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Struck

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).

Thoughts? Experiences?

Arrowhead Pullover

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.

Some questions:

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!

Comments

Back to the Arrowhead Pullover - I'm still gazing at the photos from time to time, such a perfect combination of features, the stitch, the collar, the melt from the rib to the stitch... I love how the 'short' sleeves are actually quite long. Can you tell me what the stitch is? Is it a standard from Barbara Thomas or somebody, or is it your own? I wish I was the weight I used to be and then I could plan to knit the pullover, but instead I could make do with the stitch.

Sorry, I invented Barbara Thomas: I think she must be the love child of Barbara Walker and Mary Thomas :)

Hi Helen - It's quite an old stitch stitch, with a tiny variation. I've seen it called the Horseshoe, Fishtail, Arrowhead - the names get so jumbled up. Basically, it's this:

Row 1 (RS): *p1, yo, k2, sl1, k2tog, psso, k2, yo. Rep from *, end p1.
Row 2, 4, and 6: purl
Row 3: *p1, k1, yo, k1, sl1, k2tog, psso, k1, yo, k1. Rep from *, end p1.
Row 5: *p1, k2, yo, sl1, k2tog, psso, yo, k2. Rep from *, end p1.

It's a multiple of 6 stitches plus 1, just 6 rows altogether for the repeat. Easy as pie. I'll post a chart tomorrow.

I am a newbie spindle spinner in laceweight, I have just figured out that when plying the colors loose their vividness. My current thought for myself is to make one ply as you have done and then make the other ply a single color. When I go to Rhinebeck I am going to be on the lookout for Merino/Tussah in a melange with another batt of one of the colors in the melange. I love your choice of color and can't wait to see it knitted up.

mmm, the colors in that fiber are just up my alley—moody muddy blues and greens and everything in between. sigh.
i love spinning . . .

Back in the days before I had kids, and before I had carpal tunnel syndrome, I was a much more prolific knitter. My downfall is failure to multi-task successfully. I tend to use the little snippets of time here and there for internet trolling, which is really a waste. I suspect many of the others who comment on your amazing productivity are also spending a lot of unnecessary time online!

In regards to "being able to knit all day long", I just think you are one of thee, or thee best knitter I have ever seen and because of your knowledge and love for knitting, you are able to make these BEAUTIFUL items at a much faster rate than many others. Being fairly new to the knitting experience and loving all that knitting has to offer, I can only dream of having your experience and expertise. You are truly a wonderful inspiration with your beautiful knitting! Thank you for sharing your wonderful projects with us.

Thanks Midge.... you are way too kind.

I just wanted to de-lurk briefly to respond to what Elizabeth said about possibly spending a lot of unnecessary time on-line. I started cruising a lot of knitting blogs and lots of knitting sites a little while back, started my own blog maybe 3-4 mos. ago, and I have made such good friends and learned so very much -- I don't think it would have been possible if not for that on-line time. Can't knit all the time.

One way to keep the color repeats is by using Navajo plying... This creates a 3-ply yarn, so it may end up being too thick for what you have in mind, but it would keep the colors intact. That roving is gorgeous. I can't wait to see what it becomes!

I was going to suggest Navajo plying. You can Google and find good tutorials on the subject. The stuff is gorgeous and your spinning is wonderful!

You should get some some solid colour and some marle affects happening. What I often do is split the roving in two and spin one on one bobbin and the other on another bobbin, that way the colours match up for part of the way and I get solid areas but because of slight changes in spinning they don't match up exactly in plyin and I get a marled affect too. Just a suggestion. I am by no means and experienced spinner, just thought I'd try it one day and it worked for me. They are beautiful colours, I hope you get the affect you want.

i just love the yarn that you are spinning! what a nice color...it's hard to get such a beautiful combination of color. Your spinning is coming out very nicely! As like the other s, I would ask your friend to dye another roving in a similar color and make them into 2-ply.

i'm with auntie ann -- i spend a lot of time reading knitting and craft blogs and i certainly could be more selective, but i've met some great people, been more inspired by my own work, and i'm learning how to spin. that would never have happened had it not been for blogging.

your spinning is beautiful by the way and that roving is gorgeous.

