FY: Bay Breeze

Tool: Ashford Kiwi 2

Ratio: Spun at & plied at 7.25.

Plies: 2 (spun Z, plied S)

Fiber Content: merino/silk (the label did not specify percentages)

Timeline:7.10.14-7.25.14

Yardage: 312 yards

Weight: 124 grams

WPI: 12

baybreeze1

Opinions: This was some Cozy Rabbit Farm merino/silk that I bought at last year’s VT Sheep & Wool. Since I’d had such a tough time spinning merino/Tencel, I decided to be crazy and learn a new technique: spinning from the fold. I also spun reaaaaalllly slooooowwwwwly. It’s not my favorite technique as my joins need work, and I hate how you have to draft out the end of your little bit of fiber anyway, but I’m glad to have learned it and I think it did this fiber justice.

This was so pretty as singles that I almost didn’t ply it. By the way, plying it was a pain in the you-know-what. My singles were SO energized (I put that twist in, oh yeah!) that they were constantly tangling up on each other. It really toned down the colors, but it also made it this beautiful almost semi-solid, and I’m very curious to see how it knits up. Must. Resist. Casting. On.

baybreeze2

Random Thoughts: Silk, why you no draft nice? I guess silk slubs can be considered a design feature, yes? It’s funny how much I love this yarn, especially compared to the merino/Tencel, which is very similar in terms of sheen. I guess the actual spinning really can affect your opinion of your work!

Also, though I haven’t talked about it, this was one of my Tour de Fleece spins. I set a goal of 6 ounces, which I met. (The other two ounces were the Devon and Jacob samples.) I am very pleased, since I challenged myself and learned a new technique. It’s about quality, not quantity!

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Fiber Study: Jacob

Fiber: approximately 1 oz Jacob from Woolgatherings

Prep: Combed top

Breed notes: According to TKBOW, Jacob is an old breed that is likely originally from North Africa and Spain. (Internet research tells me it’s a primitive breed.) The coat is speckled, and can either be separated by color or blended together. It has a staple length of 4-7 inches and a fineness of 27-25 microns. It is suggested for outerwear, as it’s not very soft.

My prep: I split the fiber down the middle and pre-drafted.

jacoblong

Spinning deets: spun the singles worsted at a 5.5/Z and plied at a 7.25/S. Made a 2-ply from a center-pull ball to maximize yardage. The yarn is 61 yards/29 grams and is approximately 12 WPI.

Finishing: A warm-to-hot soak with some Eucalan and a few drops of tea tree and lavender oil. Hung to dry.

jacobclose

My notes: I was anticipating a rough spin, but it was softer than I expected. It was very easy to draft, and the fibers didn’t stick together much. My singles were a bit hairy, but overall pretty smooth. I did note that it seemed like a short staple length, but I experienced no breakage when spinning the singles or turning it into a center-pull ball. There were some weak spots when plying, however. Some shorter hairs came out when plying, but it was much less messy than the Herdwick!

The verdict: I can see why people like Jacob. My fiber had been blended together, so it made an intriguing color when it was all spun up. It wasn’t the softest spin ever, but it was softer than the Herdwick! I would definitely be willing to spin this again. I give it 4/5 sheep.

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Fiber Study: Devon

Next my husband chose Devon, thus proving that he has a thing for longwools.

Fiber: approximately 1 oz Devon from Woolgatherings

Prep: Combed top

Breed notes: You won’t find Devon in The Knitter’s Book of Wool, but you will find it in In Sheep’s Clothing: A Handspinner’s Guide to Wool. In fact, Devon’s so cool, you’ll find it twice. Yep, it turns out that you’ve got Devon Closewool and Devon Longwool. Thankfully, the fine folk at Woolgatherings sent me a speedy reply to my question of whatizzit? I spun Devon Longwool.

Now, I’m not 100% positive, but I believe that the Devon Longwool is actually a mix of Devon and Cornwall. (At least, that’s what my book seems to suggest.) Lamb’s wool is best used for knitted garments, and adult fleeces are good carpet yarns. (Thanks, honey.) Staple length can be between 8-12″, with a micron count of between 36 to 40.

My prep: I split the fiber down the middle and pre-drafted.

Spinning deets: spun the singles worsted at a 5.5/Z and plied at a 7.25/S. (I didn’t actually write this down, but this is what I’ve been doing for all of them so far.) Made a 2-ply from a center-pull ball to maximize yardage. The yarn is 56 yards/35 grams and is approximately 10-11 WPI.

Finishing: A warm-to-hot soak with some Eucalan and a few drops of tea tree and lavender oil. Hung with a small weight (a hanger) to dry.

devonlongwool

My notes: I didn’t make many, and it’s been a few weeks since I spun this. Since nothing particularly sticks out in my memory, I guess it was a middle-of-the-road experience. I did note that it made a hairy single, and was a bit difficult to draft. It also wasn’t my most even spin, with a lot of slubby parts. However, it was a fast spin, but I couldn’t tell if it was because I was getting quicker or because I wasn’t as big on quality control.

