I finished spinning two skeins of merino/nylon blend and now I have a giant bobbin of squishy softness. I can’t wait to set the twist, and then knit something up with this. I’m thinking that I’ll dye it with avocado pits so that it turns a dusky antique rose. This is by far the thinnest and most constant spin I’ve gotten so far. I wish it was a three ply, but since I only have three bobbins, I figured I’d be safe (you need one bobbin to ply onto). Next? I’ll be live streaming making socks on my antique sock knitting machine on Wednesday! It should be exciting.
This spin was an absolute delight. It’s knitpicks stroll (75% superwash merino, 25% nylon) that I picked up in bulk a few years back, when I first got my wheel. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, so I didn’t touch it at the time. I wanted to see how my sock yarn spinning would be, so I tried it out. I have 19 other bundles just like this one to work through and goodness, I am in love.
I have some dye that I hope to use (requires some preparation) once I spin some more and ply it. It is by far the most lovely fiber I’ve ever spun before, including the aplaca. I’m going to make this particular batch into a 2ply but eventually I’m hoping my spinning gets good enough that I can make a fingering weight 3ply. I spun the entire 4oz over the course of three days, which is absolutely fantastic for me. In case you can’t tell by my gushing, I really like this fiber.
Three years ago I bought a kiwi2 spinning wheel from someone who was looking to get rid of theirs. I paid $100+ shipping, and it was probably one of my better fiber hobby purchases. The kiwi2 is a double treadle wheel, so you need two feet to peddle it. After some time, I was having physical issues with this part of it. Some days my feet were in so much pain I just couldn’t bring myself to use the wheel. I started looking into pricing out an e-spinner, and did a bunch of research into the different models available out there. I had a few requirements, but nothing unreasonable. I wanted my e-spinner to be quiet, have a battery, be able to handle lace to worsted weight yarn, and have an OK sized bobbin. Companies like Ashford (who make my kiwi wheel) also have e-spinners, but what I eventually settled on is the Starling, by Daedalus. They’re pretty expensive as far as e-spinners go, but having owned mine for a few weeks now I have to say, it is an absolutely incredible machine. I have nothing but good to say about it. Right now the waiting list is a year, but mine arrived in 6 months (I ordered it in December, and finally received it in July). Still worth it.
I have an entire bin filled with different fibers just waiting to be spun. I bought alpaca fleece (so.much.alpaca), and I have some merino/nylon, and just bits and bobs from subscription crates like Paradise Fibers. The act of spinning (to me at least) is incredibly therapeutic, and I really love knowing that I worked the yarn from fiber to something useable in a project. It takes practice. You have to draft the fiber out into the thickness you’re looking for, and then feed it into the wheel once you’ve applied spin to it. On the e-spinner, applying spin to a strand of fiber is incredibly easy because you manually set the control / speed. On my wheel, I’d have to peddle my feet at the same time as drafting and at the same time as applying that spin. Now I just have to pay attention to my hand movements. It really becomes like second nature, especially if you have nicely prepared fiber.
Lots of people ask if this is cheaper than buying yarn, and honestly – not really. BUT it does take time to spin the yarn and then knit with the yarn, so it’s almost like you’re getting two hobbies for the cost of one. You can also source out some lovely wool for a great price if you’re friends with some Sheppard’s. I prefer to buy natural coloured fleece, roving, and combed top. I do also have a drum carder so I can prepare the fiber myself.
The goal is to get good enough / consistent enough to be able to use my yarn on my circular sock knitting machine (that ancient hand crank machine I have from 1895 that I absolutely adore). It will only take fingering weight yarn, and I’m not quite there yet. I think with a bit more practice on my e-spinner that this will absolutely be an obtainable goal. Then the whole world better watch out, I’ll be cranking socks for everyone. It’s been a while since I wrote about the sock machine, so maybe that one will be next. I’d also love to start streaming as I crank socks, but I need to figure out some sort of camera set up for that one.
It’s finally done, all chain plied and made into a skein, ready for when I decide to use it. I didn’t particularly enjoy spinning this fiber, it was a batt, and those are prone to neps (lumps) and it makes drafting quite difficult. Over the three years that I’ve been spinning yarn I’ve learned what sort of fibers I enjoy, and how I like them prepared. I do have a drum carder but I didn’t want to ‘ruin’ the batt that I had purchased from a vendor. Next time I might just prepare it the way that I prefer anyway.
I’m glad to have completed it, I’m incredibly thankful to finally have an e-spinner, and I am excited about all of the future spinning I’m going to be doing. I have an entire bin of fiber just waiting to be made into yarn. Of course then I’ll also have to figure out what I’m going to spin with it all.
