Wednesday 28 May 2014

Obsessed With Spinning

I have become just a smidgen obsessed with spinning lately. I think it is because I finally feel like I've "got it". I'm not saying I'm a good spinner by any stretch of the imagination, as I have a long way to go to achieve yarn that I meant to spin, but I am producing usable and pretty yarn. For example, the Fondant Fibre Rolags I spun a few weeks ago is currently being worked into a shawl.

I cannot believe how lovely it is knitting with handspun yarn now my spinning has improved. #igspinners #craft

I can't stop working on it. The yarn is soft and warm and beautiful. The pattern is Demiluna by Lhevinne Amor and is free on Ravelry. It is quite hard to find the right patterns to show off handspun yarn, but this one seemed perfect for this yarn. I keep trying to find different patterns that will work with each skein of handspun I have, but it is difficult. If you have any suggestions for good patterns using handspun, please let me know.

The pleasure of knitting with my handspun yarn, has led to an increased obsession with spinning more yarn to be used. It is such a rewarding experience, taking something from the fibre to the finished object. I know I'd love it even more if I processed a fleece and dyed the fibre myself, but I know I'll never manage to process a fleece, as it would be too much for me to manage, but I have already dyed fibre to spin and blending together different fibres on the blending board is really exciting too.

What I want to do though is learn how to spin yarn with intention. I suppose I really ought to buy the book, Intentional Spinner (with DVD): A Holistic Approach to Making Yarn (Book & DVD)! I am even more tempted to buy this book because of watching a video download by Judith MacKenzie McCuin that I got cheaply on Earth Day, from Interweave, The Gentle Art of Plying. I learnt so much from this video that I think the book would be fantastic too. I learnt that my plying wasn't great, as you can see from this disaster of a yarn I spun many months ago.

It looked pretty until I tried to knit with it and it was impossible. I finally got round to re-plying it and got noodles, which terrified me. After soaking for a bit and giving it a good snap, it dried to give really nice looking yarn.


This Superwash Blue Faced Leicester yarn is much more smooth and usable. It is now a light fingering/3-ply weight and there is 298m/325yds to play with. I'm so pleased I managed to rescue this yarn because I really loved it. Now I just need to find the right pattern!

Since watching the plying video I've spun two projects that I'm really pleased with. The first project used a blend of fibre from Spin City. The colourway was called Paintbox and it really called to me.  As the fibre was really shedding like nobody's business, I decided to spin it worsted to help contain the loose fibres.  I wanted a nice thick and rounded yarn so to decided to spin a true 3 ply yarn. Once I had all the singles I made a plying ball and plyed it using my new knowledge to get the smooth and rounded yarn I wanted.

Paintbox 03

The yarn is quite dense so I only 144m/157yds of a worsted weight yarn, but I know it will be warm and soft next to the skin. The blend contained alpaca, Blue Faced Leicester and merino and despite the shedding, it was lovely to spin.  I think I'm going to knit the Masonry Mitts by Vera Brosgol, with this.

The second project was another delightful spin. It used organic merino nests in the Smoke Screen colourway from Fondant Fibre. I've spun her nests before and knew it would be fun, but the organic merino is a dream to spin. It's got more crimp than traditional merino which makes it a tiny bit more sticky and a lot more bouncy.

Fondant Fibres Organic Merino Nests 04

Once again, I spun a true 3-ply, mixing up the colours as they were already mixed within the nests. I really like the soft and mottled effect in this yarn because of this blending. The finished yarn is a sport weight and there are 166m/181yds. This yarn is incredibly bouncy, even thought it was spun worsted, and I think this is because of the crimp and the fibre preparation. At the time of writing this post, there is still another batch of these nests in the same colourway, available on Fondant Fibre, and I am trying really hard to resist buying them, to give someone else a chance to experience the joy of spinning these nests.

The last thing that has increased my obsession with spinning is the most wonderful spindle from The Spanish Peacock.

Spanish Peacock Tibetan 03

If you know anything about spindles, you will have heard of Spanish Peacock. They are pretty famous in the spindling world and their supported spindles have always been raved about by people in the know. This is why it is almost impossible to get your hands on one, especially if you live in Europe. The updates usually go live when I'm asleep and by the time I get up in the morning, they have sold out! I was even willing to the customs charges to get my hands on one of these spindles, but it just never happened.

Fast forward to the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival and the Instragram photos that got shared. My fellow podcaster, Emily of the Fibre Town podcast, was showing off her new Spanish Peacock spindle and I told her I was green with envy. She immediately offered to get me one and post it to me if I sent the money by Paypal. As it was just after my birthday and I had some money from my in-laws to spend, I immediately sent the money. I told Emily what I was interested in and she sent me the most wonderful spindle.

Spanish Peacock Tibetan 01

It is made with walnut and wenge, and weighs 26g. Apparently wenge is a very dense and hard wood. The whorl has been hollowed out on top to mean the weight is distributed close to the tip and out to the sides. The wood is really beautiful.

Spanish Peacock Tibetan 04

I love the grain that shows on the whorl. This beautifully carved out and dense whorl, means the spindle spins forever. The shaft is about an inch or two longer than my Enid Ashcroft spindles which means more can be wound onto the shaft before it interferes with any temporary cop. In addition to the longer shaft, the tip is incredibly well tapered.

Spanish Peacock Tibetan 02

Please excuse my scruffy fingers, but I wanted to show the tip to scale. This slender tip of the shaft means the spindle spins incredibly fast. The tip is small in relation to the base of the spindle, so when it is flicked it works like a gear and creates a proportionally faster spin than would be possible with a thicker tip. I think this spindle will help me create some beautifully fine singles.

I could not be happier with this new spindle. It is heavenly to use and I don't think I'll ever tire of using it. I am so grateful to my podcast friend, Emily for going to this effort for me. This is a wonderful birthday present and I know I will be craving more of these wonderful spindles!

So, as you can see, I have plenty of reasons to be obsessing with handspun yarn and spinning it at the moment, so please excuse my absence and I hope to come to my senses soon and get back to my normal balance of knitting and spinning.


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