A Matchless Named Emily

Way back in 2012, when I decided that I really wanted to give spinning a try, I bought a drop spindle and some wool fiber and, with the help of some videos on YouTube, I taught myself to spin. And I liked it LOVED it.

After spindling for a few months, I knew that I wanted to try spinning on a spinning wheel. I did a lot of reading on the Internet, and finally narrowed my choices to two spinning wheels, the Schacht Ladybug and the Lendrum folding wheel. What I really wanted was a Schacht Matchless. Of all the wheels I read about, it was the one that seemed to be a consensus All-American. Nary a discouraging word was written about the Matchless.

But the price! The Matchless, crafted from maple and black walnut, is a spendy spinning wheel. I didn’t know whether I would even like spinning on a wheel, so I didn’t want to invest that much money right off the bat into something that I might not like. When you are first learning to play the piano, you don’t run out and by a Steinway baby grand, do you? NO! You start with a Casio keyboard, or maybe a Yamaha Clavinova, or perhaps Grandma’s old Wurlitzer spinet. Who know how long you will pursue piano playing, or whether you will even like it? So, when I decided to buy a spinning wheel, I didn’t want to start out with a Steinway baby grand. I thought it was prudent to go with the Yamaha Clavinova.

The Schacht Ladybug was the wheel I chose for my first spinning wheel. It wasn’t an easy choice because the Lendrum folding wheel is a really nice, well-priced spinning wheel, and almost everyone who has ever had one loves it. But the Ladybug is also well-loved, and it is far more versatile than the Lendrum, which is single drive, that is, a flyer-lead wheel, also known as Scotch tension. The Ladybug can be used in three different drives, flyer-lead, bobbin-lead (aka Irish tension), and double drive. That was the clincher; I wanted a wheel that I could grow with. And I thought that if I really liked spinning on a spinning wheel, I could eventually get a Matchless.

Well, my Ladybug and I clicked right from the get-go. She’s a beautiful spinning wheel, and since I first got her (a birthday present from my DH), I’ve learned a lot about spinning and developed my skills far beyond what I originally dreamed I could do. But spinning wheels are a funny thing. Once you have one, you crave another, and another… Most wheel spinners have more than one wheel. Part of it is–different tools for different jobs. Part of it is–oh, pretty! So eight months after the Ladybug came to live with me, I bought a Lendrum folding wheel.

The Lendrum is a beautiful spinning wheel, well-designed and well-built, but being a single drive wheel, it has its limitations. I was fine spinning on the Lendrum until I bought wheel number three, a double drive Ashford Traveller. I fell in love with spinning in double drive, although I still prefer flyer-lead (Scotch tension) or bobbin-lead (Irish tension) for plying. This meant that my Lendrum was relegated to being a plying wheel. But my Ladybug works really well in Scotch tension, and its bobbins hold more yarn than the Lendrum, so the Lendrum has become obsolete. (I won’t discuss the so-called plying head for the Lendrum, which has larger bobbins than the regular head, because I hate, hate, hate it.) I haven’t sold my Lendrum yet, but I plan to later this year. I hate to have it sitting around unused when there is a spinner out there who would use it as it deserves to be used.

So, here I am, with two multi-drive spinning wheels that I love and wouldn’t dream of parting with. But I still dream of owning a Matchless. I have saved, and saved, and for months now had more than enough for my Matchless. But I kept putting off ordering one first because of the cross-state move, then because of the renovations to the “new” house (which is an old house that needs a lot of work). But last Monday, I decided to wait no more. I placed an order on-line with The Woolery in Frankfurt, KY, which is where I have purchased all of my spinning wheels, and on Thursday morning, I had my Matchless. Life is good.

Sweet Georgia Starry Night, Also Know As Installment Three

I know you have all been waiting with bated breath for Installment Three of my Sweet Georgia Fibre Club. And who can blame you? Installments One and Two were so incredibly fabulous, people have been lining up to see Installment Three like folks line up for the new iPhone. I exaggerate, but still. The fiber and resulting yarn are both lovely. You’ll see.

I started with this beautiful pencil roving that is 63% Superwash Merino, 20% Silk, 15% Manufactured Fibers – Nylon, and 2% Manufactured Fibers – Silver. Yes, you read that correctly. Silver. This yarn is pure bling.

The colorway of this fiber is called Starry Night, and Felicia Lo (Sweet Georgia herself) dyed it to be spun from end to end, then chain plied to create the effect of a night-time sky with clouds and stars.

