Rolags, Blending Boards and Textured Yarn Spinning

Rolags, Blending Boards and Textured Yarn Spinning

I made a new colorway on my blending board of my Rolag Hybrid. I am calling it Silver Gray Sparkles.

Silver Gray Sparkles is a smooth sparkling rolag batt. No locks or chunky bits….just tons of sparkle and various smooth fibers. My Rolag is a hybrid of a layered batt and rolag.

Silver Gray Sparkle Rolag

I layer my fibers on my blending board without packing them down into the blending board teeth. I use the dowels to roll up the rolag without drafting through the inner fibers. I only draft at the end of the roll to secure the rolag closed. It is best spun from the end in 2-4 inch rolled up sections pulled off the roll while still rolled up. Picture taking a BIG piece of a jelly roll cake…but still rolled up. I have found sections larger than that a bit much to handle in my hand. If temperatures or humidity is high, there is a risk of felting that is possible while holding a large rolag for a longer period of time.

On the blending board

I let the rolag sit for a while trying to decide if I wanted to spin, felt or sell them. I decided to spin these all up this week into 2 large skeins. Each skein is a 2 ply and spiral plyed. Each skein has one of the plys as this silver gray sparkle rolag hybrid. It is a blend of numerous fibers such as Merino, Black Dyed Tussah Silk, Gotland, Masham, and White Firestar.

Each of the 2 yarns is one ply of the above rolag with the other ply being different in each skein. The lighter color skein was plyed with a 2 ply fine silk thread and done as an extreme spiral yarn. The darker skein was plyed with a handspun bamboo ply. Both skeins are a textured yarn with that homespun feel.

Dark skein
Light skein

I am a bit stunned how intensely different the two skeins look and feel. The darker skein with the bamboo ply is very heavy weight wise. And with so much bamboo in it, it took forever to dry! I have been staring at them for a while now trying to decide how to use them.

I need help. What do you think?

I really think I want to weave a wider scarf on my 16 inch rigid heddle loom. But past that I am stuck.

I think if I use one skein for weft and one for warp that the difference between the skeins will be lost.

So do I warp up with :

1. A white warp and weave strips?

2. A white warp and weave 2 separate scarves?

3. A white warp and weave 2 scarves alternating both skeins and afterwards seam 2 scarves together and make a shawl?

4. A white warp and weave 2 scarves with just one skein in each. So have a light and dark scarves than seam those into a shawl??

5. A dark warp and than where the heck do I go?

6. Just keep staring at them and weave nothing?

See why I need help?? Comment below your thoughts.

A Return to the Ashford Country Spinner 2

A Return to the Ashford Country Spinner 2

I have recently returned to my Ashford Country Spinner 2 wheel and decided to spin some rather fine singles on it.  I know that “they” say you can’t do that but I decided “they” were wrong.  It is a bobbin led wheel and as long as I take my time, I can put in enough twist and make a rather fine single.  I find when spinning on a slower bobbin led wheel as this, that the method of spinning is more important if you wish for a single that is thinner and not of bulky weight.

I carded up some art batts full of merino, silk, milk protein, Angelica, hand painted rovings, Cheviot and other various wools.  I blended these batts years ago with the thought to weave 3 different sweater coats.  I spun some of them at that time on the old Ashford Country Spinner and plied them up into a 2 ply.  Those yarns are waiting to be added to this yarn I am making.  Here is a photo of some of the art batts.  I thought they were just yummy.

Carded Art Batts

I have been using a modified backwards long draft.  By modified, I don’t take it up and way back with my shoulder and arm….that is way to painful.  I keep my elbow snug in to my waist, and instead bring the yarn out straight from the orifice, loop it 90 degrees around an index finger on my left hand and let the twist build up between that position and my right hand drafting backwards out to the side.

It is the best that I can ever hope to do for a backward long draft with the mechanics of my shoulder and neck.  It works and I can get going lickety split as well as I get such fine singles that if I am not careful they draft down to thread and break.  I have been seeing finer spinning out of me using this method in the last few months that I have ever produced in the last 12 years put together.  I know that I said I would NEVER spin fine…but I changed my mind…get over it.! bwhhaaaaa….

Ashford Country Spinner 2 full of yarn

“They” also said that you can put 2-2.2 pounds of fiber on that huge bobbin but again…..”they” were wrong.  I weighed my bobbin and it was 2.4 pds of fiber on it and it was NOT full.  I would need to buy a third bobbin if I plan to spin with the CS2 frequently, as winding that yarn of onto other bobbins to be able to ply it, is rather tedious.  I spiral plied some of the yarn with a mill spun fine 3 ply that I hand dyed…..about 1200 yards of that.  The rest of the yarn, I plied back with more of the same single to make a lovely 2 ply.  I didn’t necessarily ply that in a spiral like the other yarns and did end up with well over 450 yds of that as well.

