Friday, January 30, 2009
"Well, I THOUGHT it was pretty evenly spun."
Here's the fiber. So is that tightly braided? I do know it's hard to pull a chunk off. I have to unbraid a good 18 inches of it, maybe more, to get a length off. And then I have to really tug hard.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Shot this back toward myself from the other side.
The below photo got flipped on its side somehow. so right side of photo is actually vertically downward. This photo is backlit to show funnel that comes from interior of wad of fiber. Note: There is no twist in the funnel whatsoever. It is fibers from INSIDE the fiber mass that seem to grip onto what's been drafted, as though what's been drafted is acting as a leader, pulling it along. At this point the fiber seems to draft itself, and the funnel starts coming straight from the little finger's hold. I don't thin it out with thumb and forefinger, at all. That's already done and the thumb and forefinger's only function is to pinch off the twist with the fiber hand so I can release it with the drafting/spindle hand.
Please see this swirl. Here I had to let go of the pinch with my right (spindle) hand to hold the camera AND wanted to show the "beak" I'm forming with thumb and forefinger, so in this shot you will see some twist did get into the wad of fiber.
But more importantly, the photo shows how defined that weird funnel actually is. It goes straight through into the core of the wad. (???????)
Eventually, when I'm at the end of the wad, I have to stop and straighten out the fiber mass. My sense of it is that what it wants to do (I THINK!) is invert itself and become the last part of the funnel, but there's usually uneven blobs attached that prevent that from happening.
Bottom line is that when the drafting is in motion, I'm not touching (let alone gripping) the fiber with any part of my palm or fingers EXCEPT that the pinkie is curled around it, and maybe a little of the ring finger, though as far as I can tell, the ring finger doesn't contribute tension other than the fiber funnel riding over it.
Here's another photo of the funnel, with the mass being held down by a remote in absence of my drafting hand. I shot it with daylight backlighting and no flash so you can see through it. The funnel continues on into the mass as a darkened area. I am sure it doesn't have twist in it, because I have no problem thinning it out if I wanted to, and I wouldn't be able to do that if it had twist. Yet if it doesn't, I am totally STUMPED why that dark area can continue this far into the mass! It's looking to me like it's actually curling right around within the mass if that pink tinged area I'm seeing is "funnel-yet-to-be." And it sho do look that-a way.
Friday, January 23, 2009
I just finished knitting my FIRST SPIN! With only somewhere around a vaguely-estimated 123 yards that I spun, as thickly as I spun it, out of the gorgeous 4 oz. of fiber that Jenny gave me with the drop spindle for Christmas, I was really limited as to what I could make. That's not a lot of yarn but probably typical for a first spin.
I had a particular scarf in mind which is tailored. That was my only problem with it, because I'm not. I still like the way it looks though, and I had enough yarn for that. So I started it and only knit up about 2 inches before I realized, the size 4 needles called for were way too small for my yarn -- at least the part that came off the ball first.
This was coming out super stiff, thick and dense. I hated it, and would never be motivated to wear it. (The center stocking stitch part is where the slit would eventually go.) Otherwise it's ribbed. Thick, stiff, tight ribs!
So "tinked" it. (Jenny says "tinK" is Knit spelled backwards, and it refers to Un-knitting, otherwise known as ripping it out. So I switched to size 8, and started again.
Better, but still too dense and stiff. Only now, add that it would be too wide also. I thought maybe I could fold it over in the back, but why start out having to adjust to something you don't like anyway for this yarn.
I really wanted this first spin to be knit into something I could keep forever. Not only did this fiber come along with my drop spindle (and I can now say my "first" drop spindle), but Jenny picked out the fiber because it's a really nice BFL that spins great, and it was in my colors.
So for all those reasons, I abandoned that pattern and looked on Ravelry again for another thing to make out of it. I found one. Its picture wasn't QUITE what I wanted, but envisioning my yarn, I thought this might be a perfect thing to make. Plus it called for size 13 needles! Now we're getting somewhere!
So I tinked again.
This is now three tinks on the same yarn. AARG!
