Sunday, June 24, 2007

Yarn's Done!

I just finished plying the Zanzibar. The whole "setting the twist" thing was sort of a puzzle, but the folks on the Fibernuts forum were kind enough to offer suggestions, all of which had something to do with dunking and soaking the plied yarn. Methods seem to be about as plentiful as spinners, but the general idea is this: You soak the yarn, whether it's plied or singles, in warm or hot water and soap, and then you rinse the soap out and hang the wet yarn up to dry. And, depending on what type of yarn you're aiming for, you can either hang it up with a weight of some kind to keep the yarn taut, or you can just let it hang without any weight. OR, if you're looking for something springy, you can either let it dry flat on a towel, or you can do something called "thwacking". I assume this means whacking the wet yarn against a stable surface, like the inside of your shower. One of the ladies who responded to my question said that the tradition in northern Norway involved the use of a stream, assuming you happen to have a convenient one nearby.
Since I haven't got a stream that's exactly easy to get to, I opted to take advantage of the washing machine by soaking the skein in warm, soapy water and letting it rinse and spin before I hung it up to dry. My neighbors probably think I'm nuts because I used a giant can of apricots and a pair of coat hangers to hang the yarn on the outside of the front door... not that I really care whether they notice. The total is something close to 475 yards, which is pretty good. It's definitely enough for a nice pair of fuzzy socks, or a nice fuzzy hat. Anyway.. here's a picture.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Lesson No. 1

Stacey has such an interesting color sense. Under normal circumstances, you'd think that brown, pink, red, and purple might look really weird together, but the Romney X roving I got from her at MSWF this year spins up into... it's not really tweedy, but it's not really marled, either. It reminds me a little bit of the Crystal Palace Taos yarn because of the way the colors change. I'm going to ply the singles together after I finish spinning the rest of the wool. Picture forthcoming, of course. One of the neat things about this wool is that it has a little mohair-like fuzziness, even though it doesn't actually have any mohair in it. It's just... fuzzy. It might calm down a little when it's plied and dunked to set the twist.
In other news, I've taken on the challenge of teaching one of my friends to knit. It's really encouraging when someone says, "You know? I think I'd be a really good knitter", and then it turns out to be right. Some people have it, some people don't, and some people pick it up along the way. In her case, she's picking it up really quickly. It's very gratifying to be able to succeed in teaching someone something. Her first lesson was casting on, and then knit and purl stitches; I gave her a homework assignment, which was to practice every day for at least half an hour, the theory being that the more she practices, the better she'll get. Thursday, she's supposed to have another lesson... and I have to figure out what the next thing on my teaching list is. Depending on how things go, it might be increasing and decreasing, or it might be a few textures like ribs and seed stitch. Or something. Now I wish I hadn't gotten rid of all my acrylic yarn. Oh, well... the elementary school will make good use of it next autumn.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Red Spartans

After much gnashing of teeth and unravelling of previous work using the Lite-Lopi yarn I found on eBay, I've finally started a project I'm pleased with and have made enough headway for it to actually look like something. At first, I wanted to use the yarn to make the Northern Lights cardigan, but discovered that, no, the pattern does not lend itself well to being worked like a Fair Isle piece when knitted in the round. It was painful to unravel that much knitting, but I did it anyway. The Lopi yarn is now being made into another Spartan Pullover, though this one is going to be a little different. I'm hoping to repeat the colorwork in the sleeves, which will be flared instead of tapered at the wrist.
On another note, I finally got around to weaving in all those loose tails on the blue Spartan. I feel so much better now.. and just a little less like a slacker. On the other hand, I really should try to do more spinning... I just want to use more of my yarn stash before I do.. 'cause I have no room! Does anyone have any suggestions on how to get rid of a bunch of acryllic yarn? I have a lot and it needs a good home.

Thursday, June 7, 2007


Cabbage Chicken Salad-
1 package coleslaw (cabbage and carrot blend)
1 package boneless, skinnless chicken breasts
1 clove garlic1 tsp salt
1/4 cup low-fat mayonaise
1 1/2 oz olive oil
1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugarjuice of one lime

Place thawed chicken breasts in a pot with enough water to cover them; add 1 tsp salt and the garlic. Turn burner to high heat and boil chicken breasts for 20 minutes at a rolling boil, then turn off the heat. Let the chicken cool, then cut it into cubes or thin strips.Put the slaw in a large mixing bowl, and in a small mixing bowl combine mayonaise, olive oil, vinegar, 1 tsp salt, sugar, and lime juice. Whisk until smooth. Pour dressing over coleslaw and toss until it's evenly distributed; add chicken and toss again.

