love at first spin

last friday was my birthday, so i decided to take the day off from blogging. what was that you asked? what was my excuse all the other times? uh... er...

moving right along...

weekly wrap-up/finished object(s) current projects
on the needles
i'm still plugging away on my shawl :) and making lots of progress! yay!!! more exclamation points!!!!!!!!!!!

no casualties to report. you don't understand how happy i am to say that. i'm on my 5th set of pattern repeats (repeating the pattern 5x now), and planning on working the repeats to 6 or 7 before i start the "edge" chart. let me tell you, the edge chart looks like i will need to take my eyeballs out and rinse them in a strong vodka tonic w/ an extra lime solution. anyway... i'm not even going to worry myself over that madness right now. just focusing on the task at hand!

i've also started another shawl. i know right, what the hell?! the pattern is called the age of brass and steam kerchief (free!). i went stash diving (seriously, i love that term. thanks stash and burn!) and i'm using madelinetosh (of course) merino dk (of course). the colorway is named "norway spruce"... so picture the needles of the deepest, darkest conifer tree you can imagine and you won't be far off on the color of this beautiful yarn.

let me digress really quick... still on topic though. ok. when i first started knitting, i could not wrap my head around the price tag on some of the yarns i was encountering. sometimes i still can't, but at least now i understand a little better. quality can be expensive.

when i visited yarn shops, my inner commentary would always scream, "$30 for an itty bitty skein of yarn?! like... for real, for real?!" eventually i broke down, because the colors i was coveting were coming from the more high end yarn companies. i started enhancing the stash slowly with malabrigo (which is quite the affordable luxury!) and then jumped right into madelinetosh. talk about 0 to 165 mph! i have nothing but wonderful words to share about madelinetosh yarns. even if my skein of yarn was filled with knots and joined in weird places, it would be worth it because after i untangled that mess, i'd still be 100% satisfied with the color of the yarn and whatever i knit it into! and i'd actually wear it! if you are like me and love deep, saturated jewel tones, you will absolutely love everything this company has to offer. the way i alleviate the sting of the price tag is by buying single skeins. simple, right? the yardage is pretty decent on a lot of the yarn - for about $20 i got 400 yds from the tosh merino light, and i'll eventually have a nice-sized shawl. single skeins are just fine for the types of projects i usually like to knit: instant gratification, hats, scarves, socks, and now shawls!

on the flipside... i am now understanding the importance of purchasing yarn that you love. no sense in skimping and being unhappy with the finished product. if the budget is not there, then wait until it is. the yarn is not going anywhere! and sometimes, you may luck out and find it on ravely on a destash page or "for sale/trade" for much cheaper than the retail price. although i may not be at the point of purchasing sweater quality of high end yarn (i can't swallow dropping $200 in one sitting for the same item!)... once i've proven to myself that i can finish a sweater, i will save up and splurge on something really lovely :)

speaking of finishing up sweaters... let me say, i did attempt this last week and failed miserably!

on the spinning wheel
working on bobbin 3 of my hubbies handspun socks! almost there!!!

with the way the panda blend is spinning... it's feeling like i'm probably going to have light fingering weight yarn when it's all said and done. my husbear better appreciate all this damn work or he will be spending the rest of the week laid up in a hospital bed! tour de fleece almost killed off my spinning mojo and spinning for someone else is really pushing me over the brink of insanity! i have all this gorgeous fiber waiting to be spun into something lovely, but noooooo i'm trying to be disciplined and take care of obligations. how virtuous. :P

so as i mentioned above... while this is what i was supposed to be working on on my birthday...

the idea was to wind my handspun up so i could get started on a new project (a very long cowl for the colder months ahead) and then to start finishing up my 2-yr sweater. instead, i got distracted by a new friend.

on the spindle(s)
say what?! you read that right, sucka! a new segment and yup... i've been bitten again.

probably in response to having the itch to purchase a new wheel. another spinning wheel is quite the investment - $$$$ - but while i'm saving up... i can totally swing a nice spindle. or two... you know, for my birthday and stuff ;)

and what better way to use up all these lovely fiber samples from corgi hill farm!

so here is spindle one. spinning a little bit of wensleydale here.

this is a bosworth mini spindle. if i can remember correctly, i think it is about 1.2 oz. the wood is bocote and the shaft is rosewood. the customer service was on point! quick and effortless. i received my spindle in no more than about 3 days from the time i ordered it, and i had it in my hands on my birthday! my first response when i opened my package was "dammit... should've ordered a darker shaft" hahahaaa. ehhhh. aesthetically the rosewood is "off" to me.  it doesn't effect how smooth and fast this spindle spins, so who cares. i'll pipe down about that one ;) i don't remember spindle spinning being this effortless. for some reason, it was like riding a bicycle. it is however, still slow as hell as i remember! ;) but now it is a lot more enjoyable and relaxing.

this is my first time spinning wensleydale, and i will say... i had many preconceived notions of how i thought it would be. it seriously reminds me of really overprocessed people hair on a baaaaadddd day. or like straw. eugh. maybe that is a bad description, but longwools always feel like they could use a good soak in some pantene pro-v. to my surprise, when i spun the wensleydale it was smooth, silky, easy to draft so long as i kept my hands about 5" apart and it had quite a lovely sheen. it really wanted to spin itself fine on the spindle, so i let it have its way. the moral of the story... never judge before sampling!

