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Avant Surf … with FO

February 21, 2010

This poor little blog is having a hard time making it into the world, what with my infrequent posting.  I do, however, have a good reason for the recent lag.  I’ve been working on spinning the yarn for an Apres Surf Hoodie. Which, to be on the safe side, requires about 1600 yards of fingering weight yarn.  About two weeks ago, I pulled out this:

What you are looking at is 5 bags of Alpaca (the top row and bottom left) and two bags of Shetland (the bottom  middle and right).  I knew I wanted to make it primarily  out of Alpaca, with just a bit of Shetland to keep it from growing to my knees.  I randomly pulled out bits of fibre from each bag, twisted them together between my fingers, and (now here’s the really technical bit) squinted at each nearly to the point of eye strain to determine which combination I liked the best.  I’ll be honest, part of my final decision had to do with the fact that I had previously washed up and combed a lot of the brown Shetland, so it was really a matter of selecting the Alpaca.  I decided on the Alpaca at the bottom left and got to browsing the blogs on Ravelry in re the ‘to wash or not to wash’ question.  In my impatience I decided to just go ahead and work with the raw fibre.  For the record, this is the absolute last time I will do that.  My sinuses took nearly a full week to recover from inhaling whatever it was that made the fleece so filthy (though very clean to the eye and upon first touch, tricky tricky).

So, lesson learned, take the time to start out right.  This is one I learn over and over and over.  Which makes me wonder if the word ‘learn’ is at all appropriate in the last sentence.

Moving on, after a weekend of sorting and carding and working with this tutorial, I had a big pile of this:

The above photo represents just the tiniest fraction of what I actually produced.  I confess, also, that much of it is still in batt form off the hand cards waiting to be pulled into roving.  This may have been a much larger project than I anticipated.  Especially as I have never knit a lace garment of that size.  And originally planned to have this to bring on vacation south in less than a month from now.  That sound you hear – that’s the knitting gods enjoying a little chuckle over my hubris.

While I was just tempted to jump in and spin spin spin until I had a pile of yarn, I did learn (however briefly) the lesson from dealing with the filth and slowed down long enough to sample.  Ta da!

I know, pretty impressive isn’t it!  A whole weekend worth of fibre prep and I produce a 1′ x 3′ sample of knitted fabric!  The other three samples I didn’t even bother to knit up.  The two on the left were too thick, the one next to the swatch felt more like twine.  I settled on a thinly but loosely spun two-ply.  The sample is uber-soft and has a nice halo.

Sadly, it does not look as if the sweater will be complete in time to wear as I stroll the streets of Charleston and Savannah in three weeks time, but it may at least be diverting car-knitting for the crazy long trip there and back.  Though we did decide to take the long way down and travel through the Blue Ridge Mountains (avoiding the Eastern Seabord altogether, we did that last year during the Easter weekend, never again!) so I may spend more time lollygagging than knitting.

Since that project may be a long time in coming, I leave you with this, a little FO to tickle the retina.  I now present Joe’s Retro 1960’s Tie-Dyed Socks! (Joe names all of the socks I make for him.  What a guy!)

The deets:  Fibre – All Spun Up BFL.  Spun – 3-ply.  Pattern –  Swirl Socks (though I modified the pattern to 60 stitches, cuff-down).

The little mini-skein is what I had left over.  I weighed the first sock and the remaining fibre after I finished the first sock, so I was not too worried as I approached the toe of the second sock.  You may notice that the striping behaved oddly.  It began, at the cuff of the first sock (the one in front), to be nicely variegated in the lovely way that handspun so often is, then developed a bold and wide striped effect which continued until the foot of the second sock, where once again variegation was introduced.  I don’t really love the effect, but Joe insists that he loves them and he’s the one who has to wear them.  So I can live with it.

Another long post.  I keep trying to make them shorter, really I do!  Hopefully I’ll have some nice skeins of Alpaca-Shetland yarn to show you soon.


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