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The Work Week Draws to a Close…

The work week is drawing to a close, and it’s been a strange one. My trusty Cardzilla, I fear, is begging for a vacation; after years of incredibly faithful, incredibly hard-working service on a near-daily basis, service far above and beyond the call of mere duty, Cardzilla’s motor’s gearbox is showing signs of wear. This could well mean motor replacement! And for the short term, it means no new custom blends for a bit; so the ones that are presently up for sale will be the last until… well, further notice, I suppose. Rest assured Cardzilla will be back in action as quickly as possible, but at this time there is no time estimate.

One thing I want to take a minute to point out is that what wore out and needs fixing is NOT a standard part. Were I to affix a handcrank to it, I would be able to operate it in handcrank mode, just fine. What has worn out is an aftermarket part, in the aftermarket motor that isn’t supplied by Strauch, Cardzilla’s maker. Had I been cranking through all the years that the motor drove Cardzilla for me, I think my shoulder would have worn out for sure. Based on all this, I have to say that I don’t think there is a way for any normal human being to wear out a Strauch carder. That thing is a tank. Let’s take a moment here and give it up for Cardzilla, the Strauch 500-series:

That photo was taken early in Cardzilla’s service with me, before I installed the brush, but after the installation of the very important Edelbrock and MSD stickers. And Cardzilla’s importance cannot be understated: he’s been named, and has a gender role! I almost never name, or assign perceived gender, to my tools. None of my spinning wheels are named, for instance. But in this case, well, it just happened. So you can imagine I’m stricken by his motor ailment, even though I rationally know everybody deserves a little rest and recuperation now and again and I’ve worked Cardzilla about as hard as I tend to work myself, so he’s earned one.

And in honor of how little I seem to pat Cardzilla on the back, tell him thanks, and talk him up… anybody making a purchase from me by the end of May, and mentioning Cardzilla at checkout time, will receive free shipping and a fibery surprise gift.

As it happens, I, like Cardzilla, am now something that can be wrenched on, and the dentist appointment yesterday really drove that home. I’m in the end stages of having a dental implant installed, a process which may be more sterile now than in Mayan or Egyptian antiquity, but somehow, I think, no less time-consuming or frustrating; surely no less bizarre. Since January, I’ve had a titanium screw in the root area of what was once a tooth (a tooth I first broke biting into a piece of toast on my very first Mother’s Day as a mother, resulting in me always answering the question about what I’d like for Mother’s Day by saying “No emergency dental work!”). My Mother’s Day Crown, alas, broke in turn right after last Thanksgiving, and the diagnosis from multiple specialists was that although it might be possible to crown the tooth again, the smart thing to do would be a bridge or an implant. I opted for the implant, though it would take longer.

Longer is an understatement. Yesterday, almost 5 months after the initial screw installation, casts and impressions were taken and the small screw cover was replaced with, I kid you not, a large flathead screw type thingy, the technical term for which is “healing abutment.” The not-so-technical description is, seriously, I have a flat-headed screw cap in my mouth that was installed with a fancy ratcheting screwdriver setup. Now I wait *another* month, and at the end of June, get a temporary crown. After that, I wait some other length of time, and then get a permanent crown, by late summer sometime. And this, folks, is the newfangled shorter-duration, lower-impact process. Becoming a cyborg is weird, and slow. And I’m sure, worth it in the end. But I remain a little crabby about the mouth screw.

So, changing the subject to happy and less-weird things, some of you asked about the black yarn in yesterday’s post. And I’m so glad you asked! It’s a neat new fiber, and this skein was spun from a leftover/tester bit of it. While I was fondling it and pondering it, I concluded it really, really wanted to go fine; this fiber is slicker’n… uh, something really slick! But yet, it’s got a little grip to it, so it doesn’t just drift apart while you’re spinning — it’s slick, but not purely slippery. And shiny. And it drafts really nicely too, and takes dye just beautifully, look:

“Yes, yes, Abby,” you’re thinking now, “but what IS it?”

Oh, very well. It’s superwash merino/tencel, a 50/50 blend in commercial combed top. Wanna see more?

