Friday, September 26, 2008

To compare: Lendrum vs. Fricke

This morning started out with bread in the oven:

Honey Whole Wheat and mini-loaves of Date-Nut bread

We opened the boxes containing our official homeschooling curriculum,

and completed a successful day of learning.

I've also got most of the laundry washed and hanging out to dry, so I feel pretty accomplished for 3:30 in the afternoon! (As our washer is tiny and takes 2 hours per load, and dryer doesn't dry, laundry is a full-day affair here what with all of the hanging out and running up and down stairs that needs to happen.)

Currently on the needles for playground knitting and movie watching:

Show-Off Stranded Socks by Anne Campbell (PDF and Ravelry links), knit Magic-loop on KnitPicks classics (2.5mm, 32" cables) in Spunky Eclectic "Time Of The Month" colorway (rage, chocolate and tears).

Currently on the wheel:

Fine "Bluegrass" singles for a laceweight 2-ply

I'm working from this fantastic 1oz Franquemont Fibers batt I purchased from Spunky Eclectic sometime over the summer:

I'm interested to see how many yards I can get out of just the one batt.

It's got to be the most enjoyable spinning experience I've ever had, truly. If you're a spinner and you've never tried one of Abby's batts, you must.

Her fibers are blended with a purpose (she says that the superwash wool in this blend create a slightly tougher yarn while allowing for the luxury spinning experience, and the pure merino is kind of like the "glue" to hold it all together -- this lady knows what she's talking about here.)

I'm greatly enjoying spinning on my Lendrum again, which I had missed so much over the summer. Speaking of wheels, a belated update on the Fricke back in NY -- thanks to Amy's suggestion (whom I had bought the wheel from), I took the treadle off the wheel, the wheel off the frame, switched the two identical looking screws, and it now works perfectly!

Having gone from one wheel to the next so recently, I can tell you by comparison that the Fricke has an easier treadling action, larger orifice, bigger bobbins, more ratios on the one maiden head; the Lendrum has more solid wood, an overall slightly sturdier feel, a more direct orifice, more options for upgrading (with the jumbo plying head, quill head, and very-fast-flyer). Very flexible wheels both, it is hard to choose just one. I say go with your budget, you really can't go wrong with either. No matter what though, there will always be a special place in my heart for my lovely Lendrum. It's good to be together again.
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Monday, September 22, 2008

Trip completed

We're back in Germany!  It only took one try for a flight from an Airforce base in NJ, and we arrived here Thursday afternoon.  Although travel is never easy, the children were fantastic the entire time (driving down to McGuire Airforce Base, waiting for the flight, and the actual flight, which they slept through).  I'm so thankful that the trip wasn't more of a killer, because, not having my husband here to help, I've had tons of stuff to do upon arrival (setting back up our pantry and fridge, switching out clothing sizes, etc.)

I should actually be in bed right now, rather than posting, because, while I have been working insanely hard to get everything done (while keeping all of us happy and well fed!), I still have much to do in the coming week.  I will post again as soon as I have the chance to, but in the meantime, here's all of the skeins I spun over the summer in NY:

And then for the individual beauty shots:

For even more fiber pr0n, click through the mosaic into the handspun gallery.
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Saturday, September 13, 2008

A rainbow of silk

Several people have have asked me about spinning thicker singles.  Two very helpful posts that I've found on the subject are by Amy and Abby.  Besides the instruction that those ladies share, the single most important thing that I've found is that I need to decide before I even start (or through sampling) if I want the finished yarn to be singles or plied.  A plied yarn needs higher twist singles, so it's important to have this decided before I start.

Moving on to other things...

I've only ever spun pure silk once (as laceweight singles, soon after my friend Kirsten in Georgia started teaching me to spin in 2006).  From that one experience, I can remember a few characteristics about it.  Firstly, it's almost immediately full of static, so pre-drafting isn't necessarily a good idea.  Secondly, I like the shine of silk, so worsted spinning is my first choice, pressing out any air and smoothing down the singles as I go (I would do a short backwards draw).

