The Knit Knack's Blog

my handspinning, knitting, natural dye, weaving fibre home


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Woodstock Fleece Festival – silver anniversary

We joined hands and spent a mid-October Saturday together at the 10th annual Woodstock Fleece Festival.  These right steps answered T’s big question:

Why do you go to a spinning festival anyway?

Reason Number 1, there are fibre animals, dear

Llama demonstration 4-H Llama Club Woodstock Fleece Festival 2018 by irieknit

Llama love – that’s T’s hand!

The 4-H Llama Club brought super tolerant llamas.  This sweetheart was almost eye-level with 6 year-old T!

4-H Llama Club demonstration Festival Barn Woodstock Fleece Festival 2018 by irieknit

Another llama friend for T (while I shopped!)

There was enough time & space in this Festival Barn space in particular for the little ones to enjoy their experience.  The volunteers did a fabulous job!

Angora rabbit demonstration Marketplace Barn Woodstock Fleece Festival 2018 by irieknit

Angora rabbit care & plucking

After a bite to eat we found the angora rabbit demonstration starting next door in the Marketplace Barn.  I was happy to point out kids in handknit (are they handspun too, I don’t know!) hats, rush a goodbye and head for the vendors’ stalls.

T learned a lot, snuck a pet mid-demonstration (you did?!? yes), and is not very sure about plucking fur from angora rabbits being exactly kind to them.  I demurred not being an expert.

Reason Number 2, buy all the things!

This reason covered seeing friends – vendors & attendees alike.  My purchases year-over-year are down but still not what you would call paltry.

Knitting books from Gemini Fibres at Woostock Fleece Festival 2018

L-R: T’s pick; and my pick

While I was in the Gemini Fibres line with a copy of Marianne Kinzel’s First Book of Modern Lace Knitting, T ran up beaming with his find & pleases.  To go with a WIP handspun monster he asks for the Michele Wilcox owl & chicken first from her Amigurumi Animal Friends.  Alrighty!

Handspinning Shetland wool dyed by Sheepspot on Wee Peggy spinning wheel by irieknit

Spinning festival fibre with Wee Peggy

Visiting Sasha’s booth for Sheepspot was a special treat.  So impressive was it all that T asked if she owned & operated the Auditorium!  We had nice chats through the day, and I brought home this Shetland top (104 g, ‘Autumn Wedding’ colourway) with other fibre & yarn.  They are the only local sellers of Greensleeves spindles if you are looking for good ones.

This braid was handled exactly as I did the Furiosa Shetland top, i.e. divided by length into thirds, and spun end-to-end.  My guess is that they will show how different the same spinning can look where the only variable is the dyer’s colourways.  Tools, breed, and ply structure will be all the same.  It will be interesting to compare them!

Handspun Shetland singles dyed by Sheepspot on Wee Peggy spinning wheel by irieknit

Third & last bobbin of the Shetland spin

The wheel is Wee Peggy, and I didn’t change her set-up, scotch tension, 5:1.  It is a 1982 (i.e. late version) Rappard kit wheel that my friend Margaret bought, and sold to me for a first wheel.  Mary Knox has given a timeline comparison of the Peggy wheel designs here.

Since this wheel has been home, I have spun with the Willow Tree figure on the back maiden.  She holds a conch shell to her ear, and if she’s here for luck it’s been working!

As for other purchases most were re-stocking, and I also got dyestuff from John at the Fibre Garden.  Hopefully it all spills into TKK as we go through to the next Festival.

An interesting new-to-me vendor was Karberry Farm from Mountain, On.  Their Shetland was tempting but I chose 2 colours of Jacob roving (raised by a neighbouring shepherd).  Jacob is listed as critical in the Breed Conservation List 2015 of Heritage Livestock Canada.  It was a joy to see a 1-30 animal category rare breed at Woodstock!  I was in danger of grabbing the bag of raw fleece but am glad that I resisted.  Cleaning fleece as I do in the kitchen is more difficult to arrange, and I don’t like keeping wool raw if I can help it.

On Melvin

A quick update is that Melvin has been stable through the summer & fall on his new regimen for feline diabetes.

Melvin cat by irieknit resting

Our Mel at rest

Here he is to my right as I typed this morning (the Erica loom is beside him in the picture).  Apart from being mighty vocal on the dot of his feeding times, our Melly cat is doing pretty well, and regaining weight that he lost rapidly in the spring.  We will be doing a new blood curve shortly to find out more.

Melvin is still our only pet, and I have been feeling a tug towards adding another to the home.  It’s open-ended but we all agree.


