Tag Archives: spinning

Stash flash – the spinning fiber edition

This was going to be a four-part inventory series for my own notes when I started it 2ish years ago – the first was commercial yarn, the second would be the handspun, the third spinning fiber, and the fourth the “froggers” (sweaters waiting to be unraveled). But my handspun has always been a small collection and recently on the needles pretty quickly, and the froggers get a regular toss to see if I can sell one or two whole, and my spinning fiber also kept itself to a couple of tubs and boxes. But I’d like to restrict it to a smaller space, and I’ve finally amassed enough to make some decent yardage. Though I do need to spin/knit up some mittens and slipper-like things, I’m not feeling the random 4 ounce braid these days – my scarf/shawls need to be in the 8 ounce range – and I don’t really need another hat at the moment. So a few of my 4 ouncers will be combined with random bits and larger bobs to become garment quantities of yarn.

Everything is still in decent condition with the exception of a few lavender sachet explosions, so I’ve introduced even more vegetable matter to some of it… And is there a shelf-life to wool? That shit survives on dead people in peat bogs and whatnot, so I’m not concerned with not spinning it up immediately, but I did wonder if some of my raw fleece was slightly more brittle* than before…

I started an inventory of weights and colors and fiber types, but it wasn’t really necessary – I’ve only got a few large collections and the rest are random bits. Most of the large amounts were acquired when I’d just barely learned to spin (and had more disposable income), and I’ve since mildly regretted buying some of it – I was mildly screwed/slightly taken advantage of, or the seller was just as much of a novice as me in a few instances and I’ve got some unspinnable stuff – or I’ve found that I don’t much like something after all.

The large collections consist of several pounds of mostly bright-colored Lamb’s Pride roving:

That raspberry colored stuff has come up here a few times, and I’ve still got around 12 ounces left. And this is a good example of too much enthusiasm as a newbie – I found a good price for it and bought as much as I could reasonably justify – and… I don’t love spinning it. Don’t get me wrong, I love Lamb’s Pride – it’s domestic wool, comes in great colors, and the yarn is strong and sheepy. But my color choices for the roving were limited, making my love for it slightly lessened just because of that, and I also just like spinning less-processed, more rustic roving more. (However, a good portion of this is also superwash, so it has to be very processed to be so, so I will buy it again as I spin down what I have since most of my gift knitting needs to be superwash.) And I need to figure out which is which! I saved the receipts (somewhere) for this purpose, and I’m pretty sure I had all of it separated in its own box, but that organization has been lost.

My aunt (thank you M!) sent me a few pounds/four large balls of llama a couple (three?!?!?!) years ago, and I was originally going to mix them with other things, but I’m going to spin them as one and make a throw blanket – I need to decide about stripes vs. gradients vs. random blends, but I hope to get it on the wheel this winter – it is currently third in line in my spinning queue, but it could be next…

And the raw fleece is the biggest collection with the most problems. I’m not going to buy raw fleece again. I’m probably not going to buy raw fleece again. I will only buy raw fleece in small amounts if it’s the only way to try a new breed, or is a pity purchase at a festival. Or maybe a little alpaca if it’s really clean. That six pounds of Romney was a bit of a scam – the seller put the cleanest, longest locks at the top of the bag; the bottom contained literal shit and short second cuts and very brittle, sunburned tips – I should have known better and they should have said it wasn’t skirted, or whatever… Lesson learned.

And there’s the lovely Nestor the llama I still have to finish – he was going to be my reward for finishing the never-ending Romney.

And then there’s the damned raw alpaca – I bought three bags (light, medium, and dark) of the stuff very early on – back when I still dreamed of being an alpaca farmer. I don’t think I even had a spinning wheel at that point… but I was in camelid love and had a festival fever and the price was good and the lady selling it was nice. And I got whomped again (this was actually the first time).

