Posted to Pennsylvania

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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!

Technical stuff: 

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. 🙂
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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

Posted to Arkansas

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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.

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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 “.

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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!

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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. 

Posted to Australia

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As of this morning, this skein is bound for Australia!

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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.

jenjoycedesign© Unspun 1100 pampas heather

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!

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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.

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I have one more Unspun gift to make to finish my series :  Unspun For Friends 

Posted to Ontario

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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!

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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.

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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!

You can see all four of this series in Unspun For Friends.

Snow!

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It snowed last night!  Here at 2000 ft elevation, it is sticking, and temperature is cold enough to keep it a while.  Oh, but there seems to be something nestled into the snow…

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It is two cakes of finished UnSpun!

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of which I mentioned in the last post .

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A gorgeous blackish tealish blue, 1100 yards & 100 grams,  this super fine lace weight is ready to make a journey to Hamburg Germany!  You can see all four of this series in Unspun For Friends

And all is well in our snowy charcoal forest.

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And Emma in  her  car,   snuggled under a blanket with her squirrel …

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She hasn’t a care in the world about the snowy cold!

Unspun: Midnight Heather

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!

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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.
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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 …

”    Its only Knitting !   “

variations in veils

An beautiful ethereal performance among gossamer veils,

by the Zilliacus Persson Raitenen String Trio.

( see all posts Veils & Variations )

* * *

Meanwhile, I have got a second stole underway with the single ply lace weight …

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made from my yarn tasting of  Simply Wool .  In fact, I am so utterly smitten with Unspun that I can’t help myself wondering how far out I might go.  I’ll ponder the thought as I take my stole knitting out for a trail walk!

Yarn Tasting: Simply Wool

Another great addition to Knit Pick’s colossal array of yarns, Simply Wool is spun from wool grown in a century-old sustainable way in the Highlands of Peru, it comes in six shades undyed natural fleece colors blends, in both worsted and bulky weights. Having worked with Wool Of The Andes, a Peruvian Highland wool from corriedale-merino cross breed of sheep, Simply Wool is noted on the website as  ‘eco wool’  but that is not describing how or to what extent the wool itself is different from Wool Of The Andes.  I’d say much softer than Wool Of The Andes,  what I’d expect from an un-dyed and minimally processed wool, and it comes in 100g skeins.

I am creating a fine lace-weight in this supreme all-natural yarn,  which started from a ball of worsted weight in light grey . jenjoycedesign© Simply Wool skein.JPG

With drop spindle I deconstructed the soft wool exactly as in this tutorial post , and after a couple of days unplying here and there, finally this morning I spliced all the single plies end-to-end on the swift and felt it to be a major accomplishment that I am very pleased with!

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I am not over-dying this big skein in a simmer dye bath, as I want it to be au natural, the whole point of buying Simply Wool, aside from the ecological consideration, so I just gave the skein of energized single ply off of the swift a warm bath and a hot rinse to carefully but slightly felt the yarn to set the twist as it will remain for the rest of its days a single ply, in a stole of a particular design in mind. So I’ll see how this yarn knits up in a day or so!

Right now I’ve got it speed drying on a baseboard heater, hoping to have it re-skeined by the end of the day so I can cast on for more insane lace knitting!

Unspun Mystery Yarn!

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In previous post I decided to do a mystery Unspun project, not saying what yarn I started with. I am rather surprised to find this whole project really only took me a few hours this time. That is from unplying the original commercial yarn, to splicing and winding on to skein, to overdying, adding the time this morning winding it off into a ball and re-skeining to photograph, and I was finished before I could blink! Not much of a long anticipated mystery was it ?

jenjoycedesign© fine lace Unspun

I did say in the last post that I was keen on writing another lace pattern for this job, but I think it would be an over-enthusiastic pursuit to try, being that I still am feeling under the weather with my sawdust cough. I think instead I will use this lovely skein of yarn toward a cowl or shawlette of Golden Fields .

Tech Stuff: 

Original Yarn: Knit Picks Wool Of The Andes Sport, 137 yards, 50 grams, structure 4 plies.  Cost = $2.79 per ball.  Fiber: Peruvian Highland Wool (Corriedale + Merino) in  color Mink Heather.

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I deconstructed the plies as illustrated in the Unspun: Deconstructing a ball of Yarn post, then I overdyed with a small amount of Jacquard Acid dye in the shade “Pink”.  Being that the yarn was already a richly heathered neutral color, all I was after was a soft brush of pink, so that the heathering was really pronounced even after the dying.  I think I put too much dye in, even though a light sprinkle of dye powder, I should have done half of that, for it is really a vivid color, more so than I wanted.

