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Archive for February, 2009

Using a basic, any-yarn/any-gauge mitten pattern from Kate Gilbert, I dashed off these mittens a few weeks ago:

Unfortunately, while the first mitten fits great, the top decreases on the second were completed after I’d had a few bottles of St-Ambroise Blonde, resulting in a mitten that really doesn’t match the first in terms of length and fit. I’ll probably rip back and redo it.

The yarn was Ella Rae Kamelsoft, severely discounted in an oddball bin at a local yarn store. It’s a 75/25 blend of merino/camel and is extremely soft, but the loose spin probably means it won’t be all that hard-wearing. I don’t buy a lot of yarn anymore because of how much spinning I do these days, but it’s still nice to work with a decent millspun yarn from time to time.

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time to branch out

Recently I’ve had several strangers compliment me on items I’ve made, including my alpaca hat and felted bag, and ask me if I have more for sale. Not to mention asking me if I could teach them to spin! Time for a proper website, logo, and business cards…

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A while back I found out about a drive for handmade items to be sent to Botswana with a doctor who founded an HIV/AIDS clinic there. The Botswana Project is in its third round of donations, having already sent dozens of items of clothing, blankets, and toys to some very appreciative families affected by HIV/AIDS. I was recently given some hand-dyed superwash Merino spinning fibre from Spunky Electic (in the “Dandy Lion” colourway), and figured it would be put to good use as baby footwear:

My favourite thing about hand-painted top is the ability to make a self-striping yarn out of it, which is obviously what I did here! I stripped the top lengthwise, spun with a short draw, and chain-plied the resulting single to maintain the colour changes. I was able to mail the booties and socks from NY state this week so they should arrive at their destination in PA well before the deadline of March 13.

Superwash wool is an interesting thing and while this fibre spun like wool, the resulting yarn was almost like cotton to knit with. The superwash process is designed to prevent wool from felting by inhibiting the scales on the wool fibre (which are what enable the fibres to grab and lock together during felting) in some way. Either the fibres are coated with a polymer that covers the scales, or they are bathed in an acid solution that breaks the scales down. It’s not a surprise that this sometimes makes wool feel like a scale-less fibre, such as cotton. I have worked with superwash wool, though, that still feels totally woolly. It makes me wonder if the superwash process used makes a difference. Somewhere I have an old Spin-Off article from the 1980s on superwash methods, I’ll dig that up and post if I find any relevant info.

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