Archive for the 'Spinning' Category

I see the world through rose-colored wool

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

I recently finished spinning some rose-colored Corriedale which I acquired from the lovely folks here.

uncombed rose-colored wool

First I combed it with my small handcombs,

combed rose wool

Spun singles on my Ashford Joy,

rose wool on bobbin
(Ok, it looks more purple-y in this picture, but that is a false reading.  I swear.)

Then turned it into a two-ply.

rose wool unwashed
These three skeins have yet to be washed, and there was a good bit of lanolin left even in the dyed wool.

rose wool washed
These two have been washed.

I realize it’s hard to see in photos, but there really is a vast difference in the washed and unwashed skeins.  (Somewhere here there is a joke about the “great unwashed,” but I just can’t get to it.)

I washed those two skeins in the hottest water I could run out of my tap (pretty hot) and used plain old laundry detergent on them.  Then I rinsed in the same temperature water, spun them in the washing machine, and hung them to dry unweighted.

In this picture you can see how this finishing treatment really made the yarn full and took up the length.  The washed skein is above, the unwashed below. 

rose wool washed and unwashed

What you can’t see in the pictures is how much the yarn bloomed, softened, and rounded.  I almost want to keep a small sample of unfinished yarn just so I can keep comparing the before and after.

And now, I know, the next logical question is “What am I going to do with this yarn?”  The answer is, “I have no idea.”

This brings up an interesting side question for me.  Now that I live in a small house, what in the world can I do with all my yarn, both the yarn I already own, and the yarn that I continue to make?  My little house can only hold so much, and it’s reaching maximum capacity as we speak.

Ellen, would you like some rose-colored wool?

Sockward ho!

Thursday, February 14th, 2008

I am a sock-knitting addict.  There, it’s out.  The first step to healing is admitting the problem.  To make my addiction worse, I quite self-centeredly knit almost all my socks for myself.  Selfish, selfish, selfish.  I offer the following proof:

First up, a finished pair of socks in Regia cotton.

Regia striped socks
I finished these several weeks ago and have been wearing them happily since.

Next, another pair in Regia cotton, first sock not yet finished.

Regia socks in progress 
This colorway of the Regia just called out to me from the nest last week, and I was compelled to cast on.  I think it has something to do with the gorgeous, summery saturation of those reds in the middle of this neverending cold winter.

In a similar fashion, last week I was also compelled to wind this black/grey superwash handspun off into a ball and cast on for yet another pair of socks.  (You see, in my world, it is not necessary or even desirable to finish one pair of socks before starting another.  Come visit!  My world is a happy place!)

handspun sw sock
This first sock of the pair lacks but the final grafting at the toe.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, when I was heading out to my spinning guild meeting, well, I had to have something to take with me to spin.  Something new!  Something beautiful and impressive!  (Naturally I could not take something I was already working on.  How could you even think that?)  I did a little digging and came up with a black and red superwash mill end roving and another red superwash roving.  I combed them together on my handheld combs and out came:

combed maroon superwash
this maroon roving.  Definitely greater than the sum of its parts.  It has a kind of shimmery beauty that I was certainly not expecting.

maroon superwash on bobbin

maroon superwash on wheel

What will I make out of it?  Why, socks for myself, of course.

Am I blue?

Saturday, September 29th, 2007

I have been happily spinning away on the dyed Corriedale lamb’s wool, which, as I mentioned last week, I obtained from the Homestead.

dyed Corriedale lamb's wool

Here’s the drill:

I take out a big handful of locks (while sitting on the couch watching movies, naturally), and comb them up into a series of beautiful rovings.

combed Corriedale                                          A representative sample held by Harvey.

When I fill up this red bag with combed fiber,

red sack 

I start spinning.

purple-blue yarn on bobbin

I filled up an entire bobbin this week, which I wound off into a ball.

Corriedale lamb's wool singles

I am planning on making this a 3-ply yarn, for several reasons.  One, I’ve never spun a 3-ply yarn, and life is all about new experiences, right?  (Sure, whatever…)  Two, I have read that 3-ply yarn is actually better for use in knitting than 2-ply.  Supposedly, it fills in the stitches more and is rounder in cross-section.  Three, I saw a photo of a 3-ply handspun yarn in the new Spin-Off magazine that I just absolutely think is gorgeous, and I got inspired to try my hand at a 3-ply yarn.

