Well ... does the excuse that April has "only" 30 days help at all? I did not work on the purple re-spinning project at all; I did knit more of the unfinished tote, but it got sidelined too, so that I could write down and test my mini sweater pattern. It's been tested 4 times now, and seems to be holding up well! Perhaps that is my April unplanned-but-completed UFO, since I've been kicking it around since examining several varieties of mini-sweater starting back in January.
And for a photo-op, wow -- I need to walk around my house more often -- Wowl! He's even up on the Yarn Museum -- which thrills me more than I can say!! Wowl was a UFO for a while -- even relegated to the hamper-of-unfinished-projects. Because, he needed to be stuffed. And the stuffing was on a high shelf in the garage. He's stuffed with (get this!) CVM carded wool. How rich is that :-) It's a lovely brown color, so even if it peeked through you'd not know, as it blends right into his
coat yarn nicely. The CVM, you see, nepped in the carding and has been relegated to spin-and-felt projects, stuffing, and the like, since I won't be able to spin a nice, smooth yarn. Fibers up on high shelves in the garage are the U'est of UFO's, so it's nice to use some of it in an I-can't-believe-it's-not-only-FO-but-also on yarnmuseum.com!
I think that the tote and re-spinning will have to be sidelined for May, back into the UFO black hole, as new projects have come up -- 4 ounces of fiber to spin samples from, my 100 needle cylinder for my sock machine to test out, and 6 samples to knit for the shop. However, going to the sock knitting machine retreat this last weekend uncovered a few old UFO's -- the handspun, handknit mermaid socks from Lucy Neatby's Cool Socks, Warm Feet are suffering terminal second-sock-syndrome -- and the Blue Moon Fiber Arts folks have already sent the second yarn, where I haven't even begun to knit the first one! yeeek. All in all, April was backward progress, if any. Well, that just makes life more interesting even if the blog entry for it is vacuous :-O
Sooo, for May ... hmmm ... Let's say finishing my Fiber Sandwich!! Yes ... and more about that will be posted on the blog during the month to boot. (What's a Fiber Sandwich, you ask? check out Majacraft's...)
Monday, April 30, 2007
Well ... does the excuse that April has "only" 30 days help at all? I did not work on the purple re-spinning project at all; I did knit more of the unfinished tote, but it got sidelined too, so that I could write down and test my mini sweater pattern. It's been tested 4 times now, and seems to be holding up well! Perhaps that is my April unplanned-but-completed UFO, since I've been kicking it around since examining several varieties of mini-sweater starting back in January.
My most-useful spinning tool after my spindles and wheel is my ballwinder! and a library card :-) if you're in a reasonably large town, they're likely to have at least some spinning books, and maybe really good ones. Mine has Paula Simmon's 'Spinning for Softness and Speed', and Connie Delaney's 'Spindle Spinning: From Novice to Expert'. Great resources! And they did get Aldon Amos' book once it came out, too. My favorite author is Mabel Ross, so most of her books (ok, all!) are on my bookshelf.
So, my ballwinder is my favorite tool, along with my niddy-noddy; then my swift. In a pinch I'll use a nostepinne -- the ballwinder is basically a nostepinne with a built-in crank. All that said, there are "human" or inexpensive equivalents. The thumb makes a great nostepinne (just don't wind too tight!), the fore-arm is about a 2-foot-skein niddy, and the lower leg (wind over your knee and under your foot -- shoes off! -- with knee bent, while sitting) is a 4-foot-skein niddy or there-abouts.
(posted by me on lj/spinningfiber, 15apr07)
So, what's your most useful spinning tool? Add it with a comment below.
[ Background: I spent the weekend at the Lacey Sock Knitting Machine retreat, and taught 3 classes ... so there will be several new sock machine entries up over the next few weeks! ]
A set-up bonnet is a great way to personalize your machine and give you a reliable way to start knitting on it. The bath scrunchy is a faster set-up, but tends to rip apart with too much weight, so save it for the fleece-to-feet contest once you've used it to make yourself a regular set-up bonnet.
Country Rain has a great on-line pictorial for making and using a set-up bonnet.
Here are my words-only instructions:
Get your sock machine started however you do (bath scrunchy, metal setup basket, coil, ...) and knitting all needles (no ribber) on waste yarn.
Switch over to yarn for setup basket (change yarn color, at least).
Knit 10 rows in setup basket yarn plain.
All the way around, move stitches off every other needle onto its neighbor, so you have 1 needle with 2 stitches on it, 1 needle bare. This becomes the picot edge at the top of the set-up bonnet.
Knit around carefully, making sure all the empty needles now have yarn around them. (If they don't, lift the yarn over so they do.)
Knit 9 more rows.
Hang the hem -- lift up the purl bump for the corresponding stitch onto each needle, all the way around. BE VERY CAREFUL when moving the crank forward to access the last few stitches -- as weights may have been removed, and the last part won't be well weighted. Pull down on the work at the point where you are cranking to make sure it all knits cleanly.
Now knit a very long tube -- to the bottom of your crank wheel, or long enough that you can easily attach a buckle to it. Then cut bonnet yarn, re-attach waste yarn, and knit 10 rows. Cut waste yarn and knit bonnet off of machine (Crank one round empty, this will knit it off the machine).
Run the bonnet yarn through the last row of stitches, then pull out the waste yarn, leaving the yarn loose, not pulled tight, so the setup bonnet is actually a setup tube. This way you can reach my hand up the tube and access whatever pegs or yarn you've let slip into the sock-in-progress. Or, if you want, pull the yarn tight to close the bottom for the official "bonnet" look.
Write the cylinder size on the bonnet (60, 80, 72, ...) with a permanent marker.
The set-up bonnet is used by hooking the big loop of yarn at the picot edge of the hem-top over every other needle. Cranking two rounds of waste yarn once the bonnet is hooked gives you a stitch on every needle.
You can also store the matching ribber plate inside the corresponding set-up bonnet when they are not in use.
If you'd like further explanation of any of this, please email me or leave a comment. Thanks!
Thursday, April 26, 2007
One type of diz is used in the final step of combing fibers. It is a piece of wood, metal, or other stiff material with a small hole in it. Spice jar shaker lids work in a pinch. The hole in the diz controls how much fiber can come through at one time -- it gets all bunched up and hard to pull, if you are pulling too much through. So, it does control the thickness of the resulting top.
You can still draft it out finer in spinning, and dizzed top usually drafts very easily, if you want a finer yarn.
I have dizzes with many different hole sizes in them, right down to barely a millimeter in diameter. I'd say I usually use a hole size of about 1/8 of an inch, and get a healthy size of top out of that.
The top does fluff out once it's through the hole, so it's larger than the hole size.
Another type of diz is a "plying diz" -- this typically has 4 holes roughly the same size, though I have a paddle-plying-diz with about 10 holes on it (like I'd ever spin a 10 ply!). This is great to keep your yarn organized when plying. My primary use of a plying diz (and I admit, I will use a combing diz for this if it has 3-4 different hole sizes on it -- whatever's handy) is when I ply cotton. I put my cotton quills from my charkha in their lazy kate, put the ends of the cotton through the plying diz, and push it down near the kate. Then I ply away on my wheel. This helps keep the cotton organized as it's being pulled off the charka quills/spindles. Mainly I 3-ply my charka-spun cotton, though occasionally I'll do a 2-ply. It depends how thick the singles are, since I need a laceweight/fingering weight yarn for my never-ending handspun woven totebag.
