Friday, January 25, 2013

FO Friday #1 - Knitting (and Felting!) with Handspun

I've been wanting to play along with FO Fridays from Tami's Amis for quite awhile now, so here it is, friends: my very first time! Today it's all about the handspun: spinning it (if you know me, you know there's always something new on my wheel) and also knitting with it and, another first, felting with it. I hope you enjoy reading about what I've been up to lately!

First up, I finished spinning up the luscious Targhee top from Abstract Fibers ("Hopworks" colorway). This gorgeous fiber was gifted to me by an awesome Ravelry swap partner, Kae, and I loved every minute of working with it! Being a finewool, spinning Targhee is a lot like spinning Merino, though the fibers seemed less "sticky" and easier to draft, which suited me just fine. From 4 ounces of top, I spun 860 yards of singles, and plied them into 430 yards of bouncy, squishy light-fingering weight yarn. I love it!

Singles on the bobbins
In the skein
Close-up! :)
Next, I'm very happy to announce that after nearly a year (though, I'll admit, most of that year was spent hibernating in a project bag), I've finished my handspun lap blanket! A couple years ago, I spun up 2 pounds of sage-green Ashland Bay Merino top into around 1200 yards of 2-ply worsted- to bulky-weight yarn. For quite awhile, the yarn lingered in my stash, waiting for the perfect project. After a false start as a sweater (which, several inches in, was big enough for two of me), I decided to knit it up into a project where gauge wasn't critical. And after stumbling on Pamela Grossman's Fertility Blanket pattern, I knew I needed to knit it immediately!

The stitch pattern for this blanket was fun to knit and, in the words of the designer herself, "a sly celebration of ladyhood". (Because those bobbles are just a tiny bit... suggestive, aren't they?)

Girly bobbles!
Stretched out, it's almost four feet square, which is the perfect size for draping over my lap as I get lost in some George R.R. Martin. Leo decided to walk over as I was taking photos, and provided an excellent size reference with his furry self. :)

Leo checking out the new blanket
This was my first large project knit out of my own handspun, and it was so incredibly satifsying! I'll definitely be tackling larger amounts of fiber, and subsequently knitting the resulting yarn into something lovely, in the future!

After knitting up Elizabeth Cherry's Modified Mobcap (from the Fall 2012 issue of Jane Austen Knits) in some trusty Madelinetosh for my friend, Johanna, I was so in love with the pattern that I simply had to make one for myself, too. So I perused my Wall of Handspun and settled on a 4-strand cabled yarn that I spun last year from Into the Whirled's Polwarth/silk top.

The hat is fun and slouchy, and excellent for covering my ears while still letting some of my hair show. (And if I look a bit uncharacteristically serious in this photo, it's because I'm getting over a nasty head cold. I am getting better, though, slowly but surely!)

Handspun goodness!
And the decreases at the crown resulted in a gorgeous spiral pattern, which I totally love! I stretched the hat over a plate, beret-style, to show off the spiral. I love how the round, cabled yarn shows off the decreases.

Spiral decreases are my new favorite thing!
And last, but certainly not least, a tale of felting with handspun!

Felting has always seemed interesting to me, but aside from one time, years ago, that I made some felted coasters for my brother, I haven't pursued it with any real intention. Looking at my List of Fiber Goals for 2013, I thought it was due time to give it a go!

For my first felting project, I decided to use Saundra McBride's Spinning Wheel Goodie Bag pattern and some super-thick handspun, spun from a gorgeous art batt from Nea of Lanitium Ex Machina. I made this yarn a couple years ago as an experiment in super-bulky spinning, but wasn't sure what to make with it once it was finished. The yarn and the pattern seemed like a perfect match!

Funky, chunky art-batt yarn
The finished knit bag was nice and sturdy, which I'd expected since I'd used thicker yarn and smaller needles than the pattern recommended. However, I still wanted to felt it a bit, to make it even sturdier (and give myself an opportunity to play around in the sink). :)

Spinning bag, pre-felting...
So after roughly fifteen minutes of thrashing my bag in a sink of hot soapy water, alternating every so often with a dunk in some water that was ice-cold to further the agitation process, a felted bag was born!

... post-felting...
And now it hangs nicely on my spinning wheel, holding all my little essentials that I used to have to run around the studio to retrieve. Even loaded up with stuff, it holds up fabulously, with only minimal (and inevitable) misshapen-ness.

[Also, if you look closely, you'll see a spoiler of the yarn I'm currently spinning!] :)

... and being useful and pretty at the wheel. :)
It's been a great couple weeks of projects, and I've got some fun new stuff on the wheel and the needles that I can't wait to share with you. Thanks so much for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!


  1. That bag is a fantastic idea! I think I'm going to use some of my handspun to knit up a bag for my wheel as well. Thanks for the inspiration!

    I have to admit that I'm totally blown away by your ability to spin consistent yarns. I can, but it's rare.

  2. That bag is just too cute! I have been thinking about felting and seeing your success makes me want to jump right in. Also I loved that hat the yarn and the pattern worked so well together!

  3. That is such a cute bag, and a cute hat. But I think I like your yarn the best. The color is lovely and the way it's spun just makes me want to squish it.

  4. It is so much fun to see older projects finished as well as all of the new ones. I still have no idea how you manage to be an amazing culinary genus AND finish all of these projects in record time, amazing! Your handspun always looks so perfect too.

  5. Your spinning is gorgeous as usual and I totally love the little felted goodie bag for your wheel! I'm always up for a felted bag. :-)

  6. How cool! We now have the same hats! :D it is great isn't it? :)

    And a cool bag! I've never felted anything by hand, hmm... Maybe i should try it one day. Though it might be that i'm just too lazy for that and would end uptossing the thing in the washer anyway... Well, i could still try. :)

  7. Joh yeah, forgot... How cool is that? You finished that blanket! Wow!

  8. What a great little bag! And a whole handspun blanket is truly admirable.