Category Archives: spinning

Happy Birthday to me

Can it be?

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Why yes, it is!

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It took me a couple of years to ponder whether or not I wanted to take the plunge, but I’m glad now that I did. A spinning wheel is mine! New worlds of obsession fiber crafting await. I’ve only done a little bit of spinning on it so far – I suspect it may have to wait until my Sock Summit prep and Sock Summit itself is passed – but I’m very pleased to welcome my new Little Gem into my crafting life.

And since it’s my birthday, I’m going to play with my yarn now. I hope you get to do that too today.

But tomorrow – I promise – there will be an Autumn Rose finished sweater post. And just you wait and see it’s going to be LEGEN-

(wait for it…)

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A Good Day for Yarn

It’s been a full 24 hours in Nova Scotia so far, and so far it’s going well. My Halifax friends are lovely hosts as ever, and today we ventured north of the big city towards the Wolfville area. My gravest concern, naturally, was to seek out Gaspereau Valley Fibres, which I’d heard from Kim was worth the trip.

And lo, it was. I think if I lived in that area this shop would be likely to become my LYS. They had a nice supply of ubiquitous yarns like Mission Falls, Fleece Artist, Manos, Briggs & Little, and also a wonderful selection of spinning fibre. It was very hard to choose, but since Kim’s turned on the spinning portion of my brain, I had to go for that, didn’t I? I mean, didn’t I? Just look at this one corner:

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They are a great stop, are Gaspereau Valley Fibres. Very friendly, very browsable with maybe also some Fleece Artist seconds shhh it doesn’t count as a sock yarn purchase if it’s that much of a steal does it? I didn’t think so, and with a fantastic selection overall. My friend Jenn, pictured here, made out with a pair of skeins of Manos wool-silk, and a skein of laceweight.

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I was a bit more generous in my spending, but man, the wool fumes were strong, I couldn’t help it.

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The red is 8 oz of merino/bamboo blend from Frog Tree Fibers, which I am happily going to save for my spinning wheel days when I want to branch out into non-wool blends, and that enormous fluffy ball of goodness is 250g of merino/tussah silk blend. It’s soft like butter and it is also coming home with me for a rainy spinning day. The yarns are 2 skeins of Fleece Artist seconds, in darker shades which I am trying to stash more of for sock knitting, and a beautiful, recently-produced find from Prince Edward Island – bamboo/merino/bison laceweight from Fibre-Isle Fine Yarns. I can’t even begin to talk about how soft this is. This silvery grey skein is about 600 yds and enough for a beautiful scarf or shoulder shawl. Delicious.

From there we carried on down the road to Gaspereau Vineyards, one of several vineyards in the area. The tour was very informative, the wine sampling certainly made us a bit more relaxed, and in general it was a nice addition to the sunshine-filled day. A recommendable tour.

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And now I have some yarn, wine, and cheese to contemplate here chez my hosts. Yarn and wine, they just go together like…things that go really well together. This weekend’s just getting started over here. I hope yours is relaxing! Keep the knitting close by.

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Filed under knitting tourism, spinning, stash, yarn stores

Getting the hang of this

About two years ago when I started spindle-spinning, I said I’d gradually save up cash for a wheel, and if I still wanted the wheel when I had the cash, I’d go for it. I think I am ready to say I will become a spinning wheel owner sometime in the near future. I want to be able to make more things like this:

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This is my second wheel skein that I did a week ago using Kim‘s Little Gem. Kim was generous enough to give me a few bits of roving to use along with it, and I believe this was some plain corriedale or similar sheepswool. It was lovely to practice with. This is 93g of something Aran-ish or close to it.

Then, this past weekend I hastily finished up a third skein before getting the wheel back to her, using some merino/silk blend. I love me some silk blend in just about any form, so this was certainly no exception. I can definitely tell that the merino part of it added a bit more challenge, but the silk adds strength. Good times had by all, except for when my plying got rushed toward the end. Still, Kim pronounced my efforts as highly successful:

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This one is about 70g of something close to a DK-weight. Both skeins are, unsurprisingly, over-twisted, and adding the spinning into the yarn-playing time of my week definitely contributed more arm/wrist strain, which I am now paying for a bit. But yes, me and spinning, I think we can be friends. (Also, plying with a lazy kate was so much easier than with a centre pull ball, I could just about weep.) Thanks so much for the wheel time, Kim, and for the highly skilled but subtle enabling.

Happy Moan-day…make sure the yarn is close by!

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The things we do for yarn

Seriously, folks, no wonder people look at knitters funny. As if knitting clothes from scratch isn’t good enough, no no, we have to go make the process even longer and harder. We have to go and make the yarn, too.

I began early forays into spinning a year or two ago thanks to Kate‘s tutelage with the spindle, and enjoyed it enough to want eventually to try a wheel. After chatting with Kim on my Toronto stint lat month, she offered to let me try out one of her wheels next time, so yesterday she made good and came by with her Majacraft Little Gem and gave me a pretty awesome starter lesson. (Including such wisdom as, “Glenna stop helping the twist with your fingers. That’s what the whole SPINNING WHEEL IS FOR.”)