The singles were strong, with no breaking when winding it into a center-pull ball. I believe it broke apart a few times while plying. Some of the longer hairs fell out while plying. It also got much less yardage than I had anticipated, considering how my other spins have gone.

devonclose

See that long hair? Brow wax for you, mister.

The verdict: Again, it’s been a little while since I spun it, and since I don’t remember hating it or loving it, I’m going to give this 3/5 sheep. It wasn’t the softest fiber, but I would spin it if it were put in front of me.

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From the Fold

This won’t be a huge post (I owe you two spinning posts and one non-fiber one), but I wanted to share an in-progress pic of my current spin. My husband picked a merino/silk blend I’d purchased at the VT Sheep & Wool Festival last year. I gnashed my teeth, ranted, raved, and told him I couldn’t do it, I’d mess it up. (This is why I let him pick. I won’t cheat.)

So I researched. I pretty much spin inchworm-style, but I knew this would be slippery and I would probably not enjoy it. I am spinning it from the fold, which I’ve never done, and haven’t exactly perfected, but I seem to be making yarn. There are a few silk slubs here and there (big white splotches, like the one on the upper left), and it’s probably crazy overspun, BUT yarn! And I’m not fighting with it nearly as much. I’m learning a new technique and spinning a fiber that intimidates me.

slubs

Booyah!

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Fiber Study: Herdwick

The second breed my husband chose was Herdwick. I’d never even heard of it, and it’s not in The Knitter’s Book of Wool. There is information available on the breed, but it’s not very popular, and we’ll be going over why.

Fiber: approximately 1 oz Herdwick from Woolgatherings

Prep: Combed top

Breed notes: I have a great book called In Sheep’s Clothing: A Handspinner’s Guide to Wool. I think it will be very handy for uncommon and preservation breeds.

Herdwick is a British breed with unclear origins, though it’s thought to be related to Scandinavian breeds. The micron count is usually 40+ with a staple length of 4-8″. The wool is primarily used in carpets. Beatrix Potter really liked Herdwick sheep. Also, welcome to the wonderful world of kemp. It’s a smally, wiry part of the fleece that helps pull moisture away from the animal, according to The Knitter’s Book of Wool. It’s also really good at making a huge mess in your house, according to me.

herdwick

My prep: I split the fiber down the middle and pre-drafted.

Spinning deets: spun the singles worsted at a 5.5/Z and plied at a 7.25/S. Made a 2-ply from a center-pull ball to maximize yardage. The yarn is 74 yards/38 grams and is approximately 10-12 WPI.

Finishing: A warm-to-hot soak with some Eucalan and a few drops of tea tree and lavender oil. No thwacking, no towel squeeze. I want to note that the first wash water turned brown, yuck! I rinsed it a few more times with lukewarm water, and it’s not perfectly clean, but it’s much better.

My notes: My first note was how messy this fiber was. It came with kemp, and if I had really felt like it,  I probably could have removed some of it, but I felt like I was being more authentic to the breed to keep it in. Also, I’m lazy. A lot of the kemp stayed in the yarn, but a lot also fell out while drafting, spinning, and plying. I’d suggest spinning this fiber outside if at all possible! I had to take my wheel outside after I was done, wipe her down, and oil her up. I’m sure I’ll be finding kemp for the next ten years. Kemp is the glitter of spinning.

The singles were very hairy, and the kemp meant they were very textured. The yarn kind of looked like wire, but it was very easy fiber to draft. The fibers didn’t seem to stick together at all, but they took twist well and I only had breakage when plying the singles once. In fact, the fiber was so easy to draft I feel like you need to pay attention to this spin or else you might end up with very thin or broken yarn. There was some dirt in the fiber, but nothing that would have led me to believe the wash water would turn brown!

I was surprised at the strength of the singles when winding it into a center-pull ball; it didn’t break at all. It did break several times when I was plying it, though. I’m not sure if I didn’t put enough twist in, if the kemp was somehow abrading the singles, or if it’s because it was in a center-pull ball (not sure what that would have to do with anything, but it always seemed to be the ply coming from the outside of the ball). The yarn was a lot more scratchy-feeling when I was plying it, and I think even more kemp fell out than when I was spinning the singles.

herdwickkemp

(Not the clearest picture, but you try telling your camera to focus on a yarn that has so much texture even you can’t focus on it.)

The verdict: I’m really torn on this one. I did some research before spinning, and I thought I wasn’t going to like it. (Words like “barbed wire”, “carpet yarn” and “scratchy” don’t inspire much confidence.) I was surprised when I really, really enjoyed spinning the singles. It was easy to draft with a lot of character, even though it was messy.