(expansion of a post by me on spindlers, this month)
Oh no! now I'm blogging about blogs -- run away, fast! ROTFL. gapingvoid.com said this would happen to me with their Evolution of A Blog.
OK, back from checking out the cartoon?
So, if you don't see my blog page that often (Amelia waves hello to people with RSS readers!) you don't know I have some "fun links" on my blog to fun places on the internet -- some blogs, some not. I also have topics so you can browse, for example, all the entries on spinning Singles Yarn or all the entries about Felt.
But even if you do go there, you still don't know one thing -- which spinning blogs do I read? Well, I subscribe to a variety of blogs: knitting, spinning, blogging (!!), and life. That pretty much sums up my interests, LOL. But you know, there really aren't a whole lot of regularly useful spinning blogs -- that's one reason I started up this one. That, and I had a whole lot I wanted to tell people -- just in case they didn't know, wanted help, or had an unanswered question.
So it's not a huge list, since it's blogs that primarily blog about spinning and offer tips/advice on spinning as well, but here it is:
Spinning Spider Jenny
Leigh's Fiber Journal
Intrepid Fiber Wizard
Habetrot (historical pictures/info mostly; cool!)
Yarn Harlot (she's funny, so what if she 'only' spins once in a while!)
YouTube Group Handspinning (OK, a YouTube group, not a blog and not even RSS-able, but a fantastic online resource)
(I have a muuuuch longer list of nice-to-reads ... but the days are only so long, so there are two categories in my reader; and my must-read list has knit bloggers on it too, so the above list isn't exhaustive and it's likely I've even overlooked one or two that haven't posted recently... )
Whew. That aside -- RSS feeds abound! I have my reader (reader.google.com) set up to feed me new updates to a variety of flickr groups: bobbin porn, fiber love, handspun, yarn museum (on flickr!!), yarn cakes, ... and the spinner's housecleaning pages have an RSS feed too ...
And here are some recent finds I'm checking out:
The Independent Stitch
As a corollary, someone asked how you can get wider text for blogs. One thing you can do is "subscribe" to the blogs with a (free) service like reader.google.com or bloglines.com and read it from their site; you'll see the new entries, typically formatted to the width of the screen (less the list of subscriptions over on the left hand side).
Although this isn't perfect -- sometimes all you get is summaries, sometimes photos don't download too, and you can miss new things folks put in their sidebars (if that's important to you). Luckily, the readers let you click on the title, typically, to bring up the whole blog (in its skinny-text glory).
One interesting side-effect on bloglines is that you can see how many people subscribe to a blog (according to bloglines -- this isn't _always_ accurate ... ) and if you click on that, you can see the "public" subscribers, and then see what other blogs they subscribe to (via bloglines, anyway) ... this is how my full list went from www.yarnharlot.com and askthebellwether.blogspot.com (hey, you gotta subscribe to your own blog, right?) to 223 subscriptions (eek, I could spend all day & night catching up) ... which is why I now focus on a must-read list (currently around 50, so typically 10 have new content on any given day) and "visit" with the others as whims and time permit me.
Whew! Back to the spinning/knitting/fiber tips now! But, if you know of an interesting, useful, or fun spinning blog -- comment here or email me! I'm always up for a new read! (The picture is me, pausing mid-demonstration on a Russian Spindle, to answer a question.)
(based on my posts to Spin-List April 2007)
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Wow! Breaking News... The Bellwether is e-moving (or is that i-moving? LOL). Check out our in-progress new digs at www.thebellwether.biz!
I have the new site up and functional, but it has (as of this writing) only 41 of the 900+ items from the old website so far. Hey, I hear you laughing! Actually, it's not quite that bad -- first off, I found at least 5 typos and 1 dead email address on those 35 items (sheesh) and secondly, some of the 900 are old items that were removed from the website but not deleted from the server. The big fleece sale 2 years ago, for example.
Here's the deal: you _can_ order things on the new website. Currently (until I sort out SSL for your protection to my satisfaction) it takes check/money order or PAYPAL only (yep, Paypal!) -- you can click check/money order and ask for an online invoice if you really don't want paypal and tell me to email an invoice for non-paypal card payment. Because, this website has _new_ items on it that aren't on the old website -- bead spindle sets and the Signature Batt colorway Eggplant from Crosspatch Creations. Moving forward, I will be putting new items here and not on the old website. I hope to get the majority of the permanent listings up on .biz by the end of May, and will switch www.thebellwether.com over to point to the new webstore at that time.
Your input on the new website is welcome. Why am I changing, you ask? Because this tool is less expensive (_much_) than the Yahoo services. It also has the benefit of giving the shop a thorough spring cleaning!
Be looking for close-outs to be listed on eBay rather than show up on the new website. My eBay User ID is amelia.garripoli. My goal is to post/update 5 items a day -- either in the new shop, on eBay, or Spin-Sales on Yahoo! Groups. This process is also a paring down -- my focus moving forward is spindles, fine fibers, spinning tools, and nalbinding supplies; you'll be able to get close-out prices on weaving and knitting tools, some knitting pattern lines, and most of the non-spinning/nalbinding books. Feel free to email me an offer now if there's something you don't want to wait for!
(PS: I know the old webstore has many underlying URLS of the form store.carlsonwoollies.com -- that will end up being defunct, so if you have bookmarked pages, they may end up 404ing on you -- I apologize! I plan to capture as many of the published thebellwether.com URLs as I can and set up forwards, but I just don't know yet if the carlsonwoollies.com URLs will be something I can catch -- it all depends on how Yahoo handles store "closings". Keep your fingers crossed, and comment or mail in suggestions. You will notice in the new webstore that the shopping cart currently uses the host's URL for SSL, camelot-hosting, and my account name, poetread -- it's all "me"!)
And breaking news ... I'm selling a few of my gently-used spinning wheels! A Majacraft Little Gem ($400+ship) and a Schacht Matchless Double Treadle with everything -- Woolee Winder, High Speed and Extra High Speed whorls and bobbins ($800 + how-do-you-ship-something-this-big??) [sold, many thanks!]
Whew! what a busy bee, all this website work makes me! More to come ... feedback and questions always appreciated!
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
When joining a new piece of fiber onto already spun yarn on my spindle or wheel, it's been my experience that joins need to be on completely fluffed out, unspun, fiber, and that the old and new need to be drafted together to help them meld. The more co-drafting you can do, the better integrated old and new fibers are, to be almost indistinguishable from the spun roving.
At the Whidby Guild Spin-in a few weeks ago, the topic of the workshop was "spinning camelid fibers", primarily alpaca though we covered the gamut.
The teacher (Kaye Collins) did her joins by fluffing out the spun yarn end for 1-2 inches and then dividing it into a "V". The new roving was drafted out a bit and put _inside_ the "V". This sandwich was pinched together, drafted together down to the thickness she was spinning, and spun up as a join.
It looked like a nice, clean join to me, and I like the idea that the "new" ends are trapped inside the "old" ends by being sandwiched inside the "V" of the fluffed out end of the spun yarn.
That said, that's with wool. Cotton's another matter entirely; I'll post my notes on spinning cotton soon.
(based on a post by me on TechSpin, 21April2007)
(picture © 2004 The Bellwether, from Spindling: The Basics, used with permission.)
Sunday, April 22, 2007
I love the 72 needle cylinder for my socks, but most of the gift knitting I do is on the 60 needle cylinder -- I'm _always_ procrastinating, and the 60's just a little bit faster (less stitches to kitchener, too, LOL, but who's counting??)
