Earlier this year Maurice surprised me with a much-desired Ashford e-Spinner 3 that I had been longing for. This little gem is a modern take on a traditional spinning wheel. It operates without the need for treadling, simply press the foot controller to start spinning, then adjust the speed control and tension knob to a comfortable level; to stop spinning, press the foot controller again. The e-spinner arrived from New Zealand unassembled, but the instructions were flawless and building it was a breeze. It also came with a sleek Ashford bag for convenient storage, just perfect for spinning gatherings with my fellow fiber friends!!
Even though I have been spinning with a drop spindle for many years, the biggest project I've made from my handspun yarn before was a shawlette (you can check it out in my Ravelry projects). So I thought it's time to move up to the next level and spin some squishy yarn for a cozy sweater!!
To ensure I had enough yarn for my new big project, I purchased 2 bags (1lb each) of gray roving...100% natural wool grown and processed in Canada - a product of Custom Woolen Mills in Carstairs AB. The tightly-packed bags of roving required some fluffing before spinning. It's amazing how a small compacted bag can transform into a large basket full of fiber goodness.
I started spinning early in March and 4 months later I finished the entire 2lb pile, dedicating my spare time and evenings to the task. The speed of this tiny machine is truly astonishing in comparison to my drop spindles. Plying singles from 2 giant bobbins was super easy and exciting at the same time as I got to see how my yarn was turning out. The final stage of yarn making was washing, setting the twist and a few days of drying.
Overall I finished 5 jumbo hanks and a baby hank - 885g / 1900m of handspun yarn goodness, which is about Sport (2) weight...with a lovely woolen texture and 21 sts per 4" gauge. Walter has been by my side from the start, his insatiable curiosity never fails to impress me...he is such a good companion and my partner in crime when it comes to yarn.
I could hardly wait to cast on, so I picked a cardi pattern with lovely cable raglan lines by DROPS Designs - Autumn in the Air Cardigan. After I tried on the yoke for the first time, I realized that it lacks shaping around the neck, basically the back is not raised (which is not ideal to my satisfaction). So I decided to improve the construction by raising the back slightly.
Instead of using short rows, I thought I could add additional rows on the back just before dividing the yoke for the body and sleeves. In order to match cables on each side of the cardigan, I had to unravel my yoke to the ribbing and start the cables over again.
In the original yoke, the front and back cables start the same and end up the same when it's time to divide for the body and sleeves. In my modified yoke, the front and back cables start in an offset pattern at the neckline to compensate for the additional rows of the raised back so they would match at the dividing point.
As a result, my cables aligned perfectly under the arm. Yet, when I picked up stitches for the sleeves, I had an excess number of stitches compared to the pattern due to the additional side rows of the raised back...which was not an issue as I just gradually decreased them to the specified number.
Have you noticed my buttons? When someone says 'Cute as a Button,' these are exactly what I picture...precious, wooly, and charming!
I blocked my finished project in September, just slightly over 6 months after I started spinning yarn - half of a year of making, from fluff to a cozy cardigan! For wet blocking I like using Eucalan, an eco-friendly delicate wash made in Canada, and it's a no-rinse formula!!
It feels so satisfying wearing my own handspun sweater, impressing others when they ask, 'Did you make it?' and I can proudly answer, 'Yes, and I spun my own yarn as well.'!
I used only half of my handspun yarn for this cardigan, so I have enough yarn left to make another sweater...or perhaps I can dye the remaining yarn in a different color for a change. I am extremely pleased with the outcome and so glad I went on this journey!
Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful. - Joshua J. Marine