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Or two, actually. Tax refunds are a beautiful, wondrous thing. Sure, you could be boring and dull and pay bills or put it into savings, or whatever. Or you could buy two spinning wheels.

Yes, you read that right. Two spinning wheels. I now own three spinning wheels. I had been meaning to own two, using my tax return to buy a modern wheel, but then a nice little electric Clemes and Clemes came up on a Ravelry equipment destash board and let’s just say I lack anything close to impulse control. So I snagged it.

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And I completely adore it. I love it. I brought it home, set it up, and spun 100 yards of a two ply in a couple hours. I’m talking divided, spun, wound off the bobbin (cause it only has the one), plied, skeined, and dunked it in the bath, all in a couple of hours. OMG FAST. This is the yarn in question:

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The fiber was sent along with the wheel, courtesy of the person who sold it to me. It was Shetland roving, from her own sheep, I gather. It was true roving, not top, so I played a little with long draw. It didn’t puff up in the wash like I’m told long draw spinning does, so it was to limited success. I suspect part of the problem was too much plying twist and part of the problem was trying too hard to control things instead of letting them be.

The weekend after bringing home Cecile, which is what I’ve decided to call the e-spinner, I went to Uniquities, my LYS, for a spinning open house and to try out some wheels. I test drove a Majacraft Pioneer, a Kromski Fantasia and a Minstrel, and a Schacht Ladybug.

I brought home the Ladybug:

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I am completely in love with the Ladybug, y’all. It’s so quiet and the treadling is so smooth and it doesn’t wobble or shake or fall apart. It has a proper brake band and I can adjust the tension. It’s beautiful. It doesn’t currently have a name besides “the Ladybug”, but I’m sure it’ll tell me what it wants to be called at some point.

My first skein on this lovely wheel was a second attempt at long draw, to much more success this time:

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The fiber was targhee/alpaca/mohair/glitz from what is rapidly becoming my favorite fiber company, Avalon Springs. The prep is just so lovely, perfect for woolen spinning, no predrafting required. Love. I got about 155 yards of around a dk/worsted weight. Very lofty, very puffy. Still not quite the yardage I would expect from woolen spinning and four ounces, but I completely adore the resulting skein. It’s pretty soft too.

Needless to say, between the two wheels, I’ll be spinning up a storm.

I have a camera card and card reader again, so I can get back to taking pictures of my FOs. My mother came to visit this past weekend and brought a few things, including a new card for my camera since she had a spare. On Sunday morning, I drove to Walmart and bought a new card reader. Now, when I moved and during the ensuing week of unpacking, I searched EVERYWHERE for my card and reader. Looking for that motivated me to empty out more than a few bags and boxes and put stuff away, I’ll tell you that. I looked, Joe looked. It was looked for. So it’s not like I gave it up for lost lightly. Keep that in mind when I say that literally THE MINUTE I brought the new card reader in to my apartment, I reached in to my purse and pulled out THE ONE I’D LOST. I swear it was not there before. I took everything out of my purse and it was not in there. The moment I replaced it, there it is. Ugh.

So the new card reader is going back to Walmart, and I finally got some pictures of this yarn I finished on January 28th.

The fiber is BFL from Dancing Leaf Farms, which I purchased at Maryland Sheep and Wool last year. It used to look like this:

The yarn is spun entirely on Alexandra, and I’m pretty chuffed with it. It’s pretty soft too. Spinning on the wheel is interesting because I can spin the flyer/wheel/whatever at a constant rate–it won’t slow down unless I stop treadling. When I spin on a spindle, I have to do all the actually spinning of the spindle at the beginning and then hurry up and draft as much out as I can (or want to depending on the method) before the spinning slows down. This usually results in way over spun yarn, since I spin the spindle as hard and fast as I can in the beginning so I don’t have to stop halfway through an armslength of drafting to spin it again. It’s a lot easier to spin softer yarn on a wheel because you’re not constantly racing against the “clock” of the spin slow down.

This yarn is about a sport weight, around 244 yards. I was hoping for a bit more (quite a bit more, actually, around 350) as I was spinning the singles quite fine, but it’s navajo plied, and that ate a lot of yardage. Plus near the end of the singles, it felt like they were taking FOREVER and I wanted to get to plying already, so they came out a little thicker than at the beginning of the bobbin.

Plying went pretty quickly once I figured out what I was doing. I’ve chain plied on a spindle and I’ve chain plied from a sweater piece to both a ball and a skein winder, both of which call for fairly similar motions since you’re not adding twist at the same time you’re chaining. On a wheel, the twist is going in at the same time as you’re making your chains, so you have to hold your hands completely differently. Once I figured this out (thanks to Leslie of The Knit Girllls’s YouTube video showing how to chain ply), it was a breeze. I think I’ll be chain plying more things on the wheel since I absolutely love how it looks.

