Archive for the 'spinning' Category

busy busy

but not with crafty things… There has been a real sense of urgency around the office lately. It has good effects by motivating me to get work done but I don’t enjoy the elevated stress level. I’m starting to feel a bit more relaxed now, at least enough to show off a few photos.


Merino dyed by Girl on the Rocks in colorway Europa. I navajo plied it and I’ve been pawing at the skein trying to decide what to make. It’s soft and squishy and probably bulky weight. Any suggestions?

Yak! I spun yak! Locks were from A Verb for Keeping Warm.

Romney single-ply also dyed by Girl on the Rocks this one is called Apollo (after you know who). It is a pretty good match to his kitten years, but he is a bit browner now.


A hat! I knit a hat using my bruised handspun. I never did pick a pattern but I eventually figured out a size that would work and remembered to write it down (hooray!). I have enough yarn left over to knit two more hats (or something else). The hat is lovely and soft but it has already gotten too warm around here to need it. I guess I’ll just have to wait until summer for those cold foggy nights.

I have also mostly completed a sweater. It’s made from Debbie Bliss Alpaca-Silk (mmmmm soft) and has been in the works for at least a year now… I have a real problem following directions (or even choosing directions) and my pattern-less knitting projects always require some adjustments. This one is now seamed and awaiting a button band and collar. The neckline is a little funky and I might have to re-knit it but I guess thats what I deserve for trying to make a short row neck without even keeping track…

And I have new toys on the way too… A Beka rigid heddle loom and 30 yards of seatbelt webbing. Isn’t that every girls dream?

hats etc.

spinning, spinning, spinning and a hat…

Ah, just like a fresh bruise.. I finished spinning some merino roving that Karrie helped me dye in late November. I really, really, really like the color… I just need to decide what weight yarn I actually made so I can pick a pattern to knit myself a new hat.

Cato is proudly modeling a hat I made quickly before xmas. I used most of 2 balls of Rowan Cashsoft DK from my stash (originally purchased at the Webs booth at Stitches West 2007) one light blue and the other in navy. The pattern is the Inga Hat and I found it on Ravelry. I knit the hat using size 6 needles instead of size 5 which resulted in a really big hat, but it fits the recipient well. Oh, and the yarn is yummy…

spinning away

Im slowly getting better… This is one strand of domestic white top and one of something grey– honestly I dont really know. Im just practicing with all the pieces of roving ive got in my bag. I have also been really enjoying spinning some merino roving dyed by Karrie.

This weekend I received a package in the mail (always exciting) with musk ox fiber my friends found in Alaska while doing field work. So exciting! Its got some plant material in it and smells like animal, but its much cleaner than you might expect to find. The cat is pretty interested in the smell and spent a good 10 min sniffing around after I opened the envelop. Im going to need to find myself some cards that can handle it.

I also have for you today an indication that we have made progress on the wedding quilt

and a furrier version

We have actually finished all of the sewing and just need to snip off the tails of thread hanging out and take some photos before we can deliver it. Winter is coming at some point (its even supposed to rain today) and they might need it!

Domestic scene, with scenery

I had grand ambitions for crafting this weekend: welding! silkscreen printing! and while the heat overcame us and I forgot various necessary components at home we did still manage to eek out a crafty domestic scene in the wine country.

There are three spinning wheels in that photo! You can see my suzy peaking out in the foreground.

And the best entertainment of all were the kittens. Five of them! Unfortunately none of them appear to be named gravy.

The view is pretty neat too.

The good the bad and the maybe not-so-ugly..

Which shall I start with? I’ll go with good. You are welcome to read out of order though!

The Good

I recently finished my handspun handwarmers and I love them. I bought a silk hankie from Chasing Rainbows Dyeworks last year at Stitches West and it sat in my knitting box untouched until sometime last fall. I spun it using a bottom-whorl spindle my dad made for me. It was a great first drafting experience since the fibers were so long.

I knit 3×1 ribbing tubes with slits for the thumbs and I think the fabric came out really nicely even though my spinning is far from even.

