Saturday, September 25, 2010

Things I learned at my Spinning Lesson

A mnemonic for twist direction.  S-twist goes to the left so it's sinister and therefore counterclockwise.

Draft to the fiber you want to spin.  It's not enough to just open up the fibers, the amount of fiber present will determine the size of the single.  Want a smaller single? Then draft less fiber (split it, or take more time during spinning to put less fiber in the single).

The spindle will spin less long on a thicker single because more fiber absorbs more twist.  The fiber acts like a shock absorber.  It absorbs the energy of the twist faster.  To spin that heavier single, use a heavier spindle or be prepared to spin the spindle more often.

You can spin a terribly fine single on a rock. Tabi did this.  I watched her.  She used a nice smooth beach rock, about the size of an apricot.  A couple of fine sticks were wound into the yarn around the rock to anchor the thread being spun.

There is no single right distance between the hands when spinning.  The length of the staple determines how far apart your hands should be.  Your hands should be slightly further apart than the staple length of the fiber.

If you want to spin a thick and thin yarn, then draft thick and thin.  Though in spinning thick and thin, one must be careful to put enough twist in the thick part and not too much twist in the thin.  The physics of the thing will want naturally go to the opposite extreme.

A badly weighted whorl spins funky because it's got two axis.  Which is sort of like astronomy when a planet wobbles in its orbit.

When the roving gets sucked into the spinning cry "the vortex!"  It won't help anything, but it's fun.

Monday, September 20, 2010

It's all in how you look at it

Having confessed my disappointing yarn to all the world, my brain kept spinning with the topic. (Oh yes, that pun was intended.)  I finally caved and dived in to my bag of Black Lamb pencil roving Saturday afternoon.  I had no idea how to draft such fine fiber so I didn't bother.  Instead I just spun the stuff, straight up.  And you know, it was a pretty straight forward process.  I got some nice singles that way.

Then things got a little crazy.  Instead of stopping half-way through, I spun up the other half of the fiber Saturday evening.  And in the wee small hours of Sunday morning, I woke up and was unable to sleep.  You know what happens next.  I plyed.  Both sets of singles. 

What's your view? 

Is it stubborn mulishness and an unwillingness to be less than my best?

The kinder among you will say it was persistence in the face of difficulties.

Either way, I made a rather nice chunky yarn.

But you know, I'm still disappointed!  It should have been a lovely fingering weight.  I'm telling myself... next time I'll make fingering weight yarn.  Cause you know there will be a next time!

Now to knit it.  I'm imagining a nice hat.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Fric Frac Farg!

Fiddlesticks.  What a frustrating week.  Spinning is a disaster.  It's not even acceptable art yarn.  See:

Over spun, under spun, horribly plied.  The book said plying was a snap compared to spinning.  They lied.  Each little balls of singles went into a coffee cup and was tensioned around the handle.  Things were going okay until I found myself plying three strands together.  What the fric? The outside of the ball got caught on the wool coming from the inside of the ball.  That's when I discovered that spinning is not like knitting and you can't rip back your work.  Unplying is not a word for a reason.

But I'm not giving up.  Oh no.  I'm angry-frustrated.  Frac it! I'm going to learn to do this.  I have a deep want for my own handspun yarn.  I'm disappointed that it's not going to be the effortless process it seems to be for some.  Pat, I'm looking at you.  Though I did go back to your blog and note that you had lessons from others.  I think that's what I'm missing. So I've signed up for some spindling lessons and the Forest City Knit Club will be doing some spinning for their first meeting.

In other news, Noro Blankie is a backstabber.  I spent an entire evening with her, sewing up one of her seams.  There's only one more to go.  When I started to put that one more to the rest of the blanket, it was too long.  This is the panel I ADDED length too.  Farg!!  So now I've got to take out what I added, and then take out what's too long. 

This week has caused me to wonder at my own abilities and decide I'm not much more than a fumble-handed hack.

At least I can still knit socks.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Great Big YES!

It was the knitter's equivalent of Christmas.  Remember as a kid, counting down the sleeps till the Big Day?  Do you remember wondering with excitement what presents you might open that morning?  Speculating on if you might get that big item you've always wanted, but hardly dared hope for?  The thing your secret heart wanted, but you never spoke aloud because you knew it was so unlikely you'd ever get it.

