Sunday, August 28, 2011

Emma and I had a fun day today, in between the normal weekend housecleaning and after a mysterious 103° fever that she developed in the space of 15 minutes yesterday morning. We were at the Farmer's Market, and one minute she was running around with her friends, then she was back sitting with me at my table, then 10 minutes later she was shivering and goosebumpy because she was so cold (it was 90° out), and crying because her head hurt so much. It was very strange. Luckily Shaun stopped by the market and held Emma while she slept until the market was over, then I tucked her into bed when we got home. She was fine by this morning, and was Little Miss Chatty when she crawled into bed with me at 4:00 am. Childhood fevers are strange.

Anyway, she was rarin' to go this morning, so after we did chores, we dyed some wool for her. This was Emma's first time using acid dyes.

Emma dyeing wool

She picked out seven colors, and I did the mixing and she did the pouring. I think she did a great job.

Emma's dyed wool

Into the microwave for steaming, then out into the hot sunny day to dry by dinnertime.

Emma's dyed wool

This is 50 grams of corriedale top, and I love the way it came out. I may have to get her to make a batch for me.

Emma dyeing wool!

The motivation behind dyeing some wool FOR EMMA was an event yesterday at the market (before the rapid-onset fever...). I bring my wheel to the market since it attracts attention to my table, the kids (and grownups) are fascinated by watching me, and it gives me something to do during slow times. Emma wandered over at one point, plopped herself down on my lap, pushed my feet off the treadle, put her feet on the treadle, took the wool out of my hands, and just started spinning. It was amazing.

She has a drop spindle, but gets frustrated with it easily since it backspins and she finds it awkward to keep it going and draft at the same time. We've done park and draft, but she never really thoroughly got the hang of drafting. She would do OK for a minute or so, but then the twist would get away from her and either run into the fiber mass or the singles would drift apart. She found the spindle very frustrating. She has practiced treadling on my wheel, but has never done drafting at the wheel, and certainly NEVER at the same time as treadling.

Emma spinning!

The most amazing thing is, I don't think she has even picked up her spindle in over a year, except for one time after I got back from Sock Summit and was so excited about my new spindles. She hasn't tried or even seemed interested in spinning in a year.

Yesterday she just sat down and started spinning. I was flabbergasted. I guess something just clicked after all those years of watching me, and her fits and starts of practicing. Her yarn is lumpy in spots and somewhat overspun, but so is everyone's first yarn. It just amazes me that she sat down and commenced spinning- no fanfare, no struggling, she just did it.

So here, for your viewing pleasure, is Emma spinning on a Schacht wheel:

I'm so proud of her I could burst.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I'm still completely smitten with my Kuchulu.  I started another bundle of Sock Summit fiber yesterday.  It is gorgeous...

start of the first batch

This is top from Fiber Optic Yarns, 50% superwash merino / 50% bamboo (rayon).  It's beautiful stuff, that shimmers and sparkles and fairly glows.  It's spinning up wonderfully, and should make beautiful laceweight.  I have 4 ounces (115 grams), so it will also make a LOT of laceweight. 

lovely fiber

And also, here's another super happy fun factoid about turkish spindles:  Even the pattern on the underside of the spindle is pretty, especially with color shifts.

under the Kuchulu

Sunday, August 21, 2011


I have something to show you.

Even more rotund...

That, my friends, is a very full Kuchulu.  Yes, that is my Kuchulu somewhere in that ball of singles.  Yikes!

I may have taken this personal challenge of mine, high yardage on a Kuchulu, just a wee bit far.

This is the last of the Bunny Patch Fibers merino/angora top from New Hues Handspuns.  I was spinning merrily along, and when I paused to evaluate how full the spindle was getting vs. how much fiber remained, I decided that there really wasn't that much left to spin.  So I might as well just carry on and finish it off, right?

Turns out there was a bit more than I thought, but of course once that notion entered my brain it wouldn't leave.  Personal challenge, you know.  Sooooo, I had to see if I could get the rest on the spindle.


I kept wrapping and wrapping, eventually just going around and around when I ran out of room on the arms to do the typical turkish spindle winding pattern.  No arms visible this time!

So how much was it?  I got 725 yards of singles on the Kuchulu!  Great googly moogly...

All spun

Those are the three spindlefuls.  Left to right, I had 16 grams (465 yards), 18 grams (524 yards), and 25 grams (725 yards).  The color in the singles was beautifully variegated, ranging from deep forest green through light sage, with occasional patches of greeny-teal and greeny-brown.  These pictures don't do it justice, the color is hard to capture.

I wound a plying ball yesterday,

Ready to go!

and finished the plying today.  It took a looooonnnngggg time to ply.  I'm feeling it in my shoulders now.

But then it was done.  And I was sad.  No more spinning to do for this fiber.

All plied up...

The finished yarn is beautiful.  It's 59 grams (2 oz.), and I have 817 yards of lovely soft fine green yarn to play with.

