Thursday, April 14, 2011

Fractal Spinning

Since I started wheel spinning, I’ve been interested in the different effects that one can get by spinning from fibre. It can be quite different to the effects that can be obtained when dying yarn. One of the reasons for this is that if you spin multiple plies for a yarn they do not have to be the same colour. Commercial yarns sometimes take advantage of this (such as Rowan Plaid, seen below)

Rowan Plaid - Sea Thistle

It gives a nice mottled finish when knitted, and lets the eye blend the colours.

A Tad More Plaid

The thing that one generally doesn’t get with commercial yarn, though, is two plies of the yarn with the same colours changing at different rates. One of the ways to achieve this is called fractal spinning.
The idea is that you take your braid of fibre and split it into two (or more) pieces. These are then spun as separate plies, then plied together to give a subtly striped yarn.

If you split the fibre into two, and then one of those halves is also split into two, you would get yarn which would ply together so that in some places the colours in the plies would be the same, and in some places it will “barber pole” where the colours are not the same. If you have fibre with a consistent length colour repeat then you will get a very distinct effect. (I hope to try it with some plain solid yarns, 6 of them, in sequence some time soon!)

The fibre that I have chosen for this may not show this effect in quite the way I describe above as it doesn’t have such a strongly defined colour repeat, but it was what I wanted to work with next! It’s a braid from MHE again, this one is Shetland fibre, and is called Kaleidoscope.

My Heart Exposed

First, I undid the braid

MHE Shetland Kaleidoscope

Then I split the fibre down the middle, or as close to as I could without weighing it!
I then split one half of it into two…

MHE Shetland Kaleidoscope

and then each of those two into four. I did a little pre-drafting of the fibre

MHE Shetland Kaleidoscope

before winding it into balls

MHE Shetland Kaleidoscope

I also pre-drafted the half I didn’t split up, and rolled that into a ball as well.

MHE Shetland Kaleidoscope

then I started spinning in the Z direction (wheel turning anticlockwise) to produce one ply from the large ball, and one ply from the smaller balls.

MHE Shetland Kaleidoscope

and then I plied is in the S direction (wheel turning clockwise) to give me (before finishing) 357 yards for 95 grams of yarn.

MHE Shetland Kaleidoscope

I’m really quite pleased with how it’s come out.

MHE Shetland Kaleidoscope

It’s much more pink than I was expecting it to be, which is a good thing as I love pink! It’s approximately light sock weight I think, though it has yet to take a bath and be measured properly.

MHE Shetland Kaleidoscope

I’m going to start including a breakdown of the spinning, much like the ones I do for my completed knitting. Here goes the first one:

Fiber: My Heart Exposed Shetland Fiber
Colourway: Kaleidoscope
Spun using: Ashford Traveller, highest ratio
Spin direction: Z (wheel turning anticlockwise, spin to the left)
Plying type/direction: 2ply, S (wheel turning clockwise, spin to the right)
Yarn Stats: 95g / 357yds (wpi tbc)
Verdict The Shetland was lovely to spin, it has a nice crimp to it and holds together well. It is less coarse than the Corriedale and the resulting yarn is lovely and soft.

Hopefully the yarn will bloom slightly in washing, bringing it to around 4ply/sock weight. As it’s going to self-stripe I expect that I’ll want to knit something which will show off that fact. Perhaps something like the Argosy Scarf, though it would need amending as it’s written for DK yarn. I also have some plain-ish shawls in my queue which would work well with this yarn I think!

MHE Shetland Kaleidoscope

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

It takes time

I’m finally on the sleeves of my honeymoon sweater. Whether it will be ready for me to wear on the honeymoon is another question though. It depends on how much knitting time I get between now and the wedding, since there’s no way I’ll have time to do any more knitting, seaming or blocking once the wedding gets here!

Though it has taken me since January 19th to get this far, I think that I haven’t spent as much time knitting as I could have, and some of that knitting time has been on other things. I’ve also been spinning a reasonable amount, which hasn’t helped the cause either! (I really want to finish the fibre that I have on the wheel at the moment; I have about 12g left to spin of the approximately 100g I started with!)

I spent some time last night and this morning in the car working on the 5.5” of stocking stitch for the cuffs. I have a nagging suspicion that I’m meant to be increasing too, but I have left the pattern at home so I can’t check! Oh well, I’m sure it’ll all pan out.

I am pleased with how it’s looking right now though, but to finish the sleeves, the yoke and the neck in the next fortnight seems optimistic. However, we do have a nice long weekend coming up (Easter weekend) and if I can be in a position to join the sleeves to the body and start the yoke by then, I think I may be able to finish it. Sadly, I don’t expect to get a lot done this weekend, as it’s my Hen Party! Woo!

Thursday, April 07, 2011


Yes, despite all the talk about spinning, I have been knitting away in the background too.

Perhaps not quite as often as I should have been to get this finished for the honeymoon, but still knitting. In fact now that I’ve accepted that it probably will not be ready for then, it seems to be trucking along nicely! Ironic, but probably it will still not be ready in time.

I have decided I am not going to knit the hood on the Après Tricot sweater. I may yet change my mind, but I’m not sure that I will have a use for the hood, but I can see myself wearing a lightweight lacy top with a nice stockinette v-neck.

