Category Archives: spinning

What direction was I going again

The good news is, I am back on track with my Royale. I did in fact, rip it back to fix the mistake (The bad news is that in fact, I had to rip back twice, because after ripping back the first time and after resuming knitting it, I realized I hadn’t ripped back far enough the first time, and therefore had to rip out the re-knitted inch or so AND the original mistake, HAH what a fun time that was), and I believe it is all in the clear now. I did debate about it, since – as many of you pointed out last time – the mistake wasn’t as obvious to some people as it was to others. But I want to wear this sweater to Rhinebeck this year, and I realized I would be happier wearing it if I could say “hey, I really like my sweater, I designed it and everything!” instead of “I really like my design, but just pay no attention to the goof-up right over the middle of the front of it, that doesn’t count, lalalallaaa…”

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So I ripped it back. And now I think I am in the clear, and am almost back to the point I was at on about Monday or so. Two steps forward, two steps back, some days. Clearly, the fact that the design sample and pattern construction for this sweater was all pleasurable, efficient, and relatively mistake-free, has now come back to bite me on the ass. Let’s hope I’ve appeased the knitting gods for the time being.

Everything else is in a state of being in progress around here. Knitting, writing, the fact that I have to prep lectures and course materials for the coming term (a good thing in that I get to do it in exchange for money, it just requires a bit of mental sucking-it-up to actually get back into the swing of doing it), and it all adds up to me furiously wishing I had something actually done. I miss having finished objects. I’ve had so few of them this summer, despite having many things on the go, and many more design ideas brewing.

Aug6-Lace

Speaking of designs, I’m chugging away on a bit of lace to round out the end of the summer, including finishing up that yellow lacy thing for The Sweet Sheep (still lacy and yellowy, getting bigger), and a new red cashmere thingy which will be for Tanis Fiber Arts for September. (Which, isn’t the fact that it is red and cashmere pretty much all you need to know? I figure, anyway).

And, thankfully, after a 6 month (!) period of neglect, my spinning wheel is still speaking to me.

Aug6-Spinning

I’m so glad spinning wheels don’t hold grudges.

Happy knitting to you for the coming weekend! Until next time.

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Filed under cables, design, spinning

Did you know

Did you know, that sometimes, when you own a spinning wheel, you can actually go and use it? It’s true. And sometimes that spinning wheel will be kind enough with you that, should you stop spinning half-way through a skein, and neglect it for a few months entirely, the spinning wheel will NOT, actually, clomp its way into your bedroom in the middle of the night and beat the living daylights out of you until you promise to return to spinning with it.

No, it turns out that it will just wait patiently for you while you go on using your leisure time entirely for knitting and nothing at all related to spinning, despite promises of returning to a daily 20-minute spinning session. Spinning wheels are nice like that.

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This is a hand-dyed bit of Falkland wool from The Sweet Sheep, purchased back in the fall and which I started spinning up before Christmas. (Named ‘Flintstoned’, yuk yuk yuk). It’s been quite pleasant to spin.

As my first attempt at spinning something multi-coloured, I decided to try the approach of splitting the length of fiber down the middle lengthwise, then spin each half individually starting at the same end, then ply them both together and hopefully end up with something approximating a striped skein of yarn.

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And lo and behold, it sort of worked. It’s not perfect by any means, but there are definite sections of colour consistency – pink and blue and orange and purple sections, and the parts that weren’t perfectly matched are still nicely blended in similar tones for the most part. I’ll take it. It’s somewhere around a DK weight I think (104g altogether, not entirely sure of the yardage yet), and my consistency is gradually improving. I’m not quite as even as I would like to be, but I’m also not quite as over-twisted as I was in the beginning, and am cool with showing gradual progress.

The best part? This is how much was leftover after plying:

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GO ME. THAT’S RIGHT, BABY. Just a couple of little yards left on one bobbin, the rest completely plied up! I rule.

No idea what this yarn (or any of my handspun for that matter) will become yet. Right now my goal is just to keep on spinning and producing more handspun and see how it goes. I’d like to learn chain-plying at some point, and actually figure out how to integrate more spinning time into my week. Because as it turns out, the spinning does not actually happen when you aren’t looking. Dang it.

