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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!

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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.

Sakura in Progress April 17, 2010

Posted by lunarawe in Fiber Optic Yarns, spinning, yarn.
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The cherry blossoms have been absolutely stunning this spring, so it has been an extra joy to spin Sakura – a cherry blossom inspired batt of wool, bamboo, and silk from Kimber Baldwin at Fiber Optic Yarns. This was my first selection in the As the Whorl Turns fiber club, which I highly recommend! The club will open to new members on May 14th.

I asked for two batts this first month, with a 2-ply, heavy lace weight yarn in mind. My plan is to do a long color grade, working a triangular shawl from lightest at the center to darkest at the edge.

At the beginning the color was dark and rich, and the flash in this first photo shows how the fibers create a beautifully light reflective yarn.

I took several pictures as I got closer to the end of the batt in an attempt to document the color shifts, really enjoying the changes in hue.

Here is the final single, and I am off to work on the second! There are bits of pink gossamer lightness floating about my house (and clothes!).

Sample on Retreat March 7, 2010

Posted by lunarawe in drop spindle, Fiber Optic Yarns, fo, spinning, spinning - FOs, spinning fo, Uncategorized, yarn.
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I had the absolute blessing of being on retreat with colleagues at the Mercy Center in Burlingame, CA this past week. I took a tiny sample of Unspun Foot Notes with me from my favorite dyer, Kimber Baldwin of Fiber Optic Yarns. Here is the result from a short evening conversation. About 18 yards of heavy laceweight yarn.

Soft and delightful if a bit wonkily plied due to my lack of finesse plying on a drop spindle.

Belated Rhinebeck Report November 18, 2009

Posted by lunarawe in drop spindle, Rhinebeck, spinning.
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It was so beautiful in Rhinebeck this year, contrary to all the dire weather predictions. Both of us were not feeling 100% so the warmth and sunshine really felt like a gift!

Our crew expanded this year! Kierstin, Tracy and Jeremie joined us and we weathered the cold and played with the sheepies together. Super fun!

Anyway, it was another good year for spinning as I said earlier, and I am delighted to have won a blue ribbon for the best Leicester Longwool skein. I was highly surprised, grateful, and amused (!) when I received this in the mail just a week or so later…

I love the blank letterhead… though thank goodness they included it because otherwise I never would have known why I was getting $50 in the mail. I like to tell myself that it paid for most of my favorite toy from Rhinebeck this year… an aromatherapy RingSpindle!

I love it! Not only does it sport a cauldron on the top but the delicious aromatherapy diffusion really works! I definitely commend this craft tool to everyone. There was of course much more delightfulness to experience, taste, and see! More on that soon….

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 Lately October 7, 2009

Posted by lunarawe in fo, pokeberries, Rhinebeck, spinning, spinning - FOs, spinning fo, Uncategorized, yarn.
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I have been pretty bad about updating the blog with recently spun yarns, but that does not mean that I have been ignoring the wheels completely! Here is a taste of what has been drafted between my hands of late…

This Leicester Longwool is lambswool actually, my first spun single! I was playing with this in preparation for Rhinebeck, where the annual New York State Sheep and Wool festival is held. Leicester Longwool is the featured breed for 2009. This is about 250 yards, spun at a low ratio (7:1) and unbelievably soft. I am working on a companion skein for some colorwork from the Leicester Longwool I dyed with pokeberries.

The roving that became this two-ply Romney came from a store near Edmonds, WA. The wool was from a local sheep named Chris and purchased mainly because I loved the colorway. This was also spun at a low ratio, and the resulting yarn is softer than I would normally expect Romney wool to be. That is not to say that it is super soft by any means, but it is sweet.

And finally some color graded Polwarth. This roving and I have had a rough time of it. There was a lot of felting and tons of little neps and pills. Highly irritating. I had been holding on to it because it seemed so terrible to waste wool as soft as Polwarth and then I finally had to stop myself. I got rid of all the terribly felted bits and and spun a heavier yarn (this is a heavy worsted) while simply allowing the neps to spin right in. At this weight they just became incorporated and we got along much better. This 200 yard skein will likely become a hat at some point in the near(ish?) future.

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!