Spring, sprung? Here’s the first Pagoda.

Perhaps spring will really stick around this time. I did suspect it was soon, I really did; mid-March, and shorts weather? Too good to be true.

So I mentioned that Pippi’s “Pagoda” was here and I couldn’t get to spinning it yet because I needed to finish up that Optim, right? Well, Thursday evening I arrived at this point, finally…

…and then I got to thinking, geeze, either I’m getting slow — perhaps from too much kittenly assistance while spinning lately, or because of periodically having to stop and eat some of my new addiction,

Blue Diamond Wasabi-SoyAlmonds — or I’ve misremembered that there were two ounces of this. So with that bobbin done, I took the other half of the top to go weigh it, and lo and behold, that half weighed 2 ounces.

Seriously, the wasabi almonds are a new kind of crack. I was really dubious about the notion, but got some anyway, and now they’re a staple item from the supermarket runs.

I decided to put the second bobbin off for the coming week, and go ahead and play with some Pagoda. I opted for the Falkland.

Pagoda is out of the bag!

I decided to do this 2-ply, but thicker, you know, like sock weight 2-ply instead of cobweb super-fine, and to split it down the middle so there’d be mostly matching colours with a minimum of barberpole (or marl, depending on your choice of words).

Splitting Pagoda down the middle
Pagoda being split down the middle, see note

See how I’m splitting it, trying to stay in the middle and make sure the two new tops thus created are of equal thickness as I go?

Pagoda stripped into two balls of roughly equal size

Then, I wound it into two balls, starting with the same colour ends, so that what’s coming off the outside of the ball is the same, like you see above.

Tufts ripped off Pagoda, ready to spin

Then I tore off chunks, or tufts, and arrayed them in sequence on the arm of my slothing chair — I’ll start with the ones at the front of the photo.
I spun Pagoda from the ends of the tufts

In the case of this fiber and in this prep — it’s one I’ve worked with plenty before, though not Pippi’s stylin’ dye job — I like to spin it from the ends of these tufts with a medium-length long draw, followed by a worsted-style slide and smooth with the forward hand.

Kaylee likes Pagoda too

Kaylee was a huge help with this one. She’s learning to be a good spinner’s lap cat (that’s, a good lap cat for a spinner, not necessarily the lap cat of a good spinner, though I realize that’s verbally ambiguous). She is really drawn to red stuff. Eventually, she’ll be so used to me spinning she probably won’t grab for anything much… eventually. But just look how helpful she is.

One bobbin of Pagoda single

I spun this on the Victoria, lazily, and got a pair of bobbins that looked more or less like you see above. Those, in turn, had to be plied on the Suzie Pro so as to fit ’em into one big skein, like so…


Okay, I admit it: there were a few places where I pulled off uneven colour spacing and spliced and then stuck in the odd bits. And there’s one splice in the skein where I left it overnight, yarn dangling between the lazy kate and the wheel, and the inevitable happened. You know, the inevitable thing when there’s a kitten in the house. Somewhere in one of the pink stretches, there’s a really serious splice. But I couldn’t find it skeining it, so it looks like my splice is fine.


So here it is, drying on the rail of the deck on a shorts-weather afternoon… hey Pippi, if nothing else, your fiber got to go someplace nice and sunny!

Oh, okay, you probably want to see it closer.


So here is the closer view of the yarn a-dryin’.


And chances are you’re curious what the specs on it ended up being, eh? Well, Pippi knows the Falkland poofs — but then again, everyone else doesn’t. You can spin it really fine, and it’ll really puff up nicely. I didn’t spin this particularly fine, just played fast-and-loose idle spin-to-the-crimp with it, but as I mentioned above, with a worsted-style smoothing it down as I slide the forward hand back with a bit of extra twist.


Loosely measured, it has ended up being 17 wpi. The skein is 605 yards long, and weighs in at 4.75 ounces or 134 grams. Pippi’s batches are heavy, and oh! Lest I forget! Her dye work is excellent; I always wash my handspun yarn brutally hot, and I often get a bit of dye release when doing so, but there was absolutely none here.

