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.

Alpaca Silk

This alpaca/silk I finished spinning the other day is finally dry, measured, and skeined up.  I ended up with about 270 yards of mostly fingering-weight yarn.

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I say “mostly fingering” because there are a few spots where it’s more of a sport weight, but they’re actually pretty few and far between.  I was amazed at how consistently I was able to spin this fiber.
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The fiber is from Abstract Fiber and it created a heavenly soft yarn.  My only complaint is that something about their dyeing/prep process seems to pack down the fibers pretty tightly so that there is a lot of pre-drafting needed to fluff up the fiber so it’s spinnable.  The colorway is Mt. Hood Rose and the fiber is 70% alpaca, 30% silk.  My LYS has chosen the Rustling Leaves Beret as the February knit-a-long and I think I will see how it looks in this yarn.  I’m hoping the yarn is a solid enough color that it doesn’t obscure the pattern.

More spinning

It’s been kind of a major weekend of spinning for me.  For those of you not in law school, this is how it works.  Your whole grade is determined by your score on the final exam.  There are no mid-terms, essays, or anything else for the 13 weeks of the semester, just general reading homework and class leading up to one big test.  While this makes the last third of the semester absolute hell, it actually means that the first several weeks of the semester are kind of relaxed (at least I’ve never begun preparing before the half-way mark–too likely to forget before the test comes.)  I’ve taken the relatively relaxing beginning of the semester to get lots of fun fiber stuff done (in anticipation of the later hell that will keep me from the fiber.)

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For Christmas, my mom gave me this yummy soft alpaca merino blend.  Turns out there is an alpaca farm not far from where she works and she stopped by to investigate.  She picked me up this naturally colored fiber along with two lighter shades as well.  My mom also got me the drop spindle for me for my birthday.  It’s the Knit Picks Turkish spindle.  The quality of the spindle is only so-so.  Clearly an example of “you get what you pay for.”
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I spin a drop spindle by flicking the shaft between my fingers (sort of like you would as if you were snapping.)  This particular spindle doesn’t work well with my method because the arms don’t fit very snuggly around the shaft.  This means that sometimes the shaft spins but the arms don’t.  Now that I have more fiber wrapped around the arms, it seems to prevent this problem, but it was a real pain when I was first starting.  I only have about 2 ounces, so my plan is to try to spin this as a stable single to maximize yardage.  We’ll see if it works…

Satisfaction

I was patient and waited until this evening to ply my singles from yesterday.  However, I got a comment from someone on Google+ saying that she never waits to ply, she just fills a bobbin then uses her ball winder to make a center pull ball and plies from both ends.  Anyone else tried this?  Anyone ply without waiting overnight?  How much of a difference does it make?  My finished yarn on the bobbin:

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This color is near impossible to photograph well.  At least for my mediocre photography skills.  The fiber is 70% alpaca 30% silk.  It started out looking like this:
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Spinning muted the color changes quite a bit, but there are a few places where pink barberpoles around the cream.  I managed to spin pretty darn consistently, after dividing the roving into two halves and spinning the singles and then plying them this is all that was left on my “fuller” bobbin:
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After plying, I used my swift to skein up the yarn so that it could be washed.  I don’t bother to use the niddy noddy at this stage because the length will change with washing and hanging anyway.
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Then I drop the whole thing in the sink with some wool wash.  I just picked up this tester-sized bottle of Eucalan and I love it.  It’s grapefruit scented, but not overpoweringly so, just enough to be pleasant.  For $4 it was a great way to see if I liked the scent.  I used less than 1/10 of the bottle, so it’s a pretty good value.  (Especially compared to the $10 per bottle of SOAK testers.)
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The fiber is Abstract Fiber Alpaca Silk  in colorway Mt. Hood Rose.  It appears to be available on the website, but they don’t have a picture.  I got mine at For Yarns Sake.  I let you know the final yardage and weight once it’s fully dry.

SIP (Spinning In Progress)

You know you are falling behind on your blogging when you non-knitting boyfriend notices that you haven’t posted in a while.  (Thanks for the kick in the butt Ry! Love you!)  It’s been a solid three weeks since I’ve posted anything.  Partially it’s because I don’t have anything finished and my favorite posts are showing off finished things.  Partially it’s because the weather has been horrible… 5 straight days of rain… and there’s been no sunlight to take pictures in.  My apartment is destroyed and I don’t want you all to see the mess.  Really, I’m thinking of you all.  It’s bad.

