The Knit Knack's Blog

Better living through fibre


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Be it resolved

… that the Spinolution Mach II is the 2nd wheel.  I gave my final answer to the DyeGuy this afternoon!

There were, as I said, major second thoughts.  After looking at all of the angles, I was down to either that wheel or a Majacraft Rose.  Could I have chosen 2 wheels that were more opposite?!  That’s the gemini in me!  So, thanks to everyone who listened to me go on & on about this dilema…

Let me just do a quick run-down on the Rose.  Majacraft caught my interest with their full-page/ full-colour ad in the winter ’09 Spin-Off.  Inside of 2 months I was very much smitten with my Wee Peggy, and so naturally the Rose fell to the background.  Why then was I test spinning it?  Ha!  So as to properly assess the Pioneer, which of course makes zero sense!  I could accessorize into the production realm, love the true double treadle, the wood & the portability.  Not to mention the resale value.

As much as I could love the Rose, it’s not my ideal wheel.  That would be a Schacht Matchless or another wheel with double drive capability, and heft.  In the end the heftily solid workhorse with everything on 1 flyer at a good price is what I have chosen.  With a side resolution to free-form knit it some prettiness.

It’s name?  Earl, I think.  For a crazy reason that I’ll keep to myself.  His specs?  To quote the Bellwether:

Height: 32 inches
Width: 24 inches
Depth: 12 inches
Wheel Size: 20 inch diameter, 1.5 in thick
Bobbin: The standard 3 bobbins + 2.
See her blog review for more dimensions.

Number of Speeds: 5
Ratio: 1:3, 1:5, 1:10, 1:15, 1:21 (Approximately)

Material: Furniture grade Birch Plywood

Yes, I didn’t quote his weight.  Earl’s a little touchy about his weight.  I think a set of wheels is in his future, actually.  To show-off Earl’s latest… this is Fleece Artist BFL roving that I got on Monday:

… inside of my (coughSperry Top-Sider shoeboxcough) bobbin kate.  I spun the singles on the 1:15, effortlessly and in no time.  It’s my 1st stab at spinning a colourway, and boy did I love it!  My idea is to make this into 2-ply yarn, and use this for the lace triangle shawl disaster (frogged on Monday)… between this & candy pink, I’m more likely to wear this as a shawl!

The Wee Peggy is also seeing some action.  She’s in charge of the amazing Louet Shetland combed top I got last Christmas:

That’s my 2nd bobbin of singles.  I am thinking in terms of a 3-ply yarn but am still thinking how much I can get with the 8 0z. package (i.e. am I getting more?!!).

I also have a new spindle to play with – my friend & serious spinning enabler gave me her unused Turkish spindle by Ray:

I am thrilled but honestly have not yet figured it out.  From the website’s pictures it seems that I have a high-worl Turkish, and that I have the arms on upside-down… I’ll be posting a question in the Spindlers Ravelry group for help!


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A little out there

Over the past several days I have been carefully weighing the idea of a Spinolution Mach II as my 2nd wheel.  My skein of lavendar Corriedale 2-ply wool is really large.  After finishing it came in at 230 yds from 1 bobbin!  An endearing feature to say the least.  Look, Ma, no ends to weave!

This is the v. quick knit Birthday Cowl by Nova Seals (free to you here).   I am 3 rows short of the end, and still have a fair-sized ball of yarn.  I am knitting it with 5mm needles at a gauge of 4st per 1″.  The yarn is so soft, and mostly bouncy.  The thinner areas are over-plied but I’m not fussed about it with this pattern at all.  Here’s a close-up:

Hopefully the garter edge will lay flat on blocking.  I’d also like the yarn-overs (holes) to show more.

Speaking of blocking… it pains me to post this but here’s the Antrhopologie shrug I made from the California Red 2-ply.  Things are not improved in the fit department:

Far be it from me to hide my FO fail/ ugh…  Learned my lesson on stashing fibre in quantity!

So, the Mach II spins in 1:10 ratio demonstrably well.  What gave me pause?

  1. Spinning group was underwhelmed. Cool, utterly frank comments included, “It’s not the prettiest thing is it?”; and, “I wouldn’t buy that wheel.”  I do have good reasons but they were politely silent.  I have lived in Canada long enough to catch the drift on polite silence…  Yes, this wheel is out there.  If I get it, I better like it because resale is looking decidedly dim.
  2. The higher ratios. On testing them, I found the treadling is much, much heavier.  And my right ankle isn’t exactly 100% sound.
  3. Sheer size. It’s heavy, and cumbersome.  If I go through with the Master Spinner’s course next summer, I will need to cart a wheel around.  This won’t be that wheel.
  4. Single drive system – Scotch tension. I like ST but do want room to learn & use other drive systems.  My Wee Peggy can go double drive – is that enough?

