Winding Up Wednesday: Back in the Saddle

It feels so good to be over my aching back and up to spinning and knitting. Shearing season has started and I’m very excited about this year’s fleeces. So, without further adu, let’s jump into what I’ve been up to this past week!

Off The Wheel

I’m working on Charlemagne’s fleece. I’ve gotten his kempy britches all spun up into a three ply. For britch it’s not THAT bad. I’ve spun it in the grease, and just as it came off him – freckles, stains, and all. I ended up with right at a thousand yards.

I’ve also spun up a few fleece samples from this year’s shearing so far. Lilly has given us a beautiful fleece. It’s pretty dirty, and the spine fleece is worthless due to her being so short, but the dominant fleece from the sides is lovely.

Minerva is my surprise fleece star this year. She’s a whopping thirty five pounds after shearing and gave us a pound of Smokey black and silver wool. I was not expecting this at all. Her texture is similar to her grandfather’s Charlemagne’s, but she inherited the Merino softness from her grandmother Buttercup. I’ll be spinning this myself and then putting it in the shop. It is pretty high in vm, and it’s going to nep in a drum carder. I’m looking forward to her fleeces in years to come as she lightens up. She’s SO PRETTY!

On the Wheel

Charlemange’s 2016 dominant fleece in on the wheel currently. I’m working on a two ply light fingering weight yarn. It’s mostly white, but I’m allowing the dark bits just to sit in wherever they pop up. With all the bamboo sprouting I’m going to test some and maybe dye it a turkey red. That should knit up nicely. I’ve just washed it in hot water at 165 degrees and nothing else. I seem to be anti washing lately… except for Lilly’s fleece.

On the Needles

I ended up with five skeins of Charlemagne’s britch yarn. Each skein is about two hundred fifty yards. So, I’m making a wrap sweater for this spring and next fall. Not only did I spin it in the grease, I decided to be crazy and knit it in the grease. I washed up a swatch sample, counted, and now I’m knitting. It’s really kind of gross, but at the same time enjoyable. My hands are getting very soft, too. It squeaks on the metal needles. I think next time I decide to do something like this I’ll soak the fleece in cold water first. Grease minus dirt and a little less smell sounds good.

I also made a new shawl this past week. It’s Wendy’s Fern Shawl off of Ravelry. Great pattern, totally free. I used this green Romney yarn I made years ago when I was first learning to spin and dye. The spinning, or I should say plying isn’t my best. I dyed it with copper pennies and carrot tops with a splash of spinach. It’s bright. I think I may over dye with walnuts in a gradient. Or just leave it until this fall and see if someone picks it up at a festival. Either way, it was a pleasure to make at each step.

On the Sheep

I managed to shear Lilly, Minerva, and Night this past week. I’m hoping to shear Daisy this coming week. Lilly was pretty chill by the end of the process. She stomped her foot more than once, but as soon as the grain came out all was forgiven. Minerva left me with a swollen eye. Yep. That’s right. A thirty five pound ewe lamb decked me. Her Aunt Dagney would have been proud. I was dreading shearing Night. She’s a bit off, and frankly a little crazy. But she was actually very well behaved. She actually is friendlier with me now. I guess it was bonding time? Who knows. Sheep are funny that way.

Until next time,

Craft No Harm,

Moriah

 

 

 

 

Winding up Wednesday: Shawl Collar Vest by Jennifer Miller 

As mentioned in this week’s Sunday’s Sassy Stitch and Spin I made the Shawl Collar Vest by Jennifer Miller. It’s a free pattern on Ravelry, and it’s a great pattern, too. I enjoyed making the vest and it’s quickly become my new favorite around the house item.

The Yarn 

I rarely make heavier weight yarns. I enjoy working with sport and dk weight yarns the best, and frankly I enjoy size five to seven needles the best. They’re the perfect size in my hands. But occasionally I’ll do a bulky or heavy aran weight yarn. That’s exactly what I made one afternoon. 

I had texel wool laying around in my studio. It’s a short staple, maybe two inches, and it was heavy on the vm. I ran it through the picker, and then carded it up on my hand carders. I spun it slubby and squishy and then did a traditional three ply. 

I also dyed it, and didn’t like the color. So, back into the dye pot with rit navy blue and a few tightly tied places to preserve the pink it went. It’s not exactly like I wanted, but it’s a wearable color on me now.

This was another fleece most people would trash, and now I have a comfortable bed jacket! A little work goes a long way with a lower grade fleece.

The Pattern 

The pattern is actually the exciting part of this project for me. I’ve never knitted a sweater or garment other than shawls, hats, scarves, socks, and gloves. There’s something about fit, sleeves, collars, etc that intimidates me. Nevermind I can knit up Estonian lace like nobody’s business, a collar makes me think twice. When I saw this pattern I thought, “this is exactly what I need”. 

The pattern is incredibly simple. It’s all worked in ribbing, and the sizing is extremely flexible. It starts out flat to create the yolk and arm holes and then joins up into knitting ribbing in the round. All together it took maybe four hours.

I did run into one snag that’s completely on me. I did my typical backwards loop cast on. When it came to picking up stitches and keeping the ribbing lined up I ended up with a line on the inside.  I think if I had gone with a long tail cast on it would have worked out better. Oh well, next time. There will definitely be a next time. I’ll also make my vest longer next time. I didn’t have enough yarn to get a long line like I typically wear. But those are my issues, and part of the learning curve. 

Lessons 

As knitters we sometimes get into ruts. Oh, look, another shawl, just like the five others not being worn. Sometimes we just need to do something different, get out of the comfort zone, and be daring. Okay, we just need a new pattern that’s not too difficult. For me, this was that pattern. 

This experience has also given me a jumping off point to explore other sweater and vest patterns.  I’m seriously considering a traditional pull over sweater as a February 2018 project. 

Chunky yarn can be fun. There was something intensely gratifying about seeing so much progress in so little time. I was watching McLeod’s Daughters while knitting this, so I was knitting casually. I’ll definitely be looking to balance out my projects portfolio with these sorts of patterns in 2018.

Have a marvelous week!

In all you do, craft no harm 

Moriah 

P.S. I’m in no way associated with Jennifer Miller. I just REALLY enjoyed knitting this pattern!