The Knit Knack's Blog

my handspinning, knitting, natural dye, weaving fibre home


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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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Handspun in the house

My first wheel-spun yarn:

Four whole plies!!!  It varies from worsted to aran weight at 10 – 12 wraps per inch (WPI), and is a conventional S-twist, i.e. left-slanted.

Plying on a wheel was awkward at first but I soon caught on.  I was drafting from 2 outer-pull balls that I put under small flowerpots, and that was familiar.  For gauging twist, I kept my eye on the plied yarn as it passed over my index finger.  That gave me a good read on matching the twist.

What really surprised me was how quickly the Wee Peggy’s bobbins got filled.  They are small but the yarn wound-on very loosely as well.  Here I am, a dedicated cop-building spindler, having to take scissors to lengths of singles not once but twice!  I don’t really need the never-ending skeins but it still stung to cut them.

With 3 skeins to my credit, I can happily repeat the process with the rest of the Coopworth roving.

This 2-ply Romney had been sitting on the Tsunami for awhile, so I skeined & finished it together with the 3 Coopworth sisters:

I love the shading from dark to light greys in this skein but it does look under-plied.  As you can see from the tag, it’s a nice fingering-weight.

If anyone is taking Megster’s Top-Down Sweater class at Spun this afternoon, they will see my February Lady Sweater, IRL.  Meg borrowed it to give the students a real FO example of an adult-sized sweater knitted from the top.  Judging from how quickly she tried it on last night, I suspect that a FLS might be in her future too!

The up-side of handing the sweater off was to hang out with the Friday night knitters at Spun.  I brought my BFL combed top, and had great conversations about spindling.  I think interest is growing but that spinning seems a little far-out to a lot of knitters.

Off to have lunch & get baking for Cuz’s engagement party tonight!  Have a great weekend ~ rain or no rain!


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Reality bites – I’ll spin to that

Honest truth – I nearly made my baby gift deadline.  As my Mother loves to say, “Close but no cigar.”  Friends, this is how the saga unfolded…  By Friday night, I was almost finished knitting on a garter border.  It was a beast of a job but I’d have more than enough time on Saturday to finish her up.  I went to my bed, and had sweet dreams.

At some point of some sweet dream my thoughts got real with me.  I woke up just knowing that the border was a spoiler.  It had to go.  Why?  Three reasons:

  • The garter stitch was boxing in the rest of the blanket, in a bad way;
  • My short colour changes were way too busy for the vision in white main body; and
  • I had botched the upper left corner with misplaced colour changes.

So, I ran downstairs, put the coffee on, and had at it.  Furious, furious knitting.  Does border no. 2 look better?  Sure does!   Did I have a prayer for finishing?  Nope.

At around say 1:30 p.m., I knew this would be wrapped on the needles.   It was seriously humbling.  She is quite possibly the most urban non-knitter friend that I have.  There was enough time to unfurl half the stitches onto waste yarn but it probably looked v. strange to her.  Especially since she was looking at the wrong side.  Good grief!

On the bright side, my friends at the Wool Bin have all assured me the design is a win.  The knitters hath spake!  Also on the bright side, the baby should be en ventre sa mere until early May 🙂

Leaving the sad story with bright sides, I have my 1st wheel-spun yarn to show you!  It is 4-ply Coopworth that is in a DK-weight range before finishing:

It is springy, and very yarn-like!  And I have another full bobbin here:

There’s yet more waiting for room to be plied as well!

On Monday, I found this tiny nest while walking Toby.  It was up-side down by my neighbour’s tree:

The white fluff is from fine, silky seeds.  It forms the base of the nest:

How I think us humans caught onto the idea of spinning in the first place:  nature.


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Spin, knit, spin

With my friend’s baby shower looming, I’ve had to tear myself away from the Wee Peggy wheel, and back into knitting mode.  It was a wrench.  Only accomplished by shunting the wheel & all of her paraphernalia into another room.

Still hush-hush on this gift but I can let the working title slip, right?  Blankie Love.  I wet blocked the last piece of the body – 3 0f 3 –  last night, and have a morning to post to my heart’s content.  Then there will be seaming, a lot of stitches to pick up, and a border to be made.  By Saturday… it’s tight but doable.

This is my friend’s first pregnancy after a long period of trying.  I wanted this blanket to just be a real celebration.  It’s my idea of how a baby should be welcomed into the world.  There are notes, and charts that I’ll be writing into a pattern.

About the wheel.  It was genius to go for an Ashford maintenance kit out at Spun.  For while I was there, I picked up this Louet medium Coopworth wool roving:

Heart not included

This is the now-refreshed Wee Peggy.  Polished, oiled, and scotch tensioned.

She may not look terribly different but trust me, she sure feels different.  From clunking along to purring different.  The Coopworth turned out to be great for getting the hang of this wheel.  Having ½ pound to play with has been fun!  Believe it or not, I am on my 3rd bobbin of singles!

If you’ve noticed, I only have 2 bobbins to play with.  The wheel’s owner doubted that I would get this far on my own!  Just as I do for spindle plying, the 2 cops became 1:

Do you see the size of that ball?  It’s just an outer-feed ball of 2 singles.  DH is in awe at this output – he just sat there, staring at me spin!

For all of this excitement, my spindles are not languishing.  This is my Bluefaced Leicester (BFL) that I am spinning with the Knitter’s Book of Wool Ravelry group for a March woolalong:

The spindle is my Grafton tulipwood Mala.  Please forgive the heavy shadow in this pic – we are having a gloriously sunny March morning over here!

What’s up next in knitting?  I want to use my handspun, of course!