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Electric Spinner vs. Treadle Wheel

Electric or treadle? Yes!

Spinners ask me about electric wheels all of the time. The good, should I get one? And the bad, why would you have one?

For me it’s not an either/or. I find my treadle wheels and my electric wheel (I have a Hansen, version 1 ) happily coexist in my spinning and my spinning heart.

I use my treadle wheels when I feel like treadling (duh) and when I’m sampling with a lot stops and starts, or when I need to pay closer attention to drafting or plying. I’m not saying that starting and stopping and detailed viewing of your yarn can’t be done on an electric spinner, I just don’t do it that way. I also like to use my treadle wheels for art yarns.

I use my treadle wheels the most, partially because I have more than one and keep different projects on each one. A treadle wheel was my first wheel and what helped me really fall for spinning. I don’t think I’ll ever be without one. But I wouldn’t give up my Hansen either.

I use my electric spinner when I am spinning a lot of yarn, especially the type of yarn I can just get into a groove and go, spinning through a whole season of something. If I’m spinning for a sweater, a couple of pounds of fiber, I put the WooLee Winder on my Hansen, twiddle my knobs until I have my the correct settings for my yarn, find something British with murder on Netflix and I’m off. I usually mark my settings right on the wheel in pencil, or sometimes on a sticker. I also use my Hansen to ply, I love plying on that machine, effortless and steady.

I like to travel with my miniSpinner; I fly with her and I even take her camping. Sometimes I get tired of sitting, my hips, knees and back start to complain. Then I put my spinner on a stool or a counter and spin standing up. That was a revelation for me. When I got achey from sitting and spinning before my spinner, spindle spinning was my only option, and I’m not a very productive spindle spinner.

If you are deciding if you want an electric spinner, try one. Try more than one, there are many on the market now. I know that the SpinOlution Firefly is another very popular electric spinner, but I haven’t tried one yet. You’ll know, just like a treadle wheel, if it’s a wheel for you or not.

The answer to why I have an electric spinner is, of course, variety! Just like I like to spin a whole lot of different yarns, I like to spin on a range of wheels. And i like spinning on it, it feels right.

Please don’t make me pick between the two types of wheels!

Do you spin on an electric spinner and a treadle wheel, or just one?

 

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New Knitty Means New Spinning

Have you seen the new Knitty? More specifically have you seen the spinning in the new Knitty?

There is the fantastic Bosco cardigan by Mari Chiba, knit from Manos del Uruguay Clara, with a handspun yoke from Manos del Uruguay Merino roving, spun by Stefanie Goodwin-Ritter. The yoke only takes 140 yards of handspun singles! A great way to incorporate your handspun without having to spin for a whole sweater.

Bosco! Commercial yarn + handspun.

In my Knittyspin column, I talk about my adoration of overplied 2-ply yarn. It’s been my default yarn for years, but I just discovered something new about it.

Balanced 2-ply and overplied 2-ply. Fiber is Threewaters Farm Springing for Green on Merino/silk

I hope you enjoy this issue, happy spinning!

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Spring+Summer Knittyspin – A Couple More Options

 

Drafting together on top, blocking on the bottom.

In the latest Knittyspin column, Spring+Summer 2017, I talked about lightening a colorway at your wheel. I used a variegated colorway Godwood on Falkland by Into the Whirled, and lighten the colors a little by using white Corriedale from Louet.

One of the ways I used was drafting together Godwood and the white corrie to make a marled singles that I then plied together for a double marl The other way I used was by blocking, spinning first the colorway and interspersing white every so often in the singles that I then plied together.

The samples looked lighter over all, with varying amounts of flecks of white Corriedale. I used a combination with high contrast so I could really see what was going on in the yarn.

 

 

 

Top: One ply drafted together with white, one ply colorway plain.
Bottom: One ply colorway blocked with white, one ply colorway plain.

 

I keep thinking about these samples and wondering what would it look like if I used one ply of the manipulated yarn (drafting together or blocking) and one ply of the colorway by itself. It’s been bugging me for months, and I finally did it.

I like it. I think I like it better with this high contrast combination. It’s not as jarring, visually, but I’m not one for high contrast marls in general.

Drafted on top, blocked on bottom.

 

Here’s a closer peek. What do you think? Is it something you’d add to your dyed braid spinning tools?

 

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What Knitting for Big Trip?

My Jenkins Spindle and Greenwood Fiberworks Yak/Silk.

I’m very lucky to be going on a 12-day Viking River Cruise in a week (!). I have almost everything sorted, suitcase, clothes, shoes, the kids clothes and shoes, but what knitting do I bring? I have a little spinning to bring, my Jenkins Delight and a pack of Greenwood Fiberworks yak/silk will keep me busy in the spinning department.

My socks will rock!

