Fear Factor Fibre – Seacell

I was a bit over zealous when acquiring fibre for the Tour de Fleece this summer. My Fear Factor Fibre challenge really had too many freaky fibres that I was interested in trying to spin. I’ve been slowly working my way through the basket I’ve accumulated while allowing myself to spin other things in between.
Moonlit Walk loose
I spun the first bump of seacell some time during the fall. There’s a haze of fibre in my mind, so I’m afraid that I can’t be much more exact. The singles were spun and sitting on a “spare bobbin” (read: toilet paper roll) for a while before I spinning up the other bump.
Clover Honey loose
I decided pretty early on that I would ply the 2 bumps together as there’s a small amount of fiber in each braid (about an ounce each). I guess that I was procrastinating the spinning of the yellow bump because I wasn’t sure how nicely the resulting yarn would be. The colouring in each braid was so subtle that they’re easily lost once plied together. It probably would have been good to consider the colours a little more when choosing the fibre in the first place. But it’s still pretty nice yarn.
Clover Walk 2-ply
For spinning, I took the braid of seacell, split it several times lengthwise into smallish slivers. I think I pre-drafted the first bump before spinning it. The second one I spun directly from the divided pieces of top (I was much more cavalier the second time around). The pre-drafting definitely made a difference. Seacell definitely has a tendency towards the immovable velcro-ness of silk at times. Pre-drafting makes a real difference in making it more enjoyable to spin.
Clover Walk 2-ply
All in all I like this little silky skein of seacell. The natural silvery grey colour of the seacell is really unique and intriguing. I would spin it again if I came across another nicely dyed braid. Though I think I’d buy a larger quantity so I could make a usable sized skein.
Clover Walk 2-ply
2-ply using 2 bumps of Seacell:
‘Clover Honey’ PortFiber
100% Seacell
0.7 oz.
‘Moonlit Walk’ PortFiber
100% Seacell
1 oz.

Handspun Annis of my own

After seeing a friend’s Annis knit from her own handspun I decided that I needed one of my own. The amazing 6-day shawl put me in a knitted-lace-from-my-handspun kick. One I have yet to recover from. Almost immediately after finishing the Echo Flower Shawl, I grabbed some appropriate handspun that I really love, and cast on for Annis.

Handspun Annis

Somehow this shawl magically took 3 days to knit. But somehow is taking much longer to block. I’ll take some better pictures after I finally do block it. It’s a high priority on my to-do list. But I figured since I included it in the 2010 photo mosaic, I should probably post a little something about it.

Annis detail
Pattern: Annis by Susanna IC
Materials: 2-ply
‘Breaker Pigeonroof Studios Polwarth
approx. 397 yards
100% Polwarth
4 oz.
Start Date: December 16, 2010
End Date: December 19, 2010

The whole idea of starting from the bottom edging and working one’s way up is really intriguing. No need to freak out about not having enough yarn for the border, it’s the first thing knit! A person could get used to this.

Handspun 2010

I’m a little late posting these 2010 reflections, but I was on vacation which included one from computers (iPhone doesn’t really count).

2010 was the year I bought a spinning wheel, some hand cards and started playing with some freaky fibres. I even got some spinning tools for Christmas: 2 more bobbins, a flick carder and some more wheel ratios. Fiona and I are going to be busy.

1. Pandamint, 2. Crocodile Tears, 3. Glenda, 4. First handspun using the wheel, 5. Chain-ply it is then, 6. 2 scratchy skeins, 7. Juciy yarn, 8. Stormy yarn, 9. Cove skein, 10. Squishy starfish, 11. Silky skein, 12. Blue-green skein, 13. Impossibly soft yarn, 14. Soft super soft super small yarn, 15. Clumsy close up, 16. Breaker skein, 17. Locks skein, 18. Ice Mermaid Darling Queen skein, 19. Milky skein, 20. Finished Skein, 21. Skein of cotton, 22. I spun cotton sliver!, 23. Seaweed skein, 24. Nini’s Martini, 25. Clover Walk 2-ply

The Amazing 6-day Shawl

A family friend is giving me her mother’s Singer Featherweight Sewing Machine. I’ll be picking it up when I go home for Christmas. In exchange, I knit her this shawl out of some of my handspun yarn. Despite the amassing of large quantities of handspun, this is only the third project where I’ve used my handspun and the first one that’s handspun only.