I’m really, really enjoying spinning this fiber.  It’s very soft, and each little combed roving is slightly different, which I think gives the yarn a sort of richness and also holds my interest as I’m combing.  I’m looking forward to seeing the finished yarn, which I think will have enough color variation to be visually interesting while still having enough cohesion to read visually as one color. 

Till next week…

Dreaming of the sea

Wednesday, September 19th, 2007

I have been doing two things over the last week or so, (well, in addition to going to work, unpacking boxes, spending time with Harvey, walking the dog…) and those two things are
1) knitting on Howard’s socks and
2) spinning

In fact, I finished Howard’s socks today and, contrary to my usual pattern of leaving a project finished but for the weaving in of ends, went ahead and worked in those ends right away.  Aren’t you proud of me?

Howard's socks

If you’re thinking that these socks look rawther large, even for men’s socks, you’re right.  What can I say?  He has big feet.  So big, in fact, that I knit the heels and toes out of a coordinating solid because I was afraid I would run out of yarn otherwise.  And it’s a good thing I did, since I was left with only a few yards at the end of the second sock.

And, at the wheel, I have been working on some dyed Corriedale lamb locks:  combing a bag full of roving with my small hand combs, and then spinning away.

purple-blue yarn on bobbin

I got this wool (along with some other goodies) from Homestead Wool and Gift Farm in Wisconsin.  There were some very lovely things in the box that arrived from them, and I’d encourage all you spinners to check out their website.  Also, Sandy is a wonderfully nice person to work with.  She even sent a sample of one of their other offerings and a pretty little sachet of lavender, which, if I had to guess, I would say was probably grown right there on their farm.

In the process of moving, I have re-discovered some gorgeous spinning fibers that I had tucked away, and I got an urge last week to spin up something beautiful–something different.  I pulled out some carded batts that I had ordered some time ago, set the wheel on the lowest ratio, and started spinning.

I call this skein “Ocean,” since it reminds me of the sea.  Not that I’ve spent that much time in my life at the ocean, mind you, but those colors do seem like what the sea should be, I think. 

Sometimes it’s the dream of something far away and beautiful that keeps me going.

Spin it out

Tuesday, May 29th, 2007

After looking at my new wheel sitting in the corner of my living room for several weeks, I became inspired to dust it off (literally, unfortunately–have I ever mentioned what a disaster of a housekeeper I am?) and finish the grey wool and silk that was included free (!) with the wheel.

wool and silk

I have two good-ish size hanks, and it is very purty, if I do say so myself.  Next step:  washing the yarn to set the twist and (I hope) promote the bloom.  Although I seldom have something in mind when I start spinning, I do think this would look nice knitted up as a lace scarf. 

grey wool and silk

As I contemplate it a little more, I realize that it’s also quite masculine in nature, so perhaps a simple, manly scarf would be nice as well.  Of course, who do I have now of the male persuasion to knit for?  Well, of course, there’s Harvey.  That would be a nice, motherly thing to do for one’s son, to knit him a scarf out of handspun, wouldn’t it?  And then, there’s always my dad, who certainly deserves a handknitted scarf out of handspun.

I got started right away on some more spinning.  I picked out this merino/silk top that I purchased in Jeff City in March.

wool and silk top

I put the smaller whorl on the flyer, and set out to spin just about the finest single I could.

wool and silk top on wheel

I do still want to ply this with the other colorway (see link above).  You see, I have a vision.  A fine, laceweight yarn with a subtle, rich depth of color, more subtle and more deep than either of the colorways on their own.  A yarn with the softness of merino and the shimmer of silk, knitted into a gorgeous showpiece of a shawl.

Can you see it too?


Thursday, March 22nd, 2007

On Tuesday night Rob and I had a long talk.  Wednesday morning I received these


at work.  There are sixteen blooms in all, one for every year of our marriage.  This sort of thing is really not what I would typically think of as being in character for him.  He is trying very, very hard, folks, and it’s hard not to fall in love all over again with a man who is willing to try that hard.  The card that came with the flowers (although I will not reveal its contents in such a public forum), touched me almost as much as the flowers themselves.  Maybe more.

