Tag Archives: lace scarf

Friends of HeartStrings Gallery: J & J Alpacas

I haven’t done a “Friends of HeartStrings” article in ages — I apologize. Time seems to get away (can you believe it is already almost December?)! I am resolved to do better over the upcoming months, because I really want to share with you some great things that others are knitting from HeartStrings patterns (and thus, giving them the kudos they deserve, too).

If you don’t knit, or even it you do (and don’t have time), J and J Alpacas is a neat place to visit that makes some of the HeartStrings scarf designs in their own alpaca wool that is grown and produced in Lincolnshire, UK.

Leo Riverine Scarf from J&J Alpacas
Riverine Scarf from J&J Alpacas

Did I say “neat”. YES!! because I think it is cool that not only are the scarves hand knitted in baby alpaca (the first and softest fleece they will grow), but that each scarf comes with a tag and photo of the alpaca it came from. How special can that make your gift? . They can only produce 8 to 10 scarves from each fleece, so it makes your scarf from them very almost exclusive (and even collectible, if you are into that!).

I do hope you will visit J & J Alpacas to see their hand knitted scarves. They are currently licensed to produce scarves for both the Lacy Riverine and the Reversible Lace Ladders scarves (titled on their site as Riverine Scarf and Ladders Scarf respectively). If you are interested in others, I am sure they would welcome your suggestion.


Spinning a 2-ply laceweight yarn for a scarf

Reversible Lace Cables Scarf
Scarf in handspun yarn from hand-painted silk roving

Sometimes I am asked about the laceweight yarns I have handspun and used to knit scarves or shawls. At the top of my list of favorites, I like to spin a laceweight 2-ply yarn from hand-painted silk, cotton or fine wool blend. Here’s how I approached spinning the yarn used in the above scarf (which was knitted using the Reversible Lace Cables Scarf pattern).

I particularly like the hand-dyed silk rovings by Nancy Finn of Chasing Rainbows Dyeworks, and that of Nancy Ballusteros of Treetop Harmonies. For the scarf shown above, I unfortunately do not have a picture of the Treetop Harmonies roving before it was spun into yarn. But here is a photo of a similar colorway from Chasing Rainbows.

Hand-painted silk roving
Hand-painted silk roving

Notice how the roving is dyed in sections of colors. What I find particularly appealing for lace knitting in the Treetop and Chasing Rainbows color pallets are their close tonalities.

For a scarf like that shown above, you’ll need only 2 ounces of fine top or roving to make a finished size of about 10″ by 72″. Choose a subtly varicolored or multi-toned fiber for added interest in the spinning as well as the knitting.

Divide fiber lengths into strips narrow enough for spinning a very fine thread — about 50 to 60 wraps per inch (wpi), and so that color changes in the spun thread will be in random lengths of every few yards or so. Spin worsted-style to produce a smooth, strong thread. My plied yarn is in the 30 wpi range at about 200 to 250 yards per ounce, depending on the type of fiber.

The 2-ply laceweight yarn
The 2-ply laceweight yarn compared to the size of a US quarter

When plying, I don’t try to keep the colors together in any particular order. The fineness of the threads and the subtle tonal variations produce gradual color changes that are further enhanced by the texture and movement in the knitted pattern stitches of this scarf design.

I hope you are inspired and motivated. Don’t hesitate to share what you’ve created with your handspun yarns as well. I invite your comments here on this blog or contacting me directly through my heartstringsfiberarts.com website.

Scarf in handspun yarn from hand-painted silk roving
Reversible Lace Cables Scarf

p.s. To see and read about another favorite method I like to use for spinning laceweight yarn, see Moody Blues, hand-spun pima cotton plied with silk.