Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Five Things That Make Me Happy

1. The pooling thread on Ravelry. This thread is full of really interesting and often quite beautiful photos of pooling and flashing in knitted and crocheted projects. Not only is it an informational thread, where you can get a better idea of how certain yarns may act in certain kinds of projects, but it's just plain good eye candy. You'll be amazed at some of the stuff yarn does, seemingly all on its own. Now that I think about it, some of it is even kind of creepy...

2. The Yarnspinner's Tales podcast. This is an incredibly informative podcast, though it should come with a warning label, because I'm convinced that it was the straw that broke the camel's back in terms of me learning how to process fiber. The first couple of episodes don't have the greatest sound quality, but it improves, and you should listen to all of them, anyway. If you have even the slightest interest in spinning and/or fiber processing, you should subscribe to this podcast immediately, and make sure to download and listen to all the back episodes.

3. Rolags and iMovie. I've learned how to make truly soft, squishy yarn. Fuzzy wuzzy cuddly yarn. And I also learned how to document it. Or rather, I documented it in the roughest of manners, using the built in camera on my MacBook, and doing the barest minimal in terms of editing. I made the rolags out of commercially prepped merino top, that was hand dyed by Freckleface Fibers. These videos show you how I did it:

(It's not really that loud when I card it. The mic picked up mostly the high pitched noises, which makes it sound like I'm mashing the teeth of the cards together. They lightly touch, but I'm not scraping or digging them into each other.)

And here's how I spun it:

And here is the lovely yarn:

woolen spun merino

woolen spun merino

woolen spun merino

366 yards
87 grams (after sampling, and not splitting it evenly)
13.5 wpi (DK weight)

This yarn is not as even as what I'd get with worsted / short forward draw. That's the nature of longdraw woolen spinning, and I'm at peace with that. Mostly. Actually, I didn't realize how comfortable I was with my technique and what I was producing until I made this video, because it forced me to stop scrutinizing every tiny detail of the yarn, and notice that I was mostly doing a great job, and mostly doing what I've see in other longdraw videos on YouTube. It was a great confidence booster, and I suggest video for everyone. It's really interesting to see your process from an outside angle.

I plan to do this a lot more in the future. Of course, it's a bit dangerous, because it's so quick. Doing short forward draw worsted style spinning, it's not too hard to keep up with knitting the stuff I'm spinning. Woolen spinning is so fast that I could never knit it as fast as I spin it. I admit, I've already been thinking about buying a pound of hand dyed merino top for a sweater. The yardage you get with woolen spinning is so great that that's all I'd need for something fairly plain, and maybe even for something with more texture. I LOVE this!

4. My stash. I love my stash because it's limited in size, yet has so much potential. There's some blue Cascade 220 for an aran, a couple of skeins of Noro for an awesome mitten design idea, a couple of skeins of mostly solid sock yarn, because that is somewhat of a staple yarn for me, and a whole bunch of handspun that is special because I made it. This is not a collection of stuff, but a collection of future endeavors and untapped creativity. It is a collection of potential energy, waiting to prance across my needles. The best kind of collection!


5. You guys. Thank you so much for the comments on my last post. I was a bit scared to post what I did, and almost immediatley had second thoughts about it after I did post it. I don't crave or even particularly want attention. At least not for negative things that none of us have any control over. The spirit and tone of your comments was absolutely perfect. Thank you all for not being too sappy, and for saying a lot of really intelligent things that made me smile, nod my head in agreement, and think a lot. This blog wouldn't be the same without the people who read it, and I'm not really a spiritual person, but I do feel that the energy of the readers makes a difference in a blog. At least for the person who is writing it. You guys have a great energy, great hearts, and great minds. I am a lucky blogger.

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Blogger Molly said...

Love your woolen skein! I've never done real woolen spinning; I've played with rolags for spindling, but real long-draw spindling is ... well, I'm not there yet! And I've played with long-draw on the wheel, but never with rolags or other carded prep. Maybe one of these days! Your stuff is certainly inspiring, as always.

