The Great Cataloguing Adventure 2015 – spinning edition

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Fibre-East happens once a year. It is my favouritest yarn related event EVER! It’s only been going 5 years but I have been every year and been delighted to see it’s growth. What started out as a couple of large marquee’s in a field is now being held in a community college and 3 larger marquee’s. It’s fantastic. I think that the best part is the community – knitters, crocheters, spinners, weavers, and dyers all love to chat and we love to share our experiences and our knowledge. It’s also nice to watch the colour trends and how each dyer interprets those onto yarn and roving.

Being a regular attenders means that some sellers are starting to recognise me. Of course, being that I am very chatty certainly doesn’t hurt.

I was on a budget this year but I still brought home an excellent haul.

FibreEast 2015

Starting in the top left and going clockwise, the fibres are from – Sara’s Texture Crafts, Willo Fibres, Taylor Made Yarns, Yarns From The Plains, and Little Owl Crafts. I have bought from Sara’s, Willo and Little Owl at Fibre-East previously.

These additions led to something of an organisational crisis because I obsess over this sort of thing.

Some of you will be familiar with the brilliance that is Ravelry. For those that aren’t, it is a site dedicated to fibre crafts, specifically knitting and crocheting. It has discussion forums, groups, pattern database of printed and online patterns and ways to organise your equipment. I catalogue my yarn, needles, books, patterns and even my unspun fibres and handspun yarns. I am not particularly fussy with most of these – I have a lot of stuff to catalogue – but I was nearly finished with my current spinning project and couldn’t decide what to spin next.

After looking at my handspun and fibre stash pages on Ravelry, I realised there were places where I had entries for handspun yarn but not for the fibre I made it from and there were fibres I knew I had bought that were in neither place. There was even one that I started spinning and have no entry for and can’t find anywhere and it’s driving me mad trying to remember when I last saw it and where I might have put it.

Anyway, I started with making sure that exisiting fibre and handspun yarns had corresponding and linked entries. From there I dug out the bag of my handspun yarns and made sure they were entered as completed handspun yarns and had fibre entries too. Then I started on the bag of unspun fibre.

It’s a big bag. And I was kinda drowned by its contents…

20150730_130009This was the best photo I could get – under all of that are my legs and most of my torso. My son laughed at how little of me was visible. I carefully made sure each braid of yarn-in-potentia was in a closed ziplock bag then dumped all of it on the floor!

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The blue bag is mostly filled with handspun but you can see why I wanted to get the e-spinner working properly.

41 new entries came from this bag and while most of them are single 100g braids of spinnable fibre, some are more. In my defense, I started spinning in 2009 and sometimes knitting and crocheting distract me from spinning. Sometimes spinning distracts me from knitting or crocheting.

I can work through 100g within a week so this is about a years worth if I actually get through a 100g each week. Not sure if I want to make this a goal. I do a lot of crafts because I have to go where the muse takes me and making something into a goal is a good way for my contrariness to rear its head and decide that I don’t want to do that thing any more for a while. Any thoughts?

I’m still collecting donations for Macmillan Cancer Support as part of their Brave The Shave event. I am planning to shave my head on the 8th. You can still donate after that but donations before it will be extra fabulous. Please give if you can.

It’s Alive!!!

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Well not really, but my e-spinner has been revamped and it’s AWESOME!

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This is the spinner as it was. In the housing there is a micro motor running the pulley on the front. On the top of the housing is the on-switch, a direction toggle and a speed dial. I made the uprights from doweling, the drive band from some thin elastic superglued into a loop. The flyer unit and bobbins are from my Ashford Traditional wheel. They were replaced with the jumbo version later. There was nothing wrong with this design except that this type of motor can only be used for 15 out of every 60 minutes or it burns out… Yeah, I went through 4 motors pretty quickly.

My interest in yarn spinning was recently rekindled as the Fibre East event neared. It was held last Saturday and Sunday. By Monday, after a successful Sunday at the event, I was desperate to get back to spinning.

Ashford Traditional WheelI have an Ashford Traditional (above) but find it a little awkward to use. I can’t find a sitting position that doesn’t either twist my body or leaves me with very tense muscles between waist and knee.

I also have a rare Louet hatbox wheel (above). It’s a travellers wheel and as much as I love it, it has very small bobbins and I like to spin all of a fibre onto one bobbin rather than having it split between several. Though it’s been out of production for about 20 years, they are planning to release an updated version for the company’s anniversary.

These are both excellent wheels and it is only my personal preferences that keep me from using them more.

So, yeah. I came home from Fibre East with a renewed fervour for handspinning and handspun yarn, and several additions to my fibre stash. So many beautiful yarns, fibres and spinning wheels! I was very restrained.

Commercially made e-spinners are expensive (£350+) and if you want something other than the Ashford e-spinner, your out of luck in the UK unless you fancy paying for shipping and customs on something coming from the States. I’m sure the Ashford is lovely but I don’t like how clunky it looks and I just can’t afford it. I’d buy a regular spinning wheel if I had that sort of money available. After some research into home made e-spinners (again), I came across several blog posts that showed others who had successfully made their own and directed my technical advisor (my husband) to have a look. We’d already discussed the possibility of using a sewing machine motor and had sort of discarded it but some of these blogs better described what they had done.

Garrulous story telling made shorter – we did it!

e-spinner v2

(Yes, that is the stripped sewing machine on the right).

