Exploring the world of fiber, one draft at a time

My posting can be as frequent or infrequent as my spinning, so be as patient as that fiber, sitting in my stash.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Yarn Binge

Sadly, one of the larger locally owned yarn shops closed their doors mid June.  I made it to the last day, merely hours before the shop closed.  It did look like a grocery store before a major snow storm, lots of bare shelves.  I still managed to find two yarns I loved, in colors I loved, and even more importantly in enough quantity I can knit sweaters.  Although I have no specific patterns in mind, I'd love to pick one up right now and knit it.  Both yarns are very soft and squishy.  A very tentative plan is a sweater for hubby and for me.

For hubby, I picked a washable worsted merino.  

The bittersweet color is a question mark for him, but I love the color and may use it for something for myself.  The brand is Plymouth Select.

The yarn I picked for me is a combination of the Plymouth Select and Berrocco Vintage.

I also bought three circular needles, the Karbonz because everyone raves about them, and I don't have any yet.  True also of the HiyaHiya.

Finally a book that has been around forever but that I wanted for the charts.

2016 The Year of Knitting with Hand spun yarn

It all started  with a day dreaming session, while looking at my Ravelry queue.  On a whim, I sorted it by the tag Handspun.  I was pleased to see lots of patterns I had tagged as possibly working well with hand spun.  The aha moment was when my brain said, how about knitting one a month and talking about it on the podcasts.  Thus, this year's podcast theme was born.

As usual it has taken me three times the amount of time I thought it would to just get three projects done.  And even longer to get it posted on the blog.  

January's project flew along, about three weeks start to finish.  It was a hat knit from a yarn that had three colors of Jacob in it, spun to stripe the colors.  The pattern is found in Homespun, Handknit and is by Sue Jones.  It fit perfectly.  There's more details on Yarnspinnerstales podcast episode 132.

The next project took two months.  Maybe that's because it was a pair of fingerless mitts.  The pattern is Te Ara Fingerless Mitts by Rachel C. The yarn was a mystery yarn.  It was in my Handspun, and I am sure I spun it, but I left no information with the skein, nor could I find anything in any post or blog.  I loved the color though, and how the mitts look and feel.  All the details are on the podcast episode 133.

The third project also took two months.  No article of clothing for me this time, but a teapot cozy!  I used four colors of small skeins of yarn, I called them odd balls.  Some were natural wool color and some were dyed.  All were 2 ply, 11-12 WPI and 60 yards or less.  The pattern is called Kensington Steeked Pot, by Gemma Pickford-Waugh. It is knit as a rectangle, sewn on the two edges, leaving an opening for the handle.  The a spot is picked for the spout opening, crocheted around like a big buttonhole opening, and cut between the crochet.  The cozy is open on the bottom and is slid over the pot from the top.  A ribbon laced through knit eyelets closes the top.  I have it sitting on my buffet, and I smile whenever I see it, I think it is cute as can be.  I talk about knitting this at the end of episode 134.

Knitting will be set aside until August, as I plan to spin through the Tour de Fleece.  Then the plan is to start a large shawl project with hand spun alpaca.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Tightening the drive band on the Haldane

Two days after Christmas, and I have been clearing some items off my spinning to do list.  One of these items has been on my mind for at least six months, a much needed revamp of the drive band on the Haldane.  I knew it needed tightening because I would spin and try to tighten the band more to increase the uptake pull in, and not be able to tighten it anymore.  The design of this wheel has a knob at the top of the upright.  Turning this knob raised the bobbin, increasing the tension of the drive band running over the bobbin.  I took several photos, maybe the above statement will make more sense, visually.

If you see, I know it is a dark photo.  Enlarge it and you may see center of the photo a rectangle area.  The bobbin shaft runs into that, and turning the knob raises it lowers that area.  You can see the double drive band running over the whorl and bobbin slot.

Just trying to explain this makes me realize I need to do a good photo shoot of the mechanics of the Haldane, they are unique compared to any of my other wheels.  So now I have something else on my to do list, but not today.  It is dark and gloomy and literally pouring buckets of rain outside right now.

I wanted to make the drive band a tad bit smaller.  This would mean less drive band total, which would mean I wouldn't have to tighten the tension as much.  It is still a very sturdy drive band in good shape, so I really did not want to cut it off, or find a new one.  So instead, I got a thick sewing thread, and needle, and worked on the drive band at the original join.  The basic idea was to secure my thread in the join, go up and through the band, just a bit above the join and pull down, pulling in the micro bit of drive band.  I covered that with a few blanket stitches with the thread then repeated it several more time, pulling in a little bit more each time.  I finished by running the thread all the way down through the join.

