By Amelia © August 27, 2009
There are so many fun shows in the spring and in the fall! September and October both see me at a variety of events. You, too, get to choose from among the many in your area. If you're on Ravelry, they've started up an event calendar here: http://www.ravelry.com/events
Spin-off maintains an event calendar in their magazine, I haven't found it on www.spinoffmagazine.com yet, but it may be available somewhere there as well.
Here are the events I'm juggling (and no, I'm not doing all of them -- cloning is not yet perfected!)
Saturday, September 12th: Opulent Art Show at The Cutting Garden in Sequim, Washington, 10-5. Lovely finished items, so you can get a hop on your holiday shopping!
Saturday, September 19th: Allyn Knit Shop's Spin In Public Celebration -- come spin with us in lovely Allyn, Washington. 10-4 under the gazebo. I'll be there with plenty of books and some Forrester Decades (yes, they came!)
Friday - Sunday, September 25-27: Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival in Canby, Oregon. I'm teaching beginning spindling, productive spindling, and drum carding - bring your copy of Productive Spindling for a signature, or find me, I'll be in Tea Time Garden's booth between/after classes with copies.
Saturday - Sunday, October 3-4: Taos Wool Festival in Taos, New Mexico. My mum and I are having a meet-up here, so I asked the organizers, and guess what! Yep! I'm teaching Productive Spindling and Plying Around (a wheel class -- lots of fun!) And if you are in the area, there's a Natural Color Conference the weekend before, Sept. 26-28.
Friday - Sunday, October 2-4: North Olympic Fiber Arts Festival, in Sequim, Washington. This is a fun show that has grown each year. Now in its 4th year (I think), with a nice assortment of demos, vendors (Sat/Sun) and workshops (Sun). Next year I will be staying home, to volunteer and teach workshops here again. And if you like weekends away from Seattle, there are many lovely B&B's in the area, as well as our newest hotel, a Quality Inn.
And then, after all that, there is the big one, the Spin-Off Autumn Retreat or SOAR, so nearby this year! It's in Bend, Oregon! Workshops are October 25-28, and the Retreat is October 29 - November 1. I'll be working on talking a friend into going down for some of the retreat if everything is going smoothly at home.
See you at the shows!
© 27 August 2009 by Ask The Bellwether, posted at http://askthebellwether.blogspot.com/
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Saturday, August 22, 2009
By Amelia © August 22, 2009
When you go to a show or fiber store for the first time, all the different types of fiber can be overwhelming ... there are batts, roving, fleece, top; wool of various breeds, silk, cotton, blends, and more. Shown to the right is a skein of handspun and a Crosspatch Batt, Greens and Purples.
For starters, it's worth noting that the particular fiber prep on the label may not be accurate; top may be labeled roving or vice-versa, as those two look the same (from across the room, anyway).
Commercial top is a very dense preparation, very smooth in appearance. It’s machine combed. Hand-combed top is airy and done in small amounts, typically (in fact I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone selling hand-combed top… it’s pretty labor intensive). Hand-dyed commercial top can tend to have a “wavy” appearance, as the wetting/warming re-awakens the fibers somewhat.
In the picture left/above, we have 4 preparations: combed top, roving, pin-drafted roving, and sliver. Pin-drafted is machine drafted out finer than the original roving. There is also pencil roving, which is drafted out to a pencil width.
Batts are big fluffy rectangles of fiber. Sometimes rolled up and banded or bagged in sale-type situations. These can be all one fiber, a blend, layered, striped (see my blog post How do I card a self-striping batt? for the last one). There are big machines that make big batts, and there are people with table-top drum carders who make individual batts (in the 1-4 oz size, typically).
Roving is carded on a carding machine with twist inserted; if no twist is inserted, it’s “sliver”, but folks don’t often label it that way. It’s fluffier than the combed top, though I have seen fairly compressed roving as well. It can be as fat as the commercial top or also quite fine – it depends on the equipment used to make it.
Fleece is really big (several pounds, usually, unlike the small fleece from my Soay shown here), smelly, and in a plastic bag usually. Well, smelly if it’s unwashed. It may or may not be skirted, may or may not have faults – best to go sit in on a fleece judging, or buy fleeces that have been judged (and read the judge’s comments on it before you buy). Or express an interest, I'd be happy to do a blog post on "what to look for in a fleece". Sometimes you can find washed fleece or dyed locks (mohair, typically).
Most top, batts, roving, or fleece is wool; the breed may be noted, or it may have a note on it like "medium wool" or "50s wool" (that's not a reference to its year of shearing, by the way). Here, you can in part let your hand be your guide, if you aren't yet familiar with the breeds. Wensleydale is coarse, Coopworth and Romney are medium wools, Corriedale is medium/fine, and Merino is fine ... there are so many sheep breeds out there, though, so learn to trust your fingertips. Within a breed there's a huge variety -- Merino can run from "fine" to aaaaaaa-fiiiiine, for example. It will always be softer than Wensleydale, though. For further information on this see How do I know what sheep breeds to look for?
