Saturday, December 29, 2012

Many fiber-y fronts

There were some endings and some beginnings this week.

The ending is first. I finished the yarn I plied on Christmas Day. It is looking very nice. There is about 600 yds so I can make a small shawl with it. The photos don't do justice to the hand. It is soft and silky but the luster is obscured by the slight halo of the other fiber in the blend.

And the obligatory close up with a quarter
This was spun on my microXL Trindle. I used my usual semi-worsted spindle technique where I don't try to keep the twist out of the drafting triangle but do a short forward draw and smooth the single down as it is twisted. I find this fast and easy on the spindle and it makes nice yarns. I am very pleased with the evenness and the fineness of the yarn.

The fiber is a mystery fiber from Abby Franquemont that came with her Respect the Spindle book. I have to weigh the skein some time. I didn't even bother doing that with the fiber so I have no idea what I started with.

Next up the beginnings:
I started spinning the second single in the gradient. I am still at the purple part.
I absolutely love spindling on my trindles. They spin so fast and are so pretty, especially my golden dragon balls.

Lastly, I started knitting an infinity scarf with my very first spindle handspun. I am loving knitting with it. It is so soft and fluffy - at least most of it is. Some of it is overspun and not so nice.
I am going to knit this till the yarn runs out and then join it with a 180 degree twist to create a moebius. I should be able to double and triple it around my neck as needed. I couldn't find a crochet hook to start the provisional CO and all I had was crochet cotton that was the same color as the yarn. So I decided to just cast on and knit 2 rows with the crochet cotton and then start the scarf. I will just undo the two rows to free up the live scarf sts when I am ready to graft the beginning and end together.

That is all for now...

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

I am totally nuts

Not only did I finish spindling that green fiber but I plied it. I did not do the best job. I didn't wind the leftover yarn on the second plying ball correctly and I couldn't ply it back on itself. I was in too much of a hurry and I was tired. Bad combination.

So that bit of fiber is going to become a felted ball that will be the base of a future plying ball. But I have lots of fiber all plied on the bobbin.
There is a lot of yarn there. It took me ages to ply. Hours. Many.hours. This is why I was so tired. I had been plying for a long time and really was tired of plying.

Oh well. Nothing is going to waste and I have lots of yarn to play with. I still think it will make a nice shawl. It is very smooth laceweight yarn.

Amazing spindling progress

A very Merry Christmas to all who celebrate!

I really saw the advantage that spindles have over wheels this weekend. I was spending time with family and took my spindle along. Wow! I made quite a bit of progress, even though I stopped to manually wind off the cop in the middle. Without anything to support the spindle, I was basically winding off by holding the spindle in one hand, the ball of wound singles in the other and rotating one over the other. Not at all fast!
This is the last bit of roving left to complete this project which has all been spun on the microXL trindle. I will probably complete it today. The two balls are the two plies of the single. I didn't divide this fiber up in the beginning. I just started spinning and just alternated winding each cop onto one or the other ball. The rubber band marks the ball that was last used. So this cop will go onto the other ball. This cop was almost completely spun between just before dinner on Sunday and after dinner yesterday.

I will ply this on the Hansen from the two plying balls. I have been spinning this for so long that I have no idea what I used as cores for the plying balls. Also, the fiber is a mystery fiber. I got it with my Respect the Spindle book from Abby Franquemont. I had ordered an autographed book and she included this fiber along with the book. It is definitely a silk or tencel blend but not sure of what else is in it. It has a lovely sheen and I think it will make a gorgeous shawl.

What this means is that I can start 2013 off with a bunch of new spinning projects as I have only one in progress right now.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Spindling a gradient part IV

In the continuing saga of spindling a gradient with the objective of keeping the gradient as it was dyed, I finished the first single last night.

To rewind and provide some context, if you remember, I split the braid in half lengthwise and started spindling from one end. I have now finished spindling that half. I will start the second half in the next week, I think.
As I finished each cop, I rewound them into bobbins so that the beginning end was on the outside. I also have been annotating each bobbin's order by putting a specific number of bands on it. From left to right, you can see that I have 1, 2, 3 or 4 bands on each bobbin. These hold the end but also tell me the order in which to ply the bobbins. I will now repeat this for the second single.

