Spinning Tuesdays

Starting the year off with yarn & a giveaway!

Remember I was going to spin some Southern Cross Fibre BFL and Merino?

Well I did:

BFL left - it's a little hairy, and Merino right

Then I did some plying:

This marl I like!

I couldn’t wait to see what these two would look like as a piled yarn. I spun and plied most of this over 3 days – I actually woke up with sore calves in the morning! I love these colors together, and yes, they even marl in some places. I’m not usually a fan of marled yarn.

It’s about 500 yards, 15 wpi. I spun the singles woolen and piled it to balance, because I wanted a softer yarn to be knit into something where abrasion/piling won’t be an issue and that needs drape, this shawl – Annis.

I really enjoyed the thinking about the structure of handspun yarn and how it presents itself in knitting. More please.

How about a contest to kick off our spinning year?!

A $30 Gift Certificate to any store at The Fiber Cooperative!

Here’s how to win: leave a comment to this post by Wednesday, January 5, at midnight eastern time, and you could win! We’ll choose a winner at random, make them answer a  skill-testing question, and post the results next week.

Good luck and happy spinning!

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Dreaming about 2011

Lustrous locks

I am a list maker. I love making lists. This time of the year I carry a little notebook and dream of all of things I might do in the next 365 days or so.

Occasionally, I look back at the last year and take stock of what I learned.

In my spinning life in 2010 the biggies for me were:

  • Learning to spin fat yarn
  • Learning to spin art yarn
  • And it really, finally, hit home for me about how important and varied sheep breeds are, and how lucky we are to have so many to spin with.

For 2011 my big three (so far) are:

  • Knitting with handspun. I find handspun yarn so different than millspun yarn — it has a liveliness and feistiness that I adore. How do you knit it to its best advantage? What about the stitches used? What about the different breeds?
  • Travel for spinning. Gotta go this year and I want it to be a big one. Maybe SOAR, or Rhinebeck or Taos.
  • Color. I want color to click in my brain this year, and my brain likes to fight this one. Good thing The Spinning Loft is bringing Deb Menz to town.

What are on your lists? What did you accomplish in 2010? What are you dreaming about for 2011?

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How Do You Choose?

Southern Cross Fibre Club December 2010 Superwash BFL

When you find yourself with an empty wheel how do you choose what to spin next?

I was recently faced with this dilemma, and instead of just grabbing something I went through the choosing more methodically.

I didn’t have any have to spinning, my work and gift spinning are all done.

I didn’t want to do any should do spinning, practicing techniques or sampling breeds.

I have no projects that I specifically want to spin for.

Leaving me wide open to choose. I roamed my stash; friends offered suggestions that I loved: your oldest stashed fiber, a color or fiber you hate or love, a forbidden too special to spin fiber, a fiber with a great memory or story associated with it, something you dyed yourself. You can see why I love my spinning friends.

Then the mail came.

I was lucky enough to get a spot in the Southern Cross Fibre Club this year, and my first shipment came. Superwash BFL in the color Mercury Rising, you can see it above. I felt like the knitting fates (and my mail carrier – I had to sign for it, making it extra special) handed me my answer.

Then my brain started tick, ticking. I have some other Southern Cross fiber that was in the forbidden, too special to spin category because David’s beautiful fiber is so popular, it’s hard to get. But now, since I’ll be getting fiber every month the too special grip has loosened.

Here’s what I decided. A fine-ish 2-ply, for me, that’s probably DK. One ply Superwash BFL in the color Mercury Rising (my first club fiber) and one ply Superwash Merino in the color Katoomba (from my stash).

The mingling of Southern Cross Fibre beauty

How do you choose what to spin next?

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A New Spinning Magazine, a Spinning Winner and Presents for Myself

Have you seen the new spinning magazine out of England?

YarnMaker Issue 1

It’s called YarnMaker and is a wonderful spinning resource.

I just received the first two issues and haven’t spent much time with them, but what I like so far is: lots of sheep and fleece talk, a two part round up of British spindle makers, natural dyeing, spinning and sheep people out and about, art yarns, history and quick projects.

Mostly, it’s lovely to have a different spinning point of view than our North American one. I’m ready to subscribe.

Our Spinning Winner

The winner of our Miss Babs giveaway is Terri C.

Congratulations and happy spinning!

Remember Miss Babs’ special runs for the month of December. Buy 5 tops and get one free with the code SPINDEC (not to be combined with any other offer, sale, or coupon).

Presents for Me

In the midst of gift making and giving season. I always like to get a little something for myself. Look what arrived on my doorstep this week:

Boatload of Boogie

Amy at Spunky Eclectic had a sale and I fell down the rabbit hole. A little Targhee, a little Shetland (colorway: Morning Breath), Merino blended with cashmere and yak. I am ecstatic and will be happily spinning this gorgeousness very soon.

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How About A Spinning Giveaway?

Mixed BFL and tussah, what would you make?

Miss Babs Hand Dyed Yarns and Fibers has donated 8 ounces of  80% mixed BFL/20% tussah blend top in her Bog colorway for a giveaway.

If you’d like a chance to win this yummy goodness, leave a comment before Wednesday December 8, 2010 at 11:59 pm EST.

If your comment is chosen by our random number generator, you’ll be asked to answer a skill testing question before being declared the winner.

If you don’t win our giveaway, don’t fret. Miss Babs is offering a fiber special that runs through December 31, 2010.

Buy 5 tops and get one free with the code SPINDEC (not to be combined with any other offer, sale, or coupon). Perfect if you’re planning a handspun sweater for next year.

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Batt Love

When I went to Fiber Expo I was deeply smitten with these batts.

