Tour de Fleece Recap & Sweet Sheep News

Have you guys been over to the Knitted Bliss blog yet today? Julie’s been kind enough to post an Indie Business Interview with me for Sweet Sheep Body Shoppe. There’s a special coupon code available to her readers, too, so definitely go check it out!

I’m happy to announce that I have a new handmade soap available for sale: Ocean Mist! It consists of a lovely pale blue aloe vera gel base scented with Sea Moss (gentle, clean, slightly floral) and contains swirls of goat milk soap scented with Down by the Bay (bright, tangy, herbaceous). If you saw my post on Instagram, you’ll know that I was unsure about my first swirl attempt but I really like how the finished soaps look and will definitely be making more.

In spinning news, I’m happy to report that despite my busy weekend, I was able to power through and finish spinning one last Tour de Fleece skein. I spun some undyed Wensleydale top from Three Waters Farm in a 2-ply to coordinate with a gradient skein of Wensleydale I had previously spun. Unfortunately, I was rushing so much that I spun the undyed singles with the opposite twist than I had the gradient skein singles, so the finished skeins do not have the same direction of ply twist. This will likely not matter too much in the finished fabric, but since I do intend to use the skeins together it bugs the attention-to-detail part of me. Now the question is, do I spin the second 4 oz of undyed fiber to match the undyed skein I just finished in case I need more yardage or to match the gradient skein and use the first undyed skein elsewhere?

Tour de Fleece Recap & Sweet Sheep News | Woolen Diversions

Tour de Fleece 2015 finishes

All told, I certainly did not spin every day I was supposed to, but I did spin far more than I would have and managed to spin three skeins from start to finish over the last three weeks. If you ask me, that output isn’t too bad, especially since it’s three more skeins than I likely would have finished without the tour! (See this post for finish details about the other skeins.)

And now another question: what to spin next?! Oh, the possibilities…

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In Five Days Flat

Who would’ve thought that I could transform a braid of fiber into a finished skein of yarn in just five days flat? I’m sure many others have spun greater yardage in shorter timeframes, but I think this might be a record for me. Thanks, Tour de Fleece!

Falkland Dusky Greens:

In Five Days Flat | Woolen Diversions

Handspun Falkland wool 3-ply, click for Rav page.

This Falkland wool from Three Waters Farm was an absolute dream to spin. I split the braid into three pieces cross-wise, and then split each third lengthwise to spin. I noticed during plying that often 2 of the 3 plies would be the same color, which mixed all of the colors up fairly evenly throughout. It helps that the colorway was tonal to begin with, but I really love the way the colors played out. I was aiming for a weight similar to the first Falkland I spun and more-or-less achieved it by referencing the single and ply-back sample I had preserved in my hand-dandy spinning notebook.

In Five Days Flat

Previous vs. current handspun Falkland skeins

The finished skein weighs 112 g and contains roughly 140 yards of worsted-aran weight yarn. (Well, it’s 140 yards measured after washing, but it was about 180 yards wrapped around the skein winder.) It’s approx. 600-700 ypp and 10-12 wpi and should coordinate nicely with the undyed Falkland (10 wpi, 600 – 900 ypp). I am not quite sure what I want to make with it, but it fluffed up so beautifully after a wash that I want to make sure whatever pattern I choose makes use of it’s bounce-tastic nature.

Eggplant in Ashes BFL/Silk Singles:

In Five Days Flat | Woolen Diversions

Handspun BFL/silk singles, click for Rav page.

I also finally got my Bee Mice Elf BFL/silk singles yarn off the bobbins, soaked, and dried. They are quite lovely, if I do say so myself. I’m not sure if they’ll knit up on the bias or not, but I’m willing to give it a try (you know, whenever I have time for more WIPs, that is). I ended up with approx. 700 yards of fingering-sport weight yarn (18 wpi, 1500 ypp). That deep purple bled A LOT with washing, but the finished yarn is really gorgeous. It’s all slinky and silky and delightful to touch.

So thank you, Tour de Fleece, for helping me spin up 8 more oz of yarn than I would’ve this month (so far). I’m happy to add these pretties to my stash! Onto the next spin…

FOFri #40: Malabrigo Nube Chain-Py Yarn

We’re going to go ahead and forget the fact that I was aiming to finish this skein for Malabrigo March because it’s finally done now (yay!) and it’s lovely (double yay!).

