Sunday, August 31, 2008

A good Yarn

As well as some ok yarns and a fo...

A while back I got dome delicious merino roving from sqhuoosh in the "funny" colorway.

I split it in half and spun one half on my little.8 oz golding tsunami. I then chain plied it on my big spindle. It wasn't perfectly even, and it was definitely better towards the end as I got more comfortable with drafting, and with consistency:


(if you click through, you can get the super huge size of this picture, that I'm using as my current desktop)

the other day while I was surfing Ravelry I found this neat pattern that I though would be perfect for this yarn...


I reduced the stitch count, because I didn't want it to be all big and floppy, and then only knit 1 3/4 repeats instead of the 2 1/4 that the pattern calls for, beaus I ran out of yarn.

Over all I'm pretty happy with the results. This is the first time I've knit with my handspun, and I'm pretty happy with it. All the flaws that bothered me in the yarn are barely noticeable once knit up.

handspun beechwood

I saved the other half of the 'funny' to practice on my wheel spinning on Wednesdays.
I was mostly aiming for something similar to my spindle spun while practicing the supported long draw technique. Because this was only my second and third times spinning on a wheel, there is very little consistency, and it is obviously a 'practice' yarn. Although my chain plying on a wheel is definitely improving, I think I would have had a slightly easier time of it had the lazy Kate been in a different position, but that is easily remedied:

wheelspun funny1

wheelspun funny2

after I finished up the funny I still had a lot of time left, so I grabbed some merino top from Ashland bay in 'snapdragon' and worked on spinning from the fold. And then two plied it.

I definitely like the results from spinning from the fold, very soft and squishy, and by the end I was getting better at the consistency.

The resulting yarn is very obviously 'beginner' but I still like it, it is so soft and squishy and warm. Only have about 50 yards of it, so I'm unsure what to do with it.


(again, if you click through you can get an extra huge version of this for your desktop wallpaper.)

and then I saved the best for last:


remember the chocolate alpaca bon-bons?
this is what became of them.

10 grams, 42 yards of the most delicious soft and fine lace weight yarn.

I know it's not a lot, but the fiber had not been washed before hand so it was really dirty, and spinning it was not all that pleasant. But after a good soak in hot soapy water and a little abuse, this has bloomed into an amazingly soft yarn.

Spun on my golding .8 oz tsunami, Navaho 'ply on the fly'

Saturday, August 16, 2008

new socks for august

pumpkinzigzagsocks front

Both the river rapids socks (pdf) and the zig zag socks from vogue knitting's ultimate socks book, use the same stitch pattern. Technically these socks are nether though. While I used the same stitch pattern, I did these toe up with a short row heel, as I am wont to do.

pumpkinzigzagsocks side

I love them, the pattern was super simple and I had it memorized only a few repeats in.

Yarn: Knit picks essential, in pumpkin
Needles: knit picks 40" circulars in US size 1 1/2 (2.5 mm)

Friday, August 15, 2008

Little chocolate alpaca bon-bons

alpacachocolates full

a couple years ago, when I started spinning, a very nice woman gave me a pillowcase full of alpaca shearing.

I was too inexperienced to know exactly what to do with them, so they sat in my knitting room until recently when I became more confidant in my abilities.

I recently got a pair of dog brushes to use as carders, those are what I used to make the little chocolate alpaca bon-bons. I'm spinning it rather thinly, then Navajo/chain plying it all at once.

the fleece hadn't been washed, so I have to stop every couple of bon-bons to wash my hands, because me fingers begin to get black.

alpacachocolates close

Speaking of spinning, Wednesday after lunch I headed over to the hand weaving museum to join the Wednesday weavers. My spinning teachers get together with a bunch of really nice ladies and weave, and they invited me to come and spin if I wanted. I couldn't go last week. But I made sure my schedule was clear for this week.


This is about 1/3 of the squoosh "funny" that I had left over after I spun half up on my tsunami. (I'm Navajo/chain plying that right now too, but It's going slow). Spun mostly long-draw. Next Wednesday I plan on going back and spinning up the rest. I think I'm going to Navajo ply this batch as well; I definitely need more practice with that technique on the wheel.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

More spinning

I recently learned a new spinning technique called "ply on the fly" essentially you spin a length of singles, then Navajo ply it all at once before winding it onto the spindle. If you are interested there's a video here that shows how to do it.

I really like it because plying this way is (to me) about 10000 times easier than doing it the traditional way of winding the singles into a ball from the spindle and then trying to ply it from there.