Well.  Onward.

I have not yet fully revealed the extent of my acquisitiveness at the Fiber Retreat.  The truth is, I drove away having purchased this:

Kromski Symphony

A Kromski Symphony double treadle spinning wheel, with a mahogany finish.  It included its own matching tensioned lazy Kate, which you can see there in the corner of the picture, and three matching bobbins.

Isn’t she a beauty?

Kromski Symphony

Kromski Symphony 

She also came with an instructional video,

Kromski video

which so far I have been unable to watch because I no longer have a VCR.

When I first started spinning, I learned that it’s pretty common among serious spinners to have more than one wheel.  In fact, it’s not that uncommon to have many wheels.  (Like one in every room of the house.)  I pooh-poohed this habit, thinking “Why in the world would anyone need to have more than one spinning wheel?” 

Now it makes perfect sense to me.  You absolutely need more than one wheel.  My new Symphony has both a double drive and Scotch tension.  The Ashford Joy has only Scotch tension.  The Symphony can be fitted with a bulky-weight flyer and a lace-weight flyer.  The Ashford has just one flyer that fits it.  The Symphony has larger bobbins and more open flyer hooks than the Joy.  The Symphony is a gorgeous piece of (fairly) permanent furniture, and the Joy can be easily packed up and carried along for the spinner on the go.

Perhaps most importantly, this new wheel just goes and goes and goes with just a few treadles.  She spins like buttah.

Admit it.  You need a new wheel yourself, don’t you?  Go ahead.  Indulge yourself.  You have my permission.

Sound the retreat!

Monday, March 12th, 2007

I had a lovely time at the Missouri Fiber Retreat this weekend, and came home having learned lots of new things, energized to start spinning like a fiend and inspired to work on my own knitting designs.

I took four classes over the weekend, three of them spinning classes, and one a design class with the keynote speaker, Melissa Leapman.

My first class on Friday afternoon was a class in spinning “designer” yarn (or as spinners refer to it, lumpy bumpy yarn) out of Lincoln wool.  Our teacher gave us a bag of naturally-colored Lincoln locks,

Lincoln locks

which we teased apart by hand, spun into a highly textured single, and then plied back onto itself.

Andrea's lumpy bumpy Lincoln yarn                                        My neighbor and new-found friend Andrea’s lumpy yarn.

my lumpy bumpy Lincoln yarn                                                      My own lumpy Lincoln yarn, not quite as highly textural as Andrea’s, but still pretty, I think.

Next stop:  Saturday morning and a class in spinning with angora bunny wool. 

I ended up not taking too many photos during this class, just because I was so busy trying to spin at least a little bit of each of the sample fibers our instructor passed out.  She gave us German, French, and English angora to spin, which we spun straight and unblended with anything else, and I also experimented a little bit with blending some German angora with Columbia wool on my handheld combs.

angora yarn                                                      My mini-skein of German angora.

Saturday afternoon:  spinning three designer yarns with the lovely and talented Chris Hunsburger,

Chris Hunsburger                                                               who happens to live up toward my neck of the woods, I’m proud to say.

Our first yarn was a lumpy bumpy mohair in much the same vein as the lumpy bumpy Lincoln of the day before.

lumpy bumpy mohair yarn

Then we used the dyed mohair locks to make a corespun yarn, a technique in which you use a core yarn or thread and let the teased locks grab onto and wrap around the core.  There are endless possibilities with this technique, including using a commercial yarn as the core and letting some of the base yarn show through the wrapping fiber.

corespun mohair yarn 

Our third yarn of the afternoon was a mohair boucle, a very, very cool technique which I had never experimented with before.   

mohair boucle

Very cool, but also very labor-intensive.  First you have to spin the mohair singles.  Then you ply that single with a commercial thread (or yarn), letting the mohair spiral around the thread–putting tension only on the thread as you ply.  Every time you ply a little bit, you stop and scootch the mohair down on the thread, creating those little loops.  So you ply, stop, scootch, ply, stop, scootch.  Then, you ply the whole shebang with the commercial thread again, locking those little loopies into place. 

