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.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Katahdin fleece review. YST episode 86

This is not a rare breed, or even a breed of sheep commonly used for their fleece. However, a coworker raises these sheep and when she handed me a small bag of wool from her sheep, I promised her I would try spinning it. And as I often do, I shared the experience with my listeners in a podcast.

This breed is raised for meat, often by small farm owners. It's known as a hair sheep along with several other breeds because their fleece contains obvious thicker hairs all through the fleece. Another key factor is that they shed their fleece (known as rooing) which is a great benefit for small farm owners that can not get a shearer in for a small flock, or shear the sheep themselves.

Here's a link to a good website for information on the breed.


I try to do my fleece reviews in a similar format, by using washed fiber, carding some and combing some. When I did this for this fleece, it became very interesting to find how it removed many of the hairs, in the combed fiber, but incorporated those hairs into the carded batt. When I spun my sample singles, the combed was mostly smooth, and the carded spun much thicker and showed lots of spikes of the hair.

I decided to leave the singles on the bobbins awhile (OK, so I did have to get the holidays over)and then knit something to show off the different textures. I knit straight from the bobbins, with very little problem with twist. The small sample skeins taken at the end of the singles after knitting do twist up, so there's still excess twist there. It just did not interfere with the knitting, since the single sat on the bobbin awhile.

Now I am quite use to handling wool, and to my fingers this fleece did not feel scratchy, unlike what you would think looking at it. Of course I did not knit a wearable item, instead I knit a small coaster.

In the photos you can see the singles on the two bobbins, one combed and one carded. The second photo shows the coaster with sample skeins. The center of the coaster is knit with the combed, smooth single, and the edging is knit with the thicker carded single. I used the same size needles, the edging looks thicker, because the single was thicker.

With all the wonderful fleeces in a spinner's world, I am sure there would not bea reason to do a whole fleece of this breed. However it was very interesting to work up this sample, for my sheep breed file.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

A blanket for my grandson

It was a long time in the making, and then several months before I got this posted. But I did make a knit blanket to welcome my first grandson to the fact his grandma knits for those she loves.

I wanted something colorful, and had picked a color work pattern way back a year ago in Dec. I bought four yarn colors as suggested by the pattern. My choice was a variegated in pastels (but not the traditional pinks and blues) and three colors that matched the variegated. I cast on, knit the edging and started the pattern. I quickly realized this pattern really was not good for a baby. It was a blanket, but the pattern seemed to ignore the fact there was a wrong side, and that side was ugly with stranding. I was about three inches into it, when I decided that it was not what I had in mind at all.

It sat for two months while I looked for the elusive pattern I had knit years ago for a coworker's baby. It was slip stitch and you never carry more than two yarns. I finally found it, a copied sheet. I have no idea of the source of the pattern. It looks striped because it is done in two row sections then there is a color change. I started the edge with the variegated, then went in the same color sequence every two rows with two rows of the variegated between color changes. The variegated yarn was carried up the side of the entire blanket. The other colors were cut and the ends woven in as I went, a true disciplined act on my part.

The slip stitch in the pattern creates the honeycomb look as the slipped stitch is carried up the two rows. The variegated rows were plain knit.

Ethan arrived March 1st, six weeks early. The new pattern blanket had just barely been started. I finished it in Oct, and he loves sleeping with it.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Next step, plying

On June 30th I started spinning 12 oz of a BFL/silk blend dyed by Natural Obsessions. I loved this fiber and took my time spinning it on my Aura. But all good things end, and today I spun the last of the single. So the next step is plying.

This color way has long stretches of gold and blue with the intermingled green in between. Instead of splitting the braid in the middle, I did a longways split down the whole braid. I could lay the two halves side by side and they matched.

And that is how I spun each half, starting at the same end, not pre drafting but spinning from the braid half just as it was. Each half went on a bobbin.

But the start of the single was buried deep in the bobbin, and I felt I would get my best chance of long color stretches meeting if I started at the front. So I decided to wind the singles into balls and putting the start of the colors on the outside of the balls, ply from those.