When I started down this road, I assumed this would be a 2nd wheel; end of story.  Now the issues (especially nos. 3 & 4) make this look like a gateway drug.  I’m brainstorming & researching hard to see if it could work/ how.  Fact is, the out-of-the-box capability of the Mach II has caught my attention.

It is unconventional.  Maybe I am too.


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Looking forward

My week in a nutshell:  busy & adult-like.  How?  Well, it’s easier to live in the moment & get things done when you have a trip looking forward to…  Thank you Air Jamaica for the fire sale on  Toronto ↔ Kingston tickets.  DH will have to work but I was able to take advantage & cannot wait!  The up-shot is that I realized how much I should get done before leaving.

I put this down after the Spinolution Mach II stole my attention but this is my spindle-spun WIP… the 196 yards of Heaven shawlette:

Please excuse the safety pins… I was too tired to get up & hunt for my extra stitch markers.  This merino is a 3-ply laceweight.  Since 1 skein was wonky in the plying stage, I am going to use BFL lace wool (2 ply, I think) for the border.  My lace expert friend from the Wool Bin group is helping me work out a plan – thanks T!

While the lace waits for me to spin a border, I moved right on to knitting what was actually 192 yds of that California Red wool yarn.  It was great spinning but a pain to find a suitable pattern.  Small amount of quite frankly itchy 2-ply wool.  Last Saturday got sucked into a major project search… eventually, I came accross Julesy’s 2005 massively popular Anthropologie Capelet.  Great!  A shrug.  I could use a shrug!

I felt like the Yoda of yarn as I got the whole thing done with maybe 1″ to spare.  Yeah right.  Well, there is a FO shrug but it won’t be fitting me this side of age 12.  While I swallow that hard truth, I will show you a picture of a tulip from the back yard.  Beautiful bloom.

It would be wrong to give a child an itchy wool shrug, right?

In more successful news.  I’ve finished spinning & plying the Ashford Corriedale roving:

Like the purple-themed post today?  There’s also a bit more on another bobbin.  It’s 2-ply & spun on the loaner Spinolution Mach II wheel.  I’d like to knit it up into a cowl/ moebius scarf… in fairly short order.

To explain this sudden rush to knit my hand-spun yarn… I’d like to have some items for my guild’s display at the For the Love of the Arts Festival on May 16th.  The info for that event is buried on the web here.  After that it’s away for the trip, man!


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Upping the Ante

This has been a long, hectic week.  Man, I’ve just been dying to blog!

The Fibre Garden’s spin-in on Sunday was lots of fun.  I met this fellow Knitter of the Caribbean (Ravelry group, FWIW), and totally taught her to spin on my mini Bosworth spindle!  She was great too – made very decent first yarn, and no drops 🙂

I helped my stash out with some Corriedale colour:

I also replaced the BFL top that went back to nature in the moth heat treatment.  Just enough to spin a 2nd single for the glorious lace I plan to knit.  Last but not least is the 111 g of California Red roving that’s already a bouncy 2-ply yarn!  Don’t recognize that ginormous bobbin?  From the FG’s Spinolution Mach II.  On loan to me…

All 111 g in one go.  Before I go nuts describing the wheel can I just say that California Red is a very interesting wool?  Not esp. soft but the coarser red fibres fleck the yarn beautifully.  Point no. 1 on the Mach II?  Yarn capacity.  Here are the finished skeins:

This is 4-ply Coopworth wool from the Wee Peggy bobbins that I plied on the Mach II:

Big difference!

My other impressions so far are based on the 1:10 ratio that I have been using:

  • Treadling:  I thought it might have been spinolution for spinolution’s sake but I was wrong.  It’s what they call toe-t0-heel treadling.  It rocks sideways instead of a presser-foot action.  You get in touch with your inner market woman but even my size 7 feet comfortably reach the treadles.  I am not a tall person at 5′ 2½”… which is to say that Mom might gasp to see me at this wheel.  Gasp away Mom, it’s v. comfortable!  Treadling is so smooth & responsive that my bum ankle has yet to complain.  The Bellwether wasn’t kidding when she said you can give a foot a break:  her review is here.
  • Toe breaks:  That was a what?  why? reaction at first.  Well, that drive wheel has a back-spin to her.  Even after a full-stop.  It’s that heavy.  I’m using the right brake.
  • Funky flyer:  This is the standard (i.e., non-art yarn) flyer.  I like the guide pegs.  They are easy to work with, and the yarn winds on evenly.  The flyer-bar is magnetized.  I get that it’s a solution for a MachI issue, and am overall okay with it.  You do have to make sure that the flyer bar is pushed all the way back after a bobbin change.
  • Orifice:  They call this an open orifice.  It’s really a hook that  speaks to me as a spindler.  I can shift my hands around without the knocking I got with a Majacraft delta orifice.
  • Drive band:  It does stay put while spinning but the lack of a groove on the drive wheel makes it jumpy when you are changing.  Jumpy = tricky to put back.  I’m pretty sure that a cotton stand-in would slide all over creation.
  • Tension:  It is scotch tension.  Just based on the Bellwether’s manual, I think it will give a little trouble.  You have to “rough-up” some internal leather piece.
  • Rabbit ears:  2 spare bobbins sit on short pegs off the top.  It’s terrible to wind-off from them, so I soon rigged me a shoebox kate.  Luckily DH has big feet – my size 7 boxes would never have held the honking bobbins!
  • In general:  I can spin on this wheel on the couch, which is nice.  It won’t range far at the 22lbs of awkward weight but has v. good momentum.  I like the styling but would feel differently if I didn’t have Miss Peggy for eye candy.  There are rocking noises that could be addressed but this is a loaner wheel & I won’t go there.  The sheer bobbin capacity, range of ratios, solidity & price are all pull factors for me.

