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Sonntag, 25. März 2012
As far as craft hobbies go I always seem to be on one kick or another. Probably mostly because while I might have time to extensively knit I wouldn't manage to do large crochet stuff on top of that AND spinning yarn at the same time. Days with 24 hours only and all that ;-) Lately I've been digging up some of my many spinning projects and I'm attempting to finish at least some of them. Here's what my spinning kick yielded so far.
The last two batches of CVM (California Variegated Mutant) fiber being plied/waiting to be plied. Spindle: Bosworth Midi in Ancient Kauri wood.
Finished yarn from CVM fiber. Lovely, squishy goodness.
This CVM fiber has been so much fun. In contrast to the usual industrial preparation this one came in form of roving processed by a small mill. Worked out beautifully if spun with a long draw making for a lofty, airy yarn and quite a good yardage.
Shetland fiber spun on supported spindles.
Still a lot of fiber to go on this project. This is the first batch of 200 grams in total. The Shetland fiber in form of carded batts worked great on support spindles. Perfect fiber to learn long draw.
Corriedale fiber spun on my Kromski wheel.
Practicing some wheel spinning too. I aimed for a lofty slightly heavier yarn and I got exactly that on my Kromski wheel. The fiber came in form of carded batts.
Bosworth Mini spindle in English Boxwood. Fiber: 'Chromatic Composition' by Into the Whirled. Special Spindle+Fiber lottery in January 2012.
Not that I would really need another spindle but I could not resist Sheila's offer of a Special Edition spindle in English Boxwood combined with 2 oz. of delicious Merino/Cashmere fiber dyed by Into The Whirled. But since for getting one of those you had to enter a lottery I was also pretty sure that my name would not ever come up. Well, I was wrong. I got this beauty to enhance my spindle collection. And Bosworth Minis are just so adorable. You can't ever have too many of those.
Mittwoch, 23. Februar 2011
Fiber: 25 grams, 40% Bison / 40% Alpaca / 10% Merino / 10% Silk - Frosted Tea from Ancient Arts Fibre Crafts
Spinning: spun on Russian spindles by Ed Tabachek and GrippingYarn
Plying: plied on a Tabachek plying spindle by way of a 2-stranded plying ball
Yarn: 170 meters/25 grams
Pattern: Free pattern Age of Brass and Steam Kerchief
Shawl: 110 meters wide, 45 cm deep
Dienstag, 5. Oktober 2010
Front: Bosworth Moosie, back: Bosworth Midi
Back in 2005 I bought a Bosworth Moosie. The whorl is Moose antler. Very lovely, very rare, very exclusive and today at a price where I might hesitate to buy one. A while ago I realized that the shaft on my Moosie spindle was split right where the hook sat. The Bosworths kindly offered to replace the shaft for no additional cost. Moosie came back in July all fixed and ready to spin.
And to keep Moosie company Sheila offered me this oh so pretty Dogwood Midi. I couldn't resist. I'm absolutely helpless against pretty spindles.
This one is cut from a branch. Look at the pretty annual rings.
Shaft: Cochin Rosewood
Weight: 39 grams
Samstag, 6. März 2010
Spring is slowly making an appearance in our neck of the woods. Very slowly indeed. After a few days of sunny weather and 8°C we're back in the below zero region but thankfully no more snow on the ground. Still a bit of snow in the air and the occasional sleet shower though. Somehow winter doesn't want to let go this year.
Bizarre ice formations while the snow has been slowly melting
This is what our lawn looked like a week ago. Now the snow is entirely gone.
And we're finally having some sun to brighten the mood
Meanwhile I've discovered Russian Lace Spindles and I've been practicing support spinning for the past month or so. They are a curious thing, these support spindles. Traditionally they were used to spin very fine, short fibers like goat down for example. While in other regions spindles like these were used as hand spindles without a special support device in Russia's Orenburg region they were used with support bowls.
Walnut Support Spindle by Lisa Chan/Gripping Yarn with ceramic support bowl. Fiber: Cashmere/Merino blend.
