Tuesday, October 12, 2010

2010 Knit-Out!

This past Sunday, the Minnesota Knitter's Guild participated in National Knit-Out Day.  We hosted the event at Southdale Mall and the festivities included a handmade knits fashion show, door prizes, and free knitting lessons to anyone who wanted them.  I volunteered to be one of the teachers, and I'm not sure who learned more - me or my students.  I've never taught knitting before, and I have to admit, I botched it with my first student.  I was nervous and it showed.  But I learned quickly from my mistakes and did just fine with my second student.  By the time I had my third student, I was in a groove and felt pretty confident.  The event was very well attended and I think everyone (except maybe my first student) had a great time. 

Saturday, October 9, 2010

More spindle WIP progress

I switched gears from my mixed greens yarn project to my gossamer yarn project.  Here's a summary of this yarn project to date... Detta gave me a sample of English Garden merino wool and I wanted to make the most of it, and I also wanted to try making a cabled yarn for the first time.  Cabled yarn is the result of plying two or more plied yarns together.  If you took four singles yarn and plied them together at the same time, the result is called a 4-ply yarn.  But if you take those same singles and ply two of them together at a time, and then ply the two 2-ply yarns together, your result is called a 4-strand cabled yarn.

While this may seem like a small difference in making the final yarn, the structure of the yarns is very different.  The 4-ply yarn is very smooth, with the individual strands lying next to each other and the surface reflects more light.  A 4-strand cabled yarn is bumpier and has a pixelated effect.  The colors of the yarn become dots throughout the yarn, and the reflective quality of the yarn is broken up.  Here is a close-up of the yarn texture between 4-ply and 4-strand cable in a knitted sample:

Since I knew I wanted to make a 4-strand cable, I divided my sample into four sections and spun them separately.  I spun the first section on my smallest spindle and decided that it would be a waste of time to wind that small amount of yarn on a bobbin and repeat that four times, so I then spun a short section of white wool to act as a divider between the first and second sections of the colored singles.  Then I wound that single on a bobbin and spun the third and fourth singles with white wool in the middle to divide them.  So I ended up with two bobbins that would allow me to easily ply two singles together:

So if I divided my sections evenly and spun them consistently, I will be able to ply the yarn from the two bobbins together and the white wool in the centers will match up to mark the division between the two 2-ply yarns.  I've spun the first of the singles together and was very happy to see that my approach worked very well:

There was very little overlap of colored yarn to white yarn, and now I'll keep going until the bobbins are empty.  When I wind the 2-ply yarn back on a bobbin, I'll fill the first bobbin until I reach the white wool.  Then I'll break the yarn and wind the next section of colored 2-ply on the second bobbin.  Finally, I'll be able to easily ply those two 2-ply yarns together to create the final 4-strand cabled yarn.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The fortune cookie was right!

Remember back in September, I had a fortune cookie predict that I would receive something nice in the mail?  Well, friends, never never never doubt the power of fortune cookies.  Do not tempt fate by even mocking them. 

When I arrived home from work today, there was a large box by the door, which puzzled me.  What the heck?, I thought.  (Honest, that really was the 4-letter word I used mentally... it was a such tiring day at the office that I didn't even use a more inflammatory 4-letter word as I typically might have.)  I figured my husband must have ordered something, but then I saw the box was addressed to me.  Huh?  What the...?  And then I saw the box was shipped from 13 Mile Lamb & Wool Company and I spontaneously broke out into a big happy dance.  Beautiful wool fleeces had arrived!! 

I dragged the box inside to open it.  The dogs found it pretty fascinating, too, enough to even drop the toy they had been playing with next to the box.  This isn't the best picture, since Maddy moved and is a bit blurry, but you had to see the size of this box!

And here is my loot - over 20 pounds of raw organic fleeces raised in Montana on a predator-friendly ranch.  I love the natural colors - black, white, moorit & grey.  I am in wooly goodness heaven.

Oliver was fascinated by the sheepy fragrance and kept sticking his face in the fleece bags.  Here he is examining the moorit fleece.  He was quite serious about thoroughly performing his quality control work.

