So Much To Learn (Plus A Finished Object)

A little while ago, I was telling yinz about spinning in double drive on my new spinning wheel, an Ashford Traveller. I mentioned that I love spinning in DD on it when using the regular flyer, but that I had all kinds of trouble when I tried DD using the high-speed flyer. I chalked it up to operator error/inexperience.

I can be a bit stubborn persistent when I get something in my head, and I really, really wanted to remedy my inability to spin in double drive using the high-speed flyer. So after I finished up this project–

Lovely BFL pin-drafted roving from Sunset Fibers

The roving unwound for dividing in half

After dividing the roving in half lengthwise, I had two bumps to spin. I spun one bump as is; the other I divided in half lengthwise again and spun it onto one bobbin end to end.

I spun the roving in double drive using the regular flyer.

I plied the singles from the two bumps together to get this gorgeous, 2-ply, lace weight BFL yarn.

I decided to give the high-speed whorl another whirl in double drive. (Did you see what I did there?) So I removed the regular flyer and put on the high-speed flyer. But this time, instead of using the shorter and thinner drive band I had used before when I tried the fast flyer, I just used the regular drive band.

I had to tilt the MOA a lot to get the band tensioned properly, and I was worried this would cause a problem.

The mother of all is tilted pretty far to the right, looking from behind the wheel.

You can see how far up the tensioning screw is.

But then I started spinning a braid of superfine Merino top that I bought from Spinneretta’s Studio,

Lovely superfine Merino wool from Spinneretta’s Studio in a colorway called Bloody Broomstick

and–OH MY! It was heaven. There is a bit of vibration in the maidens with the MOA tilted back so far, but it’s not enough to be annoying. And it’s nothing compared to the vibration I get with the bulky flyer on my Lendrum.

This is the thinnest and most consistent yarn I have ever spun, and it’s effortless.

The first bobbin. Note that I’m using the larger pulley. I was afraid to try the smaller pulley because I don’t know how far I can tilt the MOA before I start having serious problems.

Can you see how thin these singles are? Pretty much sewing thread.

Of course, I’m only on the first of four bobbins I plan to spin and ply to make a 4-ply yarn destined to become fingerless mitts, and the spinning gremlins might show up at any time, but so far, so good.

There’s always something new to learn in the art (and science) of spinning, and I’m learning something new with every project I start. And I don’t know what I would do without the community of spinners and knitters on Ravelry and in the blogosphere. The are the most helpful and generous folks on the face of the Earth.

Don’t forget to check out Tami’s FO Friday to see what other fiber artists are up to.

 

Cloud Dust

I’ve been having a lot of fun trying out the various features of my new Ashford Traveller spinning wheel. It is a double drive wheel which can also be used in single drive, both flyer lead, aka Scotch tension, and bobbin lead, aka Irish tension. If you are interested in the differences between double drive, bobbin lead, and flyer lead, click here and page down to the heading “Types of Flyers – Single drive versus double drive wheels” for a pretty good explanation. Or watch this video.

Anyway, when I first got the Travvy, I did some spinning in double drive, and it turned out very well. I was surprised by how easy it is to treadle a spinning wheel in double drive. I thought it might be just the Travvy, but then I set up my Ladybug in double drive and, lo and behold! the treadling was amazingly light. And the light, steady uptake really suits the thin and highly twisted singles I prefer when I spin.

I’m definitely a double drive convert, but that doesn’t mean I have abandoned Scotch tension. I love spinning in Scotch tension. I love the control I have over the take-up by just making minute adjustments to the brake band. And when I am plying yarn, I sometimes want a stronger take up than I can get with double drive. And I have to say that while spinning in double drive on my Ashford Traveller is a dream when I am using the regular flyer, when I tried the fast flyer in double drive, it was very fiddly. I’d be spinning along just find, then suddenly there would be absolutely no take up, then there would be, then there wouldn’t be. I had to keep readjusting the tensioning knob and I just couldn’t find the sweet spot where the take up was constant. No doubt it is due to operator error. My drive band was obviously slipping too much at times, and not enough at other times, and I need to experiment with different drive band materials to find what works best with the fast flyer.

But in the meantime, I decided to try the fast flyer in Scotch tension. I’ll say right off the bat that I am not in love with the Scotch tension set up on the Ashford. The brake band is nylon fishing line and the tensioning is done with two springs. The fishing line is a bit stiff and doesn’t wrap around the wooden tensioning knob as easily or evenly as string would, so it takes a lot of fiddling to get everything the way I like it.

