Tag Archives: laceweight yarn

Wool damage – bad me!

I hate it when I do stupid things. I should have known better, but I wasn’t paying attention like I should have.  My mistake was in using this wool lace piece atop my walnut wood grand piano that I periodically polish with lemon oil. Unfortunately, one one occasion, I must have missed thoroughly wiping down a small area of the piano’s cover. After returning the lace to adorn the top of the piano, the acidity in the oil treatment eventually caused the wool damage you see here.

Wool damage
Wool damage - Oh no! what happened?

This wool damage happened years ago, and fortunately I learned my lesson and I’ve not repeated the mistake. The reason I am bringing it up now is, as you can see, I still have to tackle repairing this lace. Of course, the damage has not gotten worse because once I removed the contact with the acid source, things are ok. I am so careful to use acid-free papers for my published patterns, archival methods for storing my knitted models, etc., so I definitely know better. Bad me!

I know that someone will ask — I made this lace in 2 strands of laceweight yarn using Emily Ocker’s Lace Garland Shawl pattern in the Winter 1987 issue #9 of Knitter’s Magazine (out of print). This pattern was later republished in the book Shawls and Scarves: The Best of Knitter’s Magazine

p.s. You might have thought this was insect damage (e.g. moths or carpet beetles). If you ever experience similar damage (and I hope you don’t), do check that the way you are using or storing your fibers are not such they are in contact with something that could harm the fibers. It would be a shame for you to assume it is insect damage, treat for that, and then just return to continuing to have the problem for other reasons.

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.