Sunday, October 25, 2009

My Learning Curve

My learning curve. Perhaps it is getting slightly less steep. Abe looks annoyed here but I assure you that's his macho look. I am knitting a pair of mermaid gloves. Craftaholic has inspired alot of people with this design which is... well, go to the blog post and you'll see. I have a feeling that mine won't be quite as nice as some but they'll do. I was going to make socks but those gloves are just so beautiful.
I am starting to stockpile batts. I think I should sit on them for a while rather than try to sell them. As I have said before my learning curve is getting less steep but it is still pretty steep and our economy is pretty bad. You'll notice that some batts are vividly dyed. Those are my latest. Some however are less vivid in part because I started with fawn but still they would be brighter if I had known then what I know now. The pre-dye soak is helped with salt and citric acid. That has made a world of difference.
Basically my fleeces are all bargain basement. They were all in garbage bags and not very clean. Quality is inconsistent but overall so far has been high.
So anyway I have been working with a couple 'jane doe' fleeces, that is a suri and huacaya that did not have any name written on them. I wonder if this is a reflection of their quality because they both seem to have a shorter staple than most of what I have worked with so far but they still are both pretty fine. I sorta feel most comfortable experimenting with lesser stuff.
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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Photos do not do justice...

to alpaca. I pulled out a chocolate fleece today and washed half of it. This is a huacaya but it is very silky, it shows strong suri tendencies. I have a feeling I will like this fleece.

I also dyed some suri and huacaya red, and this time I managed to dye it a good deep red. I am starting to understand how to get alpaca to take dye. It helps to soak it in water with salt and citric acid. I think I might blend the 2 varieties of alpaca. Maybe I should spin up something fine and attempt some sort of lacy thing. I'm not big on red but I'm not opposed to it either, it has to be the right shade and I like this shade. The problem is it really does take time, each process. I sorta have to slow thing down to stick with something.

It sorta amazes me how different each fleece is. Not just the texture but the smell. The chocolate fleece has an earthy grassy smell. I washed it but it still smells like the animal. I think it will take spinning and washing then knitting and washing for that smell to go away. Some fleeces do not smell that good, but this one does. The alpaca it came from is named Dottie.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Stucco's Scarf

I finished Todd's scarf. I think the color there is pretty close to reality. I am finding that the things I make here translate much better in person than via a photo. Just the incredible texture cannot be translated. I love suri.
On Todd's head is a hat I knitted him years ago. It is huacaya cria. I can't say which is softer. The hat is partially felted. It is a better texture for a hat. Anyway, when it gets colder, Todd will be ready.
I also changed my initial design. Instead of reducing it a stitch every other row, I reduced by a stitch every 4 rows. I started with 54 stitches in the center via magic cast on as illustrated by my previous post, beginning a scarf and decreased at that rate until I had 26 stitches then I increased the decrease to a stitch every other row. When if had 20 stitches I decreased a stitch every row until it had 5 stitches and I bound that off, weaving in the end.
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Monday, October 12, 2009

Beginning a Scarf

Here's my basic scarf design. I start from the middle as shown by doing the magic cast on, onto 40 inch circular needles. In this case I am using a sport weight yarn, 64 stitches, on 9 sized needles. I did a few rows straight up knit and am now reducing by one stitch every other row. When I am down to 20 or so stitches I will probably decrease one stitch every row until there's 5 left and then I'll end it. I will complete one half this way and turn it around to complete the other.
For this project I spun up 2 skeins that more or less have the same color progression. I doctored the photo as the colors looked off to me. They are still off but whatever.
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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Some Steps

I'm trying to make a scarf for Todd that I won't be inclined to steal, something that isn't a 'girly' scarf. What follows is an attempt. I monkeyed with the colors in the photos as they are not true to life. These are closer I think.
I intended to spin this up thin so I made some pencil roving. I don't understand why people say suri is hard to spin. I have no perspective but I've found it just as simple as anything else. much of my roving came from Zinn's fleece, which has very long locks. This may have made things easier, though it sure didn't help make the carding easier! That was a pain.
Here's what the yarn looks like. I measured out the roving to alternate colors regularly. I have a pretty specific scarf design that starts out wide in the center and tapers. So for the dirty purple I started with 10 measures then ended with 7 as I alternated with the other colors.
I decided to post my drying rack. We have a 2nd full bathroom that we seldom use that had no soap shelves built in so we ended up putting this corner shower shelf thing in when we had some folks staying with us and it is perfect for stretching out freshly washed skeins.
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Saturday, October 10, 2009

I decided I wanted some socks for myself (or sexy socks)

The socks, with gratuitous knude knees
So, I've been all about the suri. I love love love suri. But it isn't the thing for socks unless I do something really fine and fancy. I think it's beautiful for fairly fine scarves, shawls and stoles and I think I wanna do a skirt but socks? Nope!
I was feeling guilty for making things not for others so I told Todd I'd make him some socks. Fortunately I had a large skein that I hadn't used which is amazing for me. Generally I spin something than knit it up immediately. If I need more, I must spin more which also means more carding. What a process! We really do have it easy now.
OK, so here's me deciding something that is forcing me to wash, dye, card and spin something. I have an off white huacaya fleece labeled 'blue' that I used. I finally suceeded in dying something bright colors. I suppose that learning things from google takes time. Maybe if I had in addition to pre-washing with synthrapol if I were to add some citric acid and some salt my fiber will take dye better. I think that's how it works.
Anyway, I could have taken pictures but I can't get cat's to pose with wet fiber. It's just bright turquoise and purple stuff, this time it might be too bright. I might experiment with blending it with some darker fleece to tone it down. I sorta can' t wait to see how this goes.
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Orange Suri Twist and Raw Purple

I got lazy and made a twist instead of a braid
My orange twist model is making it difficult to post. Sally has conquered my chest. Oh the hazards of couch blogging! Whew! She just left.
I was going to make a third batt, probably natural fawn blended with orange but I did this twist instead. They are orange and orange blended with red.
Three dye lots of purple.
It's hard to get a good picture showing the color variation within one dye lot. I did some monkeying with various effects to show improve the photo with limited results. And then once I card the fleece the colors are so less exciting. Imagine a beautiful delicious dinner thrown into a blender. Or maybe it's really like flour. Yarn is cake batter and a pair of socks is some cupcakes.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

3rd Suri Braid

I guess I've got a thing about cats
Yes, I now have three braids. How many more do I make before I actually try to sell them? Any spinning lurkers out there salivating? These are pretty and soft. I can do custom work if desired. I do wish to dye my colors darker and more vibrant but that'll come so the learning curve is still pretty steep. I need to get a cheap pot so I don't have to do my mason jar thing.

I forgot to mention the small shawl next to Abe. It is a blend of natural off-white and fawn suri spun together which came from Nikita. The shawl is now a cat blanket more than anything else.
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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Suri Roving Braids

I love using cats to model things.

So here's my 1st 2 roving braids. They all came from Zinn's fleece except for 50% of the yellow which is unidentified. I used a flash photo because it better illustrates how shiny suri is.
If I sell this,what should I charge? Should I just stockpile this considering how slowly I produce this stuff and wait for the unemployment rate to improve? Two years ago I'm pretty sure my profit margin would have been much higher but I also would have paid more for the fleeces.
Anyway, the bluish braid has all pea green roving, carder blended blue and purple, and carder blended green and blue. I carded the colors together three times from the raw dyed fleece. The earthy braid is natural fawn, dyed yellow and dyed orange. Each braid is just over 3 ounces in weight.
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