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Tuesday, July 30, 2019

The End of Tour de Fleece

Cranberry spinning 
Tour de Fleece ended Sunday night and while I didn't quite get everything spun, I did get a lot done and I'm really happy with what I did.  I was able to get the third bobbin of the Cranberry Merino finished up before the tour ended and that means I'm halfway through the singles for this spinning project.  I'll be finishing up this project, but I won't be spending quite as much time every day spinning on it.

I've finished the knitting on my Peasy Cardigan so once I sew on the buttons and give it a good steam blocking, I can show it to you later this week!

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Thursday, July 25, 2019

Drive By Blogging

Just a quick little post today!
Peasy cardigan
I've finished knitting the body and the first sleeve of my Peasy cardigan.  I also did the front and button bands and wove in all the ends before I started the first sleeve.  I've started the second sleeve now but just barely.
Cranberry spinning
I've also finished spinning the second of six bobbins of the Cranberry Merino.  That makes me a third of the way through this project.  I won't be able to finish spinning the entire project by the end of the Tour de Fleece but I'm hoping to get one more bobbin spun which would get me halfway through my singles.

Have a great weekend!

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Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Spinning Into The Weeds

Cranberry spinning 
I've finished my first bobbin of Cranberry singles!  This is the first of six total, but I'm well into the second one now.

There was a comment on my last blog post from Geri who was asking for more information about my prep and setup for spinning and I thought I'd just write it in a blog post.  If you're not a spinner, this will probably be super boring and won't make a lot of sense - sorry!  (You won't hurt my feelings if you just go about your day and don't even read it, it's ok.)

So apparently Geri is attempting to spin a 3-ply fingering weight yarn and asked for specific details about how I've been spinning them so I thought I'd give details about my current spin (the Cranberry Merino above) and my past three spins and also the number one thing I've found to help spinning consistent, fine yarns for me at the end.  In addition to all being 3-ply fingering weight yarns (or the Cranberry will be when I get it all spun and finished), they are all mostly or completely Merino wool and all started out as commercial top.  You should also know that I tend to treadle very quickly.  It's something I'm working on, but the ratios/whorls I use might not work for a more relaxed treadle-er, so keep that in mind.  Treadling slower has been something I've focused on this Tour de Fleece because my hands don't always go as fast as my feet, particularly with a grabby fiber like Merino.

Ashland Bay Multi Colored Merino in Cranberry -
Cranberry spinning
Prep - This top was very compacted after moving and being stored for eight+ years.  Ordinarily I'd strip it and predraft, but the way the colors work in this, I'd have whole sections missing one of the add in colors that make the finished, multi colored tones in the yarn so interesting.  I started by cracking the top like a whip (I can't remember if there's a name for it) in shorter sections which gets some air into it.  Then I carefully predrafted, making more than one pass to keep all of the colors as much intact as possible while getting everything moving a bit.  The photo above is the top before I started messing with it.

Spin - Scotch Tension on my Schacht Flatiron, I'm using the Medium whorl with the 10.4:1 ratio, using a short forward draft.  The staple length of this Merino is longer than the Malabrigo Nube and I think it's not quite as fine.  It's still soft, but it doesn't seem to need as much twist to hold together as the Nube did.



Greenwood Fiberworks Merino/Yak/Tussah Silk in Durango -
Durango
Finished yarn: 444 yards/122g

Prep - Split roving into fourths lengthwise to make the color sections shorter.  No predrafting was necessary.

Spin - Scotch Tension was used for both the singles and the plying on my Schacht Flatiron.  I used the Medium whorl with the 12.4:1 ratio, using a short forward draft.  The singles were chain plied using the same whorl with the 10.4:1 ratio.



Malabrigo Nube Aguas -
Aguas three ply. Finished 471 yards/106 grams
Finished yarn 471 yards/106g

Prep - Divided into thirds lengthwise.  I didn't do much, if any predrafting.  Nube has a bad reputation for being a clumpy, felted mess and while this was true of their earlier braids, Malabrigo has been doing a much better job with their fiber and it's in much better shape.  Any predrafting that I did was just to get the Merino moving a bit.  I find Merino to be really grabby so I've found that as long as it's open enough to move, I can control the diameter of my spin better.

