Everynow and again I set myself a project that saner people would realise is a little bit crazy, maybe a touch ambitous, and guaranteed to give me sleepless nights...
This is one of thse projects.
I'm well aware that's just a little black swatch of handspun, it's however the start of a much, much larger project.
I have lusted after this dress at every fibre show I've been to this year. I could never afford to do it in commercial yarn, however I have the ability to spin my own, and after all, if I'm going to knit a dress it might as well be in yarn I love.
I took some fleece from my friend Katharine's flock. It's a Black Welsh Mountain/Gotland cross, I love this wool, long, shiny with a nice crimp. Add in some of my hand dyed silk and you've got the makings of a very special yarn.
To start off with I just did a little sample on hand cards and with the drop spindle. Just to test the colours and check the prickle factor. I have no intention of ever wearing a knitted dress next to my bare skin, if it's cold enough for that much wool then I'll want tights and long sleeves on as well. I was ok with it not being butter soft, after all this is going to be a lot of work, I want something that isn't going to pill and start to wear out with in hours of wearing it for the first time.
It's not exactly the same as the finished blend, or yarn, but did the job. Next up came the scales, and properly measured out batts. They're going to be 20% silk (10% of each colour, a lilac and a grey), 80% wool. Then I spun a sample, the yarn in the pattern says Sport weight, but I'd handled the recomended yarn and knew that it was more like a DK so aimed for slightly thicker. Rather handily 2 ply DK weight is my default yarn...
I kept back some singles from that sample spinning, that way I can check my spinning against them and hopefully stay consistent. The rest I plyed, and knitted up in to a swatch, just to check I was going down the right thickness path. Once washed I could do some measurements, and the guage is about right. Not perfect, but I can fiddle around with needle sizes, and as I'm between sizes in the pattern I can do some maths to make sure it's right once I've got my skeins of finished yarn.
There's rather a lot of spinning to do between then and now though...
Meanwhile I have a pile of scrummy batts to spin up, I love how the bounce of the wool ripples the silk.