How much yarn you can spin onto a spindle depends on a variety of factors -- and yes, you can influence these factors.
For starters, do you have a "good weight" of spindle for the yarn you are spinning? If you're spinning fine, a heavy drop spindle will pull more than a light one (under 1 ounce), or than a supported spindle. If you're spinning thick, a light drop spindle or a support spindle will stop more quickly than a heavier drop spindle (over 1.5 ounces).
So, consider this ... as you spin, you add weight to the spindle. Sheila Bosworth of Bosworth Spindles said her goal with fine (laceweight or finer) spindling is to get 1/3 of the spindle's weight in fiber spun onto it. Why does she stop there? Consider that the heavier the spindle gets, the more "drop" you get in your drop spindle. The added weight may help with momentum on the drop or supported spindles, but with drop spindles it may also add to the droppiness ... reducing the enjoyment of the process for sure!
Now, you can limit the droppiness by using inchworm, or short-draw, spindling -- that way your spindle will not have the opportunity to pull fiber out of your hands, if the only pull is on yarn or less than a staple length (individual fiber length) of fiber. This also means things like silk are a bit easier -- the longer staple length lets you keep your hands a more "natural" distance apart. Short draw with silk is more like four-inch-worm than inchworm.
With thicker spindling, you are adding weight to the spindle fairly quickly. So, I'll choose to start with a spindle a little lighter than is comfortable (1.5 ounces, say, instead of the 1.8 ounces I find easier for spinning worsted weight) and know I'll be restarting it more often initially, until I have that first .3 ounces added onto it in fiber. After that, it keeps going well. I've found my thicker spinning will keep going and going until the spindle is approaching 3 ounces in weight -- which can help explain the 3 ounce "boat anchors" that were used in the past to teach new spindles. Yes, you can spin on a three ounce spindle. It just feels heavy! And, at 3 ounces, it really pulls, even against thick yarn -- so once again, you're using shortdraw and paying attention to staple length, to stop the spindle from dropping.
As for me, I usually plan to pack about 1 ounce of fiber onto a spindle. For me, that's "full enough". Here is my 0.9 ounce Turkish, with a 0.9 ounce singles yarn cake that just came off it -- the spindle was definitely approaching the "drop" zone, and inchworm was definitely in use as the spindle filled.
Then comes the plying -- for that, I take two spindles full and ply them together, so my plying spindles get 2 ounces packed onto them. Pretty darn full! I know you've seen this picture before, but it's really the best one -- here are the two skeins of sock yarn side by side. First sock-full, 1.8 ounces. Second sock-full, 2.4 ounces! It's a much fuller spindle, no?
Now, that's me, and my full spindle stories. I've seen some lovely full spindles on Criminy Jickets blog here and on Flickr here, here, here, here, and (my favorite)here. (And I'm sure there's more! See SpindleShots for a great collection of spindle photos!) I'd say that the fuller spindles use as much of the shaft as they can and still have room to flick the spindle, and have very lovely, even-looking cops. That evenness is important -- the main deterrant besides droppage is a bad case of the wobbles. The more wobbling you can tolerate, the longer you can keep piling on the yarn. However, wobbling eats up some of the twirl energy, so it's also less efficient. With practice and an eye for balance, wind your cop to keep it looking smooth and balanced. Have a shape in mind -- conical, football, beehive, and aim for that final shape of cop. Over time, you will find your cops being more balanced and your spindles holding more yarn.
For related topics, see:
How can I get more yarn on my spindle?
What is your favorite spindle weight?
When is the spindle full?
How much fiber do I spin to get 200 yards?
Collection of all of Ask The Bellwether's spindle posts.
Do you have a full spindle story? I'd love to hear it! Please post it in the comments on the blog or with a picture in the SpindleShots group on Flickr.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
How much yarn you can spin onto a spindle depends on a variety of factors -- and yes, you can influence these factors.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
This yarn was spun on a whim, planned as it went along, and inspired by my stash. And, since today is my birthday, my treat to myself is to share its story with you!
