Monday, July 30, 2012

Wellington Fibres...

Can I just say I am in love with this fiber (or fibre for my Canadian friends)? Today's spinning was 170 yards, 2-ply of the turquoise colorway. It is so pretty, and such a joy to spin. I've been splitting the roving in 2 lengthwise before spinning, and am noticing that sometimes one side can consist of finer fibers than the other. I've discovered that if this side is too easy to draft as to be fussy, that turning the roving around and using a backward draft fixes all.

I always test my roving to see which way the fibers draft most easily--fiber has a direction due to the laying of the scales. Since I like a short forward draft, that's what I test for. But as I mention, if the fiber is too loose and drafts with no resistance, reversing the roving and using a backward draft makes it go with much better control, for me.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Silk hankies all spun up... and more wool from Ontario....

The silk hankies were quite fun to spin. Very different from drafting wool for sure. More like stretching to size then adding a bit of twist. The results are very pretty. Such a sheen and lovely softness. I got 86 yards of 2-ply yarn (if I include the 16 yard sample, I have just over 100 yards) out of the hankies.

Here are the hankies after they were all drafted out and curled up. One word of caution: the silk fibers cling like crazy--the smallest nick on your hands, fingers or nails will catch the fibers. Also, if you roll up your rovings as I did, be careful uncurling them as they snag into a gnarled mess pretty easily, especially if you're spinning out-of-doors in a breeze. The breeze will carry the silk aloft and it may well tangle up in the process. Ask me how I know!

This is the finished skein, followed by a closer look:

When I went out the door this morning I was greeted with a package. Someone had let the UPS man in. (I sleep late-ish and use ear plugs in the morning hours, so I don't always hear the door bell if it's too early.) It was my order from Wellington Fibres very speedily shipped and delivered. Just put the order in earlier this week! Oooooooooooohhh..... b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l-!-!-! There are several hours of spinning here:

Can you believe all that fibre came in one small little box 11x13.5x7.5 inches? Yes, indeed.

Here are snaps of the fibers up close. Aren't they g-o-r-g-e-o-u-s-!-?

I've already started a bobbin of the turquoise.

Yesterday I found my gift cannas toppled over. Blown over by the high winds the night before. In addition to taking a lie down, it had also opened some blossoms. Beautiful, bright red ones:

Thank you, crafty1!! :)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The spinning continues....

I started another bobbin of Wellington Fibres' Mystery Roving today, post TdF. I have enough top to last me till my new order arrives. Latest shipment will include colored Mystery Rovings. I can't wait to see them! Soon... Will reveal the project this yarn is going into in the near future. Very exciting!

This evening, after sitting at the loom for half an hour, then treadling the Mazurka for an hour, I decided to pull out the silk hankies I had purchased a while back. I've been meaning to get back to them and found myself in just the mood this evening. Not making anything fancy out of them, just a pure silk artsy yarn. This stuff is fun. There is a great write-up with visuals about how silk hankies are made here: Wormspit.

Wormspit is Michael Cook's adventures raising silk worms in Texas, and his wonderful blog is here. I met him a few years back when he was in town for the Museum of Natural History's Silk Road exhibit. His silk work was featured in the show. We met for dinner along with a few other fiber enthusiasts. A fond memory of a delightful time.

As I was "drafting" apart the hankies I had the idea that I'd like to try core spinning with these. That's going to be another project... it's on my list!

I spun these hankies on a hand made spindle I purchased from Cheap Twills last December. At that time she was still living in the area I grew up in, in NH. She has since moved back to Texas, but that day she was selling hand spun yarn, spindles, gourd art, and weaving at a roadside holiday stand. This little twirlyhoo spins like crazy! I can't believe the speed it gets. The fastest spindle I have! Pics below.

While winding down the evening, I drafted six hankies and spun them up into a 16 yard, 2-ply sample. It is super duper soft and luxurious. I like it!


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tour de Fleece... day 23+

Well, I went over by a day! Just wanted to get the last skein done before I took the "group picture". The end has come and one again I can't believe that it's over. Time flies when you're having fun, no? I pushed myself a bit this year. I tested out some ratios on my wheel that I've never used before, setting it on the highest speed for the last skein. I have to say it was a bit too much for the type of yarn I was making and struggled a bit off and on. It was great when I drafted really fast, but the top didn't allow such a pace to continue unabated.

