Thursday, January 08, 2009

A Hat Only a Mother Could Love

I've continued following the advice many of you gave me to continue trying to learn to spin with a spindle by practicing for brief periods every day if possible and I'm beginning to see the first glimmer of hope. Your tips on trying "park and draft" also helped quite a bit. Thank you so much for your help and support!

After my first attempt with the "practice" fiber included in the beginner's kit, I moved on to the dyed fiber that was also part of the kit. (This was pretty funny to me. Does anyone "practice" with a tiny bit of undyed fiber and then decide they've nailed it and are ready to go?) Keep in mind that I only had about a dozen yards of pyarn from practice, so these next photos are still very, very early in this little spinning endeavor of mine!

It's still rather a monstrosity. Some sections are so thin that the twist gathers there and creates little piglet tails of tightly coiled pyarn, while other sections are so thick that the twist can't possibly travel through them which results in puffy sections that look like a snake that just swallowed a gazelle.

Despite not seeing much improvement in the results at the stage when I spun this last week, I did see marked improvement in my comfort level handling the spindle and the fiber. That alone was a big step. I'm also starting to feel just the tiniest bit more comfortable with the whole drafting process. My drafting skills are still sorely lacking, but I've at least reached a point where it is no longer a violent game of tug o' war (which is what seems to have caused my earlier problems with fiber flying everywhere; that problem is pretty much gone now).

Since this pyarn I'm spinning (I use that word loosely) is so very thick, it didn't take more than a few sessions before I had blown through most of the 3 or 4 ounces or so of fiber in the kit. I never planned to do anything with this pyarn, but once I saw it all sitting there looking so pathetic I found myself overcome with the desire to make it into something.

And so I present A Hat Only a Mother Could Love:

I'm going to send this sad little hat to my mother, who I know will enjoy the story of its creation. Whether she will actually attempt to wear it is another matter altogether!

You may say, "Hey, it's not all that bad. It's even kind of cute, in a home-grown sort of way." Well, let me tell you that looks can be deceiving. Although it doesn't look that horrifically bad in the photos, the hat is actually very inflexible. It feels more like cardboard than fabric. Much of the pyarn was thick enough to knit on a size 13 or so needle, while other sections were so thin that a size 2 might have done better. I settled on a size 10, fearful that going any larger than that might leave holes and gaps in the sections where the pyarn becomes very thin. The result is a very rigid hat, which is particularly thick and cumbersome through the crown where the decreases are.

Once this was done, I continued my adventures with the spindle by using the final bits of fiber to attempt to spin a slightly thinner and more manageable version of pyarn. I very stupidly forgot to photograph the finished pyarn! It's still not good at all, but I have to say that I did see some improvement and was also surprised to find that I found it easier to spin thinner. Anxious to see how the knitted fabric would look, I started up a little swatch with the new pyarn before I thought to take a picture of it in its unknit state.

This is knit on size 5 needles, so considerably thinner than the first rounds of pyarn. Knit up, it doesn't look half bad (despite the slightly out of focus picture).

Phase Two of Project Spindle is to dye up some fiber myself. I've got a small quantity dyed now in a semi-solid rich blue, but I haven't done anything with that yet and I think I've rambled on enough for today. More to come on that next week, along with an update on the Spring Lace Club that's coming (signups will be in early February, so not far away at all!).

Everyone have a lovely day and a wonderful weekend!

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