Cloud is a prep you often see with cashmere, camel, or pygora; this is typically de-haired but otherwise unprocessed fiber. Well, dehairing is actually a carding type of operation, so it’s pretty airy usually. You can spin cloud by the handfull if you like, you don’t need to prep it further.
Then there are just fibers in baggies or pick-your-favorite-containers labeled with content and weight – flash & angelina come to mind. They don’t really have a “prep” per se, they just “are”.
Silk is usually sold as a top, sliver, hanky, cap, or brick. The hanky and cap are stretched out coccoons; the brick is a bunch of caps as I recall; there’s also a really big prep called a “bell” which is several/many pounds of silk caps, and it looks like the Liberty Bell (really big!). Top and sliver are the same prep, they are cut lengths of silk all combed up nicely (then there’s reeled silk, but that’s not usually sold to spinners; and silk waste, silk noil, sari silk …)
Cotton is usually sold as sliver, either combed or carded (typically carded, but sometimes combed), or as punis, which are hand-carded, rolled up sausages put in a bundle and sold by weight.
Whew! Probably there are others, too … feel free to add to this list in the comments for this blog post, or ask questions about the information here.
I realize I've posted on this topic before, in several separate blog posts; this was written to help out some new spinners on Ravelry heading to their first fiber shows (how exciting!). Here are related earlier posts:
What's the difference between Batts, Roving, and Top?
What's the difference between Roving and Top?
To drumcard, to handcard, or to comb?
How do I know what sheep breed to look for?
© 22 August 2009 by Ask The Bellwether, posted at http://askthebellwether.blogspot.com/
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
A new spinner and member of Spin-List recently asked for advice on when to change the hook their yarn was using coming from the bobbin out to the orifice.
Here are my tips on changing hooks -- I should point out, these are advice only, as there aren't any hard-and-fast rules.
- change hooks before the little hill that builds up starts to collapse.
- develop a pattern, that way if you lose your end, you know about where to look for it.
- when spinning fine, I like to move from hook-to-hook, front-to-back, but when I'm at the back-most hook, I don't start going hook-by-hook to the front, rather, I come right across to the front-most hook from the back-most. This gives me a "lifeline" I can use if I should snap the yarn and lose it on the bobbin
- try to build up the bobbin evenly; if you build it up unevenly, it may chatter on the flyer rod a little from having extra weight on one end or the other
- if you have hooks on both sides of one face of the flyer, try using hooks on each side -- often they are off-set so you can build up in-between the hills of one side's hooks, using the other side's hooks
- when you come out to a hook on the flyer arm, come out to that hook, be sure to be outside the other hooks coming forward to the orifice (your yarn will rest in all the other hooks, that is to say, not be in front of them or wrapped around them), especially the last hook -- if you miss that last hook, your yarn rubs against the edge of the bobbin. Then go through the orifice and out to the fiber
- a paper clip, unfolded except for the smallest fold, makes a great emergency orifice hook if you need onev
- when you want to stop, find a convenient spot on your wheel to wrap your singles around so they don't lose twist; good candidates might be the scotch tension knob if it's near the front of your wheel, or even coming back to the hooks on the flyer and wrapping around them.
I hope this helps on your spinning journey. If you have a spinning wheel flyer hook tip or question, feel free to share it in the comments on this blog post.
I've done a variety of posts in the past about bobbins on wheels, if you'd like to look into this further, they are:
How can I fit more yarn on my bobbin?
When is my bobbin half full?
How many bobbins do I need?
Where is the end on my bobbin?
Which lazy kate?
What tips do you have for spinning lace?
Will winding singles off my spindle or bobbin into a skein hurt the twist?
That full bobbin at the top of the page? That's my SpinOlution Bee Travel Wheel, bobbin stuffed with 4 ounces of fingering weight 2-ply. The fiber was the last bit of Mint Chocolate Triple Play I had in the house from Crosspatch Creations. My plans for the yarn are fingerless gloves - yummy!
© 19 August 2009 Amelia Garripoli. Posted on http://askthebellwether.blogspot.com/
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Among the various batts we card in my workshop Using the Batt Machine: Drum Carding from A to Z (next offering: Oregon Flock and Fiber in September 2009) is a batt with three colors running across the batt.
Developing this technique into a viable batt actually took some experimenting. If you lay the colors side-by-side in the infeed tray, not overlapping at all, then your batt tends to separate into 3 separate skinny batts when you take it off the drum carder. Oops, back to the drawing board.
So, what worked? ...
Interleaving the colors. Yep. Instead of dividing up your infeed tray into thirds, give each color a full 50% of the width. Okay, I hear you -- that adds up to 150%. That's where the interleaving comes in. Put the first color down on the left half of the infeed tray. Put the second color down in the "middle half" (quarters on each side of it), overlapping the first color. Put the third color down on the right half of the tray, overlapping the second color. Card them in. Repeat until drum carder is full, and remove batt.
