Spinning


The fever and woozy tummy won’t go away, so I can’t really move around much. I get up and putter around for a bit, then snuggle back into my chair with my blanket (handknit, of course), my slippers (ditto) and a cat or two and rest for a while. I haven’t been knitting much because ehhhh… even my hands feel woozy, so I’ve been sorting and editing photos. The next logical step is to post them all here, non? Oui.

Spinning Up Colour.

In late Winter I went to a 2-day workshop on dyeing fibre for spinning. (Details and photos here.) It was awesome.
Well.
Long story short, I managed to slightly felt my fibre when washing it, so spinning it was difficult. In the end I got this:

Blue Handspun

Now that is some pretty crappy yarn. I was pleased that I managed to get it spun at all and I was in love with the colours, but the spinning, ugh. So you can imagine my surprise when, out of curiosity, I swatched some up to see how it would look and it came out all even and soft and everything! Move over, Harry Potter! I’m doing magic now :P Immediately, I cast on for Fetching. I need some fingerless mitts for knitting at the hockey arena and these fit the bill perfectly.

Blue Handspun
If knitting with two needles is good, then knitting with six (plus a crochet hook because I can’t stop dropping stitches) is awesome! :P

So far I am *really* happy with how they are coming out (the first picture is closest to the actual colours). They’re soft and my favourite colours and the whole time I’m knitting, there is a voice in my head going, “Omg! I DYED this fibre and then I SPUN it and now I’m KNITTING with it – how cool is that?!!” I haven’t been this pleased with myself since I learned to tie my own shoes.

Spinning for Socks

Maxine, my spinning guru, put on another workshop last weekend: Socks: Spinning and Knitting Workshop. I was all over that. It was wonderful. (There were cookies this time, too! Yay!). Besides the spinning, a knitter I hadn’t met before, Wilma, was there with tips and techniques and lots and lots of samples for knitting socks.
A couple of weeks ago, we were talking on the phone and I was whining telling Maxine that I just haven’t got it yet. I can make the wheel go round and I get “yarn” but the process is very slow and awkward and I have no control over the type of yarn I’m making blah blah. She gave me some tips right then, and then at the workshop she stayed very close and helped me out and whoa baby! I can spin! I’m still not making really consistent singles and my plying is not as even as it should be, but I’m not making crap anymore and that’s something. Also, it goes much faster now.

Spinning for Socks
On the left: plain 3-ply. I think the fibre is Romney, though I’m not sure. On the right: Merino. Cabled.

Spinning for SocksI was spinning the finest singles I have ever spun. When I began to ply three together, I had some difficulty with my lazy kate. But again, Maxine helped a lot with that and I futzed around with it some more at home and it is working now. I have a lot of trouble keeping the angles between the singles even as I ply. Also, keeping the tension even on all three singles was difficult. Part of this is due to my wonky hands and part is just inexperience. In the end, I worked out a two-handed method that is slow, but it makes for much better plying. I’m optomistic that eventually my hands will get with the programme and learn how to do this.

Spinning for Socks We cable-plied the merino. There is more work in a cabled yarn, but it is fun to do and makes for a good texture, I think. It makes the merino shine. In the last step – where you ply a double ply with a single – I found I had to put a lot more tension on the double than on the single, or it would pull away from the single when I released tension. I’m not sure of this is actually part of the technique, or if it because of something I was doing wrong (for example, I suspect there may not have been enough s-twist in the double strand). Once I figured out to add the extra tension, though, it plied up reasonably well.
The merino is (not surprisingly) quite a bit softer and smoother than the Romney, but I like them both equally. And that’s a LOT :D

Fuzzy Feet!

Fuzzy FeetLast fall, I dyed a bunch of Alafoss Lopi with stuff from my garden. (Details and photos here.) A few weeks ago, I knitted up a pair of Fuzzyfeet using some of this wool.

The Cadet Blue crayon is there for scale.

I knitted the top of the ‘sock’ longer than the pattern calls for – 3″ in the natural lopi and then another inch in the dyed before beginning the heel flap. The yarn I used is the stuff I dyed with yellow dock root and is on the bottom left of the photo in the post linked above. The colour is hard to describe – it’s kind of tan or beige but maybe slightly pink? And I like it a lot.

Fuzzy FeetFelting was a snap. For the booga bags I made last fall (same post, linked above), I had to put the bags through 2 or 3 full heavy-duty cycles before they were really felted. The Fuzzyfeet took about 1 cycle and then I stopped because they were at risk of becoming too small.

