Let me tell you an epic tale of battles, of many defeats and victories…
This picture is taken on July 14, 2011. It was during the Tour the Fleece that I decided to plan a huge spinning project. I had dyed fiber before, but I had never blended any fiber. I had used my handcards for making rolags, but I wanted more. I wanted to create color and fluffiness. Batts. Made with handcards.
So I ordered 300 grams of merino and 100 grams of silk. Most of it remained white, a part became yellow. The silk was dyed with reds and yellows (I used food coloring and a microwave).
I was going for a soft peach with mild gradients in color.
I spun up a rolag and made a little swatch to see if it was to my liking. The swatch is made with very fine yarn, the final product was going to be a bit heavier in weight.
During the Tour I spent a lot of time carding and blending. Because I only had handcards I was (for some reason) obsessed with making batts. I have to say it was easier than you would think, and I really learned a lot about the process. I became pretty good at blending with, and using my hand cards.
I started out spinning on my spindle. Some of the yarn has been spun on my Russian spindle. I was going for a sock weight yarn so I could knit something fine on 3.0mm needles. Insanity now that I look back on it, but I’m glad I did it. I learned so much during this process!
In the end, I decided that the process was taking quite a lot time as it was, so I decided to move to wheel spinning instead. The thing about spinning wheels, however, is that the Irish tension wheel is not well suited for fine, laceweight singles. The picture above will show you how it’s NOT done. By lacing the single over the hooks the pull of the wheel will be reduced dramatically. If you own an Irish tension wheel and you’d like to spin finer yarns, be mindful of the fact that the way I did it puts a lot of strain on the single. Try to keep the angle at 90 degrees instead of 30 (meaning: put the single around two hooks on each side, instead of just one). I had a lot of trouble with snapping singles while I used this method. Once I kept the angles at 90 degrees this problem nearly disappeared.
My summer holiday was spent on this rug, listening to audio books and blending away. This was the final batch.
Somewhere in May 2012 I started knitting Brunhilde. I absolutely fell in love with the pattern. The cables are amazing!
In June 2012, a year later, I finished all the spinning. The blending and spinning of 400 grams took me two whole Tours. It’s funny how you can get used to things. At the moment I can spin 100 grams a day, but back then it was really hard. The spinning wheel, of course, was only part of the issue. I was still learning (I don’t think you ever stop learning). Also: Scotch tension is amazing.
This picture was taken in November 2012. See what I mean about the cables? Aren’t they gorgeous?! This pattern is really awesome!
By the time March 29th 2013 came around I was still no further. I think I had bound of the sleeves by this point. I don’t really wear long sleeved things, and I wanted to make this a tunic instead of just a pullover.
Tour de Fleece 2014 came around and wanted to use this wip as a background for newly spun yarns. I tried to knit on this project as much as possible, but to be very honest.. it was hard. Early handspun is not the most even yarn you’ll produce. Silk and merino aren’t the most elastic fibers out there. Endless rows of cables on 3.0mm needles can drive a woman mad. Let me firmly state that this had absolutely nothing to do with the pattern. It’s nice, it’s well-written and I really love it.
Working with my own (rather uneven and differently spun) handspun.. meh.. not so much. I’m glad I have a new wheel. I’m glad I’ve had so much more experience spinning yarns. I’m glad I can now actually create even yarns.
I didn’t do any waist shaping, and that’s a very good thing. I’m starting to grow a little bump… I really like the way it turned out in the end, even though it took me 2.5 years from start till finish.
When I started out I was going for something peachy with mellow gradients. I think that’s exactly what I got. There’s some uneven parts, and there’s some oopsies in the cable pattern. But I’m really happy that this project is done. I’ve been wearing it for two days straight. I think I’ll be wearing this until I can’t fit in it anymore!