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Half-finished Merino of Doom

17 Jul

I finished the first half of the 100 g of merino I complained about in my last post.

I think my twist is again better or more even than the last time, but I did have more trouble keeping the single an even thickness. This is, however, closer to the fingering weight I’m aiming for.

I just need to be more careful when spinning and maybe limit the amount of time I’m allowed to spin at once. I find myself hurrying along and that’s when the unevenness occurs. I’m not good enough to not pay my full attention to this.

There’s going to be a break in my spinning and knitting for an unspecified time, though, because I fell down with my bike yesterday and hurt both my arms. I’m writing this, and took that image, with only my left hand since my right is pretty much out of it. I don’t think I broke any bones but the elbow and muscles seem to have taken a hit. I can’t lift my left arm because my shoulder is cranky, so I wouldn’t be able to spin even if my right arm was fine and dandy. I’m going to the doctor today – here’s hoping for no broken bones or tendons.

I’m bummed about not knitting and spinning but mostly I’m worried because I’m supposed to go to London in a little under 4 weeks. I have all  sorts of crafting fun lined up for when I get there.

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Stupid Is as Stupid Does

15 Jul

It’s safe to say that I’m a bit peeved.

A few weeks ago I searched high and low, and could only find one store in the whole city that sold a few tops of spinning fiber. The store stocked fulling fiber separately from this, and I talked about spinning it with a sales person, which made me assume that, yes, this is spinning fiber indeed.

I didn’t especially like the kind of mushy or messy look of the tops – like it was already slightly felted – but I bought two of them anyway, thinking that I’m so inexperienced in these matters that for all I know, it’s supposed to be like that. Besides I was really desperate to get something to spin, having finished all my fiber.

Well it hasn’t been a joyride. The fiber is merino, and although I’ve read and was told in the store that merino is supposed to be a very long fiber, this fiber doesn’t seem to be that. The constant breaking may be due to my lack of skill, of course.

But what I do find odd is that there are matted spots in the fiber that make it really hard to produce an even single. I blamed myself and possible adverse effects of dyeing the fiber, until I looked up the dyeing company’s website. On there, this fiber is recommended primarily for felting and secondarily for spinning. If that’s the case, I don’t wonder at all about the matted parts and whatnot. I’m not sure whether to be peeved at myself, at the company that possibly ruined the fiber somewhat by dyeing it wrong or the yarn store that sold it to me as spinning fiber.

The fact that the store charged me twice the price the dyeing company asks for it seems like adding insult to injury (even though I do understand that there are additional costs to a brick and mortar store.) Soo yeah, I paid 14 € for 100 g of meh fiber, when I could’ve gotten at least 200 or 300 g of luxurious (at least compared to this, and why not otherwise) BFL for the same price, had I had the patience to wait a few days for it.

I’ll take this as a lesson learned. Too bad I don’t particularly feel like spinning the last 50 grams. Eh. I will, though, and maybe it’ll get better, and I’ll like the end result after all. Yeah. Why not.

My First Love

14 Jul

More twist can be better! I learned this when finishing my second handspun. I’d watched in horror as the skein of yarn I just plied wound in on itself. My first yarn didn’t have enough twist. At first I thought my second yarn had too much. I feared in vain: a quick soak and drying straightened that skein right out. And I was in love.

100 g of BFL aka heaven

It was incredibly soft, like you wouldn’t believe. I was not expecting to get “soft” in my first attempts at this spinning stuff. And it shines and is all pretty, and is kind of even. Yeah baby!

So I made a thing with it. I was starting to feel the first signs of an impending knitting funk, so I decided on crochet. It’s so fast and everything. (I’m sorry about the nearly un-intelligible gushing, by the way. I think the yarn fumes are getting to my head.)