For my mom I use an 80, though, to get a larger leg with regular sock yarns. And for my daughter I use a 54 cranked to tightest tension to make them small enough (she's 7).
I guess if I had to have just one, I'd use a 60 and not use commercial sock yarns (the original plan _was_ to make socks with my handspun, ROTFLOL)
(question came up on sockknittingmachines, 19April2007)
A blog-interview meme, with thanks to Marg. of ByMyOwnhand for interviewing me!
1. What do you most treasure in your life?
My children! They outweigh everything else. They keep my going, they get me up in the morning. Beyond that, I'd say "time". Giving myself room to take time to be creative, which is hard -- I always want to be doing for others, rather than myself. So I treasure the times when I am willing to take time for myself.
2. What is your favorite weather or season?
Summer. summer summer summer. I miss it! Here, in the Pacific Northwest, summer is July and August. I'd love to live somewhere with more summer. Sweaters are great, don't get me wrong, but the short days and the coldness of spring here just really sap my spirit.
3. What would you do without fiber in your life?
Go to a yarn shop :-) Hmmmm. I have to consider this one regularly, as my bad wrists (recurring tendonitis, not carpal tunnel) mean some day this could be a reality. I'd read alot more. I like to think I'd write more, but probably not. I'd cook more. I'd have to do something to express myself creatively, I just don't know quite what.
4. What do you like to read?
Books that teach me new things, especially spinning, knitting, and shepherding. Mysteries, for escaping the real world (Agatha Christie, Elizabeth George...). Blogs, on-line discussions to see what others are getting into fiber-wise. I'd hate to think I was missing out on some wonderful new fiber (carbonized bamboo, anyone?)
5. If you were offered the job of Supreme Empress of the World, would you take it? Why/why not?
Nope. I wouldn't have time to have fun, I don't know enough to do a good job, and I'd hate to be responsible for the people I'd have to hire to help me. Besides, I'm too busy raising my kids! But seriously -- having peoples' lives in my hand, directly? Eeek. I'd be frozen. It's bad enough looking at the news every day and wondering if there _was_ something I could do - but what? Join the picketers for XYZ to get honked at on street corners?
Want to play? Here’s the scoop:
1. Leave me a comment saying, “Interview me.”
2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. I get to pick the questions.
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.
Saturday, April 21, 2007
The ratio on your spinning wheel gives you insight into how quickly (or slowly) you are putting twist into your yarn -- a lower ratio puts twist in more slowly, a higher ratio puts twist in more quickly. The ratio is the number of rotations of the flyer for one complete rotation of the wheel (typically that also means one complete push of the treadles).
Ratios are basically about how many times your flyer rotates completely around for one complete rotation of your wheel. Typically you have several grooves on the flyer for different ratios (although simple wheels may have only one ratio) and one on the wheel; though some wheels have several grooves on them too -- some of the Majacrafts, for example, and Journey Wheels.
To determine the ratio you can either measure diameters -- the diameter of the groove you are using over the wheel's diameter should be the ratio -- but I don't do that. Instead, I note one leg of my wheel (sometimes with a bright piece of yarn) and start peddling s-l-o-w-l-y while counting how many times my flyer goes completely around. Nothing's on the bobbin or in my hands while I do this. Then I know that the ratio of that particular combination of flyer groove and wheel groove is the-number-of-flyer-revolutions-to-1.
"Typical" ratios are 4:1, 9:1, 12:1 ... "production" ratios are usually 20:1 to 30:1. Charkas go upwards of 100:1.
The higher the ratio, the more twist goes into the yarn for a given pump of the treadles. So, for low-twist, soft yarns set your wheel on a lower ratio and for high-twist yarns, set it at a higher ratio. Or, if you can draft like a demon, set it at a high ratio and go for it!
Some folks settle on a single ratio and that's all they ever use. I tend to pick ratios for the job at hand. If you alter the ratio, you need to watch your treadle -- the same treadle speed will give a different amount of twist. So, at a higher ratio, treadle more slowly at first; at a lower ratio, treadle a little faster at first.
Mabel Ross's book "The Essentials of Yarn Design for Handspinners" discusses treadles and ratios _alot_.
There was a great blog posting on the topic by Abby Franquemont.
There are other caveats -- the Journey Wheel, for example, has an accelerator that also affects the ratio. If you simply note which grooves you use/settings of the wheel you have, and count the treadled wheel for one full revolution against the actual flyer's revolutions, that is the ratio.
(based on a post by me on Spin-List, 15apr07)
(the picture is from May, 2001 -- when I was first learning to spin -- at the Shepherd's Festival in Sequim, held each Memorial Day at Carrie Blake Park. The wheel is a Louet S-10.)
If your cylinder needles aren't broken, but the latch simply sticks every once in a while, then you can repurpose the needles into pick-up tools for knitters (hand-knitters as much as sock machine folks). Get some of that bake-to-set sculpey or fimo clay, and fashion handles around the bent lower part of the hook.
I turned a bunch of slightly-less-than-perfect ones into pick-up tools for knitters -- made great gifts for my knitting friends, and had the rest in my booth at shows so I probably re-couped my expenses :-)
I've also seen "stitch picker-uppers" for sale that are either these or knitting machine flatbed needles with handles on them -- wood handles, clay handles, or soldered onto a longer piece of metal (now, those are very handy with sock machines!). So if the idea intrigues you and you don't have imperfect sock machine cylinder needles to play with, look for these at your LYS.
If you really want to try to re-use the needles -- I admit I never do -- try a magnifying glass and some of those needle-nose tweezers -- there could be some miniscule hairs trapped under the latch. Or a short bath in solvent to route out the same, followed by an oil bath to re-lubricate it. I'd mark it with a permanent marker, though, and put it on "trial" in the sock machine so you can easily remove the needle if you find the machine still spitting stitches or catching yarn in a funny way.
(based on a post by me on sockknittingmachinefriends, 21April2007)
Friday, April 20, 2007
Dehairing shorn llama fiber is a bit different from dehairing cashmere, in my experience. The hair in both is quite thick, shiny, and stiff, but in cashmere it's alot different from the down, where in the haired llama I've seen, it's not as different from the underlying coat.
With either llama or cashmere, I recommend washing the fiber (and hair) first, as you can raise quite a dust-storm dehairing it while raw.
If you hold a pinch-full of washed llama fiber up in very good light, you should be able to pick the hairs out by hand, same as with cashmere. Bend it over your finger to help accentuate the stiffer hairs from the fiber -- they won't be as bendy and will even sometimes pop up ends conveniently for you.
I remember several years ago seeing a contraption of two stiff-wire-mesh squares for dehairing llama. You'd lay one on a table, put a thin layer of llama fiber on top of it, put the second on top of that, pin them together, then hold it up to a light and pick out the hairs (with tweezers? or maybe spring-loaded pliers?)
It all makes me very happy to have fiber llamas, without the second hair coat except in their britch and on their chests!
(based on a post by me on spindlers 19 April 2007)
By way of introduction ...
Combs pre-date hand cards as a fiber preparation technique by thousands of years. Combed fibers produce 'top', where the fibers are all aligned parallel to the length of the fiber 'sausage' (aka top). When top is spun, very little air is trapped in the fiber, producing a denser yarn often referred to as 'worsted spun'.
When you comb, the shorter lengths of fiber will be left behind on the combs; only the longer, uniform fiber lengths will be in your resulting top. This is one of the intents of combing, to remove shorter fibers, matts, and anything else that is not suitable for the resulting top. The left-behind fiber can be set aside to use for carding, felting, or mulch --whichever seems most appropriate.
