Posts tagged ‘handspun’
Spinning doesn’t usually top the lists of portable activities, but that’s starting to change with the increase in the number of portable spinning wheels that have become available in recent years. My personal choice is the Bee, by Spinolution, which was designed to fold down and fit under an airline seat! Lightweight in size, but not features: the Bee has a full range of ratios (1:4 – 1:36), and 3+oz bobbin, rocker-treadle, and open orifice, all weighing in at 13 lbs!
I recently returned from a wonderful mini-vacation, spinning and dyeing with Carol Lee at the Sheep Shed Studio in Wyoming (that’s Carol in the dyepot picture). I took my Bee along, tucked inside a 20″ rolling duffle along with my clothing. I made it through airport security without a hitch, and it fit nicely in the overhead bins as I flew from the east coast to Dallas, then in to Denver. I did gate check it on the final leg of the journey home in order to get a stand-by seat on an earlier plane. That went fine too, although I did have the bag packed tightly, with lots of padding around the flyer assembly. There is a custom-designed bag available for the Bee that will allow it to fit under an airline seat, but I wanted the wheels (and room for my other clothing), so the duffle worked for me! If you want more info on this wheel, please send me a note (I’m a Spinolution dealer and would love to help you out!)
Here are some more pictures of all the fun Bee and I had in Wyoming:
This past Sunday I was a vendor at the wonderful and aptly named Homespun Yarn Party in Savage MD! Close to 40 independent fiber-types (dyers, spinners, shepherds, etc) together in a banquet hall with LOTS and LOTS of excited and happy customers! There was a line of at least 200 waiting when the doors opened at noon, and it took some pretty strong hinting to get folks to leave at the end! It was a blast – very successful, can’t wait until next year! More details on the event at http://www.homespunyarnparty.blogspot.com.
Here are some pictures of my booth, which was manned with the help of Debbie White of Forevermore Farm, whose sheep provide a lot of the rovings that I dye:
I’m now busy updating my etsy shop (http://www.wildhare.etsy.com) and getting caught up on life in general. Tomorrow I’m out to Debbie’s farm to help with shearing… more wool to dye! The next festival on my calendar is the Sedalia Fiber Festival on May 16th.
Just a catchy title – this isn’t about blended families, but about the beautiful creations that result through teamwork. First example: My friend Beth at Blue Mountain Handcrafts www.beth1818.etsy.com transformed this 2 oz. drumcarded batt of mine:
Into a lovely beaded-fringe scarf:
She spun a single on her Ashford Traditional and plied it with a commerical yarn with more sparkles and a hint of eyelash, then knit a simple stockinette scarf, adding vintage beads on the ends. Since I blogged about the creation of this batt in an earlier post (simply batty!), you can get a look of the project from start to finish!
Next, I wanted to show you what I’ve spun up from two of the samples I received in my phatfiber sample box (www.phatfiber.blogspot.com):
The top sample, from www.welovethor.etsy.com, came to me as a puff of hand-dyed 100% corriedale wool. I corespun it to preserve the color transitions, and to maximize and show off the fiber. My little skein is just over 7 yards long, with seven wraps per inch (making this heavy worsted). Here’s a close-up:
The next sample is from www.spinningsisters.etsy.com and arrived as a little twist of hand-dyed merino wool roving. I spun this as fine as I could, then navaho-plied it, creating a three-ply yarn that preserves the color changes. This little skein is 38 yards long, with 22 wraps to the inch (between a fine fingering and lace weight). Here’s a close-up:
Now here’s a challenge: I’ve never been very good at coming up with projects for small amounts of yarn. If you know of a pattern that would be perfect for one of these yarns, post a comment below, including the link and which yarn you think it would be appropriate for. The yarn can be used as an accent in conjunction with another yarn, but patterns using just this yarn would be especially appreciated. On March 12th, I’ll draw two names, one for each yarn, from among those who submitted a pattern for that yarn, and I’ll SEND THAT YARN to the winners! You can submit as many patterns as you want – each submission is an entry in your name. So submit away!
Dogs, rabbits and sheep don’t always get along in real life, but I think they combined nicely in this yarn I’m calling “Puppy Love.”