I tried using some crochet cotton in place of the fishing line, but even thin, smooth mercerized cotton created too much drag on the bobbin pulley. So I put the fishing line back on.

There’s always a bit of a learning curve with a new wheel, and with experience, I am beginning to get the feel of the Scotch tension on this new wheel. I had this lovely fiber

Superwash BFL/Nylon in Cloud Dust from Spinneretta’s Studio

which I will admit was an impulse purchase. But I thought it would make a lovely 3-ply sock yarn since it is superwash wool blended with Nylon. I undid the braid and divided it lengthwise into equal 3 strips. I just eyeballed it when I was doing the dividing, then I weighed each strip on my kitchen scale. They were surprising close in weight, but I did have to take a small amount off one of the strips and divide it among the other two to get 3 bumps of equal weight. I then spun each bump onto a separate bobbin on the Traveller using the smaller pulley on fast flyer and Scotch tension. I wanted the singles to be fine enough that plying 3 of them together would result in a finger weight yarn, and I wanted to put a lot of twist into both the singles and the plied yarn so that it would wear well.

I plied the 3 bobbins of singles together with the same set up as I used for spinning the singles except I used the larger pulley,

Cloud Dust 3-ply on the bobbin

and I ended up with this lovely skein of sock yarn. The Ashford fast flyer works perfectly in Scotch tension, and with a little trial and error, I’m certain I’ll get it to work well in double drive.

A skein of handspun sock yarn

Now to choose a pattern. I might just go with my stand-by favorite, shadow rib.

Ravellenic Games 2014

Yes, it’s the Winter Olympics, and that means the Ravellenic Games are in full swing. For those of you who are not knitters, and I sure do feel sorry for you, the Ravellenic Games coincide with every Olympic Games and are held on Ravelry, an on-line knitting/crocheting/spinning community. There are teams to join, events to enter, medals to be won, and sometimes there are prizes.

I am participating this year on Team Let’s Go Pens, and I have entered Event Lace, Event Scarf, and Event Single Skein. My project, The Age of Steam And Brass scarf, was knitted from this fiber–

Spinneretta's Studio Polwarth dyed in a gradient colorway called Monochrome

Spinneretta’s Studio Polwarth dyed in a gradient colorway called Monochrome

which I spun up last year into this yarn–

A handspun chain-plied yarn

which I knitted into this scarf.

My Ravellenic Games 2014 project, Age of Steam and Brass

My competition knitting may be done, but I still have lots more knitting to do and lots of Olympic competition to watch. So far the Games have been amazing. I really enjoyed the Slopestyle Snowboarding event, and I’m looking forward to watching the same even done on skis. The USA women’s hockey team has been dominant in their bracket so far, but they face a big test when they meet Team Canada tomorrow. And soon the men’s competition will begin. Olympic hockey is awesome. If you haven’t watched the women play, you should. The women play at the highest skill level. They skate fast, pass well, and shoot hard.

NBCs coverage of the Olympic Games leaves a lot to be desired, as usual, but there are some bright spots. CNBC shows curling, lots and lots of curling, and not just the Americans. I love watching curling. It’s a sport that requires a lot of strategy and finesse as well as athleticism and teamwork.

I hope you are enjoying the Winter Games as much as I am.

Yarn Cakes

Lately I’ve been knitting nothing but fingerless mitts. I love knitting fingerless mitts and plan to continue knitting them for the foreseeable future. But my handspun is calling to me. So I got my wooden swift out of the closet,

Wooden swift, ready for action!

Wooden swift, ready for action!

 

and pulled the “mashed potato” stool into place.

My ball winder is at home atop the "mashed potato" stool.

My ball winder is at home atop the “mashed potato” stool.

This wooden step stool belonged to my MIL. She kept it in the kitchen behind the door that led to a small hallway to the back door. Her house was old and so was her kitchen. There wasn’t a lot of counter space, so when she made mashed potatoes, she pulled this stool out and sat the hot pan of potatoes on the top of the stool while she mashed them. I never saw her use the stool for anything except mashing potatoes, so I have always called it the mashed potato stool. The stool now sits in my dining room/office next to my computer desk and is the permanent home of my ball winder. My MIL would be pleased to know her mashed potato stool is now an integral part of my yarn-winding “station.” 🙂

After getting the swift set up and the ball winder in place, I wound some of my handspun yarn into yarn cakes.

