Fiber Friday

The Aurora Colony Handspinners Guild invited Sarah Anderson, the author of Book of Yarn Design (and others) to be the guest speaker in September as well as teach several workshops the next two days.

If you ever have the opportunity to take a class with Sarah, do so! She’s not only very knowledgeable about spinning, she’s humorous, a story teller and down to earth, but she’s an excellent teacher.

Sarah had us spinning big fat yarn – way out of my comfort zone!
Which we plyed with twice as much twist as we’d normally add so that it would cable neatly back on itself. It takes a great deal of practice, feel and eye to achieve the balance of beautifully cabled yarn.

Testing for balanced cables: The left one was slightly over twisted, the two middle weren’t plyed with enough twist, the far right is the most balanced. 
Sarah showing us to test the ply for balance.
Unbalanced cable: the bumps should be in straight lines.
After many attempts I finally achieved a section of cabled yarn that was balanced. Sarah passed out bright blue and neon green Corriedale for us to spin, one thick, the other thin which were then plyed for art yarn.
Here she’s showing us how to vary the plying by adding more or less twist to produce art yarn.
Cabled thick & thin.

The three cabled yarns I spun during the workshop. It was hard for me to let go of spinning for even thickness to make a thick and thin yarn with the blue and green.
Spinning the two contrasting colors is an excellent way to quickly see whether or not your ply is adequate for a balanced yarn. If the cables had been balanced the green would be a straight line, as would the blue. You can see areas where I came close to it.

Grateful for:
Opportunities to expand my spinning knowledge.
Being able to spin all sorts of fibers.
The continuity of spinning through time and people.
That spinning produces yarns for use and the opportunity to slow down, to be quiet and think.


Spinning Autumn Colors

The beautiful autumn days have given way to the typical rains and cold of November.
(Yesterday’s sudden squall while the sun was still shining.)
Once again we’re burning wood for heat; Ed put plastic over the large living room window. (The size is relative, some of you would probably spit coffee on your computer if you saw it compared to your front room window).

The windows are the original, dating to ’78. Even though they’re double-paned enough years have passed and the Spring Break Quake of ’93 didn’t help with their having a strong wind-proof seal. One of these years we must replace them.

As the year winds down these final two months I’m aware that if I want to get any gifts made for Christmas I’d better get cracking! The monthly spinning challenges on the YarnTools forum in Revelry have been a great help in producing yarns for special gifts. (It’s not too late to take part in November’s challenge!)
Here’s my most recent completed yarn from the Sept/Oct challenge
I love the vibrant depth of these autumn colors! Fiber: Picperfic  Wylie: 60% Polwarth, 20% Yak, 20% Mulberry Silk. Colourway: Doris
Chain-plyed to keep the colors.
Go ahead, click on the link and check out the lovelies Marianne has to offer right now. Oh my goodness, there are a number that grab my attention…

I loved spinning this fiber, these colors. Not wanting to risk having them barber-pole or look muddy if the two singles didn’t match up well, I spun  two turtles (the name we call the resulting ball / cake of yarn spun by a Turkish spindle) then chain-plyed them into one long length.
Since I wanted to keep the same alignment and order of the roving and colors, I hand wound the singles of the second turtle into a ball. That put the the beginning part, which ends up inside the turtle, on the outside which was then spun/joined to the outside end of the yarn still on the first spindle.
I could have used a heavier Egret or a Swan which would have enabled me to spin all 107 grams of the singles with one spindle. I’ve spun that much on a spindle before but that much weight significantly slows down the spindle.
I’m so pleased to have achieved my goal of spinning singles that chain-plyed to a light worsted weight. 107 grams, ca 144 yards
The small neck scarf sample I knit up yesterday has been frogged. The pattern and colors fought for attention. Tomorrow afternoon I’ll peruse my patterns, and perhaps Revelry to see what would show off this yarn.

January spinning and knitting

A short post tonight. I’m determined to post every month this year. Here it is almost 10 pm the last day of January and only the first post of 2017.

Life is full. Life is good. Fiber stuff keeps happening, as does sending out spindles, preaching, and sundry miscellaneous stuff. December was filled with unexpected happenings and January started off that way. I’m grateful that it’s settling back into a more typical rhythm.

Fiber recap of January
A four ounce braid from Mosaic Moon, colorway “The 4th Doctor” turned into approximately 176 yards of 2-ply squishiness. Not sure yet what it will become.dsc05200Wool fiber and yarns tend to call out the hunter in Ebo. He can’t seem to help but want to attack good fiber. I have to guard it like a sheepdog when Ebo’s around.

Another braid of Alpaca/Silk from Upstream Alpaca has been spun into 750+ yards of singles. This skein has gone into the bin with the other skeins of alpaca singles that will eventually be woven into material.

dsc05206Last weekend I had to attend some church related meetings for several hours Friday evening and all day Saturday. It was a perfect time to start a new knitting project that would be fairly mindless with its rows of garter stitch. A Surprise Jacket for my grandson who sweetly asked me to make him a new one as he’d outgrown the one I made for him two years ago.
He asked it to be made with green and yellow because “I like the Oregon Ducks.”
“But don’t you like the Boise Broncos anymore, Wesley?” I asked since last year they were his favorite team.
“Yes, I like the Broncos, but I like the Ducks too. So you can make it with blue and orange too.”