I cannot wait to get to work on these fleeces!  Behold the power of wool: my day went from tiring/boring/blah to happy dance/joy/anticipation in mere seconds.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Spindle WIPs - Progress with "mixed greens" yarn

I'm making progress on my goal of completing all spindle WIPs before I can start any new yarn!  For my "mixed greens" yarn, I've spun all the singles and tonight I wound them on to bobbins (note there are no overloaded bobbins... I have thoroughly learned that lesson).  While winding the yarn on the bobbins, I noticed my spindle spinning skill has definitely improved in the last few months.  The moss yarn, which was spun in July, might give me a bit of trouble during plying.  While its thickness is consistent, I have better learned how monitor the amount of twist in my singles.  I'm pretty sure there are some under-twisted lengths of yarn in the moss singles, but hopefully it won't fall apart during plying.  We shall see.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Spindle WIPs

I've had a mild attack of project guilt, so I've decided to finish my current spindle WIPs (works-in-progress) before starting any more new yarn.  So I'm taking stock of what I have started and what remains to be done:

"Almost" August challenge (Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore) yarn
Current status & plan: both singles are spun and need to be wound on bobbins; I plan to use my wheel to create the final 2-ply yarn. 

Next steps: Untangling first single and reloading it on appropriate bobbin; loading 2nd single on bobbin, plying on wheel, then finishing yarn & calculating skein statistics

English Garden wool sample gossamer yarn
Current status & plan: singles are spun; I plan to create a 4-strand cable yarn from this wool sample.

Next steps: Load singles on bobbins, then spin two 2-ply yarns, reload on bobbins and spin final 4-strand cable yarn, then finish yarn & calculate statistics.  Still need to decide if I'll spindle this whole yarn or use my wheel for any of the plying.

Mixed greens yarn
Current status & plan: moss green single is spun and wound into plying ball, mixed green batt single is spun and wound onto bobbin, emerald green single is not yet finished; I plan to create a 3-ply yarn using one strand of each single and will ply the yarn on my wheel

Next steps: finish spinning emerald green single & wind on to bobbin, reload moss yarn on to bobbin, ply singles together, then finishing yarn & calculate statistics

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Starting yet another spinning project

One of the best characteristics about spindle spinning is how easy it is to grab an empty spindle & start a new project.  The other side of this coin is how easy it is have multiple ongoing projects.  Even when I know it would probably be better to finish up works-in-progress rather than start something new, what do I do?  I start something new, of course.  (see #10 on my 25 things list... I told you it explained a lot.)  While I might have been able to resist a new project, the lure of trying my new yellowheart Dragonfly spindle was too great for my willpower.

I have one last drum-carded batt from my Custom Fibers class and I decided it had waited long enough to meet its yarn destiny.  It's a blend of emerald and moss greens (BFL and Colonial wools, respectively) with a bit of copper firestar thrown in for a flash of sparkle. 

I grabbed my new spindle and started happily spinning away.  The batt was very soft and drafted extremely well, allowing me to spin the wool very quickly:

I am very pleased with this new spindle - it's nicely balanced and spins for a long time.  As I was spinning, I brainstormed what I wanted to do with this yarn, and I think I will make a 3-ply out of it.  I have the moss wool in a very thin single, then I have this mixed yarn, and I have plenty of the emerald green wool that I can spin for the third strand in the plied yarn.  The mixed & emerald singles will be similar gauge, but the moss single is much thinner.  I'm looking forward to seeing how the different thicknesses will create texture in the final plied yarn.

I wound the mixed greens yarn on to a storage bobbin (which fit perfectly, and I appreciated that moment of serendipity) and started spinning the emerald green wool with the spindle:

Monday, September 27, 2010

Pssst! Don't Do This

Pride goeth before the yarn becomes a tangly freaking mess that will likely mean my "Almost" August yarn will now be finished in October, not September.

Here is the flow of events:

1.  I read Alden Amos' treatise on spinning, paying particular attention to his thoughts on yarn management, including reloading yarn on storage bobbins.

2.  I buy a bobbin winder.

3.  I decide that despite all advice, it's unneccessary to worry about overloading a bobbin.  I am a fully capable adult who can easily manage a  very full bobbin.  I reason there are no spinning police, so I'm safe with this decision.