This is not a complicated solution. You need to be careful with the electrics of course, but it is just a motor with a drive band attached to a store-bought flyer unit. There is no direction control on this version but putting a twist in the driveband switches the direction of the flyer. We replaced the foot pedal with a light dimmer switch partly because I wanted a hand control but mostly because the foot pedal is not a good way to get consistent speed. You can keep the foot pedal if you like but I found it infuriatingly difficult to use. Also, keeping the pedal braced for any length of time caused cramping in my calf.

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And this is the first yarn completed with it!

It’s a 2-ply yarn about the same thickness as a commercial 4-ply/sock yarn. It needs to be washed to set the twist but at the moment it is about 410m long. I can make a small shawl with that!

Our next project will be making a device like this to measure yarn length.

schact-yard_counter

This is the yardage counter by Schact. Need to investigate a few parts before we make anything though. Once we work out the counter, it should be fairly straight forward.

*** I totally forgot to tell you all that I have decided to Brave The Shave and shave my head in August to raise money for Macmillan cancer support. They are an excellent organisation and in greater demand than ever. If you can donate, it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Day 95

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An example of the energy and affection for the production by both the cast and the audience is today’s Gilbert & Sullivan/EssGee Productions clip. In ‘Pirates of Penzance’, Frederick was apprenticed, by accident, to Pirates until his 21st birthday. Being that he was born in a leap year, it gets complicated when he tries to leave the Pirate company. He finds a girl, her father tells a lie, the Pirates find out so they determine to take revenge. In this song, ‘With Cat-like Tread’, they sing about exchanging Piracy for burglary… then the conductor and the audience make them do  it again, and again.

By the way, his very important dialogue is ‘Away!’ 😉

day 95

 

 

Had to decide whether to continue using very bold colours in this section of the blanket. I chose the apple green instead of the dark teal I was contemplating, worried that it would be too bright compared with the rest of the blanket so far. That’s not to say that I won’t put the teal above the red and purple later on….

 

 

garden - spinning 1I’m having a lot of trouble concentrating again this week. I think I’ve managed to knit 2 rounds of mum’s tablecloth (which I had expected would be in the post by now), but I have managed to keep up with the blanket, and have done a little hand spinning each day. I’ve continued to work on the peach/green fibre I bought at Fibre-East on Saturday. I’m using the hand spindle I made with the chopstick and the plug because I am spinning yarn of a similar thickness to sewing thread and that is the lightest weight spindle I have. Being that I want it to stay lightweight, I periodically move the yarn onto a larger spindle to hold until I’m ready to ply it. When I am finished, I will chain-ply it which will triple it’s thickness and improve the evenness and strength of the finished yarn.

I will try to remember to explain chain-plying (also called ‘Navajo-plying’) when I get to it.

Day 92

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Fibre-East was today. It was stupidly hot – outside *and* inside which led to an awful headache but to much beautiful yarn and fibre. So many intense colours and everyone is always so lovely. It’s nice to have the opportunity to chat with the person who dyes the fibre.

I do not *need* any more fibre, but as will all things we are fond of, “need” becomes superfluous. On the flip side, most of us don’t need as many clothes or shoes as we have. I stuck to my budget limit and bought some very beautiful fibre.

Recently Updatedlisted in the order I bought them 😉

1 – Dyer : Wheeldale Woolcraft, Fibre : Falkland

2 – Dyer : Wheeldale Woolcraft, Fibre : BlueFaced Leicester

3&4 – Dyer : Sara’s Texture Crafts, Fibre : Merino, Tussah Silk, recycled sari silk, Shetland, Zwartbles

5 – Dyer : Little Owl Crafts, Fibre : Merino/Silk

6 – Dyer : Little Owl Crafts, Fibre : Merino/Silk

7 – Dyer : Little Owl Crafts, Fibre : white yarn = yak/silk, coloured = teesdale locks (they’re curly!)

So much pretty! Of course, now all I want to do is spin yarn! Cause I don’t already have enough projects on the go 😉

Something haunting tonight. ‘My Immortal’ by Evanescence was featured in the movie ‘Daredevil’, but don’t hold that against the song.

Can’t find my camera but tonight’s trapezoid finishes the square that the last weeks pieces were making. The yarn is that fair isle style pattern.

Day 90

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Alan Rickman dancing in a petrol station! Not the only reason I love this song but it’s certainly an excellent reason to watch the video clip. ‘In Demand’ by Texas is more recent than the other ‘rock chick’ type tunes I’ve been including lately but Sharleen Spiteri is fabulous (she was Elvis in one video clip!). I’ve been aware of them as a band since I was in High School and enjoyed the music but this song…. I think it’s beautiful. It’s not a complicated tune, the lyrics tell a story, the singing is nuanced. And the aforementioned dancing Alan Rickman. Also, I think that’s Blackfriars Bridge they drive over at the beginning and I always get a thrill when a location is familiar.

‘In Demand’ – Texas

I’ve been able to avoid putting similar colours together in the blanket but apparently, it’s something I’m doing at the moment. I may need to add some more colours because it’s getting hard to get a balance with the colours and tones when I add a new piece. It’s looking good so far though. Just a small square today.

day 90

Despite spending all day on designing them, I don’t like the way the sleeves are looking. I need to rethink what I want to do. If I were decreasing instead of increasing, I think I’d like the way it looks more but for now I’ll be starting again. I have some ideas for how to go forward so it’ll be ok. Want to have them done asap though because I want to wear the dress on Saturday when I go to Fibre-East. Not to show it off, just because it’s a comfortable dress.