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.

 

My Prettiest Yarn Yet

I’ve been really bad when it comes to keeping my blog up to date. I have been doing a lot of spinning, but I haven’t been sharing it with you. And I’ve also been lax about taking pictures. So it is with both joy and sadness that I share with you one of my recent spinning projects. I think this yarn is the best I’ve made so far.

A bobbin of singles on the Traveller

 

The finished yarn posing in a basket

 

The yarn close up

I started with some lovely pin-drafted BFL from Sunset Fibers. It is the November 2013 Fiber of the Month. Unfortunately, I failed to take any pictures of the fiber before I started spinning it. I really have no excuse except that I forgot. I’m trying to remember to take pictures of fiber when it arrives, but my rememberer doesn’t work as well as it used to. The joys of approaching The Golden Years!

Anyway, I decided to try doing a fractal spin. This is just a way of dividing up the yarn so that when it is spun, plied, and knitted, it produces a subtle striping effect even though the different colors are plied together.

I started by unrolling the fiber and dividing it in half lengthwise. I spun one of the halves from end to end to make one bobbin of singles. The other half of the fiber was itself split in half lengthwise, and I spun each of those strips onto another bobbin, keeping the colors in the same order from end to end as I did with the first half. Then I plied the two singles together.

I used my Ashford Traveller spinning wheel in double drive with the regular flyer for both the spinning and the plying, and I ended up with nearly 700 yards of lovely, 2-ply lace weight yarn. I think this is my most consistent yarn yet.

I haven’t chosen a project for this yarn yet, but I’m thinking there may be a Martina Behm design in its future.

Winter’s Vengeance

Here in the beautiful Cumberland Valley of south-central Pennsylvania, winters tend to be relatively mild. But every few years, Mother Nature decides to remind us that she is still very much in charge. And this has been one of those winters.

Oh, it started off mild enough. We did have a little snow for Christmas, which is unusual for us, but that was just a hint of what was in store for us in the new year. January was a mixed bag. We didn’t get a Farm Show storm; in fact, the weather during Farm Show week was pretty nice for a change. But then the Arctic Blast came and our weather has gone to hell in a hand basket.

First there were temperatures so cold, it couldn’t snow if it wanted to. And now the precipitation has begun. We are currently at the tail end of the second of three winter storms that are hitting in quick succession. First we had 8 inches of snow on Monday, then last night and this morning, we had more snow, then sleet, then freezing rain. There was enough sleet to cover the driveway, and the branches of the lilac bush outside my dining room window are coated in ice.

You can see the coating of ice on the branches through the screen.

The freezing rain was supposed to be followed by just plain rain, but, although the temperature has risen to well above freezing, the precipitation seems to have stopped. The ice is melting, but I don’t think it will melt fast enough to clear the driveway

A slushy mess in our driveway

before the temperatures fall back below freezing and create an icy mess just in time for the third storm that is expected to hit over the weekend. At the moment, the third storm is looking to be a minor threat to us, bringing only a 50% chance of snow showers, but that could change if the storm becomes more organized.

The leaves on the azalea by the front porch are encased in ice.

Fortunately for me, I don’t mind being snowbound. I have my spinning, knitting, and reading, not to mention hockey games to watch, all of which are indoor activities. I currently have only two active projects on the needles, a 22.5 Degrees scarf by Martina Behm, and a Boneyard Shawl by Stephen West.

22.5 Degrees in handspun BFL from Sunset Fibers in Blue Lagoon

22.5 Degrees in handspun Polwarth from Sunset Fibers in Blue Lagoon

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Silky Boneyard Shawl in “So Sari” Loop Bullseye handspun

As you can see, both are being knitted it my handspun yarn. I decided that this year I would start using my handspun in earnest. I love knitting with handspun.

To see what other talented fiber artists are up to, check out Tami’s WIP Wednesdays.

WIP Wednesday And The Tour De Fleece

I haven’t posted anything for WIP Wednesday for a while because I haven’t been doing much knitting lately. With the Tour de Fleece going strong and little worth watching on television, the knitting has been limited. Poor Cassidy has only increased by a handful of pattern repeats in the past few weeks, but once the TdF is over, she will become my priority. I want her intended to be able to wear her come autumn. The boy’s red raglan has sat untouched for all of July, but once football and hockey seasons start, it will move along quickly.

What I have been working on a bit are socks. Two “second” socks are progressing quite nicely. One of the things I love about knitting socks is that socks don’t seem to mind waiting while I busy myself with other projects. They seem to know that I will return to them at some point and give them my full attention. 🙂

Two "second socks" on their way to completion

Two “second socks” on their way to completion

The reason I didn’t post my TdF progress for day 16 is because the power went out last night. Funny thing, my computer and Internet don’t work well with no power. I hope you didn’t think I had crapped out on the TdF. To the contrary, my spinning has been something of a whirlwind. Monday was a rest day for the TdF, and so yesterday I was re-energized and ready to kick some ass.

I finished up the remainder of the 4-ounce bump of Wonder Why Alpaca Farm alpaca/Merino. I have another 4-ounce bump to spin, then I will ply the two singles together. But this is a long-term project. I’m spinning the singles very finely, so it is taking somewhere this side of forever to spin.

I chain-plied the singles I spun from Sunset Fibers July 2013 ROTM BFL. I’m starting to feel comfortable with chain-plying; my new Lendrum lazy kate has made a big difference. I can adjust the tension so that the yarn feeds smoothly and easily but without any backspin. The Ladybug’s on-board lazy kate is tensioned, but the tensioning isn’t adjustable. When I try to chain-ply using the Ladybug’s kate, I have to fight the yarn to get everything to feed smoothly and I end up breaking the singles. With the new kate, I can develop a smooth rhythm and just keep going. I’m very pleased with how this yarn turned out.

Even though we lost power last night for 2-and-a-half hours, I was able to keep spinning thanks to a battery-operated lantern, so I was able to spin up an entire 4-ounce braid of lovely BFL from OnTheRound. I plan to ply the singles together today to make a nice 2-ply yarn.

Last but not least, I ended up with around 1500 yards of lace-weight 2-ply from the 8 ounces of Sunset Fibers Polwarth in Pink Elephant. The picture does not do the colors justice, and you have to touch the yarn to appreciate how soft and cushy it is.

On today’s agenda:

plying the OnTheRound Singles

spin some superwash Merino/mohair/Nylon fiber to make a 3-ply sock yarn

Pictures at 11.

TdF Day #16

Day 16 of the Tour de Fleece is here and I finished skeining the Sunset Fibers Polwarth 2-ply.

Pink Elephant

The picture shows the yarn before I set the twist.

Now that the Pink Elephant is spun and plied, I have moved on to another bump of wool from Sunset Fibers, this one BFL in the July 2013 Roving of the Month colorway.

BFL on the ‘Bug

My plan is to chain-ply the singles and get a self-striping yarn. Keep your fingers crossed that it will turn out okay. My chain-plying has improved, but I still have a long way to go before I’m good at it.