• Projects 08.12.2014 No Comments

    So this is my Christmas project for Lon. He wants a scarf or watch cap out of buffalo fiber. He wants it to be “rustic”. I found a source on Ebay for dehaired buffalo fiber.

    Dehaired buffalo

    I tried spinning it a few ways, but it just seemed to short in places to be stable. Here’s a trial run on my Rose:

    supported on the Rose

    I found some carded cashmere. I thought that might help, since the fibers are a bit longer and it will add a little softness and shine. I’m blending a bit of it on my Louet hand cards.

    buffalo below, cashmere right and combined fiber on the left

    This seems to work pretty well and I am able to spin it on my Loki. I am holding the spindle, Akha style, and putting some twist in while supported. I can then do a thigh roll and add more twist. I am spinning this woolen style. It’s less stressful on my shoulder than using a supported spindle. I plied a small amount from my trials and it seems to look “rustic”. So I guess I’m okay. I have two ounces of this to spin, then will need to find the right project.

    Spinning on my Loki

  • I have a set of Viking combs and they are a perfect fit for the type of wool I like to spin. I believe these are from Indigo Hound. The single row works fine for me. It would be nice to have a double row set for finer fiber. I chatted with some comb owners via email before I got my first set of combs. English style combs have less waste, but require a different technique to use. Paddle combs were highly recommended too. I like to spin longer fibered wools like Romney, Icelandic and Corriedale. These can be easily processed with these simple combs. The only other tool I use with this is a horn diz. You can easily make one out of plastic, if you don’t have access to horn.

    This project uses three Romney lamb fleeces, soon to be turned into the Darrowby cardigan.
    Comb loaded

    First pass side

    This is the comb loaded. It’s important not to put too much onto the comb. It will fluff up and it’s easier to comb with less fiber. Just take some off if you have too much. The fiber is easier to comb if it’s warm. If you have a problem with static, just spritz it with a bit of water. Use the tip of the comb to go through the ends of the fiber. You can comb with it at a 90 degree angle, but I will sometimes comb a bit from underneath.

    Second pass side

    Second pass front

    This is after the second pass. You’ll see the fiber really start to straighten and align on this pass.

    Third pass side

    Third pass front

    Third pass and this is all I usually need. At this point, it will look nicely combed.It’s time to put on the diz and change it into roving. I smooth the fiber into a “beard” shape, then roll the end up to poke it through the hole of the diz. Once it’s in, I pull the fiber a bit and push the diz down towards the fiber mass. You want it against the fiber, but not tight. Start pulling on the end of the fiber. I generally pull about a hand’s width and stop. Slide the diz down into the fiber mass and pull again. It should slide along pretty easily. I don’t want the roving to get too thin, as I can thin it out after I’m done with this process.

    Diz in place

    Diz pushed back and ready to pull fiber

    Pulling fiber

    You’ll start to get down to the fiber left at the end. Look to see how much junky stuff is getting into those last fibers. That’s when I just pull the last good fibers through the diz and call it good. If you seem to be pulling to one side, smooth the fibers into that beard shape before you slide the diz back. You should catch some of the fibers from the other side and will start to draw more of them in.


    You will have some fiber left over. Sometimes, it’s good fiber that just tangled. I don’t try to reprocess this. With longwools, it should be clean looking roving at this point. And this is a good place to talk about dual coated wool, like Icelandic. The long fibers will pull first, followed by the shorter stuff. If you are careful, you can blend the two fibers to a certain extent. Viking combs were designed for you to be able to separate the long and short fibers and spin them separately.

    Roving after combing

    This is what the roving looks like after combing. I like to roll this up into little “nests” for storage. As I wind it around, I pull to even it out a bit and I twist it a little as I wind it. I tuck the end into the circle of roving and it looks like this:

    Roving rolled up into "nest"

    Finished product! I’m spinning this fiber on my Enid Ashcroft Olive Mindi. I’m going for a three ply, worsted weight yarn. The turk will make this low twist, so it won’t be the hard, firm worsted yarn you would see from a wheel or high whorl. I’ll post pictures of the fiber after I’ve plied it. Feel free to drop me a line if any part of this isn’t clear. I do sometimes card fiber, but I really love the process of combing.

  • Fiber 15.11.2014 No Comments

    I love working with raw fleece. And I love natural colored fleece. I realize that the world just sees brown or grey. I see all those variations and sometimes I just fall in love with a fleece.

    I still remember when I saw this fleece. I was at Black Sheep and didn’t have a lot of money to spend. I was over looking at the unjudged fleeces, when this one caught my eye. It’s an Icelandic fleece, moorit, with very sunburned tips.
    Icelandic fleece

    There’s just something about that contrast of the almost blond tips and the dark finer fleece of the undercoat. I bought it, washed it and played with it a bit. I think I did a beret out of a two ply I did on my high whorl. It was just a bit too coarse.

