Monday, March 3, 2014

One Foxy Baby

Even for those of us who don't consider ourselves baby people, the "baby as woodland creature" look holds a certain ridiculous, adorable appeal.  So my Ravelry library has been filling up with hats that mimic deer, bears & other interesting creatures.  I just happened to have all the yarn I needed for this fox hat in my stash so it was the perfect hat to start with.

The orange yarn is called Polly Wana Cracker & for the life of me, I can not find a single piece of info about it anywhere online.  My mom found it at a craft fair in upstate NY & gave it to me for Xmas a few years ago.  It's a very loosely-spun, two-ply, thick-&-thin wool that's barely a step away from the roving it came from (including the bits of vegetable matter that appear in most roving!).  It was very quick & easy to knit with as well as super-squishy, but like all low-twist yarns, it pulled apart with very little effort.  Luckily, I never had any trouble with it breaking on me but I never had to reach for my scissors when I wanted to cut it.

The ear tips & inner ears were made with some black Bernat Satin & un-dyed camel wool by Snow Leopard Trust.  The camel wool was surprisingly soft & lustrous, though it does contain some guard hairs.  It knit up into an extremely dense, warm fabric that would make a glorious neck accessory or pair of gloves.

Aside from knitting animal-inspired accessories, I've been feeling the urge to spin lately & knitting with the Polly Wana Cracker yarn gave me the idea to try spinning a fat, lofty yarn. Little did I know how much easier said than done that is! I'd purchased some Gotland wool roving at last year's VKL Seattle (happening again in just a few weeks!) so I pulled that out & started experimenting with it. It had been months since I'd spun anything on my wheel so I looked at this as playtime, with little investment in the finished product. I didn't pre-draft the fiber & in some sections, I didn't draft it at all, choosing instead to spin the roving exactly as it had been carded. And while I was initially turned off by how fat those sections looked on the wheel, that's where I came closest to achieving the bulky, lofty single I'd had in mind. What I wound up with is a very rustic, fuzzy, thick & thin, two-ply worsted or bulky-weight yarn. Since spinning this was a refresher for me, I can't really compare elements like staple length to other wool breeds but I did come across some sections of the roving that were so matted that it was impossible to draft them. Many of those sections simply got ripped out and discarded. This yarn is not my favorite that I've ever spun but it was a worthwhile experience. I have some KnitPicks Wool of the Andes roving that I hope to spin into cleaner lofty singles so I ordered (& received today) Maggie Casey's Spinning Big & Lofty Yarns DVD to help me prepare.

While the product may not have been what I'd had in mind, the process of spinning on my wheel again was so much fun that I pulled out some alpaca pencil roving I got a few years back from Dan's dad & started spinning that again.  When I first received this roving, I used it to practice on my spindle & when I got my wheel, I used it to practice on that too.  When comparing the yarn from both sources, I realized that I had spun the singles on my spindle with a Z twist & the singles on my wheel with an S twist.  Since I plan to finish this on my wheel, the majority of the yarn will have an S twist. I have two balls of Z twist singles that I'll just ply together & see what effect they have when knitted with the rest of the yarn. After working with the Gotland roving, I'm finding it easy to draft a consistent single with this beautifully smooth alpaca.  In the past, I've had issues with alpaca singles breaking but I'm not having that problem this time so maybe I've gotten used to working with the fiber.  When I have some of it plied up, I'll share the photos, probably along with some other small, animal-shaped, knitted accessory.  :) 


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