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I’m grateful to have had some practice with the spindle first, because I understand already about things like drafting and pre-drafting, and can tell that regardless of spinning mechanism, I am picking up right where I left off at the spindle and am coming out with alternating stringy-floss bits and consistent bits and slubby chunky bits. This little guy (gal?) above is my first skein from Kim’s lesson yesterday (cue “ootchie cootchie coo”), and I’ll take it. Fine first foray. After spending a bit of time today, and disbelievingly watching the time tick by so quickly, I have a second bobbin that looks like this:

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Oh don’t let that surface image fool you, there are plenty of kinked-up over-twisted bits hiding under there. But still, I am heartened that I do not seem to be producing the worst crap ever, and am glad to have another day or two to play with this before heading back to Hamilton. My current challenges include: figuring out how to draft the proper and consistent amount of fiber through my fingers; consistently treadling in the forwards direction; getting used to the idea that getting better takes “a lot of practice” and “time”, or some such nonsense. Doesn’t the spinning wheel know I am impatient? Harumph.

So yes, things continue apace, and I am getting in more rows on Autumn Rose as well. Hanging out with the cats has been enjoyable this week and it is nice down time. Daytime hours make me largely second fiddle to sunbeams, but then come the evening Greedo and Somerset are very much, “hi we’re just going to sit all over you until you feed us bedtime snack. You’re okay with that, right? PURR.” It is, as you can see, a very very hard life being a cat.

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And finally, I have caved. I am on Twitter: GlennaKnits (GlennaC was already taken, curiously enough). I reached a point where it seemed like absolutely everyone in the universe was on Twitter except me, so I’m going to check it out. I can’t tell yet if my ‘tweets’ are witty enough to follow regularly, but if you’d like to follow me please do. I’ll give it a few days before deciding if I want to include the feed on my blog. More ways to blather on the internets, right?

Until next time, when I may or may not have developed a Repetitive Spinning Injury. One can only hope.

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Cue the cooing

It’s baby’s first handspun. Well, first handspun AND first attempt at plying. I got the key things done this morning and was sitting around waiting for a few computer things to start working (not my computer, stuff on the university end), and was contemplating miscellaneous fibre-related things and thought to myself, “stop saying you’re going to ply and just PLY.” I got the pink fluffy stuff that I’d spun up when Kate visited in October and brought a bit of pink roving and a handmade spindle just for moi. I’d spun it all up, just hadn’t done anything with it yet, on account of that plying thing.

To cut to the chase – after an hour or so I had this (ootchie cootchie coo):

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Now, I’m quite willing to call a spade a spade here – it’s a wee tiny skein of pink fuzzy crud, but at least it’s MY skein of pink fuzzy crud. Spun back in October on a wobbly drop spindle (Kate knows it was wobbly, as much as I do love it there is sadly the wobbling), left to sit for months while I worked up the mental energy to go back to it.

I started with this:

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Read up on Andean plying here and then did this:

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Which eventually became a spindle full of this:

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Nice fuzzy completely unevenly twisted (and unevenly spun, for that matter) strands of this:

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Which weighed up to just under 30 grams of my very own fuzzy pink worsted/chunky handspun. Conversation piece yarn, no? I can’t imagine what I’d make with such a small amount anyhow, so I’m quite happy to just let it be a skein.

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Good times.

I can tell that practice does make perfect. I am looking forward to getting more practice at the plying and I hope I can do it better next time around. I think I missed a step and was supposed to have left the Andean pre-ply stuff around my wrist (and not, as I did, dropped by my side as I was spinning the plies, ahahahaha), so that is goal #1 for next time. And there will be a next time, because I’ve been gradually accumulating more bits of fibre.

Martha got me a Fleece Artist braid of merino/alpaca at Christmas and I’ve been gradually turning it into this:

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Still imperfect, but better. I suppose that is generally a good way to be.
Spinning ahoy!

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You’re a nummy treat

How could I have left out the important part of Rhinebeck – the purchases? Right you all were to harass me. Well, let me tells ya – after this weekend it’s going to have to be lean times around here at Knitting to Stay Sane, but I have no regrets on my purchases and I can’t wait to start using them.

[Warning! Lots of pictures in this post once again.]

First, the Socks That Rock. I didn’t expect to buy this. In fact, this was the only unexpected purchase of the day. We arrived at around 10:30am, and since the grounds had been open since 9am and I’d heard all these horror stories about the huge lineups for STR and “get there at dawn or you’ll be sorry!”, I fully expected there to be nothing left. But there we were at 10:30am in Building A, and I decided to check it out, and lo and behold there were still plenty of skeins left. I became powerless.

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At first I picked up 4 different single skeins, then went and stood in line. But as I stood there I reasoned with myself that I had plenty of sock yarn at home in regular-sock amounts, although what I didn’t have was sock yarn in knee-sock amounts. So I did some re-thinking, left the line (but the ladies let me come back, I even asked their permission, good Canadian that I am) and started putting a couple of skeins back. What I came back with was 2 skeins each of Jasper and Garnet Dreams, and one of Peacock – possibly the last skein there was. I was pleased to note at 4pm that, while there remained yet a few more skeins of STR on the hooks, none of the remaining colours were ones that I had purchased – but the ones I had put back were indeed still there! I lucked out.

