sock porn for knitting voyeurs.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

fulling cormo, october frost and a fine fleece

Last time when I was wrestling about the cormo, Sherry W said to do what I needed to (but didn't really want cos I'm lazy)... test out fulling and not-fulling samples of Cormo to get a feel for how the yarn would react. So I did-- I pulled off two samples from my plied skein and fulled one (alternated from hot-hot with kookaburra to cold-cold and back again a few times, agitated under water and then slapped it against the wall) and then treated the second sample to my normal finishing for handspun (submerged in warm-hot water with kookaburra, let sit for fifteen minutes).

The skeins looked the same once hung to dry, the abused yarn was a little more "sticky" in clinging to adjacent strands of yarn... but honestly I couldn't tell a difference. Even knit up into swatches I couldn't tell (I tied a knot at the beginning of the miniskein to tell which was which). I didn't even take a picture since they looked so similar! Same sts/inch, same dimensions.

I figured it wouldn't matter either way how I set the handspun yarn-- til I finished the swatches in warm water and laid flat to dry.

left-- fulled yarn, right-- unfulled yarn
cormo from Hester

The width of the swatches was the same starting (the height I didn't measure). It is hard to tell, but the fulled swatch didn't grow when it was finished like the unfulled yarn did.

top-- fulled, bottom-- not

So what did I do with the plied skein?

spun spinning for softness and speed style

Nothing yet :) Except be pleased it was balanced off the bobbin!

Doesn't mean I don't have plans for it, and its future-sisters though...

October Frost from A Fine Fleece

I've alluded to this, but I am planning to spin a sweater's worth of yarn for a sweater from A Fine Fleece. Actually, untrue-- I am planning on spinning several sweaters' worth of yarn for sweaters from A Fine Fleece. I am In Love with this book.

I know, you've probably heard the Stash and Burn ladies gush over it, read Miss Violet's take on it over at the Daily Chum, saw the Fine Fleece Ravelry forum... but I'm going to just keep going on my review of A Fine Fleece :) I don't really get fired up over new knitting books (Intertwined and Knitter's Book of Yarn notable exceptions)... but A Fine Fleece?! A must-own for me.

The concept of the book is rooted in sweater (and accessory, but mainly sweater) patterns that are knit up in handspun and commercial yarns. It sounds so simple, but when you put a texture maven like Lisa Lloyd behind the idea, and you find out that not only is she an excellent designer but spinner as well-- I can't help but get fired up when she talks about blends of wool and the her reasoning behind each fiber choice for her handspun samples.

It's not to say this book is just for spinners (really)... and not in that Intertwined way. This is truly a book for handknitters who enjoy textured knitting, handspinners or not. A few of my favorites:

Kearsarge from A Fine Fleece

Amanda from A Fine Fleece

Two Hearts from A Fine Fleece

There are so many more, and I want to knit 90% of them. I also find the book super appealing because many of the patterns skew unisex AND are shown on male/female models so you don't have to wonder if it'd work across a man's frame. There are some very feminine choices as well, not usually my bag but Amanda (above)? Not me but will be mine.

Now to the gripe portion of our program :) From a handspinner's perspective, it would have been *immensely* helpful for Lloyd to have included WPI information with the patterns, for both the handspun yarn and the commercial ones. Spinning to spec is going to be hard enough for me, but if I had the WPI to spotcheck as I went, I'd be more confident. The craft yarn council's "standard" weight system leaves too much wiggle room when you're spinning the yarn yourself.

From a knitter's point of view, I found some of the photography confusing. The photographer chose to let one sample remain in focus while the other was set in fuzzy relief, beautiful effect but not cool when you're trying to see all angles of a pattern. I found myself studying the few pictures very closely to try and grasp details like collars and backs, the way a sock would actually look when worn. I wish that knitting book publishers would take a cue from Interweave Knits and offer additional photos and angles of garments online-- hosting these wouldn't be free, but think of the raves from LEGIONS of knitters who are reticent to invest months in a sweater without knowing what it truly looks like.