This was a very satisfying, relaxing spin. And there’s enough non-pink, and the pinks are deep and dark enough, that there’s a strong likelihood of this turning into a quickie shawl of some sort. Kind of a big-needle lace project, maybe entrelac with lace blocks to play with the colour shifts. Something summery though, and wearable.

So what am I on to now? Well… I guess I must be on a reds and oranges kinda binge. I grabbed a pair of odds-and-ends dyed merino top…

and stuck with the Victoria and slothing mode…

…and this’ll be a 2-ply alternating between the two colours pretty much at random. There’s the first bobbin done, and the second’ll be this evening I figure, and I’ll most likely ply it tomorrow on the Roberta. Then it’s back to that red optim, and after that, I’m gonna want to spin something fatter again. And maybe not red or orange.

Oh, one more thing…

Juno commented yesterday, saying…

Is fleece porn really ever gratuitous?

She’s got a point. Using the “unnecessary and unwarranted” definition of the word, well… surely it’s always at least warranted. Therefore… let me share with you my current TALE OF WOE (and yes, this needs capitalization).

A box arrived late yesterday afternoon from poor snowbound Pippi:

…containing “Pagoda,” one each of domestic and falklands top. They’re so much more stunning than the photos, and Pippi’s top, I must say, is coming out of her dyepots in exactly, exactly the way I like a handpainted top to feel. So I wanted to sit right down and spin it, but here’s where the WOE comes in:

I mean, that bobbin is barely started. And it’s really fine yarn, and there’s all this Optim…

…carefully split down the middle and waiting for me to spin it in sequence. Not a good project to stop in the middle. So I have to finish it before I can start the next thing. No, swapping bobbins or wheels is not allowed in this case.

So I spun all evening…

…and at this rate, it’s going to be Friday before I can permit myself to spin Pagoda.

Thank you for links and pictures!

Well, one of the things I’ve been meaning to get to has been to give a shout out to a few of the folks who’ve sent me pictures or links to show me how their projects are coming working with my fibers. And remember, if you send me photos for use in my customer gallery and on abbysyarns.com in general, I’ll thank you with 15% off one future order.

Moonrose has been spinning up a few of the Spring Rain Sock Tweed from a month or so ago. Her first batch is plied with a purple silk.

Sarah in the UK spun up a few luxury sock batts in Tulip, and made some fabulous socks:

She says…

I spun up the fibre in 2 ways. I split each 2oz amount in half so I had eight matching pieces of fibre approx 1 oz. With the first 2 I spun the purple then pink then yellow and plied into 2 ply. I did the same with the next 2, ending with 2 mini skeins 40 yards each, graduating purple to pink to yellow. With the other 4 pieces, I broke off staple lengths and spun purple, then pink then yellow and repeated. I did the same onto another bobbin, and plied, ending up with more of a marl, with some parity of colours. The skeins are approximately 38 yards each. I thought this gave a good impression of how the fibre looked using 2 methods of spinning. The sock is started using an Estonian cast-on.

To be fair to my former co-worker Helen, she probably had no way of imagining what sort of slippery slope she was stepping onto the day 6 or 7 years ago when she walked into the cubicle area I shared with a few other people, and said “So do any of you guys like yarn?” A veteran knitter, extremely accomplished, Helen resisted learning to spin at first, but now, just look at her:

Customer Photo Gallery: Helen
OMG What Is That?

She bought “OMG What Is That?” — a custom blend which I said was guaranteed to make people who touched any finished object made from it utter those words. It was superfine merino, cashmere, angora, and I can’t even remember what all else right now other than soft.

Helen took to spinning immediately and has to be one of the most rewarding students I’ve taught to date. I can wholeheartedly vouch for the quality of her work!

Divine Bird, the Yarnivore, has been busy! In addition to being an accomplished spinner, incidentally, she takes woodworking rather for granted, and is capable of making a wide range of tools, repairing her spinning wheel neatly, recreating bobbins, all sorts of things. And she makes some pretty good yarn porn!

