Tag Archive | yarn

I Heart My Minion Onesie

Mom always got us pyjamas for Christmas. That is one of many traditions I have kept alive. This past Christmas, I bought myself a Minion onesie. It even has a hood!

Today is one of those days where I’m grateful that I got it. It’s dark, dreary and damp. Pretty sure I’ve caught the bug my Sweet Pea was fighting off. I’ve changed into my onesie and I’m curled up in a blanket. There is so much I should be doing. I had to take a day for myself though. If I don’t, my body will take control and MAKE me take the time off. So I give.

I decided over the weekend that I was going to at least start a sweater for a crochet-along hosted by A Crocheted Simplicity. Whether I finish it or not will remain to be seen. I’m off to a good start though. It’s a cool sweater.

Since I’m feeling like crap, I won’t take the energy to post all the links I could. I will post a link to my project page though. That has all the links. It also has a pic of my gauge swatch and the yarn I’ll be using.

Here is the start of my back panel:

keepmeinstitchez.wordpress.com - Crossover Pullover - back panel

Crossover Pullover – back panel

Just in case I don’t have the time to update my progress here on the blog, you can follow along on my Ravelry project page.

Twist and Grist with 5 Wool Types

DISCLAIMER: Remember, I’m still a student here. I’m still learning. So what I’ve written about my findings regarding my assignments MAY be incorrect. It is how it’s worked for ME at the time, based on notes I’ve taken throughout the course. If you’re reading this for your own assignments/personal growth etc., I encourage you to read other sources as well just to confirm because there may be a chance that I’m not understanding things correctly. There is no way that this is the be all and end all of spinning information. I definitely don’t know all there is to know about spinning. That’s why I’m taking this course!

I’m taking a moment here to do an update about the next assignment due for Level III. The only reason I’m taking a moment is because I have to wait for my breakfast to cook and cool down. Otherwise, I really don’t have the time to be updating.

Once again, life has decided to throw me some more curve balls preventing me from being as on track with things as I “should” be. And once again, all I’m going to do is do my best. That’s all I can do. Family comes first. Last. Foremost. That’s not going to stop me from busting my butt though to try to get this out on time (or as close to on time as I can). Anyway…

This set of assignments is focusing on Twist/Grist and the 5 different wool classes.

The twist is just that – how much or how little twist you put into your yarn. There are three ways you can change it up – changing the ratio on your wheel, your treadle speed or your drafting length.

The grist is the amount of fibres your allow into your drafting zone. It often gets mixed up with diameter. As I understand, grist applies more to the pre-spinning/spinning process and diameter is the result after it’s spun (WPI). Keeping a consistent grist is easy (for me) when it comes to spinning worsted-style. All I do is make sure I use the same sized distaff across the board. I’m still finding my groove with with woolen-style spinning.

As far as the wool types go, there is: Fine (ie. Cormo), Down (ie. Cheviot), Medium Fine (ie. Corriedale), Medium Strong (ie. Romney) and Strong (ie. Cotswold). The breeds in the brackets are what I’m using for these assignments. Of course, there are a LOT more sheep breeds that fall under the various categories. These are only five of them.

We are to spin three skeins of each wool type with three different twists. Of course we have to document how we achieved this – right down to our washing techniques. Then we have to do a sample swatch of each wool type with the three different twists. We have to have an end use in mind and then justify which yarn/twist would best suit the end use.

The exciting part of this assignment, to me, is the experimentation part of all of it. I think that many spinners, including myself, find our go-to spinning method. We have our ratios we like. The treadle speed we like. The drafting length we like. We’re comfortable with it and often have little reason to venture outside the box unless we’re spinning an exotic fibre or something like that. Well, this is forcing us to. This is about self-discovery. Of course this doesn’t apply to all spinners, but I think it’s safe to say that it applies to many.

I’m not sure if I’ll have time to take photos, but I’m hoping to. I have taken some of the prep. They’re on my phone and I’m on the laptop at the moment (working on the documenting part of things).

