16 August 2010

Non-spinning update

I just wanted to pop in and let everyone know that my old cranky sewing machine and I have seemed to make up with one another. I managed to work for most of the day on my scissor shirtdress with minimal complaints. I think his bobbin cartridge needs a tune up but other than that he was very well behaved. It would seem that he likes his new more permanent home beside the refrigerator instead of the more temporary digs in front of the stove/washer/dryer/fridge. I guess being in the way made him nervous.

I think my sewing machine is definitely a he though I'm not entirely settled on his name. Edmund jumps to mind but I'm not sure about it. Ooo, or Oliver? Any thought? I'll have to get a photo so you can be properly introduced.

Since I believe in posts having photos, take a gander at what happend at the last session of Les Courtepointistes:
Block Check

Mr. Peabody's tumbling blocks quilt is coming along REALLY nicely. We decided that he was about halfway through making all his blocks and it looks FANTASTIC. Don't you agree?

14 August 2010

Super Awesome Hexagon Swap

While browsing through my groups on Flickr, I came across many packages of lovely little hexagons for this swap called { Handsome } Hexies - THE SWAP and decided I REALLY wanted to play along. They were in the middle of the first round so I had to wait ever so patiently.

But then round 2 came around and I finally got to play!

I was to prepare a package for Flickr user wishes, true and kind.

In her questionnaire, she mentioned that she liked Amy Butler, Heather Ross, Heather Bailey and Anna Maria Horner. As it happened, I had just received a scrap bag as part of my pattern order from Anna Maria Horner's website. I decided to start making hexagons from the scraps. I then proceeded to dig through my growing stash of fabric for suitable matches.

For my partner

I find that the resulting grouping of hexes is a nice range of reds, oranges with some touches of green and blue (heavily favoured in my stash). I added a piece of the Kokka strawberries I bought at Purl Soho on my trip to NYC and put it all in an Amy Butler zipper pouch. I added some goodies and sent it away. And waited.

I waited patiently for my partner to get her parcel and not-so-patiently to get mine in return. I keep prowling the Flickr group, at first to see what other people were sending. But then people started getting their parcels and this is where I started to get antsy. I had favourited so many of the parcels and they were arriving in other people's mailboxes. Mine stayed annoyingly empty for the better part of the week. This clearly was the way to madness. Thankfully a busy work week and many evenings out with friends kept me from getting to obsessive and start making charts (yes I had considered it).

But then something magical happend on friday. I came home from work to find something in my mailbox. It was down in the bottom so only reaching in did I get my parcel. It was from the UK! Only now did I dare to think, did I get it? Did I get THE LIBERTY package I had seen posted to the group?


Well, yes indeed I DID get the Liberty package from I'm a ginger monkey (from her Flickr id I thought it was imaginer monkey, funny how the mind is?). I kind of feel like I won the lottery or something. I LOVE LOVE LOVE Liberty. I have loved Liberty ever since I lived in London and would often go there with my friends to browse around in the fantastic Tudor-style building. I think I bought some loose tea there once to send to someone, but never bought anything for myself. And I wasn't quilting or sewing at the time so definitely didn't peruse the fabrics. But of course now that's where I would spend my time.

I love ALL the hexagons that I got. How could I not love 30 some hexagons of different Liberty fabrics. Heck, even if they were the same fabric I would love them. It's Liberty!

In addition to the mind blowing fact that I got 30 some charm Liberty hexagons, I also got 2 pieces of Liberty oil cloth AND a very very lovely zipper pouch also made from oil cloth. I plan to leave the hexes in the pouch and pick them out one at a time when it's time to pick one for the quilt.

Here are some hexagons that particularly stuck out when I first opened the package.

Beautiful pansies

Beautiful little pansy flowers!

Fantastic geometric

Fabulous fussy cut mint green geometric! (mint green is my favourite colour).

Dancing fruit

And dancing fruit! How could anyone not love getting dancing fruit? So fabulous.

So this swap was a great experience. I had fun playing and will definitely be playing again. But I don't expect to be getting Liberty every time. Wouldn't a full on Liberty only hexagon quilt be fantastic? A beautiful dream.

12 August 2010

Fear Factor Fibre - Cotton Noil

I bought this noil because the colour really struck me. I had never heard of noil before and realised after I bought it that there would be a need for some fibre prep before I could spin this. I knew I was going to have to bite the bullet and get some hand carders.

Up to this point, I have been resistant to getting into the major fibre prep thing as I knew it would be a slippery slope to drum carders, buying whole fleeces and generally turning my apartment into a wool mill. But my I was foolish enough to fall for some pretty pretty fibre in need of prep, so hand carders were in my future.

Luckily for me I wouldn't have to shell out for a brand new set of hand carders just yet. On a trip to Quebec city with my parents, while visiting the antique shops on Saint-Paul in Old Quebec, my dad pointed out to me this lovely set of hand carders. I looked at the price and pretty much squeeeeeeed in delight. A decent pair of hand carders for pretty much half the price of new ones. SCORE!

