Spinning Tuesdays

Planning Projects As You Go For A Spinner

Cjkoho Designs, BFL and my cowl in progress.

Cjkoho Designs, BFL and my cowl in progress.

I’m sure you all know by now that knitting my handspun is one of my favorite things. I like to design my projects and I like to design my projects as I knit, especially smaller projects. How does that work if I’m spinning the yarn I’m knitting? What if I run out of yarn or what if I change my mind in the middle of knitting, my design becomes something different and I know I don’t have enough yarn?

All of those things happen to me, a lot. You know what? I don’t sweat it. For me it’s the trade off for not having to be exact. I don’t know exactly what I’m knitting, I have a good idea, but it always evolves. Also I like to spin ish yarn, not exacting down to the micron.

Right now I’m working on a projects and patterns for a class I’m premiering at the  Madrona Fiber Arts Retreat, Yarnitecture 2: Spinning for a Specific Project. I will present my students (waving!) with three patterns and they can choose which one(s) to work through the sampling process and as much of the spinning process we can do in a day. One pattern has color manipulation, one is lace and one is cabled.

I’m finishing up the cabled project right now and it keeps evolving. It’s a cowl and I have about 4.5 inches knit from 3 ounces of fiber. I spun 4 ounces of fiber and I want the cowl to be at least 8″ tall, maybe 9″. I won’t know until I get there. You see what’s going to happen? I’m going to run out of yarn. Did I stress? Nope. I contacted the dyer (CJkohoDesigns – she’s in town) and she had more. Will it match exactly? Nope, but it will be close enough. If she didn’t have more fiber or if I had bought the fiber at a festival 10 years ago with no hope of more, I still wouldn’t have stressed. I would have ripped it out and rethought the cowl.

Some things aren’t worth stressing over. Plus for me it’s like a puzzle, a challenge, what happens next? I love that. It’s at the heart of fiber arts for me, the puzzling and unpuzzling.

Do you plan on the fly for spinning projects or do you plan everything exactly?

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Why I Still Buy Yarn

Aranmore and June Cashmere, mmmmmm

Aranmore and June Cashmere, mmmmmm

If I spin why do I still buy yarn? Yes, I often look at commercial yarns and think, “I can make that” and sometimes I even do make something similar.

But I still buy yarn to knit and weave with, why? There are companies making interesting yarns, yarns that this picky, picky spinner falls in love with. There are dyers who make exquisite colors and don’t dye fiber. There are companies making and selling yarn that employ people in countries not as bountiful as ours, or from sheep that are becoming endangered or from sheep, mills and dyers that are in their own neighborhood.

I buy yarn from yarn shops almost exclusively, I don’t want yarn shops (or book shops) to ever go away.

This past weekend I taught spinning at Loop Yarns and succumbed to the siren song of gorgeous yarn in a

Hedgehog Fibers and MJ Yarns - the color!

Hedgehog Fibers and MJ Yarns – the color!

gorgeous shop. I bought two skeins of Arranmore from the Fibre Company. From a spinners point of view this is a good yarn, an interesting blend, beautiful colors and well made. It’s a little light on ply twist, but that is my very personal preference. I also bought two skeins of  June Cashmere in Scarlet. The color is exquisite one of the best reds I’ve ever seen. Did you read about it in Knitter’s Review? If Clara says it’s good and that the company is doing good things, I’m in!

I added two more, new spins to me fibers from Loop too, Hedgehog Fibers (merino and nylon) and the sexiest BFL roving I’ve ever touched from MJ Yarns. Really, it’s so good I almost bought it all.

Loop Yarns, don't you want to knit it all? Photo borrowed from the Loop website.

Loop Yarns, don’t you want to knit it all?
Photo borrowed from the Loop website.

 

If you are ever in or near Philadelphia make sure to go to Loop Yarns, it is a spectacular shop!

 

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Favorite Spinning Tools: My Steamer

Only 7" tall, but my steamer is mighty!

Only 7″ tall, but my steamer is mighty!

I have a little portable steamer that I use all of the time. It’s become one of those tools in my arsenal, along with my scale, that I had no idea when I bought it how much I would use it.

I use it the most when I’m sampling. I’m not a patient spinner and I want to see what my yarn and knitted swatches are going to look like as soon as possible. Steaming is perfect for that. My steamer is small and is best for small skeins of yarn. I used to just hold my skeins over our electric kettle until I got tired of finding wool in my tea.

I have used it for bigger 400 yard skeins, it took a couple of passes with my little steamer, but it was less time than waiting for the skein to dry after wet blocking. All I want to do was get started knitting!

