Slowly but surely - yesterday evening I finished what boucle I could - turns out that 1 bobbin of mohair only covers 1/2 bobbin of the silk/merino, so I'll be having to prepare some more batts and spin some more mohair singles later, but for now I'm concentrating on finishing enough silk singles to bind the 2-ply I've done so far.
The silk hankies are surprisingly quick to spin from the corner - I'm going to get Ken to video me doing that in the weekend, and I'll post it then. I have already been doing this with my spindles, but I'd never spun from hankies from the corner with my wheel before - I'd always started pulling them out from the centre and attenuated into roving. Spinning from the corner is so much easier and goes so quickly.
So: Z-spun core of merino/silk (so old I haven't any idea what the proportions were) with lots of twist, mohair singles spun from my own batts, also high twist, plied S with medium twist; binding thread of fine silk, medium S-twist, to be plied Z with the 2-ply. We shall see!
Well, I finally got to start plying the mohair and silk singles in boucle - seeing it had been over a decade since I plied in boucle, it was a slow start. This is about 1/2 of each bobbin - as the mohair will be longer, I spun about 1 1/2 times as much mohair as silk/merino. Enjoying the freedom of my new Ashford Jumbo flyer!
I wouldn't say it's my best work, but I'm really enjoying the challenges I've set myself for the Tour de Fleece!
Because I was out spinning with a friend, I didn't want to start plying, so I took some of my next fibre - the fine Falkland wool I got in my swap parcel from the New Zealand Fibre Swap group on Ravelry. Bright? I'm thinking it might be a good yarn for Stephen West's Akimbo scarf.
Note: to go to Ravelry links in these posts, you need to be a member, and to be signed in - then the links will take you through to the page.
Not much achieved yesterday, because Monday is typically a heavy workload day out in the shed.
I'm continuing with the singles for my 3-ply boucle yarn. The next component is the third ply, a binding ply of fine pale blue silk. Also on today's list (again), fuchsia silk hankies. Rough hands shall not deter me!
I'm off to spin in Christchurch today with one of the Heavenly Wools TdF team members, so I should be a little more productive.
Well, Day 2 was a lot more fun - the change of wheels led to a change of spinning style and I spun the rest of the camel down left-handed, which made it go a lot faster.
Initially my day seemed to be loaded with other tasks - the beautiful drying conditions made washing on the line an imperative, for a start, but I managed to spin and ply a LOT as well as do the washing, catch up on some dyeing and cook a roast dinner (which was beautiful - lamb with roast veg. I still don't get yams, though).
So, the tally:
Finished spinning the camel down, which is now split into two bobbins, unfortunately, but that will be all right.
Dyed some silk to match the camel down - hot fuchsia pink.
Plied my two spindles of (respectively) silk from a hanky and merino in Ink
Began spinning some 100% mohair to ply with singles already spun. End goal is a 3-ply effect yarn - this will happen before the end of the Tour! There is only a small amount so it should be quick to finish.
Goal for today: to spin at least some of the silk from the fuchsia hanky and the rest of the mohair. Possibly to ply the mohair with the merino/silk.
Now just a few more dyelots and I can get back into the spinning...
Not exactly off to a flying start - Ottoline was a poor choice for the first day. Wow, talk about frustrating! Not having spun on a DD before I bought her a couple of weeks ago, I had achieved what I thought was a moderate expertise with NZ Halfbred. HOWEVER, that did not translate to camel down! The draw-in of the wheel was just far to strong for the fibre, which is very short and on top of that is combed. So after struggling for several HOURS, I changed wheels. Wow, what a difference. Medium backward draw, very, very light Scotch tension. More to come!
Winter is a time to huddle by the fire, read and eat cake - and spin! Now we've run out of chocolate, I've become conscious of the ever-growing number of spinning wheels glowering at me from the corner of the living room, not to mention the ever-present stash!
The temptation of having absolutely heaps of gorgeous coloured wool everywhere has got the better of me. At last I'm back to some regular felting - here's one of two hats I made a few weeks ago.
Since then I've made a couple of berets and two scarves, one of which my grandson Ollie insists is a 'sneed' ( you need to have been to The Lorax movie).
This hat is made from 19-21 micron carded and gilled merino, plus some hoarded Treetops silk from the 90s (yes, really!). I used Slate on the inside and Sagebrush on the outside, and I think the silk is 'Vintage Port'. The hat was formed around a dome shaped plastic template and fulled on a glass board.
More of sneeds and their ilk in a later post - the rest of this one is devoted to batts, yarns, and samples - read on if you dare!
Merino, silk and angora bunny!