I also wound up my first spindle spun yarn into a ball, ready for knitting. I am going to make an infinity scarf for me. To maximize the yarn, I am going to provisionally cast on about 40 or so and start knitting flat. Then, when I am done, I will graft the beginning to the end to make a moebius infinity scarf. To make this reversible and also to facilitate the grafting, I decided to do a simple texture pattern with an odd number of rows: 4 rows of k2, p2 rib and then 1 row of knit. The 1 row of knit will be my grafting row.
So I start with a provisional CO, and immediately go into the 4 rows of k2, p2 rib. When I am almost done with the yarn, I will end with 4 rows of k2, p2 rib and then graft the beginning to the end with a half twist in between. It should make for simple knitting that is not too mindless and will give me a nice long scarf that I can wear singly, doubled or tripled.
As you can see, this is a pretty thick and thin yarn and has a mix of different fibers. So there will be a lot of texture in this scarf. I am planning to knit it on a US size 6 (4mm) needle. I hope that will give me enough drape and handle the differences in thickness. It is a nice and soft yarn so it will be a pleasure to wear. When I was learning to spin, I just spun whatever natural colored fibers I could get my hands on. There is a little color in one spot where I added it to differentiate two sections in class. I may leave that in as a feature. You can see it in both pictures: a little red.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A tangential rant

This has nothing to do with spinning or knitting or fiber. In fact, it has very little to do with my usual pursuits or content.

It started with this gift guide for Mom that I saw in the Huffington Post. It caught my eye because of the pink tool set. I posted it to Facebook and forgot about it. Today, I went looking for the value of a tool set that I added to our shipping items. I have to put a value on each item in case it gets damaged. Since I have a lot of expensive items in the shipping - like my Hansen mini-spinner bobbins and my lazy kate - I have been very diligent about this.

My modus operandi is to look for similar things on Amazon and use that to determine the value when I don't have a clue about the value. After all, I need to replace the item and this seems reasonable to me. Guess what my search for tool kits found?
This set for $19.99 and this identical set in pink for $24.99. This incensed me for some reason.

Why should women be ripped off because of the color of the tools? I know it isn't a big deal - it is only $5.00 but it still is a rip-off.

It is an extension of the idea that women and girls need special things like the BIC pens for her.

End of tangential rant

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Using one's handspun

I find I learn a lot about my spinning by using it. I have only used a couple of my handspun skeins so far but the next few projects are almost all handspun.

I started with a pair of hats out of the Lincoln-Corriedale cross I spun in Maggie Casey's class in August. If you remember, this was a fleece that we carded and spun in class. My handspun varies from rather tightly spun to a nice fluffy but solid yarn. I love knitting with the well spun parts. The thin, overtwisted parts are a pain to knit but it works.
This is a hat I made from one of the two skeins I had. It is the Bus hat. I made it longer so it can be folded up over the ears. The length of the hat is 9" (vs the 5.5" in the pattern) and then I started shaping the cap.

I like this so much that I am making a second one with the other skein.
In this hat, I am just doing a k4, p4 rib rather than the pattern in the other hat. Just for variety. I finished the first hat in about 48 hours. So this should be done in the next day or so.

Knitting with woolen spun yarn is a pleasure. It isn't appropriate for a shawl, I think, unless spun much thinner than I am spinning it. But it is perfect for hats. There is a bit of lanolin left and it makes the wool comfortable. I am really enjoying knitting with this yarn.

I am also trying to finish up the Corgi Hill Farm Mangosteen gradient - at least the first single so I can pack away the spindle without anything on it. I wound off the third bobbin of singles from the spindle and am working away on a 4th segment.
That is all that is left. I think about sections of 7" will finish it. I tend to think of spindling in those sections because that is what I pull off from the rope and it gives me a sense of accomplishment when I am done with it. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

A day of rememberance

Today we stop and spend a day remembering the lives lost to a gunman on Friday.

May their souls rest in peace. May their loved ones have the strength to deal with the loss.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Green yarn

Literally, of course. Here is the merino that survived the tangle around the axle...
That is the obligatory shot with the quarter to show the yarn thickness.
I have about 160 yards. I am glad to be done with this. I did not enjoy the spinning process.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

FO pictures

This was going to be my previous post but I had to share the wrapping of the single around the axle. So I postponed this one.

I blocked the purple shawl and have worn it twice since then. It is the perfect size for a small shawl for me. I can wear it around my shoulders without having it up at my neck. My shoulders need the warmth but I hate things around my neck.

