I picked some more wool up from the Destash group, different breeds to try this time. Clun Forest, Fine X breed, and Border Leichester. They were a lot of fun, and I really enjoyed carding them and discovering what the different fibers were like. As can be expected from a destash group they were not the finest examples of their fibers. It is probable that I should have combed the fibers to get rid of the short second cuts (but since I don’t have the combs or the $100 it would cost for good combs that was not an option).
Despite the second cuts, or maybe because of them, these fibers are spinning up into lovely skeins that can be used for a nice outerwear project. Maybe a throw rug since they are in similar colorways. It is certainly not soft enough for next-to-the-skin garments but ti is very pretty anyway. I am pleased that I was able to experiment with these different types of fiber and look forward to more opportunities to explore!
The Enchanted Mountain Weavers Guild has given me the courage to go forth and Weave! Okay so I joined the guild and they have been teaching me tips and tricks to improve my rigid heddle weaving. I obtained a 10″ Ashford Sample It Loom, and I was promptly intimidated, I did try a test project but it did not go as smoothly as I would have liked. With the guild’s help I managed my first scarf and had the courage to go forth and start my second scarf. This is scarf made with Red Heart Acrylic Yarn, containing a simple pick up pattern. I am really pleased with the eye scorching results. The yarn is fluorescent so it looks even neater under a black light!
I was watching “Get More Spun: Part 1” by Abby Franquemont on CraftDaily.com video subscription service when Abby mentioned storing singles on several bobbins to ply from later. She stated that storing singles on several different bobbins and mixing them up before plying will help to even out some uneven spinning. I saw the bobbins she was storing them on and it clicked, those are shuttle bobbins not spinning wheel bobbins! I will admit to still having some apprehension about how many joins might be needed for these yarns, but my excitement is far outweighing any misgivings.
This did bring about another potential sticking point, I do not have a bobbin winder. I picked up an attachment for my cordless drill but between my underpowered drill and my inability to get the bobbin far enough down the shaft so that I feel comfortable putting pressure to wind a nice tight yarn onto the bobbin, my winder is not going to cut it. I looked at bobbin winders, over $100 each! Fiber tools are so very expensive, and often for something that can only be used for a single purpose. As Alton Brown would say, “Unitaskers!”
I sighed, pouted, and decided to see if any of the sites online (Ebay, facebook fiber tools groups, etc) had a bobbin winder that I could get at a price I was willing to pay. In my travels I looked at the charkha a tool used for spinning cotton that Ghandi popularized in India to help free his people (it really is a fascinating subject that I intend to dedicate at least one post to in the near future). The Ashford version looked sort of like an amped up bobbin winder, but at almost $400 it would be an even sillier investment than the Unitasker!. However, there was another option a Babe Linten Spindel Charkha Wheel. At $150 it is not less expensive than buying a bobbin winder, and it could be argued I could get a book Charkha and a bobbin winder for about the same price, I am very happy with my purchases.
Babe’s Fiber Garden was amazing at helping me figure out if using their wheel as a bobbin winder would be a reality or not. They even offered to send me some bands that are used for animal castration thinking that these will be a good size to keep my bobbins on their spindle. I really look forward to playing with my new Mulit-Tasker as soon as it gets here! I have some cotton left over from last year when the Cotton Clouds kit was on clearance from Woolery, but this playing might have to wait until Spinzilla is over!
I may even get time over the next year to tell Babe’s Fiber Garden that their new Garden loom looks like it would be good for Sprang!
In prep for Spinzilla I have my wheel a complete cleaning as well as trying out Double Drive for the first time. I have to freely, and unashamedly, admit that I love my Ladybug. I do hope to add to my stable of wheels in the future, but for now, she does Scotch Tension wonderfully, and has taken to Double Drive like a dream. Eventually I will figure out how to do bobbin lead, but I am not there yet. I do not know if this is fact or a psychological fallacy but I believe I can spin thinner in double drive than I can in scotch tension. I like how much easier it is to control the take up in scotch tension (I don’t think I tied my drive band tight enough), but I can deal with double drive just fine. The other probability is that by carding my fiber into rolags and then pre-drafting my rolags the fibers were better prepared for spinning and therefore I was able to get a finer yarn. No matter the reason I am going to spin Spinzilla in double drive mode, and see what I end up with when I am finished.
