Tag Archives: handspun

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.

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!

Because I Don’t Have Enough Spindles

…I had to buy a couple more.  So I have a spindle collection that’s shaping up nicely. Off the top of my head I’m not sure how many I have at the moment. I’ll have to go through them and see what’s what. I think the number is somewhere around 15-20.  I’m a natural collector, I need to accumulate stuff. Cataloging my spindle collection would be a nice future blog post, I’m sure. Most of my spindles are from Golding Fiber Tools in Vermont. After that, I have a couple of Greensleeves, a couple of basic Ashfords, two Turkish spindles (one Spanish Peacock, one Jenkins) I have yet to spin on (damn you, half-hitch knot, what am I, a sailor?!), a Spanish Peacock Victorian Ladies silk spindle that I can’t for the life of me get the hang of, and a few other assorted models. Yes, I think taking serious inventory of my collection is in order.

But on to my two newest beauties from Golding. Last week I noticed a beautiful spindle made with pink ivory and holly for sale. This is part of their “Gemwood” series.

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See the back of the attached card for the stats:

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At 1.8 ounces this spindle has a nice weight to it. I love how the pink and white woods pop against the darker walnut.

The second spindle is one I’ve been thinking about for a very long time. I love purpleheart wood’s deep purple color. But whenever I log onto Golding Fiber Tools with a purchase in mind, I end up being distracted by the gorgeous vintage spindles with their antique jewels and enamel and metal findings. On Friday, I finally bought a purpleheart spindle, and it’s beautiful!

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This one’s a bigger model. With a 3″ diameter whorl, It’s pretty hefty at 2.1 ounces, and feels nice and sturdy in my hand.

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The spindles came with a sample of fiber from Ingelnook Fibers in a color called Brick Wall. I love that name!

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I ordered my spindles three days ago, on Friday morning. They were on my doorstep the next morning!  That is usually the case when I order from the Goldings. I wonder if it’s because Massachusetts is right next to Vermont, so Priority comes overnight instead of two days. I love the almost instant spinning gratification I get when I shop on Golding Fiber Tools; I received a shipping confirmation email an hour after I placed the order. Do the Goldings run each and every order to the Post Office when they receive them?!

I’ve started spinning some Ashland Bay merino in Cyan on the pink ivory spindle. I’m working my way through a three ounce bag in order to do something fancy: ply two different colors together. I’ve been spinning for about 5 years now, and I’ve always been content to just spin. Except for a little experimentation, I haven’t really moved on to the plying stage yet. I find the act of spinning alone to be pretty satisfying. But that’s all going to change. Yes, I’m finally pushing on to the next step! It’s about bloody time, right? I have various balls of handspun stored in my home that are crying out to be plied and knitted. So I give in!

When it comes to my crafts, I’m not very organized. I work at a leisurely pace. I go with the flow. I spin but don’t ply. I knit something, put it down, pick up something else and put that down, too. I lose needles and tools and end up digging around in my stuff when I want a specific item in hand.  I always thought of myself as a product knitter rather than a process knitter because my original reasons for learning to knit was to have sweaters and other garments for myself. But I’ve come to realize that I enjoy the process more than anything else; a sweater at the end is just icing on the cake.

I suppose my crafting philosophy can be summed up as follows: Enjoy the journey, don’t worry about the destination. It will always be there.

 

A Much Needed Spinning Post

It’s been way too long since I pulled out a drop spindle and worked on making my own yarn. I’ve been doing a lot of knitting these last few months, but no spinning, despite a cabinet full of spinning fiber. Did I pull out some of the stash I already have lying around the house? No! I joined a fiber club so I could get monthly shipments of even more brand new spinning fiber! Cool, huh?!

I found myself browsing the Paradise Fibers website a couple of months ago and saw their fiber club options. I have always wanted to join a fiber club, but the only ones I knew of were run by independent dyers and, while the fibers were gorgeous hand-dyed works of art, the clubs seemed pricey and hard to join. For a good price point, members get to test-drive a generous variety of fibers, from different wool breeds, silk and silk blends, to exotic fibers such as yak, with the occasional neat-o gift thrown in.  I joined the 12-month club; for $40.00 a month I receive very generous samples of beautiful fibers, both natural and dyed. I’ve received two shipments so far and I am blown away by the quality and beauty of the fibers, which are a generous 3-4 ounces per sample. The April shipment had a bonus item thrown into the mix: an adorable Lantern Moon tape measure with a carrot-eating rabbit on top.

The bag I grabbed for my current spinning is from the April shipment. It contains an Ashland Bay merino/tussah silk blend in a color called Mallard. It’s a bluey-green hue that is truly reminiscent of the colors found on Mallard ducks: sometimes it’s blue, sometimes it’s green, depending on the light. I took a lot of photos of this fiber today–most of them were taken in the same lighting conditions–and the color never looks the same twice.  It may be hard to pin down, but it’s gorgeous in any light.

Today I took my spindle and some Mallard to the park for some spinning. It turned out to be a little too windy by the water to get any spinning done, but I got some great photos.

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The spindle is one of my Golding spindles. It’s called Inuit Snow Dance. The whorl is made out of linden.  (yarn=bright blue)

 

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I have a lot of spindles,  but Golding spindles are my favorite. I love the vintage ringspindles and the different and unique findings used on the whorl. (yarn=medium bluey-green?)

 

Some blue handspun in front of a blue sky. (yarn=medium blue)

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Look at my spindle as it encounters NATURE!! (yarn=light/medium blue?!)

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The merino/tussah silk blend is easy to spin, for the most part. I started out on a smaller spindle but I was having trouble getting started with the drafting each time after winding what I’d already spun onto the cop. I’m not an expert at the technical spinning stuff but I want to say merino is a longer staple than, say, bluefaced leicester. I switched to the heavier Inuit spindle and the spinning became a lot easier.

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(yarn=bright blue, again.)

I have a lot of plans for spinning the rest of this fiber, but none yet for knitting it. I am going to spin the Mallard first. Then I’m going to spin the sample of merino wool in Cyan separately. Then I’m going to ply the two colors together. Since I don’t know how many yards I’ll get, or what the drape and nature of the fabric will be, I’m not sure what I’m going to knit with it. Full disclosure: I loved these two colors and fibers so much I ordered a pound more of each from Paradise Fibers.  I have a feeling a pound of each is a lot more than I bargained for. Should I make a warm throw to drape over my lap in the winter? A hat and mittens? Dare I say it–will I spin enough to make a sweater? I don’t know what this yarn is going to be yet, but I’m having a lot of fun making it in the meantime.

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(yarn = dark greeny-blue.)