Pilling no more?

Pilling is the shorter fibers falling out of the yarn and getting balled up. This can happen in commercial and in handspun yarns. This is also common in manmade materials. I have a pair of nylon yoga pants that are pretty pilly. We seem to live in a world of pilling fibers. Not everything pills and there are ways in your handspun that you can make your garments pill less.

pilling4
The first way to combat pilling is to use longer stapled quality fibers. Using a Combed top instead of a Roving will help too. Combed top has removed all the shorter cuts and you’re left with all one length of fiber. Roving will mostly have all the same length but they still have short cuts and the jumbled up way it’s prepped also makes it a little more prone to pilling.

Second way to combat it is to have a good amount of twist (not over necessarily but not under). Think of how I’ve told you all how to make sock yarns. Lighter twist in the singles but heavier twist in the plying. It makes the plying seem almost overtwisted but it makes a softer yet stronger yarn.

Third is to make thinner plies and more of them. Think of at least making a 3 ply.

pilling6
You can change your pill-ability with your final project as well. Knit at a tighter gauge so the yarn has less movement to allow short fibers to work their way out. Felting is also a good way to challenge pilling but it will change the overall look of your garment. Since it was knit with different size needles it will likely felt differently in the different sections. Felting also will shorten it more than it will bring it in side to side. You will also lose your drape.

pilling2
Pilling is a fact of life with knitwear. The good thing about it though is that it will not pill forever. A yarn only has so much pilling in it. That means there are only so many short fibers that will work their way out. Unless your garment was from poor material and the pills are all it’s made of. My daughter has a pair of commercially made socks that this is the case, once the pills were gone, there was nylon left and nothing more.

pilling1
Another thing…. have you thought that you may be the only one that notices the pilling? I rarely notice pilling on other people’s garments but always on mine. Over the years, I’ve become less sensitive to it and some of my favorite sweaters are rather pilly. It’s ok. I love them anyway. If you want, you can get a sweater stone or shaver and use it in between wearings.

pilling3
Eventually your sweater will stop pilling.
pilling5
This particular one hasn’t started but you can see it has potential. All the sweaters I’ve shown here are pilly or just about to get pilly. I haven’t shaved any of them and I just let it go. I hope you enjoyed the stroll through my pills. Now go make some excellent yarn.

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Simple Wrap Skirt – V1

I have a bunch of different wrap skirts. In knit material they’re crazy easy to make. As you might have guessed from the title up there, I’m going to show you more than one version of a wrap skirt. You don’t want to make the same one all the time right?
circlewrapskirt-front
This one I made from a skirt that I already had. The original skirt is a plain woven material and not knit so it doesn’t stretch nor have all the movement and ease of a knit one.
circlewrapskirt-1
You can see that is has a curve at the bottom and at the top. This is to make it fit you better when it’s in woven material.
circlewrapskirt-hoop
If you don’t have a skirt to go by then you can use a few things to make your own. See how that hula hoop mimics the curve at the bottom?

drawing-wrap-meas
Here’s the measurements you’re going to need to make this all work out.
A – the length you want it. Note that you don’t necessarily need to hem the edge of a knit. You can leave a cut edge bare and it won’t usually fray (check your material). You can also simply serge the edge or add a zigzag decoration with your standard machine. If you’re going to hem, make sure to include that in this measurement.
B – how big are you around 1.5 times then cut in half (just to make it difficult). You could probably ball park this within an inch or two though I have found there are times I go to measure myself (just to be extra careful) and I’m an inch or 2 bigger or smaller than I remember. Our memories are a funny thing.
C – You don’t even really need a secure measurement for this. This is the tail. You just don’t want it to be a full half a wrap (and cut this in half because we’re cutting on a fold)

Don’t forget that you will need ties. The length of these depends on what you want. I like something that I can reasonably wrap around myself an extra time if needed. More is better than less. This means that my ties are each 30 inches long or longer. I usually cut them from a length of fabric and only trim if I feel they’re too long.

Example measurements
A. Length is 26 inches but I want a hem on the bottom so I’m going to need 27 inches at the longest length
B. Waist is 28 inches but I want it to sit lower so lets say where I want it to go is 30 inches. I’ll need 1.5 of those so 45 inches.Then cut in half 21.5
C. Less than 15 inches and then halve it… I’m gonna say about 6 inches.

You can make a paper pattern or a simple muslin one or just mark your fabric and cut away. You can make a more flat bottom, make your own curve or use a hula hoop to help you out. There is no wrong way here.

