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Where am I gonna put…

8 Nov

All this fiber!

See, all I wanted was a niddy noddy.

It began last week when Doug had asked me why I hadn’t taken my wheel out yet. (It’s only made one appearance since I’ve moved — for a brief 2-day spinning run.) I figured that in 3 months I won’t have the time or energy to get to know my wheel, so, since there’s no time like the present, the wheel came out of closet-hiding.

All of my bobbins were full of bits and pieces of wool or silk that I had spun. There was a bit of the parrot crock-pot dyed singles (which I hated and, after spinning a few yards, decided to over-dye with purple). A whole bobbin-full of the over-dyed yarn. Some silk on 2 bobbins that I naively thought I would spin to make a shawl for the wedding (with 106 degree temps, didn’t miss the fact that I didn’t get anywhere near done…).

The first thing to do was to clean up a few bobbins. Even though I haven’t spun more than two bobbins’ worth of singles, I decided to learn how to navajo/chain ply (see Spin Off for a great article on how to do this). First I practiced with the parrot singles. Then with some singles from a round with the spindle that had been sitting in my stash. And finally with the purple parrot over-dye.

Navajo 3-ply
Bottom to Top – Parrot, Old Singles, Overdye

Now I had two bobbins ready to start on a bigger project — I want to spin enough to design a sweater. My mom’s friend, Helene, had graciously given me tons of roving. The last batch contained 2 bags of brown combed top (about 1/2 lb. each). Since brown is not usually a color I’m excited about, I thought that I would use this wool to practice spinning with on the wheel. I got out the fiber and realized that I had gotten a pound of spinning gold. Not only is it super soft (maybe has some mohair or down carded into it) but that it is a dream to spin.

First Skein Brown Roving
First Skein Brown Top

Initially I wanted a worsted weight for knitting but decided to just let the yarn speak for itself. I wound up with a skein of semi-worsted bulky weight yarn that really works well for this fiber.

But, since this was my first foray into spinning 2 full bobbins, I had a problem. To date my niddy noddy has been my lower leg (knee to foot). It’s worked well for small bits and pieces on the spindle, but for more? (Not to mention that it’s getting harder to reach my leg these days.) I needed a real niddy noddy…

This was Saturday, so on Sunday, I was going to head on over to my local fiber store, Stick and Stone Fiberarts. I was surfing their site when I noticed that they’d be closed. They were going to have a booth at the Southern California Handweavers Guild which was having their annual Fiber Fest!!!

It was incredible! Three large rooms full of fiber vendors, yarns and books. What was a fiberholic to do?

I decided to take it slow. I knew I wanted a niddy noddy. There was a book I wanted as well and I was hoping to get some bamboo to play with on my spindle. I made a pass around all the rooms and decided to sit down, breathe (well, by then honestly I was slightly out of breath carrying little one around inside of me — I don’t think it was all due to the fiber…) and eat lunch.

When I made my rounds I found that within 20 minutes a lot of the place had already been cleared out. Yep, it was like those other fiberholics had descended onto the goodies like a swarm of locusts. And saddest of all…

The bamboo I had been longing for was gone!

Oh well. Never one to let something like this completely get me down, I decided on a budget and to get just a few things…

schg goodies
SCHG Goodies

I got my niddy noddy (realized when I got home that it’s metric, though…) A pound of wool, mohair, tussah roving from Nancy’s Custom Weaving, the book Teach Yourself Visually Spinning (lots of hints not in my other books) and some really soft cotton roving from Stick and Stone.

There was also a vendor who had everything marked at $4 — cones and yarns. They had some of the softest cotton imaginable! I must say I restrained myself and only picked up 4 320 yard skeins.

$4 yarn
Newton’s Cotton Yarn

All in all not a bad day’s take. I restrained myself quite well. Found some interesting fibers to spin.

And, I got my niddy noddy.

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The Cop From Hell

26 Apr

No, I haven’t been arrested (although I did get caught by one of those &%$#^ red-light-no-yellow things the other day…). This is instead a tale about greed. The sort of greed that stems from the desire to spin lots and lots of yarn on a drop spindle in one go.

