Not just a hobby, it's a way of Life

Archive for July, 2016

Not really all that random

So, as I was going to be waiting a while for my new equipment, a rainy Monday morning seemed like a great time to get a clearer picture of the fiber stash.  Mostly it was an attempt spread out the spinning so that I would have my lazy kate by the time I was ready to ply again.  The Sweet-n-Low box served me well, but I really didn’t want to have to use it again.

Ravelry has been slowly but steadily improving the spinning portion of the database.  When people first started stashing fiber, it was mostly just a text entry and a picture.  Currently, there are all sorts of specific fields for information including fiber composition and percentage, fiber prep options, colorway, company name, date purchased, price, etc.  I hauled out box after box of my spinning fibers and made sure they were all listed and that the details were filled in.  I had been pretty good about listing the fiber stash, but at the end of the day, I was up 20 entries.  Most of those were 4 oz. braids, but their were some larger lots.  As it stands right now, I have 92 fiber stash entries on Ravelry, and that’s probably 95% of my overall fiber stash.  Of course, the yet unlisted is a lot of fleece, so maybe more like 50% by weight.

Then, once I had my clearer picture, I needed to choose the next thing to spin.  Since the bobbins wouldn’t be coming any time soon, I needed to keep it to fibers I knew I wanted to spin 2-ply or chain-ply.  Have I mentioned I have 92 options?  Granted, not all of those fit the plying criteria, but I just didn’t know where to begin.  Enter the Random Number Generator!  I plugged in my numbers, and it returned 60.  I counted down to the 60th entry on my Rav stash page – nah.  I mean, it was a really great fiber, but it was mostly white and blue, and I was hoping for a bit more color.  So, undermining the whole concept of randomly generating a number, I clicked it again and got 89.  This time I went with it.  It was a lovely blend from Winterhaven Farms of 60% merino and 40% bamboo in a colorway of greens and orangey-yellows named Mallard.  It was a well-marinated stash purchase at Greencastle, so its time had more than come.

Spinning 7-19-16

I finished up the first bobbin in about three hours.  I’m trying to time my spinning to see just how many hours I have in a skein.

That was Tuesday.  Wednesday I was out visiting my friend and dropping by my LYS for the area yarn crawl.  Since I bought this beauty, I’m not doing any stash enhancements this year, but I do have several of my dyed yarns at the shop, and I’ll do a blog post about that later this week (spoiler alert: it went really well).  Wednesday was also the day my lazy kate arrived! So Thursday was spent finishing up the second bobbin.  I divided the fiber in half vertically, then I split each half into thinner strips horizontally.  I’m hoping for a really good color distribution.

New jumbo lazy kate

I haven’t yet plied them, as I spent yesterday at a local town’s 175th anniversary, or dodransbicentennial.  (Dodrans is the latin contraction of de-quadrans meaning ‘a whole unit less a quarter’. Thanks Wikipedia!)  I had my soaps there and was supposed to demonstrate weaving on a rigid heddle loom, but maybe wove 2″ or so.  And yes, we’re in the middle of the heatwave from Hades.  It was miserable, but there were still diehard souls that came out, and several of them went home with brand new wonderful soap for their evening showers.  I know that’s exactly what I did after unloading the car.  I was set up next to my friend who demonstrated spinning, and her sweetie brought us a huge shop fan.  Without that, we would have melted.  Speaking of melting, I took fresh made soap still in loaf form to show part of the homemade process, and that was fine until the sun shifted.  Once the fresh soap was in the sun, it liquified like a candle.  It held shape okay, but touching it revealed just the outer shell was holding it together.  That got carefully transported back home.

So, the bobbins are scheduled to be created and shipped by July 28.  I may be calling on the Random Number Generator again.

The Waiting (for bobbins) Is the Hardest Part

Until you just can’t take it anymore.

So, I finished up the fiber I was spinning on the mS(miniSpinner) onto the two bobbins it came with.  My favorite default is a three-ply yarn, but this fiber was bouncy, bouncy, bouncy, and it just does better as a two-ply.  My mS came with one bobbin made by Hansencrafts and one from Akerworks, a 3D printing company.  Reading the Ravelry boards, I learned that some people had a preference for the Hansen bobbins, so I wanted to try both of them before ordering.  After confirming I like the Akerworks bobbins just fine, I ordered two more.

