Category Archives: Spindle

Lesson: Swatch! Swatch!

Spinning is my new obsession since the summer. 

Read a half dozen books and watched a few Craftsy spinning classes. Makes sense. 

So far, I’ve spun four projects. Love the yarn. Was blissfully believing “It’s all good. I got this.” Spinning seemed natural and easy, until the fifth project. 

The fifth project was a real struggle getting the smoothness and thickness right. I decided it was time to pay attention to every step of the process. I will follow ALL the steps from the classes and books. No skipping. I will test run the different processes, keep notes on thickness (wraps per inch), twist angle, general characteristics and knit a swatch. No big deal. Just follow the book and class examples. 

The other motivator, the Wool n’ Spinning group is working on their default spin. Since I haven’t developed a default spin yet, I thought this is a good time to create one. 
My ideal default spin is a 3 ply fingering weight yarn spun worsted for socks. Shouldn’t be hard, right?

It took five tries to get a yarn that MIGHT have worked. I learned a lot from the experience.  

Lesson learned: don’t skip testing & swatching.  I ignored that step in the first projects. Now, I’m afraid all of them are junk (not worth knitting).

Here’s the process I went through in project 5. The fiber is unknown wool, mixed coarse with fine, sticky and matted with neps and vegetable matter. It’s 15-20 years old stored in a ziplock bag with a handwritten card, 5 oz. $6.50. Each test is approximately one quarter to a half a bobbin. I didn’t weight them. I probably will for the next project. 

Test 1: too thick single worsted spun and too twisted ply creates a hard heavy rope. (No picture)

Test 2: too lumpy single & ok 3 ply but it’s almost Aran weight yarn. Need to get thinner single. 

Test 2: 3 ply knitted swatch & card notes


Test 3-4:  thinner but not thin enough single, 2 plied is good but still too large. 3 ply is ok until I knitted a swatch. LOOK AT THE SWATCH! The swatch shows I overtwisted the ply.  If I had spun & plied the whole bag of fiber, it would have gone into the trash bin. 

Test 3-4: 2 ply & 3 ply knitted swatch

Now, I’m worried about all the previous handspun. Can’t bring myself to swatch them quite yet. 

Test 5: worsted spun, much better, but still too fluffy

Test 5: nice 3 ply yarn knit on size 0 US

The last lesson learned: Not all fiber is worth spinning. This one is destine for the center of dryer balls. 

In order to get as nice a yarn as I could in test 5, I had to pull off every tedious and frustrating nep. 


I had to prove to myself that I could do this. Test 5 is not a useable sock yarn. At least, it is pleasant to knit. I’m much closer to developing a default spin. 

Crafty Retreat Wish List

Cooperative Press send a survey request last week to their newsletter subscribers. 

One question has been mulling around in my head since taking the survey. 

“If money were no obstacle, what retreat would I want to attend?”

It was funny that they hinted Iceland is the answer. No thanks. I have other ideas. 
I thought you might like to know what’s out there beyond the knitting world. 

My instant answer was to tour Japan for indigo dyeing, ikat weaving and shibori dyeing. 

But my old back-of-the-mind wish list came to the front.

If I had unlimited resources, I’d go to one to two workshops at each of these schools. And try all the things, (pottery, weaving, basketmaking, dyeing, printmaking, enamel,  glassblowing, and everything else). 

But if I did that in a year’s time, I would also feel a bit bonkers and scatter brained by the end. Remember, this is my dream, so let’s revise it to one workshop from one school a year. And let’s prioritize direction to printmaking, dyeing, spinning & maybe weaving. I need some focus. Right??

These are schools I have wanted to attend since college days and they are still going strong. 

I discovered these retreats since I started knitting:

All except for SSK, I would go once to these retreats. Rhinebeck (New York Sheep and Wool Festival) is probably on every knitters list. It’s not something I could manage. Too many people. 

Lots to day dream about and look forward to…

Can you tell, I’m not cooking or hosting the Thanksgiving feast this year. I have time to daydream about things besides turkey, side dishes and dessert. 

I hope y’all have a wonderful time with family and friends. 

Spinning Novice Thinking Process

So I told you I joined the Wool n’ Spinning Patreon sponsorship last month. 