The light is almost all ridiculously short cuts underneath the thinnest layer of acceptable ones. I’m considering sending this out to be made into felt, or use it for stuffing, or make the felt myself… but this is the kind of situation that makes me hang on to something far too long because I know it is useful for something, just not my original intention…

But thankfully, the other two bags are mostly fine. I’ve been wanting to have a mostly black handspun shawl/scarf and this alpaca might be right for it – it’s got some sun faded tips, so it might spin up on the brown end, so I’ll have to run a test first (otherwise I’ve got a pound and a half of pure black Lamb’s Pride).

The smallest largish collection is just under a pound of Jacob fleece and roving – the roving from Jenny Jump Farm is crazy lovely – it is a tricolor that was easily separated by color, then there’s a few ounces of just dark roving from another farm, and then there’s a bag of raw tricolor that looked clean and claimed to be 4 ounces but… you guessed it! It’s under 2 ounces and got a decent amount of scurf (sheepy dandruff) – I’m using most of it anyway since I have the least amount of the medium brown – and this was a fairly recent purchase, so luckily I only lost a few bucks and I now know which farms to avoid (if they’re even still in business by the time the next festival rolls around).

I started spinning the lightest portion and still haven’t decided on leaving it as a single or chain-plying it – either way it will be a gradient. And I’m pretty sure it will turn into a poncho. I’ve had ponchos on the brain for myself and the dude, and I’ve got many thoughts on their functionality, but perhaps those thoughts are for another day…

And then I’ve grouped together a sweater quantity for the next or third in line spin – most of this is local, or at least mid-Atlantic wool – some Gotland, more Jacob, some unique unregistered breeds, a bit of dyed stuff – Romney usually, and a few little bits dyed or not – one is an angora blend. And this is what I’m most excited about and/or have decided on as my collection policy: naturally colored wool, and a bit of dyed non-white wool – I want a murky depth of semi-muted colors.

I chucked a few other things that would go well together in bags and boxes – a sweater quantity of a couple of colors of superwash that compliment a lovely Pigeonroof braid, a sweater quantity of grab bag scrap fibers in warm colors with some natural brown roving, and a few experiments – I’d like to do a short spin with dangling Lincoln locks, and I have some fake flowers and whatnot to make some “art” yarn, but I’m not really feeling that now.

I will always buy from small fiber farmers – in fact, that is who I buy from nearly exclusively now since going mostly cold-sheep – I hesitate to even complain about occasional unsavory products when I’m guessing my disappointing purchases were also disappointing to the farmer – I get that – sheep have bad years, not all shearers are good, your scale goes on the fritz, you’re just starting out and don’t know better, etc., and yet you’ve still got to sell something. I’m not going to out those who I suspect might be a bit unscrupulous, but I am going to reach into the bottom of the bag and talk to the seller a bit more – and stick with the farmers I trust, even if I’m only able to buy a few ounces from them here and there.

*Wool could get more brittle if it’s stored in a highly acidic enclosure like cardboard or a cedar chest unless there’s a barrier between it…

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Mid August

And so it goes – much the same as it has been…

Beans must be picked every other day.

And then suddenly there are 50 pounds of tomatoes…. #tomatoes #heirloomtomatoes #organictomatoes #gardening

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And tomatoes are expressing their juicy demands.

The rogues gallery. #notsojerseyfresh #organicgardening #organictomatoes #tomatodiseases #notsotasty

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And I need to learn about more diseases and pests to ward off next year.

Some thrifting is still being done here and there – picked up some “vintage” yarn for more and bigger scrappy things – I’ll probably dye the one on the right since the white is actually wool, or mostly, and it’s interesting that this seemingly semi-shitty novelty yarn was once spun in Belgium and France…

And some finishing is happening – this spin will be mittens or slippers, but will go on the back burner for a bit.

(Next up for spinning is still TBD – either a shit-or-get-off-the-pot spin with raw alpaca I’ve had far too long, or a quick palate cleanser with a colorful superwash braid… either way, the wheel is freshly cleaned and oiled and swept up underneath and is ready to go.)

And of course, beach time – just a bit here and there though – and I’m finishing up this knit – hopefully by the month’s end (secretly by the end of next week).

