Spinning in colour…

Or What I Learned Today. So Far.
I honestly think that ‘the day I stop learning is the day I die’ is one of several good rules to live by. Playing with fibre makes that an easy rule to follow. This is me yesterday, courtesy of A, who was vastly amused by the way I’d spread fibre all over my ‘real’ work-in-progress.
May I just assure you that what you see is not a hideous mess? I know where everything is. We, that is I, need a house with just one more room. He was so inspired by the colours that, despite *hating* my digital camera, he
tried to capture the opulence. Doesn’t work, does it?

At that point I was spinning silk top for the first time. What looked like long c. 18″ strands pulled off the side of the piece of top turned out to be made of shorter strands which did pre-draft, but was incredibly slippery by comparison to the stickiness of the merino roving. Weird. The silk was.. languid, as though it didn’t really want to be twisted, but couldn’t be bothered to object. Unlike the merino, which seemed to be enjoying itself. Anyway, for lack of a better idea I started by just spinning pre-drafted sections of the roving, randomly choosing another colour as the first finished, and interspersing the odd length of silk. This gave me one longish length of stuff to ply back on itself. Which is what I’ve just finished doing. I’m fairly sure that I’d have done better to spin the silk as a separate singles; it didn’t seem to want the same twist as the wool. Anyway, the singles on the spindle looked like this. I thought the lime accent looked promising,
but the end result was not good.

I don’t like the candy-cane effect at all, not when it’s so BRIGHT. No, ‘bright’ is too mild. GARISH is more accurate, especially when contrasted with the smoky purples and greens. I see now how ‘ordinary’ spinning melds and blends colours in the roving as fibres of different colours are pulled together in the drafting process. I’ve seen yarns in which one ply is much, much finer than the other; perhaps that would be a way of introducing just a little bit of the lime. Or perhaps a few strands, a smidgen, could be incorporated occasionally into a single of a different colour. How fortunate that the entire cop? thing? of yarn slid off my impromptu nostepinne (a plastic straw) and twisted so badly I felt justified in abandoning the last bit of Lime :-)
I really like the silk, though I knew that already. I love the way it catches the light. And I love the interplay of the subtle colours in everything. I’m going to ‘finish’ that (tiny) skein properly, then knit it. I’ve been thinking about the way that knitting affects the colours of a yarn. In a knitted garment each strand of colour is crossed by other strands, breaking that colour into flecks, specks, dots. The end result is, or can be similar to a pointillist painting;* if you can, take a look at some of the sock pictures in the Twisted Sisters workbook. Perhaps that will break up the Lime candy-cane a bit, although I suspect this yarn is too thick.

Sweater News Headline: Self-Discipline May Prove Key To Success!
Sub-head: Calculator and glass of red wine prove essential.
I re-read the textbooks and returned to the mirror armed with a stern sense of purpose as well as a measuring tape. My shoulder-warmer sweater-to-be currently has raglan seams measuring c. 6″ in length. Me and my tape measure reckon that I need seams about 9.5″ to the underarm (given the wider-than-usual neck). So I have 3.5″-worth of raglan increases with which to attain my desired width of back and front at the underarm, which is 21″ or about 95 stitches. The back is currently 74st, so I want about 21 more (call it 20), which is 10 right-side rows or 20 rows all told. I’m getting 7 rows/inch… 3.5″ is about 24 rows total, 12 right-side rows, which is 24 stitches added at the seams. So if I continue the raglan increases as I am doing, the back will be 98 stitches (74 existing stitches + 24 stitches) wide. Which is nearly 22″, which added to a front of 22″ gives me a sweater 44″ at the bust instead of my planned 42″. I think. If so, that’s bad news. I must slow my rate of increase so that I have, lessee, 20 increases instead of 24.
If I increase on every 3rd row from this point, with 24 rows that gives me 8 increase rows which is 16 stitches. Too few… but the books say it’s permissible to make up a small shortfall by casting a few stitches at the armpit. I think the example was 6, which is more than 4. I might not want the extra stitches at all; 42″ is ample ease (I measured an existing sweater to get that crucial measurement), plus I’m planning short-row shaping at the bust. And I gather blocking works wonders…

* And someone’s put up a page where you can play with the technique! Isn’t the internet wonderful?


4 thoughts on “Spinning in colour…

  1. HPNY Knits

    I’d be curious to see the yarn you made knit up. it may pleasantly surprise you in the distribution of the lime.I get a head ache reading your sweater calculations. I use the sweater wizard software. it figures it all out.I command you courage!


  2. sarah

    The yarn is currrently dripping over the sink; when it dries I’ll knit and show. As for the calculations: they’re more intimidating to read than to do. The most difficult bit (for me) is forcing myself to think this through properly — I want to knit, not think. Even if the sweater doesn’t fit in the end or I don’t like it, I’m learning a lot about how I can make garments fit me. I just have to think things through before I start. I’ve seen mention of Sweater Wizard; I will investigate it (it should run under Virtual PC).


  3. Joanne

    I think the handspun will be great knit up. The one thing I’ve learned from spinning and dyeing is that all color is great. It is amazing what a lime or yellow (previously despised colors in my mind) can do to really rock the world of a plain jane bunch of subdued colors. However, if you like the silk subdued shades, ditch the lime and spin on. You’ll make gorgeous stuff. Also remember, this isn’t a masterpiece…you’ll spin more! You’re learning. Nothing has to be perfect!The rest of “your Joanne handspun yarn” that matches up went off today to the gallery. Someone else in the world will knit it up… Oh, and the sweater math? I don’t love sweater wizard. It’s ok, but I think you’re managing complicated raglan math just fine. I find that program has very staid sweater shapes and the amount of ease is too large for me. It’s making my head hurt just reading your math though, and I design sweaters!


  4. Debby

    I’ve not fiddled with stitches and measurements like that before, but I admire your courage and ability to keep with it! I don’t mind some complicated projects, but mostly I like to sit down and knit so I can think about other things. If I have to do knitting math late in the day, trouble will come, LOL.



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