I want to mention; I use a lot of remnants and cheap fabric. The fabric I used for this skirt cost me all of $5 and I still have some left. But it’s a quality fabric at the same time. Rustle around in the bargain bin. You want good quality stuff. But, using remnants or cheaper material will make you feel like it’s ok to screw up. It’s also ok to make a cheap skirt and then see how it fits. See if you like it, then use that pattern on some pricey material that you really love. Make notes and JUST DO IT.
fold-of-fabric
So you have your pattern or you’ve decided to mark and hack into the fabric with scissors. Lay out your fabric and fold it in half – Note that you want the stretch to go AROUND your body and not up and down. The fabric I used here is a 4 way stretch. Some 4 ways are equal in all 4 directions and some are more stretchy in ONE direction. Make that stretchiest part go around you.
circlewrapskirt-new
Cut…. Hem if you’re going to. Add your ties to the ends of your skirt. No really it’s that simple. There is very little sewing in this. This forgiving type of pattern only works well with the knits. You need slightly more effort and shaping with a woven material

Something else I need to tell you though. About sewing….circlewrapskirt-wrapping
Knits don’t like a straight stitch. If you don’t have an overlock (and few do) then you’ll need do a zig zag for your hems or it won’t stretch. You can do an almost straight zig zag, but it still needs to be a zig zag in order to be successful.

Ok. Go dig through your fabric stash or go haunt your local fabric store.

By the way, this skirt makes a great cover up for heading to yoga class. Easy on, easy off and you get total bum coverage.

And ask questions. I do this fly by my seat of the pants sewing all the time and I might have missed a direction that will help you, so ask.

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MegaSAL

Have you heard of this?
No?
In a nutshell: 6 professional fiber dyers are putting out special colorways based on Terry Pratchet’s Discworld series of books. This month the dyers are putting out the products for order or pre-order and in April we officially start the SAL. You don’t need to read the books to get the colors but it’s a fun group read-along. The group with more info is Here on Ravelry. 3 of us dyers have listed our colors already (you can see Spunky Eclectic’s offering here). Which means 3 more are coming soon. I’ve bought fiber and I will buy more but I don’t have any of it in my hot little hands except mine to talk about right now.

My colors are Octarine and Rincewind. If you haven’t read the books I’ll give you a bit of a background on these.

octarine-big
Octarine is a fictional/magical color. In the first book “The Colour of Magic”, the made up 8th color of the spectrum is sort of described. Based on the description and the color that happened in my minds eye, this is what I came up with:

rincewind-big
Rincewind is a failed wizard. He’s a bit of a bumbler, a coward at times while brave at others (though mostly cowardly). Yet, somehow he manages to succeed. He gets into a lot of scrapes and I think he has a good heart underneath all of his bumbling. I find him very normal and really relatable even when his cowardice is frustrating to watch.

I’ve managed to spin some of the Octarine already because I like to spin up a shop sample. I was drawn to the Wensleydale in the bright colors. But it somehow wasn’t bright enough so I’m plying it with my almost solid color “Ginkgo”.
oct-gink

I have a little more to spin and ply but I’m loving this effect. Now, I did start to think it would be great in weaving. Do a twill that uses Octarine as the weft and Ginkgo as the warp…or visa versa. I might need to have more of this and plan a new skirt. But that’s not the only plans I have. I want to make something with the progression version of this colorway only I haven’t decided what. With the Falkland version I am pairing it with “Sky”.
oct-sky
I haven’t decided if it’s going to get plied together or maybe stripes in socks? I don’t get to pull any more of this stuff out of production until orders are filled so I have time to decide.

I have plans for Rincewind too.
rinc-dij
Look how good it goes with the Dijon. I was thinking I might make a two ply (one Rincewind and one Dijon) but the more I think about it, the more I just plain want a sweater out of this. The plan is for Rincewind in Cheviot with Dijon colorwork.

Lofty plans for a girl that’s a little behind in her spinning and knitting projects, eh?
I’m great with the plans, we’ll see what happens with execution. This SAL doesn’t start until April 1 so that gives me time to work on the Naked Stashdown and finish up some work sample spinning. And planning. More planning. Time to clear those bobbins though.

oh! I almost forgot. The Spunky Eclectic group on Ravelry is doing another Lace Along this spring/summer. We’re doing voting until the end of the month. The first stage of nominations and voting is going on now. Second stage of voting will start on the 16th.

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What’s Spinning?

I’ve been working on spinning as I always do. Have you noticed that I don’t often show off what I’m working on? Spinning is a daily part of my life. Sometimes it feels like it would be showing off my breakfast every day and no one really wants to see that. Or do you? Today I’m going to talk about what I’ve been spinning. It’s a big one because I’ll wrap it all up in one post.