Cultivated Silk Sliver: "Rainbow Shades", 4 oz (Susan's Spinning Bunny "Fondle This" Club)

I wanted a 2-ply to mute the colors a little, knowing that the color runs would mingle some in the plying, so I spun 2 oz onto each bobbin.

I spun the singles smooth and worsted with very high twist.  Spinning silk is kind of hard on the hands, so I was glad that there was only 4 oz of it, but it's so pretty and shiny.

Plied, similar colors often came together, yet barber-poled enough to mute the bright rainbow shades.  Thankfully, all of the colors somehow go together, so when they ply together, it works (this, of course, is always a danger when working with so many hues together).

Here's the skein on the niddy-noddy:

(I'll have to get a better shot of the true colors when I get back to Germany, but this is as good it gets for now, my friends.  The plied skein on the bobbin is more true to life.)

This little person had just done a flip off of the bed she was playing on, but immediately brightened when she was called on to help with the pure silk photo shoot:

She's got a bump on her head, but otherwise she's fine.  Silk makes things all better.  Let this be a lesson to us.  Let us buy silk.
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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Beachwater handspun

Here is the finished teal/green batts, spun as thick and thin singles:

It's approx. 290 yards of worsted weight, and, as you can see, there are generous streaks of sparkle throughout.

This yarn reminds me of the seaweed that swirls around in the shallow water just off shore in the clear water of Florida, where my husband's grandparents live.

I still have one solid teal batt unspun, and once I finish that I should have enough yards for something like the Retro Redux Shrug from Lace Style. (Perhaps the solid teal will be the ribbed band around the edge.)
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Monday, September 08, 2008

First day of homeschool, and more about the Fricke

Last week, Sparky turned 5, and we started Kindergarten.  This is what our first day of school looked like:

I'm not sure how many years I want to do this -- my plan is to take it year-by-year and see how it goes.  For now, homeschooling offers the greatest flexibility, since I like to be able to travel during the school year (which is the only way to go as far as space-available flights via Airforce cargo jets, since they get crazy full during the summer, and it's almost impossible to get out), and also I like the idea of having the children in my own care when they're small. 

Another thing is that I feel like my life would be harder if I had to wake up earlier than I already do, and then put all of my children in the car to drive at least one of them to school, only to turn around a few hours later to go get them again.  I know that many people do it, but I just think that this particular plan of homeschooling is the best for our family at the moment.

I've been spinning the blue-green today, but since I don't have any finished skeins to show you (they're spun but are as yet unwashed), here are some detail shots of the Fricke.  Some of you have expressed interest to me in getting one yourself, so here's a closer look:

Orfice and bobbin (loaded up with my little sister Rachel's bumpy "novelty" singles)

Tensioner knob and oil bottle

Double treadles
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Sunday, September 07, 2008

Eggplant Novelty and Strawberry Crush handspun

Here is the purple-green Eggplant novelty yarn.  (The color of the far one is truer to the actual shade of purple.)  It's almost 8 oz, and approximately 158 yards.

(As you can see in the front skein, some of my plying was less than perfect, but I love it anyway!)

There was also green that was carded into the purple (the roving was purchased at Paradise Fibers with both colors already streaked together), but it almost looks orange in every picture that I take of this stuff.  Kind of frustrating.  Ah well.

I spun green Angelica on it's own as laceweight singles, then plied them with the very very firmly spun bulky Eggplant singles.  A the end of every draw as I was plying, I ran the green sparkly stuff back up and down to make a sort of extra-wrap/knot. 

I decided it would be easiest to ply in this way if the singles were coming from either side of me, so I put together a tensioned DIY Lazy Kate (using this link). 

DIY lazy kate for spindles
Super-cheap (everything can be bought at your favorite/evil big-box store) but effective, and it can be used for either bobbins or a cop slid straight off of a drop spindle.

Here is the green sparkle ready to ply:

And here is the purple singles:

(Spun extra firm so that it wouldn't just unspin with all of the extra twist needed for this kind of yarn.)

This is what my plying set-up looked like.

