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.

Golden Lemon Lock Spun Textured Yarn

Golden Lemon Lock Spun Textured Yarn

Golden Lemon Lock Spun Textured Yarn. New and just listed in the shop.

Golden Lemon Textured Art Yarn

This particular colorway is subtle and gentle gold. I hand dyed these locks using the Greener Shades Dyes. There are Leicester Longwool, Teeswater, and Border Leicester x Gotland locks mixed in this blend. The Border Leicester x Gotland locks in particular are a crisper more defined lock that has created a lot more curls in this handspun yarn.

Look at those curls and texture

I really like the texture of this handspun. A bit crisp and still soft makes for a very interesting textured yarn.

Golden Lemon Textured Art Yarn

I kept several partial skeins for myself to use in some weavings. I can’t wait to play with this lock spun yarn.

Golden Lemon Textured Art Yarn

This is the first colorway I spun completely on the vintage Louet S71 Single Treadle spinning wheel I picked up about 6 weeks ago. It sure was fun to spin this art yarn. I know it will look wonderful in your next project. Go HERE to get some while it is in stock.

Wild Flower Textured Yarn Now in the Shop

Wild Flower Textured Yarn Now in the Shop

I just listed a new art yarn colorway in the shop. I have been working on this colorway for a while now.

Wild Flower Textured Art Yarn

The inspiration of this homespun yarn was a giveaway in honor of Honey bees and Beekeepers. It reminded me of the Wild Flowers that bees use to create honey.

On the spinning wheel

The dominant color through out the handspun yarn is honey, gold, and greens in various shades with small bits of yellow and orange. This represents the bees and their honey. There are pops of pink and white with a little pale purple and blues here and there to represent the wild flowers in a field.

Closer view of Wild Flower Textured Art Yarn

This yarn has so much texture and color. It is a Super Bulky weight, a textured yarn that is very workable on a set of needles for knitting and hooks for crochet. It would also be wonderful for use in textured weaving. I can picture this woven into a shawl, scarf or a wall hanging.

In fact, here is a scarf I wove using Honey color yarns that I dyed and a partial skein of this textured yarn. Look at the wonderful texture and contrast with the smooth lace weight yarns. So much fun.

Wild Flower Honey Art Yarn Scarf

Use it as the main art yarn in your piece or as an edging or accent for effect. Listed in the shop now and avaiable for purchase.

Spinning Artyarn on Ashford’s Jumbo E Spinner

Spinning Artyarn on Ashford’s Jumbo E Spinner

Ashford Jumbo E Spinner with Artyarn
Ashford Jumbo E Spinner with Artyarn

I just received my new Ashford Jumbo E Spinner. I thought I would do a little review of this new E Spinner. I have never used an e spinner before but I am already used to spinning artyarn on Ashford’s Original Country Spinner and the Ashford Country Spinner 2… so how hard could it be, right?

Spinning artyarn on the new Ashford Jumbo E Spinner
Spinning artyarn on the new Ashford Jumbo E Spinner

I spun this colorway on all three of the Ashford Country Spinning wheels… on my Country Spinner, my Country Spinner 2, and my new Jumbo E Spinner that is the electric Country spinner. Three wheels…..playing on them all. Believe me when I say, the new Ashford Jumbo E Spinner is really just an electric Country Spinner. I did not feel I had any real learning curve on it at all.

The tension on the Jumbo E Spinner was exactly the same as the treadle Country Spinners. It is Irish or bobbin led tension with a leather strap for a brake band. Spinning artyarn felt the same minus the treadle part with my feet. The foot pedal that comes with the wheel has two settings. One is a click to turn on and a click for off. The other you already have your foot on it when you turn it on, so when you let your foot off it stops. You essentially need to hold your foot on it like a sewing machine or gas pedal. I chose this method. That allowed me a bit of a connection with my feet while I was spinning artyarn and to me felt more like a treadle wheel than I had hoped for.

I found that I spun with the brake band off entirely just as I do with my original Country Spinner until I was about 3/4 of the way full through the 3 lb. bobbin. I only used the brake lightly on the last 25% of that bobbin. When spinning artyarn singles, I usually spun between 50-75% speed. When plying, I was always at 75% or a tad faster for speed.