Finished yarn!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Finally, I have ripe tomatoes! Between the cool weather and the deer, it's been a hard-won victory this year.


Only four so far, but there are plenty more on the way.  If only the frost holds off for at least another month....

Sunday, August 14, 2011

I filled the Kuchulu again this weekend.  I just can't stop.

another full Kuchulu

I got 16 grams of fiber on it this time, and it is very full.  You can just barely see the tips of the arms sticking out.

very full!

I measured the yardage again, just for fun, and it worked out to 465 yards for the 16 grams.  The singles are about the same size as the last spindleful, but there's an extra gram on the spindle and thus more yardage.  (I'm wondering if I can go for 500?!  Maybe one more gram?)

beautiful colors

I love how the yarn matches the spindle.  This colorway should be called Verawood instead of William.

Of course I started the next batch immediately.  Like I said, resistance is futile!

one down...

Friday, August 12, 2011

Well that didn't take long. I had to pop open another of my Sock Summit purchases and start spinning. Resistance is futile when faced with the Kuchulu.

Next up!

This is the 59 gram bundle of Bunny Patch Fiber by New Hue Handpuns, in colorway William.  Beautiful earthy greens and browns, made of 80% merino and 20% angora.  Lovely.

Also, I found the perfect size tin to make a travel case for an assembled Kuchulu!  My initial idea, when I went rummaging in my pantry, was to use a tin that came with flavored nuts as part of a Christmas basket several years ago.  It was too big (but would be good for carrying a spindle plus a bunch of fiber, hmmm...).  Then I saw this, a tea tin from Pelindaba Lavender on San Juan Island, Washington.  The tea now resides in a jam jar, and the tin is in my spinning kit. It fits the spindle perfectly, with room for some fiber for padding.

Spinny spinny spin...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

It's done! My first project on the Kuchulu is finished and off all spindles.  I wound a plying ball on Tuesday afternoon.   This is two strands held together, wrapped into one ball.  I used a horse chestnut for a core, because I couldn't find the little felt ball I made for this express purpose.  I suspect it has become a cat toy.

Winding the plying ball

So the singles were wound together, remaining nicely under control, and the Kuchulu passed off her singles to the maple Spindlewood for plying.

Plying ball

The Kuchulu then snuggled back into her case for a well-earned rest.  Didn't I mention before that this spindle fits in an Altoids tin with room to spare?  It makes a perfect nest for when the spindle in not in use, since it is hard-sided. The delicacy of the shaft makes me nervous about having it in my spindling kit protected with just by the cloth bag it came with.  Now to find a tin that will fit the spindle when it's assembled!

So tiny!

Then the Spindlewood took over.  I've never used a plying ball for yarn this fine before, and I am now a total convert.  Singles under tension can't go out of control, and the 45 minutes or so spent winding the ball were more than made up for in the ease of plying.  Last time I plied on a spindle, I went straight off the bobbins, and it was a royal pain in the rear.  The strands twisted around each other, the bobbins backspun, the singles kinked, I didn't have enough hands to wrangle everything, and it was an all-around miserable experience.  With this, though, it was effortless and so enjoyable.


I plied this much and had to restrain myself from doing the rest, so that I would be able to work on it that evening at our weekly knitting and spinning night.  I just wanted to keep plying!

But I resisted, and finished it off at Anne's last night.   I put the plying ball in my little spindle bag that rests in the crook of my elbow (seen here, from Sock Summit 2009), and it just unrolled happily and calmly as I pulled the doubled singles off.  It was lovely.

It took about 2 hours to do the plying, and I ended up with 410 yards of beautiful purple fine laceweight from my 30 gram AbbyBatt. 

Finished yarn

This project was smooth and enjoyable from start to finish.  I loved every step of it. I'm sad that the spinning is done... but the yarn?  Love.  I can't wait to knit something with it.

Monday, August 08, 2011

And then there were two!

And then there were two...

All done up into singles, so pretty!

The second half of the batt spun into 432 yards (!!), so the grand total is 802 yards of singles for 30 grams of fiber.

On to the plying...

Sunday, August 07, 2011

I am completely smitten.

I can't stop!

I can't put this spindle down.  This is 11 of the final 15 grams of the AbbyBatt, spun in three sittings and numerous snatched moments over the past two days.


Friday, August 05, 2011

My mission at Sock Summit was to get a spindle.  I got one last time, and it seems like a good tradition to continue.  Spindles are great because they're so portable, and while I love the speed of a wheel, there's just something about a lovely wood spindle that really appeals.  They're like precious jewels, each unique and beautiful.  Plus, getting one every two years is fairly easy on the pocketbook.

(Remember I said that.  ONE every two years.  Not one for each time the Sock Summit has occurred, every time it occurs.)

So I was on a mission to find The Spindle.  I found one that called to me at the Carolina Homespun booth, a square Spindlewood Standard in birdseye maple.  Now really- birdseye maple?  How can I be expected to resist?


