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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.

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 Sheep Shed Studio May 11, 2009

Posted by lunarawe in dyeing, handspun, Ravelry, spinning, stash enhancement.

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?

Yarny Goodness March 25, 2009

Posted by lunarawe in dyeing, fo, spinning, spinning - FOs, spinning fo, stash enhancement, yarn.

Hooray for the first yarn off of my new wheel! This is just over 540 yards of DK weight three ply yarn. The wool roving (breed unknown) was dyed by dudleyspinner. It started as 24 times more than this little nugget of fluff. About eight ounces.

Sorry for the blurriness. Cell phones just arent the best. I took the original roving, divided it randomly into three (by length) but then carefully separated each third into eight repeats. Happily, my attempt to balance out the rich colors seems to have worked. All suggestions about what to make from this are welcome!

I also had a ton of fun doing natural dyeing using beets. My housemate loves them, sadly enough, yet after boiling a pile in the crock pot I had a fabulous dye bath to work with. I used two different mordants on wool: alum and copper sulfate.

Here is the dyebath:

The cheesecloth was for straining out the beet bits. The pot below has wool mordanted in alum. That riotous orangey color definitely stuck! Fabulous! Time will tell if it will be colorfast, etc. I am thinking these rovings need to be turned into something that gets washed a bit less often.

Mordanting the wool in copper sulfate was beautiful! Aqualicious…

What happens to the color of beets once the copper sulfate is in the mix though… well, maybe greens should not be brought out of oranges. Lol. This looks a little too much like intestines. Ick! But the roving really is lovely. I cannot wait to see it spun.

Rinsed, dryed, and ready to spin! Both of these rovings are actually a bit darker than in the picture.

And finally I ordered some batts from Grafton Fibers! These are GORGEOUS! I am going spin them together. About one and one third ounce per batt… this is a three ply waiting to happen. We love the fibers!

HONK! March 15, 2009

Posted by lunarawe in fo, handspun, Rhinebeck, spinning, spinning - FOs, spinning fo, stash enhancement, yarn.

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.

In Love with Lace Weight Spinning October 25, 2007

Posted by lunarawe in fo, handspun, spinning, spinning - FOs, spinning fo, stash enhancement, yarn.
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I am aware that this is now the second non-Rhinebeck photo laden post in a row. Yikes. We will have to fix that later in the day.

That said, I had to share my new love of spinning lace weight yarn. I am biased, because that is what did so well at Rhinebeck, but also it has been such a joy. I picked up a lace weight flyer for my Ashford Traveler Wheel at The Fold before leaving Illinois. The kit came with a short length of undyed New Zealand merino wool for spinning. I started with that and spun half of it before my big move.

Then my wheel and all sundry supplies were packed up and shipped (or in the case of the wheel itself, driven by me, to Orlando). I finally started spinning the second bobbin of the merino this week.

I just spent a huge amount of time plying and ended up with 406 yards! From half an armspan worth of wool top! These photos are before wet setting. The soft squishiness came off the wheel nearly perfectly balanced. I just can’t stand myself. This photo is the yarn posing with my new niddy noddy, lovingly provided by Devorah at Rhinebeck. This was its first use!

Hooray for pretty tools.

Spinnings June 3, 2007

Posted by lunarawe in handspun, spinning, stash enhancement, yarn.

Lest you believe that all I do is knit socks (though there are days when it certainly feels that way) here are some of the yarns I have been spinning now that I am finally back at my spinning wheel.

I think my biggest excitement has been the recent success of getting my navajo plying off the ground. It isn’t perfect, but it makes my multicolor rovings come out much less muddy in their colors, which is very exciting. Also, something about not needing four bobbins to make a three ply yarn is seriously satisfying.

This was my first successful navajo plying (does anyone know the history of this term?) adventure. The paperclip is regular sized and included for size reference.

This is all of 63 yards of sport weight yarn (I had originally planned to spin two more singles and ply the usual way) of a gorgeous roving from Dudley Spinner.

I also spun up about 91 yards, also navajo plied, of the Rocktoberfest Roving from Blue Moon Fiber Arts.

I have to admit that I am not so crazy about this yarn. Is is 50% merino and 50% tencel. I just don’t love rovings mixed with tencel. They feel too much like plastic. But I do love Tina’s eye for color. I will just have to go and acquire some 100% natural wool roving next time I am at The Fold.

I also finally got around to working with the wool silk blend I picked up eons ago. I spun up about 130 yards of it, three ply the regular way. It is super soft and delicious. That is also a regular sized paper clip and this is also sport weight yarn. Seems to be my default setting.

