Tour de Fleece day 2: 5 x spinners’ doping.

I spun and plied 61 meters of fresh winter pastels, 20 grams of mulberry silk. And there was a need for banana bread and kardemom coconut ice cream. It’s been one of those days.

Of today’s spinning I made a collage. It’s kind of traditional to do so for Tour de Fleece. This year I found a nice collage maker online that meets my needs: Be It’s intuitive and allows the user a lot of freedom to do exactly as she pleases. Reminds me of the online chart maker that way.

This is the collage of yesterday:

Yesterday rolls became a skein of 75,5 m long, weighing 45 grams.

Now I’ll show you what was in the mysterious box I bought at LYS Spinspul yesterday:
rigid heddle hevelrietgetouw Spinspul
A loom! To weave those handspun yarns with. In a faster and more careless fashion than the wider loom I have upstairs. This one I can keep in my lap when we sit in the living room in the evenings.

It’s 50 cm wide so easy to handle. It’s a basic rigid heddle loom but nicely made. The material is beech and sturdy threaded rods and wing nuts. It’s way cheaper than an Ashford loom or other rigid heddle. This one is 50 cm wide, with a 40/10 reed and two weaving sticks and all wood is smooth and all corners have been rounded. 60 euros incl. taxes.
rigid heddle hevelrietgetouw Spinspul

Had to reconnect all the beams because I put them all in backwards. The brake is on backwards here:
rigid heddle hevelrietgetouw Spinspul
Like I said, one of those days.

A nice new toy. I’m sorry I didn’t find the time to put yarn on it today. Hopefully tomorrow. I think I’d like to weave yesterday’s yarn on it. The nice thing of weaving is: no need to set the twist in fresh spun yarn!

Let me just list the spinners’ doping mentioned in this post: mulberry silk, homemade banana bread, kardemom ice cream, a weaving loom and not setting twist. Yup, that’s a good list.


“Just add a little green….”

I wanted to dye a skein of soft fingering yarn cornflower blue.

Because I’ve won the Make-A-Wish-Swap in the Dutch Karma Swap Group again and my wish was for someone to knit me a blue shawlette ūüôā because my eyes looks smashing when I wear blue next to my face but I myself don’t like to knit with blue (???).

Easy plan, easy dye. I went to the cabin yesterday, one day before my husband, and pulled the pots and pans from the wool room. Lillepoes was giving directions.

And I ended up with green instead of blue:

It won’t photograph properly. It’s a deeply saturated dark green with blue semi solid. It was a green variegated yarn to begin with and when adding blue it became VERY BLUEGREEN. The kind I don’t like at all.

Then, while trying to make it a proper green instead of a teal, I mixed too much green dye and then had to find extra things to dye green.

By then it was already¬†getting really late. The cat kept nagging me, demanding food and attention and bed routine. But I knew I had to finish it all before bed (rinsing and spinning it all dry and putting it on the drying rack in the middle of the room) and clean everything¬†up too because things had to be tidy for this morning¬†or my husband and Poekie wouldn’t fit in the room.
dyeing wool
dyeing wooldyeing wool
Oh man, why do I do this to myself? Again and again? (I must secretly love it, that’s the only explanation for it. Alright, alright, the only sane explanation for it.)

Dyeing on the evening of a busy day in which I drove all the way to the cabin, by myself, with Lillepoes loudly giving directions for the full 75 minutes it takes me to drive there and with all the mad people on the road, clearly all letting their blind cats hold the wheel.

Sigh. Stuck with a cup full of extra strong green dye I found myself digging through the stashroom, late at night, frantically looking for more stuff to dye.

Here I am chucking dry fleece and dry silk into the pot with the dark skein from the first pictures:
dyeing wool
The fleece is Swifter that I had dyed too “Autumny” and too blue-green back in the Autumn. It’s such great fleece! Great staple, nice touch, nice smell. When I rooted through the stash-room I had real difficulty not to dismiss all plans I have for the next few days and start carding it right away. Lovely fleece!

became that:

Now card it in with the rest of the white and I’ll spin for a lovely jumper!

Make haste! make haste! I cannot wait to spin this! No. Wait. Noooo. We are knitting the Sock Madness sock while we are at the cabin. We are also casting on for a new vest if we need to do something on bigger needles. And we have the Music Maker sock with us for easy knitting. We have an all day birthday visit on Saturday and an all morning spinning group on Tuesday and we will be travelling back on Wednesday and there were a thousand things you wanted to paint while here. Also shower. So: no. No carding.

