Wednesday, December 7, 2016

More spinning!

I have been spinning about an hour a day and it is amazing what one can get done by doing just that.
I finished the merino/yak.
I haven't plied it yet because I started spinning the dark grey and I am loving it.
 This is a dyed merino/Rambouillet/sparkle nylon top.
 Beginning the spin and without the flash...
With the flash to show the luster of the fiber. I am almost done with the first singles. I have 4 oz of this so each bobbin is slightly longer. I am spinning a light fingering weight to fingering weight and think I will use it in a weft.

I wound off 2 skeins of plied yarn but i haven't washed them yet. I still need to wind off the larger bobbin of the beaded Gotland yarn.
 That is the beaded yarn.
This was the pretty sample that came with the Hansen Pro.

These are the possibilities for the next spin. Weigh in if you have a preference on what I should do.
 This is from Into the Whirled. I am thinking I might do this as a fractal because the colors are so bright. It is a club shipment that I got as a gift.
 This is the Autmnal Dawn color way from Fiber Optic. It is easier to see the colors in the link because I photographed these at night and they are still in plastic.
 This is a One-of-a-Kind dye from Fiber Optic.
 A Chocolate Alpaca/silk from Gale's Art.
 Two bags of random odds and ends from Into the Whirled. These are fun to spin. I would have to decide if I was going to spin them separately, sort them into similar colors and spin or just spin them into one long yarn. I tried to pick two bags with similar color and Chris (of Into the Whirled) sorts by  colors that go together anyway. So they will all go together.
A Espresso-Crimson-Gold gradient from Fiber Optic. Again, better picture at the link.

Decisions, decisions. I want something bright but I was picking variegated fibers. I have some semi-solid in a pretty bright red. I also have a couple in spring-like colors so maybe I will do those. They are the Cyprus and the Wild Thyme colorways from Fiber Optic. The purple and the blue are slightly different on the two but I thought I could blend them as I moved from one to the other and spin them as one big gradient.

Lastly, I wanted to show you what I did with the basil salt. I've given away most of it but I packaged it in bottles and decorated it with washi tape and a label.
I ended up with two different bottles because I bought some and then went back to get some more and they were gone. I've been using mine a lot and love it. It is going to be a standard summer product from now on.


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Fiber that drafts itself

Vacation is a wonderful thing. I took last week off which is why I was able to finish the towels. I also gave myself Sunday to work on whatever I wanted before I had to go back to work yesterday.

I started spinning the 14.5 micron merino/yak top that I got from Maine Top Mill. I bought this at Rhinebeck this year and didn't want to store it as it was so beautifully combed. I was afraid I'd compress it by storing it.

But first I spun the 15 micron merino sample I got from It's Ewe!. Ash (the owner) was in my dyeing class at Rhinebeck and graciously gave us samples of fiber. She is a wonderful natural dyer. I divided her sample in half and spun it in the beginning of the single before spinning the merino/yak mixture. I'll spin the other half at the beginning of the other single. The mixture has a bit more halo and sheen compared to the plain merino but both are dreamy.

Both were so beautifully prepared that it just sort of spun itself. I put a good bit of twist in because they are short fibers and I want a sturdy yarn. It will be soft no matter what at that micron range so I can afford to make it firmly twisted.
That is the merino/yak and the single partially spun.

A close-up of the completed single.

And since then I have had no time to spin because my work is suddenly very busy and I've been working long days. So there will be a bit of a gap before I have more updates!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

WIPs and problems and a Happy Thanksgiving to all!

I was tired of all the WIPs hanging around and cluttering up my workspace. I find that if I have too many WIPs, I feel stressed and distracted moving between them. So I made a concerted attempt to finish as many of them as I can. Spindle WIPs don't bother me. They go on for years and I work on them when spindling is the right thing to do. But wheel WIPs, knitting WIPs and weaving WIPs bother me.

Finishing up the Gotland fleece was one of the items on the list. Another was a weaving WIP that has been hanging out for a year with no progress. I started it 2 years ago and wove 3 towels. I had warped for 3 because I miscalculated and thought I had enough yarn for 6. But no, I didn't. I only had enough for 4. So I warped the loom for 1 more and started weaving. That is when things went south.

