Friday, July 28, 2017

Tour de Fleece results

I am very impressed with my spinning efforts this year. I had two objectives:

  1. Spin the singles for warp and weft for a collapse weave project
  2. Card and spin the locks I dyed at Rhinebeck last year
I achieved both and also spun about 1/3 of 2 Fiber Optic braids that didn't quite match. That will get finished in its own time.

Here are the final results of the Tour de Fleece 2017 for me in pictorial form. The photo represents the state of the spinning at the end of the Tour last Sunday night.

Since then, I have finished all the yarns except for the partially spun red braid.

The carded and spun locks made a nice DK-sport weight yarn. It is difficult to capture the actual color as it is a bit darker than this. It either looks black or it looks a bit too bright like this. I am very happy with it. It has a nice hand. It is a bit lumpy and bumpy but not too much.

I started plying from 3 bobbins, one of which had quite a bit less than the others. When that one ran out, I made a rather large plying bracelet with the larger of the two remaining bobbins and continued spinning a 3 ply. When the bracelet ran out, I used the loop from the end of it to start a chain ply with the last bobbin. Since that was the one where I had started with single color rolags, the chain ply created a single color yarn. You can see that on the coin. The rest of the yarn is marled as the rolags were blended and then they were plied. I am in love with the colors! I also got a lot more yardage than I had thought I would. It is about 132 yards.

Then I finished the weft yarns for the collapse weave. I wound them on a PVC niddy noddy and soaked them while they were on there and let them dry under tension. This was to control the twist so I can weave without getting pigtails in the weave.

Lastly, I finished the warp yarns. These were also wound on the PVC niddy noddy and soaked but then I applied a xanthan gum sizing per Sarah Anderson's Spinner's Book of Yarn Design. She recommends 1 tbsp of xanthan gum to 2 cups of water. The water has to be put into a high speed blender and the blender started. Then the gum is dribbled in from the top opening. This way you get an even mixture or goop as we will call it from now on. That is the goop in a plastic container on the counter.

I had soaked the weft in the bathtub but found it awkward. So this time I brought it down to the utility tub and soaked it there, Then I squeezed out the water as best as I could. I applied 1/4 cup of the goop by hand putting small amounts on each section of the fiber and massaging it in. I squeezed out the excess and ran my hands over the fiber to smooth out any blobs of goop. I left the skein to drip in the tub and then I took it upstairs and stood it up in the guest bathroom sink. I had done this with the weft and I knew that it sat in there very nicely with stability. I was afraid that if I left it in the utility tub, someone would run water over it accidentally.

I finished the Z-spun warp first and it was dry in 2 days. As it dried, I went by periodically and made sure that strands weren't sticking to each other. I wound this skein as I normally do, tightly. I found that it was difficult separating strands when it was wound so tightly. I had,  I also wound it with strands overlapping each other. Fortunately, tied the figure-8 ties loosely. I always do that so that the twist and the water can get in under the ties.
It is stiff but each strand is separate. Sarah Anderson recommends winding it into a ball which I will do before I warp.

Today I repeated the process with the S-spun warp. I wound the skein much more loosely and also made sure to lay each strand next to the previous one making sure they didn't overlap. That made it easier to separate the strands after the goop was applied. I will continue to separate them as it dries. It looks exactly like the skein above. I made sure to label the first skein so I wouldn't get them mixed up.

My plan is to alternate the S and the Z spun warps with the Z-spun threaded more loosely on the heddle and the S-spun threaded at double the density or sett. The relative sizes of these that I found aesthetically pleasing was 1" with the wider sett and 1/2" with the denser sett. I am thinking I will use a 10 dent heddle. I need to calculate how wide and long I can make it now that i know how much yardage i have. I need a wide sett to provide space for the weave to collapse but I also want some structure. I don't want it all to collapse into a crumpled ball!

This is the look I am aiming for but doing it on both the warp and the weft. In the sample, I only did it in the weft.
If you look at the top, I have done the 1" loose and the 1/2" dense. The bottom was done with 1" each and I didn't like that. The denser sett reduces the collapse providing the ripples. I am also alternating the S and Z spun warps so that the twist pulls the fabric in opposite directions, again providing some structure.

But it is all a big experiment so it will be interesting so see how it turns out. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Tour de Fleece 2017 progress

It is amazing what you can get done when you are not at work all day!

I have been spinning every day and as a result have made a lot of progress on a number of fronts. The warp and the weft for the collapse weave project are all spun. I even have a PVC niddy noddy ready to finish the yarn to be ready for weaving (more on that below). I finished this so fast that I added another project to my TdF list this year.

 These are the two halves of the weft. I divided the braid in two so I would get shorter color runs which would ensure that I was able to fit the entire gradient into the project. I can always add more colors from the other half as needed.

 This is the Z spun warp. I am hoping to use just this for the warp but I have a backup plan in case I need more yardage.

I have some S spun singles from the sampling back in March. I spun some more in the S direction so that I can alternate S and Z spun singles if I need more yardage.

Next up on these is to set the twist temporarily so that I am able to weave without getting pigtails from the twist. I had a problem with this when I wove the samples. I thought that letting the singles rest would make the twist dormant enough. But it didn't. So now I am going to wind the singles onto a PVC niddy noddy and wet and dry them under tension. Additionally, I will add a sizing to the warp so it will have a bit more strength and will move through the heddle more easily. I am planning to use a xanthan gum solution for sizing. This will wash out when the woven item is wet-finished.