The thing I made was the Catesby Three Hour Cowl (available for free on Ravelry). Took me a lot longer than thee hours by the way, my crochet is not yet as fast as lightning. This reminds me: I was validated the other day when, perusing the newest issue of Interweave Crochet, I learned there are at least two real, valid crochet hook holds (as Men Crochet 2 there explains). There’s the pen hold everyone keeps telling me is correct, and then there’s the knife hold, which is what’s always been natural to me. So there, the crochet police can get off my case 😉

Excuse me while I feel awkward in this photo

I can’t wait for it to get cold again so I can wear this thing 🙂 I used the leftovers to free crochet a pair of mitts that I’m not too thrilled with, but ripping back seems like too much of a hassle, so guess what, I have a new pair of mitts anyway!

Thoughts on BFL

28 May

I’ve now spun about 30 g of the 100 g of BFL wool I got as a birthday gift.

I was surprised and a little dismayed to notice that in a top like this, where the fibers are longer than in the Finnish sheep wool and combed nicely in the same direction, it’s actually easier for me to get more thick spots. I have to draw the fibers out on a far longer distance than I’d gotten used to.

I’m also curious about whether or not I am, in fact, doing this “wrong”. I saw someone post pictures of spinning in progress, and she’d obviously just started spinning from the end of the top. I’ve separated the top into three piles, splitting it along its length, and I also split each of those three more times to get to a point where there’s not too much fiber.

It’s also been easier to work with this fiber (as promised) – when I do get the wanted thickness to the single, that’s easier to maintain for longer stretches. That could also just be me getting better at this.  I also haven’t dropped the spindle even once this time because it’s far more difficult to get the single to break when the fibers are sooo long.

I’m also enjoying how clean and soft the fiber is. The single has a nice sheen to it, and it’s darker in color than the fiber in the top. If I’m not entirely mistaken, I think I’ll get a nice heathered effect in the finished yarn.

I haven’t decided whether or not to give my shoe box lazy-Kate another chance when plying this. I’d like to try the advice of spinning all the fiber and only plying it once it’s all done, but I’m not looking forward to Andean plying 100 g of singles.

The only problem with doing that is that since I only have one spindle, I’d have to roll the single I’ve finished around something else to wait while I spin the next single, and I’m worried about doing that. I keep thinking that when I then try to spin the two singles together, it won’t work. I can’t seem to get it through my head that no matter which end of the yarn you begin with, the twist will stay the same direction… I think. I get confused at this point, usually. But I think the magic is always just that you ply the singles together in the opposite direction you spun them in, and it doesn’t matter if you start from the beginning of single 1 and the end of single 2, or which ever way, they’ll ply together just fine. *frown*

I.. think that’s how it goes.

I could, of course, just roll each single around something, so I’ll then start plying from the beginning of each single… o.O I don’t know why I can’t brain this.

Also, I want to do three-ply – but I’m restraining that urge because of that whole “learn to walk before you run” thing.

I look forward to the time when I scroll back on my blog and can look at this entry and have a chuckle at my own expense 🙂

Look, It’s Actual Handspun!

20 May

I finished spinning my first 60 g of Finnish sheep wool, and wound it all up in a hank.

It looks so much nicer as a hank 🙂

I took all the bits of yarn I spun and wound them in a hank from the oldest to the newest, loosely tying the ends together when I got to them. I want to wind this up to a ball and then knit from the oldest to the newest, so I get a good idea of how the things I did differently along the way will affect the knitted fabric. Also, I’m looking forward to knitting better and better yarn as I get further in the ball 🙂

I estimated the yardage I got by measuring round my swift and counting the number of loops around it: it’s 60 g = 95 m (103 yards). I’m not even going to try counting wraps per inch because there’s so much variation through the yarn, but I guesstimate this is mostly somewhere around DK or worsted.

I still have my heart set on knitting a Baktus with it, but that’ll have to wait until I get this pesky seminar thesis thing done… Also, at that point it’ll be June and a 100 % wool scarf might not be #1 on my list of things to knit rite nao.

First Real Spindle and Fiber

17 May

The postman brought my package. Fortunately I happened to be home and heard him ring the doorbell, and was just fast enough in getting to the door to catch him going down the stairs. Success!

