Bonus: More fun with the 700g yarn ball

I mentioned in my last post that I wound my latest spinning project into one giant ball for plying.

giant yarn ball bigger than my head one full sweater of yarn
The great yarnball

I have some extra photos of the massive ball that didn't fit in the last post. Because of course, if I'm going to have a 700g yarn ball, I'm going to have a photo shoot.

Giant ball of yarn next to long haired calico cat on bed
Cat for scale

A whole sweater of handspun yarn singles waiting to be plied
The three plies of yarn

Winding singles into giant plying ball
Winding the very, very large plying ball. Yes, this took ages, and yes, my hand was aching by the end.

Three balls of handspun singles being wound into a ply ball
Was it worth it? Probably not. But it was pretty funny having a basketball-sized ball of yarn.

Balancing giant ball of yarn on head
One sweater-to-be, balanced on my head


The one-ball sweater | Combospin and embracing chaos

I've been working on a really interesting project for the past several months - a Combospin. I'm a little late to the boat on this method, but I was so excited when I found out about it, and saw the amazing results of other people on Ravelry.

handspun yarn combospin knitted swatch of orange, yellow, red and other colours of wool and other fibres
Combospinning is a way to combine individual braids of hand-dyed fibre into a cohesive yarn for a larger project. If you have a habit of stashing 100g here and there that you never know what to do with, this is an ideal way to turn them into a sweater-quantity of yarn.

The process is very simple: Take all your fibre (in braids, in batts, or any other put-up) and break them up into smaller pieces. Mix them up in a big bag or box, and just spin one piece after another.
So I shopped my stash, and I filled in the gaps with some extra purchases, and found 750g of fibre along the yellow-orange spectrum. It wasn't an exact process, and in fact, having a few braids that don't quite 'fit' added more interest to the project.
Combo spin hand dyed fibre braids in oranges and reds
This is spinning by embracing chaos. You do not plan out a sequence of stripes, you do not (need to) match up colours or fibres or even drafting styles - you can combine combed top and carded batts, and no one will arrest you. The spinning police aren't coming for you.

The resulting yarn is perfectly "conspicuously handspun". The plies blend together in some parts, toning each other down, while at other spots a stripe of bright colour will pop out when the plies align. It's a similar effect to fractal spinning, on a large scale and more random. Embrace the barber-pole.

This is a sort of polar opposite project to my just-finished handspun sweater. In that project, I was focused on consistency: all the same fibre, all the same spinning technique, all the same thickness. I was, more or less, trying to imitate a factory-produced millspun yarn. In this combospin, I am letting go of consistency and order, and creating something that you couldn't ever buy in a shop.

I spun them up, and the spinning process was addictive - just one more length of fibre, just one more bobbin...


Each one of my three plies nicely filled up my set of 5 bobbins - very satisfying. When I mixed up the bobbins and wound them off, I decided to wind each ply into one continuous ball. Why? Just to keep things organised, really.
Winding a plying ball of singles for handspun yarn combospin project
And when I finished each ply, I thought I might as well wind them all into one big plying ball...

Why? There isn't a good reason. I just felt like being extra. I wanted to see what it would look like. It was glorious!
Giant yarn ball of 700g of handspun singles
Yes, that's nearly 750g of yarn in one ball as big as my head.

Of course, I had to break the yarn into separate skeins when it came to plying. And just like the spinning, the plying process went by very quickly because it was so gratifying to see the colours combine in such interesting ways.
And then I had this yarn: yellow and orange, but also flecked with lengths of red, and brown, and green and even purple. Crunchy downs wool and silky rayon and buttery-soft merino. A fabulous buffet of colours and textures. View my stash details on Rav.

This is my third handspun sweater project. I've enjoyed them all, but I've definitely had the most fun with this one.

I've already cast on. Now, I just have to keep on knitting!


Spinning for pleasure | Polypay Polar Dip Pullover

I finished a sweater. It was a long, long time in the making.

Do you remember when I bought the wool?

Since I first spun the Polypay breed, I was enchanted with it. So bouncy, with just the right balance of softness and 'woolliness'.

And the carded roving was a true pleasure to spin long-draw.
Sometimes I feel like the reason I have continued to knit and spin after all these years is not because I particularly love sweaters and hats and socks - it's because I love the sensual aspects of yarn. The colours and textures, the spring in my hand.

This project has certainly been an example of that. All through spinning, and all through knitting, I took immense pleasure in this wool. Every few rows, I would look back at the fabric under my needles and couldn't help but smile. It's soft and elastic and just a little fuzzy.
I'm really happy with the fit, and the sweater overall. I've come a long way since my first handspun sweater!

This yarn is thinner, and more consistent, while still having a 'homespun' character. I love the texture it gives.
The pattern is Polar Dip, a basic top-down raglan with some simple but attractive colorwork at the yoke. It was easy knitting with just a few details to test my skills - I am an expert at the tubular bindoff now! Grafting is always a little bit of a pain, but it does give an excellent clean and elastic finish to the edges.

By the way, Shady Side Farm is still selling their wool roving on Etsy. I can't recommend it enough :) ShadySideFarm on Esty


Knitting when I'm happier / Happier when I'm knitting

I wasn't knitting for a long time. I wasn't spinning, either. Or writing, or creating much of anything at all.

There are a lot of reasons. My energy was low, I'd picked up other hobbies, I was having a rough time at work, and the whole world has been having a rough time for the past couple of years. Plus I had a pretty bad moth infestation, so the skeins sitting in my cupboard were less full of exciting possibilities and more full of disappointment.

So I lost my mojo. I lost my drive to create, and I focused on other things. It wasn't all bad - I read a lot books and learned tons. I grew and changed as a person. I think I got a little wiser. But when I'm not making things, I feel less like myself.

Handspun rainbow gradient half-circle shawl

I'm not sure which way is the right order: do I knit when I'm happy, or am I happy when I knit? They feed on each other in a seamless circle. Knitting makes me feel better, but I can't create when I have nothing to give. A few years ago, I lost my rhythm and got thrown out of the cycle. And suddenly, last month, I picked up some yarn and I felt the hunger again. I picked up the needles, and by the end of one week, I had made a shawl.

Immediately I made plans for the next one. I let the yarn flow through my hands; I watch the colours splash and meld while the fabric grows from the needles.

I'm feeling like myself again.