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Graded Love January 10, 2011

Posted by lunarawe in Fiber Optic Yarns, fo, handspun, spinning, spinning - FOs, spinning fo, stash enhancement, yarn.
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I just can’t stand it. I. Cannot. Stand. It!

Love. Overwhelming, head turning, foolish-making love. One day merino met silk in the hands of a wonderfully gifted dyer. That dyer layered, and layered, and layered, and kept on layering until the object of my affections emerged from the dye studio dripping with promise. Well, perhaps rinse water. But still radiant I have no doubt. The photo below is from Kimber’s etsy shop.

I have been collecting layered gradient rovings from Kimber since she began dyeing them. Frankly just admiring them in their braids gives me joy, but I figured I should spin at least one. To see if it might actually be prettier once drawn out and twisted.

Oh it was. These two photos (above and below) are soaking wet, right after fulling. Fulling would be the nice term we use to describe taking the object of our affection and stressing it between hot and cold water then whacking it firmly against a hard surface. The yarn evens out, relaxes, and drapes beautifully.

I will admit to being woefully behind on blog updates (ha. as always.) but I had to move this most recent spin to the front of the blogging list. Did I mention that I’m in love? Oh yes.

Here it is dry and skeined. About 350 yards. It is hard to tell how soft this is. The yarn is 80% merino and 20% silk and its shine is not to be believed. I know there is nothing to be done. The ultimate proof is that I am already about to knit with it, having just barely finished a completed project made from the tempranillo that I finished months ago.

Gradient yarns. So pretty!

The Tour de Fleece July 4, 2010

Posted by lunarawe in Fiber Optic Yarns, handspun, spinning.
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… has begun! Or began yesterday, I should say. This is my first year participating and I am delighted to be a part of Team Fiber Optic Spinners – Spinning at the Speed of Light! Or trying. *laugh*

I decided to return to the second batt of Sakura and complete what I am hoping will be a lovely color graded two ply heavy lace weight yarn. It looks like it might be closer to a light fingering weight, but we shall see. Above is my spinning from the beginning of day one. I did get back to it last night and progressed further, but the light was not good for taking pictures. I will upload more action shots later today.

I am, as usual, way behind in sharing recent spinning, so here is a quick update as well. I have been spinning a lot of Kimber Baldwin’s fabulous fiber in preparation to knit a triangular entrelac shawl for Devorah. The North Woods BFL is completely finished, with both skeins totalling 360 yards of three ply yarn. To that I have added the first of two skeins of BFL in the Elia colorway which resulted in another 270 yards of three ply (the yarn pictured on top). The Elia came in five ounce braids instead of four since they were from the monthly club. Luckily I really like this color! Here is the yarn spun for the shawl to date:

I also took a brief break from shawl spinning to play with four ounces of Merino dyed I believe by Pigeon Roof Studios. More details when I find the pesky tag. This is about 220 yards total of chain plyed (3-ply) yarn. This may be destined to become some sort of short fingerless gloves.

Back to the tour to hopefully finish the second single of Sakura today. Good luck to all those participating!

Fiber Optics Extravaganza May 19, 2010

Posted by lunarawe in Fiber Optic Yarns, fo, handspun, spinning, spinning - FOs, spinning fo, Uncategorized.
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Well the best news is that I finished my first year of doctoral study. Hallelujah!

As the semester drew to a close (read as I sat unmoving for hours on end at my desk writing papers) I allowed myself small spinning breaks to keep my brain from melting into a small, pitiful puddle of ooze. As excited as I am about finishing the second sakura batt and choosing a wonderful triangular shawl to show off its color gradient, I knew I needed something easier to spin for the moment. I had recently received my second As the Whorl Turns fiber club mailing (from Fiber Optic Yarns) and I decided to spin that.

Footnotes UNSPUN in the tempranillo colorway –  4 ounces of 80% superwash merino, 20% nylon fiber. I love these colors! This is pencil roving, already split in two exact matching halves (notice below how this did not result in evenly spun color, lol, my control is just not that good). After finishing my last paper on Friday night, I rewarded myself Saturday morning by sitting down to ply. The result is 370 yards of fingering weight two ply yarn.

I may finally have to knit a pair of socks out of my handspun – it’s about time!

Next I turned with real excitement to another Fiber Optic roving that I purchased from Kimber at Rhinebeck last year. This is 4oz of Blue Faced Leicester in her Northwoods (OOAK) colorway. Happily, I have two braids – 8 oz total.

I spun this as a straight three-ply, dividing the roving straightforwardly by length into thirds. Each third I carefully split in four, maintaining the color repeats while spinning in the hopes of having an overall balance of color in the final yarn. After pre-drafting the depth of the colorway really came to life.

The picture above is the pre-drafting for just one of the three plies. This was also my first full spin on my new woolee winder attachment for my Schacht wheel – a fabulous birthday present from Devorah. It is wonderful! I am still getting used to how densely packed my bobbins are now. This is the full four ounces of fiber!

