Friday, May 7, 2010

Goodness, it has been a long time.
  • I keep being busy at work so I don't get to slack off and do personal stuff.
  • I've gotten over my fear of ruining pure silk by spinning it. It's turning out to be quite pretty, though I've only spun about half of my first skein.
  • I received a pair of handknit socks, and loved them so much that I decided to learn how to knit (and to start with socks), after 36 years of indifference to knitting. I started on a toe-up sock, and have just gotten past the heel and am about 2 rows into the leg portion of my first sock.
  • Shepherds Harvest Sheep and Wool Festival starts in 8 hours!!!
Last year I went to Shepherds Harvest thinking I'd buy one, maybe two fleeces. I came back with the equivalent of 5 from 7 animals (3 full fleeces, 4 half fleeces). I actually worked my way through most of them, one way or another. I also bought small amounts of some of the "weird stuff" - bamboo, ingeo (corn fiber), banana silk, soy, and others I can't even remember. It turns out I don't like the weird stuff all that much. I'd rather spin animal fiber than vegetable or mineral. (But I do like the sparkly stuff.)

I learned a lot from all the things I bought. I know what to expect when I process my fleece. I know some warning signs. I know what types of fleece I like to work with from scratch, and what I would rather buy almost ready to spin. I hope to buy 3-4 this year. I had great experiences with romney and cvm and would like to buy more, and also hope to find a nice BFL fleece. I think I might also try some luxury fibers - already prepped. I don't think I'm ready to try those from scratch yet.

I'll also be taking classes on drumcarding and spinning novelty yarns, and am very excited about both of them.

I'm less excited about the fact that it's supposed to snow tonight.

I promise to post again soon with a full report on Shepherds Harvest and pictures of recent activity.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Today is my birthday!

And even more than that, it's my birthmonth! I believe in celebrating the whole month long. When it's only one day of acknowledgement, there is (for me, at least) a fairly good chance of disappointment and misery (migraines, illness, blizzard, falling down stairs... the list goes on...). So for the rest of March I'm having a birthmonth sale at my Etsy shop - 36% off every purchase, excluding shipping, will be refunded via Paypal. Guess how old I am!

You might also notice I've put up some unspun fiber for sale. I'm finally acknowledging that I'm a member of SABLE (Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy). I like doing so many things, but can't do all of it all the time. I like dyeing, I like creating fun and pretty batts, and I like spinning. So now I'll be putting results from each of those in my Etsy shop.

Meanwhile, what else have I been up to? Aside from coming down with a cold just in time for my birthday, I've been carding, dyeing, spinning, crocheting, and frogging. And working.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

So yes, I did post that I'd ordered a drum carder and was taking a dyeing class, then abandoned the blog for 3 weeks. Sorry about that.

The drum carder arrived 2 days after I ordered it, and I've been having fun making up batts, and being able to experiment with colors and fibers. The first is superwash wool, faux cashmere (nylon) and angelina. The yellow and pink are both anonymous wool blends - the pink also has mohair.

One of the ideas I'd had before buying a carder has turned out to be even nicer than I'd anticipated. Sibling batts use the same fibers in the same colors, but are blended in different ratios. The bottom row of batts above are some of the sibling batts I've created in the past couple of weeks. The first two are 3 colors of merino plus a little firestar. The last is 2 colors of superwash wool plus some angelina. They've seemed pretty popular on Ravelry.

Then I took the dyeing class where I learned to paint fibers instead of kettle-dyeing them. The results from that class:

There's a lot more control with the painting over which colors hit how much of the fiber. Also, one of the things I found interesting was how different fibers absorb the color. The two yellow/green/blue braids on the right were painted at the same time, with the same dyes in the same strengths and using the same technique. The same is true of the purple/peach braids on the bottom row. In both cases, the superwash wool took the colors more strongly and ended up more vibrant than their non-superwash counterparts (merino and corriedale).
At any rate, since I now am having fun creating far more fiber than I can spin, I plan to start selling batts and dyed top in my Etsy shop (which I will update soon, I promise).

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Whee, drum carder! (Almost.)

I've been saving up for a drum carder, and I've just ordered it! I purchased a Fancy Kitty brand Kitten drum carder, and I think it should be here within a week!

Why do I need one? Right now I have to rely on the generosity of friends with drum carders (hi Celeste!) or the openness of the MN Weavers Guild, and I have far more fiber and ideas than I can process with the existing availability of those carders.