But then, after happily spindling around the marketplace for a while, my friend Anne said I should go look at the Jenkins booth. To be honest, I had completely passed them by because I'm not a fan of bottom-whorl spindles, and I've never used a Turkish spindle. They aren't as sleek as a regular solid-whorl spindle. They have sticky-out arms.  Definitely not my thing.

O Beware, thou who will not try new things or approach with an open mind...

Perfect combination

I should never have gone to look. That's what I said I was going to do- look. But then I saw the top shelf of their display, and fell completely under the spell of the Kuchulu.  That's a Persian word that means "tiny and cute"- how perfectly apt. These are the tiniest and cutest spindles I have ever seen.  It's 3" tall and 2 3/8" wide.When the shaft is removed and the arms taken apart, it fits in an Altoids tin with room left over.

It took me f.o.r.e.v.e.r. for choose one.  And choose one I did, because as soon as I tried one, there was no turning back. All the woods were so beautiful. I was sorely tempted by the tulipwood one and the ebony one, but in the end, the verawood one won out. It's green!

So here are the new kids:
Spindlewood and Jenkins

Who have happily joined the family:
the family

The details, left to right:
11 g (0.38 oz) Jenkins Woodworking, Kuchulu, verawood arms, walnut shaft
8 g (0.28 oz) Cascade Spindle Co., Tiger, zebrawood whorl, mahogany shaft
21g (0.75 oz) Spindlewood Co., Square Mini, cocobolo whorl, ebony shaft
20g (0.7 oz) Spindlewood Co. Square Standard, birdseye maple whorl, birdseye maple shaft

So what else did I get?  Well, I bought two spindles, so of course I had to get something to spin NAOW!

Sock Summit haul!

Actually, I mostly bought spinning fiber. I do so love to spin. Clockwise from the lower left are:
  • a 4 oz. braided wheel of Fiber Optic 50:50 superwash merino and bamboo top, in Catamaran Batik
  • a 4 oz. bundle of Fiber Optic 50:50 superwash merino and bamboo pencil roving, in Equinox No. 51 Traditional Hand Paint
  • an 8 oz. ball of domestic wool (mostly Targhee according to the booth owner) carded roving, from Carolina Homespun, in shades of purple
  • the Spindlewood Standard square spindle
  • a 2 oz. braid of 70:30 baby alpaca and cashmere from The Fold, natural white (originally was a package of 4 oz., which Anne and I split)
  • a skein of Spindlecat Studios superwash merino sock yarn, in Sockfetti (I missed out on getting one of these skeins in 2009!)
  • a 2 oz. wheel of Bunny Patch Fiber 80:20 merino and angora top, in William (greens and browns)
  • a 30g AbbyBatt from Carolina Homespun, made of...soft things...possibly merino, silk and alpaca, the shop owner wasn't sure...whatever it is, it's delicious...
  • the Jenkins Kuchulu spindle
I spun half a Spindlewood of the purple roving on Saturday, but then got the Jenkins out that night at the hotel, and it was all over.  I was obsessed with the Kuchulu for the rest of the weekend.  I spun at dinner on Saturday, Sunday all over the market and while watching the Fleece to Foot competition, several hours on Monday night back in La Grande, and several hours on Tuesday.

I made a lot of yarn.


That is 15 grams of the AbbyBatt, half of the total, spun into very fine singles.  That's about all that would fit on the spindle- I could have put a bit more on, but it was getting noticeably heavier, and also harder to wind on without the yarn slipping off the sides.  Remember, the spindle itself only weighs 11 grams.  My goal was to get at least the weight of the spindle in yarn, and I accomplished that easily.

My secondary goal was somewhat silly, I suppose, but Wanda Jenkins mentioned that she could get 300 yards of singles on a Kuchulu, and that just sounded like a challenge to me.  So after I finished the first half of the batt, I wound the singles onto my skeinwinder to measure them.  How stressful do you think THAT was?  I took the drive band off the winder, and turned it by hand so as to avoid snapping the singles.  Surprisingly, the hair-fine singles held up fine, and went into a skein with no problem.  Very energized, though, so I made sure to keep my hand through the loop at all times even though I tied the skein well.

Then I counted and counted and counted the rounds, multiplied by 2 yards (after measuring the winder to make sure), and came up with 370 yards of singles!!

Yay!  Mission accomplished!  I did it!  Now I wish I had spun just a bit finer in the beginning, to get to an even 400 yards...  Ah well, next time...

After I was done counting, I put the singles-skein back on the winder and carefully wound them off onto a weaving bobbin.  And then I was finally able to breathe again!

I continued spinning the batt on Thursday, and am still loving it.  I like this spindle because it is small and since the whorl is at the bottom, I can easily spin while reclining in My Comfy Chair in the living room.  It's perfect.

Kuchulu and purple loveliness

Monday, August 01, 2011

Sock Summit was super SUPER fun.  If I can get my act together later, I'll show pictures of what I got.

I had so much fun and would go again in a heartbeat, but the jury is still out on whether SuperFunHappyTimes are worth the sickening thud of coming back to reality.