Fairs.. the bane of my wallets existence

But I love them sooo much.. I went to the weaving fair/ market in Hoorn and I emptied my pockets.. (but it’s okay, because I got a lot of fuzzy love in return). Broke but would do again 10/10.

Let me start with the last purchase of the day. These are handdyed and hand carded fibers from shetland and clun forest sheep living in the Netherlands. I love the idea that this fiber has been growing in one of the many Dutch polder landscapes. *le sigh*. I have no idea what I’m going to do with this stuff, but I expect it will speak to me when it’s ready.

Cashmere. I have it. 270 grams of it. It cost me a near fortune, but I have it. Now what to do with it…. hahaha lol just kidding I know EXACTLY what I’m going to do with it. I’m going to hug it (it’s 30 degrees Celcius out here.. so no I won’t hug it). I’m going to keep it at arms-length and adore it. (amongst other things).

Merino and merino silk blends. Both colors have one strip of merino, and one strip of merino silk blended. You can see  it clearly (on my monitor) on the right (red) fiber. The colors are really hard to capture on camera, the yellow one nearly glows :P

I absolutely love these little batts! The two on the right are merino silk, and the two on the left are (I believe) shetland blended with something else (I forgot). I love the colors and I can totally see something autumn-y happening here!

Some awesomeness from Dutch Wool Diva. I’m going to save these so I can enjoy spinning them :)

Also: 22 micron merino in oatmeal (I love oatmeal) and 4 (smaller) bits of neon dyed 24 micron merino. I simply couldn’t resist!

Last but not least: I have been spinning! This time it’s a cashmere x silk blend I bought from De Spinners. I dyed some of it with black and brown food coloring and I intend to dye the final yarn yellow. I think the black/ gray and the brown will give the yarn an interesting effect, but I’ll have to wait and see :)

Tour de Fleece, week 2

I’m really happy with the progress this tour! Obviously it helps that I now have a good wheel to spin on and a drum carder to process my fibers! I’ve managed to spin quite a lot of different yarns, and I’ve been able to practice some different techniques!

I had bought my mom some fiber to go with the little golding for her birthday, but it’s a very busy time for her and she didn’t have much time to practice just yet. So I decided to spin it for her so she could at least knit with some handspun :)

I’ve had some reservations when it comes to barberpole and fractal spinning, but I decided to give it a shot. I know my mom really likes different colors, so I decided to just go for it :)

I’m usually a fan of fine spinning, but I know my mom is not a fan of knitting with fine spun yarns. So a new challenge was born. Spin thick singles and ply them evenly.

I usually spin using a long-draw, woollen technique, but for this I needed a worsted method so the singles would become nice and smooth. This was a challenge as well, but I think it worked out pretty well in the end.

I’m really pleased with the final result! My biggest fear with barberpole is that the colors might become too muddled or too bright. But without even realizing it, I completely fell in love with this technique..

So here’s a list of the things I learned/ noticed while working on this project:

1. Fiber prep is EVERYTHING! No matter how great of a spinner you are, the result of your spinning is mostly determined by the way you prepare your fiber! If you want to spin fine, I suggest you fluff the fiber up as much as you can. If you want to spin thick singles then I suggest you strip your fiber to almost the diameter you want your single to be.

2. Pinching is really not so comfortable. I wanted a sleek, non-fuzzy single for this project, so I spun worsted style. But for this method you need to keep the twist from entering your drafting area, so there’s a lot of pinching. I may have been a bit too extreme, but I ended up feeling some strain in my fingers and tendons. It’s okay for 100 grams, but not for more than that (for my problematic hands).

3. Barberpole.Is.Awesome! It’s amazing how much depth you’ll get when using fractal spinning. It’s not 100% barberpole. It has places where the colors are nearly the same, and places where they are total opposite, but it’s the changes that make it awesome :)

4. Twist! When plying, use a lot of twist. It gives the yarn a much prettier finish, than when it’s underplied. I have a tendency to underply my yarns. I really need to work on that.

It’s starting to look like a little pile!

