Yarnbombing!!

Because I don’t have enough fiber-related projects in my life, clearly, I am now knitting a yarnbomb for a tree! There’s a group here in Columbia, SC who are yarnbombing 2 blocks of Main Street to help celebrate the solar eclipse in August. Columbia will be a prime viewing spot: we will get 2 and half minutes of totality! If you are interested you can read more at Eclipse2017.org.

If you are not familiar with yarnbombing, it’s basically getting creative in covering public stuff with yarn. Wrapping, knitting, crocheting, whatever you can think of. My objet d’yarn is a tree trunk that is 29″ around and 73″ tall. I’m having total fun planning what I’m going to do, PLUS it is a great excuse to buy more yarn. Thank you. I’m barely started so no pictures of my effort yet, but here are a couple of pictures from around the web to give you a taste.

A quick search on Pinterest or the search engine of your choice will show you hundreds more!

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More Fractal Spinning

Since late December I’ve been doing another fractal spinning project. This is a technique where you take a braid with multiple colors and split it up into fat and thin chunks. You spin then ply in a specific way so you get nice barber-pole mixes of color between stretches of solid color. My first project with this was with some fiber from Sweet Georgia yarn, back in Oct 2015.

This new project is with a BFL/Silk blend from Frabjous Fibers in the Desert Rose colorway. To be honest, I was not that thrilled with the colors as I was spinning the first skein, but the yarn came out BEAUTIFUL. So I’m inspired to keep going. I’m spinning it fairly thin, and the 2-ply yarn has come out around sport weight. So not too heavy, good for our not-so-cold South Carolina “winters”.

I’ve had several knitting projects going as well, particularly socks! I’ll post about those all on their own.

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The Silk Lap

The Silk Lap Drafted Out

The Silk Lap Drafted Out

No, not like a lap formed when you sit. Mulberry Silk Laps are produced while carding silk fibers to produce silk top for spinning into yarn. They have a similar staple length to top but with much more texture. They are in layered ‘blankets’.

The one I have was purchased last year at the DFW Fiber Fest, when I was visiting family in Fort Worth, TX. It’s gorgeous, dyed a shimmery turquoise. It’s large, 18.2 ounces, and covers nearly half my king-size bed when laid out flat. Frankly, I’ve been too intimidated to touch it, not least because it was expensive. I even bought a “practice lap” last year at SAFF, a smaller less-expensive one. Unfortunately, it was not very good quality and ultimately not helpful.

Well, I’m over that now. On Monday I took my gorgeous lap out and got to work. I cut a strip off of one edge, then a square off the end of that strip. It has layers similar to silk hankies, and I took one of those layers and drafted it out, spun it, and knitted a swatch. I took another layer and knitted it directly into a swatch without spinning it first. I took a class on that at SAFF and it makes wonderful knitted fabric.

This is the first time I’ve worked with Mulberry, or Bombyx, silk. It’s much “silkier” than Tussah silk, which is what I’ve worked with before. It’s really quite lovely, and I’m already thinking about what I want to make with the yarn. I think I prefer the spun to the directly knitted, due to the texture.

The pictures below show the various steps. In the pictures of the lap itself, it looks lighter because of the shimmer of the silk in the light.

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Milk Fiber – The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

Finished 2-ply Milk Fiber

Finished 2-ply Milk Fiber

I have finished all the milk fiber. It’s spun, plied, and washed, and is now hanging the bathroom drying. I’m glad I did it, but I doubt if I will ever buy more.

Yes, it’s lovely. It has a beautiful sheen and drape. BUT it is very tricky to work with – slippery and requires LOTS of twist. In the interest of sharing what I have learned, here are some spinning tech tips that worked for me.

  • Split your roving up into pencil roving.
  • Pre-draft this out to get rid of all the clumpy, grabby places. See pictures below.
  • Use very light tension on your bobbin.
  • I used the middle ratio (8:1) on my wheel. This allowed me to control my drafting and work at a speed that was comfortable for me.
  • Once you get it started, keep your hands 12-14 inches back from the orifice and inch-worm your way along at about a half-inch per pull. Your hands will be quite close together. (Some people like to spin it from the fold, but I’ve not yet mastered that.)
  • If you are having trouble drafting smoothly, you probably didn’t pre-draft well enough.
  • Spin thin, and be EXTREMELY vigilant about slubs. The fiber is so slippery that slubs tend to pull apart under the tension of plying. Consistent diameter is important.
  • I did not find it suitable for Navajo plying (see note above about slubs). Andean worked OK, as did plying from multiple bobbins.