The tan thread is the new area.  It looks bulky in the photo but travels over the whorl grooves just fine, so it is not as bulky as it looks.

It may not hold.  Right now I gained half of my tensioning area, which is more than enough.  I spun some on it and could actually do a semi long draw, there was enough pull in. That has been missing from this wheel for quite awhile.

The fiber is a bouncy Rambouilette that I dyed.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Spinzilla 2015

One week of spinning 1-2 hours each morning and maybe 30 min several times at night after work, gave me a total of 2007 yards of 2 ply yarn.  I used Spinzilla method of calculating yardage which counts plying.  So I spun 669 yards of 2 ply which times three gives the 2007 figure.  There were seven skeins in all.  Six were spun on my Roberta, the seventh was a combination of many samples of fiber I spun on the Ashford traditional quill spindle.  It is that top skein in the photo with 72 yards.

The six skeins are from the dyed alpaca I recently carded.  From left to right

Dark purple 80 and 88 yards 11 WPI

Light green 105 and 137 yards 11 WPI

Bermuda sand 107 and 80 yards 11 WPI

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

A large chain plying project

This is 8 oz of dyed Shetland single I spun during TdF15.  I want to keep those colors so I decided to chain ply. That is my Aura bobbin, which is very large.  The single is 24 WPI.

Three ply.  I am not sure the whole project will fit on one bobbin in spite of the bobbin's large size.

I obviously can not do this many hour project all at once, which means having to figure out how to stop.  Stopping in the middle of chain plying is not easy!  I came up with the solution of putting my loop around the bobbin flyer, it keeps the loop open and has been pretty easy to pick up and start again each time.  It looks like this when I am not spinning.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Batch one, The Big Wash up

This post and the following five are connected to my podcast Yarnspinnerstales, episode 128.

I have been in the habit of just sticking yarns into boxes with the intention of washing them later, in a batch.  The 'later' finally happened, over the last few weeks.  I took photos of each batch as well as updated my Ravelry handspun stash pages as I worked on this project.  You can find me on Ravelry as Yarnspinnerstales.

Polworth dyed by Rovings.  Plied with a natural brown color polworth single.

The roving was one large continuous color progression with no repeats.  When I saw this, I decided I wanted to keep those colors in that progression.  So I rolled all the roving into one big ball, started at one end and kept on spinning until the end.  The challenge was then to keep those singles in order (the start being on the inside of each bobbin) during spinning and plying.  I did this by marking bobbins well and notes.  Also to keep the colors I used the brown for the plying single.  It was a beautiful fiber to spin. Since I was spinning on my Roberta with the regular bobbins, I ended up with 13 skeins of various yardages.  Total is 1243 yards of a 12 WPI 2 ply.

Second batch The Big Wash up

Merino/silk/bamboo top dyed by Lisa Sousa with remaining fiber to be spun.  I got this fiber at Stitches Midwest, and also my Trindle spindle.  So I started spinning this fiber on that spindle right away.  I am still working on this project  and just love the process and the yarn.  170 yards 2 ply 16 WPI.

From left to right:

Magic Five challenge skein, TdF 13, I call it anything but wool.  The challenge was to put 5 things into a batt and spin it.  I used brown llama, light gray angora,white mohair,bright blue bamboo and rainbow color fire star.  This is the order from most to smallest amounts no exact percentages.  I made three batts and spun a single and then chain plied the yarn.  70 yards, 11 WPI 3 ply.

Wild Hair Studio art batt. 47 yards, 2 ply 10 WPI.

BFL dyed by Frabjous Fibers 83 yards, 2 ply 8 WPI

Salish fiber sample skein, woolen spun 2 ply 40 yards.

The next two skeins are the same fiber with different appearances.  
BFL dyed by Cloudlover.  Both skeins are chain plied and 9 WPI.   First is 40 yards, and the second is 124 yards.  The first skein was a state fair entry skein.

Mohair one single dyed purple, milk one single dyed blue, spun on spindles and plied together as a sample skein.  Fondly called my Jimi Hendrix skein because hubby said it looked like I was spinning a purple haze.

Alpaca etc, sample skein to practice support spindle spinning. 17 yards, 2 ply 11 WPI.

Third batch The Big Wash up

Various dyed fibers in this batch, from left to right:

Merino/tencel dyed by Bonkers.  This 17 WPI, 230 yard 2 ply was spun on my Ashford traditional with a lace flyer.

