This almost never happens

Something I wasn’t expecting has happened. In absolute contrast to everything else I have ever set out to spin (or, you know…anything else in my life at all) I have made exactly what I set out to make. No happy “well, that’s just as good as what I had planned”. Everything worked exactly the way I intended it to. (I’m typing quickly, as I expect to be hit by lightning in the immediate future).
Yesterday, when I announced my intention to combine wool and silk for spinning and to be promptly unhappy thereafter…Laurie sent me this link to The Silk Worker. Which I think helped a lot. (Ok, fine, it completely changed the way I will handle silk forever)
First, I changed the way I carded the silk. The genius behind this site suggests not making a wool-silk-wool sandwich, (mistake #1) and once I did that…..brilliance.
I spun it up, using her suggestion to keep my hands dry (mistake #2, my sweaty little death grip wasn’t working for me) and my singles looked pretty darned good.
I made a two ply, taking her advice that “trying to ply silk from a centerpull ball, even if the silk is not very tightly spun, will put you in the nuthouse.” (mistake #3, I always use a centrepull ball.) When I was done…
Nothing wrong with that. I confirmed Joe’s suspicions about me by doing a little dance with it. That’s the best result I’ve had with silk ever. As a general rule, my silk attempts end up looking so rough that if somebody happens to see it before I can throw it away I tell them that my ten year old did it.
This was worth keeping. This was worth A Next Step.
The next step was a trip to the dye pot. I have had trouble before with the dye “breaking” (see January 27), and I’ve pretty much figured out what I’m doing that makes it break. So…this time I wanted the dye to break, hoping that I would get a subtle variegated look, so I screwed everything up. I made every mistake in the book. I didn’t soak the yarn, I started with cold water, I added vinegar, I put in a few drops of food colouring, I didn’t ever stir. I asked for disaster. It worked perfectly. (It worked so well in fact, that I’m thinking about applying this idea to more areas of my life. Strive for perfection…get disaster, strive for disaster….hmmm) I let the yarn sit in the hot dyebath for 3 hours, waiting for the dye to be exhausted. In the end, I became exhausted before the dye was and I fished it out, rinsed it off and was awestruck. Beautiful no? The photo doesn’t even begin to do it justice, the yarn has more royal blue and some pink in real life.
I feel like I just came in first in a marathon. Any suggestions about what to do with 105 m
of really cool fingering weight wool/silk?
In other news, Eeyore (no, it’s not a smurf…do I look like the kind of blogger who would be knitting a smurf? Don’t answer that.) proceeds apace. I’m almost ashamed by how fond I am becoming of him. I am on the brink of referring to him as “cute”.
I hope I finish him before …I don’t know….I want to buy a kitten or something.

24 thoughts on “This almost never happens

  1. Steph! Amazing, just amazing. Your silk is gorgeous! What a triumph. Congratulations.
    And I am very happy to be wrong about the Smurf thing. No you don’t seem the kind of blogger to be knitting a Smurf, but stranger things have happened, I’m sure. You get some damn strange requests from time to time…

  2. Stephanie, your new yarn is BEAUTIFUL!! I am so incredibly envious. I will have to check out the silkworker link. Wonderful. Now, what to make…

  3. Ideas for your merino silk:
    I’m just finishing a trianular, lace edged neck “kerchief” w/ 175 yds of hanspun quiviut/cashmere. It’ll probably go up on the blog in a couple days. I also considered a narrow lace piece to wear as a cravat. Nice accessories for winter wear…
    BTW…the yarn is lovely! (have you ever tried spinning silk from the fold?)

  4. Do you look like the kind of blogger who would knit a smurf?
    Yet you are parading your Eeyore before the world, a vulgarized Disney co-optation (for a fee) of the beloved A.A.Milne’s pastoral fatalist?
    I ha-rumph at you.
    (Where did you get the pattern?)

  5. I love the Eeyore Blanket. Whoever asked for you to knit that for them is very special. Very Special indeed.

  6. I love Eeyore but I’d love to see the back. I’d like to get into this kind of knitting but hate all the strings in the back. Is there any way around that?
    I’m just getting into spinning and hopefully into dyeing the yarn or the wool. Do you dye the wool or the spun yarn? Do you do hand carding or have a drum carder? Your colors are quite delicious to look at. Congratulations!