Customer Gallery for Divine Bird

Tiger Lily Sock Yarn:

Limonata Tussah Silk:

Sheepwreck, by Ellen, is a terrific and informative blog dealing with specific, real information about fiber animals and breeds, uses, history, properties… great site. And I know Ellen’s sent me more photos than this too… but for starters, here’s what she did with some Tea Rose sock batts:

Natalie has a marked tendency to pick out the stuff I halfway hope nobody’s going to buy, like these guys:

C’mon, spin ’em up! I wanna see, especially after…

…how “Sunrise” worked out for you!

And there are LOTS more of you to thank, and highlight pictures for, and link to! A few quick links of thanks:

  • I blame Elizabeth at Trailing Yarn for my recent chain-plying binge. Also, when she snagged that October Woods tussah silk, I knew I was in for fun seeing what she did with it, and that particular colourway was a happy accident I had a hard time deciding to part with.
  • Theresa, also known as The Keyboard Biologist, said of some of my blends that “My hair isn’t usually this well combed!” First I blushed… but you know, the truth is, neither is mine. I actually spend more time on each batt than I do on brushing my hair — and I take good care of my three feet of hair! I can’t wait to see Theresa’s socks.

There are so many more of you I want to thank, but this is all the time I have this morning — I’ve simply got to get my butt back into the studio, or there aren’t going to be enough new batts tomorrow and you’ll all hate me in different ways (HI PEGGY! I love you too!)

April’s half over? I’d better make myself look busy.

Well, April has certainly been a busy month so far! I feel like I’m hardly sitting still long enough to get to about 75% of the things I thought I would… in March!

However, I do have a few things to show for my month so far. One of them is this:

Her name is Kaylee (yes, it’s a TV/movie name) and although she looks incredibly sedate and peaceful in all the photos so far, right this second she’s perched on the back of my office chair with her forepaws on my shoulder, trying to eat my hair. Essentially, if she can be caught on film, it’s probably because she’s sleeping!

She’s fitting in well with the big kids, however. She’s a chocolate European Burmese, and she is the playin’est kitten with whom I’ve ever shared a home.

I’m making good progress with spring cleaning and fiber rotation. I try to do it quarterly, but it sometimes ends up pushed out to 3x a year. But in any case, when I do it, every fiber item in the studio must be inspected and gone over; nothing can be allowed to sit in dark corners untouched, unmoved. I’m sure there are a few of you reading this who know exactly why that is — for the rest of you, let us just say that it is as a precaution against The Scourge Which I Shall Not Name, Lest I Invoke It; a pestilence which, the last time it visited, caused me to moan, “Why couldn’t it have been lice instead?” Or zombies.

Anyway, there are logistical considerations to all the materials rotation tasks; silks must have a long-term storage place which doesn’t have direct sunlight on it all the time, for instance, and I keep fibers to which some people react separated from other fibers as well– so the mohair and angora need their own safe spaces, just as cats aren’t allowed in the studio. Those things wouldn’t be true if it were all just fiber for me, but I’d hate for a customer to end up having a reaction despite everybody’s best intentions, so I do what I can.

The spring cleaning sale, ending tomorrow, has been pretty successful — I’m all but out of custom blends! Clearly, you all need me back in the studio slaving over a hot carder, not to mention making sure I have a couple of dye days this week. But here’s a little preview of what you can expect to see coming up for sale Wednesday:

There’s other stuff too, and there might be even more other stuff, if I can manage to get out from under this kitten and get to work today and tomorrow.

Of course, I’ve been spinning and whatnot as well, and doing a little light swatching and sample production…

I spun up some City Lights leftovers, and then — surprise, folks! — chain-plied them. This skein used roughly the contents of 2 batts, and spun up into 195 yards of chain-plied (aka Navajo plied, but I prefer to call it chain plying) yarn at about 10 wpi.

And then I chain-plied more, just to show you all that sometimes, I do things that aren’t what I usually do. Or something. Here’s how April Blizzard looks:

That’s 95 yards of 9 wpi yarn from 1 batt; and I spun it up as part of a photo tutorial on one way to spin from a batt. I’ll be adding to this over time, with additional ways of spinning from batts, but for those of you who have asked where to begin, here’s one place to begin!

And that little project has also resulted in a really interesting exchange with Velma. Go check it out, and weigh in if you’re so inclined!

