Thursday, March 10, 2016

Maggie was right... knitting with handspun

I have been spinning for about a year. Maggie Casey is my teacher.

If you know her, you won't be surprised to hear me say that Maggie was right. She told us from day one that we had to actually use our handspun, but I have been blithely ignoring her for about a year now. I have used some of it in tapestry, but when you pack the yarn into a weaving, the exact character of the yarn might not be quite as important as when you're knitting a garment.

I had some balls of handspun piling up, so I have had to institute a personal policy of no yarn store stops. A visit to one of the great yarn stores in Fort Collins is something that I am always tempted by if I'm having a rough day. But, the balls of handspun...

So I started my first project with a Malbrigo braid I spun during Spinzilla last October. That braid was hard to spin. But I didn't know it then because I was such a new spinner. I thought the drafting was supposed to be that difficult. So the yarn is dense. It is heavy. This hat is going to weigh quite a lot.
Spinning this yarn last October
The pattern is Wurm. It is a hat with a lot of yarn in it.
Heavy it will be.
I have 8 ounces of it... what to do with the rest?

I'll let you know how it comes out.

So Maggie was right. I didn't realize how dense this yarn was until I started knitting it. I think it will make a fine hat for the mostly moderate weather in this part of Colorado. But if I wanted a very warm hat with perhaps fewer hair-crushing properties, I would definitely work on a long draw or more woolen spun preparation. This yarn ended up dense because the braid was so difficult to draft. Had I knit this up before spinning ANOTHER 8 ounces of the same fiber (in red!), I would have known that.

From now on I will try to listen to Maggie sooner.

7 comments:

  1. I really like the look of that yarn, and I think I have stashed that pattern away somewhere. Very nice.

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    1. Thanks Sue! It is turning out okay. I think the Yarn Harlot popularized this pattern. She knits it a lot and I'm finding it very good for this rather uneven yarn!

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  2. Beautiful! Did you soak the fiber first? That sometimes helps. I have two of those Malabrigo braids, and I'm hoping that soaking it will help, because I can tell that it will have the same problem.

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    1. I did not! I likely won't try this fiber again, but will keep that tip in mind.

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  3. If you want to knit a light-weight hat with thinner yarn, try the Sockhead hat. Super, super, super easy. Great for Colorado Springs! I have knit three sweaters out of handspun. That is a LOT of yarn to spin. I estimate 1200 yards. If you want cables and fancy work, you may need 1400 yards. I find handspun blooms once knitted, and it can handle differently than mill spun. Oh-you can use leftovers for colorwork yokes or for mitts.

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  4. -- Fiber dyed as roving can be a nightmare to spin. Clumpy and dense with the fibers stretched beyond endurance, it can be hard to draft and cause lots of tension in the hands. Then the resulting yarn never has enough air for me. As Roxane says, steaming sometimes helps the fibers fluff up a bit esp. with top (dyed or up dyed), though I generally avoid it like the plague anyway and if I have to spin it for some reason I work from the fold. I think I must have spoiled myself by doing my own preparation! Your yarn is beautiful but making it should be a pleasure...

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    1. Ah, didn't think about working from the fold. The fiber was so hard to even pull apart, I probably would have given up. I ned to try more color mixing from carding. Of course I just spun that particular braid that I'm sure was dyed as roving... but I'll be more choosy in the future. Perhaps making my own color combinations is the best thing.

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