And in other twisty news….
One advantage of being a spinner?
I no longer have to struggle with the problem of what kind of yarn to use for Jennifer’s birthday present.
Remember that dilemma from a couple of years ago? (Yeah, it’s OK if you don’t. That’s a long time to be paying attention.)
Anyway, now I can make my OWN yarn, so no more agonizing over whether it’s cheap and cheesy of me to use Jen’s yarn, i.e. leftovers from our joint working materials that are supplied by her in the first place at no cost to me, or whether on the other hand using someone else’s yarn somehow implies insufficient solidarity. (Yes, I know that second one is silly, especially when the someone else is a good friend to both of us. Nevertheless, you shoulda seen me worrying about it. Because, you know, I don’t ever have enough to worry about.)
This is the perfect solution, because what better gift for a fiber person than something one has knit out of one’s own handspun?
Of course, the challenge there, if the recipient is a spinner, becomes measuring up to the standard. Jen’s been spinning for coon’s ages, and I though a quick study am way behind her in the seniority department, so instead of worrying about whose yarn to use I now get to worry about whether or not mine can cut it.
Luckily, I had a leg up there, because the yarn I chose was something she had enthusiastically admired when I showed it to her, back when it was newly spun. Over a year ago, no less, which made me feel pretty good after only 6 months of spinning.
If you’ve been around here for a while and have been keeping a close eye on your score card, you may recall that at Rhinebeck 2008 (hey, at least it’s not as long ago as that Jen’s birthday story I linked above) I bought this beautiful merino/tencel from Creatively Dyed:
… and you may also remember that I began spinning it a few weeks later and fell deeply, madly in love, producing some 380-ish yards of this:
…which I loved so much I could hardly bear to let it out of my sight.
Well, I showed this yarn to Jen at Georg’s birthday party (cheer up, the history is getting less and less ancient; that party was only a little over a year ago), and Jen fondled it and particularly praised the plying, and I had me a big proud - that nice little shivery feeling you get when you realize, “hey, fer realz - she’s not just saying that.” So from that point on I pretty much knew it was going to be made up into something for her. Possibly not soon, because I knew it wasn’t going to be easy to part with it. But eventually you run out of room for storing the Petting Skeins, right? and a yarn like that just cries out to be used and to be worn.
Jen’s birthday is in November, shortly after mine (yes, see previous post re schedule, me being perpetually behind), so as usual I cast on right after Rhinebeck. The weather was just getting cold, and it seems that that’s becoming the traditional time of year for my handspun to start whispering “Mobius” in my ears. Nothing loath, I always listen when it does that.
Cast on for a Mobius in a nice reversible pattern, a simple 3-row variant on Grand Eyelet.
I love patterns like that for something like this - anything with either a garter base or an odd number of rows, so it really looks the same front and back. Since the front of the Mobius IS the back, and vice versa, this matters even more if possible than it would with a scarf. (The downside is that you end up doing every other repeat in reverse… unless you’re cagey like me. I don’t mind purling, but I don’t like humongous expanses of it, so when I’m doing something reversible like this, or like garter in the round… I cheat. Any time I have to reverse, I really reverse: wrap one stitch, turn the work, and change directions so I’m working on the RS again. Come to the end of that round, pick up that wrap and work it into the pattern, and nobody the wiser - 99 times out of 100 you can’t see the switch even if you’re really looking for it.)
It was knitting up pretty quickly and looking rather nice, and by the end of the plane trip to SOAR I was well into the second skein and thinking I might actually get it done close to the actual birthday itself. Of course there was NEGATIVE time available for knitting while at SOAR, so except for the odd stitch here and there I didn’t really look at it again until I was on the plane back from SOAR. (Which, incidentally, was how I spent pretty much the whole day on MY birthday, snif, strangled sob, etc. So worth it, though.) Picked it up then and continued working on it, and was nearly at the end of the last pattern rep when it became clear to me that I…
Not even enough to bind off from right where I was - which I found out the hard way, by trying to do so, falling a good yard (of selvedge, I mean, not of yarn) short of the mark, then spending the next hour or so fiddling with the tension on the bound-off edge to see what more I could eke out, and then spending the NEXT hour or so painstakingly tinking the bind-off and putting that sucker back on the needles.
Is there anything worse than running short of your own one-of-a-kind handspun?
Well, I got home, and the first thing I did was fall into bed and sleep for two days straight.
And then I pulled myself together and I cast about for a solution, and boy howdy did I find one.
I had about half an ounce of leftover white polwarth locks - not merino, but close enough for government work and more fun to spin anyway. I also had a pretty decent supply of tencel in both white and grey. And miraculously, I still had the ball-band from the fiber braid, so I could check the percentage of the blend: 50/50.
Got out the scale, went to the drum-carder, and set to work making a pale grey shiny batt in the same proportions.
Spun it to the same grist and twist.
Thought over all the tricks I’d learned from AmyBoogie at SOAR (see above re: so worth it), broke out the food coloring, and started playing around with a little hand-paint job.
(I don’t seem to have taken any pictures of this process. I am full of BLOGGER FAIL.)
And damned if I didn’t manage to match some of the shades. Exactly.
Of course, since it was dyed after spinning instead of before there was no way I was going to match the frequency of the color sequence; the repeats are a lot tighter.
Under the circumstances, how much did I care?
Hey, I decided it was a feature.
I attached my new yarn and I started knitting. I finished my poor orphaned little pattern rep. Ah, what the hell, I thought then, and I started ANOTHER pattern rep. I finished that one. I bound off, nice and loose.
And I had about a yard and a half left over.
Surprised I didn’t dislocate my shoulder patting myself on the back.
Here’s the finished Mobius:
The outer stripe on both edges (because of course this is a center-cast-on Mobius) is made from my extra ounce, and everybody knows it - NOT because they noticed and could tell, but because… um, because for the next few weeks I wore the thing myself and I never missed an opportunity to show it off and tell the story.
I have to tell you, this did not tend to make me less fond of the yarn. For a while there it was touch and go whether I would ever block the thing and put it in the mail.
I mean… just look how shiny it is:
Shiny shiny shiny.
So I doubt it will surprise anyone to know that Jen’s birthday present was very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very late.
But she did get it at last. Just ask her. And make her show you a picture, wouldja? She says she loves it and she says she’s been wearing it, but she won’t show me how it looks on her, and it’s driving me crazy.