Some upcoming travel means socks need to be on the needles, but I’ve really run out of room in my sock drawer… In theory I “need” a few more pairs that better match my work clothes, but I have none worn out enough to purge to make room, so…

I’m going to knit them anyway and have more disorder and chaos and cramming going on in my life again!

 

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Early August

This summer has been full of long days that go by quickly.

I’ve got a bit of return teen angst/summertime ennui that is somewhat satiated by lying in the direct sun in a sweaty stupor. I must need the vitamin D; I’m surprised I’m not more tan; I’m blaming reverse puberty for just about everything.

Nice tail. #bugsofinstagram #ithinkitsacranefly #insectsofinstagram #insect #bug #thingswithwings

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The garden is doing that- just when everything looks absolutely awesome, it shits the bed thing – squash vine borer hit hard, and despite a few surgical attempts (only 2 out of 5 lived through it) we’re down to only 2 stressed out zucchini plants – I think we’ve eaten only 4 zucchini all summer. And the tomatoes, those lycopenian bastards – all was so very well with them until we got rain and hot temps and more rain and now they’re stressed out with leaf spot or a form of blight, or something that happens every year that hits hard and fast, only this year the big harvests didn’t start before it… But they’re coming in – some better than others, and some delicious.

First garden tomato down the hatch! #gardening #organicgardening #tomatoes #nicoisesalad #saladeniçoise

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Much of this year’s grown and foraged fruit went into ice pops and frozen yogurt. Note to self: make ice pops with nut milk again – wineberry and chocolate almond milk was good as was gooseberry vanilla.

Frutti di bosco e backyard froyo. #fruttidibosco #homemadefrozenyogurt #froyo #wineberries #blueberries #fiestaware

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I’m working/knitting on finishing up one shawl/scarf exclusively at the moment – I might be on the last ball of yarn, or there might be one more and I can’t find it which might be a slight problem, but I love this one – a super soft thrift store sweater yarn – I’m tempted to troll the online auctions to find another one of these sweaters for more/another project, but I’ve got other lovelies waiting in the wings.

Rocco now has his own Instagram account – N finally realizes the joy of looking at dog pictures and he can share their dawn adventures while I’m still sleeping or getting ready for work – he’ll still make appearances on my account, but I’ve got loads more pictures of him than anything else… And he’s totally potty-trained (Rocco, not N, well N is too, but has been for some time) inside the garden now, and stays out of the beds for the most part – he’s been a pleasant companion in there lately which is a relief and a pleasure for both of us (we still have a long ways to go outside though).

And I’m nearly finished with a spin – just trying to decide on a 2 or 3 ply… might just say 3 and do it now…

 

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Flaming balls of molten lava, ketchup, mustard, blood, candy corn, nasturtiums, atomic fire filled traffic cone roadkill smeared on asphalt in Mordor at sunset superhero sontag

I can’t say I’ve fallen in love with my latest (or any) handknit until it has proven itself wearable with a normal wrapping and unwrapping, pulling tighter or looser, not dipping itself into toilet waters, not catching in turnstiles, and fitting in or out of a coat test drive, but the current heatwave is preventing anything beyond kicking the tires.

I’m still ambivalent and slightly indifferent about it for several reasons, but it was a wild success in others, but first, a recap –

I bought the roving last September – I was (am I still?) on a kick to buy colors outside of my comfort zone – and by that I mostly mean colors that I don’t typically wear because they make me look like shit, but I don’t care how I look to a degree, so I can like and wear whatever color I want to dammit, but I do happen to prefer earthier tones in general…

The nasturtium decided to wait for cooler days… #organicgardening #flowers #nasturtium #autumn

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And it also reminded me of nasturtiums which I love (and I ran out of room to plant this year…).

I got two braids (8oz total) from Fuzzy Frog Fibers because they are very affordable, she does fun and interesting colors, and I like the Dorset wool – springy and strong soft and 4oz doesn’t cut it for me for anything other than a hat, and yes, I can combine them with other things but I’ve already got several combo spins waiting in the wings (including another braid of the same only in my comfort colors from the year before).

