Saturday, March 26, 2016

A spinners toolbox

As I am beginning to work more mindfully and deliberately at improving my spinning quality and consistency, I am learning about the importance of things I had previously not given much (or any) thought to as a beginner.

Wraps per inch has always been a useful concept, but only as it relates to a finished product.  I had never given it any thought as it relates to yarn-in-progress.  I am beginning to learn (finally), that a finished yarn can be consistent throughout the entire skein.  There doesn't need to be a LOT of variation, or even very much at all.  If you stop to check your work periodically, just as you might stop to check your gauge periodically throughout a knitting project, you will end up with a much better quality yarn.

Right now, I am spinning a bump of Shetland roving into a fine lace yarn for a shawl.  I will need about 1000 yards.  In prior projects, I have always started spinning, finished spinning, wound and measured my yarn, and then been inevitably disappointed as I have fallen short of my spinning goal - often by several hundred yards.  
This time, I have started differently.  To begin with, I spun a sample.  It was not a big sample.  A mere few yards to give me an idea of how heavy the finished yarn will be.  But several yards of a sample also gives me a good idea of:
A) my weight to yardage ratio, or yards per pound.  This tells me how much yarn I can expect to get at my desired weight.  I will do a separate post another time about the math involved in figuring out ypp.  Basically, the short version is to spin a sample of a few grams, figure out how many yards are in a gram or an ounce, and then multiply that by the correct number to figure out how many yards to a pound or grams to a meter, etc.  
B) my twist angle.  My current yarn has a twist angle of 15degrees, give or take a bit.  If I want the finished yarn to look consistent throughout, I can stop and check the angle once in a while.  What you see in the picture above is a printed protractor.  Whether you use the top or both depends on whether you are spinning s- or z-twist, which I'm not going to get into right now.  Lay the yarn on top of your printed protractor and line up the twist angle.  I think I'll do a more in depth post on this later when I don't have Mouselette asking me 59 million questions. 
C) my wraps per inch.  This tells me what the yarn weight is, whether that be laceweight or bulky.  This gives me an idea what sort of project would look great with this yarn.

In short, keeping the twist and wraps per inch as consistent as possible throughout the spinning project will help me wind up with a more consistent and balanced yarn at the end.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Thin threads

I finished this yarn the other night.  It is one of my finest so far.  I am trying to learn how to spin gossamer threads.  I don't know why, really, as I don't actually knit with super fine lace.  Maybe I will, though, if I can get my threads thin enough.
A commercial laceweight is usually around 400-440yds to 50g. This skein measures 484yds and is 66g.  If I did my math right (and never count on me to do math right), that works out to something like 3326 yards per pound.  According to charts, that is definitely a laceweight yarn right there.  It's not quite as fine as a commercial laceweight, coming in at roughly 386yds to 50g, but it is definitely a laceweight.

A gossamer yarn is about 6000yds to a pound.  It's about 3-5strands in a single.  I'm not sure either my or my wheel can handle that just yet.  But I'll keep trying.

On a separate note, I haven't posted my cotton tutorial yet on account of either YouTube or my computer being dumb.  The video uploads, but the conversion process keeps failing and I keep having to delete and start over.  I got frustrated enough that I chose to walk away.  Then it was March break, and NOTHING was happening over March break, except the Mouselette asking me a few times if I can please buy her a spinning wheel of her own.

Yes.  Absolutely.  If I can find one that's the right size for under $100.  And since I probably can't, the answer remains a sad little no for now.  I will buy her a bobbin of her own, though.  I think a bright pink akerworks one or something like that.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Rolags and roving, pt 2

Continuing with the video blog and tutorial format, my next video is on taking rolags and predrafting them out into mini rovings.

I would love to take requests.  If there is a video tutorial you really want to see, please let me know.

Up next: cotton

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Rolags and roving

Nearly everything I know about spinning, weaving, knitting, and fiber prep has been learned via the wonderful online community.  YouTube is always an amazing and endless source of tutorials, tips, and tricks.

So in the spirit of giving back to the community from which I have learned so much, I have started doing a few demos of my own.

Here is my first one.  Creating rolags on a hand card.

Tune in next time to see me turn rolags into roving.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

GSD: continued progress.