Fiber suitable for carding usually has a staple (per-strand) length of 3 inches or more. Wool, mohair, angora, cashmere -- pretty much any fiber with enough staple length is combable.
Start with washed fleece. It should not be matted, and relatively VM-free (VM is vegetable matter, those bits of hay and burrs that our fiber friends seem to love getting in their coats). The staple length (length of individual fibers) should be 3 inches or more, and should be relatively uniform throughout the fiber you are combing.
(Note: these instructions are written by a right-handed person, if you are left handed, you may find switching directions more comfortable.)
Hold one comb in your left hand, resting it on either (or both) leg with the tines at the edge of your leg. Take a lock with the shorn end pointing toward the handle, holding it parallel to the handle (i.e. horizontally) and put about 1/4" of the shorn end "behind" the tines, pushing the lock down the tines to the base of the comb. Repeat this, placing locks along the length of the comb and then on top of the existing locks, until the comb is about 1/3 full.
Hold your left hand stationary with the filled comb tines up. Take the other comb in your right hand and, just catching the ends of the locks at the top of the base comb, hold the comb so its tines are at right angles to the base combs, and comb away from your body with a circular motion to your right. This circular motion makes sure you have a complete pass of the comb without entering into the locks on the comb too deeply. You should feel a slight catch-and-release as you sweep the comb to, through, and away from the locks on the comb. Some of the locks will transfer to the right-hand comb. Repeat this motion, combing further and further down the locks with each pass. When most of the fiber has been transferred to the right hand comb, you have completed one pass of the combs.
There are GREAT YouTube videos by Rexenne on combing. Here's part 1 ...
Now, take your left-hand comb and decide if the "dregs" ought to be removed into your felting basket or not -- usually, they are for that or the trash can. Take your right-hand comb, newly filled, and put it in your left hand. Use the other, emptier comb in your right hand now to do another pass.
It usually takes three passes to comb your fibers. You can make additional passes if you want to ensure you have combed down to the most regular fiber length in your fiber.
And Rexenne continues with part 2 ...
To remove the fiber, take the final filled comb and rest it on a table with a book or heavy object over the handle. Start at one side of the comb, pinch some of the fibers and draw them out a short distance. Pinch the base of the pulled-out fibers and pull that out a short distance; this is similar to pre-drafting roving. Continue with short drafting motions, working from one side of the comb to the other and back again until only the final "dregs" are left in the comb.
You can wind up the drafted fiber into a birds nest by wrapping it around your hand and then pulling the end into the center, or if you want, you can spin directly from the comb by spinning as you draft fiber from it.
And Rexenne wraps up with part 3 ...
Final Notes ...
If you compare hand-carded roving to combed top, you will notice that the combed yarn has higher luster. This is because all of the fibers were spun parallel, increasing the reflectivity of the yarn. The trade-off tends to be elasticity; carded fiber has more air trapped in the yarn, permitting greater flexibility in the resulting yarn.
For those who like a joke, here's a funny YouTube offering also by the wonderful Rexenne: The Wool Comb Monster.
(from an inquiry on spinfree, 19 April 2007)
Thursday, April 19, 2007
This is the interesting place where two different topics -- spindle-spinning and nalbinding -- come together in a really cool synchronicity.
In Nalbinding, you work with 1-2 yard lengths of yarn, and rather than weaving in all the ends you'd get in a pair of socks, you "splice" the ends together. There's the Russian Join, the felted join, and ... the "spindle splice", a phrace recently coined by Cedric on the Yahoogroups nalbinding list.
I think this is a terrific idea, so this is what I plan to do with my nalbinding work-in-progress!
Take the ball of yarn and stuff it onto a spindle shaft. Top or bottom, it won't matter much, though I'll probably grab a bottom whorl spindle so I can half-hitch more easily to hold the yarn on the spindle. Break off a one yard length to nalbind with, fluffing out both ends of the break.
Now, by break, I don't mean cut -- I mean break. With handspun fibers, especially singles, this is relatively easy -- you "unspin" the yarn and pull it apart. Then you get two fluffy ends. Perfect for the spindle splice.
Nalbind until you have a few inches and fluff left, then take the nalbound-fluff end and the spindle-fluff end and "spin" a join into being between them. Joins aren't easy, but they are doable, and with practice they get more reliable.
Then, unwind another yard off the spindle, repeat the break-nalbind-join etc. until your item is done or it's time to move onto the next ball of wool.
Yay! Yarn, a plan, and a pattern (Larry Schmidt's Hats Off! Swedish Chef's Cap!). This is progress.
(based on an inquiry on the nalbinding list, 18Apr07)
You know, this would work really well with knitting, too .... hmmmm time to start a bigger-than-one skein project!
Lara on Math4Knitters declined to tag anyone, so I'll continue as one of her self-nominated tagees :-) and you can tag yourself when you get to T here, if you like!
A- Available or Single.
B- Best Friend
Debbie (blogless, though, but a terrific crocheter!). But we're in different towns now, and I know I need a LBF (local best friend). Some day, it will happen. I can be patient (really!)
C- Cake or Pie
Pie -- mine or my mothers, not storebought. If not one of those two, then please serve it with heavy cream :-) Otherwise, cake with LOTS of frosting. It's all about the frosting, right?
D- Drink of Choice
Tea. Lots and lots of tea. Civilized (in a teapot) or fast-food (in a bag). Hot and ready. Preferrably with a little milk. I get my tea here and here.
E- Essential Item
Fiber and spindle. The feel of fiber keeps me sane!
F- Favorite Color
Purple. Though my favorite colorway shifts depending on what's going on around me. Marine tones are great for calming, Fire tones for energizing.
G- Gummi Bears or Worms
Bleh. How about a nice crunchy cookie? Or, if we're at the movie theatre, it has to be popcorn, extra butter!
Oh boy. We moved just as I was a tween, so this is hard. Ashland MA, or Monument CO. Either works. I love seeing my roots in England, south of London, but we left there when I was 15 months old (on leapday, 1968!). And I lived in San Jose CA and Alameda CA enough to make them feel like home too. Now, it's Port Angeles WA.
PMS-self-pity. And Chocolate -- which reduces the first one :-)
J- January or February
January, it's time to kick in the new day timer!
My raison d'etre - Nik and Nat. I'd not be where and what I am now if not for them!
L- Life is incomplete without
Sunshine. That can really make my day. Humor, mine or anyone else's also helps alot!
M- Marriage Date
5 September. It was Labor Day!
N- Number of Siblings?
Two. And they live over 1000 miles away. Enough said?
O- Oranges or Apples?
Yes! I love a ripe-ripe orange, and Gala or Pink Lady apples are yummy. I always take some to shows, as the change in diet from home cooking to cafeteria/restaurant fare throws my tummy for a loop!
Persecution, Penury, Pain. (We're on the letter P, right? LOL)
Q- Favorite Quote
Hope is the thing with feathers -- Emily Dickinson.
R- Reasons to smile
See E, K, L!
Summer! Warmth and long days here in northern Washington.
T- Tag Three People
You, you and you. Seriously, I don't want to stuff too much into the internet -- so if you want to self tag, then do it!
U- Unknown Fact About Me
Well, you already read this, right? So, here's a new one. The street my street is on (I live on Upland Lane, which is at the end of Ahlvers Street) has its name spelled differently on every single street sign -- Ahlvers, Alhvers, and Alvhers! Now, how did that happen?
W- Worst Habit
Procrastination. Like, why am I doing this when I need to be doing my son's class's book orders? hehehe.
