I finished spinning another three bobbins of the Romedale I mentioned earlier this month. This has been one of the most enjoyable fibers I have spun. I can't say enough about it. The color is gorgeous, a soft reddish brown. It makes me think of the very good cinnamon that I add to my morning coffee.


The three skeins have approx. 800 yds. of 3 ply worsted wt.  There is more fiber left to spin and I'm taking my time. The past few week I've had only stolen minutes (or hours) to spin . This morning I plied with my first cup of coffee, yesterday just before I made supper. I've been spinning the singles on a Schacht and plying on a Dixon.  The Schacht is in front of my glass patio door, overlooking the woods.  The view from my Dixon looks west to the hills as they get first light and the sunset in the afternoon.  It's my busy season and this is a perfect project to relax with. I'm making it last. 



It looks like there will be enough for a sweater.  I was hoping.

Ten Minutes (for Tuesday)

You've seen them before.  The first is the spindle spun that I posted earlier this week winding onto a felted ball.  After checking my records, I found that it was the last of the llama and silk I bought from Barnswallow Farm.  It was spun on one of my beautiful Ledbetter spindles and plied on the same one.  This was truly a take with project, carried around in my knitting bag and spun bits at a time.  I plied it while taking breaks from my knitting this week. The 200 yd. skein brings the total yardage of this yarn to 640 yd.  That should be plenty for a little shawl.


alpaca / silk
total yardage: 640 yd. (approx. 2560 yd/lb.)
spindle spun : Ledbetter and Hardy spindles

The second project (my carded Shetland) has been spun in blocks of time that are for the most part hours, not minutes.  However, this week I am spinning in little bits of time, keeping my wheel handy so that I can keep this project going.  I spun almost another bobbin last Saturday at my friend Sue's end of the month Spin In.  Here's what is in the drawer so far, not including an almost full bobbin still on the wheel.  As soon as it's full, I'll ply a skein.  I'm still thinking that it will be a 3 ply yarn.


With six more weeks of winter predicted to the south (ground hogs in the north wouldn't think of showing their faces yet), there should be plenty of spinning time in my future.

goes to show you

Need a little inspiration?

This link was forwarded to me from a spinning guild friend.  It's fascinating.  Bet you hadn't thought about spinning Spanish moss, now had you?  Or weaving with the yarn..  BTW, Dawn Klug, the woman in the video, is in a wheel chair.  She's paralyzed from the waist down.  The St. Petersburg Times ran a wonderful article about her.  Never say never. 

whacking wool

P1050425 Is "whacking" a technical term?  or "thwacking"?

Are you a wool whacker?  Or.. do you coddle your washed skeins, handling them gently as you hang them up to dry? Do you wash your skeins by hand to set them, or  put them in the washing machine? 

I've been giving these questions a bit of thought lately.  Somewhere, in the back of my mind, is that article from Spin Off last year by Judith MacKenzie McCuin*, where she suggests using a toilet plunger while washing handspun yarn to set the twist.  It had sounded rather harsh to me.  But, that was before I met her and found her to be a very reasonable person.  Keeping this in mind and still not sold on the plunger idea (mine is relegated to plumbing only), I've begun whacking my woolen yarn.  After a not so gentle wash in scalding hot water with a bit of shampoo, I rinse, again in hot, hot water.  Then, I toss it into the washer on the 'spin only' cycle.  This saves hours and hours on the drying.  Then comes the whacking, or the setting of the twist.  My basement has a metal column, a lally column, in the middle of the room.  If I remember correctly, it was once covered in some sort of red carpet, probably shag if it was the match for the rest of the house when it became mine.  Twenty years ago, I striped it off (delivered it to the dump) and scraped the column, never getting around to painting or covering it.  Today it is my whacking pole.  Not only do I find that the yarn does seem to even out from the mistreatment, but I find it rather satisfying.  Who'd 'a thought?

I'm not suggesting that this treatment should be used for everything.. it most certainly should not.  These days, I'm collecting tools.  This is a good one.


This brings the total number of skeins I've spun and whacked for the Rhinebeck Sweater to four, just over a pound and nearly 800 yards.  It is heavy stuff.  Spinning as I go has been fun and a treat for my hands.  All the changes in hand motions have kept my wrist from getting too sore.  Even the knitted pattern was easy to switch out.  Rows 1&2, the k2, p2 rows, were knitted English. Rows 3&4 were stockinette, and knitted Continental.     

Now, for the fun part.  This is what I found in my button box.  I love the larger buttons.  They look blue with the sky reflecting in them this morning.  Gorgeous day.  They are a dark brown, nearly the color of the darkest brown in the yarn, with light brown dashes.  They'd be a strong statement.  The smaller pewter buttons mimic the stitch pattern and are sized well for the sweater.  They are bright against the dark wool.


hmmmm..... ?

*Summer 2007  on wet finishing yarn


with a Hardy..

I finally decided to take the handful of cops I'd spun and make a 2 ply yarn from the llama / silk that I bought at Cummington last spring.  I started spinning this yarn the evening I bought it on my (also new that day) spindle from Bill Hardy.   When it was skeined, I measured 440 yards of lace wt. from the 3 ounces I plied.


It got a good bath, then was hung over the clothes line to blow dry.


While I waited for it to dry, this came in the mail.  Oh My! 

It used to be that knitting books were, umm.. knitting books.  A Fine Fleece from Lisa Lloyd is so much more.  It is a coffee table book, a reference and instruction manual, and the patterns... wow!   This book is a spinner's dream.  Every pattern has been written for use with handspun or a commercial yarn. 