Oh, and I just remembered: someone else asked me where I’d send a 13 micron merino fleece for processing. Without hesitation, I told her I’d send it to Morro Fleece Works. The next photo here is why; a few times a year I treat myself to something she’s selling, and it’s always been an incredibly good buy, and I’m saying that about having paid $45 a pound for merino. They ain’t what you’d call cheap, but if I had a really incredible fleece I was going to send out, that’s where I’d send it. Because of this:

It’s sad, but that really doesn’t do it justice. But I’m not going to go any further with this right now, because honestly, we’re entering the arena of purely gratuitous fiber porn.

So getting back to some of my spinning and sampling and whatnot, I did two other chain-plied things, one of which is some Indian Summer tussah that’s getting made into a Something right now, and it hasn’t been photographed yet. I did do up a sock blend — 3 batts, 465 yards, about 15 wpi chain-plied, this is Iris, which is sold out again already, and clearly needs to be repeated when I get my lazy blogging butt into the studio shortly:

I like this yarn. In fact, let’s see it again:

Yeah, I like that one.

Oh, I did manage to get my yarn off for the Yarn Thing swap; by way of documentation, before I split it into its requisite 25 skeins, here it is on a kitchen scale set to measure in grams:

So, ignoring the little bit of waste and loss from splitting it into so many skeins, every skein is about a gram, and 20 yards. I’d wanted to make every skein for the swap from a single ounce of silk, and have it be a plied yarn. It looked a little silly, I have to admit, stuck into individual tiny plastic bags so I could slap a label on it because the skeins were just soooo small.

There’s something else I was going to mention… Ah yes! Here’s a swatch for my Indian Summer handpaint colourway, on some handspun wool/silk/mohair single. Expect to see the pattern for this scarf shortly; I want to think about it a bit and make a functional scarf, as really this is only a swatch.

Well, phooey! There’s not really all that much to show for a few busy weeks, but I’ll still pat myself on the back for spring cleaning. Which reminds me to let you all know I’ll be throwing items from the “I’m not going to do anything with this, am I?” pile up on eBay sometime later this week; presently there are a few yarns listed, like several boucles I just know I’m not going to do anything with, ever. There’ll be more… lots more.

Spring cleaning SALE!

Spring cleaning time is definitely here. I’m getting ready to do fiber rotation, destashing, and that sort of thing, and I definitely need to make some space because it’s a game of Tetris as it is. So I’m having a SALE!

Franquemont Fibers is offering free shipping and 10% off your purchase between today and April 17th, 2007! Give yourself a treat for getting those taxes filed, or something to ease the stress between now and when you get them in! πŸ˜‰

All handpainted yarn…

All handspun yarn…

All custom blends…

All hand-dyed silks…

All assorted fibers!

Just mention this post at checkout to receive your discount and free shipping!

Brighter Days

Thanks very much to each and every one of you for your kinds words about my poor old lady cat, who I would much rather remember as the mighty Inanna. We are all adapting, though from time to time, I admit I keep thinking I see her out of the corner of my eye (but then it turns out to just be dirty laundry or something). So let’s see if we can’t bring the mood up a little bit today.

I’m told that here in southern Ohio, it’s unlikely that the spring which has set in is only a cruel hoax, tempting us to shed the outerwear prematurely, weakening our resistance to the inevitable April blizzard. Spring, they tell me, is probably really here; the April blizzard doesn’t happen. So this means that the first flower of spring, here…

…is not going to be poking its way through frost and snow suddenly, and the buds on the trees are for real, and it is in fact time for me to put some thought into which shorts fit and which ones don’t. And break in my new sandals and rebuild a flip-flop callus. It was in the lower 80s Fahrenheit yesterday afternoon! So that’s when I took a few sunny-day pictures.

I couldn’t decide whether that one should be yarn porn or weather porn, so it’s a bit of both…

And this one’s the pure yarn porn. 640 yards, 2 ounces, a resupplied Chasing Rainbows merino/tussah.

