Happy Thanksgiving – Turkey & Spinning

On Thanksgiving every year, I tweet throughout the day some of the the things I am #thankful for. I love that for at least one day, I focus on those things that make life worthwhile.

We had a quiet turkey dinner, I made mashed potatoes and my favorite collard greens recipe, and we had the most delicious Cumberland sauce that my friend Beth gave us. I have never had Cumberland sauce, before – this version was made with cranberries and pomegranate juice, and is outstanding.

Later in the day, I spun for a while. This month’s Sweet Georgia Yarn club was a superwash Merino-nylon blend designed for sock yarn, and that’s the suggested spinning method for it. So I’m making 3-ply fingering weight, which means spinning very thin. It was nice to find that my hands and brain remember how to spin that way – the little techniques that are necessary to ensure there’s enough twist in the fiber to keep it from falling apart. The colorway is named Frozen Grapes, so as you can imagine it’s lovely shades of purple and green.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

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Thankful

I’m very thankful, this week, for my spinning wheel. It centers me, and settles out the frustrations of my days.

It helps that I’m spinning luscious BFL-Silk blend fiber, in gorgeous fall colors. Lovely feel and lovely result. The picture doesn’t quite capture the colors accurately – the fiber is less red and more purple. But this is pretty close.

Until next time.

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Valuable Lessons, and Swearing

I’m home from SAFF now with enough fiber to keep me busy for a long time. Which is good! I’ll be posting about my various loot as I use it.

One of the things I bought was a “practice” silk lap. What’s that, you say? It’s basically like a giant silk hankie that’s several feet wide and long, and about an inch thick. Last spring I bought a totally gorgeous hand-dyed one, and I’ve been hesitant to try to spin it because it’s so beautiful I don’t want to screw it up. Solution? Buy a cheaper lower-quality one to practice on! So I did. I have asked a number of experienced spinners the best way to tackle this, and each had a different suggestion. The one I liked best is to core-spin it. Essentially, you have a thin core (like a thread) that you wrap the silk fiber around (spinning step), then go back and bind it with another thin thread (plying step). I learned how to do that in my class last spring at John C Campbell Folk School, and it really shows off the fiber. So at SAFF I also bought a very fine wool yarn to use for the core and the binder.

Back at home, here are the things I’ve learned so far: the fine yarn I bought for the core/binder is a good size but no where NEAR strong enough for what I need. It has broken a number times. [Insert swear words.] So I have to figure out something else. Next: using a color that matches the fiber is excellent when you don’t really want the binder to show, but problematic when you are practicing and need to see if you are binding properly. [Insert more swear words.] About the silk itself: it truly is low quality. The results of this practice are going to be correspondingly basically worthless. I am, however, getting valuable hands-on experience. In particular, it’s really easy to produce a wildly variable thick-and-thin yarn, but harder to be consistent. I’m getting a feel for how to prep the fiber so that I can get that more consistent result. Or at least to avoid going so thick that I have to pull it by hand through the orifice onto the bobbin because it’s too fat to go through on its own. [Insert a lot more swear words.]

So just to feel better, I”m going to spin something easy and lovely now. Until next time.

Today’s picture is the core-spun silk from today’s practice.

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Real Food Sunday

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It’s been a while since I shared my Sunday adventures in the kitchen.

The first fun item was inspired by our trip to The Local Buzz down in Rosewood. Mick and I delivered fund-raiser coffee there to support local flood relief activities (for more about how you can help see this link on FB), and while we were there I had a yummy sandwich. There were grapes with that sandwich, and I was reminded of a recipe I have for a sweet schiacciata with grapes, wtih anise flavoring. It’s amazing, and I haven’t made it in years. This recipe along with many other delicious focaccia recipes, is in the Focaccia cookbook by Carol Field. Astonishingly, it’s still available here. Since we were stopping at the grocery store *anyway* I got grapes. Last night I made it, and it was just as delicious as I remembered. Since it makes two “loaves”, I’m bringing the second one to the Little Yellow Music house today.

The other fun thing was my adaptation of beef stew for the great fall root vegetables we have right now. I made it with beets, parsnips, and sweet potatoes, along with the grass-fed stew beef that is on sale this weekend at Earth Fare. I thought it would be very red from the beets, but no. And the spicy taste of the parsnips is a delicious undertone in the mix of flavors. This one’s a keeper!

