Spinning Bug

I had a serious spinning bug recently, my wool still hasn’t come back from Jumbuck Carding so Rochana gave me a bag of green Romney from Tally-Ho. Buffie laid her eyes on it at declared she loved it, which is lucky ’cause I’m intending on knitting her socks with it 🙂

Green Romney

I’m impressed with my spinning at the moment. I’m starting to turn out a much more even thread with very few slubby bits. I do need to find another method of feeding out the wool though as my RSI likes to flair up in my left hand and when it does I can’t spin, crochet or knit (or squeeze a drink bottle). So anything I can do to lesson that particular motion would be good. (I know have 2 completed bobbins of this wool ready to ply).

Navajo Plying

I’ve been playing with navajo plying today, plying one of my white singles as a test run. I’d like to use this technique to spin up the wool a dyed a few weeks ago as I only had 1 bobbins worth, I’m hoping there will be enough for a pair of fingerless gloves. The benefits for using navajo plying include:


  1. I only have 1 bobbin to work with
  2. No wastage
  3. The colours will stay spread out rather then blend together more
I’m told that this does make for a slightly weaker yarn then if it was a normal 3 ply, but I’m cool with that. My test yarn seems to be strong enough, it’s currently drying after being washed and and whacked.
And pictures:
Close up of Navajo ply you can see some of the loupe like structures in here (I think that’s from where I’ve started new loupes.) One of the things I found with this was that when your yarn is good and strong plying is a dream, if you have week points in the yarn then it’s a real bitch to ply as it breaks and you have to rejoin the yarn – which is kinda messy if you ask me.
Hanging to dry hanging out to dry.
And last but not least, a photo of the 1 completed Craig sock:
Completed sock I’m really rather pleased with myself. I’ve finished the ribbing on the second sock but I’m afraid it’s been almost a week since I’ve picked it up to knit since *bad me* I did take it with me on a few occasions, only to discover that (as usual) I had left the fourth dpn at home! I was really expecting this to be a lot harder then it was to do.
I’ve been making more bread this week also with great results. I’ve turned the fan off in the over, going for a hotter oven with a bowl of water in with it, this gives a MUCH softer crust which is fantastic. I really didn’t like the hard crust on the first batch of bread. I’ve found that my recipe does 2 large loaves and 6 rolls (which I burnt the tops of because I had them way to close to the top of the oven and forgot about them).
I’ve also had my loom out this week and finished off a small section – about half an hour or so worth of weaving, not much, but at least it’s something. I really want this project off the loom so I can start on my dishcloths, but I must finish it, even if it doesn’t motivate me. I’m using short lengths of weft so about ever second turn I have to start a new length, it’s just tedious. The fabric itself will like nice when it’s done though I think.
What else… Craig is busy in the garden when he can get a chance, planting broad beans, garlic and onions, building raised beds and generally getting his hands dirty. The driveways are being poured, the guys have been busy, not as busy as some of us would like and the seem to have a fear of getting damp, but certainly things are progressing and more then halfway finished. I’d say providing it doesn’t pour down rain everyday, they should be completely finished by the end of next week – yay! Earthsong is really starting to look less and less like a building sight and more and more like lush eco-neighbourhood. 


Spinning and a new Lazy Kate

My un-tensioned lazy kate just wasn’t cutting the mustard and I could evenly tension it so Craig made me a new one *grin* (and yes I know I’m spoilt).

As you can see from these pics, the tension works the same as for the spinning wheel with a spring and a tensioning nob:

You can see my second and third finished bobbins of yarn in these pics too. For my fourth attempt, Rochana and I split some roving she had dyed prior to yesterdays fun:

Such gorgeous ocean colouring – keeps reminding me of mermaid hair.

 Still some work to do on getting an even thread but I think I’ve come a long way. I’m planning to use the “Navajo” plying technique to turn this single ply into a 3-ply. I watched the following video today and had a quick attempt and it was so easy. I’ll do a practice run on an entire bobbin of my second spinning attempt before trying it with this small bobbin of ocean.

