Trying New Things, Part 2

I don’t believe I’ve mentioned it here yet, but I’ve started the long and thorough process of researching and testing out new spinning wheels. I’m very, very happy with Lendrum DT, but the reality of my situation is that there are times when I have a lot of discomfort in my hip and spinning with this wheel is not always as comfortable as I might like. I’d been leaning toward going the miniSpinner road until the end of last year when my husband made a stop at a local shop without me and asked about and tried out a couple single treadle wheels. While he’s very supportive of whatever wheel I ultimately choose, he asked that I do a thorough investigation of single treadle wheels before making any decisions. He thinks it would suit me as an individual better and would alleviate the hip issues. Honestly, I never really thought about single treadle wheels all that much just because to go that route and still maintain the level at which I’m spinning, it would most likely mean a larger wheel. A larger wheel in our tiny house. We talked at length about it, how regardless I’d likely keep my Lendrum as a travel wheel, and about some changes we’ve been looking at making (ie moving our piano out because it just doesn’t get used) and my husband made a strong case for considering that route. Since he does know me pretty well and the idea of a big, beauty saxony wheel is very appealing to me, I’ve happily agreed to do the research.

With this in mind, while on the way home from a day trip during our staycation we stopped off at Susan’s Fiber Shop.  I bought my Lendrum from her and she’s the closest shop to our house that carries wheels on the sales floor for testing. Unfortunately she didn’t have any single treadles in-house — apparently most people go DT — but I did thoroughly test each wheel she did have just to officially rule them out. I’m happy to say that of the dozen or so double treadle wheels she had set up my Lendrum is still the best fit. That made me feel great about my original choice, but didn’t solve the current dilemma. No bother, it’s a long process, right? I’m cool with that, I’m happy to wait and find the wheel.

Having spent an hour or so trying out all the wheels, I had a gander around the fiber. Susan’s can be a little like a treasure hunt as she’s got loads of goodies stashed around her shop and right as I was about to head back to the car, I found a lovely little BFL color pack from Greenwood Fiberworks in the Copper Hills colorway.

img_5652I’m a fan of BFL and I thought I could do something interesting with these to make some socks. I have yet to succeed at spinning for socks with deliberate color handling. My last attempt resulted in yarn that was a little short on yardage and heavy on weight which I’ve yet to really figure out if I have enough of to actually make socks. For this collection, I thought I’d try to use my Very Fast Flyer to really get a nice, lightweight yarn.

img_5661-2I split the fiber evenly into halves — one for each sock — and then each half was split into 3 equal portions containing equal amounts of each color. The idea being stripey socks.

img_5672-1The spinning went remarkable well and — as I seem to always say — I’m getting more comfortable with this flyer with each spin. My only complaint is that the bobbins are just like .5oz too small. Each half of this fiber was 2.1oz and I couldn’t quite fit that amount on one bobbin. Not the end of the world, but kind of annoying nonetheless.

In any case, I chain plied it using my smallest whorl on my lace flyer and it went just swimmingly.

copper-skeinsTa-Da!

detail-copperAren’t they just lovely?! I can’t wait to knit some socks with these! And, perhaps even more importantly, I think I’ve found a go-to flyer for sock spinning. That’s huge for me, really and truly.

In the interest of full disclosure, it was not a total 100% success. While I have plenty of yarn for the socks, one skein did come out quite a bit bigger than the other. It remains to be seen how this will affect the knitting and the planned striping. I’d be more disappointed, but as goes spinning, knitting, and life in general, if everything turned out perfectly life would be pretty boring. The world is much more interesting when a few challenges, a few new hurdles present themselves, right?

Winter Fancy

To continue the story of the Three Waters Farm Top of the Month Club, today I’m sharing December’s installment, Winter Fancy. This month’s fiber story includes a little twist. Somewhere in the fall, I switched from the silk blend version of the club to the non-blend, all wool version. Because I live in such a seasonal place, I thought it would be fun to enjoy the silk blends during the warmer months and the all wool fibers during the cold months. When my December braid of Winter Fancy arrived in its 100% Finn incarnation, I liked it a lot.