There is the PVC niddy noddy. I need this because my wood one will absorb the water and could get damaged by the damp. I also took this opportunity to make a 2 yd niddy noddy. My wood one makes 30-32" skeins, not quite 2 yds.

I also am carding and spinning the locks i dyed. I initially thought I'd keep the colors separate but I prefer to let them get blended or stay separate rather randomly so I am doing it as they come to hand.
I pick, I card, and I spin. Then I repeat. This keeps my hands from getting too sore from one activity.

A couple of piles of rolags.

And here's the yarn.
That is one full bobbin on the left and the second bobbin I started on the right. I am spinning this on the Tina II and loving the process of treadling. I think I am going to keep a carding project going on the Tina II while I spin top on the Hansen.

Since these are going so fast, I decided to add in a third project. I have these two braids which are both the same red but one is cool and one is warm. Here they are.
 The two braids where you can see the difference. To make sure that they don't clash, I am drafting them together so that the final yarn will have bits of each read blended together.

 This is how I hold the two braids. I divided each braid into 4 width-wise and am holding the entire width of each braid in my hand and drafting.

Here is one quarter of the project done. This is 2 oz. 1 oz from each braid.

Lastly, I finished the color gamp Shetland scarf. I wanted to get it done so the loom will be free for the collapse weave project in August.

I got tired of changing the weft every 1.5" so after doing 1 set of each color, I started doing 4.5" (3x1.5) stripes in the middle. Two sets of those and then a repeat of the 1.5" stripes on the other end. I am in love with the way the Shetland looks and feels in this scarf. I have more of the Harris tweed Shetland yarn and I am going to weave more scarves with it.

I also splurged and bought a lovely new supported spindle. I haven't used it yet but I think that after the Tour de Fleece is done, I am going to spend some time spindling.
It is from Glasspins, by Mingo and Asho. They had a sale on. The glass focal is a red and gold swirl but I love the body. It is bird's eye maple. My favorite wood.

Next time I hope to show you the finished warp and weft for the collapse weave and even maybe a plied yarn from the locks. 

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Tour de Fleece 2017

The Tour de France started yesterday and in parallel, our Tour de Fleece started at the same time. This is the first year I am going to be home for the whole tour and since I recently retired, I am hoping to get a lot of spinning in the next 4 weeks.

I had a plan for the major project I wanted to do but I didn't work out the details till sometime between Friday and Saturday. I like to learn during the TdF by doing something new to me and over the years I've learned a lot of techniques this way - long draw, ply-on-the-fly, extremely fine spinning, etc. This year's project was to spin for a collapse weave scarf or shawl. Remember all the samples I made? They were to figure out what I wanted to do.

I have a secondary project that I want to do - spin from the lock with fiber I have processed myself.  This is in case I get bored or finish the collapse weave spinning too quickly. Since I am spinning singles for collapse weave, it goes fast. No plying!

Therefore the first factor in selecting fiber is the objective of the project. The second factor is what equipment I will use. When I travel, I am limited to spindles. Since I am home this year, I can use my e-spinner and my wheel. I am going to do the collapse weave yarn on the e-spinner and the spinning from the locks on the wheel.

The third factor is what teams I can be on. I try to double up on teams for the same projects :-) This year they are Team Footloose (e-spinner), Teams Fiber Optic and Gorgeous Gradients, and Team DIY and Dye.

 This is the gray Corriedale I bought in New Zealand. I used it for the collapse weave samples and spun a S-twist singles. This time I am going to spin it Z-twist so that I have the option of alternating S and Z twist in the warp. I may not do it or I may. But if I have singles with twist in both directions, I have options. I also have a lot of this so I don't mind giving some of it up to loom waste. :-) This will be the warp for my shawl/scarf.

 I had spun a bit of this before yesterday, but very little. Rather than starting a new project, I thought I'd continue with it and spin singles for the weft. I had split it into two and that is why I was torn about using it. But I decided that it was for the better. If I spin it completely end to end, I am tied to the length of the transitions as they appear. By stripping it vertically, I reduce the length of the color repeats. This means that I will get all the colors in a scarf or, if I end up doing a shawl, I can remove the last color from the second half and weave it in reverse to make a mirror-image shawl. So I'd start with gray (say) and weave to the magenta, Take off the magenta from the other singles and weave back to gray. Or just weave to the blue, remove the magenta from both singles and part of the blue from the second one and weave back to gray. I think it will give me more options. Since I've never done this before, options are good.

 These are the locks I dyed last year at a class in Rhinebeck. I had previously washed the locks so I started the processing with the fleece itself.  I am not sure how I am going to handle the colors. I may just let them come as they may or I might try making a self striping yarn.

 This is the first day's spin. The top is what I had done previously. As you can see, it is very little. I wasn't able to spin yesterday till after dinner but I got a bit more than an hour of spinning in.

 I also went to the yarn store and got photos of myself in the zippered hoodie.

I have made progress on the Grapevine pullover. I am halfway down the first sleeve. I decided to put a band of the lace at around the elbow. I picked a spot where I had the right number of sts for the repeat of the lace and put in an insertion. I will also do the same at the cuff.

No progress on the weaving. I was busy trying to get all the yard-work done before the heat set in in earnest. And I made it. Now I just have to keep the weeds down by doing a patrol every few days and it doesn't take much time to pull out the ones that have sprouted in the mean time. I think my sage is dying though. It is wilted even though I been watering regularly when it hasn't rained. The rest look good.

I am going to try and collect some flowers for dyeing in the winter.