Finally

There’s has been a bit of a crafty hiatus due to general craziness around here and the need to keep my spinning wheel in my bedroom to keep it safe from the curiousity of a new cat. But she’s calming down, so I’ve been doing a little bit of spinning again and, luckily, haven’t completely forgotten how.

This is Dark Matter which is a wool/mohair blend from the Stranded In Oz fibre club this year. It spins beautifully and it turning out purty. The other half of the roving is mostly blues and greens so I think it will ply up pretty! Much spinning between here and plying though!

Mermaids

Last spinning class today. We did silk (cocoons, caps/hankies, lap, tussah top and mulberry top) then angora, milk fibre, soy, bamboo, alpaca top, tencel, corn fibre and nylon glitz.

Tonight I came home and felt like going back to good old uncomplicated wool…so I decided to spin some of the fleece I dyed last week (third pic down). So far, so good, I think it kind of looks like mermaids.

Not sure how much yardage I’ll get but hopefully I can ply it with silk thread or something to eke out the length.

Colour my world

Here are the results of the dyeing adventures at spinning class today…these are all dyed with Landscape protein dyes, using the slather in dye, wrap in glad wrap, steam in a ziplock bag method.

My yarn, the colours are a little deeper than this but you get the idea

Some merino top…which is really a nice jade/malachite semi solid…a colour my camera refuses to photograph well

Some Finn/Corriedale fleece…this is getting close to felted maybe…will have to see what happens when it’s dry and I can flick it.

Hopefully it’s okay because I’ll be interested to see how it spins up.

And some more fleece and ditto.

I managed not to dye myself, so go me! We also tried spinning suri alpaca (in locks…HARD plus the locks look spookily like human hair so it was hard not to feel you’d mugged some poor brunette and shaved her head), bamboo top/carded (ditto), kid mohair (pretty and nice to spin so it’s a pity that mohair makes me itchy), cotton (well, Jo was brave enough to try that and the verdict was WORSE THAN THE ALPACA) then some of the other sort of alpaca which was do-able. After all that, it was kind of nice to go back to spinning some nice coated Finn/Suffolk fleece which I’ve mostly got the hang of. Yay for wool!

Next week is our last week where we shall attempt silk! Should be fun.

Excited!

Because I have ordered one of these!

It’s a Majacraft Pioneer and I can’t wait for it to arrive! I’ve been spinning on an Ashford Mk1 Traveller loaner at home and using a Majacraft Suzie at my course. I really like the Suzie but between cat dramas and car dramas and various things, it isn’t quite in the budget. The Pioneer is the next best thing and if I ever want to trade up to a Suzie or Suzie Pro, all the bits and pieces will fit. Plus my fellow inner nana embracer, Jo, has bought a Little Gem so I’ll get to play with that too!

Tomorrow at class we’re doing some dyeing. I’ll probably manage to dye myself rather than the yarn!

This is one of the things we’ll be dyeing…

Yarn flicked, spun, plied and washed by me. Not exactly sock yarn yet and it’s kind of underspun in spots but yay, yarn! (From memory it’s a Finn/Corriedale cross fleece which was pretty grubby). Currently spinning fron a Finn Suffolk which was coated and is much nicer to work with. Plus trying to master spinning top which the Traveller doesn’t like so much!

To ply or not to ply

We choose…ply! Because I think knitting with singles is for better knitters than me at this stage.

Today in our spinning course we plied the singles we’d spun over the week (well, I plied most of mine…I apparently spun more than would fit on one bobbin!)

And this is the result!

Not sure how many yards this is but it must be a few. It needs to be washed and then we get to dye it next class.

Of wheels and lanolin

I started my spinning wheel course at the Handweavers and Spinners Guild of Victoria last week.

We’re starting off spinning raw fleece (which means I smell like lanolin in a way I haven’t since I was a teenager helping with shearing on a friend’s farm)…and so far I have produced this:

So yay! It resembles yarn (though I won’t show you the start of the other bobbin which had a few issues!) At the moment I’m using a Ashford Traveller Mk 1 on loan from the Guild and lustfully looking at pics of wheels on the internet. I think I like it better than spindling. It’s kind of hypnotic despite the inevitable beginner frustrations!

