Monday, September 13, 2010

Hand-Dipped Tappan Zee

(Wow, she's really let herself go.)
No, I haven't!

(She just hasn't been taking care of anything.)
Yes, I have.

(She probably hasn't been doing any knitting at all.)
Have too.

I can hear you, you know.

I have I have I have!

In fact there are finished objects strewn all around the place. Here's one now.

Amy Spunky Eclectic King had a pattern in the spring issue of Knitty that seemed just about perfect for some spinning fiber I had on hand in a pretty, pretty color. Amy is well known as a wonderful hand-dyer and is also the author of one of my very favorite spinning books, Spin Control.

The Tappan Zee pattern is casual and breezy, designed for handspun yarn, and -- most importantly -- made with only about 6 ounces of fiber, at least given Spunky's expert spinning technique. Allowing for the difference between her results and my, ahem, somewhat less expert spinning, I thought I might just pull it off with the 8 ounces of fiber I had. It's from the very nice and encouraging Kate Bostek of Roclans Farm in Fairfield, PA. The colorway is called Heartfelt (awww...), and it was one of my finds at the 2008 Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival.

Still a bit nervous about whether I could get enough yardage out of my 8 ounces, I came up with a back-up plan. At the same show, I had bought 4 ounces of another spinning fiber in a similar but slightly darker color, called Raspberry Whip. (I remember getting it home and wondering what on earth I had been thinking!) It was, if memory serves, from a vendor called the Brazen Sheep. I think I was dazed by the fact that it had 10% cashmere in the blend.

I decided to blend the two colorways in gradually varying proportions to spin a range of yarns that would shade from light to dark. I measured out by weight how much fiber of each color to spin together for each color gradation. Then I got busy spinning 12 ounces of fiber, aiming for sportweight.

Here's how the yarn came out. See how the color changes from the top of the picture to the bottom? That's not an illusion!

I adore it. I want to try this trick again.

Still and all, I wasn't entirely sure how my idea was going to work out in the actual sweater. It could either look like a really cool custom design, or like I ran out of yarn and had to finish the knitting in a different colorway that didn't quite match.

Or like I sat in something. :p

But there was only one way to find out. So I got knitting. The yarn was light and springy, a pleasure to knit with, and a relief after all the careful concentration that went into the spinning. And Tappan Zee is a nice pattern to knit, easy and straightforward. It's knit top-down, with enough decoration at the yoke to be fun but not fussy. I changed practically nothing -- a rarity. I only needed to add a couple of extra rows here and there to lengthen the yoke because my gauge was a bit off.

Actually, it's a miracle that the gauge was only a little bit off, because this was the first time I really tried to spin a sweater quantity of yarn to a specific weight for a specific pattern. Before, I've just spun whatever yarn the fiber seemed to make, and then found, adapted, or designed a pattern to work with it. For a first time spinning to order, I really didn't do too badly. :)

And look how it turned out!

Isn't it pretty? I had a hard time getting a picture that shows the color change. But look at the color striations in the main part of the sweater. That's one of the things I love about handspun. And, if you look closely near the bottom on the right, you can see how the color just blends imperceptibly into the darker shade.

Since the colors are so close, it does sort of look like a different dye lot of the same yarn. Or like I sat in something.

But I prefer to think it looks like a hand-dipped ice cream cone. So that's what I say it is!

Hand-dipped Tappan Zee. Delicious. :)


Robin said...

Very pretty and I love it with that olive green shirt! Purple and olive --- MMMMM love that combination!

cathy said...

Thanks, Robin! Yes, I think this hobby attracts people who love a lot of color, don't you? :)

Torhild said...

That one is pretty- love the color.
And to your question: Yes! Ihave lots of hand knits in draws etc... but do sell out and gift away:-)

cathy said...

You're right, Beate! Knitting for gifts helps a lot. Luckily I've got family members who love getting handknits. :)