June 30, 2015

Home Again

It's a bit hard to believe that it's finally over!  All 6 levels done and just the final in depth study to do.  While I won't miss the homework, I will miss the camaraderie and the learning opportunities.   The homework is a good way of making sure you have at least a bit of the basics down for every fibre and technique we studied though.  That is useful but by year 5, I was so ready for the sample skeins to be done with.

Level 6 had only a few directed learning opportunities.  Mainly it was testing.  From the moment we got in the classroom to the final day, requirements for sample skeins were listed on the white board and we had to produce.   We had 2 dye afternoons, which were long.   The fibre reactive dye on protein fibres was a bit hectic and the Indigo dye afternoon was a little less so.

I did a depth of shade study on two colours to create two sets of gradient coloured skeins.  The Indigo dyed cotton skeins really are skinny and don't look like much.  I am thinking about spinning a bunch more cotton and using them as warp stripes.
We reeled silk, using about 25 cocoons to make a filament.  We then divided up our filament into 4 and spun 4 filaments together to make a single.    We learned how to calculate denier as well.  Let me say that even the 4 filaments spun together don't really amount to very much.   Silk is a very labour intensive fibre, even when the procedure is mechanized.  Really, crazy labour intensive.   We worked in pairs and we were the last pair to get our cocoons ready to go, due to not quite enough pots and hot plates.  However, Michael Cook of Worm Spit had been teaching and he very nicely left not only an amazing booklet for our class but also left his extremely nice silk reel for our class to use, which happened to be on our work bench.   It reeled so smoothly that we pretty much caught up to the rest of the class.   Thank you Michael for that opportunity!   Our instructor had to send it back to him after the class though.

Now to finalize my ideas for my in-depth study and get that on the go.  I will have to say though that the Olds College Master Spinner course was an awesome experience and I am thrilled to have had the opportunity to take part.  I highly recommend it to anyone wanting to understand the technical aspects of spinning, to learn many techniques, experience many fibres and learn to control and hone their spinning skills

June 16, 2015

I so lost the bet!

It's a good thing I didn't actually bet on it. I thought I could live with the slight over ply in the wool skeins I had for dyeing.  I mean, it is a nice yarn.  The only way I could make that yarn soft enough was to under spin it and then ply it to make a nice yarn, which meant that stupid over ply twist.   I even already had the wheel in use for that cotton exercise.    But I couldn't live with it.  I had to try to spin another 200 yards of plied yarn before I left.  

I will say that I'm not a horribly fast spinner.  I opt for slower spinning to increase chances for consistency.  It's also a bit more relaxing, although I will admit that I don't easily get the yardages for big projects quite as easily.  However, I just finished tying up and labelling the last skein for the dye exercise.  It was a bit too close for my comfort zone though.  I leave the day after tomorrow!

 I ended up deciding to try to spin enough cotton to use for the indigo.   I wanted to use it for warp stripes in a towel.   I realized that carding all those punis would take up way too much time though.   I knew I had a package of Egyptian cotton top in my stash.   The thing about Egyptian cotton though is that it is longer than regular cotton.  Also, because it is processed into top, it is slippery fibre processed to be even more slippery.  But you know, I have found that the best way to learn to do spin something is to just grab some fibre and start spinning. 

 The first thing I realized is that I had to change the whorl to a much higher ratio.   Then it was just a matter of practice.  400 yards is a good amount to start getting a bit of proficiency though.  While I was winding my skeins up today, I realized you could tell which yarn I spun near the beginning of this exercise and which yarn was spun up later, when I was more comfortable with spinning the cotton top.   It's not brilliant yarn.  It's not as nice looking at first glance as the wool yarn was, but I am so much happier with this yarn.  Not only is it balanced, but despite it's inconsistencies, I learned a lot from spinning the cotton and it is generally a nice yarn. It  will definitely weave up nicely, although I will need to spin more for the weft.  I really hope that I will be much more proficient when I get finished spinning the cotton for this project.

Lots of shrill trills and croaks coming from the pond this year.   I found this little guy sunning himself a couple of weeks ago.  He's twice the size now!  His warm, sunny ledge is gone too as we've had so much rain, the pond is full again.  Now he hangs out on or near the lily pads.  So far he seems to be alone in his little paradise.  We had two a few years back, which meant lots of baby frogs.     Even the one is a nice addition to the sound scape around the house.  Now, if the weather will get warm enough to see the lightning bugs or fire flies, it will really feel like summer.

June 07, 2015

Yarn and more yarn and strawberries

My yarn for the level 6 dye day is finished.  I hadn't realized how grey the grey yarn actually is.  When on it's own, it looks quite pale and silvery.  However, when side by side with the very white Merino, it looks quite grey and dark.  I'm a little ticked off at myself because a few bits of the grey are under plied.   The full skeins hung straight, but when divided into 20 yard skeins, a couple have a slight twist.   I'm trying to ignore it as running a 20 yard skein through the wheel to add a tiny bit of twist, is just a total pain.  We'll see if I can actually ignore it and use a not as perfect as I can get it product to take with me.   I'm not sure I'd bet on my accomplishing it though as it took me 3 tries to get 200 yards of yarn I was truly happy with.

The white yarn is a 3 ply Merino/nylon blend.  I had planned to use it for socks but it's just a tad thicker than I'd wanted.  I'm used to using Blue Faced Leicester for sock yarn, and had totally neglected to take the sproing factor of Merino fibre into account.

 I've figured out how I'm going to transport my wheel to Olds.  I will need to purchase a new suitcase, which kind of sucks, as it's really not going to be used for much else.  I'll have to also be dinged for oversized luggage, sigh.   One of the reasons that the Kromski Sonata is a good all purpose wheel, not just a travel wheel, is that it has a 19 in.  drive wheel.   This makes the finished wheel 19.5 in wide, which means I need a 20 in. internal measurement in a suitcase.  My current suitcase is only 19 in inside.   So, a new, hardsided suitcase will have to be purchased.

While I was taking a break from the garden, I looked at the Sonata and realized that I'd not spun cotton on it, like ever!  That is definitely something that we'll be asked to produce, is a cotton yarn.  So I dragged out the ginned cotton fluff and carded up some punis.   It turns out that it really isn't any different to spin cotton on the Sonata as it is on the Minstrel.  The ratios are different on the Sonata though and that makes me have to think twice about some of the math.
The strawberry patch is about 4' x 8' this year.   I got the bird netting on before they started eating the fruit!  Being able to walk really does allow one to accomplish things :).   Anyway, I harvested the first strawberry yesterday.  It was small but very sweet.   I know this because after showing it off, I ate it.  I mean, you can't really share a strawberry which is smaller than a quarter, right?

My sweetie has been having fun with a rototiller.   Both gardens were tilled up.  The 1st one is half planted with beans.  We'll plant a second crop in a few weeks.   The newer garden has the strawberries and garlic, salad greens, onions, beets, asian radishes which I'm hoping are like a daikon, cucumbers, zucchini.  I also found some old woad seed and some Dyer's Knotweed from a couple of years ago.  I've planted the seed which will hopefully be viable.    When I wouldn't let my sweetie till up the flower bed, you know the one with all the daffodil and hyacinths in it, he moved up the the sunny side yard and put in a whole new garden bed.  He then informed me that we needed to go out to get corn seed.  With a 20' x 20', a 20' x 30', a 10' x 20' garden beds and a 4'x4' raised bed, I think my entire summer will be spent weeding!