The silk skein I threw in is the lovely mulberry silk fingering yarn. But I kept it in short because I want my silk to be lightly coloured. Like willow wisps:

Yes, succes!

Silk soaks up colour like nobody’s business, I could actually use it as “a mop” to drain the dye from the water and dye the fleece evenly and not too dark. I was lucky though, the water had not had vinegar yet which makes dye soak into silk even faster. Too fast would have been a problem here because silk needs to be presoaked for quite a while to become thoroughly saturated. Only thoroughly saturated yarn will take up dye evenly.

Otherwise it will stay on the surface and only in the places that are wet. Which is a desirable effect on its own when dyeing speckles or for a sprayed look. But not for me, this night.

I was also lucky in not overdoing it and dye¬†the silk too intense. It’s hard to gauge a shade when the yarn is wet and when you’re dyeing in the evening. The lamp over my dyepot is a daylight lamp but still… better to dye during the daytime.

I then started the pot again. This time dyeing with just Ashford blue, on an undyed base. But I had no sheep¬†yarn left. I did have more silk though…. not sure my well-wisher wants to knit with it. Silk is slippery, especially this mulberry silk (my favourite!). But the colour is s*m*a*s*h*i*n*g*l*y blue:

I would LOVE to wear this colour near my face.

Again I had to take care to not leave the silk in too long. It is a bit more intense than I wanted. I remember thinking: “O yes, this is just right! Or maybe a little too light?…. I’ll just leave it in the water, the water is nearly clear anyway.”

And then the silk went and soaked every bit of dye it could find and became two or three shades darker than I had wanted. Still beautiful.

For a while I had the silk parked outside the pot and threw in two bits of sparkly sock ¬†yarn to “mop up” the extra dye in the water. When they had done so (but apparently not to the maximum extend) I put the silk back in and heated everything to dyeing temperature and added vinegar

It’s happily blue glitter yarn now ūüôā
The light one used to be light green, the dark one was a multicolour. They now go well together. Perhaps for a crocheted hat?

Aw, the sparkle doesn’t show one bit in the picture. It’s very pronounced in real life though and will look great in crocheted fabric. I have 25 grams of the dark, 45 grams of the light. Enough for a pair of knitted socks for me. Enough for a crocheted hat?

Grey and green in the sun.

I’m still at the cabin. Today turned out to be such a beautiful day that I delayed departure until this evening, after all the commuters have gone home. Did you know my country is filled with back up traffic twice a day? Hundreds of miles of stationary cars on the freeways. every morning and every evening. It’s ridiculous. They all cling to old fashioned office ways.

Quick, let’s look at how my reed dyed silk turned out:

Dyed with common reed, just half of the weight of the silk.
Beautiful! A light green. I’m itching to spin this. It goes well with the crocheted flowers.

After soaking a night in the dye bath my t-shirts turned out green also:

Dyed with plants. common reed. 15% alum
That was this morning. I’ve since dried them, rinsed them and they are now drying again. I want to take two with me to the city and incorporate them into my wardrobe.

In other news: during the Summer I had loaned my woolpicker to someone whose father wanted to copy it. Yesterday I went to pick it up and as a thank you I got three Gottland fleeces!

In the box is the winter fleece which is more felted than the other two. Gottland felts on the sheep and they are shorn twice a year, I learned. The summer fleeces are filled with loose, curly locks. The owner puts them through the woolpicker a few times and then spins a nice yarn from it. Slightly scratchy yarn. Sturdy, I presume. Beautiful colour variations in grey.

The winter fleece is not for spinning, it’s matted already. So I immediately started to felt with it:

Here it is, upside down, with all the shorn locks (the end closest to the skin) in the air. If I spread a thin layer of Bergschaf (mountainsheep) on it it will be grabbed and I will get a felted surface with loose locks.

It’s going to be a sack I can put my feet in during the winter. My feet and a cat. It’s the last woolly item I need in my life to be comfortable. All other projects are just for fun and beauty.
Today I continued the felting, in the beautiful weather, wearing my farmers’ trousers and wellies. It’s great stomping about outside, in nature, when it’s good weather and you’re doing things, with your hands.
wetfelting gottland
I like the composition of this photo.