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An irie snowflake, and January is happening

organic cotton handspun knit snowflake

Civilized Snowflake

Oh, January, I see your cold and raise you a handspun, Paper Snowflake.  This wonderful knit pattern is by Naomi Parkhurst was ideal (ideal, I tell you!) for my many hours-worth of 3-ply cotton yarn that I made with coin takhli spindles.

organic cotton handspun knit snowflake

A very wet Snowflake

As the pics show, this was made a while ago in better weather.  It hangs on my studio bulletin board, and is an awesome reminder that small amounts are not useless.

cotton handspun supported spindle coin takhli

It has taken time but cotton seems to be here to stay.  None of my cotton spindles is ever empty, and I gradually spin more.  Spinning with the seed attached is amazing but I also figured out that if the Turkish distaff holds a length of top then I can spin it that way too.

The fact of the matter

I am still getting used to this loss.  The tree had to be removed after the ice storm damage, and was a better candidate for the estate of my dreams than our suburban back yard, it’s true.

ice storm Norway maple tree removal

Hard work underway in bitter cold

I had a full two deleted sentences re: neighbour activity.  Let’s just say salt was rubbed in the wound shortly after I took this picture.

A woodpile from a giving tree

It has been a wrench.  Our home feels different with the new outlook.  We can work with it (new window treatments, please) but first there’s that unwanted bill to take care of.

N has made promises to chop the wood for the fireplace.  Now that would be a fun development and a first!

Bright spots

Of the many (as yet un-processed) things happening this month, I have a few to share.

handwoven cotton kitchen towel floor loom

A third woven twill kitchen towel!

Level 2 of weaving class started last week.  I am using all spare moments to get my twill towels woven.  For this third towel, I kept the yellow weft but learned how to carry the slate blue up the selvedge.  Most of the windowpane is 24 shots of yellow.  I am carrying up by twisting in every fourth pick.

Fourth and last twill kitchen towel!

The fourth towel is underway.  The weft is now light blue, and I am weaving it in broken twill.  It is nice to not be as concerned with keeping an even beat.

Wee Peggy spinning wheel handspun yarn Polwarth wool

Wee Peggy the friendly wheel

In between weaving sessions, I treated myself to a spin-in day at the Fibre Garden in Jordan.  My Wee Peggy wheel is perfect for these events – she travels well, and is easy for me to spin and participate.  I am spinning Waterloo Wools polwarth hand-dyed top in the Tidepool colourway.

There is also much spinning here at home.  This yarn is now all plied up & finished.  It is one ply of a lovely Entbatt, and one ply of bombyx silk – all spun on spindles.  I will give better detail and yarn pics in a later post.


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Spinning Friday

Awhile ago, I stopped posting each stage of my spinning.  I wanted to wait and do a full spinning round-up for you.  Over the past 2 years, I have been exploring new styles… It is a sometimes slow; sometimes fast process that’s just not that easy to show on a timeline.

In addition to reaching critical mass, I’m also very excited to be going to Stringtopia 2012 in a few months!  It will be 3 days focused on spinning with top-notch teachers and all-round good peeps.

Christmas Corrie in progress

Last year, DH scooped 12 oz of superwash Corriedale wool up from Schafenfreude Fibers as one of his best Christmas gifts to me.  Diane shipped quickly and it got under the tree just in time!

I really cannot say enough about this fiber.  This spin was started on February 3rd.

An absolute joy  – I think the Wee Peggy wheel is pleased!  I steamed the combed top briefly to get crimp back, divided it in half and spun with S-twist.

The 4.2 oz gave an approx. 325 yds skein of , 2-ply.  I used my Spinolution Mach2 on the second ratio for plying.

The idea is to make a twine-knit garment with the 12 oz.  I highly recommend taking a look at Diane’s shop!

A Sweater-in-Waiting

Look what’s hanging out in my stash… a sweater’s worth of yarn!  It was a year-long project with Finnish Landrace combed top from Louet.

That’s approx. 1,529 yds of handspun!  The singles were spun on my Wee Peggy in my default style and mostly whenever I took my wheel out in public.  It is 3-plied on my Mach2.  I very much doubt the grist is consistent throughout but there are work-arounds for that.  Next step = the dye pot.

The Icelandic Rose project

Another long-term project was spinning 1 lb of Icelandic roving from Willow Farm.  Strangely, I don’t have any SIP pics but this is the 896 yards of 2 ply happily soaking.

The skeins all got alum & cream of tartar for mordant followed by a taste of Red Lac pure tinctora dye.  I used 0.03% dye for a less saturated colour.

