Jobo Designs

Letting the crafty creative juices flow. Knitting, spinning, crafting, dyeing, rabbits, sheep and more!

24. January 2011 11:01
by Jobo
2 Comments

Yarn Candy Monday: Knit Picks Chroma!

24. January 2011 11:01 by Jobo | 2 Comments

chromaI know I might sound like a broken record talking about Knit Picks Yarns... but I really do find that they have great yarn for reasonable prices!  Plus, when I order I know it will be a no hassle experience - i.e. the package won't get stuck at the border, there won't be extra duty charges, and when it gets here, I know it will be full of yarny goodness! Ok, enough about Knit Picks... now onto the YARN

It seems every yarn manufacturer these days is trying to come up with some new Noro-esque yarn.  I can totally see why!  I love Noro's long smooth color changes, and fantastic colorways.  The trick is - I don't particularly appreciate little twiggy things in my yarn (I generally have enough hay in my hair and on my clothes from the Ruttibutt that the other day a coworker even asked me if I'd been for a "Roll in the Hay" recently... lol)  or the scratchy and irregular nature of standard Noro.  I also don't appreciate the 10+ dollar price tag for yarn that will no doubt have a splice in the middle, and only has about 100 yards in it to begin with. 

So now that I've been seeing these Noro-substitutes around.... Michael's has one, and now Knit Picks too... I thought I'd just give in and try one of them.  

One thing for certain... this yarn is a crap-ton softer than Noro will ever dream of being!  So soft in fact that I wonder how these softly spun singles will hold up to wear.  I'd hazard a guess it will pill like nobody's business, but time will tell.

The colors are great however!  I bought a plain cream skein, and a rainbow of blue and green in "Pool Party" with the intention of making another pair of Fiddlehead Mittens.  I chose worsted this time, but I think I'd like to try the fingering weight for a scarf or something sometime.

chroma2I wonder how many times the colors change?  hmmm...

5. May 2010 11:12
by Jobo
3 Comments

Fulling and Whacking? Using Felting to Your Advantage

5. May 2010 11:12 by Jobo | 3 Comments

every time I think of long color gradients... my mind automatically goes back to the "Cake" song "Short Skirt, Long Jacket"  only of course with a looooong loooooooooong jacket color gradient.

longgradientsingles2 

Here is a first peek at my singles off the bobbin.  I am always amazed at the way spun singles seem to kink up at even intervals when you take the skein off of the niddy noddy...  Little loops and twists and flips.  I have one XL bobbin of singles that range from black through to medium green, and I have all of the fiber prepped for the progression of medium green through to pale lemon/lime.  I hope to finish those sometime this week.  (This weekend time was not on my side)

longgradientsingles3

I am finding it very difficult to photograph this yarn for some reason.  The greens just don't show up the right shade, and the Black looks almost blue here, but in person it's more like coal.  I think it might be time for a new camera over here in casa-de-Jobo...  maybe for Christmas next year? 

I forgot to measure the WPI of my singles, but I was aiming for around the size of a complete (2ply) strand of Knit Picks Shadow Lace.  I want to knit something light and lacy from this, similar to the Swallowtail Shawl I made from Polwarth singles last year (click here to see the post about it!)  I love how light and feminine that shawl is, and though it feels thin, it is quite warm.  I am leaning towards the "Shetland Triangle" for this yarn... or maybe a Multnomah?

After skeining the singles... I decided to try "fulling" it - with the goal of semi felting the singles so they would puff up and hold together better.

Fulling - is a process where the spinner uses heat, agitation and moisture to finish yarn.  Basically you are using the wool's feltability to your advantage.  With a single ply yarn, the fibers are twisted around each other which provides some strength to the thread, but basically without the multiple ply advantage, singles can be weak and drift apart.  There is a delicate balance between having a single that has enough twist to hold together, yet not so much twist that it kinks and curls over on itself.  This idea has many advantages, but also has a few drawbacks.

Working out the Kinks!  Sometimes just washing the yarn in warm water can be enough to set the twist... so that the finished yarn has an appropriate balance.  In the case of my singles yarn, I definetly wanted to relax the kinking and twisting.  The yarn bath helped this a lot.  If the yarn remained kinky after it's soak and bath, I had planned on putting a weight at the end of the skein to stretch it out a bit during the drying.  it turns out that I really didn't need to do that this time.  After a yarn has been washed and dried, the fiber puffs up and feels rounder and lighter.  By relaxing a little of the twist, the yarn has a nicer feel and the fiber itself does too!

temperature shock Hot and Cold Water?  Won't this wreck the yarn?  The first thing one learns about wool is that it turns to felt if you treat it the wrong way.  You are never supposed to expose wool to harsh temperature changes.  So why would someone want to dunk and swish yarn in Hot water and then Cold water?  My goal here was to actually promote a little bit of felting in this yarn!  Of course, like anything else, this should be done in moderation.  I chose to fill both sides of my kitchen sink (one hot and one cold) and I soaked and squished the yarn gently moving it back and forth from one side to the other.  I think I went back and forth about 3 times (Hot, Cold, Hot, Cold, Hot, Cold) and then gently wrapped in a towel and squeezed dry.  I was worried that my yarn would become a useless lump of felted strings, but I think I managed a happy medium and just got a nice felty balance.  One thing I really noticed was the amount of shrinkage in the length of the skein.  After the yarn was dry, I tried to replace it on the niddy noddy just to see if it had shrunk much.  The skein was about an inch too short to go back on comfortably.  I hope this means that my yarn felted and shrank into itself just enough to become stronger and more cohesive.