4.  The spinning powers-that-be decide I must be humbled. My penance will be spending a ridiculous amount of time rewinding the yarn on to an appropriately sized bobbin:

5.  I vow to never repeat this bobbin winding transgression and buy storage bobbins with 3" high sides.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Gossamer Yarn

I've been slightly obsessed (is that like being a little pregnant?) with using my new small 0.6 ounce Dragonfly spindle ever since I bought it. It is easily my smallest, lightest spindle and it has been very entertaining to spin ridiculously thin yarn on it. It doesn't seem right to say it's yarn, since it's more like thread. Right now I'm spinning a beautiful sample of dyed wool top with this spindle and I'm spinning about 80 WPI (wraps per inch).  What does this mean?  In other words, how many yarn diameters add up to one inch, therefore my yarn diameter is approximately 0.0125 inches wide.

According to iSpinToolkit, one of my favorite iPhone apps, 80 WPI is classifed as gossamer yarn, and if I had a pound of fiber spun at this gauge, I would create more than 10,000 yards of yarn. In comparison, a worsted weight yarn is around 12 wraps per inch and you get about 1,000 yards from a pound of fiber. Needless to say, I feel very sassy about gaining this skill level with my new spindle. While the 80 WPI gauge is for the single and I intend to create a plied yarn with it, the finished yarn will still be very thin and delicate.

Friday, September 24, 2010

New Dragonfly Spindles

I spent a couple of hours on a Saturday morning this month at Detta's Spindle, which is a treasure chest of wheels, looms, spindles, accessories, fiber, books, and everything else you can think of.  It is easily one of the nicest ways for a fiber artist to start her weekend. 

You may have noticed that I love my cherry wood Dragonfly spindle, which I bought at Detta's several months ago, because I use it all the time.  I'm using it now to spin the second single of my Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore yarn.  My spindle is a beautiful, balanced, handmade tool that was created by John Hunter, the owner & expert woodworker of The Dragonfly Workshop.  I love that he is a local woodworker based in Bloomington, MN. 

Well, it was impossible for me to walk away from more Dragonfly spindles. I have added three more to my collection, and I love the wood colors and the different sizes/weights of these tools:

Vital Statistics:
Large spindle - I'm not sure what type of wood is used, but the whorl is very smooth & dense & maple shaft; 3 3/4" whorl, 13" length; 4 1/8 ounces
Medium spindle - yellowheart whorl & walnut shaft; 2 7/8" whorl, 9 1/2" length; 1.6 ounces
Small spindle - big leaf maple burl whorl & walnut shaft; 1 3/4" whorl; 6 3/4" shaft; 0.6 ounces

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Fortune Cookie

Hmm, did I order more handpainted wool?  Maybe I sleep-shopped?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Glorious September Vacation

I returned recently from a 4-day weekend in Hayward, Wisconsin.  My parents have rented a cabin there for the past four years and I've been lucky enough to spend long weekends with them during their WI getaways.  Mom & Dad always bring Grandma with them, and it's wonderful to spend time with family away from regular daily life.  My husband and his grandfather also spent the weekend in Wisconsin, and I think it's great to have everyone together from multiple generations.  The dogs, of course, absolutely love the cabin, the woods & the lake.  Out of all the paid vacation time I've used this year, this past weekend was the first one that truly felt like a vacation, where I could rest my mind and my body for a few days. 

Packing for the trip put a big smile on my face, since I had four pairs of handmade socks to bring with me.  Happiness is wearing handmade socks on vacation:

I think the strongest memories of this weekend will be the time I spent on the small fishing boat with my Dad and Grampa, where my job is to play "anchor girl" and ooo-&-aaah over the pretty fish they catch.  I lower & raise the anchor as needed when they pick a good fishing spot, and then I sit back, relax, and just breathe.  This is probably what made the weekend feel most like a vacation - I actually had a handful of hours with no phones, distractions, or demands.  You can hear the breeze through the trees, the occasional call of birds, and the water lapping against the side of the boat.  The air is fresh, the light is beautiful, and it feels really, really good to be alive. 