The pattern did not say "Cast on so freaking loosely that it's downright ridiculous, so I didn't. I cast on looser than I normally do, but not so it was downright ridiculous. Next time I make this (and I will), I will cast on so loosely that it's downright ridiculous. The very first rows are... you start with 60 inches, then knit 2 together down to 30 in the first row! Then without any breather purl row, in the very next row you decrease yet again! Down to 15 stitches. I mean, that's a violent change. I really had to struggle to knit two together even in the first row. The second was worse.
Time out: At least a year ago, I saw a whole set of bamboo knitting needles on eBay, cheaper than just one pair elsewhere. I ordered them for Jenny, just in case they weren't crap quality. I mean, they came out to $1 per pair so I didn't have high hopes, but it looked like these were mass produced somewhere in Asia, and who knows. Well, Jenny didn't like the tiny ones at all, which was what she was after, so I've had 12+ sets of round needles in tons of sizes, just sitting there. I am soooo glad I do! I figure the teensy ones are all wrong (cables are too big) but the big ones, I actually like a LOT! In any event, that's how I came to have so many needles so I could keep trying different sizes. And that's really a darned good deal! I could definitely get into knitting with bamboo needles for everything!
So the yarn kept being thick, and I was really liking this scarf-to-be. Then suddenly, not even a gradual change, it became thin. And I mean THIN! Can't find the close-up, but you can see what happened on the left side of the paper. Skinny yarn, skinny part of scarf.
I kept hoping the thickness would vary back and forth so it would look consistent and on purpose, but there are just sections that are skinny.
So this is what I got. One lacy, thinner tail, and one thicker, clubbier tail.
Adding to the variation in width of the scarf caused by the thick yarn on one tail and the thin on the other, when binding off, I just couldn't do it as tightly as when I cast on. So we have one "super-ruffle" and one "not so super" ruffle.
Here are the two ends hanging off a hook so gravity adds to the differences even more.
End result (the bad part):
- The two ruffles really do look like they're on two different scarves. In fact, one ruffle is a good 1/3rd wider than the other.
- Same with the actual body of the scarf. The thick side is about 1/4 its own width wider than the thin side.
End result (the good part):
- Hey, one end will be flipped over onto my back. You won't see them together.
- Hey, if I'm being dressy and delicate, I can have the lacy end in front. If not, then the clubbier end in front. A convertible scarf! (Okay, we are really reaching here, but it's actually true because they don't look much alike.)
- Hey, if it was perfect it would look like I bought it in a department store.
And last but not least...
- Hey, it's my first spin! Some people don't knit anything from their first spin. It seems fitting somehow that it would be as inconsistent as it is, and I can't help but love that about it.
So there it is. And I will definitely wear it! In fact, I think I'll wear it with pride.
I sure learned a lot more about spinning, just from having knitted something out of what I did spin.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
I couldn't figure out how to do this, and something was missing from the methods I'd been told to do when I asked someone. (Aside: I've already decided I don't like wrapping stored section on empty toilet paper tubes because they're smaller and weaker than I'd like, so I just happened to have a paper towel tube. I like it for a number of reasons.) Anyway, I'd loaded two separate spins onto one PT tube, but didn't want to keep having separate sections, then try to splice them together after the fact. One of them had a more accessible free end that I'd slipped into a cut slit on the cardboard, except it had a knot in it. That was okay. I cut the knot off, then unspun a couple of inches. The spin had already set, however, so I took a regular hair comb (just a black Ace with both size/spacing of teeth). I combed out the two inches so it was nice, neat, fluffy fiber again. Then I put a ton of spin in the last foot or so of the yarn on my spindle. Carefully laid the two ends of now-unspun-fiber over one another, and held it in a flat pinch. Lifted it off the table, and slowly released it. SNAP!! That overspin I'd put into the spindle piece just totally gobbled up the joint's fiber. I then unwound a little longer length, both from the PT tube and from the shaft of my spindle. The overspin spread out, I pulled on it, and NOTHING was going to separate that splice short of breaking it on purpose. I relaxed the whole length, and it wasn't overspun, so that was that. I unwound my spindle onto the PT holder, making a big fat single yarn. YEEEEEE-HAW!!
Unfortunately I didn't do that to the first spindle cop, so that one is still separate and needing to be joined once I get one of them off the paper towel tube. But from now on, this is how I'm going to do it -- straight from the spindle onto the previously-stored source.
