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Monday, September 10, 2012

Best In Show?

Perhaps I didn't get 'Best In Show' but I did win a First Prize this weekend but before I tell you about that I want to talk about spinning.

There's been a lot of knitting going on here for the last few days but most of it has been on a secret project or swatching for design submissions so I can't share that but fortunately there's also been a lot of spinning going on which I can share. I finished the first bobbin of the merino/silk/stellina (sparky bit - same blend as my Twinkle Lace) singles. This was lovely to spin and fairly quick. I tried to spin it as finely as the Optim singles but i think it's ending up a smidgen thicker.

 I'm trying fractal spinning for the first time after Felicia explained it so clearly in 'Spinning Dyed Fiber'. So I split the fibre in half lengthwise then spun the first half without splitting the fibre any more. Spinning very fine singles from a thick bit of fibre was challenging. I normally strip my fibre into thinner lengths but i got better as I went along.

Here's the second half of the fibre ready to be split and spun on the second bobbin.
 This half I'll be stripping into thinner strips approx a finger thickness. It's much easier to spin. I started spinning this this evening while watching the Tour of Britain highlights. Yes, we're still watching cycling every night. La Vuelta has finished but we're now on to Tour of Britain which I'll be talking about more later in the week because on Saturday, like last year, we're off to watch a stage of the tour when it comes through Devon.
After I finished the first bobbin I thought I'd take the opportunity to ply my Optim singles. I did a little bit Friday night then on Saturday morning I took the opportunity of an empty house and sunny garden to spend some time plying in the garden. As I spun these singles incredibly thinly, plying it took FOREVER.
 I continued on and off for most of Sunday afternoon and into the evening when I finally finished. I sit and spin on the sofa which is fairly comfy but I have to sit on a dining room chair to ply. Problem is that it really hurts my back so I could only do short periods at a time. I did finish eventually though. I'm not great at plying. I'm always unsure of how much twist to add. I bought the download version of Judith McKenzie McCuin's The Gentle Art Of Plying and it did help a lot. I thought I was adding about the right amount of twist but once I'd wound it into a hank it looked slightly over plied to me but after washing it's looking a lot better. The pic below was taken before washing this morning.
This is the finest yarn I've ever spun. Before washing I got 31 wraps per inch which is a heavy laceweight. I was hoping for about 700-800 meters but according to my rough calculations I got about 640m out of 95 gr which is pretty good. Below is a photos of a strand with a penny coin for scale. 
I was worried that the singles would break when I started plying as I tried to spin them without adding a huge amount of twist but obviously enough to make a nice 2ply yarn.  After spending quite a lot of money last year on a tensioned lazy kate I followed Judith's advice and used it without tensioning the singles. I used to hate plying from my basic travel kate and thought it was much better with the tensioned kate but when I plied the merino/tencel navajo ply yarn I spun last the singles kept breaking and I felt like I was fighting with the tensioned kate so I thought I had nothing to loose by removing the tensioning bit and it made the whole plying experience so much better. It was smooth, easy and comfortable. Yes the singles still broke a couple of times but that was because of weak spots in the singles rather than anything else and at least it gave me a chance to practice the proper way of re-joining a singles during plying.

I'll be back with more pics of the finished yarn with full details of final wpi and other details when the yarn is dry. I've already got plans for this. I want to knit a lace shawl for myself to wear not just keep for shows etc, which is what i end up doing with most of my shawls.

In July the annual Liskeard Show was scheduled and postponed due to heavy rain. A lot of agricultural shows and other outdoor events around the UK were cancelled in the early parts of the summer due to the extremely wet weather we had. I bet the organisers were relieved they postponed. They couldn't have wished for better weather. We had glorious sunshine and a warm, but not too hot, day. The show was full of people. I was there helping promote the Liskeard Knit & Knatter group. As a group we try to encourage our member to enter some items in the knitting classes. This year we all knitted some colourful, but very strange hats, for a charity class. The hats will be going to a charity that distributes premature baby hats in Africa. I wish I'd taken a pic but I forgot to get my camera out at the show at all. I don't even have any pics of our colourful knitting stall.

As well as a hat, I entered a lace shawl and a crochet scarf and I won two prizes.
 Last year my beautiful Cross Stitch scarf in Alchemy's Silken Straw was beaten by one of those frilly novelty scarves where the 'yarn' does all the work and which anyone with basic knitting skills can make in an evening. I was not impressed so I decided to pull out all the stops this year and entered one of the samples from my new Beads & Lace Collection (coming soon). Gloriana is knitted in Silky Camel Lace and has pale blue beads and a delicate crochet edging. And yes, I got First Prize.
 I had also entered a crochet scarf but when it came to choose my entries on Friday I couldn't quite remember why I'd decided to enter a crochet scarf as I don't have that many so I dug out my latest crochet scarf, my Citrus Broomstick Cowl and I got Third Prize behind two stunning lacy doilies.
I'll give you more details tomorrow but just in case you want a heads up, the Lace Lovers Club is now enrolling for the final 3 months of this year. Spaces are limited so don't miss out. 


Grace said...

Congratulations on winning first place! Your yarn is beautiful; great color combinations!

Catherine said...

I am always filled with admiration for anyone who can spin but spinning such fine yarn is amazing. And your first prize shawl is stunning

Ann said...

Congratulations on your prize. Love that Optim handspun - really fine spinning.