Sunday, November 05, 2006

A Swift Recovery

I love my local yarn shop - Emily's Needlework, in Athol, MA. Understanding immediately the plight of a knitter/spinner who is suddenly swift-less, she researched lovely wooden swifts ($100 to $130 - yikes!) and then, when I decided that was too much to pay, having just spent an inordinate amount of money on fiber at Rhinebeck and the Franklin County Fiber Twist, sold me her very own metal and plastic swift, just like mine that broke, for cheap. Don't worry, she still has a lovely big wooden swift of her own; I would not go so far as to pass on my swiftlessness to a fellow knitter. And she had on a long knitted skirt that she had just finished, in burgundies, with a ribbed yoke. I forgot to take a photo or even to ask what pattern, but I keep yearning to knit myself a skirt one of these days, so I may just have to go back and ask. It was lovely!

I blame my forgetfulness on the non-swift recovery I'm having from a cold. It's not a big deal - no earth-shaking sneezes or coughing - it's just deadening my brain and my energies, such that all I can really do is knit. Maybe spin. Definitely not clean the gutters nor put away the outside furniture for the winter, certainly no vacuuming. What a shame, eh? I did manage to wrestle my bedding into the washer. I think that coping with clean sheets and such today will be the extent of my useful work.

In my half-dead state, I'm finding great comfort in the very simple. Take this yarn, for example.

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That's a skein of about 400 yards of black alpaca and silk which I spun up from Ashland Bay fiber bought at WEBS. Altogether, a pound of this luscious stuff yielded 700 yards of two-ply dk- to worsted-weight yarn, about 12 wpi. I was fascinated, in my simple way, to see how thinly I could spin this, when my efforts at merino and other wools have been producing something much thicker, more like a heavy worsted to bulky yarn. I wasn't pre-drafting any differently; the fiber just wanted to be skinny yarn. Well, skinny by my standards, anyway. I'd like to be able to spin laceweight one of these days, but since knitting taking a lot longer than spinning, perhaps it's best I'm making heavier stuff right now anyway. This alpaca/silk is destined to be Christmas scarves, one for Sue [Sue, this is when you have to stop reading my blog, at least till January. Don't you have boxes to unpack? A quilt to finish? A certain lacy scarf to finish knitting for my Christmas present? Hmm, dear?], maybe something leafy and lacy, and one for my Dad, something suitably masculine, ribbings and cables, that sort of thing. I hope neither one of them are allergic to alpaca.

In other Christmas knitting news, I'm reaching the end of the mistake rib scarf for my brother David. You may remember that I spun this yarn from Ashland Bay merino/silk, bought at WEBS on the Knittyhead invasion a few weeks ago. Here's an example of the thicker yarn I've been making. I have to say that I'm really enjoying the texture of this yarn combined with the three-dimensional structure of mistake rib. If I were knitting a long mistake rib scarf out of nice smooth yarn, even a nice merino/silk, I think it would be boring. Perfectly suitable as a scarf and all that, but boring as hell to knit. With the, ahem, highly textured yarn I spun, though, mistake rib becomes fascinating to behold. At least to my cold-ridden brain.

Here's the scarf...

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And a closer-in close-up.

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Nice. Even though it's a suitably boring guy color - sort of a dark gray/navy combo. I have about five feet of scarf knit and I'm aiming for around six feet, or whenever the yarn runs out. I know I spun about 260 yards of this, but alas, I did not make note of how much fiber I started with. Maybe 8 ounces? At any rate, I still have a good bit of yarn to go; I'm sure I can make it to six feet.

OK, gang, writing that took all my energy, I'm going to retire to the couch and knit. Well, maybe I'll put the sheets in the dryer first. And did I mention I treated myself to Tracey Ullman and Mel Clark's new knitting book? Maybe I'll read it first, just to get warmed up for knitting furiously, so to speak. Or perhaps I should cast on for another of those Christmas scarves...

And you wonder why this house is a mess.


Elizabeth said...

Get better soon!!!

cathy said...

Feel better (sending you tea and honey thoughts right now).

The scarf looks great. I love the look of the alpaca/silk. So shiny.

Abigale said...

Yep - I'm right there with you -

You're right that some fibers are just easier to spin fine than others, I generally try to let them be what they want. I do tend to spin pretty fine, and have to really concentrate to make thicker yarn. I think that the spinning ends up taking more time than the knitting, but spinning is good - you don't have to think too much about what you're doing, and you never have to worry about having to go back and rip out any mistakes!