Tag Archive: spinning

Alpaca From The Fleece

I recently decided to start spinning up some of the gorgeous cinnamon alpaca that a very good friend gave me, and I thought I’d share the process I’m using. When I get a chance to sit down with my wheel, it goes something like this.

First, admire the lovely flowers the little boy I babysit gave me for Valentine’s Day, and consider making him a crocheted blanket (not alpaca) since he took such a shine to the last crocheted blanket project I took along to work on. It might be a good idea to do that sometime soon. I mean, when he likes the blanket enough to ask if it’s for him, for his mom, for his little brother, or for his big brother, I can kind of see a broad hint in the there.

Second, relegate the blanket thoughts to the back of my mind and transfer my attention to this . . .
(I will wait for the ooohs and aaahs to die down.)

These are sections of the fleece that I carefully detached from the bag-full and laid on end in a nice green tray. Not only does it keep the fibers neat, it collects the dust, and doesn’t look half bad to boot. Hooray for being crafty and, at the same time, looking sharp.

A Little Spun

Unfortunately, due to various circumstances, I haven’t progressed far enough on my sock knitting to warrant taking another photo. One can only have so many pictures of “Look! It’s another half inch longer.” The lack of progress is a little frustrating. Especially because I want to spin and knit a pair of socks. Yes. I have two pairs of unfinished knitted socks, and a nice little collection of other sock yarns, but they’re not hand-spun! The trials of a spinner.

On the flip side, I have been working on some of those batts I mentioned in the last post. I’ve got one almost completely spun, and it’s looking quite snazzy. Now before you go pointing out any little neps and slubs in the yarn let me say that I did intend for those to be there. It is all part of a grand, super-secret experiment. (Cue the dramatic music.)

In the midst off all this, I’m beginning to hear the call of the crochet hook again. I haven’t used them for an actual project for some time (and during that time I managed to accidently stab a tiny one into my heel) and I’m beginning to miss it. Miss crocheting, not stabbing my heel. That hurt.

I’ve got this crazy idea involving crochet hooks and un-spun silk. I have a silk hanky laying around. I just have to decide if that’s what I want to use it for. I think it would make a lovely, airy shawl or wrap. Probably rectangular, as silk makes hair static, and I wouldn’t want it right up by my neck.

Enough is Enough

I recently came into possession of a large compilation of the works of Lewis Carroll. It’s a big, beautiful “leather” bound copy. Not so good for taking on trips, but excellent for curling up with on a gray afternoon. From my initial perusing of the new material (I’m already very familiar with the two Alice stories) I’ve come to the conclusion that Carrol can be very amusing to read, but he tends to wander off into lengthy dissertations on things in which I have little-to-no interest.

However, to get to the point, one of his shorter writings features tips on writing letters and contains this little gem: “My second Rule is, don’t fill more than a page and a half with apologies for not having written sooner!” And I have taken this to heart. I think it safe to assume that you’re fed up with my apologies for not having blogged sooner, so I will dispense with them forthwith.

I’ve been keeping pretty busy lately with various fiber projects. One of which was a large undertaking.
Eight ounces of superwash BFL fiber to be handspun and dyed for a Maiden Yarn customer. Oh my goodness – I practically had to fight off my knitting sister to keep the spun yarn. Bluefaced Leicester is rapidly elbowing its soft and lustrous way to the top of the fiber heap, so to speak. It’s simply wonderful stuff.

Back In The Spin

My spinning has finally picked up again, and I’ve had a few minor victories that put me well on the road to happy spinning again.

I finished the silk laceweight for my sister.

And, while I was at it, I almost finished up the Willow fingering weight. (That’s due to be finished as soon as possible so I can dive into some lovely merino.)

Batts, Anyone?

I’m running a sale on spinning batts over at maidenyarn.etsy.com. All the batts have been marked down and will remain on sale until May 1st!

Yarn: The Creation 2

Beginner’s Info: Part 6

This is the wheel version of spinning tutorials. You can find the drop spindle one here.

Let’s Go

If you learned on a drop spindle you’ll already have the basics of spinning down. All you’ll have to do is learn to operate the foot pedal while moving your hands.

However, if you decided to go for the big stuff first you’ll want a little more background.

The following videos are helpful for both complete beginners and drop spindlers. It’ll let you get a feel for how a wheel works.

The Videos

This is one from Paradise Fibers. It is the second half of a two-part series on setting up and using a Lendrum wheel. Lots of good things are covered, and you can get a feel for how a single drive band works.

Choosing a Drop Spindle

Beginner’s Info: Part 4

To my mind, a drop spindle is the cheapest, easiest, and most versatile way of getting into spinning. There is something so cool about being able to make yarn with a piece of carved wood that hovers in midair. But, although I love them to pieces, drop spindles aren’t for everyone. They require the ability to raise your arms until your hands are on a level with your head and hold them out there for longish lengths of time. Sound too strenuous? I’ll cover wheel types in the next post.

But, for those of you who don’t mind a little productive exercise, a drop spindle provides the perfect opportunity to learn how to handle fiber and twist without worrying about bobbin tension, wheel treadling, and the price tag. (Did I mention I love drop spindles?)

Yarn: The Creation

Beginner’s Info: Part 3

This is the drop spindle version of spinning tutorials. The wheel version will be coming soon.

Time To Begin

Alright, you’ve got your spindle, some sort of wool, and a whole lot of excitement. Now you need a piece of pre-made yarn (commercial will do) about two to two-and-a-half feet long. Plain yarn is best. Don’t go for the fancy boucle or eyelash. Just some scrap yarn you have laying around. Alright, got it in your hand? This is your “leader” yarn. It is what makes it possible to easily begin the act of spinning. It’s what you’ll be attaching your fiber to and dangling your spindle from. In short, it’s your friend.

If you happen to be feeling ultra crafty and coordinated today, (or if you simply can’t wait long enough to go find yarn) the first tutorial below shows how to begin without a leader yarn.

Yarn: The Low Down

Beginner’s Info: Part 2

The Reason Behind The Rhyme

Ultimately the goal of spinning is to create yarn. If you just like to watch things go round and round then go to the laundromat.

How do we create yarn? Well, let me give you the general concepts first, then later we’ll go into details about actually making it on wonderful things like drop spindles and spinning wheels.

You begin by spinning one long piece called a “single,” because it’s by itself. Once you’ve spun that you can either leave it and call it a single ply yarn, or you can spin another one and twist them together for extra strength, thickness, and manageability. This is called “plying.”

It seems pretty straightforward, right? Spin two things, then spin them together. But! There’s a little trick to make it work. When you spin something, your wheel or spindle turns in a certain direction. Clockwise or counterclockwise. (Or in the spinner lingo I’m still having trouble remembering, it’s “z” and “s” respectively.) Never switch directions while spinning a single or it will break.

Northern Lights All Day

While I was up to my ears in carded Corridale and the wonder of a wheel, my wonderful aunt—the same aunt who showed me the SpinOff magazine—sent me a package of fiber. And not just any fiber. Four lovely ounces of Northern Lights in the “Violets” colorway. I was supposed to spin them up for her to use in a knitting project. The fiber drafted beautifully! It was so nice to have the thin strip to work from instead of the big chunks that I would pull off from the sliver or top. And the colors! Excuse me while I go gaze at them again. The camera did not do them justice.

Spun Northern Lights

Spun Northern Lights