Time for Fractals Again

For my next spinning project, I am going to spin a braid using fractal spinning. Briefly, this means I’m spinning and plying the yarn to get specific color changes that look lovely when you knit it up. This time I’m using pure merino, purchased from Apothefaery Fabrications at SAFF last year. The colors remind me of apples!

I’m doing this as a 1-to-4 split – in other words, I split the braid in half lengthwise, then split one of those halves into fourths (also lengthwise). One half of the 2-ply will be the “whole” half, spun in its entirety. The other half of the 2-ply will be the skinny 4ths, spun end to end. So you get long color changes and short color changes mixed together.

I’ve spun a little sample to knit and be sure I’m happy with the result. I’d like to end up with a lace-weight yarn (~18 WPI), so fairly thin. It’s very springy, which I like. But springy wool shrinks & fattens with finishing, and my sample came out at 16-18 WPI after the wash. So care will be required when spinning to keep it thin.

Here are my little fiber “nests”, ready to spin.

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Catching Up

I’ve finally finished spinning my 3 yummy fibers that I wrote about last – the Alfalfa Green, Deep Sea, and South Pacific Yak/Silk blends. The finished yarns are 2-ply fingering weight, perfect for shawls and wraps. Those are what I’m into knitting these days, so these will go into my yarn stash for future projects. They are light and soft, with a beautiful drape.

As you can see, the colors are gorgeous.

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Alfalfa Green 

To continue from my last post, I’m spinning the Alfalfa Green Yak/Silk first. This is from Abstract Fibers – if you can find fiber from them, go for it. It’s a dream  to spin! And you can see the care in the colors, for that beautiful visual depth.

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Fiber that Makes Me Go Mmmmm

I had a very tough time deciding what my next spinning project should be. There’s all the lovely stuff I brought home from SAFF, plus all the lovely stuff I got at our new Columbia shop Luna Lola (also at http://www.lunalola.com/). And no, I have not yet posted about my visit there on opening day! Once I take photos of that stash I will post.

Anyway, what to spin next? Silk? Yak/Silk? Merino and play with fractal spinning? Learn a new spinning technique for wool? I have to say that I’ve had enough wool for a little while, after the last batt. And I have some really interesting shawl knitting patterns that I’m dying to spin for. Shawls do well with yarns that have drape and sheen, so, Yak/silk it is.

In particular, I’ve decided on 2 braids I got at SAFF this year plus the green yak/silk I got there the year before. I’ve spun three samples at fingering weight so I can see how they look together. I think the results are speak for themselves!

3 colors of Yak/Silk blend - Alfalfa green, Deep Sea, and South Pacific

3 colors of Yak/Silk blend twisted together – Alfalfa green, Deep Sea, and South Pacific

Separate 2-ply skeins of the Yak/Silk blend – Alfalfa green, Deep Sea, and South Pacific

 

The individual fibers:

Yak/Silk 50/50 from Lisa Souza Dyeworks

“Deep Sea” Yak/Silk 50/50 from Lisa Souza Dyeworks

Yak/Silk 50/50 from Lisa Souza Dyeworks

“South Pacific” Yak/Silk 50/50 from Lisa Souza Dyeworks

Yak/Silk blend - Alfalfa Green

“Alfalfa Green” Yak/Silk 50/50 blend from Abstract Fiber

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Home from SAFF – This Year’s Loot!

Cashmere/Silk 50/50 from Lisa Souza Dyeworks

Cashmere/Silk 50/50 from Lisa Souza Dyeworks

The Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair is always a huge experience for me. The fiber! The classes! The huge buildings full of vendors!

This year was no exception. I got lots of fiber: silk and silk blends, pure merino, pure cashmere from Patagonia, and even some cotton!!! I even got a little yarn – a couple of skeins of sock yarn and 4 coordinated colors of merino/silk yarn for a shawl.

I took two classes. The first was Spin for that Project, and unbelievably I was the only student. So I got focused 1 on 1 attention from the instructor, Nancie McCraw. Before class I selected a knitting pattern that I would like to spin yarn for, and we analyzed everything you need to know to spin a comparable yarn so the knitted garment would come out like the pattern writer intended. It was kind of technical, and included things like wool characteristics of different breeds and MATH to figure out how much fiber to get and how to spin and ply it. We also got to go shopping to buy the right fiber and then spin a sample to see if I liked it. Since that was a yes, I went back & got enough for my project plus some for practice as far as getting the twist and diameter right.

The second class was Fractal Frolic with Jillian Moreno. She is famous in the spinning world and the class was great. Fractal spinning is a technique that yields beautiful yarn. I’ve tried it before, but really wanted to learn more about how to pick good colors for it and different ways to do the spinning.  She definitely delivered everything I was hoping for. She even took some time with me on a different question, not related to fractals, that I had about something in her book Yarnitecture.