In a single evening I managed to finish spinning the singles of the alpaca, merino, & finn fiber that I had. It was 3.5oz, which on my kiwi would have taken me a few weeks, at best. The fiber wasn’t the easiest to draft (as I already mentioned) and was quite filled with neps, but I’m hoping to learn how to chain ply using it. Chain plying is perfect for when you want to keep colours together, or for when you don’t have 2-3 bobbins of yarn to ply it with. In this case, I only have the one bobbin. I’ve never tried chain plying before, but it has been on my to-learn list for a number of years. It’s just a nice skill to have. I think using my Starling will be a good way to learn, I can keep the speed very low, and I can forcus on the hand motions required rather than focusing on my treadling. Hopefully the next update on this yarn will be the completed version.
The yarn is just Lion Brand Pound of Love in worsted weight – but this cardigan is coming along nicely. Unfortunately I’m on the most boring part now – 14 inches of plain knitting. I’m hoping to do a row or two every day so I can actually see some progress, but it’s pretty slow. Especially now that I have the new spinning wheel to play with. The idea was to have this finished for fall, and I’m not confident I’ll even have it ready for then. We’ll just have to see!
After being on a waiting list for over 6 months, it was finally my turn to receive a Daedalus Starling spinning wheel. This is an electric wheel, 3D printed with kevlar components and goodness, it is *amazing*. Some days I’m unable to treadle my kiwi2, as much as I love it, and this provides me with an alternative so that I can still do something I love that relaxes me. I set it up last night on the couch while I watched some Golden Girls on Disney+ and honestly it was one of the most relaxing evenings I’ve had in a very long time. I didn’t game, I didn’t pay attention to social media, I just unplugged and worked on my spinning. In less than 2 hours I had almost 3.5oz done, the entire bag of fiber I had purchased so many years ago. Meanwhile, upstairs on the kiwi I have not even done a fraction of that amount, in a much longer timeframe. It will be hard to get the motivation to complete that spin at this rate, lol.
After taking a few days to think about it, I finally picked a new project to start for 2022. This time around I’m using up some handspun to create a scarf. I plan on using a few different skeins I have, and creating a slight fade between the two of them that I hope works out. I don’t have enough of any handspun to knit an entire scarf, but I do have three skeins that will work very well together (or so I hope). The pattern looks lovely, and I’m already enjoying the progress.
2021 wasn’t as knit heavy as I would have liked, but I did get three major projects done. I finished off my Silver Bell Sweater, I knit an amazing shawl, and I completed my Cable Crush Hoodie (that I love on so many levels). I also did a handful of smaller projects like socks, christmas balls, and dish cloths. I did not learn any new techniques, and I didn’t get to do as much sock knitting as I would have liked. I did get a bit of spinning done, but again not as much as I wanted. Being evacuated in the summer ate up a chunk of time, as did the issues with my hands I continue to have. Some days as much as I’d LIKE to knit, I just can’t. I’m still coming to terms with that even though it’s difficult.
In 2021 I had a loose goal of knitting 12 projects, one for each month – and I completed this. I’m not sure if I want to have the same goal in 2022, or if I just want to knit and see where it takes me. I might even do a bit of crochet. I do hope I get a lot of spinning done, I have so much amazing fiber just sitting there, it deserves to get showcased.
In non fiber crafts, I want to keep drawing. I might do more with miniatures, but I think my days of cross stitching are pretty limited. My eyes (and hands) just can’t seem to keep up. It’s a shame because I have a LOT of supplies, but for now I’m not going to pressure myself. I would like to continue sewing, but again I’m not really sure where to go with that. I had thought quilting would be neat, but it’s also complicated, and seems expensive. I guess we’ll just have to see!
One of my major goals for this month was to finish my Cable Crush Hoodie – and I did it! I love it. The yarn cost me a total of about $25 from a KnitPicks sale last year. I knit a 2XL – and I love every inch of it. I can’t wait to see what 2022 brings. Right now, I have zero WIP on the go, and it feels odd, because I think every year prior I’ve always had something on my needles to finish off.
So here’s to 2022 and everything it brings.
I went to school at a time where ‘home economics’ was still a thing, and in that class I learned to sew. We made stuffed teddy bears and other simple projects like that. A few years ago I bought myself a sewing machine in the hopes that I would one day learn how to use it, preferably for making quilts. While I can’t say I’m any closer to sewing quilts (yet) I can say that I had an absolute blast sewing this RCMP stocking. I filled it with hand made treats to give it as a gift to one of the members at our detachment here as a memento of our stay. I hope they like it.