Thursday, February 28, 2013

February Skill Stretch: Over The Fold COMPLETED!

Just in the nick of time... I have completed my skill stretching goals for February and I am ready to share the results!


My first test was to spin this lovely tourmaline merino/silk/bamboo blend from SweetGeorgia.

First, I spun a teeny little worsted sample so I could compare my results. Then I spun the rest of the bump from the fold (yes, I spin in my pyjamas).

The Results:

On the left is the worsted sample. On the right is the 'from the fold' sample. Interestingly enough, after washing and drying, the worsted sample is pumper and softer...? I think I just simply might spin thinner than I think when I am drafting from the fold.  Also, the yarn feels a little bit more 'scruffy', but that makes sense considering the fibres are more bent and twisted than my worsted version.
In conclusion: next time, I don't think I would bother spinning this fibre from the fold, unless I wish to control the colour differently. I like the look of the worsted yarn, and it was easier to both spin and prepare.

If you would like to see more information on the finished skein, check out its Ravelry page in my stash.


Next up - the blue multicoloured mystery!

UPDATE - actually, not so much of a mystery anymore! My friend Anita has told me she has the same fibre in her stash, and it is Northern Lights!

I did two samples of this skein as well - one small skein of worsted, and one larger skein of 'from the fold'. I purposely wanted to see the difference in colour that results from using these two drafting methods.

Here is a photo of one of the worsted-spun singles - you can see the long colour repeats I was able to achieve by simply spinning this roving as presented:

Then I spun my remaining fibre over the fold.  You can see how short the colour repeats became. The resulting single looks almost marled; the colours are much more blended together!

Once plied, the resulting yarns don't look TOO different... but I am sure once I get to swatch them up, I will see much bigger and longer colour repeats in my worsted yarn than from my 'from the fold' yarn.

The Results:

On the right is my worsted sample. On the left is my 'from the fold' sample.  Again, the 'from the fold' yarn is thinner and courser. But the colours in that sample are much more broken-up and dappled. I believe when I swatch these yarns I will discover that sample has more of a 'tweed' look to it.

If you would like to see more information on the finished skeins, check out the link to its Ravelry page in my stash.


Finally, I tried to spin a batt from the fold. I also decided to leave this yarn as a single, just to test out my "mad single-makin' skillz".

I unrolled the batt, pulled out staple length chunks, and folded them over my finger before I spun them.

The Results:
A little more kinky and thinner than I thought! But still a LOVELY yarn - I think I might combine it with one of January's singles to create a nice sparkly scarf.

If you would like to see more information on the finished skein, check out the link to its Ravelry page in my stash.

So what do I have next in store for my spinning wheel?! Come back next month to find out! ;)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Science Day!

A couple weekends ago, my husband and I hosted a SCIENCE DAY with a couple of friends of ours - a day where we collect samples, look through microscopes, and bake Pillsbury cookies.

Meet some of my fellow scientists (in order of appearance): Cameron Husbandman, David, Biren, Eva, Magnum (Jenn was camera-shy).

So what did SCIENCE DAY have to do with fibre you may ask? Well, I asked Cameron to put some samples of my fibre stash under the microscope and take some photos! I did it on hopes of discovering what some of my mystery fibre was. Even though I never came to a good conclusion, it was still pretty neat to see the final images!

Behold: Alpaca and Silk:




Human (aka Eva. No, I guess this one wasn't from my stash...)


Mountain Goat:


 Wool (BLF):

 Of course, other science was done too... we looked at pond water under the microscopes!

We also ran an experiment where we separated water into it's gas components, and filled up a "balloon"... well, we couldn't find any balloons, but we found something else that worked just as well for our purposes.

All was fun and good, I sure can't wait to have another SCIENCE DAY! We're already brainstorming new experiments, and I have cookies in the freezer...


Monday, February 18, 2013

Knitting 202!

I will be teaching an intermediate knitting class next month at Bird On A Wire!

I will be teaching an intermediate knitting class next month at Bird On A Wire! Spaces still available!

Knitting 202: Beyond the Scarf

Ready to knit more than a square? In this intermediate level class, we will explore knitting in the round, ribbing, yarn-overs, increases and decreases while creating a textured slouchy hat or cowl.

Dates: check the website for the most up-to-date information.
Time: Friday Nights 6:30 - 8:30 pm
Cost: $70 + HST (does not include materials)
Materials: 100 grams of worsted weight yarn and...
If creating a hat: US size 6 / 4 mm double pointed needles OR 16" circular needles.
If creating a cowl: US size 6 / 4 mm circular needles (approx. 24" long).
Materials can be purchased before class.
Project: Slouchy hat/Neck warmer, original pattern by Grace Verhagen.
Required Skills: Ability to knit, purl, cast on and bind off.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Part One: A Gal and her Goat...

