One knitter's battle to conquer the intended gauge . . .

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Spinning Show & Tell: Knitting with your Handspun





Yarn: 70 yards of Corriedale handspun on Schacht drop spindle

I finished spinning my blue fiber and ended up with 70 yards. I thought that I would have more than that. My handspun doesn't seem to stretch very far. But I am done complaining about it. Once my thick and thin yarn is all plied, I love how it looks. So squishy and soft. 

I have read a lot of books over the last few months about spinning. But these two books are the best in my opinion. They are informative, easy to read and understand, useful and inspiring photography, and ones I just keep coming back to. Besides I love reading about Abby growing up in the Andes in Peru. So fascinating.

As I have been knitting my handspun this week I have learned a few things. None is brain surgery for sure. But it is interesting how much you can learn when you are not in a rush to knit a project. 
  1. Finish your handspun yarn. It is like magic (kind of like the magic of blocking your knits). I prefer to put my skein in hot, soapy water for a few minutes or so then switch it back and forth from that hot water to cold water a few times. I wrap it in a towel and soak up as much water as I can, then whack it a few times on the side of the sink or counter, holding on to different parts of the skein as I do it. Then I place it on a hanger and hang it on the shower curtain rod. When I come back to it in a day or two, I always love it. That is when it is squishy and soft and I take back all the mean words I said as I was spinning it.
  2. Swatch, swatch, swatch.  This is how you learn what the knitted fabric can do. I started out knitting this yarn on size 11 needles. I thought I would probably use a 10 if it was mill spun yarn so an 11 would work. Wrong. I knit up my first swatch in garter stitch and showed it to my husband. His response, "is that thing even going to bend?" It was too tight and stiff. I don't have a needle between 11 and 15 so my next swatch was on my size 15 needles. Much better.
  3. Stitch pattern matters. Originally I thought I would knit Elizabeth Zimmermann's mobius with this yarn, in garter stitch. But when it was clear that I didn't have enough yardage to make it how I wanted it, I had to come up with another plan. I decided to make a swatch in stockinette, ribbed, broken ribbed, and crossed stockinette. Having tried this yarn in 5 different stitch patterns I could definitely say that just plain old stockinette showed this yarn off best. (And it is amazing that the yarn withstood this much knitting and frogging back and still looked good). 
After I threw out the mobius idea I needed to come up with another plan. I thought about a hat but wasn't sure I had enough yarn, don't really wear hats much, and my size 15 needles were too long for a seamless hat. And who wants to seam?! After trying a few shapes with all those different stitch patterns I opted for the simple shawl/cowl triangle thing. I am loving it so far. More details to come when it is all finished. 

Joining with Tami, Nicole, and Ginny.








4 comments:

  1. I have only been spinning a year and I agree with everything you said......it's such a learn as you go experience! But it's great to knit with your homespun and even better to wear it and know you created it from fluffy fiber!!

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  2. I agree - plain old stockinette is my favorite when it comes to my handspun. And swatching really is key. I have made that mistake before! Enjoy your spinning:-)

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