Spinning Tuesdays

Spinning Tuesdays: Beautiful Batt Spinning

I hope everyone got lovely fiber gifts for whatever Winter holiday you celebrate, and  spent a day or two relaxing in pajamas.

I gifted myself a Bricolage batt

Bricolage Batt

Emily does the most beautiful mixed batts, lots of interesting texture and great colors. She makes gorgeous jewelry too. I might have bought myself a Poppy necklace.

I core spun this batt, letting it be as textured as it wanted to be.

Textured Bricolage Yarn

After spinning fat and core spun yarns for most of this year, I’m thinking about what to focus on for 2012.

Have you decided on any spinning resolutions for 2012?



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Spinning Tuesdays: Another Reason to Have a Stash

Here’s another reason to have a fiber stash, for your friends who get into spinning trouble.


The other day I was knitting along happily on my father in law’s Christmas scarf, a cabled pattern knit out of a handspun, three-ply Gotland.  I’ll admit I was feeling smug because all of my gift knitting was right on schedule.

Then I looked down at my ball of yarn, it looked small. I looked again. Then I squeezed it, maybe it was wound really tightly. Nope. I was going to run out of yarn. Not just run out of yarn, much worse, I used all of the Gotland I had to spin the yarn.


How bad was it?

Half of Ray's Scarf

The knitting part was bad. When I finished the yarn I had, I was just under halfway done.

The fiber part was worse. The fiber I spun came from a fleece I had bought from New Zealand six years ago.

I was feeling really sorry for myself, the scarf, or half scarf, was exactly what I wanted – size, design, drape.


Then I remembered Carla. Carla is my friend who is always an enthusiastic participant in any fiber shenanigans I come up with, including splitting fleeces ordered from New Zealand. Yes, there was more than one, don’t judge.


I texted her. She was in an all day meeting with important people at work, but this was a fiber emergency. “Do you still have any of that Gotland fiber we got from NZ 6 years ago? I ran out of yarn for Ray’s scarf.” She instantly texted back, she understands a fiber emergency. “Yes!”

Not only did she still have it; she hadn’t used one bit of it, and she put her hands on the bag in less than 10 minutes.

More than a pound of Gotland roving

So keep stashing that fiber, your friends may need it too!

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Spinning Tuesdays: Sometimes Simple is Best

I’m going for simple gifts this year.

So far this one is my favorite

Chunky woolen Polwarth, 2x2 rib on US #11 - cozy and fast.

Chunky 2-ply Polwarth, spun woolen. The colorway is Hopworks from Abstract Fibers. The color was inspired by a line up of different beers at a local pub and this hat is going to a friend that’s a brewer.

I love connections like that.


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Spinning Tuesdays: I Bought a Fleece and Something I’m Excited About

It started in August.

During Deb Menz’s class at The Spinning Loft I noticed a fleece. A Babydoll Southdown, short, fine and sproingy bouncy. Unwashed it was the color of spilled pepper. When I washed a lock or two it turned to a gorgeous taupey brown.

I decided against buying it because, well, I have other fleeces just sitting and waiting for me.

But this fleece has been on my mind for months! During the Dream Wheel Weekend I couldn’t stand it anymore. I bought the whole thing, almost four pounds.

I washed and carded some right away.

Washed Babydoll Southdown

I even remembered from my spinning along with Deb Robson’s Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook, not to over wash the fleece.


I carded it on my Patrick Green Deb’s Delicate Deluxe drumcarder. I ran it through four times.

All ready to spin

I’m not sure what I want to make with it. I have an idea about a cabled shawl. Woolen spun of course.

What do I want to be?

I’m going to start spinning and swatching soon.


Now you can listen to me go on about spinning

I will be a little bit busier in the future and I am so excited about it!  I am joining Sasha at the SpinDoctor podcast. Starting in December, I’ll be talking with her about what we’re both spinning and I’ll be doing an interview or two. More time to obsess over spinning.