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And did you know that sometimes, you can actually make yarn? It’s crazy, crazy I tells ya. What they won’t think of next.

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You say ‘bitch’ like it’s a bad thing

In Julie Powell’s book Julie and Julia one of the cooking moments she describes is working through this one method of rice cooking which is extremely laborious and time consuming. Though reportedly tasty in the end, all the while Julie Powell is cooking it she goes through fits of yelling back at Julia Child through her cookbook, so that by the end of it her husband has dubbed the recipe ‘Bitch Rice.’

My spinning over the last couple of months has been progressing in a similar manner. It took me a month and a half to finish my 6th skein (though really it is 2 skeins), that teal blue Louet Corriedale I started spinning way back in September. I became so frustrated with the whole process that by the end of it all I could do was call it the Bitch Skein, as all it had done, seemingly, was to make my life miserable.

It took me several sessions to get anywhere near approaching moderately consistent weight; the wheel itself still refuses to settle and so the drive band still occasionally jumps right off the treadle so that I have to stop and put it back on again – or else it sits just barely at the point of jumping off the treadle and thus grinding the wheel speed to a slow slog, making it impossible for me to develop any kind of consistent treadling speed; By the time I got to the second bobbin I had to stop and start about five times when the fiber got away from me and disappeared somewhere into the fuzzy contents of the bobbin (at one point I let it sit idly for 3 weeks because i was terrified I had somehow re-started the bobbin somewhere in a new place and then when I tried plying it it would come back at me in a tangled 2-stream mess);

Then when I started plying it the lazy kate became Bitch Kate and absolutely refused to stay upright or in the same position for any more than about 30 seconds, thus once again making my attempts at plying consistency as futile as…well, something that’s really futile. And then the drive band would do its thing and jump off the treadle again.

When it was all done I couldn’t bring myself to skein it up, I just let it all sit there plied up on the 2 bobbins, in a corner as though forced into thinking about its crimes.

The thing is, though…Have you ever noticed that a lot of women who get called ‘bitch’ are usually pretty accomplished at what they do, don’t apologize for it, and still look really really good while doing it?

Skein #6 - Louet Corriedale 3

Skein #6 - Louet Corriedale

Yeah. Me too.

Damnit.

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I have decided

That I like predrafting my spinning fibre.

Sept10-Fibre

That is all.

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Slow News Day

Aside from struggling with course syllabi and the very idea of stringing together multiple productive thoughts, I am:

1. Very much in denial that it is already September.

2. Still knitting the same freaking Jaywalkers I started as my Sock Summit travelling socks. It’s not their fault, the darling things are very pretty (Lorna’s Laces in ‘Mixed Berries’), they’ve just kept getting shoved to the bottom of the knit list.

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3. Knitting away furiously on things which are not yet bloggable, but which soon shall be and the anticipation is killing me.

4. Now using Flickr Pro. After two bandwidth freakouts on my Photobucket account (which is two too many when each one involves re-building all photo links from scratch), I am migrating over to Flickr and am officially paying to blog. I think the Sock Summit posts must have done me in. However, the cost is worth it to save headaches and revive Flickr connections over there. (Also, makes re-ordering my Moo cards and composing photo mosaics lots easier, so bonus).

5. Still spinning. Witness the Louet Corriedale (top?) I plucked from my fledgling fibre stash, so beautiful and accommodating:

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I love it. I only just started spinning on it yesterday in a brief session but yes, I am loving the Corriedale, very much indeed so. It’s soft(ish) and grabby at the same time and does not mind speed at all, and yet I am trying very hard not to go too fast so as to better maintain consistency of short draw technique.

6. Learning how to use vocabulary like “short draw.”

7. Looking forward to the Kitchener-Waterloo Knitter’s Fair.

8. Wishing I was knitting right now.

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Filed under real life miscellaney, spinning

Progress

This morning I got up, had breakfast, and then sat down to finish plying my fourth skein efforts at the Little Gem. Lo and behold, I have managed to turn Kim‘s beautiful merino/seacell pencil roving (called ‘Brains belong inside your head’) into a skein of something approaching DK-weight.

