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.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

YST Episode 1 Combing Shetland Fleece

My first spinning podcast for you is about combing with large 5 pitch combs and can be found here.

These are definately the perfectly scary looking fiber processing tools for Halloween! Listen in as I explain in detail about how I use these to comb top from a Shetland fleece and enjoy some special halloween music.

Here's a few pictures for those that really need a visual along with the verbal :)

Indigo Hound five pitch base held combs, showing how I attach the base to my picnic table bench with the C clamp and then have the comb in the base, held with the dowel, teeth up.
The next photo shows the shetland locks loaded on the base comb, and the comb turned so the teeth face sideways. The hand held comb in being passed through the fiber, teeth pointed down with a small bite of fiber being combed.

This final photo shows the comb with the most fiber now place in the base help with the teeth up. The top is being gently pulled from the puff of combed fiber. No diz is being used for this top.

Please feel free to leave me comments here about the podcast, and until I get the one click subscribe button on my podcast page, you can catch future podcasts by either checking here, or putting into ITunes subscribe: http://yarnspinnerstales.libsyn.com/rss
Thanks for listening!

Podcasting 101

Read me first, if you are totally clueless on what I mean by podcasts. If you are already totally into the IPods and know they can bring you things beyond music, then all you really need to know is that Yarnspinnerstales.com is now the official site for my podcasting. Two podcasts have been posted and more will be on the way, because I have found I love the whole process of bringing them to you. Go to Itunes now, and in the advanced area, under subscribe to a podcast, type in yarnspinnerstales.libsyn.com/rss

OK now that the geeks have gone, lets talk simple basic podcast stuff so you can get into the fun also.

First, what is a podcast? Think computerize radio show, only on a topic you totally love. Like knitting: Cast-On or Science: TWIS (This Week in Science) or how about someone reading a story to you: EscapePod or now spinning: yarnspinnerstales. If this sounds fun, then read on.

Next, how do you listen to these podcasts? First you find them (more on that in a minute) and then you use your computer's media player, to play them. This is one of two ways to listen to them. Doing it this way means you will sit at your computer and listen to it as it plays. That can be just fine, if you have a reason to be at your computer anywhere from 15-45 minutes. Laptops are good for this scenario, play the podcast with the laptop nearby and knit while you listen. But most people find they prefer to listen to podcasts away from the computer and that does involve a portable MP3 player such as an IPod, or Sansa player. It means that instead of just clicking on the little podcast icon, you will right click on it instead, opening the box of choices and choosing either Send to...(and sending it to your portable device attached and ready at your computer) or Save Target as... and put it on your computers hard drive in a place you can find it again, such as your documents. Once it is on your computer, again you can open your media player and listen to it as you want, or right click on the MP3 icon for the show and send it to your portable player.

One little hint, podcasts range any where from 5 minutes to an hour. It takes a very long time to download a podcast generally on dialup. If you can at all get access to DSL be sure to use that for podcast downloads.

How do you find podcasts? Well, start with Google with a specific type of search, say for example, gardening podcasts. What you will often find in the first page of the search are web sites that are pod catchers. Podcast Alley is a big podcatcher and yahoo and ITunes have podcast listings. Check them all out because not every podcast will show on every catcher. Once you find ones you like ITunes (free download) is a great way to automatically 'catch' any new ones that come out for those. You subscribe to the podcast generally by going to the website, and clicking on subscribe to the podcast. However, before you start doing that, you have to have something in place for the podcast to go to, and that is why people use ITunes, or set up Yahoo to send those subscriptions.

And basically that's it! OK there will be a number of details that may stump you as you start out, but you will learn. Listen first on your computer, learn how to save it on your hard drive, learn how to set up a podcatcher for your subscriptions, and you will soon have so much to listen to, you'll think that it be worth your while to knit for three days straight. Oh well, a girl can dream can't she?


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

What a Difference a Needle Makes

If you are one of the power, know everything sock knitters, you can mosey on to another block, this one won't interest you. All socks are basically toe increases, length of foot knitting, turn a heel and round and round knitting for the cuff. And most sock knitters can take yarn and needles and turn out pairs of socks that are basically the same size. But if you are like me, where every sock you make is another potential surprise, you may enjoy the tale of these two socks. Both pair are based on the basic sock knitting concepts with 64 total stitches, 32 for the instep concept.
Both socks are knit from handspun yarn, something I talk about doing all the time but in truth have rarely done. There's so many wonderful sock yarns available, and I get the satisfaction of buying yarn for a pair of socks every time I go to a yarn store. So in truth, I have made very few socks from my handspun yarn. These's though are both my handspun yarn.

