A few weeks ago, my good friend Mel gave me these beautiful handknitted mitts for my birthday. I believe the pattern she used was called 'Princess Mitts' (see the pattern here).
The yarn she used was Twilleys Freedom Spirit, which is a soft single ply wool, in a pretty blue/purple colourway. I love how the cable patterns on the top of the hand have come out so subtly in this yarn, they're lovely and soft to wear too. I use them to keep my hands warm when it's cold at my computer desk, my hands can get really chilly when I'm using the mouse a lot, these mitts keep my hands warm, but leave my fingers free to hit that all important 'buy it now button' :)
Since seeing how nicely the yarn knitted up, I bought some to knit my friend Clare's birthday present (it must be a very birthdayish yarn), who received a Chromosome cap from me last week (Clare's a research biologist).
Again, the cabling patterns have come out very subtly, with just enough definition to show, but not clashing with the striping of the yarn.
Up close, you can see a bit more detail of the chromosome patterns:
As I knitted with the Freedom Sprit yarn, I did my usual 'so how did they make this?' analysis. I found that it's a single ply, spun from a reasonably long stapled wool and with very little twist. I decided to have a go at replicating it with some painted roving I had in my stash.
The roving I used was some I bought from Lapoli on Etsy a few weeks ago. Originally I'd intended to use it for sock yarn, but I'd bought three braids in different colours and I already have many unknitted skeins of sock yarn, so the pretty blue and brown stuff went into my experiment.
I'd already split and predrafted the roving, so it was about pencil thickness. I set my wheel to its lowest ratio and treadled REALLY slowly, then I just passed the roving onto the bobbin with hardly any drafting at all. My feet kept getting twitchy and trying to treadle faster, so I got a few twisty parts, but overall it came out well. I washed and abused the resulting yarn (yes that's a technical term), i.e. I washed it roughly in hot, then cold water with soap, which helped felt it a little. And it came out like this:
It's a bit more bumpy than I wanted, and quite a lot bulkier, but unlike the Twilleys yarn, it's surprisingly resilient. I tried breaking off a piece earlier and had to resort to scissors, it was that well held together.
The skein's been sitting and goading me into using it all morning. Good thing I had the day off work! I decided to make another pair of mitts with it, an outdoor pair this time, as Mel's mitts are definitely indoor wear (Princesses don't mix well with the mud around here on the farm :) ). So, I spent the afternoon knitting my newly-spun yarn into some Maine Morning Mitts, as well as baking chocolate chip cookies. Haven't been this domesticated in ages! :)
Here's how they came out:
Actually, I've only finished one mitt. The other needs to be completed this evening as I'm going to the coast tomorrow and the weather forecast is windy, mitts will definitely be a requirement.
And finally, a shot to show just how impressed Hamlet the cat was with the yarn, i.e. not very, it's on HIS chair: