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I missed my flight yesterday.

That’s right, I missed my flight.  I have never missed one before.  I was at my sister’s and all packed in perfect time to get to the airport in time to eat lunch at the airport before my 1:00 flight, and I checked to make sure I had the exact time right, and my flight was boarding in about 10 minutes because I was off by two hours.

I was so hysterical I couldn’t see the paper because my hands were shaking so hard.  I called the customer service line and of course got put on hold.

In the end I went to the airport and walked up to the ticket counter, and all I had to do was change my ticket.  They didn’t even charge me for the price difference, just a change fee — she said that I was the only person all day who didn’t try to blame anyone else at all, just myself.

There are so many things that are so terrifying in advance, but in reality you just deal with it and move on.

While away I bought a whole bunch of yarn, if you are in Vancouver go to Urban Yarns they are having an amazing sale.  I also got to pick up my jumbo flier kit for my spinning wheel — I would like to warn you that airport security looks twice at sealed boxes with unidentified hardware inside.  They do seem to let spinning wheel parts through though.  She asked: “Is there a screw driver in there?” and I had no idea (a few seconds later I learned there isn’t).

Here I am sitting here in my living room knitting away after my breakfast of oatmeal and tea (yes, I have granny tenancies), listening to an older podcast from Craftsanity, and knitting up a storm.

In the interview with Lexi Boeger she mentions her spinning wheels (see the podcast about 43 minutes in).  I confess I want a wheel like her bulky antique one, but what really caught me was when she was talking about her Ashford Traveller, she says she uses a quill attachment, which allows her to spin more bulky yarns.  I didn’t know about this at all, so I Googled it and came up with this:

quill-lg

(From the Ashford website, here)

I have to say that I am quite unsure about what is happening with that and how it gets on the bobbin.  It looks like the yarn winds around that part that sticks out, but how you would ever ply it, without having to rewind it onto something else first, I really couldn’t say.

I have ordered a jumbo flier for mine, which I am looking forward to getting because I like the bulky yarns and regularly get them stuck in the orifice (how often do you get to use that word?).

If anyone can enlighten me on how the quill works, I would greatly appreciate it.  If not I think I may need to dig deeper.

After a great deal of waiting and impatient checking, my spinning wheel arrived this week. I have not written sooner as I wanted to commune with it alone for a few days.

Of course the last any of you know it was on the Pacific somewhere — I had great imaginings about its life on-board ship. I think my imaginings were not very realistic and revolved around a strange mixture of the ages of sail and steam. Actually I think a great deal of it would not have been out of place in a Joseph Conrad novel. I imagined it in a wooden packing crate, stuffed with straw, strapped on board, tossed by the waves. Perhaps it stopped in Tahiti or Fiji on the way or was held up in the Doldrums.

As you can see I had some pretty unrealistic unexamined assumptions about what was happening. I even asked Jon to come with me to help me carry it, so you can imagine my surprise when Glenda put this on the counter for me:

It was so clean and spare and light: I confess I was somewhat taken aback, but not so much that I didn’t have to contain myself from opening and taking everything out of the box in the store.

When I got it home this is what it looked like:

And here it is taken out of the box:

I didn’t really internally examine the fact that it would come disassembled, and while I did get it together in one evening, it wasn’t the easiest assembly job ever. If any of you are thinking of buying one, you will want to have a hammer (preferably one of those rubber ones that won’t knock the wood around), scissors, candle wax, and screw drivers — this of course will only be an issue for those like me who go through life perennially unequipped or who get divorced.

After a modicum of frustration and receiving blanket permission from Jon to buy any furniture that needs assembly I want to as I can obviously put stuff together, I was inordinately pleased with this:

The hardest part was getting the brake and driver right — as there were not great instructions in the box on that part (the rest were fine), but after messing with it for a little while and making some odd overspun yarn, I think I have got it going, and here is the fruit of my labours on my first evening spinning:

I am working on modulating the thickness and making it more uneven, as my natural inclination is to make a yarn of about fingering weight that is perfectly smooth and boring. Lexi Boeger (I think it was here) said that you need to be able to spin a regular yarn before you start experimenting with fancier fare. I am giving myself permission to start that phase of my spinning career now (but please don’t judge me if I am not the most exciting spinner at first — it’s a work in progress).

