Spun a Sockyarn in One Weekend!

Finish Photo! Ran out of yarn right on the 7 o’clock finish line:

Here are my finished skeins: the sockyarn, my meager turtle silk and some random stuff I found lingering on my bobbin.

This was this morning, around half past five:

Yawn…. Let’s do this!

At half past six I was well on my way. I had tea, I was spinning in my pjama’s and was watching Along The Lanes knitter’s podcast. My life choices were still audibly questioned:

On 5 minutes to 7 my first strand ran out. The rest will be 2ply.

I marked the transition with a bit of pink thread. When knitting I’ll change needle size here. Or start a lace pattern or something. Now I had 5 minutes left until the deadline and I started peddling like mad. 2ply does take more twist than a 3 ply.

Earlier on I had marked another transition, it was when I ran out of Wensleydale and used a second strand of Hollands Sheep instead in the 3 ply:

There was Holland Sheep on the Wensleydale bobbin because on Sunday I had tried to transfer the Hollands Sheep entirely to another bobbin because I needed its original bobbin for the plying. I only have three bobbins that fit this wheel, you see.

So the vintage Louet S70 was brought downstairs and I started transferring the Hollands Sheep to it. But I hadn’t put in enough twist I guess because it kept breaking. It made for a very frustrating hour on Sunday Afternoon! Until I decided to transfer the Wensleydale instead. I just continued on the same bobbin and left the Holland Sheep as is:

The lack of twist in the Holland Sheep came back to bite me again in the end because after 7 o’clock I thought I’d chain-ply the rest of the single and use up all the singles I’d made. It wouldn’t play. Breakage. Frustration:

So at 7:02 I called it quits.

End result:

Here’s a picture of Sunday when I plied what little silk I had spun:

I put it right on top of one of my sock yarn singles since they are spun in the other direction than the silk singles. Before plying I took off the silk and counted its metres.

And I also plied some green single that was lingering on my bobbin into chainply.

Overall I made 275 m of sockyarn and have spun 1128 competition metres in total. A little more actually because I have not counted the few metres left of Hollands Sheep. But who cares. Pimmie, the organizing spinner, has spun over 6000 metres and made over 2000 metres of yarn this weekend! And she has 3 children! Including twins!

She used the long draw technique which yields a lot of metres fast. It’s the ultimate woolen spinning technique and my favourite, together with the ultimate worsted which requires smooth, well prepared fibres suchs as Mulberry silk. Long Draw also requires well prepared fibres: hand carded rolags. Pimmie spend a lot of time making those, prior to the competition:

Ohoooo, when I see this I want to card rolags by the box full too!

Longdraw is such a fun way of spinning. It gives bouncy, light, warm yarn. My Sprig pullover is spun longdraw (even though I used batts instead of rolags, shh, don’t tell). It was Longdraw on a vintage Louet wheel even!

I’m sure I’ll spin Longdraw again soon. In the mean time I’m looking forward to knit some socks with this:


A weekend of spinning

Fellow Dutch spinner Pimmie won Spinzilla!
Yeah, she has a Ashford Country Spinner too. Her happy picture makes me want to bring mine downstairs and throw wool at it. 🙂

This year Pimmie got it in her head to set up a national on-line event to share the joy of spinning (link to Dutch Ravelry Group for the event). We do so at Tour de Fleece and at the national spinners’ day in oktober and she felt there’s room for more! Each weekend some Dutch spinners are trying to spin as much as possible. This weekend it’s my turn!

A little hick up occurred at the starting time last Friday at 7 o’clock at night:

It’s important to relax. Let’s call this mental preparation.

Later on I’m at the wheel, all relaxed and glowy from the bath:

I’m spinning a sockyarnmix from Wolop, bought at Midwinterwol. It’s a mix of three breeds and you spin each as a single. Then you ply them into a three-ply.

