Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Best Yet

I plied the first skein skein of my merino/tussah silk yarn yesterday, and I am in love with it. This is a 3-ply, worsted weight yarn, soft and relaxed. And the colors! Silvery gray with hints of pale pink and green, with occasional bits of white and camel brown. The skein has 182 yards of loveliness. I'm in the middle of plying a second skein, and still have approximately 4 ounces left to spin. That's probably NOT best practice - plying before spinning all the fiber, but I simply couldn't wait.

Here's a closeup of the finished yarn:
And here's what the fiber looks like before spinning:

I purchased one pound of the fiber from Sheepshed Studio/Mountain View Farm at the New York Sheep & Wool Festival last October. The subtlety of the colors, their sheen, and the softness of the fiber drew me in, and that settled it. I was a bit worried that the silk would present a severe shedding problem, but it was not much of a issue at all.

Still using my trusty Louet S15, purchased way back in 1983 or so! It's a simple (some might say unsophisticated and limited) wheel, and sometimes I am tempted to abandon it for a better one. But what would/should that be? Kromski, Ashford, Schacht, Majacraft? What I really need to do is take some lessons, preferably with someone who can provide a number of different wheels to test drive. Perhaps Halcyon Yarn in Bath.

But I do love my plain old S15, which is no longer in production. I'll be lugging it up to Maine on Friday, along with a big basket of fiber!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Catching Up To Myself

I started an intricately cabled sweater in August of 2008. Yes, that's almost 2 years ago - thank you for  pointing that out. It was the second iteration - I gave the first one to my sister Debbie. "Cropped Denim Aran Pullover" by Susan Mills, it's a Classic Elite pattern, but for this version, I chose Rowan Denim, an indigo-dyed cotton. Not for the faint of heart, this sweater has three different cable panels on front and back, two of which have an 18-row repeat. The central panel has a 28-row repeat. Keeping track of rows? Priceless. Oh, and it helps to have MANY stitch markers to hand.

I began the sweater, confident that I would finish it quickly - I had, after all, already knitted one, and the second of anything always goes faster than the first. Somehow, however, I only finished about 1/3 of the back before putting it aside for something else. (Oh, bigamous me.) I had every good intention of getting back to it, but it went from project #2, to #3, to #14...,

Well, this summer I pulled it out from a basket that was buried under more recent projects. Its unfinished state had been pestering me, and I knew I could no longer ignore it. As I write, on Sunday, July 11, 2010, the sweater is nearer to completion than before, though it still has a long way to go before I can wear it. I've finished the back, and have cast on both sleeves, which are approximately 50% done.

These photos don't do the sweater justice - the back looks much too wide, but it's a drop shoulder style, so the width will be mitigated when I put the pieces together. The sleeves will also look ridiculously short before sewing.

Okay, that's enough of that. There's lots more catching up to myself that needs doing (socks, a fair isles swing coat I began in 2006, a twinset [not sure WHEN that was launched], a cotton cardigan [also 2006], another pair of socks, ANOTHER pair of socks), but tomorrow is another day.

And now for something completely different, a photo of the orchid given to me by Abe, in its second flowering of the year:
Oh, you should know that I don't spend ALL my time knitting (or spinning). I read, too! Just finished Laura Simonson's Major Pettigrew's Last Stand which was absolutely delightful. A sweet story, but not drivel - the book challenges racial stereotyping, protests greed and avarice, and renounces progress for progress' sake. And the setting? A small village in Southern England. Can't get much better than that! Now I'm reading Katherine Howe's The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane. I think I'm about a year behind - apparently this was last summer's "cool read". Better late than never.