Both patterns are from a yahoo group called six socks. The blue lacey pair is knit in handspun wool koolaid dyed and were knit with the two socks two circs method. The circular needles used were size 3. They turned out to be a great fit both in and out of my shoes. The wildly colored striped pair were knit with size 0 DPN, knitting one sock at a time. The 'fabric' of the sock is practically already felted, it is so densely packed. They too feel wonderful on my feet, however, they have to be a house sock, the dense fabric will not fit into any shoe. Maybe a boot or clog, but definately not a shoe.

The whole point to this blog is to show that really other than the lacey pattern over the instep of the one pair, there are no other variables to account for such a wildly varying size in the two pairs except for the size of the needles. The size 3 is the right size for the gist of my handspun yarn, whereas the size 0, a 'normal' size for most sock knitting, packs so many rows into the sock that is becomes a different fabric altogether. And that makes a size difference in the actual sock itself. It may not be evident in the photo above, but the stripe socks seem three size larger then the blue socks. They are looser on my foot but not the 'hey these socks are giant' that they look when off the foot. Here's a picture to prove that.

I believe all of these is the result of Murphy's law of the sheep. You know, those bouncy skittery critters that may behave, may flock or may run. Take one of them and all is controllable. Add another, and another, especially in stripes, and things end up out of control. These striped socks just have too much of the sheep in them.

One more thing, I would like to say is I love the cuff concept on the striped socks. It's fun to do and really a different look from other handknit sock patterns. You do it by casting on with yarn that has been used for knitting the last row of the top of the sock (obviously this is only going to work if you are knitting toe up). I used 16 cast on stitches. You just do garter stitch back and forth on those 16 stitches and each time you are at the sock live stitches you knit two together to attach the cuff. Once all the live stitches are used, you can cast off and sew the two cuff edges together. Or you can do as I did, which was pick up the other edge's knit bumps and do a three needle bind off with the two edges. One small end to weave in, and you are done.

The pattern, if made in regular sock yarn can be a great one for using up odds and ends of sock yarn. It is especially cute when done in a childs size, with really tiny bits of leftover sock yarn. You don't even have to be anal like me and make them match :) However I may recommend that you either be a much better sock yarn spinner than I, or use commercial, 'under control' yarn.


Thursday, October 04, 2007

Vacation shopping

I just got back from four days in Destin Florida, a wonderful vacation from work and home duties. We went to the beach, ate some memorable meals, met up with one of hubby's old friends and of course, went shopping. In fact one of the first things I did, after unpacking and unwinding, was to check the phone book for knitting store(s).

It occurred to me, once I was home that maybe I could have checked Ravelry for that information also. I really didn't think of it at the time, I was only using a public computer to occasionally check email. However I just went to Ravelry right now to see if it would have been a possibility. First I clicked people thinking maybe a listing might be there, but that doesn't exist (yet). Then I searched the forum board for Destin, and got (gasp) over 8400 hits. Well, turns out the top hits were correct, but the rest seem to be picking up something else, un Destin like related. However there was the name and address listed in one post of a yarn store in Destin, so there you go, it could work. Turns out it was a store not in the phone book either, so, either it was small enough not to want to pay the yellow pages cost, or no longer in business. Since I am not in Destin anymore (sigh) I can not say which.

But the good old non geeky method of the yellow pages did work, and I found a wonderful yarn store callled Unwind. If you get to Florida, look the up in the phone book and go. Technically, they are in Fort Walton Beach, but that's not far to drive and there was a fantastic coffee shop next door too (is that a given for a yarn store location? What comes first, the coffee shop or the yarn shop!)

Enough chat, first picture is the bag of purchases from Unwind. I only do this because really a bag so small should not cost so much LOL. I have a coffee mug beside it for sizing.

So What's in The Bag?

First a rainy afternoon of pleasure:

I love anniversary issues of magazines, almost as I love the premiers issues. If it says, 'first issue ever' I usually buy it, as well as any anniversary issues. I have been saving this as I said for an afternoon on the front porch with a cup of coffee. I hope it is as good as it promises.

And for many many hours of knitting pleasure, this is in the bag:

This is lace weight yarn of a brand I had not seen before. It is Jojoland label and is called Harmony. It is 100% wool and very soft in the skein. This 50g ball has 880 yards, so it's an amazingly thin two ply yarn. Size 0 is the recommended needle! However knit on a larger size will look airy and lacy too I imagine. It's going in my stash to wait for the right shawl or stole pattern. Oh, I must go now and put that in my stash on Ravelry, and I even have a picture to include this time! Meanwhile, if this link works, here are some photos of projects shown on Ravelry with this yarn.

But wait there's more in the bag, however it will remain a mystery for many months! That's because I know who reads my blog LOL. Someday the mystery will be revealed.