I Got A New Wheel!

After a lot of research I ended up getting a Schacht Ladybug wheel. I went through at least 3 iterations of this is THE wheel and then changing my mind until I decided on this one.
I sold my old Baynes wheel to someone local. I will miss it but apartments don’t have much room for spinning wheels let alone two. 
I got the ladybug because I wanted options. I wanted tension options; the ladybug allows for scotch, Irish and double tension. I wanted options when it came to accessories along with assurance that the company that made my wheel would be around a year after I bought my wheel. The people who made my last wheel closed up shop about a year after I got it and its accessories are now hard to come by. Schatch is one of the main wheel manufacturers I need the world. Plus Akerworks has models for their bobbins! Although the accessories are pretty expensive. Last I got a double treadle but it definitely can work as a single treadle when I want it to be. I found out a couple of weeks after getting the wheel it comes with a second whorl too! (Each whorl comes with 2 diameters on it). 
I’ve already spun a couple pounds of wool on it! I can’t wait for Spinzilla this year! 

What I’ve spun on my new wheel so far! 

And this is one of my Akerworks bobbins! The other is the teal bobbin on my machine. 
I’m always inspired to spin more when I have a project in mind. Right now I’m aiming for another blanket (my guilty pleasure). I think next time I’ll try spinning some sock yarn!

Spinzilla 2015!

This year I decided to join the spinning competitionĀ Spinzilla. It is a world wide competition that focuses on raising awareness and teaching children about the fiber arts. It can be done completely at home or on the road or at your local yarn shop. You can either join a team or spin rogue and at the end of the week you send pictures and yardage of what you spun.

I decided to join a team this year. Last year I was going to spin rogue but Spinzilla ended up happening the same week I was out of town at a conference. I might knit at conferences but I don’t think I could spin. So this year I was going to do better and actually try to join a team. I wanted to join a local team so I joined Maupston Jumbo Flyers. The team was hosted out of a new fiber study near NYC called Maupston DESIGN STUDIO LLC. The team captain was very nice and encouraging mostly communicating by email.

You can set your own goals but the suggested goal for Spinzilla is to spin a mile’s length of yarn. A single will count as the yards spun. A 2-ply (without counting the singles separately) is 3 times the finished yardage (2 for each single and 1 for plying). Likewise, 3-ply (or navajo / chain ply) is measured with 4 times the ending yardage. Plying seems to be a fast way to get yards since the actual plying run is much easier without having to draft (at least for me). I was trying to spin as much as I could when I wasn’t at school. Here is my week in yarn.

On Monday I was able to finish 486yds of white coopworth single ply for the blanket I am making.

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I wasn’t too worried about twist or even consistency. The roving was a little rough but the blanket I am making it with is worked with 3 strands of the same yarn which will hide some of the bumpiness. Also it’s going to be a picnic blanket so it doesn’t have to be super soft.

On Tuesday I spun up this gorgeous roving I got from hipstrings on etsy. It is 50% 23 micron merino in a rich assortment of browns, golds and sienna, 25% Baby alpaca in medium and dark brown, 12.5% Bamboo and 12.5% Black Tussah Silk.

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I did chain ply since it has some variation in color. I am happy with how it came out. I haven’t decided on a project for it yet but it will probably be something dog shaped since I have a similarly colored dog.

On Wednesday I spun brown recycled wool I got from knitpicks. I had 7oz unspun after spinning the first 7oz for a bag I made. It is nicely prepared roving and went really fast.

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I really like browns.

On Thursday I decided to spin the hand dyed roving from Spinning Bunny. I don’t remember the colorway but I think it was something like midnight. It was very pretty and blue and shiny and soft.

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It was fun to spin up so the next day I decided to do some more from Spinning Bunny.

On Friday the roving from Spinning Bunny I spun I was a little disappointed. The texture and prep were the same but when I ordered it I was trying to get a nice brown roving but when it came it was a very purple roving. I am hesitant to order from them again because of this. It is a pretty purple but not what I was expecting.

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Eventually I will spin the rest of this I have. Maybe I’ll ply it 2 ply although a single ply fingering weight shawl could be very pretty.

On Saturday I dove into my bag of alpaca. I got 2 8oz bags of alpaca a year ago from etsy. It was medium grade but still really really pretty and soft. It was a little dirty and tended to turn my fingers brown when I plied it. Since alpaca doesn’t have lanolin it isn’t necessary to wash it before processing the fleece. The natural alpaca was very different to draft than the dyed wool and took me a bit to get the rhythm down. I split one of the 8oz bags into 3 piles and spun them all up separately and three plied them together. As what usually happens, there was a small amount of single ply left over when I was done.

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When I took the alpaca off the niddy noddy the yarn did something my yarn has never done before. It hung straight down. Somehow I had actually spun it balanced. I am really looking forward to spinning with it.

On Sunday I was able to spin up some gorgeous polwarth I got from hipstrings.

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It is so pretty but I have no idea what I am going to do with it yet.

Throughout the week I was able to spin 4331 yards (including plying) which is 2.460795 miles! It was like working on a knit stash busting project. I can’t wait until next year!

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This is my week in spinning.

