Archive for October, 2006

You spin me right round, baby, right round

Monday, October 30th, 2006

Ode to my Lendrum

I love this spinning wheel. It’s made in Canada. No, it’s finely crafted in Canada. It folds for travel, it has a modest footprint and it flies so smoothly and quietly. I’ve spun everything from laceweight to chunky yarn with great success. It uses Scotch Tension which is a really fine adjustment with a knob, cotton cord and a rubber band. I can tighten and losen it with small movements for precision. This controls the take-up speed of the fiber onto the spindle.

It’s a double treadle (two pedals, two feet) which I am so grateful I could get instead of the single treadle. Spending a lot of time spinning and only using one foot is not optimal. With two pedals I can stop and start the wheel using my feet on the pedals. The fatigue factor is tremendously reduced and worth the extra money.

Specifications:
• Single Drive, Scotch Tension
• Wheel Diameter 19”
• Regular Flyer Ratios: 6, 8, 10:1
• Orifice 7/16”, 29.75” high
• Double Treadle
• 4 – 4 oz bobbins and tensioned kate
• No assembly, just unfold and attach head
• Maple hardwood with clear lacquer finish
• Weight 13 lbs
• Fast Flyer Ratios 12, 15, 17:1
• Plying Head Ratios 3, 7, 9:1

As you can see in the photos, that’s a lot of equipment standard with the wheel. I purchased four more spindles recently, and tonight I ordered the quill head so that I can try spinning cotton on this wheel. If it does that, then I will never need another wheel. The quill head only works with the double treadle. It spins at ratios of 6, 25, and 37:1. (Ratios are how many times the flyer head spins for every once the large wheel goes around. The more twists, the finer the thread you can spin. Fiber with very short staple length needs fast spinning to bing the fiber, like cotton.)

Here you can see the new bobbins I just got which I ordered in walnut, even though everything else is in maple. This was pretty much everything that came with the wheel (it did include 4 maple bobbins).  The bobbins are on a lazy kate, with a scotch tension cord along the bottom of the bobbins.  The piece to the right is the bracket for the regular flyer heads.  On the pedals are the two flyer heads.  The normal one on the right, the fast flyer on the left (you can see the smaller circles, which is where the band goes to set the ratio.)  At the top of the wheel, the larger plying bobbin and bracket are attached.  There are two bands, on the wheel, one is for the plying head, the other for the regular flyers.  The bracket can also be raised and lowered to adjust tension to keep the bands flowing free.
I have the wheel on a piece of rubber fabric that you put under rugs to keep them from slipping. The wheel is light, so without it the wheel tends to walk a bit. I sit in a really nice padded chair we bought when we got our sewing table. The padded back is a godsend.

I have some thoughts on drop spindles as well. I have two and I still love using them. I learned on a bottom whorl and I believe that it taught me a lot in preparation to moving to a wheel. There’s something wonderfully visceral about using the drop spindle. I tend to overspin a bit on the wheel still, but the yarn I spin on the spindles now is perfectly balanced when I wind them off on the swift into a skein. I can’t wait to get to that stage with the wheel. It’s also still a lot easier to travel with a drop spindle than with the wheel.

The first spindle, on the left, I got from Heritage Spinning in Oxford. The owner, Joan, has her father make these. The channel up at the top is excellent for keeping the yarn balanced and held. It’s a very simple spindle, reasonably priced, elegantly made, and it served me really well in the beginning. The second spindle Brian got for me this past Christmas. It’s a ring spindle from Golding that can be either a top or bottom whorl. I’ve tried spinning from a top and I don’t like it as well as a bottom, which is slower. This has some incredible features, like the notches in the ring to keep the fiber from slipping and the hook at the top works like a champ. It’s beautifully weighted, but because of this, it requires understanding what a fiber needs for spinning. For example, it’s too heavy for cotton. The spindle on the left, my first one, has a little bit of recycled cotton denim I tried spinning. The spindle is still a little heavy and that makes for a very uneven thread. Cotton can easily take 1000 twists per inch and the drop spindle just can’t quite go fast enough.

I am enjoying everything about spinning. It’s easier and often times cheaper to go and buy yarn, but I really love knowing how much a part of the process I’ve been.

For every season; spin, spin, spin

Monday, October 30th, 2006

Ongoing projects update:

Lace scarf: added 12 inches, 1/3 complete.
Gloves for Britts: 2 of the 6 patterns sewn on.
Brian’s sweater: 3/4 of the fiber spun totalling 1156 yards

I spent a bunch of lovely hours this weekend spinning up the soft, springy Babydoll Southdown fleece that I’ve slated for a Henley style sweater for Brian. Hopefully, I’ll have the rest finished up this week and than a trip perhaps next Wednesday to visit Joan at Heritage Spinning so that she can help me replicate one of Brian’s favorite sweaters.

Here are a few pictures of me spinning this project on my Lendrum wheel. This is such a wonderfully hand made wheel that is so versatile and pretty to boot.

