Handspun Socks – Take 1 – Yarn and Starting to Knit

I’ve wanted to spin for my handknit socks for a long time, but I just never tried it.  So it went into my 13Skills list. For my first attempt, I wanted fun to spin wools.

A soft fine wool and a set of Moonrover batts were my choices.

I’d spun the wool quite fine, and found these yarns puffed up quite a bit then testing the ply. The yarn is quite a bit thicker than regular sock yarn.

I was really happy with the white plied with the darker variegated yarn after it was spun.  And now that I’m knitting up Gusset Heel Basic Socks (toe up), I love the gentle striping effect in the socks as I start to knit them.  I’ve had to modify the pattern to accommodate my thicker yarn and size 2 needles.  A decrease of 8 stitches in the overall number of stitches is working well.

A side note on patterns in Kindle books:  I purchased Socks from the Toe Up for the Kindle. It’s lovely to have my books with my all the time.  But I was at a loss at how make project notes. UGH.  After some tinkering, I found I could open the book in the kindle reader on my PC and take screen shots and print them.  Then I can make notes on the pattern to my heart’s content.  After more tinkering with the Kindle app, I found there is the ability to make notes in Kindle books.  But it’s just not the same as keeping track on paper.  PC notes are easy, but I don’t knit near my PC and notes from my phone are not easy.  Paper is faster and easier in this case.  I’ll scan my notes afterward to keep for future projects with the same pattern.

Back to the knitting project…

These socks are a blast to work on, but I think there’s not enough twist to make the socks last a long time. These will be squishy soft socks, but not so durable.

When I spin for socks again I’ll need to:
  • Use a higher ratio whorl on my wheel – so I get more twist in my singles and plied yarns.
  • Spin finer for thinner yarn.  This yarn is pretty thick for knitting the patterns I want to knit.
  • Consider using a 3 ply yarn – perhaps Navajo plied.
Fear not I’m not discouraged at all.  I’m enjoying the process and am already planning for more handspun socks.
Have you spun for socks?  If so, how did you like it?

Needle Geekery

Hubby and I wanted to work on needles for the shop last night. I must admit, we got a bit side tracked by the idea of new materials for needles.  We looked at acrylics and drooled over the pretty colors.  Of course, we got sucked in to ordering a few blanks to try for fun.  They won’t be traditional or good for re-enactment.  Sometimes though, it’s just fun to make and use something different and pretty.  I can’t wait to try the cappuccino one with the brown and white swirls!  It may be a while before they arrive, but we’ll post when we get needles made from them.

Then we tinkered with the idea of using circuit boards.  I was quite worried about the little metal wires and widgets on the sides of board catching on yarn.  After quite a bit of sanding, we were able to get it really smooth on the sides.  It tested quite well.  I’ll use this one for a while longer to make sure nothing comes off with wear.

History and geekery can now be one in nalbinding.

Update: There was a bit here on ROHS compliance.  Hubby remembered it’s not about human safety.  So we’ll be investigating.

Ending the Year with Fun: Spinning and Needle Making

Happy New Year to you all!  I hope that 2012 was a good year for you and that you made many wonderful projects!

Spinning and needle making were the two projects that I did as the year came to a close.

I finished the spinning for fractally spinning the scrumptious Frabjous Fibers Polwarth Top in the #250 Trapesze colorway, then plied it.

Yesterday I finished spinning this older batt from Moonrover.  It was a bit loud for me.  (And that’s saying something, since I usually like bright and bold.)

I found I had some coordinating chocolate brown alpaca.  When the two were plied together the effect was much more subtle and pleasing.

Hubby put some lovely nalbinding needles in my Christmas stocking.  (Since I’m always losing mine or they are with another project.)

And these pretties will be appearing in my shop soon.  (The bamboo one (bottom) is listed now.)  Working with my hubby, side by side on these is such a joy.  (I wish we didn’t have to get the new interior doors done too.  I’d rather help him with these.   But the doors are needed and were a gift of love from my father in law!)

My focus is changing this year.  I’m honing in more on what’s important to me and my family.  We were stretched far to thin this year.  I’ve already informed one of the groups that I volunteer for that I’ll be stepping down.  While I love to volunteer in my kids’ activities, I can’t do everything and keep every thing functioning that they like to do.  This last month has been a big soul searching month.  (And I LOATHE saying “no” and stepping down from things.)  But on the good side of this – I was told I’ll be able to teach for the group here in town that leads First Lego League.  One of the other incredibly cool things that happened was that my youngest said she would like to learn to spin.  You bet I’ll be there teaching her really soon!
In my craft focus, I want to teach more and to push my skills in nalbinding.  I’ve been teaching a few classes and love it.  Cross your fingers for me as I wait to hear back from Shepherd’s Harvest about my nalbinding class.  They will let us know soon if our class proposals were accepted.  
What will you be focusing on this year?
Here’s to an even better 2013 and to much blissful crafting!!!

Winter Flowers, Rainbows and Stuff

My family gave me this lovely book Winter Flowers about Swedish embroidery on nalbound mittens for my birthday.  I’ve been paging through it over and over.  The embroidery is so beautiful and the pictures are great for seeing the structure of the work.  I need to finish translating the other books on my list, but this one is in the queue!  Just to give you a peek at the book, I’ll share a few pictures.  (The site like above has more pictures if you’re really curious about the book.)

My daughter was gaga over these lovely mitts with the rainbow fringe.  I guess little girls will always be attracted to rainbows.  So, I think this may very well be the key to being able to share crafts like nalbinding with her.  

My hubby thinks I need a fulling/waulking board like this one.  He already helps me make nalbinding needles.    To see him excited about another part of this craft, well, it just makes my day.  
You can probably tell by the dates of my posts, that it’s a First Lego League season at my house.  It’s a blast, even though it tends to be quite consuming for me as coach.  So I’ll play a little catch up on crafts in this post too.

Maria Lind Heel has this really spiffy set of nalbinding project booklets in Danish.  (Though she’ll likely be translating them to English at some point.  I’ll let post when I hear more details.)  My favorite of course is the Christmas booklet.  It has darling ornaments!  Her booklets can be found through her blog.

For Christmas presents, I’ve been busy making nalbinding needle rolls, nalbinding needles and a sewing needle (with hubby’s help), and another subzero weather hat.   (All of which I can’t show you right now – secret and all…  Sorry!)

With all the nalbinding I’ve been doing, I’m finding I MUST make my stitches loose, or it stresses my hands.

I’ve made a ton of the little nalbound mitten ornaments.  So I’ll be sharing the pattern later today.  They’re such a quick project!

Over Thanksgiving my kids and I made butter.  It was the first time they’d seen the process.  We made ours in my mixer (covered with plastic wrap to keep down the mess).  When the cream molecules broke into the butter and buttermilk parts it was almost magical for them.  Unfortunately I had no experience with butter molds, so our attempt at a Pikachu shaped butter was a fail.  Rice molds were not meant for butter.  But next time I’ll have a few ideas to try to get that butter out of the mold – such as oiling down the inside of the mold.  (Or maybe I’ll just be smart and use a silicone mold…)