Tag Archives: handspinning

A Study In Scarves

Heavens, it’s been a while! I have a dress to make before the 11th of June, so I will keep my gibbering brief.

The first order of business is that I have renewed the listings in my Etsy shop, and added a whole lot of new inventory, many of which are recent spins! I’m trying to spin 14 pounds of yarn this year and so far, I am just about on track–but it’s quite impossible to use it all myself. My handspun drawer is beginning to overflow, so I really do need to move some of this squooshy stuff.

I’ve been bitten quite badly by the gradients-and-lace bug; this may or may not come up in the future.

Finally, the main point of this post–snowflake twill scarves. I put on a 5-yard 8/2 tencel warp in silver to make two, one with grey laceweight bamboo weft, and one with medium blue 8/2 tencel. Without further ado, the whole affair in photos:

Warp beamed, homemade lease sticks preserving the cross.
Laced onto the front apron rod. (Not pictured: yarn used to lace on breaking after several inches of weaving, requiring hours of careful retensioning.)
Checking for threading errors.
Twoflower’s helpful contribution to the bobbin-winding process.
Hemstitching the end of the first scarf with my non-dominant hand.
It works, after a fashion, but it’s very awkward to manipulate the needle left-handed at the back of the fabric, where I can’t see what I’m doing.
Worth the effort!
Humble beginnings for the second scarf, in very bad light.
And not so humble, after all.
I stopped when I could no longer open a shed, right here.

The graphite scarf already has a loving home, but the blue one is also in the shop!

In Which A New Obsession Looms

My Kromski Harp arrived on October 25th, a day later and a part brokener than expected. One of the ratchets had been cracked in half when it was attached to its beam, making it entirely impossible to assemble,  let alone use.

I called the Woolery the next day (Saturday), and they told me to email them a picture. On Monday, they emailed back saying they would pass it along to the Kromski distributor, who would send a replacement.

I was antsy about it all week. On Thursday (Halloween), the new piece arrived, and within two hours the loom was assembled and within three I was winding a warp. On Friday, it looked like this:

A critical observer may note that the edges are a bit rough and a bit strange. Fear not, critical observer!

They got a little better when I was weaving without paying much attention.

Above, you can see just how wobbly the selvedges were at the beginning, and below, the slightly improved end. They look best around the middle, really, but I’ll show that when I unveil the washed and pressed results (it’s already done, I just need to take pictures).

The whole set-up, there. Note the very wide heddle and the very long stick shuttle on the right side. The upshot here is that I can definitely weave yardage on this baby. Downside? I am short, that stick shuttle is very long, and because I’m dragging it through the shed instead of throwing, it contributes to the strangeness of my selvedges.

No matter, the Husband Creature has offered to make me a fringe twister and some boat shuttles. We shall see how that goes. Might be good to have a model on hand to replicate, though.

From warping to cutting it off the loom, this whole thing took just 4 days.

Straight off the loom, the texture is odd: rough and stiff, in spite of the very soft warp (Knit Picks Stroll Fingering in Aurora Heather). The weft is handspun New Zealand Merino in the colorway “Fangorn” from Lanitium ex Machina, which at 23 microns is on the coarse end of the merino spectrum (but still at the fine end of the wool spectrum).

Since I don’t yet have a fringe twister, I used a binder clip attached to the leader on my Stella to twist my fringe. Here’s that set-up:

I’m already scheming about my next project. And, I don’t want to say too much yet because then I can’t do a dramatic reveal later, but tomorrow, I’m off to Chico to look at (and probably bring home) a potential new addition to my odd little fibery family.

Aside from the weaving, I’ve finished a couple other things. The singles for my “Qarth” gradient are done and rewound for plying. I finished my Rock Island shawl, and it is big and lovely.

The edges aren’t as pointy as I’d have liked, but I expected that, using bamboo instead of wool.

It’s soft and cozy and I adore it.

(Not trying to look “artistic” or anything like the model for the pattern, I swear! Trillian was headed out onto the balcony and I was greeting her.)

I also finished some yarn for my shop!

Just a quick peek for now, I’ll talk more about it in a later post. I have another bobbin already filled for a coordinating yarn, and at least one more to go. Once I’ve wrapped that up, I’ll talk about successes (and sad, disastrous failures) in making coils!

