t want to spin it all for other people grr.. my birthdaypresent.. I sound so mean.. :P)

Anyhoo.. so I took a 100 grams of white BFL and took some food coloring and this happened..

handdyed BFL with foodcoloring

I used one whole bottle of red, one whole bottle of blue and a few drops of green to get this effect. I put it in a pyrex bowl and poured the red on one side and the blue on the other side. then I just sprinkled some green on both and nuked the thing.. It’s really unfortunate how the photo’s don’t do the colors any justice.. at.al.

The colors came out so vibrant and alive! I still can’t believe it.. lock dying is definitely the way to go! I’ll never dye roving again.. frikkin’ stripes all over 😛

handdyed BFL with foodcoloring

The green x blue combo turned out fantastically! I was hoping to get something like this but I didn’t dare dream it would actually turn out like this.. My dye jobs are still somewhat experimental and I’m not quite there yet. In the future I hope to be able to mix my food colorings to get any color I want.. but really I’m not there yet.

I also don’t want to use chemical dyes.. food coloring only.

handdyed BFL with foodcoloring

I know it looks messy right? But really I really love the colors 🙂 So this is my moms birthday present. She can choose whatever she wants.. she has a 100 grams and I’ll spin it as thick (or thin) as she likes and I’ll card the colors however she likes and naturally she was a little overwhelmed.. 😛

So after a few moments she decided she really loved the colors apart so I separated everything in three groups. Red, blue/green and the mix of purplish green red stuff.  I’ll card these into nice rolags and then spin them on my wheel. It’ll probably be a navajo plied yarn because she really wants to keep the colors separate. Se already selected a nice garnstudio (link) pattern, so that’s what I’ll go for 😀 I’m really looking forward to this project. Between the brown and grey some color is really quite welcome 😀

cotton on a takhli

In the mean time I’ve been spinning me some cotton baby! I took out the ol’ takhli and the cotton clouds huge pile of cotton and went to town. The brown mini hank is bit of the brown sliver I spun. It’s still a practice bit so the plying sucks.. the yarn is (at certain points) undertwisted and tends to break a lot.. like really.. constantly.. so I got frustrated and just stopped. (always the right thing to do I believe..)

cotton on a takhli

Because.. well this is what I spun.. and really it’s a lot more than the little hank above.. oh well.. I guess at some point I’ll get there. I decided that, because this was indeed a practice thingy I should ply it with the other practice thingy..

cotton on a takhli

See this is the amount of brown cotton still left unplied. To the right, the pink, is the tencel I tried out to get to know my takhli a little better.. the color should wash out, so white x brown barberpole should be nice, for something 😛

handspun chocolate wensleydale girasole

I’ve also been knitting and my girasole has been growing. I’m really quite pleased with the way it’s turning out. I really love the halo! I can just picture it once it’s been blocked.. but before I can do that I still need to card and spin another (I believe) 60 grams of brown wensleydale. I’ll be sure to take a picture of the washing process this time. I really should document the amount of yuckiness that comes off the fleece.. for my own sake.. I really need to learn how to wash my fleeces…

handspun chocolate wensleydale girasole

For now I can still merrily knit along. I still have this much yarn left, but I don’t know how far this will get me.. I really need to start spinning again..

handspun chocolate wensleydale girasole

A little close up. The color really changes in the sunlight. I can’t really describe the color, when you look at it closely it’s almost as if there’s a lot of gray in there, but it’s really just brown. But when the sun shines on it the color turns into a rich, deep brown. I really can’t wait 😀

wensleydale x gotland cross handcarded with oatmeal BFL

Besides knitting and dyeing I’ve also been spinning. The spindle in this picture weighs 1.9 oz. so I’ve actually spun 1.77 oz.

wensleydale x gotland cross handcarded with oatmeal BFL

Underneath the mass of singles there’s a tennis-ball (which weighs approx. 2 oz.) So here I have 2.76 oz. spun up, so I’ll need about 1 ounce to wind off and start anew. I do hope the meterages come out somewhat the same, but I’ll let you know either way 😉




quick ‘n’ dirty review..

experimenting for BF's handspun adult tomten by Jared Flood

I don’t have anything for reference, but let me tell you: this ball is huge… I was at my mom’s house and I forgot to take a picture of the cop on my tsunami, but I’m sure I’ll get another chance.. since.. oh you know.. it’s going to be a 4ply 😛

experimenting for BF's handspun adult tomten by Jared Flood

So far I’m really happy with the way the colors are working out. It’s not too white and it’s not too grey. The spinning is mostly even and the colors are not. I pleased with the results, but that doesn’t mean I’m really happy about having to wayt fo a whole month before I can actually start knitting. The n-plied swatch (knit on 4mm needles) was quite ok, but I really want the yarn to become nice and thick.

