Thursday, June 23, 2011

Silk Hanky (Muwata) Tutorial

I am introducing a brand new product, silk hankies, and I thought I would do a quick tutorial on how to work with them, both for spinning and knitting. Here goes:

Silk hankies or Muwata come in squares, which are actually the silk cocoons stretched over a square frame and then layered and layered until they look like this.

When you pull the layers apart it looks like this. This is probably 3 or 4 layers of silk cocoons.

This is what a single layer looks like. It is much easier working with a single layer if you would like a finer yarn. Though it does start out fairly thick, so don't worry you can still get a medium weight yarn this way too.

Next put your fingers through the center of the hanky and pull out until your hands can fit through the center. Continue pulling, making sure to rotate the hanky from time to time to get it as even as possible. The fiber will end up thick and thin in the end, but you still want it as even as possible.

 Eventually your hanky will start to look like this. You can go through and tug on areas that are thicker to thin even them out with the rest of the fiber.

If you want to know how thick your fiber is use a Wraps Per Inch (wpi) tool, or if you don't have one, try a ruler. Wrap the fiber around evenly, not too loose, not too tight for at least 2 inches, then divide by 2 to get the wraps per inch. The wraps should lie right next to one another, not scrunched together or with big gaps in between. To figure out what your wpi means I found a chart on Ravelry, or basically:
5 to 6 wpi = Super Bulky
7 = Bulky
8 = Aran
9 = Worsted
11 = DK
12 = Sport
14 = Fingering
16+ = Lace

Continue to stretch the hanky until you reach the desired size for your yarn. This is true whether you are knitting or spinning, because the silk is difficult to draft while spinning, so if you can get it as close as possible to your desired yarn size, then you will have much less difficulty spinning it. Break the circle apart by pulling on it until it breaks, creating 2 ends.

Wind the resulting fiber around a paper card of some kind. I used a business card, but you could also use an index card or other scrap of heavy paper. It is important to wrap it around something smooth which won't catch on the silk. DO NOT wrap it into a ball on itself, because this will make a tangled mess in the middle, which will be very difficult to work with.

If you wish to do all of your hankies at one time, you can continue to wrap them around the card one on top of the other. It can get a little rough on your hands to do it all at one time, so be careful and take breaks as necessary. Also you can stretch one layer of the hanky at a time as you need it for your project. I just got carried away with how much fun it was to see the colors all stretched out.

When you are through you are ready to either spin it into yarn or knit with it. This is the end for the spinning tutorial. The rest is all about knitting. As with any handspun or thick & thin yarn, make sure to knit an ample gauge swatch to see how your yarn behaves. A 4 x 4 swatch should be enough. Depending on your project or your preferences you may wish to block the swatch as well.

This is the end of the tutorial. Next time I'll show you the project I knit out of my silk hankies!

I will have the finished project as well as all of the hankies, while they last, at Black Sheep this weekend! We will be in room 3, booth #39, on the same row as Blue Moon and Dicentra. Make sure to stop by and check them out!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Hurt Foot

Here is my current view:

I managed to twist my ankle yesterday and broke a bone in my foot. So I am laid up for a bit. Thankfully I have the most wonderful husband who is going to work from home this week and get us packed up for Black Sheep Gathering. I should hopefully have a hard cast by Wednesday. So if you are going to Black Sheep, make sure to stop by the booth and sign my cast! We will be in Room 3, booth #39, on the same row as Blue Moon and Dicentra.

I am thinking I might need to knit some kind of funky sock for over my cast for Sock Summit, if I still have it then!

Monday, June 13, 2011

New! Alpaca / Silk Roving

Introducing a new Roving to the collection:

This fiber is Alpaca/Silk. It is 70% Alpaca 30% Tussah Silk. It is very soft and luscious fiber. It comes in 3 different colors: Newsprint (shown above), Fawn, and Chocolate (shown below). I actually debuted this fiber at the Abernethy Grange Sale, but it all sold out. I just got it back in stock and I am super happy to now have it available in the shop.

I chose not to dye this fiber mainly because it comes in such beautiful natural colors. I love how this shows off the natural beauty of alpaca. Plus adding silk makes it very luxurious. The other reason is these fibers are very delicate. They hold up well by themselves, but I'm not sure they would hold up so well to the dyeing process. So I will happily sell them as themselves and try to keep myself from petting them all day!

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Inca Hat

I have a project to share with you today, which I didn't knit myself. A few of my friends who work at my lys said they would be willing to knit booth samples for me in exchange for yarn. I was more than happy to agree, so this is the first of them:

This is the Frequency Hat out of Inca Cotton in color Ecru. As is the fate of most samples, the moment I got it in my hands the yarn was discontinued. So I have since put it on sale. I'm really sad to see it go, since it makes such cool things as this hat! It was knit by my friend Destiny. I am having her knit the hat again out of a different yarn, so let's hope this new one will be in a yarn that sticks around! I have a couple of other things being knit as well. I'll make sure to share them as I get them. I definitely have some very talented friends!

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Off & On the Needles

Yes, I still knit! I think for this week we will have a knitting theme, since last week was cooking. In fact next week I think it might be gardening, since we currently have a crew out turning our jungle of a yard into something far more manageable. Anyway, I finally finished my February Lady Sweater (rav link). I really love it! I knit it out of Malabrigo in color 608 Bijou Blue. Malabrigo, as always, was a joy to knit! This pattern was also a joy to knit! So a perfect matchup there. I might even knit it again someday! The only modification I made, was I didn't like how belled the sleeves looked in the pattern, so I eliminated the 7 sts under the armpit. I wish I had completed just one more increase round and it would fit completely perfect. It fits just fine, so I'm not going to worry about it now. Just a note to myself for next time.

After I got done with my sweater project, I felt a quick hat was in order. I finished this (rav link) up for x for a summer hat. It is knit out of Bee Sweet Bambino Taffy in color 881 Salt Water Taffy. The hat only takes one ball of yarn. The pattern is a free one offered by Knot Another Hat with a purchase of the yarn. It currently isn't on Ravelry, but I'll let you know if it gets posted up on there. I modified the pattern by casting on 90 sts, since X's head is bigger than the newborn size it is written for. It fits him perfectly with plenty of room for him to grow into it. So it should fit him all summer and hopefully next summer as well.

Awhile ago a friend of mine asked if I could repair these gloves, since he had worn holes in several of the fingers. I told him I could just as long as he didn't want them back right away. I managed to find a good matching yarn with Cascade Alpaca Lace in color #1417 Indigo. I tried it single and it wasn't thick enough, so I doubled it. All of the repairs are on #0USs. I'm knitting at a slightly tighter gauge than the gloves. My only concern now is that the repairs will outlive the rest of the glove!

Lastly I have cast on an Entrelac Scarf (rav link) as a booth sample, since Black Sheep Gathering is right around the corner! I am knitting this out of my Wool Singles in color Dragon Fire. I love how it is coming together. Entrelac is so peaceful for me to knit because I'm only working on one little square at a time. I love how bright this is turning out too. I think it will make a lovely booth sample. I may have to borrow it this winter to snuggle around my neck!

In shop news: I have a lot of things to put up on the website. I'll probably post on Twitter as I get them posted up. Twitter and Facebook are the fastest ways to find out when new things are put in the shop, so please feel free to follow or like me on either. I may have some posts here on some of the new things I'm adding to the shop. I have some major fun things I'm bringing on just in time for Black Sheep. So stay tuned!