Y- Your Favorite Foods
Ahhhh. I've been undergoing a transformation in the last two years, from "live to eat" mode to "eat to live" mode. Which means letting go of alot of favorites. Now, my main splurge is really, really good, really, really, dark chocolate -- 70% Cocoa Lindt Bars are my stocked-up treat in the cereal cupboard (shhh don't tell anyone!)
I wonder where this meme started? Maybe I should go track that down now (you're thinking about the letter W, aren't you?) ....
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
By Amelia © April 18, 2007
Nalbinding (pronounced nawl-bihn-ding) is a great craft, very portable and relaxing. It's really good for medium/coarse wools, such as Cotswold, Romney, Navajo Churro, Black Welsh Mountain, Icelandic, and English Longwool Leicester fibers. Llama is also fantastic for exotic-fiber nalbound socks!
Since patterns are made-to-fit, handspun is perfect for this craft. If using a commercial yarn, pick a 100% unbleached wool, non-superwash, as fulling (partly felting) is the final step in nalbinding. I like to spin or use a worsted weight yarn for nalbinding. I recommend a singles yarn, Z twist; but a standard two-ply also works fine.
The Bellwether is pleased to offer Nalbinding Books, Patterns and Needles. In addition, Lacis has two Swedish books and carved bone needles.
Nalbinding uses wool, or feltable, yarn, and a large eye needle. You break the wool into 1-3 yard lengths and make the nalbound stitches, joining ends when you start a new length. Why do you break the yarn? Because it is a stitch, you have to be able to pull the whole length through another loop. One to two yards is the most manageable length to work with.
Nalbinding predates knitting, and is done with 1-3 yard lengths of yarn. It is sometimes called 'knotless netting' and is experiencing a resurgence of interest from historical reenactors. It was still in fairly common use in Scandinavia through the beginning of the 20th century.
There are several good internet resources for learning this craft:
Anglo-Saxon and Viking Crafts - Nalebinding concise history
What is Nalebinding by the author of Nalbinding Made Easy
Asle Stitch Video in English! See others by the same author.
Nalbinding Videos! (even if you don't understand Finnish, a picture says a thousand words!
Viking Age Nalebinding great pictures of in-process and complete stitches
Phiala's Basic Nalbinding and more!
dilettante.info's Naalbinding Information
Bernhard's Nålbinding - links and information
PDF one-page handout on Mammen stitch (or in html on LiveJournal)
Naalbinding stitches – photos and sources
nalbinding email group - useful files, photos, and archives
Nadelbindung German Naalbinding group - email, links, and more
Neulakinnas - Finnish Nalbinding website
Kiara's Naalbinding Projects great photos of finished items!
Nalbinding Socks: Methods of Construction
Fingerless Nalbound Gloves - great directions with pictures!
Nalbound hat with notes on shaping
There is no single agreed-upon spelling for this craft - nalbinding, naalbinding, nalebinding, nadelbinden, nålebinding, nålbindning, and nålbinding are all used on various English websites, and the term is different in German, Finnish, and other languages.
I'm planning to make my son some felted slippers -- so I'm spinning up wool for that, a cochineal-dyed red coarse wool for the toes and hems and a silver-grey for the main foot.
But before that gets done, I've spun up lovely singles for a nalbound hat (the skein near the top of this page). (The had is done now, see this post: The Hat of Nalbinding!)
Be sure to read the comments on this post for more interesting links!
© April 18, 2007, by Ask The Bellwether, posted at http://askthebellwether.com/blog. Updated 25 February 2010.
News from The Bellwether, 18 April 2007.
Now that we've all filed our taxes (or extensions!) it's great to be back online. I've listed several new yummies for you:
Forrester One-Yard Niddy Noddies: these are lovely maple niddies with inlaid leopardstone cabochons -- ooooh! $45.95.
Crosspatch Creations Triple-Play Roving in a new colorway, I'll Wear Purple -- ooooooh, time to express your inner purple! $16.50/4 oz.
Crosspatch Creations Triple-Play Roving in a one-time colorway, Little Lassie celebrating Joan's rescue sheltie! $16.50/4 oz.
Two new colors from Three Bags Full: Flight of the Dragonfly and Winter Sunrise. Lovely! $16.50/4 oz.
There is more to come, but I've a few other commitments (Little League season is starting up) so those will be up next week!
Upcoming shows: I'll be teaching sock yarn dyeing at an antique sock machine knitting retreat in Lacey the last weekend in April; then the big shows are in June: NwRSA at C'our d'Alene Idaho and Black Sheep Gathering in Eugene Oregon. If you see me there, be sure to say "hi!"
Let me know what you think of the new niddy and colorways with comments or emails! Enjoy!
Monday, April 16, 2007
Recently I've been pondering how to spin a coil yarn. Pluckyfluff: A Handspun Revolution has terrific coil yarns, and my study group will get there -- eventually. Then, when I ran across coil yarn on etsy and could not resist (sigh), I had a real example in hand to touch, to examine, to aim for.
So, how do you spin coil yarn? First, you need to spin a fairly tight single yarn. It's best, too, if the singles have a smooth surface, not too lumpy-bumpy from neps, noil, scraps, or what-have-you. The tight twist comes in handy when creating the coils -- as you are coiling one single at a faster rate than the other, the uncoiled single comes quite close to being unspun. So, with more twist, you are that much further away from unspinning your single (whew!)
So, make your fairly-tightly-spun, fairly-smooth single. How thick? Depends what you want to aim for. But as coils are a surface texture thing, I'd recommend a thick-fingering to thin-DK single (say, not more than 20 WPI, not less than 15 WPI -- that's wraps per inch). Now, I did this with one ounce of fiber. Here's the first fiber and the first yarn:
Despite the fine wool/tencel texturing in the roving, or because of the tencel, this spun into a nice, smooth-surfaced single. Now the trick, I learned from this attempt, is all in how you coil.
To coil: you need to have both hands free, which means a wheel or alot of park-and-ply on a spindle. One single in one hand, against all the regular plying advice to hold them in the same hand for even tension. Why? Because we don't want even tension, we want coils!
Coil placement is the first thing -- how far apart to make the coils? If they are too far apart, they'll be lost in the yarn and in the finished project. Too close, and it may look like coil overkill, or the inner single won't have time to recover (though that can be managed too ...). I placed my coils about a foot apart -- sometimes a bit further, since I got a bit carried away at times in the regular plying (literally!)
For two-handed regular plying, I held both singles with the same tension, one in each hand, at mirrored angles from an invisible straight line coming out of the wheel's orifice (you can picture that, right?). I'd guess it was about 20 degrees each side of that line.
Then, when it was time to coil, I held the inner yarn straight along that line from orifice to me, and held the other yarn at a just-under 90 degree angle away from the inner yarn. So, if you took a protractor and measured the angle between the inner single and the outer single, it would be less than 90 degrees. Now, let the outer single wind around the inner single as you treadle. Hold the inner single taut so that it will not wind at all, but the outer single will wind around it. The slightly-less-than-90 angle is right if you are getting a millimeter or so (a visible gap!) between wraps. once you have a few wraps, stop and push them together.
Why don't you let them wind next to each other to start with? Because, if you stop and push them together, they bloom a little bit and make slightly bigger, more visible coils.
Do a few more wraps after the first push up and push up a second time, for the same coil.
Then, return the singles to their symmetrical positions and ply normally for a foot.
