New City, New Life

Things are starting to calm down a bit after the big move from Carlisle to Pittsburgh. Sort of. A lot of the unpacking has been done, but a lot of stuff is still in boxes and will remain so for the foreseeable future because we will be starting some big projects soon to get the house spruced up, and if we unpack everything, we’ll just have to pack it back up when the work begins. (How’s that for a run-on sentence?)

But I did finally buy a new desk for my computer

My new computer desk. The old desk didn't make the move.

My new computer desk. The old desk didn’t make the move.

which means I finally got my iMac back up and running, which means I’m finally getting around to updating my blog with pictures. Yes, pictures.

I haven’t been doing a lot of knitting, but I have been spinning like a fiend ever since I got my Travvy and my Lendrum unpacked and set up.

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A River Runs… Loop Bullseye Bump for December, 2014

 

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The yarn off the niddy noddy before setting the twist

 

 

Field of Dreams from Loop Fiber Studio

Field of Dreams from Loop Fiber Studio

 

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Chain plied. The twist has not been set yet.

Both of these Loop Bullseye Bumps were spun end to end on my Ashford Traveller in double drive using the sliding hook flyer, then chain plied on my Lendrum using the regular head. I started the Field of Dreams back before we moved. I was almost half way finished with the spinning when we started packing up just before Thanksgiving, so it was untouched for almost two months. When I started it up again, it felt wonderful to be back at my wheel.

It may seem odd that I have been doing so much chain plying lately. I used to be quite vocal about my dislike of chain plying, but with practice, I’ve gotten more proficient at it, so much so that I have started to enjoy doing it. And having knitted with my chain-plied handspun, I have discovered that the “bumps” don’t show. I was skeptical when spinners/knitters said that the “bumps” don’t show, but now I know they are correct. 🙂

I have lots more spinning to share with you, but it will have to wait for another day. I’m just happy to be back to blogging. With pictures! 🙂

 

 

 

In The Loop

I really love spinning. I don’t know why it took me so long to give it a try, but I’m glad I did. I’ve been spinning for over two years now, and I love it more than ever.

One of my favorite things to spin is Loop Bullseye Bumps from Loop Fiber Studio. I love the Bullseye Bumps so much that I joined the Surprise Me! Bullseye Bump Club. You can choose sparkle or no sparkle; I currently am subscribed to “no sparkle,” but I love the fiber with sparkle, too, and will probably switch back to sparkle at some point.

Most of the Bullseye Bumps are gradients, that is, there are long sections of color that gradually change into another color. But recently Steph, the genius behind Loop, has started doing some Bullseye Bumps that repeat the colors so that you get a self-striping yarn. The Bullseye Bumps really lend themselves to chain plying, but I sometimes spin the first half of the fiber onto one bobbin, and the second half onto another bobbin, and ply the two together to get a barber pole or heathered effect.

Anyway, here is my most recent completed Loop Project. The color way is Girl Power, and, yes, SPARKLE! I spun the bump end to end, then chain plied it. The spinning and plying were both done on my Schacht Ladybug, the spinning in double drive and the plying in Scotch tension.

Loop Girl Power Loop Bullseye Bump Club (9/13) Girl Power 5.2 oz, merino, bamboo, tussah silk, angelina (It sparkles!)

Loop Girl Power chain-plied on the bobbin

On the niddy noddy

Off the niddy noddy. You can see the sparkle. 🙂

The colors are quite intense.

The finished skein, about 680 yards/5.2 ounces of fingering-weight 3-ply (chain ply)

A different view of the finished skein

Crossing The Finish Line

The 2014 Tour de Fleece ended last Saturday. I realize I’m a little late posting my finish line, but what can I say? I’m a world class procrastinator. 🙂

My TdF 2014 was quite the success. I reached all my goals and ended up with a lot of really nice hand-spun yarn and some new, still developing skills.

My TdF 2014 results

The yarn in the foreground is a chain-plied Merino from Greenwood Fiberworks in the color way “Holly Berry.” I wanted to improve both my skill at drafting merino and my skill at chain-plying. Both skills need lots more work, but with each project, I see improvement. The final tally for the Holly Berry Merino yarn is approximately 430 yards/127g of self-striping, sport weight yarn.

Merino chain-plied to make a self-striping yarn

I love the soft, cushy yarn, but I’m still not in love with spinning Merino wool top. It’s a bit of a challenge to draft, especially compared to BFL, Corriedale, Polwarth, and Falkland. I find Merino roving much more enjoyable to spin than Merino top–I love spinning Loop Bullseye Bumps–but I’m not giving up on Merino top. I have more in my stash and will keep working toward more consistent drafting.

The big white skein directly above the Holly Berry is a plying experiment that turned out much better than I had anticipated. Here’s the back story. Remember when I was knitting Hazel Carter’s Spider Queen Shawl? I had bought a kit from Blackberry Ridge that included both the pattern and enough B-R Thistledown yarn to knit the shawl. I swatched with the Thistledown and was very unhappy with the results.