A prolific spinning friend of mine plies her favorite singles with a strand of silk or nylon sewing thread. It gives the yarn a bit of extra shine and doesn't disturb the color repeats.
I just found your blog a few days ago and have been reading your old posts with great interest. You do very beautiful work.

75-80 sts/MINUTE? You're fast enough to be in a speed knitting contest! I'm lucky if I can keep it at a good 30-40 sts/minute without counting the breaks I have to take b/c my hands hurt. I'm in awe!

Geez, you knit QUICKLY! The yarn is lovely.

How much striping you get depends on how long the stretches of color are in your singles. If they're longer than a couple of inches, in general, you're going to get striping. That will even happen with a Navajo 3 ply if the color stretches are long enough.

If you do a standard three-ply yarn you will likely end up with shorter runs of color that have a more marled quality because you're blending stretches of color from three singles. (if you want to see an example, I compared 2 and three ply yarns a couple weeks back on my blog) However, yarns for lace are usually better as 2 plys because they will lay flatter in the final garment than a three ply will. Three plys are three dimensional and work well in cables and other texture while 2 plys tend to be 2 dimensional and work better in lace where you want a flatter plane.

Back to the pullover, the grace of design is wonderful and beautiful. The weather in Australia isn't always conducive to big knits, so I'm always looking for ideas and you're designs are so practical as well as beautifully constructed. Thanks for the tips on knitting speed too, I'm encouraged by your notes (although I'm still slooooow at about 40-50 spm).

Re your lovely single-ply spinning. I suggest that you try plying a few yards of the singles together, wash the resulting yarn lightly, dry, and see what you think. There's nothing like actually experimenting to see what works.

If the result is too marled or stripey, it helps to ply, as others have suggested, with a single color. Which color will work the best is often a big, big surprise. Hold the variegated ply against many colors, to see which makes the colors "pop" and come alive for you. The single ply can be another spun single. I have also used a fine thread, although I like to use extremely fine silk, to give shine, strength, and to keep the yarn all natural fibers. If you are using a plied thread with a very fine singles, such as yours, you may encounter some difficulties, as your plying will actually *unply* the plied thread that you bought to go with your single. I often spin my fine singles "Z" rather than "S"--the opposite to what is the standard--in order to have a single which will match directionality with the plied thread. This is also important when crocheting, as crocheting goes best with a yarn plied in the direction opposite to the standard. I hope this makes sense.

As for how thin your plied yarn will be, it can puff up a great deal after plying and washing. Please let us know what happens!

Thanks for your fantastic, gorgeous knitting, and your inspiring blog. I am an avid reader.

Thanks very much for the stitch instructions. You're a star :)

Your work is beautiful and the bit about understanding each stitch rather than blindly following charts was very helpful. But how do you read and knit? I miss the reading but can't figure the logistics. like keeping the book open, stopping to turn a page....

Those colors! Wow, that is some gorgeous laceweight. The spinning bug never bit me, but this... hmm, I will have to think about it. ;)

First of all, the yarn you spun is beautiful. Yarn porn in all its glory.

Second, I read when I knit too, but one of these days I'm going to invent a gadget that holds the book pages open for me and turns them by voice command. Currently, I have a weird method of sitting crosslegged with the book wedged under my legs. And if I could have another machine to feed me ice cream that would be great too.

What beautiful spinning! Those colors are just fabulous. I'm off to Erin's shop to see if she's created any yarn in a similar colorway. Cheers.

Regarding your singles, try both regular 2 plying and Navajo plying in sample skeins. But when you Navajo ply, don't worry about keeping one color at a time. Sometimes they will be solid and sometimes not, just like you're looking for. If the regular 2 ply is muddy, then you can do the other. Good luck!

How do you knit while reading? (As I look at the 22 books I have to read this fall for my grad work...)