Something Finished, Something New

As promised, I’ve finished some things. First, there are things I finished for my shop:

This is the last 3 ounces of my first Happy Hooves shipment, and I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. I was still feeling pretty impressed with myself a week  after I finished it.

I split the batt in half and spun those halves end-to-end on one bobbin, then strung one half with beads, and plied from two ends of a center-pull ball. The colors wound up aligned almost perfectly with very little assistance on my part, and the result is soft, squishy, and bouncy with just the right amount of sparkle. 218 yards, worsted to aran weight.

Next up in shop stock is the October Happy Hooves batt, “Leaf Peeps,” on polwarth.

It showed up looking roughly like this:

And it went on doing so for a few days.

Just look at those sparkly bits. So sparkly!

But then I suddenly found that I’d finished that first bobbin of Qarth, and in the span of just over 24 hours it stopped looking like that, and suddenly looked like this instead:

I was consciously working on treadling more slowly and drafting more quickly so I didn’t accidentally let them get too thin or overspun.

For the most part, it worked pretty well, and after a soak and some violence against the side of the bathtub, these are some pretty well-behaved fingering weight singles.

538 yards here, soft and sparkly as can be…

…and looking pretty adorable snuggled up with our tiny pumpkin.

I also finally finished plying my ITW “Tuscadero” and baby camel spin, and after lots of time spent skeining and reskeining and counting, there are pictures to prove it!

It’s very feminine, but also nicely subdued.

I love it, but I’m also unbelievably happy to be done with it.

1,480 yards of fingering weight 3-ply can really cramp a person’s hand. I had some awful Plying Claw by the time I got through it all.

Seems Trillian likes this yarn too; she nuzzled at one skein several times, then curled up and used it as a pillow for a while.

On the 6th, I got to go to Lambtown, the lamb festival in Dixon. I got to fuss on 3 different bunnies (they were all wonderful soft adorable sweeties), saw some of the sheepdog competition, and bought a little bit of yarn, for a future brand-new person in my extended family, and a little bit of fiber for an instant gratification spin.

The little bit of fiber was 2 ounces of mixed BFL in “Aegean” from Sincere Sheep, and so instant was the gratification that I did not manage to get pictures of the fiber before it was yarn.

206 yards of thick and thin singles, all spun up in one day.

I had originally intended to list this one in my shop too, but it ended up a little fuzzier than I’d have liked after its bath, so I’ve changed my plans somewhat. I’ll hold onto it for a while, and then when my big new purchase and I have gotten to know each other a little, it’ll be paired with some graphite Border Leicester and find its way into the shop in a new form.

So, what’s the big new purchase, then? A 32″ Kromski Harp rigid heddle loom. It’s supposed to arrive on Thursday, and I’m so excited I can barely sleep for thinking about weaving. Once I’ve figured out what I’m supposed to do, I’ll start spinning the aforementioned Border Leicester for a 2-ply warp yarn, and use those thick and thin singles as weft. I’ve also got some 8/2 tencel on the way, which I may play with on the loom a little bit, but my primary intent is to use it as plying thread for another try at spinning coils. Perhaps I’ll find myself with a couple of bobbins ready for some melodrama by the time the loom arrives.

A Finger in Every Fire, Irons in Every Pie

I have a confession.

I have Too Many Things in progress. Too many things a-spinning, too many things on the needles, and let’s not talk about the sewing projects that I’m trying to, not ignore, but…yeah, ignore, actually.

And lots of those Too Many Things in question? So close to being finished. Just shamefully close. A few fingers and a billion ends on a pair of mitts. Some simple garter stitch. A bit of ribbing. Beads and plying. A little hemming.

I like making things, I like the planning and the process. I like having the finished objects in hand. I just don’t like wrapping things up: the tedious jobs like rewinding washed skeins and taking an accurate count of wraps per inch, or sewing in ends, picking up stitches, finishing seams; the jobs that go against my nature a little bit like writing item descriptions and setting prices for the shop. (The casual self-promotion, too. I’m a very uncomfortable capitalist.)

But I’m working on it. I’ve even taken pictures of some things–I’m trying to get my fiber stash photographed before I spin any of it, but it’s slow going trying to catch enough light on my north-facing balcony with days getting shorter (and as it cools off, Trillflower like to be out there to watch and smell and lounge and otherwise get underfoot).

