1.29.2010

I'm done shopping now, I swear.

Recent packages recieved, I'm done shopping now. I promise. Forgive the photos, from my cell phone and I need a new one.

First I have a new hooked flyer for my Fidelis spinning wheel from Heavenly Handspinning. The flyer that came with my used Fidelis had clips that you slid along the flyer to adjust where the yarn winds onto the bobbin, however the wood was getting deformed and only one side worked any more, the other side had the clip sliding with the slightest amount of tension. I did everything in my power (and you know I have a LOT of power) to make it stay and it worked for minutes at a time. Therefore an upgrade was necessary for a flyer with fixed hooks. I also bought some spare bobbins, because who can't use another bobbin and I wanted to ship together.
This is followed by some roving I bought from a de-stashing fellow Raveller. She had lots of pretty stuff, but I only bought blends that I felt it would be uncomfortable for me to create. I am not so great with the hand cards yet.

Fergus has been born. The Targhee that was dyed green is dry. And beautiful. Probably destined to be a green tam, hopefully in time for St Patrick's Day. Hence the name Fergus.  In other news, Special K's Buttony is off the blocking board.  I had several minor catastrophes all of which will be documented and then glossed over later.  I must attach my fasteners and it will be good to go.  I hope.

1.24.2010

Plying and Color Games

I finished spinning and plying my Targhee top last night. I had thought a two ply was what I wanted but there wasn't enough twist to get a yarn that I liked. I am beginning to think that I should always run my singles through the wheel a second time to add a little extra twist. That doesn't sound like a lot of fun.

So my swift is a piece of junk. As I wind it starts to collapse so each wrap is smaller than the last until loos wraps are falling off the bottom and tangling up. I'm pretty angry and decided I need to build one as mentioned before, or build a niddy noddy. I did find a substitute last night that worked out very well. It was the lid to one of my Rubbermaid bins.It worked out fantastic and gave me a nice long skein.
This picture was taken before going to sleep. It was plied and wrapped around the lid. It rest over night before I got to more fun stuff.
In the morning I thwacked it and decided to dye it. Now special thanks to Susan who pointed out to me (the painter in this house of all people) that just because I have yellow dye, doesn't mean I have to ever dye anything yellow.

While debating what color I wanted I mentioned that I have two different blues, two different reds, black and yellow. I hate the color yellow, I just did red yarn, I really have no use for black and blue is so cliche (not really, I just didn't know why I didn't want it). To which the ever intelligent Susan replied, "Don't you like green?"

"Why yes, I love green, but I don't have green..."

"Ah Ha! I have green!"

So I eyeballed it. A little blue, a little yellow, a little more blue, a little more yellow. But maybe I should have loosened the ties around my skein a little bit.
In an effort to correct this spotted tragedy I moved the ties and tried to over dye. It didn't come out perfect and even, but much more subtle anyway.
Lets not forget those three little sample skeins I made. I dyed them black last week to learn the process. A few notes, I had way way way too much dye in the pot. The water poured out with a lot of color in it still. The green however, was much clearer when I dumped it out. I think this means I had a better yarn to dye ratio. For those that are unfamiliar with the dye process, the clearer the water, the more color was taken up by the fiber and the less you have wasted. These are likely destined to become a potholder. Maybe with the brioche stitch. Who knows.

1.22.2010

The Rough Treatment

I wash my hands a lot when I am working on fiber projects and I am (probably overly) concerned about passing odors into the fiber. I might be a little unreasonable about it, but I don't care. As a result my hands get dry and stiff and I just don't like it.

But now, my hands have never felt so smooth. I ordered Shea Butter Spinners Balm - Lavender Lemongrass from Bohemiafibers on Etsy.  Oh it smells so good!Image from Bohemiafibers's Etsy Shop

The day I got it I exfoliated my hands by scrubbing with some salt and almond oil. Olive oil could easily have substituted for the almond. Rinsed them and coated them heavily with the spinners balm and gloved them overnight. Since that night I have applied much smaller amounts to my hands an hour or so before setting to my spinning.

It is a balm so it is thick and a little oily. I wouldn't want to apply it immediately before a project. When I need to maintain my dexterity/grip but still moisturize I use Neutrogena Hand Cream. My grandmother carries this on her and has since I was a little kid. I have always loved the smell and the feel of her hands. It is thick but absorbs well. I think I have six or seven tubes floating around the condo as well as one in my desk at work and another in my purse.