Spin - Scotch Tension for the singles, Irish Tension for the plying, all done on my Schacht Flatiron.  I used the Fast whorl with the 15:1 ratio for the singles and the Medium whorl with the 12.4 ratio for the plying.  I spun the singles with a short forward draft.



Malabrigo Nube Aguas/Aguas/Zarzamora -
Finished 3 ply. Aguas, Aguas, and Zarzamora
Finished yarn 1268 yards/approximately 12 ounces (I don't have the finished weight in the spinning notebook.)

Prep - Divided braids into fourths lengthwise, lightly predrafted - again just to make sure things are moving.

Spin - Scotch Tension for the singles on my Kromski Symphony using the 16:1 ratio.  Irish Tension for the plying on my Schacht Flatiron using the Medium whorl with the  12.4:1 ratio.  Singles were spun with a short forward draft.



Finally, the one thing that I've found that can make or break spinning fine singles is the wheel adjustment - specifically the take up.  (This is for Scotch Tension only.  Double Drive and Irish Tension are different and I'm much less familiar with them at this point.)  When I took the amazing three day spinning class from Judith MacKenzie at MDS&W years ago, one of the things she had us do was to play with the tension on the brake band.  When there is hardly any take up (low tension) you can spin a very, very fine single.  As you increase the tension, without making any other wheel adjustments, you will automatically begin spinning a thicker singles.  Your hands are compensating for the stronger take up by making a thicker singles.  If you're trying to spin thin, release the tension on your brake band until it's not taking up at all.  Then slowly tighten the brake band until it just begins to take your singles to the bobbin.  The wheel should never pull the singles from your hands.  It should take the singles when you offer it to the wheel.  This will also make spinning much more relaxing if you're not playing tug of war with your wheel.

Hopefully some of this will help or at least give you a jumping off point.  You'll still need to sample as different wheels and different spinners will get different yarns.  Also, remember that some wools/fibers tend to floof up in the finishing while others don't, so you might need to adjust your singles diameter to accommodate this.  Sampling is your friend here.  (Full disclosure:  I definitely don't sample enough.  I'm working on this.)

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Thursday, July 18, 2019

So Many Things!

Today's blog post is about everything that's happened here since Tuesday (fiberwise - I won't bore you with reality).
Peasy
To begin with, Peasy is moving along nicely.  I'm knitting along towards the hem of the body and the plain stockinette has been the perfect project for Season 3 of Stranger Things.
Durango
In spinning news, I finished plying the Merino/Yak/Silk!  I wound it off on the Niddy Noddy and I ended up with 444 yards of fingering weight chain ply (essentially 3-ply).
Spinning
I'm really happy with this finished yarn.  It's soft and bouncy and has the most amazing drape.  I'm also happy with how the colors worked out with this spinning project.  I'm trying to learn how to control colors when I spin from a beautiful, hand dyed braid so I can end up with a beautiful, hand spun skein, instead of a muddy-color-mess of a hand spun skein.  This project was a win.

My next spinning project is for a sweater quantity.  The fiber is 100% Merino and this is some of the old Ashland Bay Multi-Colored Merino top in the Cranberry colorway.  It was deep in my spinning stash and had been squished pretty flat so I did a little bit of careful predrafting just to open it up and get it moving and un-clumped.  Fortunately, there wasn't any felting.
Spinning
As you can see, the fiber is mostly a blue red, but there is black, blue, white, and a tiny bit of a bright purple in it too.  This spins up to make a heathered single which will make a much more interesting finished yarn than a solid colored top would make.
Cranberry
I'm spinning for another fingering weight 3-ply since I only have a pound of fiber.  (Heavier weight yarns require more fiber to end up with a sweater quantity.  The Aguas gave me 1200+ yard out of 12 ounces, so I should be safe here.)  I'm planning to spin six bobbins of this, so you might be seeing a lot of this. 

Now you're all caught up on the fibery goodness here.  Have a great weekend!

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Tuesday, July 16, 2019

More Spinning

Durango singles 
I finished spinning the singles of the Merino/Yak/Silk!  This felt like it went on forever, so I'm really curious what my finished yardage is once it's plied.  I am chain plying it (AKA Navajo plying), so I needed to let the singles rest for 24 hours (at least) before starting, otherwise the active twist just causes all kinds of craziness.
Durango singles
When I pulled the bobbin off the wheel, I realized I could see the layers of color through the end of the bobbin.  Yes, I'm easily amused!

