Thursday, April 17, 2014

Hemp Knitting Underway

After much research, I decided on a knitted lace pattern that I thought would allow my handspun hemp yarn to drape comfortably as a scarf.  I prefer garter stitch lace since it is reversible and does not curl.  So, I have used both Shetland and Russian garter stitch lace patterns for scarves.  After some swatching and ripping, I selected the New Shell pattern in Elizabeth Lovick's book The Magic of Shetland Lace.  I modified the pattern a bit so that I could get three scallops and a garter stitch edge on a scarf that is about 5 1/2 inches wide.  Lovick commented in her notes on the pattern that it does well with color changes, which worked for me since I have two 2 ounce skeins of hemp in different colors.  Here is how I have done so far:

I am using size 3 needles to enhance the drape of the fabric.  The size 2 needles produced a fabric that was too firm.  It is knitting up fast and the pattern is easy to memorize.  I am carrying the unused color up the right edge and it is barely visible between the slipped edge stitch and the next stitch.  It looks pretty good now but I will steam finish it when it's done.  I hope to finish in time for our trip to the southwest in June.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Cotton Plying

I am in the middle of plying all the cotton singles that I have spun over the past couple of months.  The singles were spun using akha and top whorl handspindles, depending on the staple length.  For the dark brown cotton, I did not allow the akha to leave my hand.  The staple of the peach/white colored Sally Fox cotton was long enough for me to use a light-weight top whorl handspindle and let it leave my hand to add twist. 

I made plying balls using two singles wrapped together around the ball.  Plying cotton is easier for me using this method because the thin yarn does not tangle when taken from the balls.  I am using a heavier top whorl handspindle to ply.  Soon I will have six bobbins full of cotton, ready to process. 

Unfortunately the true colors are not showing up well in this photograph.  I have two light brown balls, one dark brown ball, one medium brown ball, and two peach/white balls (one is still on the spindle in progress as shown here). 

I have greatly enjoyed spinning and plying cotton using the methods described above.  I can spin quite a bit while waiting for dinner to cook and relaxing in the evening.  Working with the different cotton staples on the spindles has been a great practice for me.