But then, too, I’m clearing out a few things I’ve had lying around in my personal stash for what seems like aeons. I need to reorganize and it’s time for the every-few-months fiber rotation; nothing in my stash goes unmoved for long, because fiber that sits is where the moths can breed, and I’m not having that. So here’s some Ashland-Bay-looking multicolour wool top:

…which also got to go outside for the pretty day…

4 ounces, 2-ply, 400 yards, aka 1600 ypp, at 15 wpi, variegated.

Oh, and that reminds me, Melanie had asked:

Are all your Majacraft bobbins wood? Do they spin any differently than the plastic ones or do you just prefer the wood?

Nope — most of my Majacraft bobbins are the standard plastic ones. I do have some very very old ones that came with my used “Parts” Suzie, which I think is presently buried under a toppled sack of mill-ends (I did say I needed to bring order to the yarn room, right? Because I do) — and those very very old ones are wood ends with a PVC core, but I mostly don’t use them. The wood bobbins that have been seen so much lately around here are the lace bobbins. For most purposes, I actually prefer the plastic bobbins, but when it comes to really getting lacy, I use the lace flyer and that requires the small, fat-core wood bobbins.

And that in turn reminds me I failed to answer another question for Gert:

I have a question about the the high speed adapter. I noticed you have one on your majacraft. I was looking for one and find that there are not many people selling them. I emailed majacraft and they said they are phasing them out and selling the high speed whorl. My question is what do you think? Do they compare in speed? Should I get a high speed adapter?

My first reaction to this was simply NOOOOOOOOOOO!

If you like to have high flyer speeds, my vote is YES! Get a high speed adapter head, as quickly as you can, and that is an absolute disaster that they’ll discontinue it. From reviewing the specs on the high-speed whorl, no, it’s just not as fast as the accelerating head. I’d bet it’s less prone to slippage under certain circumstances, like with a Woolee Winder at super-top-speed, and I’d bet that most spinners just rarely want to spin as fast as I do; it can’t have been a huge seller, which is too bad. I should have bought two.

The Queen Is Dead, Long Live The Queen

All Hail the mighty Inanna:

That’s the oldest picture I have — she’s the one in front. The one in back is her sister, Anath, who moved on to greener pastures long ago. This photo is sometime not longer before the September that never ended. They were Chicago alley kittens weighing 6 and 7 ounces, less than 6 weeks old, when I got them; Inanna couldn’t eat on her own at first and had to be fed carefully by me.

You could pretty much always count on Inanna finding a box, and loving to curl up in it. Especially if it was important for something else or too small for her. Here’s Inanna early in the California years.

At first she wasn’t too pleased about the manchild, but within a few weeks she had pretty much claimed him. She outweighed him 3 to 1 when he was born, 22 pounds to his 7 and 6 ounces, and at first I was worried about her crushing him — but you never saw a more careful giant cat with a tiny baby.

She could always be found right nearby, all the time.


She’d help the manchild with anything, too. She was tireless and tolerant and the most patient cat ever to live with a small boy. She would stand still and let him pull up on her when he was a baby, before he could walk. One time he was tugging on her tail and she decided she wasn’t having it, so she left. He didn’t let go of her tail. She dragged him down the hall. It was a long time before he outweighed her, and a real milestone in our family.

Inanna was never supposed to be an outside cat, but she had dreams of being a mighty huntress. She hadn’t learned to meow — her sister did, but Inanna could only make this tiny meeping sound. But she could make all the hunting cat noises, and she would run around the inside of the house chasing birds from window to window, desperately wanting to go out. Finally, there came a time when she simply pushed out a screen in a window, and let herself out. I don’t mean she broke the screen; I mean she bent the screen’s frame. The neighbour behind our house called me up at work one time to say it looked like someone had tried to break into our house. “It’s just the cat,” I told him. “Well there’s a screen that’s totally mangled, and tool marks or something on the outside wall…”

“Yeah,” I said, “Just the cat.” Her sister wouldn’t put up with this crap from the boy; Inanna simply loved him and would let him get away with anything. Even trying to ride her.

She slept with him for many, many years. And as his mother, I can tell you the boy has never been an easy sleeper. This was Christmas morning, 2000.