Man, I just don’t think any of these photos do this fiber justice! It’s soft, so super-soft, it’s shiny, it’s smooth-drafting and easy to spin thick or fine, it’s stunning sock stuff, is what it is. Or lace stuff. Or all kinds of things. It’s really, really neat stuff.

Well, I did a few other bits of dyeing this past week too, carder and human maintenance notwithstanding:

Just a few new tussah silks — the main new round of ’em will probably be next week. By “just a few,” of course, I mean 20-some odd.

Also some merino/tussah 50/50 commercial top, that I’m thinking about adding to the long-term repertoire, if only so that I can have an excuse to be dyeing it for myself lots and lots…

…and this baby camel top (there are other colours, of course, of the merino/tussah and the baby camel). I’m on the fence about the baby camel; it’s high-maintenance to handle while dyeing, and although I love camel, it seems to be an underrated fiber that people don’t know they’d love and therefore don’t buy.

This particular week’s dyeing came out really, really nice, which I guess is some consolation for the dentist trip, screw in my mouth, Cardzilla’s woes, and everything.

Oh that’s right! The black yarn! I forgot to talk about the yarn itself. Well, that’ll have to wait till tomorrow at this point, I think. In short, it’s 280 yards of 2-ply from 30 grams of that superwash/tencel blend, making it about a 4300 ypp yarn. I’d actually hoped for better yield… but I’m probably going to have to play with this fiber more regardless, so it’s not like this is my last chance!

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No, this time, really, I’ll take a weekend off!

I’ve made it to Friday again, huzzah! This was a hectic-seeming week and production just was not what I had ambitiously planned for at the outset. But I did manage to get all of these up on eBay:

…which is to say, some 6 pounds of superwash top, some oddments of very nice fibers, a few pounds of new sock blends, all containing alpaca, and repeating a few favourite colourways:

like Tiger Lily…


…and Berries.

Plus, there’s a huge batch of 400-yard / 1 ounce skeins of handpainted merino/silk millspun yarn (millspun, as in machine spun, lest anyone not be sure what I mean by that — I tend to prefer to say “millspun” rather than “commercial” as there are plenty of commercial handspun yarns, after all):

These are the same yarns I used in this fella here:

the Falling Leaves Isosceles — and each skein has enough yarn in it for something similar, scarf-sized!

My faves from this batch are the Indian Summer shown above, and…

…this Autumn Stroll.

This weekend, I might do fibery stuff, but I swear it’s going to all just be personal. You wanna know what non-work yarn dorkery I got to this week? This is it:

Hardly anything. Fewer than 800 yards of yarn all told that is actually for me. The horror!

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Since some of y’all said it wasn’t a cop-out…

Right, some of you said it wasn’t a cop-out to just post fiber and yarn pr0n. Well, that’s really all I have for today, so bear with me.

It was a dye day.

It might not look like it, but that’s about 6 pounds of superwash top, 2 pounds of merino/silk millspun yarn (maybe more), a pound of 125’s merino top, a little bit of 80’s merino top, and some new test fibers, namely some CVM…

…and a likely regular from here on out, 50/50 merino/tencel:

Awwww yeah. Here’s the pair of those that I’ve culled for sample spinning:

I already know how those are gonna look, but you don’t know yet, so you’ll just have to check back. Mwaaahahahaha!

Here’s a closeup of some of the superwash and the yarn:

And this, right here, is a tester of a thousand yards of millspun really really laceweight superwash 2-ply yarn.

I didn’t think I liked it… but maybe I do after all.

In not-pr0n news, thank you to those of you who’ve let me know there’s an issue with the categories right now. Later this week, I’ll be having a web development day, and it’s likely to include a complete template redesign. I think. Either way, I’ll be incorporating some feedback I’ve received from you, my loyal readers, and I think it’ll be good stuff. Lastly, I’ve grown weary of reading my moderation queue filled with “What is tramadol? Can you get cheap vicodin while pregnant from viagra? Do you need more phentermine?” Crikey, I don’t want ANY of those things! What I do want, though, is shoes which are like waitress shoe flipflops, for these days of being on my feet all the time. Ow. But that digression aside, I’ll likely be implementing Haloscan or something similar to reduce the comment spam moderation situation — there are just more of ’em daily than I want to wade through, and I’m afraid I’m losing real comments by blasting through them quickly.