The breeds in this beauty are Wensleydale, Lincoln and Hollands Schaap:

I was sure I’d spin one breed per evening. But I fell asleep having barely touched the first one…

Next morning, Saturday, started with encouragements from the local vandals:


(This is the first time graffiti appears in our historic neighbourhood.  There are tags all over the place and people are a bit gutted by it. It’s such a defacing. Luckily none of our walls were sprayed.)

Today I took a trip and I brought the reed dyed bombyx silk and my little turtle spindle:

I got back home in the early evening and reconnected with my wheel. This is a t-shirt I bought at Mermaidy in Utrecht:

It’s made of bamboo and organic cotton, it’s produced in Turkey and bought under Fair Trade agreements. It is printed in Amsterdam and part of the sales go to support the Amsterdam cat shelter the Poezeboot. That’s a no-kill centre on a canal boat:
cat boatpic by Terretta

It’s a great shirt, very soft, in great purple and with silver print of a cat stretching for a heart or spinning fibres. Cats and spinning go so well together.

Now it’s Saturday night and time for bed. I spun the first breed, the Hollands Sheep. 30 grams of the sock yarn is done, about 360 m single I think.

Tomorrow I’ll spin one or perhaps two of the other breeds. Spinning in my head goes so much faster than the spinning in my hands.

Finished: DWD handspun socks

Last year I won a prize in the Tour de Fleece:

A wonderful mix for socks, handdyed by Dutch Wool Diva
42% Wool – Corriedale
42% bfl
15% Manufactured Fibers – Nylon

All fibres are blended together. I spun it into a 3 ply in August 2014, sitting outside. Explaining how you can lace up a vintage Louet (like an S10) to spin really thin.

320 m sockyarn:

A nice round yarn. Soft, well plied. I’m happy with the spinning, it turned out just as I wanted.

September 2014 came around and I started Water Cycle socks straight away, a pattern by Tami Sheiffer. Today I cast off:

There are patterns for waves, vapour and raindrops in the socks.
I’ve put these into hibernation in October, when all I had to do was think up a cuff that represents clouds. I also wanted to knit them until I ran out of yarn, making the socks knee high.
These two ambitions were enough to make me fold when I ran out of steam and had only willpower to go on.
I was also pained by my shoulder which has come a long way now that I keep a better posture and a looser gauge.

Today I picked them up again and didn’t remember the ambitions. I wanted the needle they’re on. And I wanted to wear these socks.
So I put in the border I like so much:
1) *p3, k1*
2) *p3, sl1*
and bind off.

used 240 m on needles 2,5 mm. Toe up.

Look how nice the border fits the pattern:

Another sock on the wheel

I started another sock fibre on the wheel. This one is a combination of BFL (long fibres) and sparkly Nylon (strength).

It’s a roving from Kleurvol and it’s wonderfully soft. And such vibrant colours! I love spinning it in the sun, after so many soft and harmonious colours the past few weeks.

I’ve divided the roving in two lengthwise so I’ll have two socks with the same colour sequence.
Each part is is divided in two again because I’m making a 2 ply sock yarn. I spin from one end of the colours to the other. Orange to teal.

Usually I go for a 3 ply (rounder yarn, more sturdy) but for that you need four bobbins and I only have 3 for my wheel. Navajo-plying, the other way of making a 3ply that only requires two bobbins, is not a favourite technique of mine. All that waving around, getting your fingers knotted up in singles. Just not relaxed spinning.

My singles have much twist and so does the plying so I’ll get a roundish yarn that’s quite sturdy because each fibre is wrapped around others a few times. You see this in most of my worsted spun yarns, I like yarns that look like a string of pearls.

I found someone on Ravelry who spun a 2 ply from this very fibre mix, also dyed by Kleurvol, and her socks look great and wear well.
I’m already planning to knit them toe up, with toes, heels and cuff knitted from the other end of the ball, in contrasting colours.
Orange toes or teal ones? I’m thinking orange…

Here’s one sock on the bobbin:

Spinning for prickly socks?

I can’t stop spinning!