I blended together soft brown wool, angora rabbit that I had dyed pink, and white samoyed dog fur on my drum carder. I made rather thin batts and rolled them into rolags (to make one, start at the narrow end and roll up the length). When spinning from a rolag, you work from the end, where the fibers are rolled around in a spiral. This produced “woolen” spun yarn, know for being soft and lofty because the spiral arrangement of the fibers contains a lot of air. So the yarn is extra soft and light! More pictures:
Both angora and wool are reputed to be several times warmer than wool, as well as exceptionally soft and fluffy. I can believe it — my hands warm up just handling the skein! This yarn will also develop a pronounced halo as it is knit and worn.
A word on the dog hair: Samoyeds have a double coat, and the soft, fluffy underdown is desirable for spinning. It is harvested in the spring by combing as the dog sheds its winter coat. This samoyed fiber came from my friend Cynthia Mora, who breeds and shows her dogs (and pampers them like crazy!). She bathes them so frequently that, ever before I washed it, the fiber didn’t smell at all like dog! I’ve been very impressed with the yarn she has spun and the things she has made from samoyed, and was excited to experience this fiber for myself by creating this yarn!
Today I went to Forevermore Farm to help Debbie with shearing some of her sheep. Wait– you may be asking. It’s January, why shear now instead of waiting for a balmy spring day? And why “some” of the sheep? What’s so special about these:
First, they are all ewes. Second, they are all pregnant, and due within a few weeks. As Debbie explained, lambing is easier on a sheep (and on the shepherd) when the ewe is not in full coat, like these girls are. But another important reason is that if you wait until spring to shear the ewes — who are then nursing their little ones — the lambs become terribly upset and often don’t recognize their mothers and won’t nurse. So best to get the coats off now.
Debbie’s friend Bill did most of the shearing on a short table, with electric clippers similar to what a barber would use. To keep the sheep from injuring herself or the shearer, she is restrained with leg ties and a neck leash. I suspect sheep like to be sheared about as much my children like getting their flu shots… but it both cases it’s necessary and for their good.
As the fleece comes off the sheep, it goes to the skirting table, where the wool is sorted through and any parts that are encased in “tags” (i.e., sheep poop), are too short, or have lots of straw and seed in it are removed and discarded. This is where I came it — I was one of the people skirting the freshly shorn fleeces. The wool from each sheep was then put ito it’s own bag, labeled with the name of the sheep. Some fleeces will be sold just like they are – raw and full of lanolin. Most will be sent to a carding mill to be scoured (washed) and carded into roving. I brought some home to list in my etsy shop.
Here’s an after picture of the newly shorn sheep. They will now have the privilege of staying in the barn at night and in poor weather, and get extra grains as they await the arrival of their lambs and begin nursing.
Okay, I admit — they are prettier with a full coat. But oh, what wonderful wool I brough home in those three bags (yes sir, yes sir, three bags full!). Although all the sheep are Coopworth or Coopworth crosses, their fleeces varied from animal to animal. Some were longer and more lustrous than others, and the younger sheep tended to have finer, crimpier wool. Laurel, a Coopworth/Bluefaced Leichester cross whose fleece I brought home is particularly soft and fine . And they weren’t all white — the two other fleeces I got are from Faith, who has multishaded grey/brown wool, and Jasmine, who is a black sheep. She and her wool are in these last few pictures (sun bleaches the tips of black fleeces, so before shearing they look coppery colored).
Quite a nice way to spend a Saturday afternoon, IMHO – my kinda fun!
Okay, I can’t resist a bad pun with that post title… The subject today is batts, and making them on a drum carder. The carder lines the fibers up roughly parallel in a very fluffy rectangular chunk which can then be spun into yarn or used in felting. But I’ll say more about using batts another time — for now, I’m making them!
Start with fiber. Here’s some wool I dyed in shades of blue and green and a bit of black, white tencel, blue and green nylon glitz:
I decided to add some rayon thrums, so I cut those up into 4-5 inch long sections (comparable to the staple length of the other fibers – long enough to stay in the yarn, and short enough not to wrap completely around the carder drums)
I take everything and tease the fibers open and mix it up by hand:
Then I send it through the drum carder a handful at a time, adding fiber gradually until the carder teeth are full and the first set of teeth (the big spikey ones) aren’t adding fiber to the bigger drum. My carder is a Strauch Petit with a brush attachment that helps finer and novelty fibers card smoothly.