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Victory! It’s Friday!

…and I’m definitely taking the weekend entirely off. Of course, you realize that in my case, when I take a weekend off, odds are I’m still doing something fibery… ssssh, don’t tell my boss, she’s a real hard case and if she knew that, she would probably make me work even longer hours than the already-punishing ones she’s been setting for me.

Remember how Wednesday, I was too tired to take pictures? Well, I finally got to at least the photos of the new wares, and finally got ’em uploaded. I’m delayed another week, it looks like, on the plain ol’ shopping cart stuff. But here’s what I did manage to get done:

That’s 2 days of blending, 1 day of dyeing, and somewhere around 15 pounds of fiber. It felt like more while I was doing it all, I swear! But perhaps Marcy has a point with her comment about my expectations. Like I was just saying, my boss sets them for me, and as soon as I meet them she raises the bar. Still, that’s averaging out to like 5 pounds of fiber a day and that is not enough, not by any measure. I have to leverage synergies to heighten my efficiency or something. Or I’d have to if I hadn’t left the world of doing such things behind me a year ago, at any rate. Instead, like my boss is always saying, I’ll just have to work harder.

So, all of those are done, inventoried, catalogued, and listed for sale! Man, it is going to be beer o’clock here soon!

Oh, Hope? I apologize in advance. There’s going to be more pink and orange, starting with this:

Yeah. Sorry, Hope. That’s the Optim that I was spinning when I got the Pagoda in and had to spin that instead — the Optim that I thought was 2 ounces total, but then realized was 4. I haven’t weighed the finished, washed yarn yet as it’s still a tiny bit damp, but I did finish it last night, and it came to 1250 yards. With the quickie measurements, it’s 35 wpi, so not as fine as the other Optim. And one single was spun on the Suzie Pro, and one on the Saxonie.

The manchild said it looked like hot lava, so, “Hot Lava” it is.

Stephanie says she’s not a pink person, but likes the pinks here lately anyway. Kneejerk me, I wanted to holler back, “I’m not a pink person either!” but before I did so, I thought about it more, what with June having pointed this out recently too. I’m not a pink person, or a super-brights person most of the time, even though I appreciate almost all colours in the abstract sense of “not being something I’m about to wear.” So what’s the deal with all the pinks lately? I’ve been thinking about it for a couple of days, and you know, I think part of it is just that they photograph really well, and that makes them a good candidate for samples. So here’s another:

This is actually a really really awesome blend, it’s super cool, I swear! It’s hand-dyed merino blended with Tencel, roughly 75/25, in Cardzilla (have I mentioned lately that I’m a huge fan of Strauch carders? Well, I am). But you know, the sheen of this was so hard to photograph I thought I’d try it again cooler, and this time with little bit more tencel, more like 70/30:

Why yes, I did make an extra one of those for a sample. And it spins up really, really nice — drafts much easier than the commercial merino/tencel top, and it’s different, but… nice. Really nice.

It occurs to me I failed to take pictures last night of further hopping up that was afoot. I got in the first of my Majacraft tune-up and hop-up packages, you see, and got started tweaking the Saxonie, and then that was a slippery slope… right now, I’ll wager that I also have the fastest Suzie Pro around (and also the one that requires the most leaden foot, oof!) Speaking of speed, that reminds me, Sarah, you’re not the only one to break a Roberta flyer — I thought I was. And yes, it happened at speed, and yes, half the flyer went, well, flying, across the room, making such a thunderous sound it attracted every other member of the household. Definitely dramatic.

Oh, but the tuneups and hop-ups! Well, the stock whorl came off the Saxonie and was replaced with a Suzie whorl; counting flyer rotations while turning the drive wheel, this ups the top ratio on that to 25:1. With that whorl off (and it had one BIG groove on it), I got to thinking — what if we put that on the Suzie Pro’s accelerator head, on the intermediate whorl? Well, we did that, and… okay, pictures, and details another time. It needs a little more tweaking and tuning still. Back to the fiber pr0n!

