Spinning, Knitting, Crocheting, Organic Gardening, Living off-grid, and chasing sheep - because- I'm, like, NOT SANE!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

In Praise of Handspun....

Ever had it happen that you've lost something and even though you've looked for it for days - you become even more compulsive and look for it in ridiculous places all the same? I've turned my studio, bedroom, and living room inside out about three times in as many days in search of something that is virtually hopeless to find. The good news, is that in my dementia, I went diggin through the tote of 'old' handspun which has sat neglected for almost a full year. There were some oo's and ah's and some serious tactile affection going on. There was also some, WTF was I thinking mixing all this stuff together in a yarn? and, there was definitely some - Dang, I can't believe I once thought this was good spinning. Some of this stuff is almost as old as my children. From time to time, I get on a frugality kick and decide I have to use it for SOMETHING (like that log cabin blanket I made last year) but mostly I just keep it tucked away, safe like a periodic museum in a box of my spinning adventure. That, of course, being specific to the 'old tote'. The 'here's yarn you would knit into just about anything because it is so good' was a much longer stay - so much so that I fixed myself a cup of coffee and sat down with it totally forgetting I was on a search mission for about an hour. From it, I pulled this beautiful yarn that my treasured Loribird gifted to me - still tucked in with it's originally matched companions, a wool/silk navajo ply I dyed with nettles, a purple handspun with seed beads, and some handspun silk I dyed in a silvery periwinkle. I justified this departure from my mission because I've been having a terrible time with my wrists the last few days and felt like a superb genius to discover that I have missed an essential ingredient to my 'southern-gal-survives-the-cold-maine-winters' kit - fingerless mitts. Yes, I am sure I've conjured images that will lead to a new style of trendy winter dress all over the globe - what could possibly be more alluring than a woman who comes to bed in a parka and gloves? I've tried to put a more 'desirable' tone to it and my repertoire for winter sleep is really a warm handspun shrug, a hat, and some fingerless mitts. This way, I stay warm and hubster doesn't have to feel like he's snuggling up with a polar bear. Come to think of it, I've never asked him - maybe he likes polar bears.

So, some knits were started - swiftly de-railing other projects patiently waiting in the que. But, what is life if not unpredictable? What I'm left with is this conclusion - why did I ever buy yarn? I mean, excluding sock and lace yarn because if I depended on handspun solely for either of those things I'd likely have to relocate to a region more conducive to bare-footing it. How could I have known way back then that ALL I'd want to knit with was handspun? How could I have imagined that I would someday produce an even, perfectly suited to gauge yarn in whatever weight I desired? handspun knits 003

Cookie is seen, here, pouting in the pose of the resulting fingerless mitts and calorimetry (though, can we really call it that since I've warped the pattern so?). She and I aren't really getting along, lately. I confess I stooped to jealousy when hubster reached out and caressed her hair and said, "oooh, she has real human hair". It could be my imagination, but she practically jumped into his arms and since then I've caught him near her twice - 'fixing' things on her he said, because when he moved her to get the scale she tipped over and her hair got messed up. Forgive me, but I think if someone rescues you from a certain doom of a trash heap, with a bad dye job, tint splattered on your cheek, and a four inch crater where the haircut final must have reduced the student to tears - there should be some gratitude. She's on notice that if it happens again, I will give her the ugliest hairdo of her little plastic headed life. What? Why does everybody look at me so weird?

I totally loved Lori's super soft handspun, in a delicate periwinkle purple and oh, so mushy and soft. The nettle dyed wool and silk was just to tone down the 'purple fest' a little and if you're into natural dyeing - nettle is one of the least chemical dependent ones you can find next to goldenrod. The purple in the headband is beaded purple on the outside and my fortune teller batts spun into a 2 ply in the center -oh so yummy is the fortune teller yarn! I thought I'd love the beaded yarn but, uh, not so much. And here's why: (1) Beaded yarn takes a coon's age to spin properly and with mere seed beads it is hardly worth the effort. The beads are inconsistently placed and I find it much more beautiful to just add the beads strategically while knitting. (2)In my humble opinion, there's only one kind of beaded handspun worth the time and effort to make - a specialty yarn or exotic - which brings Aija's works of true artistry to mind immediately. I mean, she has lots of great works of artistry and I'm not just linking this one because it was spun from batts we made - it was the pearls that did it for me. Though, confession cometh forth, her really nice words about us caused me to walk through the rest of that day with a goofy drool face on.handspun loop 014 I made one I still love and adore that worked up to its purpose nicely - complete with all kinds of beads, shells, etc and then there was the rainbow fluorite batch which, as in the case of Aija's beautiful pearls, bears weight to the exception of my new 'beaded yarn' rule. The point I'm trying to make is that if the time and patience are to be invested in such a piece - then it should be done with wild abandon. Break every rule you can and go straight to the WOW base. Seed beads are a nice accent to another array of gemstones or specialty beads but when on their own - they are not so luxurious as one might think to knit up.handspun knits 007 I made myself feel better by topping off the headband with a mother of pearl button and a malachite bead. Nothing, I repeat, nuttin' makes you feel better than gemstones and pearls.

Cookie was also selected to model the 'knightly baklava' I made for thing three but we booted her out because of fore mentioned infractions and, also, because the editor of the blog decided the recipient was far cuter than Cookie any day. handspun knits 008It is a little blurrier than her stately model pose but - well, you try to get an 8 yr. old boy to stand still for a picture without immediately succumbing to the giggles. He's working with the other Things on a sweater for the dog. I'm posting the pattern for the baklava this afternoon on our old farm blog this afternoon. That's kinda going to be my free pattern spot for a while. I'd include it in the post but, then I'd have to stop babbling and what fun is there in that? The kid, however, I'm holding fast to because he's a sweetie. I handed him the baklava this morning and it was all he could do to get through school so he'd have time to go outside and test it out. The report? The handspun merino (into which I carded some white glitz and called it 'armor' and did a neckband of the green man batts (also merino and glitz) were reported to be 'sooooo warm' that someone had to be forced to come inside before dark. I don't mean to brag, cuz I think I'm pretty lucky, but what a lucky kid. Warm, handspun mittens, warm sweater, and warm handspun baklava whilst he rolls around like a maniac in the snow - I'll have to spice my afternoon coffee and call it a good day.....