Couldn't figure that out prior to trying it for some reason. But it's so simple. Just leave a puff at the beginning and end of each cop, and use the puffed end of your stored cop as your fiber source during the splice. Et Voila. One down, a zillion to go.
Maybe it's something to do with the music that accompanies Cady May's demonstration video of her spindolyns. Or the image of such a peaceful seeming soul sitting there in her cabin, cat stretching in the background. But this just looked like a wonderful way to spin.
Add that my back has gone out, out, OUT! and I'm worrying that it's the position I get into when spindling. Now that I'm so hooked into it, that's a big fear.
I do know I can't live with this back pain. It feels like a nerve that runs through my entire pelvic section from my back straight through to the front, then across and 90 degree turn down the inside of my thigh. It feels like that nerve is being subjected to a medieval torture device, then bashed with a sledge hammer for good measure. So if it is the position of spindling with my top whorler, then the spindolyn might be more than just an intrigue, but my solution. I'm hooked into spindling, one way or the other.
Cady May did email me and said that she hadn't sent mine out as of Friday because, with the frigid cold front, her cabin rooms were 45 degrees except right by the fireplace, so she was afraid the glue wouldn't have dried. But she said she'd gotten an electric heater and would send it tomorrow (which is now yesterday) if the heater helped. So I don't know when it'll arrive, probably sometime this week. It won't be soon enough! I'm dying to try it.
This is one of those times when having a horse is huge overhead, and I'm not talking about cost. I'm talking about in 10 minutes I have to fill 4 gallon jugs of water, carried two in each hand (that means no gloves for that part) out to the barn, saved from slipping on the solid sheet of ice that's my driveway by some serious spike button ice cleats, and do just what my back feels like most (NOT!) Fork out Cloud's indoor pen, bend in that awful position to pour the water, and all the other moves that result in her getting grained and 10 lbs. of hay, those tight leaves spread open. I'm not looking forward to that, but gotta do it.
New barn cat. S/he ran from me for months. Looked too fat to be ferel, but it's adopted my barn. I feed him now. He knows by now I'm not interested in eating him. He loves to be pet, even a little roughly (my test). I sat down out there to see if he'd come to me, and he did. This cat ain't de-clawed, along with the purring came the claw-kneading. On my leg. That cat's a mystery. He's either very trusting or is owned. Or was. He's taken up residence here for sure.
I'd bring him inside if Bella-Dawg wouldn't eat him. But I have no doubt in the world that she would. He never looks cold. With all that thick fur, no one would be. He's adopted a bale of hay as his bed. I put a blanket on it for him. I think I'll find a more crumply one he can snuggle into, this is a mover's furniture protector pad. Not very snuggly.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Yet still, I persist.
I'm getting the idea that one way to go about this would be to just not let the yarn get too thin. I wasn't guarding against that last night, or when I first picked it up this morning, but I've returned to it with the thought that my thin parts ought to be thicker than I've been letting them be.
The big problem with thick/thin is that the spin gravitates toward the thin. It gets overspun. Meanwhile, the thicker parts don't... well, MAYBE they don't, get enough spin. So I'm now thinking if I try for less of a difference between the extremes of thick/thin, that may help.
Drafting this fiber is also full of challenges. In some ways it acts like a long staple length (you need a longer draft zone) yet in others, it acts like it doesn't (will drift apart easier than I'd expect.)
Challenging!! Yet I have the feeling if I can pull this off, it'll be a lot of learning curve under my belt. I haven't yet figured out whether I'm going to get the hang of this anytime soon (expensive fiber to experiment with) or whether I should abandon the thick/thin/slubby idea, and just go for making the goal of a consistent yet fairly thick yarn. This fiber will spin thin, definitely. But I think it would lose some of its character, or at least the character that I see in it.
This will be an ongoing learning thing, and one I won't want to lose track of, so I may just keep adding to this post.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Time Out for some drippy stuff: It seems to me that as ridiculous as this sounds, if you almost "listen" to your fiber or yarn in progress, it'll tell you exactly what to do. It's an instinct thing. It's not something that screams out at you, you have to listen for it. I've had just glimpses into this, and I'm sure it's commonplace with experienced spinners, but for other newbies, just be open to what the yarn is telling you.
