Spinning, Woolen Style

I probably have mentioned that I’ve only been spinning on a spindle about 8 months or so, having learned last summer at a class at Llama Llama Knit. All that I’ve done has been based on that class, and what I’ve read in Respect the Spindle, and tried to see on the DVD of the same name (not easy).

But there’s been no feedback, everything has been trial and error, and some things went well, others not. I’m pretty good at getting a consistent single now, but my joins were awful and frustrating. Plying has been ok, but I need to learn a lot more.  I’ve stuck to worsted spinning style, and couldn’t figure out what the woolen thing was all about.

For the new spindler, the class opportunities are surprisingly sparse in the SF Bay Area – once you’ve done the intro class, everyone expects folks to get a wheel, I guess. Finally, I saw that Michael Wade was teaching at Article Pract (which I’ve still never been to – hmmm, East Bay trip might be needed!), but then I couldn’t take the class, and then he was teaching at A Verb for Keeping Warm and I could take it – yes! Even though it was on a Sunday, it was in the afternoon, and did I mention that these classes are hard to find?

It was cloudy and rainy, and it was the end of winter break for schools (fondly known as “Ski Week” in our neck of the woods because so many families head to the Sierras), so the traffic was awful, but I allowed plenty of time to get there. So I was able to buy anything I could think of totally essential items for my fiber life.

And Michael, of Fiberbeat fame, couldn’t have been sweeter or more helpful. Seriously, the guy is amazing – he podcasts, blogs, turns out amazing knitwear and spinning, and is a great teacher too. He helped me figure out new joining methods in a snap (SO helpful), and even made up some shoe-box plying boxes (how sweet is that!):

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But the best thing for me personally was figuring out the woolen, over the fold method of spinning. I had been doing a very short draw with the over the fold, which is kinda half-way there, but with Michael demonstrating I totally figured it out. I took home the lovely undyed BFL and spun up my singles in a snap. Last night, having got home before 10 pm for a change, I plied the rest of it and set the twist, and woke up to this loveliness:

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There are still some things to work on, but it’s a very good start!

Isn’t the shine just something to behold – all that lovely squishiness just is so lovely. The plan is to make some cat toys over the weekend for a kitty toy swap – so they’ll hold catnip and have the handspun aroma. I can now dye bits of the yarn with my food coloring, so I feel all so crafty now!

Next-up – I’m taking Michael’s navajo-plying on the spindle class on March April 17th – a whole new set of skills to perfect – yay!

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Saturday Show and Tell

I am hopelessly behind at work – my sinuses are giving me migraines, and other than getting my router up and running again after Comcast decided on its own to simply delete my modem (which they own!) from my account, the day was a complete wash-out, workwise.  Meds make the brain so fuzzy that I can’t do my kind of work.

That said, I have gotten a couple of things this week that have brightened my days.  First, from the fine folks at Ravelry, I got my Ravelympics pin, so my lone Bob pin from 2008 now has company:

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And I broke down and bought the Spin-Off DVD from 2008 – I figure that it’s less room than the magazines, and I’ll get a feel for whether I should subscribe or not.  I haven’t had a chance to do more than a quick glance through one issue, so the jury is out.

Spin Off DVD

My targhee singles got spun up fast.  The plan was to make a 3-ply yarn for socks, but I wondered how this very bouncy, crimpy fiber would behave, so I did a test ply with 2 strands, set the twist, and knit a small swatch.  I think I made two-ply sock yarn – about 7.5 stitches to the inch, with lot’s of wonderful bounce and stretch.  I’m liking the colors, they came out way more muted because I haven’t learned to navajo-ply yet – I hope to take a class with Michael of Fiber Beat next month.

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The toe-up socks, ai ya-ya.  The pattern is Sherie’s Posies Socks (rav link) from Socks from the Toe-Up by Wendy D. Johnson. First, I had to downsize the pattern because the sock was way too wide – so I made the side lace pattern smaller, and ditched the diamond lace pattern because just the hearts showed up better, and my sock is narrower.  These adjustments worked (although downsizing the sock meant that I had to reverse engineer Wendy’s heel – I wish she had a worksheet for her heel because this was not much fun to do, a trial and error kind of thing.)  But all things considered, the first sock went well. (This is the 2nd sock the first sock, but you can see what I did with the pattern)

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And then I started the 2nd one. Apparently my magical powers to count to 29 failed completely, because after getting all the way through the heel and starting on the leg, I noticed a couple of problems.  First, the sock had 4-6 too many stitches because I failed completely at the beginning of the toe and compounded this later as well, and made the lace pattern incorrectly (making the heart longer and wider) which meant the socks most definitely did not match and also didn’t fit well.  Sigh.