Here are some of my recent batts using other people's carders. First, a few photos to show the stages of how a batch of wool becomes a batt or yarn. I call this first set Teal Steel - dark gray Romney wool was dyed with blue and greens, then carded with a little bit of carbonized (dark gray) bamboo.

Once the wool is dyed, it's picked apart - think of it getting the snarls out of hair before the fancy hairdo. The second photo in each of the next two rows shows wool that's been opened up and is ready for the carder. Then the fiber is fed into the carder and blended as much as you want. In the Teal Steel above, I did nothing to keep the colors distinct, so the batts and yarn don't have distinct differences in the range of colors.

In the first row, I started with three colors, but wanted only two colorways in the final batts. I picked each color apart separately, then divided the multi-colored one (in the middle of the second picture) between the light and the dark, and then carded. There are two lighter batts and two darker batts, each with that multi-colored fiber well blended in. You can see there's more depth in the batts than there is in the plain greens in the first picture.

In the second, which I call Rainbow Sherbet, I wanted the colors not to be blended, so that the orange, yellow, and green would stay distinct. Again, I picked apart the wool into batches based on color. I then carded each color individually, and at the end, took 1/3 of each color and layered them, with as little color-blending as possible. Each batt has the same ratio of colors - orange, yellow, and green. One is rolled inside out to show the color of the other side.

And some other batts I've made recently:

Sure, you say, but this is the Spinning Daisy, not the Carding Daisy... Where's the yarn?

Well, in addition to the Teal Steel in the first mosaic, I've been learning to spin art yarn, specifically coiled yarn.

Also some non-coiled yarn in the last row. Most of this will be up on Etsy soon - I just have to dedicate some time to list them.

And yes, I do love the Mosaic Maker, which creates photo mosaics. Why do you ask?

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

I've been away from 99% of my fiber and had gone into withdrawal, but I'm back. Mr. Daisy and I roadtripped with his (Mr. Daisy's) parents to Denver to visit our newish nephew (8 months old), as well as his (nephew's) parents. We drove through two days of blizzard/white-out conditions in Minnesota, Iowa, and Nebraska to get there.

He's very tactile - likes different textures, and really likes grabbing straps and cords, so I thought perhaps spinning would be a good fit for him. I tried to teach him about spinning, but he seemed more interested in the spindle as something to chew on than to spin.

Wynn December 2009 023

He likes to eat (or at least chew) lots of things - none of which are food.

Wynn December 2009 195

Apparently electrical cords are also a favorite chew toy, but his parents have kept those out of his reach, so no pictures.

Now I'm back and in spinning mode. I spun for a few hours yesterday and today at home, then went to a spinning group for 5 hours today, will spin another 4 on Sunday with a different group. No pictures of new yarn yet, but I do have new fiber.

Before I left, I had a dyeing day where I dyed 3 batches of fiber. One was an attempt to get a combination of orange, yellow, and green. I did this on wool fleece as well as on silk, with no set plans about how I would combine the two. I now have some plans, but I want to see how the wool looks carded up. The silk looks exactly how I wanted it to look, which is pretty exciting.

Silk - Rainbow Sherbet

The wool is close, but I wish I'd gotten more plain yellow.

E Fresian x Polypay - Rainbow Sherbet

Continuing with the three-color attempts but wanting something more monotonal, I did two batches of two greens and a blue. The first picture is what I originally dyed; since I generally put in too much dye, I threw in some fleece afterwards to soak up the rest of the dye. The fleece turned out to be more of a blended color, rather than the distinct colors you see in the first batch.

The Earth from Space

Again with the color names

And then, when I was in Denver, I supported the local economy as well as independent businesses by patronizing a great multi-craft shop, the Fancy Tiger. I bought lots of fiber and at good prices - alpaca, BFL, "faux cashmere," silk, and a few other small things, all for me, and a little bit of fiber for other people. All for the good of the economy, of course. No selfish motives at all. Most of it is not yet colorful. I plan to keep some of it natural color (the alpaca is silver, the BFL is light to medium brown), if I can keep it from leaping into the dyepot on its own. (Tricky stuff, fiber.) There's some colorful sari silk, though.

Sari Silk

Fancy Tiger has supplies for all sorts of fiber arts: spinning, felting, knitting, crocheting, sewing, and needlework. Highly recommended. They also have a clothing store, which I didn't get a chance to go to.

And once I get a little more yarn spun, I'll get some nice pictures of that as well.