That is the shawl blocking. It is the only picture of the entire shawl that I have. I am not 100% sure I like the subtle beads. They add a nice heft to the shawl, which I like but most people don't notice them. If one is doing all the work to bead it, shouldn't there be some more bling?
Detail of the beads in the center section
Detail of the beads in the edge
Really bad, awful self-shot of me wearing the shawl to show the size
The heavy beading on the edge really makes it drape well.

I finished the green yarn and it is drying. I will post pics of that in my next post. After that there won't be as many FO announcements and pictures. I am trying to finish off what I have in-flight so that I can pack what I need and just have a few easy projects to work on during travel.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Repeat after me!

Do not do as I do.
Do not do as I do.

After I finished the triangle shawl, I decided to finish up the spinning project I had on the Tina. If you remember, I was making faux-rolags and spinning them. I had finished the first single and wasn't happy with the rolags so I tried a slightly different method for the second single.

I took the bobbin with the first single off and put it on the bobbin holder on the Tina. I then put an empty bobbin on and started spinning. I was doing long draw, focusing on the rolags and whether they were easier to draft or not. Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the bobbin on the holder was slowly revolving....

Would you believe that the end of the single was caught in the center of the wheel and it was slowly winding off the bobbin and onto the axle of the wheel?

My phone was downstairs and my first instinct was to fix the problem. I let the single I was spinning go through the orifice so I wouldn't be removing twist from it and manually rotated the wheel to the left. I was spinning to the right and so this was the opposite direction. I slowly unwound the single and wound it onto the bobbin. After I was almost done, I thought about taking the photo. So you only see the very last bit on the center of the wheel in the pictures.

I was able to salvage almost all of it. This is what I lost

So pay attention to where the end of your single is. It shouldn't be hanging off the bobbin, waiting to be caught in something. Fortunately, this is a pretty thick single so it held together. Also, the fiber is sticking to itself and while that made drafting tough, it helped in this situation.

The second round of faux-rolags worked a bit better. Where I had really predrafted it, it fed smoothly. The rest stuck together and required a little bit more forward draw type drafting to get it unstuck. But I finished spinning the second single last night and will be plying soon.

I didn't like spinning this at all. I may try faux rolags again but I think spinning from the fold is a lot less work and achieves the same result. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Another FO!

I took some artistic pictures of the lace plaid stole to show the size and the texture. I am quite pleased with this project.
And a detail of the texture and the lace
In addition to blocking the stole, I have also been working on the ruffle of the purple triangle shawl. It was slow going as the sts were very crowded on the needle. I switched to a 60" Hiyahiya interchangeable but I found the tips kept getting loose as I pushed the sts around. Also the tips were rather short for this heavy shawl. The cable would hang at almost a 90 degree angle due to the weight. Not fun.

Finally, I just divided the sts onto two circs. One was a 29" which had about 1/3 of the sts and the other was a 40" that had the rest. It was still slow but manageable. I was having fewer problems with sts coming off the tip as I tried to slide them around to make room.

Anyway, I finally finished binding it off last night. It isn't blocked but it is done. My hands are very grateful. Ruffles are not my thing and now I know why.
It is Polyhymnia's Triangle by Rosemary Hill. I combined two variegated yarns that I had. The center triangle and ruffle are from Joslyn's Fiber Farm. The color is eggplant. I had bought this years ago at Camp. I don't think there is a sock yarn in the portfolio any more. But this is a nice mohair/wool sock yarn. The other yarn - the more multi-colored variegated yarn - is Skinny Bugga! from the original Sanguine Gryphon in Burying Beetle. Sharon (of TVknittingpodcast) gave it to me as a trade for a shawl I gave her. We bought beads that matched it and I put them into the eggplant yarn to blend the two yarns together.

I made good decisions on when to stop knitting this time. Usually I end up running out of yarn and ripping back. I watched the yarn usage carefully and managed to avoid that. I have just a few yards of each yarn left. So this shawl is as big as it could be. It will stretch with blocking but it is a nice size. I don't like small shawls. That is why Sharon ended up with a shawl.