11/26/2008 8:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your spinning is lovely and your stash as well! I love the way it's stored. I'm thinking to build a bookcase some time soon, and it may look something like that.

11/26/2008 9:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this post! watching your videos I am feeling inspired to tackle woolen spinning as my next spinning hurdle. It had been simmering in the back of my mind but your excitement is contagious. I hope you'll post more about spinning--it's always interesting to read about spinning from a knitter's perspective (and vice versa).

11/26/2008 10:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, I'm going to have to try this woolen spinning by prepping commercial top with hand carders. Thank you!

11/26/2008 10:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love spinning woolen, it seems like magic to anyone who's not done it or seen it done before. I got one GIANT batt at my LYS and split it into layers, dyed the layers, and got squooshy yarn very quickly. :)

And the pooling thread. I posted my first ever finished socks in there. They pool so neatly, it's just awesome.

11/26/2008 12:09 PM  
Blogger Theresa said...

Lovely post. And I have the same coffee table - isn't it perfect for stash? If only my husband thought so, too . . .

11/26/2008 12:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have some merino top that I've hated spinning as is, so I'm going to try carding into rolags (instead of throwing it out -really!). Many thanks for the inspiration, I've learned a lot of useful spinning stuff from you!

11/26/2008 3:07 PM  
Blogger Beverly said...

That's the perfect description of stash: potential creative energy. Maybe if I describe my stash in such scientific terms, my husband won't be as appalled at how large it is. :)

11/26/2008 9:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are such an inspiration to me as a newbie spinner! I love your woolen skein, and very much enjoyed seeing the video of your technique.

I really like your description of your stash, too.

11/26/2008 9:33 PM  
Blogger Linda said...

Brilliant! Thank you so much for the videos as I have struggled with carding. I wish I could spin like that, I have lost the knack. I might get some lessons. And if you have too much handspun sell it to me!!!

11/27/2008 9:12 AM  
Blogger Vanessa said...

I love your spinning! I hope one day my spinning will look as nice as yours does! And I love yarnspinnerstales too. I live in a small town and don't know any other spinners, so it's so nice to listen to yarnspinners and have my own private spin-in.

11/27/2008 10:49 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...


*Going* to learn longdraw if it kills me

11/27/2008 1:20 PM  
Blogger bockstark.knits said...

What a great post! I love your blog - it's part personal and part "teaching" and that's what makes it so great!

11/28/2008 7:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow I just read all the way to the bottom of your last post. I totally missed the fact that those were chemo caps.. for you.

I agree with you 100% about Breast Cancer getting all of the attenion. My mother died of metastisised bone cancer 20 years ago, and her type of cancer is never menioned. She ended up with two differnt types.

I will be knitting a chemo cap for a wife of a co-worker. She does have breast cancer but I am not knitting anything pink. Her favorite colors are reds and earth tones, so I got some very soft superwash Mission Falls. I'll have to think about the beret idea.

I love your spinning photos. I just got a wheel and I'm learning as well. I just carded my first batt on a borrowed drum carder yesterday. Pictures are on my blog. I blended dark Romney and hand dyed Alpaca.

Good luck with your radiation treatments. I promise to read all the way through a long post. As someone who is long-winded herself, I should know better.

11/30/2008 12:52 PM  
Blogger MRS MJW said...

LOVELY results.

12/04/2008 2:43 PM  
Blogger Morticcia said...

I couldn't even begin to recreate the labyrinthine web surfing that got me here. I'm about jumping out of my pants with enthusiasm after seeing your videos.

Second, I am a new spinner and I think what turned me from having 0 mph interest in spinning to having 150 mph was watching the long draw/great wheel demo at the May 2008 NH S&W.

Seeing you card the fiber and do that long draw was a thing of beauty. (The hyperbole, I know! but I'm a drama llama.)

I better stop here with a hearty thanks!

1/18/2009 8:28 AM  
Blogger Chandra said...

Thanks so much for the videos! I happened upon this post while googling for "rolags from commercial top" and this was exactly what I needed.

3/07/2009 2:05 PM  

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