I think I’ve been spinning for about two years now, and I’ve just now in April knitted something with my handspun. I’ve figured out the
excuses reasons for that, though. I use spindles instead of a wheel, which results in lower yardage for your time. I also have been trying all the different fibers I can get my hands on, which results in lower yardage for each kind of yarn. And I prefer knitting bigger projects now instead of low-yardage things like beanies and cowls.
Sheep to shawl can be taken as far back as shearing the sheep yourself, but I’m using the term to refer to starting with dirty fleece and taking the wool all the way to a finished product. Here is my finished product.
With photogenic color-matching red flower!! I tried to figure out a way to arrange the shawlette so that I’d have it, the red flowers, and the gargoyle garden statue in the flowerpot all in the picture, but I couldn’t figure it out. Happy red flower courtesy of my mother, whose ability to make things be alive in flowerpots and/or in the ground far exceeds mine.
There’s a lot of firsts in this shawlette, actually.
- First time knitting with my handspun.
- First time spinning yarn all the way from the fleece instead of top/roving.
- First time dyeing my handspun.
- First time knitting a half-pi shawl/ette.
- First time dyeing a finished object.
It’s made out of the pound of commercial raw Romney fleece that I got last summer. (I wasn’t sure if I’d like washing and carding so I didn’t want to commit to a whole fleece.) I wasn’t sure what color I wanted it to be when I started, so I knitted it and then dyed it.
Now that it has been nearly a year since I went to the fiber festival where I bought the nettle top, I finally got around to spinning some of the nettle top. (‘Cause, you know, the fiber festival is this weekend, and this seller is the only person I know of anywhere who has nettle top, so I need to find out if I like it and need to get more while I’m there.) And it’s soft and lustrous and silky and of course I need more. But DANG, does nettle fiber hold on to water! I think the skein has finally dried out four or five days after I set the twist, and that’s with helping it along with the hair dryer on day three or four. Maybe don’t knit a bathing suit out of this stuff. I was tempted to throw it in the dryer, but I just can’t see a scenario where that ends well.
As far as eco-friendliness goes, I’m really hoping that nettle fiber catches on. I read somewhere that nettle was more widely used for fabric until people figured out that cotton is easier. (And it doesn’t sting.) I guess the ease of processing must come in the pre-spinning preparation, because I didn’t find it harder than any other plant fibers to spin. And hey, nettle is a weed. It doesn’t really need pesticides or excellent irrigation to grow well. And it’s hard-wearing, and when you’ve worn it out it’s biodegradable. Move over, soybean—THE NETTLE SHALL SAVE US ALL!!
I should note that I might be singing a different tune if I’d actually ever touched or been in the vicinity of a nettle without the sting removed. But that’s why we have robots. We have robots, right? Right??
While I’m on spinning—I finally got around to watching the first season of Once Upon a Time. As I was assured by, like, everybody, I loved it once I got into it. And I’ve concluded that Rumpelstiltskin is my favorite character, because he’s omniscient and omnipotent AND he spins. I want his spinning wheel. It’s a beauty. (Did you see what I did there? Yes, I know it’s a TV prop and not a functional spinning wheel. But if it were functional I’d want it.)
Upon reflection on season 1, it may be best for Fairytaleland that the evil queen zapped them all to where there’s no magic. Between Rumpelstiltskin and King Midas they were going to have a SERIOUS problem with inflation sooner or later.