The Thistledown yarn was too thick-and-thin to use for Spider Queen.

 

The yarn is a cobweb weight singles that unfortunately is overly thick and thin. I ended up knitting Spider Queen in J & S cobweb, which is also a bit thick and thin, but not to the same degree as Thistledown. Anyway, I ended up with a lot of Thistledown in my stash that I knew I would never use for knitting a lace shawl.

What to do with all this Thistledown? Sure, I could sell or trade it on Ravelry, but, I wondered, what would happen if I plied the singles together? I had never tried plying mill-spun singles together, and I was curious to learn how they would behave. The singles had a Z-twist, which means they had been spun clockwise, so I plied the singles together with an S-twist, counterclockwise.

Thistledown made into a 2-ply yarn on my Ladybug

Each skein of Thistledown was approximately 700 yards, and I ended up with just a little over 600 yards/4.5 oz of 2-ply fingering weight yarn. I thought I would lose more yardage than that.

Doesn’t the 2-ply look fabulous on the bobbins? So imagine my horror when I first took the yarn off the niddy noddy and saw this!

Curly yarn!

The yarn curled up like crazy, and I was afraid it had been way over-plied. This wouldn’t be the end of the world because I could always run the yarn back through my spinning wheel going clockwise to take some of the twist out, but I decided to finish the yarn before deciding whether it needed some tweaking. The yarn was still pretty curly when I took it out of the soak, but I thwacked it on the bathtub and it relaxed and balanced itself perfectly.

My 2-ply Thistledown decided to behave after a bath and a good thwacking.

I really couldn’t be happier with the results I got. Of course, the real test will come in knitting up a swatch and blocking it to see how the yarn behaves in the wild. 🙂

The two beautiful Ashford bobbins at the top of the first picture are filled with singles spun from a Loop Bullseye Bump in the Sizzle color way. I spun the roving end to end onto two bobbins. After the TdF, I plied the singles together and the finished yarn is on the drying rack as I type. But since the plying wasn’t part of my TdF, no pictures of the finished yarn will appear in this post.

The remaining yarn is all my silk spinning. The beautiful skein of golden yarn is spun from Tussah silk sliver made into a 2-ply yarn. The small skein is a 2-ply made from Bombyx silk hankies, and the larger hank is 2-ply made from Bombyx silk caps. I enjoyed spinning the hankies; the caps, not so much. But both yarns are really nice.

The brown bobbin at the top of the first picture holds the singles I spun from some Bombyx silk sliver.

Sixteen grams of Bombyx silk sliver ready to be spun

The Tussah silk sliver was heavenly to spin, but the Bombyx silk sliver was beyond heavenly.

I haven’t decided what to the with the Bombyx singles yet.

Bombyx silk sliver singles on the bobbin

I am leaning toward plying them with a singles spun from wool of some sort sometime in the future, or maybe with some Thistledown. I still have a lot of it. A. Lot. 🙂

I hope you enjoyed the Tour de Fleece as much as I did.

More Finished Objects

Yes, it’s FO Friday once again, and today I actually have some finished objects to share.

Knitting first.

I finished my first ever Swiffer cover.

The business end of the Swiffer cover

The pockets hold the cover on.

I used this pattern, which is free, and Lily Sugar’n Cream cotton yarn, which is cheap. I was kind of holding my breath when I sewed up the ends, hoping against hope that it would actually fit. It does. YAY!

It fits!

There is a lot of texture in the knitting to help with the cleaning.

 

I think I will knit a few more of these so that the intended recipient will have enough that she won’t have to worry that when she wants to clean up the cat hair that has collected in the corner of the dining room, her Swiffer cover will be down the laundry chute. (Wow! That’s a really awful sentence. I should rewrite it, but I’m not gonna.)

Swiffer covers are quick and easy and surprisingly pleasant to knit. There are several different patterns for knitted Swiffer covers on Ravelry, so I might try another pattern just because.

Next is my spinning. I spun up this beautiful Loop Bullseye Sparkle Bump in a self-striping color way called Sunbeam,

Pretty sparkly fiber waiting to be spun

then chain-plied it to make a sock yarn.

The singles were spun, then chain-plied on my Lendrum wheel.

The finished yarn is quite sparkly and will make lovely socks.

The picture of the skeins was taken before I set the twist. The yarn is soaking in the sink as I write.

I spun and plied this yarn on my Lendrum wheel, which is a single-drive wheel (Scotch tension). I like using Scotch tension for plying, but ever since I started spinning in double drive on my Ladybug and Traveller, I find that I prefer double drive to single-drive ST for spinning. I enjoyed spinning this yarn on the Lendrum, but I found myself wishing I was spinning it in double drive on the Travvy or ‘Bug.

I think the Lendrum is going to be relegated to the role of plying wheel for the time being. I find myself more and more thinking about selling the Lendrum, but I’m not quite there yet.

Do You Want To See Some FOs?