It was Edward who named her The Queen — one night we were telling him, get settled in to sleep and then Inanna can come in and snuggle with you. He ran in, got himself tucked all nicely, made her a cozy spot, and then hollered, “BRING IN THE QUEEN!”

Summer, 2003, in her prime, the era in her life when she’d bring her prey into the house in the night and lay it carefully on Edward’s breakfast spot or his little rocking chair.

At night, she’d sit at my shoulder while I did yarn stuff, or on Chad’s lap.

She’d keep my chair warm for me, too. Sometimes she wouldn’t want to get out of it when I needed it, and we’d have to share — no small feat. She spent a lot of time taking care of me when my dad died in 2004.

She took good care of all of us when we didn’t feel good.

She helped Edward model clothes I made him…

…one time we all left the house and I left a merino/silk blending project sitting out on the dining room table. Inanna helped with that, too.

Inanna, like me, felt that the Fricke S-160 was a pretty good buy.

No matter the place, she would always strive to find her spot by my shoulder for the evening; her queenly right. Seen here in early 2006, she is not amused by kittens…

…though eventually, she tolerated them too. Eventually, Paimei (front) even taught her to meow a really Siamese-sounding meow. So you can teach an old cat new tricks.

Inanna outlived many, many things. She moved with me from Chicago to California to Ohio, and she was the longest-standing member of my adult family, having loved me since I was a snotnosed 21-year-old kid. She weathered chronic asthma and allergies in California, which went away and she was doing so much better here in Ohio… till a few months ago, she started having troubles.

She was down to a little over 11 pounds, half her weight in her prime, skin and bones and arthritis and misery, almost all her teeth gone, gum infections, unable to keep down antibiotics. The play had gone out of her, and it hurt her to be picked up or to move around too much. She started hiding and trying to disappear; no more was she the everpresent Inanna. By the end, the mighty Inanna wouldn’t even walk out a wide open door onto the deck, and she rode with no fight left in her on my lap to the vet, another sign she wasn’t doing well. And it was there we learned her liver was enlarged and covered in nubbly things you shouldn’t have been able to feel, and there really was nothing more that we could do for her but send her on to play in fields of catnip somewhere, queen of a new place where she slipped off to while we held her.

The Queen is dead; long live the Queen. Rest in peace, Inanna, 1993-2007. Thank you for all those years. We will all miss you.

And the last of the fresh batts for the week, plus a few answered questions.

First, new batts have hit the eBay Store And some murky colours are even included this time.

Oh, and if you head on over there to buy something, let me know you arrived via my blog and you’ll get free shipping plus a little extra surprise.

On the subject of colour, June asked a little while ago:

You talk sometimes about colors you don’t like, but you rarely mention the colors you prefer. I glanced at your store and saw nearly all bright colors (and dare I say – pastels?), but the CR yarn you show above is quite dark and broody. Will the real AF please stand? πŸ˜€

Mmmmm, so I’m busted! Well, I guess I’ve had enough coffee today to try standing.

Here’s the deal: there are colours I like, and appreciate in the abstract, and sometimes these even include really really bright colours. There are combinations that I like, as well, and will use repeatedly; things that I reflexively gravitate towards, and things that I like for specific purposes but not others. And there is the list of colours, and combinations of colours, that I’ll wear. That’s a much, much shorter list. Lastly, there is a list of colours I have historically refused to use, wear, or anything, and which have specifically turned me off; this is the shortest list of all.

Part of my colour sense comes from Chinchero; specific weaving patterns are done in specific sorts of colour combinations traditionally, and everyone accepts that variations on these are less traditional. If something’s going to be a real Loraypu pattern, for instance, and it’s going to have a central different-colour stripe, then the outer two colours should be white and red; the inner two can be yellow and purple, or orange and green. If it’s only two colours, then you can shake it up more; and yes, you can do different things, but it’s not traditional, and there could be… implications. And it’s a bad idea to use contrasting colours that have similar values in those patterns, regardless of what colours they are. Strong contrast in terms of everything but texture — very important.

For a small ch’oro pattern, you can use bright aniline pink and grass green; but you really shouldn’t use that combination for things other than a small ch’oro pattern. Yes, they do in some other places, but that’s their problem and it’s certainly not something that my roots would really agree with, and it’s radical. A pink and green Loraypu is right out.

