Finn and Firefly

Spinning for the Hap begins tomorrow, so I have cleared the Finn that I spun for a breed sample off of my bobbins.  I managed to get 56 yards before washing, I love how it looks.  I am aware that I tend to overspin my yarn in places creating those little curls in the plies, but I really like that effect so it will probably remain.  I spun the Finn singles on the Ladybug and really enjoyed the process.  I used the Spinolution Firely to ply the finn as well as another sample I had created.  Let me back up a bit.

I obtained the Firefly for Christmas so that I can use the 2 pound bobbin (32oz) capacity to create very large skeins.  I originally intended to spin singles using my Ladybug and ply using the Firefly.  I did have to try the Firefly spinning singles first (I just had to, there was a leader already on the wheel) and this was a great way to figure out how the controls work and how well I like this wheel.  The truth is that I really do like this wheel, though I cannot pinpoint why.  There are a lot of options that allow this wheel to work however you want it to, if you like it on the floor then that works, you can put it on an angle, if you prefer it on the table then do so, you can even angle it on the table.  Should you be working with larger yarns then there is a hook rather than an orifice option.  You can easily switch between the larger and smaller heads, though the drive band is a bit finicky.  When using the 32oz option you need to turn the speed to the second dot before it will begin moving, and at that point it moves at a leisurely pace.  It is easily set up with so little pull you have to almost force the yarn onto the bobbins.

If you are looking for a wheel to help a beginning spinner focus on twist and draft then I highly recommend this wheel.  Without worrying about treadling at all the beginning spinner can focus on twist and draft while the yarn gets spun at a very leisurely pace.  If you are an intermediate spinner that wants to become more mindful of your spinning, or simply wants to be able to ply two completely full Bulky Plyer Flyer bobbins of singles together into a single skein, then this is the wheel for you, with the 32 oz head.  Actually, I think that any spinner that wants to work on bulky yarns and art yarns would benefit from this wheel.  I am certain that expert spinners can come up with even more options than I have mentioned here.

For me, there was a bit of a learning curve, but I believe that this is true of any new tool.  I like the idea of the hook orifice so I have kept that one on, but I do find that I do best when I hold the yarn straight out from the hook.  If I hold the yarn to one side or another I tend to get little jerky shakes in the yarn which can lead to breaks in finer yarns.  For plying, this is an absolute dream.  Since I am not worrying about treadling I get to focus on the yarn forming those little perfect bumps and then feeding onto the wheel.  I get to slow down my plying and see how everything looks without worrying about bobbin chicken or hurrying up to get the wheel free for more spinning.  The ability to change the speed at which I am spinning simply by twisting a knob, as well as the lack of worry about speeding up or slowing down as I get excited by the yarn/music/book/show is amazing.

If you are thinking of getting an electric spinning wheel then focus on what you want out of it.  I do not recommend the Electric Eel Wheel mini, the drive band broke on mine and I purchased the replacement recommended.  Right now, and for the last couple of months, it is under some extra tension to stretch it out a bit so that when it is on the wheel the little motor can actually spin the bobbin so that I can get some twist in the yarn.  Splurge a bit, get a really good wheel by a very reputable maker.  Maybe some of the other eel wheels are fine, but I am not impressed.  If you want to be able to spin really big yarns make sure that your model has larger spinning heads, if you want portability check weight, if you want lace weight see if the wheel you are looking at is good for that.  Above all, check reviews!

Happy Spinning!

 

June Box, Paradise Fibers

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This is my three ply from the June fiber box.  I was afraid I would not like how the fibers looked, too many colors making things muddy.  Instead I found myself falling in love with the almost tweedy look to the yarn.  Before washing there were 256 yards of this yarn, I think this is one of my largest spins yet.  I love how it looks, I did a 15 yard test ply before committing to this entire bobbin.  After I knit the test yarn up I decided to commit and ply all of the yarn I had, the results are stunning.

Really, if you were to only plan on getting one fiber box subscription I would definitely advise Paradise Fibers.  Sheepspot has a neat breed study I would like to try sometime, and Camaj Fiber Arts has a Spinning Box that gives you little samples of fiber to try, so this is not the only box out there.

Happy Crafting!

Alpaca Adventures and More

I love the alpaca seconds I was gifted with.