Lately I've been revisiting the drum carder and using a diz to make rovings with the aim of producing art yarns. Drawing on my rather comprehensive stash (plus some recent purchases) I've now produced three separate lots of batts for my experiments - and two sets of cute pink mini batts which I'm selling in my Etsy shop.
I've been using Corriedale, merino and halfbred wools, mohair locks, silk drawn from caps ( one recent discovery) and even a cut-up reel of gold sewing thread - yes, I'm really throwing myself into it!
I've been knitting the first batch of singles spun from the batts in my youtube video (see previous post) into a lovely swing scarf - 'Wingspan', by maylin Tri'Coterie Designs, which I downloaded from Ravelry.com.
I've adapted the pattern slightly by adding a drop stitch pattern in the place of the original garter stitch.
I must say it's not the most accurate knitting I've ever done, but it is light, lacy and totally soft and wearable.Once it's blocked it will look less like a disaster!
My mission now is to spin several different types of yarns from the batts I've been making. The first one is a slightly textured medium weight two-ply, one ply of pastel rainbow silk and the other of "Ginger Tom" (seen at the right).
A (non-scratchy) blend of merino tops, mohair locks and gold sewing thread, Ginger Tom is a tribute to my brother's childhood pet, a feisty ginger much given to fighting.
The merino (21 micron) is "Apricot Blush" and the mohair is dyed in egg yolk yellow, pale red-brown and a slightly duller dark brown. The single was 30% mohair by weight. The thread weighed virtually nothing so I would gauge it at 1%.
Initially I plied GT with a sea-green silk single, but the result was that the greens took over, leading to a dull and slightly queasy yarn I called " Tom Lost at Sea". I had a little silk from another batt experiment (see below) left over, so I spun this into a pastel single, mostly warm colours to tone with GT. This really lifted up the whole yarn, "Tom goes to Heaven". So there you are - I'm going to finish the rest of the batts and maybe knit Stephanie Japel's "One Skein Shrug" from Craftsy.com. Or an adaptation. I only have 150 grams of this one (although it's very lightweight), so it will need to be something small.
My second experiment: I call this bad boy "Hugger Mugger". It's a heavily coiled yarn spun from batts of the same Corriedale used in the "Wingspan" scarf, combined with some of the silk from "Tom goes to Heaven", some lovely Haunui Handcraft Halfbred in natural black and some multi-coloured mohair locks, making a textured, bulky thick and thin single which is still quite light in weight because of the loft of the batt. This was coiled onto a lace weight two-ply wool commercial yarn. I just love the way the coils snuggle up against each other in the knit sample - vertical on the front and horizontal on the purl side. The sample has a wonderful hand and texture - it has far more drape than I expected and is very 'smooshy'.
This yarn is making me think "winter jacket - collar and cuffs". I only have a small amount of these batts left, too, so it won't go far. You certainly wouldn't want a whole coat in this!
So you can see I've been having heaps of fun! I'll be blogging again soon with photos of my latest felt work, so be ready...
Just thought I'd post this short slide show tutorial here - at least one of my customers blends my fibres using a drum carder...
If you've been watching my Facebook page, or picking up my tweets, visiting my Etsy store or just checking up on my homepage and web store, you'll have noticed a few changes.
Symphony in 19-21 Micron felting wool
Most exciting is the increased range of wools available now!
You can now buy any of my shades in:
Haunui Handcraft Wool. I am just loving working with this natural coloured halfbred tops! It's beautiful to spin, felts with ease and has a gorgeous hint of lustre. It comes from a specialised handcraft bred flock in South Canterbury , and is a real joy to work with.
Dark Grey Haunui Handcraft tops in Harvest Home.
This tops comes in four base shades, and can be overdyed to any of my listed colours. I'm just working through the shades at the moment and listing them as examples in the shop - you can order directly from the menus or request a custom order for any shade not listed. If I think it's not going to work out (some shades take dyes differently from others) I will be in touch with you to discuss options! If you're unsure, I can help you choose.
I'm working my way through spinning samples of the undyed fibre at the moment - what a lovely, lofty yarn it gives! I've spun it quite fine, then Navajo plied it to get a stable, round yarn which I would rate as worsted weight. Easy spinning while watching TV! See examples on the Haunui page.
Aria in felting sliver
Last, but definitely not least, is the 19-21 micron merino felting sliver. This is a carded and double-gilled preparation. It's very fine and dense, but does contain short fibres and a varying amount of vegetable matter. It can be spun, and gives a lovely soft and lofty yarn with a definite slight texture, but is not as easy to spin as the combed fibre.
This fibre is in limited supply; when what I have is gone, I may decide not to get any more processed. It will be replaced with carded and combed 21 micron merino in the near future; this will be suitable for spinning or fine felting.