Spinning Alpaca

The fifth skein of the alpaca project has been spun, soaked and dried. This latest one is the colorway is called Midnight; it’s the second from from the right.dsc04589April ’15 I bought some alpaca/silk roving from Upstream Alpacas at a daylong, local spin-in where Christine had a table. As soon as the roving began slipping through my hands I feel in love and ordered another 4 ounces. It didn’t take long before I knew I wanted to spin enough to weave material for a skirt, perhaps a matching short jacket ensemble.  So far there are over 3200 yards. I’m not sure about the skein on the right. That roving was ordered online and turned out brighter than I’d anticipated. Yet, it might be interesting to have a pop of color in the cloth.

At times my plan is to use a black alpaca yarn (yet to be spun) for the weft, but that idea gets shoved aside in favor of a plaid scheme. It’ll be good to weave samples of various colors layouts and design. There’s still the 4 ounce braid of black  roving to be spun up. I might get another final braid before I call it enough, probably another Midnight so the dark will be dominant. These have all been spun using my Louet Victoria.

A different color sequence. This layout seems more pleasing to my eye. I’m open to thoughts and opinions.
dsc04591Ed and I had read about drinking a banana blended with hot water and cinnamon for a good night’s sleep. Not crazy about the weak taste of the hot banana water I’ve been adding hot milk to the blender, as well as some vanilla, ginger, turmeric and a bit of black pepper for an all around healthy bedtime drink. Rather tasty and it does seem to help. 
dsc04521Today I’m thankful for the blessing and comforts of home.

Walking Spinning

The turtle singles and plyed balls that I posted about on the 24th, now skeined and pictured below, came to approximately 393 yards.

Here they are before the warm soapy bath to set the twist.


Fresh from the bath, wrung out and laid next to previously skeined spindle-spun-while-walking yarn that have been accumulating over the course of several years, spun using two of Ed’s early standard Turkish spindles. (What we call Swans.) I don’t spin when it’s raining during our walks – a common occurrence in NW Oregon, and I’ve been quite sporadic about taking my spindle and wool with me.
All together now there are approximately 860 yards. There is still have another turtle waiting for a last spindle full to ply it with which might take the yardage close to 1000. Instead of the sweater I’d originally set out to make this yarn might be used for a vest.

The three skeins hanging to dry.


Thankful for the satisfaction of being able to spin yarn that will eventually be a piece of clothing.

A State Fair Ribbon

One of the “firsts” I accomplished this summer was entering a skein of handspun yarn into the Oregon State Fair.  Not exactly a personal stretching type of first. The people in the 1st Wednesday spinners encouraged me to enter the skein of cotton that I passed around at one of the meetings. It’s the first skein of cotton that I’ve spun with the walking wheel. The two singles weren’t spun one right after the other, then they languished in a drawer for several more months before I finally got around to plying them.

Having been told that singles over a year old lose their energy and won’t ply decently and knowing the first single was spun over a year ago with the second one months later the odds weren’t high that it’d have an adequate ply. Contrary to expectations the yarn came out quite nicely.

Having demonstrated spinning with the walking wheel at the Fair and admiring all the beautiful handspun yarns plus textiles I decided it’d be a good experience to enter and actually have my yarn formally judged for the sake of learning.

Once upon a time I bought 1 pound of EcoButterfly cotton with the intention of eventually weaving material from the yarn spun using the great wheel. This was the first finished skein.  Gracious! I’d better get serious about spinning the cotton with the walking wheel if I ever want to get though that pound!

The index card was dutifully filled out stating fiber material and method used, plus the planned end use for the yarn. I should have written a shawl or some such knitted item instead of a woven shirt.


The fair over I was able to pick up the skein, ribbon and score sheet on my way to the 1st Wednesday spinners. The skein with accompanying sheet was passed around to everyone for their comments. They were all as puzzled as I about the -2 for direction of twist. The only thing we could think of was they thought it unsuitable for weaving. If any of you have knowledge about judging yarn I’d love your input. Given that this was my first spinning of cotton with the walking wheel, the length of time between spinning the singles, and more time before plying I’m pleased with the score which earned a red ribbon. I know that there’s good room for improvement, especially with the thick and thin as well as the consistency of twist.

I’m already plotting what to enter next year. 🙂 Perhaps even a woven cotton shirt – if I start putting in the paces with the wheel every day.

The Oregon Flock & Fiber Festival (OFFF) is coming up next weekend. I’m excited to again teach a 3 hour workshop on spinning cotton, flax & hemp with a spindle Friday morning. It’s fun to be able to expand our spinning repertoire and knowledge and teaching helps one to learn even more.

It’ll be an interesting week: Ed’s dad, JW, is moving to a place about 20 miles from us after having lived 3 hours away. When he was first putting in the bid for the house we made it clear that we would help him move any week but the week between the 18th and 25th. That one week was completely out for us since we had a major show that weekend.

JW called early last week with the news: he’s moving up on Tuesday, the 20th. sigh. Ed and our son-in-law arranged to drive down first thing that morning to drive the loaded moving van up here. Then he called Friday morning to tell us the guy he’s buying the house from won’t be out until Wednesday evening. Meanwhile, the people who bought JW’s house are moving into it first thing Wednesday morning. So, on top of moving JW up here the moving van will be parked at our place and he’ll stay with us until Thursday morning. If the house needs some serious cleaning…

I have faith that it will all work out in the long run. Between tying up all the last minute details for OFFF, and the workshop as well as helping with JW’s move, and hosting him (he’s not one to help with tasks) we aren’t likely to be very rested going into the festival weekend. And, the forecast is now predicting rain next weekend.  Our booth will be outside.

We’re trying to keep a good sense of humor, and attitude about how everything snowballed onto this week.