Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Happiness is.....

a drawer full of clean hand knit socks


and some new ones for my feet.


Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Fiber Friday: Core Spinning

Thursday I tackled core spinning. Core spinning is a technique where you sort of draft fibers over a core yarn. The core yarn can be commercially prepared or you can spin your own. You can even spin two single then while you ply you core spin. I didn't challenge myself that much. I took some Lion Brand Fisherman's wool I had handy and added some extra twist and carded up some fiber on the carder.

The results of my hard work: about 20 yards for each skein.

From left to right skein 1, 2 3, 4.

Skein 1

Fiber: Punta. Carded on the drum carder in layers: yellow, green, blue not necessarily in the order. It wasn't much more than .6 oz on half the carder. I attenuated the batt before spinning.

 I dyed this last week.
A little blurry but you can kind of see the colors after I attenuated the batt.

Core: Added extra twist to the left. Core spun to the right. Held fiber in left hand and yarn on the right. When the skein hangs it twists to the right.

 In theory adding the left twist then core spinning right or vice versa helps create a balanced yarn when you're done. I also had a hard time controlling the drafting.

Skein 2 
Fiber: The same Punta fiber as above about .6 oz. Carded on the drum carder by lining up the colors side by side. I attenuated the batt before spinning.


Core: Added even more twist the left. Core spun to the right. Held fiber in left hand and yarn on the right. I tried to slow things down and did a little better. When hanging it still twists to the right even with the extra twist in the core. Here where I realized I usually hold my fiber in my right hand. Then thought I should change how I add extra twist because of that.

From left to right skein 1, 2 3, 4. You can see here how the skeins hang.

Skein 3

Purple Polworth I'm using for another project but some of the darker bits called out to used for the core spinning.

Fiber: purple polwarth and the same punta above. Carded the purple on one side and the layered the other on the left using half the carder for a .6 oz batt. Did not attenuated the fibers. I just pulled chunks off for spinning.

Core: Added twist to the right until the commercial yarn looked liked it was plied to the right. Core spun to the left with the fiber in my right hand and core yarn on the left. This felt so much better to have the fiber in my right hand. I felt like I had lot more control.

I still had too much twist in the end. This time to the left since I core spun to the left.

Skein 4

Fiber: About .6 oz of purple polwarth and the same punta above but I layered the colors on the carder. No attenuation. I didn't get a fiber prep photo for this skein.

Core: Added extra twist to the left. Core spun to the right with the fiber in right hand and the core yarn on the left. I kept things pretty slow. I do find as I go along needing more take up to get the yarn to wind on. This was my best skein so far although still a little unbalanced.  The fiber drafted on more smoothly.

I'm thinking bulky knit hat.  I want to try some core spinning on some lace or fingering yarn next. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Fiber Friday: The Merino Saga

A while back I got some some purple merino and tussah silk in a trade thinking I would spin some lace yarn.

Using about 3 ounces of the purple merino you see above and an ounce of the tussah silk in the lower left corner. I made some batts.


I got bored spinning so fine so I chain plied what I had spun so far and set the yarn aside.

3ply, chain plied,  over the fold, short forward draw, no twist in drafting zone.
187 yards, .92 oz/.06 lbs, 3224 ypp, 40wpi, lace weight

Then I decided it would be lovely fiber for a hat or mittens but a thicker yarn.  So I set the ratio to 5:1 with some take up and spun over the fold long draw.

2 ply, 5:1 ratio, over the fold long draw
134 yards, 1.6 oz/.17 lbs, 1340 ypp, 18wpi, sport weight

Then I spun some more:

2 ply, 5:1 ratio, over the fold long draw
108 yards, .98 oz/ .06 lb, 1808 ypp, 16-18wpi, sport weight but a little thinner than the skein above.

Then I decided to take what purple fiber I had left, some natural merino and the last once of tussah silk and blend in various ways to play with color.


I divided the fiber up for two batts.  So the batts would be light and airy.


Above you can see the little bit of purple merino I had left and some of the silk.


Here I added another layer of natural merino

One of the lovely batts right after it's first pass.  I made another batt.  I took one batt and blended it one more time.  Then took half of that and blended that for a third time.   Sadly I did not document the batts for those skeins.  All this was also  spun pulling off small chunks of the batt and spinning over the fold long draw at a ratio 5:1 with some take up.

