Hehe, I knew if I kept tagging myself eventually I'd get tagged too -- thanks Pam So here goes ...
Rules of the Game...
1. Reveal 7 random items about myself (of course these will be spinning things!)
2. tag 7 people and list their names here. then direct them to my blog to read the rules of the game
So here we go
7 random (spinnerly) things about myself
1. High-crimp fine-ish wools are my favorite things to spin. CVM especially!
Every spinning list in the world eventually has the Q & A what's your favorite fiber, and this is always my response. Sure, there's cashmere (oooh) and silk (aaah) but I just love the bounce of CVM and CVM-like wools for knitting.
2. I feel like I have more control over my spindle-spun yarn than over my wheel spun -- I can spin finer and spin more difficult fibers on my spindles.
3. I am STABLE -- and as much as I try to "spin from my stash", new bits and pieces keep sneaking in. 5 new fleeces a year from my flock, too -- what's a woman to do?
4. My stash has every type of fiber in it -- wools, silks, cottons, exotics -- except the poly-white-cut-up-soda-bottle stuff. It was still around when I started spinning, but has since disappeared from the marketplace.
5. My mother taught me to knit, crochet, sew, and make flowers from felt and pipe cleaners. We took a mother/daughter pottery class together too. But she's not a spinner.
6. I taught myself how to spin with a grommet-less CD spindle, coat hanger, and Lee Raven's Hands on Spinning. Quickly "graduated" to a Mongold spindle and a Louet S-10!
7. My oldest spinning projects are: spinning wool for nalbound socks for my son. I ran out of the red, so it will be an "accent" ... need to spin the grey ... and relearn nalbinding! And spinning cotton for a woven tote. It's an undulating twill, which is a hoot to weave, it's the cotton spinning that's taking time -- I love charka spinning, which is where I'm doing this, but I just don't pull the big one down or open up the little one often enough -- see #1 ;-)
My oldest unstarted project is a woven scarf with White Shetland neck wool from one of my (past) Shetlands, Pi and white Cashmere from one of my (past, too, sniffle) Cashmere goats, Winter. I'm thinking a nice arrowhead twill for that one ... the Shetland's washed, the Cashmere's dehaired, but I have not started the spinning yet ... hmmm maybe after the summer shows, it will be time! yeah! a new project! from my stash ;-) so I get points for that.
7.5 I bought a sock machine so I'd have more time to spin -- I felt I'd spin sock yarns and knit up a ton of socks. Ha ha ha -- now my commercial sock yarn collection rivals my sock fiber collection!
I couldn't resist throwing in an extra one, consider it a bonus!
so, Now for the seven to be tagged
1. -put your name here-
2. -put your name here-
3. -put your name here-
4. -put your name here-
5. -put your name here-
6. -put your name here-
7. -put your name here-
Come on, you know who you are and you want to play ;-) ... and wouldn't it be cool if The Yarn Harlot decided to play? (With apologies to my regular blog readers -- please _do_ consider yourself tagged -- I'm heading out of town tomorrow and wanted to spend time making sure I wasn't tagging people who _already_ did this meme! I'll come back next week and try to do some remedial tagging, if I need too... thanks for understanding!)
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Hehe, I knew if I kept tagging myself eventually I'd get tagged too -- thanks Pam So here goes ...
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Because this needed to be rich in pictures to clearly show what I was doing, I ended up posting it as a flickr set with instructions accompanying each picture.
This flickr set is a pictorial on how to spin a Crosspatch Signature Batt -- or any highly textured, layered batt :-) it's all good!
If you prefer to work from an abbreviated list, you can use these notes; or click the links for more details on one. Click the big picture above to see the full sized pictures on flickr, or to watch them as a slideshow.
1. The Bag of Crosspatch Creations Signature Batt Lady Slipper
2. read Joan's spinning tips on the bag
3. Take the batts out of the bag
4. sideview of the batts
5. underside of the batts
6. Split the batt lengthwise
7. topview of splitting the batt
8. completed first split
9. Now split one of those halves...
10. And then split the other half again...
11. Now break each length into small sections
12. Jumble up the segments
13. Start Spinning
14. Draft each piece as you go
15. ply back test
16. remember - this spins into a textured yarn!
17. did I mention texture?
18. Leave the end of a segment fluffy
19. Make a V to join
20. form a join
21. Join is formed
22. Singles, three thicknesses
23. Preparing to 2-ply with Handy Andy
24. Andy ready to ply
25. Bobbins! (single, 2-ply, and 3-ply)
26. Tower of Bobbins!
27. Skeins on Treadle
28. Closeup of the skeins
29. Another skein shot (no flash)
Created with fd's Flickr Toys. And I can't tell you how pleased I was to run across this little flickr toy!
Comments on this style of post? Comments or questions on spinning a Crosspatch Signature Batt? Feel free to comment here, on flickr, or email me.
If you've spun your singles and then immediately turned around and plied, it's very possible your yarn is balanced, and the only reason to wash it would be to remove any oils, dirt or dust introduced while spinning.
I usually leave my singles on the bobbin at least overnight, which means when I ply a balanced yarn, it "acts" overplied, since the singles' twist set a bit while it rested on the bobbins. So, a soak in a warm sink will let everything relax back into the balanced state and I should get a balanced skein that I can simply hang to dry without weights.
That said, I also like to spin singles. I wash them mainly to clean them, and then while they are drying, I hang them with a soup can (a big, 14 oz. lentil soup can :-) ) laced through the bottom loops. If I've done a really_good job of minimizing twist in the singles, then a simple handtowel through the bottom loops does the job.
If my plied skein isn't balanced, I'll weight it with as little as I can, so as not to remove the "bounce" from the yarn -- so I try a hand-towel, and only move up to a soup can if that doesn't work.
So, I always wash the skein and hang it, and put weight on it only if it's not behaving once it's had its warm bath.
That said, I've been spinning crazy yarn lately, that won't take a wash, like the "loop" yarn shown here.
For that one, I put it tightly around a niddy noddy and left it for a MONTH. Whew. Patience required for that one, and a "spare" niddy noddy. The twist is set, it's pretty, and it's art -- since I can't wash it! LOL. (washing would make the loops curl up on themselves, not the intended effect!)
(based on a post by me on Spin-List)
Friday, May 25, 2007
Wow! things are hopping around here. I am glad to see the longer days, and am having fun preparing to teach at the NwRSA Conference ("All Those Spindles!" and "Woven Beret").