They are definitely fuzzy :D

I’ve been wearing them since the moment they were dry after felting and they’ve been a real comfort with the fever and wooziness I’ve had the last few days. I love them. Jordan keeps asking when I’m making a pair for him :P

Fuzzy Feet

A Word of Caution

Now, I’m am no knitting expert and I don’t really feel qualified to be spouting words of Knitting Wisdom or anything, but, I can offer this:

When the pattern instructons are whole page long and the first instruction is: Cast on and working in Moss Stitch, work 620 rows, you might want to rethink that project. I bet you can find something that is less likely to drive you right insane.

I’m just sayen :P

Fleur

And Finally (anyone still here?)…

Truffles

Yes. That is 1 KILO of French Truffles.
I haven’t had to cook all week! (kidding!)

That was a gift from someone who either really, really likes me, or is trying to bring about my early death. Not sure which ;) But what a way to go!- with the deep chocolate taste of french truffles on your tongue. mmmmmm :)

Fwiw: My email is still a mess. (so is my connection, but its the email that is the hardest to deal with.) I logged on this morning to 987 messages. Of course, 99% of that is spam. I’m working with filters and rules to try and wade through, but ugh… it’s a rotten process. Good thing I have truffles! But this has been going on for three weeks or more. If you’ve emailed me and I haven’t answered, I’m hoping to get to it, eventually, as I uncover the valid emails under the mountains of spam, and there is always the possiblity that real emails have been deleted along with the spam : ( If you’re up to it, send again to increase the chances of me finding your message. :-/

Ok… time for another round of puttering.

Autumn Asters

This was Thanksgiving Weekend here in Canada. One of my favourite times of year.

BUT! Before I go on… if you are here because you think you received SPAM from me… I didn’t send it. Spammers are once again spoofing email addresses using my domain. I’ve had hundreds of bounced or rejected messages just in the last few hours. I even have one not very nice email from someone in Russia who wants me to stop spamming him. Dude, I would if I could, trust me.

Add to all those emails, the hundreds I’ve received in the last 24 hours from spammers on the blog. Every time one of them “comments” I get a notice that I have a message waiting to be moderated. I’m beginning to hate the “new mail” sound Outlook makes.

Of course, given my on-going computer problems.. yeah. I write blog entries and leave them up, hitting “post” whenever I go by the computer. It works eventually. My email is more frustrating partly because it seems to be more sensitive to my flakey connection, but also, I guess, because I expect instantaneous results with it all.


Autumn Fauna

Anyway.. Thanksgiving. One of my favourites yadda yadda. The weather has been beautiful. On Thursday afternoon, we had a picnic and went for a hike at Bronte Creek. It was cool and sunny and the forest smelled faintly of leaf litter.

Sadly, we didn’t do the big family thing this year, as we are slaves to Jordan’s hockey schedule. We were even invited to dinner this year! Since we became vegetarian (umm.. more than 6 years ago), nobody, it seems, wants to eat the traditional meals with us. I’ve hosted a couple of times, but it has become a pretty quiet holiday for us. My brother is the exception to this rule (well, my brother is the exception to a lot of rules!) and invites us whenever he’s cooking and even asks me to make the gravy. Now there is a man who is not intimidated by all this vegetarian stuff. I do make the gravy, btw. Normally, I don’t want anything to do with cooking meat, but this is my little brother and he *needs* me to make the gravy! (Ok…. he doesn’t. Because he had gravy yesterday and I wasn’t there. But, yanno.) Also… one year, I was at my brother’s apartment for Thanksgiving. He was in the kitchen carving the turkey and I was behind him, leaning in the doorway, watching. Very quietly and without turning around he said, “The skin is good and crispy. If you ate a piece I wouldn’t tell anyone, you know.” Ha! How is that for brotherly love, eh? I didn’t, but the offer was sweet.

So yeah… we missed dinner at my brother’s place this year and we didn’t even have our own harvest meal. We just had too much going on. As I plan our big meal for next weekend instead, I can see our calendar filling up then too. : /


Farm House

BUT! One of the things on my calendar for next weekend is this:
Socks, Spinning and Knitting Workshop
Create socks the traditional way. … will guide you through project specific spinning techniques and the knitting basics (casting on 4 needles, heels and grafting). Perfect for Christmas gift giving!

How cool is that?! I know how to knit socks, but I bet I still learn a lot. Can I spin for socks? HA! Nope. I can hardly make string. I’m really looking forward to this.

Backlash

A few years ago, there was a group of school kids on an outting at the Royal Botanical Gardens and there was a freak accident – a tragedy. A tree fell on a child, killing him.
Almost immediately, many trees were cut down at the RBG. Almost as fast, dozens of trees were felled along the trails we walk at a Provincial Park. They don’t call it backlash for nuttin.
This tree is one of the most recent victims of the chainsaw.


Chickadee

Did you know that in most of southern Ontario, you can hand-feed the wild chickadees? The guide at the RBG tells me that it is just the ones in southern Ontario – is that true? Either way, it’s way cool.

