Thursday, April 16, 2015

Spin to knit kit for Fiber Addiction

I was recently lucky enough to collaborate with Fiber Addiction, TurtleMade and Chasing Acorns for kits that Fiber Addiction will introduce at Yarn Con in Chicago this April.  My contribution was to spin Fiber Addiction's dyed Polwarth and create a pattern that would work well with the thick 'n' thin handspun yarn that many new spinners create.  I loved this idea so much that I put together a little tutorial on the spinning process as well as creating the pattern!  So, let's get started!

First prepare your fiber
Approx 4oz of fiber in a braid

Unbraid it and wrap it into a ball

Start working from one end

Spread it out without splitting

Find a halfway point and begin to split

Continue pulling it apart into two strips 

Wrapping each strip around your hands as you pull

Now you have two fairly even balls

Take those two balls and begin the splitting process again with each one

Now you have four, do the splitting process one more time with each of these balls 

You should end up with 8 balls approx 0.5-0.6oz each, that are about as thick as shown above


Now you prepare the spindle!

Make a slip knot with a 9-12in scrap yarn, leaving a loop.  Get the end from one of your balls of fiber.
Put the loop around the shaft at the bottom of your whirl (the same for top and bottom whirls)

You're ready to join the fiber and leader
Roll the end of fiber on your leg to 'spin' it into yarn
You made yarn!
Line up the scrap yarn with the handspun yarn with the ends being opposite as above.


Take your handspun yarn underneath the scrap yarn and then back up and over both the scrap yarn and the handspun  yarn.
Finally go back under the handspun yarn and up through the middle of the loop you've created.  Pull it tight into a knot.

Begin to spin!
If you have a hook on the shaft at the top side of the whirl - bring the scrap yarn up from the bottom of the whirl, wrap it around the base of the shaft and then swirl it around the shaft towards the hook at the end of the shaft.
Hold the spindle upright.  Make sure your leader and/or handspun is under the hook.  Begin twisting the spindle clockwise or counter-clockwise.  Be sure to remember which you choose!  If you forget between spins you will unspin your fiber.  If you forget when it's time to ply you will overspin your yarn.  Create at last 6 inches of yarn

Draft your fiber, letting the twist get into the thickness a bit to help create the thick sections.

As you did to begin with, hold the spindle upright.  Begin twisting the spindle clockwise or counter-clockwise and gently let it drop this time!  As long as it continues to spin you can continue to draft the fiber and let the twist into it.  Watch for it to stop so you can grab the spindle before it twists in the other direction.  

When you reach the point where the length of yarn is at the max of your comfort you will wind it onto the shaft of the spindle.  This creates the cop.  
Tips!
If the length of yarn is about your arm span white seat or standing you may need to wrap the yarn temporarily.  This is the method I use.  You hold the end of the yarn with fiber towards the outside of your hand.  Then wrap the yarn around your thumb and pinky finger in a figure 8 motion.  You can then wind onto your cop as before.

You may choose to pre-draft your yarn to make spinning it go a bit more smoothly.  Even if you pre-draft, you can draft while you spin as well.
Don't worry if the yarn appears a bit overspun!  It can be compensated for when you ply.  (This only applies to yarn you are making from multiple strands)  
Photographic examples
This is some yarn with thick and thin sections
Another example of thick and thin sections
Drafting while spinning
Drafting a thin spot
A cop of about 0.5oz
To join the fiber together if it breaks or when attaching a new ball of fiber, leave the fiber unspun...
...and lay each end on top of one another.  Hold your fingers over a section that is in the middle of the overlap.  Spin as before, letting twist get into the overlap before you let go and move on to the next section.
The cop with about an ounce of yarn spun.
You will want to unwind the cop at some point.  The spindle can't get too heavy or spinning becomes difficult.  Your yarn will break easier under the extra weight or you will only be able to spin thick yarn.  I would suggest at either 0.5oz or 1oz.  You can use a toilet paper or paper towel roll to unwind onto.  Hold the recently spun end securely on the roll.
Wrap the yarn around the roll and overlap it onto the beginning.
Find something to hold your spindle so it can spin the yarn off of it.  
When you get to the first spun yarn end you'll want to secure it.  You can either tuck it under a strand of yarn or you can split a notch in the edge of the cardboard  and slip it in.
1oz of fiber single handspun


Go back to the Begin to Spin section and follow the same directions but hold two strands of your handspun together and twist your spindle in the opposite direction that you originally spun.


Wind your 2-ply yarn off the spindle and on to a Niddy Noddy or around your arm.


 Tie a figure 8 around the yarn in at least 2 sections and soak the yarn.




  After it has dried you can knit up the cowl I designed!  It is available on Ravelry as a FREE pattern!








Saturday, April 11, 2015

Hand carding fun!

I purchased a fun inspiration jar from Mielke's Fiber Arts in 'royal' colors and finally got brave enough to dig in!

Taking all the fibers out of the jar left me with a rather intimidating pile of different materials and colors to decide how to combine.
It was tough so I just dug in, picking about 3 different strips that I though would go together nicely.  I used the hand carders to comb them together adding pieces in different spots and combing more.  Then I would roll the fiber off the carder.  That may have been one of the more tricky things to figure out.  I knew how to make rolags off the carders but I really just wanted the strip or piece of fibers not necessarily all rolled up.
So they weren't very pretty to look at to begin with, but they spun pretty nicely!
I was going for a thick'n'thin that wasn't to dramatic or perfectly consistent in the thick spot placement.
These rolls were really just super lose rolags but, also great to spin from.  
So far I was using many of the same colors, not too much sparkle or contrast, thinking this would be the first half of a 2-ply created with the inside/outside of a cake.
I'd spin up what I'd estimate to be about half so now it was time to add the sparkle and contrast!
These starting turning into mini batts!  I think carded fiber in this format would be easier to transport than al my previous forms!  These also had some pops of blue and pink, along with playing the white and black as a contrast and including more of the sparkle that my jar came with.
Now it's starting to look fun!
Spinning is finished so I wound it off into a cake...
It would've made a nice singles also but since I'd put all of some fiber types on one end, that wouldn't have looked as nice in my mind.
Holding the ends from the outside and insidetogether, I kept my thumb in the middle so it wouldn't collapse on me.
I ended with a very full bobbin!  And it was late so lighting wasn't the best...
I used my niddy noddy to wind off and see my yardage...
Then sat the skein down to admire it!
And a close up...
Then I had to take more pics today in somewhat better light...
And a close up...
Now I have just under 230yds (presoak) of a bulky weight 2-ply thick'n'thin!