This is what your batt looks like (if you used teal, dark green, and green that is):
See the heathering of the colors at the overlapping? That is why this is one, nice, solid batt, no signs of wanting to separate at all. Whew!
Ok, now you have your nice batt, how do you spin it up for stripes?
Let's do this the hard way: two-ply.
First, decide -- my batt was about 2 ounces, so enough for 1 sock, 1 mitten, half a hat, or whatever -- I say this, because I want an idea of how large to make my repeats.
Since I'm doing a 2-ply, first I split my batt in half across its width. To do this, I grasped the batt in both hands with the mid-point centered and my hands about 6 inches apart (a staple-length-and-a-half, this particular fiber, Corriedale, having about a 4 inch staple length -- that's important, but also a typical staple length for many wool breeds).
This left me with this:
But, I wanted more than 1 occurrence of each color (remember, this is a 2-ply, so all I've done so far is separate the fiber for each ply). My batt is kind of puny, though typical of most home drum carders, so I'm not sure I can get 3 repeats in, but I know I can get 2 in ... so I split the halves across their midpoints. And this time I remember to take a picture of my hand placement before the split (woo hoo!):
Here are all 4 of the batt pieces now:
But wait, I'm not done. To get the colors to stripe distinctly in the yarn, I roll each of the pieces up into a rolag -- yep, I'll be spinning this from a 99.4% pure woollen prep, carded and then rolled up into a rolag.
Here I've once again cleverly remembered to take a picture of my hand in action, rolling up the rolag:
What I have to say about the rolling -- you do want it to be fairly tight. When learning to do this, rolling around a knitting needle is a good idea; a size US 15 if you have it, or a US 10 will do in a pinch. No needles? maybe you have some 3/8" or 1/2" diameter dowel on hand ...
So here is one rolag next to one of the batt pieces:
And here are all 4 of my rolags:
Next comes the spinning. No new tricks here, but I admit this is the hard part. To spin a 2-ply and have the colors match up, you have to aim for consistency of thickness in your yarn. Decide which color in the trio you are going to start with in the rolags and always start from that end.
Since I have 4 rolags, I spun 2 onto one bobbin and 2 onto a second bobbin. Then I plied those two bobbins onto a third bobbin. This is the resulting skein:
Yes, I've been practicing consistency for quite some time -- my county fair judge really likes consistency, and the best kudo I got was this year, when judging my handspun, handwoven scarf she said, "Wait, is this commercial yarn?" he he he nope, I've just finally met her stringent standards. I got a blue for it!
Remember when I said there was an easier way to spin this up and preserve the color changes? Here you go: divide up your batt the same way, but then spin singles or Navajo ply to preserve the color changes. Both of these methods will have as many color repeats in the resulting yarn as the number of pieces you broke your batt into -- so with my batt above, I'd have 4 repeats, rather than the 2 repeats of my 2-ply yarn.
Now I'm off to go and card up another batt to match this one, so I can knit myself a nice cushy striped hat :-)
If you have any questions about this post, feel free to post them in the comments.
Supercard or Duncan Motorized Drum Carder?
How do I card a smooth batt?
What's the difference between batts and roving?
To drumcard, to hand card, or to comb?
I washed the fleece, now what?
© 18 August 2009 by Ask The Bellwether. Posted on http://askthebellwether.blogspot.com/
Friday, August 7, 2009
It's a sign of my vacation that it's taken me two days to announce this: the first 100% result on Productive Spindling: The Treasure Hunt has been received! Woot! And who was the clever duck? Sarah M.
Sarah's dream team is a lovely spindle-quad:
Left to right, they are a 0.9 ounce maple Charis, a masur birch Greensleeves Loki, and a 0.8 ounce purpleheart Golding tsunami, all working on a 3 ply sock yarn, and a 1.4 oz maple and zebrawood Kundert waiting to ply the second skein. Notice the lovely first skein they are resting on -- well done, Sarah!
She added in her response: "However we're building our roster and interviewing new candidates, particularly in the 1.5 to 2 oz weight class. The Kundert and Charis are my vetrans who have been with me since the beginning, and the Golding is a very talented rookie backing up the Charis who is proving to be more than just a pretty face." It's clear she loves her spindles!
Her favorite section is also several other responders': Productively Filling a Spindle (see the whole Table of Contents).
Sarah's favorite picture is the cover photo, for showing off all those pretty spindles so well. Natalie (my daughter, who arranged and took the picture) was pleased to have it favorited by our first 100%-er.
No, I won't tell you the rest of her answers, because there's still plenty of time (until September 1, 2009) to get your answers in! See the questions here.
During my travels, I've left copies -- signed!! -- at the following fine establishments:
Gypsy Wools in Boulder, Colorado
Table Rock Llamas Fiber Arts Studio in Black Forest, Colorado
Green Valley Weavers & Knitters in Colorado Springs, Colorado (you should see their book selection -- it's amazing!)
So if you're nearby, check them out!
Next up: something different ... carding and spinning a striped batt!
posted 7 August 2009 at http://askthebellwether.blogspot.com/