I started spinning it a month or so later – I waffled a minute about how to, but I’ve been struggling with making a not-too-overspun single and figured I needed more practice. The Dorset is very forgiving on that front too – didn’t break in the skinny sections and not too sticky to pull out a bit more at the last minute on a big clump.

I also waffled a minute on leaving it as is and spinning each braid separately to have double the stripes/color changes, or combining both for one big gradient – not necessary a skill to practice, but something I hadn’t done before – so I went with that. And the spinning was done by the end of the year.

I sat on it for a bit, thinking about what to make of it – it was going to be a neck thing or a body thing or a poncho-y thing… I felt it needed to be an empowering sort of thing to power through the terrible election and dark days, and almost made this sweater with the molten yarn on the back flappy cape thing, but my gauge was off, the thick and thin yarn isn’t hard enough wearing for clothes, and I haven’t finished something that needs to fit in years, and I wanted to finish it by year’s end.

So easy garter was the answer – and a top-down triangle shawl – a shape which I’m also ambivalent about but thought it was because I hadn’t made one big enough yet. And I cast-on for basically this shawl (I used size 7 needles and about 1.000 yards instead) just before a week’s vacation when rain was predicted – and my gauge was okay and the stitches felt good.

I fell for the few yards of pinky muddled grey and made note to try to recreate this with another spin and/or I’m pretty sure I unraveled a sweater with similar colors.

It's getting warmer… or bleeding? #handspun #knitting #shawl #red #fuzzyfrogfibers #sontag

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I knit more in that week than I likely had since the start of the year, or maybe before – no gardening, home improvement, office work, or major cleaning meant my wrist wasn’t in pain and could go for an hour or more knitting sessions.

And then I finished up at home – at a slower pace – and it was a good beach knitting project too – the wool wasn’t too sticky for sweaty seawater sunblock hands.

After washing and light blocking it still smells a bit of the beach (except the rotting sea-things) and didn’t change – I rarely wash garter things right off the needles, but this is headed for plastic summer storage so I wanted it to be as clean as possible.

So in the end I was able to tick a few boxes off: I acquired, spun, knit, and completed something within a year – something I want to become habit – less so on the acquisition end, but I’m almost always able to go to the state fiber fest and want to support the local and local-ish folks, even if it’s only $30 worth of fiber spread out over 3 booths; I finally made a decent (still needs work, but I didn’t have to run it through an unspin cycle at least) single; I figured out my current knitting speed is very roughly only around 700 yards a month; and I made a top-down triangle about twice as large as my last one.

And the jury is still out on the triangle until I can wear it a bit – I’m leaning towards it’s just not my thing (side to side triangles totally are) – but I’m always futzing with the less stretchy edge – tuck in under? fold it out? let it gape? and want more tail and less triangle – maybe this needed to be even bigger, or maybe I should have increased the tails more and the triangle less – I also could have eeked out 2 more rows of yarn, but didn’t want the stress, but there’s probably enough for a picot or other edging, but I don’t really like edging, unless it’s i-cord…?

I can wear it crossed in the front and tied in the back but I feel like I’m smuggling my own boobs, so I’ll most likely do the kerchief thing, or a half drape thing pinned somehow, or the traditional shawl across the shoulders thing…

Or the roll it up and pretend it’s a scarf thing.

We’ll see a few chillier months from now, and maybe N might be game to wear it instead?

But I am definitely in love with the mostly black top portion, and would like to spin and knit a mostly black thing soon, and locate the dirty pinky-grey yarn I think I have… But I have to finish or frog other things first.

 

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Something about color shifting…

I’ve been away.

And my computer is still dying and/or I haven’t figured out what is wrong with it, but most likely it’s dying.

I finished that gradient spin – kept it as a single and fulled/felted it.

color-change-spin

(The color is more accurate in the linked post.)