Most fun is the Shade of the Week - I've now decided that you can buy up to 500gr of the homepage featured shade at $1 discount per 100gr - just a special show of my appreciation for those of you who buy direct from either my website or the Etsy store. So if you want to take advantage of this offer, buy direct from the homepage box, not from the store (which doesn't give the discount). Shades will change on Friday or Saturday every week.
Most useful is that I've changed the layout of the Buy Now section (again). My intention was to make it easier to view and buy from the shop, with multiple thumbnails that you can click on to view a larger image. I've also made the shopping cart a bit more functional so you can add items and return to shopping more easily! Item quantities can be changed in the shopping cart, while fibre type and colour can be selected from the dropdown menus in the "Add to Cart" box.
It's all about me....
"Mexican Cantina" - project in progress.
And off-site, I've been really enjoying saving favourite items and web finds on Pinterest. What a great way to keep track of those things we always look at and think "I must remember to come back and look at that!"
Today I added to my stash on Ravelry, and started a new project listing - a super-stash-busting jacket I've dubbed "Mexican Cantina" because of its loud and obnoxious colours! Joined together in a rather drunken chorus, they become surprisingly tuneful. And it takes all night to finish a row at the moment (slight exaggeration). I'm keeping track of the design, so it might end up as a published pattern sometime.
A fabulous weekend retreat!
Well, what a wonderful weekend at the Unwind Fibre Retreat in Dunedin. Great to see so many Kiwi knitters, spinners and of course the other traders! Top marks to Morag from Vintage Purls in Dunedin for her organisational skills. Most of these ladies were members of the online Ravelry community. If you haven't been, go and have a look (I'm KatyPi). Ravelry's great resource for crafters!
These two young ladies spent most of the weekend with needles in hand, knitting up a storm! Some very inventive little owls were produced for the Owls and Hearts competition.
The knitter's social corner was often packed full, although at times the general exodus to the workshops left it eerily empty!
I took part in the bookbinding workshop given by Stella Lange - amazing that we all got a book made, including glueing the covers, in the three hour workshop time. All the workshops were well-attended, with participants obviously having come away with new skills and ideas.
Traders from all over the country offered yarns, patterns, knitting accessories and various fibres, from homely wool to exotic silk and llama blends.
The very skilled and talented Sourkraut (Frances Stachl) had brought her exquisite spindles, jewellery and knitting accessories - my favourite being the wooden acorn full of stitch markers!
Little Radiator of Dunedin had her witty tees and badges, many of which were sported at the event by the lucky new owners!
I was unable to resist the temptation to buy a set of Hiyahiya interchangeable needles from Vintage Purls, but can report that I now have two sets of them happily in use on various projects.
Why I hate New Zealand Post: the "RD charges" episode.
Although I already have a big grievance against NZ Post for making it so expensive to ship large, light items around the country (hey, a parcel of fibre may be big, but the minute you put something on top of it, it gets a lot smaller!), that they have now put an extra $2.40 onto tracked items that are delivered to RD boxes really gets up my nose - particularly as larger parcels cannot be sent untracked!
So, unfortunately, for more than 600gr I will now have to charge the extra $2.40 to anyone on RD. I'm sorry to have to do this, but I just can't cover that cost.
The great New Zealand fibre shortage.
You may be aware that with the closure of first the Lincoln carding establishment, then the Qualityarns mill at Milton, there are very few options for getting wool professionally processed. The only remaining large industrial mill is reluctant to process anything smaller than one tonne of wool, quite out of the question for me.
Over the last six months I have been researching and buying wool, only to find that I couldn't get it carded. Luckily a new carder has started up in Christchurch with much smaller minimum runs. At the moment they are not able to comb their sliver, but have a gill set up so I am able to offer carded and gilled wool.
This sliver is much finer, with a range of 19-21 microns. It does have a small amount of noil and vegetable matter. The first batch of 9kg has a bit more, so I am offering this for felting only, at a cheaper price. I have spun some so I know it spins well, drafting easily, and could be hand-combed if you wished.
The carders are in the process of setting up a comb, so within the next couple of months I will also be offering carded and combed 21 micron wool, which will be my standard from now on.
I would be interested to know how users feel about the finer wool - it has a much softer hand, and will spin up quite a lot finer than 23 micron. I will consider getting more 23 micron later in the year if there is a demand.
Meanwhile I have a broken colour range of the 23 micron merino and a small amount of dyed Corriedale, so feel free to contact me for availability. I'll get the online shop reset as soon as I'm able to.
Kate is a semi-retired photographer and craft dyer who lives in Southland, New Zealand.