Spindle Happy

Goodness knows I have an abundance of spindles. (Remember that time I thought I’d clear all my spindle spinning projects off in the few months I had before the baby was born? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA, I’m so funny.) But when I learned that Journey Wheel (a.k.a. the makers of Bosworth spindles) were going to be at the Knitting Weekend market, I knew without a doubt that I’d be adding to my collection.

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My new friends.

Bosworth drop spindles are among the best of the best. They’re prized by some of the most prominent spindle spinners in the business, and for good reason. They’re beautiful, perfectly balanced, and have a long, smooth spin. I’ve been wanting one for a long time but have been reluctant to order online because I didn’t know how to tell which one I wanted based just on a description of the size and type of wood. I really needed to see them in person and actually try a few out. Some I liked the look of didn’t spin as nicely as I wanted. One of my spinner friends was right when she said you have to find one that clicks for you.

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Blurry pic of the Midi spindle and Rag Hill Fiber batt.

I first clicked with a Midi size spindle made from Monkeywood. (I admit, I half picked it on name alone.) I purchased a batt from Rag Hill Farm(we’ve vended with them a few times, they’re lovely people!) and started spinning then and there. I’ve been using this batt to practice plying on the fly, and it’s been a lot of fun turn fiber into 3-ply yarn at once, instead of spinning it all into singles, winding it all off, then plying it in a separate step. (Google it, there are lots of videos out there.) Then I came home with a second spindle the next day (a Mini in Heart Pine reclaimed from the roof of an 18th century cabin) because how am I expected to hang around the pretty spindles and chat with the friendly and kind Bosworth couple without buying another?

All in all, it was an excellent show, preceded by a flurry of activity to prepare for it (and to meet some work deadlines) so I’m looking forward to spending my birthday (today!) going out to dinner and relaxing with my Fiasco. My parents are visiting this coming weekend, which should be fun, and I’m planning to spin with my new pretties every second that my hands are baby-free thanks to grandparent occupation.

(Have no fear, all the leftover product from the show will be updated to the shop over the next few days. Just not tonight!)

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More Pretty Things

The stash-enhancement around these parts continues due to holiday/birthday funds, so I figured I’d share the goodies!

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More lovelies from Blue Moon Fiber Arts.

I couldn’t resist adding another skein of BMFA Tigger Targhee to my stash, so I grabbed one in the most icy blue ever (Let It Go… Let It Go). I also acquired another skein of Yaksi (a heavenly DK weight blend of 60% wool/ 20% yak/ 20% silk) in Shoqua (in case I run out of yarn on my Yaksi Cancan shawl) and one skein in Tanzanite (because it’s pretty and I want a purple hat).

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My happy mailbox visitor.

My mailbox made me smile for other reasons last week, too. I received a funny card and lovely little holiday sloth from Audry to cheer me up after the rough few weeks I’d been having. The kindness and generosity of knitters and internet friends never cease to amaze me. It makes me simultaneously happy that I get to know so many wonderful people virtually, and sad that we can’t easily hang out in ‘real life’. Perhaps someday. The wee sloth now keeps me company in my office. 🙂

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New birthday spindle!

Finally, the Fiasco humored me with a new spindle for my birthday present. I’ve been eyeing up Meilindis’ beautiful spinning and admiring the lovely Mingo and Asho glasspin support spindle she’s been featuring in her blog posts. Glass-tipped spindles (or glindles) have been notoriously popular and hard to get a hold of from Bristlecone (whom I think were the original makers) so I was very happy to see other artists begin making their own versions.

I especially love the pyrography featured on the spindles. The trees, birds, and sunrise cattail landscape are so delicate and detailed, it’s truly beautiful. This spindle is 11 inches long and weighs 1.75 ounces, and the shaft is birdseye maple with bubinga and mahogany accents.

I’m super duper in love with it. I’ve also come to the amusing conclusion that I think part of the reason I love support spindles so much is that they feel an awful lot like owning a collection of magic wands. I AM A WIZARD.

Ok, we’re done here.

This Year’s Crazy Idea

While preparing for a spinner’s guild meeting over the weekend (that I never even made it to because life has been far too busy lately) I had a flash of brilliance/madness/ambition. I decided that this year, my big goal will be to finish all of the spinning projects that I have in progress — preferably before the Hatchling makes its appearance in June.