Spinning on a supported spindle requires mastery of the long draw technique. Which essentially means one hand twirls the spindle and the other hand lightly grips the fiber supply and gradually draws back from the spindle thus creating a thread. Long draw can also be used on a wheel or a suspended spindle. But this long draw and I we've never gotten along all that well in the past. Somehow it goes against the control freak in me. I've always ended up with lumpy, uneven singles that lost it's integrity halfway through the spinning process. Which was fine by me. I could always use short draw and end up with a lovely, even yarn. I've never had the patience to try long enough to maybe get better at it. But with support spindles there is no excuse. No way around learning long draw. So that's what I did. I sat back on the sofa, spinning bowl in my lap and started to practice long draw.
Front: Russian style spindle from The Spanish Peacock with some unknown blue wool roving. Back: Spindle from Lisa Chan/Gripping Yarn with some CVM roving.
The thing with long draw is: You gotta let go. No gripping the fiber supply too tightly. No anxious concentration on making your yarn. I tend to cramp up and try too hard to force my will onto the fiber. This won't work for support spindling. Just let go and let the spindle and fiber do their thing. So far I still have to constantly remind myself to ease up and let go. But sitting reclined in your favourite lounge chair or comfy sofa helps a lot in this regard.
Support spinning is fun. It's kind of addictive and a lot more relaxing and slow going than any other spinning method I've tried so far. But a little tuft of fiber will probably get you the most spinning fun you've ever had. And today there are a few very talented wood workers who make such lovely tools, you will be hard pressed to choose because they are all so pretty.
Russian Spindle by Ed Tabachek, Cherry
Lisa Chan from The Gripping Yarn - Lisa's signature are spindles that are slightly more rounded and bit curvier than the classical Russian style spindle. I love her work. The Walnut spindle I got from her feels gorgeous and is an absolute delight to work with. She does mostly custom orders and will gladly try to accommodate individual wishes for a particular wood or weight. Lisa is super nice to work with.
The Spanish Peacock - Mike's spindles come closer to the look of those traditional Russian spindles. Clean, hard lines and a super polished surface as well as beautiful exotic woods are characteristic for his work. So far I've got two of his Russian spindles and they are wonderful spinners.
Ed Tabachek - Ed's spindles have been available longest from all spindle makers I know. I think his work has done the most for bringing support spinning back into the spinning community. His spindles are available in two sizes, the smaller for spinning and the larger ones for plying in the Russian/Orenburg way. As far as I know his spindles are available through certain dealers only. My Tabachek is a large plying spindle that I got from The Wheel Thing. It can be uses as any other support spindle though and is not restricted to plying.
Tom Forrester - Tom's spindles have been around for a while now. I haven't encountered his Russian spindles all that often though. Gemini Fibers lists Russian spindles as part of his spindle repertoire. They very much look like the traditional Russian spindles.
Grizzly Mountain Arts - I've come across this very talented maker of needle and fiber arts tools only recently via Ravelry and Etsy. His work is equisite and his spindles are very much sought after. If you see a spindle appear in his Etsy shop you can be sure it will gone in the blink of an eye. I placed a custom order for a Tibetan spindle with him and was not disappointed in the least. So I guess if you want to have one of Dave's spindles for your collection placing a custom order is the way to go.
Very distinctive shape of a Grizzly Mountain Arts Tibetan spindle
My favourite videos on support spinning
Annotation: Nannette's note in the comments reminded me of one spindle maker that I had forgotten in my little article. She is right of course. A Spinner's Lair can be found on Etsy and their speciality is using reclaimed woods and give them a second life as fiber arts tools. They make different kinds of support spindles, matching bowls and regular drop spindles, too.
Samstag, 2. Januar 2010
Citron shawl from Knitty magazine, Winter 2009 issue
This little shawl is obviously the most knitted project from the newest Knitty issue. As of today Ravelry lists 379 projects and counting. When I first browsed this issue it was this pattern that instantly caught my eyes. And I was totally set to knit it in the original yarn - Malabrigo Lace Merino. Alas, I kinda got side-tracked by one of my older hand-spun yarns though. “Bewitch” is something about a lace to light fingering yarn which I spun back in April 2009. Somehow I thought stripes or color transitions would suit this little scarf/shawl well. As it turned out, pattern and yarn fit each other remarkably well.