I think there was something psychological going on with the color of this last skein. It didn't place me in the best of moods! Whereas the purple--same fiber from the same company, just different color--kept my spirits riding high the whole while! Go figure. But the confrontation of a challenge can be good and I'm glad I have another skein of this blue to spin up. I'll see if it's a simple case of my biorhythms (remember those!) being off or whether this color just has it in for me! It's funny though, because once it's all plied up and skeined, I love the color...

And now for the group photo of my TdF spinning for 2012. It's been a BLAST! Wish I could share all the fabulous spinning photos over on Ravelry... it's unbelievable!!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Tour de Fleece... days 21 and 22

This is Merino/Silk blend from Ashland Bay Fibers. They have the prettiest colorways. 192 yards, 2-ply. Very quick to spin up, it's so well combed. Merino is lovely, isn't it?

Just peeking out on the right of the basket is some blue of the same fiber. It's left over from some spinning I did last year and then some. I think I'll start that now while watching the rest of "Victor Victoria" (fun!) and finish it up tomorrow.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Tour de Fleece, days 19-20

I can hardly believe I got this all spun up in two days midweek! It's so. I like this one quite a lot. Nice autumn colors. I purchased the wool last fall at the NY Sheep & Wool Festival. Thinking of this year's festival being only 3 months off is a very pleasant thought. Brings a smile to my face.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Tour de Fleece, day 18...

Started spinning some wool from Spinner's Hill after midnight last night. Got in an hour this evening. It will be 2-ply like most of what I'm spinning this TdF... Well, I've got weaving on my mind... I'm hoping to spin the rest of what I have in this colorway tomorrow and maybe even ply it before end of day...

Tour de Fleece, Day 17...

I had time to ply the singles I spun yesterday. That was it!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Tour de Fleece, days 10-16... plus weaving...

Oh dear! These past few days have been a challenge and there is less to show than what I might have planned. To be honest, my planning is only half such so I'm not terribly disappointed with my output. I did expect to get along with the Merino-silk blend, but alas the notion of spinning it woolen has fizzled. I will go ahead and spin a worsted yarn with it after all.

My idea for the Merino-silk was to spin long-draw (which I've barely done at all) using fauxlags, which if you recall, I discovered during last year's race. (That video is so beautiful it's worth watching again.) I think the problem is that the dowel I'm using is too thin for the staple length of this fiber and one staple rolls around the dowel more than once. It's not drafting well at all. On the other hand I can't discount my inexperience with long draw. One thing's for sure, watching that video again makes me want to give it one more try! Maybe if I get a larger diameter dowel. This is the results of my first attempt:

Also on the not very successful roster is my attempt to spin Yak on a drop spindle. I think I've gone as far as I can with this. The fiber is just so short and slippery I think I will need to try a supported spindle. But it is soooo soft, what a delight to handle:

Since progress was otherwise hampered I went ahead and spun another skein of Wellington Fibres. This one is from the lighter of the 2 colors I have. This skein comes to 134 yds. of 2-ply yarn which I intend to use on the loom. (U.S. nickel shown for scale.) Today I spun up another bobbin of the dark colored fiber and it awaits plying. That one uses up the last of the dark. I love this fiber and yarn so much I'm going to visit their site directly after this entry and order some more!
Not a very good picture of the dark I spun today, but you get the idea I hope:

Warping of the loom was concluded today and I continue to learn and learn about the process of putting yarns on the loom. Not having a teacher I'm learning by experience. For now. Experience can be a tough, but good and thorough teacher. The warping board, as I've already written, went well. I did not use lease sticks though, and now I know the problems they solve and why I would want to use them. Next time.

Lesson: It's probably best not to thread heddles late at night when I'm tired. I found 4 crossed threads after the loom was dressed. Discovering them ilicits an acute panic that quickly subsides when the solution dawns. They look worse than they are to fix. It simply means untying the group they belong to from the cloth beam rod, pulling the errant thread back, out of the reed and heddles and then re-threading it properly.

