Monday, September 19, 2016

New beginnings (spinning, knitting, book)

I finally have caught the spinning bug again. It started with the Spindolyn checkout and that reawakened the joy that spinning brings to my brain. While I don't seem to have the energy to do much in the evenings after work, I find that spinning late at night when I can't sleep works best for keeping the snacking monster at bay. I am really working on eating just 3 meals a day with nothing in between so snacking at night is a no-no.

I couldn't sleep last Tuesday night. I was up till 2 am in the morning and finished spinning the mystery fiber I got with the Spindolyns.

That is the cop on the Spindolyn. It went very well. I then wound off the cop onto a center pull ball and then wound that into a 2 strand plying ball so that I could divide the fiber evenly into 2 halves to make a 2-ply yarn.

To prevent the ball from collapsing, I left the center core from the ball winder in. I wound the plying ball onto a tennis ball so that the singles would stay nice and even. Sometimes I use styrofoam balls covered with bits of handspun yarn. 

There's the fully wound plying ball with the empty ball winder core. Then I couldn't sleep last night and plied the yarn on the Hansen Classic mini-spinner.

I haven't wound it off and finished it yet but it is yarn. 

I also took the Nano Trindle on a trip to the spinning guild meeting. We meet in a historic inn and I like to take spindles with me so I can not only spin during the business meeting but also walk around and spin while everyone else is eating and during the mini-workshops we run. This time the event was a Spin-in to collect money for the local 4-H shepherds. A couple of our members volunteered to donate $2 per spinner for the 30 min Spin-in. Plus, some of us also donated some money to the 4-H clubs. While we were spinning, we were entertained by jokes, spinning quizzes, information on ergonomic spinning, and prize drawings. 

I photographed the Nano against a dish at the inn. I wanted to get some of the historic aspects but there was too much rough wood and dust and the Nano is tiny and filled with cashmere/silk.

I also spun some more on Saturday afternoon when a friend visited. She brought me this luscious yarn.

I was nominally a member of Team Trindle for the Tour de Fleece, so I got a present from the sponsors. That was very sweet of them, given that I had not spun at all during the TdF. But they are very nice people. Jeremy, aka Trindleman, repaired my Nano last year for no charge when the hook came off during last year's Tour de Fleece. And he has replaced other shafts that split. Cat, aka Mrs. Trindleman, made me a lovely batt. It came accompanied by a bracelet which makes a great distaff and a card.

On the knitting front, I ripped out the shawl and restarted it. The increase rate on the edges is very high so the edge was tight and I was afraid it would not block properly and pucker. I am re-doing it with a yo at the edge that I drop on the subsequent row. This adds more yarn to the edge and allows it to stretch to accommodate the extra sts.
That's the current state of the shawl. Compare that edge with the one from before at roughly the same size.

See how much tighter the edge is? It is worth it to rip and re-knit and get the result one wants. 

Last night I also spun a little on the Gotland and am anxious to complete it so I can move on to spinning other things. Sadly, it all looks very much the same as it did when I left it so I didn't take any more pictures. 

Finally, a new book arrived today. Janine Bajus, aka the Feral Knitter, has finally completed and is mailing out her book. This is the essence of her 3-day 'Design your Own Fair-Isle sweater' in a book. I've never had the opportunity to take the class so I will be studying the book. I am anticipating diving into it with excitement.

I think I will knit a little more on my shawl and then head for bed with my new book. 

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Locks and locks

Last weekend, I spent some time spinning on one of my new Spindolyn spindles. I also pulled out the Nano Trindle that was repaired last year and started spinning on it again. And I continued to package up fleece for washing. So 3 new spinning things in one weekend. That is what happens when you have a 3 day weekend.

First up the Spindolyn. I took one of the pieces of fiber that was used to pack them and started spinning to see how it worked. I am quite impressed with my own speed. Since I don't have to support the spindle with my hand once it is spinning, I can use both hands for drafting so I am able to draft top much faster and with a more consistent grist. Usually I find this goes slow on a supported spindle. Roving and rolags or clouds go much faster as the supported spindle is really good for long draw. If I spin from top, I usually do it over the fold and that takes time as I run out of fiber and have to grab another staple length to fold.

Here, I just drafted straight from the length of fiber and kept going. So it went very fast. I am impressed. Next up, I am going to try some silk I have which I want to spin thin to go with some Corriedale that I spun on my supported spindle when I was learning. I will ply them together and make a scarf or something.
 That was in about 2 hours

This was at the end of the weekend, after a few more hours. You can see the difference in the length of fiber attached to the cop.

I spun a little on the Nano at my sister's where we went for dinner. The dog thought the spindle was her toy so I had to stop shortly after. She's a bit exuberant to say the least and doesn't have very much self-control although they are working with her. When she gets excited, she forgets all her training.
That is the Nano and the fiber with a coffee mug for scale.

