Sometimes you get on a roll. Sometimes that roll involves a literal rolling motion. That is what has been happening in this house.
It started with my finished Icelandic lopi-style spin. It felt so good to get that spin done – especially since it went so quickly, after sitting around for so long! After my one sock spin, which was rather a reward for finishing the lopi spin, I said to myself, why not do it again? I want to spin all of these old sweater quantities of stashed fiber. I’m going to find the oldest thing in my stash and spin that.
The oldest thing in my stash is this beautiful alpaca roving that Jared bought me back when we were first married and I was first learning to spin. He actually went to the farm, Criative Acres, to buy it for me. I’ve kept it stored in plastic bags but in lofty crates with plenty of room, and it’s still in perfect shape. Very well-prepared stuff.
I went through my pattern stash to find the perfect sweater pattern to use two natural colors. There were plenty of good options, but the one I kept coming back to was the Chrysler Cardigan by Alexis Winslow, published in Interweave Knits Summer 2015.
I really love this sweater, and something about it feels very me. I’ve been getting Interweave Knits for years – my mum buys it for me – because I love the patterns in it. They’re all so wearable, and very much my style. But I’ve never knit one of them. So to knit one of these – off a cover, no less, would be very gratifying.
I got to work right away sampling. I made two little 50 gram skeins, and tried them out. The first thing I noticed about this 100% alpaca yarn is that it’s super slippery. That’s the absence of scales. It was so slippery I couldn’t even wind the sample on a buddy noddy; it kept sliding off.
The roving was beautifully prepared and easy to spin with plenty of air. I felt I had made as light an alpaca yarn as I could. Additionally, the fair isle swatch surprised me with its lightness and stability. I thought the extra yarn in the floats would make it heavier, but instead the floats added structure.
However, there were problems. The slipperiness was one, and the density was another. No matter how light it felt to the hand, it would be a heavy fabric, and it would eventually sag. Also, I wasn’t getting nearly a high enough grist to get a sweater out of this 1 lb of fiber, and I just have no use for a giant alpaca shawl.
That was when I texted my spinning friend. She lives three streets over, and was happy to give me the loan of her drum carder. (Oh, the joy! I went from having zero local spinning friends to having one who owns a carder! And is happy to share!)
A plan was soon hatched. I would take this lovely alpaca and drum card it with some wool in similar colours.
First up was the white. A friend had recently given me some white mystery top that seems very much like a merino/silk blend, much more merino than silk. I made a 50/50 blend with the alpaca, yielding 8 oz of soft white stuff. Easy as pie.
The faun color was a little harder. I had some lovely faun coloured Shetland lamb fleece that I had acquired somewhat accidentally a couple summers ago. My mum had washed it for me, and it was not in great shape.
The fleece had a significant break in it. The wool n’ spinning slack hivemind confirmed it for me. Probably the lamb was sheared on the late side, and had already started doing. I remember the farmer telling me it was a super damp spring, and she had to keep waiting until it was dry enough to shear, weeks later than she had wanted to.
I got into a groove with it, pulling locks out of the matted mess, usually leaving the broken base of the lock behind, and flicking the tips. I then carded just the Shetland so it was organized enough to blend.
I lost about 50% of the fleece in the process, but what was left matched my amount of faun alpaca perfectly. So I made some gorgeous 50/50 batts.
This made a total of 21 oz of faun batts, which when added to my 8 oz of white batts, should be plenty for a sweater. I’ve already sampled and decided on a 3-ply dk weight.
That was an awesome three days work. My kids are eyeing the dining room table; I think they want the rest of the communal workspace back. But while my friend’s carder is here, I think I’ll make hay while the sun shines.
So far I’ve taken six ounces of this grey cormo cross that has been haunting my stash for nearly a decade…
Organized the locks and flicked them until they’re happy…
And blended them. Half with white alpaca, half with black.
Tomorrow I’ll start on the black cormo cross. Wouldn’t it be gorgeous to deal with ALL my raw fleece??
What are your crazy quarantine projects?