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Fractals and Falklands

These are my two current favorite things. The fractal-spun fiber From Sweet Georgia yarn (SGY) came out gorgeous as yarn. I never, never would have guessed you could get that effect so easily. I’ve added that kind of multi-colored braid to my shopping list for SAFF, coming in just a couple of weeks!!

Now that that’s done, I’m spinning Falklands again. Undyed, naturally white, an absolute joy to spin. Easy, easy, easy, with a velvety feel that is unique. Some you will remember that I have spun this fiber before, and made the lovely Callicarpa scarf out of it. I’m spinning it fatter but with a correspondingly lower twist so it keeps its lovely softness.

Today’s pictures: the finished Callicarpa scarf, and the fractal spun yarn.

Until next time.

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A New, Fun Challenge!

It’s so much fun to have a new challenge! With a science-y name, to boot!

A while back, I signed up for Sweet Georgia Yarn’s Fibre Club, where for each of three months they send you fiber to spin. Special note: If you want to join the club, PAY ATTENTION to the destination you select for your order. It matters. US destinations are cheaper. Also, all the prices are in Canadian Dollars (CAD) and it will cost you less in USD.

My first installment arrived yesterday. It was a braid of Blue-Faced Leicester (BFL) Superwash in a gorgeous colorway called Autumn Moon. Along with the fiber, there was a brochure that tells the inspiration for the colorway along with a suggestion for spinning it, called Fractal Spinning (yes! the science-y name!). If you are curious about that technique, you can read about it here. I’m doing it as a two-ply yarn.

So I get to spin a new fiber (the superwash is different – slipperier than normal BFL) that took a little getting used to. And there’s the excitement of a new technique. I’ve already spun the first half, yes, since yesterday. Tomorrow I’ll start on the other half.

In today’s picture, you can see all the colors in the wool. I can’t wait to see it plied.

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All over the Place

I have about three different spinning “projects” going on right now. I started off a couple of weeks ago making hand-carded blends with Sweet Georgia Yarns BFL-Silk fiber. So lovely! But I couldn’t keep up with the swatching so I took a little break from that so I could get those done.

In the meantime, I have a pound of Falklands, so I decided to spin that, thicker gauge than last time. Which was 11 WPI in a three-ply, so pretty fine. I’d like to do something closer to worsted as a two-ply. So I did a sample of that, but haven’t swatched that yet either to see if I like it knitted up.

So what AM I spinning? I have an 8 ounce braid of BFL-Silk blend from Frabjous Fibers that I had spun a little of before, but not a lot. I am spinning that now and will use it to practice Navaho plying. That’s a way to make a three-ply yarn from a single bobbin. By the time I get done with that, hopefully I will be caught up on all those swatches and ready to go with my other projects.

Until next time.

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2 different carded blends, some Falklands, and a bobbin of BFL-Silk blend

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Golden Beets

Gorgeous!

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Coming soon – Color Blend Photo Page

Today’s spinning color experiment was Riptide and Black Cherry. These are both dark colors, and I wasn’t sure how it would come out. The result made me think of a storm cloud. The yarn is soaking now, so I’ll wait to post that, but I’m including a picture of one of the rolags so you can see. In the spun fiber, the teal and purple notes are clearer.

I also decided to try something new, and create a gallery page of these Sweet Georgia fiber blends. Watch for it over the next few days.

The other picture is yesterday’s blend, Riptide & Nightshade.

Until next time.

Rolag of hand-carded SGY Riptide and Black Cherry BFL-Silk Blend, with sari silk fibers included.

Rolag of hand-carded SGY Riptide and Black Cherry BFL-Silk Blend, with sari silk fibers included.

Yarn spun from hand-carded SGY Riptide and Nightshade BFL-Silk Blend, with sari silk fibers included.

Yarn spun from hand-carded SGY Riptide and Nightshade BFL-Silk Blend, with sari silk fibers included.

 

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Color and Hand Cards!

Playtime!

I’m having so much fun right now. Because I can, I’m going to make color blends with all the possible combinations of the 8 colors I have from Sweet Georgia Yarn (and my sari silk, of course!). (Once upon a time, I knew the formula for calculating just how many combinations that is, but my math degree is many years behind me now.)

I started with Riptide, a dark teal, and my first set of combos is it with each of the others. I posted the one with Goldmine a couple of days ago. Next was Birch, which is basically off-white. That finished yarn is in today’s picture. Today I blended it with Nightshade, which you might expect to be purple but is actually blue. I thought that would be an iffy combo, but it came out really nice. I’ll post that picture tomorrow after the yarn is done.

Until then.

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