Saturday, May 28, 2011

It's Romney.

Romney makes me happy.   It has lovely crimp, it is shiny and shiny and also shiny, It can be fluffy if you want it to and smooth if you want it to.  I like it mostly for outerwear but, with the right fleece, it can be good for next to skin wear.  There is a big range in fleeces from sheep to sheep.  Romney is often recommended as a good fleece to begin with in processing your own wool and also recommended as a good place to start when learning to spin from prepared fibers.  It is happy to be processed by flicking, combing or carding.  The results will be as varied as the fleeces and often can be surprising in the outcomes in wonderful ways.

Romney has a longwool background but the crimp structure is different enough to make it seem like it belongs in a different category.  Check out the luster and you know it belongs right with all of those other shiny wools with good length.

All of the samples I am going to talk about have been combed using my 2 pitch Valkyrie Mini combs.  I've talked about these combs before but I use them for almost everything I want to comb.  If I were going to do pounds and pounds I would probably clamp them to a table using the options clampy thing you can get for them but for samples I usually just comb right at my wheel.

From left to right:
2 ply lace - pulled from the comb using a diz, spun worsted - 20 wpi
2 ply - spun from the comb, spun worsted - 11 wpi
2 ply - pulled from the comb using a diz, additional ply twist - 16 wpi
3 ply - pulled from the comb using a diz, spun from the comb - 13 wpi
3 ply - pulled from the comb no diz, spun from the fold - 8 wpi

 These are in the same order just opened up to see the strands a little better.

And some close ups:

This one was spun right from the comb with a worsted draft.  When I talk about a drafting method being woolen or worsted I am referring to whether the twist was in front of my drafting hand or allowed into the fiber supply.  Worsted spinning has the twist pinched off and is not allowed into the fiber supply.  This makes a smoother and more lustrous yarn that is a bit more dense and is good for cables and other techniues where stitch definition is important.  It is also a cooler yarn as there is less trapped air and so is less of an insulator.

 This is the lace one that was spun exactly the same way but was removed from the comb using a diz which is basically a little tool with a hole in it so that while the top is being made, if it is done skillfully (which is no easy feat) the top is all the same thickness from one end to the other.
 This 3 ply yarn was also taken from the comb using a diz.  Also spun worsted.
 This fiber was pulled from the comb without a diz and then spun from the fold with a woolen draft.  Look how fluffy it is and how there is so little luster there.  This is all from the same fleece!
 This yarn is lovely and I want to use it now!  It was spun right from the comb.  It is a two ply and I added extra twist in the ply to make it a bit stronger to be used as a weaving warp.  It's perfect.

Like I said earlier, these samples were all combed samples but this wool loves to be carded and can also be flicked and spun from the lock.  Doing those things will give even more varied results.  You should try it.

Three more things.  Anne Hanson touched my butt.  Yep it's true.  We were at the retreat and she thought I had a bit of wool on my pants.  Turned out it was just a hole in my pants.  I thought it was hilarious and we did this whole reenactment thing so she could take a picture of her finger touching my butt.  the photos were not very complimentary to my butt so I am refusing to post them.  Just thought I'd tell you all cause not everyone can say that Anne Hanson touched their butt!

Also, Brittney is getting married on July 1.  So the shop will be closed the week of June 27th.  We'll be back in the shop on July 5th packing and shipping orders and smiling wide at you all.

And finally, my fiber from the Spunky Eclectic Fiber Club arrived this week.  Every month I am so excited when my little package comes.  The colors are always fabulous and varied and the fibers are so surprising.  This month's was Norwegian Longwool.  It feels like somewhere between Romney and Wensleydale processed top.  The luster is fantastic.  The colors were inspired by Angkor Wat which is an ancient temple in Cambodia pictured above.  I don;t know if that is the actual photo that inspired the colors but it is a pretty fantastic sight. (that photo is from here)  If you aren't a member of the Spunky Club, you might want to check it out.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Two Weeks

This year has been a whirlwind so far and the last two weeks just continued the crazy busy.   I'm writing this post from my comfortable bed and that's were several of the photos were taken just moments ago.  But I can't wait any longer to tell you what's been going on.

The first week in May we flew off to Salt Lake City for the oldest daughter's graduation.
 Brittney left home at the tender age of 18 and started her college career at Southern Virginia University. About a year and a half later she transferred to Brigham Young University in Provo Utah.  She graduated with a Bachelor's degree in English with a Philosophy minor.

