The cure for grumpy pants

I've been in a crappy mood all week. Grouchy, out of sorts, irritated by everyone and everything around. I'm not sure what's going on, but I'm pretty much ready to be done with it...

I think I've found a solution to my mood, though, and it involves wool (big surprise, right?) Lots and lots of wool.
Hello Yarn Fiber Club Shetland, colorway "Dark and Stormy", June 2013 offering
Spun singles on Lendrum, 15:1 ratio
Plied (3-plied) on miniSpinner

WPI: 8-10, so somewhere around aran/worsted weight.
Grist: still needs to finish drying, so check back later
Yardage: 1100 yds total.

This comes out at heavy worsted weight according to wpi, but it feels bulkier to me. I pulled out all the fiber I had and tore each length in half, and then each piece into fourths and mixed them all up randomly before spinning. I spun the singles woolen, using a long backwards draw, to get fluffy, airy singles. The yarn is super light and cozy - I can't wait to knit it up! I'm thinking this is going to be a sweater with deep ribbing at the hem and cuffs, a loose fit and cables around a turtleneck or cowl. Kind of like this sweater that Allison pointed out to me this week, only my own design because I don't have the pattern.

So my cure for the grumpies is Shetland wool. At least this week - next week it will probably be merino and silk...

Seeing improvement

I noticed something during my whirlwind Christmas weaving frenzy that really brought home how quickly spinning can improve in a short period of time. Take a look at these two scarves.

Notice anything about them that strikes you, from a spinning perspective?

Let me clarify a bit. Both scarves are woven from SW merino handspun - the first is from fiber that I dyed at Yarn School in 2008, so about a year and a half after I started spinning. I spun it up in December of 2008, and ended up with 185 yds/4 oz of 14 wpi 2-ply yarn (approximately fingering weight). As I said in that post, this is some seriously dense yarn (740 ypp). I also made the comment that I was much happier with this SW spinning experience, as it was a lot less overspun then my previous attempt at a superwash fiber.

The second scarf is also woven from SW merino, this batch from Hello Yarn in the colorway "Peat" (March 2009 Fiber Club). This arrived right before we packed everything up to move to the UK, and might have been the first yarn I spun after we moved. I ended up with 200 yds/4 oz, about 12 wpi, a true 3-ply, coming in at 800 ypp. I loved this yarn so much I hoarded it away until the perfect pattern came along. Strangely enough, the perfect pattern was no pattern at all - just simple warp faced weaving with some brown sock yarn for weft.

After I washed the two scarves and let them dry, I noticed some really striking differences in the feel of the fabric. Note: they were both woven at the same epi and same ppi. But the blue scarf is much stiffer and has a less consistent fabric surface then the brown scarf (which I think you can see in the above pictures). Here's a few more to emphasize:

It's really obvious if you look at the fringe.

Although I may have felt (with my vast experience of 1.5 yrs spinning time) that the Yarn School SW Merino was an improvement in terms of overspinning, it's clear that another 6 months of spinning (and a sweater lot in the middle there) made a huge difference in the quality of the yarn I was making. The brown yarn was much more flexible and pliable, and the resulting fabric was super cozy. The blue yarn ended up making a fabric that, while still lovely, was quite a bit stiffer and crunchier.

Suffice to say that it was desperately hard to let the Peat Scarf go off to it's new home, but it's one of the few times I've finished something and thought: this has to go to Person X. I hope he appreciates it!!! I know the other recipient appreciates his...

Wheel surgery

A few weeks ago I made a wee list of Holiday Crafting Goals (TM). I got everything set up to whip through my Christmas gifts in record time, got a few done, and promptly turned around a began spinning up a sweater lot of Hello Yarn fiber (Dark and Stormy Shetland, so glorious!). Predictably enough, the Holiday Gift Gods saw my hubris, and decided that it was time to give me a swift kick in the ass, because there I was, happily treadling along, when suddenly, I wasn't...
Wheel surgery
I don't know if you can see so well in that photo, but my footman and my treadle are no longer connected,
Wheel surgery (1)
which means no more spinning!

I'll admit, a few tears were shed. And then a bit of money was spent on replacement parts from the lovely Morgaine at Carolina Homespun. After some back and forth about where to ship the parts, they were sent out, and arrived here in London yesterday*.
Wheel surgery (4)
So this evening, feeling flush about having finished the overseas Christmas New Year's presents yesterday, I took the wheel into Himself's lair for some surgery.

Taking out the first bit of the broken connector was straightforward, involving one screw driver. Then things got a bit more complicated: the second end of the connector is held in place by a screw with a square hole in it.
Wheel surgery (7)
No problem, thought I, and I pulled out the drawer of small wrenches for all sorts of things.
Wheel surgery (8)
Apparently I need to rename this "The Drawer of Small Wrenches for All Sorts of Things that Need Hexagonal Wrenches".

No problem, I thought again, I live with a man who has more hand tools then I have skeins of yarn (no joke!). Surely there is something in this garage that will work. Some pawing through another few drawers and, ta da!
Wheel surgery (9)
A square headed screw driver type-thingie! That is too big...le sigh.

Ok, I needed to bust out the big guns - time for the power tools:
Wheel surgery (10)
Not one, but two square drivers. One the same size as the above screw driver, and one bigger. Bugger.