 

Mohair: The Moral of the Story

I enjoy sharing what I learn. I hope that it will inspire others to try new things. I especially hope it saves people from learning stuff the hard way like I have. Sometimes we’re given a head’s up, sometimes we’re not. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that many times we may have missed the head’s up. I think a lot of that comes from so much information being thrown at us in such a short period of time that it’s easy to miss the memo. There have been times though, where expectations were NOT made clear. I know I’m not the only one who has experienced this. I won’t go into detail, but it is comforting, in a twisted way, when you find out that you’re not the only one who has no record or recollection of something being said and/or demonstrated (this is course-wide, not this unit). But I digress…

What I’m going to discuss here are my PERSONAL findings with spinning mohair. You’ll see why I capitalized “personal” in a moment. Your experience may be far different than mine. Many of my classmates had spun mohair before. Not I. The first time I had ever touched a lock of mohair was in August. So this is from an absolute rookie’s point of view.

1. Remember that your mohair spinning experience is YOUR mohair spinning experience.

My biggest mistake in this mohair unit was to read about some of my classmates’ experiences BEFORE I spun my own skeins. Some of them had one heck of a time with it. So of course, I automatically assumed that I would too. This made me nervous, almost to the point of paranoid. I shut down because of perfection paralysis. When I finally psyched myself up to do it, I didn’t have any issues with the spinning itself. I really kicked myself for worrying so much and for letting it stop me from diving in. The biggest lesson I learned from this is that you have to make your experiences YOUR experiences. Just because somebody else is struggling with a particular fibre doesn’t mean you will. From here on out, I’ll only be checking in if I have specific questions or after the fact.

2. A l’il fluff’ll do ya
This may seem a little hypocritical after what I had just posted above. However, it’s a true story. When we were given our homework fibre, I was concerned about not having enough. This was likely because I’m so used to spinning wool. Yeah, we were fine. Well, sort of… While we did have enough to complete the assignments, it would have been nice to have more mohair to work with for sampling. Because, well… ROOKIE!!!!

3. Spin FINE
This goes with the point above. Seriously, you DO have enough fibre. Remember, it’s not wool you’re dealing with. I have found that with mohair, the finer, the better. I also found that one out the hard way because the first assignments I tackled, I used waaaaaayyyyyy too much fibre and spun waaaaayyyy too thick. I really wish I could do all of this over again. I have learned from my mistakes though. That’s the whole point, right?

4. Don’t expect your singles/plying to be perfect right away
Spinning mohair is a whole new ballgame. To me anyway. I needed to bust out my fast flyer. You need to put extra twist in your singles in order for it to stay. Mohair resists twist. So that means that you don’t need as much twist when you’re plying because you don’t want to lose what you had to put in the singles. This will take practice. You could be a natural though – if so, yay! If not, understand that finding your groove will take practice. Be gentle with yourself. Make sure to acknowledge your mistakes and note what you would do differently the next time.

5. Mohair fibre weighs more than wool
This reminds me of that riddle “What’s heavier – a pound of bricks or a pound of feathers?” In this case, the mohair is the bricks and the wool is the feathers. We had discussed this in class, but of course, brainy was in overload mode. When I weighed everything out to do my orthogenous assignment, I was thinking “WTH??? There is waaaaayyyy more wool than there is mohair. How the heck is this 50/50? AHA!” So remember -if you blend 50/50 by weight, you will end up with a higher percentage of wool fibres. This is where it’s super important to keep your end use in mind if you’re spinning for a specific project.

6. Lightly mist mohair and put into baggie overnight before working with it
This little gem is brought to you by Donna Hancock, our instructor and owner of Wellington Fibres. I am soooo glad she told us this AND I wrote it down! Since we were well into winter when I was working on this assignment, this was one of the most important tips we got. Static+mohair=nastiness. She also suggested that when blending with wool on a drum carder, to run some wool through first. Otherwise, the mohair will sink to the bottom and it won’t blend evenly.

I think that’s all the tips that I have to offer for working with mohair. It’s really not as scary as I thought it would be. I really enjoyed it and plan on working with it more in the future.

If you have any tips that you would like to share, the comments are open.

Choas Isn’t Always Negative

So I was on a roll there for a bit with the posting in January. I had everything balanced – my assignments, pattern testing, the occasional order (with the understanding I can’t give a completion date), the blog posting… In addition to the everyday awesomeness of being a single mom. 

Well, something awesome happened that shook things up. I’m not going to go into detail at the moment, but I will share when the time is right. I will say though that it left me with a LOT to do in a short period of time. All of this with spinning assignments due. 