To my horror, it seemed to release the dye.  After rushing online, I decided to add table salt and reheat.  Voilà!

The dark tog fibers give a heathered effect that I just love!

The yarn almost immediately jumped onto the needles.

It’s the Cap-Sleeved Eyelet Top from Closely Knit by Hannah Fettig.  Local friends:  It’s on sale for dirt cheap at a Chapters near you!

My driving thoughts are that the eyelets will pop in a 2-ply yarn & a cami/ shirt will save my skin from any scratch factor here.

While I am Bragging…

… this is my comfort spin.  We all need one.

A hand-dyed 56 g batt from Tabi at Sericin Silkworks.  It’s 50%silk/ 34% merino/ 8% cashmere/ 8% possum and I am making every fibre count!

My Ann Grout acorn spindle has seen me through this project.

It’s called Bellevue Blue in my Ravelry stash.

All plying for this is on my Golding Tsunami ring spindle.  I have more to spin, and approx 361 yards already.

Less is More

Last week these Peruvian low whorl spindles arrived from the Spinning Loft.  Beth provides them from the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco.  They are rarely in stock & are highly sought-after!

For about a year now I’ve been fascinated by the Andean style of spinning.  What I didn’t expect is how great an angular shaft is for flicking!  So, fancy lathe-turning isn’t always wonderful after all…

Last Friday, I happily pulled these out at a LYS sit & knit for a test spin.  Before I could say much, a novice spinner intoned, “How many spindles do you have now?”  Word.  I answered 28 but it’s actually 29.  It is what it is.  The exchange has inspired me to show how I use my spindles but more importantly how they enhance my spinning life and skills.

As much as I love the craftsmanship the truth is these are tools just like any other.  It is for the spinner to rise to the challenge.  Which is precisely why I am so stoked to be taking Abby’s All Spindles All Day class at Stringtopia this year!  I am also signed-up for Beth’s all-day Spinning for Lace and her half-day Longwools classes and Silk Dyeing with Sara Lamb!

 

 

 


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Wild Whirl

This is my horns-of-a-dilemma post.  This ISO status for a first-wheel has its twists & turns.  Getting a spindle was easy by comparison.  For example, my Grafton Mala practically fell into my lap at $35 & look what she’s made on the first go:

That’s a honking ball when you consider that it’s all BFL laceweight.  I started the second single last night.

Getting a wheel – not so easy.  It’s no secret that I love the loaner Wee Peggy wheel.  All anticipated problems have seemed to melt away but new ones are cropping up, such as:

  1. It’s wee & sturdy but not an airplane traveler.  Great on the backseat of my car.  This all begs the aching question:  but will I even fly with a wheel?!
  2. She might just be the new gateway drug.  This is the will-I-outgrow-Peggy issue.  My birthday is in 4 months.  A former Wee Peggy owner told me that she outgrew hers pretty quickly.  Which leads me to the other issue…
  3. Am I thinking like a collector here?  Can I afford to?

My first guide in all of this was Abby Franquemont’s oft-linked article Choosing your First Spinning Wheel.   The title alone is so reassuring.  She explores the modern starter wheel options & comes down in favour of the Majacraft Pioneer.  Well, I’m lucky enough to know of one that’s for sale.  In the spirit of being sensible, I have borrowed that Pioneer.

Toby fights back for his morning sun.

It spins very smoothly, and treadling is a breeze.  That’s my Coopworth on the bobbin.  I was swallowing the basic looks/ mdf construction when DH waltzes in & pans it straightaway.  Which really was the only excuse I needed to seriously wonder if I liked the delta orifice, etc.  On the other hand, the used-to-me price is reasonable, and Abby made v. good points.  But.  I have to say:  it lacks a back maiden.  Where would I put my spinning angel?

To be honest, the Pioneer is not a strong contender right now.

My other idea is to keep Miss Peggy & get a Lendrum in the near-term.  Lendrums are Canadian made, maple, good all-round wheels.  A guild member has offered to let me try hers out next week.  I will be looking to see if the angle on the drive wheel bothers me.  If you don’t know, Lendrums tip forward.  That could be an issue because I’m on the shorter side of life.

If I have to give Miss Peggy back then I would want to go in above entry level.  I think that a Schacht Matchless DT + accessories would be a good trade-off.  There’s one in Ohio with a sale pending.  Do I think it’s worth a drive there & back?  Yes, I do.

It’s been a wild whirl to quote this BF-posted poster.

In the meantime, I really need to step away from Ravelry marketplaces!   Today may just be the day for sock knitting.  The baby blanket is all done:)