So in my laziness and the ‘I want results yesterday’ mood I was in I started thinking about quicker ways to make a 4ply. Cabled yarn. I started out with some ravelry literature study and decided it would be best to just try some out and make a nice swatch to see how it would work out.

experimenting for BF's handspun adult tomten by Jared Flood

I felt I couldn’t decide. The left is the cabled yarn on 5mm needles and the right version is the n-plied yarn on 4mm needles. So let me start off with a list of good things about cabled yarn. It’s quite a quick process. You only need one set of singles, you over-twist them while plying and then you let it twist back onto itself again.

The good thing, obviously, is that it’s a very quick process. You can get a nice thick yarn without spending too much time. You won’t have any left overs because you only use one single, so there’s no stress of measuring all the singles to make sure they’re all about the same length.

Though it sounds great the cons, in my humble opinion, are definitely not worth it. The yarn becomes too rough. Though it’s nice because the yarn is sturdier and less halo-y, it also means that it’s much scratchier than a ‘normal’ plied yarn. Also the colors tend to blend a bit more. In some cases this might be a nice thing, but in my case it completely takes away the ‘natural’ feel. It becomes one color…

experimenting for BF's handspun adult tomten by Jared Flood

A much closer look will give you this… (please ignore the difference in size) but the cabled yarn really looks like cables. It doesn’t have the sheen of a ‘normal’ 4ply, which is also a reason for me not to use it. And last but not least: the yarn feels like rope. It has no bounce whatsoever.

Though I even tried to make another swatch with less twist the results were the same (so much even that I decided not to picture them). I will create a normal 4ply. One with random color changes and one with nice bouncy and springy yarn.

experimenting with doggy fur

Encouraged by some people at Rav I got encouraged to try to blend some of Pip’s fur. I wanted a mix with silk but I only had some tencel lying around (which was fine as well). The tencel is pink because of some happy dye accidents which ended up in pink tencel. Unfortunately the tencel was dyed with food coloring, which does not work as I discovered, and will lose all the pink during the next wash.. 😛

experimenting with doggy fur

The short hair was from the last grooming, and is quite short (and a bit prickly)

experimenting with doggy fur

The unwashed 20m of yarn look like this. It’s a 2ply yarn with a glitter thread plied with it.

experimenting with doggy fur

Haven’t washed it yet.. but I will 😛 I wonder how much of the pink will stay and how halo-y this yarn will be. It’s not the softest yarn, but we’ll see what it wants to be 🙂


Pip post grooming

“Hello boooyyyss”

This is Pip. As this little diva was so kind to gift me with some of her lush fur it seemed like a fair thing for me to post a pretty pic of her pretty little doggy face on mah blog. Everyone say hi to Pip!

I’ve already mentioned how much I’d love to spin a nice 4ply for the boyfriends adult tomten vest so let me tell you how that project is coming along.

handcarded wensleydale x gotland mixed with oatmeal BFL

I was doing some experimental thinking with mixing different fibers and spinning them with my wheel. Then the whole thing with the spindles happened and I realized how useless it would be for me to keep waiting and postponing the spinning until I would have enough time to spin a whole (or half a day). Since I’m still working on my graduation and since it’s still something that I really  need to do, and since I’m going to move to our new home within the next couple of weeks (yes 6 weeks to go….) I really can’t allow myself to think that I might be able to spin I don’t know how many KM (4 ply remember) for an adult male vest.

Now I know my handsome muscular man is broad shouldered and big so I really need to hurry the fudge up right? So while I was carding for this little baby I realized I still have a huge pile of fleece left. Sure the first time I tried to card it I nearly cried in frustration (learning curve yea), but surely after 320 meters of handcarded, handspindled 2ply I could manage a little bit of fleece right?

So guess what.. last time I mentioned something like mixing gotland with BFL or Shetland.. So I changed my mind.. after spinning the bit of grey Gotland I had ordered and after carding the dirty chocolate wensleydale for the Girasole I’m knitting right now, I rememberd I still had a Gotland x Wensleydale cross lying around. Obviously during that time it wasn’t going to work because I hadn’t spun any wensleydale to see how soft it was, or any gotland to see how much it resembles spinning human hair.

Now I understand that the softness of the wensleydale combined with the ruggedness of the Gotland would make a fine tomten indeed. However there was one little problem. Looking back at the swatches I had made back then, and looking at the gotland swatches I had recently made I came to the conclusion that it was still going to be a bit too fuzzy for the garter stitch ridges to show clearly.

