Spinning

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I have registered for a spinning course as part of my efforts to become part of the community here, which has inspired me to finish the following skein which I have been “working”* on for several months:

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After the course started, I immediately had to start travelling for my job, which is impinging on my spinning time dreadfully.

I need to wash/set it first, but I think I will count the yardage.  Maybe I have enough for an eccentric hat.  The knitting of said hat will be simple, it will only be eccentric because anything made out of this yarn, when worn on one’s head, must be considered eccentric — it’s the nature of the beast.

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*Had sitting idle on my wheel

Here I am sitting here in my living room knitting away after my breakfast of oatmeal and tea (yes, I have granny tenancies), listening to an older podcast from Craftsanity, and knitting up a storm.

In the interview with Lexi Boeger she mentions her spinning wheels (see the podcast about 43 minutes in).  I confess I want a wheel like her bulky antique one, but what really caught me was when she was talking about her Ashford Traveller, she says she uses a quill attachment, which allows her to spin more bulky yarns.  I didn’t know about this at all, so I Googled it and came up with this:

quill-lg

(From the Ashford website, here)

I have to say that I am quite unsure about what is happening with that and how it gets on the bobbin.  It looks like the yarn winds around that part that sticks out, but how you would ever ply it, without having to rewind it onto something else first, I really couldn’t say.

I have ordered a jumbo flier for mine, which I am looking forward to getting because I like the bulky yarns and regularly get them stuck in the orifice (how often do you get to use that word?).

If anyone can enlighten me on how the quill works, I would greatly appreciate it.  If not I think I may need to dig deeper.

I have invited Shawn O’Hagan of Island Sweet (blog, Etsy shop) to tell us about her fibre art.  I enjoy her yarns and knitting so much, and I thought that it would be great to ask her a little abut her process:

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Can you please tell me a bit about yourself?

I was a painter for 30 years. I have a Masters Degree in Painting. 10 years ago I decided I didn’t want to paint anymore. I no longer enjoyed the “art scene”. I felt I had nothing left that I wanted to paint. In the summer of 2000 I did an artist residency in Terra Nova National Park in Newfoundland, Canada (where I live), and took only fabric and thread and needles. I began making “fabric collages” – just playing with colour and texture. I wanted to make things that people could use – not just hang on their walls, so my collages became pillow covers and quilts. A few years later I picked up a rug hooking kit and began rug hooking with a passion.

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How long have you been working with fibre, what induced you to start and what craft did you start with?

I have always been a knitter. I was selling my knitwear (mostly hats and baby clothes) in shops and through the Craft Council. 2 years ago I was in New York City, and at PurlSoho, I picked up a skein of yarn from “Ozark Handspun“. I didn’t know that this kind of yarn existed! I knew immediately that I wanted to knit with that kind of yarn but couldn’t afford to buy it, knit it, then sell the product for a profit. So I needed to learn how to spin.

I am especially inspired by your spinning: can you give me some idea of your creative process?

I began spinning with a drop spindle in January 2008. I used this (along with hand carders) for 6 months. I used this early spun yarn for accent in my handknit scarves. In May I purchased a wheel (the Ashford Kiwi). In June I went to the Spinner’s Loft in Nova Scotia and took a wonderful 5 day workshop on the basics of spinning (I wanted to learn how to do it right, and then make it my own…) and in Oct I got a second hand Louet drum carder. By then was I confident enough about my yarn, and spinning in large enough quantity, to begin selling it.

Do you work from the fibre to your idea or from your idea to the fibre?

Sometimes I start a skein of yarn with an external inspiration – for example – a flower in my garden. Or a work of art (I still draw on my art background). Or a colour combination I see in a dress in a fashion magazine. I keep a sketchbook for ideas – colour combinations, titles etc.

Sometimes I just choose colours almost randomly and after the skein is finished I decide what it reminds me of. Often one skein of yarn leads right into another with just a slight variation.

Where do you find your fibre and how much of the processing do you do yourself (dying, carding, etc.)? What do you look for in fibre for your work?