Come over and give us a listen!

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Spinning Tuesdays: Dream Wheel Weekend

Julia Farwell-Clay of Takoma fame came to The Spinning Loft with Kelly (who makes those spinning wheel cup holders that are on every wheel you see) for a Dream Wheel Weekend.

On Friday night Julia gave a talk with slide show that expanded on her wheel maker article in the most recent Spin Off.

It was called “I’m Not Dead Yet” or Custom Wheel Makers Alive and Well in North America. It was fun and informative and just primed the pump for what happened on Saturday.

We got to spin on a whole bunch of wheels by custom wheel makers. Yes, we did. I have the proof in pictures.

Alden Amos wheel - thank you for the loan Marcy!

Reeves Norwegian

Pat Russo wheel

Jenson Production Wheel

Jensen Gossip Wheel - Kelly spinning 2 singles at once

Watson Norwegian

Sasha spinning on the Watson

Carson Cooper Sierra

Julia helping Erica adjust the Cooper

Magnus Drudik 28" Castle Wheel - I tried to keep it, but Kelly said no

It was an amazing experience! I fell deeply in love with the Drudik wheel, the Cooper and the Watson. Thanks to Julia and Kelly for sharing their treasured wheels with us.


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Spinning Tuesdays: Another Thing I Love About Fiber People

We love to trade.

I used to be a weaver. I have an eight harness Might Wolf that I haven’t used for years. It’s been hanging out at friend’s house just visiting.

Then another friend got bitten by the weaving bug, big time. “What would you want for your loom?” she asks. Offering just cash is boring, we decided a combo was in order.

You know how a spinning wheel can get stuck in you heart? I don’t need another wheel, but wow, this wheel waves to me, blows me kisses every time I see one.

So I tell her, “I’ve always wanted a Lendrum double treadle”.  Cat out of bag, the words and wish set loose into the universe.

Last week she shows up at my door with a big box.

My new Lendrum

She found me a Lendrum. I don’t think the old owner used her more than once or twice. It came with the jumbo plying head , the fast flyer, a carrying bag and 9 (!) bobbins.

My friend will get her loom in early December.

And my new wheel? She spins just fine.

Abstract Fiberarts, polwarth, Hopworks colorway

I love a good trade.


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Spinning Tuesday: 2 Ply or 3 Ply for Cables?

I’m spinning and knitting and fair amount of my holiday gifts, all accessories because I’m not completely crazy.

Right now I’m working on a scarf for my father-in-law. It will have a cable running up the center of the scarf. The same cable that will be on my mother-in-law’s mittens. They will notice and they will get misty over it. I know! Just the type of folks you want to spin and knit for.

For the scarf I’m using some New Zealand gotland. It’s commercially prepped roving. I want the cable to be smooth so I spun it worsted (don’t faint). I want the cables to pop so I spun it 3-ply.

I’ve always heard and read that a 3 ply makes a nicer, more defined cable. I had some singles left after plying my 3 ply (because my bobbins never match up), so I plied the leftovers 2 ply, and knit cables with 2 ply and 3 ply yarns.

Here are the pictorial results of the, Cables: 2 ply or 3 ply ?, smackdown

The yarn:

Gotland 2ply front, 3 ply back

I was really struck by how much hairier the 2 ply is than the 3 ply. They were spun exactly the same. The 3 ply seems to trap and tame the fuzziness of the gotland.

The swatches:

I used a six stitch cable crossed every 8 rows for both swatches. I used a needle one size bigger for the 3 ply swatch.

2 ply swatch

A nice cable, fuzzy but clearly a cable that pops even with the halo.

3 ply swatch

What a difference! Even taking into account that the yarn is bigger by one ply, that is a meaty cable. The rounder yarn makes that bad boy stand up and wave.

2 ply swatch left, 3 ply swatch right

Here they are side by side. I would use the 2 ply cable for a softer look, like on a slouchy beret or a soft looking sweater, but the 3 ply is the look I want for my scarf.