Now for some life news: Katsucon is this weekend in National Harbor, and I will be attending. Hopefully. Well, almost certainly, since tickets were like $65, and that’s too much money to just eat. Anyway, the reason for the hopefully is that my neck of the woods is supposed to get hit with a shit ton of snow this weekend. Like a foot. Yeah. This cannot happen. I have Plans and Things To Do (Things for which I will be doing some madcap sewing this evening), and I do not want to drive to National Harbor in the snow. In good weather and traffic, that’s half an hour, but in bad weather? Nope. Worst case scenario (barring my injury or death) is I drive there in the morning, it snows in the afternoon/evening, and I’m stuck there overnight without a hotel room and have to sleep on a couch in the Gaylord lobby with no extra clothes or a shower.

So do me a favor and pray to whatever deity you believe in (or, if your deity of choice is science like mine, to the inherent inaccuracy in meteorology) that there’s no snow. Or at least only a little bit that doesn’t make 495 impassable.

I was definitely a doll kid when I was little. I had baby dolls and stuffed animals and Barbies, and I loved making up scenarios for them. I loved dressing up Barbie in all sorts of clothes. I had a hot pink Barbie car at one point, but I don’t think I ever had a big dollhouse. I’d have loved one when I was kid; hell, I’d love one now. It’s less about dolls now and more about a deep love of miniatures, but still. I don’t have a Barbie Dream House or any Barbies anymore, but I do have some yarn that brought Barbie instantly to mind.

I spun this up on Alexandra, my wheel, in just a couple of hours. Speaking of the wheel: about a month ago, I took a spinning lesson at Uniquities, my super fabulous Local Yarn Shop. I wanted some Official Instruction on how to set up the drive band and tensioning and stuff and, if there was time left over, to learn a little about corespinning. We decided to set up the wheel as a double drive. The difference between the bobbin ratio and the flyer ratio is pretty small, but it’s big enough to work. And I can finally tension everything properly, so plying isn’t a mess of too much twist. Anyway, I managed to get through some practice corespinning and moved over to the BFL I had started, but the drive band kept popping off! Because the wheel is a bit old and a bit wiggly, things tend to move around. The other day I really wanted to do some spinning, so I sat down and studied the situation and (I think) managed to mostly fix it so that doesn’t happen any more.

All that to say I spun up the Barbie yarn in no time flat and had absolutely zero tension problems, and it was wonderful.

The fiber in question is merino that I bought from the Spinner’s Hill booth and Maryland Sheep and Wool. It used to look like this:

SO PINK. I used a short forward draw and it just flew by. It’s a two ply and the bobbins matched up almost perfectly, even though I didn’t actually divide the fiber until I was about halfway through the first half. I knew I’d purchased four ounces, so I just measured off about two ounces and set it aside for the second bobbin. There were few enough singles on the second bobbin that I could wind them off into a modified Andean bracelet and continue plying with no real break in the yarn.

I got a total of 188 yards of about worsted weight, which is pretty typical. I actually managed to get all 4 ounces of finished yarn onto one bobbin while I was plying, and I have no idea how I accomplished that. I really love the finished yarn though. It’s pretty soft and super squooshy. Nice and dense. It will probably become mittens at some point. With that much bright pink, it’s perfect for cheering up dreary January days.

I really want to pull out some more merino and spin something very similar to this. This ends up being my default spin. I sometimes wish I could spin thinner and get more yardage (because fiber is expensive, and I want to get maximum knitting out of it), but the truth is, I just prefer knitting with worsted weight yarns. I’m going to try and remember this and not be too worried about yardage and getting the most bang for the buck. I tend to spend less than $20 (ideally under $15; I think this was $10 or $12) per 4 ounces, and getting to spin it, knit it, and then wear the FO is plenty of bang for that buck.

In life news: I am moving! Joe and I finally found a place of our own. It’s a little one bedroom and it’s a little more than we wanted to pay, but it’s a space of our own. We’ll sign the lease next week sometime and move in February 1st. I am SO EXCITED ABOUT THIS, you guys. It’ll be a little cramped, I think, but we’ll have our own kitchen and balcony and WINDOWS. LOTS OF WINDOWS.

There’s some furniture I need to get (some bookshelves for yarn storage, mainly; I’d like the Ikea Expedit ones, but they’re a bit pricey) and a LOT of packing to do, but it’s finally happening.

