Thursday, July 24, 2008

WIP-Blue Icies

I'm working on spinning up the Romeny/Mohair batt I got for this Ravelry challenge to spin a yarn which includes the theme of temperature. There's a new theme every Friday and I thought I'd give this one a shot since I had some fiber that fit the bill. The batt colorway reminded me of the blue ice packs we used as kids in our lunch boxes; we always called them "blue icies". I just hope I can ply some up and post it by this evening!!!

I'm thinking if spinning a thicker single to ply with this but we'll see!!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A FY, a forgotten FY, and a yarn sample gone awry

Here is the first finished (nearly dry) skein of Cameo. This is a roughly 50/50 Merino/Soysilk blend I carded on dog combs. This was spun on my Bosworth Featherweight and chain-plied on my Annie May; the WPI is 16 and the yardage is a mere 58. I do have another full bobbin to chain-ply and quite a bit more of this to blend and spin up.

A close-up:

I can't believe I forgot to blog this skein as it is my all-time favorite!!!!! This is a 1 oz. 2-ply of the Abalone bombyx silk hankies I got from Woodland Woolworks. This fiber was finished being spun up and plied on my Bosworth the day after I got it in the mail and I'm so over-the-moon about it that I can't believe I didn't blog it! Anyways this is approx. 16 WPI and 98 yrds. I think silk hankies are so wonderful to spin, so gorgeous, and fun to turn into roving too!!

A close-up:

And just for gits and shiggles here is the sample 2-ply of pure Soysilk that I spun on my Bosworth Lightweight before deciding to blend it to make drafting easier.

And a close-up:

I've soaked both the pue Soysilk and the Soysilk blend in a hot water bath to set the twist the way I normally set my skeins and the Soysilk smells terrible wet, like burnt tofu!!! Does anyone steam theirs or set it a different way? I can deal with the smell, but I was just wondering. I actually love the smell of wool, especially the smell of drying finished skeins!!!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Spinning Tip for the Humid Summer Weather

Now that we're into the real heat of summer, I've started having problems with the humidity making my hands a bit clammy and my fiber really fly-away-ey (shush it's my word). This was making carding and drafting difficult.  

Corn starch (or talcum powder if you prefer, but it is carcinogenic and not good for Asthmatics like me)! 

I started rubbing corn starch into my hands before starting to spin in order to absorb the extra moisture and keep my fiber running smoothly through my hands, and it's really done the trick!! 

Of course this is probably common sense to most people but I thought I'd share my little solution. Now you can use straight corn starch, but for us creative crafty types you can do what I did and take a little plain corn starch from your cupboard, add some dried skin-friendly herbs, grind with a mortar and pestle and WALA!!! Perfumed hand powder!!

I stored mine in an old spice jar(I picked one of the little ones like Cream of Tartar come in so I could throw it in my spinning bag and take it on the go.

I made mine with dried roses. I was going to add dried lavender as well but the jar is almost empty and I make a PMS/Cramp relief tea for GF with it, so I had to save it!

Make sure you are not allergic/sensitive to the herb(s) you add and make sure they are not eye irritants in case you rub your eyes while spinning away into the night!!

I've found that one light application of the powder will last through a couple of hours of spinning in a pretty humid room, but you should be able to reapply as necessary. I would recommend multiple light applications to pouring a ton on at first because it is quite slippery.

The corn starch also helped me draft the Merino blend easier by overcoming some of the greasy feeling the Merino still has. 

Hope this may help some of you dedicated spinners suffering through the summer heat elbow deep in wool!!

Chautauqua County Fair, Spinning Update

Yes it that time of the year again. GF and I went to the fair today before she had to go to work. She's working all evening shifts today and I have an unheard of 3 days off this week (!!!!!), so we braved the morning t-showers (it cleared off pretty much as we got there) and spent a couple of hours wandering.

Unfortunately my favorite ride of all time was closed down while we were there (major pouting!!!!), it's one of the few fair/park rides I go on and I could ride it all day!!!

Most of our time was spent looking at all the animals.

First the "zoo" animals...
Look how cute the Ring-Tailed Lemurs were all cuddled together!!!

This Black Tufted Lemur was sooo cute in his basket too!!

Now onto the livestock barns!
We saw everything but I took pictures sparingly with my phone because the quality isn't very good.

