Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Good old golden rules days

The spinning demonstration went well  -  I think  -  but we went way over time and probably disrupted the whole schooling system.  There is another one in a couple of weeks and I think that I'll have to have Herself do all, or most, of the talking while I just spin.

The kids were interested in the making of rolags on the blending board but the real excitement came when I did the first long back draw and suddenly a long length of yarn appeared; and again when I plied the red with the cream and they could see how the twist was made.  Herself has obviously not knitted for a very long time so, as we were way overtime I took over and did a couple of rows.

There was one little boy (they were all grade I, so about five or six) who said that his granny had a wheel just like E.Roberta (who didn't get a look-in) and that she was teaching him to knit.  this I applaud  -  knitting used to be a part of men's work while the unmarried girls did the spinning.

I won't bother to take E.Roberta next time and I should have ascertained how long we had.  I sort of assumed 40 minute classes which was what we had when I was at school.  However, I am pleased to report that E.Emma behaved herself and spun 'Z' and plied 'S' without protest and even self-started when I asked her to.

I have finished the first skein of the 'Jewel' plaits and, as I suspected, they are rather dingy.  Not altogether bad as I don't want the vest I am planning to be garish.  But that will have to wait for a while:  I almost destroyed my thumbs trying to draft the fibres and even after ruthless pre-drafting it was still difficult.  At the moment I am spinning my BFL pigtails and having a lot of fun.  They are easy to draft  -  almost spin themselves and they really ARE going to be a bit garish; I hope.  I might knit the pull-through scarf with them if there is enough yarn.  I am looking forward to spinning the 'Rosewood' plaits now and there will be heaps for a long sweater; and I have two plaits of 'Cupcake' from the Greenwood  Fibre Club which is also BFL tops.

Here is a picture of the first skein of 'Jewel'.  Click on the picture to enlarge it.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Three new things I've learnt

29-03-2014  Edited to say that since writing this post I have discovered BFL tops which are incredibly easy to draft and spin so what I wrote below is more about merino tops which, in the plaits which I had endeavoured to spin, there was a measure of felting which made drafting very hard on my thumbs.

* * *

I have spend a lot of time over the last few days spinning my first two plaits of hand-painted tops and it has been rather a steep learning curve.

There are three things which I have discovered which will, hopefully, stand me in good stead:

1.  Ruthlessly strip the plait down to its smallest strips.  I have found that there are usually six divisions which any plait (or any top) can be stripped into.  For some reason, which defies all the laws of physics, the narrower the strip the more discreet is the colour .  Unstripped, all the other colours in the plait seem to intrude and spin together so that there is very little pure colour.

2.  Predraft the strips very gently until the are loose enough to float.  This makes for faster, easier spinning and is not so hard on your drafting hand.  It doesn't matter if the top breaks during drafting  - it is easy to join up when you spin it.  Just match it colour for colour with the already spun yarn and it will all meld in perfectly.

3.  Choose plaits which represent only one side of the spectrum.  Red and green spun together will give you brown.  Keep them away from each other.  There are only three colours; red, yellow and blue.  Mix all three together and you will always end up with brown.  As separate strands when plying they can look very good but avoid mixing them in a single.

There will be people who disagree with me on these three points and as I become more experienced in dealing with colour I could very well change my tune but having almost finished spinning my first two plaits I will be following my new rules for the spinning of the second two.  When the two skeins have been plied I will compare them and see if I am right or not.

I might even post pictures.

Edited to post picture.  Click on picture to enlarge ...

The lower bobbin was spun 'across the top' and the top bobbin was stripped.  The colours in the top bobbin are clearer although, in the cold light of morning I rather like the 'across the top' bobbin.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

I've been almost virtuous today.

Although E.Roberta was sitting hungrily on the table this morning I ignored her and did the washing, paid the bills, changed the batteries in the smoke alarms, made a generic stew and placated the cats who were both a bit fragile because last night Poppy bit Parsifal who retaliated and they both got misted from the water bottle.  Today they both needed reassurance and cuddles and Parsifal wittered on about it for ages while I was trying to eat my breakfast.

I finally began spinning but I am finding that spinning the plaits is hard on my thumbs despite me realising very early on that it was essential to pre-draft the tops.  The pre-drafting itself hurts my thumbs so I am doing it in short bursts.  I started by trying to keep the colours more or less discreet because the pink next to the chartreuse wasn't pretty  -  but I have given up trying to do that and am spinning it just as it comes so goodness knows what it will look like when it is plied.  No matter, it is all a learning curve and I can always make a beanie out of it; I seem to be the only one in the family who hasn't got a beanie as yet.

I think that the school spinning demo is next Monday but haven't heard definitely from Herself.  I have made a list of what I need to take so that shouldn't be a problem but 1.25pm seems an odd time to start and I don't know where the school is so I am going to have to go to the Self's place first.  Knowing what the traffic is like I will aim to get there at about 1.00pm to allow for holdups.  It should be an interesting afternoon.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Standard yarn weights for spinners

Wikipedia has a page of the American Standard Yarn Weights which is very, very useful for anyone wanting to spin their own handspun yarn.

As I am not sure if the formatting will come out in this blog I am posting the URL instead:


Sunday, March 16, 2014

Oh, Happy Day ...

Today I finally skeined and washed the last of the black corriedale tops which I have been stolidly spinning since last October, just over one kilo and destined to be a cardigan.  Now that I have finished spinning it I can allow myself to start knitting.

And I have split a plait of 'jewel' from Kathy's Fibres and want to try spinning each one from the same end so that the colours will match after a fashion when it is plied.  There should be enough for something meaningful  -  I have four plaits.

