Tuesday, 1 April 2014

STSAL2014 - Update 4

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I am so pleased to be able to share my finished object photos with you today. I was desperate for my yarn to dry so I could post this on my usual update day, and thankfully we have had a few warmer days, so fortune has smiled on me today and I can present to you, a completed skein of yarn!

Malachite Punis 12

Plying this yarn was a bit more tricky than I thought it would be. I started by plying directly from the 3 plying balls, holding each ply between different fingers.  The plies started twisting up on themselves as it was really difficult to maintain tension with such fine plies.  I ended up with lots of little twists sticking out from the yarn. I tried to catch them all, and ease them straight, but one snuck through.

Malachite Punis 09

I'm pretty sure I can tuck it away when knitting. After trying to stop these little twists occurring, for a long time without much progress, I decided I needed to take the three plies and make a single plying ball.  After doing that, the plying went much more quickly and smoothly.

Malachite Punis 08

The yarn feels quite bouncy, which I expected because the spinning was done long draw and there were three plies. It does feel a little crunchy, but I think that is because the yarn is tightly spun and tightly plied. However, I think when it's knit up and then soaked and blocked, it will soften a lot more, in the same way the Corriedale I spun did.

Malachite Punis 10

The tight spinning and plying has led to the meterage of this yarn not being great, despite it being a 3-ply/Light Fingering weight. It only measures 267 m/292 yds, which I hope will be enough to knit some mitts. I don't think it would be suitable for a cowl, because it is a little crunchy, but I think the tight yarn will make it pretty robust despite the very soft yak and merino, which will make it suitable for being on my hands rather than my neck.

Malachite Punis 13

I've had a look at some of the mitts patterns on Ravelry that would use my yarn and there are a couple I like, namely Isabel by Sarah Punderson, Garden of Eden Reversible Fingerless Gloves by Anastasia Blaes and Golden Rod Reversible Fingerless Gloves by the same designer. I really like the idea of having a nice stitch pattern on the mitts, but I also like the idea of the mitts being a little longer, as I will probably wear these while riding my mobility scooter.  What I might do is take the idea of a nice interesting stitch pattern with the shape of the Isabel mitts and add a fold over section at my fingers, so I can extend the mitts for riding the scooter, or fold them back for normal wear. I've got a feeling this may be another design challenge for myself, I do love using my stitch dictionaries!

I am enjoying the SAL so much as everyone is chatting on the Ravelry boards and the finished objects are now starting to appear thick and fast. It's been so inspiring seeing what other people are working with and producing, and I'm getting lots of ideas for knitting with handspun. Even if you aren't joining in with the SAL, I highly recommend you check out some of the finished objects because they are lovely. Who knows, you might catch the spinning bug!

If you are joining in with the SAL, please add a link to any blog posts you have written in the comments section.

Friday, 28 March 2014

Ridgeland Shawl

This week I want to share with you my Big Winter Shawl v3. I call it that because it seems that every Winter I get the urge to knit a big colourful woolly shawl to wear. This is the fourth time I've attempted it, but the third time I've succeeded. Previous editions are a a striped More Than a Triangle Shawl, the never finished Modern Quilt Wrap (which I will finish one day) and a big orange and grey version of Pterotactyl. This year's version is the Ridgeland Shawl by Marc Smollin, who also designed Pterotactyl.

Ridgeland 06

This gigantic shawl was cast on in October and it ground to a halt during the stranded section. I did not enjoy this section of the shawl, I'll explain more in a minute.  The shawl was designed using Holst Garn Supersoft 100% Uld and I decided to use that yarn as it was one I hadn't tried before, and I'm always on the lookout for nice and woolly yarn. I managed to find it at one my favourite online shops, Tangled Yarn. I think what swung the yarn choice for me was I had a voucher to use for this shop, so it seemed a good idea to use it to get my shawl yarn from there, especially as I couldn't seem to find it elsewhere.


The colours I chose were Aquamarine,Graphite and Mariner. The yarn is made of 2 loosely spun plies of wool, which feel thin because of the oils that coat the fibres. Once the yarn is washed, the oils are removed and the yarn blooms.  If I was to make this shawl again, I would choose colours with a wider difference in colour values than the Mariner and Graphite had.  It's hard to judge values properly using a website. Those colours blended a bit too closely for my liking, though I still love the colours.

