Saturday, April 27, 2013

All About Handspun

It appears as though I have been falling in love with spinning/handspun lately.  In part I know it has to do with my trip to the Alpaca Expo and the three bags of fiber I bought there, but I also have a sneaking suspicion that it has to do with the changing seasons.  I never noticed until I got to thinking about it, but the spring and summer months tend to be my spinning months.  In fact, looking at my bin of handspun that I have made over the years, not a single skein was made during the winter.  I guess for me, winters are for knitting and summers are for spinning.  At least now I know.

Here in Minnesota, we've had a particularly slow start to our spring season.  This month alone we had snow storm after snow storm.  Here's a photo from April 19, just one week ago:

I have to tell you, working in a coffee shop where I interact with hundreds of other Minnesotans every day, it was clear that we were all using every ounce of our strength to stay sane and civil during these past few weeks.  In the fall, we mentally prepare for a long, dark, cold winter with the knowledge that on the other side will be spring.  We hunker down and get through it the best we can.  When March comes around, our longing becomes a little more desperate and with each snowfall, the complaints begin.  April hits and we know that the snow will soon be gone and we shed our emotional winter coats in place of a more hopeful, lighthearted demeanor.  So when April continues to dump inches upon inches of snow on our already fragile, now unprotected, winter-weakened emotional state, it is a little difficult to cope.  We get through winter knowing that spring is coming, but when we get to the other side to discover that there is only winter...  the anxiety, frustration, and desperation is palpable.

Thank god, then, for this weekend that has brought temperatures in the 70s, a clear blue sky, and the warm spring breeze that we have all been longing for these past six months.  And like clockwork, the changing of the seasons (and I really don't think it's supposed to happen this suddenly...) has brought me back to spinning.

Outside, even.  In fact, I was sitting at that very same picnic table that just a week ago was covered in half a foot of snow.  I never realized how relaxing it is to spin outside - I'll definitely be doing it more often.

It's well past time that I finished up this spinning project, which I started almost a year ago.  I'm very near to the finish line with only seven ounces (of 36) left to spin, resulting in the most amazing sweater yarn I have ever owned.  I am so excited to have this done, not because I'm sick of spinning it (which I am not.  I never tire of watching these colors flow through my fingers), but because it means I can move on to the next step of the process - knitting the sweater!

And it's not just the spinning wheel that has been seeing some action these days.  I even broke out one of my spindles again, which has been a lot of fun.

This particular spindle is a Kundert spindle and spins like a dream.  It is perfectly balanced and beautiful to look at and has very quickly become my new favorite.

And as if spinning wasn't enough, I've been knitting with my handspun, as well.

I showed you those wrist warmers back in February, and they're still not finished, but hopefully soon I'll have the second one done.  I'm also knitting up a lace shawl using some superwash BFL dyed and gifted to me by Anne at Wooly Wonka Fibers in her "Wood Duck" colorway.

I love the wonderful character that handspun is adding to this project.  The pattern is Miriam Felton's Mountain Peaks Shawl, which has been in my queue for years.  I think this pattern is a perfect balance of lace and simplicity to show off the yarn, which totally surprised me with its stripes.  We'll see if they continue throughout the whole project.

I've continued to submerge myself in spinning, reading what I can and watching several videos to improve my skills and understanding of the craft.  Does anybody have any recommendations for the best hand cards and combs?  And yes, I'm totally serious.  I want to take this spinning thing one step further and begin to prepare my own fiber.  I hope to at least get one Suri alpaca fleece from this year's shearing at the farm, but I'd love to prepare other fibers as well.  Any advice would be very helpful!

Until next time, stay warm and enjoy the sunshine!


  1. This winter was far too long, I totally agree. I'm glad you finally have the chance to be outside!

  2. "And it's not just the spinning wheel that has been seeing some action these days." Sorry but I laughed so hard after I read those words! giggle

  3. So glad you are spinning again. And that the sun is shining!

  4. That is how I feel about 100+ days in October.
    I have to say that the absolute best tool for fiber prep is Joan.

  5. We've had the same interminable winter here too. Your description of people's moods is spot on. But woot -- spinning stuff! :-)

    I'm glad to see you're back at it again, and that you're actually knitting with it now, and that you're enjoying it.

    I'll send you a link on Ravelry to a group dedicated to fibre prep. You may find something helpful in there as to cards and combs.

  6. I just happened onto your blog from Lappone. I was searching for info and patterns for twined knitting. Love your blog and your sweater yarn that you're spinning is quite nice. I think you'll love preparing your own fiber. The process is very rewarding from beginning to end. :-) I am using the Student Ashford hand carders and they work beautifully for my llama fiber. They are full size hand carders with 72tpi and a curved one piece design. I'm certainly no expert but they have been working nicely for me so far.

  7. It feels as if we're waking from our long winters nap. May will bring more sun and warmer days, more time to be outdoors doing what we need to fill our souls with warmth.

  8. Very nice spinning, the fiber looks very soft, and I can't wait to see it all plied up. I really like spinning in the spring too. After the Christmas knitting rush, and then long cold days of January and February, I get into kind of a knitting rutt, and with the change of weather spinning is a change of pace, and way to create a new.

  9. I got exactly the opposite sensation, i used to live in a very arid place where there were practically 2 weather seasons: winter (which only lasted for a couple months) and a horrible 50°C summer that seemed to never end.

    I love your work, your spinning is very smooth and your FO look so nice, i wish i could work so much on my knitting/spinning. Is that a ministrel ?, i wanted the sonata wheel for portability but ended up with an old Ashford traditional.