Category Archives: spinning
I don’t appear to have talked about my newest wheel!
It is from Seth Golding at Golding Fiber Tools, his Folding Travel Wheel. It has all the wonderful craftsmanship of his father Tom’s full size wheel in a slightly smaller size and the ability to fold down and be taken places. Also a slightly lighter price tag.
I had wanted a Golding wheel for a while, and decided that I needed something special to mark the 20 year anniversary of my losing my health. Since learning to spin was something I gained from becoming disabled, a special wheel seemed like an appropriate celebration. My husband agreed to afford a full size wheel, but then the travel wheels came out. I had also wanted a wheel that was easier to take with to festivals and classes occasionally. My Mazurka is light and moves around easily, but isn’t designed for travel. So I could get two things I wanted – a Golding wheel and a wheel designed for traveling with in one package! I ordered one of the first made.
It came folded, and was very easy to unfold and set up.
The woods used are cherry and walnut. Has a built in Kate for plying, changing ratios is very easy, with fantastic diagrams in the manual. The ball bearings are sealed or self lubricating – no oiling, ever! It’s double-treadle and is incredibly smooth. The treadles are large, which is very nice. And shows the beautiful wood used.
It’s fairly heavy, roughly 15 pounds. This makes it heavier than my Mazurka, but also means it’s nice and sturdy for traveling. The carving is beautiful as well.
It’s a pleasure to spin on, a very special wheel indeed!
Thursday of last week someone mentioned on the forum I’m on for fiber tools made by Golding Fiber Tools that he had up a special edition spindle made from 2800 year old Russian Bog Oak! I quickly snapped one up, my love of his spindles and my love of old, ancient things making it far too tempting.
Bog oak, or any bog wood, comes from wood that has been preserved in peat bogs around the world. It can be hundreds or thousands of years old, and is darkened from the conditions that have preserved it.
This spindle came with a copy of the certificate of age, stating that it’s Radiocarbon date is 2840 years old, plus or minus fifty years. It’s 2″ diameter, with a walnut shaft and bronze alloy ring, for a weight of 0.46 ounces. It will be great for fine fibers, and fit right in with my other three spindles from him!
On Ravelry they hold, during the Tour de France, an event called the Tour De Fleece, where folks can join teams of all kinds and participate in challenges and celebrate the challenge of the bike event. I decided to participate this year, and use it as an excuse to spin up some of the samples that I’ve been sitting on.
I started with guanaco that I’ve been sitting on for quite a while, intimidated by it’s fineness and expense. Guanaco is a South American camelid, similar to llamas and alpacas, with finer fiber, though not as fine as the vicuña. The fiber I have is a beautiful natural cinnamon color
Above you can see the fiber and the Golding spindle I was working on. I did singles in three “batches” on the spindle, winding into a ball, joining the new “batch” into the same ball. I then took the ball and using my winder, made a center-pull ball. This was scary, as singles can tangle *very* easily, and this was a fine fiber, so the possibility of the center collapsing into a knotted mess was… high. A rolled up piece of paper that would expand as the center did helped.
I then used both ends to wind a plying ball.
This made the plying a lot easier because I did not have to manage the center pull ball from collapsing on itself and the singles tangling. I could have also divided the singles into two balls and either plied directly from them or made a plying ball, but doing it this way while a bit scarier and taking a bit more time also allowed me to use all of the singles, with nothing left over because there was more yardage on one. Measuring weight will get one close, but since this is hand spun and I’m not perfect with my spinning, there will be variances in thickness, and that will usually give at least some variance in yardage if measuring by weight.
I plied this on the same spindle. Normally I’d used a heavier spindle but I thought I would try it. I was really pleased with the results. This hasn’t been “finished” yet, meaning it hasn’t been washed, so it may change slightly when I do. The niddy noddy I still use is one my father made me when I first started spinning. It’s simple, and since the shaft is hard for me to grip I will tape cardboard around it to help, but it works like it should!
This was one ounce of fiber, spun fine (there’s a dime with the skein for comparison). It made up about 150 yards. It was lovely to spin, and was really just a “blob” of fiber, not a particular prep, so some of the unevenness could have been dealt with if I had slowed down a little bit more. It’s certainly a fiber that I will indulge myself with again!
After the guanaco, I moved on to a Blue Faced Leicester and silk blend. It’s 85% BFL and 15% silk.