I buy most of my fibre undyed from Louet in Ontario. I use it in its natural state – white, grey, cream, brown, black. For colour I use natural plant dyes. I use what is around me – dandelions, lily of the valley leaves, goldenrod. Or I buy natural plant dyes in powder form from Maiwa in Vancouver. I have just purchased their Cipa dyes (they are acid dyes but with fewer chemicals in them) in order to get brighter colours. I buy colourful roving from other etsy spinners. I use all types of fibre – wool – shetland and blue faced leicester are my favourite. Mohair fibre locks for texture. Plant fibres such as bamboo and hemp. Soysilk is my all time favourite. I add angelina or firestar often for a little glitter.

Can you give me more information about your spinning technique? Do you spin from batts or roving? Do you bring in locks and other materials as you spin or do you incorporate everything you will include in the yarn when you process your fibre in preparation for spinning?

I lay down a “base” colour (usually with shetland or blue faced leicester). Then I start adding more fibres for colour and texture. I then run it all through the carder one or two times depending on how much blending I want at the end. I may add more fibre locks to the batt as I am spinning so the locks will stand out even more.

What kind of spinning equipment do you use? Is there anything you want, but don’t have yet or that you have, but feel wasn’t worth the money?

I’m happy with my wheel and equipment. I’d love to have another wheel that is more portable (like the ashford “joy”). I take my wheel to craft shows and markets, and to the cabin, so more portability would be great. But a second wheel will have to wait…

I always want to make wonderful singles like some of your yarns like this one:

islandsweet-1

But I always end up with the single being too over spun to use that way — do you have any advice on how to fix that problem?

I almost only spin singles. Plying is too regular for me. It somehow feels that it encases the yarn, binds it up, and doesn’t allow it to breathe. To avoid over spinning I think just play with the tension.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to start spinning and is inspired by your yarns?

If you want to start spinning – start with a spindle. It’s easy and cheap (I bought mine on etsy for $12.00). You learn the “feel” of the yarn. You get used to drafting. You’ll know soon enough if you want to get deeper into it. And don’t aim for perfection if that’s not the look that you want.

Your knitting is also lovely.  I enjoy your style of knitting, but I have trouble taking the full plunge into being as freeform as your work is:

islandsweet-2

Do you have any advice on how to overcome timidity in relation to colour and how to loosen up?

I sell my knitwear. Because of this, the pattern can’t be too complicated because it would take too long to knit and I wouldn’t be able to make any money. I’ve simplified all my patterns to very basic shapes (for example, my baby pullover is basically 4 rectangles – 2 large and 2 small). The interest lies in the yarn. Be brave with your colour choices. Keep an eye out for what colour combinations are exciting to you and make note of them.

Finally I have a mundane question that always fascinates: do you make a living from your fibre art? How close are you to it? Is it a goal for you?

And yes – I basically make a living from my fibre. I teach 1 art course in the winter term at the local university but aside from that, it’s all fibre. I live in Newfoundland where it’s easier to live simply and cheaply. I sell my yarn and knitwear on etsy ( I sell in craft shops and at craft fairs [such as the Toronto One of a Kind]). I work hard. Being self-employed, and working with fibre, it’s rare for me not to have fibre in my hands from 8:00 in the morning to 11:00 at night. I’m trying this summer to cut back…

Sorry to be incommunicado for the last few days. I have been traveling again. Here is a bit of carding I did before I left:

Until now I haven’t done any carding with different colours and fibres which makes the glorious batts I really admire – perhaps I was lazy and perhaps I was scared and perhaps I just liked doing one thing for a while. This is the time I decided to take the plunge; here is the fibre I used:

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Here is some carding in process:

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And here is a bit of a close up of the batt and locks (I haven’t spun with locks yet either):

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Pictures of what I did with them tomorrow.

March spinning

I pulled these two batts from my stash yesterday and spun them up. I am so pleased with the results. It still kind of feels like magic to make yarn.