Anyway, while those singles were taking a time out, I needed to brush up on my chain plying skills because mine were pretty non existent.  I think I maybe tried it once thousands of years ago, but the only thing I remembered is that I do like tension on the lazy kate when I chain ply - but not too much!
Spinning
I pulled out some bobbins that had singles left on them from other projects and started chain plying.   I set up the wheel with a slower whorl, took my time treadling, and just went slowly.  These are the skeins I made.  (Yes, that's the last of the Aguas and some BFL/Silk from years ago.)
Spinning
I also chain plied the little sample fiber that I made into Fauxlags (I think I called them Fauxlogs last time I mentioned them - that's something different).  I ended up with 16 yards of finished yarn from the original 6 gram sample.  I love the little pops of color from the recycled sari silk in this yarn.  This was my first time spinning that but I definitely want some more recycled sari silk in my spinning life!
Spinning
Once I finished those little skeins, I felt like I had a handle on chain plying and I was ready to start on the Merino/Yak/Silk.  I'm almost halfway through it now and I'm planning to get it finished today.

I'll show you the finished yarn later this week and I'll also be starting a new spinning project and I'll have some more knitting to share!


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Thursday, July 11, 2019

Not Spinning

Peasy 
I am working on something that isn't spinning right now too!  This is the top portion of the Peasy cardigan.  I'm knitting it in Malabrigo Arroyo in Reflecting Pool.  I'm knitting it for the Third Quarter KAL for ESK.  The KAL theme is patterns 10 years old or older designed by Canadian designers.  I've had the Peasy pattern in my library for ages but I've never gotten around to making it.  This KAL is the perfect excuse to finally do it.

The simple top-down design gives me something brainless to do now that I'm through the lace yoke (which isn't difficult, but did require a brain cell or two).  It's also nice to have if I want to watch TV.  I tend to treadle faster when I attempt to spin and watch TV at the same time.  I can listen to music and podcasts, but TV is just too much for me to spin with, apparently.

Also, I sat down last night and knit a gauge swatch from my sweater quantity of merino handspun (the Aguas/Aguas/Zarzamora combo).  I haven't double checked the actual gauge after washing it, but it feels amazing - so soft and light!

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Tuesday, July 09, 2019

Tour de Fleece

Hipstrings Pebbles 
It's been a long time since I participated, but this year I'm doing Tour de Fleece again.  I started Saturday morning with a six gram sample of a roving called Pebbles from Hipstrings.  The sample was included when I ordered a new Spinner's Control Card for the Flatiron.  (I like to keep one of these on every wheel.)  I decided to spin up the sample so I'd have something to practice chain plying on before I did it on the braid of fiber that I also wanted to spin for the Tour.  Then I decided, since I was spinning it anyway, and it was just for playing around, I'd make it into fauxlogs and spin it like that - since I'd never tried that before.
Hipstrings Pebbles
So that's what I did!
Hipstrings Pebbles
Then I spun up the singles as close to 40 wpi as I could get them (the sari silk in the blend means there's no way I'll get a perfectly smooth yarn).  I enjoyed spinning the fauxlogs and I can't wait to see what the finished yarn looks like, but I need to let the singles sit and let the twist set a bit before chain plying.
Durango
After playing around with that sample, I started on an actual project.  This is four ounces of a hand dyed top from Greenwood Fiberworks in the Durango colorway.  It's 60% Merino, 20% Yak, and 20% Tussah Silk.  It's super crazy soft!  I knew I wanted to chain ply it to maintain the colors, but I wanted shorter stripes of each color as well.  I ended up stripping the top into fourths lengthwise and that's how I'm spinning it.  I'm more than halfway through the braid at this point and I'm really enjoying the spinning.
Durango
Since I'm trying to become a better spinner and the idea of being able to repeat a yarn appeals to me, for the first time ever in Pink Lemon Spinning History I made a little reference card with actual samples of my singles, a three ply plying guide (this is what I'll refer back to when I get to the plying), and a two ply - ply back test (this lets me do a quick check on my singles to make sure I'm getting consistent twist).  I'll add a bit of the finished yarn once it's washed and finished (which will be a bit fatter than the three ply plying guide).  It's actually been a super useful thing to have already, although yesterday morning I caught Max trying to eat the sample yarns hanging off of it.  I've got it tucked into my spinning notebook when I'm not spinning now.
Durango
And just FYI, I have no affiliation with any companies linked in this post.  I bought everything with my own money and am a happy customer.

