Friday, April 18, 2014

Doctor Who Vest

If you love Doctor Who and cosplaying, here's a little item that you might be interesting in purchasing ....that is, if you're not quite willing to knit a ton of intarsia.

Die-hard Dr. Who knitters might chastise me for not knitting it myself, BUT, I have a finite amount of knitting time and a very large Ravelry queue to create. This sweater vest is quite affordable and means I can spend time on other endeavors! had carried for a little while, and I immediately got my own from them. It's a BBC-approved "jumper", and sold by a British manufacturer, Lovarzi.

Of course, as a knitter, I totally had to look at the workmanship. It's obviously machine-knit, but it's assembled pretty darn well. Their sizing is pretty accurate. I ordered for my size (according to their chart) and it fit well.

Unfortunately, it's made knit out of acrylic, but the finishing is pretty good. For instance, the seams aren't serged, and everything lines up quite nicely.


And I think the pocket is steeked.

Obviously, I'm going to have to make the rest of the outfit to do a cross-play of the 7th Doctor.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

SpinU: Woolen Intensive - Week 6

The last class of the SpinU Woolen Intensive was primarily a wrap-up of all the things we learned, some show & tell, and some fiber swapping.

For my homework for this class, Sandi let us spin whatever fiber & fiber prep we wanted, but it had to come out a 2-ply fingering weight. For this, I chose 2 ounces (~56 grams) of pure cashmere.

(Looks like a cloud, doesn't it?)

It was lovely, it was soft, and it spun like an absolute dream. When it came off the wheel, it was absolutely perfect -- slightly over twisted in the plying. Woolen-spun yarns tend to lose twist, so overplying by a little bit is a good thing here! I ended up with 160 yards.


After washing and fulling it, it came out nearly balanced with a slight over twist. Perfect!



Folks in class brought their homework for show & tell. There was plenty of lovely fibers; one student had such a stressful week that she managed to spin up vicuna, camel, cashmere, cotton silk, and a whole slew of other sampler skeins as her relaxation!

But for class, we primarily spun more fiber; I got to spin up a little bit of bison, while another student attempted some dog hair.

Bison is also a short staple length fiber, but I found it slightly harder than cashmere to spin. The fiber is not completely uniform in length --- bison are not bred for fiber -- so the fiber looks more "rustic". But, it's nearly as soft as cashmere (and just as warm).


The finished skein is lovely. I washed and fulled it slightly for a nice halo effect. It's also about a heavy fingering weight.

Friday, April 4, 2014

SpinU: Woolen Intensive - Week 5

For week 5 of the class, we took our homework (a 2-ply single) and created a 3-2 cable ply, which is 3 plies of 2-ply yarn. It's a lovely sturdy yarn, and if you're familiar with Cascade Greenland or Cascade Venezia, then you're familiar with this type of yarn.

Because this type of yarn has so many plies, the singles have to be very thin. In this instance, I spun up about 80 WPI singles, which turned into a 40-WPI 2ply, which then became a 20-ply sportweight. Sandi suggested that I go ahead and wash/full the resulting yarn, and oh boy, what a difference!

The yarn (before fulling) and then after.

For woolen spun yarns (even cable plied yarns), a rigorous fulling (including thwacking the yarn) helps the fibers fluff out and become more stable.

(Have I mentioned I love spinning yak & cashmere?)

In addition, we continued spinning cotton in class for practice, and I was getting fairly frustrated with some of the cotton top I was spinning, so Sandi started swapping out what I was spinning, and what a difference!. Check out the differences in both types of cotton that I spun within 10 minutes of each other.


I finally found a cotton top that allows me to spin relatively well and allowed me to refine my technique and spin thinner. While cotton is still not my ultimate spinning fiber, we are finally starting to get along, albeit slowly.

Next week is our last class for this SpunU, which is slightly sad, but so far it's been a great learning experience.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

SpinU: Woolen Intensive - Week 4

This week, our practice with cottons paid off, as we started spinning some luxury fibers -- yak/merino, yak/merino/silk, cashmere/merino, cashmere/merino/silk, cashmere.

Unlike cotton, the shorter staple fibers (yak & cashmere) still have scales along the hair shafts (very small scales, but still there) which help in the spinning process. Mix blends (such as those mentioned above) are easier to spin initially because the different staple lengths help stabilize the shorter ones.

In a yak/merino/silk blend, the merino acts as the middle man to bridge the gap between the staple lengths of yak (very short) and silk (VERY long). Whereas in a yak/merino blend, the merino acts as the long staple length.

For homework, we spun various singles and then created a 2-ply. Sandi asked us to ply as close to class as possible, in order to keep as much active twist in the bobbin, because woolen spun yarns tend to lose twist, even in plying. We were going to do a 3-2 cable ply in class.


It was very fun spinning the luxury fibers. It was a much different experience than having to deal with cotton.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

SpinU: Woolen Intensive - Week 3

I'm trying to catch up on all of my crafty & geek blogging, but have failed miserably. I promise more interesting stuff to come down the pike.

So, week 3 of the SpinU Woolen Intensive has come and gone (expect some rapid fire posts on this subject soon!) We continued working on spinning from the fold, but transitioning to the tips of the fiber. (Abby Franquemont has a good explanation of spinning from the fold on her website.)

Spinning from the FoldSpinning from the tips
(Spinning from the Fold / Tips)

Why, you might ask? Because spinning from the fold is a lot easier, but you end up with waste, whereas spinning woolen from the tips is more fiber-efficient. There are those that might argue about whether one method is more truly "woolen" than the other, but as Sandy points out, when you're spinning cashmere @ $10 USD per ounce (~28 grams), you're more worried about using your fiber with as little waste as possible.

In addition to working on this transition, we were working with short staple fibers --- namely, cotton. From the last SpinU, cotton was my bane. I had such trouble with it.

However, with this SpinU class, it has gotten a LOT better. Cotton & I are still not on great terms, BUT, I can spin a passable form of cotton. And, I found that the type of cotton grown and the type of preparation really does make a difference in how well I can spin it. Just like wool, not all cotton is equal and is dependent on a number of factors. Previously, I found punis easier to spin, but this time around, I could spin certain cotton tops easier than others.

For homework, we were to spin a larger single (nearly sport weight) of cotton, which was harder than I had anticipated, but apparently, to be expected. Then ply the singles into a 2-ply.


The result, while not fantastic, wasn't too bad either. In the pre-wash photo, it's a very tight ply, because woolen (unlike worsted spun yarns) don't tend to hold their twist, so overplying becomes necessary.


There's a mantra for spinning woolen that I picked up from Judith MacKenzie (paraphrase) -- spin singles lightly, ply together tightly.

Next up, luxury fibers!