Sunday, January 31, 2010

Lake batts

Yesterday I was asked how I blend my batts, how I choose the colors. I try to tell the tale of my need for color. I simply think on a color and begin. To me a color is not just one single hue, rather a pool of hues. I have my pool of color spread across the table. I reach in and begin. I put bits of color on the carder and watch it blend. I paint the color on. I have been learning just how much or how little the addition of a "unususal" color will effect the batt and if I can feel it when I watch as I spin. Does it really matter if I add a piece of pink to the mix.... no. So far the learning and color blending continues. I am more aware of the color than the fiber when I am blending.

I just spun up two 4 ounce bobbins of Erica batts. They are blue, named after the lakes in my life. Blues and teals and greens and oranges, and browns and purples and tads of yellow and specks of white... make the lake batts. Layers of color give spinning depth and the process is intoxicating. Blending the color is one story, spinning another. Then comes the coming together of the plys and finally the rush of knitting. I have not knit up anything recently with manufactured yarn, I have had to use my yarn. Nothing else holds my attention.

I still need to spin some reds in the very near future. But next up is a rather brown merino to clean my palette.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Jillian's week #4

Dyed by blogmate Carla & named after me - this is one sexy spin. Merino tencel, fluffy and smooth and shiny.

I wanted to keep the colors in line, not barberpole them. I wanted to make a yarn chunky, sinuous and round with texture and spring, not thin and simply shiny like most merino/tencel yarns I've seen.

I love the result. I kept the yarn in the middle of the dining room table for a long time just to look at it and squeeze it. I want more. I want to make something big like a shawl. But can i make this yarn happen again?

What: merino 50%/tencel 50%
Where: Cjkoho on Etsy
Color: Jillian
Spun: woolen draw with smoothing, chain plied
Yarn: 40z, 114 yds, wpi: 8-9
Lesson: Break away from yarn that 'usually' spun with a particular fiber.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Life gets in my path... a la Erica

Due to unforseen life like happenings my 4 ounces a week of spin have been slammed to the back burner. Weeks 1, 2 and 3 splat.

I have however in the recent past months spun 8 oz of a dark brown very long drawable Beast and 8 more of an Alpaca wool blend all plied into a puffy 2 ply. Beast spinning is fun because you can contemplate just what makes it Beastial as you spin, a mixture of colors and texture and fibers. They all tell a story of past fiber creations. Beast spinning is often a tug of war due to VM and thunks of slub but can also be a long draw extravaganza.

I scored some beautiful orange Briar Rose Fibers BFL roving from Chris that I plyed with some of my hand dyed in reds. Sweaterhood is in this nice soft orangy reds future.
In fact with Anne's assistance we balled up the skeins today and a sweater has begun.

The last time I was at the Spinning Loft I came home with some olive green, some golden yellow, and some mellow light blue merino and a merino tencel blend of red, copper, orange and blue calld taos. I carded them all together and spun and plied until I was going cross eyed. The colors are good all combined, just maybe too similar to another blend of the past. The skeins are hanging in the downstairs bath thinking about what my problem is. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Uh oh
Okay life calls. Nico needs help getting outta the bath. more later. ciao.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Jillian's week 2 &3

This spin was inspired by friend and blogmate Erica. She just spins. The woman can kick out a pound of fiber and knit half a garment in a weekend. Ok, maybe not a weekend but pretty damn close. I spun and plied 8 oz in about two days, and remarkably I still got my work-work, kid-work and house-work done. The cormo in the blend was a little neppy which made a great texture and the blend is scarf soft. I'm pissed I didn't buy more from her,

she rarely does repeats. In Erica tradition I want to make something out of this now, I'm considering the Conway Cloche.

What: Cross Wind Farm 60% Cormo & 40% BFL roving
Where: Ann Arbor Fiber Expo from Cross Wind Farm
Color: Flaming Sunset
Spun: my regular: short backward draw with some smoothing & picking of bits
Yarn: 2 ply, 12 wpi, 274 yards
Lesson: get off the computer and spin

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Week #2 - Wensleydale

I'm not a long wool person. I'm sorry, Beth, it's true (and you knew it all along anyway). Last fall, Beth was clearing out some of the stash she knew she was never going to get to and came across this. What possessed her to think of me, I'll never know. Wait, yes I do. She's trying to convert me from a merino/tencel girl to a long wool avenger. More than likely, she said to herself, "These are Carla's colors and she's going to LOVE spinning this!"

