Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Getting ready for the Olympics

Sorry for the long hiatus.  I really have no good explanation other than my camera died and I've been uninspired in the blogging department.  Thanks to the camera death, I bring you pictures from my cell phone.   So sorry in advance for the quality! 

I can't believe it is time for the Winter Olympics again!  I mean, it feels like it was just last year that the Summer Olympics happened.  For knitters, the Winter Olympics means the Knitting Olympics.  The point of the Knitting Olympics is to start a project when the torch is lit and finish it by the time the closing ceremonies roll around.  Like the athletes, you use the opportunity to challenge yourself and your skills.  My challenge is knitting a sweater from my handspun yarn. 

It is wool from a local woman who raises CVM sheep.  We grouped together and sent a bunch to be processed into top at a wool mill up in MI.  The resulting top is FABULOUS.  It spins like a dream.  The color is a dark brown with hints of dark gray in it. 

Now, I've been spinning this yarn up for the last month and a half.  It has been a long month and a half.  If I lived in ye olden times, my family would never have been clothed properly.  They would be wearing sweaters with only one sleeve finished because I hadn't finished spinning the yarn.  True, I wouldn't have been spinning so finely nor would I have been making a 4-ply and I probably wouldn't be spinning it worsted.  Also the kids would probably be farmed out to prepping the wool and doing some of the knitting and spinning.  Can I just say that I'm happy not to be living in ye olden times?  Anyway, spinning all of this yarn has definitely been a test of stamina because all of this wool is the same color.  I've even been drop spindling this wool, too.  I'm really getting bored working with the same color but I can't let myself not finish the yarn for the sweater! 

As prep for this project, I did a lot of sampling.  I had a specific sweater in mind and knew what type of yarn I would need.  Well, that plan actually changed as I went along.  Originally, I wanted to make a relatively simple sweater with a cowl neck from Vogue Knitting a couple of years ago.  I found the old issue of the magazine in a fellow raveler's destash.  After I started sampling, however, I decided that I would rather do something with cables and the Tangled Yoke Cardigan really fit the bill.  I've been wanting to do that sweater for eons and making it out of my handspun would be very satisfiying.  Anyway, back to sampling and swatching.  At first, I thought I would be doing a 3-ply yarn.  But my default spinning seems to be fine, fine, fine.  I didn't like my swatch with the 3 ply so I decided to try 4-ply instead.  That swatch was much, much better. 

Three of those plies have been spun up on the wheel and one has been done on my drop spindle.  On the wheel, I've been spinning 1 ounce amounts up and then winding that off onto straws in order to ply easily. For the drop spindle, I would spin as much as possible until my cop (the spun yarn) either took up all of the room on the spindle or I couldn't spin easily anymore.  Then I would wind it off onto a weaving bobbin so I would know it was from the drop spindle rather than the wheel.

For plying, I have a shoe box with holes punched in the side.  I put the straws on some straight knitting needles and am plying away.  I've been using a plying guide (aka a wooden rectangle with 4 holes drilled in it) to help me keep everything straight while plying.  I know Judith MM says you don't need one but I did to keep my sanity!  I can do 3 plies with my hand without too much trouble but that extra ply just messes me up when I try to do it with 4. 

I'm finishing up the last little bit on my spindle and hope to finish plying the last of the yarn in the next day or two.  As of right now, I have 1,600 yards of a sport weight yarn!  I'm estimating, when I'm finished plying, I'll have another 300 yards to add to the total.  I can't wait to start knitting the sweater! 

1 comment:

Janelle said...

I am seriously impressed. 4-ply sportweight, enough for a sweater? Remind me to come live on your farm if we have to go back to ye olden times. Great project!