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                      Photo courtesy of Three Waters Farm

Then two things happened. First, I logged on to the Three Waters Farm Ravelry group and a dear online spinning friend was truly in love with this colorway and had a dream of spinning it into socks. I contacted her and sent it her way. I knew she loved it more than I did and it just felt right. And then I saw someone spin up the Merino/Bamboo/Tussah Silk 50/25/25 blend and it kind of bowled me over.

winterfancy2
Photo courtesy of Three Waters Farm

I mean, they are the same colorway on a different base. What can I say? Sometimes one just speaks to you. I ordered one braid of the blend thinking I would spin it into some lightweight goodness and if my mom liked it — they are really pretty colors on her — I would give it to her. If not, I was curious enough to see how this blend would spin and kind of crushing on the watercolor-y effect of the blend on the colorway.

img_5651I opted to break the spin up into a fractal spin and used my Very Fast Flyer to whip it into a 2-ply. I really and truly loved the blend. I’d spent a lot of spinning time avoiding bamboo blends for some unknown reason, but I will be doing that no longer! It really spun so smoothly & nicely!

winter-fancy-skeinAnd the final skein is so subtle — almost like a neutral with just a kiss of lavender.

winter-fancy-detOur horrible natural light does not do it justice, but trust me when I say this is a truly stunning, understated beauty in all its 450yards of light fingering weight glory.

I haven’t yet consulted with my dear mom to see if she’s interested in this one. I was thinking it might be nice to gift it to her with a copy of the Hitchhiker Beyond pattern. I know my mom really enjoyed the original Hitchhiker and this might just be a fun something new for her. However this skein is ultimately used, I love that the unexpected twist in this story proved to elicit just the absolute perfect outcome. I just love it when that happens!

Wacky & White Sangria

As promised, I’ve got some fresh handspun to share today! Yay!

As part of the Akerworks Flat Pack Lazy Kate test I’ve been working on trying a lot of different plying scenarios. Varying the number of singles I’m plying, changing up the weights of singles, as well as the methods for plying. Again, I’m not going to go into detail on the Kate at this time, but I did want to share the yarns as they come off the wheel. Today I’m going to share two skeins that I worked up pretty similarly.

First, for a simple 2 ply I started with this braid of fiber.

Having been doing much more with with getting my singles light weight I made a little departure with this braid of Rambouillet from Cloudlover Yarn & Fiber in the White Sangria colorway.

img_3017Aiming for a worsted-ish 2-ply, I’m happy to say that’s exactly what I got in the end.

True to the Rambouillet breed, this yarn poofed nicely in the wash.

coilAnd in the end I had a lovely squooshy skein.

skeinAt about 8-9wraps per inch this worsted/aran skein has about 170yards on it, perfect for a soft and smooshy hat or cowl.

Next, how about Wacky from Spun Right Round.

I can always count on my Spun Right Round fibers to be bright and unexpected and a little wild (and wacky).

img_3039Shooting for a worsted-ish 3-ply, I was kind of testing my skills since I’d have to make minor changes to my singles from those I’d just spun for White Sangria.

img_3103-1The colors were bright and fun to spin — it really helped me to forget the demands of the spin.

detAnd it came out SO NICELY.

skeinThis 3-ply indeed came out as a worsted weight yarn (about 4-5wraps per inch) and measured in around 150yards. Because of the 3-ply and the slightly tighter plying job it doesn’t quite have the squoosh factor that the White Sangria skein does, but that’s A-OK with me.

coilI mean this skein is so darn fun!

What a great couple of skeins with which to start my great plying extravaganza!

A Sheep Ranch & Our Weird, Weird World

If you didn’t already know, my husband is very good at planning vacations. He plans 99% of our trips, usually with Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C options throughout to insure they run smoothly even when they, you know, don’t run smoothly. In addition, when he does his research and planning he demonstrates incredible skill in his ability to create a trip that includes something fun and special for everyone. For me, this usually involves some sort of unique fiber arts experience and our trip to Yellowstone was no different.

Just about 40 miles north of our hotel in Gardiner, Montana, set back off the winding roads of Paradise Valley lies Wolf Ridge Lamb & Wool Co., which specializes in Icelandic sheep. My husband contacted the ranch before our trip about visiting the yarn room and he received a very kind note telling us to just call when we were in the area and we’d set up an appointment.

I’m always a little nervous on these fibery adventures because you really never know what you’re going to find. I had an idea of what they had to offer based on their website so I was hopeful, but nothing could have prepared me for this.

img_2190This picturesque little haven nestled in the mountains. And the yarn room?

img_1935 I can only say, “WOW!” The yarns were beautiful, the fiber was absolutely lovely, and Barb — that’s her in the photo — could not have been any nicer. To say I was a kid in a candy store would be the understatement of the century. I picked up a sweater quantity of Paradise Aran in the softest light brown color with the hopes that it’ll maybe turn into Andrea Mowry’s new White Pine sweater, but I’m flexible on what it becomes.

img_2194It’s just gorgeous and will undoubtedly make lovely sweater someday.