I do need to say that if I am working with a fiber or blend that is new to me I will take the time to wet block my sample yarn.

A steamer is great for blocking swatches too. I pin them out first and then hit them with steam. I also use it to do touch up blocking on knitted or woven garments or accessories that are looking limp. A hit of steam can get a cable to stand back up, or get a quickly pinned out lace edge to open up.

Do you use a steamer?

 

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Teaching at Loop

Reblocking some of my Twist and Ply swatches

Reblocking some of my Twist and Ply swatches

Who’s spinning with me at Loop next weekend? I got a few questions about my classes, so I thought I answer them here.

I’m teaching three classes, all day Yarnitecture, half day Twist and Ply and half day Cheaper By the Dozen: 12 Ways to Spin Variegated Top.

Yarnitecture: Building Exactly the Yarn You Want – This is a great class for spinners who either are beginner- ish, can make yarn and want to know what’s next, this class gives an over view of making yarn. This is also for spinners who have been spinning for any length of time who want have questions along the lines of , ‘how do I make this yarn?’ or ‘why does my yarn look like this?’ I once had a student tell me after class, “I’ve been spinning for 15 years and didn’t know most of this stuff!”

 

Twist and Ply: The Difference Ply and Twist Direction Make to Your Knitting – Plying has such a bad reputation in spinning and lots of spinners approach it like ripping off a band aid – getting it done as quick as possible, with not a lot of thought.  This is a great class for spinners curious about what the big deal is about plying. This is also a great class for spinning knitters who aren’t quite happy with their handspun knits, a lot of the time the fix is in the plying or the direction of your plying in combination with your style of knitting. The photo up there is a few of my samples for this class getting refreshed for next weekend.

Cheaper By the Dozen: 12 Ways to Spin Variegated Top – This might be my most popular class. Every spinner I know has a stash of variegated top and a not-so-secret lust for more. This class will teach you how to spin those braids fearlessly, including how to combine them. By the end of this class you’ll have the spinning of your current stash all mapped out and be shopping for more. In this class we use fiber from Into the Whirled.

There are a few spots left in all three classes, you can register here.

Don’t forget the Friday night spin-in, Yarnitecture trunk show and book signing. It’s going to be fun!

I hope to see you next weekend!

 

 

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Spinning in 2017 – Your List of Dyers

hy-collage-2017

Hello Yarn before and after

For a lot of us it’s the dreaded work reentry week after the winter holidays.

I’ve put together a little diversion for you.

A few weeks ago I asked who I should spin in 2017 and I got so many great answers that I’ve collected them here. How about a little fiber browsing for today?

Let me know who you are excited to spin in 2017!

 

 

 

 

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Yarnitecture Giveaway!

Win me!

Win me!

 

What? You did’t get my book for a holiday gift?

Let’s fix that!

I am giving away a copy of my book Yarnitecture and 4 ounces of Into the Whirled Falkland in the colorway Vegetable Medley. So you can spin along with the book.

Our usual rules apply: Leave a comment on this post between now and midnight eastern time, Friday, December 30th. One comment will be chosen at random to answer a skill testing question. If the commenter answers correctly they will win the book and fiber. If you have already won a prize from us this year, please do give other knitters a chance. Giveaway value $49.00

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Weaving with Handspun Singles – Energy Edition

Liz's cool scarf. I want one!

Liz’s cool scarf. I want one!

Usually when I spin singles to weave or knit I reduce the amount of twist so I can finish the yarn to bias very little. There are weavers and knitters who do the opposite, they use regular and even high twist in their singles and make that electric energy part of their knitting or weaving. I have done some knitting with energized singles after taking classes with Kathryn Alexander, but have never played with energy and weaving.

Liz Gipson’s latest Get Warped column is all about weaving with handspun singles and using that twist energy to make something very cool. I’ve read about controlling twist with sizing before, but it never much tickled my fancy. Liz  makes everything seem easy and fun, so I’m all in.

Liz’s process involves spinning a singles yarn with regular or higher twist. When I say ‘regular twist’ I mean the twist I would need to make a balanced 2-ply yarn. She then coats the twisty yarn with sizing and dries it under tension. She weaves with it after it’s dry and controlled, then washes out the sizing and beautiful sproingy magic happens when the twist comes back. You can see the texture and collapse in the scarf.

Waiting to be spun and set.

Waiting to be spun and set.

 

I’ve chosen these fibers to spin. Cjkoho Designs (there’s an update coming Friday) Polwarth in the Tanya (variegated) colorway for the warp and Corriedale in the Jodi (golden) colorway.