Citron shawl - detail
And here's how the yarn came to be.
Hand-dyed fiber from FatCatKnits in colorway "Bewitch"
Singles spun on Mielke Emily spindle
"Bewitch", fingering weight 2-ply yarn
Pattern: Citron by Hilary Smith Callis, Knitty.com Winter 2009
Yarn: hand-spun yarn, 100 grams/400-500 meters, Slushie's Special Blend from FatCatKnits in colorway "Bewitch"
Needles: 4.00 and 4.5 mm
Size: 120 cm wide
Sonntag, 20. Dezember 2009
Bosworth spindles from left to right: Mini Walnut, Featherweights in Morado and Pau Amarillo
This set of three little Bosworth spindles arrived back in October. All three are absolutely perfect spinners, which was no big surprise. They are Bosworths after all.
The Walnut Mini spindle has wonderfully subtle grain markings.
Whorl: Walnut, 2" in diameter
Shaft: Birch, 9" long
Weight: 18 g
Custom ordered Featherweight Morado spindle.
Whorl: Morado, 2" in diameter, narrow
Shaft: Morado, 9" long
Weight: 20 g
Featherweight Pau Amarillo
Whorl: Pau Amarillo, 2" in diameter, narrow
Shaft: Birch, standard 7.5" long
Weight: 15 g
The Walnut whorl has a little brass pin on the underside for balancing.
Maker: Jonathan and Sheila Bosworth from Journeywheel.com
Samstag, 14. November 2009
It’s been a while since I’ve tried knitting two socks at the same time on circular needles. All I remember is a whole lot of fiddling. I wanted to give this thing another try because ending up with two socks at the same time sure sounds like a cool thing. And besides there's lots of people out there who swear by this method so there's got to be something to it.
So far it’s fun and I’m speeding along. There’s been a bit of fiddling and trial and error involved when I tried to find the right circular needle/s for this job. I went through 3 or 4 different needles from really long wooden circulars to two short circs but in the end the 2.5 mm/80 cm Addi Turbo lace made it. The join is fabulous and makes sliding stitches around effortless.
I'm using a hand-spun 3-ply yarn that actually ended up in the right weight range for socks. It's neither too thin nor too thick. Which was a surprise. It's the first time I did a real 3-ply yarn (as opposed to chain-/Navajo-ply) and I am totally in LOVE with this yarn. Couldn't resist its charms hand had to cast on something right away.
Two socks on one circular needle, toe-up
Neat center-pull ball shows the color gradation nicely
Hand-spun 3-ply from Blue Moon Fiberarts Sheep to Shoe Kit
Winding a 3-stranded plying ball from 3 full spindles before the actual plying
That's how it all started: Superwash merino top and a spindle
Fiber: Blue Moon Fiberarts Sheep to Shoe Kit, color "Fire on the Mountain"
Yarn: hand-spun 3-ply, about 420 meters per 120 grams (4 oz)
Spindles: Bosworth Minis in Karelian Birch and Walnut
Montag, 26. Oktober 2009
It's been a while since I've posted a picture of a spindle from my collection. Here comes a particularly fancy exemplar of the drop spindle species.
Spindle with laquered Russian brooch inlay
Whorl: Mesquite Whorl with Russian Laquered Brooch, 7.5 cm in diameter
Shaft: Purpleheart, 27 cm
Weight: 33 g
Maker: Ken Ledbetter from KCL Woods
Fiber: hand-dyed BFL batt by Fibermonster
Comment: The key feature of Ken's spindle seems to be an inlay of some kind. So far I've seen stone inlays, antique buttons, Russian brooches and beads in his works. Each one of his spindles is unique and a true work of art. But they don't just look neat. My spindle also spins very well. I've got to admit it has a bit of a capricious personality. The whorl is fairly large for the weight and is not as rim-weighted as I'm used to. On top of that I hadn't ever before encountered a pig tail hook. But with a hearty thigh roll it just flies and you can spin very fine yarn on it. And the hook is kinda neat, too.