On Sunday I’ll learn to ply and move onto spinning top…we’re lucky because there are only four of us in class, so we’re getting lots of time with our instructor.

Candy coloured happiness

I am seriously loving this teeny tiny spindle. I don’t know if I was just at the point where I was about to make the leap to suspended spindling and finer spindling anyway or whether it is just that this is a great spindle but with this little thing, something has definitely clicked. Much more consistent, much finer. Plus it’s small enough to carry around with you easily (as my critique partners found out yesterday!). Now all I have to do is resist spending a fortune on more turkish spindles. Not getting along quite so well with my other non-CD top whorl spindle. Not sure what’s going on there. I shall persevere for a bit longer otherwise, I’ll be on the hunt for a new one that suits me better (hard when you have to do things over the internet without trying!)

PS The pretty pretty pink fiber is Show Girl 100% Merino from Ewe Give Me The Knits

New toy

Still spindling and couldn’t resist the chance to try a different type of spindle when the lovely Jo gave me a Spun Out voucher for my birthday…resulting in this bit of cuteness…a Jenkins Turkish Delight in redheart. It’s teeny (about 15cm high) so I have to spin fine but am getting the hang of it.

Still working on the purple fibre on the cd spindle. It takes a long time to spin stuff on spindles when you only have a few minutes a day but it is strangely relaxing. Next month Jo and I are doing the Intro to Handspinning course at the Handspinners and Weavers guild where we’ll learn to spin on a wheel. Then I suspect we’ll both be in trouble!

Spinning around

And hello, I have remembered my craft blog. Or really, I hadn’t forgotten it, I’ve just been kind of stupidly busy. Busy to the point of not even knitting for the last two or so weeks! Though that needs to change as I am making two things for other people and the probably want them before the searing heat of summer.

But I haven’t completely abandoned my crafty endeavours…I’ve been trying something new! And we can once again blame Melissa aka the sil. Last year when I went to Bendigo for the first time, I spent a lot of time watching Melissa spin on a drop spindle and her friend Anne spin on a very cute spinning wheel (I think it’s an Ashford Kiwi or perhaps a Joy). Now both Melissa and Anne are great spinners and spin teeny tiny fine yarn seemingly effortlessly and part of the back of my brain went “hah, that looks interesting” and another part went “Mel!! You do not need another hobby. Back away now”. That part is bossy and won but I did have the odd conversation with Melissa about drop spindles.

(And I must confess I tried it out a little at Bendigo but really hadn’t grasped the concept at all and was not what you would call an instant spindling genius…or anything other than total spindling klutz, really.)

This, for those of you who have never seen one (and I hadn’t before I met Melissa) is a drop spindle (or several).

This eventually led to her sending me a cd drop spindle, which is a quick home made spindle (if you google there are many instructions on how to make these).

Then I looked at the cd drop spindle, thought “Mel!! You do not need another hobby.” And safely tuckedit away in one of the yarn stash boxes for “one day.” Though I did keep hearing the odd reference and thinking about the idea from time to time. As writer brains intrigued by things tend to do (sigh, writer brains have distinct magpie qualities….probably essential food for making stuff up but still, sometimes annoying).

Then I went to Bendigo this year. And again, there was Melissa spindling and Anne spinning and my friend Jo who came along thought it looked intriguing too and while I resisted buying anything at Bendigo, not too long after I gave in and, playing on the benefits of having a yarny enabler for a sil, asked Melissa if she had any cheapy fibre lying around that I could have to try (and she being extra awesome, sent me some). I also was looking at books (because being a true Virgo, one must!! research before trying something and remembered that I’d heard Elizabeth Bear talking about reading a book called Respect the Spindle on her blog), so checked that out, and found out that Abby Franquemont also had a few spindling demos on youTube etc, so I ordered the book and then, having learned that I am somewhat visual when it comes to handcraft, also ordered her DVD.

