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?

The Prettiest Detours

Usually when I prep fiber and get it on the wheel, I’ve thought about it a fair bit and carefully selected the braids from my stash. Not always, but usually. It just so happened a few weeks ago, though, that a new-to-spinning friend was over and I was trying to explain a few different options for color handling in fiber prep. Knowing that I’m kind of terrible unless I have an example in my hands, I grabbed my braid of Stand of Trees from Three Waters Farm which happened to be sitting on top of my fiber stash.

img_4444I pulled it out and started to pull it apart, but quickly realized the color transitions were a little too subtle to let me make my point (but wowie on those blues!).

So I pulled out my braid of Black Pansies, also from Three Waters Farm…

img_4445And I started to demonstrate how to break things up for barberpoling. This braid worked much better for the demo!

In any case, having opened both braids rather than the other plans I had for spinning, I figured I should just go ahead and spin these up rather than try to store them neatly again. I started with the Black Pansies…

img_4915The merino + tussah blend just wanted to be lightweight, so that’s how I spun it.

img_5120And, you know, it took a while, but it sure was a nice spin!

I flirted with the idea of plying right away, but instead I pulled out my Very Fast Flyer — you know, the one I got for Christmas last year and have been slowly getting to know…

img_5121-1And I started whipping up my Stand of Trees. It’s dyed on a Finn base and it was such a fun shift from the sheen of the Black Pansies.  As predicted, this one went nice and fast.

Over the weekend I plied them both and then got them their spa day so that there would be no delay in when I could share them with you.

First, let me introduce you to Black Pansies.

skein2This skein is about 400yards of chain plied fingering weight loveliness.

close-upIt is a shocking burst of color for this time of year, but so well timed I think — at least for my eyes.

swirl2I’m not really sure what I will do with it yet so it’ll hang out with my other fibery goodies…

img_5258Which have taken up residence under my Christmas tree for the time being. As a side note, my family loves me very much and is very understanding — what’s happening under the tree is proof positive of that.

And Stand of Trees…

close-upIt’s understated. It’s subtle.

skein2It’s a whisper of rich, luscious color.

swirl-2It’s 340ish yards of a fingering weight yarn — also chain plied — and I’m thinking someday I will track down a mini skein for toes & heels and go ahead and work up some toe-up socks with this to use every last inch.

And now, 6 weeks later, I’ll start the project I originally intended to get going on when I pulled these open. I’m definitely not complaining though — with a detour this pretty, how could I?

Five Days, Five Spins: Day 2

My second skein this week comes to you via my favorite dyer, Three Waters Farm.

heartache“Heartache” is one of those colorways I picked up because it reminds me of my daughter, but also because I have a really hard time resisting the orange-y almost metallic colors that highlight braids like this one. This braid is dyed on a 60/40 polwarth/tussah silk fiber — one of my absolutely favorite blends just because it’s going to drape and shine with abandon.

img_4221Somewhat appropriately I started spinning these singles on a day when our daughter had somewhat of a catastrophic meltdown of epic proportions. She made some bad behavioral choices and then made some additional less than stellar choices. Not horrifying, but — you know — 8year-old rebellion-style. Suffice to say it was a day of struggles and this fiber was a small bright spot in a difficult day.

I aimed for a 3-ply. At first I thought I wanted to make a worsted weight, but it just wanted to spin into very light singles and in light of the day I was having, I didn’t have it in me to try to convince it of something different.

img_4260Sometimes, you just go with it.

I went with a pretty high twist when plying.

img_4283Just because — again, sometimes you just have to listen to the yarn because sometimes it really does know best.

heartache2I love how nicely the colors blended to make a predominantly light pink…

HeartacheWith hints of depth and a little edge in those rusty purples and oranges and golds mixed in for good measure. It reminds me of a certain someone. How appropriate!

heartache3This 3-ply skein ended up about 310yards of fingering weight yarn. I have absolutely no idea what I’ll make with it, but I’m pretty sure there’s a little lady who it will suit to a T — who knew a heartache could result in something so pretty?! Now to just find the right shawlette or hat pattern to suit the two of them…

Five Days, Five Spins: Day 1

I sat down to write this morning and share some of my latest projects when I realized I had exactly 5 fresh skeins of handspun yarn to show you and I thought, “Five Days in the Week, Five Spins — how perfect!” So this week, I’m going to share a spin a day with you. Fun, right?!

I thought I would start the week with a new-to-me dyer, Nest Fiber Studio. I got my 4oz of BFL in the ‘Agaricus” colorway via Ravelry destash.

The label says it was the May 2015 fiber club colorway. I acquired it because Nest has great word of mouth in the circles that I spin in and I really wanted to try it for myself. When you are someone who largely spins from just one or two dyers, it’s always interesting to venture into new territory and see how other dyers handle color and their fiber.

I opted to spin this fiber with my Very Fast Flyer (because they were the only bobbins I had left!) into a traditional 3-ply.

img_4261As you can probably see, I split the thirds in progressively smaller nests to great some interesting barberpoling. I found the Nest BFL spun in the soft & easy way to which I’ve become accustomed with other dyers. Such an enjoyable fiber to spin!

nestThe finishes skein is lovely, don’t you think?!  The colors in this fiber had a very soft transition between them so much so that there is almost a uniform consistency in the way that at least 2 out of the 3-plies blend throughout the skein almost giving it the appearance of a 2-ply — so interesting!

nest2I was hoping to create yarn for socks, but I don’t quite split the fiber into equal portions so I would up a teensy bit short in yardage as I had some waste. Ideally I’d like to have 360 – 375yards of fingering weight yarn for a pair of socks, but this skeins is just about 340yards of yarn. Can I still make socks? Sure, but I’d most likely want to bring in a solid color for the heels & toes, maybe short the length of the cuff a little, and possibly work them toe-up 2-at-a-time to get the most out of it.

nest3Or maybe I’ll just use it for something completely different. Whatever the case, it was really an enjoyable spin.