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Slow Start To My Sunday…

Honestly, I shouldn’t be sitting here at the computer drinking coffee and blogging — I should be doing chores. But of course, I’m fortifying myself for chores by drinking more coffee, so I’ll forgive myself.

Yesterday was, I must say, a very pleasant Saturday. I drove up to the Miami County Fairgrounds, about an hour north of here, and visited the Upper Valley Fiber Fest. Among other things, this provided me with an opportunity to finally meet some folks I’ve known from mailing lists, some of ’em for rather a long time, like Cena, who, if you’re on practically any of the spinning related lists these days, you probably know too.

Becky and her guild, the Upper Valley Fiber Guild, did a wonderful job. Next year, I promise I’ll be a vendor. This year, so far, I’m still working on logistics for show vendoring type stuff.

I also very much enjoyed meeting Mirie, who talked me into ice cream (that must have been hard!), and Pia, who in fact is in Cincinnati with all her Suri alpacas, and not, as I had assumed, “somewhere around Cincinnati.” And she, of course, has friends and colleagues who live as close to me as, say, about a mile away. This is terrible, terrible news for me, of course. Simply dreadful. Because, as noted, I’m not buying any fleeces at all this year, and stuff.

Once I get to washing that Romney — which will be soon; it’s a fresh fleece shorn maybe two weeks ago — I promise pictures. But it’s very crimpy, very fine, and lustrous, and black. It came from Family Matters Farm in Xenia, and they had quite a few nice Romney and Lincoln and Romney/Lincoln cross fleeces. Honestly, I’m really kind of a sucker for nice Romney, which I find if you get in the raw from someplace nice, is much much finer than buying commercial Romney, and you get very soft, yet strong, and lustrous yarn from it.

As it happens, my thoughts of buying anything else ended up being interrupted by this:

…which I guess you can probably tell came home with me. Despite being Little Miss Majacraft Fan, this was actually the first time I’d run into a Saxonie, so I seized the opportunity to give it a try, and it really was quite nice. And then the nice lady told me she was selling this used one. Here it is next to the workhorse Suzie Pro for scale…

In my defense, I did get a good deal on it. Plus you don’t seem to be able to get these anymore. And it works with some of my other wheels. Besides, what if nobody took me seriously as a spinner because of having fewer than 10 wheels, y’know? That doesn’t seem like a risk worth taking.

I’ll give it a real review at some point. I need a new stretchy drive band for it, and I’d like to fit it with one of Majacraft’s newer high-speed whorls, as the highest ratio on the whorl that came with this wheel is, by my calculations, roughly 22:1, and it certainly seems to me that with an 18″ drive wheel it could push a bit higher, and I really can’t see any obvious reason I wouldn’t be able to put a higher speed whorl on it. The idler whorl on the Suzie Pro’s accelerator head is smaller, for instance… But anyway, the wheel’s got nice momentum and very smooth action, and the length of the footman stroke, which is at an angle, makes for pretty smooth one-footed treadling as well.

One interesting thing about this wheel is the handful of things that are clearly done for looks. At first glance to the untrained eye, it looks like a double drive wheel with a tilting mother-of-all… but it’s a scotch tension wheel, and the traditional Saxony stylings are purely ornamental.

When I got home, lo and behold, great news! My surprise from The Boogie Babe, aka The Spunky Eclectic, had arrived! Wooo! I’ve sent her one too, but I think she outdid me by far:

I knew I was going to be spinning some of this up right away… but which? It was really a hard decision. Start with the BFL/Silk/Kid Mohair blend, “Sage?”

Or start with this beautiful handpainted merino/silk top in “Rocky Mountain High?”

Congratulate me on remembering to stop for 30 seconds and take a picture before I dove in. These fibers are absolutely stunning, and yeah, she outdid me and the silly little package I sent her. I mean, just look…

Aww yeah. Go look at the full-size version of that last pic.

And with all of that to play with, what’s on my to-do list today? What else — laundry. Well, and chores in general. Isn’t that always the way?

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Fresh Blends, 26 April 2007

Yeah. More of that kind of stuff! Let’s see a few closeups:

Oh, I’m quite fond of this one, I am. So fond of it, I’ll have to do another one, for me! This one is superwash/alpaca/nylon (the sock kind, not the glitter kind) and I want mine to have tussah silk in it.

Olive Branch, here, is nice too. So nobody buy it, and then I’ll steal it for myself. Just look at it glittering in the sun there… just makes me want to sit right down and spin it. And it may be a sock blend, but I want to spin it into something for a shawl. A glittery, gleaming olive green shawl like dragon scales… yeah, that would work.

