Being a good listener

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Sometimes I just have to listen to what the fiber tells me to do. I unfurl the braid, loosen the fibers and gently pull a bit from the end. I play with it and twist it this way and that. Then I wait.

This is Wooly Wonka’s “Walden” in mixed BFL and silk, a 60/40 combination, and it told me that it wanted to be spun as finely as possible.

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I’m glad I listened. Of all the yarns I’ve spun so far, I’m proudest of this. Part of that has to do with the yardage (2-ply 600 yards!) and the other part has to do with the fact that I actually learned from my past mistakes. Ever since I spun what was essentially twine, I’ve become more aware of making sure that the twist and diameter of yarn are appropriate for the fiber used. Though BFL is a long wool and shouldn’t be over-twisted, silk can take more twist. I tried to balance the two by using the smallest whorl for the singles to spin as finely as possible, and then I plied using the largest whorl. I wanted the yarn to be thin yet lofty.

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I haven’t decided what project I will be using this for, but for now, I love it as it is.

Rustic Lace Cowl

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I am pretty good about not buying yarn impulsively. I will buy yarn if I already have a project in mind or if I have just stumbled upon an amazing sale that is too good to pass up. Otherwise, I’m content to admire yarn from afar. When we visited The Tin Smith’s Wife, a darling yarn store with an impressive inventory, in Comfort a few months ago, I came across Fibre Company’s Acadia, a merino, silk and alpaca blend. There was something seductive about its luster and rustic silkiness that I couldn’t resist buying two skeins in “Sand,” even though I had no goal or project in mind. This open-ended approach to knitting usually causes some distress, reminding me that I’m a bit of a control freak Type-A at heart.

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I was fortunate to find a pattern that only required two skeins of Acadia: the Avery Cowl designed by Kate Gagnon Osborn. Most likely drawn from Barbara Walker’s first Treasury of Knitting Patterns, the Avery Cowl is a four pattern repeat knitted in the round of what Walker calls the “Frost Flower” pattern. Here’s Walker’s description:

“Frost Flowers” is not the correct name for this lace, unless the author happens to be an unusually good guesser. But it is quite an old pattern, dating from at least the early nineteenth century, and therefore probably has its own quaint name by which it is, or used to be known.  In spite of its rather complicated appearance it is a simple lace, consisting essentially of only four rows, which are repeatable three times and then alternated on the half-drop principle. (204)

This also knitted up quickly and I was able to finish this on the same night as the Brier Toque. There are no modifications here. Note that the cowl is photographed upside down. I like how the flowers seem to open up and fan out this way.

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I decided not to block this cowl as I think the rippled, pillowed flowers go well with the uneven nubby texture of this yarn.