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Yes, this is utter madness.

Now, I’m clearly not going to kill myself trying to make this goal, but I think that focusing on spinning over the next few months will be a really good way for me to:

  1. take my mind off of how much I hate pregnancy,
  2. do a little something that makes me happy every day,
  3. get my zen relaxation on, and
  4. work in some gentle movement (treadling, standing while spindling) that could help my DVT-caused leg pain while I’m on a bit of an exercise hiatus.

Plus, I went on a spindle-buying-bender a couple of years ago, and every time I got a new spindle I started a new project, so things have gotten out of hand. I’d really like to turn more of my spinning visions into reality before I have a squalling newborn occupying all of my free time, and I think this will be a nice way to turn spinning into a daily habit. So without further ado, here are all of the projects I have in progress. (All links go to my Ravelry handspun project pages.)

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Turkish Spindles

1 – Jenkins Aegean, 4 oz. Nunoco Batts, Summer Love — Batty Challenge, begun April 2014.

2 – Jenkins Aegean, 6 oz. BMFA Yak/Silk, RWC Tarnished Yak/Silk, begun July 2014.

3 – Subterranean Woodworks Medium, 4 oz. Nest Merino, Magrat MegaSAL,  begun April 2015.

4 – Subterranean Woodworks Small, 4 oz. BeeMiceElf Merino, Merino Mind Bullets, begun July 2015.

5 – Jenkins Finch, 4 oz. Wooldancer Merino, Tropical Merino, begun November 2014.

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Supported Spindles

6 – Woodland Woodworking Bead, 4 oz. June Pryce Fiber Arts Merino, WW Merino begun December 2014.

7 – TexasJeans Russian, 4 oz. Inglenook Batts, begun October 2014.

8 – TexasJeans Tibetan,  2 oz. Angora + 4 oz. Shetland, Bunny Fur, begun April 2014.

9 – hipstrings acrylic tahkli, 4 oz. cotton, begun sampling only, no project page yet.

(The two newer spindles that I haven’t even had time to try yet will play supporting roles.)

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Drop Spindles

10 – Kundert drop spindle, 16 oz. Woolgathering’s Spinner’s Study of different breeds, begun May 2012.

11 – Golding Cherry, 6 oz. BMFA camel/merino/silk, begun January 2014.

12 – TexasJeans polka dot drop spindle, 4 oz. BMFA Masham, Indigo Masham, begun June 2014. (This project may have been abandoned…)

13 – Golding Tsunami, 2 oz. quiviut/alpaca + 2 oz. silk, Quiviut/Alpaca, begun October 2013.

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Wheel Projects

14 – Earth & Sky Stacks, 8 oz. Gotland, begun March 2015.

15 – I Shall Spin Midnight, 8 oz. Louet merino/silk, begun October 2015.

16 – 10 oz. Loop! Batts, begun November 2013.

17 – Earthy Bubble Crepe, art yarn using a few different braids, begun June 2013.

18 – Shadyside Fiber merino/silk, begun October 2012. Honestly, I think I gave away the rest of this fiber. Will just ply up what I have here and call it a day.

What do you think, folks, can it be done? Finishing all 18 would mean I’d have to finish 3 projects a month to be done by the end of June… Yikes. How far do you think I’ll get?

Prepare for Eye Candy

Oh boy, oh boy. My new Woodland Woodworking support spindle showed up and it is beyond gorgeous.

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Feast your eyes!

If you haven’t heard of Woodland Woodworking before, you must immediately go admire Carl’s work. His spindles are fairly unique in both shape and style. I had never encountered a teacup spindle before his, and rarely have I seen any spindles painted with such gorgeous precision.

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Pretty, pretty snowflakes!

His custom list is filled up months and months in advance and his updates seem to be few and far between, and sell out in seconds. In truth, I was hoping to land this blue snowflake beauty, but I am thankful to have been able to purchase any spindle at all. The one I received is a bead spindle made of German hornbeam and redheart. It is quite lightweight (0.87 oz, or 24 g) and shorter than some of my other support spindles (9.75 in).

