Black Friday Spinning

After being brutally knocked about all summer, Little Diana needed some work.   I spent an hour or so tightening, oiling, adjusting and tuning her all up,  then got to spin!

Since my whole thinking about this Black Friday thing is best summed up as “Screw that”,    I was dead set against going out on Friday – but my daughter wanted too, and she can’t drive yet.   Compromise – I drove,  but we only went to two locally owned small businesses.     She wanted to check out Sir Troy’s Toys, and for me we visited  Artist’s Gallery Yarn,   where I found a nice local hank of hand dyed Coopworth!

It was hidden in the back in the fiber room, sort of buried in plastic bags full of other fibers,  and I was delighted to spot it.   It’s got all these lovely sort of autumn wine grape colors.  I  practiced my woolen draw to spin some reasonabley consistent sock yarny sized singles,  and then triple plied it.   Yield – approx. 60 yards of extremely bulky yarn.

After spinning it looks like this –





A Tale of Two Wheels

I saw in the old antique mall two histories

Two old spinning wheels, the same in birth and form.

So differently polished by time that the light of each

illuminated the other.

I haven’t been able to identify a specific model,  but I’m fairly certain it’s an old Kromski  –  they looked like a cross between the Polonaise and the Symphony,  and had that distinctive sliding mother of all that Kromski’s do.  They also had direct drive setups – the flyer and bobbin all in one solid piece,  which I’ve never seen before.

It was really fascinating to be able to see both of these wheels at once, and compare the different conditions they were in.     One was very little used,  but damaged in some pretty serious ‘no more spinning for you’ ways – most notable a broken off flyer arm.   The kinds of damages that come of not being used and being carelessly stored.

The other was extremely worn,  and had a number of obvious repairs,  but was still in excellent working order –  it just needed a new drive band.   I turned the wheel by hand, and it spun as smoothly as if freshly oiled.


The Great Grey Fleece project.

As I talked in about in an earlier post, I have this large longwool fleece that I am slowly processing and spinning. It’s not a great fleece, but I’m fond of it because it was my first fleece purchase. It’s a fine exercise in patience and thoroughness in process techniques. I’ve started working on it every day. I comb enough to make six bird’s nests of combed top, and stick the combing waste in a sack to card later.

The combed top I am spinning on Sakura, a 0.8 oz Spinsanity that I got a few years ago. I spin in the morning and afternoon, using up the birds nests I combed yesterday, and then in the evening I comb more. When not being spun, the fiber and spindle hang out together in a nice bin I have.

From Spinning

Every few days, I sit and pick over then card the bag of waste from combing, and spin the rolags fresh off the cards. It’s good practice for the woolen draw, which I am working on learning to do well. I can really tell the difference between the rolags where I’ve been nitpickety about the fiber the ones I haven’t. I”m learning to be more selective about the fiber I choose to process, and what is just not worth the trouble. It’s a fun project.

A couple of skeins.

I’ve been trying to learn to spin with the woolen long draw on my spinning wheel recently, and just finished my first full long draw spinning project.

From Spinning

This fiber was a Rhinebeck purchase – 4oz of Shetland wool combed top from Gnomespun Yarn, in their Heart of the Green colourway. It didn’t like being spun worsted at all, and since I’d been watching Abby’s video recently, it occurred to me to try spinning it woolen, and that worked very well. The large skein is about 120 yards of very bulky thick and thin two ply — the small one is approx 20 yards, a sample skein from the end of my spinning, after I got better at the woolen technique. It’s a much more even 2 ply, and closer to a standard worsted weight. I don’t have WPI on either of them. Woolen is a neat technique, and very fast spinning. It’s well suited to wheel spinning, though now that I am getting a feel for the technique, I can see how one could spindle spin woolen. It definitely needs a great prep in order to spin well.

I also recently finished spinning this:

From Spinning

It’s a BFL/silk fiber that I’ve had and been slowly spinning here and there for years. I finished the singles sometime this spring and finally got around to plying and washing it in July. Spindle spun worsted draw, about 350 yards of a light sport or sock weight. No WPI here either. It’s lovely stuff, and reminds me of ponds and marshes with the greens and browns and rusts. I cannot for the life of me remember where the fiber came from. A swap package, I think.

I’m still working out how to take good photos with my new camera. Or rather, *if* I can take good photos with the new camera. The evidence so far is inconclusive.

A little spinning.

This is one of my current spinning projects. The spindle is Sakura, a .8 oz Spinsanity that I got a few years ago – the fiber I don’t remember anything about. I’m fairly sure it is a wool/silk blend, and I love the mossy lake like greens and browns in it, and how soft it is. I haven’t decided how I want to ply it you – I think it would make a nice two ply for lace, but I’m waiting to decide until I see how many bobbins of it I have.