Here is the batt I started with:

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Here is the single I had in the middle:

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The colours on the real yarn are not quite that warm, I was playing with the colour settings on my camera, and that is what the camera thought they would look like because I told it it was a cloudy day.

Here is the bit of yarn I had when I tried to Navajo ply said single:

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It was just too twisty and wrong, so I went with plying it with thread:

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The colours on that picture are closer to the original.  I am very excited to knit it up, but I really shouldn’t start knitting anything new until I finish something.

Interest renewed

I feel a great fibrous weight has lifted since yesterday. I pulled out the alpaca I had lying around and spun in up in the way I like:

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It is thick and thin plied with thread, and it has revived my interest in spinning, even if the fibre is a little too soft to make this kind of yarn in its most perfect incarnation.

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What can you do?

Spinniness

I am carting out the wheel right now and spinning up that fibre that has been sitting there for months. I never want to spin regular thin yarn again — I have decided it is not my thing.

Instead I want to do something time this, this, this, or this.

Or for that matter this:

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(Which I am pretty sure I know how to do as I did that one.)

A bit of a rut

I am in a bit of a rut with my spinning (and knitting and crochet).

I also remember why my pictures on my blog were not so hot last winter — it was because it is dark until after I leave in the morning and before I am back at night. This was the sky and my trees when I got home:

I dragged my spinning wheel outside to show you what I am working on as the house was too dark. This yarn was been on the wheel for a few weeks — the fine plain spinning is not what excites me about the craft.

I was thinking that I would Navaho ply it, but I am a little stuck as it is taking a long time.

It is spun from the same kind of fibre as this blue and brown yarn I spun earlier this year, but I didn’t enjoy spinning that yarn as much because the fibre was too stuck together, and I had to really tug on it to draw it, so I ran it through my drumcarder:

My first boucle

I have been sick for a couple weeks now and nothing much has been getting done, except things that can be done from the couch. This skein has taken me several days to complete, but I am very happy with the results.

I bought this mohair roving from Inger Maaike’s Etsy store a few weeks ago:

I wasn’t sure what to do with it, as it was so dense I think I could probably have beaten someone with it. There was no way I could have drafted it as I spun. I did have it suggested to me that I could predraft it, but that is singularly unappealing to me.

This makes my drum carder perfect:

Isn’t it pretty, like mermaids tresses:

I would like to say that the sign that says to keep hands clear means it:

I don’t think I would trust a motorized one of these, and I really wouldn’t recommend one to anyone with problems with depth perception.

Finally the batts were done:

I have never spun mohair before. I thought I would attempt my first lace weight with it, but mohair is slippery and this was not going to happen, so I just started spinning a single.

It’s so shiny.

I thought back to Diane Varney’s Spinning Designer Yarns and decided this would be the perfect time to try boucle. I did the tricky plying as directed and came up with this:

It is a little odd, but I think it will be fine when knit — curly.

I recently spun these batts I bought on Etsy from Evonne Wee (her blog is here):

I was quite smitten with the colour and texture and wanted to see how it would spin up and how it was put together. I also commissioned some red batts, about which more later.

I spun up the fibre by pulling off strips as Jess Rollar suggested in her guest post on her guest post here, and I spun it up thick and thin, which approximately filled three bobbins (I have learned not to fill the bobbins completely as the yarn is thicker when plied and you end up with even short lengths than you would otherwise).

I then checked out the yarn I bought from Jess to see what she did with hers, and it appears she plied it with sewing thread, which I thought would likely be just the ticket for me too.

This is what I ended up with:

I am completely smitten with the results. I think I will try to knit Urchin by Ysolda Teague with it.

I think these kind of batts would be good for a beginning spinner as you don’t need to do anything fancy to make something unusual and there is no reason to ruin the texture by trying to spin something smooth. The fibre is also sticky and is not as prone to breaking if your yarn gets too thin.

I couldn’t wait anymore, and I have cracked out my drum carder this weekend. I didn’t know what fibre to start with, but I finally chose this coloured knot:

I wasn’t really sure what it was — I was completely winging it. When I untied it, it turned out it be several rovings tied together. The yellow and the purple were in equal proportions and the red, orange, and brown were about equal to each of the other two. I wasn’t sure what to do with it, but I decided to card the yellow and mixed colours together and the purple separately.

