following the fiber

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I started with some handpainted Blue-Faced Leicester wool I received in a trade.

Spun it into a single and then chain-plied it to preserve the colors.
handpaint BFL spinning wheel chain plied navajo

Knit the yarn into these baby socks, based on Cat Bordi’s pattern.
hand spun knit baby socks

And this sweet hat, based very loosely on the Munchkin Hat, pattern by Jeanne Kubricht. See my project page on Ravelry for notes on my version.

newborn hat handspun hand knit

This hat does a great job of staying on our little gnomey’s head and keeping him warm!

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The animal: Alpaca named Xena. Lives right here in Maine and I got to meet her and see her home: the most amazingly clean farm ever. The first thing that struck me was how consistent the shearing was on each animal. Like a work of art.

shorn alpaca

The fleece: Four pounds of it, minimal VM, a fair amount of dust but well skirted and easy to clean. Alpaca fleece does not contain lanolin as sheep fleece does. I had an interesting time unfolding this out of the bag as it wanted to drift apart. For now I have carefully put it back in the bag until I can come up with a plan on how best to wash it. The second picture shows a single unwashed lock, 4″+ staple length.

raw alpaca fleece

lock of raw alpaca fiber unwashed

The fiber: Lacking fiber combs, I used a hair pick to comb through the washed and dried lock, preparing it to spin. Now I understand the difference between commercially prepared top and hand combed top.

washed and combed alpaca lock fleece fiber spindle

The spinning: Hand spun and andean plied into a lace weight/light fingering yarn, about 20wpi I think.

laceweight alpaca single yarn hand spindle andean plying bracelet lace weight single into two ply yarn two-ply alpaca yarn handspun laceweight

The finished yarn: about 6 yards out of one lock. I did weigh it but I don’t remember how much it weighed. Oops. Deliciously soft and pleasantly springy.

two ply hand spindled alpaca lace weight light fingering yarn mini skein

I plan on blending some of this alpaca fiber with angora from my parents’ rabbits. I may also try dyeing some of it. I want to use the brown as an accent somehow to remind me of cute Xena’s spot. Perhaps a little scarf with a single large circle of brown?

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This is third in a series intended to show the steps from fiber to finished item. You can click on following the fiber under categories to see them all.

The fiber: handpainted blue-faced leicester top in a colorway called “blush” including pinks, peaches and a bit of yellow with some natural white showing through. I received this in a trade so I don’t know who did the handpainting.

handpainted blue-faced leicester BFL spinning wool pink peach yellow

the plies: three singles on the bobbins ready to be spun into yarn

three singles of handpainted BFL ready to be plied into yarn

the yarn: three-plied sport weight yarn, about 110 yards

sport weight handspun handpainted BFL wool yarn

the project: spiral legwarmers inspired by Spiral Bedsocks, a free pattern from Vintage Purls. Full project details on Ravelry.

hand knit legwarmers made from handspun yarn

These legwarmers were actually done last month but it took this long to get the girl to pose for a picture. Now I have about fourteen of course. That’s first position there, in case you’ve forgotten your ballet steps.

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This is the second in a series intended to show the steps from fiber to finished item. See the first here.

The fiber: a 4oz braid of handpainted merino in colorway Rocky Mountain High from Spunky Eclectic. As purchased and unrolled from the braid.

handpainted fiber hanging on upright spinning wheel hand painted wool top

singles: I pulled 1oz. off the top and then split it into four lengthwise. I arranged the pieces so that I would spin two singles with roughly the same color repeats. I then plied them together.

two bobbins of handspun singles ready to be plied into yarn two ply yarn on the bobbin of a spinning wheel

plies: After plying, I transferred the yarn from the bobbin to the yarn swift. You can see the color shifts very well. Then the skein is washed and hung to dry to set the ply. If the twist is done evenly then the plied yarn should hang fairly straight. On the left is the yarn above and on the right is the same fiber spun at a thinner weight.

handspun yarn on a yarn swift handspun yarn hanging to dry to set the twist

finished yarn: ready to knit or crochet

handspun yarn from handpainted wool fiber

project: I chose to knit a hat for the girl with this yarn. I looked for a simple pattern that would have texture but still show off the color gradations in the yarn. I couldn’t find what I wanted so I ended up making up my own pattern. I had intended to finish with a crochet border that would make the hat about an inch longer but forgot to take into account that the textured stitch I used ate up yardage faster than a simpler stockinette would so I ran out of yarn. It fits okay . . . I’m still thinking about what to do.

handknit hat made from handspun yarn

stitch: The stitch I used must have a name but I couldn’t find anything like it so if you know what it is called please tell me! It’s so simple and fast and a little girly without being too delicate. (The following instructions will only work in the round. A bit of adjustment would be needed to work it flat as the stitch pattern causes the starting point to shift.)
Row 1: Knit
Row 2: *K2togTB, YO* repeat
Repeat rows 1 and 2. Way simple.
See even more ramblings on this hat in my Ravelry projects.

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I’d like to start an ongoing series where I show you a fiber or a yarn and track along in pictures as it gets spun/dyed/knit/crocheted etc. into a finished item. So we’ll start with something cute!

The animal: German Angora named Gabe. (I won’t generally have pictures of the actual animal the fiber came from so this is a bonus!)

german angora rabbit

The fiber: Minimally hand carded from brushed out fur. staple length about 4″? super soft. I think these would be called rolags but I don’t really know what I’m doing so maybe not but I can spin it easier. Although it was pretty easy to spin uncarded.

hand carded angora rolags

The spinning: Hand spindled into a lace/light fingering weight single. Spun on a DIY afghan hook/wooden wheel spindle.

angora spun on DIY spindle

The swatch: Swatched on US size 0 needles and blocked on my swatching cork board. Spinning got a little too thin there in spots. Can’t say I actually thought I’d be using those size 0 needles. Next time remind me not to knit angora on metal needles, slippery!

swatch of handspindled angora

And in this case the approximately 2×2 inch swatch is the final product as that’s all there was!

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