I have a real 'thing' for spinning new fibres... I'm always trying to track down something I haven't tried before!  I mentioned to my pa-in-law once that I would love to try spinning some mountain goat, and he told me if he ever saw some stray clumps caught up in the bushes around his place up in central BC,  he'd collect them for me to try! And I got very excited.

However, he did me one better...

He tracked me down an ENTIRE mountain goat skin! He brought it to Vancouver with him last year on one of his visits. I was a little perplexed about how I should get the fibre out, and if it would even be usable because I am sure the pelt must have been preserved with chemicals. But I showed the skin to Judith Mackenzie at her workshop last year, and she showed me that if I used my fingers, I would be able to pull out clumps of LOVELY fibre from deep inside the coat! I happily took my mountain goat home, and put it in my closet until I had time to tackle such a challenge...

... Fast forward one year. This February long weekend, I decided I needed the closet space and I was going to 'recycle' that goat skin.  I knew once I started, I was going to need to finish it all at once, for it made a rather big mess and if I stopped, it might be months before I was brave enough to bring it out of the closest again...

So I set up an old shower curtain on the playroom floor and unrolled the pelt. Yup, it was even bigger than I remember. This thing must have been the size of a cow! (A little cow at least).

Fun fact - there was a little envelope left in the box with all the information about where and when the goat was originally hunted... It was kind of neat to learn a little about it's history!

I tried pulling a few tuffs of undercoat out with my fingers, but I knew that was just going to be WAY too much work. So I decided to see if I could work some magic with my mini wool combs... and they worked PERFECTLY! Within an hour of combing on the floor, I had recovered 3 ounces of fibre.

The next day, I decided to get serious.  I moved my loom off it's workbench and set up 'shop' in the middle of the playroom. I could sit in my spinning chair, wear an apron, and comb much more comfortably than I could on the floor. That first day I combed for about 5 hours (on and off) and I had only worked about a quarter of the pelt... but I had collected 12 ounces of fibre!

The process took longer than expected, but I tried to finish it up as quickly as I could because my apartment was getting FILTHY - there was goat hair everywhere! I could tell my lovely husband really wanted the space back (our place just ain't that big!). We went to the Marilyn Manson concert one evening and the dress I wore was black... big mistake. I was picking stray clumps of mountain goat hair off myself all night!

My husband was nice enough to capture some video of the process! If you would like to see exactly what I am doing, check out these clips we put on Youtube:

I finally collected everything I could from the pelt by Wednesday... my shoulders are pretty sore, and I have nice callouses on my fingers that are making knitting a little awkward! But I now have FORTY SEVEN sweet, sweet ounces of fibre ready to tackle in a big blue bag in my closet. 

Funnily enough, that bag is almost bigger than the original box I had the goat pelt in...

I'm not sure what I am going to do with the remaining leather and fibre, but I will keep it around for a bit until I come up with a good idea. Spinning wheel bag perhaps...?

My Next Step - I will have to finished picking out the remaining guard hairs from the fibre and sort it into 4 ounce allotments for spinning. Then I would like to learn how to spin semi-woolen.  I have some good quality cotton in my stash that I bought just for that purpose. I think I will make that my March Skill Study... so look forward to some more pics soon!

Monday, February 4, 2013

February Skill Stretch: Over The Fold

This month, I am going to try to spin 3 skeins of yarn from the fold.

When using a prepared top, this drafting method produces a slightly loftier yarn than my default worsted forward draw. If using a rolag or batt, the results will be even more woolen. I have also seen "over the fold" used to control colour blending.

This morning I rummaged through the 'yarn pantry' and pulled out my materials...

This merino/bamboo/silk blend from Sweetgeorgia will be my first experiment. This is a prepared top, where all the fibres are aligned in one direction.  When I spin this from the fold, it will bend the fibres in half before they are taken onto the wheel.  This SHOULD create a loftier yarn than using my worsted drafting method.  Also, the shiny fibres of the bamboo and silk should react differently to the light once the fibres are bent.  I will do a teeny sample of this fibre worsted first, then spin the remaining 4 ounces from the fold, and see what happens!

Next, I will experiment with some colour blending. I have this completely unknown fibre I bought with a vast amount of drop spindling supplies off craigslist. It feels a little rough to the skin, but maybe it will soften with a wash...? Regardless, I will do a small 2 ply worsted sample of this yarn, and then spin the remainder from the fold, and see how the colours blend together differently!

Finally, I will try something BRAND new for me - spinning from a BATT! I bought this batt from Fibres West last year because I thought the colours and sparkles were beautiful, but I wasn't sure how I was going to spin it! So I will try spinning a chunk of this from the fold, and see how I like the results!