A day dyeing

I had a fantastic day today playing with dyes at Rochana’s. We started the morning carding some of the washed fleece and moved onto painting it with Ashford dyes. 

1) Carder + washed fleece (more on the washing method later when I wash a little more ) 

2) We soaked the carded bats for about half an hour in luke warm water until it “bloomed” (I still don’t know what that really means). After soaking we covered the bench in cling wrap and pulled out our mixed Ashford dyes. Using paint brushes we painted strips of colour (teal, green, black and rust) until the entire fleece was painted

3) We wrapped the painted bats up in the cling wrap and placed them outside in the sun to keep warm then put them in the oven on 100 degrees Celsius for several hours.

4) the end result drying 

5) dried bats, as flat as crepes 

6) I pulled the bats into strips and put them back through the carder and they all fluffed right back up

7) I split the roving to make slivers for spinning (*note to self, take photos and show how Rochana taught you to split the bats)

I’ll update with photos of the spun wool in a few days.

Spinning and YouTube Vids

My friend Rochana came over on Tuesday for morning tea, we happily munched away on some really good peach muffins I made (sorry no picks, they didn’t last long enough), and then we spent the rest of the morning playing with my drum carder and coloured fleece. I have no idea what type of fleece this is but it’s so beautifully soft once it’s carded that I just love it. There is a lot more to carding fleece then I ever thought, luckily it’s great fun 🙂

 We have very little idea what we are actually doing as we were too impatient to stop and read all the instructions in the Ashford Book of Carding so we just flicked through it and started playing.

 As you can see our final result was ok, certainly not perfect, see all the little bumps in the purple…

 But it was fun.

At first I started to use this batt to spin with but with little success. I’m not really sure what the issue is, may be that I’m not feeding in enough wool but I’ve been trying to spin a thin thread but it’s not spinning as tightly as I would like and breaks easily. I’m told it’s a tension issue but I’m not having much luck fiddling so I did a youtube search hoping that there where some tutorial type videos up, to my delight I found Sue Macniven who seems to be doing a series of them for beginners. This first one is on tension.

The second one is about spinning from a prepared roving.

I’m really looking forward to seeing more from her.


These are the results of my spinning effort, as you can see the thread is rather loose, soft and fluffy. Some sections of it twist back nicely on itself but for the most part it just isn’t holding the twist and I’m always loosing my leader because the fibers aren’t locking and just pull away from the bobbin.

Long weekends

We just finished up a long weekend, spent in the way that I most love to spend them. Day 1 we went off on a drive north to Waipu for an antique fair which turned out to be a very little fair with not a great deal of interesting stuff, although Craig did pick up a metal working lath (?) from the antique shop around the corner:

lath   lath

Day 2 was spent lazing around in the sun doing mostly nothing, I say mostly because I finished my first ever ball of handspun.

Niddy Noddy (on the niddy noddy prior to a hot and then cold bath)

Ball of handspun (all rolled up ready to use)

It’s not the greatest ball of yarn ever I must admit, but it is my first, I am self taught and so to me it’s great. I’m still trying to decide what to do with it, should I knit or crochet and would should the something be?

Details: WPI = 10-11ish

Weight = 90 grams (no idea how many meters)

This was spun from Ashford roving that I purchased a long while ago and now I can’t remember what type of sheep it’s from (Coridale maybe?)

I believe this converts to somewhere in between a Bulky and a Double Knit/Worsted Weight yarn.

Day 3 of our weekend was the really productive one. We spent the entire day (after brunch) in the workshed building our bed. we have not cut and dressed over half the wood we need for our design so we are making great progress (ok I will admit that a few pieces were ones someone else had dressed a while ago and said we were welcome to use as he’d finished with them). The bed will be made from mostly recycled Rimu (sp?) with only the unseen parts (slats etc) possibly being from other wood. We forgot to take any photos yesterday but when there is something more interesting to see then pieces of wood I’ll take some and post.

