Study for Meditation Mat

Study for Meditation Mat
Handspun Tapestry Weaving

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Copycat: Reproducing Commercial Yarns

Commercial yarns are filled with endless possibilities for inspiring hand spinners.  I've spent a summer trying to reproduce the amazing colours and textures of Noro yarns.  (I came close, but no cigar.)  Commercial yarns were a starting point for the art yarns I spin.  I don't try to duplicate commercial yarns; I use them as starting points to decide how a particular fibre should be dyed, spun and fabricated.

Lately, I've been looking at my Manos del Uruguay stash, whose gorgeous hand and wonderful colours also inspire me.  This is a little wrap I made years ago from Mano Clasica Space Dyed yarn:

It's reversible, can be worn back to front, with the straight edge at the front or like a poncho:

Manos Clasica is a singles, and uses Corriedale or similar wool breeds. It's fairly soft, but sturdy. The colours don't stripe dramatically, at least when I've knit them, but they don't pool a lot, either.  It knits at between 3.5 to 4.5 stitches per inch (4 stitches per inch in this wrap) and has approximately 138 yards per 100 gram skein.  I used 280 grams of yarn for this wrap, about  400 yards.

I spun the yarn for this project on my Lendrum Jumbo Flyer.  I had 215 grams of fibre; at 240 metres, this yarn is bulkier than the Manos, knitting up at 3.5 stitches per inch on 5 mm needles.  (For most knitters, a 6 mm needle would work well, but I knit so loosely that I had to frog my first attempt and go down several needle sizes.)  My singles is spun from Blue-Faced Leicester wool, which is much softer and slightly fuzzier than the Manos wool. I know this wrap will be smaller; I've saved enough yarn for the collar and the bottom edging.  One of the nice things about this project is that you can knit until you run out of yarn and no one is the wiser.

I dyed the top with Jacquard dyes, using a sprinkle dyeing technique in a crammed dye pot of simmering water.  I wanted softer colours than my first wrap, so I took my inspiration from my neighbour's back alley flower bed.  She grows these ornamental cabbages every year and I make a point of photographing them in the late summer/early fall:

I focused attention on the purples, adding just a touch of browns and greens.  The pinks and oranges blended from the dyes I used to mix the other colours. 

We're heading out on a road trip soon; I need simple projects for the journey.  This one fits the bill--I can knit her on my Knitter's Pride circular interchangeable needles, so I don't annoy the driver with sticks poking at him or have to go fishing for a straight needle (or worse yet, a double pointed sock needle) between or under the seats.  Morris, who is going along, will not think I'm playing a game of "chase the stick" while we're in the truck.  The knitting is easy, with 4 increases every other round, a fancy cast off edging and a neck to be decided at the end:

Simple knitting for what we hope is an easy journey.



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