I blew it with Life’s A Beach already. Someone’s gone and snagged most of it.

Oh yes, and I decided I’d list that orange yarn (and don’t miss the “math is hard” update at the bottom of that post, btw. It turns out I shouldn’t try to work numbers from my log book before finishing the second cup of coffee. Ahem.) with a reserve, and see if it meets the reserve of “cheapest I’d be willing to sell this.”

Oh! And this sampler:

is likely to be the last one for a while, because I’ve found the perfect home for those odds and ends from now on. And this is a big sampler too, 8 whole ounces plus a little, or about 235 grams… one could do a lot with that.

That’s it for me and my “Shop With Abby” plug for the week. Now I’ve got to get myself back to slaving over a hot carder… but BEFORE I FORGET! Just let me know you came in via my blog, and I’ll ship your purchases for free.

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Orange Scrap Merino Yarn

Cruising through my usual reading list this morning with my coffee, I ran across this survey, linked from the SOAR blog. I took a moment to fill it out, and thought others might be interested as well.

In household news, I’d like to take a moment to state that the LG dishwasher is simply no Bosch. We had a Bosch, the Bosch was our friend, and the LG we have now is simply no Bosch. For those of you considering dishwashers, Bosch. Bosch, Bosch, Bosch. The LG was supposed to have all the same things the Bosch did and was rated similarly by reviewers. It is only similar in the sense that one could say a Ford Festiva is similar to a Corvette in that they both feature two doors and a hatchback.

Anyway, though, in yarn-related content, I did finish up that 2-ply merino from the dyed odds and ends I had lying around…

I love that photo above — look, there’s the lazy kate and that jumps right out at you, but look closely: chain-plied tussah silk lying under some other tussah silk I haven’t spun yet, a toppled bottle of ibuprofen, the “Desire” sample wound into a ball behind it waiting for me to think of something to use it in, a few Bryspun straights in the front, and the Addi Turbos draped over the edge of the shelf.

I don’t think I ever claimed to be super-orderly. Well, not recently, at any rate.

I ended up lazily plying the orangey yarn on the Victoria. It has to be lazy plying on the Victoria because with 15:1 as a top ratio, it’s slow — definitely in the “idle hand fidget while watching TV” range of things. Which is, of course, exactly what I was doing.

I’m increasingly a fan of this “hanging on the deck railing” shot. Now, to those of you who’ve commented that the step-by-step process photos are useful, I need to come clean. There are a few steps in here that I never think to photograph — but I will do so on an upcoming project, as there’s important information in those steps!

Of course, perhaps my yarn porn is becoming formulaic. Here’s the “from just below, with the sky for reference” shot.

And the closeup…

And I like to call this the “truth in advertising” shot. Here’s where I point out the lazy waylaka maneuvers that are obvious in this skein — thick and thin bits, all over the place. But, you know, what the heck. Yes, it really is that saturated a pink-and-orange, too.

Oh yes, and the specs! There was a total of 36 grams of the 2 different colours of merino, seen here:

After washing, the 2-ply yarn is 25 wpi, and the fiber yielded 730 yards. So, 730 yards from 36 grams is 20.277777etc. yards per gram, times 28.35 grams in an ounce is 574.875 yards in an ounce, times 16 ounces in a pound is 9,198 yards per pound. So this is a pretty light, lofty 25 wpi. 36 grams is about 1.26 ounces.

If you were to compare this to some popular laceweight merino yarns out there…

  • Morehouse Merino Lace, 220 yards / 1 oz (actually fingering weight)
  • Skacel Merino Lace, 1375 yards / 100g /6237 ypp, 28 wpi
  • Artisan Lace, 300 m (325 yards) /20g = 7439 ypp
  • Sharon Miller’s Merino Lace yarn, 375 m / 25g = 7439 ypp

…this yarn is weighing in with more yards per pound than any of them, but it’s fatter than the last 3, and most similar in grist to the Morehouse Merino Lace, which is actually fingering weight in my book… though of course, now I can’t find a wpi reference for it anywhere.

And of course, I needed bright orange-pink laceweight merino knitting yarn right now like I needed another hole in my head. I’ll probably destash it eventually.

NEWS FLASH! Abby Proves Human After All!

I shouldn’t ever do math, or look at my log book, before the second cup of coffee. *ONE* of the chunks of merino weighed 38 grams. The two of them together? 74 grams, or 2.6 ounces. This is actually a huge relief for me, because I really couldn’t wrap my brain around how this had come to the ypp that it did at the wpi that it is. I was sitting around thinking, “That’s like twice the yield I’d expect,” when it dawned on me.

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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.

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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.

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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 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!)

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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.

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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! 😉

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!