I’ve been very uncommitted to any one project lately so all my projects have some progress but not lots.  Mostly I’m trying to get some market bags done for my mom’s birthday present (her birthday is December 21.)  I’ve got some socks going for working on at sock hour at the yarn shop.  A sweater that I started as part of an October knit-a-long and am only about half done with.  Socks that I can’t work on at sock hour so only get attention when I’m on the bus.  A cabled pullover in bulky yarn that I love but don’t focus on too much because every time I do I feel guilty I’m not working on gift knitting.  Granny squares for an afghan that I sometimes have interest in.

There are some other things I need to cast on as gifts, but I think I’ll keep them a secret for now.  But I don’t want to talk about any of that right now.  Right now, I want to show you my current spinning project.

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That is 2 oz. of Alpaca/Silk from Abstract Fibers in colorway Mount Hood Rose.  This luscious fiber is 70% alpaca 30% silk.  I’ve spun it to a lace weight but I’m planning on spinning another 2 oz. and plying it so that I get a fingering weight.  I’m hoping for enough yardage for a triangle shawl–they make the best winter scarves because they cover the whole gap in my coat, not just up by my throat.

Spinning this was a bit hard to adjust to.  I’ve never worked with alpaca before or any other really long-stapled fiber and I wasn’t used to drafting with my finger so far apart.  Once I finally figured it out and got in my rhythm it spins so smoothly and it can be drafted down to almost nothing.

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The yarn is not as garish as the photos make it look.  The sheen from the silk and alpaca make it hard to photograph.  Especially in the bad lighting the weather has left us with here in Portland.  Don’t expect good pictures on the blog again until June… grumble rain grumble grumble

A spinning miracle

So I showed you the beautiful new wheel I got at Sock Summit.  Time to show you what I’ve created with it so far.

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This is a 2-ply worsted (mostly) weight yarn that I spun up in about 3 days.  One day for each single, then another day to do the plying.  Honestly I would have finished in two days except that I’ve heard that you have to let your singles “rest” overnight before you ply.  Anyone know why this is? What’s the benefit?  It was pretty frustrating to have to not use my new wheel while I waited.

I wanted to try to spin a thicker yarn as recently I’ve been drafting down to almost lace weight.  The choice of ratios presented by the Joy and the ability to finely adjust the tension made it pretty easy to stay at solid worsted weight.  That’s not to say that there are not some think and thin spots, but very few.

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In fact, that’s where my miracle comes in.  You know how you have to split your fleece into two so that you can spin your singles, then you ply your singles into a finished yarn?  (Of course you do.)  You also know how no matter how hard you carefully separate your fleece, you always end up with more left in one “half” than the other.  Well, look at this.

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That’s how far I was off by.  Less than a yard.  When my first bobbin ran out and I looked at the other to see how much was left I could hardly believe my eyes.  My singles were by no means perfectly consistent, but they must have been inconsistent in pretty darn equal amounts.

The fleece I started with looked like this.

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It came in 3 little 1.5 oz. slivers of natural undyed Corriedale wool.  I got it during the Portland Yarn Crawl back in March.  It was pretty soft to the touch as sliver.  Now that it’s spun it has a slightly “rustic” feel to it, but not too bad.  I plan on making the Habitat hat with it.  All in all I ended up with about 168 yards so it should be just enough.  Awesome.