For those who flip to the back of the book, here you go:
14 wraps per inch
6 twists per inch
Here's how it came about. When The Bellwether started carrying fiber from Crosspatch Creations and Three Bags Full, they would send me little samples of new colors so I could place my order. Tiny little dabs, they just filled a 1 x 1 ziploc (not stuffed full, either -- did I say these were tiny little dabs?). Being a collecting sort of gal (have you seen my spindle collection?) I kept them, of course.
Eventually, the lovely Montana ladies stopped sending samples, as I'd gotten a healthy feel for their fibers and didn't need them any longer to place my orders. So I knew that was it, the collection was complete.
Along came an NwRSA board meeting and spin-in, in Olympia. I took a car of items -- a few tubs of spindles, some Totally Tubular Spinning Kits, my Journey Wheel, and the collection of dabs to spin.
I'd dip into the sack of dabs (still in their baggies, so they were like little minnows in the sack!), pull one out, and spin it. Come to the end, take a new one in the same blind-choice manner, join it on, and spin that onto the bobbin. Again, and again. It was a great day -- I got through almost the whole bag!
While I was spinning it, I considered my options -- ply it on itself, or ply it against a neutral? I knew from past experience that I could ply it against a white and get a pastel look. I'd heard (at that point, I hadn't tried it yet) that I could ply it against a black to get a jeweled look. But I was thinking I'd like to try something more middling, a nice brown perhaps. The fiber in Joan and Diana's flocks is alot of California Variegated Mutant (CVM) and Romeldales (they are active in the breed association), along with Romney crosses and Merino crosses -- so overall, a nice hand to the yarn that deserved plying with a nice naturally colored fiber from my stash.
Once I was back home again, I finished off the bag and then I weighed the bobbin and a sister empty bobbin. It was almost full, and it turned out to be about 2 ounces of fiber. Into my stash I dived, and came up with a nice, soft brown CVM roving from the Estes Wool Show.
It brought back great memories of the trip ... I flew to Colorado on "credit card miles" to visit my parents, and as my mother is a knitter it didn't take much convincing before we were on the road to Estes Park. She treated me to a lovely hotel room there, and we had a blast shopping and browsing the sheep, goats, and llamas there. That was where I bought my Little Gem wheel (now with a new forever home, happily treadling I bet -- sweet little travel wheel that it is), from Woolly Designs. It was a treat to meet Tracy Eichem, the owner, as he makes lovely spindles. At the time, he was not turning them, but I'm happy to say he's at it again!
I spun up the brown CVM and plied that together with my colorful mixed bobbin, into a lovely balanced yarn. My daughter saw it and said - wow, make me something! So it was a skein destined to be a scarf. I knew, as usual, she'd move on to other skeins and colors -- mom (me) is a slow knitter, so her appetite is usually fueled by far more yarn than I can knit with. So this skein is now a lovely future-scarf, or future-hat for its future knitter. It's a bouncy DK weight (14 WPI) 2-ply in fine wools, silk, viscose, tencel, and silk noil -- great for most as next to the skin wear.
A search on Ravelry found 1,314 patterns for 200-325 yards of DK weight yarn including these two lovely patterns -- Odessa, a cute spiral hat from MagKnits (available now on Ravelry) and Argosy, a lovely easy lace-look scarf from Knitty. Those or any of the 1,312 others would look terrific in this yarn. Its multi-color nature is muted by the soft brown, which gives it a great earthy look, sure to match whatever you're wearing.
The footnote to the story is I found one unspun little sample baggy after finishing the skein -- in it went to another collection of ends-of-runs, destined for a future skein. I think it has even now been spun up, if not needlefelted into one of my daughter's pieces of needle-felted art!
Care instructions: handwash cool, dry flat. This yarn may felt if machine washed. Recommended knitting needle size: US 4/3.5mm for solid stockinette; US 2-3 for very tight ribbing; US 9-10 for lace (or larger).
If you've fallen in love with "Natalie's Scarf", the skein may yet be available for purchase on the Etsy shop my daughter and I have set up, By Our Hands, or on The Bellwether. I'd love to see what you turn it into!