Puffy, puffy batts

They are Whimsy batts from Frankie Loves Fiber, wonderful blends of merino, corriedale, shetland, silk and sparkle. I couldn’t choose between them. To me, colorwise, they belong together, so I brought home all three. I know, twist my arm.

Weeks later when it came time to spin them, I felt even more strongly that the three should be one mixed colorway. It had become an idea I couldn’t shake, a bee in my spinning bonnet. So I went with it.

Here’s what I did to combine them.

Open, the batts had even more colors:

Pink, red, purple and shades of dirt

I divided each of the batts lengthwise into 4 strips, then set aside 2 strips of each batt to be spun in longer color runs.

Batts stripped

The remaining strips I divided in half widthwise into a pile of 12 teeny batts.

shredded batts

Both the strips and shreds I spun in a random color order. I placed the strips in one grocery bag and the shreds another and grabbed without looking.

Strips bobbin on the left, shreds bobbin on the right

I spun the strips onto one bobbin, attenuating each strip lengthwise and spinning from the end. I controlled this yarn a little more, thick and thin, but drafting out  some of the bigger bits. I spun woolen, long draw, at a wpi between 14-16.

I spun the shreds by fluffing them more than attenuating them, but still spinning from the end. I controlled this yarn less, lumps, bumps and chunks of goodness all in the yarn. I spun woolen, long draw, at a wpi between 10-12.

I plied the two bobbins and the result is the colorway that stuck itself in my head when I first fell for these batts.

Blended batts FTW

The wpi is 4-6, the yarn is soft and sparkly, the colors randomly spread throughout. Now what should I make?

Soft and smooshy

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The View from My Wheel: Deb Robson’s Wool Breed Study Class

Spinning zen

This past weekend I took a two day wool breed study class with Deb Robson, at The Spinning Loft.

We covered a variety of breeds within the categories of primitive wools, down type wools , long wools and fine wools. Covering a category included history, lock, crimp, luster characteristics,  prep methods, and spinning at least 4 breeds within each category.

Not being a breed junky, for me, it was the type of class that introduced me to a whole world of things that I don’t know. My first instinct was to panic (usually, my first instinct), it all seemed huge and overwhelming and there were combs, which I’ve never managed to get to work for me.

Knowing that I couldn’t just run screaming, because there are no take backs in spinning. I sat and listened. Deb is wonderful teacher. She has a calm melodious voice and a depth of knowledge that makes the history of sheep breeds seem like an enchanted fairy tale. I soaked it up like a sponge. I spun and learned.

It was hours of fascinating learning. And in that casual- sneaky way that only the best teachers have, Deb got me on combs. I finally understood and used combs, and even came home with a pair.

Like in the best types of classes there was learning from each other too. I came home having learned combing and better ways to hand card and taught Andean plying. It reminds me of the square dancing move, the allemande where you pass around your circle hand over hand.

It’s classes exactly like this one that keep me excited, keep me signing up for things I’m not sure about, and keep me spinning every day.

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Plying Spindle Spun Yarn

I love to spin singles on my spindles, but I’ve never been a fan of plying on a spindle.

Before you ask, it's an Indigo Hound spindle.

Instead I use my Kate 45 and ply on my wheel.

Ply, girl, ply!

All with the help of the humble drinking straw. My cop goes on the straw and the straw goes on my lazy kate rod.

Size does matter

I have a pack of regular bendy straws that fit perfectly over the rods on my Kate 45 just loose enough to spin, but not so loose that the fly off when plying. The straw has to be taller than your cop but, not taller than your lazy kate rod.

Spindle to straw

I slide my straw as far as it will go up the spindle shaft and slide the cop slowly onto the straw.

Ready for a 2-ply

I found that if I tried to make the cop transfer off of the spindle or even at the bottom of the spindle shaft, it was much harder to get the cop on the straw smoothly.

Ply like the wind

I use my wheel to ply, but it’s just as easy to ply to a spindle from your kate.

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A Spinning Giveaway!

Beautiful Indigenous

One lucky spinner will win 4 oz of BFL/ Tussah (a $22.95 value) from Three Waters Farm to make Lynne Vogel’s Indigenous shawl from the current issue of Knittyspin.

You want it don’t you? Leave a comment below by noon, eastern time, tomorrow (Wednesday, November 10). If you are chosen, you must answer a super secret question to be declared the winner.

Our winner will be announced on Friday, November 12.

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In Search of Fiber Fiesta Fiber!

Fiber Fiesta yarn spun from gorgeous A Verb For Keeping Warm fiber.

Do you dye fiber? Create spectacular batts or fiber blends?

I’m gathering fiber for  Knittyspin’s 2011 Fiber Fiestas.

Knittyspin’s Fiber Fiestas are held quarterly. We invite a group of spinners with varying levels of experience, and each samples your fiber.[We do have enough Fiber Fiesta spinners.] All reviewers are asked to spin, set, and knit with the fiber, putting it through the same process an average spinner would.

In order to have your fiber included in an upcoming yarn Fiber Fiesta, please send at least 8 oz of each type of fiber you’d like considered for review. Multiple submissions [more than one type of fiber, blend or put up] are welcome! Please include a short “bio” of your fiber and/or your business – this is especially important for unusual blends and small-batch fiber companies; where your fiber can be purchased and the suggested retail price for your fiber.

Samples will not be returned. I will contact you to let you know in which issue your review will appear, so you can make sure to have stock on hand.

If you’re interested in having your fiber in Knittyspin’s Fiber Fiesta or have a fiber artist to suggest  I contact, leave a comment here or drop me a line at jillianmorenoATgmail.com.

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