Oh, For the Love of Merino

I have discovered that a spinning wheel is a lot like my truck. My right foot on the pedal makes it go. Fiber would be my gasoline (without it, what’s the point?) Yarn makes the flywheel turn with the right amount of tension and speed (like a transmission). And guess what. Just like my truck, my wheel needs oil to function properly. Fortunately, unlike my truck which would blow a head gasket and cost me a new vehicle without oil, I only lost two nights and a bit of roving to a lack of oil on the wheel.

I am spinning more lately with the wheel than I ever have, so I didn’t think to oil it as frequently as it needed. Once properly lubricated, I flew through some fluff last night.

Except, now I have a problem that only I could have: I am getting better at spinning on a wheel.

When I started the Swallowtail shawl, I was using yarn that I had attempted to achieve laceweight with, and gotten fingering weight with some lace-like sections (also, some DK sections too!). Due to my desire to have a larger shawl than the pattern creates and my less than consistent yarn, I went ahead and used US8 needles to knit the shawl on. The gauge looked nice, larger than the pattern, but in range, and I was pleased with the consistency of the “leaves” and the laciness of the work so far.

Well, I have spun and spun and spun. Last night, I spun up two small skeins and I was so pleased with the results.

(The one on the right is soaking wet and therefore a bit darker than the mostly dry skein on the left.)

Once I joined the new yarn in this morning, I realized the simultaneous joy of knowing I have improved a lot and the pain of having knit quite a bit with less-than-great yarn and the dramatic difference between my efforts.

The top strand is my earlier attempt and the bottom strand is last night’s work.

To be honest, this is a little upsetting. Okay, a lot upsetting. The “leaves” in my pattern are losing some of their definition. They are too holey. I don’t know if I could drop down a size in needles without a major impact on the overall shape of the shawl (though I am sincerely less concerned about it being large enough anymore, I do not want 50 rows of knitting to look dramatically larger than the remaining 100 some rows). I don’t really want to hold the yarn double because that would be a bit too thick, and it would use up too much yarn anyway (I only had about 7 ounces of the roving left when I started spinning for this shawl). Sadly, I cannot get a good picture of the shawl to demonstrate my concern.

I simply do not know what to do. I think my first step is going to be to knit a full six-row repeat. I only have half a repeat’s worth of new yarn knitted in. I will complete a full repeat, which at this point, will be 10 leaves wide, and then run a waste piece of yarn through the live stitches, and test block what I have. Blocking never lies, but lace usually does. I will get a really good idea of what it will look like at that point. Six more rows will not kill me and if I have to rip back and start over, I will try and do so using only my sincerely improved yarn and drop the needles down to the appropriate size.

How sad is it that I am kicking myself for getting better at this now instead of AFTER I spun all my yarn for the shawl?


One response to this post.

  1. Your handspun is looking great! I feel for your problem – I think you could probably drop down a needle size and it would turn out ok. I have to say, your posts are really making me want a wheel! I’m still practicing on the spindle, getting better all the time but it’s pretty slow going. I think I’m going to knit a pouch with my yarn and then felt/full it. That way the dramatic difference in quality (and gauge!) won’t show so much. :-)


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