Friday, November 21, 2008
We knit socks around here on the sock machine a fair bit. My childrens' grade school teachers have enjoyed this. Question is, how to find out foot size without the teacher finding out ... sometimes, I remember to have the children ask early in the school year -- kids can ask all sorts of crazy questions, and "what size shoe do you wear?" is harmless enough to elicit a response.
If we haven't, then I get to take a good look at their arms at Parent/Teacher Conferences. One of the first sock machine (sock knitting in general, I suppose) trivia I learned was that the size of a person's foot was the same length as their arm from elbow to wrist (that's the outside elbow joint, not the crook on the inside).
Or, if you know the person's height, their foot size is usually 1/6th their height.
There are other interesting body-relationships I've learned as well, helpful for knitting gifts and for skeining yarn ...
- The arms, outstretched, from finger tip to finger tip, match the height of the person (for the most part). If you're six feet even, this means you can measure a 2 yard length of yarn just by stretching out your hands at maximum draw. Handy for nalbinding or other tasks needing estimately measured lengths of yarn.
- Average head circumference -- 22.75" for a man and 21.625" for a woman. Knit a 22" circumference using a K2P2 or K1P1 ribbing for a few inches to give yourself flexibility either way, and you've covered almost all adult heads and quite a few childrens' as well.
- Distance from the wrist to the top of the middle finger is 1/10th the person's height. Now you can knit mittens and gloves ... just do the cuff in ribbing for maximum fit-ability range.
- Most adult scarves are about 5-6 feet in length ... longer for tall people, shorter for short people. A good-looking scarf length matches the height of the person. If we were to put one on Vitruvian Man (the Da Vinci picture), then it would hang down to about his knees (I think), as the head from chin to crown is 1/8th the height of the person. That gives you plenty of running room to wrap it around your neck for warmth. Dr. Who's scarf is quite a bit longer, 12 feet or so -- thus the extra wraps and dragging tail.
What sizing tips do you have? Post them in the comments to help your fellow readers, and thanks!
Sunday, November 16, 2008
'What's this?' ... when I hear that in my booth at shows, I know the person is holding up one of two things. Either the lap bowl for a support spindle, or a nostepinne. 'Why', the non-spinning partner says sotto voce, 'is this lady selling sticks of wood in her booth?'
Aha, I think to myself, that's a nostepinne! "That's a nostepinne", I say, "it's a pre-mechanical ball winder".
Dear reader, you know what the next question is already: "How do you use it?" one of the pair will say.
So, I take a stick (ahem -- nostepinne) and demonstrate. First, hold an end (the "handle end") of the stick in your hand, with the end of the yarn between your hand and the stick. Then, lay down a line of the yarn along the "working end" of the stick and wrap around it, fairly tightly, about 10-12 times, without letting go of the end tucked between your hand and the handle. Now, wrap up-and-around as you rotate the stick. This creates a nicely wound ball, and if you've kept that initial end out of it, you can pull from the center of the ball when you are done.
There are so many on-line resources for how to wind on a nostepinne, let me share those with you rather than recreating the 'pinny (grin):
ispindle.com's Winding Center Pull Balls on a Nostepinne is a Quicktime video starting at the beginning and shows winding from spindle to nostepinne.
fiberfool on youtube.com's How to Use a Nostepinne winds on a nostepinne in progress, to accompany the posting on her blog How to Use a Nostepinne.
Hatchtown Farms' Nostepinde Instructions - proving there's more than one way to spell it!
Now, if you are tempted to teach your knitting or spinning (or crochet, for that matter!) guild the wonders of nostepinne ball-winding, the Memphis Fiber Arts guild as a great one-page PDF handout. (Heck, check out all their instructions. Great stuff!)
See the related post, How do you Wind Yarn on a Niddy-Noddy?
If you are itching to get your own Nostepinne to try this on, The Bellwether carries a variety of nostepinnes including the lovely Nature's Nostepinnes as shown in the photo above.
(updated, originally from September 28, 2007)
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Yes, I do ply on my spindles. That's my favorite mindless trip task -- way more fun than stockinette sweater bodies (which may be why there are no stockinette sweater bodies from my summer travels!)