She immediately began to pursue her Master's Degree at the University of Utah.  On May 6th she walked in her graduation ceremony and after one more class this summer will have her Master's degree in Secondary Education.  There is some more beautiful title for what she has but I can't ever remember it.  All I can say is that she's worked hard and I am very proud of her.

The last week of June we will again be flying to Salt Lake City to see her married to a fantastic guy who we already love.  Here are a couple of their engagement photos.

 They look very happy and are so cute together.  Something else that is an interesting tidbit is that Brittney is wearing 5 inch heals in these photos.  Mark is very tall.  VERY TALL! We like him anyway.

So, we flew back home on Sunday the 8th.  I repacked and packed up the car and off I went on Monday morning for the Spinning Loft Spring Retreat at Pheasant Field Bed and Breakfast in Carlisle Pennsylvania.
Here's a bit of a blog post from the owner of the inn.
 Here are all of the spinners except the two I couldn't fit.  We were studying the spinning of laceweight yarns each morning.
Each afternoon we were instructed by the fabulous Anne Hanson of Knitspot fame.  We were doing an advanced lace class with her.  She did a couple of really nice blog posts about the retreat.  She's a fabulous blogger.

Here's what I have to say about class with her.  Anne is a really great teacher.  Enough instruction, enough practice time, lots of samples and demonstrations.  I loved her class and I think everybody else felt the same.  I came home with no knitting done as I was having trouble focusing and had to rip it out but I learned a lot.

One running theme in the spinning and the knitting parts of the day was the importance of sampling and swatching to make good decisions.  Anne brought a portion of her swatch library.  the library brought home even further the importance of swatching.  She had swatches that were the same needle size, the same gauge, same size yarn but they looked so different from one to the other.  Swatching not only can help us get gauge but can give us other information about the fabric we will be making.  I have, in the past, done just the size swatch that I felt I needed to get a measurement of gauge but will from now on be making the full 5x5 inch swatch so I can feel the drape of the fabric and see how the yarn acts and how it spreads or contracts or has dimension or lays flat.

On to the next topic!

I got a sidekick to play with.  There have been some delays as one of the pulleys needs to be changed so the drive band doesn't pop out when using the large whorl.  This wheel that I have in my hands has the original pulley that may cause trouble and so I will need to change that out eventually.  In the mean time there has been spinning.

This is 4 ounces of Corriedale naturally dyed by Pico Accuardi.  It will be a light worsted weight yarn when I ply it.  The spinning on the Sidekick was lovely.  The treadling feels very much like my Matchless and the wheel is very stable on most surfaces.  I love it very much and will be dragging it everywhere with me from now on.  It folds pretty easily with a few practice tries.  It sets up even easier.  I love it. LOVE IT!

Also while in Pennsylvania we visited a little yarn shop in downtown Carlisle called the Yarn Garden.  I haven't bought any yarn in a very long time but there was some yarn that screamed at me in this little shop.

 It's 100% silk singles.  I got a pattern recommendation from Anne and ran with it. It's the Neckdown Summer Cardigan from Knitting Pure and Simple.  It's a perfect pattern because this year will not get any less busy and so I will need some simple mindless knitting with some very lovely yarn.

And finally:
 I have a very lovely and thoughtful friend.  It helps to know people.  I don't know why she loves me but it is mutual. First I got a paper/plastic cover advance copy of the book I have been so excited about for more than a year.  Then today a hard cover copy.  I am just as in love with this book as I thought I would be.  It's big. 438 pages including the index.  It's hard cover.  It's affordable (just $35). It's full of color pictures and swatches and all of the info you ever wanted about different animal fibers.  Mostly sheep but there are also goats and camelids and bison and bunnies and more.  This is a book that EVERY spinner should own.  I don't say that about every book.  But this one!

preorders and have some sampler packages that go with it if you want to play.  Until then, if you want to come in and paw mine I will allow it:-)

And now for a bit of bragging:

That's me.  Beth Pink Smith in the donors and supporters list.  Listed with the likes of Cat Bordhi and Nancy Bush and Abby Franquemont.

And then, when you look at the Acknowledgements, there I am again! I am honored to be included here. As I have written before on this blog, I love Deb Robson and admire her greatly and to have a bit of a mention in her book makes me squeal a little bit.

Now I will sleep a bit before I tackle a huge list of things to do tomorrow.