There are some fun new Totally Tubular Spinning Kits on thebellwether.biz -- great colorways! This one is "Mountains and Rivers", it is the one I am using to knit the next booth sample, the silken scarf.
There is a new version of the miniature sock blocker keychain -- you can get a kit with sock yarn for $4 or handspun for $5! Still available "naked" and with our terrific spinning kit. And, just ask -- if Quinilla in Blue Jeans isn't your colorway of choice, I'm happy to substitute another. I just knit one in Southwest Quinilla, tres' chic!
In the not-yet-on-the-website list, I have travellers again! yay! Email me for the list. Kat has taught her son to make them, and they are now back in stock.
As far as old website news goes -- books are on sale! 30% off! My plan is to have a focus on spinning and nalbinding titles only, so all the others are on sale. And yes, I do barter -- ask.
In related but non-Bellwether news, I'd like to mention Spindle Shots -- a new Flickr group! It's for photographs of your spindles, spindling tools, and spindle-spun yarns. Join the fun -- it needn't be a spindle purchased from The Bellwether, or fiber from The Bellwether. I'm a spindle maniac, I love them all, and I'd love to see your spindles and spindle-spun there too!
join Spindle Shots at flickr.com
Thanks for reading Bellefeathers, and for some great recent posts on plying, organizing spinning, PVC niddy-noddies and more, be sure to see the whole blog!
Kate from Massachusetts asked, "Could you please do a blog entry on how to ply a 2-ply yarn that comes out well? Mine never seem to look good." Thanks for asking, Kate.
There are alot of factors that affect how the yarn comes out. One thing to consider is your own opinion -- I always am harder on my yarn than on other peoples' handspun. It took someone (several someones) saying to me, 'actually yours is as good as hers' when I was trying to tell them my yarn wasn't as good as another local spinner whose yarn I always drool over. Talk about an ego boost! Well, once I finished patting myself on the back, I decided to be less hard on myself, and now I am enjoying my yarn alot more!
But if you want more practical, pointed advice, read on...
First things first -- what fiber are you spinning? If it's neppy, dirty, smelly, or generally poor quality, you won't get nice yarn from it. The better your preparation, the better your results. Generally it's easiest to learn with a nice wool roving; not a blend, not raw wool, and not even combed top -- combed tops tend to be slippery and also "sticky", so they draft uneasily if you aren't well practiced in drafting yet (sigh, and even if you are...)
Some blends are made to give textured results -- so if you are using such a blend, such as the Crosspatch batts shown here, then you should expect texture in your yarn, not a smooth result. That's why Joan puts on all her packages, "This blend spins into a textured yarn."
If your goal is a smooth yarn with a balanced ply, then make sure you are starting with a fiber or blend that will spin into one.
Next, you need to sample. Spin a little up on your spindle or wheel and do a ply-back test. To do this, relax the yarn so it can twist back on itself as shown in the picture. This natural ply-back shows you what your 2-ply will look like. In the picture, you can see it is very fluffy -- this is great for a single, but a bit loose for a 2-ply unless you want a really fluffy yarn.
Generally I like my 2-ply a bit tighter than this, because if it's this fluffy, the needles are likely to split the yarn all the time. And I want to enjoy knitting it as much as I enjoy spinning it!
So, the ply-back tells you several things: are you spinning your singles fine enough or thick enough for your final 2-ply yarn? Do you have enough twist in the singles for a nice 2-ply yarn? Keep modifying the amount you draft and the amount of twist you put in until you are happy with the result -- that's the sampling you need to do up front, to get a result you need.
The amount of twist for the 2-ply is a personal choice, based on your intended use of the fiber and the fiber itself. The ply-back test is a tool to help you judge if you have a yarn suited to its intended purpose.
Once you have a nice 2-ply ply-back test result, break off a length of it (yes, this is the sample you save!). I take a piece of cardboard and wrap it around, fluffing out the end so I can see how much was drafted, and keeping the other end 2-plied so I can see how much twist is in it.
Keep this card in your spindle tote or with your fiber/wheel, and put it nearby so you can see it while you spin.
To keep your singles a consistent thickness, keep in mind how much you need to draft, how you were spinning the yarn -- were you squeezing as you went, or not -- and do the ply-back test to check the amount of twist you have in it. I'll do that little ply back test for almost every length I spin -- at least once a yard. That way, if I've wandered into the land of too much twist, I can put a little less in the next yard and have it all even out in the wash. Or, if I've put in too little twist, I can put a little extra in the next yard.
So, you have all your singles spun -- now, it's time to ply! If you can let your bobbins or spindle rest, overnight or a couple of days, the singles will be alot easier to work with, because the twist will have begun to set in them. However this means you can't test for a balanced ply when you do ply -- because if the ply "seems" balanced, then you have actually under-plied your yarn. Oops.
So, pull out that sample card again and look at that nicely plied sample -- that is what you want your ply to look like. When you first start the plying, put in some twist, and compare it side-by-side with that sample. Are the two plies in your newly spun at the same angle as those on the card? yes? yay! no? try adding twist or taking twist out until they match. Keep doing this until you get a feel for how much twist you need to put in.
Now, if you have good light and eyesight then you can also look at the individual fibers -- a balanced ply will have the individual fibers running parallel along the length of the yarn. I can only do this balance test when I have a multi-fiber batt like the one shown above -- pink, black, and white I can distinguish; individual fibers of the same oreo brown, I cannot.
Once you are comfortable with the amount of twist, be sure to compare to the sample card again every so often so you don't wander too far away from your goal.
Whew! now you have a nice bobbin full of 2-ply yarn. But you aren't done yet. Washing the skein is just as important, especially if you made twist adjustments in the singles, and to balance out the amount of twist in the yarn along its length overall.
So, wash your skein in a sink of warm water with a little wool wash or dish soap (why?): fill the sink with water and soap, let the skein sink into it for 20 minutes, no agitation. Then squeeze out the skein, refill the sink with just water, and let it soak for 10-15 to rinse. Re-do the rinse bath if needed.
Once it is washed and the water is squeezed out, roll it up in a towel to squeeze out some more. Then take the towel-and-skein by one end and whack it on the counter top. Really loudly -- it makes everyone in the house come running! Do the same from the other end. This helps distribute the twist along the skein, very lightly fulls the yarn to make it have a nice finish, and helps halo-y yarns to halo (angora and mohair).
If that's not really your thing, then take the squeezed out skein and hang it around your wrists; then bring your hands together and quickly apart, to jerk the skein a bit. This also helps distribute twist around the skein.