The yarn I was using was Elann Callista. It had tiny knots in it. Knots that didn't show up when I warped the loom. They went through the heddle in one direction without any problems. On the first three towels I ran into a couple of them. They wouldn't go back through the heddle in the other direction as I advanced the warp. But I managed to somehow squeeze them through and finished weaving. They didn't come apart in the tension put on the warp and you can't see them in the finished towel.

However, on the 4th towel I ran into one that just wouldn't fit back through the heddle. So I had to research what to do with a broken warp thread because I had to cut the thread to get rid of the knot and advance the warp past that point. I guess it was a good learning experience but I was so frustrated that I put the whole thing aside and it has been sitting for a year. I picked it up on Monday and finished weaving it yesterday. Exactly! a few hours worth of work and it has been sitting there for a year!

Here is the finished set of 4 towels
The bottom most one is the one I just finished. The other 3 were done a year ago. I used some leftover Reynolds yarn for the embellishments. They are called Danish medallions (scroll down to see the Danish medallion instructions) and I did a different variation on each towel. The two ends of each towel are the same.

I also broke through a problem area in the silk shawl. I had worked the pattern up to where the sts are set aside for the sleeves. But I had different st counts on either side of the center! After much counting, I discovered that I had 3 extra sts on one side and 3 missing sts on the other. Somewhere I must have shifted the center section by 3 sts. I decided to just decrease 3 evenly spaced on one side and add 3 evenly spaced on the other. I did this and re-counted - getting the correct number on each side. Then I used the EZ thumb trick to set aside the sleeve sts. The pattern has one put sts on scrap yarn and provisionally CO for the sleeve opening. EZ's trick is much simpler.

After the sleeves are set aside, there are 6 more repeats to do before the lace edging. I have completed one of the 5 and will work on the others over the weekend.
The white lines are where I've set aside the sleeve sts. As a reminder, the pattern is Shleeves and the yarn is silk that I bought in India from SilkIndian.

After all that - getting 2 WIPs completed, the combs put away, the yarns used in the towels put away, the place cleaned up - I felt it was time to both inaugurate my new Hansen Pro minispinner and start a new project.

I got a small sample of Abstract Fibers 40% merino/40% superwash merino/20% silk fiber in the Laurelhurst colorway with the minispinner. I have the section near the blue. I divided into 2 and spun both up yesterday. It drafted like a dream. I love this fiber.
I plied them today.

Isn't that lovely? It is a nice fingering weight yarn - my favorite kind.

I am now going to start spinning the Maine Top Mill white fiber. I decided to spin them separately and then I can use them as I wish. There might even be enough to make a sweater and if so, having the colors spun separately will give me the flexibility of deciding where each color goes later. I will do a chain-plied 3 ply as that will give me a better yarn for a sweater or a textured shawl.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family! Enjoy the holiday!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

A textured yarn

I finished spinning the Gotland and plied it. This is only the combed part. There is a lot of combing waste - shorter fibers - that I plan to card and make another yarn. What I did with this one is to ply it with the beaded thread that I showed you earlier. Wow! I have a lot of yarn. I am not sure what I'm going to do with it yet. I was trying to emulate the curl of the Gotland locks so I did a spiral ply where the thicker yarn spirals around the finer beaded thread.

I ended up with 3 bobbins full of singles. At this point, I've plied 1 but left the other two so you can see how full they were. The Tina II bobbins are small.
Part way through plying.

A close-up of the yarn so you can see it better against a dark background. It varies in thickness but most of it is a fingering weight.
This is the beaded thread on its bobbin. I have a lot of it. I bought out everything they had when I went on that yarn crawl in Shanghai. It didn't unwind very easily. I had to pull it with a lot of tension and periodically, the beads would get caught on each other. Then I had to go and jiggle the thread to get it unhooked. It was impossible to see how it was actually caught.

And these are the two final bobbins. 2 of the singles bobbins are plied onto the bobbin with the larger quantity and the one remaining bobbin of singles is on the second, smaller bobbin.


Finally, a closeup of the yarn with a bead visible in the middle near where the 2 strands cross. 