I am gaining so much in knowledge through the workshop and conversation among the other supporters. I have found another tribe. For research resources, my normal resource the local library has only one very old book on spinning and weaving. Of course, there are plenty of YouTube videos of varying quality. Craftsy classes are definitely more thorough with great visuals. magazines. And my great enabler, Laura, has a full library for this deep dive of spinning books, and Ply magazines. 

I am in full on learning mode. 

Borrowed spinning books & magazines

The books by Judith McKenzie McCuin, Maggie Casey & others were wonderful background information on fleeces, fiber perpetration, and spinning techniques. Will have to refer to them again when I start playing with different sheep breeds.  Right now, I’m an still digging into the Color in Spinning book by Deb Menz and all the Ply magazines. 

The Craftsy classes I’ve been through are Know Your Wool by Deborah Robson and Spindling by Dru Pettibone. I am just now going through Ply To Knit by Jillian Merono. And must catch up on Yarn Substitution Made Easy by Kellie Nuss. 

The Wool n’ Spinning conversation has been wonderful and very interesting. At one point, we were discussing the ‘stages’ in our knitting journey. 

I assume spinning will follow similar stages as knitting. 

Stage 1: Try Everything

  • The first two projects were just to get use to the wheel and gain some control over my consistency. Really, they were just for the fun of spinning. I managed without difficulty to spin fine and medium singles. Still more to learn and develop that muscle memory. 

Stage 2: Souvenir Buying

  • At SSK this last summer, I went crazy and bought all the soft fibers, BFL, Polwarth and Polwarth-silk. Yep, just because they were soft or a bit shiny. I didn’t have a project in mind. Definitely souvenir buying. 

    Gale’s Arts and Ross Farms fibers from SSK market

  • And in Dallas, I bought some cotton. 
  • Understand, I bought all of these thinking I’d be spinning on a spindle…meaning smaller projects. I’m sure you noticed no colors. Definitely color dyeing play time. 

Stage 3: Reality & The Realistic 

  • Discovered an instant gratification project. Practiced 3 ply by plying 2 strands unraveling men’s merino thrift shop sweater sleeves with a Shoppel Wolle lace ball both from deep stash. (FYI, each men’s sleeve was about 800 meters.) Win Win with this. Using deep yarn stash, practice managing three strands and have new yarn I like a lot. 

    800 m merino 3 ply light fingering weight finished

  • 800 m merino 3 ply light fingering weight waiting for its bath

  • Breed studies is a topic in Wool n’ Spinning. I will watch & learn from the sidelines. 

The list below is still developing as there is so much still to learn. And some project supplies to get. 

Cardigan:

  • Need 8 more bobbins (600 yds each)
  • Fingering to Sport weight
  • 1800-2400 yards
  • Fiber: ? 24-28 oz
  • Deep Stash: Ply cobweb yarns
  • Woolen spun Singles at low twist:?
  • Plys:3 at balanced twist or 2 ply at high twist
  • Color: goes with everything 

Socks: 

  • Fingering
  • At least 350 yards
  • Fibers: 4 oz Cheviot or Suffolk
  • Singles at medium twist
  • 3-4 ply with a medium to high twist
  • Color: experimental 

Shawls

  • Fingering or sport weight
  • 600-800 yards
  • Fiber stash: 8 oz, Polwarth & Polwarth/silk
  • Deep Stash: Ply cobweb & lace weight yarns
  • Singles at medium-high twist
  • 2-3 ply with a low- medium twist
  • Color: gradients, semi-solids

Hats & cowl:

  • worsted to Aran weight
  • At least 400 yards
  • Fibers: 8-12 oz, soft against the neck
  • Fiber stash: silk hankies, Hedgehog fibers BFL
  • Singles at medium to low twist
  • 3 ply with medium twist 
  • Color: wild & crazy art yarns

October Crafty List

Creating the list last month seemed to help me check off a lot of languishing projects. That or being at home, instead of on a roadtrip makes a difference.  

Either way, I like setting this up as a regular thing. A monthly list makes sense for now. 