I like to agitate just a tiny bit in the dye bath, being that an ever so slight fulling is desireable, but I warn that this is a very careful step, and I would not recommend this to anybody using 100% Merino or anything too fine & downy.  A very very slight fulling or felting really helps set the splices and relax the re-energized single ply after unplying.  But too much fulling would result in the yarn being very difficult to unwind.  In this skein, after a couple of times from swift to ball, the yarn has become perfect and relaxed.

Unspun Yarn: 548 yards, 50 grams, structure 1 ply.

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You can see all posts about Unspun HERE.

A Mystery Unspun

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Humble new beginnings after the shortest day of the year has come and gone, and  I can’t relax with the plague for the holidays a second longer, the antibiotics are done and I am feeling better with only a slight but perpetual sawdust cough, so  its back to wool lab for me!  Thank so many of you for your get-well wishes, I think they worked!

I have decided to do a mystery Unspun skein, which I will over-dye, write a lace pattern for and knit, sharing with you here the process of course.  I’m racing the clock but hoping I might blast through the first month of winter with it and before the end of January have something worth showing off! Its going to be categorized as a superfine lace weight single ply at 1096 yards per 100g.

But this is the dismal beginning, the hard work of unplying a lot of yards, and if you would like to see how I am going to do this, it will be exactly like my previous Unspun on a drop spindle, the post ” Unspun: Deconstructing a ball of yarn “.

I’ll see you back here when I’ve finished unplying, spliced four single ply balls into one skein, and have over-dyed this baby!

Wrapping it up.

Road and house construction side by side.

Quite literally, many things here are getting wrapped up, so to speak.  The biggest and most important of course, is our house,  and the timberframe is swiftly becoming enclosed, that is wrapped, while road construction is making great progress too as dumptruck after dumptruck of base gravel makes its way up the mountain from the quarry. 

Secondly I am about to close in on the last quarter mile of 880 yards of  Unspun yarn I made in the end of October. In fact, I have been putting together a lace stole & cowl design using this yarn, and the pattern is all ready but for the finish photo, all awaiting on the speed which I can wrap up this project!  I am hoping for it to be ready by the end of this week, and then there will be a lovely simple & satisfying lace pattern available for holiday knitting! 

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Next we’re wrapping up November, with only four more days to it, then its already December and the big wrapping up of 2018!  I tell you, in the recent couple of weeks I’ve had a transformation in attitude; I am no longer feeling sad and sorry for myself, but really excited, and my panic episodes calming, as the tide changes to feeling abundance and gratitude coming my way.   Its been a difficult year since last November,  but I am so very excited for 2019 at last, with all that it promises.  And until then I am loving the loud rumbling of road-making machinery, merged into the cacophony of air compressors, nail guns, and hammers, so while so much excitement is here at last, I want to enjoy every moment! I just know that in a blink the day is going to come when we migrate from this tiny house 500 feet up the road into our new rebuilt house. I am very content for life as it is, knowing that time will be here most certainly by the coming of next summer solstice. 

In closing, over the Thanksgiving holiday the rain came in a big way, wrapping up another epic dry season, transforming the dry moss into lush moss, life drinking it in, miniature rain forests growing thick carpets on the wood and rocks, and bringing a verdant mood to things. Loving that and giving thanks indeed.  

Unspun: Deconstructing a ball of yarn.

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From a ball of worsted weight,  I made a beautiful new skein of fine lace weight, then over-dyed into a very personal colorway.   What is the point you might ask?  The answer for me resonates in the rafters!  To make something handmade from something commercially made.   Enough reason in my thinking, and yet there are more reasons (oh, so many more).

The color selection alone is entirely worth it!   There are certain commercial yarns that are timeless & very popular, like Cascade 220, easily found in local yarn shops, and have a colossal color selection to add.  I am a lover of “heathered shades”  which  means the yarn is spun from blended colors of fleece, not yarn dyed in one color.   Heathered shades make over-dying that much more interesting for the base colors are already color textured.

If making a fingering weight , or a lace weight yarn from balls of yarn needing re-purposing sounds appealing ~~ then this post is for you.   I dare you, go into your yarn stash and look over your plied yarns, grab one, and simply deconstruct the plies. You may end up with a sport, or fingering or lace weight single ply.  But first it may be helpful to see this post.