I am not sure what I'm going to do with this yeat. I am not sure how it will knit up. It might work better in weaving. Also, the featured breed at Rhinebeck next year is Gotland so maybe I should plan on submitting a skein and a finished object from the yarn in their contests. Let's see. I will wind it off and finish it and I will sample a bit in knitting. The advantage of having so much yardage is that I have plenty to play with.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

I started spinning again!

I have had a tough time getting going with spinning this summer. There just didn't seem to be enough time to do anything. But I went back to my Gotland fleece the other day and started spinning it again. I really want to get it done.
You can see the two full bobbins on the bottom left and the current bobbin on the flyer. I think I'll end up filling most of that third bobbin by the time I am done.

I also finished the skein I spun on the Spindolyn a while back. I haven't taken the photo with the quarter to show the yarn weight but it is a nice fluffy yarn. Pretty colors. There is another bit of mystery fiber that came with the Spindolyns and I may spin that next.
On the negative side, I tried to wind off the cop on the Nano Trindle and made a mess of it. It is going to take some patience to fix it and right now I don't have it. I have decided to put it away and continue spinning on another small spindle like my Kuchulu. The cashmere sticks to itself and it has always been a bit of a pain winding cops off that Nano.

Lastly, I decided I needed some casual sweaters so I will keep the Schleeves gold shawl for traveling and knit a couple of sweaters out of Calmer. In planning this, I pulled my Calmer stash out of the closet and ended up selling a couple of the colors. Then I went through a few iterations of picking colors. I ran through a bunch of patterns but decided on the Cadenzia Hoodie with a zipper rather than with buttons. I will also shape the hood a la Rogue, rather than the pointed one on the Cadenzia.
The color I finally decided on is Garnet, which is a nice red. I don't have a red sweater and red will be a nice color to knit in the dark days that are coming up. I really want to be done with the grey spinning too and move on to a bright color for the winter. I started the Gotland in March when it felt right. It has been going on too long!

I also did a little bit of clearing of the craft room which is a bit of a mess. I want to finish up these projects and put away these tools and pull out the ones I need for the next set. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

A couple more FOs

I finished the scarf from the indigo class. I had to soak and rinse it to neutralize the ph for the silk. Here it is...

I also washed and blocked the second blanket that will be donated. I didn't work on this one at all except for the blocking. 

Both blankets will be going to the local domestic abuse shelter on Friday. 


Monday, October 17, 2016

Finally finished! and Rhinebeck 2016

I spent the past few weeks finishing up a blanket that is going to get donated to the local domestic abuse shelter. Many moons ago, my professional society asked me to run the knitting part of a community outreach project and I thought of Project Linus. However, we wanted to do something local so we decided to make a blanket or two and donate it locally. There was also a parallel quilting project. Fast forward a year and the quilts were done and donated but we didn't have enough patches for our blanket. So we continued and then I disconnected from it for a few years - between work and going to China. When I came back, the board asked me if I would take it over. I agreed and was promptly presented with a large bag full of patches. Some had been crocheted together but most were just sitting there. They were all different sizes!

We met once in 2015 and made a little progress but not enough. So this year, I tried to do a monthly meet-up to work on the blankets. Thanks to a core group of dedicated people, we did. We crocheted around the smaller patches to make them the same size as others and sorted them into similar sizes so we could make two blankets. I brought one blanket home to finish crocheting the last strip on, weaving in the ends, and doing a border and another lady took the other one home to do the same as we were very close. I haven't had a chance to wash and block hers but mine is done.
I'll post a picture of the other when it is blocked. They will be donated in the next couple of weeks. It feels good to have completed this project.

Beyond that, I haven't done much but I am planning to now spend an hour every evening working on something. I did start untangling the silk yarn that got into a huge tangle. I think one more evening and I can start knitting it again.

I also took an inventory of my Rowan Calmer stash and have planned to make a hooded sweatshirt type of sweater from one of the colors. I may make a few more in other colors. I thought I'd make a Wonderful Wallaby but the gauge doesn't match up so I'll just work up a similar sweater in the Calmer gauge.

