• Fiber, Projects 17.08.2017 No Comments

    Sometimes, I really love to ply. I will find balls of spun yarn that haven’t been plied. I like my Tracy Einheim spindle for plying. It’s convenient when I’m at my desk. The grey Border Leceister is from a project that likely won’t happen. I wanted to knit socks out of several different breeds. I’ll wait and see. Maybe I’ll be interested in it again, when I finish spinning the yarn.

    Antler is done! I am thinking about redoing the bottom part of the sleeve. It’s just too floppy and a little long. It’s one of those things that will annoy me if I don’t redo it. I’m working on a few other projects first.

    Little Knit had some great deals on sock yarn. It’s motivated me to get busy on knitting some socks. This is for me and I’ll tackle a couple of pairs for Lon next.

  • Fiber, Projects 16.12.2016 No Comments

    I’ve been suckered in by the book. I thought it would be interesting to see if I could find fleece from any of the breeds mentioned in the book. It turns out that you can! TheFibreMine in Canada has small amounts of different fleece available. I ordered North Rondaldsay and Black Welsh Mountain, plus a few other interesting samples. MagpieLaneCrafts has full fleeces available, including the Castlemilk. This is where I started to run into trouble. The fact is that I’m not big on white fleece and a lot of the fleece in the book is white. So I ordered an interesting fleece instead of something from a breed in the book. I am going to be substituting other fleece when I make my own socks from her patterns. And Wol4All in the Netherlands also has fleece from the breeds mentioned.  I entered the patterns into Ravelry (although I still have about 4 to go). I still it will be a fun project. I’ll post some pictures here as I start to make some progress.

    I’m working on the collar of Lon’s sweater. Will still need to put the buttons on and make buttonholes. It’s very close and I found great buttons for it. I should have an update on it this weekend.

    We have a bit of snow but already melting away. So nice to have an excuse to wear wool!

  • 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.

  • Fiber 12.02.2014 No Comments

    Let me give you a brief view of the things I’ve worked on:
    chocolate & strawberries shawl

    Ebony Lark on small Tom Bihn yarn stuff sack

    Wurm sleeping toque

    vintage lace sample

    chocolate and strawberris singles

    Lilac Delight spindle

    new socks!

  • Fiber, Projects 26.09.2013 No Comments

    First, an update on the project. This is the Beithe shawlette that I made for my friend Amy out of the Greenwood Fibers Grapevine.

    Beithe shawlette

    She said that she liked it well enough that she wanted to wear it to bed! I’d say it was a successful project.

    But my post is about stuff from my stash. I have a lot of fiber and handspun in my stash. Some of it can easily be 20 years old. I have a good memory for most of it. But I can’t remember what type of wool this is. I do remember that it’s dyed with Rit dye.

    mystery wool spinning mystery wool

    As you can see, it combs up nice. It might be Rambouillet. It’s crimpy, with about a 3 inch long staple.  I’m sure I’ll think of a use for it. I should at least weigh it and find out how much of it I have. I’ll have a lot of waste when I comb it though.

  • I have been busy knitting AND spinning. So let’s do some recent stuff.

    Greenwood Fibers "Grapevine" Spinning singles from Grapevine

    Greenwood Fibers "Twilight"

    Sock yarn from Twilight, using my new Enid Ashcroft Midge in Tulipwood

    The unending rayon or possibly merino

    Another spinner on Ravelry has this same stuff! She says hers was labeled as merino. It sure feels like rayon to me. I guess I’ll know more when I wash it.

    And I have a new yarn bowl!
    Twilight in progress

    It’s made from pine and processed a certain way to make it translucent!

    yarn bowl up to the light

    side view of my new yarn bowl

    It’s beautiful work by Lon’s wood turning teacher, Howard.

    yarn bowl from the top

    Let’s have one more picture of that EA Midge!

    Enid Ashcroft Tulipwood Midge

    This is the Milk Run shawl, done up in natural colored wools. This is almost all spindle spun. Most of this yarn has been kicking around in bins for a long time now. I really like this shawl.

    River Run shawl in natural browns Side view of the River Run shawl Front view of the River Run shawl

    And that’s it for today!

  • I posted this on the Jenkins forum, but thought I’d post it here too. I did a sampling study, which is pretty unusual for me. I noticed that the yarn spun and plied on my Turkish spindles had a puffiness that I hadn’t seen before. I wanted to do a test, with spindles of similar weight and fiber prepared in the same way. So here’s my test, starting with the first group of spindles:

    Jenkins Lark and unidentified boat anchor

    Jenkins Lark and unidentified boat anchor

    The high whorls are:

    Greensleeves Loki and custom high whorl

    Greensleeves Loki and custom high whorl

    The custom is a tiny bit lighter than the boat anchor Turk, but close.

    The fiber is a Corriedale/Romney, combed on Viking combs from roughly the same area of the fleece. I tried to use the same draw on both samples. I did give the Turks an extra spin, during the original spinning and also on the plying. The high whorls didn’t need that.

    Here are the results;

    High whorl on the bottom, Turkish spun on top

    High whorl on the bottom, Turkish spun on top

    Second picture of the samples:

    Turkish spun on bottom, high whorl on top

    Turkish spun on bottom, high whorl on top

    I think you can really see the difference here.

    I have not counted twists per inch and it’s likely that the Turks are putting less twist into the fiber. The interesting thing is that you could choose to use Turkish spindles to deliberately get a puffier yarn, even out of fibers that are a bit on the coarse side. But, if you are doing socks, you might want to go with high whorls. That would give you a longer wearing yarn.

    If anyone else tries this, please let me know how it turns out! I think I’d like to try it with carded fiber too. I’ve been spinning a long time, but there are still new things to be learned.

  • Fiber 06.08.2013 No Comments

    I realize I am linking to old posts on Abby’s blog again. But here is another interesting one: Should everyone spin? And while I do agree with this one, it concerns me that the thing most spinners spin is prepared fiber. I’m not sure that it does you a lot of good to know how to spin when that supply of fiber dries up. Knowing how to process a fleece from scratch is part and parcel of spinning.

    I finally have taken out all of the bins of fiber in storage. I found one more fleece to wash, now drying. There’s a lot of fiber that’s already been spun. I found more cotton roving. I have my office now full of bins and fleece, roving and yarn everywhere.

    And I bought this:
    Greenwood Fiberworks Lovely stuff and I look forward to spinning it (along with my ongoing combed fleece project.)

  • I can’t believe I haven’t posted about Black Sheep. I have so many pictures of sheep, goats and spindles. I picked up a Jenkins Lark.

    Jenkins Lark spindle

    I have not been a fan of Turkish spindles.All the ones I’ve tried have been bulky and wobbly. This is a most elegant spindle, lightweight and fast. It’s perfectly balanced. I looked at the kuchulus, which are even tinier. I will get one of those at some point, but they are in high demand. And I’d like an Aegean spindle as well. And another Lark in light colored wood. That should be enough!

    Lon has been taking wood turning lessons. He plans to learn how to make spindles, which will help with my addiction. His first attempt is a copy of one of my Russian spindles:

    Maple Russian spindle

    It’s a good start. I’d like to have a thinner shaft, so we’ll try that on the next one. He’s working with some Eastern maple right now, but we do have a few exotic woods to play with. His instructor is finding this interesting. He made me a set of three support spindle bowls out of maple burl.

    Support spindle bowls

    And, it’s Tour De Fleece, which I’m doing for the first time. I’m spinning cotton on my Akhas for the Support Spindlers group. I had to trade off with a few other projects over the holiday weekend.

    Tour De Fleece progress

    And, for no reason at all, a Loretta picture!