My aubergine bump which was missed from my last order from Ashford is "in transit' from the Osbourne Park mail depot so it should arrive at the Claremont Post Office sometime this afternoon and that will be for my blending board and spun woollen on E.Emma for a bit of light relief from the serious stuff.

GB1 seems to like the beanie I knitted him for his New Zealand trip.  He put it on and left it on and thank goodness, it fits him perfectly.  I love that pattern  -  it seems to be endlessly adaptable to needles and WPI variations and is infinitely stretchy as long as the casting on is loose enough.

One of E.Roberta's bobbins has been giving trouble (the reason for two short skeins) so I have put a red bow in its tail to remind me not to use it except in emergencies and It would probably work OK for plying should the need arise.

My spider bite doesn't seem to want to heal up properly and I think that I may have to break into the last two courses of antibiotics although I am not holding my breath that they will clear it up since the last four didn't manage to do so.  It is smaller but still itchy  -  maybe it will clear up on its own, given time.

I have worked out how to set Parsifal smurgling and he comes and asks me to do it.  I don't know why he can't just do it all himself  -  he knows where his blankie is kept  -  but he really seems to need permission.  Maybe he does it all on his own at night when I am asleep and simply feels that I would like to be a part of the process.  Now that the weather is getting cooler he is turning into a lap cat.  Poppy has always been a lap cat and it always on my bed when I wake up (for that read woken up by the chronometer kitten) at 7.15 on the dot.

Here is a photo of the black corriedale all spun up.  Click on the photo to enlarge.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

My Aubergine Bump

The New Zealand mob had responded very quickly to my emails and the  kilo of Aubergine is already on its way and with luck I will have it by the middle of next week.  Its non-inclusion has been blamed on a 'consignment error' and I am allowed to keep the unordered/unwanted sample 7-colour sliver of autumn colours which are like the ones I have blended with the apricot coloured tops to make my  Joseph Scarf.

I have knitted the requested beanie for GB1, undone it because I wasn't sure if it was big enough, added an extra four stitches (the wool is VERY thick) and have almost finished it again.  This time I am fairly confident that it will be big enough  -  it is very stretchy; the only sticking point is in the casting on and I have done that as loosely as I could considering the thickness of the yarn.  Tomorrow, hopefully, I will finish the knitting and sew it up ready for its trip to New Zealand.

It is a nice beanie pattern; very quick and easy and can be adapted to just about any thickness of yarn.  In this case it is being knitted from some of my first spinnings on E.Roberta when I was still working out the adjustments for twist and take-up.

Parsifal has a 10cm scratch which is healing but must have been inflicted by Poppy.  It doesn't seem to have put him off his food but I must cut their fingernails and toenails tomorrow.  In all my years of keeping cats I never realised how much work indoor cats create.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Three Strikes and they are out - I think

My latest order from the mob in New Zealand, the ones who make and sell spinning wheels and things, arrived today minus the kilo of Aubergine tops which I had ordered and paid for.  They charged me for it but substituted a packet of 'Autumn' sliver instead.  I had ordered two packets of 'Spring' slivers to blend with the aubergine and they arrived. It was the only part of the order they got right.

I have emailed the Australian rep. who has always been very helpful and sent her copies of the dispatch document and the delivery docket.  These show the price, weight and contents and list the Aubergine kilo but the weight was only 0.37 kilos.  Hopefully she will be able to sort it out for me but these people in New Zealand seem to be losing the plot and I'd rather pay more to get my practice tops from someone who can give me what I pay for.

I have plied what was supposed to be the ultimate black skein but there is still some to spin.  Once again the weight is 200 gms and is approximately 280 yards in length so I am still spinning very consistently.  This is a good thing since I have been working on it since last October.  The first skein is a bit thicker but not disastrously so and I'll probably knit the back of the cardigan with that one and do the two-ball trick if I run out before I complete the back.

I have started knitting a beanie for the boy GB but the yarn is very thick and I have already undone it once to add some more stitches.  It is pretty stretchy and goes around my head so hopefully it will fit him.  But it is a very quick knit so it won't be the end of the world if I have to do it all over again.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

I have broken a solemn vow

I have almost finished spinning the beastly black and have used almost all of the fibre which I bought to learn to use my blending board.  I am very pleased with the Joseph Scarf I made and having caught the 'woollen' spinning bug I have done what I said I would never do again  -  buy some more tops from the mob in New Zealand.  The proliferation of noils in the beastly black generated this resolve but the apricot bump which I processed on my blending board only had a couple   -  certainly not enough to get my knickers in a twist so I have ordered a bump of Aubergine corriedale with pink-toned slivers to blend and will process them on the blending board and spin them on E.Emma.  I haven't enough tops left for the school demonstrations and do not want to sacrifice any of the little pigtails from Carolyn Greenwood.  The aubergine is on its way and I must say that what Ashford lack in quality they make up for in speed.

I went with D2 to the Cat Haven yesterday and they are doing wonders.  Last time I was there they had chicken-wire runs in tin sheds.  Now they have very superior accommodation for the cats with an isolation wing for those with infections  -  each enclosure with vented air to stop cross infection.  The enclosures are called condominiums but the lady in charge had shortened that to 'condoms' which amused me no end.  They are working towards a total no-euthanize policy and I have made a donation towards eliminating ringworm as this is hard and expensive to treat and at the moment all cats with ringworm are automatically put down.  My cat Bast contracted ringworm and I know how long and tiresome the treatment is.

I woke up a couple of days ago and realised that I could almost move without pain so the neurotoxins are finally working their way out of my body and I am about to start back to doing yoga.  I have two new yoga DVDs which I am anxious to try.  And the lesions on my eyelids turned out to be harmless naevi so maybe that astrologer was right  -  I am experiencing a helpful transit.