Archive for the spinning Category

Don’t worry, I probably won’t make a habit out of this

Posted in knitting, spinning on February 7, 2017 by needlefingers

Eh, so it’s only been a month, but I decided to come back.  I really need to keep up on the blog because it’s a great memory tool.  “When did we do that thing?  Oh yeah, here it is on the blog.”

Well, let’s have a little check in on how my goals are doing.  No macarons or tie-dyes yet, but I can swear in Croatian.  And reading!  I’m reading!  I should, for goodness sake, with all the devices.  A small wrinkle popped up when I discovered my library had switched from Overdrive to 3M Cloud Library (or CL, as they call themselves).  The problem with that is CL does not work on e-ink devices.  It’s an app, so your device needs to be app-compatible.  The nifty Paperwhite Ramblin’ got for me?  Nope.  So, to read ebooks from my library, I have to use the eye-searing tablet.  I don’t mind surfing the internet, but I hate reading large amounts on backlit screens.  But CL doesn’t appear to be particularly interested in that.  And no easy way to contact them from the website.

So, about three weeks ago, we had a beautiful weekend weatherwise and took that opportunity to visit Ramblin’s parents.  You never know what you’re going to get in winter, so we saw the chance and went for it.  Ramblin’s mom had found a yarn shop for us to visit, right across the street from a quilt shop.  We went to the yarn shop first, and I did a little damage, then we went over to to the quilt shop.  Ramblin’s mom hand-pieces the most beautiful quilts.  She found a good scrap pattern to help clean up her stash, and we left just in time so that I didn’t wind up buying a kit.  It was purple (of course), and my resolve was fading fast.  Then we traveled to Clarksville for lunch at the Cracker Barrel.

In possibly the quickest stash-to-finished-object ever, I worked up two of the skeins I bought within a week and a half of purchase.

Fan Shawl

The cat was very interested in the picture-taking process.

fan-shaw-with-cat-1

fan-shaw-with-cat-4

fan-shaw-with-cat-6

Because of course everything a cat sees is his domain.

There has also been spinning with the lovely WooLee Winder-equipped Hansen.

fck-panda-in-lotus-washed

fck-panda-in-lotus-washed-closeup

fck-lotus-spun-closeup

The first two pictures are after a bath, so the third picture doesn’t quite reflect the poof afterward.  This was a 4.2 ounce braid of Merino/Bamboo/Nylon from Fat Cat Knits in the colorway Lotus.  ETA: about 600 yards of 2-ply, so heavy lace/light fingering weight. Very nice and springy, which is just what we need right now.  The temp hasn’t been awful, but oh my, the gray days are getting to me.

In soapy news, I’ve applied to be a vendor at a new show.  They have a well-established two-day show in the fall, and now the organizers are adding a one-day show in the spring.  I thought I would try things out for the spring show and maybe come back for the fall one.  As you read in the previous post, I won’t be attending the new show I tried in December.  ;)  I had a decent amount left from my soaping frenzy this fall, so I thought I might not have to make much for the early spring shows.  However, I’m delivering 20 bars tomorrow to various customers, so I may need to make just a tiny bit more.  Selling the equivalent of an entire batch in one day is a nice feeling.

Oh, and since we last chatted, I’ve become a literature teacher.  It happened in the space of an hour and a half.  The high school I was supposed to teach composition for changed their minds and wanted literature instead.  My boss asked if I could be credentialed in literature, and I asked if we could find out.  (college instructors need to have a minimum of a master’s degree and 18 graduate credits in that area – I have 32 hours in a mix of English and literature, then several more in miscellaneous subjects like liberal studies and instructional technology) An hour and a half later, BOOM, I’m a literature teacher.

And I’m going to be teaching my fifth dyeing class at the yarn shop.  This time we’re doing sprinkle dyes.  Should be a blast.

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Not really all that random

Posted in soap-making, spinning on July 24, 2016 by needlefingers

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

Posted in spinning, yarn on July 18, 2016 by needlefingers

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

Posted in spinning, yarn on July 16, 2016 by needlefingers

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.

Really, I haven’t posted since February?!

Posted in soap-making, spinning on June 23, 2015 by needlefingers

Um, hi!

Yarnmama10’s new post reminded me that I hadn’t posted on this blog in a while, but I certainly didn’t realize it hadn’t been since February.

There’s a vacation, soapy things, and yarny things to talk about.

First of all, I am soaping away, though the heat has slowed me down a bit.  Our itty-bitty town started having a farmer’s market, and we set up at the inaugural sale.  It was great weather, though Ramblin and I did get a bit of sun after being shaded for most of the morning.  So, when we got home, Ramblin ordered an EZ-UP booth tent.  Now I feel like a selling professional.  :) (Actually, I need a banner to really be a selling professional.)