It looks like there is almost nothing on them. But in the end they spun up to 188 yards of 3-ply, super sproingy and still very soft. Next on the list is the second braid of this fiber, and I am hoping to spin two other colorways in greens, also on BFL for some mad handspun project.

Here is a closeup of the final yarn, apologies that the color is a bit washed out. The full skein picture is truest to color.

Blue Ribbon! October 18, 2009

Posted by lunarawe in handspun, Rhinebeck, spinning, yarn.
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Just a brief check in from the New York State Sheep and Wool festival, where we had an unexpected gloriously rain and snow free day yesterday. What a gift! I was delighted to walk up to the blue ribbon wall for spinning and find my handspun among these lovely submissions. My work is all the way on the right. I won a blue ribbon for spinning this year’s featured breed, Leicester Longwool. Hooray!

We are going back today even though the day promises to be wet! More soon….

Spun sample October 15, 2009

Posted by lunarawe in drop spindle, Fiber Optic Yarns, fo, handspun, spinning, spinning - FOs, spinning fo, yarn.
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Sometimes the very best thing to do is take on something small and savor it.

During my last visit to The Fold, Toni introduced me to something wonderful! A new dyer (to me anyway) by the name of Kimber Baldwin, the creative force behind Fiber Optics. Her shop is worth a visit and I can tell you that her eye for color is spectacular. In my hand (above) I am holding a tiny sample of her pencil roving (Foot Notes, 80% superwash merino wool and 20% nylon) in the black coffee colorway.

This sat on my desk for just a couple of days, spun on my ringspindle in spare moments stolen from other tasks. So delightful. Simple, satisfying drafting, gorgeous colors, and a perfectly matched set of double pencil rovings that I split to create two singles.

Yes those singles were stored on bamboo skewers… inexpensive and long enough to fit into my industrious kate reasonably well. This was a very tiny amount of roving, and I wanted to use the same spindle for both plies. On that note I would like to sing the praises of the recent addition of Seth Golding’s work to the ringspindles collection.  This one is an ebony ringspindle, 0.8 oz.

The result was 25 yards of laceweight in lovely colors.

The colors are easier to see here.

Simple. Satisfying. Utterly worthwhile.

Spinning Milkweed October 5, 2009

Posted by lunarawe in fo, handspun, spinning, spinning - FOs, spinning fo, yarn.
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I have always been enamored of milkweed fluff. It floats beautifully, shimmers in the sun, it’s soft and light and magical. As a child I even decided to love monarch butterflies because they loved milkweed. Then one day someone told me that it can be spun. Into yarn. Really.

I started by carding those cotswald curls that you see at the top, opening the locks before adding the shimmering milkweed into the mix. I read that you can only use up to 70% milkweed in a fiber blend before the resulting yarn becomes too brittle to spin. It is best blended with wool. This blend was only about 5% milkweed, because it was just an experiment.

The drum carder took up the milkweed well, once in was sandwiched between two layers of wool. I removed all the seeds of course, but wish I had separated the fibers from their connection point before carding. The might have all floated away of course, but I think the blending would have gone better. It is amazingly hard to keep your milkweed from blowing away. There was much holding of breath in this endeavor.

Here is Devorah kindly modeling the fluffiness of the final batt.

This was spun up long draw again. Another 50 yards or so like the green curls. Shiny!

The Sheep Shed Studio May 11, 2009

Posted by lunarawe in dyeing, handspun, Ravelry, spinning, stash enhancement.
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So I finally (ok a month ago) entered into the lovely fiber artists’ world of the Sheep Shed Studio. This wonderful business in Wyoming provides all kinds of rovings, mill ends, rugs, mysterious bales of fiber and various other adventures for the fluff lover in us all. If you haven’t tried them out yet, I would highly recommend it. I decided to start small instead of ordering a 15 pound bag of yummy dyeable fibers. Hmmm… maybe after I move. Anyway, I asked for cotswald curls, some beautiful forest green roving, and a pound of soft grey roving that a number of dyers on ravelry had been raving about. Carol (bless her) added a little thank you sample of some black wool that you see nestled up there on the top. That grey fluff is super soft! I was ready to try my hand at dyeing greys but… first things first.

By now some of you will know that while on occasion I will accept the role of pink in gift giving, it is not a favorite color of mine. That has a lot to do with trauma overdoing the pink in my early childhood years, but that is a story for another type of blog. See that pile of pink? I think we can all agree that Carol did a lovely job with a variegated dye on those curls… sure to produce some lovely depths of color. However, pink does not go on my wheel for fun so after opening my box of goodies and cackling with glee, I pulled every pink or almost pink curl out of that back and threw it straight into one of two dye pots.

After some time in a marine blue dyebath and a high acid (for fast color striking) dyebath with blacks and mustards this is what our culprits turned into. Mwa ha ha. Soon there were batts to behold:

I did eventually get to play with some greys. I did a free form dye bath just as an experimental starting point. Whoops! Caught myself in that photo. The sun has been tricksy of late…

Here is a close up to show the color variety.

I still have a lot of fiber prep (and spinning) to do, but so far I am delighted with my Sheep Shed Studio experience. Definitely the go to fiber option for my upcoming grad school years. Hmmm… I wonder what my advisor will think of me buying fiber in bulk?

