Friday, March 28, 2008


Alex and I went to the desert for vacation last week, and returned sick. Really, really sick in one case. (I blame the airplane coughers, though breathing in who knows what in a dusty windstorm our first night camping couldn't have helped, either!) You certainly don't need to (or want to, I'm sure!) know the details, but needless to say, not much crafty stuff has been accomplished in the past couple of weeks.

Luckily, I have some handspun that I haven't blogged about, yet, so I can cheat my way into "new" content for a blog post. The first was an attempt at a 3 ply fingering weight yarn. It was very successful in some ways, but not at being a fingering weight:

hyacinth strands with quarter

The roving was Spunky Eclectic superwash merino in the Hyacinth colorway. The yarn is 100 grams, 227 yards, and 17 wpi (sportweight). And it's obviously pretty dense, because in numbers it has almost the same grist as Cascade 220, which is a light worsted weight!

hyacinth skein

This was my first time working with superwash merino. It was a bit more fussy than non-superwash merino, and I found that it felt a bit squeaky at first. But once I got used to its flyaway nature, and figured out how to avoid the squeakiness (no advice to share, it just happened), I learned to really like this fiber. The resulting yarn is very smooth and soft, and nice and springy. I plan to work with it again soon.

My next project was also merino, and came with a lesson. That lesson is that, while I like to believe that I have a good eye for detail, I'm certainly not infallible. For a couple of months (ever since I've had my wheel, and I can't believe it hasn't been longer than that!) I filled my bobbins by moving the yarn from hook to hook up and down the right side of the flyer. There are hooks on the left side of the flyer, and I'd heard they were there to balance the flyer. Then I did some Google searches on some spinning related topic or another, and found someone mention how she loves how full she can get her Schacht bobbins because of the offset hooks on either side of the flyer. Wait... they're OFFSET? I swear, I'd even checked for that when I first got the wheel. I knew that they weren't offset. Except... they are. And when you alternate sides, you fill your bobbin a lot more evenly and efficiently. Take a look:

the bobbin of stupidity and the bobbin of enlightenment

Isn't that amazing! There is no more fiber on the left bobbin than on the right. But I bet I could fit a whole lot more on the right bobbin than on the left bobbin, if I wanted. I thought I was an absolute dimwit for not realizing this earlier, and said so in the Schacht group on Ravelry. oops! I inadvertantly implied that a whole bunch of other folks were also dimwits, because there were a lot of people who hadn't realized that the hooks were offset. At least I wasn't alone!

Now, there are two ways to use the offset hooks, as far as I can tell. What you see in the above photo is a result of me using both sets of hooks on each trip up and down the flyer, if that makes sense. So I'd hook the yarn over the first hook on the right, then the first on the left, then the second on the right, then the second on the left, etc. The other way to do it is to just go up one side and down the other, filling in the gaps on the yarn's return trip down the length of the flyer. This second method is easier, in my opinion (you're less likely to lose track of where to move the yarn next). However, I think the first method looks prettier, and makes it easier to pack the bobbin as evenly and tightly as possible.

Here's the resulting yarn:

square macaw

macaw strands

macaw hank

I got the merino roving (Macaw colorway) from The Arts At Eagle's Find. The yarn is a 3 ply, 120 grams, 427 yards, and 18 wpi (fingering). It's incredibly springy -- even springier than than Socks that Rock. (Beginner's luck!) I had divided the roving into 3 even strips, to try to get a yarn without a lot of marling. The first two bobbins were almost spot on, but the third one got off. It's a pretty neat effect, even if that's not exactly what I was going for. I started socks with this yarn while on vacation.

Apparently I had more to say than I initially thought! See you guys again when fiber trumps illness...

Labels: ,


Blogger Beverly said...

I don't spin. Have never really had the urge to learn. But seeing your handspun makes me want to learn. I love the idea of making my own sock yarn to fuel my sock-knitting obsession. Your handspun is so lovely.

3/28/2008 8:38 PM  
Blogger Stella said...

Well, Beverly pretty much stole my comment. Both of those yarns are really beautiful. I've casually toyed with the idea of learning to spin many times, but every time I see your handspun I want to call up my friend with a wheel and start RIGHT NOW. Maybe I'll do that, actually...

3/28/2008 9:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think I literally started salivating when I saw those

3/28/2008 9:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your handspun looks amazing! How on earth do you do that?!

3/29/2008 3:01 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

GORGEOUS handspun. I love the color distribution. Inspiring!

3/29/2008 8:01 AM  
Blogger Snapdragons said...

Gosh. I think that's the tightest, most even hand-spinning I've ever seen. If I thought that I could produce yarn of that quality, I'd take it up.

3/29/2008 12:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your handspun looks absolutely amazing! I'm in awe. I hope you're feeling better!

3/30/2008 1:19 PM  
Blogger Aimee said...

I really like the hyacinth color way. It's really cool how the plies are different colors. I bet the yarn will turn into something lovely!

3/30/2008 2:30 PM  
Blogger Stacey said...

Beautiful! The purple has such lovely shades and variations in it....and that blue/green! WOW!!

3/31/2008 8:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can hardly believe how gorgeous these skeins are. I love how the shockingly bright Macaw roving was toned down by the plying--that was a wonderful discovery!

Clearly spinning is in your blood. :-)

3/31/2008 10:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautiful work. I'm looking forward to seeing it kit up!

3/31/2008 1:45 PM  
Blogger Sara said...

I love the look of these, and the way you've managed the colors in the plying. Both yarns look like they're going to knit up so nicely -- great twist that should really help the merino nonetheless give a sturdy result.

3/31/2008 3:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a spinner (a couple of years now) and I must put myself in the dimwit group also. I had never bothered to ask what the other set of hooks is for...duh! I really didn't like the lumpy bumpy way the yarn wound on my bobbin. Now I can't wait to try out using both sets of hooks. GORGEOUS YARNS by the way. I love working with merino. I am knitting a vest (my own design) using some merion I spun from Wakau Valley Farms hand painted roving in a similar blue/geen colorway. I spun a single in the blue/green and a very fine single with an opposing twist in a black merino and then spiraled the blue/green around the black to make a sort of boucle. It looks great and the black tones down the intensity of the greens. I have olive skin and have difficulty pulling lime green off. The vest is about two thirds finished; I have photos of the spinning I will try to get up on my blog. HAPPY SPINNING :)

4/01/2008 10:33 AM  
Blogger Segwyne said...

Those are some beautiful yarns. I would love to get a wheel and try my hand at spinning. I have a drop spindle, but the results I get are, shall we say, less than ideal. Okay, they are downright unusable. Someday...

4/05/2008 10:50 AM  
Blogger jenfromRI said...

Oh my goodness. Those are just amazing!!

4/06/2008 6:30 PM  
Blogger Fibreaddict said...

I didn't realize that about mine either until my friend karen showed me. It was a bit of a "dunce" moment for me. Then when I tried it I was like "OH WOW my bobbin holds a ton more yarn"

Funny how that works. *g* Love the colors!

4/28/2008 11:07 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Dear heavens, I always thought they were just counterweights, and here i was whining about that just last night! Now I have to go and check my Ashford.

6/06/2008 3:02 PM  
Blogger auntiemichal said...

And here I thought the left hooks were for plying and the right hooks for spinning! LOL Thanks so much for blogging this info!

6/16/2008 4:43 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home