I think you can see that I won’t be making this particular yarn every day.

Coming Wednesday:  my class with knitwear designer Melissa Leapman.

I’m getting ready

Monday, March 5th, 2007

To go to the Fiber Festival this weekend.

I plied the Suffolk and Romney,

Suffolk and Romney skeins 

thereby freeing up two bobbins.

empty bobbins

Since I’m taking three spinning classes this weekend, I thought it would be prudent to have some free bobbins to use.

Shelda asked what classes I’m taking.  Here’s the lineup:

Friday afternoon:  Lumpy Bumpy Designer yarn with Saundra Lungsford

Saturday morning:  Spin a Bunny with Nancy Barnett

Saturday afternoon:  Spinning Mohair with Chris Hunsburger

Sunday morning:  Fully Fashioned and Fabulous with Melissa Leapman

I have some homework to do for the Melissa Leapman class–five little swatches.  Have I started on these yet?  Nope. 

I’m trying to get mentally organized for the trip.  I’ll have to leave between 8:00 and 8:30 a.m. on Friday morning in order to get to Jefferson City in time for my 1:00 p.m. class.  I’ll need my wheel, bobbins, combs, carders, angora fiber, knitting project(s), lazy kate, niddy noddy….

Wish me luck.

The spinning report

Thursday, March 1st, 2007

While thinking about today’s post, I ate the last of the lemon curd, slathered on a toasted bagel. 

the last of the lemon curd 

Now I remember why I don’t make lemon curd all that often–not because it’s at all hard to make, but because I just hog it all down.  I have a similar weakness for homemade caramel sauce, which I have been known to eat straight out of the frig with a spoon.  Someday I’ll share that recipe (really more of a technique) with you all.

My spinning wheel has been packed up in its handy-dandy carrying case for a few weeks, patiently awaiting my attention.  My problem?  I have so many cool spinning projects going on, I’m finding it hard to choose which one to work on.

There’s the white Suffolk lambswool.

white wool

And the undercoat of the double-coated fleece, which I’m spinning about as fine as I can.

double-coated wool, undercoat

And the naturally-colored Romney, which has been in the works for some time.

colored Romney                            Seen here reposing against the Handsome Triangle shawl.

And, last but not least, mohair and a wool-mohair blend, which are destined to be plied together in the same fashion as this skein, which was gifted to Ellen at Christmas.

mohair and mohair-blend                                      Also reposing against the Handsome Triangle.

I think what I’d like to work on is the Suffolk–finishing up that partial bobbin and plying the two bobbins together.  Hindering my progress at this point?  Every bobbin I own has something on it, therefore making it hard to ply anything off onto another bobbin.  And I have a lazy streak about a mile wide which prevents me from actually taking anything off a bobbin and making a ball out of it.


Eating my words

Wednesday, February 7th, 2007

Well, as it turns out, the camera was actually a victim of reason #1 (see Monday’s post), and I myself had, indeed, set it down in an unlikely place.  Then, naturally, it was knocked off onto the floor, possibly by the cat,


or, more likely, by me.

And, just to compound my humiliation, Rob found it within about five minutes of getting home.

So, after having publicly and completely undeservedly maligned my poor husband, I feel it incumbent upon me to offer an equally public apology.

I’m sorry, Rob.  Mea culpa.  Mea maxima culpa.

And now, those pictures.

Cables Untangled                                                           Melissa Leapman’s new book, Cables Untangled.  Full of great projects that are now on my wish list.

Like these ultra-cool cabled pillows.

cabled pillow

cabled pillow

And these beautiful cabled sweaters.

cabled sweater

cabled sweater

Wouldn’t one of these sweaters look great in my new yarn?

Elann Uros Aran                                     Elann Uros Aran in that gingery color I was talking about on Monday.

And finally, my progress on the Suffolk lambswool.

Suffolk lambswool on bobbin                                                One bobbin full.

Suffolk lambswool on bobbin                                        And another in progress.

“Lord, make my words sweet today, for I most likely I will have to eat them tomorrow.”