Every time I pull a new skein of wheel spun off my niddy noddy, I'm inspired anew to crack open my stash of roving and see how the next fiber will work up. This time, I pulled out my supply of Red Maple Merino, one of the Almost Solid Series fibers that Amy offers. It took me a few yards before I really started to get the feel for the merino. It's a more challenging fiber for me to control than some of the others I've spun lately, but I think the practice paid off. This stuff is sproingy, soft and airy. I'm spinning it a little thick and not too tightly (I hope) in an attempt to maintain it's great innate qualities.

During my lunch break, I often eat a quick bite before sitting down to spin a bit. Monday was no exception. As I did so, Spongebob playing on the tube and Panda sitting beside me (try to top THAT for a lunch break), Leo stopped and watched me for a moment. I look up and our eyes meet. He smiles and says "Can I try?"

Well, short of offering to do all the housework forever onward, there are few things he could have said that would have filled me with more joy. So hurtling over pre-drafted yarn, a sleeping pup, and nearly crashing into the coffee table in my excitement, I ushered him over to El Matchador. We practiced starting up and maintaining the speed of the wheel with the treadle and then I reattached the unspun fiber to the yarn on the bobbin and held his hands while we drafted together. After a bit, I left him to try it on his own, offering advice when he asked.

Let’s be honest, though, I am probably not the person to be teaching anyone to wheel spin right now. After a few minutes, Leo gave up in frustration. I removed his yarn from the bobbin and piled it carefully next to El Matchador and started back to my own spinning.

Later, he picks the small pile of yarn up off the table and begins to straighten it out and untwisting it. "How will you salvage this?" He asks innocently.

"I don't plan to salvage it, I love it," I say as I snatch it from his hands before the fibers are completely set loose. "It's sentimental now."

He smiles and walks off and I go into the kitchen to do the dishes. And then he realizes the implications of what I've said. From behind me, I hear "You're going to BLOG about this aren't you?"

I don't meet his gaze.

"I won't if you don't want me to."

Silence

He kisses my neck, gives me a little hug and says, “go ahead.”

He's a keeper.

I think they call that "loft"

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I never cease to be amazed at how very spinable the Cotswold is that I bought from Nistock Farms. Cotswold is not a very soft fiber. It's certainly not as rough as some wools, but I wouldn't make a bikini out of it, that's for sure. But there's something about it that really appeals to me. It's got a soft halo with just a bit of sheen and the way they dyed it (the color way is called, Autumn Spice) is simply spectacular. I love this yarn. Spinability wise, I think it bears a bit of resemblance to the A type Pygora, though, of course, the Pygora is much softer.

Much like Julia felt while spinning her first skein on her gorgeous Rose, I wasn't so sure this skein would live up to my expectations. It seemed a little flat and blah and perhaps a bit too thick and thin, while plying up. Then when Laura (alas, no blog) pointed out that in my complete newbie haze I'd used my bobbin backwards, I though for sure I'd blown it. But beginners luck shined down upon me and this is what I pulled off the niddy noddy.

I don't know if it counts as "balanced" since it doesn't twist as a whole, but it does have little kinky bits in there. I would guess it'd be considered unbalanced in its constituent parts yet oddly balanced overall. But man, this is 152 yards of lofty goodness. At this unwashed state, it is just a big poof of orange yumminess. Do you see that other mini skein in back? That's the leftover Cotswold and the leftover BFL/Alpaca, plied together to clear off the two bobbins. There was more of the brown than the orange, so after I exhausted the Cotswold, I Andean plied the remaining BFL/Alpaca into the same skein. It's a pretty unattractive little skein but I just couldn't bring myself to simply toss the leftovers.

The big skein though? She is one sexy mama. I'll let the images do the talking. Just try not to love these.

Thank goodness I have an extensive stock of unspun fiber right now because if I didn’t I’d be buying up a whole bunch more of this roving.

Ole!

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With my first skeins of yarn completed, I'm ready to expand my wheel horizons. Thanks for all the encouragement and kind words towards those humble skeins. I have no idea what I'll knit from them (too much deadline work right now to think about it) but whatever it is, I expect to cherish it for it's significance. In the mean time, when I'm not knitting away on my projects, El Matchador and I are making sweet whirring music together. First, I attempted to spin a few thicker skeins of yarn. Admittedly, my first roving choice was poor. It was a Merino blend that, I think, had felted ever so slightly, making it a real bastard to draft. The result is the beautifully dyed but poorly spun specimen on the right.

My second attempt was with more of the roving I spun up recently on my spindle. The results (on the left) are still a little rough, but much improved over the first skein. Both are relatively balanced and neither has been washed and hung to dry, which would probably smooth out their appearance a little.

I used an Andean Ply for both so I could spin up a small amount and not waste any trying to get two bobbins perfectly matched.

After remembering that I don't like knitting with thick yarns and so should probably focus on worsted or lighter weight yarns, I opted to pull out an old favorite
and finish off my stash of it. It's weird to me that my spindle spinning is so much more controlled and even, but this practice is good for me.

I spun up two bobbins, partially full and am plying them now.

And because you can only look at so much yarn spun up by a novice, Panda wanted to give you a little pearl of wisdom. She says:

"If your parents take forever to unpack your toys, you must play with all of them at once, when you finally get them back.

I love my new wheel. I just feel I need to say that, in case it needs saying. El Matchador and I have been spending a lot of time together lately and these are the fruits of our loins labors.


First, about 500 yards of the mystery white wool I got from Greenwich Yarns. This was spun up at a fingering weight, more or less. It's fairly consistent but with a few thick spots and some areas that are probably closer to a lace weight


And here is probably 550 yards of Alpaca/BFL that I bought on the road trip. This stuff wanted to spin up super super fine. I think it spun up mostly at a lace weight but there are points that were basically thread weight.

When I paired them, the result is nothing you would ever want to buy, but I love it. I really think that knit up, it will look fine, but there's no doubt these skeins have "character" in spades. I think you can see how inconsistent the plying is in these pictures, what you can't see are the various repair jobs for breaks and occasional run away ply that plies on itself, making little appendages. I think I only have one or two, but they are in there. With nearly 500 yards, though, I should be able to make a little something special out of my yarn.

Yesterday, I picked myself up a few extra accessories at Pacific Wool and Fiber. All they had were high speed bobbins (and only two of those) so I grabbed those and a fast whorl and will begin my adventure with those this weekend.

Everybody Wang Chung Tonight

| 19 Comments

Let me start by saying, if you have any regard for me as a mature woman of a refined wit, even after this post, then you:


  1. Don't know me very well.

  2. May work with me.

  3. Probably should just disregard the rest of this post


But for the rest of you, check out the post, after the bump.

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