In addition, I grabbed an 8oz bag of roving to spin.

img_2192

It’s lamb’s wool & is incredibly soft.

img_1997-2And that very night I started spinning (that was part of my husband’s plan, too). It’s a sumptuous rich chocolate color. Barb assured me that she was just a phone call or email away if I found myself in need of anything else and you can believe I took some notes for future stash potential.

The following morning we awoke early and got into the park before the sun rose with the high hopes of seeing the main attraction for us this trip — wolves. Yes, believe it or not, the fiber & yarn was not the main event for everyone. In any case, the day after visiting Wolf Ridge Icelandics, what did we see?

Wolves. On a ridge.

The photo is quite blurry because this time they were very far away and Mr. Knitting Sarah was snapping the photo with his phone through a spotting scope, but we saw them. Once they crossed over the back side of the ridge we knew we’d be back the following day to try to catch a better look.

In the mean time, we enjoyed seeing a sleepy Bighorn Sheep in the snow…

and a river that had 3 or 4 American Dippers, dipping away.

They may not look all that special, but for those who aren’t birders, American Dippers are North America’s only aquatic songbirds. They sing and dance and bob up and down (or dip) on the rocks or ice of fast-moving mountain streams…

Sometimes they stomp their feet…

And then eventually they dive into the water…

Where they grab little bugs to eat. I managed to see 4 “life birds” — Barrow’s Goldeneye, Grey-Crowned Rosy Finches, Lewis’s Woodpecker, and Bohemian Waxwings — but watching the Dippers was definitely a highlight of the trip for me. While I’ve seen them before, I’ve never had the luxury of really watching them for a long time as I was able to here.

As we wound our way back toward Gardiner, we made a stop to walk the Mammoth Hot Springs…

Where the kids learned that it’s a really strange world out there.

Where hot springs sometimes melt the parking lot and start bubbling up through the asphalt…

img_1989And even in the most hostile environments, life finds a way.

Tomorrow, I’ll share the results of the next day’s search for wolves, my thoughts on driving through mountains with a compact front-wheel drive car in the snow, a terrifying traffic jam, a very brave hike, and some more spinning.

Stay tuned!

Depth and Passion from Three Waters Farm

3Waters Cafe DiemThis fiber really spoke to me from the first moment I laid eyes on it. Maybe it was the how the blue & pink play off of each other. Maybe it was the über rich bronze that I’ve never seen in fiber before. Whatever the case, I knew this 4oz braid of BFL roving in the Cafe Diem colorway from Three Waters Farm would be special.

IMG_0995And it was. It just spun like a dream and because of that I finished the singles in record time.

threewaterscafediemThis BFL fiber was much, much softer than other BFLs I’ve spun in the past. I did more or less a fractal spin, splitting the braid in half and then spinning one half ‘as is’ while I broke the other half up into smaller pieces.

The result?

IMG_1178

Simply lovely.

Somehow each step of the way this spin just got better. This was my very first Three Waters Farm spin and this is all it took — I’m officially addicted (and I have another skein drying and a bunch more fiber in my stash to prove it). Mary Ann Pagano, who owns and operates Three Waters Farm with her husband Stephen, has an eye and understanding for color that clearly has great depth of understanding and and is driven by a true passion for what she does.

There is no better proof of that than to show you the yarn I was able to produce.

cafediem3About 300yards of heavy fingering weight yarn that is simply gorgeous both to look at and touch.

cafediem2The blues & pinks that play off each other and that incredible bronze make this one of the most unique yarns I’ve spun. The fact that it is soft and drapes beautifully really puts this skein on a pedestal in my stash.

Beyond the sheer awesome of this skein, I’ve had the great privilege to get to know Mary Ann a bit via email. In a few exchanges with her, she was kind enough to lend me a hand in unraveling some basic spinning mysteries I was struggling to grasp and she helped me see that prioritizing figuring out a better surface for my spinning wheel was well worth the effort. For the record, if the only spot in your house to keep your spinning wheel is on uneven carpet, a chair mat from your local office supply shop will work wonders. In any case, Mary Ann is as kind and knowledgeable as she is talented and I’m so happy to have found her and her shop.

In a few days I’ll be sharing yet another Three Waters Farm handspun. After the beauty of the Cafe Diem skein, I couldn’t help myself and I had to spin this 4oz braid in my stash.IMG_1183 Yesterday I finally got to wash and set this Finn Roving in Spotted Purple Admiral I spun a week ago. More on this one once it’s dry and I can take some proper pictures, but suffice to say as it dries I’m already looking for patterns for it. If there was any doubt, I think it’s safe to say that I won’t be a stranger to the beautiful fibers from Three Waters Farm any time soon.