Monthly Archives: March 2015

Weaving hearts

  

Following on from my last post, I spun and spun, then spun some more and ended up with about 60g of handspun cotton. I finished it by boiling (!?!) it and after it had dried I just spent a little while giving it the odd squeeze and squish as it is the softest cottony cloud ever. I was a very proud spinner.

 

I decided to use it as a weft in my latest weaving – kitchen towels in a heart draft in a mercerised cotton warp in very pretty shades of pink. It was a dream to weave with although the slubby-ness of it slightly obscures the pattern. At the top is how a commercially spun weft looks, this is the handspun after they were all finished.

  

I’m very happy with how they turned out; I’ve put the non hand spun ones for sale but I’m keeping the two made with the handspun.  Just to squeeze and squish occasionally.

Spinny spin spin…

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I’m still like a kid with a new toy as far as the Matchless wheel is concerned, we’re slowly getting to know each other and our quirks (clearly I have none, she has a clackety bobbin).

Someone gifted me a lovely plait of blended roving; we had been chatting on a Facebook crochet group and she generously offered to send me 100g of fibre as she can’t spin (yet!!).

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Made by Spin City, it’s a blend of various fibres, I’m not sure exactly what, but I think it’s some merino, bamboo and a little blue faced leicester at a guess. It was gorgeous to spin, as well as quick, just one evening took care of all of it and it became a very lovely skein.

My latest project, however, is something a little different. I’m planning a custom baby wrap with a friend and we are talking about using handspun cotton. Now I’ve never spun anything other than wool before, except in blends like the above, so this is a completely new adventure.

Cotton has a very short staple (fibre length) so I took some advice from another Facebook group (you can tell I’m a little addicted to a certain social networking site, much to my husband’s annoyance), oiled my wheel, set it up on double drive so there is very little draw-in and used my high speed whorl and bobbins for the first time (watch out Jeremy Clarkson, I’ll be overtaking..).

It was a tad (read ‘very’) tricky at first but I’m stubborn so stuck with it. I found it strange getting used to working with so much twist and such a fine thread; it has to be as you need lots of twist to keep the yarn together and the thinner it is, the more twist per fibre there is.

This is the result so far, one bobbin of dental floss, that I’m very proud of.

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Butterfly



I don’t read nearly as many blogs myself as I used to and I’m not listening to any podcasts right now, but every now and then I like to browse one or two. I was looking up spinning blogs and came across this a woman who spins some amazing yarn and knits it into stunning shawls and it led me to thinking that I’m a bit of a fibre butterfly. 

Recently I believe I’ve covered spinning, crocheting and weaving, not so much knitting but it has been known and all that alongside random rabbiting about chronic health conditions etc etc. So a bit all over the place really and I kind of yearn to be a really focussed person but it’s simply not going to happen and I’ll just be me (spoken through gritted teeth…).

OK, now to cover another subject: yarn dyeing. I’ve recently dug out my old dyes and equipment as I need to stock the studio and to be honest, dyeing my own yarn works out much more productive than stocking someone else’s. As you can see above, things have been busy here, even Mr Weaving Heart has dipped his hand into the dye pot, his is the skein on the right.



I’m a little obsessed with sock and laceweight but it never occurs to me to actually work with my own hand dyed. I think it’s a bit like cooking, in that everyone else’s tastes so much better!

Here’s the latest Sophie progress, yep even more bonkers…(see, whoosh to crocheting)



Woolen Spun



Before I start whittering on like I know something about spinning l thought I’d show all the non-spinners out there the Sophie progress. It’s getting more and more bonkers every round and I’m sure there is plenty more silliness to go. I missed a week due to our trip down South so have been playing catch up ever since, I’m not quite there yet but I’m definitely enjoying the journey.

Right that’s it for crochet, on to spinning. Time for anyone (everyone?!?) not interested in spinning to go. Cheerio.

For all of you who have stuck with me, biscuit anyone? Since I bought a lovely wheel that can do all manner of super things I thought it would be a good idea to try and move my spinning beyond the beginners ‘inch worm’ technique that I’ve been relying on perfectly well for years. Actually, it was after watching some films on YouTube about Schacht wheels that also happened to demonstrate long draw spinning when my curiosity perked up and raised her slightly dangerous head out of the fibre bag.

Long draw spinning is a type of drafting that produces woolen yarn. Apparently not all wool yarn is the same, well I kind of knew that but hadn’t discovered why or how. The yarn I had been spinning was a kind of semi-worsted (not true worsted as I’m too lazy to prepare my fibre properly) where the individual fibres, usually from commercially made top or combed fleece, lie in the same direction for a smooth and fairly hard wearing yarn. Woolen yarn however is made from carded fibre that has been spun to make lofty and soft, bouncy yarn, not so hard wearing but springy and squeezable (a little like myself).