October Crafty List:

Spinning:

Knitting:

  • ✔️ Doing: Start the On the Spice Market shawl by Melanie Berg. Using Leading Men Fiber Arts Soliliquy gradient in Midnight Rendezvous and Black Trillium in Black Jewel. Participate in Melanie’s gradient KAL 

    On The Spice Market shawl progress

  • Select yarn for Ketterdam shawl by Laura Linneman Favorite candidate: Leading Men Fiber Arts Soliliquy (interesting that Laura is currently doing the same.)
  • Swatch cardigan  
  • ✔️ Done: Finish Sister’s Christmas socks 

    Faux Wave sock pattern by Ann Budd,Regia yarn

  • Finish SSK socks, use Susan B Anderson’s SOS pattern 

Hand sewing:

I really like is switching between hand stitching and knitting when my hands get tired off one repetitive activity. Good thing, since I bought so much fabric already. 

If you are on Instagram there’s a tag #slowfashionoctober you might find interesting. 

 

  • ✔️ Done Get supplies for stenciling 
  • ✔️ Done: Swatch stencil paint colors for teal A-line dress or tunic (procrastinating…scared?!?)
  • ✔️ Done: Recut Maggie stencil 
  • ✔️ Done Cut fabric for teal tunic
  • ✔️ Done: Stencil teal tunic pieces
  • Hand stitch tunic pieces

Slanted Stitches Etsy shop:

  • ✔️ Done: Problem solve cable snaps
  • ✔️ Done: Finish Romi’s fortune cookie bag
  • ✔️Done: Eloise’s DPN holder
  • Fortune cookie bag – blue
  • ✔️Starting Purple take-out bags
  • Turquoise Japanese knot bags
  • Forest take-out bags

Gardening:

  • ❌ Fail. Botanical garden plant sale did not include veggies. 
  • ✔️ Done: Got veggies plants at local garden center
  • ✔️Done: Transition summer annuals to fall-winter plants. 
  • ✔️ Done: installed soaker hose to the dry sunnier yard. 
  • ✔️ Done:Start more veggies seedlings in the ground. Skip the trays. 

General Decluttering: not even thinking about these

  • Studio (straighten fabric, thread, patterns) SO NEEDED!
  • Kitchen (counter tops & pantry)

Wishing These Magically Get Done:

  • Marbling more fabric for Japanese bento bags. (make wire holders & order Orvis soap) 
  • ✔️done. Find label solution (source equipment/tools) 

    Prototype labels for shop bags

    Pyrographic leather labels for custom bags

  • Start grey fitted tank and skirt, and navy a-line dress.
  • Create practice Alabama Chanin jacket from Craftsy class. (Grey woven linen) Rethinking this whole project. 
  • Triptych painting in hall way (start sketches)
  • Paint dining room walls & ceiling
  • Every month declutter and organize one area. 

 

Crafting List Update

Writing a huge list is first overwhelming then somehow switches to motivational. Maybe because I like ✔️s. 

I like to tackle the easy, almost-done things first. Mainly to quickly shorten the list. But also, like TheKnitGirllls annual Stashdash, a way to clean out older projects to make room for the newest distraction. 
Another thing that’s helped tackling a lot of these in 15-30 minute slots a day. I wish all projects could be dealt with this way. Unfortunately the last stuff on the list are bigger week long projects. (Which is why they are at the end of the list)

✔️ Deleted over 75 fiber vendors from my Instagram & Feedly accounts.  Overexposure to too many pretties lead to too much impulse buying. 

Confession: Part of the social media deletion is that the Miss Babs order is the second one in a week. I ordered Habu linen. Unfortunately I didn’t read it correctly. It’s linen paper. I tested a tiny bit. Yikes. It breaks like tissue paper. Sigh. Should have looked on Ravelry for reviews. And nearly matches in color other yarns recently purchased. (Mind is lagging purchase wish list)

Impulse purchase mistake number one. 


Spinning:

  • ✔️ Done. Finish plying the blue bat. 
  • ✔️ Done. Ply the Rose Quartz roving. 
  • Start spinning a 3 ply (select which fibers). Or read/research more about spinning techniques. 
  • Thinking about subscribing to a 3 month club. 