And here is proof that spinning yarn on spindles is perfectly mobile - you can spin anywhere.  I got several yards of Corriedale-silk blend fiber spun while relaxing on the boat.  This photo is deceptive, since there is a wicked amount of multi-tasking going on.  I'm holding up the spindle for a photo with one hand, taking the photo blindly with the other, and my foot is keeping tension on the anchor line to make sure the boat stays in the general location where the fishermen want it:

My husband's main hobby is photography and I know that he got a lot more photos than I did over the weekend.  I haven't seen them yet, but he always has beautiful shots, and I can't wait to pick out my favorites.  There are amazing colors and textures that I know will inspire my fiber & textile projects.  I want to explore methods of expressing my love of the northern Wisconsin lakes & woods in fiber.  I keep a little black book (literally) of my fiber ideas, so that I don't lose them when they suddenly occur to me, and there is now a page dedicated to my brainstorms for September vacation inspired yarn.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Spindlers October Challenge Anticipation

I'm still spinning the second Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore single for my "Almost" August Spindlers challenge, and I'll definitely finish that yarn this month. I'm excited to see how the plied yarn turns out with the heathered striping effect I'm trying to achieve. The next two months' challenge topics have been announced, and even though September's topic of Myths & Mythological Creatures sounds very, very fun, I know that my September calendar doesn't have enough breathing room to add this challenge to my to-do list. However, I anticipate October will be available for me to enjoy the challenge, which is Best Friends.

I must be hungry or stressed or something right now, because I immediately starting thinking about comfort food best friends, like peanut butter & jelly or grilled cheese & tomato soup. But in the long run, I'm not interested in using a food-based inspiration, so I prodded myself to think of other favorite Best Friends pairings. And one of my favorite comics, Calvin & Hobbes, popped into my head. Bingo! My vision is to create a 2-ply yarn using a thicker black and orange single plied with a thinner yellow, red & black single. I think the thicker Hobbes single should be striped, while the thinner Calvin single will come from a multicolored roving, so that it has more mixed and unpredictable bits of color. This should be a very fun & colorful yarn to create!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Favorite new tool

I wound off Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore single #1 using my new bobbin winder last night. And I kept thinking, why the hell didn't I buy one of these before?? In a smidgeon of the time it takes to wind a single into a plying ball, minus the cramped fingers of this activity, plus the benefit of being able to keep even tension at a distance on the winding yarn to equalize twist in it, I had a beautiful bobbin of yarn!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

"Almost" August Challenge - making progress

For this spinning project, I’m using what is becoming my go-to spindle, my Dragonfly cherry top-whorl. I originally thought I would aim for a 3-ply sock weight yarn, but the fiber told me that wasn't its true destiny. It is drafting so smoothly and thinly that the yarn is becoming a self-striping 2-ply yarn and will likely be more of a lace weight. The finished yarn will have heathered stripes, gradually transitioning between the colors, with the stripes mirroring each other over the length of the yarn. Instead of socks, I predict that I will eventually treasure a rectangular Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore shawl. I predict the shawl will be gorgeous… and I know it will take much, much longer to make than a pair of socks. It would seem my 2011 New Year’s resolution & project list is starting earlier than usual.

Even though I didn’t post about this spinning project at the beginning of the month, I did start spinning the fiber on August 1st. On that day I was under the delirious notion it would be possible to start & finish this yarn in a mere 31 days… nevermind the high priority & overlapping work deadlines, medical appointments, family reunions & road trips, houseguests, and oh yeah, regular life & housework. So 23 days later, I’ve managed to spin about half the fiber:

There are a couple of awesome side benefits of knowingly missing the August Challenge deadline… I do not have to follow the rules and therefore I will use my wheel to ply this yarn, rather than using a spindle for the entire project. Also, because I know I am getting a lot of yardage out of this fiber, and I wasn’t very jazzed about the time it would take to wind each single into a neat plying ball, I justified the purchase of a Schacht bobbin winder, which just arrived this past weekend in the mail!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Spindlers August Challenge - almost

This month’s Spindlers Challenge is National Parks and I absolutely love this inspiration. However, even my rose-colored project glasses cannot blind me to the fact that it will be impossible for me to finish this spindle-spun yarn in August. Between a crazy-busy job, two family reunions in two different states, and other assorted appointments this month, I’ve had to sacrifice my “free” time to responsible choices like washing dishes and taking the dogs to the vet and other such things. But I will still enjoy this topic and use the challenge to make a good yarn, which will be finished in September.