I’m giving the Gottland a backing of light grey Bergschaf. Colourwise it would have been nicer to woolpick the Gottland and use that because it felts very easy, she said. But it’s unwashed and I didn’t want to spend the time or the energy.

Now it’s the end of the day. I’m tired. The sack is huge:

wetfelting gottland
It’s inside out and it has only been fulled. I pushed all the air out and the wool has started to grip upon itself. It was very dirty fleec and a lot of energy went into controlling the dirty water running into a bucket.

A peek inside:
wetfelting gottland
The Gottland curls are mildly attached to the Moutainsheep. Some places need another layer of mountainsheep. More fulling. And then the acutal felting: the shrinking.

That will be a next time. When I’m here again and when the weather is nice again.

Here’s a picture my husband send me from the city: half the country is in the clouds, the other half in glorious sunshine! Guess where he is and then guess where I spend the day ūüėÄ


new yarn: Wol met Verve 100% mulberry

I bough two skeins of the wonderful Mulberry plied silk from Wol met Verve!
Both were custom dyed for me:

the second one is a replica of this colourway, nr 450:

which I perceived to be a white base with a mysterious willow green cast and some dark grey smears. But it turns out it’s a trick of the light, this colourway is in fact a semi-solid minty green and is in permanent demand from the dyer.

Again I learn: “don’t shop fibre that you haven’t seen in real life.”
The yarn base I had seen and I knew it was exactly what I wanted.
The skeins have 800 m on 100 grams and are well plied and of non-fuzzing Mullberry silk. Better than the silk I used for Aquilegia Temptress which already grew fluffy during knitting.

The colourways I had not seen before and I asked Sylvia to dye them. We talked a lot about the purple grey one and it turned out beautiful. Way more beautiful than my picture shows!
But for the green one I just showed the picture of Sylvia’s own stock. In which we both saw something different.

Ah well, I might use it for weaving. It’s such excellent yarn and weaving can shift colours so interestingly.

For now I keep dreaming about a white silk shawl in mist colours. I may ask Sylvia to dye another skein… and this time use my words.

Annual Spinners’ Retreat: LSD 2015 Mennorode

I just got back. It was a lovely weekend!
I’ll show you some pictures, in non-logical¬†sequence…

This is the project I brought with me, artistically photographed in my room:

One single of fulled handspun and one Wollmeise Lacegarn in colourway Grand M√®re. It’s going to be a hat with an original construction…
On its own the handspun knits up with the colours all heathered but combined like this they get a stage to shine one.

It’s that handspun I knitted a Shapeshifter from. Which I’ve never worn after I took the photos of the finished object...
I frogged it to use the yarn in -yet- something else because I adore this yarn.

This is my room. I like it! I wore my green legwarmers to show to everybody:

We had tea at arrival and I was reminded of my little black kitten:

My room is really nice! I rested there a few times during the day. I brought wool.

We spend many hours spinning together:

I did a workshop Art Yarn Spinning but I didn’t do so well. It was great fun though and the teacher was very good.

To sit more comfortably I brought my cushion to the workshop, knitted in the Freestyle way promoted by artist Mary Walker Phillips:

This approach to knitting I like very much. It’s interesting to do as it’s both technical and playful. It’s a pity I don’t have need for many lacy planes in my home…

Back in the main room it was so fun to see all the different wheels! We were with about 85 spinners on Friday and on Saturday there were 250!

The second part of the workshop was about learning to add beads to your thread, without stringing them on first. This I could do:

Even very big beads because my wheel has a delta flyer for an orifice hook and yarn hooks that are open on one side.

During the Friday and Saturday I spun and plied some of my green handdyed BFL roving:

Torn in small strips which only need a little twist but not much drafting (keeps the colours intense). Going for worsted weight yarn: spinning this way will get you from 100 gram roving to 100 gram yarn in 24 hours.

On Saturday and Sunday I did the same with my beautiful “little piglet from the hedge row”, the Hedgehog Corriedale:

 (some spinning as done in my room, before breakfast)

The plying was finished while we were drinking the last cup of tea before we all headed home again.

I don’t know about the meterage yet, I have to skein both yarns and set the twist. I think they’ll both become legwarmers. I love legwarmers.

Oh! On Saturday night my spinning wheel snare broke! I lost the option to use my gear but I could go on spinning, I just had to peddle more with my feet.
You can “glue” the band together again, with heat. I’ll do it when I get home.
Otherwise I can’t spin my Merino Silk mix from Passe-Partout! It’s still on this wheel but I didn’t bring the rocing to the weekend because I want to savour every moment of spinning those moonbeams.

