Self-Striping Experiments!

For the love of stripes!!

I’m addicted. There’s no way around it. I started dying self-striping sock yarn, and it has taken over my brain. It’s such a different way of combining colors than I am used to from blending batts, and the process has been lots of fun.

I mean, like some of the process. The time I warped 750 yards of yarn incorrectly and had to unwind it all kind of stunk. And that other time when I was over-ambitious and had to ball 4 twisted skeins by hand (without using my swift or ball winder) wasn’t great either.

But, now I have a process. And an understanding that prepping, dying, and reskeining this yarn requires unimpeded unitasking. And also Bill – the calmest person on earth – has decided “yarn touching” (helping me reskein the dyed yarn) is about the most fun a dude can have at a warping board.

If you aren’t familiar with how self-striping yarn is dyed, here are the basics… Any given single stripe is likely made of up 4-10 yards of yarn. There are a couple of different options for preparing yarn to be dyed in long lengths. I use a warping board – a tool used by weavers – to create a large loop about 20 yards around. Then, I tie off lengths that tell me where each color will be dyed and dye each section by immersion. After rinsing and drying, the yarn is put back on the warping board, and Bill helps me reskein it.

So far, I’ve got three colorways on two bases – a fingering weight Corriedale/Nylon and a sport weight Targhee/Nylon. I’m open to exploring new bases and am interested in what you enjoy – or don’t. The colorways are…

County Clare, based on a trip I took to Ireland with Bill’s extended family in the early Aughts.

Barn Love is inspired by the colors of my barn.

Finally, Woolly Mammoth was dyed to match the quilt on our bed – a large quilt with wool batting made with pieces of old clothing.

The yarns will be introduced when I vend at the Knitting Pipeline Retreat in February, and hopefully available online shortly after that. I’m starting a little slowly because I want to get to know the yarn bases before I dive too deep. But, I see lots of fun dye days…and reskeining days…ahead of me!

Wool Noir – Conclusion

I think they’re still sleeping it off out in the woods…

The last shipment for the Wool Noir batt club contained the reveal of our mystery and a gradient batt. Did you guess the corn thief?

 

Chapter Three: Missing Pieces

The falling autumn leaves were giving way to light flurries. Decidedly chillier air was descending upon the farm when Cora called for an assembly in the barn. Some things were clear, but she’d need to talk with the flock to fill in the missing pieces.

Cora arrived in the barn 20 minutes before the scheduled meeting to find the llamas already set up and waiting, goofily expectant grins on their faces – and they were making popcorn. They LOVE drama, apparently. This real-life show has been better than anything they’d seen unfold before.

As the goats, chickens, and sheep trickled in, Cora went through the chain of events in her mind one more time.

At first, upon finding the black and white fibers, she’d assumed that Pickles was somehow involved. That theory was quickly dismissed when she realized the reason the farmer was working so hard in the orchard. Pickles, and the rest of the goats, had broken into the orchard, eating the apple trees, the raspberry bushes, and anything else they could find. An air-tight alibi. They were in trouble, but not for the corn. The farmer would deal with them.

Returning to the fence for more investigation, Cora realized that the fibers were not hairs, but bits of a feather. Following a trail, she found many more, and eventually, a large pile of mangled feathers. Black and white barred feathers. Only one chicken on the farm with feathers like that. Tailpipe. It appeared that he’d been attacked. When Cora first met Tailpipe, she’d assumed that he was molting, but this provided an alternative explanation for his crazy appearance. To survive such an attack was rare, there must be a connection with the missing corn… She needed to confront him to find out what it was.

When all the animals assembled, Cora shared what she’d learned with the denizens of the farm. When she finished. Tailpipe was near tears. “It was me. I did it!” he sobbed. “It was all my fault, I’m so sorry!”

“Why don’t you tell us what happened, Tailpipe” encouraged Cora.

“I spend a lot of time back there by the fence, because no one here in the barn likes me. One day, I saw that the fence was loose. I thought – hey – I’ll go exploring, and see if I can make some new friends! So, I made to slip through the fence. Just as I was doing so, I was snatched by a family of raccoons. I tried to fight them off, but there were too many of them. I feared that they were going to carry me away and eat me, so I tried making them an offer for my life. I told them about the corn. At first, they didn’t believe me, but I showed them. They called all their cousins, and ate ALL the corn in a single night. I think they’re still sleeping it off out in the woods-”

Tailpipe was about to continue his story when Martha interrupted him.. “Tailpipe – We are sorry. We didn’t mean for this to happen to you. We didn’t realize this until just now, but the missing corn is our fault. Not yours. We honestly thought that the goats stole it!” Martha shot a very unfriendly eye over to Pickles, who was sneaking up on the llama’s popcorn…

