Thursday, February 23, 2006

A Rumplestiltskin Moment....

This is the most recent gossamer weight spinning sample. This little skein is 80 yds. long and weighs about 10 grams. It took a total of 4 hours 45 minutes to spin and ply this yarn: 2 hours per partial bobbin of singles x 2 bobbins + 45 minutes to ply.


That means, if I were to use this sample as my Wedding Ring Shawl yarn it would require approximately 207 hours and 48 minutes to spin and ply the yarn.

I recall Margaret Stove saying that it takes anywhere from 2/3's to 3/4's the amount of time to knit the project as it does to spin the yarn for it. Let's use the higher estimate of 75% considering we are talking about fine yarn, small needles, and lace patterning. Knitting time would be: 155 hours 51 minutes knitting time, for a total of 363 hours 39 minutes to spin and knit the Wedding Ring Shawl.

That would be a little over nine 40 hour work weeks. Now since we know that I will not likely knit 40 hours per week, ever...we can rule out the 9 week timeline. If we were to say that I would work on the shawl about 5 hours per week, which is reasonable if I plan on working on other projects through this process, then completion time would be something like 73 weeks. About a year and a half.

Up to this point, I can live with the numbers. But here's what put me into a cold sweat in the middle of the night last night:



Do you have any idea how much fine wool there is waiting in my stash to be spun?!! At 4 hours and 45 minutes to spin a mere 10 grams, I am in serious trouble!! There must be around 25-30 lbs. of fine fibers in my spinning stash. Granted they don't all have to be spun gossamer or even lace weight, but.....

Then there are the medium grade fibers. It's overwhelming. All of a sudden the Rumplestitlskin fairy tale has become very personal!

More numbers for the samples in the previous post:

According to the McMorran balance, the yarn in the commercial merino in the sample on the left and the handspum superfine merino on the right are both 10,800 ypp. The cormo yarn sample in the center is 10,050 ypp. The cormo is fluffy, but not dense, perhaps I didn't have the crimp stretched out enough in the drafting zone as the twist entered the yarn.

The superwash 64's merino in the yarn sample of this post measures 7,900 ypp. I haven't knitted a swatch with it yet. I'm thinking I will spin up about 400 more yards of this to knit Evelyn Clark's scarf in the current issue of Interweave Knits.

BTW, my current personal favorite for the wedding ring shawl is the handspun superfine merino: the sample on the left. However, I have not yet sampled the silk or the superfine merino silk (50/50) blend. Back to the spinning wheel.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Sampling Report...

These are the first three knitted samples I've done for Sharon Miller's Wedding Ring Shawl
pattern. On the left is the commercial merino yarn sample that came with the pattern. In the center is handspun cormo, spun from minicombed locks. On the right is handspun superfine merino 80's count top. All samples are knit on US size 0 Crystal Palace bamboo needles. The dime is there for size reference. I'd be interested to hear your opinion on "the one most likely to succeed" for the shawl.

I have a personal preference, however I also have quite the stash of spinning fibers. That means I've hauled out all the baggies of precious fibers to spin more samples. It also means that I've been poring over all my spinning and lace knitting reference books. Margaret Stove has figured prominently in my bedtime reading and reflecting. Galina Khmeleva's two Gossamer Webs books are in second place. I don't yet own a copy of Heirloom Knitting. I suspect that will be remedied in relatively short time.

Meanwhile, I thought you might like to see the drafting zone as I've been spinning such fine gauge yarn:

The fiber in this photo is superwash Australian merino top, about 64's count which I'm currently sampling. Note the tension on the fibers as they enter the yarn. That's one of Margaret's tips to keep the crimp on fine merino fiber under control in the yarn. If you've ever spun what you thought was lace weight only to watch it bloom to light worsted weight when washed, you'll appreciate the hint.

My notes from Margaret Stove indicate that she says not to spin more than 2 hours on a bobbin. That doesn't come anywhere near filling a bobbin. However, it does prevent one from losing the end of the yarn in a half filled bobbin, a common hazard when spinning fine yarn.

Well that's it for the current up date. I'm not sure whether I'll head straight into the Wedding Ring shawl once yarn decisions are made. Or perhaps I'll play around with smaller amounts of handspun gossamer weight yarn for some other lace patterns as warm-up for the Wedding Ring. Regardless, I'm headed back to the wheel for some more play....

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


This is the finished table runner. Dimensions: 18.25" x 46". The edges are a little wavy. I believe this is a result of the borders being completely twill treadlings against the staggered columns of overshot in the center. I suspect that this could be overcome with a mangle, or blocking it out the old fashioned way on tenterhooks.

Knitting continues (slowly) on the lace cardigan.

The Wedding Shawl is at the rumination stage. I swatched with the gossamer merino and decided that I would use larger than US 0 needles with that yarn. The past few evenings I've been poring over Margaret Stove's books and my notes from her spinning and lace knitting classes.

Last night I started to play around with spinning gossamer weight yarn on the Schacht. I used Cormo which had been combed on mini-combs to produce the 2 ply yarn below. The dress maker's pin is for size reference.



There are things I like about the yarn. It has good body to it. There's not enough to knit a good swatch. I'll keep playing with this. It's the kind of play I like.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

King's Puzzle Solved!

The King's Puzzle is off the loom. We're taking the table mat portion as a host gift tonight when we go to dinner at friends' home. (That dinner date was cancelled awhile ago do to illness.) The table mat is in the washer as I type. The table runner is up on the ironing board. There is one weft thread I want to repair before serging the ends and wet finishing. Pictures in the next post.

