Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Recycled Sari Silk

Over a week without a post ... Okay, so Joseph's Skein was worth a lot of posts, I think:)

But I didn't stop spinning... In fact, last Wednesday I was able to make it to Grandma's! I love hanging out with the other fiber fanatics... I was wandering around the store, wondering what to spin for the night, and I saw Grandma's stash of recycled sari silk, and jumped at the chance to try spinning something new!

After spinning wool and cotton and milk fiber, spindle spinning recycled sari silk wasn't difficult at all. It was actually a lot of fun, seeing the different kinds of fiber come together to make a continuous strand ... I bought an ounce of it, and almost had it all spun up by the end of the evening at Grandma's.

I two-plied it, and am now in the process of free-form crocheting it into, I think, a scarflette:) Something showy; not for warmth.

On my plate:

A tussah silk hanky ... trickier to draw out and spin, but I'm working on it...

And weaving up a little bit of Joseph's Skein for the spin along weaving project on Ravelry:)

More later!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Joseph's Skein - Completed

Phew, what a week... it's the end of the quarter, and I'm ready for a break! So I can spin, of course.

So here is the finished product of Joseph's Skein. I AM IN LOVE with this yarn. This is my masterpiece thus far, and by far. I showed it to one of my crafting friends earlier today (the first crafter to see it) and I got the impression she genuinely wanted to take this yarn home with her... "Oh the socks I could make!" That was the actual quote ... followed by "what are you going to do with it?" And, "well if you need someone to take it off your hands..."

I gotcha Angela:)

So a few spinning things from this week; the spin-along is spinning, I think...things have quieted down while we all get to work (I'm assuming that's what's going on). Plus, there has been some discussion on things like temporary cops, and spinning directions, and single vs. plied, and what it means to be called a waylaka. Sheesh! What I call charming gets women called worse-than-lazy in another culture:)

I read this blog by Abby Franquemont http://abbysyarns.com/2007/01/waylaka, and now I keep having to remind myself that I'm not living in a culture where my self-worth is determined by the highest of high-quality standards for my handmade goods. I am in this for the fun of it. That doesn't mean I can't strive for excellence; it just means that I don't have to worry about being called names for my always-a-work-in-progress spinning/crafting techniques. After all, when people see me spinning my own yarns they tend to call me a "hardcore" crafter because I'm doing much more of the work than is typical in this part of the world.

Anyway, I'm enjoying the discussions and the pictures and videos... This one got me thinking quite a bit about my spinning techniques: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zBzq-5DuAV8&feature=player_embedded. So much so that I've started craving a different kind of spindle...

Now it's off to figure out how to make my own; because you know I can't have just one...

Monday, March 14, 2011

When the Cop Becomes the Whorl

Having never spun much more than an ounce at a time on my spindles, I encountered an interesting situation that I'd read about somewhere (more than likely, Abby Franquemont's Respect The Spindle).

So what happened? My over-an-ounce cop became a little too unwieldy for pleasurable spindling...

My solution? Easy! I have removable whorls ... so, I set my whorls to the side and let cop do the whorl work.

Here's my progress on Joseph's Skein...

Oh, and I updated a previous post to include a tutorial on how I wind my center-pull balls on a simple spindle (not Turkish), without a leader. See it here: http://spiritedspindle.blogspot.com/search/label/Winding%20On.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Joseph's Skein... (Working Title)

So in my last post I said that I was going to spin up the remaining roving from the sample variegated yarn I made last weekend ... and that's just what I'm doing.

Here's what I have so far. I'm spinning a similar length of each roving (one arm's length), the purples are staying in order as they repeat, but the other colors aren't quite as planned, I'm picking them as I go.

I plan to spin until I run out of one of the purples, then 2-ply from my center-pull ball.

I'm calling this Joseph's Skein right now because of all the many colors:)

Meanwhile, I've just learned that there is a spin along going on in my backstrap weaving group on Ravelry! Oh yeah, I forgot to mention I'm on Ravelry:) Hit me up, I'm Illigator.

I'm super excited about this spin along, even though I haven't said "hi" to the group yet... I'm planning to right after I post this!

The reason I'm so excited is because I love backstrap weaving ... even though I haven't done much of it. You see, over last year's summer, I learned to weave using a backstrap loom. It was quite a project for me, making the loom and then weaving a backstrap as my first project (thanks Laverne!). And then I decided to take another step in the creative process and actually spin yarn for my weaving projects...but that meant I had to learn to spin. And so, I put down the loom and picked up a spindle and some fiber and focused on nothing but spinning for three months.