And finally, here is a photo to brighten up the darker days of winter. Fiber Optic yarns partnered with the KnitGirlls to create a colorway of her lovely gradients. This one is called Rouge-Violet-Cerulean and I fell in love with it as soon as I saw it. The way Kimber handles the gradients is that they go on pre-order for 2 weeks and you can order as many as you like. She dyes them to order and sends them out. So you can't buy any old gradient at any time but they go on a strict rotation and you can buy them when they come up in that rotation. And of course, some go on hiatus every so often. This keeps her sane and allows us to buy the ones we like in quantity. No mad rush to buy when they hit the store.

My order of 2 gradients arrived yesterday. Feast for the eyes! It is merino-silk

I have to admit to a love of rich saturated colors and Kimber does these really well. I have quite a stash of her gradients to spin in the next couple of years.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Finally! a FO

I had finished this stole a while ago, but was busy and didn't block it. Well, it is about time to give it to the young recipient so I knuckled down and blocked it.

It is made of a linen/silk combo from colourmart that I like. It is crisp when blocked due to the linen but gets softer with use. Washing also makes it softer over time. But it has some drape due to the silk. It doesn't have any sheen. Plus, it is one durable yarn because both linen and silk are strong.

Here it is being blocked. If you remember I wanted it to look like a plaid but with lace instead of colors. I like the effect even though the lines aren't straight. They got warped because of the purse st (*yo, p2tog, rep from *).

But the edges did block straight.
And the other edge
Yes, I fixed the crooked wires after I took the picture :-)

And a view with a different angle
The little box is my pin box. I should have moved it off the stole before I took the pictures.

Once it dries, it will get wrapped and handed over...

Thursday, December 6, 2012

A lightbulb goes off!

Remember those cartoons with the lightbulb over the character's head when he/she gets an idea? I actually felt one of those go on in my head last night.

Spinning wool is very different from spinning cotton. With cotton, I let the twist into the fiber supply and let it pull more fibers from the supply. All one needs to do is pull the fiber supply back at the right speed to get yarn.

When I tried this with wool, especially a medium-length fiber like Corriedale, the thickness of the yarn dwindled down to almost one fiber. It was still yarn but not the yarn I wanted. I wasn't able to control the thickness.

I have been watching youtube videos on supported spindling using a nifty app called Tubebox. It was free when I got it. I don't know if it is still free. But you can download the videos and watch them offline. I have downloaded a bunch of supported spindling videos and watch them over and over again. It also automatically switches from one to the other.

Anyway, I was watching the amazing fleegle's 'Fleegle spins on Tibetan Spindles' and realized that she was not holding the spindle while it was spinning. I had been cupping my hand around the spindle tip as it spun, which didn't leave me any fingers to draft with the spindle hand. But fleegle wasn't doing this.

So I tried it, just as a test, with the spindle on the window sill. And it works. The spindle keeps spinning even if it isn't held vertical. It can go down to about 45 degrees while still spinning. After dinner, I sat down and worked on this a bit and was able to spin a nice even yarn. And quite a bit of it.
That is the end result of about 30-45 mins of spindling. Not bad eh?

The dervish spins silently and beautifully. It is so efficient that you almost don't realize it is still spinning. I found it easier to spin in the bowl rather than the saucer. The saucer works better for the supported trindle as the arms don't hit the sides of the bowl. But the dervish spins better in the bowl as it tends to stay centered.

I need practice to make my movements smoother and more efficient. But this was huge progress from where I was before.

The Corriedale spins like a dream. I think I can get a lot of yardage out of it and then I have to see whether I ply it with itself or with some silk or other fiber.

The supported spindling gave my hands a rest. They were hurting from the ruffle on the shawl. The first few rows require a huge increase in the number of sts. The first row triples the number and then the third row adds another 66%. This makes the row very tight and that was causing my fingers and elbows to hurt. I find that working with different fiber techniques reduces the potential for repetitive stress injuries by working the muscles differently. After another day of rest today, I will be ready to tackle the ruffle again.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The last addition to the stable

The last spindle acquisition arrived yesterday. She is beautiful also. The spindle maker is Neal Brand. Again, I happened to be around when he updated his shop and while I didn't get my first choice, I got the second. I accidentally selected Visa first instead of PayPal and just backtracking slowed me down enough that my first choice sold before I could pay for it.

She has a lovely walnut burl whorl,
a graceful shaft,
and a tapered tip.
She is a lightweight supported spindle in the Tibetan style. And that is it! I am content to learn on these spindles and master supported spindling.