I ripped back to the toe, and did the sock again – I’ve been checking my work, and so far, things look good, and I have only 1.5 lace repeats left, so I think and pray and hope that this sock will be done very, very soon.  With all the trouble, it’s a good thing I really like them!

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Sock Life

I finished the basic youth socks for Afghans for Afghans, thanks to another long meeting on Saturday. They definitely need a dye job – this color is very boring:

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And I decided that I needed another sock for me to work on. I had some lovely yarn choices, and finally decided on using the Creative superwash merino from A Verb for Keeping Warm – a lovely colorway called Fresh Water. And then I looked through my toe-up sock books, and selected Sheri’s Posies Socks (from Socks from the Toe Up). I’m not usually a lacey sock girl, but I needed a change.

I think the pattern is lovely, and I downsized the sock a bit by casting on four stitches fewer than for the medium size. Even that was too big, so I tinked back to the toe and reduced by four more stitches, and this is a about a right – lace stretches more in my opinion.

Then I noticed that my hands had blue dye on them? WTF? So I emailed the lovely Kristine (who apparently is a night-owl like me), and got back a reply that this is an indigo-based dye, so this is the usual issue. Ah, now I get it. (Apparently there is usually a slip of paper included with purchase to explain this). On with the knitting.

I’ve had to adjust the pattern for the reduced number of stitches, but fortunately that is not a problem with this lace pattern, and so far, I’m enjoying the not-too-complicated lace and the lovely yarn:

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There’s also a considerable amount of spinning happening – more on that soon!

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Copping

I’m trying out my beautiful new Asciano Spindle – and she’s a real beauty.
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The fiber is some beautiful targhee wool top from Abstract Fiber and I’ve whizzed through 1/3 of it already.  This time, I’m not winding it off separately, but putting the cop onto a straw – and it worked!
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I’m still working on a basic sock for Afghans for Afghans – they are continuing the youth campaign until early May, and socks and sweaters are the thing they usually have less of.

a4a Youth Sock

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FO: Handspun Ishbel, and a spindle report

The Ishbel is done, and I must say, I’m so glad that this one will stay with me:

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I spun the Pigeon Roof Studio’s Falklands fiber on my beginner 2.2 Schacht as worsted laceweight singles, plied into a plying ball, plied the two strands together on the same spindle. It took a long time, but I’ve gotten to be a better spinner for the effort. See the process in these photos:

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And I’m showing off the spindles. I have two reasonably priced ones (the Schacht and Kundert), and a couple of splurges – the Spindlewood and the Amazingly Beautiful Asciano Spindle out of a central american wood (not endangered) that I can’t pronounce:

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more knitting than I’m used to seeing

On Monday, I went to “the basement” to help pack for Afghans for Afghans. It was quite an experience. First, imagine cartloads of boxes coming in with packages of knitting. Those have to be cut open, and a first-level sort completed (hats, mittens, socks, sweaters, etc, into different boxes). Annette is an old hand at this:

Ann unpacks socks

Then, after the first level sort, each group is reviewed by a knitter or crocheter who can look at the garment in more detail to figure out if it will work (most do, and the percentage is up for every campaign). This beautiful vest was a clear winner to Else:
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We had someone visiting the Bay Area from the East Coast who took some time out of her trip to help us – a big hand for Edie! As a bonus, she got to try on the vest that most of us were drooling over and probably would have left with had not the other volunteers been present.

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I got to have my photo taken with my sweater:

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After the 2nd sort, that box of items is labeled so we don’t go through this stuff a 3rd time:

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And then comes the packing. In full disclosure, I want to let you know that I managed to do a good job on sorting, but I was a lousy packer – partly, it was that we had a few too many of the sweaters done in the extra bulky yarn, but I quickly diverted myself back to sorting, and taking photos. These two gals were loading mittens into one of the cartons:

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and they did a lot better than I did.

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And the enormity of the items hit me later. All the knitting, crocheting, time mailing beautiful, stunning and warm garments — and those who have been doing this for 8 years — like wow!

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