Friday, August 22, 2014

Adventures In Handspinning

A week or so ago I teased you with a "guess who this is" basket of half spun yarn.  While I'm chomping at the bit to spin Maisie's yarn, I'm making myself hold off as long as possible because I'm sure I'm going to want to cast on as soon as it's done and I really, really, really want to knit her for the 2015 Iknitarod (not that far away!).  Here's another clue.

Hmmm - looks like someone curly ;-).

I love how the character of the sheep shines through into the yarn.  Maisie's yarn probably won't look significantly different between spinning and washing to set the twist, but as soon as some hot water hits a curly fleece, boing!

Here it is before washing.

A closer look. 

800 yards of 32 wraps per inch yarn.  Perfect for a special lace project.

It didn't start out "perfect".  And while I've yet to spin a perfect yarn, it needed to be a bit more perfect than it was.  I must have fallen asleep halfway through plying and a huge chunk was waaay under-plied.  While it didn't fall apart, it wasn't "right", so I stewed on how to fix it.  Almost anything with yarn is fixable, especially if you've got the right tools.

You can live without a good skein winder.  You can wrap yarn around other things like a big box or board to skein it.  You can get your sweetie to hold the skein while you unwrap it to wind a yarn ball.  You can try setting your skein down on the floor board during a long car trip to wind your yarn ball.  Actually, don't try that!  Don't ask me why I know ;-).

What I really should have said above is you can live without a skein winder.  What is hard to live without is a GOOD skein winder.  Don't ask me how I know that as well.  I now have a good skein winder.  It's an Andy Nistock hand crafted winder/swift.  With a counter.  That works exceptionally long as you remember to write. down. the. number.  Don't ask me how I know that either.

397 times around.

I had the arms set out to the 2 yard mark.  Actually, I like to set them a hair past the mark just to give myself a little extra padding, especially if the yarn is super stretchy.  This yarn isn't, but still.  So, 397 x 2 = 794 yards (or just under 800 yards in crazysheeplady maths ;-).

Next I take a scrap piece of yarn and tie off each stretch between the arms with a loose figure eight to help secure the yarn before washing.  Then, loosen one of the adjustable arms and off comes a perfectly wound and counted skein.  

Here's where the not so perfect part comes in:

Because part of my yarn was under-plied and I wanted to fix that, I stopped after the winding it from the bobbin onto the skein winder part.  I then took the loose end of the yarn, hooked back onto my bobbin and proceeded to slowly unwind the skein back onto the bobbin, adding a bit more twist in the spots that needed it.  

I could only do that because the winder is so free spinning and smooth. You can tension it or completely un-tension it with the knob in the center.  And interestingly, my first wind off after plying was 398 times, so I added enough new twist to shorten the overall length by 2 yards.  I think this yarn is much better. Still not perfect, but very pretty and special and ready to knit.

It's washed and drying on the porch.  It will then go back on the skein winder/swift and lickety split I'll have a ready to knit center pull ball of yarn.

Now to pick my pattern...

.   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .

Looks like Robin and I are trading blog posts today!  I'd salvaged enough of Burrnie's first awful shearing to make her a hat.  She posted pictures (that I forgot to take :-o) on her blog today. Thanks, Robin :-D.


Susan said...

Hey, it sounds like we can't ask you about a LOT of things...:) I am always amazed when I see how beautiful handspinning can be. It gives me hope that I can reach something in the neighborhood of that skill. I am still struggling with my drop spindle!

Tombstone Livestock said...

Beautiful, good job. Love the twin sheep and the door stop.

Tyche's Minder said...

It's gorgeous. I'm going to guess it's from Keebs, because of the curls. And the lack of stretchiness. And the color. And because I can't think of any other curly white sheep at your place.

Burnie's hat was nice.

Far Side of Fifty said...

You have many adventures in spinning and knitting..enough for a book I am sure:)

I'm gonna tell Mom! said...

Your spinning is absolutely beautiful.

DFW said...

Beautiful & way too complicated for me to attempt, even if I had the sheep. I am envious that you are so knowledgeable living in such a beautiful environment.

Fiona said...

That is the most beautiful yarn.... but Burrnies hat is a miracle in so many ways. Thank you Sara for your wonderful crazysheepladyness!

Alice said...

A gift tied with heart strings ! How touching :-)

Sheepmom said...

your spinning is just beautiful. So fine! I'm going to guess Buddy or Wooliam. The luster says Cotswold to me. I"m glad to see the skeinwinder is working well. Having equipment that won't mistreat lace weight yarn is a good thing! Have fun! Can't wait to wear Burrnie's hat!

Judy said...

What lovely spinning! Great post and what a nice skein winder especially with the counter.

Wol 'n Draad said...

Wow! What georgeous yarn you've spun! To me it looks just perfect!
It looks like you just want to touch it to feel how soft and squishy it is. Just beautiful!
Love, Ineke

MarmePurl said...

Promise to myself: Someday I will be able to spin yarn ALMOST as lovely as that.
Thanks so much for being my inspiration Mrs. CSL.

Tyche's Minder said...

Oh. I see. I clearly wasn't paying close enough attention! It's Miss Ewenice. I can't wait to see where you're going with this.

LannieK said...

Beautiful spinning, beautiful fiber, beautiful yarn, Sara! Do I foresee another BooKnits shawl during the Iknitarod?

Karen Battersby said...

It's beautiful. I can't wait to see what you knit with it.

Lori Skoog said...

You know I don't understand this language! Just show me the sheep and show me the end product. Hholy Moly woman~

Kim said...

That is such beautiful yarn! So tiny. Someday. Until then, I'll keep spinning. Love the skein winder. Will have to put that on my wish list!

Terry said...

It's absolutely gorgeous! I'm stumped on who it's from. I have a lot of "it's not"s.

Valerie said...

What lovely yarn. Just beautiful. =)


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