In Knitting News: I started and nearly finished already another Buttony sweater (Cause I already made myself one once).  This time for my baby sister in Wool-Ease Chunky Spice.  I'm making it long with short sleeves.  I kept forgetting to put in button holes so I have stopped.  I am instead going to sew in one of those hook and eye bands.  It is from stash yarn (look at well behaved me) and is just zooming along.

I continue to knit my Aunt's Silver Scarf.  Just slowly.  Most of my knitting time lately has been at social events or Saturdays on the trolley to work Harbor Excursions Whale Watching trips.  I would love to finish this before scarf weather is over in Boise, however, I am just bored with the pattern.  Which I thought would be impossible.

And Finally, In Spinning News: Last night I finished spinning the Targhee top I purchased earlier.  It is a very fine an evenly spun single compared to my other work, but not lofty at all.  Slightly dense.  As a result I have decided to make a it a 2 ply to preserve as much length as possible and hopefully make it suited to a lace project.  I think it will have an absolutely fantastic drape when knit up.  If only I knew someone interested in lace knitting. I know I'm really not.

Supported spindle progresses foot by foot late at night in my bed.  I still love the process, however I have discovered my roommate's cat Scoffield is a totally pain in my elbow (literally) when I do it in the living room.  I had to throw it him from under my arm and behind me several times.  Is he interested? Or does he enjoy bugging me?

1.19.2010

In today's mail

More fiber from the Sheep Shed Studio arrived at work today. Until I can get home to take better pictures, this crappy cell phone image will have to tide you over...

1.17.2010

More Spinning

So I take back what I said about the Targhee top. I do love the yarn that is coming out of it, but moderate crimp is not the description for this. Of my limited wool experience it has very low crimp. That can be a problem when it breaks, which happens to me a lot. I have a really hard time getting the roving re-attached to the single on the bobbin. I'm getting frustrated quickly, but plodding along. It is just taking me much longer than previous singles have.

However, I have some yarn porn for you. The red roving I bought on
Both of the above were navajo plied which was a new technique to me and I really enjoyed it. It is a way to produce a 3ply yarn from just one single. It really is an amazing process. For those of you crocheters out there is it basically like making a giant crochet chain and twisting it together.

I have been spinning on a supported spindle as well. Largely because at the end of the day when I get ready to go to sleep I can spin in bed while I watch a little TV and spin as little or as much as I want. I am using wool I bought in Boise, ID at Fuzz. I really don't know what it is. The hand written tag says Kraemer but I have no idea what that means. No matter what, I love it.

1.14.2010

Ravelympics 2010

The Ravelymics are a knitting/spinning/crochet challenge.  While not being particularly clear on all the details, the point is that the crafter challenges his/herself to learn or complete a new technique or massive project during the Olympics.  For instance, If you have never done cables before you might try an Aran sweater, from start to finish during the Olympics, beginning with the opening ceremony and ending with/by the closing ceremony.

I love the idea of crafters challenging themselves to learn something new or push their skills to the limit.  I'm also a big fan of a project that allows me to sit in front of the TV for two weeks straight.

However, I am not participating in the Ravelympics this year.  Actually probably never.  I do not deal well with deadlines and when I set myself a time line I always get bored and resent the project.  Some examples the Juno Regina lace, mohair, bead project, my aunt's silver scarf sitting at 2/3rds complete or better yet Sylvi which has been sitting 3/4 finished  and partially blocked next to my bed for MONTHS.

I guarantee however, if I was participating, it would be a spinning/dying project.  Obsessed much?

I know several people who flourish under deadlines, Krissy (whether she likes it or not, she does) and Susan is fantastic at a challenge, really only producing finished projects under deadlines (Sweater a Month project in 2007 anyone? Couldn't find a link for that, but it was awesome.).  I hope they take up the torch and can't wait to see what they pump out.



1.13.2010

Targhee



I bought this 1/2 lb of Targhee top on Etsy from jamielyncohoon, not really knowing what it was. I got it in the mail this morning and I am in love. So I looked it up. It only got better.

