Using my hand-spun yarn: My first project

I've been spinning for over a year now, and I couldn't help wondering: What does this yarn look like when it's knit into something?

I had, last fall, knit up a little gauge swatch from Forsythia Fifty, my alpaca/angora blend. (This is the black/gray color.)

The top end of this is worked on Size 8 needles, and gives about 5 stitches to the inch in a loosely knit stockinette. The other end is worked on Size 3 needles, with a gauge of 6-1/2 stitches per inch in a tighter stockinette. Because the yarn is a fine two-play, the sample is very lightweight--yet a sweater made from it would be as warm as one made from a worsted-weight wool, or a chunky acrylic. And, although the photo cannot reflect it, the fabric is really soft.

I particularly like the textural patterns formed by the random blocks of black alpaca fiber and light gray angora. This yarn doesn't need an intricate stitch pattern to make it interesting; a straightforward stockinette stitch will be fancy enough. A lacy pattern, knit on large needles, would probably be attractive.

During Thanksgiving week, I was visiting family at my mother's house. My sister-in-law was learning how to knit and had a simple hat on her needles. My daughter had brought a scarf she was trying to finish before Christmas. Even my 9-year-old nephew was trying out the craft. I felt left out. So when we returned a few days later, I came prepared. I grabbed a couple skeins of hand-spun (I knew I wouldn't be selling them, because they were my early spinning efforts and not as good as what I've made since then) and some needles. I printed off charts for a bunny rabbit and a camelid (identified in the pattern as a llama, but I really think it's an alpaca). And I made a hat.

The main color of the hat is some brown alpaca I bought off of Etsy; I spun it myself, but it didn't come from my own animals. The contrast color is my Forsythia Fifty yarn, with brown alpaca and multi-colored angora. (Remember, this was one of my early yarns. I only had four rabbits when I made it, and I didn't yet bother keeping the colors separate.)

The yarn was surprisingly easy to use. My only complaint was that it was so fine that it was sometimes difficult to grab the alternate colors as I was stranding. Since it's hand-spun, it does have slubs, neps, and other imperfections--all of which give it a rustic character not found in factory-spun yarns. The hat (size large) is worked on Size 5 needles. It used about 43 grams of main color and 32 grams of contrast (including the pompons for the bunny tails). And, although the photo cannot reflect it, the hat is really toasty warm!

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