Lesson: It's best not to thread a heddle from back to front through the eye and then back around to the back. It will--and sure enough did--break, cut by the wire thin heddle. So that left me with a broken warp thread. Darn. The solution was to put a replacement thread in it's place, but since the warp was already wound onto the warp beam, I wound the extra yarn onto a spool, the weight of which creates a tension which closely matches the other warp threads. This is the make-do for this thread:

I did finally get to sit down and start weaving, the brunt of the trials are fading away leaving me wiser (I hope), and it's now bliss. There are 3 "fat" rows at the beginning (to even out the threads), followed by 6 shots of thicker yarn as a header to get the warp all nice and even before the twill starts. I will pull out the thick yarns and header when it's done:

Monday, July 9, 2012

Tour de Fleece, day 9... etc...

In the spinning department today was exclusively spindled. But the wheel did come into play to ply. I finished spinning the batt of pretty purples of unknown content. It was a gift... Thank you very much Seaport Yarns. Tour de Fleece is intended to challenge us and this batt was at times challenging. As I mentioned before, the fibers had to be cajoled: stretched into roving that could be spun. And it was worth it: never a dull moment and the results are most pleasing:

The coin is a nickel. This 2 ply would knit up or weave quite well. I'm thinking of a cowl. Something that doesn't require a lot of yardage as this is a one-of-a-kind-don't-know-where-I'd-get-more-batts-like-this yarn!!

The 'hand' of this yarn is an exquisite marriage of wooliness and softness, if you can imagine such a thing. It has that deeply satisfying sense of woolen without being at all 'scratchy'--not that I mind scratchy: I love wool.

In the etc. department, I sleyed (the term for threading yarns through the loom's reed) the reed for my new plaid project this afternoon. This is my first time using a warping board, a process that I enjoyed very much. The porrey-cross is ingenious. It makes me wonder and ponder about it's invention. Who? When? It's certainly a gift, that's certain. Life is full of these little (or not) gifts if we but take time to notice them.

It looks a bit of a mess at the moment, a noodling caboodle of yarn:

"What's that Christmas chimney paper under the loom?", you ask? It is inserted over the woven cloth as it winds onto the cloth beam so that the knots which tied the warp to the beam don't distort the cloth as it is wound on. Another ingenious invention. I'm discovering that weaving is abundant with these simple, but beautiful, gifts.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Tour de Fleece, days 6, 7, and 8...

Thursday and Friday, being work days, meant spindle time for TdF. I'm getting near the end of the unknown gift fiber, almost daring to say it could be finished tomorrow. We'll see.

Today was wheel time and I started on some of the Wellington Fibres. All I can say is WOW! What a dream! I had spun some on my spindle before and it was lovely and wonderful but on the wheel it's totally awesome. I didn't expect a big difference but there it is. It spins fast and beautifully. I made a 2-ply yarn starting around 1pm this afternoon. I probably spun a total of 2 hours--maybe a tad more and ended up with 112 yards of gorgeous 2-ply yarn that is soft, strong, lustrous and luscious! In the photo below the coin is a nickel piece for scale.

Also today, warped the last 2 chains for my new plaid throw and I'm hoping to dress the loom tomorrow. Naked is nice but not when speaking of a loom. It wants a warp! :)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Tour de Fleece, Day 5...

It's been one of those days.

It was like this; and it was bliss:

Woke up late'ish but rested.
Made coffee and attended to the birds.
Went out back with my coffee and spindle spun for an hour.
Switched to the wheel and spun for another hour.
Came upstairs and washed the bird's room floor.
Practiced piano for a bit more than an hour (Scriabin, Bach and Debussy... oh joy!)
Changed my mind about next weaving project and decided on another plaid.
Calculated warp yardage and warped 2 chains on my warping board. (Need 4 in all.)
Practiced cello for an hour and 20 minutes.
Went to get take-away Japanese Teriyaki for dinner.
Brought my dinner to the roof and dined while waiting for the fireworks to begin.
Watched the fireworks.
Went out back and spun for another hour.
Came in and plyed and skeined.
Now logging my activity for day 5 of Tour de Fleece.

!!! Heaven!

The new plaid I'm going to weave is exciting, and I used a warping board (it's a LeClerc and it came with the loom) for the first time today. Very nifty, and I like it.

