I have been promising Roger a handspun hat for probably two years. I have even started hats before. One was from some yummy Polwarth Locks in various natural colors. I wonder where that is? How hard can it be to spin for and then knit a hat? Really people, this is a small garment. Granted, I had a mandate for a lightweight (read fingering weight) hat. Still.
Obviously, I wouldn't be berating myself like this if I hadn't completed the task. I'll start with the yarn.
While dividing up roving to dye for Tactile, I end up with bits and pieces left over. I had Camel-Silk (50/50), baby Camel, Merino-Yak (50/50), Yak, and a handful of mixed luxury fibers. I hate waste, especially when the fibers are this wonderful. The color (all natural as in how they came off the animal) range is white, tan, camel, and brown. Sounds like a striped hat to me!
I spun up about 3 oz of fiber. To keep them separate, I used a small amount of a green roving in between each fiber. Once it was all spun up I carried my wheel over to my ball winder and wound each fiber off into a separate center-pull ball. I was ready to ply.
I wanted the stripes to be crisp rather than have the colors barber pole at the fiber (therefore color) changes. How to do this? Start with the first color. I chose the brown. Spin for a while ( my "while" ended up being 5-6 rows including the cast on). Break one of the plies. While holding that broken end, pull out about a foot of the other (still attached ply) and break it too. Overlap the two broken ends and ply just past the join but not to the loop created by the longer end turning back on itself to reach the first broken end. Yeesh, I am confusing myself. Let me try a sketch since I didn't take photos of the actual joins while spinning.
Okay, now take one end of the next color and put it through the loop.
Extend this end a foot or so past the loop and join the ends as before. Note: like the first color, the ends referred to are the inner and outer ends of the same center-pull ball. Ply for a while. Repeat as many times as you wish to create the stripe pattern you want. Don't expect a high level of precision in stripe widths; it is an intuitive process.
The result is a self-striping 2-ply yarn. No extra ends to weave in. I'll admit that this is a bit fiddly to spin and not recommended for people who dislike plying from center-pull balls.
A couple of thoughts on the joins before I go to the knitting portion of the program. When I divide up the fibers, I break the yarn in the middle of the green separating fiber. To splice the ends at a join, I untwist the section where the green fiber and the main fiber intersect just enough that the two fibers slip apart. This gives me a tapered end to overlap with the other tapered end. My joins are not noticeably thicker this way.
The other trick is to put the end being spliced into the plying twist so it is secured. Before I started doing this, I would have loose ends in the fished yarn. Not only is that annoying, it weakens the yarn at that point. Another sketch to illustrate (ignore the smudge where I erased stupidness):
The tan end is a different color just to illustrate my point. It is the same yarn looping around. The loop is not shown.
I fulled it slightly by dunking it in alternately hot and cold water baths. I like to do this with short fibers (in this case camel and yak) to help lock them into the yarn. And, especially when the yarn is softly spun and plied like this one.
There is no photographic evidence of me knitting the hat (I swear it was me!). Here is the proof that it was knit.
Meet Roger's Dee-Luxe Hat. I didn't use all of the yarn, probably about 1.5-2 oz. No idea on the yardage as I didn't calculate it.
The full hat. The brown is the Merino-Yak, White is either 100% Yak down or the mixed luxury fibers, the darker tan is 100% Camel down, and the light tan is Camel-Silk.
Roger likes his hats to roll up, so the cast on edge is 7-8 rows of stockinette to facilitate rolling.
I love the way the crown looks. I used 9 segments for decreasing. You can see that I got some laddering between the double pointed needles. It is hard to avoid when the yarn is so light and the needles are metal. I'm sure they will disappear with a washing. If he will give it up.