I take off the batt from this first pass through the carder, flip it over and send it through a second time for a more complete and smooth blending job:
I could send it through additional times if I wanted the fibers thoroughly blended and more homogeneous, but I’m going to stop after two passes because I like the variations in color and fiber that I have at this point:
The batts from my carder aren’t very big, so what you see above is a stack of about 5-6 batts. Here’s a closer picture of the carded fiber:
Excited by these results, I kept on carding. Here’s another one, starting with a pile of wool with more tencel and nylon and some thrums:
This mix looked like it could use a bit more sparkle, so I cut up some lurex strands to add to the mix:
This one went through the carder twice too, and created a batt with a nice blend of color with a healthy dash of bling from the lurex:
So there are two examples — I’ve been going ‘batty’ the last week or so carding up all kinds of fun and interesting blends. I’m about to add carded batts as a product line in my etsy shop, so if you’re drooling over either of these, well, keep an eye out, they’ll soon be listed for sale! I’ve named the first one “Sargasso” and the second one “Fathom”. Here are uncarded/finished batt pictures of another blend I’m calling “Iris”
Now, the next order of business is to spin up some of these to show the yarns that can be made from blended batts! Stay tuned…
The front page of etsy.com features pictures of twelve items currently for sale by various sellers — but how are those items picked? From “treasuries”. Anyone can put together a treasury (not to get too complicated — there are a limited number of these treasuries, so it takes luck and patience to snag the opportunity). “Someone” in etsy management picks from among these treasuries and features their favorites ones on the front page. I have one I created now, waiting to be discovered – here’s the link: http://www.etsy.com/treasury_list.php?room_id=29456 (good until 8 a.m. 12/31/08).
Anyway, being featured on the front page is a BIG DEAL. But a given treasury is only on the front page for a relatively brief period of time…. which could be in the middle of the night…. so it’s easy to miss seeing your moment of fame. BUT, I just discovered that there is a flickr.com group called “etsy treasury front pagers” that takes and posts screen shots of these ever-changing front pages, and even tags them with shop names, so you can search for a given shop. That is how I found out tonight that I have indeed been on the front page of etsy.com! Here’s the screen shot:
There in the middle of the third row is my handspun “colorblast” yarn (which has since sold). Here’s a better picture of it:
Enough for now — I just wanted to pass along the discovery of this very useful flickr group!
By now we’ve all gotten our mailboxes filled and our newspapers stuffed with sales circulars… everyone is doing it, so I though I’d get in on the action in my etsy shop as well. From NOW through Monday December 1st, I’m cutting the price of all my handspun yarns (some of which I’ve blogged about there) and all the finished items (shawls, scarves, etc) in my shop by 20% (prices are adjusted in the listing). Additionally, I’m offering free shipping on any order over $50 from now through December 10th. If you’ve got your eye on something in my shop, nows the time to act before it gets gone!
Check out my sale here:
Mention this blog in the comments with your order and I’ll include a free fiber-themes badge of your choice! Just let me know which one you want (http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=17582914)
Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!
I’m crazy about yarn and fiber, and can’t bear to throw it away (cheap acrylic excluded from that ). I even save the little scraps from sewing in ends, little tangled bits of fluff, what I clean off the drumcarder, etc. I’m not the only one — in fact, these little scraps became the subject of a spin-along in the ravelry “Novelty & Art Yarn Spinners” group. The group moderator, Studioloo (www.studioloo.com) made yarn from her collection of scraps, and coined the term “spin up the crazy” to describe it… thus inspiring a “spun up the crazy” spin-along. Follow as I spin up my own collection of crazy:
Here’s a shot of some of my raw materials:
I have lots of yarn bits, some odds and ends of spinning fiber too little to do anything with on its own. Some of the group members were spinning straight from their scrap box, but I decided to send my stuff through my drumcarder. I first cut any strings down to a few inches so they wouldn’t get too tangled up on the carder drum, then tossed a mix of yarn bits and fiber on the tray and carded away:
I made a stack of about six thin batts, which looked like this:
I wasn’t trying for a smooth consistent blend, I just wanted to get everything jumbled up and meshed together so I could spin it. Here’s a close-up of this crazy batt:
Batt complete, I went to my Mach 1 spinning wheel (www.spinolution.com), set it for the lowest ratio and started spinning. The Mach 1 has an open hook instead of a orifice, so it can handle lumps and clumps of almost any size. It uses guideposts on the flyer, so the yarn is less likely to get caught winding on. And the bobbin holds eight ounces — perfect for making big clunky funky yarn like this!
I spun up my crazy, and wound it into a skein. Soaked it to set the twist, and left it overnight hanging by a heating vent. This morning it was ready — 3 1/2 ounces, 50 yards of some pretty crazy yarn:
And that is how I spun up MY crazy. Here are some close-up pictures so you can see the total random wildness of this yarn better: