Preparations Have Begun TdF 2017

Today was another gorgeous day in Pittsburgh. The past few days we have had sunshine, with highs in the upper 70s and low humidity. If summer weather was always like today, summer just might be my favorite season. But sadly, the norm is hot and humid. Yuck! So I am going to enjoy the pleasant weather while I can, and what better way to pass a beautiful day than to prepare my spinning wheels for the start of the Tour de Fleece 2017, which begins on Sunday.

I gave both my Schacht Matchless and my Schacht Ladybug a thorough cleaning. I don’t use anything fancy, just plain tap water with a couple of drops of Dawn dishwashing liquid added. I used a microfiber cloth soaked in the water and then wrung out so it’s just damp, not dripping wet, to wipe down the surfaces of the wheel, then dried it with a dry microfiber cloth. Remember, water is the sworn enemy of wood.

To get the treadles extra clean, I used a little piece of 0000 steel wool and some mineral spirits. This removes all the dirt, grease, and grim that accumulates on the treadles, including footprints if you spin in your bare feet. I always wear socks when I spin, but the treadles still get dirty. After wiping off the mineral spirits with a shop towel, I applied two coats of clear Danish oil to the treadles, following the directions on the can. I used shop towels to apply the Danish oil and also to wipe off the excess.

The next step was to check all the screws in both wheels to make sure everything is tight and secure. I only had one loose screw on the Matchless, which is probably indicative of how little I have used her since I got the Flatiron. The screws on the Ladybug were all ship-shape. All that is left to do is to cut and tie a new drive band for the Matchless, and I’ll be ready to go.

The Flatiron is currently in use, so she didn’t get the spa treatment today. She will probably have to wait until after the TdF to get a thorough cleaning. But she will be getting a new drive band before the race begins.

I’m pretty excited about the TdF this year. If it goes well, who knows? I might give Spinzilla another go come October.

The Matchless after a thorough cleaning, waiting for a coat of Danish oil to soak in

A close up of the left treadle after the second coat of Danish oil had been wiped off. It looks so nice!

The Matchless striking a post after her spa treatment

Now it’s the Ladybug’s turn.

These treadles also got a thorough cleaning with mineral spirits and two coats of Danish oil.

You can see how much the maple wood has darkened on my Ladybug’s MOA (mother of all). The lighter spot is where the front maiden sits on the MOA and protects it from the light.

I went through a lot of nitrile gloves today.

Schacht sisters are all cleaned up and ready to race.

The Tour De Fleece Is Here Again!

It started on Saturday with the start of the Tour de France. It’s the Tour de Fleece 2016! This year I plan to spin as many different varieties of sheep wool from my stash as I can in 24 days.

Yes, this is all fiber from my stash, and every single bit is either Spunky Eclectic or Into The Whirled. And, yes, this represents less than half of what is in my fiber stash. No, I’m neither embarrassed nor ashamed. My fiber stash is nowhere near S.A.B.L.E.

These are all fibers from Into The Whirled. Starting at the bottom left, we have superwash Merino and Cheviot, and in the back, left to right, we have Falkland, Targhee, and English Shetland.

From Spunky Eclectic, there is Romney, BFL, Corriedale, Wensleydale, Manx Laoghton, and Icelandic.

That’s eleven 4-ounce bumps of wool. It’s unlikely that I can spin all of that in the 12 days of the Tour de France/Fleece, but I plan to spin and ply as much of it as I can.

In the first two days, I’ve gotten a lot of spinning done.

These singles were spun on Day 1 from Spunky Eclectic Wensleydale in Island Dreams, and I will be plying them together to make a lace weight yarn. Doesn’t Wensleydale have a lovely luster? It has a nice halo, too, but you cannot see it very well in this picture.

In addition to the Wensleydale on the left–can you see the lovely halo?–I also spun part of a bump of English Shetland from ITW in a colorway called Studio West spun up. That’s a lot of spinning for Day 1.

On Day 2, I finished spinning the English Shetland from ITW. I did a fractal spin, so when I ply the two singles together, I will get a 2-ply yarn with a subtle striping effect.

On Day 2 I also started spinning a bump of Romney from Spunky Eclectic. The colorway is Little Bluebird. For this yarn, I decided to divide the bump into 8 strips and spin two bobbins of 4 strips each. I will then ply the singles together to make a 2-ply yarn.

That’s the English Shetland on the left, the Romney on the right. So far all of my spinning has been done on my Schacht Matchless in double drive. I will be doing the plying on my Schacht Ladybug in Scotch tension.

The Tour de Fleece 2016 is moving along smoothly here in beautiful Brookline, Pittsburgh. I have enjoyed each fiber so far. I will keep yinz updated, but probably not daily because I’d rather spin than blog. Peace out!

Another Finished Object Friday

I still have no knitting to report. I’ve added a few rows to each of the socks I have OTN, but nothing substantial. However, the spinning keeps, um, spinning along.

I started with this lovely Corriedale top from Into The Whirled in a colorway called Mud Bogs & Moonshine…

and ended with 8 ounces and just under 1000 yards of this lovely fingering weight 2-ply.

I spun one bump end to end on one bobbin. The second bump was split vertically (lengthwise) 12 times and spun the strips end to end keeping the colors in the same sequence. Then I plied the two singles together to make this gorgeous fractal 2-ply. I’m thinking scarf, but I haven’t decided for sure yet. The spinning was done in double drive on my Matchless at a ratio of 15.5:1; the plying was done in flyer lead (Scotch tension) at a ratio of 12.5:1. My Ravelry project page is here.

And there’s more! I also completed this braid of Shetland wool from the Spunky Eclectic Club Remix.

The colorway is State Park. it reminds me of a meadow in Spring, with all the flowers in bloom.

I made a 3-ply DK weight yarn, about 240 yards and 4 ounces.

I stripped the braid vertically into thirds as evenly as I could, then spun the strips end to end on separate bobbins. I was hoping that the colors would line up in at least some places, and they did! I love how the colors blended. This yarn will probably become either a hat or some fingerless mitts.

This was the very first project I spun on my Matchless. I used double drive and a ratio of 15.5:1. The plying was done on my Ladybug in flyer lead using a ratio of 12.5:1.

My current spinning project has been a pretty slow go because I am spinning up 8 ounces of BFL from Spunky Eclectic to make a lace weight 2-ply yarn.

This is the nicest BFL I have ever spun.

The ratio I’m using is 19.5:1, and spinning such thin yarn really takes a lot of time. But I am enjoying it a lot, and I don’t feel guilty about binge-watching Boardwalk Empire because I’m spinning while I watch.

This is the first bump/bobbin, which I finished several days ago. The second bobbin is now nearly finished.

I hope yinz have a great weekend. It’s supposed to get hot again here, but we are ready. Our A/C, which went on the fritz a couple of weeks ago, has been replaced, so hot and humid doesn’t scare me any more. 🙂

 

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.

Tour de Fleece 2014 Day 3

The third day of the TdF is nearly over. Today I made my first-ever 100% silk 2-ply yarn. I plied the two chunks of tussah silk sliver I spun on days 1 and 2 together to make this beautiful yarn.

Pretty 2-ply silk on the Ladybug

I think next I will try my hand at spinning silk hankies.

I’m also making good progress on my Greenwood Fiberworks merino top that I’m spinning on my Ashford Traveller.

The bobbin is starting to fill up.

I think I’m starting to develop a good rhythm with this fiber, which is improving my consistency. Or maybe not. Regardless, I am enjoying spinning it, and it is going to make a lovely yarn that will knit up into something spectacular. 🙂

Tour de Fleece 2014 Day 1

Last year was my very first Tour de Fleece. I went a little overboard and spun up an incredible amount of fiber. This year I decided to take it easy and keep it a bit more low key and laid back.

