Wednesday 27 November 2013

Trying Out Spinning Longwool

Learning to spin was an adventure, there is so much to learn about spinning. Staple length, the right about of twist, different ways to ply, and on a most basic level, getting your spinning something approximating even. You can get very technical, looking at grist, twists per inch, the angle of your twist... not my thing, I like to spin more by feel and spin for the fun of it.

But even so, once you have mastered the basics, there is still so much to learn, so many different fibres to try. Short wools, long wools, animal fibre, vegetable fibre, synthetic fibre! The list goes on, so many different breeds of sheep, goat, rabbit, camelids, ox and even possum! Some people even spin dog hair. So beyond the basics, there are so many different things to try.

Me, I have been primarily a spinner of the short to medium fibres, usually wool breeds like Shetland, Bluefaced Leicester, Merino, throw in some silk, some trilobal nylon or firestar... that's been my spinning home. But I haven't really ventured into long wools much. I had some locks in some batts I spun a while back that were such a restful, easy spin, and I decided I really must give it a try. So far my favourite dyer of longwools has to be Patricia of Yummy Yarns UK.

She dyes a lot of Wensleydale, but also breeds like Masham, Leicester Longwool locks and Teeswater. There is always a vibrancy to her colours which is taken up by the lustre in these fibres, which when spun are hardy, and leave a slight halo which may not agree with all who have issues with wool that is not super smooth. But given she is a favourite, I tried a braid from her first! This one:

This braid is handpainted Wensleydale / Mulberry silk in a 70/30 blend, and she named this colour Ullswater. Its one of several long wool braids I have in my stash, but it was the first to come out to play.

I have to say, the experience spinning was an interesting one. Her braids draft so beautifully, but a long wool even more so because the staple is so long, its so forgiving. However, it doesn't need a huge amount of twist, unlike somthing like merino that needs a lot to lock it down, so its something you have to get used to. But once you do, it makes for a slow and lazy spin that is thoroughly enjoyable.

One thing to note is that long wool is less voluminous than its short wool counterparts. You can lay a braid of say Wensleydale and a braid of merino side by side of the same weight, and the long wool will look skinny by comparison. This does show in the final spin too. You do get less yarn per weight, its the nature of the beast. But you just need to factor that in for a project you have in mind.

Despite this I chose to chain ply mine into a high twist 3 ply, thinking for socks. Long wools do well for socks as they are hard wearing, and feet are less fussy about the halo than say your neck. I also have small feet and I really don't need 400m for a pair of socks! That said, once plied, my 104g of fibre had yeilded a lovely fingering weight yarn and 289m, enough for socks for me!

Definitely very enjoyable and I love the colours, and will give rather pretty socks I feel.

So if you are thinking about long wools, please do go look up Yummy Yarns UK. Every braid is one of a kind, no repeated colours so you need to grab one you like when you see it. And after having had a minor issue with an order, I can honestly say that the customer service is second to none! Absolutely brilliant. So buy with confidence.

Till next time

Friday 22 November 2013

Seasonal Hitchhiker

I am back. Technical issues are now sorted and I have a shiny new beastie of a computer to blog with. Thank you for the kind communications from some of my readers regarding the sad news in my hiatus post. They were very welcome thank you. But normal service can once more resume.

So my lastest finished object. It started as some lovely batts above. They were a lovely christmas gift from Patricia of Yummy Yarns UK. A surprise gift at that, and full of lovely scrumptious fibres. Merino in yellow and red, brown jacob fleece, and lashings of gold firestar. As a lover of sparkle, I was in love.

It took me a long time to come to spin, as I really wasn't sure how I would treat them. Until I decided to experiment with some commercial silk tops. I will explain. For some reason I have tried to spin silk bricks. And I have struggled and fought and swore at them over and over. 100% silk and I had a love/hate relationship at this point. A long while later, after having a good read round spinning forums on Ravelry, I decided to invest a small amount in commercial silk tops with all the fibres aligned by machine, so that in theory, it should be an easier spin. One of the colours I chose was a wonderful sunshine yellow. So I gave it a go. And finally, I had a way I could spin silk without stress.

So, now I had this lovely yellow silk singles I had spun, but what to do with them? I went through my fibre stash, saw these batts and the answer came to me. So I got spinning, and then plying, and wound up with this beautiful yarn:

Soft, warm, luxurious, it screamed to be made into something for the winter. And with the winter months coming soon, a scarf was on the agenda! I chose the Hitchhiker pattern on Ravelry for its simple style and interest being a shallow triangle, and because I loved the reference to the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I can be a bit of a nerd now and then.  The squooshy garter stitch fabric is also lovely and warm, as well as showing off the colours of the yarn beautifully.

And to my delight, with my gauge I was able to get all 42 teeth done with the yarn I had. I even had a little left over. Maybe I could have done a couple more teeth, but I am happy with it as it is, and its been keeping me warm on the school run.

There we are, my latest finished knit! What are you all making to keep warm in the winter?

Till next time!

Monday 18 November 2013

Temporary hiatus

Sorry to one and all for going so quiet all of a sudden. Unfortunately, everything has happened at once as it always does. Firstly a death in my husband's family, then our Lulu had an allergic reaction to her jabs, and lastly, on Saturday my laptop screen died a death. So it was all systems go retrieving the data. My old hard drive is now a nifty external storage device!

Obviously this last one leaves me sans a machine, and blogging via my iPad really does not seem to work unless posts are exceedingly short. The good news is that a new machine has been ordered, so blogging will resume as soon as I have it working nicely.

Posts to look forward to:

Handspun Hitchhiker scarf

Hand made Christmas tree decorations

Handspun Wensleydale/ silk blend

Switching for a custom raglan sweater

Till I have my technology working again!

Tuesday 5 November 2013

Phat Fibre Entomology

Some of you may know, Phat Fibre is a mystery box of awesome samples for the yarn and fiber enthusiast. But some of the contributors also then go on to make full sized batts/hanks of yarn etc for sale in their shop at the same time, and every month has a theme. August's theme was Entomology, and the ladies at Nunoco opted to go for batts based on the Green Jewel bug

I think its now obvious why the set of two batts are two different gradients. I myself fell for them, and boout two sets. that meant I had two of the greens and two of the oranges. So I spun up the batts and plied like batts together, lining up the colours as best I could into lovely, squishy 2-ply yarn. And here is the finished yarn:

Yep, they are gradient yarns too! Lovely and bright, fingering weight. I have a bit more length in the greens, but that hank is also slightly heavier, though for 4 g I am not sure you should count the weight difference! I have plans for a new dress - start at the pink and finish at the blue - for the little miss, seeing as she is now  growing into the first dresses I knitted for her and she looks fab!Definitely enjoying a bit of spinning. Though I am back to spinning really fine for a different gradient yarn, more news on that at a later date!

And seriously, spinners, go check out Nunoco's etsy shop, based in Wales! Gorgeous gradient batts and smooshy rovings, well worth your time!

Till next time