Saturday was the Kitchener Waterloo annual Knitter's Fair.  This is my Christmas.  The day that gets me excited and happy and is full of fun. This year I headed down with Isa and Barb which made for a very fun road trip.  I had a pocket full of guilt-free cash and a resolution to only buy what I loved.  Again the Fair filled two large ballrooms at Bingemans and again it was packed with wonderful vendors and happy knitters.

I had resolved not to buy sock yarn, but there seemed to be an awful lot of it this year and some of the prices were too good to resist.

The Noro Silk Garden was only $7 a skein and since I love my Silk Garden socks so much, I just had to get some more.  The natural yarn is also a silk blend I want to use for dyeing. Then there's the Starry Night.  Who could resist silver in your yarn?  I later noticed that a lot of vendors had hand-dyed skeins with silver in them, but none had as good a price as the Needle Emporium. And finally the wool-hemp is for swatching for a sweater idea.  I think I can make a swatch cap out of this big ball.

I also bumped into a ton of good friends at the Fair, both new ones I've made at the K-W Knit and Chat evenings and old ones from London who were so wonderfully enthusiastic about my return to the London knit group. 

One of my new friends is Pauline from All Strung Out.  When I was asking around for a spare bedroom to rent for my over-nights in Waterloo, she volunteered her place. What luck! (Jim quaked a bit when I told him I'd found a room with a lady who owns a yarn store.  I was thinking how jealous my knit-friends would be. :p) Pauline had a booth at the show and I stopped to say hi, and meet her mom, and ask about her vacation, and we both said how much we were looking forward to our own knit nights when I start staying with her. (Have to wait till after Pauline's mom's visit is over.)

As I was leaving, Pauline happened to ask if I spin.  "No," I replied.  "Why do you ask?"

"Oh," says Pauline. "Because I have a spinning wheel you can use if you want."

My heart leapt!  My heart knew what it wanted!  Oh yes.  A big YES.

So now I knew what this Christmas-Fair was going to bring me.  I headed over Gemini Fibers and came away with book, spindle, and fiber.  I said to the cashier that I felt like I had a new baby.  I guess it's all so new and exciting and a bit scary too. 

At a different booth, I purchased some fiber to aspire to, which is the superwash merino pencil roving in those pretty pinks and oranges.  

I believe it was Wendy at Gemini Fibers who guided me through spindle selection, and the very beginnings of a tutorial.  She was very helpful and encouraging.  My learning fiber is Coopworth and my spindle is by Thomas C. Forrester.  It's a Linum whorl, made of maple.

I started spinning right there at Bingeman's, and then again when I got home even though I was so tired.  I always said I'd wait to learn to spin till I had more time, but with weekly access to a wheel...  Seriously, how could I say no?

Today, I feel like the happiest kid on Boxing Day.  All set to play with my new toys.  But first I had to show my friends what I got for Christmas.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Going through a phase

Noro Blankie and I had a falling out this weekend.  Maybe she was in a snit because it had been a while since we hung out, but that wasn't my fault.  She's too hot for warm summer weather.  Well, like whatever....

At first I thought she was glad to see me.  I started working on her seams and we enjoyed some fun time together.  We played some tunes and discussed our new favourite band.  Everything was going along smoothly, and then wham!  She threw a hissy fit at me.  As I approached the end of the seam one of her panels was a whole repeat short.  And as if this wasn't bad enough, it was on the cast on side. The witch. I mean, if it had been the cast off side I could just undo it and add more length. 

But she was all like "Well, it's not as if it were my fault.  You knit me."  Like I didn't know that.  She didn't need to use that snotty tone of voice.

So like, what could I do?  I wasn't going to let her diss me like that.  I dumped her in a closet and walked out on her.  Yeah, maybe I was a bit sulky.  I'll admit, I started wanting to hang out with other projects.  There's this friendly cardigan see...   I even spend an evening chatting with a merino/alpaca scarf. But these new friendships just weren't as satisfying.  All the time that Noro blankie and I have spent together means a lot to me.  We just need to get over this hump. 

So we've made up.  She very nicely agreed not to hold the closet time against me and I agreed to just pick up some stitches instead of ripping out all my sewing.  In the end, our friendship is going to look a bit patchy,  but at least we're still speaking to one another. Which is great, because we still have a long way to go together...