Sock Summit

Dear YarnHarlot,

I walked into the Portland Convention Center totally excited to be attending Sock Summit for the second time.  When I saw YOU hanging out talking to someone right in front of the booth for buying marketplace tickets I (internally) “lost my shit” as they say.  I grabbed my boyfriend’s arm and frantically (hopefully quietly) whispered to him “That is the YarnHarlot!” (Yes, I dragged my boyfriend to Sock Summit, he was awesome about it, proving he is the best man on the planet.)  You were talking to someone and I wanted so desperately to ask to take a picture with you.  While you were talking I started thinking, “you know, I bet she’s really busy, I bet she has tons and tons of stuff to do, I bet it would be a total inconvenience to break up her flow and ask her to stop what she’s doing for me, especially when she’s running this amazing show (with some help) and I’m just here on my Saturday off to spend a grip of money on some yarn, I bet she’d be totally resentful and hold it against me and spend the rest of her days telling stories about how this totally rude girl in a black dress with a nose ring completely threw off her chi on the second day of Sock Summit and made the whole experience crap.”  So, I didn’t ask for the picture.  I’m a wuss.  I don’t like talking to strangers at the best of times, and even though I’ve read your whole blog and have, in a teeny tiny way, been a part of your life, whether you know it or not, in real life you’re still a stranger and I’m still a wuss.

All my knitterly-love,
Melanie

P.S. I did the same thing with Franklin Habbit.  I convinced myself that maybe it wasn’t Franklin.  Maybe I would just end up making a fool of myself in front of some other 5’2″ bald dude with a goatee wearing a utili-kilt who came to Sock Summit and can’t understand why people keep pestering him.

Now that my lack of courage is on public display, lets see the goodies!

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Cats not acquired at Sock Summit, they’re just nosey.

What’s that you ask?  Oh, why yes, that is an Ashford Joy spinning wheel.  Why yes, I did buy it at Sock Summit.  Why yes, I’ve already spun over an ounce of beautiful brown cormo on it.  Why yes, I love it like a baby.  Why yes I did spend all day at work today (my first day away from it) wondering if it was OK in the apartment with only the cats and the Babe to keep it company.  I went to Sock Summit pretty sure I was going to buy a spinning wheel but pretty sure I was going to buy a Schacht Sidekick because it’s also small and folds up and is a bit less expensive.  I pointed one on display out to Ryan saying “that’s the spinning wheel I’m going to get” and he said something strange.  He said, “that doesn’t feel like your wheel.”  In my head I sort of thought “you’re crazy, that’s what I came here for.”  We found a booth that had several spinning wheels including a Sidekick and what is now my Joy.  The woman running the booth insisted I try them both.  From the minute I started treadling on the Joy I knew it was the wheel for me.  Spinning on it feels effortless.  It’s perfect.  The cats are totally jealous.

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The first booth I hit up after acquiring my new wheel was the Sanguine Gryphon booth.  Yummy.  I wanted to take one of everything home with me but alas I had to be content with just these two precious skeins.  The carmel-y colored skein is Skinny Bugga! in Honeybee.  It’s screaming STEPHEN WEST at me, we’ll see what pattern it ends up in.  The gorgeous teal is Gaia Lace in Lobstrosity (I think that name should go on a red yarn because it makes me thing of Lobsters… anyone know why it’s teal?)

While standing in the Sanguine Gryphon booth trying to make an impossible choice I asked Ryan, “what’s the most beautiful thing in the booth?” trying to get his opinion.  He said “You.”  AWWWWW. Good man.

Next booth was the Signature booth.

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Those are 5 size 1 double pointed needles in 5″ length.  I want to cast on new socks immediately just to try them out.  Other than the spinning wheel these were my most expensive splurge.

Next was the Fiber Optic Yarns booth where they had this on display.

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It’s the Evenstar Shawl knit in hand-spun from one of her gradient-dyed yarns.  Of course this colorway was totally sold out, but I’ll be stalking her online shop so that I can try to make a replica of this beauty.  I did buy this 50% merino 50% tencel blend from her booth…just to tide me over till I can get my hands on the gradient.

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Also on the fiber front I got this 4 oz Tussah Silk top from Teresa Ruch Designs.

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I’m thinking of trying to spin it down to a lace weight to get the most milage out of the luscious silk.

The last fiber I bought was this gorgeous top from HAY by Rachel. It’s only 4 oz but it’s so fluffy it takes up as much space as most 8 oz tops.  It’s superwash merino.  I’m hoping it spins up nice and tweedy because of the carmel splashes.

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Lastly, I bought these earrings made from cross-sections of old aluminium knitting needles.  I love them because I know it’s knitting jewelry but it’s totally inconspicuous.

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Overall it was an awesome Sock Summit, minus my wuss-ness about asking the YarnHarlot for a photo. I hope you had as pleasant a weekend.

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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.