Friday, June 5, 2009

Trying my new spinning wheel and striped socks

My dear sweet beau got me a wonderful gift for my birthday this year, exactly what I had been dreaming of owning, my very own spinning wheel. I combed up a bunch of rolags the day he brought it home so I'd be ready to start spinning once he came through the door with it. I tried to spin something pretty thin, but my mixture of fibers (superwash merino, bamboo, angelina, tencil) made this difficult to spin an even single, or at least that's the excuse I'm going with. Here is the full bobbin of my single before plying. What I learned: Mixed fibers are harder to spin evenly and thinly than fiber split off straight from the roving.

I plied this single into 3 plys using the Navajo technique. So here is my very first skein off of my new spinning wheel. It's also my very first attempt at Navajo 3-ply, and very uneven. I consider it a practice skein. Not sure what I'll do with it since it's not much yardage. Really, I was just trying to get a hang of how the wheel works so that I could get back to my Entrelac bag. I'm so glad that I'm switching to spinning on a wheel rather than on a spindle. It's more fun and way faster. So, now my bag will take until the next blue moon, instead of 2. What I learned: In Navajo plying, you have a choice of using long draws or short draws. In other words, you can have a plied section take a short piece of yarn or a long one. This changes the way the finished yarn looks. When the draws are short, the color sections stay together. When the draws are long, it spreads the colored sections out more, making it more likely to get a barber pole effect.

This is my first skein of good yarn from my spinning wheel. 67 wonderful yards of green springy yumminess. It's going into my Entrelac bag, round 3 of squares. I'll still have 11 more rounds to knit. This bag is going to be the size of a large sweater. I hope it will shrink up nicely when it's felted.

Since my bag project is as much about spinning as it is about knitting, I've also started knitting and designing my own socks. Right now, I can only dream of spinning yarn thin enough for socks, so I bought some for inspiration, enough to make 4 socks, with I hope a bit left over. I'm designing knee high, wide striped socks. I'm using three colorways of Noro silk garden sock yarn. (Wait until you see the border I'm going to put on it! An old Gothic flourish I'm fiddling with to get it to fit just right.) This Noro is absolutely delectable to knit. Uneven, but so is my knitting still. I've got some gauge issues I still need to work out because I'm drifting from 6.25 all the way to 7 stitches per inch. But I'm loving the colors. I just dig high socks with wide stripes, and I think they'll fit well enough. So far, I'm over half done with the first sock. It only took me 5 tries to get the toe right and 3 times for the heel. So that's pretty good, I think. Maybe. What I learned: I switched from double pointed needles in the foot to the magic loop technique on the leg. My gauge is tighter with one magic loop than with 5 double pointed needles. This seems to account for most of the drift in my gauge. I prefer magic loop.

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