I made some more yarn on my super amazing spinning wheel! I started with this:

I spun it worsted, short forward draw (which I think is how I’ll usually spin things on the wheel) and two plied it. The fiber was super great (it’s the same fiber as this) and it spun up like a dream. I drafted mostly end to end.

I had hella tension issues with this though. For some reason, the take up was super slow compared to the twist. This is probably because I don’t have a break band on the flyer, though I didn’t have that problem with the targhee. I’m going to fashion a break band out of some leather scraps I have, but I’m not really sure how I would go about attaching it. Maybe I’ll just lash it on there somehow.

A good, strong thwack evened out a lot of the tension issues. It’s not perfect and there are some spots that are definitely overspun, but for the most part, it softened up a lot.

Anyway, I got a total of 156 yards of a dk weight. I think it’s destined to be a hat of some kind. I mean, for the foreseeable future, it’ll just be stash because I have about a jillion other things to make first (two pairs of shark mittens; two pairs of mitts and a shawl for AnnaMarie), but still.

In life news: apartment hunting is soul-crushing. SOUL CRUSHING. That’s right, Joe and I are looking for a new place to live. Most likely a small studio or one-bedroom apartment, but that’s really all we need. The goal is to move in January right after the start of the year. I can’t wait to get out of my current place–it’s become untenable for a variety of reasons. But we’ve found some good options, so I’m sure we’ll find something. I just have to find myself a new job now. (And let me tell you, that is SO MUCH WORSE than apartment hunting).

Anyway. In fandom news: I think I mentioned before I was all caught up on Once Upon a Time. I don’t know if any of you saw this past Sunday’s episode, but OH MY GOD. sjkhsaf. Yeah. Anyway, I’ve started watching Lost Girl, which is basically a combination of the show Angel and that first episode of Torchwood with the sex energy alien. I completely adore it though. And I’m still reading Rogue Squadron. Oh my, but those books are good. SO GOOD.

Sooo I accidentally skipped posting yesterday. Whoops. Anyway, I finished the yarn I was spinning, the first yarn on my new wheel:

It came out more or less exactly as intended–a heavy sport/light dk two ply with decent yardage. I got 240 yards and it did puff up a little in the wash. I spun it woolen with a short forward draw.

The spinning went by SO FAST. Less than a week. And the plying I did in just a couple of hours. I could only fit about 2 ounces on my bobbins so I had to splice the two halves together to get one skein. The join is pretty thick, so I’ll have to work on that for the next skein.

As I said, I’m going to send it to Lisa, who sent me the wheel I spun it on. Seems right she should get the first product of the wheel. I hope she likes it–and I’ll get to spinning the next skein!

Or: Ravelry folks are the kindest people you will ever meet

You guys. YOU GUYS. Let me spin you a tale (pun ABSOLUTELY intended). A tale of kindness and goodness and generosity. So I’m a fairly poor 20-something living in a basement. My disposable income is not great. I make do. I spend a lot of time on Ravelry in various forums, notably (for this story) the Unravellers forum. We take apart thrift store sweaters to save money on yarn. I have, on occasion, bemoaned the fact that I can’t afford a spinning wheel to ply all my cobweb weight cashmere and also fiber. Anyway, I got a pm the other day from the sweetest person ever. She said her friend had given her a spinning wheel that had belonged to the friend’s mother. Having no use for a wheel but being a member of Ravelry (and thus access to people who might want and use a spinning wheel), she took it. And then pmed me saying she had this wheel and had seen my posts and would I like it?

Would I like it?

Would I like it?

I could have it, she said, so long as I reimbursed her for the postage.

*excited screaming*

Needless to say, I accepted her INCREDIBLY generous offer and the wheel was shipped off. It was delivered yesterday, and I spent a couple of hours putting it together and figuring out how it worked. I had some issues getting the flyer to spin and it was a whole thing, but I got it working. This is my lovely new wheel in her new home:

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I’ve named her Alexandra. I wanted something sort of English and regal. My first thought was Elizabeth, but that’s what my dress form is called, so that was out. Victoria didn’t seem quite right. So Alexandra it is.

The wheel is a Saxony style of unknown make and model. There aren’t any markings or anything on it. It appears to have both flyer and bobbin whorls, so I can set it up with Irish, Scotch, or double band tension. I set it up with Irish tension since, after a bit of playing, that seemed to make the most sense to me. I played around with some extra bits of fiber and once I thought I’d gotten the hang of it, I started in with some nice fiber.

This is Mountain Colors Targhee, which I purchased at a yarn shop in Vienna, Uniquities. I’m going to two-ply it I think. It’s spinning up SUPER fast on the wheel. I’ve got about 2 oz of 4 oz on the bobbin here, and that was after about three-ish hours of spinning yesterday and maybe another hour tonight. No way I could do that on a spindle.

