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I just read an excerpt from The Knitter’s Book of Wool: The Ultimate Guide to Understanding, Using, and Loving this Most Fabulous Fiber in the winter issue of Twist Collective (The Softness Myth by Clara Parkes). I think this article is full of good observations — yarn should not just be as soft as possible. I have had the conversation on many occasions about a particular yarn I happen to like and been told it is not soft enough, but I ask you: how soft does yarn need to be?
I confess here that I am quite accepting of scratchy wool and will quite willingly wear a hat that makes me scratch and scratch when I take it off — which of course means a red forehead, but I don’t mind (I generally make sure that any yarn I suggest others use in my yarn suggestions is not too scratchy as I know not everyone shares my particular preferences). All the same, if you live somewhere really cold — please never underestimate the value of good forehead coverage, it really is important — I gave myself frostbite (or something very close to it) walking to work one day when it was too cold for the car to start and will never forget that particular lesson (other lessons, yes, that one, no).
But all the same yarn should not only be judged on being as soft as possible — there really are all sorts of measures of a yarn, and I am happy to see more discussion on the subject.
I have immediately requested said book from the library to check out what else Clara has to say.
Back in February I decided to embark on an adventure in crafting, crochet particularly. I ordered a crochet and knitting book with patterns for slippers, leg warmers, and a couple blankets in Japanese and decided I would see what I could do. I got busy with other things and that didn’t happen when planned, but I have gotten quite sick and am not able to do much in the way of much this weekend, so I have decided that crocheting myself some slippers in Japanese might be just the ticket.
Originally, I was trying to work out the yardage and weight per length of the yarn used and needle size etc., and if I understand correctly, the pattern calls for wool at 83m to 50g, but working out everything else seemed like more effort than it was worth, so at this point, I just took out some likely looking yarn and a likely looking crochet hook from my very small collection of hooks and started swatching.
The 5mm hook was too large, so I ran off to get another (4mm). It cost $2.29 — apparently the crochet hook manufacturers have not attained the same level of premiumisation as the knitting needle manufacturers, because I don’t think I ever paid anything near that little for needles.
The new swatch seemed more or less okay and crochet is stretchy, so I just started. They went like a whiz and here they are:
My feet aren’t actually that blue — my camera was trying to help by stopping me from taking an overly orange photo, and I can’t be bothered to get out the manual and figure out how to turn off the automatic colour adjust.
I am quite smitten with the slippers. I think I would have all my shoes be Mary Janes or at least have ankle straps if I could. Somehow it just makes them feel more like mine.
The pattern is available in this book:
I couldn’t wait anymore, and I have cracked out my drum carder this weekend. I didn’t know what fibre to start with, but I finally chose this coloured knot:
I wasn’t really sure what it was — I was completely winging it. When I untied it, it turned out it be several rovings tied together. The yellow and the purple were in equal proportions and the red, orange, and brown were about equal to each of the other two. I wasn’t sure what to do with it, but I decided to card the yellow and mixed colours together and the purple separately.
If you have a carder and spin already, please bear with me, but if you don’t this is so cool:
Here it is when it is almost ready to come off the carder:
Here is my processed purple batt:
And the multicoloured:
Finally here is the yarn I spun from it:
I found this fibre to be a little over-processed for my taste: I like it to have more springiness. This was like over-processed hair. I also need some practice working with the batts because I have only spun from roving so far, and I found that the fibre is not as firmly in the right direction as it is in roving, but overall I would say the venture was a success.
I am so very smitten with my yarn and my spinning and my wheel.
This is the alpaca I wanted to spin, and I wanted to have a yarn kind of pull up from a ball something like this when it was being plied, but when I started touching the fibre it seemed too loose and liable to pull apart to do that with, so I spun it in a thick and thin single:
But I felt that leaving it to untwist as it went back through the wheel it would fall apart, so I wanted to ply it with something to help it stay together. I raided my stash and came up with some brown Sisu from some gloves I knit my mom about five years ago:
I am running out of Sisu, so I will have to find some other brown yarn and just hope it isn’t too different, but how could one not be proud of oneself to have created this:
My mind is running a mile a minute trying to figure out what I want to do with it. I am thinking it would be fun to knit it all on one size of needles, but switch to larger ones for the bulky sections. I figure that would make a really textured knit, but the only problem is that you would almost certainly need to make it into a scarf — surely I can come up with something more exciting than that.