July 30, 2012

Ravellenics update


The Ravellenic Games began on Friday. First up for me is the Handspun Heptathalon for Team Hopelessly Overcommitted. I'm about halfway through spinning the Shetland bump in the Forecast colorway. See:

Forecast in progress

It's pretty. I was going to make a standard 2ply, but after I started spinning I decided to chain/Navajo ply it. I'm spinning it semi-worsted and it's going smoothly. I've spun Shetland before from pre-washed fleece I've hand processed, and while they both spin easily, this commercially processed fiber feels much different. Not bad different, just different. Now I realize there are textural differences between fleece and even within a single fleece, but the difference here is enough to make me wonder whether this really is 100% Shetland. This feels more like a Polwarth to me.

Regardless, I expect I'll be finished spinning by tomorrow night, and finished plying by Thursday night. That's the plan at least.

Tomorrow I will start knitting my projects for Team Diagon Alley Marauders.

July 27, 2012

Stash Dash 2012

Stash Dash 2012

Through Checkpoint 4: 1,560 grams, 34% of goal

There's only a few weeks left for this (ends Aug 12) and I realize I won't be meeting my goal.  Majorly, Seriously, Not Meeting It.  Seems I once again miscalculated.  

My goal was to work through 10 pounds or 4,535 grams (we're counting grams not yards this year) of fiber, fleece and yarn. I thought, with the TdF spinning and the fleeces I'm processing, I could handle eight pounds of fleece/fiber and two pounds worth of knitting.  

First thing I forgot was to deduct for the fleece processing loss and waste. Makes a Big Difference.  Second thing I forgot was to account for my hand arthritis since the h&r accident two years ago.  I just can't knit as much as I used to, or at least as intensely as I used to.

So bottom line is I'll be lucky if I make it to even half of my original goal.  A third is better than nothing I guess. 

July 26, 2012

On/Off My Spindles

On/Off My Spindles:

While I was spinning for the Tour de Fleece, I also continued spinning on projects already in progress.  In some cases that may've been a mistake.

For instance, I spun and plied braid #4 of the Wensleydale in the Rasputin colorway (spun worsted/chain ply).  I did it in one day.  A Mistake.  I rushed, and this little skein came in at half the yardage of the first three.  It's a sport to DK weight yarn instead of fingering.  Grrr  I could smack myself sometimes!

On the bright side, I finished spinning (woolen) and plying (3ply) all of the first half of the Finn/Dorset/Targhee fleece called "Mo".  For this I managed to keep the yarn weight consistent.  I ended up with nine skeins totalling 625 yards of 3ply DK/light worsted weight yarn.  Now I just have to tackle washing the other half of the fleece...

Mo 9 skeins prewash

I also plied up the first little skein of the "Promise" soy silk/wool blend yarn.  It's a tiny little thing because I, frankly, got tired of it.  I'm not exactly happy with the feel of the fiber as I'm spinning. Not enough wool content I guess.  Love the colors though so I will finish it.  Eventually.


I'm really looking forward to starting on this tomorrow:

"Forecast" Shetland

It's Shetland in the "Forecast" colorway from Spunky Eclectic and is my only scheduled Ravellenic's spinning.

Brought To Me By:

DVDs etc: Monarchy S1; Harry Potter & THBP; 
Pod/VideoCasts:  Knitmore Girls; The Nerdist; The Knit Girllls; 

July 25, 2012


10 Mile Goal:  all the TdF spinning put me over the 16,000 yard mark.  If I keep up this pace of spinning I should reach my 17,600 yard goal well before year end!

The Ravellenic Games at Ravelry start Friday and I'm no where near ready!


Latest badge from Hogwarts at Ravelry:

OoP badge level 2

July 23, 2012

TdF wrap-up pic

This is my final lineup pic of this years TdF spinning.