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Friday, July 05, 2019

A Sweater

Finished 3 ply. Aguas, Aguas, and Zarzamora 
This is a handspun sweater.  Or it will be, once I knit it.

Do you remember the two bobbins of Aguas singles and the bobbin of Zarzamora singles?  (Aguas and Zarzamora are the color ways of the Malabrigo Nube fiber.). This is what they became!  This is 1,268 yards of three ply fingering weight Merino yarn, 315 grams total.  I started spinning the first bobbin of singles in 2015.  I finished it and spun the second and third bobbins this year.  For such an extended spinning project, the yarn is surprisingly consistent.  (I did discover that I've got to make better notes - that's something I'm working on.). I decided to make smaller skeins instead of one big skein so that I could alternate them as I knit them to downplay any inconsistencies.  As it turned out, when I compare yards per pound (grist) of the three skeins, there's less than 2% variation within the range of all three skeins.  Visually they look identical to me.
Finished 3 ply. Aguas, Aguas, and Zarzamora
Late in the spinning I decided to add the Zarzamora singles as one of the plies.  It has several greens in it, but also brought some purples to the table.  I think it does add some interest to the yarn and it makes the yarn a little brighter than the all Aguas yarn I showed Tuesday.  It also made the spinning more interesting.

One thing I can say after spinning all these skeins from Malabrigo Nube, I'm a lot more comfortable with Merino than I was.  The first few times I spun it I didn't enjoy it and I felt like it was fighting me.  I think it's kind of grabby and the one thing I've found that seems to help with that is to open up the fiber and make sure it's able to move.  I'm not necessarily talking about predrafting (although if  the fiber really compressed it might need that), just making sure that the fibers can and are moving within the top before I start spinning.  I'm not completely finished with Merino yet, so it's a good thing I've made peace with it.  I'm doing Tour de Fleece this year and everything I've pulled to spin is either all or mostly Merino.  I'll be showing you those spinning projects as I work through them!

Oh, and the sweater?  I've got two in mind, so I'll be swatching to see which gauge I'm happiest with to decide which pattern I'll knit.

Have a great weekend!

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Tuesday, July 02, 2019

Plying

Aguas three ply. Finished 471 yards/106 grams 
I finally had some time to sit down and do some plying.  It's been years since I plied anything and it took a little bit for me to remember hand positioning and such.  I did find my rhythm though and soon I was plying away.

I decided to start with the smaller, more recently spun singles from getting to know my new Flatiron.  This started out as a four ounce braid of Malabrigo Nube (100% Merino wool) in Aguas.  I spun the singles using Scotch Tension on my Flatiron as I got everything adjusted and figured out.  The singles were spun using short forward draw, to 50 wpi.  I let the singles rest for a week so the twist could set a bit before plying.  (And also, things were super busy around here.)
Malabrigo Nube Aguas 3 ply  471 yards/105 grams
I also plied this on my Flatiron, but I used Irish Tension for that.  The Flatiron is my only wheel that can do Irish Tension (AKA bobbin led) so this was a new experience for me.  I knew Irish Tension was good for plying because of the strong draw on (it would allow me to really pack the bobbin, where in Scotch Tension usually plying bobbins are a little softer).  As you can see in the picture above, I was not disappointed.  That's all the plying on a single Akerworks bobbin with plenty of room for more!
Malabrigo Nube Aguas 3 ply  471 yards/105 grams
I skeined it off the bobbin, counting my wraps on the niddy noddy as I went, and when I pulled the skein off the niddy noddy and it was no longer under tension, it did it's own thing.  That's all plying twist you see there.  Once I washed the skein, that reactivated the singles twist, balancing the yarn beautifully.

When all was washed and finished, I ended up with 471 yards/106 grams of finished three ply merino wool.  I'm thrilled with it!

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