Sumner Farmer's Market booth under tent

I’ve been participating in Loopy Academy and now this summer Camp Loopy with The Loopy Ewe.  Other than that, I’ve been trying to use stash yarn and fiber.  However, then I learned about the Discworld MegaSAL and read-a-long.  It was six indie dyers creating colorways inspired by persons and things in the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett.  Sadly Sir Pterry passed away shortly before the spinalong began, so we spun in his memory.  I can’t believe I had never read any of his books.  They are fantastic, part Harry Potter, part Douglas Adams, and altogether too much fun.  I had bought from two of the dyers before: Fat Cat Knits and Spunky Eclectic.  But the other four were entirely new, and some are pretty tough to get in updates, so I felt particularly glad to experience their wares: Nest, Into the Whirled, Southern Cross Fibre, and Hello Yarn.

And then, I finally went to a local-ish yarn shop.  In this area, anything under two hours away is local.  I didn’t really know what to expect from The Yarn Studio, but whoa nelly.

The Yarn Studio 2 The Yarn Studio 3

The ol’ fiber diet took a decided hit.  And there’s a few more stores, one a mere 23 miles away, that have cropped up.  And did you see all the purple Yarnmama posted?!  Oh dear.

I’ll save the vacation for its own post.  Hint of where we went – there was entirely too much fudge consumed.

 

 

And now it’s snowing here!

Posted in knitting, spinning with tags , , on February 16, 2015 by needlefingers

After the snow left the blog, it took its own sweet time and arrived here.  Probably 5-6″, maybe more.  What’s one of the only good things about snow?  Snow cream.

Snow cream

It has been all soap, all the time around here. There’s currently a fundraiser going at the local high school, there may be another one coming down the pipe shortly, Ramblin’s work wants to hold one for the employee committee, and I’m doing a craft show at the end of March. Why aren’t I making soap right now?!

And there’s been a bit of knitting. I started a shawl, almost finished it, and started having second thoughts about the color arrangement. So that got put aside, and I started in on the Loopy Academy second semester project.

Full Spectrum beginning

Much better.

And there’s even been spinning!

Merlot Holocene

I didn’t get great pictures of this, but it hasn’t had its bath yet anyway, so maybe the sun will shine by the time I get around to doing that.  It is two plies of Knittyandcolor‘s Not Drinking Merlot and one ply Holocene, all on merino-silk.  That little skein on the left was the leftovers of the Not Drinking Merlot chain-plied.

I guess that’s all the news that’s fit to print.  I’ll try to come back before spring.  Whenever that will be.

And in other late breaking news . . .

Posted in dyeing, knitting, spinning, Weaving on November 12, 2013 by needlefingers

I’m buying a loom.

No one who knows me should be surprised by this.  Fifteen years ago, I went to a spinning guild gathering.  What brought me there was an interesting path.  I’m an English major, and I love to tell a story, so you might want to get yourself a cup of coffee and settle in.  I’ll wait.

Let’s start at the beginning.  My mom and grandmother were both talented crafters, though my mom never would have considered herself such.  She and my grandmother made beautiful lace crochet.  My mom also crocheted fun things for me.  Naturally, I wanted to learn to crochet, and I did.  I don’t remember how old I was when I first started, but let’s say it was somewhere around age eight.

My mom was friends with my friend’s mom.  Sue was just an awesome person and also crafty.  Then she took up knitting.  Since we spent a lot of time together, I got to see all of her wonderful projects.  I was amazed at how fabric-like knitting was where crochet was decidedly bumpier.  Of course, I decided I needed to do that, too.  Sue lent me the book she learned from (The All New Teach Yourself to Knit booklet by Evie Rosen, in case you’re playing along at home).  What’s great about this book is it has very clear illustrations for both the English and continental methods.  Sue had picked up the English method; I chose continental for its resemblance to crochet.

I dove right into knitting.  I practiced a small swatch of about 10-15 stitches.  I knitted, I purled, I knitted and purled, and then I decided I was ready to knit a fisherman’s sweater.  And I did.  That’s how I roll.

This area doesn’t have a lot to offer in the way of enrichment.  However, about an hour away there was an annual craft fair held on the museum grounds.  This was not your usual ‘teddy bears with lace glued on them and wooden cutouts of people’s backsides’ show.  Oh, no.  It was a juried fair, so there were artisans from all over.  There washand-thrown pottery, blacksmithing, fine art, and a woman, Rosalie Truong,  with angora rabbits.  Oh yes.  She had handspun angora yarn, dyed by her as well.  The softness!  The colors!  Up until this point, the spinning I had seen was with natural-colored fiber, so it really wasn’t anything I was interested in.  But now I saw the possibilities before me, and I knew I needed to do this.

In addition to her angora, there were other spinning fibers, and I bought two bags of a purple merino with firestar blended in.  I told her I wanted to learn, and she pointed me to the fiber arts building, saying that a spinning guild was set up there for a demonstration and that they would be thrilled to help a new spinner.  So off I went.

There were several women set up with their spinning wheels, mostly spinning the same natural fiber as I had seen before.  I told one of the women that I was interested in learning how to spin after seeing Rosalie’s booth.  She told me to get a drop spindle and learn on that.  Hmm.