The motor was quiet enough for me to spin on the Jumbo E Spinner and watch shows on my tablet without struggling to hear. It has a lovely slow start and slow down so there was no jerking or sudden stops which can cause tangles in your yarn. It only took a few hours and my bobbin was jammed packed with another well on it’s way to being full also.

Spinning artyarn with spirals
Spinning artyarn with spirals

This is the second color way that I have recently been spinning to stock the store with artyarn. I have photos of the artyarn on the bobbin and newly skeined. Also more photos as they have been washed, the twist set, dried on the rack and am about to box up…. thought you might like to see them all pretty.

Artyarn drying on the rack by the fire
Artyarn drying on the rack by the fire

9 new skeins of art yarn…spirals, thick and thin, and baubles. Thread plyed with 2 threads held as one…a silver rayon and a turquoise metallic. I spun all of this artyarn from hand carded Art batts I made on my Louet drum carder which contained bamboo, silk, milk, alpaca, llama, and dyed medium sheep wool. Most of the fibers are from our Colorado ranch and a friend’s CO ranch before we moved back to Michigan. I thought it time to spin them.

Ashford Jumbo E Spinner with artyarn
Ashford Jumbo E Spinner with artyarn

Updated May 10, 2020:

What else do you want to know about the Jumbo e spinner? After more than a year spinning on my Ashford Jumbo espinner, I still like it. A lot. It has made me a faster spinner. I draft much faster now and spin on 75% speed orca tad faster. I can go faster, I make myself stay there so I do not tax anything because most times I settle in for 2-6 hours of spinning and barely move. I know…horrible for ergonomics! I have spun an even smooth traditional 2 ply yarn on it. My most favorite yarn to spin is handspun yarn of the textured yarn persuasion. I lock spin frequently and even if spinning art batts, the textured yarn is generally created from locks squished in here and there and everywhere.

Bobbin holds nearly 2.5-3 lbs fiber. Has slow stop/start. Strong take up for art yarn. Foot pedal has 2 ways to configure using. Has 2 reducers. Uummmmmm…unsure what else one would want to know. I use battery almost exclusively but have car charger and wall chords as well.

I have fallen asleep more than once while spinning but since I have my foot pedal set so I need to apply pressure to go…like a gas pedal…no disasters. Haha

I have taken it to meetings or left it set up at home to spin at any time. I demonstrated it at the Michigan Fiber Festival in fall of 2019. I have spun for hours…4-5 hrs without hardly moving even once…which was fine for the spinner but heck on my body. Very little adjustments or tweaking required. Sit and spin.

I did not want to like it. Hated idea of using an electric…eck pleughy….but found I love it. It is afterall only a tool. And tools are as good or bad as you make them. I do still prefer to treadle and I CAN treadle, so I just decided 2 days ago to sell my Ashford espinner and down size my wheels even more. I have not been spinning as much and have 3 other jealous wheels. I will buy another espinner later if I ever get to point of no longer able to treadle.

I decided a month ago to go back to spinning for me and my weaving and not spin production so my current stable of 3 Country Spinner in different versions is a bit over kill. I have the original CS in the A frame, CS2, and Ashford espinner jumbo which is an electric CS.

I decided to sell my CS2 and my espinner Jumbo. Keeping only my original CS. It was my 1st wheel so I am sentimental about it.

I got the Jumbo Espinner because I was having hip issues and worried I would no longer be able to treadle. Turns out I need to move more…no more spinning for 6 hrs without moving, and I needed a different chair higher because I am so tall and long legged. Those changes mean I can still treadle which I prefer to do. It’s my meditation.

I have no delusions I will most likely buy another espinner down the road…but I have made peace with using them and will gladly buy another when needed…hopefully years away.

Fibery Goodness Module Five Yarn

Fibery Goodness Module Five Yarn

I have finished Module Five yarn, set the twist, photographed it and wove a circle weaving with it.  This module was supposed to focus on mastery.  Specifically mastering a spinning technique spun previously, showing several variations in small yardage skeins.  I did not find the module enjoyable because I personally hate doing small yardages, samples and other assorted test your technique stuff that many people do.  I personally find it annoying and a waste of time as I tend to want to just get on with a project and spin or weave.

