Saturday, July 19, 2008


Ooh! I'm so excited to post this today! I have made progress! I finally finished up spinning those silk caps! I love spinning silk caps really! But drafting them is just not so fun to me. And they gave me a nasty blister. But they're done and they look lovely! So I've been making all kinds of progress on my tour de fleece. One of my goals for this is to spin as many different fibers as I can. I'd like to spin at least a bit of each kind of fiber that I have, and I have a bunch! So, thus far I have spun wool, silk caps, alpaca, merino, cotton, soy silk, and I've got some merino/tencel up next. It's so shiny! I bet you wanna see some pics huh? Here they are:

First up, my drafted silk caps!

Next, the finished yarn:

Here's the merino/alpaca in BRIGHT colors! I love them! It's SO soft!

Then there's the cotton/soy silk. This one is very soft as well, I love how it came out!

And Next up is the merino/tencel. I'll be spinning this up today!

So all in all so far I'd say that my tour de fleece is going rather well. I also have a bit of un-dyed wool going on my spindle that I pick up every once in a while, but that has never been near my camera so I don't have any pics. I think I'll dye it when it's done and take pics then.

So after this tencel/merino is done here's what I have left to try out: ramie, flax, hemp, BFL, firestar, cashmere, angora, mohair, tussah silk. hmm, 9 different fibers, I wonder if I'll get through all of them? After the tencel/merino will be some tussah silk blended with more merino, but I plan on spinning that into lace weight, so that could take a while. So while it's possible that I will not make it through all my different kinds of fiber I'm having a great time!

Oh yeah, and IF I can bring myself to part with them these yarns will be up in my Etsy store soon. But only IF, some yarns are harder to part with than others LOL!!

Happy spinning!

Friday, July 18, 2008

How I make a pattern fit ME! (or how you can make it fit you)

This is in response to Courtney's question about how to make a pattern fit you that may not be written to fit you the way you want.

1st: Measure yourself, and determine how you want your sweater to fit. A fitted sweater will need a little negative ease due to the fact that knit items tend to be a bit stretchy. Say you have a 30" waist, you may want your finished item to measure 29"at the waist to fit more closely. Keep this idea in mind when determining how many stitches you will want to do for your sweater.

2nd: Knit up a gauge swatch. This is your key to figuring out how many stitches you'll want for each part of your sweater. A gauge swatch is simply a 4"X4" knit piece that helps you to see how many stitches and rows you get with your yarn and needles. Since every knitter is different this is very important in assuring that your sweater will fit you when you're done!

3rd: With your measurements and gauge swatch in your hot little hand you're ready to cast on! I would suggest casting on the number of stitches recommended for the size you want to make if your gauge swatch is anything close to the gauge suggested for your pattern. I often have to cast on 3 or 4 times before I'm satisfied with the size, but the pattern gives you a place to start. What I do is cast on, knit a few rows, and try it on by slipping most of the stitches onto waste yarn, and slipping it on. If it looks like it'll fit just keep going, if it's too big or too small start over using your gauge swatch and measurements to figure out how many stitches to start with the next time.

Once you've cast on the right number of stitches , and knit the first bit of your sweater (in this case the neck of a sweater) follow the pattern for increases adjusting how many increases and the frequency of them to end up with the right number of stitches for you. I also suggest trying on your sweater when you're 1 or 2 increase rounds away from what you think you'll need because sometimes knitting stretches more than you think, and you'll actually need fewer increases than you thought you would, and sometimes you knit tighter than you thought, and you may need more increases than planned. Use the same idea for decreasing when you get to the waist shaping.

To make a sweater shorter or longer than the pattern you'll also want to use your measurements and gauge swatch. If you're taller than average you may need to add some rows, if you're short you may want to take some out. I try to take rows out where they will be less noticeable. This tends to be where there is little to no shaping. So when your pattern says to knit straight for 3" but you're 2"taller than average you'll want to take a measurement of your length in that area, and add length accordingly. In this sweater pattern you would knit straight from the last increase row until just a few inches above your natural waist when you'll start decreasing. So just knit straight a couple extra inches if you're tall (a couple less if you're short like me!). Adding and subtracting length is actually really easy! That's also one of the beautiful things about knitting for yourself! You can always make things the right length! :)

I hope this is helpful to people. It's just kinda what I figured out through my trial and error methods.

And don't forget that gauge swatch!!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Tour De Fleece 2008!

Yes that's fleece NOT France! I've joined the tour de fleece on Ravelry this year. Tour de Fleece was started a few years ago (I believe this is the 3rd year?) and is durring the tour de france each year. It's an online event where a bunch of crazy spinners try to spin as much (or as little) as they can/want each day of the tour de france that the bikers ride. So it started Saturday July 5th, I'm not even sure right now when it ends, but I think it'll be fun! So far I've spun at least some each day, (it's only day 4) but I haven't gotten a lot finished. You see I decided to start with this beautifuly hand dyed red wool roving that I plan on plying with silk caps dyed the same color. It'll make a nice fluffy, dull/shiny contransting yarn. The problem is that I'm somehow not in the mood to spin these silk caps. I think it's the drafting. Drafting silk caps is different than drafting wool, and I guess I need to be in the mood to do it or I end up putting it off. So while I may well have about 100 yards of silk spun up, I need about 200yds I'm guessing, and have very little desire to work with this fiber at the moment. *sigh* this is bad because I really would like to move on to spinning some lovely carded batts. But I'm making myself finish these caps first! Otherwise they man never get done! hmmm, wanna see the fiber I'm working with? Ok, here's the wool. It spun up so nicely. And here are the silk caps. They're so very soft, and spinning up nice and shiny. But I'm getting bored drafting them. Hmm maybe the cure is to draft while watching a great movie? It's worth a shot huh!? Anyway here are the silk caps, they were very fun to dye!
Anyway, I before the tour started I went through all my fiber, and decided how I wanted to spin it all because I'm hoping to make it through the vast majority of my fiber stash by the end of the tour. I'll try to keep you updated on my progress as the tour progresses. And if I'm ever going to finish up these silk caps I'd better get spinning! Hopefully I'll have pics of this fiber all plied up by tomorrow! :) Then it's on to something in batt form!
Happy spinning!