I got a lot more frustrated once I was plying. The yarn doesn’t seem as sturdy now. I didn’t enjoy finishing it, and almost wish I had kept it as singles.

I do think I’d like to give this breed another try. I can see why people use it as carpet yarn, but I think it would make a great hat or mittens for horrible weather. (I’d want to knit a liner.) I’m also curious to see if plying from two bobbins would alleviate my breakage issues. So ultimately I’m going to issue Herdwick 3/5 sheep. It was certainly worth the spin.

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Flash Your Stash: Sock Yarn Edition

Don’t worry, I’m not flashing you ALL of my sock yarn stash. That would just be embarrassing. And it would take forever to load. I’ve come to possess three skeins in the past few weeks, and thought a compilation post might be a good plan.

 

First up is some Holiday Yarns FlockSock Sock Yarn, in the colorway Monster Mash. My husband and I were going to visit some family in Massachusetts, and when we found out that there was a yarn store down the street from the leather store — well, we made sure to make a side trip. I popped in to Aunt Margaret’s Yarn and Gift Shop to see what I could find. Unfortunately, she doesn’t carry local yarn (not too many people willing to pay for it, I guess), but she did point me in the direction of this yarn, which I’d never seen before, and it’s hand-dyed, so sold. I asked my husband which one to get.

monstermash

I kept going on and on about how these aren’t really my colors, until I went to put it in my knitting bag and saw the socks I’m working on in a green/purple colorway. Whoops! I think this will make something crazy, I just don’t know what yet.

Also, I owe you a picture of Sakkie from the yarn tasting. I turned down a skein of blue/green for this one, but it’s totally me also! This is the Violetwood colorway, and I think they’ll be socks just so I can test out the mohair.

sakkie

Finally, I won a giveaway! My lucky number, six, won me a skein of Two if by Hand’s MCN (?) yarn in the Girl on Fire colorway, given away by the gals at Just One More Row. (I might have it in my stash incorrectly, since I can’t seem to find yarn info on the label.) While I am seriously thrilled to play with MCN, which is new to me, I am actually almost more pleased that I got a JOMR button. :-) Okay, they’re about equal.

girlonfire

Well, now that I’ve acquired stash faster than I can knit socks, guess I’d better get cranking! Have you purchased or won any goodies lately? Share a link and I’ll go drool over your stuff!

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Fiber Study: Polwarth

The first of the mystery spins was Polwarth. I felt really lucky to get this breed first, since I’ve heard positive things about how easy it is to spin.

Fiber: approximately 1 oz Polwarth from Woolgatherings

Prep: Combed top

Breed notes: Polwarth is discussed in The Knitter’s Book of Wool. It’s considered a finewool, and is a cross between Saxon Merino and Lincoln. It averages 22-25 micros and has a slight sheen. The animals are used for meat and fiber.

polwarth

My prep: Pretty sure I split down the middle vertically, and I predrafted before spinning.

Spinning deets: spun the singles worsted at a 5.5/Z and plied at a 7.25/S. Made a 2-ply from a center-pull ball to maximize yardage. I was aiming for 24 wpi with the singles, and the plied yarn ended up at 90 yards/35 grams, approximately 10 WPI.

Finishing: A warm-to-hot soak with some Eucalan and a few drops of tea tree and lavender oil. No thwacking, and just some gentle squeezing to get the water out — no towel squeeze.

My notes: This fiber really feels like a cloud! I did predraft, but I could probably get away without needing to. The single broke a few times as I learned how much twist I needed to put in, but it was easy to reattach. It was very easy to spin thin and consistent, and it made a very smooth yarn. I did have some trouble with the fiber “backing up” in my hand, but I was probably just holding on to it too tight. The fiber really fluffed up after washing; it’s closer to 10 WP than the 12 I was aiming for. It’s so soft and fluffy, though, and I love it!

The verdict: This fiber is a must-spin. I really enjoyed spinning it, and I also love the finished project. I give it 5/5 sheep!

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Fiber Study

This page will compile links to posts I’ve made on my fiber studies.

Devon Longwool (3/5 sheep)

Herdwick (3/5 sheep)

Jacob (4/5 sheep)

Polwarth (5/5 sheep)

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Sneak Peek Spinning

I’m pleased to tell you that the first of the 24 breed sampler has been plied, washed, and is hanging up to dry. I’ve started the second breed, and I’m very intrigued. So intrigued that I almost spun longer than I should in this heat. Here’s a sneak peek:

2of24

Can you guess that breed?

Hint: that’s not vegetable matter!

