Quick Tip – Needle Sizes

I bought most of the knitting needles I own around the same time, and it seems that they are all going kaput around the same time too.

The interchangeable needles are having this problem:

So I decided it was time for a replacement/upgrade.  The same package that brought me a turkish spindle also had this in it:


A shiny new set of HiyaHiya interchangeable circs. I was eager to dive into the project on the broken needle shown above, but as I’m away from home this summer, I didn’t have my needle sizer to figure out what I was knitting on.  (In retrospect, I could have just checked my Ravelry project page, but that would have been the easy solution so of course I didn’t think of it.)

What to do? I took some white string (actually some white single I spun a while back and use as a leader yarn on my spindle), wrapped it around the broken needle, and drew a line with a pen.

The pen marks will only line up around another needle if it’s the same diameter as the original.

Correct diameter – the ink lines match up

Wrong size needle – ink marks don’t match up

This idea is related to an ancient form of cryptography called a scytale.  People would send secret messages by wrapping the notes around a stick of a certain diameter; only those with a stick of the same diameter could read the message.

I think this is the first time my academic research has informed my knitting – I’m tickled!

Plying and a Turkish Spindle

I can’t believe I will actually achieve my Tour de Fleece goal.  I was intending to spin and ply this bluish merino/silk roving, my first time spinning dyed fiber.   About a week ago I got the singles spun

Merino/Silk singles

which filled all available surfaces for holding yarn at my disposal.  (I’m working out of state for the summer, and this is what I brought.) Clearly I just had to order another spindle, so I thought I’d give a turkish spindle a try

Ashford Turkish Spindle

I used the spindle as a ball winder first, to make a plying ball. Here’s the plying ball and the leftovers:

3 singles wound together, using the turkish spindle as a ball winder

leftover singles, as all were not the same length

I was wary of taking this ball/cop off the spindle, but ta-da!

I’m plying now, and haven’t had any trouble with the funny-shaped center pull ball that the spindle formed.  The turkish spindle is much bigger than my others, so the plying is going well and I should be able to fit all the yarn in one big cop (since it fit as a plying ball it should fit at yarn). By end of day tomorrow I will have this done!

3-plying on the turkish spindle

Tour de Fleece!

I am participating in the Tour de Fleece as a rookie.  My goal is simply to spin every day.  Even that has been a challenge, since the last week has been full of driving home, catching up with loved ones, and driving back to Georgia.  In fact, this is all I have to show for the first week of the Tour:

Tour de Fleece, first update

The fiber is a merino/silk blend I got at a fiber festival from a Black Sheep Farm whose website no longer exists.

Speaking of handspun, while I was home I used my very first handspun as a guinea pig (it’s scratchy, lumpy, and uneven… not good for much else) and kettle-dyed it!

My technique is a hodgepodge of a few tutorials I found online… Once I’ve tried it a few times and perfected my method I’ll post a tutorial here too.  But basically, I skeined up the yarn,

Handspun on a niddy-noddy.

mixed up dye stock (concentrated liquid from the dye powder),

Acid dye powder and dye stock.

plopped my yarn in a simmering water/vinegar bath,

dribbled some of the dye concentrate into the dye bath,

Underneath the steam is a bubbling brew of yarn and dye.

and waited.  The result is this:

Handspun, hand-dyed yarn. Woo hoo!

It’s a lot more solid colored than I intended, and it’s hard to believe that there were actually two colors of dye in there.  The blue color I used clearly took over.  However, this yarn is my baby and it’s beautiful to me anyway!