Deep Stash

When Jen sent an email out last month, announcing the last of her luxury fibers, I immediately ordered 8 oz. It is a blend of Falkland Island Polwarth, cashmere, baby alpaca, yak, silk, and I don’t know what else. It is a beautiful oatmeal color.

I’ve spun this blend in the past, but when I looked in my past blog post, I did not find any mention of it. I dug deep into my emails with Jen (you’ve got to love Gmail for this!) and found that I’ve had at least 2 experiences with this fiber blend from Jen. The first one as a free sample. Gee, where have we heard that before? She’s such a pusher. I purchased another 8 oz shortly after.

I spun this batch worsted with a short backwards draw into a fine single. This is very different from my previous method, which was with my lazy long draw. The result of the first batch was a light fingering weight yarn.

Part way through the first 4 oz of this fiber, I decided I wanted a 3 ply yarn for a sweater/sweater vest. Unfortunately, Jen has sold out of this fiber.

So I went diving in my stash. My original thought was to make a blend similar to the luxury blend since I likely had all the components in my stash. It’s just a matter of getting the correct proportions and colors.

Lo and behold! I found 2 Abby Batts, circa 2007 or 2008, in wool (likely merino), silk, camel, yak. It is a near perfect match for Jen’s luxury blend in both content (minus cashmere and a different camelid) and color.

This, my friends, is why you need a stash.

A note on the Jen’s luxury blend…In the first batch, both ends of the rovings were near the top of the bag. I just started on one end. Unfortunately, it really wasn’t the end that wanted to be on top. I pulled everything out into a box before I started spinning again. Unfortunately, I started on the opposite end this time. You can see the difference in the colors from one end to the other.

You won’t notice the difference if you spun it continuously, since the color variations changed gradually. The other bobbin didn’t show any sudden shifts in color becuase I spun it continuously from one end to the other.

Now, onto Abby’s batts. You can see the color difference between the 2 batts. One is definitely darker than the other. In fact, in the darker batt, one edge is almost “white” — even lighter than the lighter batt.

I’ve stripped the batts down into very small strips and spinning with 2 strips (one dark, one light) held together to further blend the colors. Yes, I could have run them back through the drum carder but I didn’t want to risk introducing neps.

Hey, sorry for the long absence. I’ve been super busy. The time it takes for photo editing and writing content sometimes seem daunting. It has been easier to snap a picture and post to Instagram. There are times when a simple photo just doesn’t convey the thought process behind the photo. Like this post. I have to find a balance between the two.

More Yarn

This post has been a long time coming. The yarn was plied months ago on the Lendrum as I mentioned, but all was not happy. I decided to use the jumbo flyer and plying head. It was sooooooo slow and my plying was less than even. On the bobbin, it looked like I had a several sections of really underplied yarn mixed in with “normal” looking yarn.

I was so disgusted I left the yarn on the bobbin for months, trying decide my next steps.

I finally decided to wind the yarn off and see what I had. I thought that I could put it on the squirrel cage reel and see if a few turns on that might help even out the twist a bit.

merino silk

Guess what? It looked pretty good in skein form! There were no obvious underplied sections. Some sections might have been a little overplied. No matter. I think it will even out a bit more once it hits it’s bath. It’s not my best work, but it’s not horrible either.

Here’s a tip that I learned from Stephenie Gaustad a few years ago…

  • Tie the beginning and the end of your yarn to each other so that the skein is essentially a giant single loop of yarn (but wound in skein form).
  • If the beginning and end are not close to each other on the skein winder, tie on a piece of scrap yarn as extender.

This allows the twist to flow freely throughout the length of the yarn.

Next, tie lots and lots of loose figure eights around your skein to keep them under control. The key here is loose. You don’t want to bind the skein in anyway — remember you want the twist to move freely throughout.

Yarn Stats:

  • 8 oz of Merino/Silk from RedFish Dyeworks
  • 1,662 yards of 2 ply yarn (approx. 3,300 ypp)

The yarn in fiber form and as singles. What was disappointing is that it lost the fresh out of indigo bath look (chartreuse, green, and blue) and is mostly green. I’ll have to see what to pair the yarn with to bring that original impression back.

Singles Done

IndigoMerinoSilkSingles
Finished with my singles. 4 oz on each bobbin, spun on my Matchless. I think I will ply on my Lendrum. I haven’t used my Lendrum in a while. The color is truer in the top bobbin.

Le Tour

I had forgotten completely about Le Tour until I saw what a few of my friends are spinning for Le Tour. I’ve decided to unofficially enter the race — just follow along and spin a little bit everyday. What am I spinning now?

IndigoMerinoSilkRedFish

Merino/Silk from RedFish Dyeworks. The colors remind me of fabric that has just been pulled out of an indigo bath and started the magic of changing from chartreuse to green to blue.

I’m also halfway through the annual Index Card A Day challenge. You can see some of my sketches on the right margin, near the bottom. This year, I’ve decided to just focus on my sketches and continue to improve my skills instead of trying to expand out into multimedia. I’m just not very good with stamping, gluing, taping. That’s just not where my interests lay. I want to sketch and watercolor. Since the index cards make very disappointing watercolor base, I have been primarily focused on ink and coloring pencils.

Tasty Morsels

Every once in a while, you get a craving for a little something tasty. You don’t want that entire box of chocolates but you don’t have the will power to open the box and just take one. After all, once the box is open, who will notice just another one? Next thing you know, you didn’t stop until the entire box of chocolates is gone.

No, I don’t speak from personal experience. This is just what I’ve heard from others. Why do you ask?

Sea Glass Skein

Sometimes it’s like that with spinning as well. You just want a small little something to carry along with you. But spinning a 4-8 oz braid of fiber is anything but instant gratification.

PigTailsBosworthEnter Greenwood Fiberworks‘ Pigtails — approximately half ounce (label says 0.4-0.6 oz) of wool, beautifully dyed.

Just enough to take to a meeting and spin and ply the entire amount on a single spindle.

I don’t think these are part of her regular stock. I picked these up at CNCH a few years ago. CNCH 2014, perhaps? She had a small rack of these tasty little morsels. It was just too tempting.

For the first one, I split it in half and spun each half separately. I wound them off onto individual weaving bobbins before winding them together onto a 3rd bobbin for plying. I think because of how fresh the singles were, I had a difficult time plying them from their own bobbins directly. Too many pigtails.

PigTailsNiddyI think for the next one, I will spin it as a continuous strand and wind it into a center pull ball before plying. I will still split it in half, but reverse the direction on the second half so the colors will still mostly line up.

I pulled out my Bosworth Mini for this little project. It’s strange. I’ve always remembered these as fast little spindles with long spin, but that wasn’t my experience this time around. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been mostly spinning silk on my Goldings. There is nothing like those little Goldings for speed!

TravelPouch

Speaking of on the go spinning, I’ve upgraded my little quart sized zip lock bag to this pouch. It’s a plastic (no more spilled water, tea, wine!) expandable zippered pouch that I picked up at Daiso. I use a similar one to carry my travel watercolor kit.