I’ll be documenting it all here over the next few weeks.

I’d appreciate any and all tips from spinning weavers who have done this before!

 

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Spinning Gifts

Looking for a gift for a spinner or looking for some things to leave as fat hints to your loved ones?

Here are a few things I loved this year that I’d like to give to my spinning family:

 

Port Fiber!

Port Fiber!

 

Fiber, of course – either a braid, a set of braids, or a club subscription. Getting fiber never gets old! I have a lot of go-to dyers, but for 2017 I want to spin dyers that are new to me or ones I haven’t spun in a long time. One of dyers I can’t wait to try is Casey of Port Fiber.

Blending board – I have a Clemes and Clemes blending board and I use it a lot. It’s so much fun making wild rolags to spin. Smaller than a drum carder, and bigger than hand cards, plus it sits nicely in your lap while you watch tv on the couch.

 

Louet cotton cards

Louet cotton cards

Handcards – Thanks to Beth Smith’s suggestion, I now have handcards that I can’t stop using. Louet extra fine cotton cards work better for me than any other cards I’ve tried.

Yarnitecture – My book! I wish I could give a copy to everyone that spins or is even thinking about starting to spin.

Massage – This is one of my favorite gifts to give and get. There is a lot of repetitive motion in spinning, be good to your body and get all of those kinks smoothed out. It’s feels so good!

 

Spin Off and PLY

Spin Off and PLY

 

Subscriptions to magazines – I read both Spin Off and PLY Magazine, every issue. I learn from them and get so many ideas for projects and experiments. Supporting these two magazines supports our whole fiber community.

An event – I wish I could buy all of my spinners fully paid trips to the retreat of their choice (plus a new wheel and a pony). Failing that we like to make plans where we go together. You can also make a contribution to a trip or buy them a local class.

 

A wheel – Know anyone in need of a new wheel? I highly recommend Schacht’s new Flatiron. It’s is a fast wheel, I can go from fat to super fine effortlessly. Plus I like the way it looks!

 

What are your favorite spinning gifts to give and get?

 

 

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Yarn Fest 2017: Registration Is Open!

yf-primarylogodate-location

Registration is open for next spring’s Yarn Fest. 

Kate and I are both teaching again, we had a great time last year!  Yarn Fest has a freshly deigned, easier to use website, including an at-a-glance workshop schedule to help with planning classes to take. There’s an early bird discount of $15 off workshops until January 1, 2017. Use the code EBDYF17 when you check out.

Kate is teaching:

 

  • The Pi Shawl (3 hours): Thursday
  • Two Socks at Once SBS (3 hours): Thursday
  • Fiber Care & Blocking (3 hours): Friday
  • Math for Knitters (3 hours): Friday
  • 2 Socks War & Peace (3 hours): Saturday
  • Pattern Writing (3 hours): Saturday
  • Custom Fit Socks (3 hours): Sunday

I’m teaching:

  • Fractal Frolic (3 hours): Thursday
  • Cheaper by the Dozen (3 hours): Thursday
  • Adventures in Plying: Color and Texture (6 hours): Friday – New for 2017!
  • Yarnitecture (6 hours): Saturday
  • Fractal Frolic (3 hours): Sunday

Who remembers #fiberfairwage? The initial teaching contract for this event wasn’t so hot, but Interweave did a great job working with instructors to come up with a fair contract for this event. There is a great selection of teachers and classes for 2017!

Are you coming this year? What are you taking?

 

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What Will You Spin Next?

*Spinning and knitting, spinning and knitting, rep from * to end of the weekend.

*Spinning and knitting, spinning and knitting, rep from * to end of the weekend.

In the US the big Thanksgiving weekend is coming up. Some people look forward to the food or the shopping. But my people, spinners, look forward to uninterrupted days of spinning, knitting or fiber prep.

This is also the weekend that, before the crazy of the December holidays, I like to reflect on what I want to spin next in 2017.

This weekend I will wear only stretchy pants, there will be football (Go Blue!) too much food and a ferocious amount of fiber. I have plans to card for color, spin for a few accessories, knit swatches in dark movie theaters (Dr. Strange and Moana) and generally wallow in fiber. I really need the comfort of fiber and the feeling of doing work that doesn’t require wifi or electricity.

While I frolic in my fluff I’ll keep a notebook handy, writing down any ideas I have for 2017. I have a few things that are tickling my interest – more spinning and color (with a little weaving thrown in), exploring new-to-me dyers and making things beyond swatches with my handspun.

What are you excited about spinning, learning, making in 2017?

If you are in the US what will you spin this weekend?

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