Friday, July 6, 2007

More catching up to do

A continuation of the cotton/elastine socks from my June 17 post.... I had ordered 3 balls of 2 different colours of's Esprit cotton and elastic yarn to make socks for my Mom a month or so ago, and found that the yarn makes a lot more socks than one might think. I made her one pair out of the lighter seafoam green colour, and used 1 1/2 balls total. So I made a second pair using the darker teal colour, and still had enough to make a 3rd pair, this time in a stripe sequence that is identical for each sock but with reversed colours. The first 2 pairs were in a feather & fan lace pattern on size 6 US needles, which made a fairly airy fabric. I used size 5 US for the striped socks, which I like better. The only downside I really see is that I got a definite line that appeared in the gap between my dpns. I don't usually have a problem with this so I wasn't looking for it, but it does show up even after blocking. It appears faintly in the lighter coloured sock in my picture. However, the yarn is soft and cushy, and is definitely a good choice for wool-phobic people, or as a gift for someone who's foot size is not well known.

Other topics... I finally finished plying the first wool that I carded in my new drum carder, which I use primarily to blend fibres and/or colours. I had a partial, pre-washed polwarth fleece that was a variety of silver-grey shades that I blended with undyed silk noil. The noils clumped much more than I expected, and while my goal was to produce an oatmeal-y sort of colour there were larger lumps of silk than I planned, but the finished product is still pretty much what I wanted.

While I finished spinning the singles some time ago I had delayed completing the plying; I have found that the plying head on my Lendrum wheel is challenging to treadle; it puts a real strain on my lower back, and I pushed too hard and plyed more carelessly than usual. I finally got it done by spending only 30 minutes at a time maximum , and slowly but surely finished it. Once I had finished plying the 2nd skein I realized the 1st skein was really badly done, so I ran it through the wheel a 2nd time to tighten it up. I now have about 750 yards of yarn that looks great, but let's face it, each skein is a little different. Not my finest spinning job, but I was a bit distracted by admiring the beautiful wool/silk mix.

I will knit the yarn in alternating rows from each skein to help blend the 2 different skeins; it will need it. I'm not sure yet what I will make with it, but since I know it's not enough to make an entire sweater I'm picturing doing some sort of round-yoke pullover that will allow me to work the body and sleeves before committing to the yoke, where I can introduce additional colours in the yoke as needed to make the yarn go further. I haven't made a sweater like that in years and it sounds like fun to try it again.

My Mom's vest is going slowly, as in I'm unknitting with as great or greater speed than I am knitting. This is where I was a few days ago; the center back is the lower edge of the photo (a bit of the provisional cast on is showing there) and the top edge of the picture is the armhole edge.

While I do like the colours and textures, I feel like the squared-off zig zag in the chenille is much stronger than the narrower rows of darker colours. It's also a bit wider than I want for the center back to armhole measurement, so I'm going to rip back and rework it. I like the chenille zig zag, but I think the other stripes need to be beefed up a bit, and perhaps have a little more texture added. The chenille has plenty of texture and visual weight and I want the other yarns to balance it, not fade into the background. At least I know know exactly how many rows I want from center back to armhole and can work out a more pleasing stripe sequence based on a known number rather than flying blind.

Once I get this first half of the back into a satisfactory state I'm going to go back and work from the center back out to the other armhole so I won't forget what I've done. I've included lots of shaping to fit my Mom's body that is proving to be challenging to write down as I go, so if I don't wait too long to do the 2nd half I will be in a lot better shape down the road.

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