From the top one pass (1x), two passes (2x), three passes (3x) through the carder.

Blended 1x - I like this this one the best with the little bits if colors popping out.  I'm excited to see how this knits up:
blended 1x
2 ply, 5:1 ratio, over the fold long draw
167 yards, 1.6 oz/ .11 lb 1670 ypp, 18 wpi, sport weight

Blended 2x - I like how I can still see some of the colors but it's more muted and heathered.  I love heathered colors:
blended 2x

2 ply, 5:1 ratio, over the fold long draw
100 yards, .88 oz/ .06 lb, 1667 ypp, 18wpi. sport weight

Blended 3x - Even more muted than the skein above.
blended 3x

2 ply, 5:1 ratio, over the fold long draw
111 yards, .88 oz/ .06 lb, 1853 ypp, 18 wpi, sport weight - little thinner than skein above

The colors are fairly well represented in the photos.  In natural light you might be able to see the greens and purple in the yarn more clearly.  Yet my online and real life friend saw gray.  From a distance I think these skeins did come out a warm gray.  I think I fill in the other colors because I know what the tussah silk looked like before it was blended with the the fibers.


This photo is a bit blurry but you can see how intense the colors were. Initially I planned to over-dye some of the skeins for more colors.  My knit groups told me not to.  They thought the colors were beautiful as is so I'm going to listen to their sage advice.


So now the hat idea has turned into a shawl idea.  Stay tuned for future project updates.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

What's Cookin' Wednesday: Stew is the thing

The cooler weather just sings soup and all things starchy and roasted. Monday nights dinner was a light beef root veggie stew with homemade beef broth.  Stephen helped me with it before he headed into the office on Monday.  We used Julian Child'' directions.  I didn't cook the broth down since I wanted a broth rather than a glaze.


Luscious Light Beef Stew

About 1 lb stew beef -  Browned in my pressure cooker then filled the bottom with beef broth and cooked for 12 minutes at high pressure.  I ended up using only half that amount because my soup bone was quite meaty.

1 large rutabaga cubed
1 large leek chopped
4 garlic cloves chopped
1 large sweet potato cubed
1 pablano pepper chopped
2 ribs of celery chopped
6 cups beef broth

Add some oil or ghee to the pan ans saute the leeks, celery for a bit then add the garlic and peppers.  After a bit add the the other veggies and cook a bit more.  Add the beef and top it off with about 6 cup beef broth.

Heat to a simmer for 20 minutes or until the veggies are tender.  When done add more broth if you want a lighter soup.  I added about 3 more ladles of broth.
Serve with a salad or roasted veggies.  I had roasted brussel sprouts and carrots.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Belated Fiber Friday: Stockings are done!

I just love them.  They are colorfun.  I'm going to hang them up now and enjoy them everyday until Winter Solstice.

From left to right: Dad, Mom, Girl Kid, Boy Kid.

Plenty of yarn left for a pair of stockings for my feet or maybe a super cute colorful baby sweater.


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

What's Cookin' Wednesday

I did it.  I got up on Saturday,  fixed myself a yummy breakfast, and without my usual partner in crime I biked to the market.


Where I gathered: kale, okra, green beans, zuchs, lettuce, cucumbers, spinach  sweet potatoes, lots of peppers, eggplant, apples etc.

By Friday the fridge was pretty bare of the food.  I did have some sad basil left and some green beans so I decided on pesto chicken.

The girl kid cubed up the chicken with our new nifty sharp knife and cooked it too.  I sauteed some garlic and shallots to toss with it later.  Then the kids had it with pasta and Stephen and I had it with some roasted green beans. It was delicious if I do say so myself.

I  tried to take a photo of the yumminess ( an new word :) but my camera was not cooperating with the flash.  I need a new photo process for the winter.  I don't have enough light in the evening for good food or fiber photos.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Tip Tuesday - It's all about the labeling

And the note taking and the remembering.  A fiber friend ask me at knit group a few weeks ago,  "How do you remember what the fiber is after you bring it home?"  My witty answer, "I don't."  The sad thing is I don't.  If I have a little bit I can keep track by what's in my stash on Ravelry.  If I have more than two undyed fibers I am likely to get confused which one is which.  Add dyed at fiber into the mix and I get doubly confused.  Since I don't like being confused I've been pondering how to keep track of it all.

