dinsdag 10 september 2013

Handspun for me!

Lately I realized I never really made something for mé with a yarn I spun myself. Most times I put them in my Etsy shop, while scraps and leftovers are used for dolly hats and beanies. So...wasn't it time to try out some of my handspun for myself? Actually, putting it that way...using my own yarn might even give me some useful information on how I can improve their usability!

Being a real lover of scarves and cowls, the decision for a neckwear piece was quickly made. A little while ago I already made a little girl's cowl with super bulky thick-and-thin thread, so this time I wanted to go for a thinner yarn to work with. It would again be a knitting project though, just so I'd get more practice (my crochet skills are way better!). I am really fond of the look of single yarns for projects like these, but I knew that wasn't the easiest way to go. Every spinner knows that it's not easy to get a single, non-plied yarn balanced (for non-spinners: this means that the yarn doesn't twist around itself anymore). And working with an unbalanced yarn means trouble! Your final work will crook and twist, it's impossible to make it equal and straight if your thread is not balanced. But, again...creating a balanced single yarn is quite a challenge!

To make a long story short: this project was an excellent chance for me to get more experienced with single yarns and setting their twist. I learnt new techniques like using steam and even smacking! (Imagine a girl smacking a hank of yarn against the floor like crazy and now try to convince yourself she's not a lunatic...even my cats looked quite astonished :P). Since my plan was to make a loose cowl that could also be worn during the colder summer days, I wanted to go with a bright color. I ended up with Bonfiber's "Pretty in Peach", it actually was exactly what I was looking for! I ordered 6.5 oz and used all of that for this project. 

I also ordered new circular needles, since I grew sick of my old cheap ones and also needed a longer string. I picked the KnitPro Nova needles (4.50mm), and did not regret my choice. In fact, I even already ordered more of this series...they knit so smoothly! Finally, I also used some blank, undyed merino roving, I think about 0.5 oz. So...for anyone who feels inspired by this project and would like to make something similar, here's a little necessities list:

- 6.5 oz (superwash) merino roving in any color you'd like
- 0.5 oz (superwash) merino roving, undyed
- circular knitting needles, about 4.50mm (depending on your preferences), at least 80 cm string
- spinning wheel (duh!)

I spun quite an even single, though I did intentionally put in some thinner and thicker parts to get a nice structure in my final project. I set the twist using different methods. I'm not gonna describe them extensively here now, I still have way too much to learn on this area! Maybe one day I'll feel experienced enough to write a blogpost about balancing yarns...in, like, a hundred years or so :P Anyway, there are plenty of good advices, video's and tutorials on the Internet, so just google ahead!

I wound my newspun yarn in two balls: a big peachy ball and a small blank ball. I casted on the amount of stitches I thought I would need for a loose cowl, and knitted one row with the undyed yarn. Then I switched to the peachy yarn and knitted 10 rows. After every 10 rows, I'd do a blank row again, until my cowl was big enough and my yarn was all used up. Simple as that! Of course you don't have to do a blank row after every 10 colored rows...it's whatever you prefer, I just thought it would make a nice variation!

Since this project was so super easy (only knits, round after round after round), I think every amateur knitter can make it. Even if you don't spin your own yarn, you can order a similar thread (go support all the indie spinners on Etsy and buy one of their special handspun yarns to show off in your project!) and work on this cowl while watching tv, sitting in the car, or on the train...it needs no counting or extreme attention, it'll just give your hands something to do!

After finishing my cowl, I noticed it had become a bit fuzzed. This was probably the result of often bringing the work-in-progress with me in my bag and having it in my hands over and over again. To solve this, I asked my mom to bring her fabric shaver over. It was the first time I used this thing, and I was actually pretty careful at the beginning, not sure if I would harm the yarn. But, it worked like a charm! Those fabric shavers are also known as lint/fuzz/pill removers. I'm afraid my mom won't get hers back soon, I've used it a lot after discovering it's usefulness!

My cowl ended up loose enough to be worn during Spring or cold Summer days. I'm pretty happy with how it turned out, I think it makes a colorful and comfy accessory, and having made it myself gives it an extra special feeling. Feel inspired? Go ahead and use this post as a guideline for your own next knitting project, if you like! I'd love it if you'd let me know...any thoughts, comments and advices are welcome!

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