Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Second verse, better than the first.

The second half of the sock yarn is finally spun, plied, and dried -- but not until after that first sock was knit! As for my other responsibilities, the outside Christmas lights are down, the ornaments and such are packed away, some laundry was done, but the tree is still up and dust bunnies still prevail. Actually, since we got the new sofa, and Bruneaux, come to think of it, the dust bunnies aren't bunnies at all, no fluff, just piles of dog hair that collect in corners. I'm sure you really wanted to know that. I'm trying to shame myself into vacuuming.

Back to the topic at hand, I think it was really helpful to knit up some of my sock yarn before spinning the rest of it. I could see which parts I liked, and what I liked about them -- because you know, being handspun, and amateur handspun at that, it was just a long sampler of yarn possibilities. But once I figured out what possibilities I liked, I had something to aim for. Which is much better than, "Maybe I can make it thinner. OMG that's too thin! It's going to break! Now that's too thick," that I was doing the first time around. I was also afraid the first time of falling into the newbie pattern of overspinning my singles, so I deliberately tried to take it easy, and went too far the other way. My singles drifted apart several times while I was Navajo plying, and I had to tie them back together to get going again. (Is there a better solution in that scenario than a knot? I did find that if I just left the tails hanging and plied them into the yarn, it was pretty invisible.)

So, anyway, lessons learned, I went back to the wheel, spun the thickness that I knew to be just about right, put enough twist in, and Navajo plied it like in this video (so much faster and more even that what I had been doing!), and I got this:

Handspun sock yarn, part deux

I didn't bother with hot/cold dunking or whacking the second time around, either. I'm not sure it helps with superwash wool, which makes perfect sense, but I figured I had to try it to really know. I just washed it in a little Soak and vinegar (the dye ran a little the first time), pressed out the excess water with a towel, and snapped it between my hands. The second skein was actually well-balanced (yay!), so it didn't take a lot of abuse to get it to behave.

Handspun sock yarn, part deux

Excuse me while I do a happy dance. Right now I think this is maybe the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. I made that! I get it now. Knitting is just the gateway drug. This is the hard stuff. I'm done for. There is already talk of "my next wheel," at which, to his credit, my husband did not flinch. I guess it helps that his hobby is much more expensive than mine, and he has already watched me come home in a sour mood, sit in front of the wheel, and become human again. And every now and then he gets some woolly goodness. No new toys for a while, maybe a long while, just dreams and plans.

January RosesAnd yes, those are flowers in the background. Not winter flowers like pansies or camellias, either, although the buds on the camellia are getting fat, but roses. Lady Banks roses, which only bloom once, in the spring. Mine has gone haywire. The little pink roses in the front think it's spring, too. They say that we have four seasons in Texas: December, January, February, and summer. I'm really ticked that we've gone straight from fall to spring. I want my cold January! I live for ice days, when the whole city shuts down for no good reason and it feels like I have the whole frozen world to myself. Last year we went to the ranch for MLK weekend and got iced in and had to stay an extra day or two. Possibly my favorite birthday ever.


Unknown said...

That yarn is so beautiful! And there's nothing quite like the satisfaction one gets from a well-balanced skein of handspun, too. :)

Anonymous said...

That is great yarn! Well done, can't wait to see the socks. Isn't knitting with handspun just an amazing experience? I am always enchanted with the yarn as it makes each stitch.

PS Are we long-lost twins (I flatter myself)? I love cold January too!

Lori said...

Beauty! What a great yarn!

Bea said...


Bea said...

Oh I am not thrilled with the warm january either. I like those snow days when everything just shuts down too and all I have to do all day is knit.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful stuff! I'm so impressed by your spinning.
I agree that knitting is the gateway drug. Now I've got a wheel and I fear carders can't be too far away!

Monika said...

Congratulations one this wonderful yarn! I'm a fairly new spinner myself, and understand how faszinating it is. I absolutely love the little bit of sock you've knit with the first skein, so lovely!