Today I started on some roving that’s meant for socks. It consists of three different breed of sheep which each give one single that are then to be plied into a nice round, sturdy sock yarn. That’s such a clever thing to do, to combine the breed characteristics to determine the properties of the yarn. And to utilize the spinners’ skill for the same goal. Just the thing spinners will delight in.

I’ve spun three breeds for socks before and I wear them with extra joy.

This is a roving from Wolop and the three breeds are BFL, Mohair and regular Dutch sheep. Dyed in great colours!

I bought it at the spinners’ meet where I also bought the Shetland and the Blue Texel.

The mohair is nearly done. It’s prickly:

See the hairs poking out of the single? I can imagine the socks already: sturdy but scratchy.
Normally I avoid mohair as much as possible but for socks this fleece is very well suited, with it’s sturdiness and nice gleam. Alternatives for a sock yarn would be Wensleydale, Mulberry silk or nylon/polyamide: all three long strong fibres. (The Wensleydale would be scratchy too and both fibres would cut into your fingers while spinning if you didn’t apply some tactics.)

Mohair is fleece from a goat and was traditionally used a lot for farmers’ socks over here in the Netherlands. Later on it was embraced by “people who love to be in touch with nature”. I say this with tongue in cheek because in the Netherlands mohair socks are solely responsible for the image of hippie tree-huggers: we call them “goat hair sock wearers”. Preferably wearing sandals. (“geitenwollensokkendragers“)

But the last 15 years things have changed. Tree huggers are no longer hippies. Sustainability is marketable (if not just plain common sense). Natural fibres have a PR budget. And socks and sandals are a fashion statement:

Still…. mohair…
It’s terrible to spin. Loose hairs everywhere! At intervals I have to step outside and shake my skirt in the wind to get rid of them. The fibres are coarse against my fingertips. I had never spun mohair before and I don’t think I’m in a hurry to do so again.

But I look forward to finding out how this single combines with the BFL and the Dutch breed, those two are soft to the touch.

Yes, the combination is great!

These will be great socks! I’m going to love wearing them. As a modern handspun homage to our history and tradition of goat hair socks :

In green.

Spinning Season has started!

It was a quiet spinners’ meet yesterday but it made me thrive. I sat with friends all day and spun my little heart out. Came home and spun some more. Can’t wait to finish this post so I can get back to the wheel. Spin Season has started!

Yesterday we sat together and spun and chatted about wool and fleeces and wheels and ratios. We did have to shut up for a whole 23 minutes to get through the official bit. But that didn’t keep us from spinning:

The rest of the day was spend sitting around in little groups, spinning and chatting. Hauling the weel between groups because you want to talk to this friend and that one. I had a great day!

I was spinning my mystical green sparkly batt that looked like this:

It was the price I got for Tour de Fleece last Summer, made by Cjadam. Every participant in the Dutch Karma Swap Group provided a price and we all got to choose something. I jumped towards Cjadams’ offer like it was silk (which it was).
A lovely, rich, soft batt with colours that have made me happy every time I did a little over the last few months.

I hadn’t expected to finishing the batt right there at the meeting, its yarn is so thin and made with no haste at all. But finish I did. I found myself at a spinners’ meet with an empty bobbin!
Luckily there were some people who brought wool for us to buy:

In the morning I bought a lovely hand carved shawl pin, from oak wood, at Wolop, the market stall at the top picture. It was the first purchase of my day and supposed to be my only one. I had resolved not to buy any spinning fibre that day or any day of this year, to be honest. Because our bedroom is still filled to the ceiling with fleeces and rovings.
We are still sleeping in the low attic because the cabin no longer has a master bedroom. It has a living room, a wool room, a bathroom and an attic.
So no wool for me. I had even waded into the woolroom that very morning, to cement my resolve.

Lovely shawl pin!

But as the day wore on my resolutions wore down. There was such quality for sale! And by then I’d run out of green batt. So really, buying new spinning fibre was a sensible thing to do.
So here are the three vendors that caught my eye and my money: Wolgelukkig; Purewol and Wolop for a second time.

