Spinning at Ryan’s

I have some roving and a drop spindle that I keep at Ryan’s for times when he’s busy, or I’m waiting for him to finish his Starcraft game, or other down time. Here’s how much I’ve got:

The fiber is merino/yak from Abstract Fibers. This is spinning up very slowly since I only work on it for 5 – 10 minutes at a time. I don’t have any plans for the finished yarn. Just like to have something to work on around all the time. Averts the problem of me having to guess if I need to bring anything over with me.

Edit: Oops, looks like the post from my iPad did not get the photo uploaded correctly.  I think I’ve fixed it, hope you guys can see it now.

What next?

Since I finished the alpaca/silk that I had been working on on my wheel, I need to pick what my next wheel project will be.  The trouble is I’m torn.  I have so much lovely fiber that I feel like I want to spin ALL of it.  Right NOW.  So I’m asking you.  What should I spin next?

First up, I have this luscious 100% Tussah Silk top that I got at sock summit in July.  It’s from Teresa Ruch Designs.  The color is so vibrant and it’s so soft that when I touch it I feel like my hands must be covered in sandpaper.  The only downside is that I’ve never spun 100% silk before so there may be a steep learning curve.

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Next option is the mind boggling roving from Abstract Fiber that I got at the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival.  It’s 50% merino and 50% tencel.  The colorway is called “silver” and the reason I say that this is mind boggling is that it actually “looks” silver.  I didn’t know it was possible to give fiber a metallic look… at least not until I saw this for the first time.  It’s not as soft as the 100% silk, but still very soft.  The only downside is that I’ve worked with Abstract Fibers before and while their colors are absolutely amazing something about their prep or their dyeing makes the roving really packed tight so it takes a lot of extra prep to “re-fluff” to the point where it’s easily spinnable.
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Last but not least is some good hearty 100% BFL that I got on the Portland Yarn Crawl.  (If you can’t tell, there are a lot of yarn/fiber related events in the Portland area.  It gets expensive.)  This is from Black Trillium Fiber Studio and the colorway is called Emerald City.  I have never spun with this particular dyers roving, but BFL is one of my go-to fibers for hours of simple mindless spinning enjoyment.  It is the least temperamental fiber I’ve found.  I curse way less at BFL than any other fiber.  The only downside here is that, while BFL is amazing fiber to work with from the simplicity standpoint, it lacks some of the sexiness of silk, merino, and other wonderful butter-in-your-hands luxury fibers.
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Your votes will decide.  What do you think I should start next?

Handspun

Last September at the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival I picked up this lovely roving for $10.

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There is just a little hang tag which is hand written and says “color: sea mist, 70% merino, 30% Tussah silk” so I can’t tell you who the vendor was.  Probably best for my wallet that I can’t remember.  The colors are carded together so beautifully and subtly.  I immediately got the yarn onto the spinning wheel.

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I spun up one whole bobbin, then it sat… (totally unlike me to leave a project mid way through huh?  I’m never like that, I totally always stick with things to the end… cough… on an unrelated note, Ryan may have called me a “sock slut” yesterday… I think the exact comment was “you’re totally not a real slut, but you are a sock slut” in that same voice you use with the know-it-all who is standing before you swearing up and down that they are most certainly not a know-it-all in any way, shape, or form, they just test well, and memorize easily, and you know, learn things fast.)

I blame school for this particular abandonment.  Since I’m still new at spinning it takes me quite a while to acclimate to the wheel, find the right treadling speed, the right way to hold my hands to make drafting easier, etc. so if I’m going to spin I like to have a big chunk of time to work at it.  Big chunks of time aren’t easy to come by with a law school schedule, hence the not so much spinning.  If you are thinking to yourself: “If you just took those small amounts of time to practice you would get better and learn to be productive in those smaller time allotments,” you can hush.

Once school ended I got back on the wheel and quickly filled the second bobbin.  Here are the singles.

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I divided the 4oz of roving before I started into two 2oz pieces thinking this would give me a chance at getting roughly the same amount of yarn on each bobbin.  Here is the finished yarn.

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The puny little skein is the amount that was left on one bobbin when the other was used up.  I wound it into a ball on my ball winder then plied it against itself pulling from the center and outside of the ball.  Plied it’s about 32 yards which means that I had 64 yards more on one bobbin than the other.  They say (whoever “they” are) that beginning spinners tend to start by spinning bulkier yarns and as they settle into the rhythm begin to spin finer and finer.  This seems to have been the case here.

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I love the color, “Sea Mist” is the perfect name for the colorway.  I also love the shininess from the silk.  It does make it hard to get an accurate picture though.  It’s more muted than it shows here, some of that shine is just the camera.

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Isn’t my WPI tool cute?

This yarn is pretty consistent (especially for only being my second adventure in wheel-spinning) most of it is about 17 wraps per inch.  The internet is telling me that this is even finer than a standard fingering weight, but it looks like to me more like a heavy fingering to a sport weight.  Do you find the WIP guide to be an accurate comparison to machine made yarn sizes? Maybe I “squished” my yarn together a bit when measuring.  Anyone know what tension the wraps are supposed to be done at?

In the end I ended up with about 326 yards of 2-ply in the fingering-sport range.  There are a few places (not too many) where the singles got over energized and corkscrewed and there are a few places that were under-plied but overall I’m really happy with how this turned out.

Now comes the peril of trying to find the perfect pattern for it.  Any suggestions?

