Handspun FO Friday

I don’t have any knitted finished objects to share, but I do have some handspun.

I finished the second bump of Into The Whirled Great Minds, which is a superwash Targhee wool. The fiber went from this

Aren’t these colors gorgeous together?

to this.

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I spun the fiber end to end, then chain plied it to get a worsted-weight yarn.

I had divided the first bump in half vertically (lengthwise) and spun it up into two 2-oz skeins that are destined to become fingerless mitts, so I spun the second bump end-to-end to make a skein for a matching hat.

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The skein on the left is for a hat. The two on the right are for the fingerless mitts. I think it will make a nice set, don’t you?

I also finished a Loop Bullseye Bump that I spun end to end and then chain plied. It hasn’t told me yet what it wants to be when it grows up. :-)

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This colorway is called Pur-plexed, and it is a purple-lover’s dream.

Here are my two newest creations side by side.

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The skeins are resting on the treadles of my Ashford Traveller. My Travvy is currently being stored in my bedroom while the house renovations are ongoing. I haven’t spun on her for over two months now, and I miss her. I think I might bring her back downstairs. She’s light, so it’s easy to carry her back upstairs if I need to.

It is amazing how differently different fibers behave, even when spun and plied the same way on the same spinning wheel. The superwash Targhee became a very squishy yarn that poofed up a lot after it was washed. It has a lot of bounce to it. The Loop bump is mostly Merino wool, and it didn’t poof up as much as the Targhee. It, too, is pretty squishy, but it doesn’t have as much bounce as the Targhee.

Both skeins were wound on the same niddy noddy, but when they came off, you can see that the Loop skein was considerably longer than the ITW skein. That’s because the Targhee yarn is stretchier than Merino yarn.

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That’s all for this FO Friday. I hope you have a great friday.

A Matchless Named Emily

Way back in 2012, when I decided that I really wanted to give spinning a try, I bought a drop spindle and some wool fiber and, with the help of some videos on YouTube, I taught myself to spin. And I liked it LOVED it.

After spindling for a few months, I knew that I wanted to try spinning on a spinning wheel. I did a lot of reading on the Internet, and finally narrowed my choices to two spinning wheels, the Schacht Ladybug and the Lendrum folding wheel. What I really wanted was a Schacht Matchless. Of all the wheels I read about, it was the one that seemed to be a consensus All-American. Nary a discouraging word was written about the Matchless.

But the price! The Matchless, crafted from maple and black walnut, is a spendy spinning wheel. I didn’t know whether I would even like spinning on a wheel, so I didn’t want to invest that much money right off the bat into something that I might not like. When you are first learning to play the piano, you don’t run out and by a Steinway baby grand, do you? NO! You start with a Casio keyboard, or maybe a Yamaha Clavinova, or perhaps Grandma’s old Wurlitzer spinet. Who know how long you will pursue piano playing, or whether you will even like it? So, when I decided to buy a spinning wheel, I didn’t want to start out with a Steinway baby grand. I thought it was prudent to go with the Yamaha Clavinova.

The Schacht Ladybug was the wheel I chose for my first spinning wheel. It wasn’t an easy choice because the Lendrum folding wheel is a really nice, well-priced spinning wheel, and almost everyone who has ever had one loves it. But the Ladybug is also well-loved, and it is far more versatile than the Lendrum, which is single drive, that is, a flyer-lead wheel, also known as Scotch tension. The Ladybug can be used in three different drives, flyer-lead, bobbin-lead (aka Irish tension), and double drive. That was the clincher; I wanted a wheel that I could grow with. And I thought that if I really liked spinning on a spinning wheel, I could eventually get a Matchless.

Well, my Ladybug and I clicked right from the get-go. She’s a beautiful spinning wheel, and since I first got her (a birthday present from my DH), I’ve learned a lot about spinning and developed my skills far beyond what I originally dreamed I could do. But spinning wheels are a funny thing. Once you have one, you crave another, and another… Most wheel spinners have more than one wheel. Part of it is–different tools for different jobs. Part of it is–oh, pretty! So eight months after the Ladybug came to live with me, I bought a Lendrum folding wheel.

The Lendrum is a beautiful spinning wheel, well-designed and well-built, but being a single drive wheel, it has its limitations. I was fine spinning on the Lendrum until I bought wheel number three, a double drive Ashford Traveller. I fell in love with spinning in double drive, although I still prefer flyer-lead (Scotch tension) or bobbin-lead (Irish tension) for plying. This meant that my Lendrum was relegated to being a plying wheel. But my Ladybug works really well in Scotch tension, and its bobbins hold more yarn than the Lendrum, so the Lendrum has become obsolete. (I won’t discuss the so-called plying head for the Lendrum, which has larger bobbins than the regular head, because I hate, hate, hate it.) I haven’t sold my Lendrum yet, but I plan to later this year. I hate to have it sitting around unused when there is a spinner out there who would use it as it deserves to be used.