My National Park choice was simple for me. Check this out… it’s Indiana!

See, there really is more than corn in Indiana. I grew up in northwest Indiana near the southern shore of Lake Michigan. This is a picture from the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. I immediately knew that I wanted to create a yarn that honored what I love about this place – the blues of the water & sky, the powdery sand, and the green of the dune grasses.

I purchased a beautiful 4 oz piece of handpainted top from woolgatherings on Etsy.com. She was inspired by a drive along the Pacific Coast Highway, but when I saw the fiber, I was reminded of spending time at the Lakeshore:

The fiber is a blend of combed BFL and tussah silk, and I love how the luster of both fibers is like sunlight shining on the lake. My original plan is to make a sock weight yarn with this fiber, so that I can have Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore socks to treasure.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Spindlers July Challenge

I decided to take the July theme, Adventures & Discoveries, as an invitation to challenge myself to use the same fiber and spindle to experiment with making different kinds of yarn. I have plenty of variegated grey mill ends wool for this challenge. My “default” yarn seems to be emerging as a light fingering weight 2-ply yarn, which I really love, but I don’t want to fall into a rut with my spinning. Challenge is good for the brain and the fingers!

My materials:

I purchased the fiber from Detta, and the spindle comes from zebisis.

I spun three different kinds of singles - very thin with high twist, thick with low twist, and I tried thick-and-thin drafting, too. Here is a close-up of the different singles texture:

I decided that I liked the thicker single as it was, as well as the thick-and-thin single. I plied the thin single in two different ways - first in a 2-ply and then I tried Navajo (or chain) plying it for a 3-ply. The finished yarns:

So, what discoveries did I make with this challenge? I discovered that I really need to practice Navajo plying, because wow, it's hard to smoothly handle the yarn and keep the spindle turning during plying. I discovered that I have a pretty nice "default" yarn. And lastly, I discovered that I really like making a thicker, low-twist single yarn. It's very soft and it doesn't take much time to create a lot of yarn!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Pretty Thin Yarn

My latest spinning project uses my mossy green Colonial wool (dyed the fiber myself in that awesome Custom Fibers class) and my cherry wood spindle to see how thin & consistent I can spin right now. I'm feeling pretty sassy about it - I'm definitely improving my drafting skills. Plied back on itself, the yarn is still lace weight!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Victory over the Hound

It took time and patience, but I managed to save my yarn after Oliver stripped the plied yarn off the spindle and mangled, er, played with it.

Vital Statistics: 1.75 ounces; 80% Merino (red) and 20% mixed (green) blend; avg 18 - 20 WPI or light fingering weight; 204 yards

I punished this yarn pretty hard during the finishing process, shocking it with hot and cold water and agitating it a bit. I had used more of a semi-woolen drafting style, and I wanted to make sure the plies clung together. The yarn is nicely rustic and very soft. I predict a pretty lace scarf will come from this yarn.

As for naming this yarn, perhaps I'm inspired by the season and our vegetable garden, but the color suggests Vine-Ripe Tomatoes to me. Maybe the yarn will help the tomato in the photo ripen as fast as possible!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Bad Dog. Very Bad Dog.

As I told Oliver, when I caught him enjoying this great "toy" he found this morning, it's a good thing he's already neutered.

To give credit where it's due, I'm reluctantly impressed that a creature without opposable thumbs can manage to strip the cop off a spindle so neatly.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Two thumbs up for non-tangly plying!

The plying of the 2-ply mostly merino yarn has commenced:

I wound both singles into balls and put each one into a jar while I'm working with them. Yarn balls are wild creatures that instinctively roll towards dark, hidden crannies, such as under a sofa. The jars are for their own safety, not just my sanity. Plying from two singles is definitely easier and non-tangly compared to plying a single back on itself. And I've had plenty of chances with these singles to practice splicing ends while plying, which I'm trying to convince myself is a good thing. In my efforts to keep the singles as soft as possible, I had some areas where there would be too little twist, hence the splicing together of broken ends. I'm getting better at the technique, so I'm not complaining. Well, not complaining too much.

