Wednesday, 16 January 2008

It's Done! ( Wheel update)

The hat is finished. The colours are a little washed out, due to the flash. I figured it is a hat and really didn't want to spend the time manipulating light sources to get the lighting perfect. It's pretty. It's really warm. It's going to be too big for anyone else, but should cover the recipient's dreadlocks nicely. It's finished before July, which is a real bonus. All the loose thread ends are woven in and everything! I'm very happy that at least some of my kids appreciate hand spun, hand made items of clothing.


I went out to Gemini Fibres last week to try out spinning wheels. They had a Kromski Minstrel in stock which I ended up bringing home with me. It purrs like a kitten. It spins so nicely and quietly. One evening, I was spinning away and I was asked why I wasn't spinning on my new wheel! It is pretty as well. The Minstrel has no plastic parts. It is wood, metal and leather parts. It is easy to adjust. I had one minor problem when I got it. One of the bobbins rattled something awful on Scotch Tension. While that bobbin was quiet using double drive, I couldn't get the tension adjusted enough to ply on it. However, handy hubby poked at the brass bushing and poof.. it works like a dream now.

I've mainly been playing with different fibres and ways of spinning on it to learn how it all works. Right now I'm spinning silk hankies on it. I just spun up the last of the grey icelandic/shetland mix leftover from my grey gown project. As well some unknown bright pink wool roving and some black shetland, which may be destined for singles, if they are strong enough.
My only complaint, if it could be considered that, is that the bobbins are considerably larger than the Ashford bobbins. It takes longer to fill them! Is that good or bad? Depends I guess if you're in an instant gratification mood and want that bobbin filled now! :)
It isn't quite as portable as the Ashford Traveller and certainly not as portable as the Lendrum I tried, but the sweetness of this wheel really makes up for it. This is likely my stay at home wheel anyway.
I'm very happy that Gemini Fibres is quite a long drive from here. I'd spend way too much $ there otherwise. For a tiny little store, the service is great and the selection is excellent. They do mail order as well.

Sunday, 13 January 2008

The Christmas Hat Saga

My son asked me for a toque for Christmas. After a discussion of what kind, colour etc, I realized he wanted a handspun, handknit toque. His identifiers were no brim and dark colours, maybe with some lighter stripes, you know, what you dye.
Well, my natural dye stocks right now consist mainly of yellows and pinks. I do have some indigo and logwood but not enough fibre prepared to do an indigo vat with and logwood can sometimes be the lurid purple from hell vat, never exhausting and giving you purples to greys forever.
So I talked to Donna from Wellington Fibres and bought some acid dyes. She gave me a quick explanation as to how to use them and I brought them home and played. My son's hat will be gorgeous, although if I'd realized that yellow was quite that sunny, I'd probably have added a drop or two of olive green or brown. The nice thing about the colours I used is that they were easy to work with, albeit a few safety requirements and cleanliness requirements which were really no worse than using indigo or logwood powders or lye for soap making, so I was okay there. I had the stainless pots, measuring equipment and syringe for accurate dye solution measuring already, so equipment was a non-issue.
My results aren't nearly as exciting as Karen's were, but suitable I think for the intended recipient of the hat. Now all I have to do is to knit it up! Dang, where did I stash my needles.

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

socks, cats and knitting

I finished these socks a couple of days ago. They are made of Pattens Kroy sock yarn, which I purchased in error, likeing the colours but thinking it was a self striping sock yarn. I started them in May.
I can knit. I can knit very well when I want too. I have knit for years, teaching myself by making a child's sweater when it was the dark ages of time. I don't have that sweater or any others I made over the years for some reason. The first one didn't fit my daughter and wouldn't for years as I made it way to large, so I gave it to a relative, who didn't return it. I'm not sure why I didn't save any of the other's as there were fair isle, intarsia, fine, heavy weight, picture sweaters. My downfall came when trying to make one of my boys a cowboy sweater, with intarsia cow print body and sleeves, with a solid colour, fringed yolk. I couldn't get it finished for some reason.
Now I make socks, mitts and an occasional hat. Weaving uses up more yarn and despite the length of time it takes to dress a loom, sometimes a couple of weeks if you don't have multiple hours at a time to work on it, it seems to be faster and more satisfying than knitting.
Please note that the cat was no where to be seen when I went to take this picture. As a good helper kitty, he waited until I had them nicely laid out and then poof, he appeared and found his helper kitty happy place. Never fails. He likes to know what's happening.

Saturday, 5 January 2008

spinning wheels and disappointments

Have you ever thought something was going to be wonderful and then been quite disappointed when you actually tried it out? Most of my guild members seem to use the Lendrum spinning wheel. I'd reconciled myself to it's looks as I think it is bordering on ugly and horribly modern. If I had my way, I'd live in a 17th century farm house, so the modern lines I found jarring. However, I could live with that if it spun as nicely as everyone raved about.
So I borrowed this one from the guild. It took a bit to set it up and I figured not a problem, give myself time to get used to it, knowing however that it shouldn't take too long to figure out. The very first thing I had to do was wiped the collected dust off it. The storage room is in a basement used by the local pottery club and I wonder if the clay dust is gathering there.. mmm silca!
At first I had it set up so that it travelled across the livingroom floor noticibly, every time I treadled. Finally got that worked out and the tension as well. Then the brake band broke. Sigh... big sigh here. Not a problem, although all I had was dark red crochet cotton to fix it with, the repair was easy. By the end of an hour or so of spinning, my foot was tired from treadling.. something I've never, ever had happen on my little Ashford Traveller, and my hands and arms/shoulders were tired from drafting. Even with the tension at the loosest, it took some effort to treadle and I was able to set it up with either no take up in the bobbin .. not good or with the slighted more adjustment, it wanted to grab the fibre right out of my hands. Drafting was definitely more of a chore.
The big plus was it was quiet. I mean really, really quiet. The guys were watching t.v and the sound level was normal. When I crank up the traveller, sometimes I can't get the clacks, whirs and creaks quiet enough and the sound level on the tube keeps going up.
I was disapponted to say the least as I'd really worked myself up into liking this wheel, probably to get over it's looks. Of course hubby didn't like it at all. oh well.. back to the researching a new wheel I guess..