We’re gonna turn this sow’s ear into a silk purse

February 7, 2011 § 5 Comments

(We’ve been having some lovely weather lately. I just sat on the Augustusplatz and knit for half an hour today, in the blinding sunlight with my jacket open, just because I could.)

I’d love to pull a Yarn Harlot and proclaim my infection with finish-it-up-itis, but while I don’t maintain it doesn’t exist, it certainly isn’t happening to me. Or I’ve already had it for months, it was just that my projects weren’t as wisely chosen as these days?

First, the purchases of the week:


That’s a skein of Wollmeise (color: Frosch) on top of the Lucifer Box novels by Mark Gatiss, which really deserve their own post and I could go on and on about them. So I’m just gonna say that they’re brilliant, and fun, and adventure-laden, and the hero is the perfect mix of James Bond, Sherlock Holmes, every single character out of Dorian Gray (no, seriously. every single one of them. Well, maybe not Sibyl Vane. But everyone else.), and Captain Jack Harkness. They’re written in the first person, which isn’t normally my thing but works wonderfully with the wit and sparkle Lucifer Box has, and, you know. Even Stephen Fry couldn’t get enough of them. As of now I’ve finished the first two books, and I loved every page. Mark Gatiss is my new hero. (A brilliant gay sci-fi and adventure writer whose well-written hero is cheerfully bisexual but not utterly defined by some stereotype. What’s there not to love?)

Seriously. I’ve been recommending it all over the place for a week, and I’ll do it here as well: If you only discover one author this year, let it be Mark Gatiss. At least read Vesuvius Club. You won’t be able to stop there, anyway.

Second, I finished the Kai-Mei socks! I admit it’s kind of embarrassing that I’m the first one to finish a design out of Saskia’s birthday present, but, eh. They’re warm and lovely and SO CLEVER, and I think I’m going to knit a couple more socks with that construction, although not necessarily the same lace panel.


I wore them to Annelie’s to show them off, partly because it’s always nice to show off an FO to real people, and mostly because Annelie had given me the yarn. And once again, it was one of these things that only happen with yarn people.

Annelie: Oooh, you finished the socks!
Me: Yup. *pulls up pants leg a bit* … you can touch them if you want to?
Annelie: Ooooh, they’re so soft!
Me: Yeah, I think there may be some alpaca or something in there.
Annelie: No idea. … Honeeeeey! Honey, come here for a second!
Annelie’s husband: … yes?
Annelie: Remember that yarn I had for the longest time?
Annelie’s husband: … no?
Annelie: you know, the one I got from XY, in Karolinsiel, don’t you remember?
Annelie’s husband: … no?
Annelie: well, Patti knit it up into socks. Here, touch them!

I have to say, he’s very well-trained in terms of yarn-related behavior.

Apart from surprise!sock-fondling, we actually got some work done on Sunday. I was at Annelie’s for six hours and I sat at the wheel for at least 5 of those. I had ~flow, man. But now, along with some gorgeous yarn I finished with only seconds to spare before I had to leave, I’ve also got sore muscles in more expected places.

Yes, I finished my first wheel-spun yarn. And I shall subject you all to a lengthy slideshow of every stage of the process.


Well, actually I won’t. Kind of. I’ll put the major part of the lengthy slideshow under a break so the tl;dr crowd can’t complain (although, pretty pictures. what’s wrong with you people? have you got no soul?), but here’s some of the most important ones. Because I took this here:

(Drachenwolle, 130 g BFL, color ‘Stroh zu Gold’, gorgeous but useless)

and turned it into this:


(~130 g, 226m, still gorgeous, knittable!)

and it only took me two afternoons (and a total of two hours or so of pre-drafting on the Saturdays before). How would you not want to see more of where that came from? (Am I trying to guilt you into clicking that ‘more’ link, just so that I can geek about spinning a bit more? Damn right I am!)


I know I’m posting this photo twice, but it’s my favorite out of the whole set. It’s what I greeted me in the hallway when I came back that second Sunday (yesterday, in fact): bright yellow, with the not-quite-as-pretty green hidden underneath. It really is that color. Lifted my mood by about a thousand degrees, and I hadn’t been in much of a bad mood before, either. It’s what the bigger, fluffier, pre-drafted ball of fluff became after four hours of spinning.



So after some lunching on truly delicious raspberry butter, I started getting back on track. It’s kind of depressing how much better the second ply of the yarn is, by the way. Well, I say depressing. Of course I’m overjoyed that I’m getting better, it’s just that, you know. If I had two copies of the second ply, it’d be a much better yarn. Then again, for a raw beginner it’s actually not a bad yarn, even if I do say so myself…


I just love the contrast between my yellow bobbin and the other ones. It’s like a little spot of sunshine. Also, the big fluffball of roving just cracks me up so bad. (just look at that gorgeous wheel. Now that’s craftsmanship. I want one just like it.)


Plying was pretty frantic and, I’ll admit, a bit sloppy at times – back at home, Saskia had a duck in the oven and I was getting perilously close to being too late. I started treadling like a madwoman. No wonder my thighs hurt today. But yes, I was so late that I didn’t even wind it into a skein right there like a normal person, Annelie just gave me the full bobbin to wind at home.

And wind I did, first thing today. I didn’t even wait for Saskia, just tied the end to my big toe and basically did my ball-winding routine in reverse. And after leaning forward 187 times, I tied the ends together and looped some white string in between and held in my hands…


… pure and utter gorgeousness. The colors are so pretty and go together so well, and I’m really glad I decided to split the roving down the middle to have one big repeat. It really is ‘straw to gold’. Well. Going by the green, it’s more of a hay-to-gold, but hey. You can’t have everything, and if this is all I get, it’s not half a bad deal.


I soaked it and I thwacked it like a good girl, and right now it’s hanging in the bathroom, with a clothes hanger as a weight. I’m not repeating my mistakes; last time I hung yarn up to dry, I weighed it with my big spindle and the whorl cracked. :/


226 m of handpainted, handspun BFL, length calculated with long division, which I hadn’t done in years and just figured it out while doing it. I can now do things a fourth-grader can! Go me.

Anyway, yes. I have no idea what I’ll do with it. I’m thinking a hat, or a kerchief – actually, I think a Hitchhiker wouldn’t be half bad, even though it really is the new Baktus. I had considered making baby things from it, but I have a feeling something washable would be much more useful in the long run.

But yes. Holy handspun, batman.


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§ 5 Responses to We’re gonna turn this sow’s ear into a silk purse

  • Toile says:

    Love the weather, the sock, and adore the yarn! I love the wheel, too.

  • Shannon says:

    the first one is very exciting, isn’t it?! you did a great job!

  • wollphilie says:

    thanks, the both of you :)

    yes, firsts are always very exciting, especially when they turn out as well as this one. I’m still rather over the moon as it is.

  • Just happened to stumble across your blog, and although half of it is knitter-speak and therefore indecipherable to me, it’s great. I am in total agreement with everything you said about Mark Gatiss and his lovely Lucifer novels. (Oh, and on a not-quite-but-almost related subject, I’m in total awe, even being in the (virtual) presence of someone who was retweeted by the mighty Stephen Fry.)
    P.S.: How does one go about finding/making raspberry butter? It looks delicious…

  • wollphilie says:

    oh, thank you very much! I try to be entertaining for people of every walk of life, but I do technobabble quite a bit.

    (and eeeep, Stephen Fry! still excited about that one!)

    I have no idea how to make raspberry butter, but I can ask. I think it’s mostly putting butter and raspberries in a food processor and hitting a button though XD

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