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.

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Day 145

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Kinda sorta worked out the e-spinner today. It’s so sloooooow though that I have to apply patience to get enough twist in the yarn. My first batch had to go through the machine twice to get it to hold together.

That’s not just because there is less twist going into the yarn each second but also because as the newly spun yarn moves from your fingers onto the bobbin it runs along several surfaces that force some of the twist out of the yarn and back towards your hands.

It can be difficult to judge how much twist is lost, particularly when you are working with new equipment.

I still want a faster motor.

A blue/green trapezoid today. Not sure I joined the short row pick-ups the same way as previously but it looks ok so I’m leaving it alone.

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Biffy Clyro. I’ve no idea where the name comes from but I really enjoy their music. They’re a British band – specifically from my nana’s hometown of Kilmarnock in Scotland – and they ROCK! Literally, in the musical sense, and in the modern colloquial sense.

I had trouble choosing which of the first two of their songs I ever heard to share. ‘The Captain’ won because I love the opening riff. Also, Pirates! (And the video clip doesn’t confuse me…)

Biffy Clyro – The Captain

Day 143

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Still not quite back to ‘normal’ but I feel like I only did half a million sit-ups today.

I had intended to ply the blue-faced Leicester yarn then knit my blanket piece but I managed to burn out the motor on my e-spinner so finished it on a hand spindle. There was maybe a quarter of it left to go but that took much longer than I had planned so no blanket piece today. I’ll take measurements and photos of my new handspun in the day light tomorrow.

The motor burn out may be due to wood dust but it’s more likely that it just isn’t strong enough to withstand the stress of resistance in the flyer. We have another of these motors with lower rpm but higher torque and they are cheap enough that burning another, while annoying, won’t be bank breaking.

We knew when we started this project that finding the right motor would be the most difficult part. Many people who have built their own e-spinners have used sewing machine motors. I’m not convinced they are the best option but I’ll be checking the local charity shops for a cheap sewing machine to dismantle (which is the most fun part 😉 )

Revisiting my (tormented) youth with Pearl Jam today, just because.

Pearl Jam – Alive

Day 140

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Ugh! Just found a dead fly in my drink…. Almost spat that mouthful all over the blanket. Didn’t though. Yay me, I guess.

The blanket didn’t get a mouthful of hot chocolate but it did get a pink trapezoid. I confess that sometimes I don’t like knitting the trapezoids but I do love how they look when finished and how pretty the sloped joining looks.

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It’s been a distracted day for me. Again. I’m pretty sure I need to go back to seeing a psychologist. I’m already on the recommended  dosage of my meds and while I won’t refuse an increase if that’s what is decided, I would prefer to avoid it. I know I need the medication but I do t have to like taking it. And by ‘need’, I mean that I do not much like the person I am without the medication, and I am even less capable of being a functioning human. It’s not much fun being on that high speed , emotional roller coaster. At least with the medication, the ride is less dynamic – fewer and less intense ups and downs, and a little more time between them. Still not sure I can be classed as functioning though.

I spent some of the day using my e-spinner to spin some very lovely blue-faced Leicester wool in a natural mid-brown colour that I bought at Fibre-East last year from Adelaide Walker. I think I’m about halfway through the batch and have been thinking about putting beads into the plied yarn. I’m thinking gold, although light blue might work too.

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I kinda love marching bands. Not so much that I seek them out but I enjoy them when I get the chance to see/hear/watch one. I am utterly lacking in the coordination to participate in one. I can’t even coordinate my hands to play both parts of a piano piece and that doesn’t even require forward momentum! I also kinda love Fleetwood Mac. Again, don’t usually seek them out but don’t change the radio station if they’re on.

This is a tidied up copy of the video for Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Tusk’. It wasn’t particularly great in the first place but the song is good.

Fleetwood Mac – Tusk

Day 132

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handspun-gardenFINISHED!!!!! 550m/600yds of 4ply yarn (the actual yarn is 3ply but the thickness is the same as a commercial 4ply yarn). Think I killed the gears in my e-spinner (nicknamed ‘Avril’ because it got complicated) finishing this yarn. Good thing I have spares.

Anyway, some spinning terms before I go on.

Single/s – a single strand of spun fibre.
Ply – 2 or more strands of spun fibre.
Chain-plying – a way to turn single into a 3-strand thick thread.

So, I finished spinning the single-that-wouldn’t-end last night and almost immediately began plying the yarn. To keep the pinks with the pinks, and the greens with the greens I chose to chain-ply the single. Chain-plying is a process where you draw a long loop of yarn through another long loop of the same yarn to create a continuous length of yarn that is 3 strands thick. As you are doing this, you are twisting the yarn in the opposite direction to the one that the singles were spun in. In this case, I spun the yarn in a clock-wise direction so I twisted the plies in an anti-clockwise direction. The tricky part is not to put too much or too little twist against the earlier spinning of the singles. This is called balancing the yarn.

To be honest, as long as the yarn doesn’t fall apart, you can use it and count it as a success and with pattern databases like Ravelry, you are sure to find a pattern that will accommodate whatever sort and length of yarn you have created.

The process of plying this yarn took about 5 hours in total. 550 metres of stranded yarn means that the single was about 1650 metres. That’s more than 1.5 kilometres…. and just over a mile long. It’s the longest I’ve ever manage to draw out 100g of fibre.

A blue rectangle for yesterday and a dark pink square for today join the previous 130 blanket pieces today.
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I fancied some awesome guitar today so here’s some Santana (with Rob Thomas) from the turn of the century.

Santana feat. Rob Thomas – Smooth

Day 129

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Feeling down tonight. Can’t think clearly to find some music to share but I did get more spinning done.

I had forgotten how much longer it takes when I am spinning yarn that is only as thick as sewing thread. And 100g of sewing thread takes ages to spin. I’m mostly done now, then I’ll be chain-plying it into a 3-ply yarn that I expect to be about the same thickness as a sock yarn. Im expecting at least 400m but hope for at least twice that but it’s hard to guess.

I also caught up on blanket pieces. Red and turquoise today. I really love how they look together.

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Day 128

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No new blanket piece today – with the judicious application of Super Glue to the gears and gear shafts of my e-spinner, I have been spinning!!!

Building this device was only the beginning of the process. There have been so many things that have needed rethinking since the original design. While it probably could run from a battery, mains power is more constant and garners a better experience. I have had to consider how the pieces work together and failure  points (the gear situation). I have built and rebuilt the mechanisms that actually move to see which type of gears work best and discovered that a system using chains, like on a bike, works better than gears moving against each other, like in a clock. My point being, I have the technology. I can make it faster, better… and I have. Not that we’re stopping here of course. Computerisation is next. I’m also thinking about making something like my Meccano spinner but with more clockwork. No idea if I can make it work yet though.

All of the fussing with the device this weekend has put me behind my goal but I now have a device that works for more than a few minutes at a time.