This was a weirdly splitty brown. I mean, it should have been brown, but it split instead, and struck different on the outside and inside of the top… so I figured I’d spin it and see what it did. I really wanted to name it something like “Technicolor Yawn,” but that was… too blatant. I couldn’t think up a similar, but more subtle, euphemism, so I copped out and called it “Painted Desert.”

Here’s a watered down variant of Divine Bird’s colour combo:

as is this…

Well, that second one she suggested as an alternative, but the other one just works better if you ask me.

There’s a lot of lilac type action going on, because this is my first lilac spring in seemingly forever — you realize they don’t grow in California, right? Spring with no lilacs — what a penitential sentence. But here:

Baby lilac bushes… but they’re blooming. I can hardly wait till all the lilac bushes lining the roads and towns and everywhere around southern Ohio fully explode into bloom… while it’s t-tops off weather to boot. Oh, what a backroads driving spring I’ll have to have… perhaps this weekend. If I’m not just geeking on wheel tech.

Speaking of which, I have to thank my better half for his mechanical gifts, and his willingness to take a break from Jeepy here, to help me out with wheel tuning.

Jeepy’s a bona fide veteran of World War Two, having served in Europe and come to us with maintenance records from France, and everything. A 1942 Willys, Jeepy is being restored to 65-years-ago glory, give or take a few things here and there, so as to participate in a Memorial Day parade, as well as take us out for ice cream on nice summer afternoons.

Riding around in, or sometimes driving, a 65-year-old vehicle is, incidentally, something that provides a lot of food for thought about technology, preservation, what’s worth holding on to and what leads to what kind of developments… and it makes me wanna say something along the lines of those things people say about spinning, weaving, and the fiber arts, about feeling so in touch with my forebears. Only, you know, about a vehicle whose history I can’t help but wonder about, and imagine in the very few stories my grandparents would ever tell about World War Two… what the heck, when 65 years old am I, look as good I will not, to paraphrase Yoda and change the context.

Oh but before I knock off and call it beer o’clock, one last thing:

I still have plenty more work cut out for me Monday. The next time you see these guys, things won’t be the same, as the song goes. Colour will happen. You know… just… happen.

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Way Too Tired For Pictures…

I’m way too tired for pictures, so I’m going to put up a few photos of some recent yarn. What’s got me so tired? Well, I’ve been in production mode: a few carding days and today was a dye day, all to move stuff from “materials” to “inventory” to make room for new incoming materials, due any day now. I think in the past 3 days I’ve done some 6 pounds of blends and 10 pounds of dyed fibers… geeze, that doesn’t sound like all that much, does it? Ah, but my aching feet…

So, anyway, some recent productivity:

This was a tester for some hand-dyed superwash. I call this colourway “Mai Tai” — pinks, oranges, some diluted with cream. This one’s a 2-ply sock yarn measuring 360 yards from 62 grams or about 2 ounces, at 16 wpi.

Again, a test skein. “Holly” — Hand-Dyed, handspun superwash wool. 2-ply, 420 yards, 86 grams / 3 oz, 15 wpi.

This one’s by special request, for Divine Bird. Your basic sock blend, superwash/tussah/mohair, sparkly firestar. I liked it so much I repeated these colours on something for me to spin for kicks.

Fakeberry sock yarn. Same thing — a tester. It’s, you know, sock yarn.

I might have to try to get other photos of this guy. It’s just got amazing sheen to it that this doesn’t capture. It’s a merino/tussah/mohair single, again, a tester from some new blends. Merino/tussah silk/kid mohair/firestar nylon; handspun 22 wpi laceweight single. 780 yards /96g / 3.4 oz . There’s a 440-yard skein too, that has knots in it because I kept skeining it under no tension like a moron, and breaking it. I totally know better. It was going to be this one massive, stunning 1200-yard skein, but nooo, I had to push things and go too fast.

This is that blend, basically, but in “Peach Fuzz.”