Mod 5 yarn close up

Since I have been focusing a lot on Spiral techniques in this course, I decided to spin 4 variations of a spiral yarn.  In order to really show off the technique, I still followed my previous outline which was using the same commercial prepared combed top preparation of 15.5 Micron Merino wool in white.

All the photos have the basic spiral, extreme spiral, beaded spiral and super coil core spun style spiral in that order from left to right.

Module 5 yarn

 

I spun a basic spiral, a extreme spiral holding one ply with tighter tension to create more spiraling, a beaded spiral with a silk thread and freshwater pearls, and a super coil almost core spun version of a spiral.

Module 5 yarn

 

 

 

 

 

I accidentally did the super coil core spun sort in a different module but this time wanted to do it on purpose and see if I could over come the original design problem of so much twist that the yarn was coarse feeling and darker in color.  When I spun this super coil core spun sort of version this time, I did keep the softness and loftiness of the merino fiber as well as the white color and I just loved it.

I am finding that with each module I have a large amount of yarn spun up that I don’t use in the final project weaving.  I think that I will be weaving some circular and square wall hangings as I have had requests for more baby room wall art, as well as some scarves and maybe shawls.  You will find those on my shop on Etsy.com so keep an eye out for Alba Ranch’s shop and some new projects.

Fibery Goodness Module Three Yarn

Fibery Goodness Module Three Yarn

Mod 3 yarn. Hmmmm… What can I say? I was on a roll and spun up mod 2 and rolled right into Mod 3. Module 2 was about Trials and Tribulations but I swear Mod 3 should have been the trials and tribulations!!

Mod 3 Yarn Attempt 1 and 2

I was going for a gimp spiral yarn as on page 118 of the Spinners book of yarn designs by Sarah Anderson. Did I succeed? You tell me.

 

Same commercial prep combed top 15.5 micron merino. Pure white. Yarn on left is first attempt. Yarn on right second attempt.

 

I spun a super fine single. More fine than I have ever done in my life. Probably not terribly even and too much twist as I wasn’t even in the ballpark of comfort zone!! Spun a bobbin of single that was supposed to be twice as thick probably was more like 3-4 times. Had way too much twist in it. Bobbin wasn’t taking up properly. Thought it might be OK when I plied.

Mod 3 Yarn Attempt 1 and 2

Tried plying on my new CS2. Didn’t go well. Came off bobbin like a rubber band hung around the door knob and snapping back in your face!! That’s the left yarn. It seems like a cross between a super coil and a core spun and an angry rubber band. And it feel like I spun it out of a Brillo pad. Looks cool. Not even close to what I was going for.

 

Attempt 2: When my big single bobbin ran out, my thin single bobbin was still half there so went and spun up a new thick single with very little twist in it but again probably a whole lot more than just half bigger than thin one. Tried to keep it even. I plied on my CS2 again. Got half way through the 2 bobbins when I realized I was plying to the right the same way both singles had been spun. Crap!!! Cut the yarn and wound off bobbin back onto my left hand until I got to beginning. Had a lot there and being over energized it was tight as well as unruly. Thought if I just started it back at beginning and doubled plyed to left it would untwist the wrong bit and re twist it up right. It did. Sort of. Tangled it in knots. Had yarn everywhere. Had hubby waiting on me to do something but me not able to put ti down as it was a tangled mess on my left hand when trying to re ply and untangle with both hands at same time. I obviously didn’t think this one through!!! Eventually got it sorted. Than joined on with the last half of bobbins, join didn’t take the best so will have to be careful of that bit when I weave with it but got it going.

Mod 3 Yarn Attempt 1 and 2 Close Up

 

It is easy enough to do when you do it right from the start!!! I believe it is a nice soft relatively even medium weight spiral, but is it a gimp spiral???

 

I do love my second version even if it is not a gimp spiral yarn and may have a new best favorite yarn. Thoughts??