Freitag, 16. Oktober 2009
It's not as if I wouldn't own a sizable stash of yarn and fiber to choose from. How does one choose fiber for the next project anyway? Well, this nice and soft Merino/Nylon top in the tempting colorway 'Magnolia' was calling to be spun as soon I had opened the parcel it came in from Zauberwiese. I divided the combed top in two halves and spun up each half on one of my two latest Kevin Rhodes spindles. Since I had 130 grams of this fiber in total I didn't dare using my wheel for plying because I was afraid the bobbin might be too small for the whole finished yarn and I was really not keen on breaking this lovely yarn. Alas, what's all those lovely spindles for? I knew I could easily fit 130 grams of a fingering weight 2-ply yarn on one of the larger spindles in my collection. The Quad from Tom Forrester did its job beautifully and my appreciation for spindles as a powerful fiber tool even grew, if that's at all possible.
The finished yarn was very beautiful but I wasn't really sure about the color distribution and the barber-pole effect in lots of places. Yet somehow my mind kept coming up with possible projects for this hand-spun. One pattern came up again and again. I took it for a sign and just went with it. Ishbel is a cute little shawl pattern by Ysolda Teague that everyone and their aunt has already knitted if Ravelry is anything to go by. Currently it has 3553 projects and counting. But you know, what can I say, it's what the yarn wanted to become. The kitting was done in about a week and was a delightful and addicting process. I used my new KnitPro Spectra needles in the 4 mm size. The more I knitted with my own hand-spun yarn the more beautiful it became. What a heady feeling to know that you've made this item nearly from scratch. Can only be beaten by knowing the name of the sheep the wool came from ;-)
Here's the story of my Magnolia Ishbel in pictures:
70/30 Merino/Nylon, color Magnolia
Drop spindles by Kevin Rhodes. Left: Apple whorl on Meranti shaft, 33 g. Right: Pear whorl on Black Walnut Shaft, 31 g.
Winding singles of two full spindles into a plying ball.
130 grams of fingering weight 2-ply yarn on a spindle.
About 460 meters of finished yarn after washing.
Ishbel shawl - detail of the stockinette section.
Montag, 10. August 2009
It's been on my Spindlewood Mini spindle for a while now but today the second skein finally got finished. Sunset Fibers' combed top has been spun and plied on the fly to preserve the lovely color sequence. I intend to knit this yarn into a pair of socks to see how well hand-spun yarn holds up. Corriedale is supposed to be fairly well-suited for stuff where you'd want a bit more durability then finer Merino could provide. I'll try and see.
Hand Painted Corriedale Wool in Color C12-09 from Sunset Fibers
50 grams of chain-plied yarn on Spindlewood Mini
Finished 3-ply yarn
Montag, 8. Juni 2009
Swan spindle on hand-dyed Falkland top
Whorl: Laminated wood, Winter Sky
Whorl diameter: 6.5 cm
Length: 23 cm
Weight: 28 g
Length: 28 cm
Maker: Tom Diak of Grafton Fibers
Fiber: Falkland wool top hand-dyed by FeltStudioUK
Comment: Wonderful colors and a very smooth, graceful shape. Can't say much about its spinning abilities since I haven't really had the chance to give it try so far.
Samstag, 6. Juni 2009
Jenkins Turkish Spindle
Whorl: Osage Orange
Whorl diameter: In this case wing span 9 cm
Weight: 24 g
Length: 28 cm
Maker: Ed Jenkins of Jenkins Woodworking
Fiber: Merino/Mohair 50/50
Comment: This is such a pretty little thing and it spins so very well. Absolutely fabulous craftsmanship, too. I'll have to get a large one in the near future. Ed's full size Turkish spindles would probably be great as a plying spindles.
