Friday, 22 August 2014

Owl Punis from Fondant Fibre

As you know, I am quite partial to a spinning project that uses Fondant Fibre materials. Deb is an amazing artisan and the fibre she produces is second to none. I am particularly fond of her punis and rolags. Now I have a blending board I imagine I will buy rolags less often but I'm not sure my technique is good enough to make good punis yet. I think even if I could produce lovely punis I would still be buying them from Deb too, because I don't have her eye for blending colours and fibres.

The punis I'm going to talk about today are these, they were called Owl.

Owl Punis

Aren't they pretty? The name is very appropriate with the light airiness of the fibre and gorgeou soft colours. I really seem to be gaining a much greater appreciation for natural colours since starting to spin.  I made a very big mistake with these punis, I forgot to put them on Ravelry when I bought them, and they were a one off, rather than a repeatable set that I could go and look up on the shop site. I think there was BFL and alpaca in it, but I expect there was also some merino and possibly silk or bamboo. Despite not knowing what was in these punis I loved every minute of spinning them.

I used my Bocote Tibetan Spindle from Enid Ashcroft and decided to spin for a 2-ply style yarn.

Owl Punis 01

I thought it would make a beautiful shawl so thought a 2-ply yarn would be suitable as lace works well with a 2-ply. I really love this spindle, it's a nice weight and it is balanced perfectly. I cannot speak highly enough of Enid's support spindles and if you ever want to try this craft, her spindles are wonderful and quite reasonably priced for the skills and materials she uses to make these tools.

Fondant Fibres Owl 01

The punis spun up so quickly because they are spun using long draw, which is a fast technique. My skill in this particular field isn't vast, which means the singles tend to be a bit uneven, but I think with the airiness of this fibre, that isn't necessarily a bad thing. After I spun the singles I made my usual plying ball and plyed away.

Fondant Fibres Owl 02

This lofty and drapey yarn is gorgeous. It's soft and fluffy and the movement of the light and dark through the strand gives real interest and depth. I think when it's knit up it will be beautiful.

Fondant Fibres Owl 04

The yarn is full of bounce and warmth as well as drape. It's hard to explain how it can be both, but it is!

Fondant Fibres Owl 03

This yarn weighs 101g and it is approximately a light fingering/3ply gauge of yarn, but because of my uneven spinning it varies between lace weight and fingering/4ply, but it should be fine when it's knit up. I got 459m/500yds of length, which is more than enough for a decent sized shawlette. I've been trying to work out what to knit with this yarn and I'm thinking of something like Citron, or maybe making something like my Refraction Shawlette but adding an extra repeat into the body section to give a little extra coverage. As I want to knit this soon, do you have any other suggestions for patterns?

I have another 2 sets of punis from Fondant Fibre to get to, one set is Salsa and one set is Tusk which are coloured red and cream respectively. I really want to spin some of those soon!

Fondant Fibre Punis

Don't you think they would stripe nicely together? I will have to work at my consistency, in long draw, in order to make sure the skeins would be the same gauge, though!

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

More Gradient Gorgeousness

Well, there was quite a positive response to the blog post concerning my Countess Ablaze spinning, I thought I'd give everyone a quick update.

I have actually started knitting Antarktis with this gradient yarn. I should warn you with this pattern, it tells you to read the pattern all the way through before beginning. Make sure you not only read it, but understand it. I didn't and got waaaaay off track and had to rip a good thirty rows out.

However, I'm nearly back to where I was before the ripping incident, and this is what it is beginning to look like.


It doesn't look like much so far, but I have high hopes!

Monday, 18 August 2014

Spinning Beautifully Bright Gradient Yarn

Sometimes I get so excited about a project that I want to tell you all about it, even if it's completion is "out of order", so to speak. I generally like to talk about finished objects in the order that they are completed, as it makes it easier for me to keep track of what needs blogging about. But when I get a bit giddy over a project some things can get skipped over and then they fall through the blogging cracks. Then when I go to a project page on Ravelry for some reason and click on the blog post tab I suddenly realise that I missed blogging about it. This was one such project and it really deserves to be blogged about.

The bright yarn in question was dyed by one of my favourite UK dyers, Countess Ablaze. The fibre was 100% Superwash Merino in the Geeks Like Rainbows Too colourway. It was a gradient of the most vibrant and lovely colours.

Countess Ablaze Merino

I knew when I bought the fibre that I wanted to maintain that glorious gradient. It would seem so wrong to mix it all up, when it worked so perfectly like that.  I put the fibre to one side whilst I finished some other projects and finally picked it up again, in order to take it on holiday with me to Suffolk. I knew I wanted to use my lovely Spanish Peacock spindle as it spins quickly and therefore makes it easier to spin a fine yarn.  I wanted to make sure I made the single fine enough, that when it was chain plied I would have enough to make a shawl to show off those lovely colours. As I was going to spin finely, following the precise gradient, I knew I would be spinning worsted style in order to smoothly transition colours and also to add strength to the singles.

Countess Ablaze Gradient 01

The fibre spun beautifully fine and it drafted very easily. It was the perfect holiday spinning as it required almost no concentration from me at all. It felt like it almost spun itself! When I reached the maximum cop size I slid the cop off onto another spindle for storage. The upside down cop definitely looked odd but I knew I wanted to maintain the order of the colour transitions.

When I finished spinning the other half of the fibre, I placed the spindles in my cheap plastic basket with holes and started to wind off the singles into a chain ply plying ball. I wound off the second cop first, followed by the first cop which meant the colour transitions were in the same order as it was dyed.

I put the twist in the rested chained singles and got a fairly even yarn.

Countess Ablaze Gradient 03

I managed to spin 390m/426yds of a sock weight to heavy lace weight yarn. The majority of the yarn is a fingering weight, so it should work out well in a shawl pattern. The thinner parts will get hidden in the pattern.

Countess Ablaze Gradient 05

I am quite proud that there is only a small degree of variation in the thickness of the yarn, as obviously chain plying a yarn magnifies any flaws in gauge. In chain plying, very fine parts of the singles are only plied against very fine parts singles, because it is being plied against itself. There is no averaging out of variations that you get in a true 3-ply yarn, where thick parts get plied with thin parts and so get evened out along the length of the yarn. This yarn proves I am getting more consistent in my spinning.

After plying I soaked the yarn, before squeezing with a towel and then snapping it to help align the fibres. I then hung it to dry.  The finished yarn isn't very bouncy but it does have nice drape. It's not too rigid, which has happened before with my finer yarns.

I wanted to choose a shawl pattern that would show off the colour changes to the best of my ability, so I've paired this yarn up with a pattern from my queue, Antarktis by Janina Kallio. This pattern is knit on the bias starting at a point and working to a long edge, and it is customisable for the amount of yarn you have. I think it will make the gradient look gorgeous. I do like having patterns matched up with yarn. It makes it easier when I am looking for inspiration of what to knit next, especially with handspun yarn.


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