Another styling/photography complaint...

Halcyon from A Fine Fleece

Gorgeous, right? What FIT.

No. The pattern's schematics tell you that there is no waist shaping in the pattern, that the background grey/male sample is the same, just a different size. The California Red handspun sample worn by the female has been pinched artificially at the waist.

*This* is the one that bums me out the most, and is not the only example in the book. There are just a few, but it bothers me they're there at all. I think that publishers need to be more specific with the stylists and photographers they hire when photographing books of PATTERNS-- we rely so much on the way knitting patterns are presented in photos, and it feels like a cheat when they're staged. It may look more appealing to an editor sorting thru photos, but they're not for them. Photos are for the knitters who buy these books and actually want to make what we see. I love the pattern! Love it without waist shaping.

It's easy to spot which patterns have been treated with photographic and styling license, especially because the patterns are accompanied by schematics (yay). It's also easy to see that if they had chosen models with a body size closer to the samples' sizing, it probably wouldn't have been as much of an issue in fit.

None of these are deal breakers, and nothing can be perfect. A Fine Fleece comes really close, though!

Off to card more Cormo. Not even close to being done :)


Anonymous said...

Ahhh, yes, now that I look closely at that picture I can see the artificial shaping. I wonder if one could engineer that by changing the cable at the drop shoulder? That way it would only be one panel to fuss with. Once I get my waist back, I'll let you know...

The cormo looks lovely! I'm so envious of your progress. :D

Toby said...

Thanks for the review! After seeing your post I clicked over to Ravelry to see more of the projects and I'm now in love with this book. I had passed over it in the past because of the focus on spinning (which I don't do).

Marlowe said...

Loved your review. It is spot on.

Criosa said...

your yarn looks lovely!

now, if only the library would hurry up and get to my name on the list for that book. judging from your preview, I'm going to like it

Aimee said...

I agree with you completely on A Fine Fleece. I haven't been so excited about a knitting/spinning book in a long time. BUT I have the same issues with it that you mention. I especially got annoyed when I realized the fit on that sweater was the result of a clothespin or two--as you said, I love it anyway. But if one were to knit it expecting shaping, and then figure out well into it there is none...too depressing.

I've started the Saxony socks with some handspun Romney.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the heads up on this book! The sweaters look great, but that is so disappointing about the photos, especially that last one. That sweater 'with shaping' looks incredible! I hate it when they do that, but still seems like a book worth checking out.

lexa said...

I totally love Two Hearts. Too bad about the pictures, though. I hate it when they do that.

Lisa said...

I have that book on my list too! I saw a friend's copy and fell in love with it. Along with the beautiful patterns, I liked the section where it talked about the different breeds and their characteristics too.

Anonymous said...

Hi Aija, I've tagged you for the 7 things meme here:
Hope you don't mind and if you don't want to answer, that's perfectly ok.

Signed, a loyal reader

nicole said...

I couldn't agree with you more about Fine Fleece. It's hands-down my favourite pattern book, faults and all.

Another bad thing about the book? Trying to decide which pattern to knit first. They're all so beautiful!

WonderMike said...

LOVE your review of "AFF". I just ordered my copy when I heard Jenny & Nicole gush about it. I agree with all your constructive criticism. I think you should contact the publisher. There's got to be a job in there for you, right?

madonnaearth said...

I appreciate your discussing this in depth. I was tired of hearing about it without having photos to go by. Sounds like you can get your money's worth out of it. I tell you, though, that's wrong what they do with the pictures. Makes me more worried about some of the sweaters I've chosen for future knitting projects.

kristen said...

Save your waste fiber for stuffed toys! I keep a bag of it and use it for stuffing whenever I have a toy to stuff.

Lynn in Tucson said...

I had the exact same gripes about that book! I'm looking forward to seeing some of the sweaters on Ravelry, worn by and knit by real people.

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