This yarn will probably be end up as a skinny, short version of a Crossover Scarf  (Ravelry link here) or something similar to show off the yarn structure.

My pink/red batts are spun, plied, wet finished and the new yarn dried in the sun this morning.

The red is, of course, from the batch of Romney/Falkland Cross locks that I dyed a few weeks ago, and the pink is some Punta that I bought from Paradise Fibers and then dyed with Strawberry Kool Aid (one package to about 1oz of combed top).  Carded in is a good handful of red mix sparkly Angelica for extra fun.

I haven't weighed the skeins, but it's about 138 yds of bulky two-ply.

The slubs and neps in the wool encouraged thick/thin spinning, so I went with the way of the wool and didn't fight it at all.

I was doubting myself with the combination of colors (especially since the vibrancy of the tomato red was a dye accident), but I'm really happy with it now that it's all done.  I look forward to knitting with this!
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Saturday, September 06, 2008

Spinnin' fool

As I've noted before, since becoming pregnant with this baby, the only fiber related thing I am truly captivated by is spinning.  And sparkly spinning. 

My main frustration this summer has been that I've had to be away from my Lendrum.  I had thought the Hitchhiker would be a suitable substitute just as an "away" wheel, but as I've discussed before, the setup of the right-handed wheel I purchased just simply didn't work with my left-handed spinning. 

Jan, a commenter here at the blog, mentioned to me that she'd be willing to buy it, and I gladly agreed to the deal.  With that money (and a little extra), I was able to purchase a Fricke Double-Treadle from Spunky Eclectic.

(Woah, check out that belly!)

The treadles have a little bit of play in them so it makes a bit of a "thump", and the orfice took a little bit of getting used to (it's a "v" shaped wire), but all in all, I really like it.  It's a good, solid wheel, and for $356, I certainly could not have done better for a double treadle (unless I went with a Babe, of course).

Since I bought and assembled the wheel, I've felt unstoppable.  Of course things have been slow for the past two weeks because I've been working on that huge (well, huge for me) carding project, but ever since I finished those up the other day, I've been spinning like crazy.

I finally finished spinning and plying the purple and green novelty yarn that I've had in the works, and I got this one shot of it drying on the line yesterday.

I plied this with the green held a little tighter, allowing the purple to wrap it just a bit and bloom up.  Every draw, I'd allow the green to give an extra set of wraps to a short section to give the green some room to flash.

Today was rainy, so no more beauty shots or specs yet, but sufficient to say, I am pleased with the results; they are as I planned, and that's always a happy thing.

I also spun the red/pink up and got it plied.  It's hanging over the shower as I type, still quite wet, but hopefully I can show it off in my next post.  I'm so excited with the way the colors played out!
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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Batts forever!

Have you ever started a project that turned into An Epic Beast? Well of course you have, look at who I'm talking to here. Well anyway, remember this stuff?

Well, it dried, and then my friend Sharon lent me her carder. I thought that this would be an afternoon thing, and then I could spin the batts the next day. I forgot to take note of the actual time that I can commit to myself to fiber arts each day (has anyone noticed the actual number of projects that have been completed since I've been here? Right.)

So anyway, full of hope, I started off opening all of the locks. As I plunged in, I noticed that the locks had been partially felted. No problem! I've fluffed out and salvaged felted stuff before! Then each color needed at least two passes through the carder. Next, another pass to add sparkle, and finally, one last pass to blend colors together. It seemed that it would never end.

At last (2 weeks after the initial dying day), I present to you my two brand new piles of batts:

Both sets of batts contain a good deal of glitz, and since the wool was leaning towards the neppy end of things, I decided to just embrace the texture and go for it. These will spin out lumpy and bumpy, and because it's on purpose, it will be beautiful. I promise.

The pink/red is destined to be a hat/mitten set for my littlest sister Rachel (2-ply worsted), and I have no idea what the teal/green will be, but it will probably start it's life as singles, just because.

Now I need to finish up that big skein of purple/green novelty that I had mentioned starting a few weeks ago (before getting sidetracked by the carder), and I can begin to spin up this stuff. Finally!
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