Finally, I continued packaging up the Finn lamb fleece I bought over the summer. One of my guild members raises Finn sheep. She had brought in a fleece for someone who didn't want all of it so she offered me the remainder. I thought it was 2 lbs but I'm not so sure any more. It seems endless!

I started packing clumps of locks into laundry bags as I thought I might want to spin from the lock. This preserves them the best so I have the widest set of options for further processing. I can spin from the lock, comb or card. But previous experience has taught me that if I just put the into bags they all get jumbled. So I thought I'd sew them into the bags. I did the first lot on Memorial Day weekend.
 That is the fiber. It is a lovely brown color.
 This is my first set of bags with the sewing. My first thought was actually barrettes. Clip on and clip off. But they didn't hold. So I sewed with a polypropylene thread so I could just unravel it when I was done. It took too long! I only created 4 bags in the course of most of a day. All the supplies are from the dollar store.

I took a picture of the locks outside the bag as you can see the crimp and lovely lock structure much better. It is very soft and crimpy.

After that day, I needed more bags and I thought of safety pins! So I went and stocked up at the dollar store. This is faster. I make 4 pockets side by side across the bag with the pins, put the fiber inside, close up that set of pockets with pins, make 4 more and repeat.

In a couple of hours I had 4 more bags filled. But there is more fiber! Once they are all packed up, I can pull out a couple of bags at a time and wash them in the evenings when it is dark. The VM and bits of stray stuff gets tossed outside rather than having to be swept up inside.  It also keeps the smelliness outside.

I have some Cormo fiber I bought at Rhinebeck last year that needs the same treatment. But it is only 1 lb. I will have to weigh this after I am done to see if my 2 lbs was on target or not.

It is supposed to be nice tomorrow so I might try and finish this up then. If I have bags left, I will move on to the Cormo. Else it will have to wait till this is all washed and out of the bags.

Finally some eye candy from my train trip yesterday along the Hudson river.
 These two are around Bear Mountain bridge.

 That is Bannerman Castle.
Going under the Newburgh Beacon bridge.

That's all for today! I've been very chatty.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Gold silk, beads, and spindles

I started knitting my silk shrug and it is progressing along well.  This is a picture from earlier in the week. It is a bit bigger now but the same shape.

I also managed to photograph the Czech beads I bought on vacation to make jewelry
 This lot is meant to be used together. I also have some gold beads and some clear beads with gold crackle that might be nice to combine. The beads on top are hand made and the rest are machine made.
This is the second set I bought to mix with some other beads that I have. I can't really tell what is going to look nice till I put them all together because the sizes and proportions and the colors all make a huge difference to how they look. The ones on the top left are tear drop shaped. I got them all at Miss Bijoux. The store is right on Wenceslas Square, which is very convenient for anyone who is going as a tourist. That is right on the tourist track so easy to get to.

I haven't been spinning at all which is strange since I love it. I have been very tired in the evenings and weekends have been jam packed with yard work, preserving CSA produce, exercise, etc. I made some herb salt using this recipe, which is for basil salt. Mine is about 90% basil but I threw in some rosemary, lavender, sage and oregano just to add some other notes. I used this recipe vs. the one I used last year because this uses more herbs. My basil is growing like Jack's beanstalk this year. I have already frozen pesto twice, and basil mixed with olive oil twice and that is about all I can use. It suddenly struck me that I could make salt now and give it as Christmas gifts later. So I did.

I also dried mint leaves for tea and will be drying sage leaves this weekend just for cooking.
Those two jars in the back are the basil/herb salt. The rest is the mint.

I got a spiralizer on Amazon Prime day and have been spiralizing everything since. Mostly zucchini. It is a great lunch alternative to soup. I make stir fries, thai curry, Mediterranean flavored, etc. veggie noodles and divide them up for lunches during the week.

And since I haven't been spinning, I decided to indulge in a little spinning retail therapy and bought these 5 gorgeous Spindolyn spindles. I like supported spindling in odd moments and am hoping that this will help me get more into it. These are all made from American woods.
They have a base so can sit beside you and the hook on top means that you can draft against it instead of a pure long draw as with other supported spindles. Now I need to get back to spindling! With my new Hansen Pro, that is two sets of tools that I need to play with.

But I've been mostly just knitting at night while listening to podcasts or reading a book.

My plan for the weekend is finish making packets out of my Finn lamb fleece so I can start to wash them as it gets colder. To preserve the lock structure, I am putting them in large mesh laundry bags with safety pins separating them from each other. It was too much work to sew them into bundles and the pins work quite well. This way I can wash 2-3 packets in a sitting and let them dry without having to handle the locks and mess them up. I'll get pictures as I make these so you can see what I'm doing.

It is a smelly fleece so I prefer to work outside to make the packets and then i only need to remove what I'm going to wash from the bag. I got half a fleece from a spinning guild member who raises them. I also have a Cormo that I bought last year at Rhinebeck to wash. But the Finn is smellier so I am doing it first.

Have a great Labor Day Weekend everyone!