First up: Wolgelukkig.
A great new company specializing in Shetland spinning fibres. Their name means “overjoyed” with a wordplay on “wool”. The actual Dutch word for “overjoyed” is “dolgelukkig”. They do not have a website yet and this was their first market but you can email them at their companyname @ziggo.nl. I expect to see them at future spinners’ markets such as the LSD and Dag van de Wol.

It’s run by two ladies from the south of the Netherlands, spinners themselves, who have procured the sole rights to sell Shetland spinning fibre from the company Jamieson & Smith in this country.
That’s a well known company for Shetland yarns. They are competing with another well known Shetland yarn company called Jamieson’s. Don’t get the two confused. I’m not familiar with their differences but I’m sure there are.

Jamieson & Smith also produces spinning fibre and here it was for sale. In five of those fleece colours typical for the Shetland sheep. There are eleven colours total which also can have different shades within them.
The eleven official colours are light grey, grey, white, emsket (dusky bluish-grey), musket (light greyish-brown), shaela (dark steely-grey), black, fawn, moorit (reddish brown), mioget (honey-toned, yellowish-brown), and dark brown.

I’ve got no idea which exactly these ones are but they combine excellent:

Aha, the website of Jamieson & Smith gives the answer: “Colours available are White, Mid Grey, Moorit (Mid Brown) and Black (Chocolate).”

The roving is well carded and surprisingly soft.
I bought one of their shop launch offers: 50 grams of each colour and an additional 50 grams of the excellent softest white. All in a neat paper bag:

The extra soft white is not in this picture. It was in a separate plastic bag and they explained that usually they’d never sell wool in plastic – mark of a good wool company because in plastic wool starts to sweat and felt – but for this offer they had no choice because the coloured fibres would stick to the white otherwise. It was their first market stall ever and they just hadn’t found the time to go and get smaller paper bags. Would I please take it out of the plastic as soon as I got home?
So I put it in my tin.

Happy floof:

This white is weird! It is indeed ridiculously soft. Soft to skin, soft to baby skin. Butterflies will slip on this.
But the micron gauge is 26, they explained. Which is high. A micron of 18 is buttery soft and not that common. Usually premium Merino. A micronage of 11 is non-attainable and would make butterflies weep.

So a micron of 26 means it’s a coarser wool. Good for rugs and legwarmers worn over trousers.
Except this wool isn’t. This is soft soft wool. I’d take this for 18 micron or even less.

I think this teaches me that micron measures the thickness of solitary strands. And while usually thinner strands mean softer wool, in this case it does not. This is next to skin soft.
(Mind, the five colours of “regular” Shetland they offer are next to skin soft too.)

Another thing I got at Wolgelukkig was this Wool to Project parcel: 20 grams of Shetland in one of the five colours complete with spinning instructions and a pattern to make from it.
This is the wool I threw on the wheel right away and it spun so easily.
This Jamieson & Smith spinning fibre really is wonderful.

I spun up one half of the fibre right there. Finished it right as we were to be sweeped from the room. Literally: I was paddling away like mad while the janitor was slowly approaching with the broom. Made it!

As soon as I’m done posting this I want to start the second half. Ply tomorrow, soak it and perhaps cast on tomorrow evening?
It’s like I have no other woolly things going on at the moment…

The second company that was new to me is Purewol.nl. This is the company of an actual shepherd from the north of the Netherlands, from Drenthe.
He’s a young professional who shears and skirts his fleeces solely based on preserving the quality of a fleece. Not shearing on straw. Not stuffing a fleece in a plastic bag. Not putting in all the bad parts of a fleece and all the poo bits and still asking top dollar. His website is outstanding. Go have a look, for the great photography alone.

For here we’ll have to do with my not-so-great photography of the tester baskets, you’re allowed to just feel and judge for yourself. In the front wool from lambs, in the back wool from ewes:

After talking to him and seeing the fleeces for myself I’m now convinced he’s a pioneer when it comes to offering reliable quality in fleeces. I had had this feeling when I encountered his website last Summer but I didn’t know the guy and it all looked too good to be true. Now I know it is that good.

