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.