Right to Left:
Cotton (24g) Alpaca/Silk (118g), Llama (46g), Yak/Merino (117g), Cheviot wool (233g)

TdF take 3

Total 538 grams is a little over a pound (about 18 ounces) of fiber spun.

I still have to spin the second bumps of the alpaca/silk and the yak/merino, but that won't be done until after the Ravellenic Games are over. Right now, I'm going back to my already in progress spinning; we'll see how much of that I can finish by Friday (not too much I'm thinking, maybe Buccaneer).

July 22, 2012

TdF Day 23: Finished!

Day 23:


New Moon skeins

This one shows the colors a little better.

New Moon closeup

Finished plying at like 5:30 this morning. I normally don't mind plying, but this one, I thought it would never end. Maybe that was because this was a 2ply and I've been doing a lot of 3ply lately. Whatever. It's done!

This was a good TdF and I enjoyed the change of pace from just wool spinning.  But I also learned I really like spinning wool and am eager to get back to it.  

Brought To Me By:

DVDs etc: Monarchy S1; Harry Potter & THBP; 
Pod/VideoCasts:  Knitmore Girls; The Nerdist; 

July 21, 2012

TdF Days 21 & 22 - spoke Too Soon

Ya know how I said last time that the yak/merino blend was a fairly easy spin and I'd have no problem getting the first bump done by Sunday? Well, I had to get cocky didn't I.

This is the first half of the bump, about two ounces, spun up. Took me over five hours!!!!

New Moon yak/merino

I did okay for the first quarter or so, and then kablam! Not enough twist disguised as just barely enough twist to wind on, or too much twist on too thin a single and snap! I would wind off enough to start up again and it would fall apart. I wound up having to take my lightest spindle and carefully respin a third of the cop while attached to the first part that was okay and then rewind back.

Normally, I spin my singles by look and feel - do I like the way it looks (guess that's the twist angle I'm visually judging), does the twist feel right between my fingertips (not too hard or wiry but definitely changing the fiber texture), does it hold together when I tug gently, and does it ply back on itself the way I like? I think I got too carried away with my fancy drafting and forgot to check my basics. Because when I went back to the basics and added in counting as if I was plying to make sure of sufficient twist in the long drafting zone, everything worked fine.

I'm a little more than half way through the second half of this bump now. I expect to finish it tonight and ply in the morning. Right on time...

July 19, 2012

TdF Day 20: Yak/Merino blend

Day 20: 

Getting down to the wire here with only three more days left.  

Today I started spinning the 50/50 yak/merino blend in the New Moon colorway from Abstract Fiber. I have two four ounce fiber bumps or strands of top.

"New Moon" yak/merino

I split the first bump in half lengthwise for a standard 2ply yarn.  The staple length is about 2 1/2 inches.  The fiber is soft and slightly spongey feeling. 

This would be very easy to spin worsted, however, the fiber itself doesn't feel (to me at least) as if it would like being compacted into a worsted yarn.  It might take away from the softness of the fiber.  So, instead I'm aiming for a semi-woollen yarn, spinning an attenuated backward draw from the end (kind of the bastard child of longdraw and point of twist).  I tried, at first, spinning point of twist from the fold, but the staple length made it uncomfortable for me.  

The spinning is going fairly smoothly so far.  And I'm pretty sure I can finish spinning and plying this first four ounces by the end of the Tour on Sunday.  

Brought To Me By:

DVDs etc: Veronica Mars, S1; 
Pod/VideoCasts:  Yarnspinners Tales; Round The Twist; 

July 18, 2012

TdF Days 18-19

Day 18 was a bust. Just too hot to spin

Today was even worse but I managed a little plying before it got too difficult. This is as far as I've gotten plying the cotton: one small skein done, one in progress.

Cotton 2ply

I will finish plying the leftover singles on the bobbin, probably tomorrow.