I'm often asked, more specifically, "Do you ply from 2 spindles to a third, or back onto the spindle the singles were done on?"
For me, it depends. I've done most of these:
- If I'm single-spindled (on a trip) and have spun all the fiber up onto the spindle, I may use an Andean plying bracelet and ply the single spindle back onto itself.
- When I'm spindling at home, or for a larger project, usually I fill 2
spindles and then ply onto a third, larger spindle if I'm spinning 2-ply. For that, I'm a huge fan of Abby Franquemont's true Andean plying method: wind the two spindle-fulls into a two-strand ball, and ply from that. It takes a little practice to get even tension through the ball, but the plying is so smooth! It's worth it!
- If I'm three plying I tend to just ply back onto the original spindle
using Navajo plying, rather than fill 3 spindles. That's partly due
to my love of Navajo-plying and partly to my lack of getting used to using a spindle-kate.
There's also the question of whether my plies are the same -- for a past silk & wool ply project, it's necessarily 2 spindle-fulls being plied together, one with silk and one with wool. I slipped them onto knitting needles and ply from those as described in Priscilla Gibson-Roberts' High Whorling. It worked, but I think now I'd wind that two-strand ball. Less to juggle than with the two knitting needles.
And then there are the days I'm just spinning for singles :-) Then, if the spindle is full, I'm done! Yay!
Do you ply on your spindles? or have a question about spindle plying? Tell the Belle (that's me!) ~ Thanks!
Monday, November 3, 2008
Yay! pictures, an idea, and we have postage.
Okay, so as all experienced weavers know already, and us student weavers learn, getting your tension good on your warp is important.
I found that as I have been working on the same project for, oh, six years, I wasn't very good at this when I started (the undulating twill yardage, destined to be a charka totebag). My most recently completed icelandic wool door snake was much better, but still suffered from the Texsolv apron strings that came on my Schacht Baby Wolf. I bought some canvas thinking I'd make a cloth apron for it, and then I saw a friend's Norwood loom (very similar to the Baby Wolf). It had ribbons! Anybody need a couple yards of canvas? Because 5 yards of grosgrain ribbon and a newly warped loom later, I'm very happy with the result.
Here are the ribbons up close.
I cut them the same length as the Texsolv strings, and then folded them in half across the short length and cut a hole perpendicular to the long edges, covering a bit over half the width of the ribbons, at each end. I "finished" the ends and the edges of the holes with a match to seal them.
To put them on the loom, I made the loop for the apron rod first, then put it around the back beam and threaded the apron-rod-looped-end through the hole at the back beam end. Once they were on the back beam, I put the apron rod through all of them and snugged them up.
On my friend's Norwood, hers are staple-gunned in place. I haven't done that yet, as they don't act like they want to slip.
I've wound on a 3 yard 20 epi cottolin warp for a pair of dishtowels in huck lace -- it's all laying (lieing?) wonderfully flat, I am thrilled! I'll need to get some more grosgrain to redo the front apron rod before I tie up the front, but that's okay -- I only got about 1/4 way through sleying the reed before bedtime last night!
Did you enjoy this weaving post? I heartily recommend these weaving blogs:
* Leigh's Fiber Journal (see this great one on coloring your heddles for easy sleying!)
* Devon Fine Fibers (who else can experiment with Cashmere warps?)
* Jane Stafford Textiles - I hope, hope hope to take a class there soon!
* Dot's Fibre to Fabric (that's English for Fiber, grin!) - she saved me with this timely post on fixing threading and treadling errors.
* Violet Rose, by Jane Patrick of Schacht fame. Very interesting read with great ideas.
And lest I forget them ... WeaveCast and WeaveZine!! Syne Mitchell's great podcast and online weaving magazine, and also her blog, WeaveGeek. Not to be missed!
Be sure to keep an eye on Weavolution too -- could it be Ravelry for weavers? Let's hope!
Do you have a favorite weaving tip or blog you follow? Let me know -- I need to learn a whole lot more about weaving! Thanks!