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

I’ve got three active knitting projects going right now. I won’t be able to photograph the Rock Island until I’m much farther along in the garter stitch body.

This sweater vest started out as a heavily-modified Hilja, but with all the modifications for gauge, I kind of stopped caring about pattern instructions around the neck shaping and made things up as I went. It needs ribbing at the arms and neck, and then it’ll be done. I’ve even seen to all of the ends so far. It fits well, with just enough ease to go nicely over a button-down shirt.

These are Little Cable Knee Highs, sort of, except I used my standard wedge toe and placed the gusset at the soles instead of the instep, and ignored the instructions for the heel turn because those yarn-overs really make no sense to me, and, you know what? It’s a pair of knee highs with little cables up the back and custom calf shaping. They’re a long-overdue gift for my mom (hi, mom!) in Knit Picks Capretta, which is lovely to work with and very reasonably priced.

I’ll have to untangle and wind the third ball soon, but I’m definitely going to have enough yarn. These are worked two at a time on one long circular needle, which is my current favorite method (although somewhat discouraging at times as it takes twice as long to see any decent progress). I like to wind two separate balls and then when the socks are big enough, I can tuck each ball into its sock and the whole thing is very portable.

In my last post, I mentioned a new fiber club and a new spindle coming into my possession. The August installment of the Enchanted Knoll Farm Happy Hooves Batt Club showed up at the beginning of August looking like this:

Now, in addition to the corespun also mentioned in my last post, it looks like this:

I wanted to make a fat singles art yarn with lots of cocoons, but after about 5 tries I changed my plans. Half of this will be strung with glass beads, then I’ll make a 2-ply gradient. It’s on hold for now though, because I finally started plying my “Tuscadero” spin.

I can’t believe how delicate and muted this is turning out. By the time I finished all the singles, I was sick of it, but I’m charmed again in the plying.

The spindle, a Jenkins Delight, is a wonderfully balanced, tiny, adorable Turkish number. It came with a sample of 50/50 merino/bamboo, which I started playing with immediately. In the car on the way to pick up vegetables.

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

 

That sample, about 7 grams or a quarter of an ounce, turned into about 49 yards of light fingering weight 2-ply.

SONY DSC

 

Now it’s occupied with some cormo top I combed myself.

Big plans for this. Big secret plans.

Speaking of big plans, I also have big plans for the July 2013 Into the Whirled club fiber. It’s “Qarth” on Falkland.

I’m spinning it as a 2-ply laceweight gradient, to become a S[c]heherazade shawl. This colorway is magic. See those sort of dull tan-olive sections in the fiber? Well, that’s a deception. I started spinning, and it’s really strange.

It’s not dull or tan-olive at all. Here, a closer look:

I love it.

So I should have some finished things to show off soon.

 

Operation Get This Yarn OUT of my Apartment

The stash is beginning to overflow the bins. This is not a drill, I repeat: the stash is beginning to overflow the bins.

Sometimes club colorways are not quite the sort of thing I want to keep. Sometimes I want to make yarn that I don’t want to use. Sometimes these things pile up because I don’t want to try to write what is essentially ad copy for them.

Sometimes I have to suck it up and write.

Now I don’t really want to write more about the yarn. Let’s skip most of that.

I don’t know if anyone heard, but I kind of won August. I got to upsize my CSA box, yeah, but that’s just the start of it. I also inquired about being added to the waitlist for the Enchanted Knoll Farm Happy Hooves Batt Club, and LO! more memberships had just opened up. Then on the 30th I managed to snag a Jenkins Delight, which is just unspeakably adorable. I’ll show it off soon.

 

Last August I managed to get into the Into The Whirled fiber club–shortly after that, people were getting waitlisted. I am Pretty Good at August, it seems.

And Pretty Bad at September. Wow. Where’d all that September even go? I still haven’t finished the “Tuscadero”/baby camel spin from Tour de Fleece!

But I did finally get my shop up and running. Just in case you know anyone who might want to take some of this yarn off my hands.

Catching Up

I’ve been sitting on a few finished things. You know, that pile of yarn from my very first post? I was going to give each yarn a separate entry, which is why I’ve been putting it off–because that sounds more and more tedious every time I think about it.