The only other vendors I personally know/trust to work at this level are Betty Stikkers, a national Fleece Judge I watched at work two years ago, and Marian Burke from Alpaca Milestones (a species I do not spin, alas).
But then, I don’t know all the fleece sellers in the country off course.
And I wouldn’t judge a farmer who knows nothing of spinning and just brings his fleeces to the Countryfair, in a plastic bag, to cater to my needs.
Although nowadays they tend to insist it’s good for spinning and ask top dollar. I’m not shy in judging them if they do.
But what a delight when people specialize and offer quality to spinners!

I fell for a Blue Texel lamb. A light grey one. A whole kilo. That’s a jumper in the make right there.
A very fine fleece indeed:

Smells like sheep! Can’t wait to wash it. I plan to just wash it and keep the locks in formation. Then I only tease apart the tips, perhaps with the aid of a dog comb, and spin it like it is.
(As soon as I spun up that Shetland)(And knit my Deco Cardi)(And my Brioche shawl)(and another thing or two)

Lastly I rounded back towards Wolop and ran away cackling with this lovely green thing:

It’s three different sheep breeds, all dyed together. There’s a sturdy shiny breed, Wensleydale. A soft breed, Dutch sheep. And a semi sturdy breed with a long staple, Bleu Faced Leicester.

You spin each breed separately and in the end you ply the three together. Then you have sock yarn.
I’ve done this before, spin for socks from different breeds, from another vendor. I’d love to have green hand spun hand dyed socks from this.

Now I want to show you the skirt I sewed last week, while I was frustrated by the Deco Cardi repeating itself and the broken needles and the bad weather. I specifically sewed it to match this shirt, that was plant printed by Sinterklaas. My friend who made it was at the meet yesterday and I wanted to honour her by wearing it:

Isn’t it great? The shirt was eco printed with eucalyptus leaves and she left it somewhere (in the ground presumably?) for three months or something. Or was it three weeks? Anyway, not long enough for the fabric to deteriorate but long enough for the plants to release their colour.
We both got many compliments and I didn’t trip over my skirt.

So now I’m off to spin some more Shetland.
Here are the green singles from yesterday that I’ve already plied this morning:

(I cannot get the colour right on this one, it truly is mystical green!)

It came to 260 meters lace weight out of a lovely batt weighing 50 grams.
Tomorrow I’m making soup so there’ll be warm water at the end of the day to soak some skeins in. This one and hopefully that Shetland too. Bye.

Finished: handspun socks

I had a problem with the handspun socks that I was knitting toe-up. One would turn out much longer than the other, with it’s colours running up much higher:

After some thinking and distracting myself with spinning and the Cocoberry cowl I came to the conclusion that socks like these would not please me. So I decided to start the second sock anew, from the top down and from the inside of the ball of yarn:

It was a good decision, the knitting went like crazy.

Albeit a bit cannibalistic once I started to frog the one sock to knit the new one with:

Now they’re finished and I’m wearing them and I’m loving it.

The top down sock has a bit of a harsh colour transition where I’ve picked up the stitches of the gusset and knitted round again. Making sure colours take longer to melt from one into another would solve this problem. But I like them. These are 100% wool socks. By blending breeds they are soft and sturdy.

a Sock and Spinzilla Saturday Night

This is the sock I’m knitting from that Summer Dutch Wool Diva sock roving that I spun really thin on my Louet:

Pattern: Water Cycle Socks by Tami Sheiffer
On needles 2.75 mm, working with 52 stitches in the round before gusset increases. It’s toe up.

this is the pattern picture:

It is inspired by the cycle of rain and water in nature.

It’s Saturday night, I’m spinning Spinzilla and I’m about to start with the last batts and they are the last colour of the lot. Orange!

The spun skeins are on the table. A very nice palet. Very October.

