Multnomah Memories

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This is one of the first knitting projects I embarked on. It is a shawl designed by Kate Ray called Multnomah.  I started it back when we lived in Multnomah County, and I was still learning about YO and k2tog. But then, I hit a snag, and it went into hibernation until I could face unraveling my mistakes.  When I finally finished it last week, it became an object of nostalgia in more ways than one. I love the undulations of this feather and fan pattern, and the colors of this Noro Kureyon sock yarn remind me of waves lapping the Oregon coast.

Little A was patient enough to model for me. After a while, she insisted on wearing the shawl her own way:

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I can’t wait to start on another project that makes use of Noro. Noro yarns seem to be something you love or hate. Some don’t like the crazy color combinations or the rough texture. I like that it pushes me to try colors that I normally would not wear. And, there is definitely a rustic quality to this yarn. It is thick and barely spun in some places while thin and taut in others.  I love yarn that does not let me forget its origins–whether it is the bit of vegetable matter that you encounter or the knot in the middle of a skein. Knitting is about submitting to the temporality of the stitch and the incremental accumulation of those stitches. You can’t love knitting without having a sense of history and time passing, even if it is simply acknowledging that the shawl that wraps around your daughter was once a ball of yarn in your closet.

Spinning Fail

I had envisioned Little A running through our friend’s lilac farm, a bright yellow Easter egg basket in hand as she and her friends excitedly searched for Easter eggs.  She would have an extra big smile, proud that she was wearing a beautiful feather and fan lace sweater that her mother had spun and knitted for her.  She and I would both get lots of compliments–me, for my wonderful handiwork and her, for being so darn cute in it. The sweater would inspire others to learn to spin, and one by one, I would convert my friends, enfolding them into the warmth of the ever-widening unbroken spinning circle.

Instead, what I have is this: cotton candy trapped in a scouring pad. Beautiful colors, ugly everything else. It is what Little A would call “bugly.”

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As is already obvious from my small swatch, this would be a prime example of the yarn not complimenting the pattern, among other things. It doesn’t help that I over-plied the Romney. I know that long wools need to be a little under-spun, but somehow, despite my best efforts, I still over did it. Right now I’m too lazy to run it through the spinning wheel in the opposite direction so I am on the lookout for projects that use bugly, stiff and scratchy barber pole yarn to great effect.

Suggestions?

Caught Red-Handed

The other evening, just before bed, I pulled out a huge bag of beautifully dyed fiber that I hoped to start spinning soon. I had already separated the roving into thinner strips, and so everything was unruly and entangled. I was holding this crazy ball of joy, admiring its softness and lively color shifts when V walked into the bedroom. He had this surprised and pained look on his face as if he had just caught me masterbating. Which it kind of was.

Rockin’ Whorl Spinning Club

I have always been a fan of Blue Moon Fiber Arts, a local (when I lived in Portland) indie dyer with the most amazing color combinations. If I had to pinpoint an “Aha!” moment as a beginning knitter, it would be when I picked up a skein of their wonderful sock yarns off the shelves from Twisted and realized how full of possibilities that single skein contained. There were so many unexpected color combinations that I suddenly telescoped into the future and saw all the awesome projects that I could make. I loved the playfulness and craftsmanship that went into the dyeing of each skein. Ever since then, I’ve been inspired to learn as much about the various dimensions of this craft. And boy, is there a lot to learn.

That is why when I found out about Blue Moon Fiber’s new fiber club, I knew I had to join. (Thankfully, V is so supportive of my interest. I know that sometimes my spinning and knitting gets in the way of clean dishes and folded laundry, but I only ever have to ask once before he gives me the OK to spend piles of money on what are essentially road-blocks to happy housekeeping. He is truly a good man.)

I’ve never been a part of a fiber club before, so I don’t know if this is typical of clubs. But, what I am also excited by is the different skills that will be emphasized with the different blends each month. This totally appeals to the structured way I like to learn things–the methodology at the heart of my madness.

2-Ply Pansy

I couldn’t wait to ply my singles. Here it is: 8 oz spun into about 400 meters.

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I love its delicate colors. Just right for a spring Easter lacy sweater. I am concerned that it is going to be too scratchy though. It would be perfect in every other way for Little A if it weren’t for her extremely sensitive skin.

Spinning Romney was a real confidence-booster. But, I am not thrilled by its texture. I think it would lend itself to a nice lacy sweater with a slightly crisp structure, but I’m a sucker for squishy fiber at the moment.

Pansy Spinup

I bought this Spunky Eclectic “Pansy” from a recent destash, and I had to spin it up as soon as I got it. It’s Romney, which I’ve never spun, but I was always curious about this breed after seeing so many Romney sheep at the Oregon State Fair last year.

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Seasoned spinners often recommend starting with a long wool like Romney because its long staple fibers make for easy drafting. And they were right. This spun right up, and it is probably one of the most consistently even yarn I’ve spun. I also like how there are undyed sections in this combed top. With the long staple fibers, I found that as I spun, the white would slowly be drawn into the color, producing different and unexpected tints. Conversely, when I think I’m just spinning an undyed section, a tiny sliver of color would be drafted in, adding a hint of color that deepens as I continue to spin. I know that as I get better, I will be able to better control how these colors combine, but I hope that I never get so good that I am no longer surprised.

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Romney is easy to spin, but it’s not the softest next to the skin.  Also, there’s something about this yarn that has a twine-y feel to it. Perhaps, I’ve put too much spin in them. I wish there was more information about how to best spin fiber like this. I love The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook  by Carol Ekarius and Deborah Robson. It’s my go-to-book for learning about the different breeds of sheep as well as other fiber from other animals. It’s really comprehensive and provides a detailed account of different breeds, their fiber characteristics and includes photos of how they spin and knit up. But, I wish there was more specific information out there about how to spin the different breeds.

I’m in the process of plying now, and I’m hoping that once I have finished the yarn, some of the twist will relax and there will be a little more spring to it.

Still, I love these colors and I’m hoping that these delightful Easter Egg colors would lend themselves to a little Liesl for Little A.