If you have a carder and spin already, please bear with me, but if you don’t this is so cool:

Here it is when it is almost ready to come off the carder:

Here is my processed purple batt:

And the multicoloured:

Finally here is the yarn I spun from it:

I found this fibre to be a little over-processed for my taste: I like it to have more springiness. This was like over-processed hair. I also need some practice working with the batts because I have only spun from roving so far, and I found that the fibre is not as firmly in the right direction as it is in roving, but overall I would say the venture was a success.

While I was in Kansas we went to Harveyville to see the Harveyville Project and buy a drum carder from Nikol Lohr of Naughty Needles and Disgruntled Housewife fame. First of all Harveyville is such a small town that where I was staying in rural Kansas no one had ever heard of it, except for my boyfriend’s step father who knew a saucy story about the minister’s wife leaving him 25 years ago or so.

The school building looks quite fun — not quite fun enough for me to want to live in it, but that is a moot point as no one is asking me to, staying there long enough for Yarn School would be an entirely different matter and that sounds great.

I wanted to go there to pick up a drum carder, which I could have got from Nikol’s Etsy Store, especially as she offers free shipping, but this way I wouldn’t have to pay duty, and how often am I in Kansas anyway? I discussed it with her and I ended up getting the Strauch Petite with the brush:

I haven’t taken it out of the box yet as I have not had time to spin, and we are planning to move some furniture around shortly.

When I told Nikol I had never used a drum carder before she was very gracious and showed me how it works, she even let me make a batt myself, which I am inordinately proud of:

She also gave me enough fibre for another matching batt, so I can make another:

I am so excited because I was wondering about what to do with certain fibres I have and wondered how to spin them as they are so dense, and I have had problems spinning some fibres because the roving was clumpy. It was not really apparent to me how to deal with these problems, but now I get it, and the possibilities make my mind reel — you put it through your drum carder.

I am so very smitten with my yarn and my spinning and my wheel.

This is the alpaca I wanted to spin, and I wanted to have a yarn kind of pull up from a ball something like this when it was being plied, but when I started touching the fibre it seemed too loose and liable to pull apart to do that with, so I spun it in a thick and thin single:

But I felt that leaving it to untwist as it went back through the wheel it would fall apart, so I wanted to ply it with something to help it stay together. I raided my stash and came up with some brown Sisu from some gloves I knit my mom about five years ago:

I am running out of Sisu, so I will have to find some other brown yarn and just hope it isn’t too different, but how could one not be proud of oneself to have created this:

My mind is running a mile a minute trying to figure out what I want to do with it. I am thinking it would be fun to knit it all on one size of needles, but switch to larger ones for the bulky sections. I figure that would make a really textured knit, but the only problem is that you would almost certainly need to make it into a scarf — surely I can come up with something more exciting than that.

I am quite pleased with myself and my yarn. I spun the roving and rigged myself up a lazy kate:

(It’s a shoe box with knitting needles jabbed through it)

I plied the yarn, but as you can see I wasn’t quite perfect on making the bobbins the same length. Can anyone tell me if there a fix for this that I don’t know about?

I had a little trouble getting the feel for the plying at first, but by the end the yarn was beautifully balanced with no weird twistiness, and for what I want to use it for I don’t think the mis-plied sections will matter that much (I am keeping my plans up my sleeve for now).

Here it is on the bobbin:

And off:

I am quite pleased with my results and have a bigger bag of the same stuff in a red colour way to work with in a little while after I try out a few more things. I fancy a matching beret and gloves out of that one as I think it will be enough.

I am messing around with different fibre I have, trying out different yarns — trying to figure out what works and how best to use each kind.

This is the roving I have decided to tackle next:

It is hand painted alpaca.

There isn’t that much of it. I have split it in half and am spinning it thin:

I plan to spin the other half the same and ply them.

