April 2009 Archives

Finer Spinning Attempt, Plus Design


Having made one massively hugely chunky yarn (that knitted into the World's Ugliest Hat, the sight of which I will spare you), and then one yarn that was just too thick for my usually kind of knitting, I'm now attempting a thin yarn. I'm not sure I'm getting it, but I am getting a bit thinner. I bought a smaller spindle, which seems to help.

Spinning the merino/tussah mix

This fiber is a merino/tussah mix, from Ashland Bay. The wool is not bothering me, but I've found merino doesn't tend to (yay). I'm doing better at spinning the same thickness, even if that thickness might not be the thickness I really wanted.

I'm also getting neater at making my cop.

To deal with shoulder pain, I'm only drafting out as much fiber as I can with my arm extended in front of me. That doesn't hurt as much, and even if it is slower, I can spin for longer.

In other fiber-world news, I've gotten much further along on my lace design, thanks to an all-day workshop on LED lighting (fascinating subject, but I always doodle in class, so working out problems in my lace charts fits in very nicely).

I've made this modified "fountain lace" pattern (please ignore the mistakes in there; some things had to get worked out live). Now I need to shift it to slot into the fish scales pattern. Also, I redesigned the fish scales pattern and need to re-swatch that, which will work in nicely with figuring out how to slot the fountain design into it.

Fountain lace pattern

I know it's probably overkill to spend so much time trying to make my lace stitches flow perfectly from one pattern to the next, but it pleases me.

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I Call That Yarn


Yesterday I spent quite a bit of time plying my Grape Jelly yarn, and experimenting with just how much yarn I could get onto the spindle (answer: quite a bit, but it does get ridiculous after a while). I ended up with this enormous cone:

Overfull spindle

Which I skeined up into a 5-foot skein, working out to about 136 yards of yarn. I washed it, dried it (I'm liking the flat dryer rack that makes drying wool fast and easy quite a bit these days), and those is what I have now:

Skeined up yarn

I'm thinking I need to buy some larger needles, because this is very fluffy large yarn, and I don't have needles large enough for it.

The book on wheel construction that I ordered through interlibrary loan arrived this week, and I picked it up today, for a little light reading.

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So, some more about how I'm spinning.

I started out in position A, sitting on a chair, dangling the spindle. This gives me about 18 inches of drafting space before the spindle knocks into the floor (or, more often, the dog who is right underfoot). Not great.

Then position B: standing. Much better: I can draft out about three feet of fiber before hitting either dog or floor. Holding the arm out isn't a great situation, but not profoundly painful, either.

So we end up in position C: standing, and lifting the left arm above the head to nearly vertical in order to get about five feet of drafted-out yarn before having to wind on. Curse the short arms. The result: ouchies in the left shoulder.

Spinning Positions

Noel suggests standing on a chair, but I've not been able to figure out how to get enough spin into the spindle to be able to drop it a long distance and bring it back up before it starts unwinding itself and breaks off.

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Grape Jelly

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I'm finding the real limit on how much spinning I can get done is how much pain I want to put my left shoulder through. I hold the fiber in my left hand for drafting, and end up raising that arm above my head a lot. However, I have a wee bit of a tweak in my left shoulder, from a rugby injury in college, and raising that arm over my head repeatedly sets it off.

So now I'm investigating the possibility of a wheel more seriously.

Anyway, tonight I finished the singles for this two-ply yarn I am calling Grape Jelly. It doesn't look like it much in these photos, taken in really bad light, but the fiber I'm using has a set of colours very much like grape jelly. Also, I wish I knew what breed sheep it comes from, because it doesn't twig my allergies at all.

Here we are all spun up, ready to be spooled off the spindle to prepare for plying (the perils of only one spindle!). I spent a lot of energy working on making a nice, tidy cop this time. I think it came out OK.

All spun up

And wound onto a skewer spool.


I'll make myself a spool rack from a cardboard box sometime after I stop being quite so busy, and use that for plying onto the spindle. Can I wait to see what this yarn looks like? No. But I must, anyway.

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Practise Spinning


I took out the blob of wool roving I bought last year when I started playing with the spindle. Less the ounce or so I messed up in trying to figure things out, I had about 3.6 ounces of fiber (a little over 100 grams). I spun for a while and realized there was no way I was spinning all of that onto the spindle, so I divided it up about evenly (not sure if this makes sense given how unevenly I'm spinning right now, but it made sense at the time). This is half of it, spun up into one large, untidy cop (from the Old English word for head, summit, or peak, for the language geeks in the crowd):

Big fat cop of single

I'm trying to be more careful about how I wind the yarn onto the spindle this time, but that's really the least of my problems. My main problem is that either my arms are not long enough or the floor is too close, because I feel like I spend most of my time winding on. Also, my shoulder hurts. Noel and I have been discussing spending some time making a simple wheel.

Anyway, this is where I was this morning: one skewer full of half my fiber, and a start on the other half. I'm going to use a shoe box to hold two skewers full of yarn for plying this time, to see how that works. I didn't have too hard a time plying my first yarn, but this is a much fatter ball and seems like it would be harder to handle.

Starting another cop for plying

I think this yarn will be a scarf. It seems like it might be enough for a decent sized one.

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In spinning class today (last of two sessions) we learned plying. I must say that in places where my spinning still sucks badly, plying Did Not Help. But where it was sorta OK? Plying made it AWESOME.


This area was made from singles spun later in the week.

Kind of good looking yarn

While this includes some of the first yarn I spun last weekend.

OMG ass yarn

You can definitely see the difference.

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Designing Lace


I've been working out a pattern for a fairly complicated lace item. I could just use stitches from stitch dictionaries and leave it at that, but that can be very limiting, because not all those stitches work together nicely.

So I came up with about what I wanted the item to do, pattern-wise, and I've been writing my own stitch patterns for it. Not as hard as it might seem, as I can look at charted patterns in dictionaries when I need to figure out how to make something happen. But not all smooth sailing.


First I give you a pattern I call "fish scales," which looks like a million other patterns like this only had to be an annoying one stitch wider to mesh with a later pattern. I was fussing with this on BART and busses for several weeks before I felt it came out right (you can see on the left that I had to move some things around even in later iterations). The last repeat came out exactly as I wanted it.

Fish scales pattern

But this pattern is a mess. I want it to naturally grow out of the fish scales, but now it looks like a horrifying growth. I'm sure it doesn't help that I'm using crochet cotton to do this work in, and storing it crumpled up in pockets. But also the line stitches are looking less linelike and more twisted braid, and I'm unsure about whether I want to have those nupps in there at this point in the object.I may have to significantly change this pattern to get it to come out right.

Really messed up lacce

I am really enjoying this process, though. I've already had a few nights of staying up way too late because I got so into working out a chart.

Have I been doing anything other than fiber arts and tearing my house apart? Not really.

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Three Balls Full

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I spent some time yesterday evening spinning up the rest of my homework for the spinning class. Here we have the three balls I spun, in order of spinning from left to right. The first one is mostly spun woolen. The second is spun entirely worsted using the "inchworm" method (which I had huge amounts of trouble with). The last is entirely woolen. These balls were wound off the spindle, so the outer yarn is the first yarn I spun in that session.

Three balls of spun singles

I feel like I'm getting better consistency, and I no longer have to park and draft. The wool is still coming out really thick, but I can work on that as soon as I figure out how to make it come out all the same size. Drafting still feels like I've got too much tension in my hands, and the wool is not moving smoothly.

Oh, and the wool allergy? Definitely still there. Between the last two balls I was sneezy and wheezy.

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This page is an archive of entries from April 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

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