Sunday, August 28, 2011

Quill Spindle

My old Traveller wheel does not get much use these days, unless I have a "guest" spinner over to visit.  I fitted it with a double treadle a few years ago but otherwise it's the same as when I purchased it in the mid-1980s.  After using the Alden Amos T frame wheel to spin cotton for a few weeks, I got curious about driven spindle wheels.  So I purchased the Ashford quill spindle attachment and put it on the Traveller.  Wow, what fun I am having!

This attachment has three pulley speeds and they are really fast.  I've got it on the middle one.  The brake band tension is completely released.  The instruction sheet says that, with practice, you can keep spinning and winding on without stopping.  After almost a week, I can do it although I have to use my hand to get the wheel going in the right direction again - but I don't stop spinning.  I think I have more control of the wheel direction with the double treadle set up.  I am practicing with this nice wool roving, which drafts quite easily in long draw.  I use my right hand to control the movement of the twist while drafting with my left hand.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

TwainFest 2011

Yesterday was TwainFest in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.  A very long day for spinning - we got to the park by 10:30 and worked consistently until a little after 4:00.  Instead of spinning inside the Estudillo House, we sat on the porch of the Robinson-Rose building, which is the Visitors Center for the park.  As you can imagine, I got a lot of spinning done and answered a lot of questions.

TwainFest featured a performance of Hamlet by two actors.  They played all the parts.

There was banjo and guitar music all day, featuring folk and popular songs from Mark Twain's era.  And drinks and snacks afterwards at the Cosmopolitan Hotel.  What fun! Today I am winding off my full bobbins and the niddy noddy because I have much to ply.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Mittens in August

Who would knit a pair of wool mittens in August?  San Diego Fiber Artist, that's who.  I wanted to prepare a project for our Old Town spinning demonstrations that was hand-dyed, hand spun, and knitted into something useful.  I figured that mittens would be a good project, and would be quick to knit up in time for TwainFest, on August 20.  So I picked some yarn from my stash.  The fiber is BFL, and it was a dye job that did not turn out the way I wanted.  I thought the colors were too washed out and pale looking.  I spun and plied the yarn quite a while ago, and then parked it a basket - not very happy with it.  Oh well.

But as I was looking for some of my yarn that would be suitable for mittens, the skein caught my eye.  Then I started to knit and the yarn redeemed itself.  I like the way it striped and I think it is light colored enough to show the cuff patterning.  I knitted the first mitten over a weekend, and the second one by the end of the week - very fun.  The moral of the story: for every yarn, there is a purpose.

Full Moon over Volcan Mountain

We spent most of the day in the mountains yesterday.  I had the opportunity to visit the new yarn and fiber store, Specialty Yarn and Llamas, located in the Wynola Farms Marketplace.  Open Thurs-Sun, the store is in the same building as the Orfila wine tasting room.  And across the driveway from the Country Cellars wine tasting room.  Specialty has bags and bags of beautiful natural-colored alpaca roving.

Well you didn't think I just went to look, did you???  Eight ounces of this rich brown roving, from an alpaca named Rita, will make a perfect knitted wrap.  The shop also has lots of skeins of yarn, including some wonderful lace-weight tweed yarn that I managed to resist.  Only because I have so much sock yarn.

Speaking of which, I started some easy toe-up socks with Footscray sock yarn that I dyed a couple of months ago.  I have some Blue Moon club socks on the needles but I like to have an easy project ready to go for car travel, etc.  I worked on this project in the car as we drove up to the mountains.

The colors range from caramel brown to reddish pink to deep red.  Size 1 needles, crochet invisible cast-on.  I have not decided what, if any, pattern I will use for the legs.  We'll see how the color works its way out.

After dinner, we drove down Wynola Road to the base of Volcan Mountain.  We had just enough time for a short hike.  I was glad I had my drop spindle with me, and it was fun to spin and hike - until it got too dark and we had to turn back.  As we were walking back, owls started flying over the hills as the stars came out, a few at a time.  A bright spot behind Volcan Mountain indicated where the full moon would rise.  When it came up, the light flowed like the tide over the landscape until everything was illuminated and glowing.  We drove home under the moon light.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

A Week of Cotton

I spent almost all of my spinning time this past week working cotton sliver spun on the T-Frame wheel.  I completed two bobbins of singles, plied them, and finished a skein by boiling it.  I was pleased with how it came out although I think I should have plied it more firmly.

 I am now moving on to some brown cotton sliver from Cotton Clouds .  I have had this for a while, but was not ready to try it until now.  It spins so easily that I have gone through quite a bit already.

One problem I had was finding something to wind the plied cotton on so that I could boil it.  Try finding a plastic cone or bobbin that does not have yarn on it.  I have several in my stash but they all have lots of yarn still on them.  Old fashion hair curlers (the large plastic ones from the 70s)?  They seem too short.  I ended up winding the plied yarn onto a glass bottle to boil it.  It worked OK but I got another idea: what about a metal niddy noddy?  Well, one day at work I was talking to Rachel and noticed a metal book holder hanging on her partition wall.  We took off the legs, and ended up with a metal frame just the size for putting in a pot with yarn wound around it.  This will work until I can find the plastic cones or bobbins.  

The other spinning I did this week was on the Navajo spindle.  This was the first time I have tried using it.  It was great fun and a good outdoors activity for a warm evening.