50% llama  / 50% silk  from Barnswallow Farms
440 yards   3 oz.
Spindle: Bill Hardy, olive wood whirl

making the time

It wasn't all work over the weekend.  I managed to string together quite a bit of time to myself.  They were found moments.  It is the same for so many of us.  Everyone I speak to says that they are busier now than they used to be.  I remember when I had time enough to make almost all my clothes, to read book after book, and do so many other things.  As I read your blog posted resolutions, I see over and over the same wish, that we can separate ourselves out from the harried, hurried world that we function in and make time for things that we find important.  Maybe it's a movement.  Priorities first, not to bitch and whine, but to make the most of what we can and to find a way to do better.  Pollyanna wasn't all that wrong, (nod and a hug to Norma..) it DOES feel better if you look on the bright side. 

The stuff:
Saturday was the last Spin In of the year.  I think that everyone that showed up was surprised at how many of us were there, at least double the normal number of spinners.  I hadn't prepared anything ahead of time to take to spin, figuring that I'd continue with some merino / alpaca & silk that I'd carded up and have been spinning on the Schacht.  When I pulled out the Joy to make sure I had a couple empty bobbins and through in my fiber, I found, behind the wheel, the last 2 oz. package of lovely cormo / angora that Anne had dyed for me last winter.  I'd spun the other 4 oz. way back when, but this one package, I'd misplaced.   With a little help form a friend, I split it down the middle, spun each half on separate bobbins, plied and skeined it.  I'm thinking another hat, in the shape of Gretel, but different.  It is very soft.


I plied up some spindle spun alpaca / silk..


and some of the merino / alpaca / silk


Then lit a fire, opened a bottle of wine, and sat down to enjoy and contemplate.


and my little old Bu.... well, she'd settle in for a nap if I'd stop flashing that light in her face.


a "me" weekend

And a wonderful one, too!  Saturday and Sunday, ALL day, BOTH days, I sat spinning with seven women in a workshop taught by Celia Quinn.  It was a Comprehensive Spinning Workshop.  We were given nearly 6 dozen different fiber samples to spin.  Some familiar, some not.  Some carded, some raw.  Some in roving.  Natural and man made, animal and vegetable.  We spun each sample using different techniques, discovering what worked best for that fiber and what felt right.  From the end and the fold, long draw and short.  Sometime Saturday afternoon, I discovered something I didn't know about myself.  I found that I had been using the long draw with my left hand for some fibers and always with my spindle and my right hand for others.  If I hadn't sat next to a lefty, joking about handedness and space needed to keep from whacking one another, I might not have noticed.  Interesting the way we learn to accommodate and do what comes natural.  Celia passed out little taklis (tiny metal spindles).  Fast little buggers for spinning the cotton samples.  I hadn't used a supported spindle before.  I will now.  She demonstrated the chakra. We used two different types of distaffs with flax, then spun it from the fold without.  The two days went fast, a whirlwind tour of fiber possibilities. And,  I have a bunch of new tools. 

In the evenings, I've knitted on Clapotis.   Time for knitting is short now.  By the middle of the week I'll be on elf duty.  At last count, I have more than a hundred assorted sized wreath bows to tie next week.  It'll cramp my knitting time and my hands. 

I can't seem to get the color right in these pictures. 


The yarn sitting on Clapotis isn't the Artisan 2 ply that I'm using, it is the sock yarn I dyed in the same color way.  I don't know what I was thinking when I took the shot.  Here's the yarn.


sp. sp.. sp... spindles!

or scoring big at Rhinebeck!



The Ledbetters, aren't they beautiful with the antique button inlay?  They spin as beautifully as the look.  And from sweet Carole, my first Greensleeves, in the most amazing spaulted maple I have ever seen.


While I stood at the Carolina Homespun booth, test spinning spindle after spindle, Marcy handed out this advice: Buy both, spindles cost less than a wheel.  True.  She's good, and I'm easy.

the spindler's kate

One of the items that C wanted to take to the VT S&W last weekend was the Spindler's Kate.  He pulled a board of spaulted maple from our wood pile and made six beautiful boxes.  That meant I had to get busy and spindle up a couple sleeves worth of singles to demonstrate.  When it came time to ply, I decided to bring along my Jenkins Turkish spindle.  It holds so much and the little center pull ball is very convenient for handling.  Here's how it went.  Perfectly.  That little skein? Not quite so little, there are 90 yd in it.  That was all the fiber I had in that little batt I'd carded.  Merino. Silk. Alpaca.  I'll make more, different, but more.










The more I spindle using this method, the more portable I see my spinning becoming.  I find my spindle is traveling with me to the mail box, while waiting for skeins to wind, sitting on the bench across from the barn, wherever.  Perfect.

ps. I am STILL working on the new website.  The Spindler's Kate will be on it. As soon as I can figure out the shipping module.  Sheesh!  It's always something.

the spindler's kate


This is the best tool I've made since I started spinning / spindling.  The one thing that confounded me, was the plying.  Oh, I could ply alright.  I could Andean ply. I could wind my single onto a bobbin or into a center pull ball.  I could take two or three balls of singles and wind them yet again onto a felt ball and ply from that.  I could do it many ways, but ALL of them required extra time and extra steps and extra frustration.  Why?  Why, when I could do it in one step and ply back onto my spindle or onto a wheel. 


That means no more little tiny skeins of yarn to splice together.


Who'd want to do that to cashmere and silk?