But that doesn’t mean I’m not challenging myself. I’m on two teams this year, Team Schacht and Team Ashford. For Team Schacht, I am using my beautiful Schacht Ladybug to spin silk. I’ve spun lots of silk blends since I started spinning two years ago, but I have never tried spinning pure silk. So, I bought a Treenway Silks fiber kit from The Woolery, and some Ashland Bay undyed silk hankies,

A box full of silk fiber and a bag of silk hankies

and today I dug in.

I started with the undyed tussah silk sliver, which is a preparation that is very similar to combed top. The fibers are all lined up and the drafting is easy. I spun it all today with my Ladybug set up in Scotch tension using the medium pulley with the drive band in the smaller groove, which is a ratio of 9:1.

A bobbin of tussah silk singles

The singles is a lace weight that when plied back on itself makes a heavy fingering weight yarn. I have a length of dyed tussah silk that I will spin in the same way, then I will ply the two together to make a 2-ply silk yarn.

For Team Ashford, I’m spinning on my Traveller in double drive using the sliding hook flyer and the middle groove on the pulley that comes with the flyer. The ratio is 8:1, which is normally too slow for me, but my goal is to spin a singles that will make a worsted weight yarn when chain-plied. I just naturally tend to spin very thin singles, so I have to work at getting them a little thicker, so the slower ratio really helps.

The fiber is a braid of merino wool from Greenwood Fiber Works in Holly Berry that I have had in my stash for quite a while.

Greenwood Fiber Works merino in Holly Berry

Merino can be a little tricky to draft because it tends to be pretty sticky, and I haven’t spun a lot of merino, so it’s not autopilot spinning for me. I am trying to keep the singles as consistent as I can because I will be chain-plying it. Chain plying isn’t as forgiving as doing a 3-ply.

Here’s my day 1 progress:

Merino singles on the Ashford sliding hook flyer

 

Fractal And Friends

I’ve written often on these pages about Ravelry and the wonderful community of knitters, crocheters, and spinners that has developed there. I belong to a number of spinning groups, and I have found that the members are knowledgeable, generous with their time, and eager to share their experience and advise those of us who are newer to spinning.

One of my spinning groups is Schacht Spinners, which is devoted to folks who spin or want to spin on Schacht wheels. One of the forum moderators started a “monthly” challenge (which sometimes runs more than one month) to encourage us to try different spinning techniques. It’s all very informal; you can participate or not, and you can go at your own pace. No pressure, just an opportunity to learn something new with the support of other spinners.

The current challenge is to do a fractal spin. I’ve done fractal spins before, but I’ve never done one with a gradient yarn. So, with my Schacht Ladybug set up in double drive using the highest ratio on the fast pulley––

A pretty braid of BFL and silk is just begging to be spun into yarn.

A pretty braid of BFL and silk is just begging to be spun into yarn.

I thought this beautiful braid from Friends in Fibers in the Cranberry Bog Gradient colorway would be perfect for a gradient fractal spin.

I wanted to try to make a self-striping, lace weight, 2-ply yarn in which the color changes got farther and farther apart. I want to knit a triangular shawl in which the width of the stripes remains about the same from beginning to end. I want the color repeats to be shorter at the beginning of the shawl and get longer as the number of stitches increases.

I would never have thought to try this if I hadn’t joined this group and this challenge. But one of the participants posted a link to this blog post, which led to this blog post, which led me to say, I want to do this!

The first half is nearing completion.

The first bobbin of singles is nearly finished. I can hardly wait to start the second bobbin. I will be spinning the remaining strips end to end, keeping the colors in the same order (green to dark pink), starting with the thinnest strip and ending with the thickest. And I will be keeping my fingers crossed that the yarn turns out the way I envision it. But if it doesn’t, not to worry. It will be beautiful regardless. When you start with lovely fiber that has been beautifully dyed, it is almost impossible to mess it up. 🙂