Comfort and Joy

And just like that, it’s December.

It’s cold and rainy outside, so my attention has turned to cozy indoor pursuits: Wool and Dough.

In the wool department, the unspun top down raglan is coming along nicely

Just divided the sleeves from the body, so the rounds are going a bit more quickly now. Most of the body and sleeves are going to be the creamy natural of Alice wool (gifted fleeced from this past summer), but I do have a small amount of Nutiden left that I’ll probably use around the cuffs.

Also need to give some thought to how I want to finish the neckline. It needs a little something, but I don’t want to close it up much more. I’m toying with the idea of splitting the front a bit, finishing the edge (method yet TBD) and doing a button and loop type of closure. Input is welcome 🙂

And carrying the sheepy theme into the dough department, I have these funny little guys

They lost a little of their definition then they puffed in the oven, but hopefully a little glaze will make them pop again.

Trying to get a bit of a jump on cookies this year with the varieties that keep especially well.

And speaking of getting a jump on things, look what came in the mail yesterday.

Next garden season feels so far away right now, but I can page through seed catalogs and imagine days of glorious sunshine and fresh garden veggies.

Gently, Gently

Made a good deal of sweater progress this week with the unspun, though as the title suggests, I’ve had to modify my knitting technique a bit to work with this new form of fiber.

Even holding it doubled, I have to be very careful to not create any tension on the working yarn or it will slowly thin and pull apart. But the result is very nice and soft, and I’m sure it will be very warm. I’ve been working in some of my own roving (white) between the fairly random color stripes of Nutiden, and will plan to knit the rest of the body and sleeves in the that once the color samples I have are exhausted.

I find that knitting with the white is somewhat easier, as the individual fibers are longer.

I’ve got about an inch or so of yoke depth to go before I separate the sleeves from the body. Mighty long rounds right now! It is nice to be able to slip it off the needles fairly easily for measuring and try ons with these cool little tube thingees I picked up earlier this year-

Regular spun yarns slide on them super easily, but the unspun is a little grabbier (especially the white, which has more lanolin in it). Still, it’s a lot faster than getting out a darning needle and running a lifeline. Highly recommend.

The other thing requiring special handling this week is the small amount of Felix fleece I saved before we laid him to rest in October. It is quite fine, and also not very long (maybe 1.5 inches).

While picking it open and doing some initial drum carding realized that I’d probably need to blend it with something else to make it easier to handle. And also that drum carding wasn’t really going to do it. The short, fine fibers really needed to be handled more gently to make sure they didn’t just curl up and go lumpy on me.

I’m finding that I get a much better result working with it on hand cards, and am mixing it with fleece from his buddy Daphne (about 30%) for strength and durability, as her fibers are nice and long.

So far so good. Now to see how it spins!

Sweet Treats

My Nutiden arrived earlier this week, and I’ve been having a lot of fun getting to know it.

The colors do vary a just a bit in texture and weight, but they are all beautifully soft and lofty.

Here are some more photos to give you a closer look

The individual fibers are fairly short staple for the most part (2″ or less) and it gets a lovely heathery look from a blend of colors, including darker fibers which I think are natural colored.

Here is a swatch that I knit out of that same color. The top bit is a single strand, and the bottom half is two strands.

The gauge between the two is not too different, but the single strand is much more open and fragile feeling. You can get a better sense of the difference by seeing the swatch held up to a light.

Doubled, the yarn handles much more easily and knits up into a really light and lofty fabric (4 stitches/in) that feels quite stable and substantial.

I’ve decided to use the Nutiden varieties to begin a top down raglan sweater- starting with the blue. Its a little tricky to cast on with the unspun alone, and since the neckline is something that will take a bit of wear and tear, I’ve decided to use one strand of the Nutiden and a handspun single of indigo dyed homegrown wool (can’t remember exactly who it came from)

I think that once I get through the blue, I might start working in a double strand of Nutiden and see how far that gets me. Once I run out of Nutiden, I’m going to carry on with wool from the stash, carded and dizzed (is that a word?) down to a comparable weight to the doubled up Nutiden.

The unspun Daphne sample I worked up a couple weeks ago is a little heavier than the doubled Nutiden, so I’ll have to reduce it a bit yet, but I think I can get there-

I think that a plain vanilla top down raglan will be a fun canvas for playing with the colors and textures- and it’s nice to have something substantial on the needles again!

My other sweet treat this week is quince! (acquired from Schoonover Farm, since out tree once again did not produce any fruits )

Made a batch of Membrillo (quince paste) yesterday- and really excited about how it turned out. The color is just gorgeous. (and the recipe linked above is really easy)

Since I had enough quince to make a batch and a half or so, I decided to take the extra half and dehydrate it some to make it into quince candy.

So looking forward to trying it. I do love fruity sweets.

Have a great week everyone- and a happy Thanksgiving!

More Unspun Fun

I’ve been fascinated recently by a type of unspun yarn called Nutiden.

It’s made in Sweden, of Swedish wool, and comes in some amazing, subtle blended dyed colors, as well as naturals. But it’s only sold in their online shop, and batches appear to sell out very quickly. It’s a very fine continuous strip of carded fiber, put up in disks.

Folks who work with it seem to love it, but I was hesitant to place an order and incur overseas shipping charges and all, when it occurred to me that maybe I could find some (relatively) locally (in the US).

And through the miracle of Ravelry search functionality, I was able to do just that!

I’ve never been organized enough to document my yarn stash in any detail on the platform, but some people do, and even list yarns that they are open to selling or trading. I was able to find someone in the PNW who had some Nutiden in various colors left over from prior projects. Huzzah!

I’m so excited about trying it out. Swedish sheep, coming to visit me! 🙂 I want to check out the characteristics of the fibers (length, fineness, crimp).

But I have to admit that a lot of my interest in the Nutiden is seeing if I can figure out how I can create a very similar yarn from my own wools.

Hopefully I’ll have the Nutiden samples sometime soon, but in the meantime, I’ve been playing around with a makeshift diz

Smallest orifice I’ve used as a diz so far- buttonhole measures about 1mm. To get the Daphne fibers started a needle threader worked nicely. And the resulting roving-

Amazing how many fibers can pass through a 1 mm hole!

It is still quite a bit heavier than Nutiden, but here’s how this little batch knit up

And a photo of the yarn math, for posterity

So the 1 mm orifice is getting me roughly 4 stitches/inch on size 6 needles.

For comparison, here is the new swatch with a chunky unspun hat I knit last week

The hat is knit up at about 2.25 stiches per inch on (i think) a size 9.

So that’s what’s on the needles at the moment.

Hope to have some Swedish show and tell next week!