Shawl blocking
Pattern: Echo Flower Shawl by Jenny Johson Johen
Materials: 2-ply
‘Pinot Gris’ Girls like Boys like Fiber
approx. 304.75 yards
100% Cormo
4 oz.
Start Date: November 21, 2010
End Date: November 27, 2010

This handspun was so nice to knit with that the shawl was finished in 6 days. I was very focussed. Though I still need to re-block it. I set it up to block on my bed on a weekend, and it wasn’t dry by bedtime. I think I’ll use steam for the next blocking. But still I’m declaring this shawl finished.

Spun Seaweed

I have been a big fan of CosyMakes dyeing since I started getting her Falkland Fiber Club earlier in the spring. I think there’s an entire cubby worth of her fibre in my new shelving unit. I ended up buying lots from her Etsy shop in addition to my fibre club instalments over the summer.

When I saw one of the instalments of the Farm Wool Club, I switched over. Who could resist fun fibre blends like Alpaca, wool or Angora, Shetland? Not me it would seem. I got the first instalment of my new Farm Wool Fiber Club from CosySpins with the last instalment of her Falkland Fiber Club.

Seaweed Braid

As soon as I unwrapped this fibre, took photos and added it to Ravelry, I started spinning it.

Seaweed skein

I spun it long-draw. It may have been a good idea to pre-draft or “pop” it a bit before spinning. It was a bit of a forearm workout as it was. I finished the yarn over the weekend and it’s super lovely! That little bit of mo makes all the difference.

Seaweed skein detail
Farm Wool Fibre Club for September
‘Seaweed’ CosySpins
50% Wool, 50% Alpaca
4 oz.

Now to think of what I want to knit with this. I think I need a LOT more lace in my life.

Nini’s Martini

A friend of mine fell and broke her face walking home from work on the Friday before Hallowe’en. She expressed an extreme love of this fibre when I received in during the summer so I decided to spin her up some yarn.

Nini's Martini

At her request, I spun this Noro-style. I separated all the colours and spun them up “in order” from the green to the maroon then chain-plied it to keep the colour transitions. It worked out pretty well, though in future I think some drafting of 2 transition colours together would be wise.

I think I’m a long-draw convert. This spun up pretty quickly even if it’s a tad underspun in areas. I might need a smaller ratio for my wheel. Further investigation required.

Nini's Martini
‘Olive Martini’ Sweet Georgia
June Fibre Club
100% Falkland
4 oz.

Oh and it’s SUUUUPER soft.

Fear Factor Fibre – Cotton Sliver

It’s been a while since I posted any updates on the whole Tour de Fleece thing. And to be honest, I haven’t spent any time at the wheel for a while. But the past few weeks I’ve been ploughing through the fibre that’s been half spun on the wheel for months.

Here’s the first half of the cotton sliver spun & plied.
I spun cotton sliver!

‘Leaf’ Blonde Chicken
100% Organic Cotton Fiber
2 oz.

For the record 4 oz. of cotton sliver is a HECK of a lot to spin!

Fear Factor Fibre – Milk Fibre

Next on the Fear Factor Fibre list is Milk.

I found this very lovely braid of Milk Fibre on Etsy from Moonlight and Laugther. After buying it, the seller started a conversation with me and sent me a link to this post about working with milk.

After reading up on it, I tried just drafting straight from one end. It seemed to draft really quite easily. Especially compared to the issues I was having with drafting the silk so I decided to treat it as usual and spin from one end.

I found that the milk didn’t like to go too fine or it would break so I left it a little thicker than I’ve been spinning lately. Also the milk has a tendency to slip out if there’s not enough twist so I made sure I was getting that bumpy appearance to my singles before moving on. I’ve been using a higher ratio on my wheel lately, so this didn’t slow things down much.

I originally planned to 2-ply this but after loading up my bobbin with all the fibre, I REALLY wanted to ply straight away. I just couldn’t wait a day for the twist to set and then fight with a center pull ball so I changed my mind and chain-plied instead. I think it turned out really nicely.

Once done plying and off the niddy noddy, the yarn was perfectly balanced. That NEVER happens to me. Milk is some kind of wonder fibre. I wonder if I even need to wash and finish it. I might anyways just to be safe.

‘Faerie Dust’ Moonlight and Laughter
100% Milk Fiber
approx. 189.8 yards
15 wpi
3.75 oz.

I REALLY liked working with the milk, especially with all the difficulties I had with the silk roving. The yarn has this nice cotton-y/silk blend sort of feeling and is nice and shiny. I will definitely be spinning this fibre again.