However, today is a normal day and there is housework to day, washing to be done and gardens to plant.

Oh my! 2 weeks since my last post!

I’m horrified to see that I’ve let two weeks slip past without posting!

Well to make up for it, here is some pictures of the potatoes I just harvested this morning. I replaced them with a late season  crop of “Rainbow Beans”, sorry about they graininess of the photos but I had to use my old camera phone as I can’t find the digital camera. Also on my list today is to bag the heads of the onions to save their seed, transplant some marigolds and sort out and store the seed potatoes for August planting – but I think I’ll wait for this evening and a bit of cooler weather first.


potatoes 2

What else haven’t I shared with you? Ohh, I just got my invitation to Ravelry a web site for crafters, it’s a very cool site, I had to wait about a week for my invite and it was so worth it.

Ok so in the workshed we have been finishing off the router table (which means we can get on with building our bed)

Tracey at work

Craig playing with the router

The table is now fully complete, painted and everything.

On the cooking front I’ve made two batches of preserved plums, 1 batch of peaches, 1 batch of rhubarb and two batches of tomato pasta sauce. I have enough basil to make some pesto and cream to make more butter (I was given two butter paddles for xmas which I’m very keen to play with).


Peaches(soooo yummy)

And finally my two boys doing what they do best:

Craig & Bootlace (note the very cool Utilikilt Craig is wearing)

I’ve just finished spinning my second bobbin of fleece and as soon as I get my hands on a lazy kate (or make one) I’ll be able to spin it into my first 2ply. I’m so excited to see how it comes out, I know it’s far from perfect, over spun, inconstant  thicknes, slubs etc but I’m still excited.

And we’re back!

I have so much today now that we are home and rested a hardly have the time to stop and write this post.

I’ve just ran around to the house of a lovely lady from Auckland Freecycle who has given me several bags of Romany fleece (white and black). My Ashford Book of Spinning tells me that Romney is a great fleece for beginners to spin, which would be me. If you don’t know about the Freecycle network you should seriously research it for your area. It’s a great resource for those 3 R’s.

Ashford Spinning WheelAmong our clothing and christmas gifts I also managed to bring back my spinning wheel and spent a lovely time (except for the bit when I was swearing at the stupid screw thinging that wouldn’t go back into the hole it had come out of and had to grumble until Craig came and fixed it for me – love husbands *grin*). Anyway, I mostly happily put my spinning wheel back together, which gave me a much better understanding of how it all works, oiled up all the oiling up parts and now have a lot of reading and practice to do.

My new drum carder should arrive on Monday (yay), so I need to make sure that I wash at least some of the fleece I now have (I think I now have about 8 big bags). Researching my drum carder and my spinning wheel as made me realise there are still few things I need to add to my arsenal of wool craft tools. The most important ones right now being that it seems I have only 1 bobbin for my spinning wheel – which will become a problem very very quickly and I don’t have a Lazy Kate (but I may be able to make one or improvise) *sigh*

Aside form the crafty things today, I’ve also been in kitchen whipping up a batch of Kombucha Tea (or Manchurian Tea, whichever you prefer). This tea is apparently renowned for all sorts of health wonders, it’s a fermented iced tea, basically, and I tried some and liked it so am now the proud owner of my own “Kombucha mushroom” (which is the started, somewhat like you would do for yogurt or sourdough). Once I finish writting this I will FINALLY get around to having a go at making my sourdough starter.

Woodworking wise, Craig and I purchased a bed on TradeMe.co.nz, only to get it how and find it was WAY too short so we drove al the way back to the North Shore (North East of us) to give it back (long story) and thus we have decided to make our own bed again, so this Saturday is early morning farmers market shopping followed by bed making in the workshed, should be fun.

