Friday, June 25, 2010

My First Batt! Plus a New Handspun WIP & Spindle Pr0n

Here's how it started-
So many Phat Fiber* contributors create the most amazing drumcarded batts. Some of the first few that come to mind are Knitty and Color, Bohemia Fibers, and Lampyridae. I've been drooling over them since I joined the Ravelry group and started following the shop update thread. It got me really curious to see just how much effort goes into making them and what the process is like. I thought I'd try to make it to noblograchel's house sometime this summer and take a look at her carder. Well, Rachel came to the spin-in at my house this weekend and brought her Pat Green carder (not to be confused with the country singer Pat Green who went to my high school)! I get to play with it for a month!

One of May's Phat Fiber samples was from a co-op of artists and included 3 coordinating puffs of fiber. I carded them into this little batt and am beyond thrilled!

You can't really see the silky bits in that photo, but they are so gorgeous in person.

Here's the bias knit pillow panel that I started in the singles I spun from the Crafty Scientist batts. Bryan's response was, "Is that going to be in our house??" It's a little out of the ordinary for me, but I secretly love thick and thin bulky singles, aka "beginner yarn." It's fun to feel all the crazy textures and bits of stuff as they pop up in the yarn.
It's like, "O, hai, big piece of ribbon! I remember you!"

I received the spindle I mentioned ordering from Spindle Designs. It came from Israel, so it took a little while. it's just under 1 oz and has a lovely shimmery purple wood-grain style design. It came with a sample of local wool, so I had to start messing with it right away. It is just the right weight for relatively fine spinning, and I think it will work great for holding the core for the wrap and roll method of making supercoils.

*So, I know I talk about Phat Fiber a lot, but it is a really cool group. There are so many indie fiber artists out there that I wouldn't even know where to start shopping. In the Ravelry group, I feel like I get to know everybody's personality and style. When I get a contributor's box, I get to see their work firsthand. Coming up with samples that fit the month's themes is a great creative exercise and it is so neat to see how everyone interprets it a little bit differently. Everyone is super friendly and encouraging, and we all support each other. If any of you want to know what it is like to contribute, buy a box, or just stalk us a little, I recommend joining the Ravelry group.

Getting Ready for Oakland Fiber Fest

Rocky and Ziva have been helping me plan my booth setup. It never ceases to amaze me how much cats love elevated horizontal surfaces, especially if covered in fabric.

Cash box is ready to go. Now I have to go into the actual bank and get actual cash. So weird. I haven't been inside a bank in years.

Now for the really exciting part. I got these awesome handmade stitch markers from Decor Noir, and will be giving away 1 marker of your choice with purchase of yarn or fiber. (While supplies last, duh.) There's coffins, assorted bloody eyeballs, brains, and really awesome yarn monster eyeballs. These are the full size markers that fit up to a US 10 needle.

Oakland Fiber Festival Details

What you need to know-
Oakland Fiber & Textile Festival
Sunday, June 27, 2010, 10am to 4pm
Facebook event page here.

There's going to be a lot of alpaca farms represented there. Alpaca and llama are lovely to spin, if you haven't tried them yet. Rachael Herron is going to be signing her novel How to Knit a Love Song. Felt the Sun will have some great hand felted garments and accessories, and there will be a few local guilds there.

Latest official info and complete vendor list-

Come join us at the
Oakland Fiber & Textile Festival
Sunday, June 27, 2010, 10am to 4pm
Splash Pad Park
Together with Lou Grantham, from San Francisco Fiber, we are sponsoring this very first
Oakland Fiber & Textile Festival, a free festival open to the public with lots of educational fun for the whole family. Vendors will be offering everything from raw fleece and luxury yarns to fabrics, fiber demonstrations, and make-and-take tables, for carding, crochet, felting, quilting, sewing, spinning, and weaving--any fiber enthusiast's dream come true!
For more information check out the event at:


Vendors at the

Oakland Fiber & Textile Festival


**Alpacas All Around**


**Black Diamond Alpacas**

**Civic Arts Education**

**Double Diamond Alpacas**


**East Bay Heritage Quilters**

**Felt the Sun**

**Lacy Knitters Guild**

**Macedo's Mini Acre**

**Men Who Crochet**


(Machine Knitters Guild San Francisco Bay Area)