“Let me explain Cora, so you understand…” Martha began her story. “I see that even you have a scratch on your nose. From Tailpipe, no doubt. He has been scratching noses across the farm with in appropriate flying for years. Earlier this year, he scratched the nose of one of our lambs, as you may have heard. The scratch got infected, and the farmer thought it might be signs of a serious infection that she called ‘SEE-EL.’ She was very worried. She even talked about killing our lamb to protect the rest of the flock! Fortunately, before she made up her mind, the infection began to heal. That’s when the flock voted that Tailpipe had to go. He wouldn’t listen and stay on the ground. Stop flying onto our noses, Tailpipe!!!

“We wanted him to just leave. I asked the ram to loosen the fence back by where Tailpipe was hanging out. We figured we’d wait until he left, then make noise for the farmer to fix it. We NEVER wanted him to get hurt, just be gone.”

Cora nodded her head, and thought silently for a moment. Then she had a solution. “Martha – that was a very careless thing you did. What if one of your lambs slipped through the fence? They could’ve been eaten by coyotes!” For the first time, Martha seemed to become smaller. She realized the error of her plan – a plan enacted out of frustration and the desire to protect her flock, but with little thought.

Cora turned to Tailpipe: “Buddy, you’ve got to stop flying onto noses. You’ve not stopped when asked, so I’m afraid we’re going to take drastic action.” Addressing the crowd, Cora asked, “Does anyone know where the farmer keeps her wool shears?”

The llamas sprang to action and were back within 30 seconds, razor sharp shears in hand. Cora held Tailpipe down, while a llama descended upon the immobilized rooster with mischievous glee. One second later and “SNIP!!!” It was done. Tailpipe would never land on a nose again.

…And he was OK with that. The shears had painlessly snipped the flight feathers from his left wing. If ever he tried to fly, he simply tumbled to the ground. As he was now flightless, the rest of the farm started calling him “Penguin,” but Martha put a stop to that, saying that he’d been through enough, and shouldn’t be teased.

In the end, the incident of the missing corn brought the farm community closer together. All the animals better realized that their individual actions had the ability to affect many animals. Martha agreed to no longer lick up the chicken’s breakfast corn, and Tailpipe found contentment on the ground. With the exception of the shenanigans of Pickles, the farm was peaceful and drama free for many years.…to the great disappointment of the llamas.

Sweaters and Socks

A love letter to 11+ inches of brownish gray, fingering-weight stockinette sweater knitting on size 3 needles.

I am about 8 inches through 11+ inches of brownish gray, fingering weight stockinette sweater knitting on size 3 needles. That’s going to make an exciting blog post, right? Oh, but it is.

IMGP3581

My fingers are deeply in love with Wisconsin Woolen Spun yarn from Barrett Wool Co. Deeply. That the wool is grown in the midwest and spun in Wisconsin – thus supporting both American farmers and a domestic wool industry – is a nice bonus. The yarn itself is pure joy. Squishy, buoyant, elastic, and a gorgeous natural color. But it’s also strong. I have another woolen spun yarn in my collection that breaks when I look at it funny. I spent a lot of money on a small skein of Rambouillet that I’ll probably never work with because, in the course of winding it, it broke four times before I gave up. This made me a little nervous when I started my sweater, but the Wisconsin Woolen Spun hasn’t once even threatened to break – even when I tug a little hard on the yarn as I’m working.

It’s all just a dream. The pattern is Branches and Buds Pullover by Carrie Bostick Hoge. It’s knit from the top down in one piece and has just a little colorwork around the yoke. The kit I purchased from Barrett Wool Co included the cutest clothespin with scraps of yarn that will be used to make the “buds” when my knitting is complete.

I’m using stitch markers to track my progress, and I think that’s helping a lot in keeping me motivated. I attach a colorful stitch marker every two inches down the side of the sweater. There is a simple joy in celebrating my mini accomplishments in this way and the tangible reminder of my progress is motivating.

IMGP3584

When I’m taking a break from 11+ inches of brownish gray, fingering-weight stockinette sweater knitting on size 3 needles, I’ve been working on socks for Bill and me. Bill’s standard wacky foot socks were finished this week. The yarn is Desert Vista Dyeworks in the colorway Big Damn Heroes.

For me, I’m working my way through Cookie A’s book Knit. Sock. Love., and am nearly done with the second pattern, Mona. The lace is a nice contrast to ribbing or stockinette. I got the yarn at Rhinebeck a few years ago and am always happy to find semi-solid 100% wool sock yarn. It can be hard to find, but if you have any recommendations of dyers you love, please let me know!