Agitated?  Says Who?  I Feel Fine...  Another rule of acceptable wool treatment is to avoid agitation and rubbing when it is wet.  Nasty things have happened to wool garments, even in cool water on the gentle cycle of the washing machine.  In the case of fulling, a little agitation can be good!  When the yarn was soaking in both the cool and hot baths, I gently swished around the yarn.  The fibers rubbing up against each other helped to soften and smooth the edges of the single (from a tight twisted feel to a more woolen and rounded feel)  After the yarn was towel dried I also took the opportunity to "Whack" the skein while it was damp to continue this softening process.  For me, whacking is basically holding one end of the skein and hitting the opposite end of it on my smooth wooden bannister a couple dozen times, and then alternating to the other end of the skein and repeating.  My husband generally looks at me funny when I'm doing this (beating the bannister with a skein of wet yarn... honey? are you ok?)  but I find it does help a gentle halo to form, especially when I'm working with angora or mohair.  For Plain wool, you don't really get a halo per se, but the yarn feels more poofy.  Try it, you will see what I mean.

longgradientsingles1 

Here is a closeup of the finished, dried, fulled, whacked, exhausted, Singles!  I can't wait to finish the second skein, ball it up, and get knitting :)

27. April 2010 07:46
by Jobo
4 Comments

Carding Your Own Long Color Gradients

27. April 2010 07:46 by Jobo | 4 Comments

I wanted a yarn with a long... looooooonnnnng color gradient....

After being inspired by a shawl made by another spinner... ColorlessBlue... in particular her "Simi" which can be seen on her blog (click here) I thought I would set out to learn to make such yarn.  Hers in particular faded gloriously from light pink through to Black, and was spun from a braid of hand dyed fiber.

I had about 4 ounces of Polwarth Roving, handpainted in shades of Dark Navy (almost black) and screaming lime green leftover from another spinning adventure (Caterpillar 3-ply... more here)

rovingpolwarth 

rovingtorninchunks

 

After some reading... I set out to try and tear this pile of poofy goodness into 6 inch chunks and try to separate them out by color.  I wanted to put all the darkest bits at one end of the table and then gradually cross over to the lightest greens.  Some of the chunks were clearly destined for one pile or the other, but the pieces where there was a little of each color were a little harder to predict.  I decided to just set those aside and see what they looked like once carded.

 

semi worsted blending

 

Then I set out to card the chunks.  I wanted to make a laceweight yarn, hopefully a single, so I wanted my fiber arrangement to be at best "worsted" and the very least "semi-worsted."  I took each chunk and gently blended it with my Ashford hand cards (basically by using them more like a hackle for blending, than for carding this already sublime top)  and I removed the wool from the cards by rolling it from one side to the other (rather than from top to bottom) so that I ended up with a handful of fiber with all of the little wooly strands running in one direction.  Each handful doesn't seem to take very long to card, but there were close to a hundred of them...

 

gradientcarded2

gradient carded You might notice... a lot of the black and dark bits are missing... I got a little overzealous and starting spinning before taking too many photos.  I would estimate that maybe 1/3 of the wool was "dark" and the remaining 2/3 was various shades of green, mostly lighter greens. The transition from Black to Green gave lots of Forest Green shades, a bunch of greenish blues, and even some gray shades.  I carded and carded, and then I attenuated the little tufts of wool into nests for easy spinning.  I spent the better part of 2 hours just carding and attenuating.  This fiber is really nice to work with though... so I didn't mind much!  I really like the feeling of carding my own fiber, manipulating it, holding it in my hands.  And I really like spinning from hand carded fiber, so the process is totally worth it.

 

spungradient

I set right out to work... and finished one bobbin of singles!  This one started with Grey and Black, and the part you see here is where the Black fades to medium/seafoam green.  The next section to spin goes from that green on the left side through to an almost highlighter/neon greenish yellow.  Currently, I have skeined the singles, and am ready to soak them and whack them tonight.  They are thin, but hopefully will hold together alright once they've been shocked (hot and then cold water) and felted a little (whacked on the banister while wet)

I am really excited to see what this will look like knit up.  I am thinking of doing a triangle shaped lace shawl, perhaps something like Aeolian, especially since I have some shiny Hematite Black beads that would look fab with the black section.

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