I have been having a great time lately dyeing roving and spinning – here are my latest creations:

Both yarns are quite similar – they started out as undyed polwarth which I bought at Birkeland Brothers Wool here in Vancouver.  I dyed them both in using Jacquard acid dyes, by putting my big dye-pot into the oven on 150-200 degrees for 1-2 hours.  The purple roving required more heat and time than the multi-coloured one did – I believe this is because the magenta dye has a higher strike point.

The purple yarn is a much belated christmas gift to my knitting friend Helen – I hope she likes it!  The multi is for me,  but I’m not sure whether I will use it for a hat… though it’s likely not enough… or I could use it in this crocheted afghan that I’ve started, and which is my current obsession!

So after a bit of a break from spinning, I’m back to it!! And I’ve finally made friends with my spinning wheel – that took me a little time, but I think it’ll just get better and better from now on.  These yarns are from hand-dyed polwarth roving.

And here are some more details of the yarns:
1. A 2-ply:

2. Single-ply spun from a variegated roving with blues / greys

3. Single-ply spun from by combination drafting the variegated blue/grey roving with a charcoal grey roving:

There are a few knitters who I’d like to spin some hand-spun up for in time for Christmas, so I’m excited that I’m building up my skills and learning to make nicer and nicer yarns! I bought 2 lbs of the polwarth roving that each of these yarns are spun from, so I’m just going to keep on practicing and practicing with it!

So the apartment now has colour, and I have the most amazing space I’ve ever had in which to adore fibre of all kinds: my craft corner!! OK, it’s more like an alcove, … and lets face it, it basically takes up the entire dining room… but I am overjoyed, to say the least.

So I’ve also been making some stellar progress on the Lady Sweater – I’m done the body, and part-way done one of the arms. I’m VERY excited, as I intend to ACTUALLY FINISH this sweater, and that will make it my first! Hopefully my aran cardigan will follow soon after…

I’ve also been unravelling more thrift-store sweaters, and dyeing roving, and doing a bit of spinning.

The blues/greys roving is polwarth sliver that I got from birkeland bros. here in Vancouver, and hand-dyed using the hot pour method (stovetop). It felted very slightly (not as bad as I have done before, but still not great), so I think I’m going to go back to the oven-dyeing method, which I think is a little safer.

Here are a couple of yarn shots of some spinning tests I’ve done with this roving:

I’ve started a pi shawl, that I intend to eventually be blanket-sized. I’ve wanted to start a GIGANTIC project like this for some time, and I finally cast on. The yarn is a recycled 100% merino which is absolutely lovely; it’s about DK weight or so; and I’m knitting with US#6 needles. I was mostly inspired by the pi shawl blanket that Brooklyn Tweed made; once I saw it, it stuck in my mind and eventually I had to make one! The pattern is by Elizabeth Zimmerman.

On the rawer fiber front, I’ve been up to my elbows in dye, and the results are these 3 colorways of polwarth roving, all dried out and ready to spin. And on the spindle are some initial tests of how the colors might spin up if I draft them together. I am especially happy with the reds/pinks/mauves/browns/blacks I achieved in one of the rovings. The others didn’t really turn out as planned at all; the BRIGHT orange was supposed to be mostly deep reds with a bit of orange, and the intense blue/green/yellow roving was to be a fairly consistent turquoise… well that didn’t happen. But the orange is very exciting, and the blue-greens will likely make a beautiful fabric once spun.

I’ve just spun enough yarn to actually MAKE something!  The yarn is spun from a polwarth roving that I hand-dyed in my dyepot in the oven. I actually wasn’t happy at all with the result of the dyeing – I hadn’t intended any white spots to remain in the roving, and in fact there was quite a bit of white in the finished product. But as with many things that I work on, it has grown on me, and I love the final product. It reminds me of a blustery day sailing, with whitecaps and spray flying off a brilliant blue ocean under deep blue sunny skies.

Process shots: [click for larger image]

Roving — > spun single on niddy-noddy — > yarn in skein form — > balls — > knit garment!

I spun approximately 170 yds from around 55 grams of roving. It’s pretty inconsistent & thick & thin. So now I need to decide on a project; I’m thinking either scarf of toque will be most forgiving of the thick-thin nature of the yarn; plus they’re small. I’ve got Barbara Walker’s A Treasury of Knitting Patterns out of the library, so I’m trying to find an inspiring stitch pattern that will work with thick/thin. I’ll be checking out ravelry too…

This is some of my first handspun! I spun it from fairly coarse wool roving, which I hand-dyed (you can see the roving in the dyeing process at left. It is 11-12 WPI and 2-ply. I have to eventually learn to spin more finely, to achieve a good sock-weight yarn.

This below is single-ply lace / fingering weight, and another 2-ply. I just finished spinning the 100 grams of this roving, and so I bought 1 lb of softer merino roving. My next project will be to spin enough to knit a project – but I’m not sure yet what; socks? a toque? a scarf? maybe even a sweater, if I spin a fairly bulky yarn? I also will be starting to learn to spin on my mom’s old wheel, so I’ll find out how quickly that will work.

OK, just to explain, I say ‘spindster’ because I’m spinning with a spinDle, not a wheel (well, not yet, anyways). I want to learn on the spindle, then graduate to the wheel my mom gave me (she bought it as a kit and put it together back before I was born).

So after my outing to the wool shop, the next day I went to Home Depot, which is, most conveniently, just across the street from where I work. There I found bits and pieces of things that I thought might combine to become a drop spindle. This adventure was inspired by another Emily of the web, author of ‘Not Another Knitblog!’, who has made some beautiful drop spindles from found objects.

So a little dowelling and hardware later, I had a couple of spindles. The first, made with big heavy washers, is not as effective as the second, made of what I think was a cabinet door pull. But I used them both in the creation of my first yarns!