  7. Aha. You’ve discovered the Silkworker. (Or, well, Laurie has told you about the Silkworker, and you’ve had the Harloty good sense to take the link and run with it.)
    Your spinning life will never be the same. I foresee the following progression:
    1. You will look at those beautiful hand-dyed roving on the Silkworker site. You will look and look and look, and one day, you will buy.
    2. You will spin said roving, and realize that Tussah is Your Friend. You will forget all about those earlier bad experiences spinning silk.
    3. You will buy more Silkworker roving. You will develop a Very Bad Habit. You will decide to try dyeing some plain tussah, just to see what happens.
    4. You will be gobsmacked at the beauty of your own hand-dyed silk. You will spend the entire summer dyeing tussah. Soon Joe, the kids, Ken, and any future shawl-deserving babies will be dressing exclusively in Harlot-dyed, handspun silk.
    Happy spinning!

  8. Harlot-
    The silk wool looks good – love it in the pure white. Say, how many smurfs did it take to make it that blue?
    I picked up Socks Socks Socks yesterday at Borders, thought myabe I would do the Entrelac socks (and show you!), but then thought better of it and swiftly put it back.

  9. Wow — what glorious yarn. It’s almost enough to make me get back to work combing fiber for my own long-neglected spinning project. Almost. 😉
    I love Kristen’s predictions. Any silk “rats” in the future?

  10. Wow, that dye job is gorgeous. I love the hints of pink in it..and it’s such a spring color! As for Eyeore…..adorable. But then I am rather fond of Eyeore, there’s a whole deep identification process at work there I am sure..but anyhow, it looks truly lovely.

  11. What should you do with that gorgeous silk spinning you produced? H-E-L-L-O, if you can’t think of a project, I’ll pay for shipping to get it off your hands 😉

  12. What to do with 101 m of silk/wool? Well, NOT entrelac! 🙂 Ideally you want to do something that will exploit the color changes and will make the yarn last as long as possible. The BW treasury has a “lace” pattern that is really garter stitch with yarn wraps that you drop. It is called “Seafoam” (BW 2, p. 218). Her version uses more yarnovers than I do when I use this pattern. It makes cool “waves,” and it is very easy knitting (maybe too easy?). I like it for silk because you CAN use it with singles since it is basically garter stitch, but I told you THAT too late. The only problem is that this pattern is a BEAR if you miscount; with all the wraps, it is difficult to grasp where you messed up.

  13. No problem with Disney, since it’s a whole different creature than Shepard/Milne– but are you sure he isn’t in estrus?
    (but the silk is great –and no one has commented sufficiently, I think, on the QUANTITY of beauty you produced in that time

  14. Wow great yarn. Do you have the Weekend Knitting book? That Lite Lopi scarf is really pretty, something lacy would be great!
    You are inspiring!

  15. I know of a few good homes for that skein. If the skein choses not to relocate, have you thought about spinning up some more either silk and wool blend or wool only? A lovely old shale type of pattern with colour bands would be exquisite. The second lot could be dyed or not. You could even be daring and spin a total of three or four more additional lots. Again dyeing to compliment the first lot and perhaps one just plain. It would make a lovely lace scarf. If you need additional supplies contact your local fibre um pimp? I bet she has some that would be ideal.
    Lovely work by the way. Can you tell us more about the blanket?
    Regards to all.

  16. ooooohhhhwwwweeeeeeeee!
    That silk is GAWgeous! If it were in my stash, it would be singing triangular shawl – the kind made from the top/center going down/out with increases, so the color progressions would come to a V. Nothing TOO lacey – that would hide the lovely color changes.
    I wouldn’t worry about how much there is – just start knitting and however big it is is how big it wanted to be. It may just make a lovely large triangular scarf to dress up a pretty dress or sweater – or it may get up to shawl size.
    Knit and see. Clearly the Yarn Goddess is blessing you again. Go ahead and dance with her.
    BTW – Eeeyore is adorable!

  17. The silk is gorgeous! Could you give specific details about what you did so those of us at home drooling on our keyboards over your amazing creation could attempt some of our own? I would forever refer to it as the Harlot Technique of Yarn Beautification.

  18. I would love to know more about dyeing with Wilton paste colors. How much of what color did you use to get that beautiful hank of fiber? Havee you tried any other colors. I’m a newby to your site (my daughter told me about it) but havee been dyeing, weaving, quilting, spinning, etc. for a good while.
    Thanks for the help.

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