I could only have done this with two good tools. One, a lazy Kate that had a tensioning string. And second, a jumbo ball winder. Once everything was set up it went well. Amazingly, the single only broke once, especially since the jumbo winder is not all that gentle in it winding.

I will ply this on my Aura since it would be the only bobbin big enough for all this yarn. Once plied, it is going to be such a big skein of yarn, I may not even try to put it on a niddy noddy.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

CVM fiber study of two ways to comb

The fourth and final ravellenic project involved some CVM fiber I found at the very bottom of my downstairs stash basket. The fiber was unwashed and in two distinct forms, locks and not locks. Since I was now bored with carding/combing everything routine I thought I would try an experiment. What differences would I see if I washed the locks and combed them with a dog grooming comb, along with the washed non lock fiber combed with the typical wool combs. The processes should both be producing 'top' in the sense that it was creating straightened fibers to spin.

I went into great detail in episode 82 podcast about the process. What you get here that is not on the podcast is pictures!

The combed locks skein is 50 yards 2 ply 17 WPI. It weighed 3/4 oz.

The skein from the pulled top is 33 yards 2 ply 15 WPI and weighs 1/2 oz.

A quick math calculation shows both skeins are close to about 15 yards 2 ply per 1/4 oz. not exactly but close enough for me to say the skeins are very similar. Based on that the bottom line is it does not really matter, choose your method based on what you like to do best for processing.

Several comments about the photos. I have not been able to get the iPad app to let me arrange the photos, or label them so if you see this before I get on the real computer and do some editing, come back later for those as well as a link to the podcast. Meanwhile, enjoy the pretty pictures.

Non lock fiber hand combed top:

Locks combed with grooming comb:

Two unwashed skeins still with active twist, top skein combed with hand combs, bottom skein combed by lock:

Ashford lace flyer bobbin of CVM single:

Edited for links and photo descriptions 08/17/12

California red sheep fiber

It's a wonderful fiber, but the name sure is misleading. I didn't even get a pink tinge. This was the third ravellenic project I completed. It is reviewed much more extensively in the Yarnspinnerstales podcast, episode 82.

From what I read about the fleece, I really am glad I didn't. It seems the reddish brown tinge to the fleece comes from hairs of that color in the fleece. Hairs mixed in with wool staples mean a harsher yarn. This sample that I washed, carded and combed to spin was as soft as merino. White....not even a hint of pink, but super soft.

Given the choice, I preferred the combed sample to the carded. Even with my finer tooth carders I found the batts were not carding well due to the fineness of the wool. Combs however worked great. There was a lot of waste, there always is with combing but the yarn spun thin enough to still give good yardage.

So to pass on what I learned, if you buy this fiber looking for the red color, be sure those reddish brown hairs are in the sample. I am sure this varies sheep to sheep and even over the different areas of the fleece. You have to know this as you evaluate a fleece for it's usefulness to you.

On the left is the combed fiber skein, 24 yards 2 ply at 12 WPI.  On the right is the carded fiber, 28 yards 2 ply at 9 WPI.

California Red fiber, washed on top, raw lock samples on bottom:

Carded California Red fiber:

Combed California Red fiber

Edited for links and picture descriptions 08/17/12

Moorit Salish fiber

This is the second ravellenic event spinning project. I received the fiber in a trade for a few silk hankies. Each of us were receiving something we hadn't spun before in the trade. I wanted the fiber to review for my rare breed file.

Rare in the sense that I could find very little about it in my usual go to books and the Internet. At this point the best I can say is Moorit is the description of the color, and Salish is an area in the pacific northwest. Where and how this fiber was raised and then obtained by my trade partner is now lost in the mists of the time it dwelt in my fiber stash.

But it was a fun project to spin for review. I love the color and it carded and combed well. Unlike most of the samples I review I had a massive amount, 6 oz. The staple was long enough that I could use my large clamped combs to make the top. It reminds me of alpaca when I comb it that way. My sample skein was 30 yards of a 12 WPI 2 ply.