A Mountain of Wool

I found some nice roving on knitpicks.com on sale. The wool was Wool of the Andes Roving and Full Circle Roving. I decided to buy 5 different colors for a special pattern that I bought from ravelry (fox paws). The wool was surprisingly good for the price and really easy to spin up.

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In process

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I had 200g of each color and 2 plied them. It took about a month to finish it all but that mostly was because I was away from my wheel for a while. At the end I could easily finish one of these skeins in 2 days and I think I did for the last two.

I will update you on what I plan on making with these beauties when there is something to show!

So My Friend Is Allergic To Wool…

One of my only yarn friends is allergic to wool. She is one of the few people who understand and have a similar sized stash of yarn in her apartment. The only difference is most of her stash is cotton or bamboo or acrylic or anything else that she can knit with that doesn’t make her break out in hives. Her choice to work at a yarn store where she has to stock angora, wool, and mohair seems a little silly when she texts me from the basement getting hives because someone was knitting with mohair and she was having trouble breathing from particles in the air. Like I said though, she really really likes yarn too.

As a fellow yarn lover she was pretty excited when I started spinning. We live in different cities so I would send her pictures of my fiber and my drop spindles and my newly spun yarn. A lot of people told me when I was starting spinning that wool is the easiest to spin. The longer the staple length and the courser the wool the easier it would be so I got mounds of wool to spin. And I would send pictures to Bronwen. Now being allergic to wool and animal fibers doesn’t make her immune to how pretty natural colored yarns are so when I showed her the back of my door hanging with an array of yarns in natural hues all she could think about was a nice sweater just for her.

IMG_20141015_141415Then she came and visited me! We had the best time eating out and drinking beers and hiking. I got to show her all of my yarn in person! Which she tried not to touch so much (and not because I didn’t wash it because I did!). I had her feel around my fiber drawers to see if any of the random fiber I had gotten might be Bronwen compatible. I had ordered a bunch of random fiber ends which was a pretty good deal for the amount of fiber but meant I had weird amounts and no idea but guesses what the fiber was made out of. She picked a nice blue from that that didn’t seem to make her break out. I spun it right in front of her. It was only a few ounces so didn’t take long at all. I felt like I was at a crafts fair showing off my artistry in front of my customers (well customer). I felt like my spinning wheel and I should go on the road. I sent her packing with probably 50 yards of some light blue fingering weight handspun yarn that she wasn’t allergic too!

I still felt like a bit of a tease so I went back to the part of the internet where they sell fiber and looked at different super wash (I am not yet brave enough to attempt cotton). Here is some of it.

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This was also a chance to try some chain ply on my wheel. I won’t say it went great but my motto at the moment is practice, practice, practice! Looks like my friend is going to ooing and awing over my new yarn šŸ˜‰

From Wool To Sweater

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Last winter was very very cold. My poor dog was pretty cold on her walks so I decided that next winter she needed a sweater. I didn’t want too nice of yarn since it is for Angel to go outside in so I found some easy to spin, unwashed wool at Mind’s Eye in Boston, MA. I got 12 oz in total and it smelled like lanolin. I spun it on my new Baynes spinning wheel.

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White is obviously not the best color for something that will get dirty so I decided to try my hand dyeing! The first step was to soak the yarn in acidic water so I mixed some acetic acid in water and soaked the yarn overnight.

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The magic combination when using acid dyes is acid+dye+heat. The next step for dyeing was to heat the yarn in the acid mixture. I got a pot just for this since you should not use your food pots for dyeing.

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The dye comes in a powder form. I mixed it with some boiling water to pre mix it in an old pasta jar. I decided on orange because it was my first dyeing and if I messed it up I didn’t want to do it with one of my favorite colors. Also my brown dog looks really good in orange. Her collar at home is orange and as my Mom said after I showed her the sweater “Now we can walk Angel during the day in hunting season!”

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When the yarn was finally warm enough I added the dye to the pot! I carefully mixed it so that the dye got on all of the yarn without felting yarn. Wool felts easily when heated so it is important not to agitate it.

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The next step was the hardest; I had to wait for the dye to take making sure the water didn’t boil. It took forever and I was so excited for it to come out.

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They way you tell when the dyeing is done is that the dyeing water is clear or almost clear. You have to let the yarn and water cool on their own which with such a large amount can take a while and while it is cooling it can absorb the last bit of dye so I impatiently turned off the heat when it was mostly clear.

After the yarn cooled which took FOREVER I had to rinse it off but without agitating the wool again. After it was rinsed I had to let it dry. It took a while to dry. I had the three skeins I had dyed hanging around my room on door knobs.

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The next step of course was the fun part, knit with it! It wasn’t the most consistent single since it was one of the first things I spun on my wheel. I also never took the time to wash the lanolin off, which some people will say disrupts the dyeing, so it gave the yarn a kind of waxy feel to it. I wanted to try and keep the lanolin though since it is suppose to water proof the yarn a bit and since this was outside wear for a dog I liked that idea. I started knitting it on my camping trip with my family so Angel saw me working on it although she had no idea what was coming!

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I got the pattern off of ravelry here.

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I estimated the wool amount pretty well. I used almost all of it and thank god didn’t run out!

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And here is Angel wearing her new sweater!!!