Monday, June 28, 2010


The singles of my latest spinning project are complete and are wound into balls, ready for plying. But I am too tired for plying tonight. I thought about it very seriously, especially since I will not be plying this yarn back on itself and therefore will not be forced to deal with annoying tangles. In my current sleepy state, that would have been disastrous. But despite the lure of non-tangly plying, I still choose to go to bed now.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Spinning with Merino wool

My current spinning project:

This is more fiber from my "Custom Fibers" class. The red is Merino, which is the first time I've spun this type of wool. The fineness and softness are great, but it took me a little while to get used to a shorter staple length to be able to spin consistently.

I drum-carded a custom batt using the red merino and smaller amounts of greens, which are Colonial and BFL wools. My plan is to create a 2-ply yarn, using one single from the batt and the other with pure red.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Spinning Haiku

fingers draft fibers
and connect to history
the simplest of tools

first is clumsiness
then with growing confidence
the craft becomes art

sneaky wood and hooks
spindles multiply at night
the collection grows

twist runs through fiber
like wildfire through dry grasses
long draw is magic

calculate budget
then fingertips touch the wool
now need more storage

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Since the last few posts have been about spinning yarn, I thought I should post something about knitting or crocheting, since I'm working on those projects, too. I've been working on this really cool pattern, something I've never done before, and oops, that's a gift, I can't write about that yet. I don't want to spoil the surprise. Okay, I'll write about..., no, that's a gift, too. Well, there's the, uh, other gift I've been planning.

It appears this will be mostly a blog about fiber prep, spinning, and similar subjects for the next few months, since I'll need to keep my knitting & crochet projects incognito for a little while.

Monday, June 14, 2010

June Challenge Success!

The yarn is plied & finished!

Vital statistics: fiber = 1.13 ounces; fiber blend = about 2/3 mill ends (80% wool, 20% mohair), 1/3 Wensleydale wool, and a pinch of Firestar; avg 18 WPI or fingering weight; 85 yards

I'm ecstatic about this yarn! I know it has flaws, but it is the finest and most even yarn I've ever spun. This is the fourth yarn I've made using a spindle, and when you compare it to the first yarn I made on a spindle, I'm really pleased with my progress. And since my first yarn was made in a very similar colorway, it's an especially good comparison:

I plied the single yarn back on itself to create the final 2-ply yarn, trying a new method by keeping a center-pull ball on a nostepinne while I plied it. The method didn't help much... I still had to deal with tangles when the ball loosened up. I'm willing to try this method one more time, because I think part of the problem was that my center-pull ball made by hand on the nostepinne wasn't very good. The next time, I'll wind the yarn on my ball winder, then try to slip it on to the nostepinne.

Now I need to name this yarn. Have you ever thought it would be fun to be the person who named paint colors? I give credit to anyone who can think of dozens of names for shades of one color. I always thought it would be an entertaining job, but now that I’m trying to be all clever and unique with my yarn names, I realize it’s tougher that I thought. So far I’ve come up with Deep Blue Sea for this yarn, but I’m not very happy with that since the name was used for such a dorky movie. Maybe I should reference the challenge and name it Elementary Water? I would gladly accept any and all suggestions for naming this yarn!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

June Challenge... making progress

I have spun all of the fiber... here is the finished single on the spindle:

I know that I want to ply this single back on itself to create a 2-ply yarn. The last time I did this with one of my singles, I used a ball winder. It worked okay, but I struggled with keeping even tension on the yarn as I plied it. The closer I got to the middle of the single, the looser the ball became, and I had lots of tangles to manage while trying to ply. So I looked for a different method of plying yarn back on itself.

I researched in my spinning library and hopefully I found an answer in Priscilla Gibson-Roberts book "Spinning in the Old Way." She describes a method of using a nostepinne to wind a center-pull ball and to ply from both ends. The elegance of this method is that the nostepinne helps keep tension on the yarn, so that the center of your ball doesn't collapse as you move towards the middle of the yarn. Plus you can slide the ball towards the thicker end of the nostepinne to park it if you need to take a break from plying.