I’m going to spin this up for Lisa, the amazing person that brought this wheel into my life. I don’t anticipate it taking very long, since work today was an exercise in patience being away from my new shiny for so long.

I’m gonna have to buy a lot more fiber to satisfy my new spinning need. I’m in love.

More spinning! Ravelry tells me I spun the yarn in about three weeks, which makes sense. It’s about three weeks worth of spinning for a couple hours in the evenings after work. I started with this roving:

Which I got from Maryland Sheep and Wool this past May. I spun it worsted and it spun up so nicely. The merino was nice and bouncy and crimpy and so soft. There were a couple of felted spots, but that’s probably as much due to how I had it stored as anything else. Here is the resulting yarn:

It’s SO SOFT which is just great. It’s not even by any means as I was aiming for a worsted weight and got more like a heavy sport/dk with spots that are fingering weight and spots that are bulky weight. It came out to 310 yards though, which is pretty excellent yardage for four ounces spun worsted.

I didn’t have a coin handy, so here’s a scale shot with my finger instead. It’s a two ply, and I spun it on the big-ass maple spindle. I split it in half for each ply, then tore off chunks which I then tore into strips and spun. It was not very scientific and I have no idea how the colors will knit up, but I think the result is absolutely gorgeous.

As usual, I have no idea what this loveliness will become. I’m thinking maybe a cowl or something that sits next to the skin since the yarn is so soft. I’m pretty happy just admiring the skein and squishing it for the time being though.

I’ve since started a couple other spinning projects I’m working on intermittently. There’s another 4 ounces of Cloverleaf Merino in purples and greys. There’s some BFL. There’s some Dancing Leaf merino on my Turkish. There’s a tiny little sample of bfl/silk I got from Corgi Hill Farms on the supported. And there’s some merino I took off the supported and am spinning on my little Knot my Day Job spindle. None of them has very much progress and only two of them are listed as WIPs on Ravelry (the two merinos), but they do have singles on the spindles.

In life news: I really ought to start looking for alternate (read: better) job options. I wish my job paid better/offered benefits because I do like it most of the time. I also need to think about looking at apartments so I can move in December. Not sure how that’s going to work out exactly. But I’ve got a little bit of time to think about it.

I’m still watching SG1 (I’m in season nine; Vala is adorable but not as great as Sam, who is my absolute favorite). Joe and I haven’t been making much progress on I, Jedi cause I have a jillion things to watch (Castle, SHIELD, QI, the Daily Show, Colbert, podcasts, etc etc). I’m not really reading any books in particular, although I’m kind of reading Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina. I recently finished reading Tales from Empire, which includes the Zahn/Stackpole collaboration Side Trip (which is the greatest thing ever–Thrawn and Corran and Hal and UGH LOVE IT).

Also, it’s shark mittens season. I have two open orders and I just got another as I was typing this. Which is great; I definitely need the money. And I don’t mind making them. But it does get to be a bit repetitive. It’s okay though. If the piles of sharks gets to me, I’ll just pull out one of my jillion spinning projects.

I know, I’m the worst blogger. Anyway, I finished a thing I’ve been working on for literally months: I spun a fleece! Okay, it wasn’t a whole fleece, it was only about 1.5 pounds. But it was 1.5 pounds of sticky, greasy fleece with very little discernible lock structure. I have no idea what breed of sheep it is. I got it when I bought my loom (I’m pretty sure I just mentioned it in passing). I’ve mentioned this project on the blog before.

Anyway, the fiber in question used to look like this:

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It’s a hot mess, I know. Anyway, I smacked the fiber into line with my Schacht hand cards and spun it into super chunky yarn. Which actually turned out to be more of a worsted weight, but y’know.

It’s rough and uneven and still a little sticky but it’s DONE. All six skeins. A total of almost 700 yards (686), which is enough for a smallish sweater. I won’t make a sweater probably because it’s pretty rough and there’s not enough for a serious waterproof outerwear sweater (which this yarn would be perfect for).

I have no idea what it will become. Maybe some day it’ll become a serious waterproof sweater jacket for a tiny person (read: child). It would have to be my own child though because of the sheer number of hours that went in to spinning this stuff. For the time being, it’ll just marinate in the stash and think about what it wants to be.

I spun this yarn woolen, and it actually did puff up a bit with washing. I suspect that if I wash it in some grease-fighting dish soap it’ll puff up even more. (As it is, I just dunked it in a bucket of warm water with some Euclan, swished it around a bit, then let it soak for an hour.) I have since started another spinning project (some soft beautiful merino that is nothing like this coarse mystery wool), and I spent so much time spinning woolen that when I went to spin the merino worsted, I forgot how. I’ve picked it back up again, no worries.