2 ply and 3 ply from the side

Here they are shot from the side, the 3 ply is definitely a crisper cable.

I love experimenting and swatching. It always makes me excited all over again about spinning.

Do you have any cables in your upcoming projects?




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Learning to Spin

Misty Mountain Farm BFL in color Pumpkin spice.

Amy and Jillian – and many of my friends around the knitting world – are avid spinners, and it seemed inevitable that I would eventually want to give it a try.

I knew that Rhinebeck is a big spinning event, so I decided that my objective for the trip would be to learn to spindle spin.

I did some research into what to look for in a spindle and some fiber, and set myself the most excellent task of shopping.

The lovely TsockTsarina got me hooked up with a plain and simple GnomeSpun spindle, and I bought myself some gorgoeous Blue Faced Leicester roving – since the experts told me that it was easy for beginners.  I chose a color inspired by the wonderful fall foliage I was seeing around.

On the Saturday evening, I sat down with some spinning friends from the shop Shall We Knit. The fabulous Lise opened up her bag of tricks, and pulled out some green Shetland (also very beginner-friendly), and got me started.

In action, with excellent coaching from Lise.

And after a few false starts, some fumbling around, and much laughter, I was starting to get the hang of it. I was making something that looked like something you could knit with.

After an hour watching me play with the top whorl spindle, Lise quietly offered up a second spindle to try: a Jenkins Turkish Delight. I had no idea: this is the spinning equivalent of offering a learner driver the keys to a Cadillac. I was immediately hooked. Being a clever sort, Lise had bought it for me, expecting I might enjoy using it.

We worked together for a couple of evenings, me spindling, Lise providing coaching and supportive laughter, and by the end of the weekend, I had made my first yarn!

I had about 6 yards of a maybe worsted weight, slightly slubby, hand-dyed green Shetland.

I made yarn! I am a spinner!

Naturally, I wanted to knit something with it. Something I could keep and show off… spinner extraordinaire Denny suggested a leaf. It’s a perfect leafy color, and I knitted it at a leafy time of year… and so…

Very proud!

my first project with my first handspun! A leaf, with a pin on the back to make it a brooch. I will be wearing it with pride on my coat this winter.

I’m saving the BFL roving until I am feeling a bit more confident. I’m going to visit my friends at Shall We Knit this weekend, and my spindles are definitely going with me.

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Spinning Tuesdays: Corespinning with a Spindle?

In a recent class I took  someone talked about Sarah Anderson’s method of corespinning that she calls Wrap and Roll.

The basic idea is to wrap your core on a spindle, suspend it between your knees as you spin and let the extra twist put into your core yarn untwist via the spindle. It was mentioned in passing, but the idea kept knocking on my brain, so I went and looked it up on You Tube.

Sure enough, I found a video, not by Sarah herself but by someone who had taken her class.

I sat down and tried it. I knew it would be fiddly to get started, so I sat out in the sun and tried to just go with it.

I used 2-ply laceweight as my core and wound it on a favorite Indigo Hound spindle.

Indigo Hound spindle wrapped with core yarn

After a few false starts, I got it working. The spindle unspun the extra twist I put into the core.

Spindle hanging between my knees as I spin

I didn’t spin with my knees quite so far apart, I did that for the picture. And no, sadly, it’s not that sunny today.

I made a mistake in choosing my spindle for this project. My spindle has a relatively long shaft and the Sidekick has a lowish orifice. I should have used the lightest, shortest shaft spindle I had because I spent more time than I wanted unwinding and rehooking the core.

But the method works

A little over twisted

The yarn was a little over twisted, somewhere in between the regular core and the unspun core. I think that extra twist was me not being a very relaxed spinner with this method.

I love the idea and now really want to take a class with Sarah Anderson. I can’t imagine what I could learn from the brain that came up with this!


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