It paid off! I was able to complete two projects from my own spindle spun yarns for Christmas. The neck-warmer/cowl thingy from Abby Franquemont's Respect the Spindle for my Mom, and my first attempt at something other than a warp-faced weave on a backstrap, a scarf for my sister.

So to find a group of people spinning for backstrap weaving and talking about it is a wonderful surprise! It's a good thing I read Laverne's blog every week or I would have never known! (I've been so busy with spinning and the blog and the Etsy store to check into Ravelry very often...guess that'll be changing!)

Anyway, I'll leave you with this for the evening...

April 2nd is the scheduled date for my cellulose dyeing class, and I'm counting down the days. Anyone in Tucson want to join me at Grandma's Spinning Wheel for this much-anticipated event?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

On My Spirited Spindles... And How I Make My Spindles

I've spent the last week drawn to my spindle, and now spindles, rather than writing ... so let's catch up!

First, on Saturday I started experimenting. I took several (6) different colors of roving, and spun little tufts of each together to create a variegated single, and then 2-plied to get even more color combinations out of the single... I LOVED the result. The colors came together so beautifully.

I pondered what I could do with this little tiny skein of color to show it off best... And I decided that weaving would be the best craft for that purpose. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to do much with that little skein ... but that's okay! I have plenty of roving where that came from, and, to accommodate all those beautiful ounces I've made a larger spindle (and a couple smaller ones, too)!

My plan is to make a slightly larger skein, warp it up on my backstrap loom, and use a single strung with beads to make a bracelet... And the rest? Well the rest of the yarn will go on Etsy, of course.

But before we get to the new additions to my spirited spindle family, because I'm addicted to spinning, I spun up the variegated blue roving from my stash. It's currently in its "single state," awaiting plying...

And now, the new babies ... oh, the new babies! Last night I brought out my spindle making stash of wooden dowels and toy wheels and cup hooks, and got busy putting them all together, and ended up with three new spindles...

The one on the right is my largest spindle. I made it this long because I'm planning to spin quite a larger than normal skein (for me, anyway), and wanted more length to accommodate the fiber.

The one on the left is smaller, and only has one large wooden wheel on it... I made it that way because that's what the materials told me to do. Can't quite explain it; I just knew.

And the one in the middle is tiny, and only has one small wooden wheel on it. I just used the part of the dowel that was leftover from the one on the left... It's perfect for spinning fine threads:)

Here is how I do it.

What you need:

1. Quarter-inch wooden dowel: This is just because the toy wheels I find have quarter-inch holes. I've gotten dowels from Home Depot and Joann's, but they ran 36-and-48-inches. Then I found a wood-craft section of Michaels where they have quarter-inch dowels 12-inches in length in bags of 10. Score!

2. Wooden toy wheels with quarter-inch holes (to accommodate the quarter-inch dowel): I like to use one large and one small wooden wheel together on the same spindle. I also get these at Michaels. Be particular as you're choosing your toy wheels; the actual size of the holes in these wheels vary quite a bit, and the quality of the wood in each wheel varies quite a bit as well... It works best if your larger wooden wheel has a slightly larger hole than your smaller wooden wheel.

3. Cup Hooks: I use the size that looks to be the right proportion for the quarter-inch dowel (also available at Michaels).

1. Masking Tape
2. Sand Paper (one coarse, one fine)
3. Optional: A hand-saw, if you like... a lot of times I just break the dowel with my hands, but that's less precise, of course, and results in some waste.
4. Optional: A little hand-drill, if you like (I didn't even know they made these until I saw it in the wood-craft section of Michaels...and man what a difference it makes when you're trying to get that cup hook screwed into the top of your spindle!!!)
5. Optional: A pencil sharpener.

How to do it:

1st, make the dowel the approximate total length you want the spindle to turn out. You do this first because if your dowel is going to split when you're cutting it down to size, you don't want to have wasted any more time on the other steps.

2nd, wrap some masking tape around the shaft of the spindle at the very top (at least twice), where you will be inserting the cup hook. You do this because as you're inserting the drill bit or cup hook, there's also a possibility of splitting the shaft of the spindle, and the tape keeps this from happening.