It all began when I had dyed some really beautiful roving (see blog header and this post) and thought longingly about how I wanted to use it. My hope, or rather, my desire was to spin enough to make something with it, perhaps a scarf or a pair of mittens.

I spun as finely as I could, given the spindle weight and wool. Thinly made singles laying one on top of the other. Carefully wound onto the spindle so that they could easily be unwound for plying. As my rapacity for twisted fiber kept growing, so did the cop on my little spindle, with each turn, ever fatter and heavier. (Much like the cliched human ‘cop’ gets from eating donuts…) Little did I know that I had over 260 yards of singles waiting to be plyed.

Once I started to ply, I realized where my avarice had taken me. I knew that Andean-plying wouldn’t work, for nothing, even the lure of freshly spun wool, is worth losing my circulation. But, despite this, my impulsiveness took hold of me and I began winding the singles unto my hand. Winding, coiling, wrapping. On and on it continued, my hand turning a slight shade of blue. I thought it would never end until…

The Tangle.

My beautiful singles, so lovingly spun with such passion and desire decided to rebell. No longer aligned neatly next to each other, despite my carefully and consciously constructed order. Instead they were crowded, vying for space, clinging to one another, like commuters on the Tokyo subway. Becoming a tangled inseparable mound.

The desire to spin so much yarn so quickly had slowly turned into a lesson. One in patience. One in which I had to realize that getting so much done all at once leads not to triumph, but often, instead to a snarled mass of confusion. The gains I thought I had made were quickly lost. In untangling my cop, I had to divide it into two. Carefully coaxing the knotted singles out, freeing then from their constricting, limited space. Hoping that in time their liberation would allow me to try plying once again.

Although I was eventually able to ply, it took a long time. It was ultimately, however, a lesson well learned.

GVB roving 2

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So Little Time… (To blog, that is)

15 Apr

I have had a lot of random and not so random thoughts running through my head this week. But, it’s tax season (I owe, major stress) and I started teaching a training seminar this week (8 hours almost straight a day), so I think I’ll keep this short (or rather, ‘vertically challenged’ if I’m being PC).

First, I just got the edited copy back of an article I wrote about being a beginning spinner. It’ll be published in Spinner’s Quarterly. More on that as the publishing date gets nearer. It’s my first fiber-art editorial/reflective type piece being published, so I’m pretty stoked.

Next, I haven’t had a chance to do much crafty stuff this week (what with ring, work, and aforementioned taxes…). But I do have a few pics of some finished spinning. I call it my ” almost Dr. Seuss” colors. I really wanted to go for a bright neony green and purple, but this is what I got…

Purple & green dr. seuss

It didn’t turn out as expected — the purple mutes the green and because there is so much color variation in the purple, I’m glad that I only spun up this sample (plyed on a heavy spindle…)

So then I decided to dye some neon blue (using Koolaid — I think Berry Blue) and ply the green and blue together. This is closer to what I really wanted…

Koolaid blue green dr. seuss

(The color isn’t completely true in the photo, but in real life it looks pretty cool.)

The purple singles had so many rich variations that I decided just to ply it onto itself (and got about 100 yards). Unfortunately I had already wound it into a ball before I realized that I wanted a picture of it. But, here it is…

purple dr. seuss
(Fairly close to true colors.)

So, that’s it for now. Until taxes are done I’m on a self-imposed crafting diet (or, rather fast). It’s hard, since my hands are aching to get cracking on the back of a sweater I started 10 days ago (with free yarn, the best kind!), some spinning and a couple of pairs of socks.

But what can I do? If I don’t work, I don’t get paid, but then again if I don’ t get paid, I wouldn’t have to pay taxes!

Hmmm…. What a conundrum. Hey, maybe doing my projects isn’t such a bad idea after all???!

Kumochan — The Easy Version

6 Apr

Kumochan in tree

As promised in the tutorial, here is the Kumochan (little spider) knitted amigurumi pattern.