My collection currently consists of a Texas Jeans Russian spindle in curly maple, a Texas Jeans Tibetan in maple and purpleheart, the new Woodland Woodworking bead spindle, and a Hipstrings tahkli for cotton spinning in carbon fiber and acrylic. The two Texas Jeans spindles are the longest at 12″ and 11″, while the tahkli is the shortest at 9″. The Tibetan is the heaviest (31 g), followed by the Russian (27 g), then the new bead spindle (24 g), and finally the tahkli (7 g).

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Spinning tip comparison.

What I found really interesting is the difference in the thickness of the spinning tip of the new Woodland Woodworking spindle from the tips of the Texas Jeans support spindles I’ve been accustomed to using. The WW tip is much thicker than the TJ spindle tips. So while the spindle is lighter, you don’t get quite as much spinning force bang-for-your-buck as you do with a thinner-shafted spindle and it took my fingers a little bit of time to adjust to the different feel.

I can tell that I could get really wrapped up in analyzing the different spin times / feels / speeds etc. of different spindle types. I may or may not have already begun a spreadsheet tracking the dimensions of my spindles. I suppose this means I’ll just have to obtain one of every kind for a thorough analysis… what do you think? 😉

(P.S. The lovely fiber I’m spinning on the new spindle is some Merino wool hand-dyed by June Pryce Fiber Arts. I love the colors!)

WIPWed #73: Preoccupied

My crafty thoughts this week have been all caught up with spinning. Between internal wheel debates, a new spindle in the mail, and some brilliantly tropical fiber, my poor #NaKniSweMo sweater has been a little bit neglected, but I’m still knocking out at least a few rows a day and am nearing the end of the back piece. Just a couple of inches of shoulder shaping left to do before I bind off!

Overdyed Cypress. Click for project page.

I’m not super hopeful that I’ll finish before the end of the month, but to tell you the truth, I’m just happy I’ve gotten this far and that it’s all going well!

Wooldancer 19.5 micron Merino

That’s the lovely tropical-looking Merino fiber I picked up from Madison Wool when I went to try out wheels. Isn’t it gorgeous? I’m not usually a pink person but this is just so vibrant and gorgeous that I couldn’t resist. I guess my eyes were craving color after a string of grey days, and I wanted something new to spin on this little guy after I finish the sample it came with:

I was super duper excited when the Jenkins ran their most recent Finch spindle lottery and allowed the runner ups to purchase a spindle, because I was a runner up! I believe with their new website that the lotteries might be a thing of the past, so I feel especially lucky to have gotten this little guy. It’s itty bitty, weighs only 12 g, and is made of a gorgeous two-toned granadillo wood. I’m officially a tiny spindle convert. It spins effortlessly, I can use it easily in the car or curled up on the couch, and when you remove the shaft it fits within a sunglass case for storage!

That’s all I’ve got going this week. How about you? (And does anyone know what’s happened to Tami? She hasn’t posted in quite a while!)

WIPWed #71: Instant Gratification

As a knitter, you wouldn’t think that I’d have a deep love of instant gratification, since knitting is probably one of the slowest ways to create something. Yet, I do. I can only stay project-monogamous for so long before my fingers get itchy for something new and quick. Especially when lovelies like these arrive:

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The Verdant Gryphon Zaftig, colorways Russian Sage and Kiss of Cabernet

As I mentioned on Saturday, The Verdant Gryphon brought back my beloved Zaftig yarn (worsted weight MCN blend) and I just could not resist. Skeins were acquired, and swatches were  nearly immediately made.

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Swatches!

The top swatch was made with size 7 needles because I could not find the size 6 needles the pattern called for and of course, my gauge was too large. I finally did find my size 6 needles and made a second (slightly less enthusiastic) swatch, which was close enough! (Pattern called for 5 sts/inch, I achieved 5.25 sts/inch.)

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The beginnings of a Lucy Hat. Click for project page.

Hats are my absolute favorite instant gratification project, and normally around this time of the year I’m knitting hats like crazy for gifts. However, this one’s for me, and it’s going to be awesome.

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SG Codex, colorway Lioness of Brittany. Click for project page.