Knitting:

  • Start the At the Spice Market shawl by Melanie Berg. Using Leading Men Fiber Arts Soliliquy gradient in Midnight Rendezvous and Black Trillium. Participate in Melanie’s gradient KAL
  •  Select yarn for Ketterdam shawl Favorite candidate: Leading Men Fiber Arts Soliliquy (interesting that Laura is currently doing the same.)
  • Swatch cardigan 
  • ✔️ Done. Finish Leslee’s socks 
  • Started Sister’s Christmas socks
  • Started SSK socks, use Susan B Anderson’s SOS pattern

Hand sewing:

  • Started business card pocket for my handbag
  • ✔️ DONE. Finish right pocket detail on Alabama Chanin A-line tunic 
  • ✔️ DONE. Finish felling seams on Alabama Chanin fitted dress. 
  • ✔️ Done. Finish neckline & arm holes for Alabama Chanin fitted dress
  • ✔️ DONE. Finish cutting Alabama Chanin New Leaf stencils
  • ✔️ Done. Finish Alabama Chanin Paisley stencil
  • Swatch stencil paint colors for teal A-line dress or tunic, grey fitted tank and skirt, and navy a-line dress. (Oops, get supplies)
  • Create practice Alabama Chanin jacket from Craftsy class. (Grey woven linen) Rethinking this whole project. 

Slanted Stitches Etsy shop:

  • This week: Romi’s fortune cookie bag
  • This week: Turquoise take-out bags
  • Eloise’s DPN holder
  • Turquoise Japanese knot bags
  • Forest take-out bags
  • Marbling fabric for Japanese bento bags. (make wire holders & order Orvis soap)
  • Screen print fabric for labels and bag fabric. (source equipment/tools) (create stencil designs)

Home:

  • Triptych painting in hall way (start sketches)
  • Paint dining room walls & ceiling
  • Summed up: Declutter and organize. 

 

Giant Crafty To Do List

Yeah…I wrote this up on paper. 

Writing a huge list is first overwhelming then somehow switches to motivational. Maybe because I like ✔️s. 

 I’ll tackle the easy, almost-done things first. Mainly to quickly shorten the list. But also, like TheKnitGirllls annual Stashdash, a way to clean out older projects to make room for the newest distraction. 

Another thing is tackling a lot of these in 15-30 minute slots a day. Unfortunately the last stuff on the list are bigger week long projects. 

Then on a break, I saw an Instagram posted sale at Miss Babs for BFL fingering weight yarn undyed. Took no time to think about it, whipped out the credit card very fast. But I’m not going to add one more thing to my big to-do list. It’s instead going directly into the craft closet for a while. Sigh. I should delete my yarn feed for a while. (Yep, Done…✔️ Deleted over 75 fiber vendors from my Instagram & Feedly accounts. )

Spinning:

  • Finish plying the blue bat. 

    Half done. Combined indie fibers

  • Ply the Rose Quartz roving. 

    Singles of Palanca Farms about to be plyed

  • Start spinning a 3 ply (select which fibers).

Knitting:

  • Select yarn for Ketterdam shawl 

    Favorite candidate: Leading Men Fiber Arts Soliliquy

  • Finish Leslee’s socks

    Leslee’s socks

  • Start Sister’s Christmas socks, use a Sock Architecture pattern
  • Start SSK socks, use Susan B Anderson’s SOS pattern

    Next sock projects

Hand sewing:

  • Add business card pocket for my handbag
  • ✔️ DONE. Finish right pocket detail on Alabama Chanin A-line tunic 
  • ✔️ DONE. Finish felling seams on Alabama Chanin fitted dress. 
  • neckline & arm holes for Alabama Chanin fitted dress
  • ✔️ DONE. Finish cutting Alabama Chanin New Leaf stencils
  • Start Alabama Chanin Paisley stencil
  • Swatch stencil paint colors for teal, grey, navy knits

Slanted Stitches:

  • Romi’s fortune cookie bag
  • Eloise’s DPN holder
  • Turquoise take-out bags
  • Turquoise Japanese knot bags
  • Forest take-out bags

Experiments:

  • Marbling fabric
  • Screen print fabric

House:

  • Triptych painting in hall way

    At least they are on the wall.

I’m not going to let you see how long the house to do list is. Sigh. 

I’m going to go checkout Instagram for a while…

And did it again. Published before I was finished thinking/writing/photos about this. Oh well.