A Turn of the Wheel

I love spinning. Let me drive that point home. I love spinning. I have been a spinner since 2003, and my desire to begin spinning again was a big part of taking up knitting. I am finally in a place where I can spin and knit my own work and that makes me very happy.

I spent much of my weekend spinning up and plying an aran weight two ply from the “Red Hot” merino I picked up at Pennsic, in my quest to spin, ply, and knit a scarf for Grace’s god-mother and my dear friend Ann, and it all needs to be finished by Friday evening.

I drop spindle most of my spinning, but I needed a heavier weight yarn which I am not as good at achieving on a drop spindle anymore, and Miss Louet does a fine job with heavier weight spinning, so I pulled her out. I ran a quick practice single and ply on the $1 wool I got, which came out lovely, so I went to work on my spinning.

Speeding through a good 2.5 to 3 ounces of wool in as short a time as I accomplished really drove home the importance of the spinning wheel in history. I am still only spinning in smallish batches- 150-200 yard singles to be Andean plied since I still lack more than one bobbin and a kate. The speed difference is quite amazing. When I consider how many hours women in the 12th century poured into making garments for their family, from the shearing, to the cleaning, combing (carding came later, like the spinning wheel), to the untold miles of spinning, then the weaving, and finally the cutting and sewing, it gives one a great and awe-inspiring sense of the magnitude of each project.

So I have been spinning for a scarf, and I chose the “My So-Called Scarf” pattern. I have wanted a fabric look for this scarf, and I didn’t love how the linen stitch worked out, so I went with this amazing looking pattern with a herringbone look to it.

I would like to report that I love the pattern, I love my yarn, and I love my needles, but I am not 100% in love with the result of the combination. This is a very dense pattern, and I could have gone up a size in needles (using 6.5mm, could easily have gone to 8mm) and it would likely have improved the situation. I am not in love with the very raw looking edges of the scarf either. If picking up a crochet hook does not leave me with a bad case of hives, I might attempt a single-crochet edge around it to neaten it up. Finally, I think this pattern looks best with either a bulky single yarn or a yarn whose plies aren’t dramatically noticeable. I loved the ply I did on my yarn, but I think it detracts from the interesting slants and twists of the stitches giving the whole thing a sort of jumbled look. Still, it has to be ready by Friday evening, and I have 18 inches of it knit; I may not love it, but I do like it, and there is no going back now. Just because I am not in love with it doesn’t mean Ann won’t love it. I would definitely like to make this scarf again with a few modifications and changes.

If I hadn’t forgotten my stupid camera, you would have gotten pictures.

In other news, that big SPLASH you heard last week was Moonlight Sonata hitting the frog pond. It is no more. I screwed up the beginning of the second repeat and considering I hadn’t knit a row I hadn’t had to tink in 4 rows, and considering thinking of all those “moons” I had to knit ahead of me made my eyes bleed, I decided it was time to send it to lace heaven.

That being said, the desire to knit lace is still very strong with me. It is really my favorite kind of knitting, and I had 880 yards of lace weight Shadow left, minus the amount of yardage I lost in some of the Moonlight Sonata neck band that broke as I was tinking. The trouble is that I want a shawl and I want to use up what I have of my lace weight Shadow. I settled on knitting the small version of the Faroese Shawl from A Gathering of Lace.

Knit from the bottom up instead of top down, I thought it would be fun to work from the opposite end and narrow down as you knit. The end of a lace shawl knit from the top down can be agonizing as you get to those last rows with unending numbers of stitches. So I started casting on that unending number of stitches last Wednesday night. Cable cast on to boot, which I find to be painfully slow.

421 stitches. I placed a marker every 25 stitches, and had 16 paper clips dangling by the time I was finished casting on on Thursday afternoon. Holy crap that took some work.

So when I am tired of knitting the scarf or I get blinded by its pinkness, I switch from 6.5mm needles and aran weight wool to 3 mm needles and lace weight. It is quite strange to make the switch when you fingers are adjusted to a larger or smaller size, but I am enjoying both knits.

Still, I am finding the Faroese to not be “lacy” enough, and I am setting my sights on the Percy Shawl next.

My poor husband will never get his Beer Socks at this rate.


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