I have been busy spinning and knitting to make this art shawl. I have not blocked it yet but I love it
Picture of texture in better light
A friend in one of my spinning groups requested yarn entries in some off the New Mexico yarn competitions. He was training yarn judges. I reluctantly entered. Much to my surprise I won two blue ribbons at the Taos Wool Festival. I have posted photos of these before but here they are again.
I love to spin art yarns and I think beehives are really cool looking. I posted this on my weaving blog but thought I would also post it here. This is a nice way to display beehives in your weaving. It is called finger manipulated weft floats.
I have been trying to learn about crepe yarn. I used information from Sarah Anderson's Book to spin the yarn pictured below. I spun two singles S and over plied them in a Z direction, then I spun a single in the Z direction and plied it with the over plied z yarn, in the S direction.
When I spin tail spun yarn people ask me how do you use it. It is beautiful to knit with, I love it in rigid heddle weaving. I like to pull loops up throughout the tailspun areas and try to gently pull out the hanging locks. The picture below also uses regular corespun yarn. In one area I use a Saori technique of having two colors in one row... Every so often I wove in a very long teeswater lock to continue the idea through out!
Tons of fun. Wearing it feels like wearing sheep skin without hurting the sheep.(actually this yarn is mohair..so I guess it would be a goat.)
On to the next project.. Cannot wait to use this one!
Last week and this week and forever how long it takes me to get these down, I have been practicing spinning cocoons and beehives. The photo below the main single is a silk/merino blend and the cocoons and beehives are merino. At this point this is a slow process for me but I do love it. This skein has beehives. With just a few cocoons. I use a combination of techniques from Jacey Boggs' book and Sara Anderson's book.
One other fun way that I have been practicing behives is when I am corespinning I add a beehive out of the outer fiber.. It blends in well but adds a little character to my corespun.
In addition to core spinning. I have also been practicing thick and thin. I really enjoy spinning thick and thin and am excited about knitting this into a swatch
Yes.. These are intentional slubs. Lots of fun to spin and you can make some neat plied yarn with them.
Last week I decided to take the plunge into learning core spinning. Core spinning is when you have a core yarn and you spin fiber around that core. Usually this fiber is spun perpendicular to the core. I am using a commercial core. I put a lot of S (counter-clockwise) twist into the core before starting. I did this because I am very slow at core spinning, and I don't want to end up with a yarn that is over twisted. I am core spinning with Z (clockwise) twist.
I love the way batts spin up his way.
I am still working on spinning that Malabrigo roving...and not enjoying it... Probably why it is taking sooo long.
I took a break to ply some Other yarn I had sitting on a bobbin. It gave me a chance to try my new ashford freedom flyer. It worked great to ply with and I loved the bigger bobbin. It was a little weird using the o ring... I think it will just take some adjustment... Otherwise smooth sailing... 2 plys are so much easier than 3 plys.
I must confess I have had this shawl on my Triloom for some time... Now I am in the home from of finishing. I am trying to decide on a yarn for the border.
I saw my Triloom teacher today. She does incredible stuff with a Triloom...I would love to be as talented as she is.
I bought some beautiful Malabrigo roving. The color is incredible... The roving is not. It is terrible to draft. Normally I can easily spit my merino braids horizontally... Not this stuff. Eventually I did it but I had to predraft. It is like the fibers want to stick together....I have had to predraft most of this stuff and even then not the most fun to spin. I have another braid of this brand in a different color in my stash... I will report back it it is as horrible. I will not be buying this again. Here is a picture... Lovely but not fun!
I would love to have a microscope to examine fiber at a much closer level. For now camera magnification will have to do the trick. In the photo below are three hand spun fibers. The orange is a 2 ply BFL and silk blend. The purple is a 3 ply merino. The yellow is a 2 ply polwarth.
I find it interesting that the two ply polwarth and the 3 ply merino look so similar. I wonder if it is related to the bouncy springy characteristics of polwarth. Another important thig to remember is that polwarth were developed by combining 1/4 Lincoln and 3/4 Merino.. So the similarity to merino makes a lot of sense.
I am going to take this moment to rant on the expense of spinning tools. Of the major spinning wheel companies there are few if any that have wheels priced below 500$. Most spinning wheels price out at near 1000$ and many are even more. This is crazy....it has turned this into a craft for the wealthy. I am happy there are companies like Blue Bonnet Spinning wheels of Texas that do have wheels below 500$. I am also happy that many weaving guilds will rent spinning wheels at really low prices...
Drop spindles are another area where prices get crazy....70-80$ And more for a wooden drop spindle. I am sure they are pretty but do they really spin better than a 20$ Schacht spindle.
Of course drum carders cost another 500$... At least. I was lucky enough to find a rescue..but not everyone has that luxury.
I am currently watching another good Craftsy class. It is called sweetheart shawls. The teacher is Kristin Omdahl. She is wonderful. She has a great attitude and is very encouraging. In this class Kristin goes through every step. If you are a beginner knitter you could definitely take this class. The shawl patterns are lovely too. Kristin is a fantastic designer and she encourages you to modify her designs to make them your own. I love that with some of the techniques you learn you could take one of your already knitted shawls and add to it. The pattern titled Tiered Jasmine Shawl.. The technique where you add the tiers is modular method and Kristin even suggests trying it with shawls you already have... Very cool. I highly recommend this class.
I have a much better photo of my spinning of the merino braid of color peppers
It makes me even happier to be learning to spin three ply yarn. I notice it helps even things out more.
I converted my photos to black and white so I could better judge the difference the the three ply make. I did this so I would not be biased by the color. I still think the yarn on the bottom looks more even but it's not as noticeable in black and white.