Last but not least, Nancie recommended a book to me called Spinning for Softness and Speed, by Paula Simmons. This book describes a method of spinning wool that is fast, requires only one hand and produces a soft, perfectly twisted and even yarn. I’m in! I was able to get a copy at SAFF, and after I got home I tried it yesterday with some practice fiber. My goodness, it’s humbling to try something new! The “yarn” I produced looks pretty much like my earliest attempts at spinning 3 years ago! But I will persevere, because for projects that use wool fibers, especially in large quantities, I think this will be a good technique. I’ve ordered two pounds of inexpensive wool to practice on. Practice makes better.

Here’s the rest of the loot, in addition to the cashmere/silk blend above. I’m including these as a gallery, and I know that doesn’t show up in the newsletter version for some of you. So if you can’t see the pictures and you want to, click the “see the full post” link.

You can click any thumbnail to see the full size photo, and then scroll using the arrows at the sides. ESC to return.

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The Final Batt

I am now spinning the last of the batts I got last year at SAFF. It’s different from other batts that I’ve worked with in that is a single fiber type, merino wool. I was drawn to it because of the lovely colors – red, orange, purple, green, gold – with red and orange being predominant. As you would expect, then, the spun yarn is primarily red/orange with other flecks of color that make it visually interesting and provide depth. It’s very fall-ish, appropriate for the season.

Because it’s a batt, created on a drum carder, the fibers are not all lined up as they are from other prep methods. If you are familiar with merino yarn spun from top (where the fibers are all aligned) you know it’s very smooth and almost not like wool at all. THIS yarn is much fuzzier and has slubs and loft even though I am spinning it using the worsted method. It’s interesting to spin because merino fibers are not very long (compared to other wools) so you have to stay right on top of your drafting. BUT it’s also very “grabby” because of the prep, so it doesn’t slip apart easily.

Because of the fuzziness, I’m interested to see if it feels scratchy against tender skin. I like to test that by taking the yarn and wearing it around my neck for a while. Guaranteed if it’s scratchy that I will feel it there!

Yarn from Merino Batt

Yarn from Merino Batt

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How the Camel/Silk Came Out

I just wanted to post a quick update on the Camel/Silk blend that I wrote about last time. After I soaked it and hung it to dry, it seemed like it was not as soft and drapey as the yak/silk that I had spun. However, once I wound it into its little twisty skein, it softened up and is really quite nice with a lovely silky feel to it. So this is another fiber that I will put on my “yes, please!” list.

Camel/Silk Blend Yarn

Camel/Silk Blend Yarn

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More Exotic Fibers – Camel/Silk Blend

I am making excellent progress on my stash of exotic fibers. The camel/silk blend I spun today is the second-to-last variety I had left.

I had sort of expected that it would be similar to the yak/silk blend I did a few weeks ago and I was correct. Neither one is a good choice for a beginner, but for the intermediate spinner it’s an excellent way to improve skills and the resulting yarn in both cases is really lovely.

The undyed camel/silk fiber spins to a lustrous champagne color, with beautiful drape.

Camel-silk 4 gram sample

Camel-silk 4 gram sample

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The only exotic fiber left now is some Eri silk that I got in Phoenix last year when visiting family out there. This comes from cultivated silkworms that are fed castor leaves. The undyed fiber that I got is a lovely gold color. It will be interesting to see how it compares with Bombyx and Tussah silk in both the spinning process and the resulting yarn. I will be spinning this fiber next, to wrap up my “summer of exotics,” so I’ll have more to share soon.

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Back to the Bunny – Angora Batt #2

I decided to spin my other Angora batt for my next project.This batt is called Untamed Woods, and the colorway is green with yellow and blue highlights which make for a visually interesting spun yarn.

The fiber content is only slightly different than the first batt but the spun singles is REALLY different. It has a little more merino (50% instead of 45%) and a little less angora (42% instead of 45%), a little less silk (7% instead of 10%) and a touch of angelina (1%), which is a very fine sparkly fiber. The spun singles has a very springy feel to it, and the angora has not haloed out yet so it isn’t fuzzy at all.

Until next time.

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The Yak/Silk Gradient Swatch

In my last post, I talked about spinning a gradient yarn from two colors of Yak/Silk blend fiber, and promised a picture. Well, here it is. The yarn felt wonderful to knit.

While I’m not completely crazy about these two colors for spinning gradients, I’ll be looking at SAFF for more of this in different colors. I have a scarf pattern that uses gradient yarn in “panes” of color so I think this will be an excellent choice.

Yak/Silk Gradient with Undyed fiber and Alfalfa Green

Yak/Silk Gradient with Undyed fiber and Alfalfa Green

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