I have been knitting rather than spinning the past few days. I am on the last bit of the purple triangle shawl I've been working on. I wanted to use up all the beads I bought so I counted sts, counted beads and came up with a beaded pattern to use up the majority of the beads. This is a closeup of the pattern.
Which brings me to my question: this is the first time that I am adding beads that match the knitting. Usually I choose beads that stand out. I am not sure I like this as much because you are doing a lot of work for not as much value. What do you think? Do you prefer this sort of subtle beaded look or do you prefer beads that sparkle and stand out in the work? I don't think one is better than the other, just different.

Finally, here is a view of the shawl as a whole so far.
Upside down, of course. You can see the beads in the triangle at the bottom. The beads match the multi-colored variegated yarn I used and I put them in the purple variegated to bring the multi-colors into the purple.

The final part is a ruffle. So it will take a long time to finish. I just tripled the number of sts in the first row!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Are you tired of spindles yet?

I thought I should 'fess up to all my recent spindle purchases. Of course you know I have a bunch of trindles and a Jenkins Kuchulu. Well, I loved spinning on the Kuchulu so much that I bought these.
A lovely little Jenkins Holly Delight. I happened to be on the web when these became available. This is at the same time that I bought the Malcolm Fielding dervish.
Here is her older brother....
A Swan in Zebrawood.

A few weeks earlier I bought this green and yellow Russian...
And, with her, a lovely wrist distaff in rosewood
I haven't started spinning on any of these yet because I want to pack them as is and take them to Shanghai with me.

I have one more spindle on the way - a Tibetan. So that is the end of my confessions.

Friday, November 30, 2012

A dervish has landed

In case you had not noticed, I am obsessed with supported spindles lately. Spindling in general, and supported spindles in particular. The process of spinning on them is very efficient and I like being able to sit and spin anywhere. I like drop spindles because I can stand up and walk around while spindling and posturally that is better. But being able to sit and spin is also nice.

There are some supported spindle makers whose spindles are prized and availability is limited because their spindles sell out as soon as they are listed. I have been fortunate in the past few weeks to catch a couple of these updates and succeed in snatching up a spindle or two.

Yesterday, one of these arrived from Tasmania. The maker is Malcolm Fielding and my style of spindle is called the dervish.

The shaft is a manufactured wood called Dymondwood to ensure that it is straight and doesn't warp. The whorl is made of silky oak and I think it is beautiful.

Malcolm sent along some Tasmanian Corriedale with it and I couldn't resist starting to spin. The fiber is luscious. It is silky and drafts like butter.
I also stopped at Goodwill and found this nice solid saucer for $0.69. I actually paid $0.67 because I am over 55. It is heavy so will sit firm while I spin on it. The spider bowl that I was using makes noise as the disco balls on my trindle hit it. So it will be good for the other spindles. I like spinning supported spindles on my leg but the trindle is also very sharp so if I am wearing a softer material on my legs, it pokes through and hurts. Jeans work very well for spinning without discomfort but other pants don't. This saucer will be perfect for the trindle.

Over the weekend, I will show you my newly enlarged spindle stable so you can see how far down the rabbit hole I have fallen.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Faux rolags take 2

I managed to finish spinning the first set of faux rolags I made. I had to rotate the rolag so that the fiber was always presented sideways to the orifice because it would clump up and the fiber would start feeding in straight. That does not work with long draw. Also this merino is sticky. I don't know if it is typical of merino or not. I've spun merino/silk and that drafts much easier. This is 100% merino and it doesn't draft easily at all. But it isn't felted or matted either.
 This is the finished single. Not easy to spin but will make a nice softly spun yarn.

I made more faux rolags with the second half of the fiber for the second single. I modified the process slightly.
 First of all, I used a little skinny rolling pin. That made smaller rolags and I'm hoping these will work better. The previous ones were too large.

Initially, I tried to just pull the fiber apart width-wise and roll it up.
But it made a pretty wide rolag and it didn't roll up neatly on my pin.

 Then I stripped the fiber in half lengthwise and then spread it out and pre-drafted it. I thought this might help the sticking. So I not only pre-drafted lengthwise but I pulled it apart width-wise.
 You can see the difference in the before and after strips.
 Then I rolled it in the pin but when I tried to separate it from the main strip, it almost never separated cleanly.
 But I rolled up the excess also into a nice little bundle. Then I slid it off.

And there is the nice pile of rolags. Let's see if these are easier to spin. If not, I will try again with some other fiber but not for a while.