Spinning Improvement

As you know, dear reader, I decided to take up the ancient art of spindling last July, and in October, I joined the ranks of wheel spinners. In the year (almost) that I have been spinning, I have made a lot of progress.

Now, don’t get me wrong; I’m not anywhere near being a master spinner. I probably will never be close to being a master spinner. I’m just not interested in all the really technical stuff. The only thing I really care about is being able to produce yarn that I like. I still have a lot to learn, but I think I have reached the point where I produce singles that are consistent in both size and twist.

My default singles are quite fine, so fine that when I ply two of them together, I get a lace-weight yarn, and when I ply three of them together, I get a fingering-weight yarn. And four of them plied together results in a nice sport-weight yarn. My singles have become a lot more consistent, with much less variation in the thickness and amount of twist, and my plying has improved to the point that my finished skeins are virtually always nicely balanced. I’ve come a long way from my first attempts at making yarn.

Do you remember my very first yarn? I spun this from a sample that came with a “toy wheel” spindle that I bought to get started.

My very first yarn, a Shetland/mohair blend spun and plied on a spindle.

My very first yarn, a Shetland/mohair blend was spun and plied on a spindle.

There’s a lot of thick and thin, and some parts are over-spun, but all in all, it’s a pretty darned good first effort.

My second yarn, which was spun and plied on a Knit Picks Turkish spindle, also has a lot of variation in the thickness.

My second yarn, Wool of the Andes spun on a Turkish spindle.

My second yarn, Wool of the Andes,was spun on a Turkish spindle.

When I first finished this yarn, I was horrified by how inconsistent it looked. But looking at it now, I see a gorgeous art yarn that I probably couldn’t replicate no matter how hard I tried.

I will probably keep these two skeins forever. I love them too much to ever part with them or knit them up.

My first two skeins of handspun yarn.

My first two skeins of handspun yarn

My spinning has advanced a lot since these first attempts. I recently finished what I consider to be my very best yarn to date. The fiber is Wool of the Andes Roving from Knit Picks (which isn’t roving at all but, rather, combed top) that I spun and plied on my Ladybug.

Two lovely skeins of handspun yarn

Two lovely skeins of handspun yarn

This is my most consistent yarn yet. The singles have very little variation, and the plying is very consistent.

Beautifully consistent and balanced.

Beautifully consistent and balanced

It’s a lovely fingering-weight 3-ply yarn that I’m itching to knit up into something.

A fine 3-ply yarn

A fine 3-ply yarn

It’s hard to believe that these two skeins of yarn were spun from the same type and preparation of fiber but the same spinner.

My best and my first

My best and my first

What a difference a year makes.

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I’ve come a long way as a spinner in just one year.

It’s time to try some new fibers and techniques and to add some new skills. Here we go!

Works In Progress on a WIP Wednesday

Thanks to lots of playoff hockey, I’ve been getting a lot of knitting done. My most recent cast-on, Hitchhiker, is progressing rapidly even as the rows get longer. It’s totally autopilot knitting, but with a potato chip element. I cannot knit just one row. 🙂

We're making progress!

We’re making progress!

This 2-ply handspun is lovely to knit with. I love the effect of the color changes. Dana of Unwind Yarn Company is a brilliant dyer.

On the sweater front, Cassidy now has a back and two fronts,

She's starting to look like a sweater.

She’s starting to look like a sweater.

and the first sleeve is underway. If I were a monogamous knitter, Cassidy would probably be finished already. But I simply cannot bring myself to stick to one project at a time, and there’s no rush to finish Cassidy because she’s definitely a winter sweater, and winter is still a long way off here in the Northern Hemisphere.

On the spinning front, I’m spinning some lovely red Falkland wool on a drop spindle.

Unwind Yarn Company Falkland in O-Neg on one of my Goldings

Unwind Yarn Company Falkland in O-Neg on one of my Goldings

My progress is slow, but I try to spin on it at least a little every day.

I spend a lot more time spinning on my wheel, so my progress there is a lot faster. I’m currently working on some lovely “swirl” BFL, a blend of black and white BFL that is then dyed to create colors that spin up into a beautifully heathered yarn. I love the way this particular colorway spins up.