Hang the skein without weights to dry -- if it is balanced, then at this point it should hang evenly without twisting on itself. If it isn't balanced, then see these notes on tips on after-the-spinning fixes.
Whew! you hung in there. Here are those skeins from the top, with a little commentary...
Brown skein is 2-ply llama, spun on a spindle, when I was still learning about plying. It's a little underplied, and the spinning in the singles is also a little uneven. But it's a lovely laceweight yarn and the other half of the skein knit into a lovely little shawl similar to this one.
Red skein is 2-ply Louet Gaywool multicolor merino/silk blend top, spun on a Louet S-45. It has a nice twist; this top was really nice to spin, it drafted out evenly (so take what I said about top above with a grain of salt). And this yarn turned out very well -- it got a blue ribbon :-) but there's only an ounce of it, so I have no specific plans for it.
Marled skein of white and greens is Cormo handspun ... but, I didn't spin it, LOL. It is nice and cushy, the spinner did a great job of spinning a lofty fiber, which is what Cormo wants to be. And, it's not the most even spinning but it works with this fiber and the marling. I also had some white Cormo handspun by the same lady, and that is now a cable hat (the "cable sampler" in Cable Needle Freedom).
The blue and greens skein is Corriedale two-ply, some of my most recent spinning, done on a Majacraft Suzie Alpaca wheel (I sold my Little Gem and Schacht to replace them with this wheel, which has nice features of both!). I used the sampling described here, though I admit I didn't write anything on its sample card as I spun it up one day and plied it the next.
There you have it -- everything I know about making a good looking 2-ply yarn. If you want to put your yarn in competitions, there are a few more after-the-spinning tips I can give you.
If you want another viewpoint on spinning a good-looking 2-ply, Abby has recently started a new thread on her blog on plying! Talk about serendipity.
Questions, comments? fire away -- comment here or email them in.
The top slit has the new yarn sample fluffed out so I can see how much to draft, and the bottom slit holds the plied result, for the plies I want in my final yarn (a 2-ply, here).
I can scribble notes on the card and usually do:
- wool source (a Romney named Oreo, here)
- spinning style (worsted, 2 ply)
- intended project (felted clogs -- did 'em!)
- where/when I bought it
- when I started spinning it
- what I was spinning it on "spindle and wheel" here -- this was on a Navajo spindle and a Louet-S10, my first wheel.
This is from my second-ever spinning project - it got saved with other memorabilia, and is a fun way to remember the spinning of the wool and the clogs, now that my dad has appropriated them for himself.
(inspired by the spindlitis May challenge)
I admit, I don't do these for all projects, just the ones in danger of being UFO'd for a while. If I've finished the spinning but not the knitting, I've taken to stuffing the pattern in with the yarn -- otherwise I end up with yarn I forget what I was going to do with (yes, that has happened!) Even if I change my mind, it's a nice reminder of my original intentions. Like the wrist warmers that became a Clapotis instead (okay, are-becoming, it's still not knit)
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
In terms of how much fiber to spin to have 200 yards, you'll need to look at "yards per pound" measures relative to "wraps per inch" measures. Now, this can vary _alot_ depending on the relative weight of the wool -- this gets into terms like "grist" that make me cringe ;-) but just realize that if you squeeze the air out of your yarn, it will be denser and thus heavier for a given length than yarn spun to the same thickness but unsqueezed.
That is why, when you try to make yarn charts on WPI relative to YPP, you get such wide YPP ranges. There's one other online chart, here: http://www.spinderellas.com/patterns/yarnchart.html
Using the Yarn Standards from the CYCA, and the wraps per inch from the KnitPicks catalog, along with the above chart, this is a mapping of standard yarn thicknesses to yarn weights (remember I warned you, the YPP ranges are huge!)
Sorry for the gap ... or maybe this is blogger's way of interjecting a "spoiler alert, eh?"
6 or less
400 or less
So ... if by medium weight you mean the CYCA #4 medium, then you're talking a worsted weight yarn of about 9-11 WPI, which is about 900-500 yards per pound, so you'd want anywhere from 4 to just under 8 ounces of fiber. You'd need less for spinning "woolen" or airy, unsqueezed yarn and more fiber if you are spinning "worsted" or compressed, smooth/tight yarn.
(based on a post by me on spinning_camp, 23May07)
I gauge the singles for my 2-ply at 1.5 x the wraps per inch (WPI) of the ply -- so for a 20 WPI 2-ply, I want a 30 WPI single.
And, there are 25.4 MM marks per inch, so I know I need my single to be slightly smaller than 1 MM, to squeeze 30 of them into the inch...
(as opposed to using, say, the 1/16 marks on my ruler as a guide and getting 2 singles within one, for 32 WPI...)
For a 3-ply, I aim at having my singles be twice the WPI of my final yarn -- so for a 20 WPI 3-ply, singles need to be 40 WPI.
Once I figure out what I need, I draft and spin and sample a bit until I get a clear picture of how finely I need to draft it out, and then I take a mental picture and also a physical sample of newly spun single wrapped around a small piece of cardboard, with the end fluffed out so I can see how much fiber is in it.
The card is also a useful place to note the fiber type, source, and the date I started spinning it ... useful for those extended, 3-year projects!
(based on a post by me on spindlitis, 19May07)
Dyeing yarn on a PVC niddy-noddy is a nice way to get regular gradations in the skein. But... regular PVC pipe will bend under heat, such as the heat used in a dye pot (... the voice of experience, sigh ...). Rigid CPVC pipe is needed to handle the high temperature without warping your niddy-noddy.
So, you will need to make your own CPVC niddy-noddy from high temperature CPVC. This comes in about 1" diameter pipe and in T-joints (yay!), so you can get pipe and 2 T-joints and make your own CPVC niddy. The T-joints will add about two inches to the overal niddy-noddy length, so cut the pipe for the center arm about 2 inches shorter than you want your niddy size to be. The pipe is fairly easy to cut with a rigid saw - if you don't already have one, ask for that at the hardware store too.
If it helps you find it at the plumbing pipe section of your hardware store -- CPVC is typically beige, while PVC comes in a variety of colors, usually white and black, but also beige and designer colors.
For example, to wind a 4' skein (fairly standard full-bobbin skein size), you would cut your center arm to be 10 inches. Since you are making your own CPVC niddy, though, you could cut it to a useful size for dyeing, such as one that winds a 60 inch skein -- terrific for sock yarn patterning!
I simply "pressure fit" my pipe pieces into the T-joints, they seem to stay fit reasonably well; you could plastic-cement the winding-arms into the T-joint, but not the center arm -- because it's very handy to be able to flatten your niddy for storage.