Sakura with fiber.


A few years ago I bought a longwool fleece from a local shepherd.

It’s not a great fleece, but it is the first one I ever bought, and the largest. It weighed eight pounds before I washed it, and over the years I’ve played with it, trying out different spinning and processing techniques, and generally just putzing around with it learning about how to deal with raw longwool fleece.

I have two pounds of it still, rough washed and packed up into 8oz lots in zip lock bags. Last year I bought my self a pair of the most excellent Valkyrie Viking Combs, and the plan is to comb the fleece one bag at a time, and eventually end up with a nice lot of worsted spun yarn, and a nice lot of woolen spun.

Viking Combs

Today I started working on this project, by pulling out the combs and setting them and getting the little 1.4oz bag of the longwool out and combing it.

Combs set up.The wool sample.Lashed on.Combed and cardable.

I haven’t done a lot of wool combing, so there’s a learning curve, and it took me a few hours working on and off through the afternoon to get the whole small bag combed.

Finished combing.Yield, cardable bagged.Combed top stored.

In the end I had .5 oz of cardable short wool, .4oz of nicely combed top, and a big mess on my carpet. Loss was .5 oz, some in a couple of locks that were just too matted and gunky to comb at all, and some in the mess of dust, VM and wool bits left on the carpet.

Conclusions — this is going to be a slow project. The fleece needs to be washed again before I comb more of it. Combed top is lighter then air. This is going to be fun!

Trying to learn to spin. On a wheel, this time.

I’m already a very competent spindle spinner, and I quite like my spindles. But there is this spinning wheel that’s been around the house, and all this fiber, and I figured, why not?

It’s like trying to learn to type with toes – I’m suddenly all thumbs and dis-coordination, and my brown roving that I know could be this fine thin single is this lumpy over spun twisty tangly mess. But it is a single. And I am slowly slowly getting the hang of using my hands and feet at the same time.

From Drop Box

This is the wheel – my husbands Little Diana. I also picked up a set of Valkyrie wool combs for myself! I’ve been lusting after these for a few years.

From Drop Box

I’ll use these to finish (maybe finally finish) processing the wool for my sweater. And maybe I’ll spin it on my spindles, and maybe I’ll do it on the wheel, and maybe I’ll eventually actually knit it!

If I didn’t have cheap-ass rechargeable batteries….

…you’d be looking at my own picture of my new toy, instead of this one. As soon as I get my batteries recharged, I’ll plug in my own picture. This one is from the shop website.

Maine Fiber Spindle Kit

I got my first bottom whorl spindle, in a spindle kit from Maine Woods Yarn and Fiber — I love Etsy! Tons of great hand crafted stuff, including plenty of fiber artists, and my blog buddy Sarah’s shop — her bags are divine.

I really wish I knew what kind of wool the white top is — it’s lovely, and sheepy scented, fairly long staple length, and smooth smooth smooth. Partially it’s the combed top preparation – but the wool is not like anything else I’ve spun — it seems almost like Lincoln, if Lincoln were really soft. I hope I can figure it out!

Done and done.

I finished spinning my Cormo – here’s the final tally.

1 lb. raw Cormo fleece yielded 10 ounces of 4ply cabled yarn, approx 400 yards total. It is a heavy worsted weight, about 8WPI, and will eventually be a hat and mitten set for me. The six ounces lost is partly due to washing – this was a a very lanolin rich fleece – and partly due to sampling and leftover bits. I probably have about 10 or 20 yards of singles, 2plies, and sample skein hanging about.

And here it is:
Finished Cormo.

3 large skeins, and one little one, which is ten yards, and not included in my yardage above.

I also sat down and did a little organizing work on my spinning stuff. I took a fiber sampling class a while back, and came away with a box full of top and roving samples from about 20 different fibers. With my usual laissez faire attitude, I stuck it on a shelf and ignored it, until yesterday.

Yesterday I pulled the box down, laid out all the samples, pulled out the singles sampler I had spun during the class and my little note card, and labeled everything. Now I know what I have, and can refer back to it when ever I want to know what someone else is talking about.  Gods willing, I might even refer to my samples for oh, say, designing spinning projects.

Fiber Samples

I’ve got a nice range of fiber – bombyx and tussah silks, several rayons including milk fiber, and a wide range of wools from Optim stretch merino to Lincoln (which is startlingly like dolls hair). I’ve also got some yak in there, and a bit of possum/merino. Fun stuff.