It’s Finished Object Friday, and although house guests followed by painting a room in preparation for having new carpeting being laid has made updating my blog a low priority, I have still been knitting and spinning. But since it’s Friday, and the only FOs I have are handspun yarn, I won’t talk about my knitting today. My reason for ignoring my knitting has nothing to do with the fact that I’m still a little ticked at myself for knitting the second sleeve of Cassidy to within a couple rows of casting off before I realized that I had forgotten to change to the bigger needles after knitting the cuff and having to rip out pretty much an entire sleeve and starting it over from the end of the cuff. No, that’s not the reason I’m not talking about my knitting today. Really. It isn’t. Well, maybe it’s totally the reason. Please don’t judge me. 🙂

Anyway, I finished all the projects from my last spinning update, and I thought you might enjoy seeing how the yarn turned out.

Here’s the totally finished gradient I spun. It’s beautiful in the skein, and I need to find just the perfect project for it.

Polwarth gradient from Spinneretta’s Studio

This is the best chain-plying I have done yet.  The more I chain-ply, the more comfortable I am with the technique and the better the results. I feel almost competent at chain-plying. Almost. 🙂

Then there was the bright orange, red, and yellow Polwarth from BohoKnitterChic that I decided should become a 4-ply yarn.

Fire Truck in a bucket

I also spun up and plied the lovely braid of Merino/Nylon blend from Mustard Seed Yarn Lab into some 3-ply sock yarn.

A 3-ply Merino/Nylon handspun sock yarn

I really need to get cracking on the knitting and finished my current WIP so that I can cast on some of this beautiful handspun.

If you want to see some other beautiful FOs, please visit Tami’s blog.

What’s On My Wheels

On this WIP Wednesday, I don’t have a lot of knitting progress to show. Which is not to say that progress hasn’t been made on the knitting front. On Friday you will get to see a Finished Object that was completed last Sunday.  I know, I know. But you will just have to wait.

I haven’t been doing a lot of knitting, but I have been doing some. I’ve knitted a few more repeats on the second My Broken Heart sock, and Cassidy’s first sleeve is nearing completion. But there just isn’t enough progress to warrant taking pictures.

The spinning front is a different story. I have four spinning projects in progress, three of which are my Wednesday WIP. The fourth one will be a blog entry unto itself sometime down the road, but I won’t talk about it today.

So let’s start with the project that is furthest along. About a year ago, I bought this braid of gradient fiber from Spinneretta’s Studio. It is Polwarth in a colorway called Monochrome.

A pretty braid of Polwarth

A pretty braid of Polwarth

A gradient colorway is one in which the fiber/yarn goes from one color to another to another gradually. The colors can all be shades of the same hue or they can be very different colors. But the colors never repeat. Gradient colorways provide a spinner with a wonderful opportunity to be creative. There are many different ways one can spin up a gradient. The most obvious one is spinning up the roving without splitting it. Just pull of a length of fiber and spin the colors in the order they appear in the braid. The yarn can either be finished as a singles yarn or chain-plied to created a gradient 3-ply yarn that shows off the lovely color changes.

I chose to spin the braid into one bobbin of singles, then chain-ply the singles. My chain-plying has improved by leaps and bounds in the past month (thank you, Tour de Fleece!), so the time seemed right to finally spin up this braid of fiber.

The yarn is currently on the niddy noddy.

Just look at that color progression!

Just look at that color progression!

I hope you can make out the colors in the yarn. They range from the palest of café au lait to the darkest espresso. I very pleased with how well this yarn turned out (and I know it will become even better when I set the twist), and I’m feeling ready to tackle the other gradient colorways  I have in my fiber stash.  Some of them will be spun and plied in the same manner as the Monochrome, but I think I might try splitting a braid in half lengthwise and spinning each length onto a separate bobbin starting on opposite ends to reverse the color progression. It will be interesting to see the results. And I might give fractal spinning a try with a gradient. Oh, what fun!

And speaking of fun, how could anyone not have fun working with these gorgeous colors?

These colors make me very happy!

This is yet another fiber braid from BohoKnitterChic, and it is currently being spun up on my Ladybug using the smallest pulley on the high-speed “whorl.”

I'm spinning on the wee "whorl."

I’m spinning on the wee “whorl.”

I divided the braid in half lengthwise, then divided each length in half, also lengthwise, which means I have four bumps of fiber to spin up that are approximately the same weight with the colors in the same order. My current plan is to make a 4-ply yarn, but I’m seriously considering chain-plying instead because I love how the colors are striping when I spin them up. When I get all four bobbins spun up, I’ll ply a few yards and knit it up to see how it looks. If I love it, the yarn will become a 4-ply. If I don’t, I’ll chain-ply the singles instead.

I have no doubts about what my third spinning project will become. The superwash Merino wool and Nylon blend I bought from Mustard Seed Yarn Lab was born to be sock yarn.

No one could resist such pretty fiber!

Every time I spin Merino, I am amazed yet again at how very soft it is. So soft. So very soft. And this yarn is spinning up in the most lovely shades of green imaginable.

Mermaid on the Lendrum fast flyer

Mermaid on the Lendrum fast flyer

It will make lovely socks, I have no doubt.