Friday, January 26, 2007

Spin City

It didn't take long to hook me into spinning. I can take or leave the spindle, but I am loving the wheel!

Last week in class we learned how to ply our spindle-spun singles back onto the spindle. Here's a photo of that "yarn". (I am using the term loosely here)

Then we were shown some things about the wheel, and off I went. I guess the problems I had when I tried before were all due to faulty adjustment of the Scotch tension. Now I get it!

First thing I spun on the wheel was the rest of the natural roving that we were given in class. This top layer is actually not the best...there is some better, more uniform spinning under this layer. But I had been sitting for a while, and starting to get tired, and careless. Still, all in all, not a bad try.

Then I decided to dig into a huge bag of roving I had gotten about 18 months ago (before I even had thoughts of being a spinner....I thought this was going to be used for wet felting, needle felting, etc) A lady had come into the shop saying she had "a barn full" of roving, and was there anyone that would want to spin some of it for her in exchange for some free roving. No one was interested, but I said I would like to come out and see what she had, and maybe I'd buy some. She wanted me to try out some techniques and maybe see if I could come up with a wet felted purse or something.

Well.....she lived a LONG way from the shop....out in the boonies in an area I had never been before. I took a nice long Sunday summer drive and finally got to her house. She took me out to the pole barn, and yes, she had a LOT of roving. The barn was not "full" but there was a huge pile in the corner that was probably 8 feet high at least and it spilled out from the corner maybe another 20 or 30 feet. There were bags upon bags upon bags of roving. My eyes were probably bugging out of my head when I saw it.

I started going through the bags and pulling out things that looked interesting. Her husband handed me a huge plastic bag (way bigger than a trash bag) and I filled it to the brim. Then I asked how much they wanted for it, and they kind of looked at each other and shrugged, and then finally, tentatively said...."$20.00????" I grabbed a twenty from my pocket so fast, hoping they wouldn't change their mind! I got sooooo much roving. Some of it is just wool, some of it is a wool/silk/mohair blend, there is other unidentified fiber too. Some of it had tags on it, giving the fiber content, weight, and a price. It was all straight from the mill.

I guess the husband's ex-wife had a yarn store or some reason to have all this processed fiber, and he got it in the divorce, or she died...I don't remember the story. But there was a sh*tload of it and I wish I had gotten MORE MORE MORE! I recently (before I got my wheel/decided to become a spinner) came across her phone number and address when going through my desk, but I don't remember if I tossed it or kept it. I should try to find that piece of paper again....

But, I digress....

I decided since this fiber was practically free, I wouldn't feel bad using it for practice. It's not like I'm going to run out any time soon.

So I spun 2 bobbins. I was just playing around....Sometimes using one of the three colors, sometimes two, sometimes all three. I like how it looks as singles. But I have a feeling there is too much twist in it. I know plying will help that, but I'm afraid that if I ply it I will loose some of the distinction between the colors...that it will look muddied. I am thinking of spinning the black pencil roving Diane sent me for Christmas and plying it with that, so the colors will be a contrast against the black, instead of fighting against each other.


Here's a small length that I just let twist back on itself. All of this section was pretty much blended colors so I might end up with something different all together if I were to ply the whole lengths. Who knows....I'm still learnin' !

We don't have class tonight because the teacher is in FL. Good thing, because we got a good amount of snow today and the 112 mile drive (each way) may have been a little bit dicey. Plus it gives me more time to get my homework done.

We were given a hunk of alpaca to spin (yummmmmmmmmy) and also a couple layers of silk caps. That should be interesting. I found a video on youtube that shows how to draft the silk so that was helpful. I haven't done either of those but I have another week to get it done.

Meanwhile, 3 of my 4 bobbins are full, so I ordered these and now I have plenty of storage bobbins. You can't beat the price at .50 each (if you buy 12 or more). So I got 20, and shipping was only $5 so I can fill up a LOT of bobbins for $15. I got them at Halcyon Yarns and they came really fast. I got them today.

I am going to use Mike's drill with something shoved in the chuck to wind my singles onto the storage bobbins so I can do some more spinning!

Of course when I got my Threadbear newsletter yesterday, there was mention of an intermediate spinning class. Aw geez, you know I'm probably going to have to sign up for that one too.........

Monday, January 15, 2007

Catching up misc.

The holidays are over, the decorations packed away, and we are back to the ol' routine.

I received some wonderful knitting/spinning goodies for Christmas. My friend
Jane sent me a beautiful spindle and several colors of roving. The colors coordinate nicely so I think I will ply them together (someday when I know how to spin better)

My sister sent me some pencil roving, and 2 skeins of luscious alpaca yarn from Dakota Alpaca Farm in SD, which is where she lives. The fleece came from an alpaca named Ellenique, so that's what the yarn is called. So yummmmmy......

In our Secret Santa name draw for the BeeGees knitting group, Sharon gave me the book No Pattern Knits which I had been wanting.

I have been itching to take a spinning class. The one I thought I would take at Heritage in February unfortunately is going to be held on 2 days that I already have plans for. The next classes there aren't until April.

I didn't want to wait that long, and
Threadbear was having a beginning spinning class, so I signed up. It's 4 Friday evenings, and it started last Friday. Threadbear is one of my favorite places in the world to hang out, but because it's 2 hours from my house (112 miles) I don't get there as often as I'd like.

Now some of you might think it's a little crazy to drive 2 hours, take a 2 hour class, and drive 2 more hours home. At night. In January/February. In Michigan. 4 times. Yes...kind of kooky. But I love hanging out with Rob and Matt, seeing all the new goodies they have acquired since the last time I was there, etc.

Luckily I was able to convince my friend Tamara to take the class with me. So I have someone to talk to on the way there and back, and if anything wonky were to happen on the road, I wouldn't be alone. It's fun having a friend in class too. The drive out there and back last week was in pouring rain most of the 4 hours, but it could have been worse. Could have been snow, or the ice we got overnight last night. They are saying snow for Friday this week, but it's only Monday, so we'll see if the forecast changes by then.....

Our spinning teacher, Jackie, is a gem. We learned a lot about the fleece and what's involved in preparing it for spinning. Our homework was to wash one hunk of fleece that is right off the sheep. Then we had to "flick" another handful of wool that had already been washed. Then we are to use the spindle and spin some carded roving which we will ply this week.

Look...I'm spinning!

Not too bad, I guess. I'm getting the hang of it. I'm finding that pre-drafting is the way to go. We will start learning about the wheel this week, and I am really looking forward to being able to use my wheel that I got several months ago. Yeah!

What's on the needles? Well, several things. I am in the middle of doing a new shop sample of my
Bloom Shawl pattern for Threadbear in Diakeito Rococo. The color repeats in this yarn are longer than the other yarns I've knit the other Bloom Shawls in, but I like how it's turning out.

I'm also working on the
felted Mancala game from Knitty that I promised Jake I would make him.

And a couple of overdue Christmas gifts for my eternally patient, dear friend Maria.

When I get her gifts in the mail I will get back to my new pattern...which will hopefully, FINALLY, be announced soon!