Also to prepare for Spinzilla I spent last night and this morning plying all of my pre-spun singles so that I do not have any singles lying around as well as clearing off all of my bobbins to take on new yarn!
Only three of these bobbins, top left hand, actually belong with my Ladybug. I have found that the three on the bottom left can be used with my wheel to ply or store in a pinch, when I am in a mood to not mind the extreme rattling they produce.
I do know that the three in the bottom right are shuttle bobbins, more on that tomorrow.
From a bargain basement fiber group on Facebook I picked up several ounces of a fiber package called ‘grapes’. The fiber was very soft, included some bunny and bamboo silk, so I had a blast spinning it up. The pre-spun fiber is here:
I am still not very good at spinning locks, so I wound up opening them as much as I could and incorporating them into my finished skeins. I tried to spin it all individually in sequence but wound up carding it all together into punis. I will confess, I still have the bunny fiber off to one side. I really hope to spin it separately or perhaps as an accent for some alpaca.
I plied my 2 bobbins of Grapes with some Tencel I had already spun up to create a neat effect. The unwashed skeins are pictured below:
If they change a lot after washing I will post another picture. For now, these did wind up as just under 150 yards measuring about 12 wpi, putting this at a sport weight yarn (pre-washing). I am very pleased with this product, though I do hope that washing makes it a bit softer.
The Loom is now complete! I cannot believe how well it turned out. The pedals still do not work but I managed to rig up some Texsolv Cord and Arrow clips (that are specific to the cord) so that I am able to treadle with them. I did have to tie them up in a 1, 3, 4, 2 pattern instead of 1, 2, 3, 4. When I tried tying them up straight from 1-4 then I could not press down on 1 enough to get a good shed (lift the yarn enough to pass the shuttle through).
Before the next part, I have to give you some background information. I live with my mother on almost 2 acres of land. We are surrounded by a bit of forest. The house is built into a hill, which really helps avoid flooding, with a garage under the house and another detached garage. We use the garage under the house for the car (we share one between us), and have not been using the detached garage for much of anything since my father died 7 years ago. This is why my weaving has stalled.
While we have not been using the garage, other creatures have decided to move in. Specifically there are some PVC pipes on a metal rack that a family of mice has decided to move into. This was actually alright with me for a little while, I set out traps and would play music to keep them away thinking that the traps would get them overnight one of these days. This worked long enough for me to get a bit of a sampler project done, then one day I looked up and found a face peeking at me out of the PVC pipe. Well that was the end of my weaving until we get someone in to get rid of the mice. My bravery only goes so far, telling a patron that I am pretty sure is high that they need to leave the library, keep it down, watch their language; Fine. Telling a patron that I know is drunk that they need to leave the cashbox right where it is, and taking it out of their hands; Fine. Mice around when I am trying to relax and concentrate on my weaving; NOT FINE!
I managed to get these twill samplers woven (it’s a fraction of what I wanted to do but a decent start), and as soon as someone has been in to see about the mice I will put a topcoat on my loom and start planning for next year!
Spring Weaving will be a blast!
Please excuse the Laundry Basket. This was the only place I could get a really good picture of my Bombyx silk, my bathroom/laundry room. The lighting picked up the purples much better than in the living room. I am very pleased with how this turned out. I purchased Witchy Woman silk from WoolieBullie so that I would have some black silk for autumn rolags I created to prepare for Spinzilla! I love how much silk is in an ounce, so I was able to create this cabled silk yarn, 4 plies total. It is only about 40 yards long but it is beautiful and will create a remarkable project once I decide what I want to do with it.