Tag Archives: drop spindle

Journal: 1 February 2015

spinning_doneToday my big news is that I finally finished my spinning! I still have to ply it (or decide not to), but I am so glad to be done with the spinning. I think I’ve already said all I really want to about this project: I am glad to have done it, but glad to be done and not planning to do any more.
presentI received a slightly-delayed holiday present that I’m quite excited about: two skeins of lovely soft wool-bamboo blend in muted gray-green and burgundy or dark fuchsia, and a short skein of purple and gray, 100% silk that is so soft you guys, oh my goodness. I already have plans for all of it, although nothing cast on: I’m going to learn broomstick lace and make some chunky arm warmers with both colors of the wool blend, and learn hairpin lace and make either jewelry or a summer scarf with the silk.

scarf_progressI’ve cast on and made progress with the weird yarn two-tone scarf. Other than using it as a travel/waiting in line project, I have been letting it languish a bit because I think it will need more yarn, so I want to get back to the store and see if I can match dye lots before getting too invested. The scarf is working up wonderfully thick; I should probably make it a priority to get back to the store and finish it before the cold weather goes away.

clutch_faceI’ve been doing a bit of utilitarian sewing that I may get a pattern up for eventually: I wanted a little zippered bag to keep in my desk at work and put band-aids, ibuprofen, and so on in. I’ve been wanting to try a quilting pattern I saw on somebody’s blog a while ago, of sewing short strips together into a braid or brickwork pattern. So I combined these two desires, and made the little clutch shown at right. It uses four each of three colors of strips, 2.5″ by 4.5″, sewn into a loop in the zig-zag pattern with quarter-inch seams. The top I sewed straight across, then set a zipper; for the bottom I pressed under the seam allowances all around, matched up the loose corners, and whip-stitched them together. I should’ve lined it, but got lazy, and now it is at work serving its purpose and will probably never get lined. Ah well. I also made a little coin jar using more or less the same technique: I made a loop of two strips of each color, sewed the bottom closed, and turn in the loose edges on the top and sewed around the rim. The bottom closure was a little tricky: I had three right-triangles loose at the bottom edge, so I sewed these together along the normal seam lines. This made the bottom a pyramid, which is not really ideal, so I just gathered the middle bit until it more or less sat flat. Photos of both projects:

blanket_progressFinally, I’ve got a mindless crochet project that I meant to only work on when I’m too braindead to work on anything else; perhaps predictably it’s progressing a lot faster than anything else. It’s a fractal blanket patterned on the Sierpinski carpet; I’ve done a Sierpinski blanket as a gift before (pre-blog), and liked it so much that I decided to make myself one. This one is in Bernat baby sport yarn; I’m expecting to use two pound-skeins of the stuff in the taupe colorway. I’m using filet crochet, with (ch1 dc) for the open pixels and (yo, insert hook in next st and pull up a loop, yo and pull through two loops, yo, insert hook in same stitch and pull up a loop, yo and pull through two, yo and pull through three; dc) for the closed pixels to give a little darker of a fill than normal (dc, dc) filled pixels. There’s a one row/2dc border all the way around. The 81-pixel, fourth-order fractal pattern made a good blanket width, and I’m planning to do two repeats to get a good length. I’ll probably write up a more explicit pattern and post it here once the blanket’s done and I can get good measurements off it. Right now it is definitely a little off of square, which I’m hoping some aggressive blocking (even though it’s acrylic yarn) will fix; it’s not the end of the world for me if it stays off-square though.

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Journal: Back from hiatus edition

Hello, internet. It’s been a while. As promised, now that I’m mostly settled in from the big move, I’m back! Not too unexpectedly, I didn’t get too terribly much crafting done, what with most of my WIPs being in boxes and that whole full-time job thing. However, there were some long flights and a holiday in there, so I have some things to report.

So close!

So close!

Mostly I’ve been chugging along on my spinning, and I am getting so close to the end of the roving. I am pretty excited about that—spinning was a new adventure, and I regret nothing, but until/unless I get a fiber farm and a spinning wheel, it is not going into my set of regular hobbies. I’ve also picked up some gray yarn that I think will complement my hand-spun yarn, with the intent of making a gray shawl with a big color block in it. I’ll keep y’all posted as that progresses, for sure.

bracelets_jan15I’ve made a bunch of tatted bracelets, some as gifts and some simply as something to do on airplanes and such. I am kicking myself for not taking a picture of one of the gift ones, as I think it’s the most beautiful one I’ve made to date; I’m planning to make another like it for myself at some point, though, and I’ll be sure to get a picture then. The ones I’ve still got on hand are pictured at right.

