Sunday, 29 March 2009

Drum carder

Ta da! After much deliberating, I went for a second-hand Louet from an Ebay seller in Holland. I'm chuffed with it, not least because I think even I should have a hard time breaking this thing.

I'm still in the early stages of working out what the hell one does with it, but I can see the bulk of my fibre stash being batted in no time.

After spinning lots of commercially combed top, spinning from batts is taking a bit of retraining, but it's starting to feel OK. I'm booked into the 'using a drum carder' class at Woolfest, which should be fun.

Fyberspates mohair, 2 ply

I ended up with about 600m of this:

Given the amount of time it took me to work that rough number out, I should really devise a better system than measuring my niddy-noddy and then counting 490ish strands of yarn.

I got 100g onto each bobbin, so I was delighted to have the plying head and be able to make one great big joinless skein.

I'm not sure what to do with it. An open, fluffy rectangular shawl in a simple lace pattern seems the obvious thing to do, but I'm having reckless thoughts of something more garmenty. A fluffy boobholder ( be several steps too far on me, but a fluffy shrug type thing might be ok.

Fyberspates mohair, roving to singles

The March installment of the Fyberspates luxury fibre club was soft, soft mohair. Jen generously doubled up the quantity because it was posted a bit late, which meant 200g of gorgeousness arrived.

I'd never spun mohair before, apart from a few locks I experimented with fairly unsuccessfully ages ago. This stuff felt much less stiff, and after trying out a few samples I ended up spinning it with a short forward draw, letting the twist into the drafting area, which makes it...consults Judith McKenzie McCuin...semi-woolen. This meant making a weird rolling motion with my thumb and forefinger every time I treadled, which was great fun for the first 150gm or so. After that, the appeal of longdraw became irritatingly apparent. It was a lovely spin overall, though, because the fibre felt great and the colour changes were hypnotic. The colours were far more delicate than anything I would have picked myself, but to my surprise, I fell in obsessive love with them as I spun. This is evident from the ridiculous number of pictures I took of this yarn at all stages. Here is a small selection of the 'singles' pictures:

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Perfect knitting bag for £7.99!

A couple of friends and I spent last Friday evening in IKEA. No amount of trolley-related humour could conceal how very, very old this made us feel. It was well worth the doomladen sense of approaching middle age, though, because I left with not only bedclothes even brighter than the last ones, a feat I'd thought impossible (They burn the early morning eyes! I love them!), but also my perfect knitting bag. It's a rigid thing presumably meant for cosmetics:

...and it has not only wee pockets...

...but elastic bits for needles! I might tack some of them down to make narrower loops for straights.

It's just the right size for a couple of skeins plus a small to medium project, and is hard enough to keep your work unsquished.

Friday, 6 March 2009

I don't know why I've never tried spinning big and thick and thin before. It seemed like I should make the most of the jumbo/plying head, so I carded up some of the purple merino from the mixed colour bags I got from Wingham Wool Work. Unfortunately, I still find it all too easy to spin unevenly, but I'm terrible at spinning thick. No matter what I intend to do, my singles usually revert to a default setting of teeny. The jumbo head stopped this, and using the slowest whorl, I filled up the bobbin with big, fat, juicy, slubby yarn in what felt like about three seconds flat. It was so much fun! I now urgently need to do lots more of this.

I want to ply it with a contrastingly tiny, tightly-spun single though, so I got out the fast flyer and spun some of the dark purple roving from the end, on the fastest whorl, in a worsted one treadle/one draft style, which bores me to tears. I can't ply them together yet because I have a cunning plan involving some things to string onto the thin single, which are in the post. I'm desperate to get back to the big thick spinning, but I've only got one jumbo bobbin, which is full of the purple stuff, so I've just been carding up some more merino roving into rolags so that as soon as the postman does his stuff I can get right to it.

These bits of roving are becoming the rolags below. The book that can be seen is another reason I haven't left the house today. It's The Intentional Spinner by Judith McKenzie McCuin, and it's incredible. I also just received Deb Menz's Colour in Spinning, which is even better than everyone says it is. I'm dodging back and forth between the two books, getting more gobsmacked and awestruck each time. I do realise that spending today like this means spending Sunday up to my oxters in thesis, but I'm powerless to resist.

This is why I have to acquire a drum carder, even if it means eating nothing but Tesco 8p noodles for months. (Again...)


I got a cheap steamer off Ebay for dyeing. The stock pot works fine but I was tempted by the thought of three tiers. I wrapped three damp lumps of carded wool and silk from Wingham in clingfilm, with vinegar and acid dyes inside each parcel, stuck one on each level and steamed them for an hour. It worked OK, though next time I'll turn down the temperature or only do half an hour, as the results seemed a bit overcooked. I made one bit into this woolen-spun, fuzzy two-ply:

I wanted to practice chain-plying, so had a go with the green/blue bit:

I'm not sure how to chain-ply evenly. When I'm plying normally I count the treadles over a particular length of yarn, but when both my hands are moving about to pull each loop through the next I don't have a clear idea how much twist I'm putting in.