Fiber crafting when you’re away from your main home and most of your tools can be a challenge. Especially when one of your tools isn’t working right.
When packing to live in Mexico for four months, I gave careful consideration to the fiber tools I needed to bring along. I decided on these:
- Interchangeable knitting needle set by Chiao Goo, sizes 2-15, with an additional 30″ cable for small needles.
- Sock knitting needles: 32″ US 1 circular (Chiao Goo), two sets of bamboo DPNs, one in US 1 and the other a US 1.5.
- Notions: the usual stuff (darning and tapestry needles, snips, needle threaders, stitch markers, progress keepers, measuring tape).
- Sample loom for tapestry & other weaving work, along with tapestry bobbins, beater, etc.
- A BareBones top-whorl spindle
- A Kromski 1-yard niddy noddy
- A nostepinne
- And an Electric Eel Nano wheel with a battery pack, AC cord, and 7 flat-pack bobbins.
I brought along a little fiber, too: a summer sparkle set of the Sweets Off the Wheel Haystack spin-a-long (SAL) fiber, created by Inglenook Fibers. The inspiration images are Monet’s summer haystacks paintings, and the fiber is a blend of 40% Polwarth, 25%Mulberry Silk, 15% Baby Alpaca, 10% Rainbow Firestar, and 10% Tencel. I also brought a couple of braids by Heavenly Wools in Katy’s “Sea Anemone” colorway. And some natural green cotton, some white silk hankies, some white bamboo, and some white pearl fiber.
My challenge turns out to be that the Nano’s motor isn’t working quite right and probably will be replaced when I get back to Casa Norte in the spring. I’d consider replacing it while we’re here – asking Maurice at Dreaming Robots to send me a replacement, but I don’t have any way to solder on the contacts to connect the new motor to the rest of the spinner. ( I can do this easily at home.) I won’t go into all the testing and fuss that I’ve gone to with this spinner, but trust that I’ve researched the “fixes” and tried everything that seems worthwhile. Still, it will spin for a few minutes then freeze as long as there is any tension at all on it. Kind of a problem, since this is a Scotch tension wheel, which uses tension to cause the singles or plied yarn to take up onto the bobbin. No tension = no yarn.
So: I will spin with my spindle and save the cotton for when I get home. (Tough to spin cotton with a drop spindle & I have many other things I can do.) Frustrating, yes, but it makes me glad for all those hours of spindle-spinning and plying on a spindle. I’ve got solid skills that are coming into play here.
I’ve gotten 1/3 of the Haystacks SAL fiber spun and plied, but haven’t yet washed the skein. It’s looking like it will be about 135 yards of fingering weight yarn, ranging from pale teal to dark purple-blue. You can see it on the spindle in the picture above.
Meanwhile . . .
The Windmaker’s Waistcoat is substantially complete, needing only to be blocked and a jacket zipper installed. B asked that I put in a zipper rather than buttons, and I decided that if I’m wearing it, it would be really handy to have an inside pocket to stash my reading glasses in. After steeking the front opening and armholes, then knitting the ribbing for them, I picked up and knit in a long, narrow pocket in the inside left front, just the right size for sunglasses or other glasses. I thought about knitting a patch pocket then sewing it in, but it turned out that just picking up stitches and knitting it in was so much easier. The top one inch or so of the pocket is in a 2×2 rib to give a more snug fit for the glasses.
And then there’s the other WIP:
I’m working on a pair of Union Square socks, a pattern by the Knitting Expat, Mina Phillip. I’m knitting them in handspun that I made from dyed Wensleydale roving that I bought this past spring at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival. The toe-up socks start with Judy’s Magic Cast-On, which makes a nice, neat toe and is simple to do. Very Pink Knits has a nice tutorial for it here. The pattern is well-written and easy to follow, incorporating a short row heel and a simple 4-row repeat for patterning on the top of the foot and the leg. I’m knitting the 64-stitch count version on a US1 circular needle & all is going well. Nice for taking to “knit group” at the Oaxaca Lending Library on Tuesdays!