If you've ever wondered where that cold went, the one you had when you were a child, the one that moved from your throat to your lungs to your head and gave you nights that lasted an aeon because you couldn't breathe and your throat hurt, and then you had to cough and you realised that your throat really hadn't been hurting at all, because the cough made it hurt so much more... I've got it. I'm winning the battle, but the end is some distance yet.
So, instead of working – I just can't think clearly when my brain is starved of oxygen – and going to the gym, I have been spinning. It's almost exercise, right? My feet are moving. The ounce of pygora cloud from Terry at Rainbow Yarns Northwest I posted about some time back has become this:
That's 120m of soft, shiny thickish laceweight. Four ounces of the premium dark grey roving (70% pygora, 30% merino) became 411m of slightly thicker laceweight:
Spinning these two yarns was another of those learning experiences. Spun a sort of backward supported longdraw (fibre in my left hand drawing back as the twist enters it while my right hand pinches to stop twist now and then to allow the developing singles to thin as my left hand moves back), the cloud almost spun itself; the smooth glossy fibres just slipped neatly together to become the singles.
The grey was different. Very different. There's been some discussion of the difference between roving and top on the Ravelry groups, made more complex by the difference between UK and US terminology. This was roving in the US sense: basically a carded prep in which the fibres are only roughly parallel to one another, and may be of different lengths. (If combed, this roving becomes top in which all the fibres are truly parallel and are generally of more uniform length.) The Merino in the roving adds elasticity and bounce, and flows differently into the singles. I tried to match the WPI of the stuff I got from the cloud, but found it difficult as this really did want to be a thicker yarn, plus it bloomed beautifully after washing and whacking. The end result is a little thicker, but not badly so and I think the two together will be a top-down triangular shawl, dark grey with a white strip of finer lace (I'm thinking something Estonian with nupps) about 2/3 of the way down.
I've just started the last of the stuff from Terry, a beautiful blue 80% pygora/20% silk batt. To prolong the pleasure (I really do like this pygora stuff) I've decided to spin it as thin as I can.
It's perhaps a little thinner than it looks there, although I do have small fingers :-) It's 60-65wpi. I wonder how much yarn I'll get out of 2.4oz?
What you can't see (well, you can, but it's not obvious) is that I'm spinning that on the high-speed bobbin and the high-speed whorl that I bought last week for the Schacht. Not the highest high-speed bobbin, but it's faster than the fastest shipped with the wheel. I'm getting better at this.
There's also been knitting. The Tuesday Spinners and Cake-eaters are running an optional group project this year: knit a Swallowtail Shawl (pattern available free here). Some members have never knitted lace before, so even in purchased yarn this is a challenge. Others are spinning the yarn as well. In one of my dyeing experiments I painted a 1oz braid of tussah a beautiful dark plum colour, thinking it would do nicely for the shawl. I rinsed it thoroughly, dried it and spun it to roughly the same wpi as the marisilk/seasilk I'd used for my first Swallowtail. When I washed the yarn in Dreft (a detergent)... it bled. It bled to the point that it became a pale grey-blue skein of silk: it lost ALL the red. I was horrified. Worse, I'd not got quite enough length from the braid, so I needed more. I spun another 30g and spent several hours researching silk dyeing online. Recommendations included soaking even longer than overnight; treating all silk to remove sericin before dyeing; using higher concentrations of dye and pure vinegar, not water, to dilute it; heating for longer and allowing the silk to cool in the dye overnight. I took the new skein and the old skein and did all of it. This time I used a dyebath instead of handpainting, and it was thrilling to watch the colour density of the liquid decrease as the silk took the colour. The end result is two skeins of red silk, one very slightly darker than the other. I'd hoped for scarlet (that's what the test paper showed), but it's a blood red, the red of beef cooked 'blue'. I decided to use the variation in colour as a design feature, changing colour at the start of the lily of the valley pattern, which is where I am now:
The difference is more subtle than I'd expected, so I'm glad the change in pattern highlights it. I wanted to learn something else new from this, so I've taken the opportunity to try beading using a crochet hook (8/0 beads and a 0.6mm hook). It's easier than I'd imagined and quite effective although I'm not sure I'll wear it. Next decision comes at the end of the second LoV repeat: I want to go back to the darker red. I could just finish the shawl in it, or perhaps not - I'm not sure there's enough. I am tempted to add a single repeat of another Estonian lace pattern, then revert to the brighter red for the edging. Decisions, decisions.