I am confounded when it comes to what knitting to bring. I want to knit something that doesn’t have a deadline and isn’t a swatch. I want something that I can chat while I knit.My mother-in-law, who is taking us says there is a lot of chatting on the ship.

I know I am bringing a skein of yarn I’ve been hanging onto to make into socks in my new Happy Birthday present from Amy  Splityarn octopus box bag. The yarn Socks That Rock medium weight in Farmhouse. It’s been marinating in my stash for many years, maybe 8. Now I’m ready to knit it and to knit socks, which I haven’t done in about the same number of years.

But what else? Another special braid I’ve been saving? I’m considering that with an easy to memorize lace pattern to make a scarf or wrap, depending on the yarn. Or something completely different. What do you suggest?

Imagine my handspun beacelet.

 

Also tagging along will be a Stash Blaster Bracelet Loom from Purl and Loop. I’ve been waiting not very patiently for these to be available. I can’t wait to see what my handspun looks like as a bracelet.

I wonder what the people on the ship will be most interested in, the knitting, the spinning or the weaving?

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Surprised By Handspun

What handspun surprised you the most when you first knit with it?

A little thick and thin

 

For me, besides almost every time I spin a dyed braid (so many happy surprises), it’s thick and thin spiral plied yarn.

This yarn, I don’t know why, it makes me so happy. Spinning it, the yarn itself and the knitted fabric.

I remember knitting it for the first time and really feeling like I had made magic.

The looser gauge, the real lightness I can get if I’m minding my drafting. Bulky or fine-ish I like them all. Of course the semi solid or painted braid variations are my particular favorite.

 

Knitted and woven yummies

 

 

I’ve started doing a little weaving sampling with them too. Here’s are a chubby thick and thin spiral knit and a finer thick and thin spiral woven.

I love to be surprised by this yarn structure.

 

 

 

 

Dye Goddess (that’s Lisa Souza) Pullover. Photo by R.Ford from Yarnitecture.

 

And booooo to the people who say it can’t be used for anything ‘real’. I was thrilled to make a sweater out of thick and thin spiral yarn for my book Yarnitecture out of Lisa Souza’s gorgeous fiber.

I have a few other patterns in the pipeline out of this yarn.

 

Tell me about your surprising favorites!

 

 

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Spinning Box Giveaway!

You knew it was coming didn’t you? Mary from The Spinning Box has a box waiting for one lucky KnittyBlog reader. To make you even more excited about the possibility of winning a box let me show you better photos of the fibers inside mine.

I took these photos this past weekend on a crafty girls weekend away and I had to bat away the grabby hands of my friends. These fibers are so nice and the colors are succulent. The theme of my box was stars and space, the box you might win is going to be a surprise.

I guessed that what you really wanted to see was the fiber more than any company’s label, so some of the labels are hard to read or even not there. I am listing names, links and fiber content below the collage. The fiber total was 12 oz, if you remember last photos last week there was also candy, buttons and soap from SLAB, which is already in my shower.

All of the fiber in my Spinning Box.

The fibers in the box are:

Top (L to R): Camaj Fiber Arts/Merino, bamboo/ Space Sunrise; The Wooly Lion/Merino,Alpaca,Mohair (all local) and firestar/ Galaxy; MK Unique Designs/Merino, nylon,thread/Cosmos

Middle (L to R): Totally Inked Yarn/SW Merino/Andromeda; The Spinning Box & Tucker Nuck Farm/ Merino; Alpaca Serenades/Alpaca, wool, angelina/Annie’s Comet

Bottom (L to R):  Camaj Fiber Arts/Corriedale/Mother of Moons; Rock and String Creations/ 100% Merino/ Cosmos; Fawkes Farms/Alpaca, BFL, silk, angelina/ Galaxy Far, Far Away

If you want a chance to win your own Spinning Box leave a comment below!

Our usual giveaway rules apply. Leave a comment on this post between now and midnight eastern time, Sunday May 22, 2017. One comment will be chosen at random to answer a skill testing question. If the commenter answers correctly they will win a single Spinning Box.  Giveaway value $49.00

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Sweet Georgia Starts a Color School and My Favorite Storage Bobbin Winder

Sweet Georgia fibre, colorway Tapestry. Photo by Sweet Georgia Yarns

Felicia Lo of Sweet Georgia Yarns and author of the new and wonderful book Dyeing to Spin and Knit is realizing her dream of starting an online School of Sweet Georgia.

She’s been simmering this idea since the mid 2000’s and just yesterday released it to the world. She’ll have classes in dyeing, knitting, spinning and weaving with color. It’s really exciting,

I don’t know many fiber artists that know as much about color and how it behaves with fiber than Felicia! She has a Patreon campaign to help her school get off of the ground, I’ve backed her and am looking forward to the first day school is in session.

