Monday, May 10, 2010

Meet Hank

Here 's my first homely hank of homespun, made with my Ashford spindle and plied from a center-pull ball that fell apart in my hands after the first yard or so.  I did not take note of its length because I was too concerned about the yarn untwisting itself to measure it before I skeined it up.  However, given Hank's diminutive stature (not to mention its highly variable level of twistiness -- is that a word?)  I think that in the future I will wait to ply until I have spun two cops, and ply from two balls under a couple of flowerpots until I get hold of (or make) a lazy kate.

For all its obvious imperfections I'm in love with this yarn!  I love the colors and the twist, the bulk and the softness, and I fully intend to work with it when I have finished spinning the batch.  I can't wait to see how it knits up!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Spinning hand dyed merino

Since we took our class together at the Sheep and Wool Festival, K has been itching to spin some real yarn.  I've not wanted to hand my Golding spindle off to her because that's MY ball of yarn and I don't want anyone else to mess with it, thank you very much! 

So I went down to Woolbearer's to look for a spindle for her, because although I could have made her a toy wheel spindle, I knew she wanted the real thing.  I found the perfect beginner's spindle there (selling for peanuts) and some variegated purple merino roving that I knew she'd go crazy for, and a book called Spin to Knit: The Knitter's Guide to Making Yarn.  I brought home the book, 8 oz. of the roving and two spindles and sat down to fiddle.

I knew, getting into this, that the merino would be harder to spin than the coopworth.  Its shorter fiber length makes it slippery and easy to pull apart, and my impatient tugging didn't help; my roving kept drifting into little clouds.  But I loved the merino's springiness and soft hand, and I enjoyed working with it. 

When K got home we took the guinea pigs outside and put them in their pen, then sat down in lawn chairs to spin.  We had a rough start because I got fussed about making sure she drafted in a particular way, and I couldn't see that her drafting was fine; it just wasn't the same as mine.  (In fact, it was better; her fiber never drifted apart.)  There were tears and there was some shouting, but once I realized my mistake I quickly apologized, and soon K was brightly saying, "Isn't this fun?" and chanting, "I'm makin' ya -- arn, I'm makin' ya -- arn!"  And she was.  She got the hang of drafting and twirling the shaft and managing her fiber and she did a fine job.

(We plan to make hats with the yarn we spin and be Purple Hat Buddies.  Also, I have signed up for a spinning class at Woolbearer's that starts this Saturday.  Oh boy!)

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Festival fibers and a spindle!

Yesterday we went to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival in the blazing sun and heat, and I had a blast picking out my very own drop spindle and fiber to go with it.  There were sheep, goats, alpacas, llamas, bunnies, and sheepdogs to see, and lamb delicacies of all kinds, and beautiful beautiful yarns, but I was on a mission.  I'd been reading Respect the Spindle: Spin Infinite Yarns with One Amazing Tool, and I was convinced that I could spin yarn.

K and I took a class called "Exploring Simple Spinning" where we used a homemade drop spindle made with a dowel and an old compact disc when we first arrived.  We spun absolutely nothing with it.  The thing was useless, or we were, I wasn't sure which.  But I had a good idea of what kind of spindle I wanted (high whorl, 2 oz. or so, rim-weighted and notched) and I sent D and K off to the sheepdog demonstration while I searched for my spindle.

After nearly giving up hope and purchasing the wrong (oh so wrong) spindle in desperation, I asked at yet another roving vendor's booth where I might find a spindle to spin their fiber, and was directed to Golding Fiber Tools in the Main Exhibition Hall.  There I found this beauty:

See the little sheep faces carved into the whorl?
It's exactly what I was looking for, and this morning I spun this yarn with it:

They tell me I won't be able to spin yarn this interesting looking once I get better at spinning!
I'm so excited! I bought 12 oz. of undyed Coopworth roving (I have yet to learn what makes Coopworth different from other kinds of wool, but the woman who sold it to me said it supposedly spins itself, so I will look it up in my copy of The Knitter's Book of Wool later on) and some beautifully dyed "art" fiber that seems to have a little bit of everything in it, because that is what the woman who helped me find Golding was selling.

I'm looking forward to finishing my first ball of yarn, learning how to ply, and seeing if I can knit with what I've made.