It is good to have the wheel spinning again. Poor thing sat for about six weeks all unloved and alone. A terrible thing really.

Blue Faced Leicester March 18, 2007

Posted by lunarawe in fo, handspun, Project Spectrum 2.0, spinning, spinning - FOs, spinning fo, stash enhancement, yarn.
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So I have of course heard experienced spinners talk about the glories of Blue Faced Leicester wool. So much so that the last time I was in the fiber store I decided to purchase just a little bit… to see for myself. When the owner discovered I had never spun it before she just handed me the three and a half ounces that I had brought up to the counter, saying that all spinners should know about these sheep.

My first delight came from the roving itself. Just a bundle of fluff… I wanted to wrap myself in it and snuggle.


But instead of snuggling I spun. I mean really… the fibers that would have wound up in my locs alone would not have been worth it.

I did my now standard three ply, which of course left me with two bobbins with singles remaining at the end. By the time the first bobbin ran out I was more than ready… because the yarn barely fit! You can’t really tell from this photo, but there is hardly any room between yarn and flyer at this point:


The result of course was worth it. The staple on this wool was almost double the merino I have been spinning, and the bloom in water was not to be believed. This yarn is so yummy (about 212 yards)! I also knew I wanted to make something white before the Project Spectrum 2.0 colors shifted in March. My housemate is threatening to purchase a sheep! Of course, I think she has been looking for any excuse for a while now.


Take Two of These… March 11, 2007

Posted by lunarawe in handspun, Project Spectrum 2.0, spinning, stash enhancement, yarn.
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I have begun the journey of spinning a glorious handpainted roving from Blue Moon Fiber Arts in their Rocktober colorway. I purchased this delightful ball of 50% merino 50% tencel fibers at The Fold several weeks ago. I have been admiring it, wondering what I might do with my first multicolor roving.

My drama unfolded like this. It is very simple for me to divide a roving into color repeats. Also to divide it into even numbers of length wise pieces. But I wanted a three ply yarn and as mentioned earlier, my navajo plying skills are nonexistent.

So I sat and thought about what to do with this roving which was just taunting me in its unspun form. I finally decided to take two of these (from the Rocktober colorway):


and one of these (some cobalt superwash merino / tencel blend that I had left over from making my first machine washable handspun):

to make a very satisfying blend. As you can see above the entire skin (all of about 54 yards of worsted weight yarn… only 1/5 of the total roving) has a much bluer cast now (the cobalt being the exact same shade of blue as found in the Rocktober colorway). It was fun to watch this ply. For about half way through the plying the two Rocktober singles actually matched, and I got even colors that were 2/3 from the multicolor roving and 1/3 cobalt blue. But somewhere in there my yarn thickness must have shifted because I started getting three color blends. I have no idea what to make out of this yarn once all ~270 yards are completed, but whatever it becomes will definitely be… interesting.

Candy Cane Yarn February 1, 2007

Posted by lunarawe in handspun, spinning, stash enhancement, yarn.
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Here is my yarn in progress. Amazing how the blooming during soaking changes its appearance. The yarn above has not yet been in water, while the yarn below has already been soaked and dried. The pomegranate is only to distract you from the candy cane nature of this two ply. The red is another roving from Ferndale Fibers. I found the fiber to be quite coarse, so this time I chose to ply it with some white wool tops. Much fluffier and lovely. Not sure about the candy cane element though.

This is about 225 yards so far. I still have at least another 150 – 200 yards of the red single on the bobbin. So I have more white spinning in my future. These two singles were also spun using different ratios which was new for me. But then, most things having to do with spinning are new to me… and will be for quite some time!

Stash Enhancement January 20, 2007

Posted by lunarawe in knitting, knitting socks, socks, spinning, stash enhancement, yarn.
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Such an exciting fiber adventure today!

I returned to The Fold to pick up some more bobbins and play with fiber. After spending a delightful hour or so in the store with Toni and Eric (the sweetest German Shepherd ever) I left with these glorious additions to my stash.

The “Red” Merino / Silk blend is a lovely mix of red tones with greys and cremes, and incredibly soft. You can see that I couldn’t resist picking up some medium weight Socks That Rock from Blue Moon Fiber Arts in their “Puck’s Mischief” colorway. I am not sure what exactly I have invited into my home, but the colors were too delicious to resist.

The cobalt fibers next to that are a superwash merino / tencel blend that I am hoping to spin into machine washable sock yarn. And the gorgeous handpainted roving above is also from Blue Moon Fiber Arts, a 50/50 Merino /Tencel blend in their Rocktober colorway.

Oh the pretties! I don’t even know where to begin….