Sunset Fibers BFL on the Ladybug

Sunset Fibers BFL on the Ladybug

I divided the roving into thirds and plan to spin 3 bobbins of singles, then make a 3-ply yarn. I’m kind of in love with 3-ply handspun. 🙂

Be sure to check out other works in progress on Tami’s WIP Wednesday.

Spinning

I’m sorry to say I haven’t knitted a stitch on either of my socks since Wednesday, so today’s FOs are all spinning projects.

Shown first is a lovely skein of BFL/Silk yarn that I spun and plied on my Ladybug. I chain-plied the yarn and I hope you can tell that my chain-plying is improving.

Greenwood Fiberworks BFL/Tussah silk in Peacock

Greenwood Fiberworks BFL/Tussah silk in Peacock

I love the colors in this fiber. Of course, they look much better in real life than in the picture. Photography is something at which I totally and absolutely suck.

Next is a sample skein I spun and plied on spindles. The fiber is Falkland from Unwind Yarn Company in the O Negative colorway.

A tiny skein of Falkland

A tiny skein of Falkland

I was able to spin the fiber very, very thin and I ended up with a lovely 2-ply lace weight yarn, which is what I was hoping for. I will spin and ply the rest of the braid in the same manner and I should end up with enough yarn to knit a small shawl. The different shades of red give the finished yarn a depth of color that is just stunning in person. Unfortunately, at photography I suck.

Lastly, I present to you the finished undyed BFL that I spun and plied on the Ladybug.

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There is one very large hank, which hasn’t been skeined yet because it isn’t completely dry, and a small skein. The large hank is the first bobbin’s worth that I plied and the small skein is what didn’t fit onto the first bobbin. They yarn is probably a DK weight and it is soft beyond belief. I’m getting much better at plying on the wheel.

So, that’s what I have to report on this FO Friday. What have you finished?

Where’s My Hockey?

The NHL lockout is dragging on and on, and it’s dragging my knitting down. With college football winding down and the NFL heading for the playoffs, I’m spending less and less time watching television. And less time watching television means less time spent knitting. If the NHL and the NHL Players Association would just settle their differences, then I would be knitting up a storm. But with no hockey games to watch, I’m spending my knitting time doing other things, like spinning, reading, and playing the piano. I WANT MY HOCKEY!

But in spite of limited television/knitting time, I am making progress on the two socks I have OTN, and I expect to get them finished in short order once the college football bowl extravaganza starts up on Sunday. The bowl games are played over the course of three weeks or so, and there will be some pro games played, too, so I should get a lot of knitting done in the next few weeks.

Here’s where my current knitting WIP stand at this very moment.

My Sparkly Garter Rib Socks sock #2 is well underway. As you can see, I have just a few more inches of foot left to knit, then I’ll be turning the heel.

Sparkly Garter Rib sock #2 posting beside it's older sibling

Sparkly Garter Rib sock #2 posting beside it’s older sibling

 

These socks will not be identical twins, but they will look enough alike the everyone will recognize them as siblings.

The Sunshine Rib Socks project is moving a little more slowly, but it is progressing. Sock #1 now has a heel, and I’m chipping away at the gusset stitches.

Sunshine Rib Socks sock #1 is well underway.

Sunshine Rib Socks sock #1 is well underway.

I had originally planned to simply carry the 4 x 2 rib down the heel flap, but it looked too plain, so I went with the EOP (eye of partridge) heel instead. I think EOP was an excellent choice because it looks simply brilliant in this yarn. I think this colorway and the EOP were made for each other, don’t you?

Close-up shot of the Eye of Partridge heel

Close-up shot of the Eye of Partridge heel

Since it’s been a rather slow sports week what with the NHL canceling games left and right, I’ve been doing a lot of spinning.  I’m plying a small amount of the gorgeous Falkland top from Unwind Yarn Company in the O Negative colorway that I spun on my Golding Micro Ringspindles. This fiber is an absolute dream to spin. It wanted to be spun very fine, and the singles are mostly the thickness (or should I say thinness) of sewing thread. I wound the singles into a plying ball and I’m plying the yarn on a Kundert.

