Whew! Show season -- what a fun time that always is! This is my booth at Black Sheep -- in the beginning. The Mach 1 and the Louet went home with people, and much fibery and spindly fun was had by all (including me).
The greatest thrill for me was selling my handspun yarn. And it's not too late -- there are new listings on my Etsy shop, By Our Hands.
If you want to purchase some handspun with a Ewe'Niquely Yours Knitting Pattern, all of the By Our Hands handspun are available on TheBellwether.com too!
In addition, I've updated the Bosworth spindles and will be getting the newest Kunderts up next -- a nice assortment of solid wood, plying weight spindles to choose from!
In upcoming news, The Bellwether will be taking a brief vacation at the end of July ... we're travelling to New Jersey and Washington D.C. to see family and take in a bit of our nation's capitol. Until then, it's business as usual. Happy shopping!
Stay updated -- subscribe to the whole blog for regular spinning tips and news, Fiber Mine for links to spinning tips I find on the internet, or Bellefeathers for the Bellefeathers newsletter (for Bellefeathers by email use this link). Thanks, and happy spinning and felting!
Sunday, June 29, 2008
Friday, June 20, 2008
Quill heads for spinning wheels have been having a resurgence in popularity, due to the interest art yarns fueled by fiber artists such as Lexi Boeger and her book Intertwined.
Quill heads have the advantage of being able to take up yarn of any size -- there is no orifice for doll parts, sequins, bows, or other whatnots to travel through. Also, there is no take-up to have a tug-of-war with, but a nice stiff quill to keep tension against. I found this terrifically helpful in spinning elastic thread core yarn!
However, on standard spinning wheels, there are some things to consider. Castle/upright wheels and many Saxony/traditional wheels put the orifice right above the treadles. The quill attachment on most wheels sticks out a good 4-6 inches further than the orifice. For short folks, this puts it really close to your hands when you treadle. And you're going to need to treadle.
This however deserves consideration, because you spin off the quill by keeping your fiber/yarn in the making at about a 45 degree angle to the point of the quill -- quite an arm stretch if your quill is just above your treadles.
Some wheels have the flyer/quill off to one side -- my friend's Jensen Saxony is this way, and my own Majacraft can have the flyer tilted to be at one side of the treadles.
My all-time favorite for a quill attachment, however, is my electric wheel -- no treadles!
If you are curious about quills, try an experiment first. Check your wheel's orifice:
- Delta orifice -- sorry, you can't do the experiment. But most delta orifices will let a fair bit through them, so depending on how broad your art-yarns get, you may be fine.
- Elliptical orbiting orifice (Louets have this) -- sorry, you also can't do the experiment. Luckily, Louets have big orifices, so they also let most insertions through.
- Orifice simply rotates around the center of the orifice -- yay! continue with the experiment.
Measure the diameter of your rotating orifice (not when it's rotating, silly!). Go to the hardware store and buy wood dowel of that diameter. Usually this comes in four foot lengths ... that would be a bit long, so if you need to pick up a hacksaw too, do it. Cut a length about 6 inches long (heck, cut a 4.5", 6.5", and 8.5" length -- you'll still have leftovers!). Use a penknife or really big pencil sharpener to put a blunt tapered point on one end. Guess what -- you've made a quill!
Put the quill in your wheel's orifice. You might want to wrap masking tape around the end (sticky side on the quill) to make it fit more tightly in the orifice. Now, you can spin on this. It's up to you if you put a bobbin on your wheel or not ~ you won't be using it. Double drive wheels can simply put both drive bands in the flyer whorl if you don't put a bobbin on.
Put a leader on the quill up near the orifice, just like you put a leader on your bobbin. As you treadle (or turn your electric wheel on), the leader will barberpole up the quill and then flick off the end ... it will go flick, flick, flick off the end. This is normal, you are putting twist into the leader. OK, attach your fiber and start adding twist to it, instead.
Once you have an arm's length, you'll have to stop, unwind the barberpoling, and then build up a cop on your quill. I'd recommend an X-style wind-on for speed, just like I use on my spindles. fill the top half (closer to the orifice) with your yarn, barberpoling back out to the tip and continuing to spin a new length of yarn.
So, if you've used the dowel-quill, you can evaluate the layout of your wheel for quill use. And then decide if the dowel is good enough, or if you'd like the more formal quill attachment if your wheel maker provides one.
Monday, June 2, 2008
Friday was one of those once-a-year days. When I walked down to the barn, Deneb was well inside, clearly catchable, so ... time to roo! If you have a really good memory, and have been reading this blog since early last year, you'll remember the discussion from last February about Soays shedding their fleece (rooing).
So, this is Deneb now, on the far right, compared to his still woolly field-brothers on the left:
And this is his crop:
It came to 1 pound, 1.5 ounces ... average staple about 2 inches unstretched.
Meteor (the darkest one) is leaving clumps of his wool on the fences now, so I think he'll be next!
Do you like posts about sheep and fibery beasts? Then I can heartily recommend these blogs:
Devon Fine Fibres -- a Cashmere goat farm in Devon, UK. Lovely pictures and interesting news about the farm.
Soxophone Player -- an almost-daily post on his sheep, dyepots, and hand-cranked socks!
Sheepwreck's posts on sheep breeds -- a terrific resource with a spinner's real-life experience with fleeces from sheep.
Benny's Blog -- an infrequent but hilarious blog written by Benny the sheep!
Shepherd's Notebook -- news from the world of Maryland shepherds, the most recent post was about the Maryland Wool Pool (where farmers got 76 cents a pound for their nice white wool!)
I know there are more, Spinning Spider Jenny and Leigh's Fiber Journal also post quite interesting entries on sheep breeds alongside their amazing spinning, weaving, and knitting postings. And I've been listening to Yarnspinner's Tales, her terrific podcasts on handling fleece were a nice listen.
Feel free to add links to sheep and goat blogs and podcasts you've found ... I'm always looking for a good read (or listen)! Thanks!