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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!

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.

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!

Once upon a clog… August 8, 2009

Posted by lunarawe in clogs, felted clogs, felting, fo, knitting, Knitting - FOs, yarn.
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The Felted Clogs pattern by Bev Galeskas has been utilized by thousands of knitters to create deliciously squishy slippers. Mine went on something of a journey…

Once upon a time there was an eBay posting for a colorway of Manos del Uruguay yarn that I had never seen before. Neptune! The green and purple combo always appeals to my inner witchiness so there was no resisting. But then the yarn arrived. The green was lighter than anticipated. I had no idea what on earth to do with it. After a period of stash ripening, I began to imagine clogs. Warm, squishy clogs. This was when I was living in Illinois. In winter. Gak. So I made one. Yes, insert dreaded drumroll here. Just one. And then procrastinated waited.

Moving to Florida was, of course, wonderful inspiration to get that second clog done. Not so much. More stash ripening. Then finally came my recent move to New Haven, CT. Moving here from Orlando, FL was a bit of a shock. I was freezing cold in my house. In June. Uh oh. My two “wasted” years of knitting nothing warm, of obsessing over lace and socks, came back to haunt me. Cold in June. No one selling slippers. What to do? Enter the stash!

But of course, there was a problem. My original first clog had been cuffed in a solid purple yarn. Which I promptly lost. So I was out the other color and couldn’t find the remnant of that first skein of yarn either. And what had I done with two of the three remaining skeins? Gifted them to a friend of course. Genius. But she liked the colors, so how not? So there I was. Two cuffs and a full clog to do with one remaining skein of yarn. Would I make it?

See that dangling piece of yarn there? Yep. That is how much remained when I finished the outer sole (last section of knitting) on my second clog. These barely made it! I had to seam in another color of Manos. Anyway, the prayers worked and I just made it in the end.

One warning: I followed the felting instructions and felted for 10 minutes at first. That was the exact right amount of time. They were completely finished. Finished enough that I was worried I had overfelted. Which would have been a poor ending to our story. So please, if you make these clogs, start with less than 10 minutes of felting.

They fit! Thank goodness!

The end.

New Spinnings May 5, 2009

Posted by lunarawe in drop spindle, fo, spinning, spinning - FOs, spinning fo, yarn.
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I have been watching with some envy the gorgeous rovings arriving at the homes of those participating in the Grafton Fibers Colorways club. I was proud of my resistance against  joining immediately when I saw the pretty colors. Instead I do what I usually try to do. I ordered some of their fiber to experience it before jumping into any rash decisions.

Gorgeous. Soft, delicious corriedale wool in such lovely batts. I ordered three (as can be seen at the bottom of this posting) in what I hoped would be complementary colors for a nice three ply yarn.

bobbins

bobbins

On the bobbins the variegations of color are nice and clear. These were jewel-like in tone and so easy to spin. The smooth softness was a joy to the hands.

I absolutely love how the colors complement each other. I wanted something with depth that resisted the traditional barber pole look. I think this suceeded nicely.

The shifting hues of color definitely keep my interest. This yarn has an overall blueish cast but mainly whispers lush, rich tidings at you quietly. This is about 3.5 ounces of corriedale, 162 yards of three ply yarn. Yum! That Colorways Club may well be in my future once I land at my new address.

Finally, I picked up a Ringspindle much more suited to my spinning style than the ponderously heavy Schacht drop spindle I was (attempting to use) using before. At 0.84 oz of weight this ebony wood spindle spins fast enough to create the types of singles that I adore without crashing to the floor. Much better for my ego than the clangs and bangs of my earlier attempts. My only remaining challenge is convincing myself that spinning 50 yarns of laceweight at a time makes any kind of logical sense! Oh well. Travel spinning. Yes. Um… I’ll keep you posted on that one.

Yarny Goodness March 25, 2009

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