A calf (so sweet!!):

SHEEPIES!!!! Most of the sheep they had were Suffolk, Dorsets and X's but I don't remember what these were.

I saw a few breeds I'd never heard of before: Hamp, Shropshire, Dorper and this one...Montdale (their noses are so long!):

A Border Leiscester:

They were shearing and there were bags of fleece and there were yearlings and my brain fell out of my head for all of this and forgot to take pictures!! Sadly there were no wool vendors, in fact there were hardly any vendors at all this year!!! I was tempted to talk to the shearer about getting some fleece, but since I don't have combs yet, I resisted.

Then onto the goats..look at the kids!!!

And some more goats:
One of the goats in the barn (whose breed I didn't catch but had the most lovely coloring, deep reddish brown with a black stripe down its head and back) decided that once I started scratching his head I wasn't allowed to leave!!! Of course this caught all the other goats' attention and I was stuck scratching goats for 15 minutes...well there are worse things, I do love goaties!!!

Of course there was also fair food (one of my favorite parts of the Fair). We had curly fries, fried dough and fresh squeezed lemonade!!!

In spinning news: I finally finished Navajo plying the rest of the Peacock blue Colonial singles that were thinner than the ones I'm gifting. It turned out to be 16 WPI (as opposed to the 12 WPI the other skeins had!!!) and 90 yards. I also plied about 60 more yards of my shawl Alpaca and spun about a half bobbin of the Cameo singles. I have tomorrow off too and Friday so there will probably be lots of spinning going on, including my first wheel spinning on Friday!!!!!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

50/50 Mohair/Romney batt, Handspun WIP & Herb Garden Pics

As promised here are the pictures of the 8 oz. 50/50 Mohair/Romney batt I purchased yesterday from Strings and Things. I haven't started to spin any of this up yet but I did notice there's more VM and neps in it than I would like. It looks like quite a lot for 8oz., both the full and half batt are folded in half in the picture below. It was getting ready to rain, and the wind was picking up so I had to fold them to keep them from blowing away!! I excited to start spinning this because it contains 2 fibers I've never tried before!

A closeup:


Another closeup:

This is what has been on the Bosworth Lightweight lately (I know, I know, I should be spinning for my shawl). This is more of the rose Merino I've been working with, which I blended with the natural Soysilk I bought about a week ago. I have a much better attitude towards the Soysilk now that I've used it in a blend. The staple length of the Soysilk and the Merino are similar, blending with Merino makes the Soysilk so much easier to draft, and the Soysilk really helps add some smoothness and silkiness to the Merino. I think the Merino I purchased was very coarse in comparison to other descriptions I've heard, and it was not a joy to spin unblended. 

Fiber unpleasant to spin by itself + Fiber unpleasant to spin by itself= Very nice blend!!!

I'm anxious to try another Merino from a different source though, because I know so many people love it!

Anyways, I call this Cameo (It'll probably end up as a 2-ply):

Completely unrelated from spinning, here are some pictures of my herbs! (The bird mesh it to keep the woodchucks out grrrrrrr!!)

Tricolor Sage & Golden Oregano:

(This plant is something every spinner should grow because it's used to repel moths and other insects. I plan on making sachets filled with dried Rue and Lavender to put in my fiber and yarn stash bags.

English Lavender and Lemon Balm:

Winter Savory and Sweet Marjoram:

Basil (Which only looks droopy because its not time for their evening watering yet and I'm hoping it'll rain soon. You fellow herb growers should know basil is the first to start drooping on these blasted hot days!!)

Friday, July 18, 2008

First Spinning Class, New Fiber Stash, Spinning Wheel Savings Update

I signed up for my first spinning class today. It's going to be on Friday the 25th at my LFS & I'm going to be learning on a Kiwi. I also found out from the owner that she sells wheels on consignment, and I only need a 2/3rds down payment. I am only about 100 dollars away from the 2/3 mark!!! ::HAPPY DANCE!!:: She does carry the Traveller and I was trying very hard not to drool over it!

As a consolation prize I purchased 8oz. of a 50/50 Mohair/Romney blend in blues and greys (I'll try to post pictures tommorow, it was too dark by the time I got home tonight).