IMG_3087

MalMarch Nube, click for handspun page.

This skein began life as 100% Merino top from Malabrigo, colorway Persia. The fiber is gorgeously soft but often a wee bit compacted, so I chose to card my fiber into rolags and spin them with a long-draw draft for a nice fluffy single (S twist). I then filled two bobbins with 2-ply yarn (Z-twist) and ran the them through my wheel again in the same direction to add some extra twist before the last step. Finally, I plied the two 2-ply yarns together to create a 4-ply cabled yarn (S twist, click the photos below to enlarge).

Cabled yarns do interesting things with variegated colorways, and if plied tightly have lots of spring. My skein is a bit loosely plied so it’s fairly relaxed, but it’s pretty nonetheless. I ended up with 236 yards of approx. DK weight yarn (923 ypp, 12-14 wpi). It should be the perfect amount to make a nice pair of mitts for the Fiasco next fall.

Final cabled yarn

Final cabled yarn

Have you ever tried a cabled yarn? What other fancy plying techniques have you experimented with?

Review: Spinzilla 2015 May Fiber Pack from Louet

As you might recall, on Wednesday I mentioned that I came home to a giant box of fiber-y goodies from Louet*. Want to hear more about that? Of course you do!

Woolen Diversions

Thanks, Louet!

Louet is putting together super cool, heavily-discounted fiber bundles to help us all prepare our stashes for Spinzilla, the week-long spinning marathon that happens in October. There will be a different fiber pack each month leading up to the event. The May pack contains $160 worth of yummy fibers to play with, and retails for less than half that price. After sampling some of the fibers included in the pack, I can’t deny that it is an absolute steal.

The fiber pack contains 4 bundles of 2 oz each Dyed Merino Top (in Champagne, Dusty Rose, Lupine Lavender, and Tawny Gold), 4 oz of Angora/Lambswool Top, 100 gr of Eri (a.k.a. Peace) Silk,  8 oz of Light Romney Sliver, 8 oz of Dark Romney Sliver, and 8 oz of SWTC Dyed Karaoke (50% soysilk / 50% wool). I wanted to write my review before May was over so I’ve only had time to dabble in half of these fibers thus far, but here we go.

Eri Silk:

I practically attacked this lovely bundle of silk as soon as I had it out of the bag. It’s a beautiful, natural champagne/honey color, a nice light tan. It feels incredible. Since it comes from silkworms that spin open-ended cocoons, the silk is not reeled off in one continuous piece. This makes the fiber a bit fluffier and less sleek than typical mulberry silk (and the critters get to live!), but I like this quality as it makes the silk easier to draft and spin.

Review: Spinzilla May Fiber Pack from Louet | Woolen Diversions

Eri Silk sample skein

I spun a small amount (7 g) with short forward draw (worsted) on the fast flyer of my Lendrum wheel (12:1 ratio) and made a 2-ply sample skein with 38.3 yards. If I had spun the entire batch of silk up (4 oz), I would’ve ended up with 618 yards of laceweight yarn (2,481 ypp, 24 wpi). I love this little skein and think that the rest of this silk will make an elegant shawl.

Angora/Lambswool:

The next fiber that my fingers couldn’t resist was the 50/50 blend of angora (from bunnies!) and lambswool. This fiber comes undyed in 2 oz bags (2 bags included in fiber pack). As you can imagine, it’s wonderfully fluffy stuff. I tried spinning this worsted but had a bit of trouble (it’s not my favorite drafting style) so I switched to my old standby, spinning from the fold. This allowed me greater control over the short, sleek angora fibers while introducing a nice bit of air into the single.

Review: Spinzilla 2015 May Fiber Pack from Louet | Woolen Diversions

Angora/Lambswool sample skein

I spun a bit up (11 g) on the fast flyer of my Lendrum wheel (12:1 ratio) and made a 2-ply sample skein with 20.7 yards. If I had spun the entire batch of fiber (4 oz), I would’ve ended up with 214 yards of sport/DK weight yarn (856 ypp, 14 wpi). The yarn in this wee skein is thicker and fluffier than the silk but still has a lovely density from the angora and a nice bit of bounce. I imagine any knit fabric will develop an enticing halo over time. The angora and wool fibers were well blended and only a few times did I find myself at the end of my handful of fiber with just bits of angora left loose in my hand.