Targhee is a very young breed of sheep named for the area it was bred in near Dubois, Idaho at the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station.  It was a cross between Lincoln, Ramboullet and Corriedale sheep.  The sample I am holding in my hand is a long staple, super soft, moderately crimped fiber that I imagine feels like a cloud next to the skin.  I am so excited to spin this up, maybe blended with some tencel fiber I have standing by at home for some excellent drape.

Nice work Idaho!

1.12.2010

Branson, Adam and All My Love

I decided to set the twist on some of my handspun this weekend and for your enjoyment, I finally took some pictures.

This young man was named Branson from a little while back. Two ply from Brown Sheep mill ends I purchased online from The Sheep Shed Studio. They cannot give me any information of content other than "wool". Doesn't bother me though, it is a great way to get a hold of cheap roving and I love Brown Sheep yarn so I'm happy with the quality.

Branson is followed by a skein I call Adam (yes I am sure someday I will stop naming individual skeins, but for now, they are my babies). Adam is a three ply made from the same roving that Branson was spun from. However, I Navajo plied it. I really am a dumbass. I mean I love the 3 ply BUT I wanted two matching skeins so they could be used together. I think it is pretty clear from the below photo that it will be impossible to use them interchangeably. The 3 ply is much chunkier. Oh well. The 3 ply will soon be working its way to my friend Krissy (writer of the fabulous Bus Stop Comic) who has been a crocheting fiend lately.
I am disappointed in it. I need to slow down during plying, especially Navajo plying, there are places that are more tightly twisted then others, but I will keep throwing yarn at Krissy until she has something high quality to work with.

While all of those are drying in my bathroom I started spinning up some mystery wool I purchased on Etsy.com hand dyed by craftypuppylover called All My Love. It varies from pink to fire engine red and looks to me exactly like Valentine's Day.

I don't have pictures but when I finished spinning up the All My Love I started on a purple roving I also bought from craftypuppylover called d'yer ma'ker. It is variegated dark purple, light purple and reds. I had toyed with the idea of plying the red and purple together but both colors are so saturated I just didn't like the sample I made so they will be individual skeins instead. Only four ounces and probably Navajo plied.

I am toying with the idea of making myself a large wooden swift like thing. I thought about a niddy noddy as I believe I mentioned but it would be much more useful if it would spin. I have an umbrella swift, but I am not happy with the way it attaches to a table.

These are the parts I am contemplating purchasing 4 lengths of wood (two shorter for base, two longer for arms), 4 dowels to hold the yarn at the end of the dowels, a bolt for the center and probably nylon washers to ease the rotation. Maybe a bearing if I am getting fancy.

I'll keep you posted on plans, costs and my building process. Who knows, maybe I can share a cheap solution, if it actually works out to be such.

1.08.2010

Fiber Limit

I have found the limit to my fiber obsession.

Cleaning and carding is much further than I ever want to go again. Once upon a time, I brought home part of a fleece from New Zealand.  It was beautiful.  And I couldn't wait to start transforming it into magical yarn.

Now at the time, I had never spun before so I don't have the faintest idea what I thought I was doing.  I started cleaning and carding and I wanted to shoot myself in the eye.  It wasn't the smell, it wasn't gross, there was a lot about it that I actually enjoyed.  However, I scalded myself horribly, felted several sections of the fleece and carding is so slow and boring that I decided then and there that it was something I would probably never do again.

Never say Never right?  Besides the burning of myself and the felting (I know I would get better with practice) I didn't mind the cleaning process.  Carding I will never want to do again.  I can tell you that.  But why would I clean the fleece only to be unable/unwilling  to take the intermediate step that would allow me to get back to the fun spinning part.  Someday I might work that out.  I don't think a big, bulky and expensive drum carder is the answer, I don't plan on processing that many fleeces.

Anyway this brings me to the point of my story.  Remember last time I told you about the new drop spindle I purchased and used as a supported spindle?  It came with some sample fiber.  Being (what I thought) was awesome, Melody also threw in some alpaca.  I couldn't spin it to save my life.  

**NOTE: I don't think this reflects poorly on Melody.  She was great and I wasn't purchasing this fiber, it was just something she threw in.  I remain satisfied with my purchase**

I have fine, stick straight brown hair and it looked like I had been to the hairdresser and the locks on the floor were bagged up.  The fiber was stick straight with absolutely no crimp in it.  When I tried to spin it up it was dense, slippery and lots of sharp ends were poking out.

