In 2011 I was a member of the Dutch Wool Diva Spinning Doses Club. Each month I got a marvellous package at home, being a handdyed roving or handcarded batts. All made by the marvellous DutchWoolDiva
December 2011 brought a package called Winterberry:
two batts of 50 grams with soft wools, silks and glitter. One batt had coloured layers: dark, red, white. The other had the same colours blended. For a spinner, this gives great opportunities in spinning choices. Will I spin one single blended and one single multi coloured and twine them together? Will I spin the colours from the layered batt separate or will I draft more whimsical? Spinners have so many choices that sometimes it flattens the fun.
Not with Winterberry though!
I had some old ’80s mohair skeins laying around. Mohair is a very hairy thread, the long hairs are excellent ‘grabbers’ for whatever fluff you bring near it while it is turning and disappearing into the wheel. So I let the thread of mohair roll into the wheel, kept the fluff of one batt near it untill the mohair grabbed some. Then I let the fluff roll around the thread and when I though it was enough I let the now covered thread roll into the wheel, onto the bobbin.
That’s what we spinners call ‘core spun’.
It turned the two batts into this:
two skeins with a mohair core. One skein has the blended batt, the other one has the coloured layers that turned into a self striping yarn.
This yarn is not plied, it is a single. A single made up of a core and a covering. The core itself is an existing yarn: a two ply that had been plied. I had to take care not to overtwist the yarn. Because it would not be countertwisted through plying.
To finish the yarn (set the twist) I put it into scolding hot water and then scared it silly in icecold water. I repeated this treatment for 5 more times. This is colled ‘fulling’. It ‘felts’ the inside of the yarn. Not the outside.
Now the twist has sat, the yarn is in balance (it won’t twist and curl when you leave it loose) and the knitting will not bias.
For a whole year I did not know what to make with it. Then in early winter 2012 snow fell. And I was cold. Especially around my neck, what with my short hear and the mint sweater that still needed its collar but that I was wearing all the time anyway…
brrrrr! so cold
then one day I started knitting. I made a circle in white with the self striping yarn, thinking it was something nice around my face. Then I picked up with the semisolid yarn, leaving the striped one dangling. Knit a few rows, felt it was time for a ‘stripe again and switched yarns. I was getting into the groove and saw myself alternating yarns like this untill I’d run out.
Then I realised the front of my neck was in the way: I’d meet my neck below before I’d cover my head on the top. So I started shortrowing. Which means you just stop knitting mid row, turn your work and knit the other way. (There are some tricks to avoid a gap. I am a fan of the shadow short row)
so when I had enough length to cover my head without throttling myself I closed the back, starting at the top and working down. It happened to be in a stripe of dark yarn (I made it so 😉
I don’t know how I did it exactly. It was a three needle bindoff but without there getting a ridge. Basically what I did was: knit 1 stitch from the one needle and bind it off, knit one stitch from the other needle and bind it off. It created a nice mesh between the two needles.
I did not close it all the way to the back of my neck, I left it a bit open and again inserted shortrows. This time to work downwards with the aim to make a collar. It’s all the dark rows you see. There are far more dark rows in the back than there are in the front.
Once I could knit the collar in the round again I did. Inserting a bit of stripes here and there. I had to fudge it a bit to avoid another dark stripe. Just cut it out!
I finished with a white stripe, casting off using Jeny’s surprisingly stretchy bind off.
With the yarn left I made two wristwarmers and I have been wearing this whole combination with much pleasure. Especially over the mint sweater that still not has its collar.
needles used: 7mm
yarn: 163 m
used: 150 grams for the hood, 55 grams for the wristlets