Sun 10 Jan 2016
And just like that, winter break is over. I haven’t quite gotten over the fact that the new semester starts tomorrow, but here it comes!
I did actually manage to be home and spend some time crafting over the past couple of weeks. The handwarmers are done, and I am trying to decide whether it makes me too crazy to have things on my hands all the time. Having my hands covered up by something I don’t want to get dirty has been more of an adjustment than I’d expected. I’ve never noticed how often I wash my hands, or how much I use my palms and pinky/ring fingers to work, but I am constantly having to stop and take my handwarmers off before I can do things. I’m wearing them anyway for now, and may manage get used to it with time. That would be nice, since they do help to keep my hands warm. For the moment, though, the jury is definitely still out.
I’ve been spending a little time getting reacquainted with my spinning wheel, and I have this lovely pair of silver and gold skeins to show for it.
They really do shine like metal; I have no idea what they are going to be, but it will be beautiful. The gold is a yak/silk blend from Port Fiber that I bought at the SPA knitting retreat last February, and the silver is a yak/bombyx top from Rhinebeck 2013. The fiber was beautiful to spin, and the resulting yarn is very soft. I ended up with 370 yards of the gold and 308 of the silver, in a fingering-weight 2 ply (before washing…we’ll see what happens when it blooms). I’m sure this will turn into something special, when the moment is right.
While I was in the specialty fiber bin, I pulled out the carbonized bamboo that I bought at Rhinebeck that same year. I absolutely love the matte black color of it – a fiber version of graphite – but I’m not quite sure how I feel about the hand. It’s quite a sticky fiber, both to spin and to touch. It’s definitely an unusual feel; sort of a maximally-scaly kind of yarn. It’s not at all itchy or rough (in fact, it feels very soft), and I would be happy to wear it against bare skin (provided that my skin wasn’t too dry).
The spinning fiber has a ton of the tooth that you feel when you run your finger against the scales on your hair, or when you spin a braid from the wrong end, against the direction that it was pulled. As long as you keep the twist securely behind your drafting area, it spins just fine and is very smooth, but even a tiny bit in the drafting zone locks things up fast. I am spinning a modified long-draw, as always, but I’m doing a lot more controlling of twist location with my front hand than I usually do. Still, it seems to be coming out very even, and as I get used to the grip I’m finding that I don’t mind having that little bit of stickiness to work against. It’s been a very interesting contrast to the silk spinning, anyway, and it will be fun to see how it feels in the yarn, and when knitted up. I imagine that this fiber would be excellent if you needed a grippy yarn for something (maybe the palms of my next handwarmers?), but only time (and experience) will tell.
On the knitting front, I have continued my cast-on-randomly approach in an attempt to keep the needles full and get things moving out of the stash. This time, I settled on a skein of Mushi-Ishi that I bought at Steven Be’s when I visited Ellen in Minneapolis way back in 2010. The picture below doesn’t do it justice, but it’s a dark green and brown semisolid single with tweedy bits of white sprinkled in.
I have cast on for at least 3 projects with this yarn, and nothing ever seems quite right. Those tweedy flecks are enough to overwhelm just about any pattern (who’d have thought that such a tiny thing would make such a big difference?), and the dark color means that most details just don’t stand out.
This time, I cast on for a scarf using the same brioche rib that I used in the cowl that I knit earlier in the month. I wasn’t very excited about it for the first couple of inches, but it’s growing on me, and I quite like the feel and look of the fabric in a larger piece.
Unfortunately, the yarn ball is shrinking faster than I’d expected, and I realized last night that I’m a third of the way through the yarn and only a foot into the scarf. So, a change of direction was necessary. I could have ripped back and done a narrower version, but I decided to try for something a little more interesting instead. I added some short row shoulder shaping, and am now working toward a very short capelet/wrap with a folded-over collar.
So far, it’s fitting my dress model very well, and I’m hopeful that there will be enough yarn to finish it off. No idea if I’ll ever wear such a thing, but a finished garment is a finished garment, and there’s nothing like a little yarn chicken to start off the new year…