May 26, 2012

Tex, Mo, Rasputin & the Buccaneer, Promise

In other words, What's On My Spindles. Lots of fleece and fiber, that's what!

"Tex" is my name for the Texel cross (1/4 Texel, 3/4 Border Leicester, Coopworth, Corriedale & Finn) fleece I'm processing and spinning for a sweater's worth of 3ply yarn. Wise men say I should spin all my singles first before plying. Then when plying mix and match first and last spun in order to even out any variation in my spinning from beginning to end of a big project. But I haven't been able to yet. This is too much spinning and I'm too impatient to see the finished yarn to wait it out. And, more importantly, if I wait, I'll have nothing to turn in for my Hogwarts at Ravelry classes!

So, I've been working on this fleece in batches. I spin fourteen or so bobbins of singles and then do the mixy-matchy plying thing with them. I've done three batches this way and it seems to be working - the finished 3ply yarn is pretty consistent at about 8/9 WPI, i.e. a heavy worsted or Aran weight yarn. Here's first three batches:

Texel cross batch 3

The spinning on fourth batch started, but right now I'm waiting for the fleece washing & combing/carding to catch up so I have something to spin. I only have a handful of bobbins spun so far.

In the meantime, I started working on processing "Mo", another 4.5 - 5 pound crossbreed fleece waiting in the wings. Mo (the Sheep's name) is a Finn/Dorset/Targhee cross. I have the whole fleece: half raw, and half pre-washed by the seller. Right now I'm working on the pre-washed fleece. This is a much finer fleece, quite soft, and since it was coated, I've been able to hand card without pre-combing or flicking, although it does require picking and opening up the locks.

Like Tex, I am spinning Mo longdraw from hand carded rolags. Mo is a dream to spin. The fineness of this fleece means my singles are thinner and depending on how much the finished yarn poofs up, I may get the DK weight yarn I was hoping for with Tex. I have four small skeins done except for their finishing bath. I'm going to wait until I have all skeins from this half of the fleece done before I set the twist (for comparison purposes). Here's the four unwashed skeins of Mo:


I know, they look just like Tex. All this white fleece makes me appreciate all my hand dyed fiber even more.

Speaking of which, Rasputin is coming along, slowly. I'm halfway through the third braid. Rasputin is the colorway name for an eight ounce bump of Wensleydale top I got this year from Crown Mountain Farms. Like most of the dyed fiber I get from CMF, I'm spinning it worsted and will chain (Navajo) ply to keep the colors intact. I split the eight ounces into eight approximately even sections which I've then braided for neatness sake until I spin. It's going slowly because I'm spinning worsted lace-ish weight singles (I'm averaging 150 yds of 3ply from each braid). This is going to make a lovely shawl. Here's a skein:

Rasputin braid 2

I'm fractal spinning Buccaneer on my turnip support spindle, a first time for me for both. Buccaneer is the colorway of four ounces of superfine Merino I got in The Unique Sheep's tea/fiber club, last year I think. This is my first time purposely fractal spinning and the first time I'm spinning a whole project on my turnip spindle. I'm surprised at how much of a cop that little spindle holds.

For fractal spinning I've split the roving in half lengthwise & set aside one half piece. The second half piece I've split lengthwise into three pieces of approximately 50/25/25%. When I've finished spinning this half I will do the same for the first half I set aside.

Although this fiber is roving not top, it behaves more like top, possibly because of the fineness of the fiber. So, I'm hand carding each color section into a rolag and spinning longdraw from that. Much easier. The two 25% sections are spun, and I've started the 50% section.


Lastly, there's Promise, a soy silk/wool blend. This will be a 2ply worsted spun yarn, hopefully a light fingering to fingering weight. The colors are lovely, but it is a very different feeling spinning experience. It feels...artificial, at least after all the wool I've spun lately. Not bad, just different.


SQUEEE!! Reached over 10,000 yds so far because of all this spinning. Only 7,000+/- to go!

Brought To Me By:
Audiobooks: Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear; Brooklyn: A Novel by Colm Toibin
DVDs etc: Dr Who, season 3; Harry Potter & Sorcerer's Stone; Rosemary & Thyme, season 1;

May 9, 2012

Planning Ahead For a Change

Dear Crafting Diary:

I've been thinking. I know, I know, dangerous territory for me, but I'm trying to avoid any future "What was I thinking!!" exclamations by thinking ahead. What have I been thinking about you ask? Well, I've been thinking about the Ravelympics and the Tour de Fleece. Specifically, what I'd like to do for each, and what I can realistically do for each.

Actually, the Tour de Fleece choice was easy this year. I'm sticking with my plan to spin non-sheepwool fibers, so, cotton for sure. Also, I have some really lovely jeweltone dyed alpaca/silk blend that I can't wait to spin. I've spun silk in blends before but not alpaca. Likewise, I dabbled a little with cotton several years ago but didn't get very far. So both the alpaca and cotton spinning will be a learning experience for me. Unlike last year, this year's Tour will be about learning to spin new fibers not quantity spun.

This will be my first year in the Ravelympics, and as usual, my first go-round of the teams and events had me on half a dozen teams and nine events. Yeah, right, not gonna happen. At least not if I want to remain sane (or perhaps just not insane). Anyway, I am officially in public decreeing my Ravelympics limits: no more than two teams and two project themes. The Teams are Diagon Alley Marauders and ?? (probably Hopelessly Overcommitted). The two project themes are charity knitting (which will cover multiple projects/events) and one spinning project.

May 2, 2012

Brought To Me By...

Off My Spindle: The Merino/tussah silk blend in the "Jewel" colorway from Enchanted Knoll Farms is finished. I just love all the colors and wish I'd had the foresight to get more than two ounces. See:

Jewels closeup 1

Gorgeous colors! I ended up with 317 yards of chain (Navajo) plied yarns in the sport/heavy fingering range (22-24 wpi). That's 951 yards of singles from two ounces of fiber.

Also finished is Batch 1 of the Texel cross fleece. For this batch I got eight small skeins of 3ply yarn. I am spinning this long draw from hand carded rolags and loving it.

Texel cross batch 1

Batch 1 totalled 272 yds of 3ply (816 yds of Singles) that are soft, airy and squishy and I can't wait to work with. Reminds me why I like spinning woolen so much! I'm thinking of spinning up some brown/black fleece I have to go with this and making a fair isle yoke sweater.

On/Off My Needles:
Not much knitting done at all. A Hexipuff or two, and a gauge swatch.

Brought To Me By... All this spinning the past few weeks has been accomplished with the following audio &/or video accompaniment: Dr. Who, Hawaii Five-O, True Blood, Shaun the Sheep, The Knit Girllls, Round the Twist, the Knitmore Girls, Knitting Pipeline, Knitting Brooklyn and Subway Knits.