So here’s what I’m going to do instead: All the yarns that will be staying here until I’ve transformed them from Finished Yarn Objects to Finished Wearable Objects, in chronological order, in one big mess of a post. This is going to be photo-heavy, so strap in your internets. When I finish what’s currently on my wheel and take some glamor shots, sometime next week, there will be a post for the things that won’t be staying with me.

First up is the February 2013 ITW Classic Club offering “Take it to the Bridge” on superwash merino. I started spinning it just before April began (I remember the time frame because my mom, aunt, cousin, and grandma were visiting San Francisco and the wheel, the husband person, and I all went down to see them), and I was dreading it. The last time I’d spun merino was a nightmare, and superwash is even slipperier. Worse, I am fairly certain that the fiber that came with my Stella was superwash merino, and that was a terrible thing to try in my first 6 ounces of spinning ever.

Imagine my shock when it was an absolute delight to spin every last bit of it. Just a few breaks in the singles when the wheel needed oil. Not too bad at all.

I started with 8 ounces, or two braids. I stripped each braid vertically in thirds, then spun each ply with a third from each braid, trying to make the joins between them blend together.

I found the contrast in the light and dark sections of the fiber a little too jarring for my tastes, so I wanted a lot of marling in the finished yarn.

I’m thrilled with the color play I got. I wound off two skeins of 510 yards each with a pretty even color mix between them, and 49 yards left over.

Look at that cute little thing! All a pretty solid fingering weight, overplied (this took about five days and I don’t want to talk about how my knees and ankles felt afterward) for bouncy, hard-wearing socks. Eventually. More photos on the corresponding Spinning Project page (new Ravelry feature, GREAT Ravelry feature, and there’s a Fiber Stash now too, so I’ll even start taking pictures of fiber before I start spinning!) because I got a little carried away.

Next up, Wensleydale. I’ve been wanting to try it almost since I first started spinning. I’m just drawn to the intense luster of those long, long locks. Shortly after the Hitchhiker arrived, I spotted this Wensleydale in “Catskill Pines” in the ITW shop and then a couple of days later it was in my hands and a couple of days after that it was yarn.

I’m not sure what happened, it’s all sort of a blur.

It’s about as tricky as everyone says. Too much twist and you’ve got a cheese wire on your hands. Too little and it falls apart. Of course, you can keep running it back and forth through the wheel until it’s just right, but then you might gouge out your eyes from sheer boredom, incur repetitive stress injuries in your hands and ankles, or accidentally make it go all fuzzy.

I don’t know why the camera registered that as blue, it’s more of a dark sprucey green. Anyway, it’s a lot finer than I intended, and a bit fuzzier, and it broke more than once, but I have 602 yards of laceweight…

…which I’m fairly sure will disintegrate if I try to knit with it. Not to worry, I have other plans for this. Secret plans. Manly plans.

Best not to dwell on half-failures, even kind of pretty and totally salvageable half-failures. Especially not when there are successes to discuss!

Take, for example, the January 2013 ITW Luxe Club “Sterrennacht.” First off, I’m not in the Luxe club because if I think too hard about how silk is produced I get really creeped out and have insect nightmares. So although it is very beautiful, and although I find it gives me an absurd yardage boost, I tend to avoid it. But it seems somehow right for a colorway based on Van Gogh’s The Starry Night to be silky and radiant, like, say, 50/30/20 alpaca/merino/silk.

I picked up the Luxe coordinate “Godric” in the February shop update (I got a classic coordinate too, “Call Box,” and if you aren’t detecting a reference you need to sit down and think about your life choices, especially the one where you’re living under a rock for some inexplicable reason), and then I sat around mooning over the club colorway on the same base until someone put it up for destash a couple months later and my dear friend Cory scooped it up for me while I gibbered about not really being able to justify the purchase. We have a system in which we casually enable each other interspersed with occasional active contributions to a beautiful wooly downfall.

I spun “Godric” onto one bobbin (less the little tuft that Trillian tried to eat, Trillian who is not the resident wool-eater), “Sterrennacht” onto another, and plied them together for 1,172 yards of heavy lace to light fingering weight yarn.

I’m going to turn it into a Celestarium, a beaded chart of the constellations visible in the Northern Hemisphere. Seems fitting. There’s a sister pattern for the Southern Hemisphere, but schemes for that are still nebulous at this time.