Setting twist

I was absolutely incorrigible last night and sat in the bookstore and actually read Start Spinning by Maggie Casey cover to cover. I did not set off the alarm when I left the store, but I should have. It really is a great book, and I recommend it to anyone learning to spin as it had all sorts of things I didn’t know yet (that isn’t actually that difficult at this stage).

For example I figured out why the tension didn’t work initially on spinning wheel: from the instructions it wasn’t clear which way the tension should be set up, and I was using both Scotch tension and double drive tension at once. Now I am just using the Scotch tension and it works fine. I plan to try the double drive tension with my next skein.

Maggie explained about setting the tension and why it matters and what it means to be able to spin a balanced yarn, so got up this morning and tried to do what she said for setting twist. I didn’t do the whole process for the plied yarn as it didn’t seem like it needed it (I said I read it, I didn’t say I would obey it), so I soaked it in hot water with Eucalan. I did the whole deal for the single ply as it was weirdly overspun and a little willful — I decided that a good dunk in scalding water with dish soap was just the thing it needed:

(Please don’t take those as the whole instructions — read the book instead)

I then squeezed out the water with a towel and hung it on my airer:

The one at back is actually balanced, and I made it before I knew what that meant. The one at front is weighted and still twisty, but I think I want to do some sculptural crochet with it, so at least it won’t be a twisty sweater.

Spinning tales

Here is the story of the second skein I have made with my wheel.

I got this romney roving from Princess Farms:

I spun it into a single, which looked like this:

I bought this lace weight mohair silk blend on my trip last week:

and it seemed like the perfect thing to ply the romney:

and here it is:

I just can’t tell you how proud of myself I am — it’s like real yarn.

Now I am thinking about how to use it. I think I will take Debbie New’s example and combine scribble lace and labyrinth knitting like she did in her Scribble Lace Bolero from KnitKnit: Profiles and Projects from Knitting’s New Wave, but I am not sure what it will be.

In bloom

The flax is just coming into bloom:

I am glad I will have a bit of time to figure out what to do with it before I need to do anything with it. The spinning is coming along nicely.

I have been out of town for a few days, so I don’t have that much to show, but I would like to show you a little skeinlet I have spun with my precious spinning wheel:

I got the niddy noddy on my travels and gleaned the information that skeining yarn actually has a purpose, so there it is, and I will be taking off the yarn and washing it to set the twist in a bit.

It’s fun having a new craft — it’s all so mysterious with all these steps, some of which can safely be skipped and some of which will ruin your project, yet no information on which are which.

After a great deal of waiting and impatient checking, my spinning wheel arrived this week. I have not written sooner as I wanted to commune with it alone for a few days.

Of course the last any of you know it was on the Pacific somewhere — I had great imaginings about its life on-board ship. I think my imaginings were not very realistic and revolved around a strange mixture of the ages of sail and steam. Actually I think a great deal of it would not have been out of place in a Joseph Conrad novel. I imagined it in a wooden packing crate, stuffed with straw, strapped on board, tossed by the waves. Perhaps it stopped in Tahiti or Fiji on the way or was held up in the Doldrums.

As you can see I had some pretty unrealistic unexamined assumptions about what was happening. I even asked Jon to come with me to help me carry it, so you can imagine my surprise when Glenda put this on the counter for me:

It was so clean and spare and light: I confess I was somewhat taken aback, but not so much that I didn’t have to contain myself from opening and taking everything out of the box in the store.

When I got it home this is what it looked like:

And here it is taken out of the box:

I didn’t really internally examine the fact that it would come disassembled, and while I did get it together in one evening, it wasn’t the easiest assembly job ever. If any of you are thinking of buying one, you will want to have a hammer (preferably one of those rubber ones that won’t knock the wood around), scissors, candle wax, and screw drivers — this of course will only be an issue for those like me who go through life perennially unequipped or who get divorced.

