Friday, September 19, 2008

Handspinning and a little Knitting

Sometimes I enter my handspun skeins and items in the Fair. I like seeing others' items and getting inspired by them. I hope people enjoy seeing my things and get inspired, too. It takes exhibitors to keep the Fair going, and keep new entry categories available, too.

My "things" won a few ribbons:

This was the coolest - first place in handspun socks. Two years ago this yarn won Reserve Grand Champion for the handspun category. It is Shetland: Alpaca 80:20 and I dyed it as one skein by measuring stitches per row, rows per inch and sized for my feet. The white "stars" were created by wrapping the yarn at intervals, then dying that section blue. It was involved and very fun to see the results.

The socks, then, were just knitted. No changing colors, no weaving in extra ends. Now that their Fair career is over, I can start wearing them. :-)

Blue ribbons aren't easy to come by, and I am pleased to have won two this year. The skein above is a softly spun bulky yarn of Icelandic lambs wool with streaks of black and red mohair.

Red ribbons aren't easy to win either! There is only one blue, one red, one white and maybe an honorable mention in each category. My Bird In Hand mittens won second in the "small items" handspun category. The blue was a gorgeous fair isle type hat knitted by one of my Guild sisters.

I won another Red in the "other animal" fiber category. This is a sample of pygora fiber that I added to my entries at the last minute. I was impressed by the luster and softness of the pygora.

Another red - one of my favorite skeins. This is from the softest part of Electra's lamb fleece. I sold her fleece and kept the least trashy skirtings from her neck. I sorted them by color, then combed them, arranged them by color - dark, midrange, medium to light, then back again so that the 2 ply yarn would start dark and gradually change to light. The skein hasn't told me yet what it wants to be. There isn't a lot of it, so it'll have to be a small project.

Here's part of my Tour de Fleece spinning. It is from Shetland lamb blended with 20% alpaca and is a light blonde color. It turned out very soft and slightly lustrous. My "swatch" is a mini-sock, and I might make fair isle socks out of it. Competition is tough in 2 ply blended fiber, so a third is pretty nice!

This is more of the Tour skein. I natural dyed this one using turmeric, vinegar and alum - a "dill pickle" dye. When I read about someone using the left over pickle liquid, I had to try it. Unfortunately, it looks like it'll fade, since it already lost the bright yellow of the turmeric in just a few days. It didn't get a ribbon, but looks nice in the display case.

Almost always I have something spun on a spindle. This year it was a Shetland named Espresso. Poor Espresso was the victim of a bear, who also got her lamb, another newborn lamb and another ewe not long after we sold them. Her fiber lives on in my natural Fair Isle Shetland stash.

I got two Honorable Mention awards this year. Above is my crocheted Turkish Spindle bag made from Friesian wool grown by the Black Sheep Creamery ewes. It is spun in one piece with integral color changes. I like the Friesian wool, especially the black black of the black fiber.

Below is my color study yarn. It earned Honorable Mention in the 3 ply yarn category. It was a study in blending different color combinations and how to add interest by using color complements. I have two basic colors, blue and red, that I played with. This skein is another that graduates from color to color, though the technique is different from Electra's skein and the Spindle bag. This one is Navajo plied to make a 3 ply yarn. Basically the single spun ply is crocheted using big loops and twisted so that color changes stay in order within the yarn.

The hat below didn't place. Hats, especially in the knitting division, are very competitive, and this one is kind of plain. It's knit with 2 yarns held together - one a handspun Shetland wool, the other a sparkly blue novelty yarn. I like it anyhow, and it'll be nice and warm this winter.

Socks in the knitting division are also very competitive. These socks are one of my favorite items, knit using Socks that Rock yarn. I knit them for my mom, not knowing if she even likes wool socks, and she gave them back to me saying they didn't stretch enough to put on easily. Back to the drawing board on that one! They fit me, though, so I'll start wearing them once they come home from the Fair.

I hope you enjoyed the post, and maybe got inspired a little to enter your local fair. Fairs are a piece of Americana that are worth preserving. Where else can you find a myriad of quilts, rodeos, 4H and FFA displays, hot tubs, Krusty Pups, Elephant ears, sheep and cattle shows, hoop tosses, Ferris wheels, Bingo, onion burgers, ane yes, handspun, handknit red, white and blue socks, all in one place?

- Franna


Nancy K. said...


Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

I was looking at those patriotic socks, being VERY impressed, and then I read how you dyed the yarn in one skein and knit them without color changes -- now I'm totally FLOORED! No, you didn't inspire me to enter my stuff in any fairs; you totally intimidated me by what I might be up against! You're amazing!

Christy said...

Congratulations on the ribbons! One of my goals is to win a blue ribbon at a fair. I'm not even sure what category yet.