Now I am trapped at the point of having a half-way repaired wheel, with a spinning lesson tomorrow morning at 10:30 am, and no way to unscrew this damned teensy screw. The Holiday Crafting Gods are not to be messed with people, not to be messed with...

So I'm going to go drown my sorrows in Peter Pan pantomime (with The Fonz!!!), and see if I can't puzzle this out later. Or maybe just get Himself to do it - I'm sure he can come up with something, right?

* It should be noted that Morgaine sent them out immediately, the delay came from the fact that they went to Houston, then to Himself's office mailroom, and then to Himself (and, by extension, me).

How to prove to the world that you are an idiot who can't read a calendar

So, apparently I'm a bit over excited about this whole Tour de Fleece thing. Because not only is tomorrow NOT the 21st of June (which is the date I had stuck in my head for the start of the race), it is also NOT the start of the race. This was very gently pointed out to me by a dear friend and I am now totally humiliated at my complete lack of functioning brain cells. And my ability to double check my drivel before I exposed myself to public ridicule. Oh well...the up side of this is that I now can stop carding myself into carpel tunnel syndrome, and I can do a bit more organizing of my plan of attack.

There has been a bit of training going on (but only a very little bit): some Oregon Green Wensleydale on the Turkish spindle.
Oregon Green Wensleydale
Oregon Green Wensleydale (6)
Oregon Green Wensleydale - Copy
This was my maiden voyage with the Turkish, and it's absolutely lovely to spin with. IST has some with weights added to the cross bars to increase the spinning time - this one doesn't have them, but it spins beautifully anyway.

Then I dove into the Hello Yarn stash for a bit of squish factor:
Troll Polworth
Hello Yarn Polworth in Troll, the December 2012 club offering
Spun/plied: singles spun at 15:1 on the Lendrum, backwards point-of-contact drafting, plied on the miniSpinner
Stats: 271 yds/~4 oz, 10-18 wpi, 1084 ypp, true 3-ply
Comments: Like all of Adrian's fibers, this was an absolute pleasure to spin. I did this as a real 3-ply instead of chain plying. I split the 4 oz bundle into 3 pieces of equal length, then split those lengths for fractal spinning. The first piece I split into 3 (mostly) equal sections lengthwise, the second into 4 pieces, and the third into 6 pieces. I spun them end to end, but for the first and third plies I reversed every second piece to maintain the color progression. So if the first piece started with yellow and ended with purple, I spun the second piece from the purple to yellow.
Troll Polworth (4)
I tried to spin the singles very finely  with a backward draw, letting twist into the drafting triangle. I wanted a lofty and fluffy final yarn, and I knew from previous Tour de Fleece experience that Polworth has a tendency to fluff up a fair bit during finishing. Before a soak in warm water, the skein from my niddy noddy was 90 inches around, and the wpi ranged from 13-23. Post-soak, I lost 8 (!) inches in length from the skein, and the yarn plumped up into the worsted/DK range.
Troll Polworth (2)
I can't stop petting this skein - it's soft and drapey and a lovely blend of colors. The yellow/oranges ended up dominating the final yarn, which I'm not such a fan of, but I'll wait to see how it comes out in the knitting (there are some lovely blue/purple/grey sections too!). I'm thinking Multnomah maybe? Not quite enough yardage...Or Traveling Woman? Hmmm...have to think about that while I'm spinning every single day for three weeks. Starting a week from tomorrow...

Fiber Friday: Seasick, three ways

In my excitement to channel Top Chef, I have managed to come up with what my possibly be the most unappealing blog post title ever. I promise it won't be as bad as it sounds, as the Seasick in question is of the fiber variety, not the bodily. Behold:
This is Seasick Corriedale, from Hello Yarn, and it was the February 2010 offering. That was back in the days when I was getting a double dose of club fiber, so I had two bags to play with. I spun up the first bag during the Tour de Fleece last year.
Seasick Corriedale (4)
My recent spate of sampling and trying out different ways to spin up colorways for the shop inspired me to split the second bag into two batches. The first half I spun as a standard 2-ply.
Seasick Corriedale (1)
Seasick Corriedale
I like the barberpole, although I'm not sure how it will play out in the knitting (or crocheting). I ended up with approximately 67 yds of floofy aran/bulky weight yarn.

The other half of the bag ran smack into my sudden and burning need to try core spinning. It was not an entirely successful experiment, to say the least!
Seasick Corriedale (3)
I had some mohair core yarn that I got at Ally Pally in 2010 (this experiment has been a long time coming obviously), and I used the miniSpinner to add some extra twist to the core before I started core spinning. I tore the fiber into approximately thumb wide strips and set off.

After a few yards and some fiddling with the miniSpinner, I had two observations: 1) this was going to work better if I predrafted the fiber a bit to really loosen it up, and 2) I would probably do better using the Lendrum, where it was easy to stop and start the wheel, or slow down/speed up without needing my hands. The predrafting part was easy to do, but since I'd started on the miniSpinner, I decided to keep going and use the Lendrum next time.
Seasick Corriedale (2)
You can see that I ended up with a number of spots that are waaaaay over spun - I think using the Lendrum will help with that because I can slow down my treadling when I need to - and the thickness is all over the map. Final yardage: 35 yds of more-or-less bulky, fairly non-elastic yarn.

Here are the three versions of Seasick all together:
Seasick Corriedale (5)
They are all in the heavy aran-bulky weight range, so I guess I could get really creative and use them all together in something...any ideas?