My ‘to buy’ list included a sweater’s worth of something worsted, a drop spindle, and some roving for me to keep practicing with. I found the sweater’s worth of something from Wild Apple Farms, in this cranberry-heather sort of shade:

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It was a freakin’ bargoon, my peeps. $33 for 7 skeins. I hope that I will not regret passing on the 8th skein, but as it is this should be enough for a new Twist cardigan, to replace the dearly departed one of a few posts ago.

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Ta ra, ta ra, an Ashford drop spindle all for meeeeee. Rebecca helped me pick one that wasn’t too heavy, and I look forward to using it. It’s sitting there against a bag of dyed wool (not sure what kind) roving from A Touch of Twist that was too pretty not to buy. And then there was more in the roving area…

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Here we see half a pound of merino/silk dyed roving from Cloverleaf Farms. It was once again, too pretty to pass up. Except then, after I bought it, R had to listen to me whimper things like, “But wait, isn’t merino supposed to be hard? What if should have bought something else? Shouldn’t I be spinning with crud first and then working up to the hard stuff?” So then I ended up with this:

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It is entirely possible that I swung too far in the other direction, but all I know is that it was a half a pound of something woolen for six bucks. It is also entirely possible that this is simply glorified dryer lint (I am not really sure if this drafts or even has a staple length), but hey. At least it’s something that I won’t care deeply enough about if I screw it up, and I can work on it first and practice my technique. And if I have to throw it out the window and disavow all knowledge of it, that wouldn’t be the biggest loss ever. And at least it’s green! Pretty, pretty green!

So all in all a great weekend. The icing on the cake was getting a day and a half tacked on to see a bit of New York City. And a fine, fine city it is.

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Filed under rhinebeck, spinning, stash

Ready for Rhinebeck

My Ribby Cardi is finished, hurrah! Here I am, slightly blurry, with the finished product:

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I like the colours, it’s very comfortable, and I’m glad I did the ribbed buttonband once again. Only problem? I am 100% sure that I should have knitted a smaller size, likely the 38/39 size and not the 40/41 size. I think it’s pretty obvious it’s a size too big, which is a bit of a bummer since, don’t we all try to knit things that fit?

When I made this sweater last fall for my supervisor I made the 38/39 size and when I tried it on, it fit just a bit too snug for my own tastes, particularly around the shoulders. I chalked this up to slightly smaller gauge in both stitch and rows. My gauge hasn’t changed. When I tried this one on pre-washing it fit very nicely, but then after washing it seemed to floof out again, returning to its intended state and making me look like a dummo knitter who can’t even pick the right size, geez Louise! ::hangs head in shame::

Oh well. I will happily wear my mistake. It’s warm and comfy and I made it for ME, and darn it all I like it anyway. And in any case, it’s going to help ID me next week at the Rhinebeck wool festival in New York, for I am a happy participant in Rhinebeck Blogger Bingo.

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I wanted to sign up for this so that I would get myself out of my stupid habit of coming down with the Shy Quivers when faced with large groups of new people, and actually get out and meet new friends instead of focussing only on the yarn and spending $$ part. ;) I’m a square (Saturday) and a player – hey, I figured if I was going to go around stalking and accosting Rhinebeck people, then they should have the right to stalk and accost me back ;) And apparently there are prize draws, so I call that a win win all around.

Another thing I did this weekend will help me out with the Rhinebeck experience. I spun for the first time.

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Kate visited this weekend and did not do the typical houseguest thing and show up with, oh, a plate of cookies, or a bottle of wine, or any of these mundane things, but brought me a handmade drop spindle and a length of pink (she knows me well) roving. After dinner she showed me how to use the drop spindle (happily spinning away on her own bit of bright turquoise Louet roving), and before I knew it I was well on my way to the contents of the picture above. We joked that it looked not unlike spun candy floss.

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(Kate is 3/4 done with a pretty bitchin’ shawl, by the way.)

I’m definitely still getting the hang of it, but generally I like it. My biggest problem is pulling (“drafting”?) the fibre too thin as I drop and spin, and then it breaks and I have to reattach it, and then I end up with a lumpy bumpy part in the attempt to reattach it. Still, cool. (Dude! Did you know you can make your own yarn? What won’t those crazy kids think up next!)

And now I know what the heck one does with those sticks with pucks on the end, and the fuzzy stuff that comes in little bags. I don’t know how fast I want to dive into this whole new part of the fibre world (Warning. Warning. New Fibre Obsession in Range), but I’m at least comfortable knowing what I’m looking that and I can check out the Rhinebeck stalls for something new and interesting. (Genuinely, there is nothing in the yarn area that I actually need – not that that’s stopped me before – but it is true that I can’t just walk down the street and buy a drop spindle. Thank you Rhinebeck.)

Can’t wait for the weekend! Just gotta get some actual “work” done before then and I’ll be feelin’ fine.

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Filed under finished object: sweater, rhinebeck, ribbi cardi, spinning