Each year we get a little bit of surprise fibre from the National Spinners’ Organisation. This year it’s this interesting mix of colours:

All merino. Colour designed by Passe-Partout.
We got this colour and a dark variation, with purple and black. But I preferred this one and swapped with someone who like the purple better.

I think I’ll tear this roving in small strips also. Lengthwise.
Another way to preserve colours (through minimal drafting) is spinning from the fold. But that yields too thin a single to my taste.

This is probably the 5th year I attend this weekend now and I’ve always had to stay the night. This was the first year that I slept like a baby. Mind, I did bring¬†some things to make my room my own:

There’s my own low light alarm clock. And the felted throw you know. I use it as an underlayer because this venue has a plastic sheet over the matras. For hygienic reasons I’m sure. But it doesn’t breathe and makes lying on it for more than a few hours very uncomfortable.
Lying on wool (felt) is VERY comfortable! (I’m also often cold in bed and this matras cover is a good help)

There’s some chocolate, my own mug, a cat magazine, my iPad and my ear mufflers. What you cannot see is the glorious beech tree right outside my window.
Behind it stands the wifi antenna, a large antenna emitting a strong Electric Magnetic Field (EMF). In previous years this EMF had me bouncing of the walls during the night, not able to settle down. That’s why I brought my EMF-shielding silver cloth this year. I slept wrapped in it, from head to toe. I wore my bed-hat (handspun yak with a tiny yellow moon for a pompom) and this keeps the EMF-cloth away from my face.
What I said: like a baby! From 23 to 6 o’clock, solid sleep.

During the weekend my husband kept me up to date how he was juggling the three cats in the cabin:

On Saturday morning there was a market at which we could by wool and tools and books and trinkets. For my birthday I had gotten a sealed envelope, addressed to me and Passe-Partout. It contained the means to buy these:

More moonbeams!

Wonderful Merino / Mulberry Silk mix, handdyed by Passe-Partout.
What a treat!

There was a little money left and I bought some Mulberry silk balls, handdyed by Iboy from Iboy’s Mohair:

That right one, isn’t it just like Labradorite?! I’ve been wearing my necklace all weekend, feeling very stylish AND in touch with mountains and water.

At dinner we had to wait a bit for our food… what’s a girl to do? I know what knitters do:

I send this picture to my husband who promptly replied that someone else was waiting for their food too:

On Sunday Morning I joined the nature walk with someone from the protective council. It was a lovely misty morning:

We saw rare things like marter’s poo and this sponge mushroom. It’s edible but a lot of grit nestles into the folds.

Wild boars had roamed and plowed the ground everywhere. We even found a muddy patch where they bathe. You could see the indentations of their bodies. These are big beasts!

Ink-mushrooms, used to make ink in earlier times:

This forest is beautiful. So many small tableaux of nature:

And the big displays of nature, with large trees and miles of tranquil nature:

It was a Sunday in a religious part of the country so it was also nice and quiet. Except from that one person taking a brisk walk through the mist, singing the Lord’s praises. We couldn’t see him but we surely heard him.

Who knew a dung beetle had this gorgeous colour?

More gorgeous colours and textures:

A purple mushroom, probably a¬†Clitocybe nuda but is has a bit of a weird shape. Our guide had his pockets filled with paper field guides and a little mirror and all sorts of things but he said he had left his biggest mushroom book at home, which contains 50.000 species, so he couldn’t say for sure.

In Dutch this mushroom is called “paarse schijnridderzwam” and I’m not sure how that translates. “Purple shining knight toadstool”? The word “schijn” is both “shine” and “mimic” in English. So who knows, is this a purple knight in disguise or is he beaming on the forest floor? He looks velvet-y.

This boring white mushroom is filled with arsenic. You eat this one, you die:

The Medici family in Renaissance Italy used these to feed their enemies, our guide said.

After the walk there was time for a little bit more spinning, we were with 50 people now I think. Most of them had already gone to lunch:

What a beauty!

When I came home I was greeted by cats. One hadn’t been fed all weekend, or so he said.

Morning mist in the forest:

TdF finish!

I spun a lot!
Far more than I thought I had, considering I had to lie down for several days in a row and in between spinning sessions. Wow!