Finally, I started in on another pair of honeycomb mitts, using the burgundy and white yarn left over from my shawl. I made a couple of edits: instead of the single inkline, I’ve made a column of six TSS stitches in each row, and I distributed the increases and decreases evenly on both sides of this column rather than all on one side of the inkline. I like how they are turning out so far, both in terms of color and pattern. Photos:

I also finished the grey and tan silk-bamboo scarf I’ve been working on in the background; I’ve got a pattern written up and will get around to finishing and publishing it soon. I finished the blouse that I was muttering about a couple entries ago, although I don’t have pictures for you today. My other WIPs—the lace scarf and cashmere mitts—are still in progress, but haven’t come out of the protective wrappings I put them in for moving yet.

blouse_fabricOne final crafting-related activity to do with the move is that I’ve had to check out all my local craft stores. So far I’ve just hit the local incarnations of the big chains; I intended to just case the joint and come back when I actually needed something, but on all three excursions I came out with new materials. Between two fabric stores, I came out with fabric for three new blouses (pictured at right) and a pair of slacks. If you’re paying attention, you may have noticed I haven’t yet finished the Great Five-Blouse Project; the plan is actually to put off the last of those for a bit and assembly-line these three on the machine just to put some more options in my closet ASAP.

green_cream_yarnI also bought some new yarn at one of the fabric stores. Some is some cheap baby-sport yarn which will become a low-mental-energy crochet project and then a why-did-I-move-to-a-place-with-real-seasons-in-the-middle-of-winter blanket. The other is something I just thought was pretty and unusual—it appears to be a mesh of white cotton/acrylic threads caging a core of colorful wool fibers. So both a somewhat unusual blend of fibers and interesting from a mechanical perspective. It’s Patons “denim-y”, if you’re interested. I think it will become another two-tone scarf.

multi_threadFinally, at a non-fabric craft store I got a couple more colors of tatting thread. The bracelet I mentioned above being so beautiful came from a variegated colorway, so I’m going to experiment more with that. I’ve got a purple/lavender/white and a navy/denim/white multi.

Journal: New drop spindle edition

Drop spindle and some gorgeously dyed wool

Drop spindle and some gorgeously dyed wool

I’ve got some other crafting things going on, but today I just want to quickly talk about my shiniest new toy: I went to my first-ever fiber festival last weekend, and while there picked up a drop spindle and some wool and learned to spin.

Such sad yarn!

Such sad yarn!

Fortunately the spindle came with an ounce of practice wool, so the worst of my learning mistakes happened in free, undyed wool that I didn’t care too much about. And boy, were there learning mistakes: my first batch of yarn has over-spun kinks, under-spun fluffy sections, and huge variation in thickness from point to point. I’m glad I saw the spinning demonstration before buying my spindle: the person spinning talked about how everyone’s first batch is what she jokingly calls “art yarn”, and said most people are doing much better within a half-hour of starting. I guess I am a bit behind the curve, as that first batch was all pretty bad and took rather more than a half-hour, but I’m okay with that. Anyway, as soon as I was done spinning I 2-plied the yarn and knit it up into a test swatch; photos:

Despite being only 2-ply I’d guess the yarn is somewhere around aran weight, albeit varying quite a bit. I used size 10 needles because the 8’s I started with were just not cutting it. Y’all may have noticed I’m a big fan of finer yarns, so knitting this up was somewhere between an interesting novelty and torture. All the same, I’m proud of myself.

Dyed wool roving. I've already spun up a section of gray

Dyed wool roving. I’ve already spun up a section of gray

While at the festival I also picked up some nice wool to motivate myself—a gorgeously multicolor blue-faced leicester wool by Dizzie Lizzies Handpaints. It’s spinning up a lot better, partly because my skill has improved and partly I think because the wool has less oil in it, or finer fibers, or something. I wasn’t really thinking clearly, so I only picked up one batch, so the plying process is going to be interesting, matching different colors together. In future I think I will stick to spinning single-color rovings, and likely doing more dyeing myself, but this roving certainly worked as intended to motivate me to get through the practice wool.

One thing that bears commenting on is the physicality of spinning, at least with a drop spindle, compared to my other crafts. I actually gave myself a blister the first time out (and chucked a bandaid on it and kept spinning anyway), but that appears to have been due to poor technique rather than anything else. Something that’s persisted is that after spinning for a while my arms get tired: with knitting, sewing, tatting, embroidering or crochet I can curl comfortably on the couch and keep my elbows down, but the drop spindle requires me to sit straight on the edge of a chair and keep both arms elevated for long periods. I’m definitely seeing the appeal of a spinning wheel, both for ergonomic and time-saving reasons, though I don’t have any plans to get one for the foreseeable future.