I’ve blogged before about my newfound love of reds and oranges. When I started spinning, I was immediately drawn to a small box of red, orange and burgundy felting fibre at our local hobby store. I started spinning it up, and in those first few weeks of spinning I managed two small skeins. They had all the problems of first yarns – they were thick and thin, had wiry bits where one single had made very tight coils and had big, unspun slubs. The colour, however, was glorious. I started dreaming about a cowl. A long cowl, long enough to cover my ears and the back of my head in really cold weather. I didn’t have enough yarn, and so, after a couple of months of intensive spinning, I tried to replicate those first skeins of badly spun yarn.

I’d read on the Ravelry spindling forum that it is relatively easy to spin thin on a handspindle, but as you become better, it gets harder and harder to spin thicker and to spin yarn with a variable texture. I won’t pretend it was easy – I had some false starts, where instead of spinning a roughly worsted weight textured yarn I spun a smooth, even fingering (!), but I did manage.

Merino

(The successful skein is on the left, the unsuccessful fingering weight one is on the right. The two balls are the nøstepinne-wound skeins from my earliest weeks).

How did I do it? I did several things. I spent some time looking at the overall thickness of my previous yarn, to try to emulate the general weight without copying the structural weaknesses. I realised that my heaviest good spindle was too light, and so went back to my earliest homemade CD spindle. After adding an extra CD, for a total weight of 47 grams, the spinning went very easily. The texture I achieved by letting twist escape into the drafting zone and occasionally pulling fibre from inside the drafting triangle. Not too far inside, because I didn’t want huge slubs, just far enough inside that I didn’t draft an even amount of yarn with every drafted length. When you start doing this, you quickly realise how much the exact placement of your fingers in drafting affects the look of the final yarn. By pulling on the drafting triangle just a couple of millimetres above where I usually would, I got a much more rustic-looking yarn. I think realising this will make it easier for me to achieve a very smooth yarn.

After finishing the spinning, knitting up the cowl was but a couple of days’ work. Knitting with your own handspun is so rewarding. I cast on 71 stitches and knit in 1*1 rib for 29 centimetres, then cast off in rib, twisted the cowl lengthwise and sewed up the side to create a “fake” moebius*. And I love it.

moebius cowl 022

It is warm, soft and stretchy, and will warm both my body and my soul come the long, dark winter. That’s why I call it my antidote cowl (Ravelry link).

cowl FOCOWLFO

*Well, it’s not fake, because the definition of a moebius is a continuous strip that’s twisted 180 degrees so it only has one side, but lovers of Cat Bordhi like to claim that this is not the proper way to knit a moebius.

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