Apres Tricot - progress

I have been modifying the pattern, because I didn’t want seams in this nice thin 4ply sweater. I therefore decided to knit it in the round as much as I could. I’ve had to leave stockinette panels down the side for increasing and decreasing, but I think it looks fine.

Après Tricot - progress

I’ve also done 4 rows of garter stitch prior to commencing the stockinette edge, to try to prevent rolling. It’s not working so well at the moment, but I think that perhaps when it’s blocked it may help. If not, I could fold the garter edge under and sew it in place, but that might be rather bulky. I may have to try steam blocking the edge while I knit the sleeves.

Après Tricot - progress

The lace pattern, now that I’m using markers, is nice to work, and I’m looking forwards to getting to that part of the sleeves! I have some free time this weekend during which I hope to get some knitting and some spinning done.

Après Tricot - progress

I guess even if this isn’t ready for the honeymoon, it will be a lovely sweater and I look forward to wearing it!

Monday, April 04, 2011

More yarn spun!

I continue to spend more time than I aught on the spinning wheel. Though I have been good, and since this came off the wheel I haven't spun anything new until last night when I started on a fractal experiment.

Bonkers Fibre 2
The shiny white bits are the bamboo where the colour didn't take. It has a lovely sheen to it!
Anyway, this has been finished for a while, but it seems I forgot to photograph it until this weekend.

Bonkers Flamingo
I love the light-and-shade effect the yarn has in this photo
Fiber: Bonkers Fibre – Flamingo (NB: they’re American)
Ply Type: Navajo; Z Spun S plied.
Yarn created: 205yds approx DK weight yarn.

I think it looks great! I’m looking forward to knitting it up into something. I think 205 yards might be enough for a little shrug (like this one I knit a while ago using less than 185 yards of aran weight).

Bonkers Flamingo
Pretty, isn't it?
Also, it should self-stripe, which I’m quite excited about, some of the darker stripes (purple-black ish bits) could be long enough to go all the way round a shrug!

I need another project to take with me on honeymoon[1] as I’m a great believer in Sod’s Law[2] so this might be it.

The math-science geek in me wants to work out approximately how long it takes me to knit stuff, and then work out how many hours worth of knitting I have planned, and then see how much actual knitting/crochet time I have available, and then add socks. Always.

[1] Yes, I’m taking knitting with me on honeymoon.
[2] Sod’s Law is that if you plan for something then it will not happen, but if you don’t plan for it then it will. Such as if you put your umbrella in your bag (taking up vital space for other stuff) then it will not rain, but if you decide that you need the space for something else, it almost certainly will. This same Law appears to mean that if you don’t pack a sweater for your holiday to somewhere hot, it will be cold. Remember this holiday?

Friday, April 01, 2011

Just 20g

A story of 20g of fibre and the dream of making it into something useful.

First, I’ll declare my interest. My Heart Exposed (link to the folksy store, Helen’s blog) are having a contest to celebrate being one year old. Happy first birthday MHE!

Well, I’m a little later than that to the party. I only recently got my spinning wheel, so I hadn’t really looked into fibre much.
The week before the wheel, I ordered a sample pack from Fibreholics to have a look at what some local (UK based) indie dyers were doing with fibre. One of the samples was a 20g braid of MHE Corriedale fibre. Now, I’d been battling with some factory produced Corriedale at this point, and though it washed up into a nice yarn it wasn’t that nice to work with. So, I confess I was a little wary of the MHE Corriedale. I expected it to be like the Corriedale I had so far used.

How wrong I was!

Helen uses rainwater in her dying process, and only 100% natural dyes. Despite this, she gets amazing colours, such as the beautiful lavender and gold in this braid. (These photos are a little darker than in reality, the yarn (later in the post) is a much truer colour!)

My creation
An array of different colours that all work so well together!

The fibre was lovely and fluffy, clearly treated with care during the dying process, and much less harsh on my hands than the commercially dyed top I had been using. 20g was enough to produce a lovely 36 yards of 3ply yarn, at around Sock weight (15wpi) (I Navajo plied to maintain the colour repeats, I didn't want to blend the lovely lavender and the gold into one muddy colour!)

My creation
I did consider putting it in a box frame on the wall!

Then came the challenge – what could I knit that would effectively show of these lovely colours, the striping and yet would only need 36 yards of yarn?
A few simple ideas spring to mind – crocheted flowers, a small toy, coasters and cup-clutches. All small and some useful, but not really what I was looking for.

MHE Balled
Wound into a ball and ready to go!
Once I had measured the wpi I knew all the details I needed to search on Ravelry for an appropriate item to knit. There were lots of ideas, but the Flourish Bookmark from Ninaclock designs stood out as a great idea! It specifies slightly more yarn than I have, but I can make a smaller tassel. I love to read, I'm always in need of a bookmark! I use whatever I can lay my hands on, so a lovely little knitted reminder of this lovely yarn seems like a great idea (and might be the way some of the other samples go too!)

I can't say in words what these lovely photos show for the bookmark... so here it is.

My creation
Self Striping Bookmark

Pattern: Flourish by Ninaclock designs
Yarn: Handspun MHE Corriedale
Needles: 3.25mm
Modifications: Only did 3 repeats because of using the lager needles
Verdict: The pattern is great,the fibre is great, and the yarn is nice - I'm so pleased with it!