Holy Bejeebers! I timed myself the other day and I knit about 25 stitches per minute (purl 21 spm) in plain stockinette.

I work at a college so I take my textbooks and scan through a program that "reads" text for out visually impaired students. Then I can listen to my homework while I knit!

I vote against the Navajo plying and for 2-ply yarn with the same stuff for both strands. From what you say, I gather you don't want colour pooling. The photos look like the fiber has just two main colours, so that you should get exactly the offset barberpole effect - places in which they combine and others where one or the other becomes predominant. Subtle, watery shifts. The thread method can be nice if you want the yarn to stay super thin, but it will tend to give a slight boucle texture as it's hard to maintain an even enough tension when plying with thread. Do you have enough to experiment a little and see what you like best?

Thanks for your suggestions on seaming lace- I know it will come in handy! I love the yarn you're spinning- the hues are gorgeous!

I can read while I knit, but mainly stockinette -- somehow I usually lose track of what I'm reading if I also do anything else (even decrease or increase rows/rnds in stockinette). On the other hand, I think it helps a lot to be a Continental knitter, whether for speed or for knitting while doing something else -- the less interruption in the flow of forming each stitch, the better. I'm a fairly fast knitter as well, and I attribute it mainly to that flow.

Thanks, by the way, for posting the lace pattern. I was wondering. I think the IK Staff Project from Summer 2006 used the same, or a very similar, lace stitch.

I love when you update your blog because I can always drool over the beautiful things you make :D LOVE the sweater and I'm sure you'll make this yarn into something equally as lovely :)
thanks for posting! :)

Use navajo plying (tutorial here: http://www.joyofhandspinning.com/spin-navajo-ply.html) Make the loops big and try to spin fairly slowly when you ply. When you ply, it breaks up the color into smaller areas and they won't be as distinct.

Merino likes to be spun fairly fine. When you do navajo plying, you will be making a three ply yarn. It won't be thicker but will be more round and give you better stitch definition. Have you thought about subscribing to Spin-Off? (It's from Interweave Press). I wouldn't dream of giving up my subscription to it.

As a person who dyes and spins alot, I'd say yes, the colors are going to mute more when you ply and yes, especially more if the plies are fine.

You might have noticed already that the color of a single colored batt or roving deepens one or two values as it's spun and plied.

You might try this trick: take a space dyed roving or batt and separate it into it's individual colors. You'll notice that each chunk of color will have wisps of adjoining colors on the ends. You can manipulate how big these "wisps" are. Spin and ply each color separately. You'll then have several skeins of color coordinated yarn, each predominantly a single color, but with tweedy flecks of the others. Then when you knit, you might choose just one color, saving skeins of the other two colors for a different project.

Or spin the colors separtely and ply with a one color single. (this is the favorite trick of a firend of mine who is a weaving goddess).

The proportions of the colors make a HUGE difference in the final knitted piece as colors seem different as they are influenced by the amount of color next to them.

Space-dyed roving are very magical, but not if they're spun as-is, as so many people do. An egg is fine fried, but it can do so much more...

Sorry for the ramble, this makes so much better sense when you see it than when I write it.

So, this is a silly question, but I have no idea what 70 spm would even LOOK like. I knit about 20 spm, slightly faster for stockinette in the round. My question is, HOW do I get faster? Is it just a matter of time? (I've been knitting non-stop for a year now). I knit continental right now, and am much much faster from when I knit English (and when I twisted all my stitches). So, any advice you have on knitting faster would be much appreciated (I'm sure others want to know too :))

*faints dead away again*
That's pretty fast, Eunny. I just timed myself in at a whopping 36 stitches per minute. I imagine my nighttime knitting minus four children may perhaps be a bit faster.
That roving is just beautiful, and so is your sweater. It's classic, but so feminine. Love it!

"PRETTY GOOD pace"??? The fastest knitter in the world clocked in at 255 stitches in three minutes. You're a mere fifteen stitches under. Me? 98 stitches in three minutes. You? Almost-World-Champion.

