Wednesday, July 14, 2010

oooo - finished!

Nightingale is finished, yes really, all cast off, woven in and blocked. I finished the charted colour section and started the cuff earlier this week .. and yesterday started the day knowing I only had a few cm's to knit to be done. For me, some times knowing how close the end is .. is enough to spur a finish. That is what happened, I decided that I 'needed' to finish them and block them whilst the sun shone, yesterday was a sunny day here. So after I had a load of laundry out to dry, and tidied up and opened windows the kids rooms so they could air a little, all the things I discovered that working does not let me do during the week but which make the house neater and easier to live in, I sat and knitted.

Look, all done!
If I am to continue to knit knee-high socks I might just have to source some knee high blockers .. for now these ones work. The colour work was a little tight in places .. not puckered but perhaps not as smooth as it could have been .... after a 10 minute soak in warm water with a little home made wool wash .. and a spin in the washing machine .. the socks looked beautiful. I can't wait to wear them .. but alas I don't have the 'right' shoes yet. I can wear them with calf high black boots .. but then only a bird would show and I want all the birds to show. I love so much about these, the reversed chart so they are a true pair, the way the stripes work around the heel cup and flap ... the toe up construction meaning that they could be as long as I needed them to be.

Tech specs:
Started April 10th 2010
Finished July the 15th 2010
Pattern Nightingale by Vintage Purls
Yarns, Vintage Purls sock, the ground in Midnight Runaway and the colourwork in Birthday Bash colour way that was a special edition.
Yarn left over, 3g of Midnight Runaway, and 16g of the Birthday Bash.
Modifications .. few, I worked mine on 2.25mm needles, and changed the top to stripes with 3 rounds of 1x1 rib at the top.

I have of course been continuing to spin along with the Tour de Fleece .. . The other finishing I did yesterday was a third skein of the Texel, and I plied the skein of Merino Silk that was a gift in the New Zealand fibre swap 4.0. The Texel is more of the same, well as same as hand-spinning can be. I now have three skeins and only a wee bit more to spin(34g plus some on a bobbin). The three skeins I have look pretty much the same, but the first is 189g and 309m, the second is 181g and 287m, while the third is 187g and 390m. I am thinking as that one is so out of keeping I should really count the number of strands in the hank again - in case I made a mistake. Notice my wee furred companion in the shadows. That is Yo-yo, who has been tailing me around the house and spending way to much time lazing in the sun.

This is the merino silk yarn. I divided the dyed roving into two sections along its length, spun one as it, and divided the other into three finer sections again along the length .. this is a technique called fractal spinning. Fractal spinning is intended to result in a pleasing fairly regular play of colours in a yarn made from a randomly dyed roving. I've only played with this preparation once before .. and it does seem to make a less .. how can I explain ... contrasty yarn. This skein is 97g and 191m.

Earlier in July an Anon commenter left a lovely comment .. and asked about spinning.
"Lately I've been researching spinning, and wonder "What's it about?" On the financial side, is it cheaper than buying a skein? Is it as obsessive a craft as knitting? I am hoping to take a spinning class one day soon, but in the meantime can you give me a little feedback. In all honesty I don't think I can handle another craft right now, but can't help the curiousity."

Now I'm not an expert .. but I'll do my best.
On the financial side, is it cheaper than buying a skein?
Spinning can be cheaper than buying yarn .. but it can be dearer .. it all depends on what you spin and what you like to buy in the way of yarn. By and by it is probably about the same cost as yarn .....without factoring in any equipment costs like a spindle or a wheel, or other fibre prep tools. I can buy 100g of hand dyed combed top for $NZD9 .... which compares very well to any 100g skein of yarn that is hand dyed. I can source cheaper fibre in bulk .. and source unprepared fibre much cheaper again the other end of the scale I can also source much dearer fibre, cashmere, and other luxury fibres.