I recently bought 4 new spindles, which I got in walnut. Just like my fondness for mixing metals, I love to mix woods, too. Having 8 spindles means that I can do multiple projects at one. I have 4 in use for this project, and one each for 3 other projects. I have one free for anything. This way I can spin what I want and not be limited to finishing one before starting another. I’ve always felt bound to finish one thing at a time, but I get bored with some projects so this allows me more creative freedom.

My goal this week is to finish the yarn for Brian’s sweater and to finish sewing the patterns on Britt’s gloves. I will have a new project shortly as one of Brian’s coworkers wants a pair of short gloves that I’m eager to get to work on.

Just in time

Monday, October 23rd, 2006

I finished the modified short fingerless gloves for Brian last night and he found this morning’s slushy rain a perfect time to debut them. I’m really pleased with the way they turned out. These knit up so quick and easy and the modifications to the thumb are just what I wanted.

This is without a doubt my favorite way to knit up the thumbs. I just love the symmetry and the comfort.

I also made a fantastic duck dinner last night. Click on the picture if you’d like the story and the recipe.

Of course, the dinner and the gloves came after spending several hours stacking the wood that Brian split yesterday. Who says Sundays are lazy days?

Monday creeps in so quick and stealth-like

Monday, October 16th, 2006

My original goal with my project blog was to update once a week on Sundays.  Yesterday afternoon I wasn’t feeling like I had much to say, so I skipped it and Monday has me feeling a tad guilty for not putting in the effort, so I’m fixing it now.

Originally, I didn’t think I had accomplished much since my last post, but after looking at what I have done, I do feel I got a lot done.  I finished the knitting of the second elbow length glove, I just need to sew the pattern on to finish.  I also made one glove for Brian.  He liked the idea, the yarn, and the pattern, but he wanted something just wrist length, fuller thumb cover, and only the skull part of the pattern.  I made the right glove on Saturday and he loved it.  It also showed me that I have a full grasp of pattern making that I could take two elements from different patterns and make them work together, along with making it work on a different stitch guage than what the original pattern called for.

Brian is wonderfully encouraging about me creating my own concepts instead of following recipes and patterns.  The more I relax and let myself create, the less I feel the need to rely on someone else’s instructions.  I realize that I knit the same way I cook.  I tend to use patterns to give me the basics and then modify it to be the way I see it in my head.  This makes me feel much more creative.

There is something really wonderful about getting the designs/tastes/colors that are in my head out into something tangible.

Next week I will have more pictures of my current finished glove projects.  I did want to put a picture of the blankets I made for both my grandson and my friend’s son.  I hadn’t crocheted anything significant in a long time and while I was recovering from my broken wrist reconstruction, this became my favorite form of therapy.  Both the little guys were geeked about thier new afgans.  The pattern came from the Crochet Me website.

Sunday, the day of rest and other silly concepts

Sunday, October 8th, 2006

I finished one of the fingerless gloves and I’m thrilled with the way it came out, so I’m posting it now and not waiting until they are both done. Instant gratification and all, you know. *grin* I have enough yarn to do short gloves for Brian. He only wants one skull on his, though. I need to see if I can devise crossed bones underneath for his

Also, I ran out of steam helping my husband stack wood while he cut down some dead trees, but I wanted to keep an eye on him since they were 75′ trees and he had to carry much of it up hill. So I stayed close and collected a bunch of maple leaves and set about to do a rosebud boquet. I saw a tutorial here and just had to try it out.

Ta Da!

Knitting (with a hard K) Sunday

Sunday, October 1st, 2006

About a week ago I started a holiday gift for my niece. Some fingerless elbow length gloves with an awesome snowflake that turns into a skull pattern I found on The Anticraft website. I found an awesome yarn from Lion Brand called Micro Spun. It’s so decadently soft! The snowflake/skull pattern will be in a silvery grey.

I forgot how much I enjoy knitting with double point needles

I’m actually really rather proud of how consistent I can keep my stitches. The needles are a size 3 US/3.25mm.

I fell in love with elbow length fingerless gloves last winter. I had some jet black alpaca fiber that I spun for these, then I went the distance and even knitted them up with cables. I am looking forward to the cold weather just to wear them again. I love the feel of alpaca, and these are perfect since I like to wear capes more than coats. Perhaps I should consider making myself some thigh high alpaca socks :)

This will be perfect to help keep my damaged wrist warm and comfy this winter.

Looking over my recent posts, I realized I didn’t document the 24 oz. of Leicester I got last year. I love the colors, but it’s too scratchy for a sweater. I need to find a good project for it and quit buying pretty colors on itchy fiber.

I have also made firm plans for my birthday weekend to go to the fiber festival at the Allegan County Fairgrounds. Why no, making birthday plans 10 and a half months in advance is not presumptuous! I just have a lot of projects to finish between now and then!