Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A new addition to my Schacht family came to live at my house this week, an Exceptionally High Speed whorl:

Left to right, those whorls are:
  • Medium (9:1, 11:1)
  • Fast (13:1, 15.5:1)
  • Super High Speed (18.5:1, 22:1)
  • Exceptionally High Speed (23.5:1, 27.5:1)
I finally tracked down the exceptionally high speed one last week, thanks to a tip on Ravelry. Schacht doesn't make this whorl any more, and I've been looking for one since I got my wheel. A shop in Las Vegas had three left on the shelf, and I had them mail one to me. The remaining two have also been sold, by the way, because when I posted on Ravelry that they had them, everyone burned up their phone lines. When I talked to her the next morning to confirm my address, the lady at the shop was quite bemused at the sudden flurry of calls. She didn't know about Ravelry because she doesn't have a computer. I don't think she knew what hit her.

Super High Speed on the left, Exceptionally High Speed on the right. It's not a huge difference visually, but it is definitely noticeable when spinning. The smallest whorl really zings along. Whee!

I haven't tried cotton with it yet, but some merino/silk blend spun up very fast, smooth, and fine with long draw. I can tell right now that well prepared fiber, allowing for a very fast draw, is imperative with this whorl. I look forward to getting to know it better.

I hardly ever spin on the larger whorls, and when I pulled them out for these picture, they looked immense. Really, though, they're decently fast for spinning thicker yarn. I'm using the small side of the Fast whorl to spin my green Buttercup sweater yarn. Two batts of that down, 28 to go!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

It's that time of year again: Sheep-to-Shawl. I don't know if I'm going to be able to get up to Friday Harbor this year for the Fair, but my lovely spinning friends are still letting me help with the shawl anyway. The weaver this year is doing a twill pattern with a painted warp, and using a lovely merino/silk blend. She sent me some of the top they're using for the warp, and I spun it up over the past couple days.

That's 105 grams/3.7 oz of quite fine (40+ wpi) and very slippery singles. The question then arises of how best to get it back to the spinners in Friday Harbor. I obviously don't want to send my Schacht bobbin. I could wind it onto a cardboard toilet paper core with my ballwinder, but it makes me a bit nervous to send these slippery singles through the mail like that. It would probably be fine, but the large amount of yardage means that any collapsing, snagging, squishing, and subsequent tangling would be of epic proportions.

So I used a cardboard spool (sold as a weaving accessory for sectional warping, but equally useful to spinners). This is, hands-down, my favorite method of storing singles, especially for rewinding for plying. It makes a nice neat package, can be wound tightly, and is very stable since the ends are supported. Plying from them goes very smoothly since the singles are wound on in tidy layers. And the spools are cheap.

As you can see, the mostly-full Schacht bobbin easily went onto a cardboard spool. Each spool will easily hold 4 oz; even more, if you mounded it up in the middle.

Plus, a rewound spool of singles is just so beautiful.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

An actual sentence extracted from a list on page 13 of the template I was given for the Regional General Permit application I am attempting to hammer into shape write:

"c. The LPB should insure that PDC and CMs are incorporated into any ICAs. If the LPB is not the COR, then the LPB must regularly coordinate with the project COR to insure the PDCs and CMs are being followed as stated in the GP."

What, you want a translation? Here:

LPB=Lead Project Biologist
PDC=Project Design Criteria
CM=Conservation Measures
ICA=Implementation Contract Agreement
COR=Contracting Officers Representative
GP=General Permit

There are a total of 28 pages (so far...) to this application. Do you wonder that writing this permit application is making me want to hide under my desk, curled up into a ball, with my arms over my head?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

This is the absolute funniest thing I've seen in a long time:

Truly, I'm speechless...

Friday, March 13, 2009


The girl is old enough to vacuum.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Remember the blue/green/purple top I recently dyed? Well, it grew up and became a couple lovely batts. Introducing the inaugural run of batts for sale at my Etsy shop:

Clockwise from the top left, they are:
  • Snow Shimmer (75% bluefaced leicester, 20% silk)
  • Spindrift (98% superwash merino, 2% Icicle (nylon sparklies))
  • Seamist (80% superwash merino, 20% silk)
  • Latte (50% natural white bluefaced leicester, 50% natural brown bluefaced leicester)
Each batt is about 50 grams (1.8 oz). These were so fun to make. The BFL, a fiber I've not worked with before, is quite nice. Soft, but not cottony soft, not too fine or slippery, and with a good staple length and luster. I see why people recommend it for beginning spinners. The addition of the silk in the Snow Shimmer batt gives it a lovely shine and softness.

For the Latte batt, I took equal amounts of each kind of BFL and split them into thirds. I carded one third of each together to give a medium brown blended mini batt, which I removed from the carder. Then I carded the dark brown through and left it on the carder, carded the medium brown blend again and left it on the carder, and finally carded the white on. This gave a layered blended batt, with a gradient of colors from white to brown. I like it.