Since they are made to order (so many pretty colors and patterns to choose from – my two will be purple and lilac, of course), it’s currently less than a week wait from ordering until they ship.  Also, due to being just different enough in the center diameter, plying also was going to have to wait until the jumbo lazy kate arrived, which could beat the bobbins here.  But like I mentioned, I still have the wheel, so I could spin on other things and wait.

That lasted two days.  The possibility of having to wait a whole week was just too much.  Then it hit me.  I mentioned to Ramblin that I don’t have to wait.  I can ply off of the mS bobbins using my wheel. There’s no rules about crossing the streams; I could spin on one machine and ply on another. I could make a lazy kate out of a box, but lamented that it wouldn’t be tensioned. He, being MacGyver, said that I could put a string over them and tension it.  (he doesn’t spin, but understands the whole process like whoa)  I’m pretty sure the two of us could take over the world if we put our minds to it.

This is a good time to discuss Personal Spinning Preferences.  On the Rav boards, lots of people don’t believe in extra bobbins.  Instead, people should just buy a quill attachment and cardboard storage tubes and wind off every. single. bobbin. spun. only to have to turn around and ply them.  Okay, let’s discuss how much time that takes away from being able to spin fresh, new singles of yarn (gently side-stepping the whole time cost of making yarn from scratch in the first place).  Uh-huh, that’s never going to happen here.  Also, many people believe that tensioned lazy kates aren’t necessary.  And that’s great for them.  I used an untensioned lazy kate for the first ten years I spun, and then for my 10th spinning anniversary, I bought myself a tensioned lazy kate.  After using it, I was really impressed that I never threw the untensioned one through a window.  For those that don’t need one, rock on with your bad selves.  I will turn into the Hulk if I don’t have one.

So, armed with a Sweet-n-Low box, spare knitting needles, sewing machine bobbins for spacers, string, and a strip from a cottage cheese container, I made my tensioned lazy kate.

homemade tensioned lazy kate

That’s after I plied everything off, as the pictures before were dark from cloudiness outside.  Turning on a light beforehand just didn’t occur to me as I was a woman on a mission.

Mountain Colors targhee lilac

Mountain Colors Targhee in Lilac

You can tell by the picture that the fiber just wants to bounce.  Targhee could easily be called Tigger fiber.

Gee, there’s once again two empty bobbins.  Whatever shall I do with them?  :)

Update:  The lazy kate has shipped, but the bobbins aren’t scheduled to until July 28.  Argh.

New Toy

A few years ago, a friend brought her Hansencrafts miniSpinner to the yarn shop and let us try it out.  It was sweet, and I knew I would probably have to get one someday.  But that really went to the back burner with all of our travel plans, and besides, I had my excellent wheel, the Majacraft Rose.  I was fine.

Fast forward to this past April when another friend got a miniSpinner.  Well hello, all those feelings of coveting.  But, I resisted the pull and thought that I should get a plan in place to save up for one, like finally selling some handspun yarn that’s been piling up and use those funds toward a purchase.

Last Wednesday, I get a message from said friend.  She wants to know if I want to buy her Hansen spinner.  What?!  She just bought it!  (Turns out, she bought another one already. She has a slight wheel/spinner acquisition disorder.)  So, Thursday, this arrives at my house.

HansenCrafts miniSpinner

This one doesn’t have a Woolee Winder (yet), and it only came with two bobbins.  There are now two more bobbins on the way as well as a lazy kate because of course, neither of my two lazy kates will handle the huge honkin’ bobbins of the miniSpinner.

Now, have no fear – my wheel isn’t going anywhere.  In fact, I’ve been spinning on it this morning, just so it won’t get jealous.

Spinning on a Saturday

But I do wish the other bobbins would hurry up and get here.  I just ordered them last night.

Also, the Illiana Yarn Crawl kicked off yesterday, so if you’re in the Vincennes area, I know where you can get some handspun.

2016 Yarn Crawl 3

And if you miss that, don’t worry, there’s soon going to be more.  A whole lot more.  I kidded my friend about the Hansen spinning so fast it would create a vortex in her house and suck all the spinning fiber into it, thereby creating a vacuum that would suck in more spinning fiber from Etsy and the like.

Well, I suppose I’ll find out first hand.  It’s got its work cut out for it.