My eyes!

Posted in spinning by tchemgrrl on July 28, 2010

Well, really, I like it, but I can understand why you, a Discerning Reader Of Taste, might not.

bright seasilk

It’s a little bit bright. A little. Astronauts might be wondering why their eyes water every time they look in the direction of the northeastern US.

2 ounces of Fleece artist sea silk/bug silk blend, in what I’m guessing is the “Cosmic Dawn” colorway from looking at their website. 2-ply. 2 one-ounce skeins that are almost exactly 225 yards each, in another proof of my freaky robotic spinning. All spindle-spun on one Bosworth Mini.

I got the colors to line up by splitting the top carefully down the middle, and carefully spinning each little piece in order. I’ve been working on it occasionally since about February, and I’m thrilled to have it off the spindle and looking so nice.

The runs of color are pretty long, so I’m thinking of knitting a lengthwise scarf. A knitting friend got me thinking about the possibility of dropped stitches this evening–the yarn is fine, but quite strong, so I think the chances of tragic snags is low enough to give it more thought.

(Tragic Snags is the name of my imaginary nerdcore band.)

This is a rare skein of yarn for me–one where the skein itself is so pretty that I almost don’t want to knit it. I know it will look just as nice knit up because of the length of the color runs, but still. Just look at that thing. My worsted spinning is getting better–the shine on this is wonderful. The colors lined up without a whole lot of coaxing. The grist is pretty darn consistent. Every once in a while I just need to gloat about hitting one out of the ballpark. And this is me gloating.

Even if this yarn is bright enough to give blind people headaches.

Cotton Before And After

Posted in spinning by tchemgrrl on July 27, 2010

Before and after being cooked on the stove.


cotton pre-wash


cooking cotton


cotton postwash

Amazing, huh? This is pretty true to color; I could only just make out the green strand in the yarn if I looked before, and after, anyone who can see green could identify it. All it took was about 30 minutes of simmering in water with a little dish soap and baking soda.

The feeling of the yarn is about the same, maybe slightly less soft, but I expect that it will soften back up with handling.

C’est dommage.

Posted in Uncategorized by tchemgrrl on July 23, 2010

Er, and then work sat on my head. And I started to learn to drive stick shift. And had another filling (all done with that now at least). And I continued to forget to buy batteries for the camera. Etc., etc.

I do have a partial bobbin of the BFL and a partial spindlefull of the yak/merino, but surviving this week has been the main accomplishment. Fortunately I think I’ll be able to manage a low-key weekend.


Posted in spinning, Sweater for JJ, Tour de Fleece by tchemgrrl on July 18, 2010

Weekend stuff:

1) I finished and passed along all the shop samples.

Wild Hare Fibers, non-breed specific wool top, Bonfire colorway:

bonfire yarns

The top yarn is the chunky singles, the middle yarn is the barberpoled 2-ply, and the bottom is a chain-plied yarn. Three ounces total.

Abstract Fibers, Targhee top, Gypsy colorway:

Gypsy yarns

Targhee top dyed by Abstract Fibers in the "Gypsy" colorway. Spun up as samples for my LYS.

The top yarn is the not-very-chunky singles. The middle yarn is the barberpoling two-ply. The bottom yarn is mostly a novelty coil yarn. Very goofy, but fun.

(At the very bottom of the picture is a stealth appearance by the Baby Swell’d Area, which is apparently big enough that I can take a picture of it without realizing until loading the picture onto Flickr.)

2) I did another yarn sample and swatch with this fiber, since I was using a different wheel and wanted to get comfortable using a faster whorl to spin a consistent yarn. I got a yarn that J and I really liked on pretty much the first try; a heavy sportweight 3-ply that’s light and smooth. I’ve just started spinning the singles but I haven’t gotten very far.

3) I finished plying and cabling the remainder of the cotton I’d spun up:

cotton pre-wash

And processed it in the way I’d seen recommended:

cooking cotton

Boiling for about a half hour in water with a little dish soap and baking soda thrown in to clean the fiber and maintain a slightly higher pH to develop the color. The green did indeed darken considerably; it’s now very obvious. (Pictures tomorrow when I get batteries for my camera.)