Yes, I know they say "N° 5 Wool" on the back, but I figure it's close enough for me to try things out without too much of an investment. And as my dad said, if they don't work out, they're still antiques. He spent the rest of the trip pointing out loom bobbins, flax combs and any kind of spinning wheel he came across. A side note, there are several shops on the way to Quebec along the 20 with a great selection of wheels. You can get a wheel in good condition complete just needing a belt for around $300. But of course you'll only be getting 1 bobbin at the most.

I've been studying up with my spinning fairy godmother, Ruthann Macaulley and researching making punis is no different. So following her demonstration in this video:

I went to work.

After a few awkward attempts, I really started to get the hang of things. Passing the fibre from one card, back to the other almost like a pro. Wouldn't you know it, but this fibre prep thing is kind of fun! Before long I had quite the stack of hand rolled goodness to spin up.

I never thought I'd like the fibre prep—lord knows I abhor doing hours of predrafting—but working with hand cards is a lot faster than I thought. And I guess add some technology/toy to the equation and it's party time!

Can I just tell you right now how much I LOVE the word puni. PUNI! P-U-N-I! I love that when spoken, it kind of sounds like a swear or something dirty but it's totally not. No really, it's ok to say puni at the top of your lungs PPPPPUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUNNNNNNNNNIIIIIIIIIII! Puni. Love it.

K, onto working with the punis (...puni). Spinning from punis is pretty cool. Much easier than working from the cotton balls. At least at my level of experience with spinning cotton. I found that they were somewhat easier to work with when rolled a little bit tighter around the knitting needle. A firm puni makes for happy spinning. The fibres are more inclined to stick together when somewhat strongly encouraged. Plus I found that working with slightly felted fibres when I was first learning to spin helped me feel like I wouldn't "break" the fibre while I was spinning it.

There was some breakage here and there when spinning the singles and overall they came out somewhat slubby and quite neppy. I think the nepps are mostly because I was working with noil. Overall there wasn't nearly as much swearing and heart break as I had when first playing with the cotton balls.

I was quite concerned about getting a lot of breaking when plying the singles so I kind of left it for a week or two. I even started spinning some of the cotton sliver (is it pronounced sliver or sl-eye-ver? anyone know?) which drafts like a dream. I just have to watch that I get enough twist to keep it from coming apart altogether. The twist in the singles was very well and set once I did get around to it. And the breakage was minimal thought swearing was heard when it did happen.

I decided to go chain-ply because I didn't bother to do any kind of puni counting (sounds kind of like cheating at strip poker doesn't it?) while I was spinning and just filled one bobbin. Ruthann advises against plying from the inside and outside of a center pull ball when working with cotton and I'm very inclined to believe her.

Overall I'm very happy with how the yarn turned out. I like the neppiness. I like how subtle the colour shifts are. The weight is nice. One comment from a fellow spinner "It feels like Rowan cotton." Not so bad for my first completed skein of cotton. It's challenging but rewarding enough that I will definitely be playing with cotton more in the future. And not just because there's a ball of sliver (sl-eye-ver?) on my coffee table.

I also plan to play more with the handcards. There will be punis and rolags and all sorts of hand carded fun in my future.

1 August 2010

Fear Factor Fibre - Soy Silk

Alright, I'm back from playing with my parents in Qu├ębec city. I've been back for a whole week. But turns out I'm kind of a busy girl during the week and wanted to finish spinning this up before posting about it. So here we go, I give you Soy Silk:

I did some internet research before attacking this bump of soy silk and came across a mention in the intro to this Knitty Spin article on Spinning from the Fold that it's a good method for spinning soy silk. The article has pictures of Lee Juvan spinning long draw from the fold with soy silk, so I thought I would give it a go. I figured it would be good to practise long draw with something easier to spin like soy silk instead of waiting for my cotton to arrive (this was before I bought some cotton balls to play with).

It's weird to try a new technique, almost like learning to spin all over again. Things break. The yarn ends up all slubby and weird. Generally feels strange. But it's good to learn new things. I like learning new stuff. And that's kind of the point of this challenge.

Breaking the top into little fingers definitely makes the spinning seem faster. Though I had to put them in a shoebox to protect them from the ceiling fan set while spinning. The soy gets really fluffy when drafted.

Overall, I went easy on myself, aiming to get a good spin rather than go for speed right out of the gate. The singles were pretty even I was able to get nice control and towards the end of the spinning, I was actually getting pretty quick with my long draw. I think I'm going to try long draw for the next bump of wool that I spin. Mostly for practise, but it's also kind of magical. And I like that my fingers don't get as numb or sore as usual.

'Pink Granite' Chimera
100% Soy Silk
4 oz.

The soy silk was pretty nice to work with. It's a little grabbier than the milk fibre which I might make it easier for someone starting to spin or who is used to spinning wool. Spinning from the fold definitely made the fibre draft easier though long draw isn't entirely necessary. I just wanted the practise. I would definitely spin soy silk again if I came across some nice colours to play with.

Next up: I play with punis while spinning up some cotton noil.

Yes, I know I haven't finished my complete list of Freak Fibres and July/Tour de Fleece is over. But I'm going to keep spinning through the list as I'm still interested, have the fibre and have the time to keep spinning.