**Out of Step Dyeworks by Amy Klimt Designs**

Ravelry designer page:

Ravely yarnie page:

**Pan's Garden Yarns**.

**Piedmont Fabric**

**Piedmont Yarn & Apparel**

**Ranch of the Oaks**

**San Francisco Fiber**

**Wonderland Dyeworks by Elissavet Livitsanos**

Book signing with:
Rachael Herron with her new book:
"Knitting a Love Song"
Peggy Osterkamp with her new book:
"Weaving for Beginners"
More detailed information about the vendors can be found on the or the vendor's individual websites

Besides the vendors there will be several fiber demonstration areas and make-and-take tables with carding, crochet, felting, knitting, quilting, sewing, spinning, and weaving.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Yarns in Progress- Targhee and milk protein supercoils

I hosted spinning at my house for the first time on Saturday! Thanks for the company and goodies, everybody! Bryan ate some of the lemon cake Lori brought when I was at work on Sunday, and he said Rocky knocked the package off the coffee table to try to get some. My cat is a lemon cake fiend! Bryan also says he wants me to host more often so we'll keep the house clean.

In the first 2 hours(!), I spun up 4oz of this Targhee roving in the Twilight colorway from Abstract Fiber that I bought at Stitches this year. Here's the thick and thin bulky singles I ended up with. Apologies for the quick-and-dirty indoor photo.

Then I started work on this milk protein fiber from fellow Phat Fiber contributor Patricia of Beesybee.

I crammed all 4 oz of singles onto this bobbin-

I decided not to worry too much about what the finished yarn is going to be and just spin the singles consistently at the width that seemed most natural. I considered a 2 ply, but I think I'll probably try a supercoil first! I want to preserve the separation of colors, but I don't want to knit something from the singles. I think I may want to wear the supercoil yarn as a necklace.

Last post, I mentioned I was confused about how much twist to put in the singles for supercoil yarns. A Spin-Off article by Jacey Boggs from Winter 2009 said you want it pretty overspun to give yourself a better chance at accomplishing all the plying steps without adding too much plying twist. This makes sense to me. That article talked about using handspun "high-twist laceweight singles" or millspun laceweight as the core and didn't use any method to take plying twist out of the core. It seems to me that there would be a pretty big difference in result based on whether a high twist singles or millspun balanced yarn were used for the core. It all makes more sense to me if the core is high twist too. I like how Jacey's yarns use an attractive core and let it show, especially to anchor the floofy parts. All of the yarns shown in the article use a thick-and-thin singles. That's what I tried with my first attempt, and that's what I want to do with the Targhee. I have some laceweight silk singles that I may dye to go with it.

The Spin-Off article from Spring 2008 that describes Sarah Anderson's wrap and roll method said you wanted the singles to be lightly twisted. The yarns pictured in it have a core made of crochet cotton that is completely covered by the singles yarn. There is no anchoring of wraps. The singles are more even and thinner. I like this look as well, and that's what the milk fiber yarn will be more similar to.

Both methods claimed to result in an approximately balanced yarn. I have not seen a satisfactory explanation of how this physically occurs. In my typical understanding of balance, you want the individual fibers to run along the axis of the yarn. For a supercoil, the singles would have to have an extreme amount of twist- basically horizontal. I think that would be a very harsh yarn.

I'll probably do a little more reading, watching, and sampling. If I need a little more or less twist in my singles, I can run them through the wheel again.

videos of wrap and roll method-
video 1
video 2

ps- I started the pillow panel from the crazy Crafty Scientist batt yarn today and it looks great! I'll try to get photos tomorrow in between trying out possible booth setups for Sunday. I'm halfway done if I want a 14" pillow.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Finished Yarns- Kiss My 80's Lips + Amy's First Supercoil

I bought a couple of Crafty Scientist Lab Batts at Stitches West 2009. That brings me to 4/7 of 2009's fiber purchases used up and 2/5 of 2010's. I was inspired to spin these batts last week by my newfound love for supercoils (more on that in a moment). I figured the chunky batts would force me to spin a thick-and-thin yarn. I hadn't done anything except sock or lace yarn for years! The resulting yarn was a great weight and consistency for coils, but the fiber content made it a bit too hairy for defined coils. I'm going to use it as a single and knit it into something decorative like a pillowcase (or more likely just a front panel). I'm thinking I'll knit it on the bias to make it as large as possible. The yarn is 6oz total and I forgot the yardage, but it was around 150 or 200.

