Archive for May, 2005

I’ve been updating the yarn pages, filling in missing details and adding a few more pages. There are more Misfits, too. I’ll be spinning most of the weekend but also upgrading the computer so I don’t expect to get much online the next few days. Between backups and verifications and restores and delicate laptop-opening maneuvers, it will take some time.

I’m back to the millspun yarns, today I’m making Cascade 220. What a pain in the ass. My first attempt is right on with twist and even a good color match but the single is so fragile that winding it off for the 4-ply makes it horribly fuzzy. It shreds if you as much as run your finger over it. I have to reproduce, by hand, a process that has been “improved” to make it economically efficient for machine processing. All those pretty, fluffy yarns at the store? They have as little twist as possible to get them out of the factory. Instead of making actual durable yarns, industry has instead created a new marketing opportunity for fabric shavers. I’m now doing it over again on four bobbins. Since my lazy kate can only hold three, I don’t know how well that is going to work. Because one bobbin is untensioned, I have no choice other than to have all of them untensioned because I can’t do much to make the cardboard box and stick work like the specially designed piece of equipment. I could borrow one, but that means tying up four bobbins until I can get it. I’ll see what I think of that later.

Now I remember what else I was going to say. This month’s guild meeting was the ongoing project of sampling fibers, 50 by 05. It started before I got there and was to celebrate the guild’s 50th year. So every few meetings we get a pile of samples, many from one terribly over-stashed member’s apartment. As usual, she didn’t want to take any of it home. Nobody was much interested in the camel hair, so I ended up with another color similar to the one she gave me earlier in the week. Now I can do something interesting with the two contrasting natural colors. I also came home with a good sized chunk of this amazing Cormo fleece. It looks very like the white Merino/Corrie I already have (which makes sense given the history of the breed.) Only after I washed it could I tell that the crimp was slightly different and a little less Merino-like. It still has that fine crimp, but washed it looks a more wavy. It’s almost like there is a second crimp pattern in the fleece. It should be a little more bouncy.

Another weekend of spinning. This is about how it’s going to be until everything is done. I finished more yarns over the weekend and now that The Boyfriend is done borrowing my camera I’ll get pictures taken. A local knitting group did a dye workshop a few blocks away, I stopped by for a visit Saturday afternoon and ended up with a bottle of extra dye. I need to dye some of the Andean two-ply for the traditional three color patterns, so now I have medium gray, white and blue. The white is from a Blue-faced Leicester top I picked up for fun, it’s similar fiber although not so long a staple length.

I also did the drop spindle skein, again because I didn’t like how it came out the first time. The fiber for that was a grab-bag of fleece that appears to be Border Leicester. It was cotted (tangled) and had some color variation, so I flicked, drum carded and then combed just a little. Saturday I reeled some silk and Sunday was the guild meeting where I did fiber prep. I tried an experiment with the mystery farm fleece, a 4/3 12-ply cable. It was lofty and bouncy and huge, and with that many plies it doesn’t matter what the single looks like. But the fiber is filthy, so there I was with the dog brush yet again to get the junk out. It’s short and fine and crimpy but obviously has some down breed in it. The woman from the farm thinks it might be part Rambouillet, closely related to Merino, but there’s no way to really know.

Today I’m working on the remaining woolen with the Suffolk fleece. I used a friend’s drum carder to make batts and now I’m tearing them into chunks to make rolags. I couldn’t do it with hand cards because I couldn’t get batts large enough for the yarn I need. I’m also doing it with the quill, because it has to be large and low twist. Long draw works really well that way and the Lendrum quill head is huge. It’s weird to work with this big spike pointing directly at me, I can’t draft as far as with a normal position but this yarn doesn’t take long. Even if it’s still slower to spin than it should be because I have to get it as perfectly even as possible. Woolen just doesn’t like to do that.

Finally I have the last required fiber, thanks to a local guild member who appears to have collected every possible spinning material ever produced. I have about 60g of camel hair top in a sortof beige shade called “blonde.” It’s really just hair, with the down removed. Once upon a time it came from a magical place called Straw Into Gold, a spinning shop in Berkeley that closed about a year before I moved here. It is entirely possible that this stuff has been sitting around since the 70s. I last saw someone spinning camel hair about fifteen years ago and nary a hint of it since. So now that problem is taken care of.

The now sky-blue silk/ingeo blend is ready to spin, it only took forever. I ended up doing basically punis yet again, because all that carding broke a lot of fiber and it’s now more like cotton. But other than that the blend is nice, so I’m not going to worry about it. I need to finish the Romney first, if I can keep from getting distracted I might have the single done tomorrow. Even with the extra I need to do the swatch. It’s so nice to spin something I enjoy. Now I just need to keep from getting distracted away from the rest of the writing. I have a little more than two months to finish this. Between the local science fiction convention and an expected business trip, The Boyfriend is going to be out of the house for a while starting next week so I get to do nothing but spin.

Before I started this project, I carded something maybe once a year. Once upon a time, when I had space for a drum carder, I would save up various bits and pieces and throw it all together for some random yarn for things like holiday gifts. I didn’t actually own a set of wool cards until recently and my cotton cards were mostly used as large flickers. I like smooth thin yarns and big pointy wool combs. I hate hand carding. But for most of these small skeins, it’s faster to hand card than go over to somebody’s house to use the drum carder. I’m only doing it if I really have to. I tried to hand card the Suffolk for the thick woolen, but I just can’t get a rolag big enough for the yarn I want. So I added it to the pile for the next drum carder visit.

Yesterday I was hand carding tow flax, of all things. I had saved up all the nasty bits from the Louet Superfine Top and I was thinking of using it for the thick linen yarn. So I made a pile of flax rolags. And I thought the llama was bad! The stuff gets all over the place, I don’t want to think about what I inhaled in the process. Then I sat down in front of a big pointy spike, err, the quill wheel, and spun a huge lumpy linen yarn. It was huge. And lumpy. Oh, and it’s fuzzy too. A little too fuzzy, actually. All that short fiber makes something that looks like burlap gone wrong. New content for the Misfits page! Well, at least it didn’t take very long. I’ll try it again after I do all the line flax, because I’ll have plenty of new tow from that. Better stuff, too.

This afternoon I started on one of the yarns I actually like. After that annoying cotton, I need a distraction. I’m doing Andean weaving yarn for one of the plying skeins. It’s a fine, high twist two-ply and not the least bit balanced. It’s not supposed to be. Since this is ignoring the requirement for balanced yarn, I’m also doing the plying swatch in Andean style weaving to show the results. The overtwist keeps the yarn from shredding — Peruvian backstrap weaving laughs at your wimpy yarn! This is my favorite type of yarn to spin and the Romney fleece I’m using goes fast. Of course, having the wheel set at 44:1 doesn’t hurt. The finished two-ply will be about 16 wraps per cm, or 40 wraps per inch. I ♥ Teeny Tiny Yarn!

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