Gardening – my three sisters are doing wonderfully and people have been telling me how many courgettes they’ve been taking, the corn is coming along wonderfully and the climbing beans look so cool  winding their way up the corn stems. I also purchased a bunch of new seedlings for the balcony planter box (spinach, basil and chives) as well as an aubergine (egg plant) to go in a garden somewhere. I need to clean out the last of the “potato box” broadbeans and tulip bulbs and I’m going to fill it with some lettuces. I left paper bags over a few things – spinach and celery) to collect their seeds but it didn’t really work – partly because it seems that a few bugs really like to nibble at the paper resulting in big holes *pout* so my seed saving in that regards has failed. It also seems that all my broad bean plants have been harvested and sacrificed to the new clothes line/pagola and nobody has mentioned saving much of the seeds (which was the point of that planting) – so my seed saving efforts for this past season have gone a miss, ahh well, it’s the journey and the learning right 🙂

The last thing I wanted to share today was the recipe for tonights dinner, I really enjoyed it and before I forget what I did I need to get it down:

Chili Bean & Pork Mince

  • Heat pan and oil
  • Add garlic, chilli and onion – fry till fragrant
  • Add 1/2 kilo of pork mince – brown
  • Add a dash of saki, tamari and sesame oil
  • Salt & Pepper to taste (frehly ground of course)
  • Add a handful of flat beans  cut into 2cm lengths and cook  to taste (we like our beans to still have some crunch).

Serve on a bed of lettuce (next time we would add some light items like cucumber to the lettuce and perhaps also serve with some asparagus).  Delicious!


I have just ordered a huge amount of “2 ply” cones of wool and it brought up the question of what is ply? For the most part, it means the quantity of “strands” making up that piece of wool. When you have an 8ply yarn, you have a piece of wool that is made up of 8 strands twisted together. This in no way tells you how “thick” your yarn is though. A 2ply yarn might be thicker then an 8ply yarn, why? Because the 2ply has been spun to be bulkier then the 8ply.

In short, “ply” has nothing really to do with the thickness of your yarn, and with more and more yarns becoming available from outside Australia and New Zealand we can no longer rely on labels saying 8ply, 4ply, 10ply etc when selecting yarn. There is a little more discussion on Pearl Bee about this topic, with some very important clarification and information provided by the mystery “Pat”.

Pat commented that “there was a standard as to measurement of yarns. It was based on the number of skeins of yarn that can be spun from one pound of fibre. This is dependent on how fine the spinner can spin; a larger number means a finer yarn (of wool). This gets confusing. Wool had a different system than cotton which was different than linen, and acrylic wasn’t even considered then.

Today there are several different methods of measurement: tex in Europe, 1-8 by the Yarn Council of America, ply system in Australia. The best seems to be wraps per inch — how many threads laid side by side in one inch. Another standard is yards per pound (ypp), or metres per kilogram (mpk). Obviously, 1500 ypp would be finer yarn than 1200 ypp.

Cotton usually uses a numbering system: 2/8 means a yarn of 2 plys each being of size 8 (standard measurement in cotton). 2/16 would be a finer yarn, being 2 plys but of size 16. 4/8 is a thicker yarn: 4 plys of size 8. 8/2 is 8 plys of a size 2 yarn.

And then we get into compound and cabled yarns; these are all differences in construction– nothing to do with size.”

Drop Spindle Spinning

Drop Spindles & WoolI’ve found what looks to be a great resource for learning to use drop spindles: The Joy of Handspinning

My parcel of goodies arrived yesterday, and as I did manage to finish my table runner (more later) I let myself open it to find my two new reeds and a 1kg bag of cleaned and carded wool. My preference is to clean and card my own wool as well as spinning and weaving it but we do what we must for now. The wool is from Ashford and is very nice, I’m pleased with it at the NZ$18 per kilo I paid for it. It will also be great for a few of the weaving projects I’m keen to do.

20 minutes late: I’m trying to take heart from “Kathryn of the Hills” when she says:

“…and the spindle falls, don’t be discouraged. Just pick it up and try again. Many people will tell you that it is called a drop spindle because it just dropped. Take your time and practice, you will get it with time. It only looks easy after you have learned how. It just takes a few minuets to learn how to spin; it takes a lifetime to perfect the skill.”

Drop Spindle