 

I believe that I preferred the 2 ply to the 4 ply spiral.  I have a lot of this yarn that I spun up and plied into a 2 ply years ago on the regular Country Spinner.  That yarn is much thicker yarn but can still be combined with these yarns.  They were all meant for 1-3 woven jackets that I had planned.  I think I will still make a sweater coat jacket of some variety with these but I do not know if I will be weaving it.  To get the movement that I want and the feel that I want, I think I may use Tunisian Crochet instead.

 

Plied Yarns Hanging to Dry

Altogether, I did enjoy spinning on the Country Spinner 2 again as a regular wheel versus using it for a plying wheel or for art yarns.  I did lament that it was so slow at the top speed of 5:1 and wished it had a few speeds higher, but during this spinning marathon of several weeks I did realize that I truly do prefer a bobbin led wheel.  And I prefer a wheel with a large bobbin that I don’t have to stop and change out all the time.  I prefer not having to fiddle with Scotch tensioning and all sorts of other adjustments that just slow me down.

“Antique Traditions” in the Journey to Golden Fleece Museum Show

“Antique Traditions” in the Journey to Golden Fleece Museum Show

I was one of the students two years ago in the very first Journey to the Golden Fleece Course.  Our final project was supposed to be completed around Christmas 2014.  I was up to date with my Module 1-7 yarns but stalled a bit in my Module 8 final project.  There was a second graduation at the later date of March 2015.

“Antique Traditions” – Final Project Part 2

Unfortunately, in Feb 2015, I had an accident on the ranch that involved about 40-50 pounds of snow, ice, wood, and my face and head that left me with a broken nose and head injury.  Believe me when I tell you that really stalled my final project. I am healing albeit slower than I like because as my husband says I was at the back of the queue when patience was passed out.  I generally tell him that is not true….I wasn’t even in the room when the patience was passed out!!!

I let Suzy and Arlene know that photos were on the way a few weeks prior when I got close to completion.  I had sort of given up the idea of my piece being considered for the museum showing, my ability to travel to the show, or even if Charlie would be available to be onshore at the ranch.  Imagine my surprise a few days later when I received an email from Arlene and Suzy that included the following information:

_________________________________________________________________________

The Bellefonte Art Museum for Centre County in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania will be showing a collection of Journey to the Golden Fleece pieces from October 2, 2015 to November 22, 2015.

The collection being shown will contain approximately twenty pieces.  The museum has asked that we submit the pieces from the following artists for their final selection to be included:
Simone Broersma
Susan Bruck
Pam Crichton
Elysa Darling
Clare Des Bruyeres
Cari Jarman
Sandy Lyons
Jan Massie
Joelle McCarthy
Clare Chapman
Randi Winters
Arlene Thayer
Suzy Brown
Virginia Schlomiti
Silja Devine
Emma Nicholson
Esther Rodgers
Debra Lambert
Melissa Yoder Ricks
Melisa Morrison
__________________________________________________________________________

“Antique Traditions” – Final Project Part One

 

My final project is in two parts.  Mod 1-6 is in Part One with Mod 7 being Part Two.  It is a mixed fiber medium piece.  All the yarn is hand spun during the course.  You can see all the Mod 1-7 yarns HERE.  Various parts are woven on a rigid heddle loom, woven on a circular loom, wet felted, dry needle felted, free form crochet, woven felt, and the backing was sewn on my vintage 1954 Singer 99K hand crank sewing machine.  I don’t really know how to sew so that was a fun experiment starting on such a large piece.  Most of it was pieced together with hand sewing or free form crochet.  Part One piece is approximately 5′ x 5′.

1954 Singer 99K Hand Crank Sewing Machine

I set myself the challenge to spin traditional yarns with architectural plies, to keep it all white, and to use the same fiber with the same prep through out the entire course.  All the yarn is spun from 15.5 micron merino in a commercial combed top preparation.  The only added bits are some white natural fresh water pearls strung on a white silk thread and Mod 6 yarn which includes garnet seed beads strung on a white silk thread.   There is some white silk hankies used in the felted parts but not in the spinning of the seven yarns.  I am excited to be included and very happy that I am going to be able to go to the exhibit.

 

a bit of a catch up……

a bit of a catch up……

It has been ages since I have posted to my blog.  There is a reason.  I had an accident in February that crushed my head between and beneath about 40-50 pounds of wood, ice and snow.  I dropped the wood box lid with all the snow and such on my head when my head was in the box.  It crushed my head in between, hitting me both in the back and front of the head, broke my nose, split my face open and required stitches and an emergency visit.  That has all healed up, but the head injury part did not heal as quickly.  It has been a long hard six months but I am starting to feel better and starting to create again.  Before this it was very hard to be on the computer, type, text, talk on the phone ect.  Just too much input causing too many headaches.  That is why I have been absent….along with a smart phone and internet that has refused to play nice….or smart!!