Also in fiber news: The Heritage Wedding Ring Shawl pattern arrived exactly one week after ordering. I have read through the instructions, but I have not taken the time to wind the sample yarns and do swatches. Sharon offers a lot of food for thought in picking out the yarn and embarking on the project.

One thing she mentions is working your way "down" to cobweb weight yarn. If I think about my last few projects, that's exactly what I've been doing. Currently working with the lace weight alpaca for the lace cardigan is good preparation. The ribbing was on size 0's and the body is on 1's (US sizing).

Sharon also emphasizes the heirloom quality of such knitting, suggesting that the item should last 100 years or more. I'm afraid if I think of it that way, I'll never start. Or if I do start, the finishing will be a big let down. I don't think I have the internal need to create an heirloom. Just the idea of embarking on a challenging journey is adequate motivation for me.

Must go wet press that mat and hem it for tonight.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

For Some Things, There Are No Words....

On Nov. 4th in a post titled kindness of strangers I wrote about a young man and his family in need of a miracle. Yesterday Duane lost his arduous battle with cancer. My heart goes out to his young widow and their two small children.


Blog Word Cloud

Saturday, February 04, 2006

I've figured out the lace passion...

The constant media hype of knitting has been an annoyance to me from it's start 4-5 years ago. I could never put my finger on it. Logically, it should make me happy because there are now knit shops where there once were none. There are thousands of online places where I can look at knitting and knitting supplies. This should make me happy....right?

Well, it should, but it still makes me grind my teeth. One reason....for many years (about 40) knitting was one of the things that made me different. In fact, I took a lot of flack for knitting as a teen. Having four older siblings, there were plenty of perjorative statements about my "grandmotherly" knitting as a high school student and how this would surely cause be to be an "old maid" one day. These were statements intended as barbs way back then. However, I sucked it up, kept on knitting, got a professional degree and married (well, I might add).

I continued knitting: during break times when travelling to professional conferences; baby gifts for coworkers; and gifts for family members. I carried it along on scuba diving trips w/ dh, where others would cast sidelong glances and a few made snide comments. My collection of aluminum and plastic Aero straight needles purchased from the G. C. Murphy Five & Dime Store, from 4th through 6th grade in the '60's, still reside on the top shelf of my wool closet. Circular needles were not then available in small town, USA.

Then I hit my 50's and all of a sudden knitting is THE thing to do. Everyone (including those who made snide comments) is knitting. They walk up to me in order to inform me of some of the most banal knitting news. There's no response I can make that will allow the conversation to continue. If I offer them additional information, they're not interested and I'm too polite to publicly correct them. The only thing to do is politely smile, nod, and say "Is that so?"

In fact, we were at a birthday party for one of dh's friends last weekend and one of the men came up to inform poor clueless me that: "men are now knitting somewhere in either New York or Chicago." If I had his email address I'd send him Franklin's recent post.

I should be glad with all this knitting interest, right? Well....I guess I would be glad IF they continued knitting after the craze has passed. And if they had an appreciation for the quality of yarn and yarn construction. And if they were to continue to stretch themselves and grow in their understanding of the fiber,the fabric, and the stitch.

Instead I feel like Kathy Bates' character in Fried Green Tomatoes....you know the scene where she rams her Volkswagen into the stolen, occupied parking space saying "Honey, I'm older and have a lot more insurance than you do!"

I suspect that lace is drawing me because it helps me maintain my distance and my difference. It helps that I've taken a couple of classes with Margaret Stove, whom I enjoy and admire greatly.


Cassie asked when I plan on starting the Wedding Ring Shawl... Depends on the definition of 'start'. Once I receive the pattern, it will take some time to read through and digest. Then there will be swatching with the sample yarns to help select yarn and needles. I know that at some point I will consider spinning the yarn for the shawl and my mind will travel to the 4 oz. of superfine merino top in my stash. Sampling will ensue.

There are others online who are starting the same shawl. Marilyn and Franklin are two, I'm sure there's more. But I'm not one for knit alongs and join ups.

Meanwhile, you must visit Jean's site. She's working on the Princess shawl at moderate pace. After you've seen her start on that, make sure you click on the "My Website" link in her sidebar. There you will find links to pictures and construction notes of some beautiful lace she has knitted, like this and this.
Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Valentine Shopping...

I've enjoyed stopping by The Princess Diaries periodically to see how they are getting along with the Princess shawl. So far Ted and K. are documenting the things I like most in starting a new project: problem solving and decision making.

Of course, one can not observe something so delectable without whetting one's appetite. However, the Princess is a limited edition and they are all gone.

So, I cruised through the Heirloom Knitting Website and picked out another delicacy for myself: The Wedding Ring Shawl.
Go ahead, click on the picture while you're there. There are 5 different views of the shawl. Also note that the pattern comes with knittable swatches of different yarns and a suggestion to wait until sampling before making a final yarn decision.

How could I resist? I ordered myself a copy, printed the receipt and put it with dh's mail. When I got home from yoga last night, I said, "Thanks for the Valentine's Day present." We'll attribute his blank look to the fact he's facing a root canal tomorrow.

I'm not sure why I've been on such a lace knitting binge lately. Perhaps backlash against chunky, ugly knits? Regardless, I'm looking forward to the arrival of The Wedding Shawl pattern....A sweet little Valentines Day confection.

Now, if I only had such a good idea for dh's Valentine....(perhaps a shot of Jack Daniels for that tooth!)