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Plymouth Yarn Tasting

Last week, my LYS (Green Mountain Fibers) held a Plymouth Yarn Tasting. All they asked for in exchange for your attendance was that you give some honest feedback about the selections, so they could make some purchasing decisions. I wasn’t able to go to the last one, so I was excited to try some yarn! (And it didn’t hurt that they were offering 20% off Plymouth yarns that day.)

Since there was a wide variety of yarn to try, I brought an interchangeable set and my size 1 and 3 Addis. I bought the Addis at GMF a few weeks ago, but hadn’t gotten a chance to use them. I pulled out my 3s to try some Happy Feet DK (I knit loose. Like, really loose) and I was so excited to be trying them for the first time that I asked someone to take a picture. You can’t really see the yarn or the needles that well, but we’ll pretend it’s because I was casting on SO FAST.

addis

I really enjoyed the Happy Feet DK and the Addis, and I thought I had cemented a yarn purchase (I don’t think GMF currently carries the DK [I could be wrong] but they do have the fingering.

Anyway, before I blather on about all of the yarns I tried, here’s a sampling of what was available. I was too busy swatching to take lots of pictures, and I was too tired to think of writing down what I knitted with.

tastingyarn

You just kind of grabbed one you liked, worked on it for a bit, then cut it off and tried another one. I tried to pick yarns I wouldn’t normally choose, so at least the owner would have some feedback on the oddballs. This is by no means comprehensive, since I didn’t write down the name of anything, and I didn’t even try the cashmere.

I worked with some Diversity, which is a fingering-weight yarn with no wool. I didn’t love it (it’s got some stretch to it), but I would be willing to buy a skein and make a pair of socks just to see how they held up on the foot and in the wash.

I got to try some Kudo, which the store carries, but I think it was a color they were thinking about purchasing. I think it’s the uppermost left skein of yarn in the picture above. It was this enchanting mix of blues and grays, and you know how I am about those. It’s a blend of cotton, rayon, and silk, and I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. I would definitely consider purchasing some, although I think I’d use it to make a garment rather than an accessory. (And since I’ve made exactly 0 garments in my life, I’m in no rush.)

Sakkie. Oh, Sakkie. In the interests of full disclosure, Sakkie took one look at the Happy Feet DK and shoved it off the table. (Okay, not really, but metaphorically.) I was trying to stay away from sock yarns, but the blend intrigued me. It’s merino, mohair, and nylon. It was really easy to knit and the mohair was not scratchy. At all. The tag suggests that it will be cool in the summer and warm in the winter, with good breathability. I know wool pretty much does all of this by itself, but — I bought it. I had to try it. They didn’t have the color of the sample skein, but I got a gorgeous purpley skein that I need to take a picture of. 20%. Happy Feet can wait. And the name is punny. I love puns.

Spago. Oh, Spago. Spago is that blue-looking tribble at the bottom left of the picture. I was really stepping out of my comfort zone with this one. I’m not saying I don’t ever play with eyelash and novelty yarns, but they’re usually very annoying to knit with, and Spago was no exception. I used a bigger needle than I normally would (it calls for an 11, and I think I used a 10.5), but it fought me every step of the way. I only cast on 6 stitches, but each stitch was time-consuming and difficult, and it wasn’t an enjoyable experience. I did let the store owner know that I thought it would be intriguing to weave with, but I did not like it for knitting.

These are all of the ones I remember, but I know I worked with an alpaca yarn, and one with mohair. I wanted to try Cottonation (it’s a ribbon yarn? But it’s cotton. So intriguing!), and the Monte Donegal just looked dreamy. There was some Neon Now on the table, and since I’m working on some socks in the pink, I pulled them out to show people. With a yarn like that, I think it’s more beneficial to see the yarn in a larger project than a swatch allows, since they could see how the striping behaved.

For a free event, I was really pleased. There just wasn’t time to try everything. I could see this working as a fundraiser event, or even just a paid event where you got to take home a small sample of each yarn. Yarn tastings are a really brilliant way to introduce people to yarns that, for whatever reason, they haven’t tried. You aren’t out financially if you don’t like it, and you don’t have to figure out what to do with the rest of the ball. There are a few yarns that are on my radar now that probably wouldn’t have been without the tasting.

My thanks go out to the staff of Green Mountain Fibers for hosting this event. I know they all put in a lot of effort and time to make sure we all had a great experience. In my ideal yarn shop, each and every yarn they carried would have a tester available. I imagine that’s very cost-prohibitive, so a yarn tasting is the next best thing. It might have also been fun (and helpful) to have score sheets, like I’ve seen at wine tastings, so you could keep track of what you liked (and the store would have that feedback on paper).

Have you ever been to a yarn tasting? What did you think? Maybe next time, we can have a fiber tasting. Hmm …

Disclaimer: I asked for permission to blog about this event, and I am not receiving compensation for it. (Although darn tootin’ I used that 20% while I had it!)

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