Last in today’s finished yarn parade is the April 2013 installment of the ITW Classic Club, “Sansa” on BFL. I love the choice of fiber on a literary level–BFL is soft and lustrous, with a very manageable staple length and strong enough to be hard-wearing, characteristics I also associate with Sansa Stark, who is beautiful, graceful, and courteous to a fault–and every bit a tough ol’ Stark for all of that.

Again, I’ve got 8 ounces. I was aiming for worsted weight, but it came out closer to DK. I have a chronic spinning-too-fine condition.

No preparation on this, I just spun each braid as it was and plied (and plied and plied and plied, it took a while), letting the colors fall where they would.

678 yards here, destined for a Herringbone Cowl.

Tour de Fleece: A Recap

So here it is, five days out from the end. I have a pound of yarn, a bobbin full of pretty singles waiting for some friends (oh, scratch that, it sounds like a trashy phone sex chat line ad) merino and silk waiting for its match, a partial bobbin of baby camel to keep them company, and–at long last–some numbers.

SONY DSC

But first, there was plying.

SONY DSC

A lot of plying, really.

SONY DSC

 

Almost too much plying.

SONY DSC

But then there was yarn from all that plying–the small skein to the left is for seaming. Yes, seaming. No, I’m not ill. I have not been replaced by some kind of terrifying alien who looks, sounds, and acts exactly like me but doesn’t hate seaming. I’ve just been coerced by stripes.

SONY DSC

Then there was a brief kitten interlude while I finished up the grey singles, in which I found WordPress’ iOS app to be virtually identical to its web interface. Then there was even more plying, though it didn’t go on quite so much as before.

SONY DSC

Then there was soaking–the water turned black–and snapping and beating skeins against the shower wall. This to calm some of the twist in my deliberately overplied skeins. The result is a slight loss of yardage, a nice bloom in the singles, and a very bouncy finished yarn. That’s 1,292 yards there, right on target at sport-DK weight. Major benefits of being five feet tall and living in northern California–that’s plenty of yarn for a sweater.

SONY DSC

Then, as planned, my Into The Whirled March 2013 classic club hopped onto the wheel. That’s “Tuscadero” on 80/20 merino/silk.

SONY DSC

The plan involves 8 ounces of that and 4 ounces of the baby camel previously seen on the supported spindle, obviously on a bobbin now. I expected it to be more difficult than it is, having had such trouble with merino on the Stella a few months ago, but the combination of baby camel cloud, Hitchhiker, and months more experience behind my hands is making it a pleasure.

SONY DSC

Of course, challenge day (July 18) demanded a little bit of a deviation from my big plans. That’s 28 feet of 2-ply cotton on my supported spindle. The last time I tried spinning cotton, I had no experience at all with supported spinning or cotton spinning. I was also working with sliver. It was extremely slippery and frustrating and I gave up quickly. For the challenge day, I got out my hand cards and put little bits of cotton on the teeth at the very edge, just to hold it while I rolled up a puni with a DPN. Much more successful than the last time, but from preparing the puni to plying, it was hours and hours of work.

SONY DSC

Tuscadero, on the other hand, moved fairly quickly, especially considering how very fine singles for 3-ply fingering weight yarns are.

SONY DSC

SONY DSC SONY DSC

Unfortunately, fairly quickly is not quite quickly enough. Le Tour 2013 ended here, with about ¾ ounce left to spin on the first bobbin.

With Tour de Fleece over, the collections of bobbin shots will now stop, though the excitement will not. Look forward to beer-tastings, shiny pretty things, the backlog of finished objects, and more finished objects to add to the backlog in the coming weeks.

 

Tour de Fleece Days 6 through 12

SONY DSC

Turns out spinning a pound of fiber gets a little tedious after a while. Day 6 was more grey.

SONY DSC

The semi-solid isn’t a very interesting spin to look at but I finished the bobbin for the fractal on day 7.

SONY DSC

On day 8 the bobbins went out to have a peek at the sunshine.

SONY DSC

And then they all got rewound onto the Stella’s bobbins. Which look much less impressive than the Hitchhiker’s because they’re huge.

SONY DSC

Then I plied for about 8 hours.