    Then I found out about how turkish spindles produce a more low twist yarn. Here’s one of my first tries.

    two ply

    Just for fun, I am going to try a little as three ply yarn. I’m spinning this on my new EA Olivewood Mindi. I am going to ply it on my no name turk. I use my Viking combs to prepare it and try to draft so that the undercoat is mixed in with the outer. (Thel is name for the undercoat, tog is the name for the long outercoat. You can separate the fibers using Viking combs.) I still wind up with mostly long fibers at the beginning and shorter ones at the end.

    three ply soon

    There is something about the feel of a fleece you prepared yourself. I do like to buy the commercial stuff, but after awhile, I get bored. I find myself spinning something brown or grey again and I marvel over those colors only I seem to see.

  • I’d written earlier about “butterflying” the roving. I am almost done with my first braid, Emily in Border Leicester. I have another braid of it in merino. I am going to order the same colorway in Polworth and do a three ply yarn of those different breeds. The problem is that I won’t know what this looks like, until I get the next two braids spun up. Then I can ply. I’m already considering a larger project, maybe a sweater or the Easy Folded Poncho for this yarn. It was odd to go for two weeks without spinning.

  • Spinning has been on hold a couple of weeks. I’ve done some of the Churchmouse Yarns patterns. First was the Ferryboat mitts. Then I did the Easy Folded Poncho. Now I’m working on the Go To Cardigan. I’m using commercial yarns, mostly Rowan Felted Tweed. I like the yarn and the patterns.

    It’s supposed to turn colder next week. Most of my sweaters are cold weather stuff. I’ve needed some lighter weight things. I think these will work out well.

  • Spindles 08.10.2014 No Comments

    Okay, time for a new spindle! This is my new Enid Ashcroft Mindi in Olivewood with a Walnut shaft. Weight is 25 grams.

    Mindi in Olivewood

    EA Mindi

    I’ve really wanted an Olivewood spindle. We even have a chunk of it in our collection of pretty wood. I am very pleased with it. I don’t have a project for it yet, but have ordered a TB small yarn stuff sack in Iberian for this larger spindle. I am still giving the Mini and Midges a good work out. I am finally starting to feel like I have a Turkish spindle for any project. I stiil think that I need another Midge and I’d like a Midi and Maxi to round out my collection. I also like Enid’s high whorl spindles, so maybe I’ll find a need for that too. Mostly, I need to get busy knitting up some of this!

  • Spindles 20.09.2014 No Comments

    I am a fan of my Enid Ashcroft spindles. I have two Midges. They spin well and she has a nice eye for wood grain. I like the way the wood of the shaft compliments the spindle whorl. The shapes are not as elegant as my Jenkins’ turks, but I’m okay with that. I can buy Enid’s spindles and know that they are her own designs.

    Front of the mini

    So this is my new Mini and the first I’ve bought directly from Enid.

    Back of the mini

    This is Ovangkol with a Burmese Teak shaft. I hadn’t heard of Ovangkol, which seems to be used in making guitars. It’s beautiful wood. It’s 18 grams, 3 5/8″ whorl with a 4 5/8″ shaft. It’s very similar in size to my Jenkins’ Lark.

    Ebony Lark on top of Mini

    Mini under my Ebony Lark

    Ebony Lark on top of Mini

    The Mini is lighter than the Ebony Lark but does have a similar spin. I like them both, of course! I try to keep all my turkish spindles busy, so I have too many project going right now. And I picked up another of the #1 Tom Bihn travel stuff sacks in Ultraviolet, to have a place for this new project and spindle.

  • Projects 19.09.2014 No Comments

    completed turtle

    I’ve invented a new term! I have no idea how this will look, so we’ll see if it’s a useful technique. I like to break up the colors in multi-colored roving. In my project from the last update, I pull off a chunk of roving, split it, and spin one half on one Midge and the other half on my other Midge. I combine this with another turtle for a three ply.

    This project is BFL from Greenwood Fibers in the colorway Emily. I’m trying what I will call “butterflying”. It’s a technique people use on things like tenderloin steaks. You cut it in two, so that it splits but leaves the steak joined. I am taking a chunk of roving, splitting it, then spinning from one end. When I run out, I attach the other piece from the end with the same color. Then I spin to the end of that. I’m thinking this will be two ply, but I may decide to go with three ply. I think this may give me some longer stretches of a single color. We wll see. I am spinning this on my new Enid Ashcroft Mini, which will have a separate post.

    first strip of roving

    Showing how the second strip will be attached.

    attaching the second strip

  • Projects 08.09.2014 No Comments

    I’m still working on the same things. I’ve finished another hank of the East Friesian. I am working on the last of the wine and silver Falklands from Wintry Flower by Design. It looks like this:

    wine and silver

    It’s hard to get a good picture of it. I’m on the last bit of this. I picked up another 4 ounces of similar colored Falklands. I can’t really tell you why I like this so much, other than to say that I like grapey colors. I had a little extra money this month, so I picked up a few new braids of fiber for the winter. I don’t know if I’m going to bother with Oregon Flock and Fiber. I have one new spindle that should get here soon. I think I am going to buy a few more of the Enid Ashcroft spindles. I really like my Midges. I am starting to think I need one of each size. And maybe one more Midge.

  • Spindles 31.08.2014 No Comments

    Feeling much better about online spindle buying today. I managed to get a Mini from the Enid Ashcroft update today. I had problems with checkout and still managed to get it! I’m looking forward to getting this (and I may need to pick up some special fiber!)