Yarn: Naturespun Worsted (but any worsted acrylic, wool, cotton or blended yarn will do)
Needles: 4 DPN sizes 6 & 3

Size 6 DPN

CO 6 sts, place 2 sts on 3 DPN

Rnds1 & 2: k6

Rnd 3: M1 every st (6 inc made, 12 sts)

Rnd 4 & every even rnd: k

Rnd 5: k1, M1 6 times (18 sts)

Rnd 7: k2, M1 6 times (24 sts)

Rnd 9: k3, M1 6 times (30 sts)

Rnd 11: k4, M1 6 times (36 sts)

Rnd 13: k5, M1 6 times (42 sts)

Rnd 15: k6, M1 6 times (48 sts)

Rnds 16-22: k

Rnd 23: k2tog, k6 6 times (42 sts)

Rnd 25: k2tog, k5 6 times (36 sts)

Rnd 27: k2tog, k4 6 times (30 sts)

Rnd 29: k2tog, k3 6 times (24 sts)

Rnd 31: k2tog, k2 6 times (18 sts)

Rnd 33: k2tog, k1 6 times (12 sts)




Size 6 DPN

CO 6 sts, place 2 sts on 3 DPN

Rnds1 & 2: k6

Rnd 3: M1 every st (6 inc made, 12 sts)

Rnd 4 & every even rnd: k

Rnd 5: k1, M1 6 times (18 sts)

Rnd 7: k2, M1 6 times (24 sts)

Rnds 8-12 : k

Rnd 13: k3, M1 6 times (30 sts)

Rnd 15: k4, M1 6 times (36 sts)

Rnds 16-18: k

Rnd 19: k2tog, k3 6 times (24 sts)

Rnd 21: k2tog, k2 6 times (18 sts)

Rnd 23: k2, M1 6 times (24 sts)

Rnds 24-26: k

Rnd 25: k2tog, k2 6 times (18 sts)

Rnd 26: k2tog, k1 6 times (12 sts)



Legs (8)
Size 3 DPN

CO 3 sts

Work i-cord for 3 inches


Stuff body and head with polyfil or cotton batting. Join with mattress stitch. Using 2 small round black buttons (or safety eyes) sew eyes on side of head 2/3 from top). Embroider mouth and eyebrows. Attach legs to body.

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Dyeing To Use The Crockpot

21 Feb

I love color and recently I decided to try using (relatively) non-toxic dyes to dye my roving. Since the space in my apartment is so small, I have a curious cat who sniffs around everything, and, for some-odd reason my stove rests on an incline (I always have lopsided omelettes!), I thought that the crockpot would be a great solution for dyeing. I’ve seen a few websites which talk about rainbow dying with koolaid in a crockpot, but few that talk about how to use the hot pour method described by Lynne Vogel in The Twisted Sisters Sock Workbook.

My first attempt at crockpot dyeing (pre hot-pour method) resulted in a really pretty roving…

Crockpot 1 small

that spun up mostly brown…

Brown Roving

The first thing I realized is that I had a few complementary colors right next to each other which, when unspun, show up fine, but when spun together blended into various shades of brown. I also realized, after reading Vogel, that ideally the wool in the dye bath should be heated first (I had poured first) and then each dye should be poured individually onto the wool. (I had poured all my dye on at once, thinking that I could ‘paint’ it.)

So, my second attempt at the crockpot turned out much better. I put the wool in a bath of vinegar and water (not too much vinegar, since the first roving felted slightly), turned the crockpot on high for about 45 minutes until the wool was heated through, and began pouring my food-color dyes. Some of the colors did blend into each other, but in general, having the wool heated up kept them from blending too much into each other. Also, keeping to a consistent colorway helped as well. After I put on the first color, I turned the temp. down to low, waited for the dye bath to run clear and then added each new color.

My second crockpot roving turned out really nicely…


Between heating and pouring 3 colors it took a little over 2 hours, but it was well worth the effort. So far it is spinning up nicely, and I can’t wait to see the final product once it is plyed!
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