Monday, April 8, 2013

It's Monday, and I missed the beginning of April

Everything is still super busy.  I have travel to plan, and somehow afford.  I have chores that still need doing at the house.

I missed posting last week, everything just kind of went WHEEEE and jumped out the window.

I do have a picture of the cat lounging in the sunshine a couple of weekends ago, but of course that's not loading for me now.

So instead, I'll regale you with the tales of my yarn spinning. 

I decided that I was totally, definitely, going to spin SOCK YARN to make SOCKS.  This actually started in January when I bought myself a book for my birthday.  It is The Spinner's Book of Yarn Designs by Sarah Anderson.  I bought it directly from Sarah and it's autographed.  I'm so pleased with that.  :)

I read it cover to cover and while I'm still not really interested in a lot of the art yarns described, the techniques are interesting.  And one of the techniques discussed was for sock yarns.

And I HAD to try it.  HAD TO.

And we all know that I have a scary amount of fiber to spin...

(did you see this picture?  This was HALF of my stash and it was coming to get me!)

So, I went to the stash and found a lovely bump of silver colored fleece from a mutt sheep (one kept to be a living lawnmower by someone around here.)  The fleece is lovely and while not as soft as say Merino, it's still soft and lovely.  I weighed out 2 ounces, and then another 2 ounces separate from the first batch.

I started spinning the first one on my Ashford Joy spinning wheel and was absolutely NOT enamoured.  The only problem I have ever had with my Joy is that the hooks on it were not smoothed down properly when they were manufactured.  So each and every one of them has a burr on the outside of the hook.  If I am spinning something super smooth, this is not a problem.  However, if what I am spinning has any kind of fluff or fuzz to it...  problem.  The burrs are raised away from the surface just enough that they catch the fuzz on the fuzzy yarns.

After fighting my way through 2 ounces of this fiber and struggling to get it to spin, I finally finished a bobbin full of wool.  It was smaller diameter than I had meant for it to be, and so I was going to have to spin more than I had planned to get the yarn I needed.  And I was NOT going to spin it on the Joy for anything.

(Don't get my wrong, I LOVE my Joy.  But it was not the right wheel for this.  So I got out the second batch of fiber and went home and got out the Ashford Traditional wheel.  (that's the wheel that is half buried in the background of the above picture.)  The Traditional wheel is named Aurelia and she is a wheel that I picked up broken and painted a horrible dog poo brown.  I found her at Goodwill and I bought her and got her home.  Over a month I managed to get her stripped of most of the paint and cleaned up.  The paint had stained the wood.  But the paint is mostly gone, even if the stain is still there. 

I found someone to make her new pieces to replace the broken parts.  And she was given several good rub downs with a finishing wax.  She now spins beautifully and is a very very easy going wheel.  And she was perfect for spinning my second strand of yarn.  Her hooks have no burrs and so the spinning was much easier.

Since that second strand also turned out finer than I meant for it to, AND because I was not in the mood to spin a third strand of grey (I needed at least another strand, possibly two...) I was thinking about digging into the stash and finding something that was colorful.  I was dragging my feet because most of my braids of dyed fiber are four ounces and I only needed two for this project.  I didn't want to break up a braid into two two-ounce chunks and then have a random two ounce chunk drifting around.  Then it hit me.  I have a large box of tiny, quarter to half ounce samples.  And I have probably a good eight to ten ounces of samples.  So I gathered up my samples, and I sorted them out by colors.  I grabbed a pile of orange, red, yellow, brown, etc samples.  These were all fall colors, which are not my normal palette.  But I thought they would contrast nicely with the grey.

These samples were all spun up together, one after the other.  It was fun.  there are bits where the fiber was coarser and some where it is much finer.  There are sections with sparkle in there and lots without.  But it's different and interesting.

Then, since even that was a little finer than I meant for it to be, I added a single strand of silk in cream.  Thankfully that was commercially spun.  Silk and I are still not on good speaking terms when it comes to spinning.  I'm working on it, but I hold a grudge.  :)

I finally got it all plied, with help from a friend at one point when everything went kerflooey.  But it is all done, and WOW, was it a sproingy yarn.  I got it into a bit hank and it went all squirrelly.  Strands kept trying to go every which way.  But I wrestled it under control and gave it a hot bath.  It's a bit calmer now.  Not completely calm, but better.

This is a picture before its bath:

See?  squirrelly. But look at how those colors POP!  I knew the colors would should up nicely against the grey background, but I hadn't REALLY expected them to pop quite that much.

It's STILL not quite dry.  I blame the fact that this is the first day in 5 that it hasn't rained from dawn until dawn.  (Not that I mind the rain, mind you.  But it does increase drying times.  ;)

I'm hoping it will be dry tonight.  If it is, I plan to wind it into a ball so that I can make myself a small swatch.  That will let me figure out how many stitches will be necessary to make socks that fit me.  Since even with 4 strands of wool or silk, it's still a bit on the thin side.  But this should be fun.  And I fully intend to make another yarn like this again.

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