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Still not balanced, but I am feeling better about my consistency and am definitely looking forward to more practice. I think I will try for about this same weight on my next couple of skeins, and hopefully not injure my poor Little Gem in the process…I have been having the odd surprise with the wheel, things like the drive band dis-lodging itself spontaneously from the treadle, and although this has been intermittent it definitely plays havoc with trying to maintain consistent speed.

And speaking of things that are purple, earlier this week I pulled out my current shawl project which I started before Sock Summit, but which has sadly been languishing ever since I came back from it. This is the Swallowtail shawl once again, which I am trying to enlarge by extending the bud lace to 19 repeats and intend to work a 3rd repeat of the lily of the valley.

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Wouldn’t you know it, even the nupps aren’t so bad any more. I could even start to enjoy them. I’m hoping to put in some quality time with this in the next week or so (famous last words, no?) so that I can move on to new things and have this as a fall wearable.

I hope your weekend is a good one! Keep the knitting close by.

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Filed under lace, shawls, spinning

Spinning wheels

“That” time of year is starting to get me. The time of year when I resist the fact that August is half over, when I want to go back to June and try to be more productive than what I have managed to scrape by with so far, when teaching anxiety dreams start to creep in (the sort featuring me in front of a room full of petulant and waiting students, with no lecture or lesson plan whatsoever), and I generally want to just dig a hole in my yarn stash and sit there and make the rest of the world go away.

Failing this, however, I am trying to remind myself that all the miscellaneous tasks and necessaries swirling around in my head still benefit from small progress as long as it is consistently done, and I am trying to take these small victories where I can get them. It is on the one hand, very nice to be surrounded by new yarns, but very dangerous to be distracted by them.

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Intriguingly enough, spinning is proving to work well with this state of mind. Over the last week or so I have been applying my efforts to 20-30 minutes of daily spinning and putting trust in this that I will, as a result, get better. (Admittedly, I also don’t want to do more than this much at a time as I am reluctant to add new forms of fiberly RSI to my list of stressors at this particular time). I like the fact that spinning forces me to concentrate on it and it alone. Unlike with knitting, I can’t watch TV at the same time (though I can listen), for example, so I like to think that this is also helping my brain a little bit.

I’ve barely dusted off my new Little Gem since it arrived, but I started out on it with the remainder of some white wooly roving that Kim lent me when she was letting me borrow her wheel as a try-out. I can tell that I am getting a little more consistent. My ambition in goal-setting terms is to be able to spin sock yarn (or fingering weight, at least…because, well, why wouldn’t a person want to be able to spin their own sock yarn?), though Kim keeps trying to apply sense and logic and has said things like “Glenna, maybe you should first try to just get to a third skein.”

Aug20-Skein3a

So, fine, Kim. Here’s my third skein. I hope you like it. I do. It’s about 100 yards weighing in around 90g. I spun the singles on the middle/third whorl groove and then plied it up into a 2-ply. It hasn’t had its bath yet, but even still I like the way it looks. It’s not balanced but it’s less over-spun than my first attempt, so score one for progress.

I’ve also got Skein #4 in the works, as I’ve started to work with some lovely merino/seacell pencil roving of Kim‘s that she gifted me with at the end of July. She very generously gave me a packet of her purple/pink (‘Brains belong inside your head’) and one of the bright green (‘Pond with the wind’), and at first blush I was starting to think she gave me two packets so that in case I royally screwed up the first one I would have a backup to fall on. It’s beautiful, soft, shiny, but really got away from me at first and it took me a couple of tries to get the hang of it.

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Happily, last night I finished up the first half of it and tonight or tomorrow will start up on the second half. I’m trying this on the second-smallest whorl and am curious to see how it plies up and if I can keep my skills going in the forward direction here.

Forward motion, it’s a good thing. On that note, I’m going to try to apply this to some more non-knitting tasks. Fingers crossed.

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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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