Small Cabled Tarot Deck Pouch April 20, 2009

Posted by lunarawe in fo, handspun, knitting, Knitting - FOs, pagan, Paganism & witchcraft.
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So what do you do when your first attempts at long draw spinning result in all of 50 yards of green three ply yarn? I decided that my little nubbin of fluff and need for a pouch for my new tarot deck were well matched.


See that ridiculously small tuft of green on the side? That is how much yarn I had left over when I was done. I even used the tail from the cast on to sew up one of the sides! Still I am supremely pleased with this little pouch. It features a cable from Viking Patterns for Knitting by Elsebeth Lavold and is just about the sproingiest twist of green goodness that I ever did see.

We are very pleased.

HONK! March 15, 2009

Posted by lunarawe in fo, handspun, Rhinebeck, spinning, spinning - FOs, spinning fo, stash enhancement, yarn.
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I want to begin with apologies for the lateness of my honk, and yet honk I must for I was one of the many caught off guard by this latest revelation. Fluffy, delicious batts. They are so much fun to spin! We all want them. Let’s be honest… making fiber potions of fluffy goodness is the main reason why any of us owns a drum carder in the first place. For example, I can’t wait to card some milkweed into… well, that is a story for another time. For now, suffice it to say that when I read on our beloved YarnHarlot’s blog that wool fibers should be loaded onto a drum carder sideways I was as stunned as most of the rest of you.

So here I am honking because yes, I was told to load my fibers facing toward the drum and yes, even my written instructions say to do the same. In fairness, I have an amazing drum carder. I got fluffy batts the other way… but nothing like this. The one drawback is that so much less fiber fit into this batt of lusciousness. Here is the story.

I started with this beautiful mass of wool locks that I purchased at Rhinebeck this fall. The vendor never told me the breed of sheep, and the locks were already dyed. While one of my friends tells me this looks a bit like a diseased brain, I see only fibery goodness waiting to be spun up into something heavenly.

From this mass of potential I separated out the  individual locks (above) and teased them open with my fingers (below).

I then did what I think we all ran to our carders to do (if we were lucky enough to have a drum carder. Mine was a gift for which I am constantly grateful). I loaded up my carder with overlaping locks laid sideways so they would be pulled at from their sides by the rows of tiny metal teeth.

Even the sound was different! I could almost hear a chorus of young girls complaining about their mothers being too rough with the tangles in their hair. It takes focus and grim determination sometimes to keep that handle turning. Oh the flashbacks of it all! As the fiber started teasing apart between the almost touching metal I could instantly see the depth of color that would be in the final batt. Lustrous. I don’t know what breed of sheep this is from but I wish I did.

The full drum looked like this after the first pass. It took three total passes through the carder to make the batt above.

By the time the batt was really finshed it had an even color, great loft, and a wonderful shine. I did a test twist that doubled back on itself into a two ply just to see what the fibers would do. Though in truth I really just have a hard time keeping my hands off of the wool.

I made three batts in all just 15 grams of wool each. I only purchased 70 grams to begin with… just pulling a bit out of the basket of fluff to try on my carder. I still have some wool in glorious reds from the same basket. I will have to card that into a blend with something fun. In the meantime I decided to start learning to spin using the long draw technique. It is humbling, and a good reminder, to start learning to spin all over again in a sense. So different from a nice (read control freak spinner) worsted method. The result is 50 yards of three ply. A happy and fuzzy green ending to my story.

My New Schacht wheel is Matchless! February 19, 2009

Posted by lunarawe in handspun, spinning, spinning wheel.
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Possibly the biggest unshared info in recent months has been my acquisition of a new and much beloved spinning wheel. Thanks again go to Toni at The Fold for helping me to both select my wheel during a visit to Marengo, IL and then have it arrive safely at my Florida home! It is a Schacht Matchless wheel and so different from the Ashford Traveller wheel that I have now been using for two years. This again was a spliced together holiday gift (huge thanks to my parents and to Devorah). Really amazing how expensive a good spinning wheel can be. That said, I absolutely love this wheel. There are some major differences. It has a double drive mechanism (though it can be converted to scotch tension) and SO MUCH SPACE for my feet. Also I love that the orifice is in the center. Though, wouldn’t you know it, after two years of spinning twisted to the left, I still sit that way. Plus changing bobbins and ratios is so much easier. Do not misunderstand, I really love my Traveller wheel. But now I can just leave it set up with its lace flyer in place and still have a lot of options without messing with the entire mother of all everytime I want to do something else.

 

As always Devorah in all her fabulousness put together my wheel for me. Doesn’t she look happier this time than last time? True, this wheel does not come with 29 pages of assembly instructions. Now that was a labor of love. You know she is too good to me because trying to put a wheel together while a crazed and excited spinner is bouncing excitedly all around the house just has to be harder. Poor Devorah.

 

Eventually spinning was taking place and the world was very, very fine indeed. I am now 3/4 done with the last of three bobbins of this eight ounce wool roving. I am really wanting to ply!