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

Monday, June 23, 2008

Spinning a Handpainted Roving

So this weekend a few of us in the farm group on Ravelry decided to spend the longest night of the year (aka: Summer Solstice) spinning our little hearts out on some EKF fibers I jumped right in because, as you well know, any excuse to spin is a good excuse and I need very little prompting to ignore the rest of the house and just whirl my little rose away....what? Doesn't everybody?

spinning 003The proper start is essential for a good spin-in so I started with some purple sparkly batts that were in the shop last week (Velvet). They are mostly Cotswold with a little tussah silk carded in so the luster is really at an orgasmic peak in this fiber. Sometimes, you just need to spin something that shines and sparkles and makes your eyes go 'Hello!' if you know what I mean. You see here the lofty goal I had of spinning both the 'velvet' batts and some dark purple roving I had from a season or two ago that I thought would work nicely in a shrug thingie with the batts. The roving, as it turns out, was just there to keep the 'velvet' company and will wait its turn to be spun behind all the other 'stuff' in my 'in' basket. The essentials of heavenly brown elixir of life and some red rooibos tea (because, yeah, we have officially started allergy season and the ax that was wedged into my brain for the better part of the day was proof of that - rooibos is sweet, good, and full of antioxidants as well as being a help to fend off allergies - we loves it). I spun the majority of the batts into singles. It's one of my favorite ways to feature the silky, lustrous, and smooth texture of Cotswold wool and the silk didn't seem to mind being shown off either. spinning 018 There's 150 yds. of worsted wgt. gooby (I'm still 12, apparently cuz I just typed that 'booby' and nearly fell outta my chair) softness in this 3 ozs. skein. The remaining ounce was spun super-fine and I got about 75 yds. of navajo plied yarn from that in a dk wgt. I will definitely spin some more to navajo ply. I used to NP alot but somehow just stopped for a while. I love it, really. It is super efficient as you have no left overs like with a 2 ply. It's very strong and beautiful and knits up into a soft, uniform fabric. Still, I just seem to 'forget' how much I like some things sometimes. The Spindling Scot reminded me when she posted some of hers on her blog. (smacks forehead and goes, 'oh yeah, I love plying that way' cuz she's really got alot of free real estate between the ears, doncha know)

spinning 006By now, some of you might be wondering if I'm really goofy enough to post a title like 'spinning a hand painted roving' without realizing I'm talking about spinning a hand-dyed batt. Heh! Fooled ya, didn't I? The second part of my spin-in was some 'silk road' roving I dyed up the other day. I love spinning a hand-dyed roving. One of my favorite ways to spin a colorway that has the bold distinctions of color such as 'silk road' does, as opposed to a more muted and subtle changing colorway like, say, queen mermaid or something, is to tear the roving (in this case, 3.8 ozs) into 6 or 7 long strips. To make sure the colors don't line up so much which gives the knitting a striped look instead of a hand-dyed bonanza of visual surprise, I spin one strand much thinner than the other and then ply them together. For instance, I wanted a worsted wgt. yarn from this skein. So, I took about 2 3/4 ozs. of roving that was torn into strips and spun that in a sport wgt. single. The remaining amount, I spun into a fingering wgt single.

spinning 020In doing this, you are stretching the colors of the fingering wgt. strand much farther than in your sport single. So, the red, turquoise, browns, purples, and blues will extend themselves and end up being plied alongside more stretches of the same sequence on your thicker strand. This way, you get windows of color but your yarn won't pool uncontrollably in your knit/crocheted item. This tactic also works splendidly when you are trying to combine different fibers in your stash for a bigger project. Say, you had some silk road but you wanted to stretch it out and have enough for a vest or sweater. Instead of the 1.5-2 lbs. of roving you'd need for that project, you could use a little more than half that of the hand-dyed roving and spin your thicker strand of that - ensuring you have non-stop, unapologetic color thrills throughout your sweater of love. But, you could ply a thinner strand of any one or more of the colors in the silk road roving. Are you a green lovin' one? Try some dark green. Still have that great big ball of mystery blue roving that you bought at your first fiber fair and you were so drunk with the fumes of fiber that you didn't even ask what it was( ahem)? You could use that. Of course, an economical and earthy alternative would be a plain brown strand (see, I CAN be reasonable). Red is for the brave so if you can sport red without looking like a poster pin-up ad or Elvira herself, go for it. I, myself, can only wear red if I wear no make-up and have my hair pulled back. Even a hint of balm on the lips and the naturally curly do that, let's face it, looks more like clown hair in the humid Maine summers and I start to shake my leg, chew my imaginary gum, and generally appear loose (gasp!). I got just what I bargained for in this spin - a little over 200 yds. of worsted wgt. color bliss in this 100 gram skein.

spinning 028I was so busy reeling from that 'here's your summer, wench!' headache and spinning diligently away that I forgot what day it was. Well, I didn't, really. I mean, we had all manner of social engagements, deadlines, etc.etc. so I live and breath to cry over the calendar at least twice a day but what I mean to say is that I forgot that I said I'd announce the winner of the Great Giveaway on the 21st. Heh! You're very welcome.....for the friendly reminder that I am a total flake. Anyhoo, Susan won the handspun yarn this month - yeah, Susan! She's an awesome woman/knitter I've come to know on the little blog thingummie and I'm so glad to be sending this handspun single of 50/50 wool silk that I dyed in some rich purples to her....I hope she'll love it well!