The colorway is Kiss My 80's Lips and the fiber content is-
banana fiber, sari silk, horsehair silk, silk noil, silk hankie, Merino, Cotswold locks, Corriedale, border Leicester cross, alpaca, llama, angelina

So, I have been in awe of the gorgeous supercoil yarns spun by fellow Phat Fiber contributor Jessie, aka StashEnhancement. She makes fiber tools, buttons, and jewelry from coins.

I took this 34 yard skein of think and thin singles yarn, which was one of my very first handspun yarns (Nov 2006!) and turned it into this-

4 yards of supercoil yarn with crochet cotton as the core. I am thrilled that it looks anything like what I was trying to accomplish. It's definitely not anywhere close to a balanced skein, though. I attempted to do the wrap and roll method, where you load the core onto a spindle and twist it in the opposite direction of plying during plying. This should leave the core with the same amount of twist it had to begin with. I I had trouble with having to stop and start the spindle to wind off more core to use and the amount of tension put on the core by my heavy spindle. It seemed that there was so much weight on the core that I just kept adding more and more plying twist and more and more coils to the same length of core. I bought myself a spindle from fellow Phat Fiber contributor Galia of Spindle Designs. This one she just listed is to die for!

I'm a little confused about how much twist to put in the singles, but I'll save that for the next post.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Merlon Cowl Revisited

Today I'm going to go through a bit of my design process for the Merlon Cowl.

This design started when I opened up a bag of Rowan Lima at the shop. It's one of those yarns that you can't put down. It is soooo soft and buttery. I bought 2 balls with the vague plan to make some sort of cowl. Something that soft *needs* to be worn around the neck.

A huge shortcut in the stitch pattern choosing phase fell into my lap with the arrival of Rowan's Lima Collection book. True to Rowan style, it featured many heavily cabled sweaters. The loveliness of the cabled fabric came as a surprise to me. Lima has an icord-like construction instead of a traditional ply. The yarn is very round, which is very desirable for cables, but I thought the construction would detract from that kind of stitch pattern. As you can see from the designs in the book, that is not the case.

From that point, I had a few stitch patterns from a Japanese stitch dictionary that had caught my eye. I thought it was a good idea to combine cables and mesh because alpaca can be very warm.

The first stitch pattern I tried was too cluttered, with too many stitches in the mesh pattern.
There wasn't enough contrast between the cable and the mesh. I made sure each cable had a yo on either side and tried back to back decreases. It was still cluttered, so I cleaned up the mess with a centered double decrease. I wasn't thrilled with the look of that, so I switched to a sk2p double decrease. I was then forced to admit that the small cables weren't really a match for the fuzziness of the yarn.

I started with another pattern from the dictionary. I obviously hadn't learned from my mistakes because this one also had multiple stitches between the cables and eyelets. First I got rid of the intervening knit stitch on either side of the columns of cables, then the inside purl stitch. These patterns also used a centered decrease. I changed that to a left-slanting double decrease and I liked the results.

My first try for the edging was double crochet, because it has a very similar look to a left slanting double decrease. The crochet had a tendency to bias, so I came up with a simple eyelet edging that could be knit in the same piece as the main body. I'd seen some similar edgings used effectively on other cowls. Although the eyelets in the edging aren't that open and don't match the decreases in the main body, the final choice makes the piece easier to work and doesn't require crochet knowledge.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

These Aren't the Hell Your Whales!

First, a quick FO! This is Vertex, a scarf design by Galia Lael of Galia's Spindle Designs. I was lucky enough to get the pattern in my Phat Fiber contributor's box. I used Malabrigo sock in the Persia colorway. I can't even begin to express how much I love this yarn!
I started knitting this scarf the Saturday before our Wednesday trip to Monterey. I had a vision of myself wearing it on our whale watching trip. I finished the body of the scarf just in time, and did the edging when I got back home.

We saw a female humpback whale with her calf! It was pretty awesome.

At dinner that evening I had a bread bowl of clam chowder with a "garlic cheese lid." That was pretty awesome, too.