I came across this nifty idea of using landscape tape.


Landscape flag tape is easy to break off or cut then write on with a permanent marker.   You can get this at your local hardware store for about $2.50.  I like this over paper as it doesn't get torn easily as paper or fall apart when wet.  So I can use it for dyeing and spinning samples as I can write information on it with a permanent marker and it doesn't wash off.


Things I like to take notes on when spinning: fiber, colorway, fiber prep, ratio, take up, drafting method, plies, how it was plied, yards, yards per pound, and angle of twist.

I also use tags cut up from old milk jugs.  I punch a hole in a corner and add a long piece of string that I double over and tie.  Then I loop that through the hole then loop the tag and string over the fiber.  I like this method as I can reuse it over and over again.


How to keep track of the leftover bits of yarn?  Do it like my mother did.


Wrap a bit of bandaging tape around a free end with the name, colorway of the yarn and weight. I think my mom left off the yarn weight on this one.

Now these are all great methods but only if you do it!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Fiber Friday: Spinning Color

On a whim I signed up for a Craftsy class, Spinning with Dyed Fibers,  to learn more about spinning all the lovely dyed tops you can buy or dye yourself.  Since I'll be opening my own shop here soon I'm eager to learn anything new that might help me think about my colorways and how others might want to spin them.


After watching the videos I grabbed the Mountain Colors Targhee in Peppergrass I had in my stash and got to  spinning. First, I laid the fiber out to see what kind of colors I had to explore. At first glance it seemed rather random.  There was actually some progression: lt blue, lt green, dk blue, dk green, lt blue

Shows how the colors repeat - likely how it was dyed

I  pulled off some fiber and started dividing it up to try some different ways of spinning it up.  This is my first time spinning targhee and I love it.  It spins easily and it's very springing and soft.

Sample 1 -

I pulled off a section of color above that runs from a light blue-yellow-dark blue - dk blue green- light blue.  Then split that bit in half then in half again which gave me a 6 gram bit of fiber that was thickness of my thumb.

I spun this short forward draw with twist entering the fiber supply.  Then chain plied it to preserve the colors.  I forgot to do measurements for yardage which I will do in the future.   It's a light worsted yarn,

Sample 1
Sample 1 - On the bobbin

Mountain Colors Targhee - Sample 1
Sample 1 - 3 ply yarn that should stripe some.

Sample 1
Sample 1 - Knit the sample on US 7 - 4.5 needles.  I like the color progressions.

Sample 2
Sample 2
Sample 2 - Split the fiber up like above.

Sample 2
Sample 2 - Then flipped the colors around so the yellows overlap with the dark blue green.  2 ply, 5:1 ratio, short forward draw. sport-dk, 6 grams

Sample 2 - How it looks on the bobbin

Mountain Colors Targhee - Sample 2
Sample 2 -  2 ply sport to dk weight yarn.

Sample 2
Sample 2 - Knit on US 6  - more muted effect than Sample 1

Sample 3
Sample 3
Sample 3 - took a full color section -  then separated the colors.

Sample 3
Sample 3- Divided each color in half again

Sample 3
Sample 3 - 5:1 ration over the fol long draw with some take up.  Take two colors at a time over the fold so I get some color marl in the singles.

Mountain Colors Targhee  - Sample 3
Sample 3 - 7grams got a thick and thin worsted  2 ply

Sample 3
Sample 3 - Knit swatch gives me more variation and marled colors.  This creates a more all over color with some bits of yellow green.

All three samples
From the top: Sample 3, Sample 1, Sample 2

all the samples
Sample 2 - Sample 1 - Sample 3

My two favorites are Sample 1  and Sample 3 . Sample 3 I think will knit up like it shows whether I knit a sweater or a hat.   However, I think Sample 1's  striping will be less noticeable in larger item.  If spin the full thickness of the top with out splitting it might come out close for a small item like a hat or mittens.  So I'm going to spin like I did for Sample 1 using the full thickness of the fiber then knit up a hat.