Wack

My child is wack – Exhibit B.

Recently, I did a workshop at the Burlington Art Centre called Spinning Up Colour.
high.light.of.my.life.
Seriously.
First of all, the instructor was the magnificent Maxine – the woman who taught me to spin. Besides being wise and all-round knowledgeable, she is amazingly well-prepared and she brings cookies. Cookies are important. Her hand-outs are great and we got other goodies: colour wheels, transparent colour sample things, dye samples…
The workshop ran over two Saturdays and let me tell you, I was exhausted at the end of each day.

The first day we did some colour theory and learned about preparing and mixing dyes and then we set to work making sample sets of dyed roving. I have no pictures from the that day because I was too wrapped up in demonstrating that I am felony stupid about colour and colour theory. When we got our assignments, my first was to produce shades of brown. *ahem* Brown is hard, ok? It took me forever, and then I still didn’t have brown. Not even close. I sucked it up and moved on. In the end, we had over 30 25g lengths of roving all dyed in different colour schemes.

When we came back for Day 2, Maxine had rinsed and dried them all and some of them looked like this:

Spinning Up Colour Workshop

and this…

Spinning Up Colour Workshop

Did you see the brown? Didn’t think so. The wool that is masquerading as brown is there, but I’m not going to tell where. Just know that if I did show you which one it was, you would point and laugh and you’d be justified.
Now, I’m going to apologise right here about the photos. My camera, it seems, is not feeling well. It has trouble focusing and the photos come out way too bright. I also apologise for blinding you with the yellows in the pictures. ouch.
We spent the first half of the second day, each of us dyeing a 100g length of roving for ourselves. We were supposed to bring a photograph or something for inspiration. I brought, or rather, I wore mine. My inspiration was one of my favourite jackets: a lightweight sewn-of-strips-of-tie-dyed cotton with the seams on the outside jacket. heheh.. did you follow that? Anyway… I love the colours and that was my inspiration. When we had finished painting our roving, we stripped up the roving we dyed on Day 1 and then began spinning.

Sitting at my wheel and looking to my right, I saw this:

Spinning Up Colour Workshop

And there were a bunch more on the other side of the room.
I’d like to take a moment to point out that the women nearest my camera, S, who seems to be lacking facial features and to posess some kind of very white, luminescent skin, does in fact have normal facial features and skin and is actually quite pretty. I was so relieved that I didn’t have to make brown again that I forgot myself and washed her out with the flash.
At the end of the day, I stumbled home with my wheel and my loot and my dyed roving samples and my wet roving (dyed like my jacket) and collapsed.

I wasn’t down long though, because I just had to get up to play with this:

Spinning Up Colour Workshop

This makes me very happy.

The next day, I unwrapped my roving-dyed-like-my-jacket and prepared to wash and dry it. This is what it looked like:

Spinning Up Colour Workshop

Well.. not really, because my camera is unwell. It was actually two shades of blue (ultramarine-ish), turquoise and blue-violet with about 15% white. Nothing like you see here.
There was a problem… the turquoise was washing out. I was aware of this problem before I used it, as it was discovered when Maxine was washing all the roving we dyed the first day. But, it hadn’t been mordanted the first day and I added stuff to it, plus, I was ok with some washing-out because I wanted some variation in the shade and lots of white anyway.

Spinning Up Colour Workshop

The problem was that it kept washing out. I changed the water over and over. I washed it – all of this very, very carefully. But it wasn’t enough… as it dried, I realised that the roving had felted. *sad*

We also had some mohair to dye. I used more of the turquoise, a wee bit of the ultramarine-ish and a red-violet. Almost none of the turquoise washed out of the mohair. hmmm….

Spinning Up Colour Workshop

I left my sad, felted roving for about week before I came back to it. It wasn’t felted solid so I decided to give it a shot. I began splitting it and got it down to very narrow strips. I found that with careful (and very slow) drafting, I can spin it. It is definitely difficult to spin and the result is not as even as I had hoped… but it is coming out much better than I thought…

Spinning Up Colour Workshop

I only have singles so far – I’ve spun up about a quarter of the roving. I love the colours and the amount of each colour. So.. success after all. :)

Honestly, this stuff makes me squeal:

1. 1st Annual Friends of the Mediaeval Studies Society Symposium
The Friends of the Mediaeval Studies Society of the ROM is a new association of ROM members and others professionally involved with the mediaeval period.This one day series of talks will represent the exciting beginning of what will be a long tradition in Toronto. Ten academics of international reputation will speak on various aspects of the Mediaeval world, including archaeology, history, culture, and art. Chronologically, the scope of the society, and of the symposium, runs from the late classical world leading up to Mediaeval times, and encompasses the Renaissance at the end. Geographically it crosses the old world from Europe to Asia and Africa, having a general interest in the Age of the Stirrup wherever it occurs. Apart from the ROM, various University of Toronto Departments dealing with the Mediaeval world will be supporting this new venture.
One day. 930-5PM