The project I’ve been (mostly) monogamous with is my Sweet November shawl knit with luscious, silky Codex. I know I’m going to love this thing like crazy when I’m done, it’s just not particularly engaging to knit anymore since it’s quite simple and repetitive. But that ball is shrinking quickly, so an FO should be in my future soon enough!

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Inglenook Batts. Click for handspun project page.

I took a little spinning break after Spinzilla, but have since picked up my supported spindle project here and there. I’m still enjoying this spin. The singles are so colorful and such a crazy mix of fibers that I’m really looking forward to seeing what it will look like plied!

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Spindle storage.

Over in the Spindlemania group there has been some discussion about how people store their spindles. The above photo illustrates my little spindle corner in the living room. If you look closely, you’ll spot two Turkish spindles on top of the tallest bookcase (one of the few spots in the house that Darwin can’t terrorize). Hanging on the wall are two colorful bags that each contain a top whorl spindle (my Golding and my Kundert) with their fiber. The small hanging bag holds fiber for one of my support spindling projects. Below the bags are my two support spindles and one additional top whorl stuck in a vase with glass beads to hold them upright. For traveling, my Jenkins Aegean and my larger Capar Turkish spindles each fit well within my Dakine school supply case (with shafts removed and with plenty of fiber).

How do you store or travel with your spindles? What do you do when the urge for instant gratification strikes?

Finding Time

Last week was a whirlwind and this weekend was no different. I’ve been having difficulty finding time for everything that needs attention. I completely missed my intended Inspiration Saturday post (a followup to part 1 of our Costa Rica trip) because I haven’t had a single second to devote to processing the rest of the 1200+ photos we took on our trip. Instead I was making lotions, working on my business plan, developing a household budget, doing some scientific soul-searching, and finally (FINALLY!!!) cleaning up and organizing my office, which had been a hopeless mess since May and full of no-longer-necessary wedding junk. Since that task alone took me about 6 hours, I rewarded myself with 20 minutes to try out the new hipstrings tahkli cotton spindle I purchased at the beginning of July.

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Cotton tahkli from hipstrings, click for Etsy shop.

I’ve noticed a lot of Etsy sellers making punis on Instagram lately, they appear to be all the rage.  Punis are basically just tightly-wrapped rolags, a carded fiber preparation. They are traditionally used with cotton spinning (and other short fibers) but can be made with any fiber and are typically made with wool blends by Etsy sellers. If you’ve never used them before, they are incredibly easy to make.

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Charging the carder.

First, you need to load your fiber onto a hand card, this is called ‘charging’ the carder. I am using Strauch cotton hand cards in the child size. These carders have 255 teeth per inch (many wool carders have between 70 and 100) so they are particularly suited for fine, short fibers like cotton, angora, yak, quiviut, fine merino, etc.  The truck is to place just a small amount of fiber on the carder, you don’t want to use too much at once.

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After a few passes.

The idea behind carding is just to open up the fibers, get some air in there, and straighten them out a bit. Carded preparations are usually spun woolen style (with the fibers aligned every-which-way instead of straight like worsted) so I don’t fuss over keeping the fibers neatly aligned. I just work on getting them fluffy. There appear to be a ton of different ways to card and after watching a video and reading a book, I basically just do what feels right to me (though those resources are good ones to get you started).

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Rolling the puni.

For the next bit you need a dowel or a thick knitting needle. You place it near the edge of your card with the teeth facing away from you and roll the fiber up around the needle. This lets you get the edges tucked in neatly and gives you something to manipulate during the rolling.

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Tidying up the puni.

Once all the fiber is lifted off the card and around the needle, you can lift it off and bring it down to the front edge of the card to roll it up a few more times. This compacts the fiber around the needle and neatens up any stray fibers.

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Spinning!

Then you spin! While I love spinning with supported spindles, the tahkli took a little getting used to. It’s extremely lightweight and does not stay vertical or spin for very long because of it. However, it does spin extremely quickly so it adds twist to the fiber at a fast enough rate to keep it all together. It’s a very different feel than spinning with Russian or Tibetan supported spindles but I’m enjoying the exploration so far.

How do you like to reward yourself after a lot of hard work?