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The techy stuff for the Cascade 220…jenjoycedesign© Cascade 220 Birch 1

Start with drop spindle and untwist, separating the 4 plies into two balls of 2-ply (they will be 50g each)  This will take some time.

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From two balls of 2-ply separately divide and wind into two single ply 25g balls.

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I found that I really didn’t need to untwist the 50g balls that much, if at all,  because the initial untwisting of 4 into 2 plies did all the work, so it goes so much faster in this step.  In fact, I just took off of the spindle and just began to pull apart the plies wind into little balls,  however they will still have some twist (sometimes a little z-twist , and sometimes a little s-twist )  so it helped to put a weight (I used a pen) on the 2ply, and draw out about 8 feet, then the plies separated easily with hardly any twist.

jenjoycedesign© Cascade 220 Birch 5

Finally I had four balls of single ply, at 25 grams each.   A feeling of strong satisfaction comes from the work!

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Now join the ends ~~ spit-splicing them joins nicely and quickly!

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I ended up with one full 100 gram ball of single ply.  But not finished!

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The single ply needs to be wound into a skein it so that it can be simmer-dyed, or just soaked in a very hot water bath to relax & set the plies which will be energized with twist, as shown above.

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I dunked a couple of times in a very pale diluted dye bath of Vermilion pink, to give the yarn a tone of late summer, ‘toasted in the sun & weather’ look. In the over-dying, I wanted to capture the lovely color of late summer golden fields  of my home and made a pale bath of a purple-pink which I used to cut the brilliance of the yellow.  The dye soaks really fast having a slight blotchiness.   If you lightly over-dye your single ply yarn as I did,  re-skeining the yarn is essential to see the color variegation at its best, and it mixes up any slight blotchiness that happens in a very light non-saturated dye bath ; which is what I aim for these days, simmering a little in an acid dye to set the plies & relax them, but also exhausting dye bath quickly and with clear water left only, having used a dash of white vinegar for the fixer .

jenjoycedesign© Cascade 220 Birch 11

Summary:  A ball of Cascade 220 weighs 100g and is approx 220 yards , and constructed of 4 plies.  When that is split into half , there will be two  balls of 2 ply weighing 50g  = 440 yards per 100g.  When those balls are split into half , there will be four balls of 1 ply weighing 25g = 880 yards per 100g.    Another four ply worsted weight I’ve tried and love is Knit Picks Wool Of The Andes, with almost the same yardage and definitely the most impressive color selection. But seriously, try splitting plies of ANY yarn you have, if you can get a hold of a simple drop spindle, then you have all the tools you need. (A swift and ball winder are tools I used as well).

It takes some time, but untwisting yarn is something really innovative and resourceful in my thinking, and I’ve come up with a fun category under which to post the process of re-purposing yarn to finer weights ~~ Unspun !  I’m just kind of getting to be a nerd about it.

Original Yarn: Cascade 220 = 220y / 100g in “Birch”.   Made in Peru.

Repurposed Yarn: Unspun = 880 y / 100g in colorway ” Golden Fields “.  Remade by Moi!

Pattern for this yarn is forthcoming!

See all posts Unspun

A simpler way.

jenjoycedesign© unplying Soft Donegal.JPGI’m halfway through unplying my three balls of Merino Tweed, in natural white, beige and brown (my newest technique posted previously.)   I will over-dye the beige and brown with pink, and also with green, resulting in a light and dark variation of the colors. You can dye once and if you vary your yarn ‘base colors’ and the result is like having dyed many colors ! I plan on a project which will have a dark and light pink, and a dark and light green, and natural white. Watch this space for continued progress posts!

Meanwhile, as I unply on the drop spindle, I have been educating myself endlessly watching Nilda’s film…

Nilda so deftly prepares fleece without carders — the Andean way — then spins into fine single plies, then single plies into yarn, expertly without ever using anything other than the most basic tools and her own hands.

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She is one person I would love to walk  and spin with, for in her culture moving is intrinsic to spinning … out to the herds, up the mountains and down again, strolling and spinning, a constant activity for the women & girls.

Continually spinning or plying means it is necessary to simplify the process and limit the tools to what a person can carry, using unique & interesting techniques of how to not let things get tangled,  and spin while tending the flock, keeping drafted fleece or hanks of single plies ready for plying neat and attached to the body.

