Now, my 2 boys, who have seen me spinning and knitting since they were born, never showed any interest in the sweaters and vests that I made for them while lads. So, when my youngest son got back to the United States, after living and studying in 4 different countries over a 6 year period asked me for a hand spun hoodie, you can bet I jumped all over that one. What better way for a person with my love language to show love. Doing something I love for someone I love - who actually wanted it. So I dug in. And dug myself in deeper and deeper.
I started in June of 2012. I had a nice pile of washed brown merino wool upon which we decided. So soft. But I was concerned that it wasn't going to be quite enough so I had the last of a brown corriedale fleece that would be added to the merino, in small amounts. Unknown to me at the time, the corriedale had a lot of little, teeny-weeny balls in it.
First, the merino all had to be teased - by hand. (Teasing, or picking, is the process of taking wool before it is carded and separating the locks so that it is much easier to card.) Teasing this soft, fine wool quickly became a royal pain. So I wanted to buy a hand picker. After seeing the exorbitant prices, I settled on the Kaydessa Wool Picker found on eBay. Much more reasonable. This is what it looks like on the outside.
And this is what it looks like on the inside!! OUCH!
Well, that is the nature of wool pickers. They need something with which to "pick." The problem is that the merino was so fine and the "pickers" were too far apart to do much good. It helped a little for the preliminary pick but it was not satisfactory. I plodded along but took breaks from it, dreading the task at hand. The same thing happened when carding.
I had a bought a new Pat Green carder many years before but had never used it. But this project made me dig it out of its original box to try and make the job easier. Which it did.
But...with all those teeny-weeny little balls in the corriedale wool, it took more time picking out little balls than it actually took to card all the wool for the hoodie. Ah, yes, the hoodie...the act of love...had to remind myself to keep that in mind. I worked on prepping the wool all summer and most of the fall. Except that I took lots of breaks.
When I finally had enough to get a good start, I began knitting.
The problem with starting before it was all spun was that I'd get the yarn spun and then knitted fairly quickly and then would have to begin the teeny-weeny ball pulling/carding all over again. Are you getting the picture? Understanding why it took me 1 1/2 years?
I will leave out the part where I used my traveling spinning wheel on a trip and had the tension all wrong and the part where I ran out of wool. Twice. I will mention that Susan at Susan's Fiber Shop helped me match some of her already processed merino, to which I added some of the "bally" corriedale, to get a near perfect mix. And that I had to figure out how to install a zipper. You Tube to the rescue again!
The yarn was actually so nice and soft. And stretchy, which means the elbows will always go back to original shape. Love wool. And, really the entire process was a joy, that is, spinning up and knitting up the merino. I finally got the sweater finished in December of 2013. And is it ever nice. The pattern I used can be found on Ravelry, but is actually a Knit Picks Design. I used the men's version!! Of course!! And here are some pictures of the finished product, which, by the way, my son is very proud of. It is so nice.
And after he had worn it a few weeks, he decided he needed pockets. So I picked up a row of stitches on each side of the zipper and knitted pockets.
Whew!! Love...it's hard sometimes.
P.S. I recently found a picture from several years before I began this project. I was looking over my wool stash, trying to find something for a woven scarf. Aaron walked into the room, saw the lovely locks and...