Posts from the ‘Handspinning’ category

I’m Still Alive

It’s probably about time I post here, since people have been emailing, wondering if I am still alive. I am, but my work/craft life has certainly been taking a backseat lately. (Would someone come over and make me take the time to get a haircut?)

I can’t think straight enough to knit much, but there’s been some spinning.

Spinners Hill
Wool/Alpaca blend from Spinners Hill
light worsted weight
1572 yards/ 1.5 lbs.

The dye would not exhaust on this. I had to reset it by soaking in water and citric acid, then bringing to 190F on top of the stove and holding there for 30 minutes. Grumble.

Purchased at Rhinebeck 2007. See the batts here. This was a rustic prep and it resulted in a rustic yarn. There were big blobs of Alpaca (the red, orange, and paler green) that didn’t blend well with the wool. This is a nice, fluffy, light yarn. Very soft!

Fresh Growth
Merino wool, from my hand-dyed top.

sport weight
250 yards and 2.6 oz.

This was spun from scraps left from wool I sold. I think I’m going to crochet a blanket with these small scrap skeins. They’re super fun to spin.

Spunky Eclectic Fiber Club May 2008 selection
“Rosebud” Corriedale wool
2 ply
3.7 oz. (there’s some single left on a bobbin)
250 yards
14 wpi/sport


Spinning up about a pound and a half of “Hive” Falklands wool, the Hello Yarn Fiber Club April ’08 fiber.

PS: The little stickers on the bobbins tell me how much, in weight, is on each, plus in which order they were spun. I spin in dribs and drabs and don’t trust that my spinning will be perfectly consistent from the beginning to the end of a project. This way, I can ply bobbins 1 and 4 together, and 2 and 3 together, etc. to help even things out. I keep track of the weight because I am a pretty darn consistent spinner (despite my lack of self-trust), so if each bobbin has 250 grams on it, chances are there will only be a few inches of one single left from two-plying. The system works well! Amy Boogie taught me.


We haven’t moved yet, but think we’ve finally found a house. It’s been kind of a brutal search, since we have to drive 300 miles every time a house we like the looks of comes onto the market. It’s got a sweet little plumbed room with a big bright window for my dyeing, lots of space for drying, and a barn that we’ll eventually convert to a dye space for me. There’s a garden with blueberry and raspberry bushes and super nice neighbors. It’s in a beautiful quaint village filled with artists and local-eaters and other assorted lovely people. We’re so excited! I’ll keep everyone posted.

Shop Update:

There will be one this week. Buy it all, please! The house needs all new appliances. :P


Does Firefox 3.0 hate you as much as it hates me? Nothing works right.


I Can’t Believe it, Myself.

I learned to crochet. It wasn’t pretty for a moment there, when I sat down with the pattern and thought “Ooh, I just wasted $5.50, because I do not understand this AT ALL.” I got back up and printed line by line instructions for each of the stitches needed and went for it.

Why didn’t anyone tell me how fast crochet is? I can’t believe it! Two evenings of lazy crocheting and general farting around, chatting and watching movies and there’s a scarf. I want to make a bunch of these now and have some fiber set aside to spin up a yarn with long color shifts for the next.

Here’s the yarn and the fiber from this one. The scarf is Anne, by M.K. Carroll. Ravel it.

Yarn School:

Yarn School
is REALLY SOON! There are still a few spots left, if you’d like to come. Sign-ups end tomorrow. To everyone coming, I can’t wait to see you!

Any orders placed between the 18th and 29th will ship when I return.

In case anyone was wondering, yeah, I didn’t quite manage the shop update before Yarn School. I dyed some Fat Sock, though, and I’ll get some more stuff done and ready for sale when I return because seriously, it has been so amazingly long since I dyed sock yarn! It’s pitiful, especially since it’s my favorite.

I’ll be back. :)


Tons of Handspinning

After getting my latest installment of the Spunky Club fiber in the mail the other day, I spent two evenings spinning up the October and November fibers. They are gorgeous!

Spunky Eclectic Fiber Club October 2007 selection
“Goblin Eyes”

Romney wool
4 oz., 290 yards
15 wpi (sportish)

I spun this very quickly with some sort of modified worsted long draw technique, pulling back with the fiber hand instead of forward with the forward hand, smoothing a bit as I went. It’s nice and airy and has great drape. I finished this skein with only a warm soak.

Spunky Eclectic Fiber Club November 2007 selection
“Pie for Everyone!”

Falklands wool (top)
3.5 oz. (there are leftovers), 180 yards
11 wpi (heavy worsted)

I spun this one in the same manner, though the wool wasn’t so long and slippery as the Romney, so didn’t go quite so fast. This one has more twist in it than the Romney, so it’s really springy. To finish this skein, I fulled and whacked*. It became very squishy and bouncy.

I noticed that the Falklands wool top was really directional, meaning that it was a lot nicer to spin from one end. I figured I’d take a photo and talk about it, since it’s not something I see mentioned often.

It’s easy to see that the two opposite ends of the same piece of top above are different. When I tore off a length of the top, one end came to a point and the other tore off pretty much straight across. This is because wool fibers are like human hair in that if it’s combed in one direction, there’s more resistance than if it’s combed in the other. When combed or carded, the fibers align themselves so there’s the least resistance possible. It’s often easier to draft fiber in this direction as well, which explains why that end pulls into a nice point. Sometimes, the difference when spinning isn’t very noticeable to me and sometimes it’s drastic. The pointy end is generally the end you want to spin from. Sometimes it’s hard to see the point, so give a spin and if your fiber is giving you any lip, tear the wool off and try from the other end and see if you notice a difference.

And knitting:

These are knit from the same yarn as the leg warmers. Hooray for leftovers!

They are Kolenya (PDF) fingerless mittens modified to lose the little crocheted chains between the fingers (stuff between my fingers and toes is annoying).

They used 2 oz. of bulky 2 ply BFL and Corriedale wool yarn, unknown yardage. It’s a great, simple pattern for a little bit of handspun. They’re nice and toasty!

* Fulled and whacked?? I think crimpy, shorter staple wools and other animal fibers benefit from rough treatment after spinning. I soak them in hot water with shampoo, dunking them in and out of the water a few times before letting them settle and sit 15 minutes or so. After draining that water, I then refill the sink with cold water and repeat the dunking and soaking. The water temperature change fulls the yarn and causes the crimp to go crazy and plump up. Yarns spun from crimpy wools like Merino bloom wonderfully with this treatment.

Fulling a long-stapled fiber yarn can cause it to felt to itself and get hard, so take care with those. I just soak them in warm water with shampoo and rinse. There’s a great article about this in the Summer 2007 Spin-Off with lots of pictures.

Whacking means that after the yarn has been washed, I squeeze the water out, grab one end of the skein, and beat it against the side of my bathtub, rotating the skein and repeating. This helps even out the twist in the yarn, and gets some of the water out, too. I do this with any skein that I think can handle the beating, which is everything but some novelties.