Pete's!!

Ditto with what wavybrains said. How do I knit faster and is it possible to knit faster in English?

So, what's wrong with knitting full-time? Or "complicated" or "simple" well constructed pieces. If you have the gift that elevates your hobby into artform-craftmanship worthy of Smithsonian exhibition, then why not? Don't we all dream of doing what we really love and paying the bills all the while. Myself, I'm just a hobby knitter, not bad, but not great--it's a matter of practicality. I aspire to knit like you, Eunny, but there is also a certain element of dedication and natural craft that I don't possess for it right now (maybe never). That's okay because we are not all Frank Lloyd Wright's, Sam Maloof's, Ruth Mc Dowell's, Elizabeth Zimmerman's, or Eunny Jang's.

I do love reading all of the knitting blogs but what I appreciate most are the knitters that think about form and function, construction and design, and do it well and can convey the technicalities of their art to those that aren't as blessed (I mean with technical experties, we're all blessed to be knitters, don't get wrong). The love of knitting well (whether it be too simple or too complicated or of this camp or of that) there is room for everyone. I remember feeling like such an underchiever with all the blogs, but that is my own issue that I've dealt with and in no way should I make the excellent knitter-bloggers feel guilty because they knit better than me...or other bloggers subliminally, ever so slightly, criticize the artform knitters in their posts (yeah, I can read between the lines and no, I don't mean you Eunny).

Anyway, that comment was much too long. Eunny, I think you are a very, very talented knitter that should be ranked up there with the legends of our craft. Work it, girl!

Ditto with what wavybrains said. How do I knit faster and is it possible to knit faster in English?

So, what's wrong with knitting full-time? Or "complicated" or "simple" well constructed pieces. If you have the gift that elevates your hobby into artform-craftmanship worthy of Smithsonian exhibition, then why not? Don't we all dream of doing what we really love and paying the bills all the while. Myself, I'm just a hobby knitter, not bad, but not great--it's a matter of practicality. I aspire to knit like you, Eunny, but there is also a certain element of dedication and natural craft that I don't possess for it right now (maybe never). That's okay because we are not all Frank Lloyd Wright's, Sam Maloof's, Ruth Mc Dowell's, Elizabeth Zimmerman's, or Eunny Jang's.

I do love reading all of the knitting blogs but what I appreciate most are the knitters that think about form and function, construction and design, and do it well and can convey the technicalities of their art to those that aren't as blessed (I mean with technical experties, we're all blessed to be knitters, don't get wrong). The love of knitting well (whether it be too simple or too complicated or of this camp or of that) there is room for everyone. I remember feeling like such an underchiever with all the blogs, but that is my own issue that I've dealt with and in no way should I make the excellent knitter-bloggers feel guilty because they knit better than me...or other bloggers subliminally, ever so slightly, criticize the artform knitters in their posts (yeah, I can read between the lines and no, I don't mean you Eunny).

Anyway, that comment was much too long. Eunny, I think you are a very, very talented knitter that should be ranked up there with the legends of our craft. Work it, girl!

I think this post of yours is the reason I dreamt of knitting faster last night. I don't know how you do it. Especially the reading while knitting thing. You're too good.

Just curious - are you right handed or left handed?

Well, girl, you knit faster than the current world speed knitting record holder, (and she can only do 75/min for three minutes at a time, so you're blessed)so get out there and show those judges your stuff.

Your work is breathtaking. I just happened upon your site and visited your 2005 gallery. Spectacular! Do you have a favorite?

I believe that being able to read your knitting is also what makes you such a great designer. I can read my knitting and after a time, I can just feel my way through the knitting. It makes the knitting more enjoyable, less prone to errors, and easier to come up with new creations. After a while, you can just listen to what the knitting tells you it needs to do when putting something together.

You were born to Navajo ply.

That's incredible, bot in roving form and on the spindle. Makes me really want to get into spinning. But, alas, not until we have room for a wheel, I have promised myself and my husband.

Eunny, can you resend the info on knit night? Thanks!

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