On the next coil, reverse which one is the inner and which is the outer! You'll note the above directions said nothing about handedness. So, if you used right-hand-outer-yarn the first time, now do the steps about with left-hand-outer-yarn. This balances out the over-untwisting of the inner yarn and the over-plying of the outer yarn.
Here is the fiber and second coil yarn:
This yarn was a little less smooth -- it has silk instead of tencel, and perhaps a crimpier fiber, since the surface of the single was not as shiny smooth as the first one. So the final coil yarn looks a little fuzzy on the surface, obscuring the coils a little bit. But the three colors in the roving counteract that nicely -- they play against one another, the contrast of marl-versus-solid shows off the coils.
Now, how do you make sure you have the right amount of plying twist for a balanced yarn? Clearly the coils will be highly overtwisted, that can't be helped. "Balancing" coils against one another helps to some extent. Also, since the singles are highly twisted, be sure to put enough twist in the regularly-plied parts of the yarn. It may look overtwisted -- just remember that singles allowed to sit for any length of time at all start setting their twist. Even five minutes makes a difference. Wash the skein in warm water and hang it to dry, and your slightly overtwisted yarn should balance back out.
See more about determining plying twist.
Curious about the blends used here? The purple-green is Viola Ville by Three Bags Full; see the whole Three Bags Full collection of lovely finewool/tencel blends including the divine Pearly White (coming soon!). The triple-pink is Montana Darby Dawn by Crosspatch Creations. There are many more lovely Triple-Play colorways by Crosspatch Creations that would also make lovely coil yarns.
Comments? questions? Have you tried a coil yarn? What advice do you have to pass on? comment here, trackback this entry on your blog, or email me: ask at thebellwether dot com.
Sunday, April 15, 2007
Ah -- Bosworth spindles -- "Tornadoes in Wood" as their ad says!
The design of these spindles shows extensive study of spindle physics -- no surprise, since Jonathan Bosworth is an engineer!
You may be able to find either a Midi or a Mini Bosworth in a good "sock weight" (my favorite sock yarn singles spindle is 0.9 ounces / 25 grams, YMMV). Midis and Minis are their "middle" sizes, the Featherweights are lower-profile than the Minis, and the Maxis (aka Larges) are bigger than the Midis.
Given that, you have to get in to spindle physics a little bit -- if you have a Mini and a Midi at the same weight, how will they spin differently?
It's my understanding that the distance from the shaft of the outer edge of the whorl affects spin time -- so the Midi would spin longer than the Mini. But, closeness of weight to shaft means a faster spin -- so the Mini might spin faster than the Midi. Hmmm, I better go browse my personal collection for some "matching" Midis and Minis and test this out (grin!)
Has anyone tried this? Let me know!
If I've got the physics right, then I'd recommend a "heavy Mini" for tightly spun sock yarns, or a "light Midi" for not as tightly spun. Me, I like my sock yarn tightly spun :-)
(based on a question on spindlers, 10Apr2007)
Saturday, April 14, 2007
Wow! Progress by the Spinning On The Edge people with the fiber sandwich swap sure exceeds my own. Here's Misty's blog entry, be sure to check her lovely skeins.
My fiber sandwich got unpacked, de-compressed, and is now resting in a cardboard box near my wheel ... soon, soon.
The local Spinning Over The Edge group has spun "scrap" yarn now -- roving with scraps of yarn mixed in. Mine looks a bit like a dog toy (sigh) and was still tossing scraps of yarn when I whacked it after washing it, to help it felt and grab the scraps better. So, I'm not so sure about this one.
My plans for a Pacific Northwest lap rug continue with this yarn -- and my dear son (10 yo) has "donated" his first two complete skeins to the project too. Talk about a lovely mom memory! Wow. I will treasure his work more than my own. He found it too loosely spun for his just-learning-to-knit-ness, so we are back to the spinning wheel to work on a tighter spun yarn for him. He really wants to knit with his own yarns, so we'll get there, eventually!
Next up on the local SOTEs is sequin yarn. Last time, we threaded our loose sequins and "prepared" our sequin trim, this coming week we'll be spinning it up into roving. I imagine the threaded sequins will work out a bit like threaded beads, should be fun. I just have to pick which roving I'll spin it into -- the green? The pink? Hmmmm.
I've turned into my own private one-person study group too -- the siren call of coil yarn was just too strong! The first attempt, with a blended fiber, was just too monochromatic to show off the coils well. So, attempt #2 is waiting on the bobbin for plying time, it's Montana Darby Dawn from Crosspatch Creations, so there's pale pink, hot pink, and fuchsia. Sometimes it marled (2 colors spun at once) but there are nice lengths of single colors. Here's hoping like does _not_ meet like in the plying!
My other desired self-study is "snarl" yarn. I couldn't believe it, I've been daydreaming about this yarn without a name, and then I find it in Elsie Davenport's 1950's book "Your Handspinning"!!! and again in a just-published creative yarns book (title escape me, sigh). So I'm pretty sure I'll be playing with that, either with the fiber sandwich or just on my own.
So, what is a snarl yarn? It's typically a 2-ply yarn, with one of the plies allowed to ply on itself and hang down from the main yarn. Pretty frequently -- the snarls can be an inch apart, and they can be short (1/2") or long -- 3"(!!), consistently sized or varied. Hey, it's not called novelty yarn for nothing! So, once I spin my snarl yarn, I _promise_ to dust of the old camera and upload a photo of it.
Thursday, April 12, 2007
One of the things that helped me (besides the major help, a 3 gram spindle! sheesh, it would _stop_ the moment I drafted anything thicker than a cobweb -- great learning tool!) was this "fun fact":
Expert spinners from the Shetland Isles spin their finest Shetland neck wool at 5 strands in their singles; your typical experienced spinner spins their finest at 12 strands in their singles.
Here's a collection of tips on fine spinning that I've compiled from my own attempts in this area (formerly published as "The Bellwether's Tips on Fine Spinning" with the Natalie spindle and in NwRSA's Loose Threads, used with permission, © The Bellwether, yadayada)
- Yarn thickness is a function of the width of the drafting triangle.
To spin finely, the drafting triangle must be fairly thin.
- Know your staple length.
With so few strands of fiber in the drafting triangle when spinning fine, knowing your staple length lets you gauge where the limits are and how long the drafting triangle can safely be. The length of the drafting triangle depends on the staple length.
- Fun fact #1: It takes 3 strands of fiber, twisted together, to be spun yarn – 2 strands are simply twisted strands, not spun.
- Well-prepared fiber is a must.
When spinning fine, it is best to use well-prepared roving or top to ensure uninterrupted spinning and minimal breakage in the fiber supply.
- Woolen preparations (roving, rolags) will cause some puffiness in the resulting yarn. If puffiness is not desirable, use top or comb the fiber to align the individual fibers.
- Your spindle is “full” when it is no longer easy to spin.
The extra weight will affect the spindle. For example, your yarn may break more often, the spindle may not spin as long, or your fiber may slip around the whorl and even “release” itself up through the hook.
- When spinning fine, you don’t need much fiber to fill a spindle.
Especially when using a lightweight spindle, the weight of the fiber will make it be full very quickly. Don’t work from a one pound ball of roving, rather, break off 1 foot lengths of roving or top to spin from.
- If your spindle is backspinning, this may mean that you are spinning too thickly for the weight of the spindle; the spindle’s weight has to overcome the pull of the twist in the yarn. A 5 gram spindle can only spin a very fine single, close to or below cobweb weight, and likely will not be able to ply it. A 10 gram spindle can spin and ply laceweight singles.