So, here I am, with two multi-drive spinning wheels that I love and wouldn’t dream of parting with. But I still dream of owning a Matchless. I have saved, and saved, and for months now had more than enough for my Matchless. But I kept putting off ordering one first because of the cross-state move, then because of the renovations to the “new” house (which is an old house that needs a lot of work). But last Monday, I decided to wait no more. I placed an order on-line with The Woolery in Frankfurt, KY, which is where I have purchased all of my spinning wheels, and on Thursday morning, I had my Matchless. Life is good.

True Cost

Pinko Knitter:

This is one reason why The Sweater Knitter is one of my favorite bloggers.

Originally posted on The Sweaty Knitter, Weaver and Devotee of Other Fiber Arts:

Those of us who make and use what we make are aware of the “true cost” (or at least truer cost) of, for instance, knitting a sock, weaving a hand towel, crocheting a blanket, carding fleece, spinning yarn and dying yarn. SockButtonRecently on a hot afternoon as I sat knitting (a sock), I viewed “The True Cost” (2015) on Netflix. A documentary, The True Cost explores the true cost and impact of “fast fashion” – a term new to me.  As opposed to the traditional two-season fashion releases per year, “fast fashion” is  52 seasons a year, something new every week. The result? 

Autumn Newell explains:  Today, overconsumption of cheap, poorly made clothing is contributing to epic waste generation. Items are often available at prices so low one can purchase a new piece of clothing for the same price as a bottled of water. These prices are…

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Seven Weeks And Counting

Seven weeks have passed since our kitchen remodeling job started. It’s been a slow go, but I’m hopeful things will start going a bit faster next week.

Of course, I was hopeful the job would pick up speed after the drywall went up and was then finished during weeks five and six. But things came to a screeching halt once again. Although our contractor and his assistant did an excellent job of hanging the drywall, the drywall finishers did a, shall we say, less than stellar job. In fact, the drywall was so badly finished, that our contractor had to hire another finisher to basically redo the entire kitchen and breakfast nook.

Every single wall and corner, every single archway, and both ceilings were refinished by Armando, who is extremely skilled and definitely a drywall finishing artist. He undoubtedly takes pride in his work, and his skill is apparent. Refinishing the drywall added another three days to the project, but it’s worth it to end up with the superior results Armando provided.

Here are some before and after pictures that might give you some idea of just how bad the drywall was finished the first time, and just how great a job Armando did fixing it. Two caveats: I’m not a good photographer, so the pictures aren’t very good, and the before pictures were taken after the first coat of paint, while the after pictures were all taken before repainting.

This is the archway around the entry between the kitchen and hallway, where the old plaster butts the new drywall. Before is on the left, after is on the right.

This is the archway around the entry between the kitchen and hallway, where the old plaster butts the new drywall. Before is on the left, after is on the right.

Armando filled in all the divets, scratches, and gouges in both the new drywall, and the old drywall from which the wallpaper had been removed. This is  one of the walls in the breakfast nook.

Armando filled in all the divots, scratches, and gouges in both the new drywall, and the old drywall from which the wallpaper had been removed. This is one of the walls in the breakfast nook.

Two shots of the ceiling, side by side.

Two “before” shots of the ceiling, side by side. It’s pretty clear that the first drywall finishers didn’t care at all about the quality of their work. These pictures are representative of what the entire ceiling looked like in the breakfast nook.

The before ceiling close up

Two close-up pictures of the sort of defects that could be found throughout the ceiling. The smear on the right was on the kitchen ceiling. The picture on the left is from the now-infamous breakfast nook.

before ceiling

I think this picture shows just how awful the “before” ceiling was in the breakfast nook. And this is after it had been painted!

after ceiling

Armando did a great job of fixing the ceiling. This is what a knock-down stipple ceiling is supposed to look like, and it will look even better after it is painted.

Apparently the first drywall finishers didn't think this defect in the drywall needed to be fixed, even though it isn't behind any cabinets.

Apparently the first drywall finishers didn’t think this defect in the drywall needed to be fixed, even though it isn’t behind any cabinets.

But Armando went to work and now this wall is a smooth as can be.

But Armando went to work and now this wall is as smooth as can be.

Monday is priming, Tuesday is painting, and Wednesday and Thursday will be floor tile. And maybe cabinets will go in on Friday. Let’s keep our fingers crossed. :-)

Books! I Have Books!

So, yesterday I walked up to the Brookline branch of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh to pick up two books that I had requested, Michael Connelly’s The Poet, which came from the Moon Township Public Library, and Diane Setterfield’s The Thirteenth Tale, which came from the Sewickley Public Library, which happens to be the library where my DIL works as head of the Teen Department.

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The other two books are both from the Brookline branch. There are three tables and a wall of shelves as soon as you walk into the library that are filled with best sellers and new releases. It’s rare that I go into the library and don’t end up checking out at least one book from the best seller/new release tables. I just cannot resist books. :-)

The public library system here in Pittsburgh is very strong. Not only does the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (CLP) have a large collection and many branch locations throughout the city, it is also part of the Allegheny County Library Association, which gives library patrons in Allegheny County access to every member library. I can search for books on-line, request them on-line, and have them ready for pick up at the branch of my choice in only a few days. I can also put a hold on books that are currently checked out, and I will be notified by e-mail when they are available.