 

 

My favorite bobbin winder

My favorite bobbin winder is a drill and a chopstick. I am the laziest spinner in all the land and using a cordless drill to wind storage bobbins hits my sweet spot. I usually use plastic weaving bobbins or cardboard storage bobbins (I love these because I can write on them). I use an inexpensive chopstick in my drill in place of a bit or a dowel. Since chopsticks increase in diameter the storage bobbins pressure fit on them, quick and easy.

 

How do you wind storage bobbins?

 

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Dover Natural Dye Book Giveaway

Spring is springing where I am in North America and everyone seems to be planting a garden. The warming weather is also a perfect time to try natural dyeing. With excellent timing, Dover Publications has given us two classic natural dyeing books for a giveaway.

Dover Publications natural dye giveaway!

A Weaver’s Garden and Lichen Dyes have been around for a bit, but they both have excellent natural dye information.

A Weaver’s Garden: Growing Plants for Natural Dyes and Fibers
by Rita Buchanan

An excellent book originally published in 1987 by Interweave and saved from out-of-print status by Dover.

It’s a reprint; there is no new material. If you don’t know about this book, give it a look. There is more than dyeing here. Almost half of the book is devoted to knowing and growing plants for dyeing. There are also chapters on plants to spin, plants for sachets (to deter moths), soap plants and plants to make textile tools.

It is book full of useful knowledge and a book utterly unique in the textile world.

Lichen Dyes:The New Source Book
Karen Casselman

This book has great charts of the colors particular lichens will dye, and dye recipes. It includes an international history of lichen dyeing, and methods including solar dyeing. The book concludes with an important chapter on the ethics of gathering and using lichens. This book was originally published in 1996 and revised in 2001 with 40% updated material.

Interested in starting a dyeing garden or dyeing with lichens? Our usual giveaway rules apply. Leave a comment on this post between now and midnight eastern time, Friday May 12, 2017. One comment will be chosen at random to answer a skill testing question. If the commenter answers correctly they will win a copy of A Weaver’s Garden and Lichen Dyes .  Giveaway value $22.90.

 

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A Tiny Peek at The Spinning Box

Even the outside of the Spinning Box is happy!

I’ve been curious to see what’s inside The Spinning Box and Mary was kind enough to send me one. The Spinning Box is a subscription for spinning fiber samples and other goodies. You can buy one or subscribe for as many months as you like.

I’m just going to show you a quick peek for today. I’ll be going over what’s inside in more detail in the next few weeks. I really thought I could quickly show it all and that would be that, except for the spinning, but I was so happily surprised by a couple of things with this box. The quality of the fiber samples, they are really excellent, beautifully prepared and dyed samples. The size of the samples, these are very generous samples. I’ve seen a couple of others fiber boxes via friends and none had the amount of fiber in it that The spinning Box has. There are also other goodies, candy, 3-d glasses, soap and buttons.

 

All of it!

Here’s a bird’s eye view. The weather has been really rainy the past few days so the true gorgeousness of the fiber is diminished in this photo, but just look at how much there is! The total of the fiber is 14 ounces. I’ll be shooting each fiber sample individually once the sun comes back to play. I can’t wait to tear open the bags and start spinning. I plan on spinning a sample of each fiber offering and then making some sexy big rolags on my Clemes and Clemes blending board.

I’m going on a spinning getaway with girlfriends the weekend after this one and all of this is definitely coming along.

Have you bought a fiber box? What did you do with all of the fibers?

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Support Liz Gipson’s Online Weaving School and Knitted Carded Swatches

Liz Gipson Weaving Superstar!

Have you seen Liz Gipson’s Patreon Campaign? She’s starting an online weaving school! I bet you know Liz from her Knitty column Get Warped! Or maybe from her books Weaving Made Easy, A Weaver’s Guide to Swatching or her brand new Handwoven Home. Liz makes rigid heddle weaving fun and easy. She’s also a fan of spinning and handspun yarn.  I can’t wait to take classes at her online school, so I supported her Patreon campaign. If you love to weave you might consider supporting her too!

 

 

 

Blending board on the left, hand cards on the right.

 

Even though I just spun a little bit of yarn in my hand cards and blending board experiment, I could just leave it. Those few yards kept winkingand waving at me until I knit them into tiny swatches. Sometimes I don’t follow my own advice and I always regret it. I just should have knit that yarn right away instead of dancing around it, because it’s fantastic.

The yarn and swatch I made from my Clemes and Clemes blending board fiber is still my favorite this week, but the knitted swatch I made on my hand cards, just glows. I really like how the color is lighter, but richer. I think I’d like to pair it with a matte yarn in a knitted or woven project.

Get ready for more blending board posts. I can’t get enough time with mine; I have little piles of fiber ideas stacked all over the house. In a couple of weeks I’m going away with my spinning women for a long weekend and working with my blending board may be all I do.

Plus I’m on the road to PLY Away right now and I’m sure I’ll find blending goodies in the marketplace.

Are there any blending board experiments or samples you’d like to see me tackle?

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