Wednesday, April 29, 2009

How to Spin My Posy Toes Batts--Snake Plant techie stuff

Hmmm.....I suppose I should throw some numbers out there for those of us who enjoy them? Or want to copy my socks exactly? (that's not gonna happen. handspun yarn will differ every time because it's our hands that control the yarn, and our hands are not machines built to churn out exact duplicates. besides, I want my students and other miscellaneous spinners to follow their own karma when making yarn)

Now that I've exposed yinz to my rarely-humble opinions, here's the relevant stats. As stated a few days ago, I like to put a lot of twist in the singles and ply tightly to produce a nice tight yarn that will stand up to the wear that socks get. My yarn was spun on the 16:1 whorl of my Bosworth Journey Wheel. I did not keep track of the tpi (twists per inch) because I've been spinning sock yarn long enough that I just do it to my usual standards, which are engrained in my brain. Sorry. However, the 2-ply washed and finished yarn came out at 16 wpi (wraps per inch) which is standard sock yarn. Since it was spun semi-woolen, this yarn was spongy and bouncy and I felt it needed to be knit at a tight gauge. So I've used US#0 for the toes and heels, US#1 for the body of the sock, and US#2 for the bind off. I'm using Judy Gibson's You're Putting Me On Socks pattern and so it's very easy to switch to the smaller needles when necessary. The gauge I'm getting is 7.5 sts and 10 rows per inch over Stockinette. It's a nice tight fabric and a nice thick sock, yet soft, flexible and springy due to the Merino content in the batts and the semi-woolen spinning technique.

I've gotten one sock finished already (a 4-day sock! amazing!) and have cast on for the second one. I've not yet started spinning the next set of batts for a very good reason. I've been spending a good bit of time this past week at the almost-renovated family house, dealing with a stray pit bull that's been hanging around. That means lots of time to sit and knit on the porch while I wait for her to wander back into the yard, for the police to respond to my call (didn't happen--wonder if they'd come in a REAL emergency?), or for the county dog warden to stop by again. This dog would sleep on the front porch but would run away when we got within 30 feet of her. Last night the dog warden left a humane trap on the porch with a big bowl of kibble. We caught her this morning! She's an older dog and a bit thin from living outdoors for several weeks--she was shaking with fear when we talked to her inside the cage. So sad. But she's now in a safe haven that's run by a very kind man who loves pit bulls, and will either live out her life with him or be adopted by a very special person. Saving her is the best reason I can think of for not getting my spinning started.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

How to Spin My Posy Toes Sock Batts AND Hiking Pix!

The Snake Plant yarn is finished.

It was spun on the 16:1 whorl of my Bosworth Journey Wheel, as will all the sock yarns in this series. I like to put a lot of twist in my sock yarn and then ply it tightly so it wears longer.

The sock has been started, and I can see the subtle variation between the forest green and the teal colors. The tan seems to be mixing in well--I wanted it to appear serendipitously in the sock. Hopefully I'll have the time this coming week to start spinning the Sweet Peas colorway.

On another subject altogether.....
We went out early this morning to a local park, Raccoon Creek State Park. The Audubon Trail is at it's peak at the end of April and I LOVE wildflowers!

Trout Lily and May Apples

About 9:30 we heard honking and saw a pair of Canada geese calling for their buddies to join them. After a bit they flew off and circled the area a couple of times before heading out to their destination.

"Hey Mable, it's time to leave!" and a Trillium

By 10:30am I was getting pretty sweaty walking around in the valley, but it was so worth it. sigh....If only I had the time and enough colored wool to interpret all these flowers in sock batts.

A hillside of Virginia Bluebells and Carpets of tiny white flowers

Virginia Bluebells and Wild Phlox

Thursday, April 16, 2009

How to Spin My Posy Toes Sock Batts: Snake Plant colorway

I started on the Snake Plant colorway last week and am about halfway through the 3 batts. I'm spinning them by grabbing a handful and spinning from the side of the handful. In the above photo, I've unrolled one batt in preparation for yanking off a couple of handsful--notice my favorite sheep watching over the proceedings. I decided to work across the batt for no other reason than it's easier to tear the handful away if I move in that direction.

I'm hoping that by using this method I will be able to mix the pale tan color more thoroughly with the green and deep teal colors. It's not that I don't find a green-and-tan stripped sock to be appealing, it's more that I have already started knitting a pair of green stripped socks and just don't want duplicates in my sock drawer. (There's already enough confusion in my life without my willingly adding more!)

This is a shot of my spinning technique--fluff out the handful and spin from the side:

This technique is yielding a semi-woolen yarn which is thicker than my usual sock yarn. However, since many of the fibers are no longer parallel within the yarn, the sock should also be warmer.

I'm hoping to be finished with the spinning and twist-setting in the next 2 weeks. Then it's on to knitting the actual socks to see how the yarn behaves.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

How to spin my Posy Toes sock batts: Introduction

While carding up some batts yesterday, I decided that a tutorial on the 3 spinning methods I recommend would be interesting. I've spun the batts myself but never compared the results, and I think it would be instructional for me and for my readers. What I plan to do is spin a colorway in one of the 3 methods, photo/post pix of the yarn, and then knit up a sock with the yarn. Seeing them all in one place and perhaps side-by-side (if Blogger will align them all) will be something we can all learn from.

I think I'll start out with the "grab a handfun and spin it" method, and will use Snake Plant for this. This colorway has two close greens and a light tan--I think I would prefer that the tan be mixed into the yarn more and I think this method will work toward that end. Give me a week or so to spin it up and we'll see what happens.

Friday, April 3, 2009

A week of spinning

I'm rather amazed at the amount of spinning I've been doing lately, especially with all the renovation I'm dealing with! This past week I finished off 2 skeins of Delicate, a superwash and Merino wool and silk yarn. I was playing with an idea for sock blends that would be different, and while this yarn probably isn't appropriate for socks I still love it. (The silk waste formed clumps in the spinning which would not be comfortable as socks but is still way cool.)

When I plied the bobbins I had quite a bit left on one bobbin and, not to be a wasteful slug, I plied it on itself. And THIS is the yarn I absolutely love and exactly the one I was looking for when experimenting with carding those batts! I call it Marbled yarn because the colors melt into each other in much the same way as marbled paper. It's suitable for socks, and as soon as I can get enough carded up it will appear in my Etsy shop.

During the recent spinning-and-carding spate, I also got some Posy Toes Bamboo batts carded up. The yarn I spun from these batts isn't photographed yet (it's raining outside today so photos will have to wait for the sun to reappear). However, there's 3 lots of batts in the shop for those who want to celebrate Spring or the next St. Patricks Day by wearing green socks. Hopefully I'll be able to get more carding done this week and will be able to offer the last of the Bamboo sock batts, Petunias. Then it's on to the Marbled series--I can't wait to play with this and see what colors I can create.

Take care and have a lovely weekend!