Away from home project

This spindling was started some time ago, but until now I haven’t had a chance to show it to you because it lives at Ryan’s house.

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It’s amazing fiber. It’s from Abstract Fibers and it’s 50% Merino 50% Yak. It’s super super super (did I say super) extra soft. The colorway is “solid green” though I’m sure you can tell from the picture that it’s beautifully kettle-dyed and anything but solid.

This lives at Ryan’s (in my cupboard, I have a cupboard, I can keep anything I want in it, so naturally… fiber) so that I always have something to do when those inevitable timing snafus pop up. I’m a much more patient loving forgiving girlfriend if I can sit and spin while waiting for something. Especially if I’m hungry, if I’m waiting and I’m hungry, fibery things are the best way to stave off the Grumpasaurous Rex I can become (i think that might translate to “grumpy king of the lizards” which makes me smile.)

This fiber blend has been difficult for me. It does not have a long staple at all so I’ve had to try to adjust to shorter drafting, but there have been many dropped spindles in the process. You probably can’t tell from the photo, but the spinning is actually pretty consistent despite my challenges. As you can see from the picture, I have quite a lot of fiber left to practice with.

Fiber Adventures

Way back when Sock Summit came to Portland I decided that I wanted to learn to spin. Student loan budgets being what they are, I decided to learn on a drop spindle. I bought the spindle and some fiber that looked pretty.

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I didn’t get to far with it though… I had a hard time getting a hang of drafting while the spindle was spinning and was getting frustrated. I later learned that Targhee (that’s what the fiber was) is knowing for being trickier to draft and isn’t the best “learning” fiber. I set it aside for a long time and pretty much gave up on spinning.

Then in August I got the idea into my head that I would tie up all my loose end projects. I got the spinning back out to finish it. Something clicked this time, and I blew through all the fiber and wanted more.

The end result is certainly not perfect, but it was quite fun to make.

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This is 3 0z. (I used one oz to make thrummed mittens) of 100% Targhee wool. It ranges it weight from super bulky in places down to light fingering in others.

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The color is much more like the top photos, a happy pink rather than the muted coral of the last picture.

At that point I pretty much decided that I was hooked on spinning and I jumped into the deep end and bought this:

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That is a Babe Fiber Arts Fiber Starter Double Treadle Spinning Wheel. I bought it on eBay. It is made of PVC pipe and a wheelchair wheel. It is perfect for me. Cheap, easy to use and maintain, and pretty near indestructible. The cats have not been able to do any perceptible damage even though they are completely obsessed with the wheel. The wheel came with 8 oz of mystery wool fiber which I promptly spun up. It’s way over-spun in some places and pretty thick and thin but it was great fun to make. I’m sure I’ll just knit something to felt that way it won’t show. I’ve been stashing fiber ever since.

Last weekend was the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival and I somehow managed to convince Ryan that it would be a good idea to take time away from our law school studies to drive an hour over to Canby and spend the whole afternoon looking at yarn and fiber. I think Ryan was expecting a few tables with a few piles of yarn on them since he still has a hard time believed that there are actually people in this world that get super excited over yarn and fiber. It was glorious. Every building of the Canby fairgrounds was packed with booths and the entire lawn/picnic area was covered with outside booths as well. There was easily 250 vendors present. I walked away with a fantastic new fiber stash and, this is the most amazing part, I only spent $75! Yeah for local products!

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These are each 4 oz of 70% Merino and 30% Tussah Silk. The top picture is colorway Sea Mist and the bottom picture is colorway Red. This fiber is fantastic. I’ve heard the phrase “drafts like butter” bandied about on the Ravelry forums but with my Targhee experience I never really believed it… until now.

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This is only my second wheel-spun project and it’s so even. It’s drafting down to almost lace weight. I don’t know if I’ll ply it or just work with it as a single, it’s spinning so evenly it would work well as a single and I would have more yardage. I love the subtlety of this color. “Mist” is the perfect word for it.

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This is 4 oz of 70% Merino 30% Tencel blend. The picture makes it look like its silver and that’s because it is. Yeah, that’s right, SILVER yarn. I don’t know how the dye looks so metallic, but it’s wonderful.

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This is dyed by the same woman. It’s 4 oz of 70% Merino 30% Yak. That’s right, Yak. It’s wonderful. It’s harder to draft than the Merino/Silk but easier than the Targhee was. It’s on my spindle now. I don’t have a picture of it because it lives at Ryan’s house so that I have a project to work on when I’m there. Ryan seems to understand that having something for me to work on at his place is necessary for keeping me sane.

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This is 8 oz of 60% alpaca 40% wool. It’s super soft and I love the earthy colors. This will be interesting to spin since I’ve never spun from a bat before, only roving.

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These are 4 oz each of Blue Faced Leicester. They were $5 each. Amazing deal. I love the colors. They will make something fun to wear during the bleak Portland winters

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This is so shiny it’s impossible to get a picture of it. It’s the softest thing I’ve ever felt in my life. It’s 2 oz of pure silk. I don’t think I’ll be able to get any real yardage out of it, so I don’t know what I’ll do with it, but it’s worth it just to feel the fiber.

I haven’t really done much knitting. I’ve finished one project since my last post… (and I can’t even show it to you since it was a test knit and the pattern hasn’t been released yet.) I have several projects that will only take an hour or two to finish but I can’t bring myself to do the boring bits like weaving in ends, sewing on buttons, ribbing, etc. Hopefully, I’ll get something off the needles this week that I can show you.