Carding Dyed Merino Top:

For my last sample skein, I experimented with hand carding the 4 colors of dyed Merino wool top I had received. I carded 4 rolags of each color blend and spun them in the following sequence: champagne alone, champagne/rose, rose alone, rose/lavender, lavender alone, lavender/gold, gold alone, gold/champagne. Since I was spinning from rolags, I used a supported long draw technique to create a woolen-spun single.

Review: Spinzilla 2015 May Fiber Pack from Louet | Woolen Diversions

Dyed Merino Top sample skein

I switched back to the regular flyer and spun 38 g of wool into a single that I then chain plied (10:1 ratio) into a 3-ply yarn. If I continue spinning all 8 oz of wool in this manner, I will ended up with 455 yards of DK/light worsted weight yarn (910 ypp, 11 wpi). I found the wool top easy to card and spin. I did not notice any compacted areas that can sometimes result from the dyeing process and the colors were consistent throughout the top.

Review: Spinzilla 2015 May Fiber Pack from Louet | Woolen Diversions

My pretties!

I’ve barely scratched the surface of what can be done with one of these fiber packs. Things I’d still like to try:

  • blending the Eri silk with the dyed Merino top in rolags
  • plying one single of silk with one multicolored single spun from the dyed Merino
  • plying light grey and dark grey Romney singles together for a subtle marled yarn
  • spinning a bulky singles yarn from the variegated soysilk/wool fiber.

In summary, these fiber packs are an instant stash, and a great way to explore different fiber types in a low-risk way. For instance, I’m not in love with the feel of the soysilk/wool blend (even though I adore the color!) and I’m glad I found that out through the discounted fiber pack before purchasing it on its own for a project. Louet’s fibers are well-prepared, easy to work with, reasonably-priced, and offered in relatively large amounts (usually 8 oz at a time) that allow for experimentation and sampling without sacrificing project yardage, which I really appreciate. I’ve had my eye on some of their more ‘exotic’ fibers for a while (yak, anyone? How about camel/silk?) and the fiber pack they’ve put together for June looks intriguing, too!

Have you experimented with any new fibers lately? What have you been itching to try?

*Disclaimer: This fiber pack was sent to me from Louet for review. All opinions are my own and reflect my true impressions, I only support businesses whose products I truly love!

FOFri #37: All the Fluffy

The first project I spun on my Lendrum wheel was a full pound of undyed Falkland, spun up into a respectably squishy 3-ply with oodles of yardage. This second finished yarn? Totally different.

FOFri #37: All the Fluffy | Woolen Diversions

Thick-and-Thin Masham. Click for handspun page.

The fiber for this skein was the April 2014 shipment of the Blue Moon Fiber Arts Rockin’ Whorl Club: 8 oz of Masham wool in the Indigo Dreams colorway. I first started spinning this on a spindle but wasn’t loving it, so I decided to give the bulky flyer of my wheel a try. I was spinning up thick singles for a while, but then I was inspired to give thick-and-thin art yarn spinning a shot.

I’m really glad I did, and I’m thrilled that I have a wheel that allows me to spin such vastly different yarns with ease. I spun until I got tired of the process and called it done. The skein is about 3.3 oz and 214 yards of bulky-to-sport weight yarn. I was pleasantly surprised by how evenly distributed the bulky bits seemed while I was winding this skein up. I finished it by plunging the singles into hot and cold water 3 times, and thwacking thoroughly. I was also pleasantly surprised by how well balanced the skein was after finishing. Singles yarns can easily contain too much twist without the plying stage to balance things out but this skein is just fine. I’m not quite sure what I’ll do with it yet, but the finished yarn is much fluffier than I expected it to be, and I think a little loosely-knit cowl or kerchief will do quite nicely. And bonus, I still have lots of fiber and some bulky singles left to use in future art yarn explorations.

FOFri #37: All the Fluffy | Woolen Diversions

Garnet Tonic cowl. Click for project page.