4) I finished plying the silk/sea silk after my plying ball adventures, and started working on the yak/merino blend I’d mentioned. That was indeed the most compelling thing in the stash for a spindle project. While looking for it, I did a good little organization of the fiber stash, and found the box considerably emptier than I’d remembered. It will be even more so once I work through that Blue Faced Leicester. Huzzah! Another tour goal achieved!

I had intended to get a little bit more done this weekend (working on the sweater yarn in particular), but for various reasons it just didn’t work out. No matter–I’m pleased with how much spinning I’ve gotten done over the last two weeks.

It seems like a good time to check in on my Tour goals to see if there’s any little things that need sorting out in the last couple of days.

-Get comfortable with the charkha again? Check.
-Spin up all the naturally colored cotton and cashmere? I’ll finish up the cotton in an evening this week, but I probably won’t get to the cashmere. On the other hand, I did a bit more with the cotton than I’d initially planned by plying most of the singles.
-A quick and good job with the shop samples? Big check. It took me a while to get the hang of spinning a chunkier yarn but the end results came out really well, plus I felt like I knocked them out quickly.
-A day where I go for spinning a mile of yarn? Argh. It just hasn’t panned out and it’s not going to by Wednesday–mostly the weather, mild pregnancy woes, and some Life Busyness have conspired against me. I’d still like to try it sometime soon, and I’ll probably do it with the sweater yarn. Perhaps next weekend.
-Less slacking more spinning? Pretty much, yeah. It’s good to see all these skeins of yarn building up.

All that, plus a fair amount of spindle spinning. Not too shabby.


Posted in spinning, Tour de Fleece by tchemgrrl on July 15, 2010

The main excitement of Day 13 occurred as I was winding my plying ball on the bus. The two balls of singles, which had been well-behavedly sitting in my lap, jumped off for no apparent reason and bounced gleefully down half the length of the bus, and around some of the clips and mechanical doodads they have under the seat to secure wheelchairs.

On a normal day I *may* have been over to bend over in time to catch them when they were still in arms’ reach, but well, there’s this squishy kicking bowling ball attached to my front which prevents the type of normal that involves bending in half. So instead I waddled after the escapees and wound them back around a nice young lady’s legs before giving the thing up as a bad job and breaking the plying ball so I could just get the damned things back to my seat.

Oh, and I did some spinning. But this seemed to fall more strictly under the heading of “spinning related challenges”.


Posted in Uncategorized by tchemgrrl on July 15, 2010

Day 12 was another relatively low-key day; I’m going to step it up a bit after dinner this evening.

1) Got most of the way through making a plying ball with the silk while chatting with friends at our Wednesday knitting group. I even managed an Andean plying bracelet when one color was getting a little too far ahead, and even working with laceweight, high-twist silk, I didn’t get any tangles large enough to require throwing away some singles. Hooray for improvement of my yarn management skills!

2) Got about 1/3 of the way through the remaining blue fiber–I’m going to try a thread-plied yarn, and am doing a better job of chunky spinning now that I have the hang of it.


Posted in planning, spinning, Tour de Fleece by tchemgrrl on July 14, 2010

I took day 10 off. It was a Monday, I had two fillings at the dentist, I had a bunch of stuff to get together at work for a class I’ve been running this week, and I went to bed at about 9:15. That seemed like enough.

Day 11:

1) Very nearly done with the spindle project; I’ll probably start plying today.

2) Finished off all of the Bonfire-colorway for the shop samples. I should have all of the fibers completely spun up before I need to go up to the shop on Saturday for the spindle-spinning class I’m teaching.

Since I’m nearly done with my spindling project, it’s time to dig through the stash for another one. I often have a few going at once. I just happen to be in a project-finishing mood lately, and am surprised to find myself without something that’s jumping up and down demanding to be spun!

How do I decide what I spin on a spindle and what goes on the wheel? Generally, the factors below will send something over to the spindle side:

1) I want to spin the yarn finely or with a lot of twist.
2) I only have a small amount (4 ounces or less).
3) It’s a luxury that I will enjoy handling as much as possible.
4) It’s an easily-portable fiber package (ie, not a batt).
5) It’s something for which precise fiber arrangement is less critical (ie, not a handpainted fiber where I’m trying to get all the plies to line up perfectly)
6) I will not need to constantly refer to a sample for comparison to spin it the way I want to. This can either be because the yarn is so automatic to me that I don’t need to check it regularly, or because I don’t mind a bit of variation in twist or thickness.
7) I don’t mind it being a work-on-it-as-I-go project, there’s no deadline and I can just enjoy the process (see #3).