After a modicum of frustration and receiving blanket permission from Jon to buy any furniture that needs assembly I want to as I can obviously put stuff together, I was inordinately pleased with this:

The hardest part was getting the brake and driver right — as there were not great instructions in the box on that part (the rest were fine), but after messing with it for a little while and making some odd overspun yarn, I think I have got it going, and here is the fruit of my labours on my first evening spinning:

I am working on modulating the thickness and making it more uneven, as my natural inclination is to make a yarn of about fingering weight that is perfectly smooth and boring. Lexi Boeger (I think it was here) said that you need to be able to spin a regular yarn before you start experimenting with fancier fare. I am giving myself permission to start that phase of my spinning career now (but please don’t judge me if I am not the most exciting spinner at first — it’s a work in progress).

I am so disappointed; I am still waiting for my spinning wheel. I have so much yarn dancing in my head, but I have no wheel, and I put down my deposit over a month ago.

Apparently, it is somewhere on the Pacific Ocean, and that is all we know.

I have already bought some fibre and I feel like an idiot because I have all this fibre (okay so it is just a small (very small) shopping bag of the stuff), but I have no wheel to do anything with it.

And since it seems like time for true confessions, I have had my knitting machine for over a year, and I have yet to knit anything on it.

I am feeling down about my level of accomplishment today.

Jess at Milkyrobot has interviewed me on her blog here: Interview: Sarah from Parallax Knitting. If you are interested in my knitting, spinning and generally fibrous life, please check it out.

This is a series of questions Jess Rollar of Milkyrobot was kind enough to answer for me about spinning and her process. You can buy Jess’ yarns and fibre from her Etsy store (also called Milkyrobot). I have bought some, and please let me say that they are as wonderful as they look in the pictures.

How did you get started spinning?

After teaching myself knitting, I became very interested in handspun yarn. I kept drooling over handspun and wondered if I could do the same. Once I got spinning I was hooked!

How long have you been spinning and how long were you doing it before you considered yourself good?

I started spinning in 2002. My mom bought me a wheel for my 21st birthday with no experience what so ever. It took me a couple tries to actually get any yarn to twist and not break. I finally mastered the skill later in the month. It was about 8 months to a year until I fell in love with my yarn. Some were kinda creepy at first and didn’t actually look like yarn!

Who taught you how to spin?

I taught myself how to spin after getting my wheel. I’ve never used a drop spindle and still haven’t. Just could never get it to work right.

What is your process?

I always start out with an image or idea before gathering my materials. I usually base my yarn and batts off of graffiti art, nature or just random objects that catch my eye. Once I have an idea of what I want to create, I gather all the fibers together and card them into a squishy batt, then spin away! Some yarns get plied and some stay single, the yarns do the talking!

What equipment do you need to create the yarns your post on your Etsy shop and blog?

The equipment I use the most would be my spinning wheel, of course, and my Ashford drum carder.

What kind of wheel do you have and what kinds have you had in the past?

I spin on a Louet S-17. This is the first and only wheel I’ve had. I do have plans to pick up an Ashford Country Spinner sometime this year.

Where do you buy your materials?

Most of my materials are bought from two local fiber shops, The Fiber Factory and Tempe Yarn and Fiber in Arizona. I get some unusual spinning fiber online or from etsy shops as well.

Do you dye your own fiber, if not, how do you get the exact colors you want?

I have dyed my own fiber in the past. I’m currently getting ready to start dyeing sock yarn soon. When I can’t find the exact colors I want, I find other materials to spin into my yarn such as sequins or random strings and things.

What do you think would be a basic start up spinning kit? Wheel? Fiber? Carders?

I always suggest starting with a Louet or Ashford wheel. I find these wheels very easy to understand and use. As for fiber, I would suggest wool or dyed roving to start with. Once your comfortable with your wheel, try adding in random fibers and see how they spin and feel. I’ve only used Ashford hand carders and drum carders and very much love them! I suggest starting with that to anyone!

What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out with spinning and get excited about the yarns you make and sell?

You must have lots of patience and lots of creativity! Let your fingers do the work and let the fiber do the talking. Anything can be spun even plastic spiders and feathers! Get super creative and don’t hold back.