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The Beautiful Chaos of SAFF

This gallery contains 24 photos.

The Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair was last weekend, and as always it was an overwhelming experience. The main vendor area is a giant room with over 400 booths FULL of fiber, yarn, equipment, finished garments, and more. Like any show, … Continue reading

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Mountain Sapphires Sweater Done!!

Mountain Sapphires Cardigan

Mountain Sapphires Cardigan

I have finished the sweater I created from the Mountain Sapphires Art Batts! I’m just taking a moment to bask in that….

It’s so beautiful. It fits. The colors are sweet. It’s warm and not scratchy.

This is the fiber that I started spinning back in April when I was color-starved and ready for something fun. It took me about 2 months to knit after the yarn was spun, and another month to motivate myself to sew the seams and get the buttons on.

The only thing I am not 100% happy about is the collar – it isn’t as wide as I thought it would be in terms of how it lies, but it’s OK. I am thinking about a couple of things that might help with that, but even if I leave it I am happy enough.

On the spinning front, I’m nearly done with the milk fiber. I’ve got a pretty good handle on how to work with it, and as soon as I ply it (and confirm that I really know what I’m doing 🙂 I will post a spinners’  tech-tips post.

SAFF is coming up at the end of the week, so I’ll be making my annual pilgrimage to Asheville, NC to enjoy that. Can’t wait! I’ll be posting all about it.

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Creative Play 

This week I have started a new daily practice – creative play. It’s meant to knock the mind loose, think differently, push boundaries. Proceed when the results are unknowable. Have fun.

To help me with this, I’m using Keri Smith’s book Mess (link takes you to her shop). Today’s fun involved glue, paper, scissors, gravity, and air currents.

     

 

    

 

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Tricky, Tricky Milk Fiber

I have a few days practice now with the Milk Fiber. It’s trickier than it seemed that first time I posted about it.

The 2-ply I did first came out OK, done via the Andean bracelet method. The next day I spun 6 grams and tried a 3-ply using Navajo plying. It was a miserable failure. I didn’t think it was particularly slubby, but in the context of this fiber I was dead wrong. Because it’s so slippery, each slub fell apart under the stress on the singles that goes with this particular plying method. I was very frustrated, because overall I liked the 3-ply better than the 2-ply in the parts that worked.

So, now I am spinning the remainder FAR more carefully, with serious vigilance to prevent slubs as much as I possibly can. I’m not going to Navajo-ply it, but still. I divided it into 3 equal-by-weight chunks, and each will go on its own bobbin for plying.

The pictures show not-too-slubby (left) and too-slubby (right). I check this by letting the singles twist back on itself before feeding it to the bobbin. While spinning, I can go back and fix too-slubby at this point. I’m reasonably good at feeling even little slubs and taking care of them before it’s too late.

Until next time. 

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I Am Not Dead… Still Here, Still Spinning

Milk Fiber

Milk Fiber

I’ve neglected you terribly. My last post about spinning was when I started the Crosspatch Creations Art Batts back in April. As I spun that gorgeous fiber, I realized that it deserved to become something that I could wear and enjoy for years. So – sweater it is. I did not have enough raw fiber for that, so I contacted the woman I bought it from at SAFF and got more. It has been really fun to spin and knit as I went. The sweater is mostly completed now – the front and back pieces are getting blocked right now, and when they are done I will sew the shoulder seams and knit on the collar and front button bands. Then it’s just adding the sleeves and doing the side seams.

Crosspatch Creations Handspun Sweater Parts

Crosspatch Creations Handspun Sweater Parts

My new spinning project is milk fiber. Yes, you read that right. Fiber made from milk protein. If you are interested, this blog post https://exchangingfire.wordpress.com/2011/02/25/what-is-milk-fiber/ has more information about the fiber and how it is created.

It’s beautiful. Also known as “milk silk,” it is very soft and has a lovely sheen. It’s a little slippery to work with, and wants a lot of twist. I found that using a VERY light tension on the take-up to the bobbin made it easier to spin. I bought it at SAFF last year from Roo (http://moonwoodfarm.com). She recommended that prior to spinning I should gently lengthen it out a little – not really pre-drafting, just loosening it up a bit – so I did. I had read that this fiber can be clumpy to draft, and I think this helped avoid that.

In any case, I would not recommend it for beginners. For my first sample, I did a two-ply yarn. I’ll do another sample as three-ply, and see which I like better.

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I have died and gone to button heaven

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Here at Mulberry Silks in Carrboro NC.

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