I also worked on two silk hankies I bought at the Breidagen fair. I decided to spin them the way they wanted to be spun (which is quite fine), and then ply them with some thick, dark brown singles. (I don’t know what fiber)

I ended up with something like this. It hasn’t been washed or measured yet, but I really like the effect. This is for my mom as well, so I hope she likes it :)

The remnants were chain plied to form this little hank of yarn. Also unwashed and unmeasured.

I loved the fractal spinning so much I decided to try again. This fiber is called “Corndogs” and it’s also unwashed and unmeasured. Aladdin fluffed up a lot after washing and drying, so I’ll post another picture when that’s done. I think I’ll try more combinations and different weights :)

I’m also spinning some cashmere/silk blend I dyed on my new little turkish spindle “Kolibrie” I think this spindle is adorable, but I’m not completely happy with the dye job. I’m going to wait until I’m done spinning and plying, if I still don’t like it I might give it another shot.

In other news: the bunnies are having a lot of fun on the balcony! I placed a box and some hidey holes for them so they can hang out outside without feeling overexposed. Bam is really digging his new house :) Zuzu likes to sit behind the bike.. She’s hard to photograph these days haha.

The blueberries are doing great and they’ve become quite tasty :D

The grapes are doing good as well! I can’t wait to see how these little cuties turn out!

Here’s something I’m really proud of! Look at this beautiful little guy! Hope you guys are having a great summer as well!

Tour de Fleece 2014

As you may know the Tour de France has kicked off four days ago, and with it, the Tour de Fleece. I’m always one with big plans, but this year I’ve gone about it differently. In this last year I’ve gotten used to my new Bliss spinning wheel and I’ve noticed my spinning is becoming more and more even.  They say a bad workman blames his tools, but I strongly disagree. The tools are more important. They define everything. This wheel has shown me that it’s not simply skill that determines whether or not you spin a gossamer weight yarn, it’s also the tool and the fiber that either works with or against you. As for complaints, I have but one. The bobbins. They are tiny. Well I guess they’re not tiny at all, I’m just hard to please and I like to fit everything on there (which is why I made the 5ply manx loaghtan yarn on the Rotterdam instead of the Bliss).I’m sorry for the phone quality. I took these pictures with my phone so I could put them on my instagram, and I thought I might as well use them for the blog. It’s a recap of the past few days anyway, but I promise to take better pictures in the future :P What I love about turkish spindles (and I’ve mentioned this before) is that you can, if you wind them on carefully, make a 2 ply with one ball. This can come in very handy in case one of your balls runs out first and you don’t want to cut the yarn and throw away the ‘waste’. I plied the two together, and when the first one ran out, I took the ‘other end’ from the ball that was left and plied the rest back to itself. It’s a 2 ply and you can’t see the difference. It only shows on the first picture above where you can see the ‘loop’.The day before the Tour I decided to prep some of the fleece. I’m trying the (what I call) ‘open hand technique’. It’s something I learned from the “Spin to weave” books and dvd, and it’s a method of spinning that puts much less strain on your tendons and wrists. It also helps you to spin yarn at a much faster rate and makes for a yarn that is more even. When I spin, I don’t like to be interrupted. I like the flow of the spinning and stopping to prep a bit of fiber is not something that I enjoy. These faux lags make sure I get the effect I want (by allowing for the colors to stay together, but still creating a soft gradient via a partial barberpole where the colors change). I get to spin an entire 100 grams in one go, if I don’t get interrupted by something else (phone, life, cats you name it).Much of the spinning was done while watching the match between the Netherlands and Costa Rica, so the spinning is a bit irregular. Not that I mind though, it was too exciting and stressful to watch without having something in my hands.I do really like combination of colors! It’s such a cheerful bobbin :) I’m trying only to spin on the wheel so I can get better and faster at spinning even yarns, but I really fell in love with the cute, tiny little Turkish spindles and so I decided to order another one in a smaller size. Meet Kolibrie. It’s such a cute little spindle! I’m going to spin some cashmere/ silk blend on it, but this will have to wait. I’m going to spin last years’ tdf stash first, when I run out.I actually wanted to post this post yesterday, but I didn’t have time to finish my post. I’ll have another update soon :)