This list goes on and on and on, and very much defines my senses of what’s really “right” in certain contexts where colour contrasts happens. Although my sense of these things is shaped very much by Chinchero, that’s far from the only influence. Having a cultural colour sense from someplace that wasn’t the US made my US social life a challenge when it came to clothes, particularly when we’re talking the middle school years, which of course are a challenge for anybody. Prior to that, my big colour problem was one that set in and became really, really strongly entrenched for other reasons. You see, I’m a girl.

Yes, I know, that’s obvious. But I was a total tomboy. People in the US would do crazy things like give me pink stuff, and dresses that were pink, and dolls, and all sorts of things, and so in short order I learned about the “pink is for girls” thing and grew to detest all things pink. Which was not helped, of course, by the fact that my little sister loved pink. My US girlhood at times felt like a constant struggle against the injustice of being given a totally non-functional pink hammer when I wanted to pound nails in something. Perhaps if the 1970s and 1980s had featured any pink things which weren’t crap, and my little sister hadn’t liked pink, and everything… but such was not to be the case. I used to fly into a rage at the suggestion that I’d look good in pink.

Eventually, I came to terms with fuchsia and and really super-saturated dark pinks. But hot pink, petal pink, no way. No pink. Pink was evil. Everybody in Peru thought my pink aversion was very funny, as nobody there had any such issue; but they did notice that gringos in general didn’t tend to go for things that were pink in most cases.

I still viscerally react to pink in a negative way. I only started a campaign to make myself open my mind to pink in early 2006.

So, what do I wear? Well, honestly, I wear jeans all the time, except for when I’m wearing cutoffs or jean shorts. Perhaps 5-10 times a year I’ll wear not-jeans. Jeans, you see, have the right pocket configuration for the stuff I wish to carry. Not-jeans often lack pockets altogether, and therefore, might as well be a pink frilly tutu, even if they’re not. So yeah, I wear jeans. And t-shirts. Preferably dark colours for the t-shirts, but I’ll wear bright green, because green is my favourite colour. Last year, I bought a sky blue top, and wore it numerous times over the summer. But for the most part, what I can be found wearing is jeans, with a top that’s short-sleeved or 3/4 sleeved (because my arms are shorter than off-the-rack clothes that fit my bust and shoulders), and is either black, grey, navy blue, burgundy, brown, or deep forest green; occasionally, white, lighter blue, or fuchsia.

Therefore, if I’m going to make myself a wearable item, I tend to try to fit it in the core colour range of things I know I wear with comfort.

But in the abstract, in the sense of “This isn’t a thing that I’m going to wear,” I love bright colours, and surprising contrasts and vaguely disturbing secondary and tertiary colours. I like complex colours that involve multiple other colours that you don’t expect; I love to carefully darken a blue with pink, or warm up a brown with some orange, then throw in a frostier purple or lavender. With colour blends, when I am shooting for specific colours, I know what to do with the palette I’ve got to get the results I want, and sometimes, I like to not quite blend them fully, for the… shock value, or something, of being clear about the colour components.

Well… I think that’s about all I’ve got for now.

New Sock Blends This Week…

…all on eBay. There are a few others, too. And most of these are more my speed in terms of colours… murkier, I suppose.

The bottom right, called Olive Bar, is my favourite this time around. Mmmm, murky purples…

I’ve got lots of questions answered coming up shortly! And no, I haven’t finished that pink scarf yet.

The Salmon Electric

This counts as a Finish-A-Thon project, because I set this top aside to spin for example purposes last fall, and hadn’t spun it yet:

It’s one ounce of tussah silk top, dyed with acid dyes using low water immersion — a stock technique for my hand-dyed silks.

June asked about striping in a previous yarn — did the yarn stripe, and how did I do that? The answer is, yes! I split the commercial top straight down the middle as evenly as possible, and spun each half onto separate bobbins trying to carefully preserve the colour sequence.