A basket of yarn cakes. Yum!

A basket of yarn cakes. Yum!

Each yarn now has a designated knitting project assigned to it.

Roses in Her Eyes, a 2-ply spun from a batt from Bohoknitterchic,

Yarn cake on a plate

is designated to become a pair of fingerless mitts. I haven’t decided for certain, but I’ll probably use a simple 2 x 1 or 3 x 1 ribbing and keep it very plain so that the beauty of the yarn will shine through.  The yarn has a lot of shine, sparkle, color, and texture. It’s a bit thick and thin, and a little slubby, so I plan to keep it simple. I hope it’s as much fun to knit as it was to spin.

Vintage Roses from Corgi Hill Farm will become a Downtown Cowl.

A Polwarth and silk blend

And finally, the pièce de résistance is this beautiful monochrome gradient from Spinneretta’s Studio

A lovely monochrome gradient of Polwarth top

that I spun and chain-plied to get a beautiful skein

Just look at the beautiful color transitions

that is now this beautiful yarn cake.

So lovely all wound up

This yarn needs a pattern that is suitable for a gradient yarn, and I think The Age of Steam and Brass is perfect.

I haven’t decided which handspun project to cast on first, but in the meanwhile, I will finish Anne’s Little Twist Mitts

Mitt #2 is well underway.

and probably cast on yet another pair of fingerless mitts. They are so quick and easy, and very satisfying to knit. And even better, they are wonderful to wear. If you’ve never worn a pair, give them a try. I think you will love them as much as I do. And if you have never knitted a pair… Do. It. NOW.

And be sure to visit Tami’s WIP Wednesday to see lots of other hand-crafted goodies.

 

Do You Want To See Some FOs?

It’s Finished Object Friday, and although house guests followed by painting a room in preparation for having new carpeting being laid has made updating my blog a low priority, I have still been knitting and spinning. But since it’s Friday, and the only FOs I have are handspun yarn, I won’t talk about my knitting today. My reason for ignoring my knitting has nothing to do with the fact that I’m still a little ticked at myself for knitting the second sleeve of Cassidy to within a couple rows of casting off before I realized that I had forgotten to change to the bigger needles after knitting the cuff and having to rip out pretty much an entire sleeve and starting it over from the end of the cuff. No, that’s not the reason I’m not talking about my knitting today. Really. It isn’t. Well, maybe it’s totally the reason. Please don’t judge me. 🙂

Anyway, I finished all the projects from my last spinning update, and I thought you might enjoy seeing how the yarn turned out.

Here’s the totally finished gradient I spun. It’s beautiful in the skein, and I need to find just the perfect project for it.

Polwarth gradient from Spinneretta’s Studio

This is the best chain-plying I have done yet.  The more I chain-ply, the more comfortable I am with the technique and the better the results. I feel almost competent at chain-plying. Almost. 🙂

Then there was the bright orange, red, and yellow Polwarth from BohoKnitterChic that I decided should become a 4-ply yarn.

Fire Truck in a bucket

I also spun up and plied the lovely braid of Merino/Nylon blend from Mustard Seed Yarn Lab into some 3-ply sock yarn.

A 3-ply Merino/Nylon handspun sock yarn

I really need to get cracking on the knitting and finished my current WIP so that I can cast on some of this beautiful handspun.

If you want to see some other beautiful FOs, please visit Tami’s blog.

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.

WIP Wednesday

I decided to follow the crowd and make Wednesdays WIP Wednesday à la Tami on Blogspot.

I hope that this will give me incentive to post something every Wednesday. I have a bad tendency to let time get away from me.

Progress should be my middle name. Pinko Progress Knitter. Ha! I’ve been zipping right along on all my current projects. The Spider Queen has nearly half of her final edging completed. That’s right, nearly half. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, she’ll be finished before the month is over. No pictures of her this time–she’s sleeping soundly in the knitting corner and I don’t want to disturb her.

My other current knitting project, the Show-Off Stranded Socks, is also happily marching toward completion. I’m nearly finished with the leg of sock #2, so the socks should also be completed before September runs out of days.

Show-Off Stranded Socks

On the spinning front, I’ve been spinning up some Falkland from Spinneretta in the Drought Time color way. I’ve spun about 3/4s of the fiber. It’s a lovely color way, don’t you think?

Some lovely Falkland on the spindles