Sonntag, 24. Mai 2009
Falkland wool top by FatCatKnit in ZigZag colorway
Wool on Bosworth Midi spindle
Fiber | Faser: Falkland combed top, hand-dyed from FatCatKnits; 4 skeins à 1 oz (150 m/50 g)
Color | Farbe: in ZigZag colorway, violet, pink, magenta, orange, rust
Tools | Werkzeuge: Spun on Bosworth Midi drop spindle, plied on wheel
Prep | Vorbereitung: some predrafting, wound into Andean bracelet and plied from both ends | etwas ausgezogen vorm Spinnen, von beiden Enden gezwirnt mittels "Andean bracelet"
Comment | Kommentar:
FatCatKnits colorways are fun and the Falkland combed top was easy and fun to spin. The resulting yarn is a crazy color mix but somehow the orange and rust seems to find a cool match in the salmon, magenta and violet tones.
Die Färbungen von FatCatKnits sind immer sehr witzig und lebenig. ZigZag als Falkland Kammzug war einfach und angenehm zu spinnen und die so unterschiedlichen Farben ergeben ein witziges Garn. Ich hätte ja nicht geglaubt, dass orange und rostbraun irgendwie gut zu pink und lila passen. Aber es ergibt ein harmonisches Ganzes, wenn auch der etwas schrägen Art.
ZigZag Falkland wool top spun into 2-ply yarn
Donnerstag, 7. Mai 2009
Left: Spindlewood Square Mini, Holly/Walnut Shaft; Right: Wooly Designs Flowers Rim-Style
These two beautiful spindles were both custom orders. The square spindle comes from Steve and Connie at Spindlewood Co. and is made out of Holly, which has a very pale coloration with little to no grain markings. It's also a very light-weight wood. The pale whorl is complimented nicely be the Walnut shaft. I turned to Connie with urge to add a Holly spindle to my collection. She was truly wonderful and helped me choose the right size, weight and a matching wood for the shaft.
Wood: Holly whorl/Claro walnut shaft
Weight: 26 g
Size: 5.7 cm wide whorl; 22 cm long
The larger spindle on the right is a Tracy Eichheim design. It's his "Flowers" motif in a rim-style design. Tracy is a very thorough and knowledgeable craftsman and his fancy spindles with the intricate scroll-sewn motifs are truly unique. I was lucky enough to get in an order before he closes his shop for the fiber festival season. I custom ordered my spindle with him and we e-mailed back and forth to get the specifications straight to which he then build this spindle. This spindle turns like nobody's business and you get a lot of yardage on it without breaking into sweat.
Wood: Walnut, Birch
Weight: 38 cm
Size: 8.8 cm whorl
"Flowers" rim-style design by Tracy Eichheim, Wooly Designs
Spindlewood Square Mini
Montag, 13. April 2009
Carded Fiber Batts, 3 oz
Spun Single on Greensleeves Spindle
Fiber | Faser: Strawberry Field , carded batts from Fiber Monster; Merino wool, a bit of sparkle; 2 skeins à 1.5 oz (120m/75g)
Color | Farbe: red, salmon, fuchsia, white | rot, magenta, lachs, weiß
Tools | Werkzeuge: Spun on Greensleeves drop spindle, plied on wheel | Gesponnen auf Greensleeves Spindel, gezwirnt am Rad
Prep | Vorbereitung: some predrafting, wound into Andean bracelet and plied from both ends | etwas ausgezogen vorm Spinnen, von beiden Enden gezwirnt mittels "Andean bracelet"
Comment | Kommentar:
Again, Fibermonster's batts were a pure delight to spin. The soft merino has just the faintest hint of sparkle in it to give the resulting yarn a bit of a twist. I chose a heavier spindle to get somewhat thicker singles to result in a worsted weight yarn. And it actually worked. There is something to say for having a lot of spindles to choose from.
Wie immer war die Wolle von Fibermonster einfach ein Traum zum Spinnen. Die weiche Merinowolle hat gerade genug Glitzer drin um dem ganzen einen interessanten Kick zu geben. Dieses mal habe ich extra eine etwas schwerere Spindel gewählt, um einen dickeren Einzelfaden zu spinnen. Hat auch tatsächlich funktioniert.
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