Having spent many months on the latest sock design overhaul, then sock yarn making & more sample sock knitting, I feel I have finally come to a place where I can just be done for a while, as I really do need to move on to some serious sweater knitting at this point, but we’ll see about that. After sending these two pairs of socks knit with the UnSpun Sock Yarn off to Vancouver this morning, I will stop next door at the Oakville Grocery and get a nice cup of coffee, and wrap my mind around going on sock sabbatical for however long it takes, and facing the new design in the territory ahead.
The grey pair is the pattern Double Cappuccino, and the pink/brown pair being one of the variations called Basic Brew. I’ve knit the Basic Brew with two yarns held together and ankle length for warmer weather boots walking, my sister-in-law wears wool socks year round, and walks a lot so she is my designated wool sock tester!
In closing, I’d like to say that I really have a hankering to resume some serious spinning on my vintage Ashford Traditional, and get to making more handspun, as it is my dream as well as my plan to make ongoing samples of all of my designs in handspun (and UnSpun). There’s nothing like the handspun, so crisp, and bursting with halo in the morning light.
As I have been doing all along (see all UnSpun posts), dividing plies, replying with a tighter final twist, scour washing to set the twist and felt up any possible slack .
This bunch of skeins was my learning curve . . .
Well, then I just have to knit some socks.
A sample of the same grey yarn over-dyed with some yellow onion skins I had saved up, and pressure cooked half hour in my mini instant pot. Then I strained out the skins, wet the skein and along with a glug of white vinegar I simmered for about half an hour in the onion skin “broth” on low pressure. It was very thirsty for dye, and the onion skin dye was pretty dark. Next time I won’t pressure cook the actual dying, but simmer and careful few stirs to even out the dying as well as giving the yarn a further scour to set the new twist. However, I actually am quite pleased with the slightly blotchy onion gold over the cool grey, for in my opinion the duo of grey and deep golden brown pair excellently together.
A few weeks ago I sent off these “boot” socks knit in UnSpun dk weight
to my sister-in-law to be test-worn . . .
and also sent skeins of fingering weight sock yarn to a dear knitting friend for sock test-knitting, and so now awaiting her critical feedback. So far my own feedback is that – yes, the yarn is beautifully rustic, has a little spring, but not as much elasticity, which was my expectation from a coarser longer wool fiber to achieve the rustic appeal. However, slightly problematic for these reasons; the yarn seems slick and strong, might do better to be knit with smaller needles “than usual”, to tighten up the fabric, it seems, and the dk may be too thick to wear comfortably for walking. So meanwhile I am trying out a pair of Basic Brew . . .
I know for certain these will be an improvement on socks for walking, with very dense tightly knit fabric to take a lot of punishment — holding 2 fingering weights with US1.5 [2.5mm] needles — one of the fingering sock yarns (the pink) together with a puffy downy 100% merino sock yarn (the brown) and together another match I am over the moon about. I am learning that better than a single strong rustic dk yarn knitting up speed boot socks as the blue Vancouver-bound ones were, is holding two of the fingering weights together, for the stitches are softer and the merino of course, adds super downy softness to the strong rustic UnSpun yarn. I have sock-knitting on the brain a lot these days, but things are naturally winding down with the sock yarn-making, and feel its time I bring it to a fruitful pause so that I can get on with the next knitting & yarn adventure. I mean I have been doing so much unplying and replying, having fun with my super fast plying machine I bought last summer (the Ashford e-spinner I mention in this post) I guess I wanted to try to find some kind of a niche with it, and I most certainly did, as I am not able to spin fine sock yarns to save my life. Also, I haven’t done any fiber blending for Tweed Chronicles in ages, and just plain spinning, so those things I hope to spend a little time with soon. Just been working a lot outside and what little left-over energy I have , sock-knitting just hits the spot and keeps me on the level.
Practice is what builds skill, and only practice. The proper tools help, and I’ve got all I need of them, but what is key to getting good at something is just spending time just doing the work.
This is about 480 yards and 110 grams of what is a sort of deep flax flower blue, made from two balls of worsted weight Wool Of The Andes “Baltic Heather”. Over recent days I’m getting more consistent evenness in my s-twist with this fine fingering weight, and getting the hang of the super duper fast electric plying machine, while I turned another decade older.
No complaints, just quietude and gratitude to work the days away. These January days have me feeling more relaxed than I have been in a long time, and I’m really enjoying learning a new thing, and now I’m on my way down the mountain to Oakville Post to get this skein on its merry way eastward to Pennsylvania!
Well folks, off goes another “pampas heather” ultra fine UnSpun 1100 in the mail, and this time to Pennsylvania. I have specifically made UnSpun yarns for some knitter friends of mine who have lavished their time knitting up tests of my patterns, time and time again. So thank you thank you thank you Virginia!