2. Spinning Up Colour
This two-day workshop for those with basic spinning skills convers colour theory, the correct method of mixing acid dyes, various methods of applying colour to wool, creating multi-coloured batts and spinning coloured wool for maximum effect. You will gets lots of resource information to continue further on your own.
Two days. 10-4PM

I’ve already received confimation for the Mediaeval Studies Symposium, but not for the Spinning workshops yet. *crosses fingers*

It’s Shrove Tuesday… what’s for dinner?
PANCAKES of course!!

I’m still organizing all our school stuff, so for now, I’ll talk about knitting some more.
Not like it’ll kill me or anything ;)

Lessee…

On Spinning:

I’ve been trying to spin kid silver and I do NOT know what I’m doing. I’ve only ever spun wool before. The hair is very straight and not grabby (the hairs in sheep’s wool are barbed so they grab), so it kept pulling apart. My solution was to just spin the crap out of it to make it stronger (I tend to underspin anyway). It seemed to be working, but I wanted to be sure so I looked it up online.
It turns out I had the right idea for the kid, but that I DO IT ALL WRONG IN GENERAL. *cry* My drafting (draughting?) is not smooth and I’m still really struggling with getting consistent singles, and after looking at that, I see that my method of drafting is likely the problem. … which means back to the drawing (drafting) table on that.

I went last week and signed up again for the Introduction to Spinning Class. This is the same class class I took in the spring. I need help.

So yeah, only I would need to enroll in remedial spinning.

Last month, tired of spinning plain cream-coloured fleece, I bought this hank of hand painted rainbow fleece [on the left], along with some brightly coloured kid (i.e. baby goat) silver.

I’m still spinning the kid silver. I am surprised how much length I’m getting. I thought it would be much less.

But I’ve finished spinning the rainbow fleece. I plied it using a Navaho Ply technique, to keep the colours as clear as possible. This is a 3-ply bulky yarn, modelled, of couse, by the lovely Artemis.

On Knitting Lace:

I decided some time ago that I wanted to take my knitting to the next level. Apparently, the ultimate knitting experience is knitting lace.
How hard can it be, I thought, knitting lace is done with the same basic stitches as all knitting is done with. So I set out to knit lace.

o.m.g.

It is *nothing* like knitting a sweater or a scarf. It is its own thing. And it’s HARD.

After several failled attempts, I finally settled in on this wrap. I began it last winter and it is about as simple as lace gets. Simple, for lace. But it is still HARD. lol.
The yarn is a silk/mohair blend with beautiful halo that doesn’t really show in the photo. It is pinned out so you can see the pattern better. Pinned out like that, it is about 30 inches long. Guess how much time I’ve spent knitting it? … … About seventy-five hours. And I’m only half way. yikes. I’m not an especially speedy knitter, but man, I had no idea.

And because knitting lace is HARD and TAKES A LONG TIME, I must have more than one lace project on the needles, mustn’t I?
Yes, I must.

As I’ve become more used to working with the lace-weight (i.e. very thin) yarn and I’ve gotten better at actually knitting the yarn-over stictches rather than dropping them, I figured it was time to try some lace that requires closer attention to the pattern.
One day, I will learn to be nice to myself.
This (very red) yarn is also a fuzzy mohair. No silk in this one though.
I pinned this one out to make the pattern more visible too…

On Shawls and Shawl Pins:

This summer, I knit a shawl from Fleece Artist Curly Locks. I love it and wear it all the time.
I don’t have a real shawl pin, but the colours in the butterfly opal pin my inlaws brought me from New Zealand go so beautifully, I’ve stopped looking for one.

On WIPs:

A few weeks ago I gathered up all my WIPs (Works In Progress). There were about a dozen. Since then, I have begun several more. It would appear, that for me the thing that makes knitting attractive as a *cough*obsession*cough* hobby is the casting on part. :-/

Today, I did a few rows on the red lace, then got out the calculator (ok, a scrap of paper, couldn’t find the actual calculator), a pencil and my book of knitting patterns. After much scratching on the paper and flipping of pages, I, … wait for it… … cast on for a new project. I know!! I was totally shocked too!
Anyway, the result is about 2 inches of knitting that I’m pretty happy with.

For right now, I need to step away from the knitting (oh! but I organized my new knitting basket and boyhowdy I’m loven that!) because I have to get school stuff ready for tomorrow.

Oh, and I want everything Silky Tweed and everything Strawberry Shortcake.

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