I don’t know about you, but this has been the hardest April I can remember. In fact, I dont think I’ve ever experienced such a difficult start to the year. In December I got a promotion at work. I was in a job I didn’t like, and now I have a job that I enjoy a lot. But the job comes with more responsibility, and with responsibility comes stress. Cue knitting to save my sanity.
A few months ago I finally bought the Knitter’s Almanac. I walked through Elizabeth Zimmermann’s fabulous “unventions” and sage advice, and decided that now was the time to cast on a Pi Shawl. Sometimes you start something and you’re not sure why, but it just seems like the right thing for the time. This shawl is what my brain and my heart have needed over the last few months. I sit down to work on it and it helps me to slow down and stop worrying. The yarns are beautiful and make this knitting a very tactile experience.
Earlier this month I got a call that my grandma was very ill and might not make it for much longer. I bought a plane ticket, packed a bag, and went to be with her. This shawl was such a comfort as I travelled and sat in waiting rooms. I showed it to her and she thought it was so beautiful. And then as she started to recover I knit on it in joy, so pleased that I was not knitting in mourning.
So often in my knitting I try to be smart. The easy solution or the obvious solution are not good enough, I have to do it the hard way. But sometimes I need something easy so that my brain can stop working on overdrive. That is what this shawl is for me.
There were a few moments during this spin where I wondered if this crazy yarn would work out. What if all the colours paired up garishly? What if I hated it? I voiced my concerns to my husband and he told me to just knit socks with it. If the yarn is awful no one has to see it but me. It can be an exciting sock secret. Now the yarn is done and I love it! My husband has claimed it – he wants the crazy socks all for himself.
I’ve been following Treadle Handspun Yarns on Instagram for quite a while now. Robin spins the most beautifully even yarns – they are such a pleasure to look at. Every now and again she also works up a bag of Tiddly Bits to sell in her shop. Tiddly Bits are bits and bobs of different coloured rovings all tied up and thrown in a bag together. They always sell quickly, and I’ve been trying to get my hands on a bag for months.
The idea is to reach into the bag and spin the next colour, no matter what it is (or I suppose you could carefully lay them out in colour order if that’s how you prefer it). I started spinning my bag of bits last night and oh, I love it!
So many colours just jumbled up next to each other, all willy nilly! I think when the bits are done I may spin up something a bit more staid to calm everything down and make a 3-ply yarn like I did with my SkyWool: 2 fun plies, one calming. Or maybe I’ll really go crazy and ply with a cone of crochet cotton!
Who knows. I have the Tiddly Bits, and the world is my oyster.
I finished spinning the SkyWool! It started as the bounciest Merino top I’ve ever spun.
I spun it quite finely (spun S or clockwise), hoping for a fingering weight yarn. I wanted to make a 3-ply yarn, but I didn’t want to divide the roving in 3 pieces and risk wasting some of my fiber, so I spun the merino from end to end and then spun some natural coloured BFL to go with it. I plied from both ends of the merino, with the BFL as my 3rd ply (plied Z or counterclockwise). About 2/3 of the way through plying I ran out of BFL (I talked more about this here). Oops.
So I spun some more of the BFL and finished my plying. I wasn’t quite happy with how the yarn looked, though. You can see in the picture above how loose the plying is, and I desperately wanted a yarn as bouncy as the Merino Top was. So I decided to run it though my spinning wheel again to add more twist. I am so glad I did this because now I love how the yarn looks!
Technically the yarn is overplied: it tries to twist on itself when hanging, even after a wash. But I don’t care. I have 290 yds of beautiful blue fingering weight yarn!
I hoped to show you a finished skein of yarn today, but I overestimated the length of my 3rd ply.
Maybe I should start at the beginning.
I bought this Merino Top on a trip to see my family. I love how it looks like the sky. It reminds me of the wallpaper in Toy Story, and thus, of my childhood.
I started spinning it around the same time I started making gnomes. Bigols was so excited about it! I wanted to make a 3-ply yarn, but I didn’t want to divide the roving in 3 pieces and risk wasting some of my precious fiber (This is the trap I always fall into. I need to start realizing that it is just wool and there will always be more). I decided to spin all the blue as one yarn, then spin some undyed BFL separately. I would cake the blue singles and spin both ends together with the BFL to make a 3 ply. This would also stretch the yardage I would get from my “SkyWool.”
On Sunday I finished spinning the blue. Happy day! I immediately started on the BFL and hurt my wrist by spinning too much. Oops.
Over the last few days I’ve worked on the BFL a little bit at a time. Last night I thought that maybe I had enough.
The yarn is plying up quite nicely. I want it to be quite plump, so after I finish plying I may run it through my wheel again to add a little more twist.