First of all, to spin using long draw, you need quite a leap of faith because you suspect the result will be the mother of all slubs as instead of controlling the twist and stopping it from entering the drafting zone, you use the twist to draft the wool. It involves using just one hand (for you purists, this is a description of American long draw not English) (I think, feel free to correct me) and once the wool is joined onto the leader, you draw your arm right back behind you to one side, until you run out of arm, then let it all wind onto the bobbin in one great wind-y thing, and start again. It a quick way to spin and has been used traditionally for many years.

With my wheel in double drive (Scotch tension is the more often recommended tension for this, I’m such a rebel) and my faith leapt, I dug out some washed Jacob fleece and decided the prepare it as I went along. 



That’s the fleece, washed to remove the worst of the grease, then I separated some individual locks, just as they came to hand, not paying attention to the colour



I used one hand carder to roughly card each lock



and because I wasn’t making rolags, I spun from the fold as you would if you were using combed top.



It’s really hard to take a selfie whilst spinning!  Once plied, the result was a small 40g skein of perfectly soft, cushy wool, much softer than when I’ve spun from the same fleece using the inch worm ‘wriggle’. It’s all somewhat lumpy and bumpy, like any new technique I imagine it will take some practising but it’s great fun, is superfast and I’ve now moved onto trying it with some shetland.



Matchless beauty

ok, I admit it…I’m hopeless in the face of wooly temptation (although I suspect you’d most likely already guessed that hadn’t you?). Hopeless. With a capital ‘H’.

I bought a stupidly expensive spinning wheel.

Let me explain my thought process… 

I decided I definitely needed a second wheel, a bit like families decide they need a second car. You know, one for the quick trips where comfort and class aren’t necessarily priorities. A small car that can cope with muddy dogs, spilt drinks and the odd ‘bump’. Then maybe you think about adding a larger, more powerful car. The kind you can fit the whole family in without Grandma having to awkwardly perch on top of someone’s knees, with good acceleration and a smooth ride.

Well wheels are like cars (well except for the granny bit most of the time).

I have my Ashford Joy; a fairly cheap rough and ready wheel that folds up and can be carted to and from spinning group, hotels and ideal for spinning in public. It copes with the odd knock here and there but I’ve never really bonded with it. I dislike the sliding hook flyer, when I ply I have a habit of snapping the Scotch tension band unless I’m really careful and, well, it’s an Ashford.

I need a bigger wheel with a slicker design, smoother running and, well, not an Ashford.

So I started to think about maybe a Louet S10. HUGE bobbins (the spinners version of page 3?), great well thought through design and most importantly, it would match my loom (shallow, moi?). I contacted a website to order one and after some delay, which I hate, I was told that Louet have revamped it into a ‘concept wheel’ where you get to pick and choose exactly what you want, like how many treadles (well, two max disappointingly), what kind of tension thingy etc. Well, I wanted one exactly like the original S10, no different, just that. Not a problem they said, except spotted a problem, over £100 more than the original kind of problem. Now I know people have to increase their prices, inflation and all that grown up complicated stuff but that seemed a little steep. No thanks, I said.

After lots of research (read hours I’ll never get back trawling random posts on Ravelry), I really really wanted a Schact Matchless, described as the Rolls Royce of wheels, complete with a Rolls Royce price tag. 

Excitingly, I found a second hand one that coincided with a trip Down South so we could collect it while we were there. Obviously meant to be (see what I did there? Justifications abound). Except it came with only two bobbins and new ones are roughly about £50 a go. Faint.

Then I came across The Threshing Barn selling a brand new one for less than the second hand one by the time you added in the cost of an extra bobbin, or two… Well, that just made perfect sense!

Meet Mollie.



She’s made from maple with accents of black walnut and works with three different tension systems (a bit like her new owner), I have her working in double drive at the moment (who knew that was so good?). She’s heavy, solid, treadles like a dream, is almost noiseless, in fact, everything is just wonderful. Honeymoon period coming to mind anyone?



See, Mollie even has a date of birth; the first six digits of the serial number is the day she was born.

My spinning has improved no end. Look at the first ever skein spun on her, 66g laceweight alpaca:

I cannot bring myself to spin on the Joy now, even for spinning group (especially as the bobbins don’t fit Mollie, what’s the point?) so it has been relegated to eBay where I’m sure someone who will appreciate it will find a lovely corner for it.

Now, maybe I could just do with a Schact Ladybug…