Anyway, I did that unspinning in places, and not in others (that's fairly obvious EXCEPT that you have to mentally picture what's going to happen to the unspinning. Where will it gravitate? So I soaked it again, spun it in the salad spinner again, and this time I didn't whack it. I also didn't want to put a weight on the bottom of the skein loop because some of these slubs are damned long. I figured they could easily pull apart. So I looped just a dry wash cloth over the bottom of the loop. Not a lot of weight, true. But just enough to... well, it wouldn't hurt. It felt right to do. And this is how it came out. Still a little squiggly, but soooooo much better. And I didn't hear the yarn yelping anymore.
Gee, for first photos on a first blog, these just don't look as clear as they do elsewhere. If anyone knows some setting to get them clearer, please let me know!
BUT! When I wound it into a ball, I discovered much to my delight that the really long unspun parts were all at the knots! Yeee-haw! I cannot wait to knit this yarn, the rest of it came out much to my liking. It's going to become a neck warmer (probably ribbed) that has a split at one end that the other end slips through.
This is a single, I got approx. 123 yards out of this 4-oz. braid. And I will treasure it forever as my first spin, and also just as meaningful to me, the result of the best, sweetest Christmas present I've ever received.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
My daughter took up knitting several years ago, and while I absolutely appreciated her work (still do!), I have never been much of a knitter. Well, a couple of exceptions: Way back when God was a boy, I made a big, snuggly, practical shawl, but only because I couldn't buy one like it. I still have it. Twenty years later, I also built a crewneck sweater I saw in a pattern by chance. Again, it had everything I couldn't find in a purchased one. And then last year, I was in need of something to do with my hands, so knitted another sweater. I still don't know how to sew it together. I will though.
So with all the above being super simple stitches, I currently know the following: Cast On, Knit, Purl, Increase, Decrease and Bind Off. That's it!
Meanwhile, daughter Jenny had also now taken up spinning on a wheel. Last Mother's Day we went to a Sheep & Wool Festival for a nice day out together. She wanted to see the fiber and tools, I wanted to see the Sheep Dog Demo's. She bought an inexpensive Drop Spindle for fun. Since then, whenever she'd come over, I'd casually watch her twirling and whorling as we chatted. It was her thing. Horses were mine.
Just on a chance, Jenny got me a Kundert drop spindle for Christmas along with 4 oz. of beautiful BFL roving in my colors. She thought just maaaybe I might enjoy it. But she included the preface that if I didn't happen to take to it, do not feel bad, her feelings wouldn't be hurt one bit. She knew it was a crap shoot, and not for everyone. So Christmas day she showed me how to spindle. I felt as though I had 15 fingers, all tangled together, and then at other times, I needed two more that had to be at least 8 inches long. I had a death grip on the draft, my hands were way too close together and fighting one another. Clearly this was going to be a definite learning curve. But it was really challenging. And kind of fun.
So fast-forward to New Year's Eve, daytime. During the six days hence, I'd picked it up several times a day, and was learning a tad more each time. Park and draft, park and draft. Death grip. Pull, ease... quite a process. But I kept at it because I was seeing YARN! Late afternoon, there was a howling wind and snow/ice storm in progress and all news sources were saying to stay off the roads "unless absolutely necessary." Well, it started dawning on me, I'd gotten pretty far through the 4 oz. of fiber, and no yarn shops are open on New Year's Day. Suddenly I felt clutched. So I called the cops and asked how bad the roads were, reeeally. They said just go very, very slow and take back roads. So I drove just that way to a yarn shop two towns over, and chose from their small supply of fiber. That's when I realized, I was addicted.
Having joined Ravelry, starting membership on New Year's Eve, I see that everyone keeps a blog of their progress and projects. That makes a lot of sense, because you can look back and see your steps and later remind yourself what you did to get different results. And what not to do next time.
So that is how I got my Drop Spindle, and my new hobby, and a blog. Spinning will probably be with me from now forward.
Thanks Jenny, that was the bestest gift to your mom, in the whole wide world... ever!