Enchanted Knoll art batt spun bulky on my Roberta.  This skein is 100 yards 6 WPI 2 ply.  There is a second skein (see photo batch four) that is 72 yards, 7 WPI.

Portuguese Wool Top dyed by Painted Tiger color way Portagallo.  This was a challenge skein.  First I split the fiber fractal for spinning.  I made four singles, but planned them so that those 2 ply would make a cabled yarn.  It is an amazing yarn.  135 yards, 12 WPI 4 ply.

Mohair 100% dyed by Majora Acres.  Sample skein, 38 yards.  Spun on drop spindle.

Merino/ tencel dyed by Damselfly fibers.  225 yards, 18 WPI 2 ply. Spun on the traditional with lace flyer.

Merino tencel combo skein of the green and pink yarns.  I want to put those colors together in a project and as I was spinning it I decided to see if I like the singles plied together.  I do but not for a whole project.  It was a good visual test though of what the two colors looked like together.

Milk fiber 100%. Tiny sample of the fiber made a tiny test skein spun on the Royal Hair spindle.

Fourth batch The Big Wash up

That top photo shows the unwashed skein, the skein in the second photo, far left shows what a difference a nice soak in water will make in a skein's appearance.  I often feel the same after a nice hot bubble bath!

That skein is BFL/silk blend dyed by Natural Obsessions ( sadly no longer in business) the color way is Herb Shoppe. I split the entire roving in half lengthwise and spun each on bobbins from the same end, then 2 plied those singles.  There is 522 yards, WPI? This was spun on my Roberta.

Going on, left to right:

The next two skeins were not in this batch but we're still hanging to dry when I took the picture.  A cameo appearance of the Enchanted Knoll Batts yarn.

Alpaca 100 % koolade dyed by my daughter.  47 yards, 6 WPI 2 ply.

Weslendale fiber dyed by Painted Tiger color way Fairy Ring. 165 yards 2 ply 11 WPI.

Angora/ dyed silk batt by Fluffington Farms, color way Dreamsicle.  Two skeins spun on the Ashford traditional with the lace flyer.  WPI ?  80 and 36 yards 2 ply.

Fifth batch The Big Wash up

These skeins only have one thing in common, their fiber.  I once purchased a Rambouilette fleece and had it processed at Wooly Knob Fiber Mill.  Then later I planned a big two day dye day.  One dye study was to try and dye the tertiary colors of the color wheel.  That should be in a blog post somewhere on this blog.  After I was done with the dye pot, I would take 1 to 1.5 oz of this fiber and use it to exhaust the pots. Over the last two years I have been spinning these fibers on my Haldane, and making 2 ply yarn averaging 12-14 WPI.  These are the colors I got:

Red 95 yards 
Teal 73 yards
Lime Green 100 yards
Light purple 120 yards
Pink 144 yards
Orange 90 yards 
Light Lime Green 93 yards

Purple 100 yards
Maroon Purple 120 yards
Medium Purple 70 yards
Dark Purple 120 yards
Deep Purple 95 yards

Sixth batch The big wash up

This is the last batch, and the yarns were put together because they are all natural colored fibers.  From left to right on the top photo:

Three color batts of CVM from Wild Haire Studio. There are two skeins. First 162 yards and the second 55 yards. Both are 12 WPI and 2 ply.

Cashmere/silk blend I made on my hand cards and spun on a drop spindle.  60 yards 2 ply 17 WPI.

Suri combed top I made medium fawn color. 90 yards 14 WPI 2 ply.

Alpaca color apricot blush carded by me. This is a single of 50 yards.  WPI?

Manx Loaghtan two sample skeins. First was combed and is 25 yards 13 WPI 2 ply.  The second was a test of carding the fiber 48 yards 2 ply 11WPI spun semi woolen.

Cashmere 100% top.  110 yards,14 WPI 2 ply.

From left to right:

Three skeins of Corriedale.  I bought the fleece skirted it and sent it to Wooly Knob Fiber Mill for processing.  These were spun from some of the roving, there is more to spin. First skein was a sample skein, 39 yards 10 WPI 2 ply.  Next two have 300 and 330 yards and are 10 WPI 2 ply.  All were spun woolen.

The last skein is alpaca 100%. I have called it my white/red skein because the fleece I carded into batts had both fawn and white in it.  The skein is a nice consistent color though.  There is 300 yards of a 2 ply WPI?

