Friday, October 26, 2012


This past week, the weather finally started turning, and I went to wear one of my hand knit sweaters (made out of merino/angora), and promptly found a moth hole. And I had absolutely no time to fix it.
So, I took out another sweater (this one handspun AND handknit), and found yet another hole. GAH!

All I could think of was...MOTHRA attacked my sweaters! I'm not used to dealing with moths, as I've never had issues like this...ever.

I quickly dumped all the other sweaters from that drawer out (and found no other moth hole), wore another hand-knit sweater to work, then later that night set about fixing the holes.

For the merino/angora sweater, I found FIVE HOLES (two of which weren't quite holes yet, but you could see the thinning fabric). This one is not heavily worn sweaters by ANY means, so it HAD to be something eating my sweater.

I took leftover yarn and darned the actual holes, then duplicate stitched the not-quite-yet-holes. Luckily, none of them were in obvious locations (like the front cabling). Then I wrapped the whole thing in plastic and chucked it into the freezer.

My handspun/handknit sweater only had one hole, which was small and fixable. But I did have a hard time with it, as this is a garter stitch sweater. Plus, I had to really dig into my stash to find the itty bitty left over yarn from the project (which I'm glad I kept!)

Moth hole

It's in a non-obvious spot and you'd have to be VERY close to notice that two stitches look more stockinette than garter.

Moth hole fixed

All of the other sweaters were absolutely fine. I took a look at my handknit socks (in another drawer in the same bureau) and they were fine. I looked at the other sweaters (located in other areas) and those are all fine too. It was just that one drawer.

So the whole thing got put out into the garage, and I'm filling up sacks of cedar & lavendar and lining everything containing wooly product

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Wheel Sneak Preview

Okay, here's a small taste of things to come. I'm still pretty much staining, sanding, and re-finishing the wheel, but I did a test run with the kate & bobbin to ensure that I have the right color combination. I really wanted a green coppery color -- something that would have the sheen of metal, but still be a beautiful green. Originally, I was thinking "verdigris", but not as teal.

Here's the unfinished portion of the kate plus a singular bobbin.

Unfinished Kate
Here are the color chips that I was considering. It was a toss-up between "botanical" and "verdigris".

Color choices

I went with "botanical". And I also picked up a metallic "glaze" in gold.

Here's the finished bobbin. (I think I went a bit heavy with the gold glaze.)


And here's the finished kate

Finished Kate

So far, so good. The rest of the wheel is still in progress.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Early Saturday morning, I went to check out a used spinning wheel. One was for sale for cheap, but appeared to be in good-working-order, as she was a spinner. However, when I got there, only to discover that while it DID work, it was like trying to pedal a bike up a super steep hill.

I had no idea what was wrong with it, and neither she or I could get it to work smoothly so I passed on it, despite it being a good price. I could tell that she kinda sorta took care of it and that she felt this was the normal for this wheel, really wasn't. There were other things about it that bothered me a little bit (the wood was kinda dry and she had done a crappy varnish job on it), but it was really the treadling that broke the deal for me.

It was good that I had tried another wheel of the same style previously, and knew what a well-maintained wheel felt like, and this just wasn't it. I was REALLY ready to get it, but it just wasn't in the cards.

I spoke with Sandy at Purlescence about the wheel and what problems I had with it. She diagnosed a few things that might be wrong with it and how it could be fixed (fairly easily I might add, but still a pain to get fixed). I'm very glad I didn't get it, because now, I have something that is going to be just absolutely faboo.

What is it? You might ask? Well, I'll post about it later, because I have photos to upload, and no post is really completely without photos.

As they say, Pictures or it didn't happen.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

She Will be Called Geoge

As a note, my lovely Ashford Joy found a new home the other day. Another spinner's wheel was tragically destroyed during her cross-country move, and she was looking for another wheel and had fallen in love with the Joy.

I was looking for a new home for her, so this was synchronicity. My Joy found a loving home, and a spinner got the wheel she could love, hug, pet, and call "George". :-)

Ashford Joy

Although, I did think she renamed it "Georgina" :-)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Spin U: Thicker Yarn - Week 6

I'm jumping around from week to week as I get photos taken and uploaded of the various in-class & homework assignments.

In the first trimester of SpinU, we worked on perfecting techniques for worsted spun yarn in smaller WPI (lace, fingering, sport), because for most of the spinners in the class, this is their default spinning. In the second trimester, we worked on creating chunkier yarn (aran, worseted, bulky) by spinning thicker singles.

For the 6th week of class, we did a 2-ply worseted weight yarn. The singles were 16 WPI, and the resulting yarn was an 7-8 WPI 2-ply (heavy worsted/bulky).

I used the same fiber as I did with the 3ply



Monday, October 15, 2012

Spin U: Art Yarn Week 7

In SpinU this past week, we learned how to do "thick/thin" singles -- essentially art yarn. Most beginners can do this type of yarn because they haven't learned how to consistently draft yet. But, as a beginner's skillset increases and their drafting becomes more consistent, it becomes harder to do something like "thick / thin" yarn.

So, this past Saturday, we learned just how to do this technique. And I have to say....I dislike it thus far although there were some in my class that absolutely LOVED it.

The basic gist of doing this technique is to set up your wheel for the "thick" part, so using a slow ratio whorl. Then draft your "normal" way, but every now and then, "jerk" a chunk of fiber out of your passive hand (and slowly add twist & structure to it), then go back to whatever your normal drafting. The best type of fiber to use is something that is slightly felty that you would have trouble normally spinning with because of the felted chunks (perhaps due to dye'ing). Luckily, I had some from a dye'ing attempt gone awry.