(based on a post by me on dyehappy, 23May07)
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Fiber Fool recently decided to twist this Knitting Meme into spinning -- a terrific idea! So, here you go. If you didn't know enough about what I have, want to, and don't plan to knit, now you know even more about what I have, want to, and don't plan to spin!
The directions are the same as various book memes and the knitting meme. Bold those things you have done, italicize those you wish to do, and leave plain the ones that are of no interest to you.
Fine Wools (i.e. Merino, Cormo, Rambouillet, Polwarth, CVM, Shetland, Targhee etc.)
Longwool & Crossbreed Wools (i.e. BFL, Cotswold, Lincoln, Romney, Coopworth, Teeswater, ... lots!! etc.)
Down-type Wool (i.e. Black Welsh Mountain, Dorset, Cheviot etc.)
Double Coated Wool (i.e. Icelandic, Navajo-Churro, Karakul, etc.)
Angora still need to go back and perfect my angora spinning, though!
Vicuna when I win the lottery ;-)
Bison/Buffalo is I don't remember an okay answer too?
Yak is I don't remember an okay answer too?
Cat (Ginger! my kittie -- about 2 yards, LOL)
Cotton (prepared) but only on charkas and spindles -- some day on my wheel!
Cotton from the Boll
Engineered Fibers (Rayon, Bamboo, Soysilk, Ingeo, Ecopoly, etc.)
Recycled Fibers (Sari Silk, Jeans, Garnetted, etc.)
Holographic Fibers (Angelina, etc.) -- only in blends, though.
Commercially Combed Top
Commercially Carded Roving
Hand Combed Top
Hand Carded Rolags
Hand Drum Carded Batts
FIBER TOOLS USED
Yarn Meter -- just to play with, though
Top Whorl Spindle
Mid-Whorl Spindle (Norge, Ahka)
Bottom Whorl Spindle (includes Turkish)
Supported Spindle (Navajo, Tahkli, Russian, etc.)
Portable Wheel (Little Gem, Joy, Van Eaton Fold n' Tote, Journey Wheel, Lendrum, Hitchiker, etc.)
Electric Spinner (Fricke SpinIt modified to take Majacraft flyers)
Charka (Bosworth, Indian book, attache, cigar box, Ashford, Reeves, Wyatt)
Tensioned Lazy Kate
SPINNING TECHNIQUES & YARN TYPES SPUN
Andean Plied 2-Ply (Wheel or Spindle?)
Center-Pull Ball 2-Ply (Wheel or Spindle?)
2-Ply from Bobbins/Cops
3-Ply from Bobbins/Cops
Navajo Ply 3-Ply (Chained Singles)
4+ Ply from Bobbins/Cops (does cabled count? wait a minute, I have a 4-ply UFO...)
Bulky/Super Bulky Weight
Marled Yarn (Barber-Poled Colors)
Seed Yarn (1 Thick and Soft Ply, 1 Firm and Thin)
Wrapped Spiral Yarn
Flame Yarn (Like Seed Yarn, but with Slubs)
Turkish Knot Yarn (eh? if this is knot yarn, then done it, but if it's bobbles, nope)
Boucle Yarn (only in a class, though...)
Beaded Yarn -- sequins count, right?
Encased Yarn (Fabric, Flower, Feather, etc. Captured Between Plies)
OTHER RELATED ACTIVITIES
Buy a Fleece
Wash a Fleece
Blend Fiber Types (Combed or Carded)
Blend Colors (Combed or Carded)
Dye Handspun Yarn
Dye Prepared Roving/Top
Kool-Aid/Food Coloring Dye Fiber
Natural Dye Fiber
Commercial Dye Fiber (Gaywool, Jacquard, Pro-Chem, Cushings, etc.)
Attend a Wool Festival
Take a Spinning Class
Take a Dyeing Class
Spin in Public
Teach Children to Spin
Teach Adults to Spin
Knit with Your Handspun
Crochet with Your Handspun
Weave with Your Handspun
Design a Project to Match Your Handspun
Design a Project from Fiber to FO
Spin Yarn to Match a Commercial Pattern
Make Socks from Handspun
Make a Scarf from Handspun
Make a Felted Project from Handspun -- in progress counts, right...
Make a Large Project from Handspun (Shawl, Adult Sweater, etc. >1000 yds) it's a felted tote, but it's huuuuge
Keep a Spinning Journal -- umm, I have two ... or three, but they mostly document breeds, not projects
Use A Reference Card to Aid Consistency
Spin Yarn for Pay
Process Fiber for Pay (from raw to roving/batt)
Dye Fiber for Pay -- pencil roving in my learn to spin kits (sometimes)
Write a Book on Spinning -- "Spindling: The Basics"
Write an Article on Spinning - Fiberville Spin, this blog, NwRSA's Loose Threads ... never been paid for writing articles, though.
Make DIY Spinning Tools (PVC Niddy Noddy, Nostepinne, Lazy Kate, CD Spindle, Hackle, Wrist Distaff, etc.)
What have you learned to do that has marked a definite change in your spinning life? Run a business! If I didn't have the driving "force" of The Bellwether behind me, I probably would not have explored so many avenues or met so many wonderful spinners. It elevates my spinning from hobby to research, so I can take it seriously. And that has allowed me to discover my inner well of creativity, a truly amazing feeling for this die-hard do-it-by-the-numbers engineer!
Want to join the meme? Take the list and post it on your blog with your own remarks, bolds, and italics!
And now I'm off to pursue a few more of the italicized activities!
Sunday, May 20, 2007
I promised more information on joining cotton in this post on making strong joins ... and Jen was kind enough to say she was interested! So here goes.
When I join cotton, I spin the yarn down a little finer (if I can -- or if it broke, it is usually finer than the other spinning ;-)). Then, I lay the end of the yarn over the cotton sliver or puni, usually at right angles to the sliver/puni, and start adding twist while pinching the yarn end and sliver/puni together. Cotton is so fine, the yarn grabs at the unspun cotton as twist enters the join area, and a good join is soon formed.
That said, you can join cotton in the traditional way, laying two unspun ends over each other and drafting together. It's just that with my cotton spinning, joins usually happen when my long draw draws things out too fine and the cotton snaps. And there is just so much twist in my cotton singles that finding a thicker spot to unspin usually isn't feasible.
Saturday, May 19, 2007
Kellie asked, "How long can a fleece hang around and still be useful. My BIL has fleeces left over from last year. Are they worth looking at?"
