Thursday, February 14, 2008

spun gold

The first batch of handspun made with my wheel:

Handspun Gold

Handspun Gold

Blue Faced Leicester (dyed by Spunky Eclectic)
spun worsted style, double drive, 15.5:1 ratio, on a Schacht Matchless
about 15 wraps per inch (sportweight)
3 ply, 96 grams, 332 yards

Take a look at it all twisted up into a skein:

Handspun Gold

Handspun Gold

There's also a second, much smaller skein. This was my first time making a 3 ply yarn, my first time using a lazy kate, and most importantly, my first time plying on a wheel. My inexperience caused it to be an unnecessarily messy process, which meant that the yarn didn't wind as tightly as it should have onto the bobbin. This, of course, meant that the bobbin was "full" before it should have been. But I improved when I plied the second, tiny skein of what was left over, which is what's important.

For the spinners who may be interested, the plying technique I found worked for me (at least for now) was to hold each singles separate as it came from the kate, going between adjacent fingers, controlling the twist with my right hand. I'd let twist build up in a length (maybe 8" or so at a time), then let that feed onto the bobbin. I ran into problems when I fed it on too quickly, without enough takeup tension, causing the yarn to jump off the hooks, change hooks, and/or just wind on without enough tension, causing my fluffy (and ugly) bobbin syndrome. I improved upon the technique later by increasing the uptake and feeding onto the bobbin a bit more slowly. I also ended up running the whole skein through the wheel again, because the first half of it was slightly under-plied.

My first skein was an amazing learning experience. I was definitely playing it by ear a lot. I have tons to learn about my wheel, and I plan to pick up a copy of Alden Amos' book this weekend, to help out. I know that he's very opinionated, and that he points and laughs at me for being a simpleton and using double treadles. (For the record, I'm very pleased with my decision to wait for a double treadle wheel. Using two feet helps me keep an even rhythm -- especially when I'm going slowly.) I also know (because I browsed through the book yesterday) that the book is full of an amazing amount of knowledge, all of which I want to cram into my head as soon as possible.

I've already begun on my next spinning project. I don't have pretty bobbin photos yet, but I can give you a taste:

rainbow baggies

I bought a collection of 7 rainbow colors of merino top (totalling 100 grams) from Fibrespace. It's split up into 6 baggies so I can spin a 2 ply yarn with 3 rainbow repeats along the length. The first baggie is almost done, despite an embarrassing incident involving a retail establishment and the discovery of about a gram of indigo merino stuck to my long skirt. (I salvaged most of it. And don't think too many people saw me in that state...)

On a completely different note, I thought that some of you might be interested that pattern sales through Ravelry are almost completely in place. The advantages of buying my patterns through Ravelry, as opposed to just clicking on the Paypal links here, are that you get an automatic delivery of the PDF (you don't have to wait for me to email it), and that a portion of the pattern sales go to support Ravelry. (Right now I think it's 5% of sales for people selling under $100 a month, and a set fee schedule for sellers who sell more than that.) I don't know that the system is 100% glitch free yet, but it did seem to work nicely for a couple of test buys yesterday.

Right now I think you have to be a Ravelry member (aren't you all!) to use the system, but I'm pretty sure that the service will be available for non-members soon, too. I'll update the links on the blog pattern pages soon, but for now, if you're interested, here are the Ravelry pattern pages for the 1989 hat and Smoke Signals. I hope this doesn't sound like a sales pitch. I'm sure that most or all of you who are interested in those patterns have bought them already. But I'm very pleased that I have a new (and improved!) way to sell the patterns to any future customers.

All of this is very exciting for me, and I'm sure for other designers on Ravelry, too. It's wonderful to have an auto-delivery service provided by an organization I trust and support. Perhaps more exciting for you guys is that I have a new sock pattern very close to ready for sale. The test knitter has finished the first sock (and the second one is identical), and I just have to tweak the pattern a bit and slap it all together. The optimist in me says that it will be ready by the end of the weekend, but I don't want to promise anything. Curious about what it will be? You've seen one photo. Take a look at more here. (I still haven't decided on a name for them.)

Oh yeah. I've been knitting, too. A few rows, anyway. But nothing much to say about that, so I'll show you some more gold. Here are the singles that turned into my yarn:

yellow bobbin 1 closer

I hope your days are filled with as much sunshine as that yarn brings me.

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Blogger Jill said...

What a beautiful color. Thanks for the roving/bobbin shot. I was hoping for one and it came through just at the end :-) You've done a really fantastic job for your first time plying on the wheel. I'm sure any inconsistencies you may see in the twist will melt away into your finished project. Can't wait to see what it will become!

2/14/2008 7:18 PM  
Blogger aija said...

Gorgeous new yarn! Just lovely :)

2/14/2008 7:23 PM  
Blogger fluffbuff said...

That color is beautiful. I can't wait to see what you do with the yarn.

2/14/2008 8:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh it's so amazing how handspun just seems so much more alive than millspun yarn. So beautiful!

2/14/2008 11:19 PM  
Blogger Taueret said...

nice spinning! that rainbow fibre looks like big fun.

2/14/2008 11:36 PM  
Blogger Linda said...

That looks gorgeous, such a lovely colour. I nearly went to work with a piece of fibre stuck to my behind like a rabbits tail today, I was saved by my son noticing it!

2/15/2008 8:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your handspun is beautiful!

2/15/2008 10:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's pretty incredible yarn for all the "firsts" it represnets! :-)

Can I ask which Spunky colorway that is? I'm guessing Sunflower, though an argument could also be made for Marigold or Goldenrod.

2/15/2008 12:12 PM  
Blogger lisabeedesigns said...

That color is so gorgeous! I am not usually a yellow person, but for some reason it's been resonating with me lately.

thanks for sharing such brightness!

2/15/2008 4:59 PM  
Blogger Vanessa said...

Spunky Eclectic has some great stuff. I am spinning up some right now as we speak. Check it out
Also, I have read that you can use a top from spices - the tops with the holes in it and feed your yarn one strand in their own hole and ply away.
I am going to try this myself!
Vanessa in Upstate NY

2/16/2008 7:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That looks like sunshine! It's gorgeous!

2/17/2008 10:02 PM  
Blogger Happily Knit said...

Ummmm....that yarn looks heavenly. I seriously want to steal it from you.

....but I won't.

2/17/2008 10:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your yarn absolutely brought sunshine to my day. Thank you.


2/19/2008 1:18 PM  

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