The actual color was very hard to capture on this one. It’s most accurately the browner parts that you see, though I would still call it mostly grey. I spun it on the same spindle, though with this fiber I took care to do it slowly so I could smooth it down as I spun, using a lot of park-and-draft. I wound it off into a single ball as before and then made a center pull ball. This I plied on my heavier Golding. I was having a bad fibro day when I plied it and completely spaced out making a plying ball until I was part way through plying from the center pull. I considered stopping and going back, but pressed on. It wasn’t terrible and while next time I will try to remember the ball, (the extra time it takes to make one is totally worth it) I am very pleased with the results.
I am actually more pleased with this than the guanaco! There will certainly be more of this in my future. There was also one ounce of this, and it worked up to about 134 yards. This is also “unfinished” at this point, and may change slightly once washed.
I have also started a silk and linen 50/50 blend, that I am actually really disliking. I guess I’m a critter fiber kind of gal! I may decide to not finish that because I think little fine flax fibers are aggravating my allergies. I do like linen, but I haven’t spun it much. There’s so many different things out there that I don’t see any point in fighting with something I dislike. However I’ll try another technique or two and see if we can come to an agreement, at least for the ounce that I have.
I’ve joined a Spinner’s Study group on Ravelry, which has two fibers each month that members can work with and report back on. This month one of the breeds is the Manx Loaghtan, a rare breed used for both meat and fleece, which is a moorit (brown) color. They’re a nifty looking breed, check out the Manx Loaghtan Sheep Breeders Group!
I got a few ounces of prepared fleece from Hilltop Cloud in the UK. It got here surprisingly fast, was unperfumed (always important to me), and was lovely in color and squishiness!
My first thought was that I would spin it up for socks, but decided that I would divide it up and spin it a few different ways to see how it behaved. In other words, do something akin to an actual study. I sat down one morning and divided it up and started spinning. I’ve done up one sample, a bit thicker than I’ve been doing lately. The result:
It did not turn out very even, but I’m quite pleased with it regardless. It’s both dense and squishy, and would make a beautiful sweater or vest. The quarter is placed for reference. It was a top preparation, and I spun it “combination draw” which was a bit of short, a bit of long, some fiddling. I ended up with roughly 32 and a half yards of this two ply, weight roughly 3/4 of an ounce. The above yarn is “finished”, has been washed and set. I’ve also been spindle spinning some Shetland that I picked up at the Shepherd’s Harvest Festival and I took pictures of it at the same time.
I’ve been happy with the way this is turning out, and may make a shawl out of it. I have two finished skeins so far, and am working on a third, which may finish up the 6 ounces that I bought.
As a point of interest, both the Shetland and the Manx Loaghtan were wound on the same niddy noddy, but the below picture shows how much more “spring” the Manx has!
The Manx Loaghtan is on the right and the Shetland is on the left.
The next I plan to do with the Manx is a sock weight. Hopefully I’ll get to that in the next week!
Last year at the 2011 Shepherd’s Harvest Festival I picked up some silk cocoons to see how I felt about processing them. I actually kind of enjoyed it, and mentioned what I was doing to a relative, who asked me to make a scarf, starting with the cocoons. I did not document the entire process terribly well, but here is what I have!
I got cocoons with the stifled “worm” inside, and just barely simmered in a solution of water, Orvus paste, and washing soda to remove the “gum”, or sericin, that holds it together. Cocoons in the pot, you can see darker brown showing through, that’s the pupae inside:
Then I rinsed them. You can see more “bug” now.
Doing it this way makes a bit more of a mess than taking each cocoon out of the pot and spreading open before rinsing, but this made it easier for me to handle. In the picture above you can see cocoons in various states of falling apart (it’s also easier if you take the cocoons out before that point, but I’m early in the learning curve). Pupa:
With spread cocoon:
It was interesting to see the different stages they were at, some were just “blobs” of various sizes others had little nubs left of (or developing into) legs. To get really nice mawata, or hankies, a frame is used. I just spread them out by hand, stacking one on top of another, then letting dry.
When ready to spin, I then pulled off a single cocoon and pulled it out further, then spun, mixing in shredded mylar film in silver for the accent to this yarn. Two bobbins of singles were spun, then they were plied together.
I then wound off the plies into a ball for knitting!
The above was a test knit, the finished scarf was somewhat narrower. I did a second batch to get some more length, too. The sparkly stuff gets everywhere. I mean everywhere. Not crazy about using it again! The scarf needed to tie in with a silk coat, which had stripes of silver in it, and so doing this was easier than trying to dye the silk to match, especially match something I did not have in front of me. I got better at the method of spreading them out as time went on and probably eventually I’ll get or make a frame. I did have some pictures of the finished scarf, but I was even more unsatisfied with them than the above photo so I didn’t include one. I’ll include one later!