- Since the singles are yarn, you can ply easily on a much larger spindle or even your wheel.
- Use fiber crimp to judge how fine wool can be spun for soft, lofty yarn. The thickness of the final ply should be the same as twice the crimp, and the final twists per inch should match the crimps per inch (Ann Fields, Spinning Wool: Beyond the Basics)
- Wind singles from your spindle into a tight ball to ply from.
A center pull ball for 2-end plying will collapse and knot due to the kinkiness of finely spun yarn. Take two balls and hold them in your hand to ply from; they should be about the size of a peach pit, or the Chinese stress balls. (Connie Delaney, Spindle Spinning, from Novice to Expert)
- Fun fact #2:
Expert spinners from the Shetland Isles spin their finest Shetland neck wool at 5 strands in their singles; your typical experienced spinner spins their finest at 12 strands in their singles.
- The finer the yarn, the more twist is needed to hold it together.
Also, very short staple lengths like cotton need more twist – almost to the point of having “corkscrews” or “beads” on the singles when held relatively taut. The ply-back test should be tight at the bottom loop, not open at all. (Advice from the spindlitis Yahoo Groups list, various posts.)
- Angora should be spun fine and tightly enough not to halo.
The angora halo will raise when the skein is “whacked” after washing, or when the yarn is being knit. To “whack” a skein: wrap a newly washed skein in a towel and swing it hard onto a counter or against a wall.
- Silk needs tight twist to keep its sheen.
The sheen of silk will be lost if it is spun too loosely; a high twist will keep the sheen. When washing silk, don’t let it sit in water for more than 5 minutes, as soaking can damage the fibers (advice from Joan Contraman of Crosspatch Creations.) Silk should also be “whacked” after washing (advice from the spindlers Yahoo Groups list, various posts.)
- Qiviut has a short staple length, and is usually spun very fine.
Like angora and silk, qiviut skeins are usually “whacked” on the counter top after they are washed.
- To remove your singles from a spindle with turnings on the shaft, wrap a self-stick note just below the singles and slide the cop onto it. The paper & cop can then be slid off of the spindle and onto a knitting needle or skewer for plying. Many thanks to a customer for this contribution.
I found a great post from another blogger on the topic as well, see
FiberLife's post on Frog Hair and Hamster Floss (love the title!)
(question from knittyspins, this day)
Do you have fine spinning advice to share? Wheel or spindle, I'm always looking to learn more! Comment here, link back, or email me. Thanks!
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
If you want to do a "real" long draw on a drop spindle (top or bottom whorl would both work), you'll need to start each new length ahka-style so there's no pull on the unspun fiber at the start of the draw. Once the yarn hangs together, you can "drop" the spindle and spin it normally.
That said, I've spun really fine fibers on a top-whorl spindle in the standard drop-spindle mode -- either with alot of fast inch-worming, or by having alot of twist ready to move into the unspun, drafted section so it's yarn-enough to take the weight of the spindle. It takes a fair amount of practice, though (or, it did me!)
You can also mimic a long-draw style on a drop spindle by spinning a more woolen yarn -- do not compress continuously along the length, but pinch-and-release to let twist into the unspun portion all at once, then move your pinching hand up to the unspun roving, and draft more above it before allowing twist in.
Now, there are plenty of great spindles designed for long draw spinning: the ahka, a great walking support spindle; the tahkli, a great fine-spinning support spindle; the Russian spindle, a traditional cashmere support spindle; and the Navajo spindle, a wonderful support spindle for anything from lofty singles to strong singles for Navajo plying.
I also ran across a wonderful description of Anasazi cotton spinning on a Hohokum style spindle -- this is a smaller-than-Navajo style spindle used to both spin and ply cotton.
(based on a posting by me on spindlers, this day)
Sunday, April 8, 2007
This is a short posting due to the Spring Break and Easter weekend ... the kids are home during the day, keeping me on my toes and running!
I spun up four ounces of wool/silk/faux angora blend on my spindles at the Camp Burton Spin-In, using my Tabachek Bog Oak top whorl and my Kundert -- I'd spin each spindle full, then join the ends and wind onto one, for a bigger ball. This
is going to be a nalbound hat, combined with the two ounces I did last year, they won a blue ribbon at the county fair! There's another 4 ounce bag to be spun yet, in case I need more. So it's 6 ounces so far, maybe 10 ounces before I'm done.
Also I did some sampling on my spindles, starting with a two-ply yarn. That is, I took a finished two ply, added twist and then cabled it, to see if I would get a thicker yarn. Surprisingly (to me!) I didn't -- it was the same thickness as the
two-ply, just muuuuch more twist. So that didn't work.
Then I "unplied" the two-ply into two side-by-side strands, made a center-pull ball of that rather "active" unply, and made a 4-ply from it. _That_ was thicker, and
enough thicker to be the sweater I'd like to knit. Can't say I'll do the rest of this un-plying/re-plying on the spindles, but it was a great way to sample!
Last fall I spun up 4 ounces of superwash Corriedale on my spindles and 3-plied it for my mother as a gift, as she loves to knit with handspun. That was a great colorway called "Glorious". Superwash is a great dyeing fiber, as the colors strike so brightly, compared to the same colors on regular wool.
The largest single quantity I've spindle-spun is about a pound of brown Romney, spun on Navajo spindles for felted clogs. I two-plied, not sure if I did the plying on the Navajo or my trusty top-whorls.
The "fastest" spindle project was 4 ounces of laceweight spun and then knit into a shawl -- the spindling was one month, a spindlitis challenge, and the knitting was 2 or 3 -- the fineness of the wool led to using size 1 needles!
So, what's your largest spindle project? I'd love to hear! Comment here, post a link to this "meme" on your blog, or email me -- ask =at= thebellwether =dot= com.
(based on a post by me to spindlitis, March 2007)
Thursday, April 5, 2007
(I know, I know -- I need to get back in picture mode! working on it ...)
This article is about copying the spinning of commercial yarn. See an earlier article on dyeing self-patterning yarns.
If you can get your hands on a sample of the commercial yarn you like, look at how many plies it has (sometimes I try to duplicate that, but alot of commercial yarns are crazy numbers of plies, like 6! eek... I think Tofutsies was 4 plies with each ply having 2 plies within it), the wraps per inch, and the twist angle. Granted, they have machinery spinning the fibers and you're human, but mimicing WPI and twist angle/TPI can guide you along the path toward a similar feeling handspun.
You will find that a 3-ply gives a much rounder yarn than a 2-ply, so for mimicry's sake, you might want to make at least a 3-ply to make something closer to the commercial yarn's many plies.
Some commercial yarns that look like singles may actually not be; but don't let that stop you. You can still mimic their wraps per inch and twist angle with handspun singles.
When mimicing commercial singles such as Brown Sheep, I like to take a 6 inch piece of the commercial yarn, tie the ends together so it is folded on itself, and put it in a sink of warm water. This will activate the twist so I can see what my ply-back test should look like when I'm copying the singles.
Doing this warm-water test even with plied yarns lets you know if the commercial yarn was spun to be balanced, overplied or underplied as well -- I have only tested out singles, but commercial yarns are often steam-finished, which sets the twist quite thoroughly.
(expansion of a post by me on knittyspins, 21mar07)
Wednesday, April 4, 2007
It's News From The Bellwether Time! Wow -- there were so many great newsletter name entries, both on the blog and off-line. To re-cap:
Amelia said, how about: The Bellwether Shop News or News From The Bellwether.