The short answer is, it depends. It depends alot on the storage conditions, the state of the fleece when it went into storage, the type of fleece. So, you aren't going to know unless you look!
A local friend of mine had fleeces going back to 1998 that she had skirted, rolled, and stored in cloth sacks cinched and hanging from the roof of her hay shed. We live in the fairly temperate Pacific Northwest, so temperature shifts aren't extreme. These were medium wool crossbreeds, and they were in fine condition. I know that because I washed and carded several of them for her.
If the fleeces get alot of temperature variation, then the lanolin will get harder to remove -- it will soften when warmed, reharden when cooled. Fine wools don't store as well as medium or coarse wools, the lanolin on them seems to get extra gummy and tough.
Really high lanolin coarse wools can get quite messy when stored, as the lanolin, in warm conditions, will move through the fleece to pool at the bottom -- leaving a bunch of fleece potentially swimming in lanoliny muck.
If they weren't well skirted before being stored, it raises the chances of critters finding them and moving in (mice, especially -- yeckkkk, but bugs too, or, eeek, moths), because the fleece has maximum stink if unskirted.
If they are stored in open bags, munchable bags, or otherwise, again, they may get discovered regardless of their skirtedness.
Alrighty-then. All that doom and gloom aside -- heck, take a look. If there's sun, do this somewhere sunny so the fleece can warm up and be more pliable. Take the fleece out of its storage sack (if it had one). Spread it out on a clean floor or table and
proceed to look it over. Besides skirting it, you'll want to check for signs of mice, bugs, and moths. Any moths -- toss the whole thing, and check near-by fleeces. Mice may simply nest and you can "edit out" their nests and trails to them -- be generous and remove alot around it. Most bugs are just static and you can take them out. Note, I always wear gloves when I skirt nasty fleeces, I don't want to touch bug guts!
And if the fleece looks usable but terrible with VM, well, I've had very good luck sending horribly dirty/VMy fleeces to Ohio Valley Natural Fibers (really old Romney, had it pin-drafted so it was carded twice) and Zeilinger's Wool Company (really VMy California Red -- they use crushers, so the VM doesn't stand a chance!)
Now, I have rather a collection of fleeces in my basement -- probably ten of them (gosh I hope my husband doesn't read my blog -- he never goes down there!). To store them safely, this is what I do:
* skirt them thoroughly
* roll them and bag them individually in really large 4-mil plastic bags (I got these at papermart -- they cost more than the 1.5-2mil ones you buy at the grocery store, but I am moth-o-phobic, having lost fleeces to moths before!)
* label the bag -- fleece breed, source, state ('raw/skirted'), notes about VM, that sort of thing
* seal the plastic bag (tape it down)
* put 1-2 plastic bags together in a well-taped-closed cardboard box
* label the box and date it, so I know when I stored the fleeces
I went through all the boxes about a year ago (these boxes were "made" about 2 years ago) and found one that had been "mothed" -- likely the moths got into the fleece in question when it was poorly stored before (by moi! sigh) Luckily it was (a) a fleece I didn't really care for, I'm just a packrat; and (b) was in a box by itself. I checked all the surrounding boxes too and they were moth-free. So I re-bagged, re-boxed, and tossed out the moth fleece as quickly as I could. It's toast.
I figure between the cardboard and the thick plastic, mice, moths & bugs are unlikely to move in. And I can go down there and moon over my fleeces all winter long, deciding which one I'll work with next summer. Ahhh summer ...
Friday, May 18, 2007
A skirted fleece is one that has been shorn from the sheep (or llama, alpaca, goat) and has had all the unusable bits removed. It's called skirting because you usually take off the outer skirt of fiber -- the stuff around the butt, the shorter/coarser hair from the legs, the really messy neck wool.
Here's a great picture of the parts of a fleece.
One of my sheep used to love to stand under the llamas while they ate, though, so I always ended up "donutting" (my term ;-) ) his wool, removing the top center of it where all the hay dust/seeds/short bits ended up.
If the shearer was an amateur (like me) then it's unlikely the fleece will still be in one cohesive piece. In that case, you end up picking through it and deciding handful by handful to keep it, toss it, or see if you can shake the VM out of it. But professional shearers take it all off in one piece, fold it by thirds, and roll it up from butt to neck -- so the outermost part is usually the neck end, should you "meet" a bagged up shorn fleece.
Now, someone hands you a raw fleece. What do you do? Skirt it, wash it, then use your nicely scoured fleece - card and spin, comb and spin, spin locks, or felt!
Start at the beginning with skirting fleece and more detail on removing hay and twigs from raw fleece.
Then move on to washing fleece, and getting muddy tips clean; be sure to consider weight loss in washing a fleece and also how to keep the wash water hot.
Typically, you card and spin washed fleece; but mohair and longwools (curly locks, basically) are great for lock spinning; and llama and alpaca are wonderful combed for spinning.
If you are interested in felting, now, that's a topic I haven't explored on the blog much yet but here is an entry on felting wool around soap!
(with my thanks to Janet's emailed question)
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Okay, so I didn't cover "top" all that well in this posting. Let's try again ...
Top is a combed preparation -- manually, we use handcombs for this, and pull the top off once it is combed. Large scale combing equipment is still a mystery to me. It's expensive -- it must be -- and maybe even takes longer than carding, because the mills that do both, charge more for combed fiber than for carded. The fibers are all parallel to each other. Because of this, it is very good for a worsted-style of spinning.
Roving is a carded preparation, and technically speaking is also supposed to have some twist in it. On handcards you roll the fiber into a rolag, which adds some twist to them, but on a drum carder, typically the carding doesn't twist the fibers, just brushes them into a neat batt. So, batts can appear to be 'top', but they aren't combed, just brushed into a semi-organized state that can be spun almost worsted.
The abso-positively-lutely exact term for roving without twist is sliver, at least it seems to be what Ashford uses to describe their carded but untwisted wool. So batts are very similar to "sliver", just much wider and flatter ;-)
Because roving and rolags are carded and have some twist of the fibers in them, they are great for trapping air within the spinning, which makes for a good woolen-spun yarn.
(based on a posting by me on Spin-List, 17May07)
Spinning space-dyed roving leads to many possibilities -- how will the colors "play" with one another when you ply? Will they be muddy? Will the lovely red and purple turn into some sort of mauve from a distance? How can you control this?
