There And Back Again

I’m back from an adventure, everyone! Well, it’s not technically an adventure, but it certainly feels like one. There was a learning experience, I tangled with a few monsters, and I got treasure at the end.

What I really mean is that I learned how to spin (thanks to fortunate circumstances and guidance from Mim)! Check out all these treasures I found yarns I spun!

 

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We started me out with a small drop spindle and cheviot. The first yarn I spun was a bit…too twisted. The left is a two-ply version from the single ply on the right.

 

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Then I got the hang of the drop spindle and was even able to spin beads into the yarn! Unfortunately, I hadn’t figured out how to set the twist just yet.

 

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Later I decided that I wanted to try a different fiber and went with some of Highland Handmade’s corriedale cross (in colorway “Bearded Iris”). This is when I finally figured out how to set the twist!

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The real test began when I learned how to use a wheel. In retrospect, Malabrigo’s merino top probably wasn’t the best fiber to start off with.

 

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We got along eventually.

 

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And now I have my own smaller wheel to use! (Well, ok, it’s temporarily adopted from my mom, but it’s mine for now. )

Two Yarns Held Together

Lauren's Mouse Stuffed ToyShortly after I taught myself to crochet, I decided to make crocheted gifts for each of my family members. For my three siblings, I made stuffed toys. They may all be adults, or nearly so, but who couldn’t use a cheerful little something decorating one’s office or bedroom? Stuffed toys are for grown-ups too, thank you very much. But for my parents, I decided to make scarves. Mom’s was decorated with ruffles and flowers and beads. It delighted me to no end to produce a scarf straight from my girly-girl dreams. But Dad’s a dad, with a professional manly sort of style, and his scarf had to be a little more conservative. What could I do to spice it up?

As I dug through my craft supplies, I was thrilled to experience a jolt of inspiration when I happened upon some embroidery floss. It occurred to me that I could add a whole rainbow of bright color in little bits that would make a grey scarf spectacular, but subtle. I’d do it by holding a much heavier yarn in grey together with a thin strand of vibrant yellow, for instance. I’d keep the base color the same, and change out the accent color periodically. When I purchased 20 or so colors of embroidery floss from a local store, the lady who rang me up asked me the question I ask customers every day – “So, what are you planning on making with this?” It’s a good question, after all. Making things out of yarn is my favorite thing to talk about. But she gave me a curious side-long glance when I told her I’d be incorporating this embroidery floss into a grey scarf. The conversation went no further. I wondered if I was the only one ever to have done such a thing.

But as it turns out, nothing in the world is entirely new, and holding two yarns together was certainly no exception. There are several excellent reasons for which one might do such a thing.

1. You want to achieve a larger gauge. Holding two strands of lace-weight yarn together will give you approximately a fingering-weight gauge. Holding two strands of fingering/sock-weight yarn together will give you approximately a worsted-weight gauge.

1a. It may expand your yarn options to consider holding two strands together. There happen to be a lot of great machine-washable options in fingering-weight yarns since many are designed for socks!

1b. It may help you work from your yarn stash. The other day, I wanted to use a fingering-weight yarn and a dk-weight yarn together because the colors and textures were perfect for each other, so I double-stranded the fingering-weight yarn!

1c. You can achieve extremely large gauges by holding 3 or 4 or 5 or 6 strands of worsted-weight yarn together. This is awesome for rugs!

pihat08_web2. You can create unique textures. Consider holding a strand of wispy mohair yarn together with a smoother yarn, to add a soft fuzzy halo to your fabric. We did this when we designed the Pi Hat. Berroco Yarns recently released a gorgeous pattern called the Kennebec Hat, which achieves the same effect by holding a strand of Andean Mist together with a strand of Boboli Lace.

3. You can achieve complex, almost iridescent colors. When you knit or crochet with two yarns held together, they naturally wrap around each other, mimicking the look of a marled yarn (think about sock monkeys, made with brown & cream-colored marled yarn).

4. You can blend colors gradually to create a gradient effect. When you hold two strands together, and change out only one at a time, you can create the appearance of a gradual change from one color (or texture) to the next.

Here are a few gorgeous examples.

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Hold two strands of the same yarn in same, then different colors to transition gradually from one color to the next. Pattern: Anastasia Shawl by Berroco. Photo by Ravelry user Lindabannerman.

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Hold strands of neutrals together with brights to create a “confetti” look. Pattern: Confetti Scarf from Purl Soho.

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Hold yarns in similar hues together to create a rich, iridescent look. Pattern: Five by Five Cowl by Felicia Lo.

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Hold two strands of lace weight cotton together to make a lightweight dish cloth with a marled look. Pattern: Not Your Ordinary Knitted Dishcloth by Erica Lea.

Hold two strands of gradient-striping yarn together for rich, surprising color transitions. Pattern: Waiting for Winter Mittens by Susan B. Anderson.

Something Old, Something New…

I’ve been working on a speech for a dear friend’s wedding, so my head is full of wedding cliches, like the title of this post. The Goldfish baby sweater continues (not enough progress made this week to show you a photo update — maybe next week), the fridge is overflowing with glorious produce from local farms (I have grand plans to freeze stuff for winter), and this speech of mine just refuses to write itself. I even left it alone through all of last week, and the darn thing didn’t grow by a single word. I really wish that my brain could apply some of the creative energy it expends on my dreams to the speech instead. Recently, I dreamed that I urgently needed to find a suitable retirement home for a beloved elderly flamingo. In Wyoming. And my phone wouldn’t work. Since I’ve got a bit of brain drain going on, I’m going to keep this post short and sweet; I hope you’ll forgive me.

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Photo: Vesti

In the theme of “something old”, The Siberian Times recently posted an article about the archaeological discovery of a 50,000 year old needle! (This news is also “something borrowed”, because I am borrowing it from a recent email from Erin of Yarn Market News — thanks, Erin!) The bone needle was found in Denisova Cave in Siberia, and scientists are excited because they believe that it was made by Denisovans. If this is true, it would seem to indicate a greater level of sophistication than was previously attributed to these extinct hominins. This beautiful, delicate needle was made by a pair of hands not that different from mine, and used to sew something over 30,000 years before the stunning cave paintings of Lascaux . Now, when I sew patches on my jeans or put a button back on a coat, I will think of that fragile bone needle, and find new wonder in a mundane task.

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© Caro Sheridan

For our “something new”, I decided to pick a new pattern that has arrived in the shop. Conveniently for my theme, it also happens to be “something blue”. This gorgeous shawl is called Viannette, and was designed by Pamela Wynne for Juniper Moon Farm Findley Dappled, though you could absolutely also use the solid color Findley or a combination of the two yarns. The pattern is available in our store, on Ravelry, or through our webstore. There’s just enough going on to keep you interested, but not so much that you throw it across the room in despair put it in time out. This is the kind of project my brain needs right now: something that will occupy the squirrelly side of things, to leave room for the creative speech writing flow.

Come on, brain. Let’s do this.