When some beautiful grey roving came my way from one of the teachers of my spinning class I saw it as the perfect opportunity to practice my 'ply on the fly' skills.

greywoolfromcanada hank

The original bump of roving was about 3 oz. This skein is only about half of that. I decided to save the rest to practice my wheel spinning tomorrow when I go to the museum for spinning and weaving day. (Every Wednesday, a bunch of ladies get together to weave and spin)

greywoolfromcanada closeup
( I love this picture, I made it my new desktop for a while.)

unlabeled roving from Upper Canada Village it’s very crimpy and there was still a lot of grease left in it, but it spun very easily, and while not amazingly soft, made a nice yarn.

Spun on my big spindle, using "ply on the fly" technique. weight, about 48 yards.

My spinning skills are getting much better lately, not only was I trying out a new technique, but this was the most even and most balanced skein I've spun so far.

And while we are on the topic of spinning...

I've wanted a takli or support spindle for a while. Then I found a group on ravely called DIY tools and got inspired:


It's made from a heavy lampwork glass heart, and two metal beads from my beading stash. Glued onto a US #1 DPN.
The hardest part was bending the hook on the end. And then I had to file it down a bit to smooth it out.

It spins pretty well. I'm still getting used to the whole supported spindle thing. But so far so good.

homemadehearttakli spun

The fiber on it in the picture is Chiengora from the resident fiber dog Cayenne, 'carded' using a pair of dog brushes.

After a while I Navajo plied it up on my golding tsunami, and the resulting yarn is some of the softest and finest I've spun for cayenne's fun yet.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

wheel in the sky keeps on turnin'

Saturday I finally got to take the spinning class at the Hand Weaving Museum.

I've been very excited about this for a while. And they did not disappoint.

We started out with several bags full of wool:
spinningclass wool

Then we picked apart the wool, and fluffed it up:
spinningclass picking

Then we carded the wool:
spinningclass carding

My first batt:
spinningclass batt
I really enjoyed carding, and someday hope to get a drum carder of my own, the possibilities are endless for color combinations and fiber prep.

And the fiber prep it was time to spin:
spinningclass me

(we used Louet S10's btw)

I forgot to take any pictures of my yarn on the bobbin. But I can tell you that wheel spinning is very different from spindle spinning. My mantra of the day seemed to be "there are too many parts!" I got treadling down, but it was difficult to get it going in the right direction, the arm never stopped in the right place, and I had to constantly hand start the wheel. And then half the time I would catch the drive band and it would pop off.

And I kept forgetting to stop and change flyer hooks, and I ended up with lumps. Drafting I was ok with, mostly because of my drop spindle experience. But I didn't get as much practice at the long draw technique as I would have liked. Although they all seemed pretty impressed with how thin I was spinning, it wasn't very even and I ended up with a few lumps every now and then.

Another problem I had was that I kept winding on the yarn before enough twist hand gone in. They started us at the lowest ratio, and I think I would have been happier with a little faster speed, so I could have gotten more twist in before letting it on.

After the spinning it was the plying, which is where I discovered my problem of too little twist. My singles kept drifting apart, so I had to send everything back through again, to try and give it more twist.

Because I was spinning so fine I actually used up all my fiber on one bobbin, but I already knew the gist of plying, and I wanted to see how well Navajo plying worked on the wheel. Navajo, or chain plying is my favorite method of plying on the drop spindle, and I was interested to see how it worked on the wheel.

Getting started was a little fiddlier. But I eventually got started. Boy was it difficult! With the spindle, the weight of the spindle pulls everything down, so when you are making your chains it can't kink up very much, and you also can go slower and make a long chain and then ply them together. With the wheel I didn't have enough pull to really keep everything from kinking up, and it was plying as I was making the chains, so it didn't go as evenly as I would have liked. I think turning up the uptake tension may help a little, and perhaps tensioning the lazy Kate next time as well. But I think I'm just going to need A LOT more practice. Which I don't mind! :)

Here's the finished yarn on the niddy-noddy:
spinningclass yarn

And all skeined up:
spinningclass yarnskein

And finally my two saints of teachers:
spinningclass joan and connie
Joann and Connie

Now that I've taken the class I can go in whenever I want and use one of the museum's wheels. I definitely plan on getting a lot more practice in. especially before October when I go to Rhinebeck, where I plan to hopefully get myself a wheel all of my own.

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