So I took my nostepinne (a lovely gift from a wonderful friend - thank you again!), and got to work winding my single from the spindle to the pinne. I have to admit, it can get a little tedious... I started to feel a bit like a spider winding silk around a tasty insect morsel. But eventually I found a rhythm to the winding process and I got the single on the nostepinne:

Next step, plying!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Spindlers June Challenge

The Spindlers group on Ravelry has a monthly challenge, and I am participating in it for the first time in June. The rules are to start & complete a spindle-spun skein of yarn in that month that fits the challenge theme in however you want to interpret it. The skein can be any length, weight, color, fiber – whatever you decide to use to create your vision of the theme.

The June theme is “It’s Elementary,” and the challenge is to spin yarn that represents one of the elements… earth, fire, water, air, etc., or however you want to interpret the theme. I immediately began daydreaming about elemental colors. When I thought “Fire,” I pictured a glowing bonfire in the fire bowl in our backyard, so maybe that could be black fiber mixed with shades of charcoal and ash with slashes of yellow and orange. We recently planted our vegetable & herb garden, so “Earth” made me think of a mix of dark browns with hints of bright seedling green peeking through the browns. And after drawing a blank on Air, I easily thought of “Water” as waves of dark and pale blues that sparkled in the light.

As luck would have it, I took Jen Cuff’s “Custom Fibers” class at the Textile Center (http://www.textilecentermn.org/) in March, where I learned how to dye & blend white wool roving into my own custom batts. I created this batt of turquoise and navy blues with a little turquoise firestar thrown in for glittery fun:

I decided this would be the perfect fiber to interpret “Water,” and got to work over the weekend spinning the yarn using my cherry wood top-whorl spindle. The spindle is made locally by The Dragonfly Workshop in Bloomington, MN, and it’s become one of my favorites. I had about 1 ounce of my custom fiber, and I’ve spun about half of it so far:

Friday, June 4, 2010

Down the Rabbit Hole

When I first started playing with yarn, I crocheted. While I now admit to being secretly envious, I scoffed at knitting. Those knitters were just crazy.

And then I learned how to knit.

I shopped at Michael's and Joann and I was happy. I made a few yarn friends who told me about local yarn stores, but after hearing about luxury yarn prices, I scoffed. Those yarn addicts were just nuts.

And then I went to a yarn store.

I petted the alpaca blends and admired the luster of silk. I marked sale dates on my calendar and discovered online sources of luxury yarn. I decided that as long as I kept to one project at a time, I could justify buying these beautiful yarns. I scoffed at yarn addicts who had huge stashes of yarn. Seriously, didn't they understand the concept of self-control?

And then I had to buy more storage containers.

I kept knitting and crocheting, now using gorgeous yarns, and I heard about some utterly mad people who actually spun their own yarn. Why would anyone want to go through the trouble of spinning yarn when all of these lovely yarns are already available? I scoffed at this foolishness.

And then I received a spindle & hand-dyed fiber on my birthday.

It's less than one year since I received that spindle. I now have 9 spindles, a spinning wheel, and enough fiber to fill three large plastic storage boxes. But at least I wasn't insane enough to start with raw fleece. I had the good sense to buy soft, beautiful top & roving, all ready to spin. I saw no need to mess with fiber preparation. I scoffed...

And then I bought a lovely raw Romney fleece at the 2010 Shepherd's Harvest festival. And I have English combs and a lovely pair of hand carders and I have my eye on a drum carder and I now have the supplies to dye my own roving & top. The Romney fleece is washing beautifully and I cannot wait to start combing it and dyeing it, and eventually make something beautiful with it. I gleefully anticipate the bone-deep, soul-quenching satisfaction of wrapping a gorgeous hand-knit scarf around my neck, made from my own hand-processed, hand-dyed, hand-spun yarn.

But at least I'm not crazy enough to raise my own sheep...

Thursday, May 27, 2010

why zeithound?

I created the word "zeithound" to describe myself. I have often joked that I best understand people when I figure out what kind of dog they would be. Using this lens, I know that I would be a sighthound. There isn't much middle ground for these dogs. Sighthounds are either running or relaxing, they either love you or they don't, and they instantly pursue anything fascinating. They form strong opinions about people & places and they can be a little stubborn. I embrace my sighthound qualities, and also wanted to refer to my challenging relationship with time. I often lose track of time when I'm in hot pursuit of my current prey. Zeithound suits me perfectly.