The shawl is an unusual shape. From the centre point to the right hand tip it measures 32" (0.81m), but from the centre point to the left hand tip it measures 56" (1.42m), which gives a total wingspan of 82" or 6'10" (2.08m) and the depth of the shawl is 33" (0.84m).  The size of the shawl is what attracted me to it in the first place but if I'd thought before I started, I would have swapped the sides of the shawl over as I prefer to have the right side longer on asymmetrical shawls. My shawl is also larger than the pattern states. I should have reduced my needle size, as I usually knit looser, but I didn't swatch, because I never do for shawls, and I didn't think. The result of this larger gauge is a more airy shawl, which is probably better for warmer weather but not as snuggly as my Pterotactyl, which is knit in Kauni, a sport weight yarn.

Ridgeland 08

The enormous wingspan of this shawl meant I had to fold it in half to block it. When folding I didn't take into account the curved nature of the centre line of the shawl, which means I have a fold line in the shawl that is distinctly visible. I may have to steam it out.  This curved centre line means, despite blocking the top of the shawl perpendicular to that line, the left hand side of the shawl curves up. This makes it a little hard to wrap around without displaying the wrong side of the knitted fabric.

Ridgeland 04

You can see how the top wants to fall forward.  I'm also not happy about the way the back looks, because the stranded part of the shawl doesn't look "right" to me. The black dashes don't seem to sit in the right places, which I'm sure is down to me having an off stitch count, rather than the pattern.

Ridgeland 03

As I said earlier, I did not enjoy the stranded part of this shawl. I wasn't expecting to hate it, because I like stranded knitting. What I didn't take into account was how long these rows were going to be and how annoying it is to k3 in one colour and then p3 in the other colour. This stitch pattern is what is carried out on the wrong side rows and it drove me mad for some reason.  The reason this shawl took so long was my lack of desire to finish the stranded section.  It sat half done for months. In the end I had to make myself do it by rewarding myself for finishing a repeat, and only then allowing myself to work on another project for a day or so. I don't often have to force myself to knit, but I was determined not to be beaten by one section of the shawl.

Ridgeland 05

Over all, I am using this shawl a lot for round the house. I think it is a good weight for this time of year, and it does wrap me up nicely because of it's size. It also matches the colours in my lounge nicely, so it's pretty draped over the sofa.  I probably won't wear it out and about because of the little niggles that would drive me crazy out in public. To be honest, I have more than enough shawls that I adore to wear out in public. This will make a very nice "sofa shawl", but I won't be making it again, despite having lots of the yarn left over.

As it's a Friday, I will be linking this post up to Tami's Ami's & Other Creations. To see other finished objects, click on the button.

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Tuesday, 25 March 2014

STSAL2014 - Ready to Start Plying

Today is the Stitched Together Spin-A-Long 2014 update day. To see other posts in this series, click the button below.

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Whilst spinning singles in a reasonably uniform colour, there isn't much of interest to show.  However, yesterday I wound my last single onto a plying ball. Before yesterday, I only had two plying balls, so I had to make another one out of needle felted fibre, to hold my third set of singles.  Making a needle felted ball is such a simple thing to do, but it's a little time consuming. I also managed to break two needles whilst doing it. It's hard to hold a sphere stable whilst stabbing it from directly above, you know.  This tutorial shows the basics of what I did, but I used a Clover Felting Needle Mat and a Needle Felting Tool. I also used a toothpick to hold the ball in place to ensure I didn't stab my fingers with a barbed felting needle. It's really not a fun experience.  The toothpick makes it a little more tricky, but at least I received no damage to my hands.

Once I had my third felt ball to use for making a plying ball, I finished winding off the last of my singles.

AdobePhotoshopExpress_2014_03_25_08:57:45

The singles have now rested for a day, so I can now start plying. It's ages since I made a true 3-ply yarn, I hope I don't get in a mess!

How are you doing with the Stitched Together Spin-A-Long?  Have you created a project on Ravelry or blogged about your progress. If you have, please add your link in the comment thread. I'd love to know how you're doing. Or alternatively come and join in the chat over on the Ravelry Board. The Ravelry Board is also a good place to ask for advice or to bounce ideas around with fellow spinners.  You still have plenty of time to join in, as the SAL doesn't end until April 30th.

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