And I will decide what's up next: camel down, yak/merino (50/50), bamboo or cashmere I'm leaning toward the yak/merino fiber, I think. Camel down and cashmere should be really short stapled fibers similar to the cotton, and the bamboo would be like the silk in the alpaca silk. All too much "been there, done that" for me right now. So I guess I just talked myself into the yak/merino. (There's a bad pun in there I think...talking into...yak, yak yak...but my gray cells have left the building, so, never mind)

Brought To Me By:
DVDs, etc: Veronica Mars S1;

July 17, 2012

TdF Days 16 & 17

Days 16 & 17 progress:

Chocolate Rainbow

This is four ounces of the alpaca/silk blend in the Chocolate Rainbow colorway from Abstract Fiber.  I plied this on Sunday afternoon and Monday morning.  Love the colors.  Picture is hot off the niddy noddy and pre-finishing soak.  Although I spun worsted, it seems a bit fuzzier than I expected.  This required a lot more twist than I expected too, both in the spinning and in the plying.  Somewhere in my stash I have some 100% alpaca fiber that I think I'd like to try as a comparison - would it require as much twist as the blend or was that because of the silk content;  is the fuzziness a characteristic of all alpaca or just that one, etc.  Just not right now.  Maybe in a month or so.

I also started plying up the cotton, and that too requires a lot of twist.  It's slow going so I will continue working on it as a change of pace from regular spinning.

Brought To Me By
DVDs etc: Charmed S1; Veronica Mars, S1; 
Pod/VideoCasts:  Yarnspinners Tales; The Knit Girllls,  Sticks & String; 

July 14, 2012

TdF Day 15 - MoreChocolate Rainbow

TdF Days 15:

Finished the first four ounce braid of the alpaca/silk blend.  No picture because it's basically the same as the first pic, just a fatter bobbin.

Tomorrow (Sunday) is a designated plying day, so I will ply both the alpaca and the two bobbins of cotton then.  

Brought To Me By

DVDs etc: Dr Who, S5; Charmed S1; 
Pod/VideoCasts:  Yarnspinners Tales; Cast On; 

TdF Day 14 - Alpaca/Silk

TdF day 14  Alpaca/silk

This is about half of the first braid spun worsted. The fiber is a 50/50 alpaca/silk blend from Abstract Fiber in the Chocolate Rainbow colorway. Once I adjusted to the longer (than cotton or llama) staple length of three to four inches, it's proving to be a very easy spin.

Participating in the TdF always teaches me something. This time it's practicing drafting techniques: attenuated long draw for the cotton and llama, and short forward draw (SFD) with this alpaca/silk blend. I actually think I'm getting the hang of working SFD back and forth across the fiber supply instead of down the side. Something I've always had a problem with.

Brought To Me By:
DVDs, etc:. Dr Who, season 5; Charmed, season 1;

July 13, 2012

TdF Day 13

Early this morning, like crack of dawn early, I plied up the second braid of Cheviot. Worsted spun, chain (Navajo) plied, and I think they both came out nicely:


Will figure out the yardage after they've dried.

Started spinning the Alpaca/silk blend this evening. Refresher:

"Chocolate Rainbow"

This is a brown (chocolate) alpaca and silk blend dyed in lovely jewel tones called Chocolate Rainbow. I've decided on spinning this worsted, and as it appears I can spin this fine enough to get a thin (say maybe fingering weight) 3ply yarn, I'm planning to chain ply and keep the colors intact. Staple length averages about three plus inches which isn't as long as I expected. It's slippery and needs more twist than I expected as well. I'm thinking I might like this better to spin if it had a little less silk in it (this is 50/50 blend). I do like the difference in dye take-up between the silk and the alpaca though.

Brought To Me By:
DVDs etc: Dr Who-The End of Time; Buffy TVS season 7;
Pod/Videocasts: Yarnspinners Tales; Round The Twist

July 12, 2012

TdF Days 12 - Oops, Zzzzzzzz

Sorry folks, I conked out last night before I remembered to post. But I actually made some progress yesterday.

