Grounded

I am grounded for a while. The past month hard been full of doctors appointments, imaging, and K9 nose work.  

 

Here is Ribbon and I after our First NW2 attempt. She did beautifully me not so much. But managed to pull out a third pace in exteriors. Plus My friend Sara ran her for me and got her Level 1 exterior title. Yeah!

 
Here is Masi and I after our successful first NW3 trial. I cand believe he did it on the first try. I’m still on cloud 9.  

The one thing in common with both pictures is I have a walking cast on. Well back in March I fell and ruptured my Achilles’ tendon. Yesterday I had surgery to repair it so I’m forced to elevate my foot, unable to maneuver steps and dealing with pain. 

Before all this mess I have been working on expanding my offerings at Emsket’s Fiberworks. Slowly I’m adding needle felting.   I’ve received a few inquiries so have added a few basic items so fat. Plus I’ll be adding roving in amouts specifically for needle felting and a few kits. I’ll be testing some drop spindles as well. 

So let your needle felting friends know as we work to bring the best fiber to you. And dont forget to sign up for our newsletter at http://www.emsket.com. 

Woolen? Worsted? What the???

  

So you are sitting at your wheel and you have a hank of fiber in front of you. Do you just start spinning?  Let me ask you to wait and think about a few things first. 

What is your goal for this fiber? Are you looking for warm hat, hard wearing socks or are you just spinning to spin?

Spinning just to spin is fine. It gives you a chance to play with techniques and relieve the stress of everyday life. 

But if you have a project in mind then your choice of spinning will affect your results. 

Let’s first talk about what woolen and worsted spinning is.   Think about them like they are two end points on a line. 

With woolen spinning your preparation needs to be either random order or semi random like a rolag and your drafting zone is longer than the length of the fiber. This produces a ply with more bounce and a structure that helps trap air. 

Worsted spinning uses combed top that is very ordered and uniform length for the individual fibers.  The drafting zone is less than the length of the fibers. This produces a smooth, compact yarn that incorporates little air in its structure. 

 

Now those are two extremes. Between these is what people call semi-woolen and semi-worsted. Most fiber preps are not truly uniform or random. Cotton spinning is a great example. Cotton is spun woolen but the fiber prep is usually a sliver which is closer to worsted than woolen prep. 

I would not fuss too much about if you are spinning just to spin and relax. However if you are spinning for a project you need to pay greater attention. 

Some examples of projects that are better suited to worsted spun yarn include socks, woven suiting and lace. Woolen spun for hats, some scarves, and woven blankets that are fulled. 

Of course there are exceptions to the rules such as my woolen spun Shetland/Shetland blend shawl and warm bed socks made of alpaca. 

  

 

Once again, these are not hard and fast rules, and when you are outside the sphere of europeon influence these constructs are not discussed as such. But I find them a useful guide to making the right yarn for the right project.  

An Elizabeth State Of Mind

Elizabeth Zimmermann wrote a little book back in the 1970’s called Knitters Almanac.

I bought it while I was in college and at some point in my life decided to knit my way through the book using my handspun.

So I’ve made the Fiddle Faddle, the Baby Shawl, some of the hats, and even the April Mystery Blanket.

So what’s left you ask?

The Longies and the Sweaters.

All the sweaters….

2015, Oh Hello!

Wow, it’s 2015 already and where have I been?  Well spinning some.

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And using my Christmas present from my mom, a new embroidery machine.

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It’s very cool. And a nice machine with built in Disney designs. I plan on making gifts with it. No not yet another business idea. This machine is too slow to consider any type of business venture.

And it’s time for me to focus more on my Etsy shop. I’m sticking with Etsy for now as it does bring in traffic. But there are tons of farms and dyers out there on that platform I need get out there and actually market myself.

So 2015 may be the year of doing. Assuming my job situation stabilizes and I can focus more on fiber stuff.

Santa Cruz-A Rare Fiber Among Rare Breeds

Santa Cruz was quite the adventure. First of all I have to thank Jennifer Heverly from Spirit Trail Fibers for sharing with me some Santa Cruz fiber. Seriously, I never thought I would get my hands on some.

However I lost these samples in the depths of a bag somewhere. This has delayed me. Then I misplaced the bag of the rest of the fleece….sigh, excuses, excuses.

However, this past weekend I got some more from Deb Robson during a rare breeds class at Wisconsin Sheep & Wool festival. So I’ll share my samples spun here.

