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Below are the 14 most recent journal entries recorded in Handspinners' Community's LiveJournal:

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Monday, April 22nd, 2013
2:13 pm
Obtaining roving in Minneapolis
I have a project for which I need three or four ounces of plain red roving or top (to spin singles and ply with something else). The problem is, I need it done by Thursday, 4/25.

Is there anyplace local I can buy this without having to buy little sachets of roving meant for felting (Needlework Unlimited) or driving out to Maple Plain (Detta's)? Or if anyone local has something appropriate in her stash, I'd be happy to buy it or trade for it.

It's times like these that I really regret the demise of Fiber Studio.
Tuesday, March 26th, 2013
9:02 pm
Handspun mohair/cashmere

I finished some yarn last night that had been languishing for quite a while. By "quite a while" I mean that the Angora goat who contributed the kid mohair ply is now 7 years old. The other ply is purchased cashmere. I got 238 yards for 3.5 ounces.

photoCollapse )

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012
1:15 pm
I'm taking a "SpinU" class (12-weeks!) at my LYS (Purlescence Yarns). It's been pretty awesome so far, and we're learning a lot of technical details to help make our spinning consistent. Things like:
* ergonomics on spinning & plying
* why fulling isn't always necessary
* what washing your finished skein actually does
* when to over spin / over ply -- WHY and for WHAT garments you would use that for (like socks)
* how balanced yarn isn't always what you need for certain knitted garments
* how different wheels spin differently and how to use different wheels -- double drive, scotch tension, etc.
* making cable plys
* spinning chunky yarn
* spinning art yarn (thick/thin)
* using carded / combed / top prep -- and how to use cards, combs, and drumcarders.
* etc. etc.

It's the "2nd trimester", and I've learned a lot. I thought I was a decent spinner before, but this is changing the way I think about spinning -- being more conscientious about it. The cost of the class ($300+) was a teeny bit pricey for me (at least I thought it was), but the amount of stuff I'm learning...AND the amount of time being spent in class (2-3 hours every week for 12 weeks) AND the 1-1 help we're getting from the teacher...is absolutely priceless and worth the money.

Here's a sample of the homework from the 2nd trimester.

From this:

to 3oz of singles

SpinU Homework - Week 5 Homework

to the finished skein.

Worsted Weight 3-ply. I "think" its about 120 yards?
Spin U - Week 5 Splying

And here's a 3-2 cable ply:
SpinU Week 5 Plying
Sunday, August 5th, 2012
5:22 pm

I've been a bit busy....
Friday, July 27th, 2012
2:41 pm
Slubby silk skein!
So I finished carding and spinning my dyed cocoons (re earlier post), and just two-plied them together. I ended up with around 330 yards of very slubby laceweight yarn, weighing all of 1.25 ounces.

I'd appreciate suggestions for what to do with it. The obvious option would be a scarf or shawlette, but I worry that it would be too clingy and subject to static because it's so light.

Here's a photo of how it turned out -- I'm quite pleased with it.

green silk skein

Next project: cat hair!
Monday, July 23rd, 2012
1:25 pm
Looking for advice regarding spun silk cocoons
At this year's Shepherd's Harvest, the only spinnable thing I bought was a couple of ounces of dyed silk cocoons -- because I loved the color (a lightish teal) and they were inexpensive. I had no idea what to do with them, so I tried carding them. I ended up with a bag of rolags that I've been spinning into a lace-weight single with lots and lots of slubs.

I could just ply it, either as two-ply or Navajo-ply, but I'm looking for other ideas. Any suggestions on what else might work well to ply it with? I haven't done much in the way of novelty yarn, but this seems as if it might be part of an interesting one.
Sunday, July 22nd, 2012
10:15 pm
Tour de Fleece 2012
I have successfully completed my Tour de Fleece project! Last year, I had those three bags of dirty Suffolk fleece that turned into two bags of skirted and (eventually) washed fleece. It was about half white and half gray, and I sorted it into two bags. I finished the white fleece over rather a while, but the gray fleece I decided to do as my TdF project. I started it the day after TdF started, and finished plying the last skein on Saturday morning.

Here be photosCollapse )

Current Mood: pleased
Thursday, May 10th, 2012
10:59 pm
Looking for advice about combs
I've been doing a lot of carding of fleece. I'm comfortable with cards, and pretty darned good at using them, if I do say so myself.

But I have this Finn fleece. It's long and silky and lustrous, and I suspect worsted or semiworsted is going to be a more appropriate technique than woolen. Which means it might be time to learn how to do combing and drawing through a diz.

This weekend is Shepherd's Harvest -- the big Minnesota sheep and wool festival. (Anyone else on this group going?) Which is a good time to buy combs if I'm going to do so. But that's a technique I don't know all that much about. I saw a video with someone combing with (IIRC) a comb attached to a block of wood or some such. That looked like a good technique for doing batches, but I don't know if it's standard.

So -- any recommendations for brands or styles? Or anything else I should be aware of?
Tuesday, May 1st, 2012
9:22 am
Yellow fleece?
I discovered a bag of fleece in my garage. It must have been one that I got from my friend-of-a-friend who raises Suffolk lambs for eating. I suspect that it's ram's fleece, and it has to have been in the garage for a couple of years. (I've since received several other bags and spun the contents of some of those up; it makes a nice lofty springy yarn when carded and spun woolen.)

This particular fleece was rather yellow when I took it out of the bag, and I assumed the yellow was old lanolin and would wash out. But when I washed it, the yellow remained.

It's actually a rather nice sunny yellow; the picture below doesn't do it justice. The yellow goes about two-thirds deep in the fleece, with the last third still being white. I assume that when I spin it, I'll get a yellow-and-white heathery effect. It's too evenly distributed to be sheep's urine, unless the sheep were extremely assiduous about spreading it -- also, the fleece isn't that stinky.