There is more yarn to wash, but certainly not the amount already done!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Fiber festivals review 2014

This post goes along with the Yarnspinnerstales podcasts, episodes 109 and 110.

The Fiber Fest in Greencastle Ind is always the second weekend of April, on Friday and Sat.  Due to working every other weekend, I haven't been there for a couple of years, so I was happy that it worked out hubby and I could take a day trip and go up to it this year.

This is a nostalgic trip for us, since I use to have a booth there.  Hubby is fond of the phrase, 'it's just not the same' but then what is?  I personally think change is good and that includes fiber fairs.  The biggest change I see now is the increased number of brick and mortar yarn stores, making the fiber festivals tour.  It is still up in the air if this is bringing in more customers, but knowing how quickly some knitters become spinners, it seems a perfect choice.

I saw less raw fleece this year, but that was probably because I had my blinders on.  I told hubby when we arrived this would be the first year I would not buy raw fleece. And  I didn't. I almost caved when he pointed out a booth full of lovely fleeces.  Who knew the smell of lanolin was so addicting.

I am trying to focus on buying processed roving, and the one purchase I did make was from Sheep Street.  They raise Shetlands, and had some processed which Nancy then dyed.  I bought a nice 8 oz bump, and love the fall color of it.

I bought a Tshirt too, with a spinning wheel on it and the words 'I have a PHD in spinning'. In tiny letters by the PHD it says 'projects half done'. Oh my how true!

The second festival I got to attend this spring was the Ky Sheep and Wool Festival.  This time I left hubby at home and went with a group of spinner friends, including my daughter and grandson.  At 2 years old, grandson is still is a restrained onlooker, who's big moment was petting a sheep.  His involvement in shopping was the huggable ness of the fiber or yarn.  His 'ahhh' while doing so melts your heart.

I did much more shopping this trip.  First I found 4 oz of this lovely Jacob roving, from a heritage family farm in Pa called Ross Family Farms.

Then I found Dyed in the Wool's booth.  They are dyers but also had a booth full of processed undyed wool roving.  Just what I was looking for!  I bought 2 dark colors

The top is Romeldale and the larger ball is East Fresian.  I also bought this white Dor Galen, a cross breed of Scottish Blackface and Horned Dorset.

And as a treat, I bought this dyed BFL/silk roving from Rock and String creations. 

I seldom buy yarn at these events but just could not resist this skein.  

I love the muted colors and the fibers merino/silk are so soft.  The yardage is  great too, 600 yards.  It was dyed by A Yarn Well Spun, Melanie Gibson.

Next fiber fair I go to will be in Sept.  My resolve not to buy fleece is melting... We will see what happens when those sheep's fumes hit my brain.

Friday, June 06, 2014

Dyeing alpaca

This post goes with the YST episode 108.

Awhile ago I got the dye pots out to try dyeing some alpaca. I had already washed and spun some of this alpaca fiber but there was quite a bit left. My thought was if I am going to get the fiber wet to wash it, I might as well then put it in a dye.

I give all the details of the process in the podcast.  I will give a few brief details here.

The alpaca didn't look it but was very dirty.  It took many wash and rinses before I was not seeing any dirt in the sink once I drained the water.  While going through that process, I got two dye pots made and heating on the stove.

I think this cactus bloom was the inspiration for my two dye pots:
For some reason my Christmas cactus decided to bloom this spring.  For the dye colors I picked a deeper version of green and maroon.

I used acid dyes, putting vinegar in the dye bath with the fiber. The pots were held on the heat just below boiling for 30 minutes, then I turned the heat off and let them sit there for about five hours. Then I removed the fiber, rinsed it several times, and let it dry.

This is the fiber before I picked it apart.
It was not easy to photograph, the pink is not really a hot pink, and the green is much darker.  I was really please with the dyeing.

I had some left over dye, not from the dye pots but from when I was mixing up samples of dye colors to decide what to use.  I had drum carded batts of this same alpaca, and I thought I'd see how it would work to wet the batts and pour the dye on them. I worked on Saran Wrap, laid out a batt, poured the dye and rolled the batt up in the wrap. I put it curled up into a glass pie plate, and then microwaved the packet very briefly.  The first batch did not work well, I forgot to add vinegar.  I did remember with the second batt and it took the color much better.

One batt each color and then one batt with both colors on it.  I like the very pastel affect, but doubt the yarn will show the color as much as the batts.  It was a fun experiment.  I have only used half of the fiber, so I may repeat the dye process one more time, as well as just wash more and card and spin it in it's natural color.  Then I can make a project with the three colors.