I might just be done with my Garnet Tonic cowl, as well. The pattern said to knit to 48″ before adding the contrast color stripe and binding off/seaming. My cowl measured 44″ unblocked after I had just broken into the third skein and finished the 7th repeat. Since I have a tendency to overestimate cowl length, and since it is already feeling pretty heavy (2 skeins of dense yarn gobbled up), I decided to put my stitches on a lifeline and block it out now to see how big it really is before finishing. On the blocking boards it measures 14″ across and 48″ in length. Once dry I’ll try it on and see if I want to add an 8th repeat or not. Have you ever blocked a project before it’s finished to figure out proper size/length?

FOFri #36: That’s A Lot of Falkland

I have yarn! I present to you the first finished handspun to come off of my Lendrum wheel. (You can hover over photos for captions, or click to enlarge.)

Isn’t it lovely? I basically just want to wallow in those gigantic skeins. You might recognize the smaller one from the ply experiment I conducted where I spun and swatched samples with different amounts of ply twist (oh, the #spingeek-ery!). I learned a lot from that little exercise and I truly love the finished product.

I’m still working out what types of details I want to track about my spinning projects, but for this one I recorded a variety of information. Here’s a recap:

  • Dates: Dec. 1st 2014 – Feb. 12th 2015
  • Fiber: Ashland Bay Falkland Wool commercial top, 16 oz in finished yarn (1 oz used up in sampling).
  • Singles: Spun with Z twist (clockwise) on middle whorl of regular flyer (8:1 ratio). Used a semi-worsted backwards drafting style, occasionally from the fold. Measured 25 WPI (wraps per inch) and 2350 ypp (yards per pound).
  • Ply: Three plies with S twist (counterclockwise) on larger whorl of regular flyer (6:1 ratio). Treadled 4-5 times per length of yarn. Measured 10 WPI and 600 – 900 ypp (measured 600 in reality and 900 on the balance).
  • Yardage: Skein 1 had 306 yards on the winder but after wet-finishing the skein measured 255 yards. Skein 2 had 438 yards on the winder but measured 340 yards after finishing.

Even though the yardage measurements are unclear (I suspect a yardage counter could be handy in the future), I likely have somewhere between 595 and 745 yards of approximately worsted weight yarn. That’s enough for a generous cozy shawl, a boat-load of accessories, or if I spin a little more Falkland up, perhaps a vest? I haven’t decided if I will dye these skeins or not. I’m tempted to try a rainbow skein like what The Lemonade Shop dyes or something like the Tipsy skeins at Blue Moon Fiber Arts but I don’t want to ruin so much spinning if it goes wrong. What would you do?

lovesale

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I don’t think I’ll make it to this space over the weekend, so have a Happy Valentine’s Day!

FOFri #35: Starting with a Finish

After assessing my 2014 FOs, I’m happy to start 2015 off with a post featuring something I actually finished. (Although in the interest of full disclosure, I should tell you that I finished the yarn before the end of December. Whatever, I’m still counting it!)
Woolen Diversions

BFL n-ply in Countess Ablaze colorway ‘Petrol’. Click for handspun page.

I started with a braid of BFL/silk/firestar from Countess Ablaze in a great blue-black colorway called Petrol. I spun the braid from end-to-end into a single that I then navajo-plied for a DK/worsted weight 3-ply. This is the ‘standard’ yarn I tend to produce on my Babe wheel.
Woolen Diversions

Glamour shot.

I love the color and am happy with the finished product, but I really did not enjoy the spin. The fiber was a little compacted (perhaps because it had been sitting in my stash for a year?) and the firestar in the mix gave me a bit of trouble with even drafting. Primarily, though, I think I was unhappy because after spinning on my new Lendrum, I could really feel a difference when I switched back to my old Babe. However, I wanted to produce this ‘default’ yarn to go with two other skeins of BFL handspun I had already made on that wheel, so I persevered.

Woolen Diversions

Three handspun skeins of BFL.

I intend to use the three skeins together, either in a Monster Cowl or as accent colors in some simple colorwork accessories (example hat: Meliorus and mittens: Cloisonee). This skein is probably the last thing I’ll spin on my Babe wheel and I’m happy to have it finished. It was also my entry into the Indie Untangled KAL that just wrapped up. You should check out all the lovely FOs created from indie artists’ materials and patterns, they are really inspiring! Thank you for all of the encouraging comments on my previous post. I hope you’ve had a good start to the new year!