Falkland singles plied on a Kundert spindle from a plying ball

Falkland singles plied on a Kundert spindle from a plying ball

I’m being careful not to over-ply the yarn because I’d like to produce a nice, drapey yarn for a lace project. If I’m pleased with the sample I’m making, I’ll spin and ply the rest of the braid the same way and use the yarn to make a lovely shawlette of some sort. The yarn is so fine that I have yards and yards of it so far, and I’ve only spun about 14 of the 110 grams of fiber in the braid. The color is simply too gorgeous for words. I love anything red, and the color of this yarn sets my little heart to thumping.

Another spinning project is resting on the lazy kate awaiting plying. I spun up the rest of the undyed BFL that I bought when I first started spindling. I had spun some of it on various spindles; it’s lovely to spin, soft and easy to draft. I was curious to see how it would behave on my wheel, so I spun up a couple of bobbins on the Ladybug, and the singles are now ready for plying.

Undyed BFL patiently awaiting plying

Undyed BFL patiently awaiting plying

I’m going to do a simple 2-ply and try to keep the twist on the softer side. This fiber is next-to-the-skin soft and will probably become a hat and matching or coordinating cowl.

And last but not least, I decided to play around on the Ladybug with the Cotton Candy fiber I have left from the November spindling challenge.

Louet Northern Lights Cotton Candy on the Ladybug

Louet Northern Lights Cotton Candy on the Ladybug

It’s surprising how differently fiber behaves when spun using different equipment. When I spun this fiber on spindles, it wanted to be drafted and spun very fine, but on my wheel, it wants to be spun thicker. Part of that might be how I have the Scotch tension set, and part of it might be due to the difference in my wheel drafting as opposed to my spindle drafting. But regardless of the why, I’m getting a beautiful singles on the wheel, and I have a ton of this fiber yet to spin. I am envisioning a 2-ply, but the yarn will tell me what it wants to be when it grows up. It may prefer to become a 3-ply. 😀

So, that’s what I have cooking on this WIP Wednesday. Thanks for looking in.

 

WIP Wednesday

It’s another beautiful, mild December Wednesday here in southcentral Pennsylvania, and I have three works-in-progress to share.

My current WIP

My current WIP

Clockwise from the left, I present for your viewing pleasure:

The Sunshine Ribbed Socks, sock #1, a simple 4 x 2 rib in Draygone Yarnes Merino/Nylon fingering weight in the colorway Hair: Let the Sun Shine In (from Bryanna’s Broadway Sock Club). Unfortunately, Draygone Yarnes has been on hiatus ever since Bryanna moved cross-country and I don’t know when or even whether she plans to start up again. She is my favorite indie dyer of sock yarn and I really miss her Etsy shop even though I need more sock yarn like I need a hole in my head.

Unwind Yarn Company’s Falkland in the O-Negative colorway being spun very, very fine on a Golding Ringspindle

Sparkly Garter Ribs Socks, sock #1 (almost completed), which is being knitted from my very own 3-ply handspun of BFL and Sparkle.

Be sure to visit Tami’s site to see who else is participating in WIP Wednesday.

Candy Corn And Other Stuff

Yes, it’s another FO Friday and I have lots to report on this gorgeous late November morning. First things first, I finished the Vanilla Candy Corn socks.

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The socks are not identical, but I rather like them that way. I love how the colors in this Trekking XXL stripe and flow, and I think this colorway looks fabulous in garter rib, don’t you?

Remember this fiber from the Sunset Fibers Roving of the Month Club that I was spinning? I turned it into this lovely 2-ply fingering-weight yarn.

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I’m really pleased with how this yarn turned out. There are lots of long sections of solid or nearly solid colors connected with marled sections, and I think the effect is simply spectacular. Linda at Sunset Fibers is a gifted dyer. I’ve spun up three of her colorways so far, and all of them have been beautiful.