I have been watching Judith MacKenzie's video on plying. She really encourages using at least a three ply yarn for knitting. And possibly even adding more plies. Truth be told I have never made any substantial amount of three ply yarn. I have practiced chain plying.. But only in small amounts. I have 8 ounces of beautiful merino that that ian have spun onto three bobbins. I decided that I was going to do it. I am finally going to make a real three ply following Judith's instructions. At first it was tough going... My yarn broke twice... This never happens when I make my two plies. I stopped and added twist to one of the singles... But I am not sure this was the actual problem... I was following Judith's Instructions exactly... And normally I hold my singles with my right hand and ply-draft with my left. When I switched back to the way I normally do it... Nothing more broke.
Tip: I had a lot of tangling at first so I put my bobbins as far apart as I could...I even put one on a separate lazy Kate. This helped me a lot.
My wheel does not hold a lot of fiber so here is about half way.. It's not perfect but I must admit it looks a lot better than my 2 ply yarn. I just gives a much more professional look. I totally can't wait to knit with this. Once I feel comfortable with 3 plies maybe I will move up to 4 or 5 plies.
I would not say that I am a good spinner. I can make yarn that I love and yarn that I can knit with. I feel like I have improved a lot in the last year but I still have a lot to learn. Why do I keep doing it ? Yummy fiber! There is a lot of wonderful fiber out there and it is wonderful to touch and look at. Some of it is so soft and some of it so colorful. Malbrigo sells some beautiful merino braids the colors are awesome and the prices are reasonable too! Of course there is nothing like a beautifully made batt to play with!
Do you remember your first knitting ? I remember mine. I kept the swatches and put them together to make a throw. It probably seems odd but I love this throw. When I look at it I remember how I struggled with those first stitches. The pink was my very first. I could not count rows... I could not tell the difference between a knit stitch and a purl stitch. The awakening I had when I read a book that explained those differences... How it made knitting so much easier to be able to read my knitting. I remember that then the only place I knew of to buy yarn was Hobby Lobby. I remember thinking yarn was so expensive...little did I know.
The spindle with a bobbin that I tried works best with a spindle with a straight rod spindle. I am not sure if there is a way to get one to work with a curved or tapered rod spindle. I don't have a spindle like that, all of mine are simple.
The o ring snugs the bobbin in place. If you don't have an o ring you could try a rubber band.. It is a bit more work since you have to double..triple..etc the rubber band. Here are some close ups.. The first is the o ring the second is the rubber band... Notice they are both under the bobbin somewhat. That is how they snug it up
The spindle in the previous post is a simple Schacht spindle. It has a notch on the whorl. It is relatively lightweight but it has a long shaft. I spun with it last night with the bobbin on and it worked beautifully. The bobbin is a simple 4 inch Leclerc weaving bobbin, I am only using it for spinning. It costs 1.04 from the Woolery. I have not tried using the 6 inch bobbins. Some of my spindles have shafts with a circumference larger than that of the inside of the weaving bobbin. I am trying to come up with a solution for those. There are o rings that will fit them so all I need is a bobbin.
Here is the spindle and bobbin with about an ounce of fiber, it still spins well!
I have been working on spinning some really beautiful pinkish purple merino. It is very soft. To take a break from it I tried spinning a batt. The batt felt so rough and tough that I felt terrible spinning it. That was last night... This morning I spun more of the batt and it was a completely different experience. It felt much softer. The batt hadn't changed but my perception had changed. It reminded me of how when you switch from eating something sweet to something salty... It tastes saltier than if I had just eaten it alone. Sort of like aftertaste. I guess the lesson to be learned is if you're unhappy with a fiber try it again on a day when it is the first fiber you touch....you will have a clean spinning palate at that point and it might feel completely different.
I learned to spin with a drop spindle and it is still one of my favorite tools. My biggest complaint is that I can't fit enough fiber on my drop spindle.. I can fit far more on a spinning wheel bobbin. I still spin with a spindle because sometimes it is so much more convenient than a wheel... And I want to keep the skill that I have developed and continue to grow it.
My first drop spindle was big and heavy and I spun relatively thick yarn.. At that time I could not imagine spinning with a small lightweight spindle...Now I find that there are some fibers that I absolutely cannot spin on the big spindles.. But my smaller spindles can spin everything and even cotton.
Which do you think was one of my first spindles:
At that time I did not like top whorl spindles.(this is where the round part is at the top.). It was so much easier for me to use a bottom whorl. I think this was because a lot of the time I would spin it supported on the table and when you are starting a bottom whorl is so much easier for that. Also the park and draft method. When I started I would draft out then spin. Stop spinning and draft out some more.. Then spin again. This is also called park and draft. I think park and draft is much easier with a drop spindle than a wheel. You can do it with a wheel though.
Here is a nice spindle..light weight but long to fit a decent amount of yarn.
The one I am currently spinning with, it is almost getting too full.
Others that I love
This one is light enough to spin cotton on.
I carded my cashmere fiber into a rolag and tried spinning this. It was much easier than spinning it alone. Spinning it alone is possible but a lot trickier. I also liked that I was able to get a slightly thicker singles. Spinning it alone I almost spun thread... Too thin for my needs. Here is a picture.. It is three ply and it was probably the weight of sock yarn.
I did the same for the yak down. It was also easier. The results were similar
Here is a picture of this result.
My spinning instructor before I learned anything made me learn to make rolags. Lots of rolags.. It was kind of like the musical equivalent of learning scales. I didn't appreciate it then but I do now. For these expensive luxury fibers.. I think it is worth the time investment to make rolags.
Spinning both of these reminded me of spinning cotton... Although very different than cotton the fiber shortness made me think that perhaps learning to spin cotton might be a less expensive way to practice for spinning these luxury fibers.