Friday, 1 July 2011

Adventures with Lace

The two main things I told Liz that I'd like to work on during the week were learning to spin lace and to go further with knitting lace.  Now when I said this what I had in mind was lace weight yarn.  So it was a bit of a shock when Liz produced some cones of very nice ColourMart cashmere that was rather thinner - in fact it was cobweb weight.

However the shock was lessened by Liz's reassurance and the fact that I got to try a little sample first:

This is really thin stuff.  Next step, to make a small triangular shawl using a construction technique that involved knitting the centre triangle first, then picking up around 2 edges for the border and finally knitting a lace edging which would be knitted sideways along the edge of the border and joining by knitting in the edge stitches as the edging progressed.  It all sounded very complicated and this was what had put me off trying a shawl with any of these elements before.

Still, with Liz there to help I was up for the challenge and learning how to do all the techniques involved.  I'm not the fastest knitter though so it came back with me for evening 'homework', even if in practice this meant doing it in the morning before breakfast - memories of cramming on the bus to school!

Slowly the knitting progressed and grew.  First the centre triangle was finished, and then as I got more used to the yarn and reading from the charts the border and edging followed.  Lots of extra tips from Liz along the way which will really help me when I tackle a full size version in the future.

  The really clever thing was that in all of the moving from different sections I didn't need to break off the yarn once, it all just carried on through.  Finally this morning I finished and blocked the shawl which dried very quickly outside in the sun and wind so reveal the finished shawl - soft, gorgeous, feather light, and I can't wait to start a larger piece.

So that was the knitting side of my week.
At the very start of the week Liz had introduced us to the fun of dyeing yarn and fibre - a great way to break the ice and I really enjoyed myself.  I've not done much dying of fabric since I graduated in 2003, so it was really good to get back into the fun of creating with colour at the level of fleece and yarn.

Here are a couple of my experiments.

The green and pink fibre, once dry, I started spinning as fine as I could go, and was pretty pleased with this first attempt.

Then Liz started teaching me about how to knit lace weight and the need for good fibre preparation with a lot more twist in the spinning.  I combed the dyed fleece which was absolutely gorgeous - very fine lustrous Shetland.  I didn't realised that Shetland could have such lustre.

  Then came the spinning and I was thrilled with the results - a finer and more even yarn than I'd dreamed I could spin.

Before I knew it I'd spun all the dyed fleece so Liz went into her shed and came out with the most divine Shetland fleece I'd seen - and it was huge!  Gorgeous shades of grey and fawn.  Perfect to ply with the green and pink I'd already spun and a bag of it is tucked away to finish this project at home.

Then Jeannie came down the hill and into my life and the lace spinning got really exciting.  In just a couple of hours I progressed from this:

 to this - which is shown alongside the ColourMart cobweb for comparison - yes, Liz had not only got me knitting with cobweb, but spinning it as well.  I was over the moon!

Then to finish off today, my last day working with Liz on Flotta, she came up with something rather special, and initially very scary - qiviut Totally divine even in the raw state here, and if you can see past the not very good photo, you'll see how beautifully and finely it spun up. 

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