Fear Factor Fibre – Silk Roving

Next up on the Tour de Fleece Fear Factor Fibre challenge is working with pure silk roving. As it happens I already had 2 pure silk rovings in my stash. Since they’re both sort of in the same colour range, I decided to spin them separately and ply them together.

‘Ice Queen’ Space Romantic
100% Mulberry Silk
2 oz.

I bought this Space Romantic mulberry silk this year shortly after buying my wheel, when I was sampling from various indie-dyer types. It’s very pretty, soft, silky (of course) and was pretty straightforward to spin.

I spun directly from the top, no pre-drafting. Once I figured out the optimal drafting zone size (large), things went quite smoothly.

‘Mermaid Darling’ Ozark Handspun (my name for the colourway)
100% Silk
1.75 oz.

This silk has been living in my stash for a few years and for some reason was super difficult to draft properly. Early in my career as a spinner, I did work with another bump of Ozark silk roving and remember finding it pretty tricky. But as I was a new spinner, I figured it was me and not the fibre. I’m not sure if the issue was that it’s been sitting in a bundle for 2 years, or that it’s just tricky to work with. Whatever the reason, there was a LOT of swearing while spinning this up.

Randomly, there was a large piece of blue/aqua silk and this smaller piece of green/brown. Totally strange. I alternated a green piece with an aqua piece when spinning. For some reason, the aqua was more cooperative than the green/brown.

I tried a few things to try and get the silk to draft nicely.

I tried teasing open the roving before spinning, which didn’t always help things. While spinning, if I got a largish lump, I stopped, teased it open and was able to draft out the extra fibre.

What I found helped the green/brown be somewhat cooperative was lightly pre-drafting the piece before taking it to the wheel. Really, just breaking things open a bit here and there so that it would actually draft. Still it was not nearly as nice to spin and the Space Romantic.

Look! Pretty singles:

Plying was pretty straight forward. The skein has a largish section with the Ice Queen plied back on itself near the end—I used an Andean plying bracelet for this which was kind of a bitch in places.

The finished yarn is very nice. The green has mostly disappeared making the blue more turquoise in places. The areas of brown seemed to have softened to a tannish. Overall the skein is very pretty.

‘Ice Mermaid Darling Queen’=’Ice Queen’ Space Romantic + ‘Mermaid Darling’ Ozark Handspun
approx. 385.3 yards
100% Silk
3.75 oz.
19 wpi

I’m now partway through spinning the milk fibre and its a dream to work with. Drafts like nobody’s business which is REALLY nice after all the swearing-inducing Ozark silk.

Fear Factor Fibre – Mohair Locks

I decided to begin my Tour de Fleece Fear Factor Fibre challenge with something that has been sitting in my stash taunting me for years. I’ve wanted to spin locks since I started spinning because it’s one of my nicknames from my group of girlfriends that lived together in London. Locks for Locks. It’s just too much isn’t it?

This little baggie of Mohair Locks was brought back as a souvenir from someone’s fibre tour of New England and has been just waiting for me to get on with it already and just spin ’em! Apparently I needed to wait a few years, get a wheel and spin a bunch of wool before I could attack the locks.

But these locks have been tamed.

1. Mohair Locks, 2. Single Lock, 3. Teased Lock

Someone told me about how to work with locks. At least I think someone did. Or maybe I read about it somewhere. Anyways, you can see above how I teased open each lock so that it would draft nicely and then spun each one from the fold like so:

Again this is something I read/heard about. But of course being who I am, I had to try out the alternatives. I tried spinning from either end of the lock. It’s a little easier to spin from the one to the other.

Of course it’s tricky to tell which end is which, especially once they’re teased open. So spinning from the fold makes sense. Half of the fibre is “the right way” and the other half is pulling the other way, averaging out the difficulty. And you don’t have to pay attention to which end is which. These locks were kind of greasy which I hear makes them better to work with but I found that sometimes I was really fighting with the stickyness.

It took me a while to get used to spinning from the fold. I’ve never done it before and learning any new technique is bound to feel strange at first. By the end of the baggie, I got the hang of it. I’m ready to tackle the next bundle of locks once it arrives. I have some Merino and some Coopworth locks making their way to my mailbox.

Overall I really liked working with the locks. I teased a bunch, then spun a bunch, then teased some more and spun some more until they were all done. The variations of green really evened out in the spinning. But the resulting yarn has this nice semi-solid quality without being splotchy like some kettle dyes can be.