Remember that I, uh, bought a spinning wheel? Yeah, I'd forgotten too.
Almost, that is.
Last night, I sat down and spun for the first time in a couple weeks, thinking - Oh, I'll just spin for a minute or two. I've been busy with other things, I've been stressed-out and crazy, it'll be nice just to sit and go blank and make a little yarn.
Of course, I ended up staying rooted to the stool until the wee hours. I'm using this lovely stuff:
It's handpainted Merino top from Mama-E's c*eye*ber fiber warehouse, by way of Cloverhill Yarn (full disclosure: Erin is also a friend of mine), in the Ocean Mist colorway. I bought a braid at the last convening of our spinning group, back in July - the colors were so arresting, so exactly my speed. The first go-round, I spun straight from the only-slightly-attenuated wad, and ended up with a somewhat muddy, sort of disappointing heather, when I'd been looking for subdued-but-distinctly-colored singles to make a plied yarn with shifting marled colors. Depressing.
Last night, I did it the right way - split the top lengthwise into skinny sections, pre-drafted each section carefully, took my time with the spinning - and was rendered breathless by the resulting yarn.
Here's the stuff I'd imagined, only better. The tawny sections have run into copper and fawn and even a little bit of sagey green, punctuated here and there by sections of brilliantly deep, deeply brilliant blue. It reminds me of ponds and river mouths along the Bay, of that peculiar kind of deceptively flat water that changes hugely in character with every tide, that never quite decides on freshwater or salt. Endlessly interesting, to me at least.
It's thin, too (not precisely by design), oh my good gracious it's thin: I think might make something just a little thicker than Merino Oro or Skacel Lace at a 2-ply (those yarns are about 1350 meters to 100 grams). My question is, at that grist, will I lose those lovely colors with plying? I'm not talking about a stripey finished yarn that more or less matches up color changes between singles - I want a randomly shifting barberpole, where colors between plies will occasionally match to create short runs of vivid color in a mostly heathery background. I'm planning on lace, obviously, an oceany stole, and I'm comfortable with the eye assuming a solid color from a distance. I kind of like the idea, though, that the yarn will reveal secrets of color and hue at intimate removes - the Chuck Close of yarn, if you will, which you might not, but hopefully you'll indulge me - but everything's more or less the same in value, and I'm worried that these lovely colors won't do that at all, that they'll in fact be wasted in a poorly-designed yarn that doesn't suit them at all. (I'm also worried that I'm becoming the queen of run-on sentences. But that's for a different day).
I'm completely bowled over by the wonderful response to such an unassuming little sweater. I think it'll get a lot of wear this fall - clean, simple and sweet. Lace without fussiness - just my style.
Evelyn asked: Do you have any advice on seaming lacy items? Do you plan out a few extra selvedge stitches?
I did use one plain stitch at the edge, but could have used two - one for the selvedge, and one to create a neat straight edge along the seam. A second stitch would have given some support to the edge during seaming - lace fabric is, of course, open and floppy, and it's a nightmare to sew alongside YOs and decreases and keep the seam puckerless and yet without gaps.
Then again, that plain stitch on the right side might have created an ugly inturruption to the lace pattern, and to the new patterns created wherever partial repeats meet at the seams. Food for thought.
Maureen asked: Did you block it?
I did indeed, in pieces. The lace was ugly, of course, before a thorough soaking and pinning (crumply and bubbly and nipply, as unblocked lace usually is), and it would have been awful to sew in that state, anyway. After assembly, I pressed the seams flat as well - and steamed the collar to encourage the ribbing to open up a little.
Knitting, Speed of and Hours for
There seems to be a persistent belief that I have hours upon hours to do nothing but knit :) It always cracks me up a little when people say that - I work full-time on non-knitting stuff, I go to class, I cook, I clean, I work out, I hang out, I go to ballgames, I kill kegs. In other words, like every knitblogger, I wish I had uninterrupted hours to knit.
Although I do suppose I knit all day long in a way - I always have whatever I'm working on with me, in my purse or on my desk or in my laptop bag. I'm not one of those people you see knitting during lectures or in nice restaurants or at parties (I've never understood feeling like you MUST KNIT EVERY! POSSIBLE! SECOND!), but I am that girl knitting a row waiting at the crosswalk, doing research, waiting for coals to ash over. I hardly ever "just knit" - the only times I do, really, are at knit night twice a month - but I do like to snatch appropriate moments, and multi-task whenever I can. Reading? I'm knitting, for sure. Watching TV? I'm knitting. And so on. I guess the thing is that I don't relegate only totable things for those moments: I work on everything, any chance I get, so a lot of progress is made in not a lot of time. I suppose I do knit at a pretty good pace (about 75-80 stitches a minute in plain stockinette - knock a little off for stranded colorwork, knock a lot off for cables or lace or intarsia), but I really think the secret is in being able to pick up your knitting and work a row, a few stitches, without spending precious minutes finding your place. I talked a little bit about this a few months ago: check it out.
All this is not to say, of course, that I don't spend hours upon hours thinking about knitting. If only!