SONY DSC

Day 9 started with winding off the plied yarn into a 5oz skein. A bit wild and curly there before its soak, and around 394 yards.

SONY DSC

Then I started the next bobbin–short repeats for the second skein.

Day 10 was a rest day. I used it to reset my sleep patterns. Sort of. I also sent a couple of packages out. The sparkly handspun has already arrived at its destination, the extremely belated Christmas gifts should soon. More on all of that after the Tour.

SONY DSC

On day 11, I started and finished the first bobbin for the semisolid sleeve skein and then started the last striping ply of the fractal.

SONY DSC

And on day 12 I finished the singles for the fractal. Plying for that will be on day 13 or 14.

This leaves me with another 2 ⅔  ounces of singles to spin. I anticipate being finished by day 16. If I finish nothing else this Tour, I’m pretty happy with this progress!

Tour de Fleece Days 3, 4, & 5

Whoops. Got a bit busy there.SONY DSC

Herself investigating the box that so vexed her earlier–I put her up on the perch and she couldn’t figure out how to get down. At the moment, she’s giving a twist tie to the Drowned God, which is much funnier, but I don’t have the light for a moving cat photo. And I don’t like to encourage her on the Drowned God front. Carpets end up soggy.

Twoflower is the Queen in this house, in case that wasn’t eminently clear. She still gets me to say the words.

SONY DSC

Monday was a pretty poor spinning day because Monday was Bottling Day. More on that shortly.

SONY DSC

Tuesday was a better spinning day, but I didn’t finish that bobbin until after midnight, hence the handful of fluff hanging off the flyer in the daily progress shot.

SONY DSC

Immediately after I finished the second bobbin of stripy singles, I started the semisolid grey–but just a bit.

SONY DSC

The bobbin in the foreground has much longer repeats of the grey and turquoise stripes–twice as long, in fact, because regular stripe patterns lend themselves handily to fractal spinning.

SONY DSC

The semisolid ply is moving right along with around an ounce and a half on the bobbin and two and a quarter left to spin. It’ll be done by Friday, I think, then all the little Hitchhiker bobbins will be rewound onto Stella bobbins for plying. The built-in lazy kate on the Hitchhiker only has two shafts, which won’t do for a 3-ply, and anyway I like to rewind my bobbins before plying to help even out the twist distribution and head off any problem areas caused by messy bobbin winding while spinning.

You may have noticed the wheel has “DON’T PANIC” painted on it in large, friendly letters. It’s not done yet; I need to repaint the dot over the I in something lighter, then mask off the lettering and give it a dark background. Inky blue-black, I should think.

SONY DSC

I’ve been working daily on the baby camel on the Russian supported spindle–often while reading–but for all the time I’ve given it, two or three hours, there’s only two grams on that little cop. I’m not happy with the singles diameter yet; I need it to come out to fingering weight, maybe light fingering at the finest, in a 3-ply with some merino/silk I’ve got lined up after the polwarth sweater spin. The easiest way to get thicker (…ish) singles seems to be a long draw–which is what something as short as camel down needs anyway–but I haven’t figured out how to draft while the spindle is spinning yet.

There’s got to be a better way to do it, but my hands haven’t sorted it out yet. And, bonus: if I’ve been spinning too fine for the last two grams, it’s only two grams of about 113. Plenty of fiber left to work on it.

SONY DSC

And here we have some of the results of Bottling Day. Turns out being a one-woman bottling party for five gallons of beer cuts into the spinning time by a few hours. Designing the labels on Tuesday took considerably less time, though my printing assistant let the printer resize them.

SONY DSC

I’m sure there’s a better way to affix labels than my rejected-printer-paper-and-magic-tape method but I don’t know what that is either. I want them to come off as easily as they go on so the bottles only need a quick wash before they’re ready to be sanitized and reused. I know Northern Brewery sells reusable labels but their usefulness appears to hinge on making the same beers a number of times greater than one.

Which is silly, why do that when you can do science?

Tomorrow we’re going to try our first all-grain brew instead of basking in the blinding light of our freedom (or, as a facet thereof).

More on that tomorrow if I can get the light. And more on the Navelgazer Wheat and Raspberry Wheat Ales in a couple weeks, after bottle-conditioning.

A shiny gold star for anyone who works out the jokes in the beer name without having been explained the thing.*

*the gold star is figurative