Okay, so far we have a pair of finished socks and 4 oz. of 2-ply handspun yarn. But there’s more. Remember the Cotton Candy fiber I was spinning up for the November challenge for the Raverly Spindlers group? The theme for the month, which I picked, is “life is a carnival.” So here’s my finished yarn.

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I spun the yarn on my two Golding Ringspindles and my Schacht 1.1. I wanted to make a 3-ply, so I wound the singles off the spindles into a plying ball, then I plied the yarn using my Schacht 2.2.

When I was winding the plying ball, as I neared the end one of my singles snapped. I decided that rather than splicing the ends I would break the other two singles, then wind the remaining yarn into a separate plying ball. The second ball was tiny, so I plied it first.  After taking the plied yarn off my niddy-noddy, I decided I had put in too much twist when I plied it, so when I plied the second, large ball, I put in less twist and the finished yarn is more to my liking.

Just in case you hadn’t guessed, the tiny skein in the picture is the over-plied yarn from the tiny plying ball and the large skein above it is the more loosely-plied yarn from the large plying ball. I have no idea what I will use this yarn for, but it will look pretty in my stash. 😀

I was  afraid that the colors would turn muddy when I plied the yarn, especially since I was doing a 3-ply. But my fears were unfounded. The yarn remains quite colorful. Life is a carnival!

Another WIP Wednesday–Part 2

Here’s the spinning portion of our program. I’m starting with the lovely pin-drafted Corriedale beautifully dyed by Sunset Fibers for the November Fiber of the Month selection. I’m still a spinning newbie, so I’m always experimenting. I took this fiber and split it in half length-wise. Then I spun each half onto a separate bobbin, keeping the colors in the same order. I planned to ply the singles together to make a 2-ply and I was hoping that there would be large sections of yarn where the colors would line up. I knew there would be sections where they wouldn’t because I couldn’t be absolutely precise in dividing the yarn, and my spinning isn’t absolutely precise, either, so the length of each color section naturally varies. Sometimes it varies a lot. But I was hoping to get a yarn in which the solid colors transition one to the next through marled sections.

Sunset Fibers November 2012 FOTM in the process of becoming a 2-ply yarn

And that’s exactly what I got.

Plied yarn waiting to be wound onto the niddy noddy

On the finished bobbin, you can see only marled sections, but there are large sections where the colors lined up just right, and also sections where the marling is very subtle because the colors that came together are just lighter and darker shades of the same color. I think I am going to chalk this experiment up as a success.

So what’s next on my wheel? Well, I decided to start spinning up a lovely BFL/Tussah silk blend I bought from Greenwood Fiberworks through Etsy.

Greenwood Fiberworks 85% BFL/15% Tussah Silk in Peacock

This is my first try at spinning fiber with silk content, and it is definitely different from spinning pure BFL. I’ve had to play around a bit with the ratios on my wheel, but I’m starting to get a feel for the fiber. The first bobbin is almost done.

“Peacock” BFL/Silk single

I’m debating whether to make this yarn a 2-ply or chain-ply it. I know that a lot of spinners/knitters don’t like the barber pole effect, but I’m not one of them. But the colors of this yarn are intense jewel tones, and it might be nice to keep them separate. My singles are thicker than usual, so if I chain-ply the yarn, it will be pretty thick, and I really don’t like yarns that are thicker than Aran weight (and Aran weight is pushing it). I’ll probably do a chain-ply sample and see how it turns out. If it isn’t too thick, I will probably chain-ply the fiber. If it’s thicker than I like, I’ll probably 2-ply it. Decisions, decisions! 😀

If you are wondering whether I have thrown over my spindles for my wheel, the answer is a resounding NO! I’ve been working on the 3rd spindle of the Northern Lights Cotton Candy fiber, but I must admit my progress has slowed down a bit lately. It’s not that I don’t love spindling, and it’s not that I don’t love this particular fiber. The problem has been that my back has been a bit unhappy and has forced me to curtail my spindling. I stand and walk while spindling, and standing and walking are just what my back didn’t want. But all is well now, so I’m back on track to finish this project before the month is out.

Cotton Candy on the spindles