Dry laid stone dykes

This last week, we have been building stone dyke walls outside around the flower beds.  Dry stacking sand stone and doing some in round field stones.  It will make it much easier to strim and mow.  I have found that all my lovely plants do not always obey and stay in their beds.  Some of the plants like Lily of the Valley in particular, like to wander out of their beds all over the yard.

Beautiful Lilies

We have had some super fab lilies this last week pop their flowers.  I love my double and trumpet lilies.  For a week, every time I walked past the studio the scent in the evening was almost over whelming.  Their blooms are past now and I am finding I am missing their scent.

Sunflower

The Sunflowers have started to bloom.  I planted a lovely variety of RED sunflower that I am still anxiously awaiting to open.  They are sooooo close.  The birds however, planted loads of Black Oil Sunflower seeds absolutely everywhere and those have been blooming ….well…everywhere!!

I have been working on my final project and should have it finished shortly.  The Fiber Face piece is complete.  The backing is sew together, hemmed, pressed and sewn to the front Fiber Piece.  I have to add two more tabs to finish out the top and steam block it.  Than it is done and photos will follow.  I stitched the entire backing, tabs, and hems with my new to me 1954 Singer 99K.  I adore this sewing machine and with it being a hand crank, I can go as slow as I want to.  It is wonderful.  I have been afraid of sewing for years and avoided it since my childhood.  It is so good to be creating and making things that I want to.  Isn’t this machine gorgeous?

1954 Singer 99K

I found two lovely hand cranks.  This 1954 Singer 99K and also a 1957 Singer 15K-80. Charlie has used the 15K-80 to sew himself a felt quilt padded pouch for his new lap top that is too big for his old computer bag.  We went to the Hen House on the east side of the state and met a lovely group of ladies that were quilting.  One explained to Charlie how to do a “french seam” and he did it for his first piece.  I didn’t pay any attention to them as I was more focused on sewing a regular seam somewhat straight and not my fingers included.  I thought he could show off if he wanted to.

I did get several other sewing machines as well.  Five all total.  I already showed you and told you about the 1926Singer 31-15 treadle.  She is an industrial sewing machine.  I also got a 1941 Singer 66 treadle.  I will use these two once I want to go faster than my hand cranks allow.

Last but not least, I got a 1949 Singer 15-91 electric for when I want to go really fast.  All told I bought five vintage Singer machines and have plans to get my sewing, weaving, and spinning nook sorted soon.  Currently they are spread out all over the place and it looks like a fiber and sewing shop exploded in the house.

Good News: we finally located my brand new never been used Juki Serger and the box of all the threads.  We haven’t been able to locate it in the storage units or semi for the last two years.  I was convinced that it was in a specific storage unit which was the only one of our units that was broken into last fall.  I was correct and it was in that unit but was not stolen thank goodness.  It was just very well buried and hidden….enough so that in about 4-5 trips both Charlie and I couldn’t find it.  It is found now so more progress and learning is on my horizon.

Goat Kidding Spring Season was in May.  We had five kids total born this May, with three being sold to new homes.  Fall Kidding season is about upon us.  I have several goats getting ready to kid at the end of August and into September.  Sweet Pea had a single doe in June and it was a hard one for her.  Her milk didn’t come in as good as it should have and the doe kid was very weak.  I was out there when she delivered so I sat with the kid wrapped in a towel zipped inside my carhart for hours.

Aileen around a week old in the barn yard

She was so weak she would have died had I not taken her into the house for two days.  She is now fat, sassy and running around every where.  A blue eyed blue pinto roan off one of my best does.  Her name is Aileen, which is Gaelic for “sunbeam”.  She is Sweet Pea’s last kid as we will be retiring her and finding her a pet home for her golden years.

All the llamas that we gave away have all come back to the ranch.  We decided to get two of them back around Thanksgiving and let the other two go for good.  However, those two also recently came back to the ranch.  All of them we think may well be pregnant.  So we are watching them as certain ones are getting rather plump and heavy.

It has been very busy here on the ranch.  Trees coming down, walls going up, flowers being planted, weeds being dug up, goats coming and going, llamas coming back.  So much activity.

I have started to learn how to sew with a vintage hand crank machine.  I did my first quilt bit that I made to be a pad under the dog’s water dish for drips.  I have been spinning.  Finally I have made three scarves with the Broomstick stitch in Crochet.  I had planned on doing that several years ago but moving state and injuries got me side tracked a bit.  Now that stitch is super fun!  I have woven for the first time with a bulky weight single ply as my warp and silk hankies shredded and used for weft.  There has been so much going on I forgot to tell you all about it.  I know that this is a feeble catch up for so many months of silence but I will do better as I am able to put in more computer time.  Off for now…..