Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Oh noes!

Well, as of last night, all of the KP WotA roving has been spun. Which means, I have no more undyed wool to spin! I still have the 4oz of handpaint left from my kit but I haven't decided quite how I want to do that yet. Plus, once that's gone, I'm totally out of fiber! *faint*
I've been really enjoying the spinning and getting much much better. Must replenish supply! I'm thinking I'll order an assortment of things from WEBS and see what I like best. Now I just have to put together an order that doesn't drain my bank account. Lol. Tried last night... I have a couple more knitting projects in mind that I need swatching yarn for before I commit to the full shebang (a sweater's worth of yarn for me ain't cheap) so I was tempted to order that too but then I got a little carried away sale yarn and such and the shopping cart just got crazy so I put down the computer and went to bed. Now I'm trying to decide how much I can really afford, with Christmas right around the corner. We'll see...

In the meantime, perhaps it is time to try plying?

Final product from yesterday:

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Getting better all the time

Doing some more spinning today and having much more consistent success. Working with the Knit Picks Bare Peruvian Wool roving again. It's going well... A bit fuzzy but that's ok. I'm not having as much trouble with thick-thin spots (knock on wood) and I'm much happier with the way I'm winding the cop now. My joins are improving drastically as well.

Here's the latest:

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Swallowtail emerges from hibernation

I finally rescued my Swallowtail Shawl from hibernation tonight! It's nice when you can go back and look at something that's been stuck for so long and finally be able to fix it. I started the shawl three years ago and while I had all the basic skills I needed to knit lace, I was not very good at "reading" my work yet. Now I'm able to look at things and figure out what is amiss and how to repair it. I learned how to construct pretty quickly, but it has taken time for me to learn to deconstruct/reconstruct.

I'm happy to have that project back on track. It was a pretty minor error, I just couldn't find it/fix it before. Now I just wish I had time to work on it some more tonight.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Hooray mail!

Well, I was wrong...
Amazon had the anticipated delivery date for my books listed as next Monday and I thought they had shipped via UPS and would probably arrive late Monday night (I don't know why but the UPS guy here always delivers late and never ever knocks). Well, much to my delight, my books arrived via the good ol' postal service around lunchtime today!

So now I have Abby Franquemont's Respect the Spindle and Maggie Casey's Start Spinning: Everything You Need to Know to Make Great Yarn to aid me in my new adventure.
I also got Power Cables by Lily M. Chin and the new Stitch 'n Bitch Superstar Knitting: Go Beyond the Basics. But those will hafta take a seat on the bookcase (along with the couple of zombie books I couldn't resist) until I've had my spinning fix.

I'll try to review the books once I've had a chance to digest them a bit.

Monday, November 08, 2010

More spinning

So I got a little more spinning practice in. Did decide to go with the KP Bare Peruvian wool roving. It was going pretty well until I got a little more on the cop, at which point things got a little dicey. A decidedly thick/thin things started happening and the spun yarn on the cop started looking like it was unspinning in places. Not sure what was going on there or why. Maybe I'm winding the wrong way? Not sure. Hopefully if I just Andean ply that batch back on itself, the nice first half will kinda even out the wonky latter half.

I've also come to realize that I'm not good at joining more fiber. Need to look into some techniques for that because mine needs improvement.

Definitely a long way to go before I am able to consistently create attractive and functional yarn but it's a fun process. Well, fun until it starts getting all jacked up. Then, not so much. Lol. But that's ok. Better luck tomorrow. And my first half was pretty darn good. Maybe I just need to unload the cop more frequently until I get better at winding the spun yarn.

This just in!

Ok, here are some quick snaps of the new supplies. No photographic masterpieces, but you can get the idea anyway.

First off, here is the kit (minus the undyed). I propped up the low whirl spindle to show the detail on the top of the whirl.

Here is some of the undyed roving.

Here we have the Knit Picks order.

The relevant bits:
Bare Peruvian wool roving
Turkish Spindle
(and Namaste circular needle case in the background... but more on that later)

The spindle looks interesting but I haven't opened it yet so can't give much detail there.

The fiber is pretty soft. Definitely a little softer than the Maine Woods fiber. I may spin the KP roving next and save the handdyed for later. I haven't decided how I want to express the colorway yet. Not sure if I want to split it (and how much) and make shorter repeats, or draft straight from the full roving and see if I can get longer segments of the same color. The Bare would involve a bit less decision making for now, I think. But I haven't checked the staple length yet so not sure if it might be shorter than the MW stuff since it's softer and loftier. We shall see.

**EDIT** - The KP is definitely a little shorter staple and more slick. Not sure if I'm ready to go there yet but will probably do a test anyway.

So yesterday I definitely started out with some issues. I quartered the roving and pre-drafted it. Not sure I liked how much I pre-drafted though.
First, I got a bit confused and had serious issues with keeping the twist out of my drafting zone. It was traveling way up the roving. I'm pretty sure this is a fairly common beginner mistake though.

Here is some of my very first attempt:

Partly due to this and how hard it made any further drafting, despite my attempts to untwist it, I suspect that my initial attempts were probably too thick for my spindle. It sure wouldn't spin for long before spinning back. I used park & draft but still noticed there might be a problem.
After a few false starts, I spun the rest of the first half. Decided to do the second half separately so I could ply the two later. Did not split the second half into quarters, just went from the half. Also, didn't predraft much like before. Finally established my drafting zone better and thinned the yarn out a good bit. Had a few over twist/thin spot issues but only one breakage.