3rd, if you have a little hand drill, make a space for your cup hook, and then insert the cup hook to make sure it fits snugly. If you don't have a little hand drill, use a lot of patience and brute force to insert the cup hook into the top of the spindle - there's a little pain involved, but it can be done, I've done it. DO NOT REMOVE THE MASKING TAPE until you have completed this step entirely.

4th, remove the cup hook and the masking tape, and sand the edges of the top of the spindle to make sure they are nice and smooth. You don't want to snag your fiber as you're spinning:) If you choose to re-insert the cup hook at this point, careful that you screw it in just to the snug point, and not so much that you split the shaft of the spindle.

5th, If you're using only one wooden toy wheel, this is easy enough. Check to see that the wooden wheel fits on the shaft of the spindle snugly enough that it stays on the spindle and doesn't rotate around the shaft of the spindle, but not so snugly that you can't move it on and off of the spindle. If you can't get the wooden wheel on the spindle, sand the spindle shaft down until you can.

If you choose to use two wooden toy wheels as I usually do, then this part becomes a little tricky. Check to see if your wooden wheels fit onto the shaft of the spindle without sanding it down. Chances are there will be a little sanding required. The trick is to sand it down so that both the wooden toy wheels fit onto the shaft snugly, together, which is why I suggest that the larger wooden wheel have a slightly larger hole in it than the smaller wooden wheel - since I like to put the larger wooden wheel on the spindle first, and follow it with the smaller wooden wheel.

And, if you choose to do the next step, spindle sharpening, then I suggest you make sure the wheels fit a touch higher on the spindle (for a bottom whorl). If you're going for a top-whorl, well then you'll need them to fit closer to the cup-hook end, so keep sanding!

6th, If you like, use a pencil sharpener to sharpen the bottom of your spindle. Not too sharp! I don't want you to hurt yourself with that flying spindle later. But, this can help if you choose to spin your spindle in a supported fashion, or for a little wobble control later. Sand it down to make it smooth.

7th, Go over the whole spindle with the fine sand paper to smooth out any rough spots, making it feel lovely in your fingers.

8th, Insert your cup hook (carefully to the snug point, so as not to split the shaft of the spindle), fit on your wooden toy wheel(s), and get to spindle spinning!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

My Green-n-Pink Cabled Yarn

You can do many wonderful things with a spindle-spun single. Singles make some of the most beautiful yarns, and they tend to be the most eye-catching for me in the yarn shop (my favorite yarn shop is Grandma's Spinning Wheel here in Tucson, Arizona). But, when I first started spindle-spinning, my singles tended to run thick and thin (less intentionally), which can make a single a bit of a gamble when it comes to projects...

So what did I do? I plied. Plying does a few things for my yarns; it adds strength, it evens out the thick and thin spots a bit, and lends itself to my creative process, maximizing my ability to play with the colors, textures, and weights of my yarns.

Most of my yarns are 2-ply, but I've played around with Navajo/chain-plying and cabling quite a bit. Today, I chose to cable-ply the variegated pink and green rovings. First I plied the two singles together, and then I plied the resulting 2-ply yarn again.

If plying is a new concept to you, here's a brief run-down. I spin a single in one direction, then ply two or more singles that are spun in the same direction together in the opposite direction. For cabling, I then spin the resulting yarn again in the original direction.

I'm pleased with the cabled yarn result! What do you think?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

I've Changed My Spinning Mind...

So last week I said that February and March were all about spinning cotton in anticipation for my cotton-dyeing class coming up in April...

Well, just as I said that, I changed my spinning mind.

What happened? I started my Etsy yarn shop, and then I got curious and started searching through other Etsy yarn shops for some inspiration for my own ... and what did I find?

Well, mostly better photography. But in addition to that, I found some art yarns that were quite interesting, and selection... So how can I improve my selection? SPIN!

Turns out I have quite a stash of merino wool piled up in my craft room, and so I've decided to take a break from the cotton (since I have quite a stash of sample cotton yarns to work with for next month), and diversify my Etsy offerings while keeping the Etsy yarns colorful.

So this weekend past, I spun up the blue and green yarn above ... this is the first time I've intentionally spun a yarn thick and thin (although I have intentionally not minded spinning thick and thin before). Actually, I spun the green as a thick and thin single, and the blue as a fairly consistent fine single, and then I plied them together for a neat effect.

And today I started spinning a variegated roving that's mainly pinks, but with reds and oranges and greens and blues ... and plan to ply that with a variegated roving that's mainly green, but with reds and pinks and blues and browns.

So that's what's on my spirited spindle this week ... what have you been spinning lately?