Monday, December 15, 2014

Dragon Skin (aka textured yarn and knitting)

It all started with a stop at my local yarn store.  Really, that's all it was--a stop to see what was new and what was pretty!  I came home with something only a bit unusual.  It was a length of wool roving dyed in beautiful fall colors.  There was no makers mark on the label, just the type of wool and the weight.   I thought I would look at it for a while and then put it it my stash.

But I didn't. My oldest came down with a bug that kept her home from school for two or three days.  What did I do while taking care of my sick one?  I began to spin.

This lovely merino roving was irregularly dyed.  There was no true repeat of colors.  The colors did not extend across the width of the roving.  It was very random!  I finally decided that the best way to show off these beautiful colors would be to spin the roving into a thick and thin yarn.  (This decision was heavily influenced by Sarah Anderson's book The Spinner's Book of Yarn Design, where she starts her students off by spinning thick and thin as an exercise for learning control over drafting....It's a cool trick!)  I split the roving lengthwise into strips and spun my colorful singles.  It was so much fun!  It was just spinning for the love of it! 

To keep the colors separate, I plied the thick and thin single with a thin single of black Polwarth yarn.  My friend Wendy Feller gave me this fleece and I am slowly combing through the wool.  It spins beautifully!
Here's the yarn in it's thick and thin glory!  The thick parts aren't 100% evenly spaced, but they are regular and I was pleased!

Deciding what to do with a thick and thin yarn came next.  I ended up using a Ravelry pattern "Baktus" as my starting point.  To make the piece more textured, I used stockinette stitch for the bulk of the work, but for the thick sections I purled making a pronounced bump in the fabric.  :)

Here's the scarf and a skein of yarn:

The headband is knit as a moebius strip.  I followed Cat Bordhi's cast on technique (see ) on a circular needle (us#5).  The piece grows from the center width-wise towards the edges.  It was a fun knit.  I had to shift from mostly knitting to mostly purling at the half-way point around the loop in order to keep the fabric all (mostly) stockinette.  The transition is just visible in the band.  My finger marks the transition point--to the right are purl stitches (the back of the stockinette fabric) to the left are knit stitches.
 By twisting the headband at the transition, the band appears to be all stockinette stitch.

Lastly, I made a pair of fingerless mitts to complete the set.  I didn't follow any one pattern to knit these.  They start with  k1 p1 ribbing at the wrists, then shift to stockinette stitch with an increase for the thumb.  After I knit enough to get to the base of the thumb, I bound off the stitches I had added in to make the hole for the thumb.  Then it was more stockinette stitch and a little bit more of k1p1 ribbing around the fingers and Ta-Da! they were done!

This seems like a lot to get from one bit of roving!  The dyed merino roving was 6 oz.  I didn't weigh how much Polwarth I used, but I'm guessing it was 3-4 oz, maybe even 5oz. For 9-12 oz of yarn, it seems more reasonable to have been able to make so much.  The best part is how much I enjoyed the making of each part!

PS.  My oldest daughter really likes dragons.  She has a few figurines, she draws them in her spare time...When I gave her the scarf and made the headband she was trying to come up with a name for them.  After a few false starts (including "sparkles"--blech!), she said "Dragon skin" and the name has stuck.  The pieces are bumpy, yet smooth and mottled, but coordinated.  And, because they are 100% wool and wool is self-extinguishing, they are partially fire proof-- definitely Dragon Skin!  :)

1 comment:

EGunn said...

How fun! I've often thought about doing some "art yarn" spinning, but have never gotten beyond a few samples here and there. There is so much to play with in the texture, though!