Recently off the wheel:
handspun-frostbite
Spunky Eclectic Club January 2015 “Frostbite” on Targhee.
It’s a fingering weight 2 ply. About 400 something yards (I don’t usually bother counting so accurately)

handspun1
Spunky Eclectic Club February 2015 “Gerbera” on Shetland
This one is a Sport weight Fractal 2 ply. About 360-ish yards. It’s already becoming socks
sockondog
The colors were crazy bright in the fiber and I muted them quite a bit by doing the fractal. I think I need to spin another round of this and chain ply so I can have some really bright socks.

lockstrain
This is one of Spunky Eclectic’s new limited edition colorways. “Simple Love”. This one is from our Colorway for a Cause Campaign. You can read about it in that link. I didn’t exactly go for a fine yarn with this one. I’m going to make some crazy mittens and all the imperfections that are in this yarn will be hidden with some knitting. Not to mention the mittens are going to be for a kid so they’ll likely be lost half way through next winter.

newdawn
This the other newest limited edition colorway. “A New Dawn”. I decided to spin this one thick and thin then ply it with some sparkly red thread. It’s always a fun time to break from making “normal” yarns and do something a little crazy. This colorway will be around until 2016.

Last but not least, I’ve managed to get a little bit done in the Naked Stashdown:
naked
The big skein is a mystery to me but it’s lovely and squishy. The little skein is Merino that is meant to go with my Black Pearl for a colorwork sweater.

I have a lot more that needs to be done in the Naked Stashdown and I’m hoping I get to it. When your life revolves around color, it’s sometimes hard to find time to get to the non-colored and natural fibers.

On the wheel now:
I’m working on samples for the next 3 months of club but I can’t show you those yet. That’s right, I’m working on them simultaneously. I spin a bobbin and then I start a new bobbin with the next one. I need to spin one more bobbin of each and then ply. It keeps things interesting. That’s not all I’m working on though. I have more than one wheel and I can’t seem to keep at just one project.
I’m working on the second skein of yarn so I can finish these socks:
AmyKing-sock2
I’m also working on this grey stuff to be woven into a skirt:
romney-silver

Waiting for wheel time:
A whole bunch of things!
portfiber
Lovely fibers I picked up at SPA this past weekend. Hand dyed by Casey of Port Fiber.

abby2 abby
Abby Franquemont fibers. A batt that had my name written all over it before she even sent the box of goodies and a roving that I took because Monday was such a pain in the bum. Don’t worry there’s plenty more Abby batts and stuff that I haven’t pilfered. Those will be in the Spunky Eclectic March update.

megasalteaser
Last but not least are these 2. They look pretty grey but that’s because I’m not giving them away yet. These are my colors for the MegaSAL. They’ll be going live on the 5th but I’ll be putting up some teasers here and there.

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Caress Sweater

When I started carrying this yarn base, I knew I had to have something in it. And then years passed and I never did anything. Then I finally dyed the yarn for the shop and all my desire for it came flooding back. It’s so soft and drapey. It would be perfect for a shawl. When it came down to it though, I really wanted a lush sweater. I chose to just wing it with a plain raglan pattern. I didn’t need fancy. Just a nice sweater that I could wear over a tank top in the warm months or over a long sleeve in the winter.

Caress-2

I was also a little specific about what I wanted to get out of this.
I wanted the fabric to be a little more open and airy.
I wanted a wider neck but nothing so big as a scoop though that would have worked nicely.
I wanted a long enough body that it wouldn’t ride up all the time.
I wanted the sleeves to be about elbow length.

Such a custom little thing, I figured it was easier to just do this myself than try to find someone that already had.

I realize that some of you might want a sweater like this as well. I haven’t got the time to work out all the sizes but I’m going to give you the basic information so you can make this on your own if you have knitting knowledge. If you aren’t an experienced knitter, I recommend that you find a well written pattern. For reference, I’m a solid medium in general US sizes. I measure at 40-28-39

Gauge (in the round – not blocked)
6.5 SPI and 9 RPI

CO 132
6 rows of 1×1 rib
Knit 1 round and set up for the raglan. The beginning is the middle back. k46, PM, k20,PM, k92, PM, k20, k to end.
Increases every other round look like: *k to one st before marker, kfb, sm, k1, kfb – repeat from * around. Knit to the end.
I continued in this manner until I had worked 7.5 inches (from CO edge). Next round I knit the body while putting the sleeves stitches on holders. I changed the st markers to mark the sides so I could do a little bit of waist shaping. I reduced 4 sts (1 st each side of a side marker) in a round every 6th round.I worked 8 rounds even and then increased every 6 rounds in the same manner. Knit even until I got the length I wanted and then worked 1×1 ribbing for 6 rows. BO loosely in rib.

Sleeves:
Pick up and knit all the stitches plus 4 under the arm to close up the gap. Next round, start decrease. k1, k2tog, work to 3 sts before the end of round, ssk, k1. Work this decrease every 3rd round until you have 62 sts. Work 1×1 ribbing for 2 inches. BO loosely in pattern. Work the other sleeve in the same manner.