Due to the time consuming nature of cleaning these bags of alpaca I have decided to give Tour De Fleece a miss this year.  This is an event that lasts as long as the Tour de France and involves challenges, rest days, and more just as the bicycling event.  More than that it involves spinning everyday.  While that is an overarching goal of mine, I would also like to focus on ensuring that I have this alpaca clean and ready to spin for the fall and winter.  During these warm days as well as these rainy days I hope to take advantage of the weather, setting the fleece out on my brand new sweater racks while it is raining to wash them in a natural way, as well as setting them out in the sun to make sure that they are as dry as possible before I begin the next step in processing them.  I am also hoping to comb or card out the fleeces before the snow comes, this will allow me to dispose of the fluff I cannot use in an eco-friendly way.  Putting it out to be used as lining for animal homes or to decompose as mulch.

Flicking open the locks where I am able to and carding what does not flick is a time consuming process.  For some of the coarsest seconds I attempted to turn the fur into batts, I managed to get three batts done, but I do not know if they will spin up very well.  I plan on trying to spin them in a regular manner and if that does not seem to work, core spinning them.  If it turns out that I hate spinning these batts, I do plan on gifting them to whomever wants them from my Guild.  I hope to do this before my next batch of fleece is dry, that way I will know if this is a viable option for preparation.

That may have to wait though, I am currently spinning my June Box from Paradise Fibers, I am spinning the last third of those singles.  The first two are pictured below.

My original intention was to ply the three bobbins together, however it is possible that they will be too muddy when I am done.  Because of this concerns I will probably do a test sample to knit up, once I decide if I like that or not I will either ply all of them together or spin up a white single to ply with these.

Whew, that will keep me busy for a while!

Happy Crafting

Finally Finished (part of) One!

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The Paradise Fibers monthly Fiber boxes are wonderful.  I really enjoy playing with them.  However, despite getting my box very early in the month, I have never managed to finish a ‘project’ with my box within that month.  Really, I’m still working on spinning my Gemvember box from November, and my Yaktober fiber is still sitting in its pretty bag being admired.  However for December we were sent three beautiful sets of 50/50 silk/something blends and two bags of very pretty beads.  I decided, this is it.  I am going to take the Polworth/Silk blend (since I really want to save the other two for very fine spinning) and finish a project in the same month that I received the box.    Lo and Behold, my 128 Yards of Beaded Polworth Silk.

This is the pre-wash skein so the finished product is probably closer to 110 yards, however I am still very proud of it.  I’m also sort of terrified of it…it’s so pretty and white…white doesn’t really last around me…but we will see.

Happy Crafting!

 

Experimenting

I managed to spin quite a bit of white wool.  The I wound it into a center pull ball, actually I used to strands to wind a ply ball on my ball winder.  This is the first time I have played with a ply ball.  I put a rolled up piece of paper in the center of the ball so that it didn’t collapse into itself, and plied from the outside ends.

I used a bottom whorl drop spindle and just went to town.

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This is my spindle when I was finished, the singles were wheel spun so there was quite a bit to them.  I love how my unwashed skein turned out:

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Over 120 yards of 2 ply yarn.  I really liked how the center pull ball worked for plying.  I might just hand wind a tight ball next time, since it will be a silk merino blend, instead of using the ball winder.  Trying to get a tight ball so that the singles didn’t crimp, yet loose enough so that my ball winder didn’t make that awful grinding noise.

The main advantage that I can see from winding a center pull ball is immediate feedback on what the yarns will look like together.  My ply ball would be from the Gemvember box by Paradise fibers and seeing how the separate colors would work together would be a big advantage.

Keep experimenting, there is always something new to learn.

Happy Crafting!

Spinning the Blues, Still

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These are my bobbins full of blues.  As you can see I spun a lot of blue.  I could not separate them out by color as I had originally intended…because I spun a LOT of blue, lol.  Also I do not have enough bobbins to separate them out by color.  The truth is I think this will work out better anyway.  I look forward to finding out how the different blues pool and interact with eachother.  It will be a blast to see what size this yarn winds up being and if I like it that size or if I will cable it in the end.  Yay, I cannot wait until I start this!

Plying Fun

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I finished spinning my fine blue singles! Yay!  Then I plied up the wool, bamboo, silk, etc, singles I had lying around.  The singles are composed of all of the little bits of batts I had lying around.  Essentially they are my ‘destash’ yarn. It was a lot of fun to spin, even more fun to ply!  I wound up with 212 yards of plied yarn pre-washing.  I haven’t gotten around to washing this yarn yet, I am enjoying the unwashed energy too much right now.

It is always so much fun to see how the yarn will turn out!  Happy Crafting!