Going for chunky: adventures in 2-ply

been spinnin' again

I haven't spun for over a month – since plying up this little lot (about enough for one sock), I have been actively avoiding making enough for another sock. I don't know if it's the fibre prep, or the fact that it's been stored for too long in a too small box – but I found it a bit of a pig to spin; it wouldn't seem to want to draft smoothly. But – being project monogamous – I haven't wanted to start spinning anything else.

This seems silly. I like spinning, so I need to spin the top, or spin something else.

So I decided to spin it differently. I tried for a heavier weight yarn; I've been playing with some Debbie Bliss Maya, an aran weight single, slightly thick and thin, and I was wondering if I could spin something like that.

Turns out I have difficulty spinning thicker. And putting up with variations in thickness of my singles.

I didn't manage to make singles *that* thick – or even that consistent – and I was definitely overspinning, so I plied it:


Because plying is done in the opposite twist direction to spinning singles, it removes some of the twist from the singles. I think I'm used to spinning singles for plying, and it's now pretty much balanced. There are thick bits and thin bits; barberpole bits and bits where two sections of the same colour met up. The unevenness of the yarn is pretty obvious, but I really, really like it.

Some of the most interesting bits happened when a thin bit of single met a thicker bit. When this happens, the thin bit seems to travel closer to the axis of the plied yarn, and the thicker one spirals around it:

'parallel' strands in the left box; not on the right!

I found I can control – or eliminate – this effect by gripping the thicker strand more tightly than the thinner one. Then, the two strands twist evenly again. I like this. The more tension I put on a single, the closer to the axis of the finished yarn it will lie. That means that I can produce a spiralling yarn from two singles of equal thickness, an even yarn from two differing singles, or, at the extreme, wrap a single or an unspun fibre around a core fibre – to make a corespun yarn.


It’s not a proper weekend unless….

…you end up muddy to the knees.

A sweater in record time

It might not feel quite like real knitting, but 20mm needles make for a really, really quick sweater. Less than 72 hours after starting, I have an FO. Schedule as follows:

Wednesday: Knit back
Thursday: Knit first sleeve, check remaining yarn (halfway done now, after all), start knitting front.
Friday: Finish knitting front; knit second sleeve. Seam shoulders and knit collar.
Saturday: Finish seaming and sew in ends. Get boyfriend to photograph result.

Hey, Juuude…

Yarn: Rowan Biggy Print, colour 'Troll' (now discontinued)
Pattern: 'Jude', from Rowan's booklet 'bigger picture'. Should have had a longer collar, but I was short by a ball of yarn.

I'd love to say I've enjoyed knitting this, but I can't. The needles felt like telegraph poles and I felt like I signalling planes into land, I was waving my arms around so much. J laughed at me. My fellow SnB'ers laughed at me. I refused to have my photo taken whilst knitting it, so that no-one else could be presented with the ludicrousness of the picture. I have some more biggy print to suffer through knit up, and then I will probably sell the darn needles. On the other hand, I really quite like the sweater. It is a wonderful, warm, easy-wear knit that would probably look better on me if I were about 2 stone lighter, so that the two extra stone that the chunky fabric lends to me were cancelled out. But I don't care; it's comfy and warm (oh, boy, is it warm!) and has made a significant reduction in the volume of my stash.

Stash in, stash out…

So, I have a few things up at the Destash site right now. Some yarn, some spinning wheel parts… There's a bunch more stacked in a corner of the sewing room, too. If no-one's interested, they'll go to eBay or be donated to a knitting charity. In a way, it goes totally against my natural grain to be pushing yarn out the door. I paid for this stuff; I wanted it so badly that I got a little dizzy when I placed the order. I'm sure you know how it is. But…

I'm sick of having so much stuff I can no longer organise it (a very affluent condition, I know, but denial won't make anything better). Part of me thinks I ought to use this stuff to knit donations for some of the incredibly worthwhile knitting charities out there. But knitting is my hobby, and I enjoy it most when I knit for me. As you will have gathered from the above, I'm not short of a bob or two. I'm not on the bread line (though current circumstances mean that the budget is being watched for once). But I am time-poor. I would rather donate money (or the yarn itself!) to charities, and keep my knitting time for myself.

And yet… and yet… Yarn seems also to have flowed the wrong way; from Destash into my home. Tell me it's not beautiful, though:

10 skeins silk garden. I am weak.

I’m not sure this is *really* knitting…

20mm needles are the *wierdest* things to try and handle after knitting with 2.5mm DPNs for a week. The largest needles I have ever used before have been the 8mm ones used for Mask, and I found those uncomfortably large to handle.

Knitting with 20mm needles requires completely different movements to 'normal' knitting, at least for me. You can't just use your hands, you have to move your whole arms. There's certainly no such thing as a small movement!

But at least it grows quickly. This is one evening's work; mobile phone included for scale:

'Jude' from Rowan's 'Bigger Picture'

Hey! Lookie!

Another otter!


From cast on to finished in just over a week: a full size pair of socks

they fit, too

Before knitting these, I didn't know how long it took me to knit a pair of socks. Normally, I am project-monogamous, except for socks. Socks don't count. Socks are commuter-knitting, or portable knitting, and they don't get very much continuous attention. As a result, socks drag on and take f-o-r-e-v-e-r to knit. And then – THEN – you have to knit the second one.

I thought I didn't like knitting socks. It wasn't that I hated it, but there was definite ambivalence there. Casting on for a pair of socks felt like signing up to some huge, ongoing project that would drag on and on, long after I was fed up of it.

This was rapidly becoming an issue, because I cannot resist buying sock yarn. The skeins are so small! And so pretty! And so small! How can that count towards stash? Or even consume storage space?

But whaddaya know? With a bit of focus, a pair of socks can be complete in just over a week. Guess that's why I like my monogamy, then.

happy feet


As Mary pointed out, there was no photo with the last post. So without further ado, here it is:

the fastest sock in the south-east

…and, as a bonus, here it is posing next to it's nascent twin – set fair to being identical, you'll note! In fact, there's one more repeat of the colour sequence knit up now, which takes sock #2 just up to the point of starting to knit the heel flap:

sock #2 – and sock #1 – with wine

Do you think I can finish a pair of socks in a week?? …maybe, but probably not *this* pair.

Personal Best Sock

This might not be the most complex sock, or the most beautiful that I have ever made, but I think it's the quickest to date.

Cast on: 03/11/06
Cast off: 07/11/06

It's just a simple, top down sock with a ribbed cuff and standard heel flap construction, worked over 64 stitches on 2.5 mm needles. But it's amazing how fast it's taken shape. Maybe it's the famous motivational effect of those wonderful self-patterning yarns, or maybe it's just the fact that I haven't been knitting anything else in the meantime.

The yarn is one of the Regia Jaquard ones; I thought the colourway was 'Helsinki', but looking at Web Of Wool's site, I think it is actually 'Oslo'. I like it.

Now to cast on all over again; that's the thing with socks. Even when you're finished, you have to start again. Why don't I feel that way about sweater pieces, then? Even sleeves?

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