Day 12 I finished spinning up the last two ounces of the second Cheviot braid.  I also plied the Llama (2ply).  And I took the cotton with me to the Atrium meet up and spun for over an hour while I waited for my fellow Knitter's to arrive. I've scheduled this Sunday as a plying day, so I'll ply the two bobbins of cotton and whatever else I've spun through Saturday then.  

Llama pictured here is actually a dark brown.  I had to wash out the color with lights to get a semi-decent pic of the yarn strands.


Brought To Me By
DVDs etc: Buffy TVS, season 6; 
Pod/VideoCasts:  Yarnspinners Tales, Knitmore Girls,

July 10, 2012

TdF Day 11 - Rest Day

Today in the Tour is supposed to be a day of rest. So real early this morning I finished spinning up the llama and wound it onto a plying bobbin. Then I set it aside to rest.

My plan for tomorrow morning is to ply the llama, finish spinning the second half of the second Cheviot braid, and then tackle my overflowing "wash me" box. There must be a dozen skeins/hanks in there waiting for their twist to be set. And a couple of shawls to wash/block Fun times!

Non TdF related: I got another three inches or so done today on the Woolgathering sock while I was waiting to see dr. Stripey socks always seem to go so much faster than others!

July 9, 2012

TdF Day 10

Almost finished the llama. Actually thought I had finished it this morning, but I just found some more (just a bit) hiding in the bottom of the bag. So I will finish spinning the llama Tuesday morning and then ply up what I have. This will be a 2ply.

That's all the spinning I did today. But I did cast on for another pair of socks this evening while visiting Mom at the nursing home. The yarn is from Three Ewes Twisted in Fiber in their "Ewe Look Great in Stripes" sock yarn base (75/25 superwash merino/nylon). I believe the colorway is called Woolgathering.

July 8, 2012

TdF Day 9 - Llama etc

I started spinning the Llama cloud early this morning. Should probably call this Dark Chocolate Bliss! The staple length for this is about an inch or so. No guard hairs. Very easy to spin; just pull off clumps of fiber and go. Spinning longdraw because of the short staple length and it's going very smoothly. I'm thinking I'll make this a 2ply yarn.

Llama cloud

Also started spinning the second Cheviot braid, and some more cotton. Things are progressing.

And after checking out the 70/30 alpaca/silk fiber this morning, I'm still contemplating how it should be spun. I need to take a piece off and sample which I prefer - spinning worsted or semi-worsted. Hoping to get enough for a good sized shawl so definitely a 2ply, but how to spin requires more thought.

Brought To Me By:
DVDs, etc: Dr Who: The Waters of Mars
Pod/Videocasts:. Yarnspinners Tales, Round The Twist,

July 7, 2012

Day 8 TdF

No spinning today. It was just too uncomfortably hot. I tried, but the fiber kept sticking to my hands no matter how much I powdered them, so I gave up. Hoping tomorrow will be beter.

I found 2.5 ounces of llama cloud that I forgot I had. Need to do a little research on the fiber and how to spin it. I took some of it out and it's short stapled (about an inch long) but Oh. Is. It. Soft. Absolutely lovely!

July 6, 2012

TdF Days 4-7

This isn't blogging every day, I know. Me bad. Its not that I have nothing to say, it's just that I'm not so good at coordinating words and especially pictures on a daily basis. So I'm going to play catch-up now and try again for daily posting tomorrow.

Day 4 I spun some more cotton on the spindle and I think I was finally getting the hang of it. At least I only dropped the spindle a few times. No new picture, so look at the previous post's picture and imagine a cop twice as big.