i'm glad that i had a small sample of wensleydale to test out, because i bought a 4 oz bag of some dyed wensleydale a couple months ago to play with. couldn't resist the combination of jewel tones and fall colors *sigh* it's good to know that it won't give me too much trouble. what i'm going to do is knit a swatch from a single and then knit a swatch from 2-ply to see what that looks and feels like. wait... hold up. am i actually contemplating doing something more "technical"??? taking my spinning to the next level? i seriously must have lost my mind. what the hell is in the milk over here?

anyway,  i wouldn't call wensleydale "next-to-skin" soft, as i'm sure you've heard ad naseum from others, but i know some people's threshold for scratchier yarns is pretty high. so i'll play it by swatch ;) i'm not sure what i'd like to knit my wensleydale into, so a few small swatches seem to be the way to go before i get too excited about knitting it into a bra and underwear set. maybe... socks?

ok. and now, spindle two! the real birthday spindle, with an unknown fiber (probably merino).

so this lovely, lovely, lovely piece of art is from the spanish peacock. it is a russian lace support spindle in macassar ebony. i'm a sucker for dark woods, what can i say? again, i must have lost my damn mind when i purchased this gorgeous spindle. i mean... what the hell am i gonna do with a spindle without a hook on it?! but i also happen to be a sucker for really well done woodworking.

mr. peacock is quite the artisan. his spindles are beautifully crafted, beautifully polished and i have heard nothing but rave reviews about the quality of his products. many satisfied customers! when i first saw some of his work on flickr, ravelry and then on his website it took me a few minutes to wrap my head around how the hell to use a spindle w/out a hook, let alone supported on a bowl. that opened up a can of worms, and now that i've been made aware... i won't be able to put those bad boys back in the can! *sigh* curiosity killed the cat, right? hahahahaaaa

so i picked up a couple of wooden kitchen prep bowls from cost plus (rather than shelling out additional money for a matching hand-turned bowl... i splurge, but not that much!). i will share photos of my first spin on the russian support spindle on the next post! but i already played around with it, and i can tell you it is fun!!!

helpful links
this post is getting a little long, so i'm going to cut it short. i'll have a dog piece for the next time :)

for additional support on spinning with supported spindles (be it russian or tibetan, there are a number of different types out there...) the "fleegle" youtube videos are pretty fantastic. i think they are what pushed me over the edge, because after seeing the videos... she had me believing i could spin this way!

russian lace support spindle video here!
tibetan supported spindle video here!

and a really quick review...

yup. i'm late to the party per usual. not too late as this book was released sometime in june.

i just got wind of the fleece & fiber sourcebook, and i've had the chance to play catch up and read through this book for the past couple of weeks and this book is extensive. and hardback. and heavy. read that as... not good for bedtime reading. i've mentioned this before, but this is not the way you want to count sheep (aka... dropping a heavy, hardback on your noggin).

in terms of the breakdown of the book, i'm sure many have already heard the glowing podcast reviews, so i won't bore you too much with every detail. i will say that the book is broken down into two chapters. the first is on sheep: blackfaced mountain family, cheviot family, dorset group, english longwool family (which has many familiar faces including bluefaced leicester and a new to me buddy wensleydale), the feral group and the very well-known and coveted merino family, to name a few of the sections. chapter two discusses the "other" species like goats, goat crosses (think cashgora, pygora), camelids, bison, yak, etc.

there are tons of beautiful photos of almost every fiber spoken about in the book - raw, cleaned, spun/plied, a knitted swatch and different colors of each fiber. i learned lots of new information as i jumped around in the book to read more info on some of my favorite breeds: who knew polwarth also came in brown and black! i sure didn't. thanks for the education. this is a great addition to any spinning library. such a wonderful reference book. i'll probably get back to pulling info from my books again, to add a little a bit of depth and a technical aspect into the mix when i am talking about spinning. i'm sure you'd like a little more than my "cool," "awesome," "easy breezy" and "spins like butter" descriptions of fibers ;)  although in my head, that is pretty technical.

so now a gripe. i was annoyed at the source section. you know... the section at the back of the book where you hope to find really great website links or phone numbers so you can contact vendors for stash enhancement? well, when i flipped to this section i was met by a "many have websites, and a Google search will take you to them." *side eye* what the hell is that? how about you give me the @#$%ing links! why the hell do you think i bought the book? to not do extra work! ugh. i can't stand that. you can tell lots of research and thoughtful work went into this book, so it's a little disappointing that the source section couldn't be just as well-prepared and thoughtful. the other irritating bit about the source section (and then i'll shut up) is that it is essentially just a list like "jamie from blah, blah, blah farms". my critique would be to actually tell the reader what the hell the farm is, as in polwarth from such and such farm, you feel me? this stuff isn't even mentioned on the actual breed page either from what i've seen, so basically, you would have to google every name listed to find what you want. and with my luck, after i google search all 100+ of these farms, the one i'm looking for is somewhere close to the damn end! pretty disappointing. again, why fall off on something so simple. honestly, the "do a google search" disclaimer is lazy. ugh!

there may be more of a review of this book once i've used it a few times, but for now, i think that is enough for your poor brains to process. all in all i think it's a great resource, and it's about $20 for a hardback, so you won't be in the hole too much if you decide to purchase this! i think it's totally worth it. so despite my b.s. rant about sources (kind of a pet peeve of mine, if you couldn't tell), this is a great buy!

until next time!
p.s. please excuse typos. you get what i'm trying to say! lol :D

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