I prefer my knitting yarns to be 3 plies, and I usually Navajo ply, but lately I don't usually try to keep the 3 strands in the Navajo the same -- usually I try to fade in/ fade out if the color changes are long enough -- a Navajo loop that's AAB, then a loop that's BBB then a loop that's BCC (or, ABB, BBB, BBC ... or, AAB, BBB, BBC ... you get the idea ...) this gives some heathering around the color changes.
Actually, I started Navajo plying this way (mixing colors) because of a two-ply I once did: split a space-dyed roving in half, spin half onto one bobbin and half onto another. Then ply the two together. It came surprisingly close to matching up, and the color runs didn't get so far off track, that the color changes stayed together, with ... a little bit of heathering around the changes! I liked the look, so I brought it into my Navajo plying. The picture shows the experiment -- the left glove is "perfectly" Navajo plied, and the right glove is a 2-ply with the colors almost matching up at the edges. Aaaaah. (This fiber was from a Totally Tubular Spinning Kit with the Fingerling Gloves.)
So, there are two options for you ;-) sample, experiment, see what you like...
(this is based on a post by me to sockamaniacspindlespinners, 24apr07)
(the roving at the top is Baabette's Fleece, a locally dyed fiber I bring to shows but have not yet put up on the web site ... see it in person at The Bellwether's booth at NwRSA in C'our d'Alene ID and at Black Sheep Gathering in Eugene OR!)
Monday, May 14, 2007
Silk top is a lovely fiber to spin. That said, it can be a challenge to the new spinner, since it is very slippery compared to wool. Wool fibers have scales on them, which help them hang together. Silk has no scales, it is very fine and smooth. That is also why it is so shiny -- light bounces off of its smooth surface.
Silk also has a fairly long staple length -- so if you have been spinning fine wools with short staples, you will find you need to keep your hands further apart to draft easily when spinning silk. Keep your hands at least 6-9 inches apart so that the silk fibers can draft -- you want your hands further apart than the staple length of the silk fibers so you aren't tugging both ends of a fiber when you draft in a one-spinner tug of war.
When spinning silk, you will find it needs alot of twist to hang together ... my "test" for alot of twist is to let it twist back on itself (the ply-back test described here) and see that there's no open loop at the bottom of the ply-back length. Because of this, silk is typically spun fairly fine -- from fingering to laceweight (14 - 20 wraps per inch or more).
And make sure your hands are smooth -- silk (unspun) snags on everything. I find, if I've been gardening or doing outdoor work in general, that a nice dose of hand lotion smooths out any rough edges before I tackle the silk.
Usually I'll spin silk either with a very fast spindle such as the Natalie or another that has weight near the shaft rather than out at the rim; it's the one time when I'm going for spindle speed over spindle spin-time. I find putting twist into the silk quickly ensure it will hang together while I'm drafting more.
On a wheel, I'll spin at a high ratio, and try to minimize draw-in by reducing the scotch tension or tension on a double-drive band until I have complete control over whether the fiber is drawn in or not. On a Louet wheel, or any other wheel with hooks on the same side of the flyer, you can thread your yarn back and forth on that side from hook to hook across the bobbin to further reduce the drawn-in.
Silk is also typically finely spun. For more on fine spinning, see the earlier entry, How can I spin fine yarn? especially the notes on handling plying with finely spun singles.
(shamless plug: The Bellwether has lovely handpainted Tussah silk, a wonderful Tussah/Rayon blend, and Natalie spindles, as well as lovely Bosworths, Forresters, and other spindles that would enjoy helping you spin silk, along with Ruth MacGregor's book, How to Spin Silk on a Top Whorl Spindle)
Happy spinning! If you've learned something you'd like to share about spinning silk, or have questions about spinning silk please email me or add a comment here.
Sunday, May 13, 2007
Have you seen knitter's code? I was intimidated. But this meme, I'm willing to tackle. I was trying to find the source in a nicely connected warren of blogs (really -- and I love that there's a Pollyanna who knits, as that's my sister's name!) but stopped at cosymakes, since she was nice enough to join my new flickr group, Spindle Shots -- great shots by everyone so far! join the fun, spindle maniacs!
To join the "what have you knit" meme, take this list, mark with bold the things you have ever knit, with italics the ones you plan to do sometime, and leave the rest plain.
Now me, I'll try anything ... so really, "plain" just means I don't have it on my radar yet!
Knitting with metal wire
Shawl ... and I'd really love to knit a really big one in the future!
Knitting with camel yarn (do I get triple points for spindle-spinning it, too?)
Mittens: Cuff-up and may I have double points for doing one pair double knitting, and one pair tvandsticking (twisted knitting)?
Hat (this should really be in 20 point type -- I think hats are my favorite things to knit!)
Knitting with silk ... lots of silk blends, though!
Moebius band knitting
Participating in a KAL
Sweater (did three as a teen -- none as an adult, yet, but I will!)
Drop stitch patterns ... I keep trying this, don't like the look!
Knitting with recycled/secondhand yarn (does trying count? the cashmere kept breaking!)
Slip stitch patterns
Knitting with banana fiber yarn
Domino knitting (=modular knitting)
Twisted stitch patterns
Knitting with bamboo yarn
Two end knitting
Knitting with soy yarn
Cardigan (Bohus Large Lace Collar Jacket on this page ... aaahh)
Knitting with circular needles
Knitting with your own handspun yarn
Designing knitted garments
Cable stitch patterns (incl. Aran)
Publishing a knitting book ... how about 2 patterns, published by Fiber Trends, and 1 by Crosspatch Creations?
Teaching a child to knit
American/English knitting (as opposed to continental)
Knitting to make money
Knitting with alpaca
Fair Isle knitting
Dying with plant colours
Knitting items for a wedding
Household items (dishcloths, washcloths, tea cosies…)
Knitting socks (or other small tubular items) on one or two circulars
Knitting with someone else’s handspun yarn (waay too often considering I spin too!)
Knitting with dpns
Holiday related knitting
Teaching a male how to knit (sons count, right?)
Knitting for a living
Knitting with cotton
Knitting two socks on two circulars simultaneously
Knitting with wool
Knitting with beads
Long Tail CO
Knitting and purling backwards
Machine knitting ... yes if sock machines count!
Knitting with self patterning/self striping/variegating yarn
Knitting with cashmere ... triple points for spinning it too, right?
Darning ... my favorite socks just had darning #9 :-)
Knitting with synthetic yarn
Writing a pattern
Knitting with linen
Knitting for preemies
Pillows (the one in the picture ... for my mother! and the other pillow I've knit was entrelac with a hooked rose on the other side)
Knitting a pattern from an online knitting magazine ... one of those Knitty ones, someday!