Eventually it got much better. Then the thin spots got a bit more frequent. I think my form was getting bad because I was tired. But I finished the second half and wound it off too.

Here are my very first singles:

I have the yarn wrapped around a wooden TV tray and stand for now, since I don't have a niddy noddy or chair back handy. Seems to be working fine.

Then I had to go to bed. Figure I'll let those two settle for a bit on the TV tray while I work on getting my technique a bit more refined, then I'll ply them to hopefully even things out a bit. I ply, then set in hot water, correct? Or am I supposed to set the twist of each individual skein before plying them together? I'm not 100% clear on that.

I broke out my Alden Amos Big Book of Handspinning
last night but fell asleep before I could read much. Long day. Lol. I read a good portion of the book when I got it a couple years ago, but since I had no hands on experience with unspun fiber and hadn't even been knitting all that long at the time, I had a hard time really understanding some of the details. I did get a better understanding of yarn in general, and that was helpful in my knitting, but didn't pick up enough on the spinning it myself details. The book definitely favors spinning wheels heavily over spindles and such but the info about drafting and twist and all that is pretty universal. So hopefully I can get a better grasp on the whole thing with that info. Something to hold me over until my books arrive next week. :-)

Soooo... That's my first foray into the world of spinning. So far so good. I wasn't too keen on the whole drop spindle idea for a long time but it's fun and gives me an opportunity to start spinning now, rather than having to wait until I have the space and funds for a wheel.

I will admit, I'm already eying the Mother Marion spindles though. Lol. I like the idea of being able to literally kickstart my spindle and have it stay in place, rather than the whole suspended thing and having to turn the spindle with my hand.
Heavenly Handspinning's "Little Meggie" looks like a decent affordable option. Maybe for Christmas. If I can wait that long. Lol.

I'm on the hunt for more fiber now. That 1oz went so quickly that I'll probably run out of fiber soon. Much sooner than I expected. I really want to try some Blue Faced Leicester. If anyone has suggestions or recommendations for sellers, I'd love to hear 'em.

And now I'm off to eat something, read a little, then give the spinning another whirl. :-D

Turn, turn, turn...

Houston, we have spin-off. Lol.
My first installation of spinning equipment arrived while I was away Saturday. Came home to a happy package from Maine Woods Yarn & Fiber.

This included:
  • 2 drop spindles (high and low whirl)
  • 1oz undyed wool roving for practice
  • 4oz wool roving in Maine Autumn colorway
The spindles are both 12" long handcrafted maple (stained a rosewood color, with white accents on the whirls). Just checked with my scale; the top whirl is 1.6oz and the bottom whirl is 1.65oz.
I think the kit was a good deal and perfect for me because I got everything together in one handy package, plus no shipping charge. I may have been able to piece something together a little cheaper but I found this so much more convenient. I also like that it's all handcrafted, not mass produced products.

So of course, as soon as I got the car unloaded (returning from a weekend trip to a football game we shan't speak of in any detail :-P), I unpacked the laptop, reviewed the videos and other instructions I found online last week , and set about spinning the undyed roving with some success.
Thanks to Amazon's not-so-speedy (but right in my poor price range) Super Saving Shipping, my books are not scheduled to arrive until next week. But by the magical powers of the interwebz, I made do because I can't wait that long to get started! Lol ;-)

OH JOY! As I was writing this, my Knit Picks order arrived.
Further detail will hafta be put on pause for a moment while I go unpack the fiber-y goodness! ;-D

Friday, November 05, 2010

So excited!

Ok, I am a terrible terrible blogger. I can't believe I have neglected my blog for so long. In my defense, it's been a ridiculously busy year. Among other things, I completed my (first) business degree and a temp job that lasted 4x longer than initially expected. So crafty time fell by the wayside for a while.

I've also postponed updating because I don't have any snazzy pictures of my work to illustrate my post. But I have finally gotten my camera, battery, AND battery charger all together in one place finally so pictures should be forthcoming. Perhaps I'll even enlist the other household member's new DSLR. Why? Because I have FO's, baby!

Finally after ages of rotating a gazillion project and just starting something else rather than finishing anything, I have the finishing bug. This is not a bug I am normally susceptible to and I hope to take advantage of it as much as I can before it passes. In addition to a couple smaller items, I finally finished knitting my Gamecocks sweater! Of course I still have to weave in all those darn ends but we won't think about that just yet.

I also finished the body of another green sweater for my mom. It's the February Lady Sweater in the most fabulous hand-dyed worsted merino from Sundara Yarns. Not cheap and kinda hard to come by but oh so fabulous. Now I need some for myself!!

But what I'm most excited about at the moment is my upcoming project... SPINNING!! I've decided that the time has come and now have a multi-drop spindle kit on the way, as well as a couple books and some other odds 'n ends.

Additionally, my dad happened across a fabulous superbly cared-for vintage 1960's Singer sewing machine for me recently! A little lady who lives down the street loved it for years but finally had to get herself a newer plastic model because she couldn't move the heavy metal beast around anymore. It is classicly gorgeous and just so happens to be the same model as the machine my mom had when I was little... i.e. the only sewing machine I've ever tinkered with before. It's like it was meant to be. Unfortunately my new baby is waiting patiently in storage until I can get the spare room cleared out to set up a workspace.

Sooo... it's finally cooling off a bit which means it's crafty-time again. I just need to get organized because my creativity is a bit cramped right now.

Big fun on the horizon though! And plenty of knitting in the meantime.