This is a series of questions Jess Rollar of Milkyrobot was kind enough to answer for me about spinning and her process. You can buy Jess’ yarns and fibre from her Etsy store (also called Milkyrobot). I have bought some, and please let me say that they are as wonderful as they look in the pictures.

How did you get started spinning?

After teaching myself knitting, I became very interested in handspun yarn. I kept drooling over handspun and wondered if I could do the same. Once I got spinning I was hooked!

How long have you been spinning and how long were you doing it before you considered yourself good?

I started spinning in 2002. My mom bought me a wheel for my 21st birthday with no experience what so ever. It took me a couple tries to actually get any yarn to twist and not break. I finally mastered the skill later in the month. It was about 8 months to a year until I fell in love with my yarn. Some were kinda creepy at first and didn’t actually look like yarn!

Who taught you how to spin?

I taught myself how to spin after getting my wheel. I’ve never used a drop spindle and still haven’t. Just could never get it to work right.

What is your process?

I always start out with an image or idea before gathering my materials. I usually base my yarn and batts off of graffiti art, nature or just random objects that catch my eye. Once I have an idea of what I want to create, I gather all the fibers together and card them into a squishy batt, then spin away! Some yarns get plied and some stay single, the yarns do the talking!

What equipment do you need to create the yarns your post on your Etsy shop and blog?

The equipment I use the most would be my spinning wheel, of course, and my Ashford drum carder.

What kind of wheel do you have and what kinds have you had in the past?

I spin on a Louet S-17. This is the first and only wheel I’ve had. I do have plans to pick up an Ashford Country Spinner sometime this year.

Where do you buy your materials?

Most of my materials are bought from two local fiber shops, The Fiber Factory and Tempe Yarn and Fiber in Arizona. I get some unusual spinning fiber online or from etsy shops as well.

Do you dye your own fiber, if not, how do you get the exact colors you want?

I have dyed my own fiber in the past. I’m currently getting ready to start dyeing sock yarn soon. When I can’t find the exact colors I want, I find other materials to spin into my yarn such as sequins or random strings and things.

What do you think would be a basic start up spinning kit? Wheel? Fiber? Carders?

I always suggest starting with a Louet or Ashford wheel. I find these wheels very easy to understand and use. As for fiber, I would suggest wool or dyed roving to start with. Once your comfortable with your wheel, try adding in random fibers and see how they spin and feel. I’ve only used Ashford hand carders and drum carders and very much love them! I suggest starting with that to anyone!

What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out with spinning and get excited about the yarns you make and sell?

You must have lots of patience and lots of creativity! Let your fingers do the work and let the fiber do the talking. Anything can be spun even plastic spiders and feathers! Get super creative and don’t hold back.

What tips would you give to a new spinner on how to spin your batts? How do you incorporate the sequins into the spinning?

Whenever I spin my own batts or even others, I always strip the fiber into 8 pieces. Once split up, I spin each strip one after another and let the colors pop up how they please. Sometimes I even mix other fiber clumps into the spinning or solid merino strips. With the sequins, I usually just catch the tip of the sequin strand to some fiber and let the wheel pull the in, twisting the sequin strand around the roving.

How close are you to being able to support yourself on spinning?

If it wasn’t for the economy today and if I could get my yarn into a few more shops, I would most likely be able to live off my yarn and fiber sales. But in this case, maybe next year if I push myself hard enough!

and now I have put a down payment on a spinning wheel and it should be here in about ten days. I am so excited! You see, I may have put a bug in someone’s ear that what I really wanted for my birthday was money for a spinning wheel, and now I can justify it — it’s my families way to making sure I get what I want. (Thank you everyone, you know who you are)

In the meantime, I have placated myself with a drop spindle and verifying that I do really still remember how to spin.

If I were going for laughs, I would have posted a picture of me trying to operate it, as I never really perfected using a spindle, just a wheel, but if you look closely, please note that the wool on the spindle is in fact spun.

August 2017
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