I was thinking of knitting it up as a superhero cape to get through my trumpdisgust but I’m still not in love with the colors, though there is enough blaze orange for something to be worn in the woods during hunting season (but I don’t usually wear handknit shawl/scarf things in the woods due to snagage) but maybe something sorta tacky/vintage in a feather and fan/old shale…?

And I found a vintage cardigan at the thrift store earlier in the autumn that I thought my brother would like.

color-change-green

Even the clerk commented on its blinding lime…

color-change-brown

But when I got it in natural light, it was excrement colored mustard and brown.

At some point I had something to say about sneaky color changing and artificial light – I’ve purchased more than one set of lovely pale sage green sheets only to find that they’re nicotine-stain yellow in the daytime bedroom – and worry about the color lies being fed to our brains, but that rant is somewhere behind.

And I need to buy more lamps.

 

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Unspun

What’s the point of another post full of trumpdisgust?

Boobs not balls. #election2016 #hillaryclinton #ivoted #president #electionday2016 #vote

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And an earnest plea and pledge for doing more good and wearing safety pins?

I am absolutely sick to my pit that 42%  of (mostly white) women voted for that dangerous sack of meat and guts – not because as being women they should automatically vote for a woman – but they have such a low opinion of themselves and their fellow sex…

And what are they teaching their poor children too?

I’m terrified about healthcare – especially because of my femaleness and desire to be childless – and a man should have zero input in that one…

And this man should have zero input on everything.

And I’m just terrified, and many voted for him because they’re terrified for entirely different and unfounded and utterly ignorant reasons.

And a whole bunch of other things are just shit at the moment too – some new sadness, some of the same ongoing frustrations, the lack of daylight, and the approaching least wonderful time of the year.

I’m not particularly productive now, but I’m selling old crap again a bit, keeping a few last roots and greens in the garden alive, and mostly spinning and unraveling.

I finished up a long-suffering single – I’ve been concentrating on learning/forcing myself to spin singles more slowly – but this one is shit for the last 20 yards or so.

Spinning – good for stress, bad for yarn. #spinning #wool #wovember #yarn #handspun #overspun #blackandgold

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Stress is bad for spinning singles.

And I’m nearly done with those couple of atomic/molten lava/flames/superhero braids I recently got.

But I’m likely going to have to unspin this one too…

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Oh hello, and nearly goodbye, September…

I thought that by going back to a physical workplace after telecommuting for the last four years, I’d magically have more time. I know that’s not how things actually work scientifically, but I generally get more done the busier I am, and some of my best/most complicated/largest projects have happened when I was working more than full-time and/or more than one job and didn’t know up from down.

But I’m still settling in to the new routine I suppose, as is the dog (who is making progress somewhat but not enough yet), and the house and garden still need much more attention than just a bit of maintenance here and there…

But I’ve also got a case of raging startitis, with no accompanying secondary infections of focusitis or finishitis, so I need to reign things in a bit.

***

My all time favorite LYS recently closed – technically it wasn’t local to me anymore, but I occasionally ordered from them over the phone, and stopped in when passing through my old city – the news about it was sad, and perhaps moreso because it was one more severed tie to the place (and the shop was possibly a victim of the ever-increasing hipsterization and gentrification that is utterly ruining the city).

The Garden State Sheep Breeders festival came and went – I nearly missed it because I hadn’t registered that it had turned September (apparently I did that last year too) – and it was a little disappointing this year – fewer vendors and fewer unique breeds of wool for sale (if you want Romney, Jacob, or Alpaca, NJ is the place for you).

(Not that I don’t like Jacob and Alpaca especially, I just have enough for now.)

So I only picked up a few braids of atomically-dyed Dorset…

to make a superhero flaming cape-like shawl I guess?

And a couple of ounces of grab-bag fiber here and there from the fiber folks – I hate to call these pity purchases, but that’s what some are, and the rest are more of a penny candy approach…

But this means I need to oil up the wheel again and get spinning – it has been montionless for months – and it’s finally cool enough to start back up.

 

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