On tour with the ladybug

Where I work is pretty awesome. Throughout the year, they give us some bonus days off added onto various long weekends making it a super weekend (4 days) instead of the usual long weekend (3 days). This past weekend was one of these super weekends. And I used my Friday having a spin-in at a friend’s. This meant taking the ladybug on tour.

I like to say on tour cause it evokes the whole musician-with-a-gig instead the usual fairy tale associations with spinning and spinning related activities. In fact, the whole musician/instrument thing is why I chose the ladybug in the first place. That fabulous red wheel reminds me of Meg’s drum kit in this video:

I love the ladybug because it’s like I’m playing an instrument instead of whiling away the hours and supporting myself in my medieval crone’s shack, biding my time until the next maid comes along for her true love potion.

To further the whole spinning machine-as-instrument thing, I used the strap from my dad’s old guitar to help me carry the ladybug to my gig. There was the necessary amount of maniacal laughter as I gathered my things and set off down avenue Mont-Royal. I’ll have to get a picture of the wheel with strap. It’s pretty kick-ass.

Needless to say I got a certain amount of attention while walking down the street. Much more than if I was carrying a real instrument. In fact, just after crossing the street, this man came after me and asked me all about my wheel, if I taught lessons, where I got my wheel. Turns out he has a hobby farm with a couple of sheep (he showed me pictures, the baby sheep is super cute) and currently needle felts sheep with the resulting fibre. This is the longest conversation I’ve had in French for a while.

Once I got to the venue, I got myself set up, some coffee and fibre talk, then we got spinning. Well Amanda got spinning and I got drafting. Earlier in the week I had received my fibre club bump from Sweet Georgia. Almost immediately after seeing it, I knew I wanted to draft out large sections of colour from the complete roving to preserve what was there. Little did I know that it would take me all morning to do this. But draft I did. Into a HUGE mountain that was hugely tempting to the resident cats. Fortunately they are well trained to stay away from fibre when under supervision—and that the room had closing doors when the supervision was elsewhere.

We spun all day and into the evening. There was discussion of all things spinning, fibre and music. We watched Polyester, which is quite something even without participating in the complete odorama experience. By 10:30 I left with a couple of bobbins full of fibre and some new spinning thoughts.

Such as letting the singles sit for a day before plying. It’s something I’ve read about before but usually my impatience gets the better of me and I want to have my yarn now! It’s the Veruca in me. But for these two, I did bother to wait a day before plying and I did notice a difference. Much less fighting with little little tangles while chain plying. Two-plying from a cake was also less of a headache, though it still makes me slightly cranky that the outside wants to unravel so much more than the inside one, causing little yarn traffic jams. It really cramps my style!

I guess I’ll make the conversion to waiting before plying. I think I’ll empty the singles into cakes while waiting for them to set so I can still spin. I might even develop some spin today/ply yesterday’s singles strategy so I can still have yarn now! to satisfy my inner Veruca.

Look squishy yarn:

The grape juice totally plumped up during the finishing.

The super cool thing is my plying is now fast enough that I’ve graduated to a faster whorl. How great is that?

I may have decided on a name for the ladybug. I think her name is Fiona. It’s old worldly and fairytale-ish while still being quite feisty. Yes, some points off for being used for a recent animated character, but should I use it anyways? Or does someone have any other suggestions? There may be some handspun in it for you…

New Spinning Machine

After waiting somewhat patiently (somewhat un-patiently), my new Ladybug finally made its way to my doorstep. Well really to Mr. Peabody’s café door. And then to the post office. Then his apartment. And I went to pick it up on the day is snowed slush ALL day. I walked so much in the slush that my sneakers were soaked, hung out while Sylvain closed the café and accompanied him home only to find the wheel NOT THERE! Mr. Peabody phoned me while I was standing in the doorway to ask me about the surprise in my kitchen…he had walked the box over to my apartment for me. Super nice eh? Only he had no idea that I had been emailing Sylvain ALL DAY to arrange to pick it up. Hilarity. This is the stuff of comedy.

So I walked home in even MORE slush to find a ladybug sized box in my kitchen. I (of course) spent the rest of the evening unpacking, assembling and spinning on my BRAND! NEW! SPINNING! MACHINE!!!!

This is my very first crappy slub-fabulous handspun on the wheel. There was lots of swearing for the first hour or so until I finally got the hang of what the hell was going on. In the weeks of waiting for it to arrive, I did study up on YouTube various “learn to spin on a wheel” introductions so I kind of knew what I should be doing. Really it just takes some fibre you don’t care too much about, some patience, your sense of humour and maybe some alcohol to get started properly. After spinning singles for a while, I decided to try plying. I’m not sure why exactly I chose to chain-ply, but that was a whole other hilarious-heart-breaking-swearing experience. But I chalk this up to first handspun experience. And there are people that would pay good money for yarn like this (even if I wouldn’t).

For my next handspun, I took the rest of the bump of organic wool I had and went for an epic spin. I think the whole bump might be a whole pound (minus what I spun first). I divided it in two. Spun two bobbins worth of singles and plied them together. I think they were pretty evenly unevenly spun. That is to say that when plying them together, there was a small portion left on one of the bobbins which I Andean plied to itself.

Thanks to my years of spinning on a drop-spindle, my learning curve on the wheel was not heartbreaking at all as you can see from the change from skein n°1 to skein n°2. I’m sure a person could start spinning straight on a wheel. But there’s A LOT going on in a short period of time. At least with the drop spindle it’s possible to make awesome yarns while keeping things real slow — good for the old self-confidence.

I’ve signed-up to the Spin-Off website, subscribed and have at least 1 sheep’s worth of fibre making it’s way to my doorstep.

Oh and here’s where the ladybug is on my fantastic new spinning machine.