The good news is that I finally obtained a full time role! I start my new position in a week and am looking forward to getting back into the workforce. On the fiber end this will be good for me so that I stop creating Works In Progress (WIP). My time off has seen me cast on several shawls – two of which are gossamer web based. The Sunflower shawl is nearly done as I just have a 1/4 left of the edging to complete. It still looks so much smaller than the photo but my hopes are that it grows with blocking.
I have begun and ripped out and restarted my gossamer triangular shawl and seem to be progressing much better now that I am past the first 4 rows of the border. I still think there is an error in the pattern as I had to reduce some stitches to make things balanced but there is nothing online about this issue so perhaps it is just me.
Bobbin lace is still awesome and I am working on my first true lace edging which will be attached to a handkerchief when it is done. There is a great deal of pleasure of moving the bobbins around and pining threads to create intricate lace work. I have had thoughts about learning needle lace but for now I am concentrating on learning Torchon lace work. After all there are several styles of bobbin lace still yet to learn and master. My homemade pillow is by far my favorite lace pillow but we shall see how things change when the sectional pillow arrives. I actually made this piece with silk yarn I purchased during the YarnFest in Loveland, CO in April. I am amazed that the silk fibers stayed in place when the pins were removed.
On the festival front it looks like I will only be participating in the Golden Farmer’s Market in July and August. My heart is not into going to Salida this year so I decided to skip the festival and hopefully join it next year. The only other market I am looking into is the Denver Public Library’s Paris Holiday Market in November. Of course I will also have the Rocky Mountain Weaver’s Guild Sale in November to hopefully move my hand spun yarns into new homes.
I realized that I have not done much yarn spinning as my stash is so large. I am finding it difficult to procure a local venue to sell the hand spun so I have begun listing the yarns on the Etsy site. Once several of the 50+ skeins of yarn are sold I am sure the urge to boost my supply will occur. For now I have some merino/tencel fiber being spun on my Russian spindle to be used in making a gossamer web shawl – 8 ounces of fiber should be enough to make this work. Of course I also have flax fibers to play with and ply with different fibers (silk and cotton). Having a huge stash of hand spun has allowed me to focus on knitting items and of course create lace with bobbins.
I just have this nagging feeling that I am going to forget what my WIPs are at some point as in general I never had more than 3 at a time. I don’t even want to contemplate how many actual WIPs there are but I breath a bit easier knowing that a few are almost complete. As I get bored easily edgings are generally my downfall as they are so repetitive but the Sunflower shawl edge got a lot focus while at the hair salon and under the dryer this weekend. My cotton spinning class was cancelled as we didn’t have enough people sign up for it but hopefully the silk and drop spindle courses will happen this summer/fall.
Well I am going to get back to knitting the gossamer web shawl for a bit and until next time – keep your needles sharp and yarn in abundance!
This week I took the plunge and began to ply my spindle spun buffalo yarn. As you know I am plying the single of buffalo fiber with a commercial wool crepe yarn, these fibers have been combined onto a Russian plying spindle. Yes it did take me about 2 hours to combine the 2 yarns together but mostly because my plying spindle is so heavy I had to give my wrist a break from holding it. A lighter weight plying spindle has been ordered so I can move through this process quicker. Once I had the fibers combined the next step was to create the plying disc. I finally found some cardboard which suited my needs and made a somewhat round circle and began the process of plying the fibers.
My current spindle does work well as a supported spindle and is aiding in the plying process rather well. Somehow I seem to have more yak yarn than wool and keep getting gaps in the drafting area as the 2 yarns are not in sync. Since this is my first time with this process I’m trying not to be to critical and treating things as a learning experience. After all I have another 1/2 ounce of buffalo fiber plus cashmere, yak and paco-vicuna fibers to work with.
This weekend a met another lace knitter who happens to be a cashmere fanatic. She has asked that I attempt to make a 2 ply cobweb weight yarn from paco-vicuna for her use in her knitting business. My only hiccup at the moment is that I don’t know where I put my paco-vicuna fiber so that I can start on this process. The last time I spun PV fiber was a few years back and on my Louet wheel and it turned out a Sports weight single. Now that I can spin a fine yarn on the Russian spindles I am hoping to each cobweb status – time will tell.
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.
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.
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.
It has been awhile since my last post but I have been working with fiber a lot. At this moment I have 4 skeins of plied hand spun completed and ready to be washed and measured. They were all created on my Louet spinning wheel over a 2 week time period. There is definitely something soothing about spinning on the wheel. I love my Russian spindles and Navajo but found joy sitting down at the wheel and watching movies while creating yarn.
I still have some Falkland yarn to ply and have just started to spin up some Correidale roving. The Corriedale is very spongy and has a much different feel to it then BFL and Shetland wool. My long draw technique is getting some good use in spinning this wool and it is a deep brown color.
My spring cleaning allowed me to organize and see all of the fiber I have collected over the past few years. At least now all my fiber is in clear totes and with this summer’s farmers market appearances the stash should be reduced quite a bit.
In the quest to create yarn from fiber purchased years ago, I stumbled across plucked angora bunny fiber I purchased. It is a grayish white fiber with a nice length to it. The Russian Spindle would be a perfect tool to spin this luxury fiber so I fluffed out some of the fibers and began the process to spin it. Angora and I do not get along. I just couldn’t get the fibers to create a smooth consistent yarn. So my next thought was to add some cotton to fibers. I did spin a length of pure cotton from some cotton bolls purchased in 2011. A bit of thinking later, I decided to create punis/rolags with a mixture of angora and cotton. I detested this mixture more than the pure angora.
Finally I decided to just give up on the project. When one has lots of fibers in the stash that work well with spindles staying with a fiber that one doesn’t like is short lived. Below are photos of the yarn that will never be. I will be selling the angora fiber on Etsy though as there are lots of people who enjoy this fiber. Thus far in my journey I am up to two fibers I don’t like – dog hair and angora.
Once I decided to let this fiber go I was free to spin something else and the lucky fiber is Qivuit/Silk batting. It is beautiful! Below is a picture of the batting – stay tuned for my spinning progress.