Moreover, my CLP library card is valid at any CLP branch (and I have two branches nearby, one of which is within walking distance, the other just a short T-ride away). But even better, I can use my CLP library card at any of the ACLA libraries, which means that I can go to, say, the Dormont Public Library, which is within walking distance, and check out a book with my CLP card. It’s a dream come true for an avid reader like me.

If you haven’t been to your local public library lately, you should check it out. Not only do public libraries have books, magazines, and newspapers that you can read for free, they also lend audiobooks, E-books, movies on DVD, music on CDs, video games, graphic novels, and lots of other stuff. For free. And if your library doesn’t have what you are looking for, they can get it from another library, often at no charge to you, or perhaps for a small fee. Also, libraries offer a wide variety of programs. Your local public library can help you write your resume. You may be able to learn to knit or play the guitar or use your new smartphone at your public library. If you need Internet access, your public library has free WiFI for your laptop or tablet, and banks of computers you can use if you don’t have one of your own. There are after-school and summer programs for children and teens, programs to help new immigrants learn English and adapt to their new community, and meeting rooms open to community groups.

Forget the stereotype of the stern librarian constantly shushing patrons. Contemporary public libraries are a happening place, with lots of activities for people of all ages. And the librarians are often young and hip, like my DIL, and those who are neither young nor hip are still totally cool. Your public library. Be there or be square. :-)

 

We’re Having A Heat Wave

Yeah, it’s hot and humid here in the Burgh, and yesterday evening our house got noticeably hotter, even though the AC was running. Uh-oh! Now is not a good time for the AC to go on the fritz. The DH called the repair place this morning and they sent someone over right away. The outside unit, which is ancient, needed freon, and now it is working fine. I guess we’ll find out soon enough whether the unit has a slow leak or a fast one. If it’s a fast one, replacement will be necessary. If it’s a slow one, we can kick that can down the road a bit. I’d rather not replace the HVAC during the middle of the kitchen remodel.

Speaking of the kitchen remodel, things are still pretty slow, but we do have paint on the walls.

The breakfast nook is looking good.

The breakfast nook is looking good.

And so is the kitchen area.

And so is the kitchen area.

I also have some spinning to share. Remember when I showed you the first skein of yarn I spun from Spunky Eclectic Verdigris? I told you I spun and plied the second bump of yarn differently, and that I would show you the two skeins side by side so that you could see how different they look. So here goes.

Both skeins started with the same fiber.

But the final results look quite different.

But the final results look quite different.

The skein on the left was spun and chain plied using a new-to-me fractal technique. As you can see, the different colors are separate. The skein on the right is a 2-ply. I split the fiber in half lengthwise, spun each half end to end onto a separate bobbin, then plied the two singles together. This mixed the colors up a good bit, which muted them some, and it also created some barber-poling. It’s pretty amazing, isn’t it, how different a look you can get by dividing up the fiber in different ways and/or plying the singles differently. Is it any wonder that spinning fascinates me?

FO Happy Dance!

It’s been a while since I did a Finished Object Friday blog entry. Is it like riding a bike?

Let’s start with this lovely skein of chain-plied Falkland from Bee Mice Elf. The colorway is Winter 2015 from the fiber club.

Spun in double drive, chain plied in Irish tension on my Ladybug.

I spun this using a technique I learned from Felicia Lo’s Craftsy class, Spinning Dyed Fibers. I split the braid lengthwise repeatedly into thin strips, then spun them end to end, keeping the colors in the same sequence, and then I chain plied the singles. This creates a striping yarn with shorter color repeats. As you can see from the picture, there is a little more color mixing than you normally see in chain-plied handspun. This yarn is destined to become fingerless mitts. I have another bump of this colorway, which I spun using a different technique, and which will become a matching hat, but the skein isn’t quite finished yet, so no picture yet. Sorry.

My other FO is a skein spun from Masham, dyed by Spunky Eclectic in a colorway called Verdigris.

Another chain-plied yarn spun in double drive and plied in Irish tension on my Ladybug.

I spun this using a “fractal” technique described by Benjamin Krudwig on the Schacht Spindle Blog. It’s quite different from the standard fractal spin because it keeps the colors separate but causes the color repeats to become progressively shorter. With the standard fractal spin, which is a 2-ply, the colors are blended in a way that results in a subtle striping effect.

I think of all the colorways I’ve spun since I first picked up a spindle in June of 2012, Verdigris is my very favorite. I also enjoyed spinning the Masham wool. I had never spun it before, but I will most certainly spin it again. It’s very similar to Shetland and would not be next-to-skin soft for many people. But I think to would make a great cowl or fingerless mitts or socks.

I also have another bump of Verdigris which has also been spun and plied, but quite differently from Skein #1. When it’s finished, I’ll photograph the two skeins side by side so that you can see just how different they look. You might find it hard to believe they were spun from the same colorway.

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