In addition to that, some family things have come up that see me having to be even more flexible. I don’t mind one bit. I always find a way. However, it’s added responsibility and requires more balancing on my part. Meh. Nothing I haven’t done before.

Sadly though, this means that my assignments have had to take a back seat lately. I am NOT going to let that stop me from finishing them though. It kills me that things just keep getting hurled in my direction that prevent me from getting them out on time (like yesterday I was finishing some up and the batteries died in my freaking label maker – C’MON!!!!), but it’s all out of my hands. I have been/will be in touch with my instructors to keep them updated. 

At this point, I have no intention of quitting. Yes, it adds some stress to my life. However, this stress is different. I have consciously chosen this stress. This stress gives me some reprieve from some of the shit flung upon me resulting from my past mistakes. This is my reward for keeping my head high and having to keep flushing the toilet on the past. Eventually, the pipes will get cleared. There are plumbers on the job.There will always be some toilet-flushing because that is life. I get it. I continue to keep the faith that that which is clogging the pipes now will also move forward. Someday. 

No, I have shifted my perpective towards this course. I think I said that before. I will keep saying it too. I’m not here to get the highest marks. I not here to compete with anyone. I’m here to become the best spinner I can be. I’m here for the feedback and knowledge of the instructors we have. If it means I have to lose marks because I can’t get my assignments in on time, so be it. I’ve stopped beating myself up about it because I’m only one person. I can look myself in the mirror and know that I am doing EVERYTHING in my power to make this work.

I don’t broadcast a typical day in the life of me. It’s nobody’s business. If I did though, I think a lot of people would be shocked. I think many think I sit around on my ass all day with a hook and yarn in my hand when I’m not on Facebook. Oh, how shocked those people would be…

Right now though, I am taking a break. I’m pet sitting a cat and a dog. The cat wanted out on the enclosed deck. It’s a beautiful day, something that has been rare lately. So I decided to join her (figured it was a good opportunity to sneak in an update too).I just melted in a chair, basking in the sun. I’ve been going non-stop this week, so I’ve made the excutive decision to take five. I earned it. After the sun is no longer direct, I will get back to work (it gets cold in here!). For right now though… Butt planted in chair. It’s so blissful out here. It’s like I’ve plugged my soul in and it’s recharging. I need that. It’s not that I’m not happy. Quite the contrary. In spite of the toilet-flushing, I can say that I don’t think there has ever been a time in my life where I’ve been more at peace. This place just nurtures that. 

Bliss - keepmeinstitchez.wordoress.com

Bliss (complete with kitty photo bomb)

I’m hoping this next week will be a little more “normal.” I will be feverishly working away on assignments though. I may not get to post until after the fact, but I plan on taking pics along the way. We’re getting into some interesting stuff – twist and grist. I’m enjoying it!

Mohair – Orthogenous 2-ply Skein

The name of this assignment cracks me up because my spell checker doesn’t acknowledge orthogenous. What is an orthogenous 2-ply skein? In this case, it’s one ply spun from mohair and the other ply spun from wool.

Mohair Singles - keepmeinstitchez.wordpress.com

Mohair Singles

The was the first time I had ever spun straight mohair, other than playing around in the summertime. I didn’t have much left from the materials we had to purchase (that may warrant a rant of its own, but for the moment, I’m treading carefully). So I was terrified. I was nervous. I put it off as long as I possibly could. And guess what?

It wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be.

I knew that it would need extra twist to hold together. So again, I busted out the fast flyer. This time I spun it at 15:1. No issues at all. No breakage. It was wonderful. One thing I have learned is to not expect the same experience as other have shared because most of the time, I have experienced something different.

The second ply was good old Corriedale. I’ve spun this a million times. I wasn’t quite sure what ratio to spin it at. So I spun it at 12:1.

Wool Singles - keepmeinstitchez.wordpress.com

Wool Singles

I took a guess with the plying ratio at 10:1. I think it ended up being underplied so I will go at it again. I checked my notes and I didn’t see any suggestions/discussion/tips about spinning an orthogenous yarn with mohair. So I went with what I do know. I guess I’ll find out if I’m right or wrong.