In life news: I did not get the position that opened up at work (I wasn’t even aware they had been taking applications, actually) and I haven’t heard back from my other prospect yet. Looks like I’m stuck at the reception desk for the time being. Which is okay, I guess. If Congress (sorry to get political here, kids) can grow up and stop acting like petulant kids, I can even buy health insurance (which I am currently without) on the market, fixing part of my dissatisfaction with my job (which is to say low pay and no benefits thanks to being a temp). And I’ll start looking again for a better, more permanent position that requires me to do work that doesn’t make me all anxious (which is to say writing or editing instead of answering phones).

Anyway. In fan news, I am still watching through SG1 because it is the best ever. I’m currently on season four, which is the best season, hands down. There’s very little filler, a couple of truly excellent episodes, and tons of Jack/Carter shipping (and you know I’m all about that). At AUSA a couple of weeks ago (did I mention I went to Anime USA? I can’t remember–I did and it was fun and I took zero photos) I bought an SG1 patch (like the team patch) and a SGC patch (the one with Earth and the stars and the symbol for Earth), so I’m going to look for a green jacket/shirt to sew those on to. Katsucon is in February and I’d like to cosplay as Sam Carter. My hair will be pretty long, but I think I can tie it back or wear a baseball cap and it’ll be okay. Her hair gets pretty long in the later seasons anyway.

In reading, Joe and I are STILL reading I, Jedi (I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned it before, but it’s been literally months). Part of the problem is that there are a billion other things I want to do and part of the problem is that the first third of I, Jedi is really annoying. It is muchly a rehash of everything that happened in the Jedi Academy trilogy except with Corran thinking he’s so freakin’ special that everyone on Yavin 4 would be Sith meat without him there. It makes sense stylistically since it’s written in first problem and it’s been previously established that Corran’s biggest flaw is his arrogance, but still. In the passage we read the other day they finally beat the Big Bad (well, the one from Jedi Academy anyway), so hopefully things will be more interesting from here on out. Mara has been great though. I mentioned when we were reading the Thrawn books how much I adore Mara, and it hasn’t changed. She’s The Best and I Love Her.

Sorry for that last paragraph if you’re not a huge Star Wars nerd like I am. And if you are: I’m considering making a cross stitch with the Rebel crest and the words “I aim to misbehave”. Because everything’s better with multiple fandoms.

I spun a thing! Which is good because I have a hell of a lot more spinning fiber thanks to MDSW. I’m kind of in love with this yarn.

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It’s an art batt from Dancing Leaf Fiber Studio that I got at the first Uniquities Fiber Fest I went to back in July. It used to look like this:

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It’s got wool/glitz/mohair/tencel/bamboo and came to about 2.2 oz. I attempted to spin it worsted and was partially successful.

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It’s a two ply, a little thick and thin but somewhere around a sport weight. It came in at 154 yards, enough for a little something or other. I’m open to pattern suggestions.

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I used my Schact Hi-Lo to spin and ply. Well, the second one. The first one I bought met with an untimely demise on one of several moves. I’ve found I really enjoy spinning batts and clearly need to buy some more.

I’ve started spinning a variety of things, including some BFL I got at Fibre Space a while ago and some of the bird nests from the last post. I have a lot of the fleeces and I want to spin some of them down. But that’s for next time.

As previously mentioned, I bought a set of handcards at MDSW. I bought them cause I have a couple of fleeces I bought on the cheap that need serious wrangling. Which I have been doing.

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There isn’t even really a lock structure. Anyway, after smacking the fiber into submission, I rolled it up into rolags and pulled the rolags out into roving. Voila, my very own prepped fiber.

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I am currently spinning this up into a chunky yarn on my big ass spindle.

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But straightening fussy locks isn’t the only thing you can.do with hand cards. So I took to blending some nicer fiber. Brush it out a little, roll into rolags, pull into roving, and wind into these:

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Little birds nests of fluffy fiber. Each one is only a couple grams. Not enough to do anything with. All six of these together is less than an once. But they’re so fast and fun to make. And the colors!

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Sunset orange and burgandy.

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An irishy green and orange.

The possibilities are endless. I’m going to blend all my fiber in cute little nests and hoard them. Maybe I’ll do a couple sets of the same color-enough little nests to do an ounce or two ounces or even four.

And I’ll be making one-color nests of my unruly fleece bits. Perhaps the resulting yarn could make good socks. I do like knitting socks.