Caress-1

Block and wear!

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Tension

Let’s talk a bit about tensioning for scotch tension. In specific lets talk about the band materials and the springs themselves. There are so many different band materials and so many different types of springs. You can have a remarkable number of combinations. Then to think about the wheel/bobbin itself and there are certain materials that work better with others….and its all a personal decision.

Let that mull over for a bit.
Dizzying the number of things that one might have for their wheel. I’m going to talk about a few that I have liked and to talk about others that you might want to experiment with. It’s all about getting the right tensioning for you and how you spin.

SPRINGS
extension_springs
Look at all those options. Just because your wheel came with a particular spring, it doesn’t mean that you can’t change that out for something that works better for you. I personally like to change mine out for hair elastics.
7_goody-ouchless-hair-elastics-neon-29-count
My favorites are the ones that don’t have a metal piece and aren’t really thick. Just plain nylon covered hair elastics. Why do I change them out? I like them. I find they’re a little lighter, a little more sensitive and they give me the feel that I want. They’re just not as stiff and I really like that in my tensioning.
suzie

Another thing you can do if you find you need a little more play in your tensioning is to add a second elastic or spring. Certain wheels like the Joy from Ashford already come that way but you can cut in and add another elastic/spring on the opposite side of the one that’s already there.
fricke
This is my Fricke wheel and you can see that one of the springs is pretty well shot. When your spring looks like that, it’s time to get something new in there. The tensioning on this wheel is only still working well because there is a second spring in there.

There will be some wheels that you just cannot add a second spring like the Sidekick and the newer Matchless from Schacht.
sidekick
You can change out the spring for a different spring or a hair elastic but there really is only place for one. So in cases like this, or when you just aren’t happy with the braking, then you can also change out the band itself.

BRAKE BAND
Most wheels come with a material that the manufacturer finds optimal for their wheel and the materials really do range quite a bit. Nylon, fishing line, hemp, cotton… This means that someone has felt the wheel works best with one of these materials but that doesn’t mean that it works best for you with one of these materials. You can change that out and in some cases, the wheel will work better for you when you do. In some cases, it may not and you want to go back to the old manufacturer settings. This is a trial and error sort of thing. Gather some materials, spin 4 ounces or so (if you don’t immediately loath it) and figure out what works for you.
elastic
That thread I’m holding in my hand is elasticized thread. This is some fun stuff to have on hand. I have several cones of it and a couple of smaller spools like this. My love of this stuff is another post for another day. I’m bringing it up because it makes a pretty decent brake band. I haven’t tried it on the Sidekick but I have on the Louet Julia, Louet Victoria, and the Fricke wheels. If you have some on hand then add this to your box of tension experimentations.

As always, if you have a question, ask.

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Stashdown and Destash

STASHDOWN
Yup. I do stashdowns. Mostly so I can spin up what’s in my bins in a fury and then have room left for whatever I want to buy. It’s a stashdown so I can stash-up. I try to do stashdown crazy spin ups before I know I’m going to a show or before a big bunch of fluff is about to come into my life. SPA is coming up at the end of the month and then shearing isn’t really too far off. At Ravelry we just completed a handpainted stash down last week and I got 4lbs done. I mostly didn’t spin the first half of the month because of work stuff but I worked fast in the last half.
sweaters
L to R
Spunky Eclectic “Black Pearl” – 2ply 1540 (16 oz)
Southern Cross Fibres “Desert Pea” and “Uluru” combo – 2 ply 650 yards (16oz)
Hello Yarn “Timber” – singles yarn – 1320 yards (22oz)

progressions
L to R
Spunky Eclectic (all of them)
“Diesel” Gradient – 2 ply 240 yards (8oz) One skein made into a hat already
“Rosa Rugosa” Gradient – 2ply 170 yards (2oz) – working on a sample sock.

Now we’re working on a “Naked” stashdown in preparation for the magical fleece shearing season.
naked-cvm

I rarely ever show off my show buys anymore but maybe I’ll remember after SPA. If not, you’ll see my goodies all spun up someday.

DESTASH
I’ve also been stashing-down of a different sort. I have a bunch of unloved commercial yarns. I’m starting to go through my yarns and be realistic about the yarns I love and should keep and the yarns that I bought on a whim because I thought I loved them.
noro-k-154
Some things I bought with my kids in mind and they’re no longer hot for whatever color that is. So, if you think you want some of my really nice but unloved yarns (before I can’t stand it and fall in love with them again) you can head over to Ravelry and pick through my wool bins. This is just part of the ceiling stash. I need to go through a few bins and another part of the ceiling.

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