Orthogenous Yarn - keepmeinstitchez.wordpress.com

Orthogenous Yarn

Mohair Assignment – Spinning for end use

During the mohair unit, we discussed end use. One of the assignments is spinning a yarn geared towards a certain project. We had to draw our projects out of a hat. The one I got was “weft for a blanket.”

I’m a VERY green weaver. I’ve taken a couple of lessons and I’m confident that I could warp a loom alone and do a very basic project. However, I’m far from knowing all of the in’s and out’s. So this assignment required a bit of research and diving into my knowledge base about what I do know.

One thing I love about weaving is the logic found in the art. When I was analyzing this imaginary blanket, I would ask myself some questions, look up answers and I would often find myself correct in my thinking!

One of the things about this assignment is that it doesn’t give you any variables. You have to justify why you’re spinning the yarn you’re spinning, why it’s a 2- or 3-ply, why you chose the percentage of wool to blend with mohair. There was no information provided regarding what the warp would be on this blanket. So the yarn I’ve spun is based on a warp that is spun from wool. I know people have done 100% mohair. The issue with that though is that mohair protrudes (that fluffy halo) and when you’re weaving, the weft yarn would stick to the warp like velcro. So if I was to actually make this blanket, I would use a wool warp until I got more experienced.

So for the weft yarn itself, I have chosen a 60% mohair/40% wool blend. I chose this for a couple of reasons. I looked online to see what blends other blankets were made of. A lot of them were 70/30 mohair/wool. I would have liked to do that blend, however, we were not supplied with a very big sample of mohair. There’s just enough to completed the assignments (I hope!). I wanted to use a higher percentage of mohair because I wanted to highlight the fibre. It’s so soft and it would be perfect for a blanket.

Mohair/Wool in progress - keepmeinstitchez.wordpress.com

Mohair/Wool in progress

Again, I took to the internet to find out information regarding how many plies I should do. I realize that ultimately the decision is up to me. However, I know that spinners and weavers are a logical bunch. For the most part, there is a method to their madness. My initial thought was to go for a 2-ply because it stretches the material to the maximum (and it’s one less singles to spin! hehehe). I was open to a 3-ply though. Then I questioned if the third ply was necessary in this case since a woven blanket is flat. Would the third ply just get lost? After surfing around, the answer seemed to be 2-ply. One of these days I want to discuss this with somebody who has weaving experience (and I hope she’s reading this!) to see if I’m correct in my thinking. I’d also like to see if my thinking about 2-ply and weaving is correct. At this point I’m a lump of clay. Mold me!

Something else I decided to do with this assignment is use my fast flyer. I didn’t see anything anywhere stating we aren’t allowed to use it. It will certainly be noted in the assignment. As we were warned, mohair really does need a lot of twist to hold up. I’ve been using my regular flyer and I’ve had to treadle like a mad woman to get enough twist so that the singles won’t fall apart. Again, considering my lack of mohair experience, I am pleased that I made it this far with my regular flyer. I spun up a 70/30 mohair/wool blend with practice fibre. I only had 2 spots where the singles broke when I was plying. I’m going to consider that a victory.

Later that day…

Mohair/Wool blend spun for end use - blanket weft - keepmeinstitchez.wordpress.com

Mohair/Wool blend spun for end use – blanket weft

I am finished spinning and plying this yarn. My fast flyer made such a difference. The ratio I used was only one higher (12:1 vs 10:1), but it still helped immensely.

On thing that had me initially concerned was that even though I weighed out the amounts of wool and mohair, the wool seemed to take over the skein. Then I recalled hearing (and recording somewhere) that mohair fibre weighs more than wool. In other words, if you had a gram of mohair and a gram of wool, there would be less mohair fibres than there is wool fibres. So when I do up my notes, I’m going to make sure to mention this: percentages listed are based on weight. It has me curious how one could change the percentages up using volume and what the results would look like there.

One more thing I want to mention is just how much mohair blooms! Now that I’ve seen this for myself, one of my future observations is going to be WPI counts before and after setting the twist. I can see this being quite fascinating. I’m not sure if time is going to allow for this at this point. It’s something I’d like to investigate down the road for sure.

So up next… A 2-ply orthogenous yarn – one ply mohair, the other ply wool. I already have the mohair ply spun up. My thoughts on that will be in the next post.