I went home and ordered a drop spindle kit from one of my knitting catalogs.  (Note: don’t do this)  I received it in the mail, and the spindle appeared to have been cut from a 2″x4″, the wool was neppier than any neppy thing you’ve ever seen, and the instructions were less than clear.  After several tries, I laid it aside.

The next year, I went back to the craft fair, checked in with the spinners, and reported my progress, or lack thereof.  One woman said that she would be happy to teach me, but she would be leaving to winter in Florida soon, but once she returned in March, we could start my lessons.  Excellent!

There was a group of knitters I met with in the biggest town around us, which was about 60 miles away (told you this area doesn’t offer much).  That month, a woman pulled out all these beautiful yarns that she was going to make into a Kaffe Fassett sweater.  She was discussing how she had hand-dyed her handspun yarn for the project, and I was all over that.  “You spin?  I would love to do that!”  She told me that I should come to her spinning guild’s get-together in a couple of weeks, and they would be happy to teach me to spin.  I wasn’t going to have to wait until March!

That Sunday, I showed up at the event, trusty drop spindle in hand.  “No,” she said, “We’re going to teach you on the wheel.”  She had me sit down at her wheel and practice treadling.  First your feet learn what to do, then your hands.  I spent about an hour treadling, learning to start and stop the wheel.  Then we added the fiber, and I learned what fiber should look like.  Not the cruddy stuff sent along with the lumber-mill-reject drop spindle.

After I had spun on her wheel for a while, another woman invited me to spin on her wheel.  For the uninitiated, spinning wheels are very much a matter of personal preference.  What one person adores, another may despise.  Now, the first wheel I used, a Schacht Matchless double treadle, is a very, very nice wheel.  However, when I sat at Chris’s wheel, a Majacraft Suzie, I knew that was the wheel for me.  Later in the afternoon, I noticed out of the corner of my eye that a couple of women were watching me.  “I hope I’m doing this right,” I said.  “Oh no, you’re a natural,” one replied.

I should also mention that during this get-together, there were dyepots over a fire.  People had brought spinning fiber to sell, and naturally, I had to give dyeing a try.  So actually that day, two passions were born.

I went home, mind abuzz with possibilities.  I researched the wheel I had fallen in love with and discovered that Majacraft had just released a new wheel built on the same principles as the Suzie, but a bit more fancy – the Rose.  So, a mere four days after first touching a wheel, I ordered my Rosie.  Drop spindle, schmop spindle.  (Although afterward I got a quality spindle, and it is much, much better.  Then Ramblin bought me a Golding, and, well, Reason #189 why I love Ramblin)

Now, also during that day, another woman let me try her wheel.  It was a single treadle, and I learned that I don’t care for single treadling.  But as I was trying it out, we were discussing various things, and I mentioned my knitting.  “I would love to do that,” she said.  I was puzzled. “But then, what do you do with your yarn?”  I pictured her spinning up a yarn, winding it into a ball, tossing it over her shoulder into a mounting pile in a corner, and turning back to the wheel.  “I weave with it.”  Note that I did not immediately have the desire to weave.

So I’ve had many happy years of knitting, spinning, and dyeing fibers.  I wasn’t against weaving; I simply said I didn’t need one more hobby as I barely have time to do the things I want to do with my current hobbies.  Also, there’s all that finishing.

It was a friend’s beautiful Lunatic Fringe towels that created a hairline crack in my reserve.  What can I say – I’m a sucker for all things rainbows.  Still, I resisted.  Then The Loopy Ewe started carrying rigid heddle looms, and people were posting their weaving projects on Ravelry.  Then the Fat Cat Knits group started posting pictures of woven fabrics made into gorgeous bags.  I began pricing the rigid heddle looms at The Loopy Ewe.  Then one day one of my friends, out of the blue, declared, “I want to learn to weave!”  Sigh.  “I’ll learn to weave with you.”

A friend had a loom for sale.  No, we’re going to Europe; I have no place buying a loom when I’ve never even woven the first thread!  And it was big, a Schacht eight harness 46″.  Surely I shouldn’t start with something impressive as that, should I? (with my history for diving in with both feet, I still don’t understand my hesitation at this point)  But I did email her about it.  And several other friends for their advice about getting into this new endeavor.  And then it got put aside with travel, teaching, and life in general.

Fast forward to the rigid heddle class from this past Saturday.  My friend and I went to River Wools in Terre Haute to be indoctrinated.  By the end of the day, we both had scarves we were quite proud of for a first effort.  All it did was whet our appetites.

I posted all over about my scarf, (See my scarf?) and a friend sent me a link to a loom for sale.  It was a good distance away, and another person had inquired about it.  But that was enough to get me thinking.  I checked a few sources and then remembered the loom my friend had for sale.  I hadn’t seen any mention of it on our discussion boards, so I thought perhaps she had sold it.  But I emailed anyway.  And she still had it.

So, that’s how I’m getting a loom.