(Hey, I never said I couldn't enter my own contest -- but don't worry, with my suggestions, I'm sure not to win! That's why I held the contest!!)
Mintdee said, how about: The Bellringer.
Wow! a great first entry in the contest, I really love this one!
Worldygirl said, how about: Wether Report
Then she came back later with: Bellwether Beacon or Bellwether Harbinger as plays on words, Bellwether Roving Around or BellwetherReport all one word, or Fibellwether Report
... so productive and brainstorming away! gotta love that effort!
Kim of Cornerstone Fibres said, how about For whom the Bell Toils.
Ha-ha, toils, I get it! another pun! and toil it can be at times, slogging through bookkeeping. But I love my customers, my products, and plugging away at the website. The challenge of a little accounting isn't going to stop me!
Blog-free Heidi said, how about: "The Bell Toll", or even "The Belle Toll".
Heidi was our first multiple entrant (worldygirl came in with her second-plus entries later). Terrific! And Toll -- a double entendre, even if unintended. double-terrific!
strikkeforsker said, how about: "Bellwether Spin"?
Oooh spin. Have y'all see the FibervilleUSA Spin? A great newsletter, free for signing up! I have an article in their upcoming newsletter on spinning singles -- so subscribe now! And the name from strikkeforsker is a double entendre, again! coolio.
Lisa said, how about "The Bell Tells" or "Sheep Tales Weekly"
I love the rhyme in The Bell Tells. Maybe The Belle Tells, for me, the belle of the Bellwether? hehe. This one's right up there with Bell Ringer. Love it!
Michelle/Loredena said, how about As the Bell Turns.
Hehe, a pun on soap operas for sure. And sometimes I am spinning like a top around here, turning from task to task!
Well, it was tough -- and in the end I picked something else entirely ... Bellefeathers! But we do have winners -- mintdee for "Bellringer" and Lisa for "The Bell Tells". They are my favorites -- if there'd been a clear favorite, I might not have had to come up with something else. So, mintdee and Lisa -- if your blogs don't have your email addresses, please email me (ask -at- thebellwether -dot- com) and I'll get your fibery presents on their way to you!
And, I've started a new del.icio.us tag (see topical on the blog sidebar...) called "SpinTips" -- a collection of links of useful spinning information. So far, it's mainly twist angles -- but I'll be adding more links in future. You can RSS-subscribe to SpinTips too, to see when new links are added. Cool! Technology being useful again.
I am still in major post-show recovery mode. I didn't take my camera to the Whidbey spin-in, but a blogger was there snapping photos, so when I find her blog entry I'll let you know! Recovery mode means -- some of the orders from the weekend are packed, but so far I am still packing, with plans to ship them all and be caught up tomorrow. Today was spent re-inventorying fiber so I can get a new Rhyme Times ready and do proper website updates.
I'll do my best to have some new goodies on the website (and in the newsletter!) soon; in the meantime, I've restocked the mini sock blockers (yay!) though they are now $0.50 more due to a supplier price change (sorry!) ... and ... I have a new (gasp!) box of Forrester Spindles and treats. If you'd like the list of Forrester items before they get on the website, email me -- ask -at- thebellwether -dot- com and I'll email you the list. Now, I'm still suffering from email problems, so if you don't hear back from me, try the other email that's shown on www.thebellwether.com.
Be sure to let me know what you think of the newsletter's official name! I'd love a logo-munge for it (hint, hint). And let your friends know about The Bellwether and the blog!
Monday, April 2, 2007
Easter egg dyes can be fun to use for accidental or purposeful dyeing. The headband shown here was spun up from bits of wool stuffed into the remains of the easter egg dye pots one year. I simply added an extra glug of vinegar to each of the little plastic cups, stuffed a bit of wool in, microwaved them for 4 minutes (2 on, 2 rest, then 2 more on), then rinsed the wool out and laid it out to dry.
Check the ingredients in the dye, they are usually in very small print on the box somewhere. If it has citric acid, then you won't need to add as much vinegar or citric acid to the dye. I'd recommend still adding some, just to be safe. You can add either one if you want to make sure there's enough acid for the dye to strike, or pre-soak your wool in a sink full of water to which several healthy glugs of vinegar have been added.
Easter egg dyes are acid dyes, so they work much like kool-aid dyes or commercial acid dyes. I'd recommend pre-dissolving the dye pellets in warm water before mixing them into your dye bath or painting onto the wool.
Or, for a very striking result, you might try this:
Presoak your wool in a warm water/vinegar solution, ensuring it is completely wet. Crumble easter egg dye pellets onto the wool, and pour on more warm water/vinegar to ensure it is soaked but not sloshy in wool. Wrap it all up in plastic wrap, and in a non-food microwave, on high power, run it 2 minutes on, rest 2 minutes, then 2 more minutes on. Let the microwaved wet wool cool in the sink without any water, then unwrap it and rinse it in lukewarm water until the water runs clear.
If you prefer not to microwave, place the crumbled-upon skeins into a non-food steamer and steam them for 30 minutes to an hour, then cool them and rinse them as described above.
This technique of crumbling the pellets onto the wool will lead to quite rich, but incomplete, coverage.
Also, I've noticed easter egg dyes do split, where the mix of colors in a dye pellet separate and are taken up by the wool separately, so instead of a purple, for example, you'll get a red and blue streaked fiber. You could recard it into a purple, or enjoy the variegation.
For a solid-color dye, I'd dissolve the pellet(s) in warm water, then add more water and vinegar, bring the dyebath up to steaming (sub-boil), add the wetted wool, and let it steam (not boil!) until the dye bath is clear -- yes, the water does clear, as the wool takes up all the dye! How cool is that. I'd expect easter egg dye pellets have filler in them, so it would be hard to say how much wool they would dye a medium shade; if you don't use enough, you will get pastel hues, and if you use too much, the dye bath won't become clear. So if it isn't clear after about 45 minutes, you've used too much. If your wool is too pale, you can add more dissolved pellets and let the wool take up more dye. Now, if the dye in the pellets split, your "solid color" wool may end up odd colors.
There are some great solar dye experiments done by Rita, you could try that method with easter egg dyes.
Since easter egg dyes are acid dyes, you can also use them to dye silk, nylon, and other animal fibers. If you use them to dye a wool/tencel or a wool/cotton blend, the tencel won't take up the dye, so you will get a tweedy effect. That's cool, too!
(expansion of a recent post by me on dyehappy)
Aha. So the recent ever-so-brief explanation was not enough for you, I can understand that completely!
There are great explanations with pictures in the books
Essentials of Yarn Design by Mabel Ross
Spinning Designer Yarn by Diane Varney
I know it takes mohair or ingeo or a few other fibers to get the loops to loop correctly. I expect it may have something to do with the crimps per inch of the fiber -- if I had to guess, I'd say look for a fiber with not more than 3 crimps per inch. The drawing shows you what I mean about crimp length, as opposed to fiber, or staple length... (picture © 2006 The Bellwether, from Spindling: The Basics, used with permission.)
Here's a discussion page I found with a similarly brief description of boucle, but with a ton of additional feedback and further explanation that really helps explain things:
They point out there that the Winter 2005 Spin-Off has an article on novelty yarns, including boucles, by Judith Mackenzie-McCuin.
And if you are anywhere near Puyallup WA, on April 20th, 2007, then I can heartily recommend that you sign up for the class "Boucle Without Tears" by Diane Bentley-Baker at the Shepherd's Extravaganza. She's a terrific teacher and funny to boot!
(this posting inspired by recent questions on spindlers and SpinningOnTheEdge)