I am continuing my rampage of cleaning and organizing All The Things!  I moved my spinning stash away from my yarn to separate the bigger task into two more manageable units.
I've been taking pictures of the progress, but in all honesty, it looks less like progress and more like moving piles around as I try sort through what I have.  And man, I have a lot!  I found a 3oz bag of angora, a 4 oz bag of huacaya, a bag of I-don't-know softness (BFL or merino... It is insanely soft).

While digging up long lost buried treasures of softness, I have been practicing my lace spinning.  It's been amazing.  I adore the Little Gem.

That dark thread on the left is regular old sewing thread.  The thread on the right is a handcarded angora/silk blend.  
At first, I planned on plying it with some llama roving that I had, but the result was slightly scratchier than I would like to wear around my neck.  So, when I found the Huacaya alpaca locks, I started spinning those up into a matching lace. 
It's hard to see the thinness of the yarn without a comparison, but it is actually slightly thinner than the angora.  I am going to spin the entire bag of each and ply them, and then ply whatever is left of the alpaca (there's more of that than of the angora) back on itself.

In the meantime, Mouselette has taken to spinning with ease.
This is her first handspun.  She did the single herself.  I wrapped it into an Andean plying loop and plied it for her.  She has asked me to knit it into a blanket,  which I would... If there were more than 11ft. 😉

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Keep it simple. More simple. More...

I had a moment the other night when I looked around and started to feel down about how much I had and had not accomplished last week.
I did take down the Christmas tree.  I did not vacuum.  
I did clean the bathrooms (thoroughly).  I did not wash the floors.
I did clean the kitchen.  The dining room is still a horrifying mess.
And as I looked around and took stock, I began to realize something.  There is always more to do. Sometimes, the more progress you ACTUALLY make, the less it looks like you have made any.

I am not, by nature, an organized person.  I am not good at setting priorities and sticking to them.  When I start on one path, it is very hard to divert my attention to other things that need tending.

On that note, though, I did take my Christmas tree down.  And that's pretty awesome.  I did clean the bathrooms, and that feels good.  My kitchen was tidy for almost 24 full hours.  That's almost a personal best.

Elaine (my Traddy wheel) sold and is being picked up tomorrow (Monday).  Her accessories sold and are being mailed tomorrow (Monday).  So that is one less thing that is taking up space.
4 boxes of fiber have been almost compacted into 2.  My 3 large bag of wool scraps is being processed into wool batts and rolags.
Became this:
Which became this:

Self doubt told me that I was wasting my time on the things I love instead of the necessary tasks.  And reality reminded me that this week was a particularly rough Migraine week.  And the above is necessary.  Turning a big bag of scraps into a skein of useable yarn might be the fun side of necessary, but it is still necessary for compacting my life into a more manageable state.
A skein of yarn takes roughly 1/4 or less the amount of space that a bag of wool scraps takes.  And that's not nothing.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Simplifying through small

Here I am with my soon-to-be new-to-me Majacraft Little Gem spinning wheel.
This was an almost accidental purchase.  When I went to the last Project Fleece spin-in, I was captivated by the Little Gem.  I asked if I could borrow her for a bit and ended up spending the whole spin in with her.
She is a delightful wheel.  A Mercedes to my Ashford Traddy's Corolla.

I've heard people name their wheels, and I've tried it.  I named my cute little castle wheel "Bridget" and my Ashford Traddy is officially named "Elaine".  But I've never really called them by name.  They are merely tools.  Nice tools, but just tools.
I've thought about selling my Traddy a few times.  She's just... Big.  And when my goal this year is to compact, compress, organize, destash, and simplify, big isn't best.  

From there, convincing my hubby of the need for a smaller wheel was incredibly simple.  I had all my pros lined up, and "small wheel" and "amazing deal" were all it took.  Then he saw the picture and was as captivated as I was.  Then he saw a picture of a folded Little Gem and realized... She fits in a drawer!!  I suspect he'd willingly pay full price for such a delight.

Jemma comes home with me next week.
"Elaine" and "Bridget" are for sale.  I've had some surprising amount of interest, but neither is actually sold yet.  So if you or anyone you know wants a beautiful, well kept wheel, I have two at very different budget points.
I am also selling my Indian Charkha, in likewise excellent and loved condition.