Project Progress

I really enjoyed taking the sock fiber from the February Paradise Fibers box and using coffee to dye it. I will have to wait until I can get a good photograph outside, because the color does not show very well at all in this photo. It was so much fun saving the grounds from my k-cups and turning them into a great fiber to spin. Should I decide to overdye this, the brown as a base will add a lot of depth to the new color. I cannot wait to spin this, but I have a couple of projects before I can get to this one.IMG_2221

Speaking of Spinning Projects I have made progress on my spin for a pair of anklettos/wristlettos.  Using the Ezee Twist tool I managed to spin my yarn at about 16wpi singles which should be 8 wpi 2-ply yarn.  I finished off the singles, they are currently resting.  IMG_2293

I have also signed up to take part in the Paradise Fibers Spinlympics again this year, even though there are no winter olympics.  I already had a grab bag of the merino fiber that they recommend using, I have carded up the yellow, orange, and blues with some silk I had around and made rolags.  I hope to start spinning this since the spinlympics are ending by the end of  February.  This will put me, although I am already, behind on spinning for my hap.  That is supposed to be knit up by the middle of March.  I don’t think I will make the deadline, but I certainly hope to have the spinning done for that by then.  I do not have any photos of my Spinlympics rolags nor my Hap rolags, so we will have to skip to sock progress.

I have the first two socks made from the pattern in Interweave Crochet 2011.  I did not do any extra shaping around the ankle in the blue worsted weight yarn sock.  However for the multi-colored fingering weight sock I added a few decreases before I turned for the heel.  This causes the sock to be a much better fit around my ankle.  Since I used the same size hook for both the fingering weight yarn is a looser fabric than the worsted, this will result in a sock that will wear out faster, but I have already noticed that the fingering weight sock breathes better on my foot.    Right when I finished the fingering weight sock I started on the second sock.  I am not too worried about the worsted weight one, but I really do want to have a pair of socks in this fingering weight yarn.  I had also purchased two skeins of Felici in the Baker Street colorway from knitpicks.  I adore the BBC show Sherlock (though I hate Mary) and so I had to have these Sherlock inspired socks.  I went down a size in my crochet hook, and I am also making the ribbing a bit longer than previously.  I have tried the cuff on, and 36 stitches should still be the right amount.  I am very excited to see how these are going to turn out!

That is all of my progress for now, Happy Crafting!

New Tools

One of my new philosophies has to do with having the tools you need to achieve the results you want.  Can I weave tapestries with a picture frame?  Yes, but I will not like the process or the results.  Given that I have decided to invest in a couple of tools to make my crafting life a bit easier and my results a bit better. Before I get to the actual reviews, a disclaimer, I am in no way affiliated with any of the products below.  I purchased them using my own funds, I am not making any profit from these reviews/products.

Recently I have decided to up my knitting and crochet game.  I have started with socks, but I hope to progress to garments like cardigans, shawls, and sweaters soon.  Learning Tunisian Crochet, filet crochet, and lace knitting are also on my list of projects to work on.  With fitted garments gauge is extremely important.  To this end I have invested in the Akerworks Swatch Gauge, but I went all out and invested in the knitting tool kit.

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This includes, tape measure, scissors, two darning needles, knitting needle measuring tool, locking stitch markers, and various magnets across the back in addition to the gauge swatch tool.  Essentially this is everything that I would need to knit or crochet on the go in one compact tool.

The stitch gauge has the numbers engraved on the side that is facing down toward the fabric, but they are engraved backwards so when the tool is being used the numbers show in the right direction, but there is no real explanation as to what the numbers are.  Going horizontally across the top there are the numbers 1-4 and under the horizontal line are the numbers 1-10.  Comparison with a ruler proves that 1-4 measures inches while 1-10 measures centimeters.

The tape measure can be slid out of the compartment that houses it, but can also be easily used from its nest in the tool.  The scissors have comfortable finger holes as well as proving themselves quite sharp when put to the test against yarn.  The darning needles in addition to the stitch markers are standard but since they are metal they stay where the magnets put them quite easily.

When my studio is completed I believe that this will have a place stuck to the metal rack I intend to install.  The swatch gauge will be just at home measuring picks per inch as it will stitches per inch.

I have been lusting after the Eszee twist tool for about 2 years now.  Spinning is still my main passion, however all of the math tends to intimidate me.  No longer!  With the Eszee Twist tool I can measure the angle of twist, but more importantly I have a gauge which I can put my yarn on and have a  fairly good idea of what the wraps per inch are going to be without making a mini skein of yarn.  This kit comes with much more than just the measuring tool, it has a bookmark, knitting needle gauge, yarn tracker, in addition to a user guide that does double duty as an Everything You Need to Know to Get the Yarn You Want guide.

In addition to explaining what twist is, s twist, z twist, and angles of twist, this guide goes on to explain different yarn constructions such as 2 ply, 3 ply, Navajo plied, core spun, cables, worsted, and woolen.  The part that I find most useful is the simple math needed to calculate what size your finished yarn will be.  This simple formula was well worth the investment, but the guide and other tools provide everything you need to gain a deeper understanding of yarn construction.

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Yes, they are stitch markers.  Actually what they are is a charm bracelet I purchased through amazon and repurposed using some split rings and lobster clasps.  I just love the BBC production of Sherlock (except the last season and I HATE Mary) so I wanted stitch markers that reflected me.  However, I did not want to spend $5 for one to three stitch markers that really had little to do with Sherlock.  So I found a charm bracelet, there were 20 charms on it, a little manipulation, and I have 20 stitch markers that I thoroughly enjoy.  Since I made the entire batch in less than an hour I can certainly see the appeal in buying up a lot of charms and making these by the hundreds.  I wonder if I can recoup some of my yarn/fiber expenses by starting a stitch marker business?

Happy Crafting!

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!