What tips would you give to a new spinner on how to spin your batts? How do you incorporate the sequins into the spinning?

Whenever I spin my own batts or even others, I always strip the fiber into 8 pieces. Once split up, I spin each strip one after another and let the colors pop up how they please. Sometimes I even mix other fiber clumps into the spinning or solid merino strips. With the sequins, I usually just catch the tip of the sequin strand to some fiber and let the wheel pull the in, twisting the sequin strand around the roving.

How close are you to being able to support yourself on spinning?

If it wasn’t for the economy today and if I could get my yarn into a few more shops, I would most likely be able to live off my yarn and fiber sales. But in this case, maybe next year if I push myself hard enough!

I was in the Wool Emporium ordering my spinning wheel and Glenda mentioned that some people are growing flax in Saskatchewan for fibre already, and all they do to ret it is cut it down and let it sit under the snow over the winter.

That sounds like it can be accomplished. I was a little worried about how it would work before, but laying it on the ground and letting it rot is something I think I can do.

Note: retting is when you let the stalks rot a little, so the soft part of the stem is gone, which frees the long fibres, which make up the linen.

She also says that spinning flax on a spinning wheel is easy.

and now I have put a down payment on a spinning wheel and it should be here in about ten days. I am so excited! You see, I may have put a bug in someone’s ear that what I really wanted for my birthday was money for a spinning wheel, and now I can justify it — it’s my families way to making sure I get what I want. (Thank you everyone, you know who you are)

In the meantime, I have placated myself with a drop spindle and verifying that I do really still remember how to spin.

If I were going for laughs, I would have posted a picture of me trying to operate it, as I never really perfected using a spindle, just a wheel, but if you look closely, please note that the wool on the spindle is in fact spun.

I have just finished reading Women’s Work: The First 20,000 Years – Women, Cloth, and Society in Early Times by Elizabeth Wayland Barber; it was wonderful and transported me through time to see the work all those women did making things to make their lives a little more beautiful. It appears to be out of print, but I was able to order a copy from ABE Books without difficulty.

I loved the descriptions of making linen and wool, and I have come up with the brilliant idea of growing flax in the backyard.

Sure, it may not look like much now, but I will dig it and plant my flax and grow it and ret it and spin it. I anticipate that the flax I grow will not be good for “clothing,” but I can always knit a table cloth or a rug or something from it.

I need to dig the garden soon as the weeds are already growing. You see, last year I let it go “fallow” so there may be a bit of a battle to get this started, but I think it is a wonderful, if somewhat eccentric, idea. I have looked up the Flax Council of Canada’s website and they advise the farmers to plant it in the middle of May, and I plan to do the same.

I’ll keep you posted.

I just got these beauties from Milkyrobot:

milkyrobotyarn-2.jpg

I figure you need to cut yarn like this, especially if you are buying it from someone else, as it would just be too expensive otherwise, though I do want one of these really badly.

milkyrobotyarn-1.jpg

I have special plans for one of them (the one is as yet unidentified).

I thought the pink one was more red from the photos, so now I am considering cutting it with grey instead of red (I have also greatly reduced my red yarn stash, but my grey is undiminished).

Glenda will be calling me within the next few weeks when my drop spindle comes in.

I have been fantasizing about fibre lately and then I was looking Etsy, which is a hobby dangerous to one’s pocket book. I recently gave in to two skeins from Milkyrobot. I also got a little excited at McNally Robinson and bought Intertwined by Lexi Boeger and Spinning the Old Way by Priscilla A. Gibson-Roberts.

It is only a matter of time.

I have spun before, but what I ended up with was pretty dull:

Handspun scarf

Yes, it is a grey garter stitch scarf. Please try to contain your excitement.

Handspun scarf - 2

I quit because it seemed boring. I didn’t know that spinning like this was possible: here, here, and here.

Just contemplate Fabulosity, Milkyrobot, and Pluckyfluff. It is only a matter of time, but I will refrain from buying a spinning wheel yet, as I don’t think I need an expensive dusty carpet ornament.  I will ease my way in with a spindle.

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