Thick Thin Roving - Felted

Take the fiber and split LENGTHWISE down the roving and start spinning. Eventually, you get something that looks like this on the bobbin:

Thick Thin on Bobbin

It was definitely a challenge to work on this project, and I had to stop frequently because my wrists were getting tired and "jerking" chunks of fiber out somewhat taxed my wrists a bit until I started pinning the roving down against my leg with my passive hand. Eventually, I finished this bobbin (slated to be a "single" of thick/thin yarn), and wound it off onto the niddy noddy.

Thick Thin on Niddy Noddy

Sandy, our instructor, had advised us for our "single", that we wash it under tension, so my PVC niddy noddy was perfect as I could just wash the whole thing. The challenge was to find something "big" enough where I could soak the whole of the niddy noddy in the wash.
Afterwards, it came out looking like:

Thick Thin after washing2

Thick Thin after washing
Overall, thick/thin yarn is not my thing. I can see where this technique is useful and what you can do with roving that came out slightly (or a lot) felty that wouldn't be appropriate for regularly spinning. It's good knowledge to have, and something to help change things up a bit in your spinning.
While I am not overly pleased with the result -- I'm not a fan of art yarn anyways) --- I think that the resulting thick/thin yarns would be good for yarn hair falls. But it's not something that I would use regularly -- I almost never use art yarn in my normal everyday knitting.

On our next class, we learn how to take some of the thick/thin singles we created and ply them into a two-ply yarn.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

SpinU: 2nd Trimester Homework - 3ply Worsted

Just some photos from one of the homework assignments to the finished skein.

From this:

8oz of Crown Mountain Superwash Merino dyed to "She's Like a Rainbow"


to 3ozs of singles across 3 quills.

SpinU Homework - Week 5 Homework

to the finished skein
Spin U - Week 5 Splying
Worsted Weight 3-ply.

I "think" its about 120 yards?  I need to spin up and ply the rest of the fiber, but I'm very happy with the result.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Spin U: Trimester 1

I've been attending SpinUniversity over at Purlescence Yarns for the past several weeks, and so far, so good. We're concentrated on spinning worseted spun yarn, and I'm learning quite a bit about how to improve my spinning in a lot of technical ways.

  • getting more consistent yarn in the singles
  • how to ply better.
    • plying doesn't always fix certain problems and how good-in will always make make a good-out.
  • ergonomics on spinning
    • how best to hold yourself when spinning singles
    • how plying isn't ergonomic at all, but the things you can do to help mitigate it.
    • how to correctly hold your yarn during plying so that you can control the amount of twist effectively
  • how sometimes, even the best of intentions in plying will neccessitate the need to call someone to help you untangle your singles.
  • why "balanced yarns" isn't always better
  • what types of yarns are best for some types of fabrics  --- why energized yarns are better for socks or outwear
  • you don't always have to wash, full, and set your yarn. And if you spin it correctly, you don't even need to wash your yarn (unless it's dirty, of course)
Homework, in general, consists of reading and spinning a lot of singles. In class, we ply those singles so that we can get our form corrected and immediate feedback on how we're doing. Sandy's been an awesome teacher providing feedback to each individual student on what they need to improve upon. It's really a matter of practice.

We're in the 2nd trimester of SpinU right now, and I'll be posting photos and updates as we go. But for now, here's my notes regarding this past trimester.

Week 1

In Week 1, we basically went over the Greensheet for the class, the physics of spinning, then Sandy demonstrated how to actually do worsted spinning. There was a lot of practice in class, but I think most of us knew how to do it. It was just a matter of doing it ergonomically correct.

For homework, we were supposed to spin up 2 ounces of singles to ply in class. This was singles at 36-40 wpi @ 20 degree twist angle.

Week 2:

We plied it our homework in class, and I got some lovely 2-ply lace yarn.

SpinU Homework

Week 2's homework was 3 bobbins of singles but at a higher twist angle (30deg) but slightly lower WPI (32-36 wpi). This was a lot more difficult than it sounded. I had a slightly hard time with this homework, mostly due to the high twist angle, and my singles were extremely lively and had a lot of corkscrews. When I got to class, I wasn't the only one who had problems and a lot of corkscrews in our singles.

Week 3:

Sandy knew exactly what we had done "wrong" in spinning our singles and pointed it out to us-- mostly how to "not" pull when feeding the yarn versus letting it just slide through. I tried to apply this advice to the homework afterwards and it really helped.

In class, we worked on 3plying from the homework. In class, we plied our homework into a 3ply yarn -- and I ended up with yarn that was very "lively" and curled in on itself and felt like rope. I hated it. However, Sandy assures me that it's fine. I felt a little better after that, but I still hated the color. The wonderful roving that I had gotten (greens and reds) and turned into a mottled brown).

SpinU Homework

For this yarn, Sandy did recommend that I wash it after it "relaxed" after a few days, but not to full it. The washing process helps "tame" or "set" the yarn so you can knit with it. She told us about how sock yarn is super lively and if you don't wash and set the sock yarn, it becomes impossible to knit with because it'll tangle onto itself.

The particular skein would be "perfect" for sock yarn (except that it's a bit too thick), but the liveliness of the twist is perfect for sock yarns of outwear garments. But these samples aren't really "enough" to knit with as we're learning, and to which we can refer to later. So, this gives me a baseline of what I need to do for spinning for socks, which I haven't done yet because I find it intimidating.

For homework, we spun 2 bobbins of singles @ more than 30% twist, 40WPI+ (which for me was easy)

Week 4:

I missed Week 4 of class (which was mostly on how-to clean the wheel and take care of it.) So I did a make-up with Sandy. She primarily wanted to go over my plying techniques. This week's plying was much easier than the others.

SpinU Homework
At this point, we went on a 2-week break due to some scheduling with another class. Our homework was a lot more due to that fact, which I'll recount in the next post for the 2nd Trimester.