Nervous knitting

Tomorrow I’m visiting a court case for the first time in my life. Even though there’s nothing I can do I’m nervous. So I find myself spending hours calming myself down and knitting socks from handspun.

I just finished one.

It was made from cleverly dyed fibre: 3 separate breeds of sheep. One sturdy, one soft, one with long shiny fibres.
You spin three singles which you then ply into a 3-ply: a nice and round yarn that combines the properties from all three breeds.

Sock roving like this is a specialty from Jeanet Koek. She dyes the three rovings in sequence too so your socks will change colour.

This was my roving. All six pieces of it (3 pieces per sock). My breeds were Wensleydale, Merino and Texelaar.

One 3 ply on the bobbin:

Two bobbins, two balls of yarn, two socks that require only a little assemblage:

I’m knitting these socks toe up so I get to use as much of the yarn as possible. It’s been a while since I knit toe-up but pattern SokBasis by Janneke Maat is a fabulous good pattern, adaptable to any gauge.
SokBasis is in Dutch but Janneke has many -free- sock designs in English

including this beauty, Aragorn:

and this one is toe up, Maeve:

Janneke knows about keeping calm. About matching your socks with colours in nature. About breathing in. Breathing out.

The plan is to have one sock on the go tomorrow, to knit while at court. I’m sure there’s waiting around to be done and I’d love to knit for a bit then.
If they allow me to take my needles into the building! I hear all kinds of things about American courts. But this is the Netherlands and this is an administrative court, I don’t expect overzealous security measures.
Any way, I’m going to risk it. If anything, I can knit a bit while waiting outside the building. Because I’m going early.

But it’s not tomorrow yet and I’ve constantly been knitting (and eating, but let’s not get into that) and now I’ve already finished the one sock. In just three days!

I quickly cast on for the second one because cast-on and initial increases requires some attention and it will probably not do to hush the courtroom just because I’m counting stitches…

I better put it down for today. Before you know it out pops another sock. And what will I occupy my fidgety hands with then? (better bring another sock on the go. Yes, good plan.)(and some bamboo needles, in case this circular needle gets confiscated)(better bring an envelope with my name on it so they can keep it at the security desk until I exit the building)

I wonder if there’s any of that curry left…

hacking the Louet to spin really thin

This is how I interlace my vintage Louet to spin very thin singles. Interlacing to reduce the pull of this bobbin lead wheel. Notice the usage of the first two hooks.

Yes I’m still spinning the sock yarn. Each day I place my wheel outside, under the beech. I take little breaks and sit there, spinning. The cat keeps me company.

This is a lovely coloured project. Normally I don’t go for the subdued colours but I really enjoy it. It’s very zen. Not very loud to the eyes. I’m looking forward to how the resulting yarn will be, colourwise.

This is halfway the second bobbin. The first is on the left, finished. There is to be third.

I divided the long roving in three segments. I noticed that two segments had the same colour sequence: coral reds to purple. They were dyed next to each other and identical.
One piece I spun from reds to purple and the other one from purple to red. When they are plied together I’ll have a sockyarn that’s evenly mixed in colours. I won’t end up with one red sock and one purple.

The third segment looks like this:

I’ll be spinning it from end to end: blue – pink – grey – pink – blue
That too will distribute the colours evenly over the two socks.

Unfortunately this wheel spinning is hurting my shoulder a bit. So I need to pay attention to that. It helps to do good fiber prep. That third segment needs to be fluffed up extensively so drafting will a breeze.
Very loose fiber also makes spinning thin more easy.

I’m a bit stubborn with the shoulder, I want to spin this, I want to felt that throw and I want to knit the Rockefeller. All three things hurt.
Perhaps it’s time to change it up with spindle spinning again because that doesn’t hurt my shoulder at all. And there’s some lovely silks asking to be spun…

For now I’ll just spin/felt/knit a little longer….
Good posture, relaxed shoulders and doing them only for short bursts of time go a long way.

Sunny spots under the beech tree: