Friday, January 20, 2012

Spin Happy

I continue to be thwarted in my knitting plans by my constant wrist/hand pain (yes, I am seeing a doctor.  Yes, I am taking medication.  Yes, I am wearing braces.), but I seem to be able to do a bit of spinning each night without suffering too much.  It's slow going, but I have been making a bit of progress, whereas the knitting has practically stalled.  In the two weeks since my return, I have accomplished roughly two hours of knitting, which continues to drive me crazy.  I have been self-medicating nightly with tea and chocolate to try to calm myself down, but did you guys know that knitting can't be replaced?  Not even by spinning or reading books about knitting or really reading any books at all.  My list of things I wish to knit gets longer and longer with each passing day as I continue to only be able to plan my projects and not execute them.  I feel like a masochist spending my free time on ravelry looking at projects or digging through my yarn stash looking at a world of possibility.  It's torture, I tell you!

But this post is for spinning, not knitting.  I wasn't able to bring my wonderful wheel with me to Minnesota for my Winter break, but during the last few days I spent in Pittsburgh in December I got back into spinning and was enjoying it immensely.

This summer, perhaps back in May or June, my friend sent me some fiber that she picked up at a Farmer's Market in Connecticut.  The fiber came from Sankow's Beaver Brook Farm and was a blend of natural-colored alpaca and lamb's wool.  It was wonderfully rustic and a joy to spin up.  The fiber was carded, not combed, so I turned my spinning time into a long-draw exercise.  The point was to create a lofty, airy yarn and for the most part I think I succeeded.

I really don't think I could be happier with this yarn.  It is the exact kind of yarn I love to work with and I am overjoyed that I was able to make it myself.  Typically the bobbins on my wheel can hold about 4oz. of fiber.  As you can see, however, I had to split this batch in half because the loft factor was so high that there was no way I could cram the whole shebang onto one bobbin.  I ended up with about 260 yards of a heavy worsted yarn and my mind is full of possibilities for what I can do with it.  (Thanks, Kate!)

Once I got that off the wheel (really, from start to finish, it only took about two days), I threw on a completely different spinning experience in the form of some superwash BFL from Anne at Wooly Wonka Fibers.  I didn't get a picture of the fiber before I started spinning, but it was in the "Wood Duck" colorway and, really, it was right up my alley.  I know I've made my love for birds quite apparent in the past, but you guys - BFL dyed in colors inspired by a bird, which I can then spin up and knit into something unique and wonderful?  I was over-the-top in love and I personally believe that my finished results do not disappoint.

I was actually quite shocked by how it turned out.  Not because I thought it would end up as a lumpy pile of crap, but because I was expecting something thicker with less yardage.  I'm not sure why I thought that's how it would be because I kept checking my singles by letting them twist up on themselves to see what the finished yarn would look like, but still... I was surprised.  What I have now is a 4oz. skein with 780 yards of light fingering-weight yarn.  And it's purty, too.

Overall it's pretty consistent, but clearly each of the plies has, well, character.  They play well together, though.

And lest you think that I have completely forgotten about the wonderful Cupcake batts that I was working on this summer, I have slowly been spinning my way through those as well.  (If by slowly you understand that I mean at a glacial pace.  Not even a fast glacier.  More like a glacier that goes nowhere for months at a time.)  I have spun up three of the six ounces now and have just begun working on the fourth.  I have been very tempted to ply the first three together first, but I can't allow myself to do that.  Instead I'm going to spin them all up, then ply 1, 3, 5 and 2, 4, 6 together (that makes sense in my head, does it make sense in yours, too?).  I think this will help keep things as consistent and mixed up as possible considering the fact that I have been spinning this fiber up over the course of months and months.

It's gonna be really nice, though.  I can tell.


  1. Wow, it's all beautiful! I don't spin, myself, and am madly impressed by those who do. Nice work!

  2. The long-draw force is clearly strong with you. I have a bat that is screaming to be big lofty yarn but I am not ready to bring myself to "practice" with it because I want it to end up perfect. Maybe I should buy a different bat to practice with. That makes sense right?

  3. I hope your hand fells better soon! Your yarn is beautiful :)

  4. I'm so glad that you have been spinning! You have made so much progress in so short a time.
    Miss you!

  5. Daaang...that looks like real yarn! I especially like the Wooly Wonka stuff. (She makes great yarn so of course it follows that she would make great fiber.) I hope you can knit with it soon so we can all see what it looks like.

  6. Beautiful yarns, Peter! Amazing yardage on that Wood Duck.

  7. Don't push it with your wrists. They really, really need time off to heal, and if you don't give them that time, they won't heal. I'm speaking from hard-learned experience.

    Also, when they have improved enough for you to pick up the needles again, take some time to really focus on knitting more loosely. Go slowly and make your body take the time to relearn those motions, because it's too easy to fall back into an old groove. Make each stitch a mindful one.

  8. Beautiful yarn!!

    Yes, be sure to rest and heal well. Is it affecting your playing too? I sometimes think we need a PT for knitting to teach us the "right" way for us to knit when we have joint/muscle/tendon issues.

  9. Sucko on the lack of knitting. I know that must be driving you bonkers. Your spinning results are amazing, though! I am in love with the Wooly Wonka yarn you spun (not to mention the name). And impressive yardage, too!

  10. Sorry to hear about your hand pain! That's a real bummer but I'm glad that you're having it looked at.

    The yarn, as usual, is freakin' awesome! I love that duck inspired one... It is so, so lovely!

  11. You are a beast! Great job with the spinning! I'm a bit blown away by the 780 yards out of a mere 4 oz. but I'm also delighted that you spun a heavy worsted yarn, too! Let me know if you need someone to take some of that handspun off your hands...

    But do get better. I'm glad you're seeing a doctor.

  12. How did you get so much from 4 ounces? That's incredible! Also, Senkow Farms is down the road from me, how funny (maybe I should go there is get some fiber!). I hope your wrists heal up soon.