I’m going to keep playing with the wheel.  This isn’t a foregone conclusion (not naming it) but I am excited to have these options at this price-point.  I know that they are very popular but frankly the Lendrum wheel just hasn’t appealed to me strongly.  The forward tilt, and single footman are holding me back.  I could come to eat those words because relative portability on a modern wheel is nothing to sneeze at (to mix metaphors).

My oregano has graduated from water to soil:

I do have knitting to share but it can wait for the next post.  Happy Friday!


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Can-do attitude

Bad hair days.  Deep sigh.  It’s not frizz but roots.  The infernal gray roots.  Growing like there’s no tomorrow & harder to ‘hide’.  I’m getting sick of colouring, and so yesterday, I took matters in hand.  Literally.  Because sometimes a grown woman just needs a headband.  May I recommend Molly’s Headband by Pam Allen.  Free with IK strings attached here.

Don’t need much in the way of skills or can-do attitude.  The Fix took next-to-zero Rowan Calmer yarn, and what – 3 hours tops?  In just 1 episode of The View, and a fair amount of Tiger Woods coverage with some Helena Geurgis toppling news, I had it done.  It was an otherwise busy day.

No mods to the pattern on this one but I did go down to 4.0 mm needles.  A tight gauge to counteract any stretch from my big ‘ead + a mostly cotton yarn.  And I chose the mostly cotton yarn because spring is sprung & I want to wear it nowww.

And so, with that off my chest, I have returned to knitting with my handspun.  This might end up being a micro shawlette but hey!  I couldn’t resist using my merino 3-ply for the 198 yards of Heaven pattern by Christy Verity.  It’s designed for a heavier yarn but I wanted to try with this anyhow.

I’m on this handspun → knitted kick right now in preparation for the Guild’s table at our town’s For the Love of Arts Festival on Sunday, May 16th.  Here’s a flyer for the event:

Mark your calendars!!!

Sunday will be another spin-in with the good people at The Fibre Garden in Jordan.  These spin-ins are (to quote Forrest’s Mum) like a box of chocolates – you never know what you’re gonna get.  Spinners reserve their spots with John & Alan privately.  I like that!


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Easter report

Whad’ya know – my handspun has use!  I finished the Sweet Fern fingerless gloves over the weekend.  Ferns in the mini-roses:

The Polwarth is soft but firm at this gauge, and I even have a left-over skein.

The pattern was great as-is – no modifications this time!

I cleaned & decorated the house a bit for Easter because we threw a rather spontaneous BBQ for our Jamaican friends as they get ready to move out east.  These are the friends who had baby Eden last summer (I made her a kimono).  Her older brother, Zac, found the chocolate straight off the bat!

Opening right on cue:

Even though we were both v. tired from the efforts, we did make it out to St. Jacob’s Market on Saturday for the 1st time.  A cool day-trip.  First purchase of the day?  Sock yarn from Shall We Knit, upstairs:

Always wanted me some Crazy Zauberball!  Also in the marketplace:

We headed back downstairs for a bag of bagels, and clover honey here:

Hot-cross buns in production:

Farmers feed cities!

I have no idea how/ why but DH left without buying a single sausage, cut of meat or slab of cheese – huh?!?

We lunched at the Stone Crock restaurant in town.  It was a 20 min wait for the table – good enough to pull out the Bossie spindle & create a scene 🙂

Seriously?  75% is something to brag about?!

DH was fading fast but I did get to dip into an antiques store.  They had 2 spinning wheels that not even I was moved to acquire…   A better find?   This little ‘handbook,’ on natural dying, 8th edition 1972:

Very instructive but also covers dye recipes & traditions from around the world, including Canada & the Caribbean!

On both Sunday & yesterday we had perfect hand-combing weather.  It was sunny, warm & breezy.  I got through about a  bag of  my Romney… & have the scrapes on my hands to prove it.  It’s scary how easily the long tines on these little combs will graze you.  My hands are a little worse for the wear, today.