Sunday, November 28, 2010

Green Yarn Photo Shoot

More photos of the green yarn -- two skeins plied up so far, probably another one, maybe two more to come. The photo below is the yarn, freshly plied, loaded onto the niddy-noddy, the tool that helps you make 2 yard skeins.

The next step is to wash the yarn to help all the fibres relax and bloom.  Here's the yarn going into a hot soapy bath, where they will soak for about five minutes.

Here's the finished skeins.  This is a photo with no flash; the colours are off, but you can see the texture much better than in the photo below.  In the photo below, the colours you see here are right on the mark with the actual colours, but the flash washes out the texture and puts way too much sheen on the yarn.

This is a pretty decent amount of yarn and, as noted earlier, there are probably two more skeins to come.  Now, what to do with this yarn?  I was going to make some socks, still might, but with this much yarn, all looking the same, I could dream up a much larger project. 

Friday, November 26, 2010

Three-Ply Green Yarn Photos

Found the camera, charged up the battery and here are some photos of the three-ply yarn I was telling you about in the previous post.

Three bobbins: top to bottom -
green merrino blend from Sweet Georgia Yarns;
black llama from Mt. Lehman Farms;
Grey Cria Alpaca from Amisto Llamas

Nearly full bobbin

Close up of nearly full bobbin
The colours aren't coming through in these photos; bad lighting in my living room.  After this bobbin is filled, I will skein it off and start all over again plying the singles and filling bobbins until the fibre runs out.  I will have to spin up more of the green to keep things even with the black and grey, and I do have it in my stash.

After it's a spun up, the yarn gets washed and then "thwacked".  To thwack yarn, you take it out of the rinse water, gently squeeze the water out of it and thwack it, hit it really hard against the side of the bathtub.  It's a very satisfying thing to do and it does wonders for your yarn.  It helps the llama and alpaca bloom and felt a wee bit at the core.  Do this a couple of times on each skein and then hang it to dry.  Will try to get to all of this on the weekend.

Bye for now,

Thursday, November 25, 2010

What was I thinking?

I was happily spinning up the black llama and was nearly finished it when I was struck by a memory. 

I hate knitting with black yarn. 

It is difficult to see what I am doing, I can't read my knitting.  Why am I setting myself up for a project frought with frustration?  Maybe it's my eyesight, maybe it's the poor lighting of the spaces where I do most of my knitting these days [the bus and Skytrain].  So last Sunday, I decided on Plan B. 

Background: A while ago I purchased a couple skeins of commercially spun yarn that, from a distance, was a lovely green.  Up close, and peeling apart the three plies that the yarn consisted of, I discovered that the yarn was actually a black, grey and light green single; all working together to make a green yarn.  It was so clever and interesting for the eye.  I was determined to try it out for myself.

Plan B:
So, I quickly finished spinning up the 100 g "bump" of black llama and then started on a 100 g bump of grey cria alpaca that came from another local farm.  Thanks to the Eastern and Western Grey Cup Semi Finals [Canadian Football League] that were on television last Sunday, I had several hours of spinnning.  I was able to get two full bobbins of black llama and grey alpaca.  In my cluster of unfinished spinning projects, I had a full bobbin of green merino/tencel/nylon blend from Sweet Georgia Yarns.  I had spun it fine, and it took such a long time to fill one bobbin, I just never managed to get back to spinning up a second one for plying.  But this one was perfect.  For this Plan B, I needed thinly spun singles, and these three that I had on hand, was what I believed would do the trick.

So I plied the three together.  I have about 1/2 a bobbin filled, but have had to take a break from it due to a fantastically crazy work schedule this week that has me out of town, and away from my wheel.  I will finish it up this weekend -- watching the Grey Cup Final, and take some photos so you can see there is method [and reasonably good results] to my madness.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Beautiful Black Local Llama -- Wandering Star

Got some terrific llama fibre from Jane Pinkerton at the Guild Sale last week.  She is the owner of Mount Lehman Llamas.  Here's what I bought:
It's just a label and probably not that exciting, but it is for me.  Mount Lehman is one of the hills that borders Glen Valley, where I live.  So, this fibre is pretty darned local.  You can also see that it's "Prime" llama, meaning that it's soft, luxurious and with the guard hair removed.  I like the fact that Jane writes the name of the llama on the label. In her world there are no dye lots, just real animals with real names. 

