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Layton swatching

I’ve just signed on for a new sweater project, Julie Hoover’s Layton, and was really hoping that perhaps the Dottie yarn I’d spun up earlier this winter might fit the bill.

Dottie two-ply

But now that I’m swatching, I’m not sure if it’s going to work.

Pattern gauge is 23 st/ 4 inches, 36 rows / 4 inches.

My swatching results were kind of interesting.

I tried size 5 needles first, and got 20 st/ 4 inches. Then switched to size three to try again, and got 22 st/ 4 inches. The looser fabric felt like it would have a better drape, so I was inclined to do the math necessary to adjust the pattern. But then I checked the row gauge.

Both needle sizes yielded the same row gauge. 28 rows /4 inches.

And both substantially different from the sweater specs.

I think it’s just a function of Dotties wool being very different in texture than the original pattern yarn (silk/merino/cashmere). So I’m not sure there’s much I can do about that.

Except perhaps going back to the drawing board.

In other news, I have made significant progress spinning up Teo’s roving for The Shepherd. Two full bobbins of singles, ready to ply!

That’s going to have to do it for this week, fiber -wise.

The sheeps and chigs say hello- I’ll try to work some critter pics into the blog next week, weather permitting 🙂

Planting Seeds

Back in November I saw some nice ripe hips hanging out on my rosebushes, and it got me thinking about propagation.

I’d had some success growing roses from cuttings, but had never attempted to grow any from seed, so looked online for info, and found that rose seeds need to be “stratified” by a fairly long exposure to a cold damp environment.

So the seeds went into the fridge wrapped in damp paper towels.

And there they have be waiting for the last 2+ months. Today they went into little pots of seed starter mix.

From left to right we have an unnamed “stripey rose”, a dark spicy-scented rusgosa, Jude the Obscure, Lady Emma Hamilton, and Golden Wings.

It will be really exciting if anything actually germinates!

Also hopefully planted some metaphorical seeds this weekend at the WSU Expo. It’s always fun talking to folks about wool and yarn. And of those who try spinning for the first or second time, maybe a couple will catch “the bug” and will head off on the own fiber adventures 🙂

I’m between knitting projects right at the moment, but am working on refining an idea I have for a spinning wheel bobbin rack. More on that next week!

Sampling & Swatching

The weather outside is frightful (very cold and soggy, changing to snow as I’m writing this), so I’ve been mostly hiding inside this weekend doing wool stuff 🙂

On Friday John (The Shepherd for whom I knit a vest back in Sept-Oct) handed off to me some lovely marbled roving that he’d like spun up and knit into a sample piece (probably a scarf). So it was nice to have some time to dive right into that!

It’s a total of 9.1 oz, and I thought it’s take about a half and ounce for a test spin to see what it wanted to be yarn-wise.

Was interesting working from roving- because it’s not my usual mode. It spun up pretty fine on Elsa, and I got about 43 yards of fingerling weight 2-ply out of the half ounce sample. Here is a swatch I worked up out of some of it-

Specs- size 2 needles, gauge= 5.5 st/inch, 9 rows/inch

So that was fun- and it got me in a sampling mood. Then I thought about the other class I’m teaching at the Expo this year: Wool Processing.

I’d just washed up a bunch of Esther’s 2019 fleece, and it occurred to me that it might be nice to use her fleece as a case study for the class.

I’ve still got a small amount of her unwashed fleece, and so would be able to show examples of her fiber at all stages of processing. So I picked, carded, combed, and spun some of her wool up into woolen and worsted sample yarns.

woolen on top, worsted on bottom (easier to tell them apart in person)

It will be nice to have samples for the same fleece in all the different stages of prep- and show how that prep results in different yarn characteristics!

On Teaching Spinning

Spent more time this week spinning Dottie singles on Elsa.

a darker shade of Dottie

And it’s gotten me thinking about the upcoming WSU Country Living Expo, and the classes I’ll be teaching. Particularly the spinning class.

It’s a two-hour class. In the first hour we generally go over the wheels that students have brought to class and make sure that they are set up to spin (drive bands, brake bands, yarn leaders, tension adjustments, alignment issues, lubrication). We also go over general wheel mechanics, and the basics of yarn structure.

In the second hour we get hands (and feet) on the wheels and start playing with wool. It’s always a bit daunting for folks, so usually we start with treadling, making sure that everything is moving smoothly, and that they are able to find a comfortable rhythm that they can sustain without taking up much of their focus.

Then we move on to the hands. For beginners, I find that the hardest part is getting the hands to keep us with the feet. There is a tendency to want to hold on tightly to the wool and not let it draft. So in past years I’ve introduced an exercise that I think is helpful to get a feel for how the hands need to move to keep up with the feet.

I give everyone a substantial length of sacrificial yarn to “spin” onto their bobbin, permitting them to sense how quickly the spin is entering the fiber, and how strong the take-up is.

When they think they are ready, we move on to drafting from carded batts (probably Esther, and easy-spinning girl with nice long staple length)

getting Esther cleaned up for the Expo!

This is always a major leap. Drafting is really the meat of the subject, but it’s something that only really comes together with practice, and familiarity with the fiber. And there’s only so much of that you can squeeze into a two-hours class.

So, I’d like to ask those of you who are spinners- what was most helpful to you when you were first learning to spin? I’d really appreciate any hints or strategies that you think might be helpful getting newbies started and building their confidence.

Thanks in advance for you input, and have a great week! 🙂