The whole experience really helped prepare me for an actual spinning wheel and probably contributed to my immediate enjoyment of the whole spinning process. We know where that story leads…

The Bad

I guess I got a little over-zealous after the spinning class I took a few weeks ago and I started looking around for a wheel. Its a large investment for those of us with an almost-livable income so I wanted to at least make a well thought decision. With a little help I found a few places where used spinning wheels were being listed online: a free website to post ads on and a yahoo group called “spin-sales.”

And then I found a Suzie… A green Suzie at that. For a price I could afford/justify! As you might imagine, there was no going back.

Im not sure why I fixated on this particular wheel but I just seemed to really like it. So I went for it and arranged to purchase the wheel and have it shipped from Florida.

So why a photo of a severely compromised cast metal part? You can probably put together your own story from there. The wheel was packed and shipped and insured by UPS (for $120 total..) and the day it was due to arrive came and went. I called and they started an “investigation” to look for it because apparently they had lost track of the (gigantic) box. On Friday the box finally arrived, but Suzie was not well inside.

That metal piece is the connector from the drive post attached to the left pedal to the wheel. The bolt is sheared and the casing is cracked. I havent calculated the force necessary to cause such damage but I dont think it could be done without dropping the box some large distance and having it land directly on the piece.

And thats not the only damage….

The board the pedals attach to is split all the way across. I guess theoretically these pieces are replicable so long as the factory in New Zealand could send them but I worry that there is other damage that is less visible.

Tomorrow UPS will file an official claim and we will proceed from there. The lady who sold me the wheel has been exceptionally kind and helpful through this whole process which has made things better but not removed the sick feeling in my stomach when I think about what must have happened to the box to cause so much damage. I think the end will bring me back to where I started, with all of my money back but no spinning wheel. That also makes me sad since I doubt it will be so easy to find another Suzie at that price. In any case the whole process involved too much drama and I dont think I will be ready to try again for quite some time.

The Not-So-Ugly

In the mean time I borrowed Gen’s Lendrum and had a go at spinning some more fiber. (I still enjoy that part) I had a lot of trouble getting it to go fast enough while I was plying so parts are a little underspun- does anyone else have this problem? Maybe I am just too impatient, Im not sure. In any case I like the way the Lendrum looks (and its awesome to be able to borrow it – thanks Gen!) but I dont think its the right wheel for me.

its almost like yarn!

I took a beginning spinning class with Carmen on Saturday at West Valley Aplacas and it was really fun. I even made a fiber product that is sort-of almost-like yarn! The class was so much fun that I have spent the rest of the weekend thinking about buying a spinning wheel. It really is a dangerous situation.

A couple that was also in the class brought some fiber from their angora goat Lucile and I tried spinning a bit of that. It went pretty well but then I tried to Navajo ply it and that was a bit of a disaster…. The fiber is really shiny though!

A while back I spun a silk hankie using a drop spindle my dad made for me. I found it slow and difficult but I guess in learned something in the process. I found spinning on the wheel SO much easier. It was actually enjoyable!

Oh, and spinning wheels… Man, they cost a lot. You could buy a ridiculous sewing machine for the cost of a spinning wheel. but yet….

I would want a smallish one and not *too* expensive. Folding would be nice but just for storage and not for carrying it around. Im pretty sure I want a double treadle but Im willing to be convinced otherwise. I used an Ashford Kiwi for most of the class and that went pretty well. At the end I tried the Joy (single treadle) which went ok with the Mohair until I tried to Navajo ply and then I had all kinds of trouble getting the wheel spinning the right way which resulted in lots of tangling. Most of the wheels out there are still sight unseen as Pat at West Valley Alpacas had only Ashford wheels and Karrie has a Lendrum but I am intrigued by the Majacraft Suzie. Maybe not $630 worth though… Hopefully I can either talk myself out of buying one at all or try a bunch out at Stitches West.

In other more productive news I have blocked and sewn pockets into my giant orange cardigan. Im about to order a zipper for it too. Yay!