After posting on Ravelry forums about fiber preparation, I learned that it was likely Suri fleece from the leg area.  I could probably have blended it with something else by carding it together with wool, and I tried carding a little bit of the alpaca to see what would result but it did nothing to help the fiber.  It had a hard time sticking to the card at all.   That combined with my hatred for the last time I carded prompted me to toss it in the garbage.  It was a hassle I didn't want to deal with.

1.05.2010

Supported Spindle and Navajo Ply - The Challenge Results As Well

So spinning has been on my brain more or less since I left San Diego and my wheel behind over three weeks ago. I returned Saturday to spend all Sunday in bed watching Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and spinning with my brand new (purchased on etsy.com over my holiday) bottom whorl spindle. I bought one from Melody with a sharpened point. My plan was to give supported spindle spinning a try. Supported spindle spinning was introduced to me through YouTube with videos like these...





And I was highly intrigued. I like drop spinning, but I also like sitting in bed. As far as I could tell most supported spindles were sharpened and with a bottom whorl or a weighted body about the middle. I figured if I had a good point to spin on, why would I need to buy one special for $20 plus.

The spindle I purchased came with some sample wool so I got started right away without wasting good roving. I would like to point out if you consider purchasing from Melody, which I recommend highly, that the sample wool has a lot of vegetable matter in it. Not a big deal as it is only a sample to learn on, not roving for an heirloom project. But you might not want to spin it in bed. There was a lot of straw around me when I was through.

I have three pieces that resulted. The first is two ply and a little bumpy.

The second I tried my hand at Navajo plying. (Not me spinning, just an example of the Navajo plying process)



Navajo plying uses a single ply to create a three ply yarn. It makes a giant crochet chain which is spun together. The second sample is so much better. Whether it is because it is Navajo plied or because it was my second attempt spinning resulting in a higher quality single, I don't know. I do know that I am highly looking forward to Navajo plying on the spinning wheel.

The third I spun twice and Navajo plied it. Of course this one is even better than the last. I really think the added twist of the second spinning helped. However, boring, boring job. I think I would just much rather pay better attention on the first spin and spin it tighter.

Next step will be to thwack the samples. I have never done that before and I am anxious to see if it makes a big difference in the quality of the yarn. For the Non Spinners (very recently, so was I) that means wetting the yarn and beating the crap out of it. Supposedly it helps set and evenly distribute the twist, kind of like blocking a knit project.

(I'm beginning to think I need a niddy-noddy. Project plans have been swarming my brain.)

I don't have pictures for you right now. Because you all know how terrible I am at taking pictures, I'm lazy and only get to thinking about it at night. Anyway, it will be worth it when I do get pictures up. For Christmas, my parents (think Mom, she pays a little more attention) got me a Jacquard Acid Yarn Dye Starter Kit from KnitPicks.com. It is currently in the mail (I didn't have room in my luggage for the lovely, lovely presents I got back home) and should be arriving later this week. Then the plan is to try my hand at dying with the three samples I just made.

(Got a cordless drill from my brother-in-law in the package as well. It might help me build a niddy-noddy. Can you tell I got it on the brain?)

I am so excited!

OK. For those anxiously awaiting update on The Challenge. It could totally have happened. I had plenty of time. I got to the waist in one flight, however I realized the brilliant pattern idea I had was resulting in a biased pattern. Not a big deal if you have allowed enough stitches for that. Which I hadn't. I didn't have the heart to rip it out on the plane and start all over so instead I took a nap.

The whole project is sitting to one side right now and if I have enough time to unpack this weekend I'll just wind up all the yarn and pack it away to start again another time. I did love the yarn and I know I'm going to love the sweater I finish with it. However, it's a little warm in San Diego right now and warm knits have completely exited my brain. I need to get North for proper inspiration.

1.02.2010

The challenge

Recycle a bulky thrift store sweater which lies in my carry on luggage. I have already ripped out the neck and knit a swatch (unblocked, but I have a good guess.). Can I design a top down raglan hoodie before my flight boards in half an hour and finish before I arrive home in 12 hours?


C'mon folks, can she do it? Lets take some bets.