Any idea what could have caused it? And is it anything I need to worry about for the long term?

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012
2:51 pm
Some thoughts on cleaning fleece
1. Sheep poop is nowhere near as hot-water-soluble (or even hot-water-and-soap-soluble) as one might have expected.

2. Despite this, it's the ground-in vegetable matter that is the hardest thing to deal with.

Which brings me to my question: Is there any reasonable way to remove ground-in VM from locks of fleece? The dirt comes out in washing, and the sheep poop can be dealt with, but I have these locks of lovely Finn fleece that are full of smallish flecks of straw and what-all. I mean, seriously ground in. I tried carding the locks, and a lot of the foreign material fell out, and the rolags didn't look too bad, but when I spun them up, the single has visible bits of stuff in it. It just aggregates, I guess.

At this point, I'm going to finish spinning up what I carded, just as a learning experience, but I've got another pound or so of this stuff, and I was wondering if there's anything to be done with the locks with the ground-in VM. (I have no idea what this particular sheep had been doing.) Otherwise, I'll pull out the small percentage of locks that are clean and just card and spin those.

(If I could, I'd post pictures, but the camera app in my iPhone seems to have decided to stop working properly.)
Friday, September 30th, 2011
4:26 pm
When it comes to fleece, how short is too short?
Remember the post I made some time ago looking for someone to clean fleece in exchange for a proportion of it? I didn't find anyone, but I did learn how to clean fleece myself in a five-gallon bucket, and the bag of clean wool is slowly getting fuller and the level of the first bag (of two) of skirted wool is slowly going down.

This is fleece that came from lambs intended for dinner, rather than raised for fleece; and possibly as a result, the fleece is on the short side. At the longest, it's around 2 inches when stretched out. There are also a fair number of second cuts, which I'm attempting to cull as I go, but I think that will mostly happen when I card the fiber.

My real question is, is it worth it? I believe I can card and spin the fleece, even though it's on the short side, but will it turn into inferior wool otherwise? I'm not all that familiar with the various parameters of fleece, but other than the length it seems to be quite nice -- rather fine, with a bit of a crimp to it. Mostly white, with some gray, not that that has any bearing on the question at hand.

I realize this question will mostly be answered by my buckling down and doing some actual carding and spinning, but right now I'm still working on the half-a-fleece of Babydoll Southdown that I split with someone at Shepherd's Harvest. And in any case, I'd be interested in your feelings, if any, about fleece length and how it affects the spinning experience.

(Also, I'd really like to see more activity on this community, but I'm asking because I want to know, not just to stir up participation.)

Current Mood: hopeful
Friday, September 16th, 2011
4:32 pm
Dyeing on short notice
Okay, it's not actually all that short a notice -- it's me failing to plan ahead.

In any case, I haven't ever done any dyeing of yarn or roving, but I have several things (four skeins of handspun sheep's wool, five ounces of silk top, and eight ounces of sheep's wool roving) that I'd like to dye, and the local spinning group is having a dye day on Sunday out at a member's farm.

Given that I'm a total newbie at this, I'm planning on going for the training-wheels version -- Kool-aid or Tulip-brand dyes from Michael's -- unless people really think that's a bad idea. (I'd go with Easter egg dyes if I could find them, but it's the wrong time of year.) I've done a bunch of reading online, but I still have a few questions.

1. Any idea how much Kool-aid I should use in a four-ounce squeeze bottle? (And where can I find said bottles locally if I don't buy a Tulip tie-dye kit?)

2. Should I soak the wool and roving in vinegar water before dyeing? Or water plus a bit of detergent? Or not at all?

3. Will saturating the roving and then letting it dry change the texture at all?

4. Any particular recommendations for silk?

Does anyone have any other advice? I'd appreciate the benefit of your experience.
Tuesday, May 17th, 2011
9:15 pm
Washing fleece
So I washed my first fleece.

I have a dark-brown half-fleece that I got at Shepherd's Harvest that may have been skirted, I'm not sure, but is definitely filthy. But before I tackle that, I wanted to practice.

I had two bags (3 ounces, at a guess), one each of black and white dirty fleece, that I bought at Shepherd's Harvest last year as practice items. (That's what the vendor was selling them as -- a way for newbies to experiment with raw fleece on the cheap.)

Both of them seem to have come out reasonably well, though I haven't tried doing any carding yet. But both of them, presumably because the fleeces were unskirted, have varying color issues. The white fleece has yellow-brown at the end of the locks, and the black has a lighter brown.

Are both of those because of sunlight, or did I just not get the white one clean enough?

And should I do anything about them, or just comb it all together? Advice appreciated.

(I did my first combing on Sunday, also -- a couple of ounces of haucaya alpaca fleece dyed a lovely aqua color. I'm about to ply it now.)
Wednesday, April 6th, 2011
4:26 pm
Any Twin Cities people interested in sharecropping?
I have three large bags full (yes, really) of white lamb fleece, unwashed. It looks rather nice to me, but I'm quite inexperienced in such things. I don't know the breed, but I can probably find out. The lambs in question were from a local farmer who raises them for meat. I don't have the wherewithal (or, honestly, the time) to clean the fleece, but I'd really like to try spinning it.

Would anyone be interested in going halves on it for the cost of cleaning half for me? At a guess, there's 15 to 20 pounds of fleece, though of course there will be less post-dirt. I'll deliver it in the Twin Cities area.

Feel free to forward this on; people can reply here, or privately on LJ, or to carbonel@livejournal.com.

Current Mood: hopeful
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