Saturday, September 27, 2008

Spin, span, spun!

Whew, since finishing the Honeybee stole it seems I am all about the spinning. I enlarged my fiber stash a bit on one end, but also decreased it on another end. First things first: the Verbiversary party in Berkeley was so awesome! I was a bad blogger and didn't pull out the camera, because I was having such a good time. There were little cupcakes with sugar sheep on them, delicious cheese and pizza and cake, and prosecco (yum!), lots of fiber, friends, and fun. Oh, and Marcel the Diva (their French Angora rabbit) made an appearance despite his busy social schedule. What a cutie pie! :) Being my typical pale San Francisco self, I got a little burned by the harsh East Bay noon sun, but it was worth it to spend a couple hours with such fantastic people. And I exercised quite a bit of self-restraint by only buying fiber for one spinning project:

Verbiversary Fiber

I give you A Prudent Shirley Temple. This will be a two-ply yarn, one ply in Shetland wool (color Prudence), and one color 100% Tussah silk (color Shirley Temple). The pinks are a bit different for me, and I'm thinking a nice plush cowl with a little bit of shine to it.

Now I wanted to make sure I didn't buy too much at this party (I am now saving my fiber money for Color in mid-October), so I brought some spinning with me. Along with my new Cascade Mt. Rainier spindle, I took the first installment of the AVFKW Fiber club, Wooly Wonders version:

Verb Wensleydale

Verb Wensleydale

This is such a beautiful fiber, and the presentation of the entire package is just stunning. I especially loved the little note card on Wensleydale with a sample lock of washed fleece. I kind of brought along the fiber without thinking about what I wanted to make, just decided to spin it and see what weight it wanted to be. Turns out predrafting is the key with Wensleydale, but in exchange for meticulous prep, it rewarded me with some of the most even spinning I've ever done (and on a spindle, no less!).

Verb Fiber Club Wensleydale

I split the fiber into two long strips, and spun each strip separately in one long go. I knew I wanted to do a two-ply, and I ended plying the singles with the color repeats reversed (kind of back-to-front if that makes sense), and got about 260 yards of passable sock-weight yarn. I can't wait to try and photograph the beautiful fuzzy halo of this yarn! I'm thinking I'll split it in half and do a pair of short socks. It's a little scratchier than I'd like for a scarf or something to go around my neck, but my feet won't mind too much.

While I was working on this, I really really wanted to start spinning what I'd bought at the party, but I had another project taking up space on the wheel. Remember the Polwarth locks? I've been sitting on them since last February and now that I have cards, I wanted to get those things processed and spun into yarn. I worked on this project almost exclusively late at night, so I have no photos of the process, only the product:

Polwarth Yarn

Sorry for the flash photo, I'm still figuring out the significant other's fancy new camera. I did a sort of flicking prep with the handcards, dragging each end of each lock through the teeth on one the handcards until they fluffed out, and then spun the yarn from the lock. I learned a valuable lesson while doing this: only prep what you can spin that day. I flicked a bit, spun a bit, then decided to just flick out the rest of the locks all at once. The next night when I sat down to spin, I ended up needing to brush out half the locks a second time to get the same consistency in my yarn. The leftover bits from the flicking got carded into rolags, and I spun a little bit of lumpy bumpy woolen yarn from that (that's the skein in front). The rest is a DK-to-worsted weight yarn, about 215 yards. Once I had this plied and off the bobbins, I was able to ply the Wensleydale and free up the spinning project space in my head. Hooray, now I can start something new!

I also washed another batch of fleece on Friday, and I'm hoping I'll be able to keep washing every Friday until it's done. I keep thinking about how I want to prep this fleece, and what kind of sweater I want to come out of it. I'm not so into carding or carded fibers right now, but I'm not sure if that's because I'm not that good at carding yet. I also find it hard to get the evenness I desire in a yarn spun from carded fiber, but again, that might just be my inexperience showing. I got a chance to try out combing and combed fiber at the Verbiversary party, and I really liked the results... but I guess combing leaves a lot of waste fiber, and I'm still a little irrationally worried about having enough yarn for my coveted sweater. And if I decide to comb the locks, I would probably have to invest in some combs. I guess my best bet is to do some samples (spin and swatch) after I have the fleece washed, so I can see how much each method yields and how fast the prep is.

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