Is it as obsessive a craft as knitting?Oh yes, most definitely, for me and for others. But then for some, two I know of this is not 'their thing'. One lady was really keen to learn .. but excused herself after the first lesson saying it was the most boring thing she had ever experienced. Others just struggle with the hand feet coordination and find it no fun at all. Others struggle but enjoy the struggle and are really buzzed by the idea of making yarn and that carries them until they have mastered the art. I've read people spin to their heartbeat, and whilst that makes me wonder about the speed J spins at, it is a nice idea, a kind of whole body rhythm that is peaceful. I want to spin some times and knit others, the two activities are different and give me different senses of being, at times interchangeable but different. Then there is the obsessive side, for some trying different spindles or wheels, or collecting older wheels and working with them so they are in perfect running order, that is all fun for me, then there is finding the perfect fibre/ twist combination, that is fun as well or the tricky little special effects .. I've not gone there yet. Then there are those who 'just spin', and there is no deeper side than the pure enjoyment of making yarn. I have friends who spin because in a way it connects them to history, and to the traditions people had for centuries and as such they feel part of the continuum.
I don't know if it will be 'a thing you find enjoyable', or something you body learns to do with ease .. I learned to draft on a spindle before sitting at a wheel and believe that is an easier way to learn. But there are hundreds(thousands) who learn direct on a wheel - and spindling is not as much done as wheel spinning.
"What's it about?"
Ooo the hard question, for me, two things started me spinning, I saw all this lovely spinning on a lot of the knit-blogs I visited .. and I was intrigued, and I had difficulty finding the weights of yarns that I wanted to knit with here where I live. I built a spindle a few years ago, dowel and a door knob from the hard ware shop, and played. Then I upgraded to a wheel, a kitset that I had to build myself which taught me a lot about the mechanics and balance and adjustment of a wheel. ... and in time bought a few more old wheels on Trademe (New Zealands version of ebay). I sold the first wheel, and now have 3 older wheels that I love, and two newer ones. I bought those as I was afraid that when the older ones finally wore out (each is at least 30 years old) that I would not be able to find a well made craftsman wheel, and I wanted a portable wheel so I could easily go to retreats and classes.
There is a sense of satisfaction that comes with finishing anything, and with mastering anything .. and spinning is an area that I can score a little of that feeling. There is at some point a sense of control in knowing I can spin .. although to be honest what I knit is mostly bought yarns ... the spinning seems at times separate from the knitting. Perhaps because I can not yet spin reliably what I want to knit, but I am now gaining confidence to make plans to spin expressly for garments I want to knit.
Perhaps for me .. one of the most attractive aspects of spinning, other than playing with soft fibre and making things, two noble objectives on them selves, is the community that exists here and online around spinning. I have made friends thru spinning, and it connects us, it is a nice activity to work on in a group.
And I love trash-tv, sci fi and other stuff but have what I suspect is a kind of residual middle class English guilt about being inactive .. so knitting and spinning allows me to watch trash tv .. look I'm not lazy I'm spinning/knitting! I am one of those people who has to be making or doing something, some people have hobbies that are around gaming or socializing .. for me and my family it is around making things.

In all honesty I don't think I can handle another craft right now,That is how I feel about weaving! I am afraid to give in to it .. for then I would have no time for the things I enjoy now. Spinning has 'stolen' a little of my knitting time - but not in a way that worries me.
Please - any one else, do comment - about spinning and its connection to yarn and knitting. I don't want to be the only voice on this.

na Stella


Mo said...

Hi Stell!

Your Nightingale socks are truly stunning and amazing. I love your new socks and the GREAT colors you chose. Awesome job!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much Stella...your reply was in-depth and lovely. It's late now, and I've only just read it through once, but plan to reread it many times over. Still weighing in on the craft, and as I mentioned, a class will determine my future endevours in spinning, (oh, also noticed the electric spinners -- for economy of space) but until then I'll knit happily. Thanks again, I truly appreciate your response. The nightingale socks are beautiful and look as though they will provide many a toasty and visually gratifying days.

Knitting Linguist said...

The socks are absolutely gorgeous!! I can't wait to see the modelling shots.

And I love your answers to the spinning questions; I think much of that is true for me, too, especially (right now) the sense that my knitting and my spinning are still separate endeavors. I have knitted much of what I've spun, but I still don't consistently spin the yarn that I best love to knit. However, spinning makes me happy in its own right, both the challenges and the relaxation of it when it's going smoothly.

Sage said...

Wonderful socks!

Thank you for writing about spinning. I am two steps away from the spinning ledge and hope to take a class in the fall.

Anonymous said...

I love to knit with my handspun wool best of all. It feels alive in my hands and the items mean more to me than wool I have purchased. I love spinning and knitting both in that I use different parts of my body to produce things and sit in different positions when I do it, also knitting is more portable. If I had to choose only one I would spin and let someone else do the knitting.

KathyR said...

Excellent - socks (love them!), spinning (beautiful!) and explanation (I certainly couldn't have done better).