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!