Handspun never felt like “stash” to me, probably because it’s a finished object in and of itself.
But it is stash, stash almost too precious to be used. No more! I’m sticking with my recent philosophical pivot to use the things I have instead of letting them molder… by turning them into objects that will surely molder.
I love the variation in handspun – it’s why I make it! – and then I’m not quite sure what to do with it because of that variation. Happily, I’m in a stage where simple patterns mean comfort knitting, not boring knitting, and this mental space lends itself well to finally using some of these special skeins I’ve been hoarding for too long.
But I still don’t know how to effectively wear a shawl. Any tips? Give in to it and just be a person who wears shawls? Will I feel less silly with practice?
I am a product of my time and have found myself falling for the minimalist zeitgeist. For me this has manifested more in feeling intense guilt over owning the things I have and less in purging or consuming those things. I know I’ve gone on and on about the moth(s) and how assessing, freezing, baking, sorting, and handling of all my yarny things has made me think again about what I’m doing with them and why I have them. But wait, here’s more blathering on the subject!
I have a box of handspun yarn that’s too precious to knit with. It’s a big box. And there’s a basket, too, if I’m being honest, and it’s a big basket. I’m not a good spinner, I don’t really know what I’m doing, but it’s mine and I made it and it’s gorgeous. It’s also inconsistent and yardage is guesswork and most of it is variegated which complicates pattern selection and what if I didn’t use every last bit of it? What if I made a thing that turned out not so precious as my yarn had been? What if I make a thing and *gasp* don’t use it?
Well… f*ck it. I took this beautiful, unlabeled ball of really astonishingly soft handspun and improvised a cowl. It was maybe 200 yards, maybe less, of approximately aran-weight yarn. I cast on with only an idea of a plan, something big enough without being too big, with movement but to so much that it would read as patterned, and this is what came off the needles:
The pattern, briefly:
Gauge = 15 across & 22 high over 4″. I used US #9 needles.
CO 100; or, make it smaller or bigger by casting on fewer or more in multiples of 10
Purl 1 row
Knit 1 row
Purl 1 row
Stitch pattern (repeat until it’s long enough or until you think you’ll run out of yarn):
Usually when I’m in a fit of knitting ennui I turn to socks. This time it’s my handspun that’s saving my lazy-brained knitting ass: here’s another simple cowl, the 2nd in a series (also, incidentally, a failed Baby Surprise Jacket for the same reason. I’m not so good at guesstimating finished handspun yardage or BSJ yardage requirements). It’s just 30 stitches of garter stitch knitted until the yarn ran out then sewed together.
I have NO IDEA what the fiber is. Pretty, though. I really like the plum and olive together. Manly with a touch of fancy. The only thing I can tell you is that I navajo plied this baby. You spin a single ply then loop it over and back through itself to make a 3-ply. BRILLIANT. I love the physicality of navajo plying. In my mind’s eye I see myself gracefully dancing with string, but in reality I’m holding my wrists at awkward angles with an unbecoming expression of concentration like the one I wear when I’m driving and my kid is constantly asking me “What’s wrong?”.
I ended up with a yarn with solid chunks and short transitions between and a cowl long enough to loop twice.
I have a lot of insomnia stories – I’m great at parties, let me tell you – and they’re mostly as incredibly boring as you would expect. Like when I was pregnant the second time? And I would wake up for the day at 3 in the morning? I did so much spinning! The end.
A few years ago my esteemed parents-in-law gave me a Hansen miniSpinner for Christmas. I was so surprised and so pleased and so spoiled (linking to Hansen’s site makes me feel both unworthy and grateful all over again) and when I sat down to play with my new toy I was so completely flummoxed. What a disaster. My mother in law arranged a short tête-à-tête with Beth, the miniSpinner’s purveyor (aren’t I lucky? I’m seriously lucky) who set me on my way.
My spoils still on hand:
Yeah, I was doing a lot of not sleeping.
I had started a Baby Surprise Jacket because a BSJ in handspun is the absolute peak of knitting perfection and I’ve thought so since seeing Brooklyn Tweed’s version way back when. I’ll pause here to brag about my own successful handspun BSJs…
…because this skein didn’t turn out to be one of them. Not enough yarn. Womp womp. I set the project aside and decided I would make a cowl someday and here it is. The left-learning stitches are a sign of an unbalanced yarn, but a handspun’s imperfections are part of a its charm.