Can I just take a moment and show you this fiber close up? It's hairy, I mean, really hairy. When I pulled out a staple length, it was 4-5 inches long. I was so stunned that I did not actually measure it - my stomach was hurting a little.

What: 4.1 oz Wensleydale

Where: The Yarn Hollow or The Spinning Loft

Spun: Long draw

Yarn: 118 yards, three ply, as thin as I could make it go (which was really thin)

Color: Antique Map (#100)

Lesson: You can spin a nice yarn from a hairy, long stapled wool without drawing blood. However, I don't much like it. Oh sure, it's a serviceable yarn (look at that luster!) and the color is absolutely gorgeous, but it's not next to the skin wear.

I struggled a lot with it. It did thin down beautifully with very little effort, but the staple was so long that sometimes one end of it missed being caught. As a result there are several spots in the yarn where, when I was plying, I roughed it a bit and a slub was created. Normally, I stop and pick those bits out. With the long staple, I couldn't do that - I'll have to go back and try to smooth them or cut them out.

Verdict: I don't think I'll be spinning any more Wensleydale anytime soon.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Jillian's 13 lbs

Why do I want to spin 4 oz of fiber a week? I have a whole host of answers among them - to become a better spinner, to have a little corner of my life that is only about me - not family, not work - just me, to revel in and use my fiber stash - it's become a museum & to play.

First up for me was to break the Abby Batt tabu. I have a bunch of Abby Batts in my stash and I won't spin them because then they'll be gone. What if I want to use them for something better later? What if I totally suck spin them? Abby herself would laugh her ass off knowing her batts had hit Most Precious Status in my stash. "Just fucking spin them" she'd say, and she'd hand me a beer. So I did.

What: Abby Batt, 4oz, merino silk

Color: Beth & I call it Pretzel, Abby rarely names names

Where: The Spinning Loft

Spun: lofty single, 172 yds, 15 wpi

Lesson: there are no precious batts

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Why 13 Pounds?

I started spinning in 1992. I had just started knitting and fell deeply in love with fiber and really wanted to explore all of it. My husband (who's a builder) had been working on a sheep barn for a woman in the area. This woman happened to be a member of a very active guild and she invited me to attend a meeting. I had seen spinning wheels and demonstrations when I was a kid (it was the heyday of Laura Ingalls Wilder & Little House on the Prairie after all). When I walked into that meeting, it was fiber heaven. There were probably 40 people sitting at all different kinds of spinning wheels with all manner and color of fiber - I was a goner.

My very first workshop was with Rita Buchanan. It was based on taking an entire fleece and processing it all different ways. I had to borrow a wheel from the spinning guild, as I didn't have one of my own and I was such a rank beginner, I didn't even know how to use an orifice hook. My workshop mates and Rita were extremely gracious and helped me through most of it. My hands hurt for days after that workshop because of the death grip I had on the fleece.

Since then I've had workshops with many spinnerati (Lynne Vogel, Katherine Alexander, Judith MacKenzie McCuin, Beth Smith, Abby Franquemont, Maggie Casey, Rudy Amann, Janel Laidman, and others). I've been to SOAR twice and enjoyed it immensely both times. My spinning has improved over the years - A LOT.

However, I tend to spin the same kind of yarn. Over and over. It's a little boring. Since my theme word for 2010 is progress, I wanted to make progress in one of the things I love best. So I banded together with a couple of friends and we each pledged to spin 4 ounces of fiber a week. We don't have any rules, just a couple of guidelines:
  1. Spin 4 ounces/week
  2. Enjoy it
  3. Learn from it
  4. Write about it
That's it. We aren't going to be spinning the same fiber at the same time (although I will admit our stashes overlap quite a bit). I plan on working through Judith MacKenzie McCuin's The Intentional Spinner and picking up tips and tricks along the way.

At the end of the year, we'll each have 13 pounds of yarn that we made with our own hands and 13 pounds less of fiber languishing in our stashes (theoretically anyway). It's going to be an interesting trip - I can't wait to see what turns up along the way.