A goodly amount of spinning today and it feels wonderful. The Spinner's Hill is spinning up perfectly and I will not hesitate to weave with it. I'm doing a 2-ply. I love 2-ply! Winding the singles into a center-pull ball and plying with the ends from inside and outside leaves absolutely no waste. That's also why I like Navajo plying: no waste! It always comes out even.

Today's spinning:
The view (partial) up on the roof... the stage is set, just waiting for dark:
Al fresco dining on the roof:
A few pics of the show:

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Tour de Fleece 2012, Days 2, 3 and 4...

Got a little side-tracked Sunday. Put everything on hold to attend a candlelight vigil for Molly Olgin and Mary Chapa, the two lesbians in Texas who were both shot in the head a little over a week ago. Molly was killed and Mary is struggling in a hospital where she has regained consciousness. It was a bit of an impromptu affair put together in just a few days. I'm glad I went. It's good to stay involved, to bring another presence to the stage. Silence = death and so does invisibility. Visibility is important in fighting age old prejudices. Someone took this video of portions of the vigil. (If you look careful, you'll see me in the crowd at about 5:37)... Candlelight vigil.

[pausing for a moment of silence]

* * *

Got back on track with spinning and finished the BFL/Silk blend late last night...

Just like last year, during the work week it's not so easy to get wheel time so I depend on my spindles to get in some twirling. I was given this piece of wool batt recently and have no idea what it is. What I do know is the color is gorgeous! It's a real fun spin on the spindle, the sort of fiber that needs to be pulled and cajoled into spinnable "rovings". This will be my away-from-the-wheel project for the next month.

Tomorrow (Happy Fourth of July!) I would like to start spinning this very red fiber I obtained from Spinner's Hill. I really want to spin a yarn for weaving and it's my aim to try and mimic the thickness and feel of the Harrisville New England Shetland I recently purchased. It's what I wove the twill sampler in. So there's going to be some experimentation with this and I'm excited at the prospect of having some of my own yarn for weaving. Updates to come.

I will be juggling different fibers over the course of Tour de Fleece. This weekend I will start in on the Wellington Fibers "mystery" rovings. Looking foward to it!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Tour de Fleece 2012...

... has begun... And we are off!

Tour de Fleece is a challenge for spinners organized at Ravelry and coincides with the famed Tour de France. Spinners who sign up for Tour de Fleece may join one of hundreds of teams. Last year I spun with "Team Men Spin" but since I don't see them this year, I'm spinning with "Peloton", the main group.

The challenge is to spin something every day the Tour de France is on (this year it's June 30th through July 22nd). Additionally, we are challenged to spin something challenging on July 18 to coincide with the toughest high mountain stage for the bikers.

I had such a blast participating last year that I could not resist it this year. It is a tremendous motivator. Much enthusiasm is generated in the threads at Ravelry with oodles and oodles of fantastic pictures and write-ups of everyone's spinning. It's just phenomenal.

I got in about 2 hours of spinning today, starting the tour with 4 oz. of lovely Blue-Faced Leicester/Silk blend roving. It came as 2 separate colors in a colorway called "Cinnamon Toast". I am spinning the 2 colors separately and will ply them into a barber pole yarn. For that reason I will 3-ply using 3 separate strands of yarn instead of Navajo plying--which I am so fond of. It is not possible to create a barber pole yarn using Navajo plying technique.

I spun up 2 bobbins today and will spin the 3rd and ply tomorrow. This is a picture of a little corner in the backyard where I like to spin. It's so heavenly relaxing to sit in the shade and spin listening to all the bird chatter (the wild ones and my own). Tomorrow evening I will have a pic of the finished skein.

* * *

I have a new subway project under way. Yippee! It's another lace project called "Print O'The Wave Stole" that I'm knitting also in Malibrigo lace weight in a luscious color named "Brllante". So far:

* * *

Tomorrow, I hope to begin warping my loom for a broken twill pattern called "Dornik". My plan is to weave cloth with the possible goal of turning it into a vest. We'll see how it goes. I found the pattern in a Book titled "New Key to Weaving" by Mary Black.

I do not know what consitutes a "broken" twill. Must add this to my list of things to research.