This tactic works best with a handpainted top rather than one dyed with low-water immersion; in a top where the colour shifts are pretty even across the whole width of the top, rather than having occasional randomness to it or parts where a colour shift is longer on one edge than the other. So, I knew I wouldn’t be able to get a totally striping yarn in this case, just one with closely related shifts in colour and a handful of surprises.

I spun these tugged-off tufts of yarn using my Majacraft Suzie Pro at its top accelerated ratio of 32:1, with worsted technique; specifically, forwarding drafting using a 6-8 inch make or draw. Depending on the colour saturations, though, in some cases I spun from the fold while in others I spun from the end of the top, trying to control the drafting with more of an eye towards colour than anything else.

Spinning fine also makes a big difference in how defined colour shifts are when working with a multicoloured fiber. The finer you spin, the fewer fibers in your yarn, and the less the likelihood of muddying up the colours completely.

One bobbin layer into plying, you can see that although there are some barber-pole spots and some muddying, there are still distinct colour shifts in the 2-ply yarn.

It’s unfortunate that the depth of field isn’t better on this plying flyer shot, or you could see that on the right flyer hook, many miles of very fine yarn, much of it silk, over the years have in fact sliced a small groove in the brass. My resident brass expert tells me there is no real solution save replacement. It’s mostly not a huge problem, but it can affect the takeup a tiny bit here and there, and when you’re spinning really fine, that’s annoying.

Whenever I split top down the middle, I wonder, oh yes, I wonder — just how close to even am I really? Then when I finish the first half, and start the second, I invariably think, “Crap, this is not as thick as the other one,” and experience has shown me I’m right about that at least half the time. So I do a gut check — just how confident do I feel about that? I pull off a few tufts of the top, and think about whether or not they really do contain less fiber than their prior counterparts. If I’m pretty sure they do, I thin down the second single a tiny bit — not so much it’s really noticeable, but to about as much thinner than the first as I think I can go and still have them seem even in plying. And when I get down to that final layer on the bobbins of singles, I’m always thinking, “Oh hell.” But at the same time, the colour shifts are usually lining up allright in the plied yarn, so I keep going.

I also know that experience has shown me that for whatever reason, my first layer on the second bobbin is always deeper and thicker than the first layer on the second bobbin. It just is. So even though it looks flagrantly obvious that there’s not nearly as much on the bobbin at right, I can’t be 100% sure. Like I say, I’m only right about the uneven split about half the time; as often as not, instead of running short on the second bobbin, I’m running long. If I’m within 10 yards I figure that’s running even and pat myself on the back for being so great.

As a side note, when they are clearly not lining up, sometimes I’ve been known to break the single that has too much of whichever colour it is, and remove some yardage, setting that aside on a storage bobbin of some sort (like an empty toilet paper tube or one of my 12o-some-odd antique pirns). I then splice that single coming off the bobbin to the point going onto the wheel where I broke it off, and proceed until there’s a spot where I can cram those removed yards of single into the colour sequence how I want. In other words, I cheat.

When all was said and done, this time, in fact, there was less yardage of singles on the second bobbin — by about 30 yards. Since that 30 yards had one more colour shift in it, I opted to discard it rather than use the Andean plying bracelet technique to stick it on the end of this skein, as I didn’t really want a barberpoled end. Plus it was past my bedtime, and I’m known to have a bad tendency to say “I’ll just finish plying this, there’s not that much here, and…” So Chad was tapping his feet and clearing his throat reminding me that, as someone complaining of tiredness and difficulty adjusting to DST, I really shouldn’t fall prey to that one.

So, I didn’t skein it or measure it or any of that sort of thing either, reserving that for the morning. It took me at least 4 tries over my coffee this morning to get a decent semblance of a WPI count, and even longer to get it to settle on a ruler to try taking a photo (silk can be slippery). It ended up at 42 wpi. I never did get it to stay settled on the ruler for a photo that would actually show it clearly, alas.

Oh, and it came to 520 yards, thus bearing out my theory that “about 500 yards” is the most I can get out of an ounce of tussah on the wheel I’ve got now.

And now we’ll just look at pictures.

(and next, the other side of the skein)

I guess I should be piling up a list of really fabulous projects for about 500 yards of 40 wpi silk.