We also stopped at two local farm stands and got more fresh goodies. The other day we got fresh local cherries, raspberries and sugar and butter corn on the cob, yummy!!!! Today I got 2 zuchinni, an onion, 2 heads of garlic and a pint of blueberries!!!! I love harvest times, but I sure miss the orchard I grew up by!!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Alpaca 2-ply, Silk Hankies & Soysilk

Last night I finished plying the first of the coffee Alpaca singles. Today (my only day off as I've been working 6 day weeks) I was rewarded with a much expected package. I ordered some more fiber stash from Woodland Woolworks and today it arrived!!!This is a 1 oz. stack of silk hankies in the Abalone colorway which is currently being spun on my Featherweight.
I also got 4 oz. of natural-colored soysilk, which I can tell will be interesting to work with (read frustrating), but its soooo pretty!
This bad picture is of my first skein of coffee Alpaca 2-ply. Yardage is 116, WPI is 18. The cat almost lost one of his lives over this skein as he decided to wrap himself up in it as I was winding it onto the niddy noddy. This was after I had already become frustrated with plying (I was plying on my Annie May) as I couldn't fill the spindle as full as I wanted without the yarn snapping. I have more singles to ply, including one 1/4-filled bobbin, but I think I need a breather from it. Luckily that wonderful set of distractions has been added to my fiber stash today; what perfect timing!!

Monday, July 7, 2008

A New Baby in the Family, FY & Spinning Wheel Fund Update

Below is my brand new Bosworth Featherweight Top Whorl Walnut drop spindle which my wonderful GF bought me from Bellwether. After searching and searching for just the right lightweight to bring into my new spindle family, I stumbled upon Bosworth spindles. I am thrilled with my new baby and it spins Alpaca like a breeze! The single on the spindle is an Alpaca fiber sample sent with my spindle, just the same fiber and color as my current spinning project, how perfect!! Of course after ripping into the box (after getting home from an exhausting and HOT day at work, nothing is quite the same as getting a package, particularly a spinning-related one that you weren't expecting for a few more days!!) and admiring the beauty of this tiny little spindle, I set to work testing it out. I can't give this spindle enough praise!! This is the first top whorl I've ever used and I just love it, and it spins forever!!! No more breakage problems with my Alpaca singles from now on! ::HAPPY DANCE::

I love my other spindle, and it's great for some fibers and yarn weights, but at just under 2 oz. my Alpaca singles were slipping and snapping, and I was dropping my spindle over and over. ::tear:: Even adding tons of twist didn't help...I knew I just needed the right tool for the job!

The Bosworth Lightweight in Walnut weighs just .38 oz.!!!

This is my latest FY. I separated the light streak from the navy wool blend I purchased awhile ago and spun it as a thin single while spinning the rest as a thick and thin single. I am really happy with the effect gained from plying the two as the thin single acts as a highlight. This is 62 yrds. made from 2oz. of a wool blend sold for felting in my LYS. I always dig through the basket of wool blend bits the owner has while I'm there and I was surprised when she told me that she'd never thought of spinning with it!! The fibers aren't as tangled as I expected from felting fiber, drafting it wasn't very hard, and while it's not the nicest stuff, I think it looks great as an inexpensive novelty yarn!
Oh and a quick update on the Spinning Wheel Fund, I am over 1/4 of the way to my wheel!!!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Peacock Navajo Ply, Alpaca Single, Spinning Wheel Savings Update & Fiber Wish List

Below is my first attempt at Navajo plying, which I finally figured out thanks to a very informative video posted by Rexenne AKA Crow Calling Woman:

I prefer the navajo plying method to traditional 3-ply, which tends to tangle on me. I could not Navajo ply my very fine singles without it breaking, but perhaps with practice I can. I think it would be easier on a wheel, as your hands are not also trying to control the spin. This skein and the little one on the niddy noddy equal 176 yrds. I still have some singles left to ply, but they are much thinner so I'm going to keep them for myself and just gift away the 12 wpi skeins.

On the spindle right now is some of the coffee alpaca that is destined to become a 2-ply for the shawl I'm going to make myself.

I had a very good week for tips last week and my Spinning Wheel Savings Jar total is now $84.50, more than a sixth of the way!!!!! At this pace I hope to have my wheel before the fiber festival!!

Fiber Wish List (A list of fibers I have not yet tried that I simply must ASAP in order of urgency)
Silk (Hankies are what I really have a HANKERING for lol)
Mohair locks
Superwash Merino

Now is it apparent why I'm looking for a lightweight drop spindle? LOL
I'm sure this list won't be fulfilled for quite some time, but when it is, I've got another in the wings.