Yards and yards of pencil roving in gorgeous shades of blue with white and silver, too.

Yards and yards of pencil roving in gorgeous shades of blue with white and silver, too.

I spun and then chain plied this yarn on my Lendrum folding wheel.

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It took three bobbins to hold all the plied yarn. Can you see the sparkle of the silver?

When I wound the yarn off onto the niddy noddy, I started with the last bobbin plied, then the second, then the first. This kept the colorway in the correct order.

I ended up with about 640 yards (228g) of DK weight yarn. I think it will be beautiful knitted up into something.

The finished skein

The finished skein

New City, New Life

Things are starting to calm down a bit after the big move from Carlisle to Pittsburgh. Sort of. A lot of the unpacking has been done, but a lot of stuff is still in boxes and will remain so for the foreseeable future because we will be starting some big projects soon to get the house spruced up, and if we unpack everything, we’ll just have to pack it back up when the work begins. (How’s that for a run-on sentence?)

But I did finally buy a new desk for my computer

My new computer desk. The old desk didn't make the move.

My new computer desk. The old desk didn’t make the move.

which means I finally got my iMac back up and running, which means I’m finally getting around to updating my blog with pictures. Yes, pictures.

I haven’t been doing a lot of knitting, but I have been spinning like a fiend ever since I got my Travvy and my Lendrum unpacked and set up.

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A River Runs… Loop Bullseye Bump for December, 2014

 

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The yarn off the niddy noddy before setting the twist

 

 

Field of Dreams from Loop Fiber Studio

Field of Dreams from Loop Fiber Studio

 

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Chain plied. The twist has not been set yet.

Both of these Loop Bullseye Bumps were spun end to end on my Ashford Traveller in double drive using the sliding hook flyer, then chain plied on my Lendrum using the regular head. I started the Field of Dreams back before we moved. I was almost half way finished with the spinning when we started packing up just before Thanksgiving, so it was untouched for almost two months. When I started it up again, it felt wonderful to be back at my wheel.

It may seem odd that I have been doing so much chain plying lately. I used to be quite vocal about my dislike of chain plying, but with practice, I’ve gotten more proficient at it, so much so that I have started to enjoy doing it. And having knitted with my chain-plied handspun, I have discovered that the “bumps” don’t show. I was skeptical when spinners/knitters said that the “bumps” don’t show, but now I know they are correct. 🙂

I have lots more spinning to share with you, but it will have to wait for another day. I’m just happy to be back to blogging. With pictures! 🙂

 

 

 

What’s On My Wheels

On this WIP Wednesday, I don’t have a lot of knitting progress to show. Which is not to say that progress hasn’t been made on the knitting front. On Friday you will get to see a Finished Object that was completed last Sunday.  I know, I know. But you will just have to wait.

I haven’t been doing a lot of knitting, but I have been doing some. I’ve knitted a few more repeats on the second My Broken Heart sock, and Cassidy’s first sleeve is nearing completion. But there just isn’t enough progress to warrant taking pictures.

The spinning front is a different story. I have four spinning projects in progress, three of which are my Wednesday WIP. The fourth one will be a blog entry unto itself sometime down the road, but I won’t talk about it today.

So let’s start with the project that is furthest along. About a year ago, I bought this braid of gradient fiber from Spinneretta’s Studio. It is Polwarth in a colorway called Monochrome.

A pretty braid of Polwarth

A pretty braid of Polwarth

A gradient colorway is one in which the fiber/yarn goes from one color to another to another gradually. The colors can all be shades of the same hue or they can be very different colors. But the colors never repeat. Gradient colorways provide a spinner with a wonderful opportunity to be creative. There are many different ways one can spin up a gradient. The most obvious one is spinning up the roving without splitting it. Just pull of a length of fiber and spin the colors in the order they appear in the braid. The yarn can either be finished as a singles yarn or chain-plied to created a gradient 3-ply yarn that shows off the lovely color changes.

I chose to spin the braid into one bobbin of singles, then chain-ply the singles. My chain-plying has improved by leaps and bounds in the past month (thank you, Tour de Fleece!), so the time seemed right to finally spin up this braid of fiber.

The yarn is currently on the niddy noddy.

Just look at that color progression!

Just look at that color progression!