Bluefaced Leicester fiber in oatmeal (100 g) and Schacht Hi-Lo spindle (62,4 g)

And the wool… The wool. I’m seriously far more giddy and happy than I expected, I’m all-out grinning here, I feel like laughing out loud out of sheer happiness 😀 Because the wool… It just feels so nice. I’ve been spinning this Finnish sheep wool that’s fantastic of course, but it hasn’t been processed as far so it’s far closer to its natural state than this top of Bluefaced Leicester I now got. There are some bits of hay in it, and lots of lanolin, and it just feels scratchier and not as nice as this BFL.

When I turn the spindle (a Schacht Hi-Lo) in my hands it feels like it wants to spin. I’m very happy that it promises to be both top and bottom whorl, so I can try both ways of spinning. Although of course I have no way of knowing whether it’s actually any good for either technique. But I have faith 😀

I wonder how many things I’ll have to relearn once I get to using this. I’m thinking I probably should spin the rest of the Finnish sheep wool using my DIY spindle so it’ll stay consistent. But delaying gratification makes it all the more sweeter, right?

I also realized that I have been neglecting making mom’s mother’s day gift because I’ve been spinning 😦 It’s already late, but that’s just more reason to get it done post-haste. Things have been crazy with work and my seminar thesis and finishing up my Bachelor’s degree and what not, but I still feel a bit bad now about using any energy I had left over for crafting on spinning rather than the gift. I just think she deserves to be pampered.

One last thing: my third batch of the Finnish sheep wool is again better than the last one: I have the same amount of inconsistencies in the thicknesses of the singles, but now the singles are much more defined. It feels much harder (still not scratchy or anything, just not completely fluffy anymore).

I’m dreaming of knitting a Baktus with my very first handspun, just because you can decide exactly how much yarn you want that pattern to use up. And I’m starting to dream of gifting people with my handspun 😛 Once I’m sufficiently good at it. Oh my. I like this stuff.

My New Super Hero Skill

15 May

Not only can I take yarn and turn it into fabric and real, useful and beautiful clothes, I can now with more and more proficiency take wool and turn it into  yarn! (Although someone else still has to take the sheep or similar and shear them and turn their fleece into prepared wool for me, but whatever. I’m sure I could figure out how to do it if civilization fell. Provided I could find friendly sheep or someone’s abandoned pet angora rabbit or maybe a long-haired dog.)

Here’s my first attempt in a year or two that I spun on Saturday. As you can see, I’m doing thick and thin and there’s not enough twist (?). I also tried to fashion a Lazy Kate out of a shoebox, and while it has worked for me before I just couldn’t figure any of it out now. Although my guess now is that I tried to turn the spindle in the same direction both while spinning and plying, and that’s… not how it works. Now I spin counterclockwise and ply clockwise, because it feels natural.

Then I found out about the importance of the weight of the spindle. Mine (made of a pencil with a hook on top stuck through a cardboard circle following the advice in this video) was 11 grams and apparently, for a beginner 50-70 grams is ok. Apparently the lightest commercially made ones are more like 30 g… Oops. Well that certainly explains a lot. I stuck on an eraser for added weight, and things got a lot easier. I also finally gave Andean plying a chance and oh, the joy! By the way, there are some really confusing explanations of Andean plying out there, and the one in Knitty I linked to is the best I could find… Suddenly, after 30 minutes of going “barooo?” it was very easy to do.

These changes resulted in this much better yarn that I spun on Sunday.

I looked online for real spindles in the weight category someone recommended for beginners and I found one, a Schacht Hi-Lo spindle (62,4 g). It works as both a top and bottom whorl. I also found out that Bluefaced Leicester wool is one of the easier fibers to learn on… So the boyfriend ordered the spindle and some BFL wool for me as my birthday present.

I don’t feel like spinning for long periods of time, but I still want to go back to it all the time. It’s a strange feeling.

I’m not sure why I have so much trouble finding basic information on spinning online, but I’m coming to the conclusion that my vocabulary is too small/I don’t use the words I know right, and I’ve confused the Great Google.

I finally found these useful tidbits of information by turning to my first language – surprise! Actually I think my vocabulary is even smaller in Finnish when it comes to spinning, but at least it’s slightly easier to learn the new words.

Now I’m just waiting for Mister or Miss postperson to bring me mah spindle and mah wool! I want  them right now *stomps foot*.

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