Category: Spinning

Another Skein of Yarn Completed!

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.

Making Yarn with my Daedalus Starling e-spinner

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.

Alpaca, Merino, & Finn (3)

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.

Alpaca, Merino, & Finn (2)

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.

Alpaca, Merino, & Finn (1)

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.

A Starling V3 of my Very Own

For a few years now I have been following the progress of e-spinners. There are some lovely ones out there depending on how traditional (Ashford) or non traditional (e-Kube) you want to go. They all work similar, but one that I’ve had my eyes on for quite some time is the Starling (V3) from Daedalus. This year my husband decided to surprise me by adding me to their queue list, with the hopes of purchasing one when they do a batch.

This is a 3D printed e-spinner (with some non printed parts, of course) that just looks like an absolute dream. I’ve wanted an e-spinner for days that I can’t treadle (which lately, are quite a few) or when I wanted portability. My Kiwi2 is a lovely wheel, but I’ve always wondered how much easier on my body it might be if the machine was providing the twist for me instead of having to treadle. Then I could focus on drafting, or not focus at all and just watch some TV while I draft. The machine weighs 2.5lbs, comes with 3 bobbins that hold 12oz (!) includes a battery, and a speed control box. The Starling V3 is their mid range model, and can do everything from lace to art yarn.

I’m on a wait list right now to try to get one, but I know it will take some time. I’m OK with that. One of the great things about e-spinners is that they don’t really change, and they don’t lose value (nor do regular spinning wheels, don’t get me wrong here). I’m hoping it will be a 2022 delivery, but we’ll just have to wait and see!

A year Spinning

I thought I had been spinning yarn for more than two years, but nope, it has been exactly two years. When I was first getting started I doubted that I’d be able to use anything I made, I was pretty bad. I practiced, a LOT, and eventually got the hang of things. Now I feel confident in my spinning abilities, and I make some beautiful stuff.

If you want to learn how to do something, be it speak a new language, a new hobby, or a new skill – stick with it. Practice it. Make time for it. It doesn’t have to be your entire life, but you WILL slowly get better. It just takes time (something not all of us have a lot of to spare, I know).

A bit of Alpaca

I’m still trying to work my way through the mountain of alpaca fiber I have – it’s going slow, but it’s such a delight to spin I know I just need to dedicate more time to it. I want to make this a three ply yarn, and I have 1.5 bobbins down. I’m thinking I should just learn to chain ply, I might feel better about the process if I could see more progress (like a finished yarn). I’ve tried chain plying before and I was absolute rubbish at it, so we’ll see how that goes. It just feels like this fiber is never ending – and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s incredible to work with, but I’d love to start knitting with the finished yarn, or start a new fiber (or continue processing the two fleece I have).

Spinning – Still

I still have SO much alpaca to spin into yarn. It’s daunting and makes me happy at the same time. It feels like I’ll never make my way through it all, but I know if I just spend a bit of time every night doing some spinning, eventually I’ll reach the end. Of this one bag. We’ll see about the 5 other bags I have.

I’m spinning this for a three ply, with no idea what I’ll use it for. Maybe a hap. Maybe a shall. Maybe I’ll blend it with something because alpaca on its own can be a bit difficult. That’s something to think about for 2021.

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