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I highly recommend Nilda’s film “Andean Spinning with Nilda Callañaupa Alvarez”  , a film which has reaffirmed my notion that working with hands really does belong with walking ~~ as if  double tasking was invented in the Andes!   I relate very much to Nilda’s teaching that in her culture one spins constantly, for it is necessary, and one does it while moving from one place to another, or visiting with friends, or just meditating quiet moments. I translate it of course to knitting and walking, but I think once I really give the drop spindle a good practice, I will be walking along side Nilda in spirit.

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I will leave you to check out the links and discover for yourself just how elegant Andean spinning really can be!

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Last spring I made a series of posts about the weaving in Cusco & Nilda’s work with the Center of Traditional Textiles of Cusco ,  and I’m really looking forward to one day having my upstairs loft studio again wherein I can organize it to work while letting the Andean’s utmost simplistic methods show me the way ~~  to a truly refined Less Is More way of making things.

Unspun

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A 100g ball of Studio Donegal “Soft Donegal” tweed left over from Hillwalker Cardigan.

I have for a while experimented with different methods to un-ply yarn and I think I have finally found the easiest method. Being a bit smitten lately with All Things Andean, and the drop spindle, it is no surprise that thinking like an Andean Spinner, and going back to my spinning roots I would find the method of methods…

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I slipped the ball onto spindle, hooked beneath whorl and secured with double half hitch at top. Twisted in reverse direction of plied twist.

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Then as the yarn untwisted, I wound two balls, one in each hand.  In the past I experimented doing this with a spinning wheel, a ball-winder, and a swift, juggling all of them at once and it was quite a complicated process!

I am so pleased to discover the simple way …

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Less is always more, every time.  I lost track of time but it took me less than two hours to separate the plies by reverse twisting, as I wound the singles into two 50g balls of fingering weight.  Far less time than it would have taken to spin two 50g balls, so if I consider I’m creating a yarn I want to use, from yarn that is not getting used ~~ I believe it to be a very economical process.

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No doubt the singles of the un-plied yarn will have plenty of untamed twist but I think dying them will relax them a lot.  In fact, I ordered some dyes finally, and am going back to over-dying yarn, after a long break of doubting whether I ever again would, so I will be having fun making use of a few balls left over from my most recent Hillwalker sweaters ~~ watch this space!

See all posts about Unspun !

ps. Adele, that is the spindle you sent to me, it is the only one I own presently and it works perfect for this!

Fishy

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Listening to political news on NPR a lot these days while I knit, feeling a bit unsettled as trouble swims below the surface. However, here in my wooded hermitage there is no trouble, only this blithe little ball of yarn, in shade of dusty pink, that I made myself!  Um, well,  that is … I un-plied it myself !!   I ‘made’ it from a ball of Knit Pick’s Palette which is a 2-ply fingering weight of Peruvian wool,  while mending dozens of breaks from impossibly sticky teasing twists that were a frustrating occurrence of un-plying,  washing, and hang-drying to set the tension ~~ and then I finally got the whole ball of lace-weight here ready to go. Having tossed a few grams worth of knots, I have about 45 grams & 420 yards of some seriously fine lace single ply  ( see all posts about unspun)

What is really fishy , is what is forthcoming!

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Unspun

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I have been colossally distracted in a major yarn tangent in recent days. 

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I’ve been going through my ‘stash’ (that is yarn which is in one’s possession, otherwise free to use at whim), and over-dying & having a bit of fun.

But this particular little project was super fiddly and a major study in “un-spinning”, using my spinning wheel, ball-winder, swift, and dye pot.   On my spinning wheel, I literally unwound the 3 plies of a bulky-weight very soft 100% alpaca yarn I had,  while at the same time winding them into 3 separate balls. I splice-joined the 3 single balls into one skein,  and then attempted to relax the energized ‘singles’ with some simmer-dying. And relax they did!

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Even the spliced joins were completely invisible when I wound and re-wound on to the swift. Ever-so-slightly felted made a terrific halo (fuzz) when the final product was skeined.

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178 yards and 66 grams, of extremely soft alpaca single ply yarn, now ready for a delicious soft lace cowl.   I would think this would classify as sport-weight. I am frankly amazed at this result, and my eye is wandering through my stash now, with ideas to deconstruct. jenjoycedesign©013

Well, it was a huge amount of work, but its done & dusted and I’m very proud of such an alluring result.  That’s me on a beautiful day, I should be knitting socks, but sometimes distraction is good for creativity!

See all posts about Unspun !