Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Making of Yarn

The Tour de Fleece is when I kick into production spinning mode.  Last year and this year I estimate I made about 80% of my handspun yarn during this one 3-week stretch.  I like the idea of "spinning Tuesdays" but it hasn't worked out as a regular thing I do.  But I'm pleased to report that all 2.5 pounds of orange-dyed superwash wool has now been spun and plied.  This bowl is the final 12 skeins, about 800 yards all told.  When the Tour reaches the finish line I'll have to take some more photos.  And then I'll have just a few more days before I start knitting my Ravelympics project with it.

I started this new braid of combed Targhee top from Sweet Grass Wool.  I've never spun Targhee before.  I'm thinking I'll try to Navajo-ply this to keep the color progression in the finished yarn.  My N-plying is far from perfect yet.  I've noticed I'm not really a technically proficient spinner at all.  I just make yarn the way it feels right to make it.  Our Knit Night has had to relocate away from the local Starbucks for a few weeks while they renovate; I spun this at the Starbucks cafe of the local Barnes and Noble.  Felt awfully self-conscious dragging my Traveller into the bookstore!  But I was in good company.  I don't get a chance to spin socially that much, and I enjoy it.  I got a chance to see Patti spin on her Lendrum, Stephanie on her Hitchhiker, and Carol on her Turkish spindle.  She also had a Russian support spindle, which is beautiful.  Now I want one!
This is "challenge day" in the Tour, and here's my challenge, to be started as soon as I fill the first bobbin with a little more Targhee.  This is Muffball fur.  You remember Muffball?
She's grown some since this was taken and the above fur is combed and brushed (I don't own hand-cards) from over a year of saving her fur.  She's like one of those primitive breeds of sheep or musk ox that you have to collect the clumps of fiber from wherever they snag: the carpet, mostly, but sometimes I find them on top of a table!  Since it's summer she's been having hairball problems (she's a longhair even though in this photo, when she was a kitten, it was shorter).  She has the most adorably soft fur, like angora or cashmere.  I think the fiber is from her undercoat mostly -- it's fairly short hairs.  There was one time last week where I captured her for a much-needed brushing session and actually cut out two large felted clumps under her kitty armpits.  Poor thing!  I'm looking forward to the challenge of spinning kitty fur.

My other projects, quilting and knitting, have been taking a bit of a backseat during the Tour.  But I am in the final, beaded section of the Rose Lace Stole, a.k.a. Lady MacBeth. (Using last week's photo since I haven't been taking pictures of it).  I should really have someone take a photo of my hands after knitting for awhile: stained fuchsia with the Wilton's food coloring I used to dye the cashmere.  I'm still trying new recipes from the Madhur Jaffrey cookbook, too.

In quilting I'm laying out my July UFO challenge quilt blocks (same picture as Monday).  My machine quilting setup is back together with replacement parts, but I still haven't reconnected everything and plugged it in for a test drive.

I should have enough blocks for at least an 8x8 layout.  That will be a nice lap or wall size.  At this point I don't see making enough blocks for a bed size quilt; any extra blocks can just be saved for next year's Cedar Tree crumb signature quilt.


Ellen said...

So how many skeins of yarn (and weight and yardage) do you get from that 2.5 lbs of wool? My mom gave me her old spinning wheel (needs a new part ordered) and I've been interested in spinning, but know nothing about it, really. Would you recommend a drop spindle first? Where do you purchase your wool roving in order to spin? I have lots more questions, but don't want to overwhelm you with them. :)

Taryn V. said...

Love that picture of your cat peeking through the spinning wheel! Your quilt top is gorgeous, it is so intricate and precise! Thanks for linking up to WIP Wednesday!

Lynette said...

Could be a pretty holiday table topper, too!

Kathy said...

Ellen, that is a total of about 1800 yards of 3-ply yarn, mainly worsted weight. Should be enough for a sweater. If you are interested in spinning, there are lots of resources online. I started learning on a wheel, but a spindle is definitely less of an up-front commitment. This is fiber I bought from Sheep Shed Studios. They get the mill ends for Brown Sheep yarn.

Erica Saint said...

Cute cat!