Tag Archives: Ashland Bay

The Spinning Continues

…on a spindle. The plied merino and silk yarn that I worked on last week is now hanging from my shower curtain rod, drying. I’ll post pictures when the skein is dry and finished up. In the meantime, I’m still plowing through the fiber club monthly samples from Paradise Fibers. I’m having a great time with it and I’m so glad I joined this club. The samples are generous, and compared to a pound or more when spinning for a big project, they’re the perfect bite-sized introduction to a variety of fibers. I’m not spinning with any particular project in mind, I just want to perfect my technique and tweak my results.

I’m a little behind on my club spinning. Last week I finished up the April shipment. Now that it’s June, I’m just getting started on the May shipment. As I write this post (on June 7th) my June shipment is sitting at the post office downtown and should be on my doorstep later today.

Updated on June 14th (the day I published this post): the June shipment did in fact arrive later that day. Deets and photos to follow.

These pictures feature the last of the April samples and the first of the May samples that I started spinning. Here’s the April sample:

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The fiber is a merino/silk and get this–Tibetan yak blend. TIBETAN YAK, PEOPLE!! It’s from Ashland Bay. The spindle is a lightweight Golding .84 ounce top whorl called Night Owl. I like owls, and I love my little owly spindle! I chose it to get a fine yarn from this fiber. I enjoyed spinning the yak blend. It was easy to draft, it was smooth and it has a beautiful sheen to it, which you can see in the picture. Compared the the merino wools I was knitting and plying earlier, this yarn is much thinner, which is what I was aiming for.

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The sample was 2 ounces, and it didn’t produce a lot of yarn. I have two adorable little balls of yarn that are ready for plying. I would like to try a lace pattern with this yarn. Depending on the yardage, I am hoping to perhaps knit a lace kerchief to go around my neck, since I don’t think there’s enough here for a small scarf or cowl. If I don’t get a lot of yardage I’ll do some lace swatches. I think this yarn will be soft and drapey and perfect for lace. Time will tell if I’m right…

On to the first of the three May samples that I’m working on. I grabbed the 4 ounce bag of painted merino and Tussah silk fiber first. This is much loftier than the other samples and the amount looks huge! It looks like they gave me a lot more than other samples, although some of the April bags had 4 ounces in them, too.

This colorway is called McKenzie. Look at all the gorgeous colors swirling around in there:

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It reminds me of Van Gogh’s The Starry Night:

 

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Here’s the McKenzie on the spindle.

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Out of all the bright colors swirling around in the fiber, the black is very prominent. The yarn has a fuzzy halo when spun. There are so many colors in there that there’s a barber pole effect taking shape as I spin. I’m disappointed that the little bit of bright minty green you can see in the previous photo is barely noticeable in the spun yarn.

I’ve started two little balls of McKenzie.  I’ll add to each one as I finish spinning the fiber and then I’ll pull out my flowerpots and ply them together. 🙂

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Yarn. It’s what’s for dinner.

I’m happy with this yarn so far. Again, I was able to spin a thinner, more consistent yarn. Maybe I was out of practice when I picked up the Cyan and Mallard spinning fiber. I think this yarn is shaping up nicely.  I can’t wait to see McKenzie as a two-ply.

The weather has finally warmed up but my hands have not stopped spinning and knitting. I have a lot of things to write about and lots of photos to share with you. As always, I thank you for reading Spin. Dye. Knit. Love.

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Adventures In Plying

OK. So. I’m ready to ply. For real this time. This time I’m going the whole nine yards: plying, yarn bath, winding into a skein, the works. I’ve got the niddy noddy on standby.

I’ve got my high-tech plying tools:

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And two balls of yarn ready to go:

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On the left is Ashland Bay’s merino/tussah silk blend in Mallard. This photo is more accurate in terms of its color, which is a predominantly dark green with blueish tones. The photos I took outside in a park a few weeks ago were way off. Crazy, right? On top of that to the right is Ashland Bay’s merino in Cyan.  These are the samples from the April shipment of Paradise Fibers’ fiber club. I love this fiber club, but the monthly shipments are coming in faster than I can spin the fiber!

I’ve got my huge and heavy Golding plying spindle on deck (literally, it’s on my front deck):

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And…let’s ply!

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So far so good. The yarns are “grabbing” each other nicely. They’re twisting up a little bit even though I’m holding them so that there isn’t a lot of slack. Once I separate each color by sticking my index finger in between as I ply, the plying gets easier. I’m doing a chain ply, no fancy Andean plying for me. I’m happy to work towards a barber pole effect right now; I’ll move on to the special effects like self-striping yarn and matching color repeats after a lot more practice.

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The yarn looks pretty even here. It’s not super fine, but it’s not too bad looking.

There’s actually a lot of science involved in spinning, isn’t there?  Crafts, please don’t make me learn science, dammit, the math in knitting is bad enough! There’s physics to understand how the spindle works. Knowledge of different sheep breeds and plant fibers is helpful in getting the best out of your yarn: is the fiber long stapled or short stapled? Corse or curly? Also, knowing the properties of the fibers you’re using is important when planning what to make with your yarn once it’s spun. Which fibers are good to wear right against the skin and which ones would you not want to wear next to your skin. In the latter, what could you blend with the first fiber to make it more comfortable? I’m not even going to get into spinning with fleece straight off the sheep, whether to card or comb it, etc. There are so many decisions involved in spinning. Even as the unread spinning books accumulate in my library, all I want to do is grab my spindle and some fiber and see what kind of yarn I get. They say ignorance is bliss; well, I’m in a very blissful state right now!

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Is this what is known as art yarn?! I went out on my front deck tonight and plied for an hour until the sun went down. As you can see, the more I plied, the more uneven the yarn became. There are very lovely, perfect, thin strands and there are nice but thicker strands, and there are uneven, lumpy strands, all in the same yarn. The yarn keeps breaking as I ply–you can see where it broke on the left. That was when I called it quits for tonight.

I’ll finish plying over the weekend. After that, I’ll get to work setting the twist by soaking the yarn, then I’ll hang it to dry, and then I’ll wind it onto a niddy noddy and see how much yardage  it yields. I’m hoping to have this spinning project all wrapped up (Ha!) by next week. I hope to have some pictures of a finished, tied-off skein sometime to post then. In the meantime, wish me luck!

So…I’ve been spindling for about four years now, taking my time, not in any hurry to finish and ply. I know, this project is long overdue. Is anyone else out there like me? Share your stories in the comments and tell me the longest time it has taken you to learning a craft or finish a project!