Fibre Notes - Handspinning

Fibre Notes: April 2020

Ah, spring.

After a long, protracted winter that felt like it just wouldn’t end, by about the middle of April the snow was finally starting to melt (and was gone in about a week). Experiencing season normal temperatures has been an absolute delight again. The birds are going crazy, perennials are up, leaves are just about ready to pop on the trees, and grass is actually green again. Spring is my favourite season because everything is so fresh and new, and the season (for a gardener like me) holds so much to look forward to.


Turns out April has been all about the Made-With-Love-Along, which I spoke about a bit more in my March Fibre Notes. During April I managed to spin two sock yarns, and knit one pair (with the second just being cast on today). Sock spins have been exactly what I need right now, and Katrina’s bright and colourful colourways, while definitely not normally in my wheelhouse, have been completely refreshing. It’s been nice as well to just kind of do. Spinning a 34 WPI single is in that sweet spot of spinning for me, so once the braids are split, I just sit down and do my standard short forward draw and go.

Lava Love Socks

I love absolutely everything about these socks. The colours, the spin, everything. If I had to nit-pick, it’d be about the toe – since I’m not as familiar with toe-up socks as I am with cuff down, I went with a standard increase every second row on the socks. I personally prefer a set of increases every row at the tip for a few rows, then to go down to every second row, but I didn’t do that for these. For my Lakeside socks I absolutely will, but other than that everything about them is perfect.

The yarn I spun at about 34 WPI, with 6 TPI in the singles and ply. That ended up giving me a final 3-ply sock yarn of about 15-16 WPI. This braid was split 1/3/6, which I thought was just perfect for this colourway.

Finished skein before casting on for socks.

I know a lot of people like to do Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off for socks, but I find that bind off far too loose for my leg, which causes my socks to slump, and then I’m constantly having to pull them up. So instead I just do a bind off in the rib pattern, albeit a little loosely so it’s not super tight, and that’s what works best for me.

I ended up spinning about 240 yds of this yarn, and the socks too 215 yds. So I used the rest of my yarn to make a little swatch, not for any specific purpose other than the fact I just love this colourway and wanted to post it on my cork board.

Lakeside Spin

I spun this yarn almost exactly as I did Lava Love, with 2 exceptions: I tightened up the ply twist just a hair (so it’s closer to 7 TPI on the finished yarn), and I split the braid slightly differently – a 1/2/4 split. I’m quite excited to see how the striping and heathering changes with that slightly different split.

I know a lot of sock knitters will simply weight their skeins as they go, then bind off and start the other when they’re halfway through based on weight. I don’t like to do that, mostly because I’m anal retentive. The density of hand spun will always be variable, even in a single skein, so what I do instead is skein it all up into one, count the strands, divide by half, then literally cut the skein into two. That way I can be sure I’m getting the same yardage, and when I’m at the end of one skein I simply write down my number of rows, then do the same for the second sock.

I’ll be showing off these finished socks at the end of May in my Fibre Notes entry, although if you’re super hot to trot on seeing them before then, I’ll be posting about them on my instagram feed when they’re done.

51 Yarns

I’m not going to lie, I have completely neglected to work on anything 51 Yarns related since my tweed spin. Which means I’m about 3 yarns behind (soon to be 5 if I don’t get my butt in gear). But May is going to be the month of catch up – I have my gradient and S and Z yarns. I’m going to be doing some smaller samples of all of them so I can get all caught up in the beginning of May, so my next Fibre Notes next month should have lots of different 51 Yarns samples to show off.

Zero to Hero

I don’t actually have anything to show off for this quite yet, but with the warming weather it means I can finally start prep in earnest – which happens in my unheated garage (hence waiting for the weather to warm up). Zero to Hero is what the Wool ‘N Spinning community calls our yearly epic project. I take the opportunity to make a sweater completely from raw wool to finished knit in the year, and I’m finally ready to start spinning for that.

This year I’ll be using a blend of Icelandic wool and alpaca to make a Derwent sweater. Although I am slightly waffling – do I want to make a tight 2 ply, or a 3 ply? I’ve done tight 2 plies for cable work before, but because this is so cable heavy I’m thinking of doing a 3 ply. I’ll have to do some sampling really before I make my final decision, and I’m hoping to get that done in May.