The fibre comes in a form called a "bump".  Carefully prepared rovings that just roll of this "bump" shaped thing. It's a $10 "bump" and in my world of trying to find local fibre, it's worth it.  And more so.

It's really fine stuff and it spins up thin with little effort, so to make a good weight, I'll triple ply it.  There's a 100 grams here so I should get some good yardage -- like that "oh-so-Canadian" blend of metric and imperial measurement?  The ultimate plan is to make enough yarn to knit up a pair of socks.  They will be amazingly warm.

I'm off to a decent start.  This is the result of about 1 hour of (often interupted) spinning last weekend, because I was demonstrating the craft at the sale.  Now that I have some other things off my plate, I can get down to more.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

It's harder than I thought. . .

I knew that it would be a BIT of a challenge to try to make mittens, hats, socks, scarves, shawls and other wonderful knitted and woven items from locally sourced fibre.  But I didn't realize how difficult it would be. 

In the old days, a mere four years ago, there used to be this annual event called the Fleece Sale.  It was hosted by the Lower Mainland Sheep Growers Association and assisted by our guild, the Langley Weavers and Spinners Guild.  It sounds mighty old fashioned, but it wasn't. 

It was an annual gathering (first week of June) whereby all the folks who raise sheep quality fibre for hand spinners find a home to sell their stuff.  Members of our guild and their association gathered on a Friday evening and graded all the fleeces.  The next morning, folks from far and wide would line up outside the door to come in and buy unwashed fleeces and give reason for their hearts to soar for another year, or two, depending upon the weight of the fleece.

This event no longer takes place. 

My goal:  find out why is no longer happens.

Second goal:  find out what happens to all these fleeces.

I am running out of fibre. Sad but true.  I have llama and alpaca that I obtained from the Artisans' Sale: Beyond Fibre, but I have very little wool.  And if you are a spinner, you will know that llama and alpaca are wonderful and soft, but you ALWAYS come back home to plain old sheep's wool.  It's simple.  Easy to clean.  Has no guard hair.  Is springy. 

Quest: obtain enough wool to get me through the 2010-11 winter.

Folks are saying its going to be colder and nastier than the last ten winters put together.  I'd better get myself ready for those socked-in snow days that they are warning us about.  Wouldn't want to be caught with nothing to do but housework and read work-related email.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Knitting ADD

And I don't in any way mean to offend anyone struggling with Attention Deficit Disorder, it's just that I am starting to see indications of it in my own fibre arts life.

After the rush and focus of gettting all the stuff made for the guild sale, my knitting/creating brain exploded.  Since last Saturday, when the stuff went out the door and the game was over, I have started 6, yes, SIX knitting projects. 

1. Easy First Socks/Bed Socks for my mom  done
2. Fan and Feather Lace scarf in Pink/Blues Merino [okay, it's just a swatch, but it still isn't done!]
3. Fan and Feather Lace scarf in Autumnal Colours - Merino  completed January 13, 2011
4. Coin Lace 1/2 mittens for Melinda - merino/alpaca done
5. Coin Lace 1/2 mittens for Judy C - merino/silk ripped it out, started again with another yarn
6. Cable scarf in chunky weight for GR  done - November 14, also added a pair of red alpaca mitts to that.

I keep starting things because my brain is just exploding with curiosity about yarns, yarn weights, patterns and the way colours blend.  I am also trying to write patterns to accompany the things that I am making these days.  So I knit, and while I am designing/sorting it out, I also write it down.  Then I have to do it again, so I can test knit the pattern I've written.  So it's all fun, at least is it for me.

But it is keeping me from my real task, which is to find some new sources of local fibre because the cupboards bare!

Will have updates on that quest and photos of finished objects -- soon.