Knitting on a loom ... does one of the i-cord looms count? LOL.
Knitting a gift
Knitting for pets
Knitting with dog/cat hair
Hair accessories .. no plans, but a daughter with long hair, so that may change!
Knitting in public
What have you learned to do that has marked a definite change in your knitting life? Elizabeth Zimmermann's philosophy that you don't need to blindly follow patterns. That really freed me!
Want to join the meme? Take the list and post it on your blog with your own remarks, bolds, and italics!
Friday, May 11, 2007
Wow! Setting up a new website during Little League, restocking spindles and fibers, and postal rate changes to boot -- what a challenge!
Many thanks to those who have looked at the future store, thebellwether.biz, and especially those who've emailed me about it! Once the website is complete, thebellwether.com will be transferred to the new store -- so any specific internal bookmarks you may have, could stop working -- I'll do my best to reroute pages, but this partly depends on the old webstore "cooperating", so thanks for your patience.
In the meantime, I've been busy putting new items up -- in the new store! Yep!
The newest Tabachek mini spindles ... lovely!
The newest Tabachek one yard niddies ... ooooh!
And the keychain sock blocker now has an option to come with sock yarn or handspun! cool! I've prepared a bunch of sock yarn mini-skeins, and have lined up all my favorite handspuns too -- so order a bunch for gifts, or just for fun! If you'd like more than one skein, but only one kit, please email me -- I'd be happy to adjust the order accordingly!
As always, I'm happy to help with orders on the "old" website or the new, and if you want items from both, feel free to email me, I can always do a combined invoice!
ps. I almost forgot -- be sure to check the Attic for close-out specials and links to any eBay auctions I may submit.
Tuesday, May 8, 2007
See part 1 for information on where to put the color on the skeins for a variety of results.
Create the dye-liquor
For hand-painted, space-dyed yarn, with Cushing's acid dyes, a 1% (one percent) solution provides a medium color as shown on the Cushing's acid dye color card. What, you are wondering, is a 1% solution? It means, 1% of dye powder and 99% of liquid, in your dye-liquor. Cushing's being an acid dye, some of that liquid is vinegar -- to be "exact", 12.5% of it should be vinegar. Simple, plain, cheap white vinegar from the supermarket or your favorite warehouse.
A packet of Cushing's acid dye has 1/3 of an ounce of dye powder in it. Conveniently, this means we need 32 2/3 ounces of liquid. So, save those 32 ounce beverage bottles! (but put DYE on them in Big, Permanent Marker!)
Steps to make dye liquor with Cushing's acid dyes -- outdoors or somewhere you don't care about the color splashing:
0. put on some plasticy gloves -- vinyl, latex, whatever. You don't want rainbow fingers!
1. put powder into bottle (use a funnel for this and future steps if it helps -- but mark it dye use only!)
2. add 1/2 cup (4 oz) hot water
3. swirl bottle (put cap in if mess is a possibility) until the powder dissolves. Reds take a while to dissolve!
4. add 1/2 cup (4 oz) vinegar, swirl to blend
5. add 3 cups (24 oz) water (room temperature, cold, hot - whatever you like!), swirl to blend.
Put the color, brand, and date on the bottle, and be sure bottle and cap are marked DYE.
If you are using another brand of dye, check their concentration need for a medium solution; I noticed my Jacquard acid dyes said they needed a 2% solution -- so I'd want to use 2/3 oz. of Jacquard dye powder in my 32 oz. bottle.
Now, that 32 ounces of dye liquor is enough to dye 1 pound of wool. If you're only dyeing a few 4 ounce sock skeins, it will go a long way in space-dyeing! So consider a dye party and share your colors.
I've stored dyes up to a year and had them work fine; others have had the vinegar develop a "mother"; your results may vary. Store them in a cool, dark place if you do store the left-overs. If there are left-overs...
Prepare the skein
Now, having read part 1, you have already skeined up your yarn to suit your dyeing, and added so many figure-8 ties that a trip to the moon wouldn't phase your skein-work, correct? Then, next you need to pre-wet your skein.
Dyers-who-know use a substance called synthrapol - just a little glug in a bucket of warm-ish tap water; dyers-who-dabble (me!) use a squeeze or two of dishsoap in a bucket of warm-ish tap water for the same effect. Synthrapol and dish soap have the property of helping wet the fibers and allowing water (and thus, dye liquor, later!) to travel more easily through the fibers.
For regular wool/animal fibers, 5-20 minutes is enough. For silk, a tightly spun yarn (for example: yarns that are i-cords or chains, cable yarns), or knitted tubes or blanks, soak it for at least 2 hours, overnight even to get it really well wetted down.
When you are ready to dye (not much sooner, since you don't want it to dry!, take it out of the bucket, squeeze out what water you can, and holding the skein carefully so as not to tangle it, "wuzz" it -- swing it in a large circle, preferrable outdoors where you won't get anything that can't handle the water, wet. Water will fly in all directions! Your skein will be damply wet, but will take a few seconds before it starts to drip, after you've done this step.
Now lay your skein out on plastic wrap on your dye table -- which is covered in a tarp or with one of those really huge automotive oil drip pans, right? If you have a 3-part fair-isle skein, you'll want a separate piece for each part, even the undyed middle section.
Apply the dye
This was really cool: one of the dyers at Lacey wrote the basic rainbow colors plus black and brown on the handles of my foam brushes. Red, Blue, Orange, Yellow, Purple, Green, Black, Brown. It worked great for sharing brushes! A quick rinse and you knew you'd be "okay" to use the brush in your version of Purple (we had 4 purples that day).
Put on your gloves and have paper towels handy to mop up spills.
Write the color you are using on your cup, and pour some of the dye liquor into it. I had 6 ounce styrofoam cups, paper work too, and filled them usually not more than 1/3-1/2 full at a time.
Then, you paint! Dip brush in dye cup, tap it against the side so it's not drippy, and paint. However, the "painting" is not a stroking motion, more of a dabbing/tapping. The harder you dab, the further the color goes.
You want to use as little dye as possible so your skein isn't swimming in liquid when you are done -- so paint the top, then turn your skein over and paint the other side the same. Enough color should show through to do that. Also, check the middle of the skein to ensure the color is working into the middle. You may find that squeezing the skein helps work color into paler spots, once you've basically covered the skein.
If the skein is dripping, then mop up the excess with paper towels before wrapping to to set the dye.