I’m refining my technique for the UnSpun, especially with the very fine lace weight, UnSpun 1100 , which is 550 yards per 50 grams. After I separate the plies and splice them all together while winding on to the swift, I then give the skein a careful hot wash to only slightly felt the strands, so that when they are dry and wound into a skein or cake, they are de-energized nearly completely. Do you see how the dried washed skein below is ever so slightly ‘clumpy’ ? That is because its ever so slightly fused to itself — and I mean very barely — before winding back on to the swift or into a cake to release and smooth out. One must really know the behavior of wool to try felting a yarn. My thinking is, if Rowan can do it , well then so can we. 🙂
The slight felting process is essential, and when I’m winding it off from the swift to a cake the single strand of yarn slightly pulls away from the whole mass, creating actually a lovely halo of woolen fuzz. Anyway, I think that the UnSpun 1100 really is a winner accomplishment for me, and I look forward to sharing more experiments!
All tutorial posts under the title of Unspun are HERE
Last in the Unspun For Friends series, knowing that really this can’t possibly be the end of it, for I’ve had too much fun.
I am thinking I should do some kind of drawing monthly, where winner gets a kit with UnSpun & lace pattern, for this was a very satisfying accomplishment to finish this four-part series. Watch this space as I develop that idea! One 50g skein of Unspun 1100, sourced from Wool of The Andes Sport in a pastel of yellow-green called ” Green Tea Heather “.
Knit Picks describes the color . . .
Green Tea Heather is a soft, muted light green with subtle warm undertones. Green Tea Heather work well with warm browns or try bright shades of blue to brighten things up with pop of contrast.
It is such a light green that its almost delicate, making me think the color of a pale icy marguerita!
Off on a journey to Arkansas from California, for Jane, as I am very grateful for her presence on my Ravelry group and countless test-knits. I am hoping all four recipients will have their fine lace yarn when I submit the pattern very soon. Thats me now, back to the last stretch of veils & variations.
As of this morning, this skein is bound for Australia!
As in previous several posts, Wool of The Andes Sport was the original yarn, and in a richly heathered green called ” Pampas “. Knit Picks describes their color . . .
Pampas is an olive green color that has a slight vintage tone. The variable shades of yellows, greens and touches of brown are similar to the prairie grasses and herbs found in the lowlands of South America called the Pampas.
I think of all the Knit Picks blended heathers , this is among my top favorites for color complexity. I see moss green and beige predominantly with flecks of emerald green, amber gold, and aqua blue!
It is a stunning color , a near neutral, but more distinctively beautiful in single plies than the four plies all together for the colors are then quite a bit less blended. I have made this skein for a knitting friend who has knitted gorgeous samples of some of my designs (as well as comments on this blog :: waves to Redshoes :: ) 550 yards of Unspun heading south against the clock at a rapid pace.
Another couple of yarn cakes of super light-weight lace, bound for Ontario Canada! As in previous posts, Wool of The Andes Sport was the original yarn, and in the cheerful color ” Sprinkle “. Knit Picks describes their color . . .
Sprinkle is a blue violet color. The heathered strands show the beautiful color variations from a soft robin’s egg blue to a medium red violet giving it the overall look of dusty lavender.
The camera is so color selective, so I must describe what I see. I’ll add that I see flecks of gold which seem to give the color a tiny influence of beige… thus the ‘dusty’ appearance. I also think un-plying 4 strands lessens the homogeneous affect of the carded mix of ‘heathered’ colors, so the colors are just a little bit more striking. Photographing while looking down from on the attic ladder, my slippered feet, lavender shirt, and light brown pants ended up in the photo, and rather than crop that out, I am again surprised to find myself dressing for the occasion!
Absolutely gorgeous complex colorway, I am smitten. ” UnSpun 1100 ” I have named this transformation, as it is 1100 yards & 100 grams of singly ply very luscious lace-making stuff.
Already sent off and heading to Canada, and finished with two in the series of four. Two more of these UnSpun gifts to make, and then its back to the serious lace knitting for the upcoming pattern, but I am having a good break while making some nice yarn, so feeling really good about that!
I am taking a break from lace knitting and writing about a short series of Unspun projects made custom skeins for a few friends who are being so kind to test-knit my present lace design in progress, and otherwise helping me through a rather wobbly time. A few days to make a few nice fat skeins of Unspun fine lace-weight yarn to send off and hoping doing so will temper my erratic mood with a focus of gratitude. Gratitude cures all. So that’s me, now, getting ready to lose myself deconstructing yards upon yards, unwinding and splicing and winding again. The yarn has just arrived, and I will be the mistress of Unspun for a few days!
Unspun #1: Deconstructed by hand using this method from Wool Of The Andes Sport in the color of Midnight Heather . This Peruvian Highland yarn is made from the fleeces of corriedale/merino cross sheep, and the fine spinning of the four plies are just coarse enough to be strong to withstand deconstruction, and once it is set into singles, the loft from the fine texture of a bit of merino will be wonderful. Knit Picks describes the color…
Midnight Heather is an intense dark blue color with black undertones. Reminiscent of the dark night sky, Midnight Heather intrigues us with the flecks of blues and blue greens that add visual interest to this usually rich color.
A ball of sport weight ready to separate plies using a drop spindle!
All of this ultra fine yarn I am undertaking makes me think of the weathered & windswept Shetland Isles where fine lace knitting became world renown. It is my keenest passion at present to explore creating yarn that can be knit into such similar fine lace, and in a colossal palette of colors. I will leave you with the short film that was my first inspiration, and which began my quirky obsession making Unspun over two years ago .
Next, I’ll post the finished skeins!
But until then enjoy Shetland Fine Lace, and remember …