Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Spinning Update: A sweater for the husbeast

For the longest time, I've been avoiding posting about my spinning because it's been so boring.  I mean, when your husband starts asking when he'll get his own handspun handknit sweater, it's such a happy moment.  I had so much fun with the first one!  Washing the fleece, immersing myself (literally) up the elbows in the processing of what comes off the sheep into a wearable garment.  That thing is my go-to sweater for beach parties.  It all sounds like so much fun, until you stop and think about all the knitted items you've made for yourself that never get worn, or get worn so infrequently that it hardly seems worth the effort you put into them in the first place.  You begin to realize that you'll just kill yourself if you make something that he wouldn't wear, so you have to start asking him about clothing preferences.

Let's just summarize a few facts here.  The husbeast is the kind of person that A) doesn't like anything too fancy (no colorwork) B) naturally runs a little warm and thus C) owns precisely one other sweater.  Oh, and this is the sort of sweater I want him to feel comfortable wearing around the home, so nothing too tight.  Did I mention that the man is also 6 feet tall, and has extra-long arms for his height?  This is going to be one huge sweater, and if I was going to spin for it, that meant a major commitment to spinning a solid color. I started spinning the singles during last year's Tour de Fleece, and haven't gotten anything new on the wheel until last week! 

That's why my fleece (Blake, the one I got washed by Morro Fleece Works) was the perfect match for the project.  First, I have a TON of fiber. Ok, not an actual ton, more like 4+ pounds.  I tend to spin yarn that is denser than commercial yarn, so I knew having a large amount was important for a big sweater for a grown man.  Second, it's all one color.  Further to that, the beautiful chocolate brown is a color I know the husbeast won't find objectionable and since it's the natural color of the sheep's wool, it won't fade over the years the way something dyed might do.  Third, it's a really heavenly preparation from Morro, which means very little predrafting and overall faster spinning.

Blake Fleece

The challenges have been keeping myself motivated to keep spinning the same dark brown merino wool over the months, and to keep myself spinning consistently.  I made a few choices in designing what type of yarn I'll spin to help with consistency.  I'm doing a 3-ply yarn (a true 3-ply, not a chain or navajo 3-ply) and spinning six bobbins in a row before plying.  That's truly the most boring part, spinning 24 ounces of brown wool singles without the quick break of plying in between.  Having six bobbins allows me to mix & match my plies to help even out the yarn a little bit.  I label the bobbins 1-6 in the order in which I spin them, then I ply 1, 3, and 5 together and 2, 4, and 6 together.  My yarn is ending up in the heavy-worsted-to-aran-weight range, which is quite plump. Having a thicker yarn means that small inconsistencies won't be quite as noticeable. 

The color boredom I've been getting around by letting myself spin a bag of Hello Yarn fiber in between each "batch" of 6 bobbins, so right now I'm spinning my "Curiosities" superwash merino.

Hello Yarn Curiosities

Hopefully getting to play with a little color will help me stay motivated.  We'll just try to ignore the fact that I've already got one dark brown sweater on the needles (more on that later) and am preparing to knit a second, larger, dark brown sweater. 

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