Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I didn’t finish the second of the 2 main projects I had for the Tour, but I feel like I achieved a lot.
I worked with 2 new fibers to me, tencel and pure silk. I didn’t expect the tencel to be so difficult to spin as it was for me, and I sure didn’t expect the silk I got to be a really bad preparation, almost as difficult at moments as the time I tried to spin cotton balls. After these two challenges, when I got to the easy merino/silk blend I could feel just how much my drafting had improved.
I managed to spin from the whole top as I decided to do before the Tour, not pre-drafting and not splitting. I’m better at keeping a triangle drafting zone instead of drafting from one side only.
I learned long draw, spinning from the fold, and how to use a supported spindle on Challenge Day.
I got more than 1600 yards of plied, finished yarn, and some singles to be finished yet. I even have part of that already knit.
I learned to use my camera on the manual mode and deal with focus, white balance, exposure, etc.
If I have to choose only one achievement, though, I think I’ll go the sw merino/tencel yarn, because with it I spun thin and even enough singles to navajo-ply them and still have it at laceweight, and I took a top alternating pink and black zones and used it to make a yarn that starts in baby pink and ends in black, all the while fighting the fiber with nails and teeth. So I feel like with this yarn I really showed the fiber who was the boss, and got exactly what I wanted at the end.
The final result, with a bad pic to disprove what I just said:

Thursday, July 23, 2009

On MSN, about TdF Day 16

Me: on other news. have you seen this pic?
Dan: No, I don't think so.
me: it won
me: like, 2 days ago
dan: Hmm. On any particular merits? It doesn't look stunning.
me: probably because there wasn't any rainbow yarn on that day
dan: Ah, k.
dan: Wait: this is yours?
me: : yeah
dan: :o
dan: You won?!
me: yes
dan: woo!
me: too late
me: not stunning
dan: Honestly: you've done other stuff that I think's been better.
me: i agree
dan: It's good, but not your best.
me: i think it's very good photographically. not spinning-wise
dan: Didn't mean to be blunt! Didn't realise it was yours...
dan: :-(
me: hahaha
me: but see, you were honest
dan: <-- ass
me: i'm more pleased that way

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

TdF - Day 19 - Challenge day

I've been spinning for a little over a year, and I feel like I haven't progressed much since I first learned. I can spin fairly thin, even, smooth (worsted) singles, because that's how they come out, not because of conscious effort on my part. I can ply these singles in 2 or 3 ways that give me a little range of types of yarns that I can spin. I'm not an experienced, acompplished spinner. I'm a lucky spinner who happens to get exactly the kinds of yarns I like to knit with. But as a spinner, I'm aware of just how limited my skills are.
So I chose as challenges to go outside my comfort zone, and learn skills that I either never tried before, or failed. The first 2 challenges: spinning from the fold (tried before and it was a complete disaster) and using long draw (a total mistery to me):
Very uneven, but I can really say mission accomplished on both fronts! And once I saw that I could do it, I decided to go on for a third challenge. I found some barbecue sticks, wood beads with holes that matched the sticks on the size, and improvised a supported spindle, and used it on a soup bowl:
It's even worse than the woolen singles I spun on the drop spindle, because with the drop spindle I could use both hands to draft and even out the singles a little. Also this mill-ends sw merino I was using doesn't help with the drafting with only one hand at all.
I can't show much progress, a finished yarn or even a half full spindle, because I spent a good part of the day trying to find the beads, and then trying to understand at least the basic principles, but I can say honestly that I did all I set myself up to do. I'll practice more long draw and learn to spin evenly, and a real supported spindle is now my second next on my wishlist.
Feels good to feel like a noob again. It means I can only get better. =)
I actually have made big progress and I have some good news about my second main TdF project, but I haven't blogged about it yet because some people have to hear from me first instead of reading on the blog. I'M LOOKING AT YOU, DAN.(NY)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

TdF - Day 11 - The Simi

It felt like it took forever to be done, and it fought me with nails and teeth, but here is The Simi:




It gave me 710 yards, heavy laceweight, and a long gradient:


Very, very happy.
Superwash merino/tencel blend, dyed by Fiberoptic.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

TdF - Day 8

I'm a little disappointed that I didn't finish even one skein before the first week ended, but I'm close to, now.
All that’s left from the black part of the sw merino/tencel is the same ammount of fiber that’s on the singles spindle now, so soon I’ll be ready to ply everything. The question is, will I be able to fit it all in one skein? The last 2 cops that I added to the plying spindle were already difficult to handle…

Monday, July 06, 2009

TdF Day 3

I finally reached the point in my gradient where the fibers have both black and pink in them, where the colour runs on the top met. Most of it has both colours in one staple lenght, in little handfuls of fiber. So I thought that was an acceptable reason to use pre-drafting. I grabbed many, many of these puffs and pre-drafted them together, then divided in 4, pre-drafted the 4 pieces together again, repeated a few times, and pulled the fiber through a diz, to have a (kinda) cohesive strip of fiber again. It's about the same thickness as the original top, but less compact. And not completely cohesive, but I think that's because it's superwash, and 50% tencel.
It a little like roving pulled from batts:

The little ball are the singles from days 1&2, with the baby pink end of the gradient on the outside. I have since then started spinning singles from the new strips of fiber, navajo-plied the first singles, and dipped my toes on the black silk for the other project.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Days 1 & 2

I thought I'd spin a little of each project every day, but I'm so curious to see how the sw merino/tencel will look when ready that I'm focusing on it. Unfortunately I'm way too slow. I think in these two days I only spun about 1oz of it. I'm finding the fiber a little hard to draft sometimes, while at other times it slides all the way down and the spindle falls. But it was heavy, so I unloaded the first cop and started the second already. Always spinning from the not-pre-drafted top:
Day 2

And for a while, from 2 not-pre-drafted tops:
Day 2

That was a little crazy, but I have an excuse. I'm trying to spin in a colour gradient, so I wanted to blend two shades. I want light pink -> dark pink -> black.
Day 2

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Tour de Fleece 2009

Phew! It's been a while. I'm unburying the blog because today starts the Tour de Fleece, and I'm going to take part on Team Hoar, with my RR fellows.
My general goal is to spin at least something close to 300g of fiber. That includes 4oz of sw merino/tencel blend, 100g of merino/silk and 100g of tussah silk. The last two will be laceweight, plied together, and I think I'll try navajo-plied laceweight for the first. This is the fiber:

SW Merino/Tencel from fiberoptic, custom dyed.

I intend to focus on technique and improve my skills as much as I can, too. My Specific goals:
  1. No pre-drafting allowed, except for colour management, if needed.
  2. No splitting the top, except for colour management, if needed.
  3. Organizing and reading my spinning folder (pdfs, ebooks, articles I have saved in my computer).
  4. Improving the way I build my cops.
  5. Depends on what the prep will allow, but if possible, learning long draw.
  6. Improving speed.
  7. If time allows, spin am extra 100g of cashmere/tussah silk, drafting from the fold (something else to learn).