The book finally arrived about two weeks ago and last weekend I finally picked up the spindle (after more reading and watching of YouTube videos) and the fibre and gave it ago.

Hmmm.

My first attempt looked more like rope. Yes, really. Here’s the evidence….

Told you I was not an instant spindling genius. But I did scratch my head and figure out that maybe I was using too much fibre at once, so I divided my roving (I think it’s roving…I’m still not sure what you call all the different fibres) into thinner strips on Day 2 and tried again.

Not quite rope. But definitely on the chunkier end of yarn….

I’m using the park and draft method as recommended all over the place for beginning and over the first few days, started to understand how the twist travels (which was the bit I didn’t really ever get in Bendigo the first time…logical brain though it should go down towards the spindle but it runs up towards the unspun fibre) but drafting the fibre to feed to the twist was a struggle (drafting is essentially pulling the fibres out thinly before they’re twisted…the thinner the draft, the finer the yarn). So I watched a few more YouTube things and found one that helped a bit and the yarn was getting a little bit more consistent (I also decided that perhaps I needed another spindle and went and ordered a Greensleeves Bare Bones – that’s the other thing about spindling…there are many, many, many pretty spindles out there).

But I kept persevering with the CD spindle (a little bit each day as it’s one of those skills that relies on your muscles getting the hang of it, rather than your brain..like riding a bike). Yesterday Abby’s DVD arrived (as did the new spindle) which looks like this:

(Pretty. I do love beautiful simple wooden things). Perhaps I was a Shaker in a past life. Or more likely, it’s the inheritance of my wood carving Nana.

But apart from trying it out very quickly yesterday with some of the test fibre it arrived with, I knew I had to stick with the CD for a bit longer. Last night I was still having drafting issues. I’ve watched Melissa and Anne and people on the internet and the fibre just seems to slide out effortlessly. I felt like I was wresting and tugging and pulling far too hard and while I had some thin yarn moments, those were kind of flukes. Tonight though, I popped in my DVD and watched the first two segments and, lo there was a lightbulb moment! Which boils down to I was holding my hands too close together (if your hands are closer together than the length of the staple (hairs) of the fibre, it won’t won’t want to pull apart). So then I tried again.

Yay, something finally looking like decent width yarn:

Though it’s still kind of inconsistent and a long way from being the gorgeous stuff M & A produce, at least I’m making progress. Though now I really also want to try a wheel because the arm doing most of the work with a drop spindle is my dodgy shoulder arm so I think a wheel might ultimately be more Mel-friendly. But in the meantime, I shall keep playing (and hopefully get to meet up with some nice Melbourne ravelry gals to practice/be taught a big more (given Melissa is inconveniently interstate!) with the spindles. (The fibre I’m using is Bendigo Readyspin in Damson).

And try not to buy too many. Cos they’re pretty. You can make them out of all sorts of things. Look:

One of Melissa’s gem spindles (yes, she makes them!)…more here. (Have I mentioned I also like gemstones? That’s my grandad’s influence!)

Another Greensleeves (I think this is an Ethan Jakob)…man, I love polished wood things.

This bit of gorgeousness is a Golding spindle.

Golding make GORGEOUS spindles. I may have a slight case of Goldings spindle lust just because they’re so damn pretty. Plus I hear they’re pretty good. And yes, spindle lust has commenced and this is why I did not need another hobby! And don’t get me started on buying fibre!

Golding also make what might be the world’s most beautiful spinning wheels…I mean, check this out:

Or this:

Seriously, those are art (they will customise them for you). Of course, they’re not cheap so I will have to admire from afar until I win the lotto but really. I just have it in the house to gaze at. See, this is where letting yarny enablers lead you down the garden path gets you. Eyeing off $5000 spinning wheels or even just trying to figure out where in my house I can fit a normal wheel. And more stash boxes for fibre. Oh dear.