So I decided to mix some of the wensleydale x gotland cross with some of the oatmeal BFL I had bought in roving/ combed top. It’s a match made in fuzzy heaven if you ask me. It’s exactly what I was hoping for but to be honest it could have something to do with the spell the Golding tsunami has put on me…

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to knit an all white vest anyway, and this way I can decide how much color I give the fleece and how much added softness.

handcarded wensleydale x gotland mixed with oatmeal BFL

The wensleydale cross has a staple that is almost 3 times longer than the BFL, but that doesn’t bother me while carding. What does bother me a bit is the fact that this batch has felted a bit during the wash. I remember how last year I tried to wash it and I failed miserably. There’s no lanolin or any stickiness (thankfully) but there is, however, some dirt still trapped in the pretty long locks of the fur. It’s a bit difficult to comb through because it’s really stuck.

Last year I decided to try the front loader washing machine to help rinse and tumble dry the matter, but obviously the fleece did not enjoy that one bit and retaliated by felting. I’m still happy because the felting was quite minimal and most of it has become much cleaner in the process. I’m not sure whether or not this batch is cleaner than the other batch and if it’s easier to card the other batch first, but I’m happy trying some things out.

handcarded wensleydale x gotland mixed with oatmeal BFL

Before carding and spinning a huge amount of course I tried a little swatch first. I wasn’t planning to try it out with a 4ply, so I made a n-plied bit of yarn and just knit the swatch with a smaller set of needles. After all, I just wanted to see the effect on the ridges. To be honest, I really like the way it turned out! They’re nice and crisp and the yarn is wonderfully soft.

handcarded wensleydale x gotland mixed with oatmeal BFL

This is what the carded rolags look like. I’m really happy with the marbled effect and hope it’ll show a bit in the final product.

handcarded wensleydale x gotland mixed with oatmeal BFL

Tho be honest it only seems fair that I should spin a nice vest for him since he bought me all this for my birthday! I really hope it turns out the way I think it does 🙂

wastin’ time..

you never really know how much time you spend doing nothing until you find a way to make it tangible. Like spindling. I don’t spend entire days spindling, but somehow in the past three weeks I managed to card and spin somewhere between 50-60 grams of 2 ply laceweight. I’m not sure about the weight because I weighed it before washing and a whole lot of dirt came off the yarn during the wash, so I can’t really tell. But the prewashed yarn weighed 60gr/ 2.1oz.

Spindling scares me somewhat. It’s easy to do, and you don’t have to spend an entire day or grab any huge tools. You just need to handcard (in my case, which is just fine) and you need a spindle. But this is not the scary part, no, what’s scary is the proof. The amount of yards or the weight of the fleece that you can process and spin while waiting for other stuff. Or while relaxing 30 minutes a day. It’s huge.

I spun a good 320 meters of 2ply with the turkish. If I would’ve had to spin this with my wheel it wouldn’t have happened just yet, because when I’m working on my graduation project or other stuff I can’t allow myself to take a day off. But I can take short breaks from time to time. It’s all computer work so I’ll need to take breaks if I want to keep using my arms.. and spindling is awesome for breaks.

So I decided that I’d have more chance finishing the adult tomten if I chose my weapon more carefully and went for a spindle instead of the wheel. But it would need something much heavier than the .6oz turkish..

chocolate wensleydale

What do you know.. it works for plying as well…

It’s a 3″ tsunami with a cherry whorl and a walnut shaft. A Golding obviously. The first of many to come I can tell you that much… I’m addicted and I really really really love this spindle. For those of you who are interested: it’s lying on a handwoven Iranian gilim made by nomads. And yes.. it’s a coffee stain.. I need to wash the poor gilim.

chocolate wensleydale

Before I laid down the gilim (and  a blanket underneath) I was happily spinning on the concrete balcony when I dropped the spindle… it really takes some getting used to.. .6oz to 1.9oz.

I cried.. (ok internally but I was so frickin bummed!) I cleaned it out a bit and then I softly sanded it and this is what it looks like now. It was worse.. I kind of convinced the BF that this is what he should buy me for my brithday (in JUNE….) I still feel a bit sad, but it’s okay I guess.. spindles need to be used 🙂 I hope it still loves me.

chocolate wensleydale

Unwashed but still pretty. It had been washed, but not quite thoroughly. The yarn looks a bit matt with the grease and dirt. Still pretty tho.

chocolate wensleydale

Here’s the yarn after a good washing and thwacking. Yeaahhh I can see your haloooo..

handspun chocolate wensleydale girasole

And yes, of course I needed to cast on immediately! The yarn is very light and airy, and it’s got such a nice halo. The pictures don’t do it justice but they come close enough. There’s a huge difference in color when it’s it the light or in the shadow, the sunlight gives it a really warm glow.

handspun chocolate wensleydale girasole

As the swatch predicted, the extra twist in the unwashed yarn was really necessary because the yarn was being held together by lanolin and dirt..