I finally dyed this Falkland/Tussah/Baby Camel sock yarn I spun… uh, probably last year:

Here’s a sampling of a few things I’ve dyed lately…

And a look at a few of the recent batts…

…and the latest 15 pounds or so of fibers, like I say… not even photographed yet, I’m TOO TIRED!

Oh, but I liked this one…

and strangely enough, I like this too:

Aw geeze, I finished plying round number one on the cabled yarn for Chad’s new hat, too…

…but I have to do the final ply. I’m torn: it’ll probably all fit on a Majacraft bobbin (definitely on a jumbo one), but then I could make a mindless thing of it with the Roberta.

Trouble is, there’s that ball on the Roberta bobbin. And please don’t ask about the Roberta jumbo stuff. I broke my jumbo flyer with insane speed (and that was dramatic). But anyway, so I know that this…

…is no way, no how cabling back onto one bobbin. And I kinda want it to. Even though Chad’s hat isn’t going to use more than maybe 20% of this skein… but that’s not the point.

Have I mentioned the spring weather? It’s been occasionally dramatic, like this:

(oh, so somber!)

Summer might as well be here though, or so it feels. Here’s hoping the days and days on my feet have a positive impact on my waistline before I have to buy new shorts.

I know, kind of a cop-out blog entry, but maybe some of the yarn and fiber porn does the trick for you.

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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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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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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.

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So this is Wednesday

I know, I know, and I was just bemoaning Monday. There’s no real reason to bemoan anything, save that being thrown back into getting up while it’s dark out, it’s been harder and harder to really get moving in the mornings. We’re getting the boy off to school and all that, but here it is coming up on 9 AM and I still feel like the living dead. There’s just not enough coffee.

I’m told “the government” is under the impression that people like Daylight Savings Time. What I want to know is, if they really are under that impression, how did that happen? I’ve never met anybody who actually likes it. Or if I have, they haven’t admitted it. So let’s hear it: if you like DST, comment and tell the rest of us what’s so great about it.

In other news… or not-news, as the case may be… it has been delightfully warm, but today is expected to be the last of it for a while. It almost hit 80 degrees F yesterday. It’s in the upper 60s now, but drizzly. I failed to take any pictures outside in the bright sun, because it’s been windy too, and that doesn’t usually make for great fiber pictures.

I did ship a pile of boxes yesterday that was as tall as I am! I actually forgot to count how many there were; 14 I think. I’d have to say my vote for Happiest March Box o’ Fiber is probably the one containing this incredible bundle of bright and cheer, which I would never ever have looked at all right next to each other, if it had not been for someone buying them:

If I say so myself, that right there is a Party In A Box.

And I worked for a while on the Elaborated Print o’ the Wave scarf, actually completing the 12th repeat, and concluding that since I’ve still got several more repeats of the yarn left, the thing to do is KEEP GOING.

But I don’t know if I can. Seriously, I don’t! I really and truly might need to put it aside and work on something else for at least a few days. I put it aside last night when I realized, in my irritation at its constant and unchanging nature and the resulting predictability which had started to weigh heavy upon my flexing wrists, I kept making bonehead mistakes which I had to unknit — just things like not reversing the direction of the interspersed zig-zags, nothing hard to unknit, and nothing that went unnoticed until it was too late to fix with ease — but all the same, it was as if my subconscious were attempting to liven things up for me with errors. So last night, I put it down and started working on some charts.

I did finish, and ply, and take video of the plying for, what I suspect is the last of my Chasing Rainbows stash, a cashmere/tussah in “Forest.”

At 660 yards and 2 ounces (well, 54 grams, I shed a bit of fluff while spinning this one, here and there, and it’s the product of a Bad Yarn Day when nothing was spinning how I felt like, thus the mass iconsistences) I think this would make a beautiful new version of the purple mohair/silk triangle shawl I did a while ago, and which I really ought to chart as it is.

It’s midmonth, and I’m really underwhelmed by this month’s productivity so far. Of course, at midmonth, I usually am. So with that in mind, rather than trying to keep pouring coffee down my gullet in hopes of it causing wakefulness, I’m going to get moving, and churn out a few more exciting blends. Mmmmm, movement!