This past Saturday I taught my first drop spindle class of 2014. I taught this method twice last year and then somehow let teaching get away from me. The class was held at the Recycled Lamb in Golden, Colorado and I had a total of 5 students. We spent 2 hours learning how to draft fibers, thigh spin, spin on a drop spindle and then review fiber tools. The next class will be 3 hours so that my students spin a decent amount of a single ply yarn and then we can 2 ply it so they have a small skein to show for their class period. As with any process the more you engage in it the better one can tweak areas to make the process better. Even though I was a bit nervous about teaching others once we started talking about fiber I found my groove.
Things are a bit slow on the production front from last week for several reasons. Primarily I received a record number of 7 sales last week which required packaging and shipping. Also I had to prep for the spinning class and get goody bags together for my students. The second set of goody bags was packaged for the Horseshoe Market in July and given my schedule I am just going to mail the items to the event versus attempting to drop them off this week. The college kid will be assisting in labeling packages which should help me get the 50 bags out the door sooner. I did manage to finish knitting one summer hat and spin a single ply of some merino/silk last week plus there are the 2 skeins finished earlier last week.
I still have knitting and spinning projects in the works this week and will have pictures for you a bit later.
My knitting needles have been slow lately and preoccupied with mostly gifts. Now, however, I can finally share what I’m working on! It’s been a slow project thanks to outside forces, but I finally completed it—a Minion inspired slippers and mitten set.
Very excited to be coming to the end of the process of making my newest buffalo yarn. The first half ounce of buffalo fiber was spun into a single on the Russian spindle. I then found a dark purple wool crepe yarn from Habu to ply with the buffalo a few weeks ago. I spent part of my Sunday combining the two yarns onto a plying spindle and just need to make a plying disc this week to ply the two yarns together. Buffalo Fiber Habu wool yarn
I have learned from this process that my “plying” spindle is very heavy and I might want to get something a bit smaller. My hand/wrist ached a bit from combining the threads onto the spindle. I found myself taking lots of breaks from the project just to give my wrist a break. Not sure of the yardage as of yet but there is quite a bit of yarn on the plying spindle. It is nice to see the pieces of the project coming together and know that I am creating something special.
Last week I made a commitment to be more productive with my hand spinning of yarns and knitting of items which was based on my small supply of material to sell. I am happy to say that my production schedule is working and I completed 2 skeins of yarn and 1 hat within a week’s time frame. These 2 lovely skeins were spun into 2 ply yarns that still need to be measured but I’m thinking they are DK to Worsted weight yarns. The cabled lace hat also has been finished and was a challenge because I don’t particularly like cable needles.
I love the shine factor in both of these yarns and am having fun going through my stash of dyed rovings. There was a time towards the end of 2013 that I found myself short on dyed fibers but somehow that has been remedied (shopping sprees). This week I am on target for 4 skeins of yarn as I plied 2 yarns on Sunday and they are drying this week. The dyed Louet Fiber yarns are on the menu for this week. These rovings will have to be Navajo plied to keep the colors from being muddy which requires spinning a fine single so I may just do one of them. I’m really trying to boost the number of worsted and DK weight yarns in the inventory so I plan on spinning more of my other rovings than the Louet group.
On the needles is a new hat being made from the yarn I won at the Salida Fiber Festival last year. I won 3 skeins of a linen/cotton based yarn in pretty spring colors (green, yellow and peach). The yarns are being turned into hats with a broken rib stitch pattern but using a 2×2 ribbing. I had started to make a cowl using some kettle dyed yarn I received as a gift but am not liking the look of it with the color changes. This yarn has short color changes and knitting it in the round is creating a very muddled mess of colors. Thinking this yarn will make a better scarf than cowl and as it is a cotton/cashmere blend it deserves to be in a special project. My inventory only has 3 cowls in it and most are very warm so the search is on for the right lightweight yarn in a good color scheme to make cowls for the summer.
One of my newest tools is an Indian book Charkha. Yes, I finally broke down and bought this tool this year and I do like it. After watching several YouTube videos I figured out how to set up and close my book Charkha. It took a web search of photos linked to websites to understand how I should be sitting with the book charkha too. How did we survive without the internet has been my mantra for the last few weeks. It is so great to be able to learn new skills when one can’t have an actual person teach you face to face.
My charkha has cashmere clouds being spun on it and I love the sound of the wheel when one gets into the groove of spinning on it. Unfortunately I have many projects pressing on my free time so for a month or so cashmere spinning is on hold. Nonetheless I do like this tool and its compact size. I can see myself traveling with it and a bag of cotton or yak fibers to spin while on my trip.
After taking the workshop on spinning Orenburg lace yarn this year at the Estes Park Wool Market, I was energized to spin lace weight yarns on my Russian. One of my purchases at the wool market was an ounce of Buffalo/Bison fiber. As this fiber is a bit more dense than cashmere I am estimating only .5 of an ounce will fit onto a spindle at a time. It is taking quite some time spin up .5 ounces of Buffalo too. I am so lucky to have fiber dyers and artists in my life as they have been very helpful in suggesting colors/fibers to use for several projects. While at my LYS a fellow knitter told me that purple and brown make a nice color combination. Although this didn’t sound like a nice combo I discovered that a dark purple Habu wool crepe yarn was the perfect compliment to my natural brown Buffalo fiber. Once the ounce is spun I will move to ply these 2 yarns together to create a fingering weight yarn.
This year’s wool market was a lot of fun and found me stretching my comfort zone. How you say? Well first off I took a workshop on spinning Orenburg lace yarn with Galina Khmeleva which was amazing. We had a lot of fun in class and I learned how to ply and set the twist in my fine fiber yarns using the Orenburg method. Galina is great teacher and I would recommend taking her class if you have the opportunity. She brought a wedding lace shawl and a warm shawl so that we could see and feel the difference in the two. There were also several stories about Orenburg history, life and creativity.
Me plying yarns the Orenburg way.
My second push out of my comfort zone was entering yarns in the yarn competition at the festival. I was brave and entered 2 skeins into the competition. My Navajo plied Romney wool skein (being used for the knit shawl) and a single ply of yak/silk yarn were humbly submitted to the judges for their critique. To my surprise both won ribbons – yeah!
They Romney took 2nd place in its category and the yak/silk yarn took 1st place along with “Best Use of Down Fiber” in the competition. It was nice to read the feedback especially on the Romney yarn and to get confirmation that I do make really nice yarns.
As this was the annual Wool Market I of course went shopping for fleeces (probably more than I should have). I actually had 2 days to do shopping at the market since I stayed overnight in town. My fleece purchases were primarily “new to me” sheep breeds. The fleece inventory now contains a beautiful gray Bond/Corriedale, a brown/cream Icelandic fleece and a glossy white Teeswater fleece. The Teeswater was only 2 lbs and my least guilty purchase. There was beautifully dyed rovings at reasonable prices so I had to snatch up a few of these and I purchased yarn from the local yarn shop that was represented at the Market. Several of the fleeces have been listed in the shop – http://www.herie7.etsy.com and I am hoping to get to cleaning and packaging a few of them soon.