I hope you can make out the colors in the yarn. They range from the palest of café au lait to the darkest espresso. I very pleased with how well this yarn turned out (and I know it will become even better when I set the twist), and I’m feeling ready to tackle the other gradient colorways  I have in my fiber stash.  Some of them will be spun and plied in the same manner as the Monochrome, but I think I might try splitting a braid in half lengthwise and spinning each length onto a separate bobbin starting on opposite ends to reverse the color progression. It will be interesting to see the results. And I might give fractal spinning a try with a gradient. Oh, what fun!

And speaking of fun, how could anyone not have fun working with these gorgeous colors?

These colors make me very happy!

This is yet another fiber braid from BohoKnitterChic, and it is currently being spun up on my Ladybug using the smallest pulley on the high-speed “whorl.”

I'm spinning on the wee "whorl."

I’m spinning on the wee “whorl.”

I divided the braid in half lengthwise, then divided each length in half, also lengthwise, which means I have four bumps of fiber to spin up that are approximately the same weight with the colors in the same order. My current plan is to make a 4-ply yarn, but I’m seriously considering chain-plying instead because I love how the colors are striping when I spin them up. When I get all four bobbins spun up, I’ll ply a few yards and knit it up to see how it looks. If I love it, the yarn will become a 4-ply. If I don’t, I’ll chain-ply the singles instead.

I have no doubts about what my third spinning project will become. The superwash Merino wool and Nylon blend I bought from Mustard Seed Yarn Lab was born to be sock yarn.

No one could resist such pretty fiber!

Every time I spin Merino, I am amazed yet again at how very soft it is. So soft. So very soft. And this yarn is spinning up in the most lovely shades of green imaginable.

Mermaid on the Lendrum fast flyer

Mermaid on the Lendrum fast flyer

It will make lovely socks, I have no doubt.

I Went Batty

Not long after I got my first spinning wheel back in October of 2012, I bought this spinning batt from BohoKnitterChic.

A lovely 3-ounce batt

A lovely 3-ounce batt

A batt is fiber that has been prepared on a drum carder. Many batts incorporate a variety of fibers. This particular batt, which is called “Roses In Her Eyes,” contains five different fibers: superfine Merino wool, alpaca, bamboo, silk, and angelina, a sparkly fiber made of Mylar.

In some batts, the different fibers are blended evenly throughout the batt; in others, the fibers aren’t mixed up at all; and in others, the fibers are somewhere in between evenly blended and not mixed up at all.  This particular batt was closer to the “not mixed up at all” end of the spectrum, but the various fibers were nicely distributed throughout the batt.

After pondering what would be the best approach to spinning this batt, I decided that because of the variety of fibers and the different ways these fibers would draft,  I wanted to spin it fairly thick, and I was hoping for a thick-and-thin effect when I plied it. I stripped the batt length-wise into eight pieces and then spun half the fiber on one bobbin, half on another. Because the different fibers were distributed throughout the batt, I knew they would also be nicely distributed throughout the singles I spun.

Pretty singles

Pretty singles

I plied the two singles together,

I plied the singles together on my Lendrum.

I plied the singles together on my Lendrum using the bulky flyer.

skeined them up on the niddy noddy,

Just off the niddy noddy

Just off the niddy noddy

and after setting the twist, I ended up with three ounces (approximately 146 yards) of lovely, next-to-the-skin-soft heavy-worsted-weight yarn that will probably become a cowl.

The finished yarn

The finished yarn

 

Do I need to say I’m pleased with how this yarn turned out? Nope.

 

 

TdF Day #15

I just realized that I forgot to post on Saturday. On Day 15 of the Tour de Fleece, I plied and plied and plied. I plied 8 ounces of Polwarth singles. That’s a lot of plying. But the yarn turned out even better than I had expected, and I expected it to turn out really well.

Pink Elephant 2-ply on niddy noddy and bobbins

I both spun and plied this yarn on my Lendrum. The Lendrum is a mighty fine spinning wheel.

TdF Day #11

The cyclists are back on the road, and the spinning and plying are back in force.

I finished plying the lovely Berry Crumble Polwarth from Sunset fibers.

2-ply on the bobbin

2-ply on the niddy noddy

 

And I spun a bunch more Pink Elephant.

The bobbin is starting to fill up.

This is going to be a relatively long spin because I have 8 ounces of this colorway, and I am spinning it very, very thin using the fastest ratio on the Lendrum fast flyer.

Who knows what Day 12 has in store? 🙂