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The locks are tiny and the staple length is short. Very short. I do believe that this is the shortest wool I have ever worked with. We are talking a 1″ staple length for the locks I got from Jennifer and 2″ from Deb. I’ve spun shorter fibers, but not wool.

I felt best about combing the fiber, however spinning worsted is not the best way to show the properties of this wool. Perhaps because it gave me the cleanest yarn. Combing 1-2″ locks is no picnic.

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Carding was easier but you can see the vegetable matter. Neither of these fleeces were kept with handspinners in mind. One reason is that handspinners have not gotten their hands on it yet.

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If more spinners out there would seek out these fibers I believe they would find them more forgiving than cormo with a 50% elasticity for carded fiber. But right now the fiber I have is best combed than carded due to the vegetable matter.

Now to just find that bag if Santa Cruz I misplaced….

Last weekend was Wisconsin Sheep & Wool. I too Deb Robson’s Rare Breeds class on Friday, watched fleece judging and bought fleeces on Saturday and then bought more fleeces on Sunday! Fleece was certainly the theme for this year.

I also spent time with Sara and Hans of The Woolgatherers trying to be helpful. I taught one person the park and draft method of spindle spinning and helped her choose a spindle. Most of the time though it was hot and I worked to keep myself hydrated.

Best of all I’m spinning again on this:

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Yes that’s a Hansen Minispinner in cherry wood. Yes I sold a wheel to buy this one. No I did not sell one of my Reeves wheels.

I’ve decided that Shiloh needs to learn to retrieve. Not just retrieve dumbbells but shuttles. So I’ve started training him to do that. A little at a time

Tour De Fleece 2012

Bond, oh fine wool you have graced my wheel for way too long.

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You have hung around with the other
“four pounds” of roving, however you have been displaced by some already spun Shetland that needs to be dyed.

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Now I have some pretty purple pygora waiting for the wheel so I will continue to ply you until you are gone.

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And when I’m not spinning you, I have a spindle set aside for my 3 Bags Full sample.

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Looking On The Backside Of 2011

“Don’t let the door hit your backside on the way out.”

If I could say that to 2011 I would.  This has been a “memorable” year and I don’t mean that in a good way.  Actually the last two years have been less than good.  I want to change that in 2012.  Some of it was waaay out of my control.  I lost two good, highly trained dogs to cancer, lost my job, and generally didn’t do much.  But I did get a new job, finished a couple projects and went to Stringtopia.

I’ve also planned some goals for 2012.  These are how I posted them on Ravelry:

  1. Weave more. My looms have been too silent.
  2. Knit more. Make more time for knitting.
  3. Spin more. I havn’t felt much like spinning. Even when I was laid off, I did pathetically little spinning. Time to figure out why I’ve been so apathetic (other than depression).
  4. Train more. Not just the dogs (who need it) but also others. I’ve been too silent with offering advice and observations.
  5. Live more. I have a marker that shows how depressed I am. I realize now when I start playing solitaire, I’m sinking into depression. It usually starts with boredom. Seriously, there is a lot I can do to keep busy, but it’s easier to play solitaire sometimes.

How do I know if I’m reaching these goals? Well, I have to keep track and that’s something I actually LIKE doing. I love dates and spread sheets and paper binders. Statistics I consider a friend, not an enemy. I don’t have much of a baseline for the weaving and spinning, and offering advice, but I do for the dog training.

Speaking of dog training, we also have a new addition to the herding crew.
Shiloh
Meet Emsket’s Diamond In The Ruff aka Shiloh.  A dog rescued from neglect only to have that family have to give him up due to his fear of the children.  He’s still very much here on a trial basis.  He has a lot to learn to live in a household with other dogs.  We are happy to have another Aussie in the house, but not happy about some of his behaviors.

But for the most part he is a perfectly normal Australian Shepherd down to helping me geocache.  What’s that on his head?  It’s a head collar called a Gentle Leader and I’m using it because he pulls like a mule on lead.

I’m also learning to make cheese.  Yes I said cheese.

This is my first Gouda I made.  It’s now in the fridge aging.  It takes 3 months from when I make it to when I can actually try it.

This looks a bit fuzzy because it is a bit fuzzy.  It’s Camembert ripening.  It’s a mold ripened cheese and I hope it will be ready soon.

Tonight I will welcome in the New Year with open arms.  Come on 2012 and please don’t suck!