Day 5 I got the urge to ply. Instead of spinning up more cotton, I chain (Navajo) plied what I'd spun up of the Promise fiber. You'll possibly remember that's the pink, blue and lavender stuff. It's a small skein of probably fingering weight yarn (twist hasn't been set yet so it might bloom a little) See:


Days 6 and 7 (yesterday & today) I spun and plied, a lot actually. Of course none of it was what I was supposed to spin for TdF, but it's spinning so I'm counting it. Yesterday I tried organizing my WIPs baskets and came across two braids of handdyed Cheviot fiber that said 'spin me'. So I did. I spun the first braid yesterday and chain plied it today. The fiber is from Two Sisters Stringworks, and while the Cheviot was a little coarse feeling, the fiber braid itself was lovely to work with. Sometimes hand dyeing can slightly felt wool fiber making it difficult to work with. Not the case with this fiber. It drafted easily without any pre-drafting, and the colors are lovely. I think it will be a DK weight yarn after the twist is set, and at least 130 yds of 3ply, probably more.


I also plied up another 3ply skein of the pre-washed half of Mo today. Mo is the Finn/Dorset/Targhee cross fleece I've been processing; half is raw wool and half pre-washed by the seller. No pics of this yet. All my Mo skeins (except one) need a bath first before they're camera ready and I can get a final yardage count. I'm keeping one skein unwashed so I have something to aim for when I spin up the second half.

Brought To Me By:
Audiobooks: Embrace the Night by Karen Chance; Medicus: A Novel of the Roman Empire by Ruth Downie; 
DVDs etc: Dr Who season 4, Rosemary & Thyme season 2

July 3, 2012

TdF Day 3

Day 3 I spun cotton on a drop spindle. For three hours and a lot of spindle dropping. But I persevered and came up with this:

Day3 TdF

No, I don't know how many ounces or grams that is - I didn't measure, I just spun. It's not much, though, and it's a lot thicker single than I got for Day 2 on the support spindle, see:

Days 1@2 TdF

Cotton is weird to spin. It has a very short staple length, which means you need a lot of twist for it to hold together, but which also means it's pretty perfect for longdraw. However, it doesn't have the resiliency of wool, so too much twist makes the single snap much faster and easier than wool. It's a fine line to tread when spinning cotton.

Another problem I ran into with cotton on a support spindle is that because the single doesn't need to be strong enough to support the weight of the spindle and cop, it is relatively easy to underestimate the amount of twist needed to make a structurally sound single that will handle rewinding onto bobbins and plying without falling apart. I ran into this problem with wool spun on a support spindle too. It's something I have to watch out for.

Both Days spinning was directly from the cotton sliver - no pre-drafting (staple is so short you really can't). I would like to try spinning from a hand carded and rolled puni, a rolag, and a quasi-batt. But not today. Day 4 if I spin, it will be on other Projects. There are a few projects in progress that need plying. And I need to do some knitting too.

July 1, 2012

Tour de Fleece 2012

Yesterday was the beginning of the Tour de Fleece (TdF) challenge for spinners. While the cyclists race through France, we spin through our stashes in an effort to meet our individual goals. Those goals are personal and can range from just learning to spin, spinning a new fiber, learning the ins and out of a new wheel or spindle, spinning down a certain amount of stash, to spinning a whole fleece. For myself, I've chosen to spin new to me fibers: cotton, alpaca, and maybe some camel down, yak, bamboo or cashmere, depending on how much time the cotton and alpaca take. Unlike last year where it was all about speed and quantity spun, this year is about becoming comfortable with the fiber regardless of how much fiber or how long it takes.

I'm starting with this cotton sliver in cinnamon from The Spinning Loft:

Cotton sliver cinnamon

I can't find my tahkli spindle so I'm using my turnip support spindle to start. When I'm satisfied with what I'm producing on the turnip, I will switch to a top whorl drop spindle. For now I'm spinning straight from the sliver. Later I will try hand carding and spinning from that as a rolag, a puni and as a "batt".

Another goal for me this TdF is to post daily blogs which, since the TdF last three weeks, I've extended to the whole month of July. Perhaps this motor mouth will run out of things to say. I don't know, we'll see what happens.