Set the dye
Still with those gloves on, add plastic wrap so both sides are covered, and roll up your skein. I usually separate halves with the plastic wrap, then lay them next to each other and roll it up. If I'm dyeing a fair-isle skein with 3 distinct color patterns, I roll up the undyed section too, and may add a second layer of plastic wrap outside the colored sections in case dye leaches out in the microwave.
Yep -- microwave! Get a cheap/small one at Goodwill or your local discount store and label it "dye use only". Skip the amazingly huge ones that are $5 at garage sales -- if it's light enough to cart around, you can bring it to guild "dye-ins".
Here's how you set the dye: put your plastic-wrapped skein in a microwaveable dish or container that fits in the microwave. Microwave on full power as follows:
Two minutes full power
Two minutes resting (you can slot in a second dye job for these two minutes!)
Two minutes full power
Two minutes resting (keep that second dye job going)
Two minutes full power
So, your skein has had 6 minutes total under microwaves with the resting time between so it didn't get cooked. It will be hot!!! Let it sit. If you have dye-only silicone oven gloves, you can put them on to unwrap the skein while hot, so it cools sooner.
We dyed in 4 oz. and 8 oz. lots -- small microwaves don't fit much more than 8 ounces of yarn comfortably.
Wait for it to be completely cool, because next you need to rinse it, to remove any excess dye. Once it's cool, unwrap all the plastic wrap, and dunk the skein in a bucket of room temperature water. If color shows up in the water, you may need to do several rinses until it stops releasing excess dyes.
Once the skein is rinsed, squeeze out the water and wuzz it again (see "Prepare the skein" above), then hang it outside to drip dry.
If you did a fair-isle sock yarn, you'll need to re-mount the yarn on the winding board. Most boards have an adjustment or an inner set of holes for the pegs so you can put your skein back on -- they just seem to shrink when you dye them, enough to make it hard to put them back on an unadjustable board. Rewind from the board into a hand-wound ball, using a ball winder, niddy-noddy, or skeiner. Usually a hand-wound ball is easiest, as somehow they manage to tangle no matter what. Then you can reskein from the ball once you are done.
Re-skeining is a terrific way to get an idea how your yarn will look when knitted up. The super-regular pattern of your space-dyeing is broken up by using a standard skein size such as 1.5 or 2 yards. Compare the photo at the top of this posting, of mostly not-reskeined space-dyeing, with that below, of mostly re-skeined - the same skeins!
A final note -- hand-dyed yarns can bleed color in hot water. I've yet to find a reliable way to prevent this, though I'm told that steaming the yarn for a long period of time can prevent it (haven't tried it yet!). Reds in particular like to run, so if you've any red, use it in an item for someone who knows to wash in cold water. And, results may vary depending on your water source -- yarns that wash fine for me always bleed for my friend whose well is on a different aquifer.
(these are notes from the dye class I taught at Lacey in April 2007)
When you felt yarn that is a ply of wool and superwash wool, one will felt and the other won't -- this means that the felting one will shrink, drawing the other one in as it does so (strangling it, basically ...)
The non-felting ply might pop up here and there, but will stay in place. This is one way to get a faux boucle-effect, since the non-felting one will tend to look bumpy next to the now-shrunken felting one.
It works, and it can look cool -- not sure how it would feel on the sole of the foot, though, if you plan to knit socks.
I've mostly done this with bulky wool and fine silk singles, not with two sock-yarn-weight things. (Silk, like superwash wool, doesn't felt.) Sampling would be relatively easy on the sock machine, or with a handknit swatch. I sampled to make sure my handspun experiment would look okay. Just knit a sample, throw it in the machine, and see if you like the look.
(from a post by me on sockknittingmachinefriends, 3/11/07)
Saturday, May 5, 2007
The theory behind dyeing sock yarn is simple: generally speaking, a fingering weight to light DK weight yarn uses about 30 inches to knit 1 round on the leg or foot of the sock. Specifically, on a 60-needle sock machine cylinder, but the 72-needle is pretty darn close too.
Once you have that magic number -- 30 inches -- you can play all sorts of games with color placement. Here are just four examples:
1. Use a skeiner or warping board to make a 60 inch circumference skein. This is great for dyeing slightly ziggy shadow effects:
if you lay your skein out in an oval, and divide it into 8 equal portions, then color each portion like so: A B A B C D C D. Then, C shadows A and D shadows B -- which is to say, you'll get AC stripes/zigs and BD stripes/zigs down your sock.
Now, if 4 colors is just too much to ponder, consider the simpler 3-color layout: A B A B A C A C. Then A stays the same, and C shadows B. Cool. The skein shown for this number was dyed in the 3-color scheme with bronze green for A, mahogany for B, and cherry red for C.
2. If you have access to a circular sock machine, knit a 400 yard tube and dye it. Your dye will have to be the same front-and back due to bleed through. And, I've no idea how this will knit up, but I imagine if you make your tube at a tighter or looser tension than you plan to knit your sock, you will get some shifting of colors.
My tube (shown on the left painted and then on the right, skeined) was knit very tight. Also, some of the color doesn't get into the tightly knit stitches, so my final sock is likely to look marled. All I need is time to knit the socks...
3. Make a gradient where you shift from one color to another. For this you need a warping board. You can set your skein size at 60 inches. 400 yards works out to about 240 wraps, so divide this up into the number of color shifts you want (just remember, this is for TWO socks -- so make two 120 wrap skeins if you want to do the same gradient for each sock!) OK, so if you want 6 color shifts (3 for each sock) you would wind 80 wraps, then tie that off as a skein without breaking the yarn; do this 5 more times, and you will have 6 connected skeins to dye.
The gradient skein I dyed had 5 groups, it started as dark brown yarn and was overdyed green / green and black spaced / black / green and black spaced / green. My thought was to knit 1 sock and then rewind the ball from the other end for the second sock, thus the symmetrical gradiation.
4. Fair isle winding boards ... such as the one shown in the picture. If you wind 6 rounds on the top pair of pegs, then come down and wind 2 in the middle, down again for 6 on the bottom, up to the middle for 2 in the middle, and repeat until you run out of yarn, then you can dye a fair isle pattern.
Typically this is a solid on one large section and dots of color on the other with whatever your base yarn color was underneath. But you can go wild if you want. Note if you cover both large sections with color, the small middle section may need some color too.
With all of these methods it's _very_ important to keep your skeins tidy, and not let them become spaghetti -- so add a ton of figure 8 ties everywhere imaginable and then add some more.
Whew! So far we've covered skein creation and color placement. Look for how to create the dye-liquor, applying and setting the dye in the next installment.
(these are notes from the dye class I taught at Lacey in April 2007)