Next up was Rhinebeck. I took 2 classes. A two-day acid dyeing class and a 3 hour indigo-dyeing class. During the acid dyeing class, we used Washfast dyes and made a color wheel and a grey gradient to learn how to mix and dye colors from a set of primaries as well as dye various depths of shade. Then we went to town and handpainted yarn and fiber. I worked on fiber only. I dyed some Corriedale roving and a bunch of Montadale/Corriedale locks that I had washed from a partial fleece.
 That is my roving on the right in the top picture and the locks I dyed in the bottom.
With our color wheel and gradient skeins, we made color cards for ourselves with the recipe foe each color next to the sample. This is the color wheel we dyed. This photo shows the full 5 gm sample skeins that the teacher brought to class. We dyed the same colors in class but cut up our skeins to make the cards.

While I've dyed before and am quite a confident dyer, I didn't feel I had the details nailed down to produce consistent and repeatable colors. Now I can use my icing gel colors or synthetic colors like Washfast to dye more systematically and therefore repeatable and consistent.

My final results from the 2 day class:

I plan to flick the locks and spin them as is. They were a medium gray to begin with. I am surprised at how bright the color is on them. The roving is a sample from the Corriedale I bought in New Zealand. I want to spin it and see how it works up and then I'll dye more. I made notes on the colors I used. I was inspired by the fall.

The indigo class was a lot of fun also. The teacher made an indigo vat and we did shibori work and dyed a silk scarf. Mine needs to be finished with the last couple of soaks so I will photograph it when it is done.

There are the vats we used and a close up of what it looked like inside the vat.

I also bought fiber and an impulse purchased shawl pin. The only item on my shopping list was Power Scour as I believe it cleans at a lower temp than Dawn blue detergent. In order to get the Dawn to work, I have to add boiling water to my laundry tub that is pre-filled with the hottest tap water. This involves many 8-qt pots of boiling water that have to be carried from the kitchen to the laundry room. I don't enjoy this process because I am prone to dropping things and boiling water all over me won't be pleasant. Shipping costs on Power Scour are high so I wanted to buy it. I went to Carolina Homespun and was told that they don't sell it at fairs where they have to ship because of the weight! Fortunately, Susan's Fiber Shop had it. They probably drive here while Carolina Homespun ships their stuff to Rhinebeck.

The haul:

 A Cyprus gradient from Fiber Optic Yarns. I am going to spin this with Wild Thyme, starting with the green and going to the blue and blending the two blues before going on to the green in Wild Thyme. One blue is more purply than the other but I put them next to each other and they look good.
 A braid of Queen's Red. I have a one-of-a-kind braid that is similar to Queen's Red and I think I can ply them together to create more of a complex color. I'll have to see. Either way I love the red.
I also bought 4 oz each of 3 different tops from Maine Top Mill. This is the Lightspeed blend of merino, rambouillet and sparkle nylon.
 This is the cStorm from Maine Top Mill.
And lastly, this is 14.5 micron merino (in the cashmere range) blended with yak. The top is very good quality and very airy. A lady in the booth had bought an ounce the day before and spun it in the evening. She was back to buy a bunch more and said it spun like freshly combed top.

I got 2 bags of the Odds and Ends from Into the Whirled. These are inexpensive for hand dyed fiber and are a lot of fun to spin. You can spin them on the go on a spindle as they are small quantities. Then you can use them together because she has combined colors that go together in each bag. Last year I stopped by on Sunday and they were all gone. So this year, I went over after lunch on Saturday, after the hubbub had died down. I was able to pick from quite a selection.

This was my impulse shawl pin. It is sterling silver and copper and is knitting needles and yarn. I bought it on a total impulse and it was expensive but I love it. I hope it stays in. Most shawl pins fall off and I'm afraid of losing them so I don't wear them. It is from On the Bend. I asked if she could make me a spindle pendent and she said yes. That might be something I commission.

 In my dyeing class there was a lady from Australia. Her shop is It's Ewe! and she breeds 15 micron or AAA rated merinos. She says the fiber rarely leaves Australia and what does leave is snapped up by top designers. She gave each of us a sample of her fiber. It is lovely!
Finally, last but not least, this is a scarf a friend is making from my handspun. The fiber is from Gale's Art and is called Moldy Pumpkin. It was a Rhinebeck purchase from a few years ago.

I didn't try to keep the colors together. Just divided in half and spun it end to end and then made a 2 ply. I think that is the perfect choice of pattern for the yarn!