The total is 2337 metres out of 780 grams of fibres. That’s a lot of meterage from not a whole lot of fibres.
(There’s 125 m out of 10 grams of silk hankies so that skews the numbers.)

Big contributors are the 5 skeins of natural coloured Shetland: 488 m out of 250 grams total.

The Passe-Partout roving from the last days is 325 m out of 100 grams.

The dark green Nunoco batt yielded 239 m out of the 50 grams.

And it’s light green sister that I combined with my most precious silk and a white fairytale batt: 348 m out of 140 grams total.

The others are smaller skeins. Very suitable to combine with other yarns. For example as a colourful accent in a shawl or as part of mittens.

What a result!
I wanted to spin more green and I have. I also wanted to spin some of my most prized possessions and I did that too. So brave!
I also wanted to spin three fleeces on my Countryspinner (Pip, the Horse for Spinning) but Pip has not left the stable at all. All spinning was done at my regular wheel.
I did prep nearly all of the Bowmont fleece so some fleece was involved this Tour de Fleece.

Now it’s time to knit with these gorgeous handspuns. But first I have to soak the skeins, to make them into proper yarn. Luckily today is soup day, I’ll have a bucket of hot water at the end of today.

I particularly enjoyed spinning the Mulberry Silk. On its own and in the roving of Passe-Partout.

update: ack! I just spend time setting the twist on all the skeins, with the hot water from the soup cooling. Rinsing them in a particular order, keeping in mind residu spinning oil (Shetland), colours that tend to bleed (bluegreens, they didn’t) and the yellows (they did). Don’t put the wet whites on the coloured ones at any point.
Putting them all through the centrifuge. Putting them all on the drying rack, remembering to “twang” the silks to align the fibres.
Dry the centrifuge, the floor and the kitchen. Put on dry socks.
Sit on couch.
See the skeins from frogged Fractal Spun Jumper I mentioned this morning. They needed rinsing too, to get the crinkles out and make them knitting yarns again. Ack! I forgot them!

TdF 6: A not so minty yarn.

Today I spun my fairytale silk and plied it with the minty softness from yesterday. It’s not too shabby! It toned down the minty colour nicely.
Tomorrow I can take it off the wool winder and we’ll see how it’s in the skein.

This is the silk I spun up. The most beautiful thing I ever dyed!
I love how I am bold enough to use my most precious fibres. And enjoy them.

It was 40 grams and it wasn’t enough to service the whole mint single, I think it gave about 300 m.

I’ll have to weigh carefully tomorrow because of the second green yarn I want to make, the one with the sparkles plied with the dark green silk.
I only have 20 grams of that dark green silk….

This is both Mulberry silk. The silk with the longer strands than Tussah silk. This is usually more difficult to spin because you have to keep quite some distance between your hands to prevent the twist running into the roving and knotting the strands of silk solid.

Also, this roving has been loved and petted for many years now and is a bit dense and matted together. When I started spinning it I was sure I had to fluff up the roving, to fan out the fibres before I could even think of spinning it.

However, when spinning I discovered there was no need. I just needed to “twang” the roving a bit before spinning. I just took the next 10 cm (4 inches) of roving and snapped both short ends away from each other.

This alligns the fibres and after that they draft beautifully, straight from the “dense” roving.

(when spinning I keep my fingers at the tip of the triangle. I make sure all twist is kept to the right of that point.)

Oh those colours! The gleam! The luster! It really was a joy to spin this today ūüôā

Waking up the turtles.

Yesterday I woke up the handspun turtles and made them into a plying “ball”. That’s when you prewind the two (or three) threads you want to ply unto a nostepinne.
It makes plying much easier then trying to ply directly from loose turtles that will bounce around and divert your attention, as I once discovered:

Plying from the plying ball went easy:

Poor woman’s nostepinne: carton roll from kitchen towels.

Yes, I’m wearing my bright red Deer Bleuet Dress. And my handspun green legwarmers.

During the winding onto the nostepinne one turtle would run out of yarn sooner than the other. But it’s easy to attach the new yarn to the ply:

Now I have 177,5 m of lovely purple lace. In 100% silk. The mulberry kind, my favourite.

Later today we’re travelling back to the city. I’m bringing wool!

Blue Art Deco Cardi is coming. Wollmeise is coming. Green spinning fluff is coming.
The little turkish spindle is coming too, in it’s own darling tin. With some more Mulberry silk. Doesn’t this speak of early Spring?