The silk I’m working on now qualified on every point except #5–I’m trying to get both plies to line up perfectly, so I have this little organized baggie of fiber I’ve been working from. The enormous orange spindleful was iffy on points 1 and 3 but passed on every other point. You get the idea.

So it’s time to take a stash dive and see what pops out. I do have a one ounce bit of yak-merino blend that might fit the bill if it’s not too difficult to spin. I also have some delightfully life-affirming, rainbow colored merino superwash that may work. I’ve been holding off on the superwash until it tells me precisely what it wants to be so that I can spin it just right. Something for the baby, surely, but what will get the most use? A hat and mittens? Some leggings? A sweater? All I know is that I want to see it as frequently, and for as long, as I possibly can. Doodle needs some rainbows in zir life.


Posted in spinning, Tour de Fleece by tchemgrrl on July 11, 2010

1) I was going to work on other things before going right back to the chunky singles spinning, but I figured a good night’s sleep might just have taught my hands what to do. And whaddya know?

flame singles

A lot thicker; hovering around worsted weight instead of sport-to-fingering. One thing I figured out from the first skein was that the yarn does compress a bit as it goes onto the bobbin, so what looks like an enormous ball of fluff will end up thinner and denser. In other words, the trick to bulkier spinning appears to be: spin WAY bulkier.

The fiber is from Wild Hare Fiber Studios in the Flames colorway, and seems to be a nameless domestic wool blend. Reasonably soft for a wool of that description, and a very easy spin.

2) I also knocked off some chain-plied yarn in the same colorway. It was a bit of a relief to spin thinner! The thicker stuff was harder on my hands because I really needed to have a firmer grip on the yarn to control it, since I don’t have my usual level of feeling for it. It’s still sopping wet, I’ll get pictures tomorrow.

I’m now more than halfway through the shop-sample spinning. It’s been fun to challenge myself with some different structures, but I’m also looking forward to getting back to my usual stuff (and also *my* stuff–I’m still enjoying myself but I’d certainly tire of spinning for pay on a regular basis.)


Posted in spinning, Tour de Fleece by tchemgrrl on July 10, 2010

1) A little more silk on the spindle. I realized today that I’ve made a lot more progress than I thought, and will almost certainly finish it up before the Tour ends.

2) Two spindles-full of naturally-colored cotton while at the spinning guild meeting, one of which was put into a plying ball with some white, to finish off the bit of 2-ply that’s ready to be cabled. I think there’s about a spindle and a half of that cotton left, so good progress.

3) Skeined and finished the 2-ply (last night, actually), which dried to exactly the type of squishy sproingy barberpoley fun that I was hoping, though a bit thinner than I was aiming for (more of a DK than a worsted-to-bulky).


4) Spun, skeined, and finished the “bulky singles” that were my goal for today. These were a total success, on the planet where 16 wpi is bulky. That may be my planet, actually.

singles gypsy

Same colorway as the 2-ply–“Gypsy”, from Abstract Fibers. I love the yarn itself–it’s a perfect low-twist singles. I intentionally fulled them a bit in the finishing bath, which should prevent them from looking ratty after handling at the yarn shop. I have another colorway that I’ll try for bulky singles with, but I’m not too worried. Every property of this yarn is exactly what I was hoping for *except* the thickness, so I think I have my eye in it pretty well, for a yarn type that is way outside of my norm.

Good day.


Posted in spinning, Tour de Fleece by tchemgrrl on July 9, 2010

Heat! Breaking! Rain! Falling! Exclamation points! Happening!

1) Did a bit more spindle spinning with the silk/seasilk blend. I’ve been working on improving my efficiency with bus and travel spinning and I think I’m starting to notice some improvement.

2) Finished the singles for the 2-ply shop sample and plied it.

2ply sample

It was not as consistently DK-to-worsted as I was hoping, but once I wash it I can tell it will fluff and be a sproingy squishy fun thing.

Tomorrow is spinning guild where I know there will be a number of TdF’ers. I’m planning to bring my charkha and some more cotton, and try this social cotton spinning again to see if I can make a better go of it.