Monday, June 4, 2007

re: View: Lite Lopi

What's so special about Lopi yarn? Could be the long history of the breed whose wool makes up the yarn, or it could be the circumstances under which the sheep produce their wool, or it could be the way it knits up. According to the Lopi History on, the vikings brought sheep with them when they arrived in Iceland about eleven hundred years ago, and used them as both food and fiber sources, the latter of which was even more advantageous because the woven fiber is warm and fairly waterproof--a necessity in such a chilly environment--while still being soft enough to be comfortable. The coats of these sheep, according to Wikipedia, is made up of two separate layers: an inner layer of light, fine fibers called "pel", which is short, soft, and crinkly, and provides good insulation against the cold, and the stronger, coarser outer layer called "tog", which are more water repellent. The irregularities in staple length, when spun, lend these qualities to the resulting yarn, which is sold in three weights, and a wide range of colors:
Lopi - 100 gram balls/100 metres, 6 mm needle
Gauge: St st: 13 = 10 cm (4 inches)
Lopi Light - 50 gram balls/100 metres, 5 mm needle
Gauge: St st: 18 = 10 cm (4 inches)
Bulky Lopi – 100 gram hank/60 metres, 8 mm needle
Gauge: St st: 10sts = 10cm (4 inches)
About two weeks ago, I found some of this stuff on eBay. True, it's about twenty years old, but it's still perfectly good. Yarn, as far as I'm aware, doesn't have an expiration date. Before I started bidding on the yarn, I asked questions on the two Yahoo fiber forums to which I belong; the questions resulted in mixed responses from some of the other members: it's fuzzy and soft, it felts too easily, it's itchy, it's not itchy, things knitted from it are sturdy and likely to last a long time, it's not suited to certain projects, and so on. Ahh, a puzzle!
Since this didn't really answer the question, I decided to go ahead and start knitting something with the yarn in question. Right away I noticed that yes, it is very fuzzy, and because it's made up of loosely spun singles, it tends to pull apart if you tug the stitches too tight; this seems to be the case with any yarn that's not plied or spun fairly tight. It's so fuzzy, in fact, that someone suggested using a razor to shave any articles you knit with it... unless you favor the fuzzy look. This is not to say that it's as shaggy as the sheep the yarn comes from, I assure you!
While I didn't find it very itchy at the outset, I did find that it's a good idea to wear jeans while I'm knitting with it, because it does start to prickle after a little while, especially since the weather is hot and EVERYTHING is inclined to feel prickly. As far as softness goes, I do find it nice and fluffy, due in part to the fact that it's a loosely spun single. The only problem, though, is that those nice, soft, fluffy singles pull apart so easily that it can be frustrating. Imagine happily knitting away, and then you pull the stitch too tight, and the yarn comes apart. Far as I can tell, the only remedy for this is to just not pull the stitches as tightly as you would under other circumstances with plied yarn, which can occasionally cause some gauge problems if you're not careful.
A common complaint among knitters on the fiber forums I frequent is something called splitting, which is what happens when the tips of your knitting needles slip between the layers of plied wool while you're working; it happens to all knitters at once in awhile, but it's not fatal. Since Lopi isn't plied, however, it doesn't split the same way: the needle tip pokes through the single at points where it's getting ready to pull apart instead of between plies. Some experienced knitters suggest that splitting can be less of a problem depending on the material your knitting needles are made of; some say it happens less frequently using metal needles, while others swear it happens less often with bamboo or wood. At any rate, Lopi does just fine on my KnitPicks needles--no, that's not a shameless plug for KnitPicks--which are nickle plated.
At the moment I'm knitting a pullover with the maroon and light gray yarn, and I'm finding the experience mostly pleasant. Except when I have to keep tying the ends of the yarn together after it pulls apart. It's soft, it's lofty, it's warm even in its unknitted form, and it's certainly suited to a variety of projects, with the possible exception of socks because of felting concerns--unless you intended to make felted bedsocks or slippers in the first place.
So what is so special about Lopi yarn? It's durable and wears well. It's soft and warm, and has a wide variety of applications. And it makes a damned nice addition to the Stash.