I’ve also been working a bit on the EZ’s anniversary shawl and I’m doing the final chart now. I like the colors and I hope the blocking will help the colors and pattern blend a bit.

handspun EZ 100th anniversary shawl wip

Right now the colors are a bit overwhealming, but I’m hoping that blocking will create a bigger distance between the colorchanges, and the holes will make it a bit airier.

gifted bunny down

I’ve been gifted a bag of bunny fuzz! It’s so incredibly soft I can’t believe it! I got it from the lady next door. I was spinning and plyingon the balcony and she told me she had been saving it up for me! I still can’t believe it, that’s such a nice thing to do!

gifted chiengora

I’ve also been gifted a whole lot of doggy fur. This is a huge (because the rest isn’t pictured) donation made by Pip, my friends Maltezer x Shitzu (spelling?). She’s the most adorable little doggy and gets a haircut every now and again.. some bits are a bit short but most of them are long enough to spin.

I’m planning to spin something nice for both ladies, since they were both so kind to give me fiber from their pets. I’m not sure what I should blend it with tho.. hmmmm 🙂

Problems caused by multitasking

The past few months there hasn’t quite been as much knitting as I thought there would be.. but it’s all good.. The year started a bit slowly on the knitting front but all is well and some progress is being made as we speak. Pics or it didn’t happen you say..?

tangled yoke cardigan wip

I’m rather pleased with the way it’s turning out and I must say I *LOVE* the substitute “me”. It’s my exact size (except for the waist height which I haven’t fixed yet, but overall it’s pretty acurate), so without being able to wear it yet I already know it’s a perfect fit. Another 50 euro’s well spent I believe. My gauge was a slight bit smaller than the patterns and I decided to make a small and adapt it to my gauge. Unfortunately this was something exactly between the S and the M size, so when I got to the yoke part I had to choose. Either a bit too small or a bit too big.. I went for a bit too small and chose to decrease to meet the S size because tho my shoulders are wide, they’re slender enough to fit an S I hoped, and thankfully I was right. Obviously there’s still a good chance that it might be a bit tight, but since it’s acrylics I’m hoping for a bit of a stretch and a bit of growing on the yarn’s part and we’re all good.

tangled yoke cardigan wip

I love the way it looks and I seriously can’t wait to finish this one and wear it.. there’s however a slight problem..  It’s not something big.. something you might not have noticed even. I know I didn’t, up until the point I was nearly touching it with my nose.. but now it can’t be unseen. I’m not willing to frog, because I don’t think anyone else will see it, or even be bothered by it. But I’m still a bit annoyed by the fact that it exists..

have you seen it yet..? It’s right here..

Tangled yoke wip WTF

It annoys me to no end that I’ve managed to pull this off. It was quite easy I assure you, but I still can’t get over it.

Though the yarn was nice and comfortable to work with it was rather hellish when it came to the cables and the yoke. It’s so bad even that I still have some pain in my wrists, hands and fingers and I’m really not looking forward to more pain. Maybe some day, I’ll knit this pattern again out of some lovely yarn and *then* I’ll do it right.. right now.. I’ll try to unsee the images that have burned themselves in my retinas 😛

Out of sheer frustration I decided it was time for (again) another project. I’ve been wanting to start knitting something with this yarn for ages and now I was finally annoyed enough to ignore the guilt and the other unfinished objects hogging my needles and just went for it. You might remember this yarn right here. It’s a hand-dyed handspun single made from unspecified Scottish combed top. The colorway is Midwinter sunrise, but I’m changing it over Wintersky over Holland, because it really resembles the colors of the midwinter skies in The Netherlands, especially when it’s freezing cold outside.

what to do with this..?

Back in October (2010) I was contemplating a triangular shawl, but to be quite honest I don’t tend to wear those things a lot. They either need to be very big or very small for me to work so I dismissed that one quite quickly. The other thing is that the softness.. well the lack thereof. So I need something that will keep me warm, but not something I’ll need to wrap around my neck. So I went for the EZ 100th anniversary Camping half-circle on Rav.

I want something I can throw around me during spring and fall when I’m wearing longer sleeved shirts but want to hang out without a jacket. Or during the winter on top of my coat for extra warmth. The good thing about this yarn is that it’s kinda sticky and halo-y, which will probably help because it’ll be nice and warm and it won’t slide off constantly.

EZ 100th anniversary P shawl

This (craptastic) picture was taken earlier this evening, and by now I’m working on the third set of the pattern. It’s moving along quite quickly and I’m a very happy knitter at the moment.