Recarding the dyed merino top was a smashing success. Soft soft soft batts, and the colors blended beautifully. I only sent them through once, alternating layers of the merino with toploaded silk or Icicle. I have a bit of the top left over, and am going to card up a mini batt for myself. Just because.

I love the way the blue and green combined into an aquamarine color. Most of the purple spots from the top went into the Spindrift batt, and it looks fabulous with the Icicle.

And the Seamist? Really, you just can't go wrong with merino and silk.

Monday, March 09, 2009


The carding is done! Thirty batts, made up of fifteen colors, carded three times: once as separate colors, twice to blend.

All together, the batts weigh 3.0 pounds, fluffily fill two plastic containers totaling 114 quarts, and cover a tabletop measuring 13.5 square feet.

Overall, I'm quite pleased at how consistent the batts are. There is some surface variation (streaks of color), but if you squint at them, they all look pretty much the same hue and value. I took these pictures and am writing this post immediately after finishing the last batt (notice the time of this post), so the middle of the night lighting leaves something to be desired and the color is a bit off, but you get the idea. Hopefully the consistency carries through to the yarn.

One other thing I did this week was to spin another experimental sample skein, just out of curiosity.

The original sample is on the top, the new one on the bottom. What I did this time was to take one sixth of a batt after only one blending pass through the carder, when it was at the layered stage, and spin it like I did the first sample, including chain plying. I just wanted to see how the layered batt would spin up.

The outcome was pretty much as you would expect it to be. The colors were more distinct, less blended, and the red especially was very noticeable.

Granted, if this were a true 3-ply rather than chain plied, it wouldn't have been quite so obvious, but even so, the singles themselves often had long stretches of nearly solid red or chartreuse. It's a pretty yarn, but not what I want for my subtle heathered sweater yarn.

So now I know.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

I ordered some commercial top a couple weeks ago because I'm thinking about considering the possibility of perhaps offering batts for sale in my Etsy shop. Maybe. Depending on how long they take vs. what a reasonable price would be that people would actually pay. The plan was to dye some pretty colors, blend in some interesting things like silk, and have the carder start paying its way.

So I dyed some top this weekend, amongst all the rest of the fibery things I did: carding sweater batts, dyeing yarn, carding undyed test batts for the shop, making Emma a summer dress, and repairing the torn ruffle on her pink princess dress-up dress.

Each of these wheels is 4 oz. of superwash merino.

The blue-green-purple one came out with more white than I was planning for. Superwash wool soaks up dye FAST, even when the dye is poured on at room temperature, and it didn't distribute evenly. It will still be lovely when spun, as the fiber is gorgeously soft and the white will tone down the colors and even them out. I'm still in the development stages of this batts-for-sale plan, and I think this bundle of fiber is going to be blended with silk for sock yarn batts. It will be interesting to see what that does to the colors. Maybe I'll dye the silk, too. I don't know. What do you think?

The next wheel of fiber is completely un-replicable. I was concocting a couple custom colorway skeins for someone last week, a lavender-beige combination and a deep coral, and during the course of those experiments, I ended up with leftover dye. Purples, browns, reds, oranges; a real mishmash. None of the leftovers was enough on its own to dye anything, but I didn't want to just empty them down the drain (dye costs money, after all, and I also don't want to dye Ladd Marsh) so I poured all the dregs into the dye pot together. None had acid in them yet, so they were stable enough to wait a few days. Finally on Saturday I stirred it all around, added some water and citric acid, and tossed in some superwash top. The mishmash of leftover dye turned out to be a gorgeous cranberry wine color.

I'm trying very hard to justify keeping this for myself.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Well, it's Monday again. Also, it's March. Is it just me or are the weeks of 2009 just flying by? I actually got a lot accomplished at work today, most of Mount Laundrypile folded and put away, the bathrooms cleaned, and am cautiously optimistic that this week is going to be better than last week (which was less than steller for many reasons, none of which were really that terrible by themselves, but when combined led to what seemed like an insurmountable wall of frustration and grumpiness).

I binged on the spinning over the weekend, accomplishing what may be my personal best to date in terms of volume and time:

This is contract spinning for Tanglewood Fiber Creations; 16 ounces of cashmere/silk and 16 ounces of camel/silk. Two full pounds of singles for sockweight yarn. Spun in ~10 hours over three days. Each two ounce ball took 35-40 minutes.

I love it when the fiber drafts as easily as these preparations did. Long draw rocks.

I've also been carding, and have tipped over the halfway point on the green Corriedale batts. I have 16 of 30 done and ready to spin.

The sweater carding may possibly be done by next weekend!