I carded with the hand cards although it would drum card fine too, in fact that is how I plan to use up the remainder of the fiber, since I decided I liked spinning this fiber woolen. My sample skein spun woolen was 10 WPI 2 ply of 30 yards

Photos will show the fiber before prepping, and the sample skeins.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Ryeland fiber

The ravellenic event is on and I have five projects I want to complete. While most ravelry members tend to knit during this event, I am of course spinning.

The first one done is a small sampling of a sheep breed's fiber I have not spun before called Ryeland. It is short stapled, moderately soft wool that could be carded or combed to spin. Although the combed top spun thinner than the carded prep, it seems that this is not one of those wools that 'wants' to spin thin. Instead it seems happiest at a nice 9-11 WPI thickness.

(still learning the posting on the Blogger iPad app so I am not sure the order these photos will upload).

In the three photos you can see the carded and combed prep, the pre washed sample skeins and the skeins after washing. The combed prep has a bit too much twist in the skein but that relaxed out after a good hot bath. Ah, but don't we all!

Monday, July 02, 2012

iPad starts my blog again

I had lost the interest in posting to the blog and knew I wanted to fix that. My biggest problem was the photos. Taken with a camera meant getting it off the card, maybe resizing and then uploading. During the Tour de fleece on Ravelry I found out how quick and easy it was to take a picture with my iPad and upload it to a forum thread.

So next was to see if blogger worked with an app and the iPad and here is the first test post. I believe it is going to be super easy and that makes me very happy to be blogging again.

Just one test photo for this blog, most of the yarn I spun during the three weeks of the TdF, hanging to dry.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Stitches Midwest 2011

Better later than never, here's a few photo from my adventure in August, going to Chicago for three days at Stitches Midwest.

I talk all about this in the Yarnspinnerstales podcast episode 69

First were the classes.  Friday afternoon I took the 3D Knitted Beads with Betsy Hershberg. 
Beading in small bits of knitting, rolled into beads which then can be stranded into wearable art.  Her samples were stunning, and according to her, will be shown in an upcoming book by her on this topic.

Here's a basic bead:

And here's a bead showing a beaded cast on and cast off:
Saturday I took and all day class called Intentional Pattering with Hand Dyed yarns.  I not only own dyed yarns by other dyers, but also dye my own yarn, I was sure this class was going to be of interest to me.  I was so right!  It was an amazing class taught by Laura Bryant of Prism yarns (oh those yummy samples we got to knit with in the class!).  The concept, also soon to be released in a book by Laura is that if one can figure out the repeatable dye progressions in a yarn, then one can calculate a 'magic number' and use it in any pattern to make the color show up in patterns instead of a random splotch of color.

This is an example using one of Prism's yarns.  See the center color pattern developing as I knit?

Sunday morning was a fun class with the blogger and fabulous artist and amazing knitter Franklin Habit on Working with Antique and Vintage patterns.  I have always loved the old old patterns although they so often seem in a foreign language to me.  Franklin brought some enlightenment to that language, as well as some samples knit by him from the old patterns.  I also was able to buy one of his original shawl patterns, which he signed for me.
Speaking of buying, some people only come to Stitches to go to the Market and here's why:

That's only a quarter of the market, so widen your view four time, and then you'll have a taste of the vastness and goodness of a knitting market of over 200 vendors.

I bought yarn, fiber, and patterns, but did not really take photos of everything.  I do want to include my one purchase here because I talk about it in my podcast.  This is a trindle drop spindle and the beauty and grace and speed of this very lightweight spindle was reason enough to buy it:

However, here is the best reason of all.  This is my sock box, a small purse I carry with my ever present knitting of a sock.  The trindle's spokes are removable from that rubber ball attached to the shaft, (see them in the plastic bag?) and then my trindle fits nicely in the sock box.  So now I not only have a quick knit pick up box, but if I get bored with knitting, I have spinning I can do.  How perfect is that? both my fiber loves in a to go box!

Fiber on the spindle is dyed by Louisa Sousa, and was also purchased at Stitches.