Thursday, February 27, 2014


I continue to explore my spinning tools...
The green apple (my name for the colour) merino did not love being spun on my support spindle (or, I didn't love it), but I did work on it for a while before plying on a Turkish. Finished 'turtle' is above.  The merino did love being spun on my new top whorl though.
I couldn't resist plying the top-whorl spun on my new wheel. Just because I could. It was fun.

My real explorations, however, were with 3 delicious red batts.
The first batt was spun and plied on my old familiar Turkish spindles.  All were spun woolen-ish from the fold of chunks I tore off the batt.
You've seen the pics before.

Finished Turkish hank. Rakestraw pre-plying. Topwhorl in progress.
Next I moved on to spinning on a Rakstraw spinner, but I was not liking that and discovered there is a small knick in the notch that was catching my fibre. I plied my wee bit of yarn and moved on to my homemade top whorl. Wow, was that a fast spin.

As I was working on the top whorl project I also started on my support spindle project with the third batt.
Both were plied on my larger top-whorl spindle.  I tried plying on the support spindle but what I should have done was make a plying ball first rather than try to control two bobbins of singles.

In the end I have 3 gorgeous and subtly different hanks plus 2 mini hanks.  From L-R are the Turkish-spun (87.8 m), Top-Whorl spun (117.5 m), and Support-spun (106 m) hanks.  Along the bottom are the Rakestraw mini hank and the leftover-singles hank.  Yardage also differed rather significantly. I am assuming each batt was an ounce (I had 3 batts in a 3oz bag) but I don't have a good scale to weigh them.  I will try to weigh the skeins before knitting.

I discovered I can do roughly the same yarns with each of my spindle tools. Turkish is probably my slowest tool. Top whorl I can make spin the fastest (of these 3). Support spindle allows me to spin while nursing as I can place it on the floor/bed in front of me, so that makes it easier for me to spin. This particular support spindle isn't as fast as my lighter Tibetan style, but I didn't want super-fine singles. I still got quite fine singles.
I think the Turkish is the most consistent. Perhaps because it's the most familiar to me but also because the slower spin allows me to better control my drafting.  I deliberately allowed myself to spin on each tool as felt most natural rather than try to make the exact same yarn.
If only I had one more batt to compare my wheel spinning - although it's too soon to expect a good consistent yarn for proper comparison.

My next challenge will be these batts on my wheel.  I am going to take advantage of my inconsistent wheel spinning for a thick-thin yarn.  I've never tried to spin a batt that wasn't thoroughly blended and with such divergent fibres.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

south-bound shawls

I don't do hot and humid well (as tempting as it may be during the multiple recent cold snaps; -40C with the windchill). You won't find me vacationing in the Caribbean, or South America, or Mexico. However, three shawls I knit have traveled there.  Most recently I knit a bridal shawl for my sister's BFF for her destination wedding in the Dominican Republic.  This is a beaded Flutter of the Wings design by Lily Go knit with Cirrus lace yarn custom dyed by Cloud 9 Fiberworks here in Winnipeg.  The bride's ring is blue sapphire, so that is the colour we matched.  Her bridesmaid/complimentary colour is coral - which is very difficult to match.  Sis and I imagined she'll get more use from a blue shawl.  I'm looking forward to wedding photos (of the bride, the shawl, and my delightfully pregnant sister in her bridesmaid gown).

Quick photos before I packaged it up.

showing the beading details, which are throughout the shawl and much easier to see in person. iridescent white beads.

a terrible picture, but I needed something for size reference
Before this, I knit a shawl for my friend to wear at a wedding in Mexico. She had tried making it herself, but as the event drew closer (about a month away) she knew she'd never finish it. She had the  tip started, but since our gauge differed wildly, I restarted.  The merino silk lace yarn, by Zen Garden, was a pleasure to knit. (The pattern, while beautiful in the end, was very poorly written and charted.)

Shortly after the Mexico-bound shawl and just before I moved away from Ontario, I knit this commissioned Bella Botanica shawl for a friend to gift to a family member in Brazil. It has beads replacing the nupps because that's what my friend wanted (ooh, I'm overdue for some nupp knitting. I love nupps.)  The yarn is lovely lace Classic Elite silky alpaca.

On bitterly cold days, while I'm wrapped in heavier, warm shawls, I like to think of my airy "children" vacationing or living somewhere warm and sunny.  As spring (eventually/inevitably - right?) shows itself I'll be happy to start shifting over to my lighter shawls.  Truth is, even light weight shawls can provide wonderful warmth as they trap the air.  Warm in winter, breath well in summer - what's not to love about lace shawls all year?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A little oil goes a long way

When Andromeda arrived, she was dry. Of course, I didn't know the full extent of it, being new to wheels.  But the kind folks in the Rav forum for Ashford spinners could see from my photos and my description of treadling.
 You can see here the difference between the un-oiled wheel and the gleaming bar.  The wheel wood had evidently sucked in some finger oil - desperate for oil as the wood was.

After oiling she looked much happier. I remembered I have lemon wood oil (and proceeded to oil up my wood bookcases too when I rearranged the room). Then she got a new drive band. Smoothed out the rough spot on the flyer. Joint oilings are still frequent as I can tell it's been a while since got some lovin'.  But she's spinning lovely fibre.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Andromeda settles in

Andromeda inspired me to FINALLY get the office/spinning room in order.  It still needs proper storage for my files (academic articles, teaching material, etc), but I've piled that all up again in the corner. (It all came out while I was teaching last term.)

 Putting the twins to work! (Honestly, they insisted.)

 Moved Amalthea in too. (That's the harp.)

 Reorganized the bookshelves and moved the knitting/fibre books in. Also left room on top shelf for non-book display - such as my mini wheel. (click to see bigger).  Consequently, though, I've had to smoosh all the deLint books onto one shelf. They can fill 2.  As you can see, there's room for more fibre books!
I also want to put shelves above the wheel for fibre stuff such as... fibre in use, bobbins, spindles, hooks for handspun hanks...

A 'before' photo. But this was after I did a bunch of clean up. So it's really a midway pic when I was starting to think about rearranging furniture.

It feels GOOD to have this space functional again and I can attribute it all to Andromeda's arrival. Plus, Amalthea got to come out of storage!
Spring must be in the air.
Nope, that's more snow.