Mohair Assignment – Blend using kid

I’ve been prepping mohair all week and while I’m not ahead of the game, I’m not crashing and burning either. There have been a couple of kinks thrown in like two snow days in a row. That hasn’t been too bad though. I get to spend extra time with my hunny bunny, but he’s also at at the age now where he doesn’t need my constant attention. It’s actually quite pleasant. I love having him around, even if he’s doing his own thing and I’m doing mine. He’s happy. I’m happy.

So… What am I learning with this whole mohair process? Lots. The first time I ever touched a lock of mohair was in August. So there is lots for me to learn. One lesson I learned in this whole course is to make sure to go back and reread the notes MORE THAN ONCE (yeah, I learned that one the hard way in a previous assignment). Don’t assume you know what you’re supposed to be doing because you probably don’t! Thank goodness I learned this lesson when I did because it has saved me a whole world of pain with these assignments. It’s made a difference in how I’m approaching them too.

Mohair and BFL before blending

Mohair and BFL before blending

One of the things I read was that if I’m going to use a drum carder, make sure I separate the locks, lightly mist them and put them in a baggie overnight. Once I’m ready to card, make sure to put a light layer of wool on the drum carder first. These steps will help make the mohair distribution more even. Well, I did all of those steps. Since my mohair experience is nil, I’m not sure if I was successful at blending. I’m going to note this in my assignment (that was another biggy I learned – if it’s not perfect, acknowledge it!). I am content with the blending, but I don’t know if it’s up to standards. I know there will be feedback provided. And that’s the whole point of the course! I would have liked to run it through the drum carder a third time, but I didn’t want to risk damaging the fibres.

Open locks, mohair, BFL - keepmeinstitchez.wordpress.com

Open locks, mohair, BFL

The actual assignment gave us a choice of using a homogenous or orthogenous blend. I decided to go with the homogenous at a 50/50 blend with Blue Faced Leicester (BFL). We’re supposed to justify why we made this choice. My real reason? I knew I wouldn’t have an issue spinning a blend. I haven’t spun straight mohair (that’s today) and I hear it’s challenging. The frugal mama in me didn’t want to waste the kid mohair since it’s far more valuable. Now for the blend amount, I went with a 50/50 because I want the yarn to keep the shape of the end use project. Since the higher the mohair amount, the less shape retention, I figured this would be a good ratio. The mohair is still very obvious, but not overpowering. I went with BFL because of its staple length and softness. Since I’m choosing a shawl as my end use, it will be soft next to the neck and if the recipient were to wear short sleeves.

Kid mohair/BFL - keepmeinstitchez.wordpress.com

Kid mohair/BFL

I’m also seeing a huge difference in the hand between this sample and the yarn I spun the other day with mohair and Corriedale. BFL is softer than Corriedale to begin with. Add in the softness of the kid mohair versus mohair and…. Yowza! What a difference. This sample is so soft!
So I can see this blend being something I will enjoy spinning in the future. That’s what I’m loving about this course. It’s like a big buffet, allowing you to sample next to everything. I’m finding what I like and what doesn’t work for me. All this fibre, zero calories!

I’ve also learned that there is a difference between shooting for perfection and doing your best. Doing your best is just that – you put your all in, but you also remember your experience level. Acknowledge it within yourself and note it to the instructors. Use the feedback to get better and don’t take it personally. Because it’s NOT personal. In this case, I know my mohair experience is minimum. Am I going to spin it perfectly? Not a chance. I know this. Perfection is forgetting about the experience you have and stressing out/beating yourself up about it not being perfect. It where you let your marks define you and your spinning skills. Make or break. Do or die. I started off the course in this frame of mind. It was taking the enjoyment out of it very quickly. I had set the bar far too high for myself. Now… Ten years down the road if I’m still spinning at the same level, THAT is when I’ll be concerned about it. I already know that’s not going to happen though. I’m growing every time I touch that wheel. So no, I’m not going to strive for perfect. I’m just going to do my best. If I get a bad mark, I’m not going to let that stop me. I’m going to apply the feedback to the best of my ability and do it again. And again. And again if I need to. Those of us in the course have a golden opportunity with a small window. Now is the time to ask for the feedback and clarify if needed.

Mom always told me “All you can do is do your best.” I get it now.