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.

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!

Carding & knitting

When I return home there are several bags of fleece for me to wash and play with and several bags awaiting my collection. Apparently my shearing friend Kevin says that he can’t sell coloured fleece, so any fleece that is not considered to be white is mine for the taking – free! This means that I will no longer have to worry about “waisting” fleece as I practice and play and I have packed up my spinning wheel and will be bringing it home to Auckland (from my parents house in Wodonga) and dedicating a chunk of time to relearning to spin.

Also, for christmas my mum has agreed to either buy me a knitters loom (about $180NZD) or to contribute towards a drum carder (about $350NZD) and now I have decide which one I wan/need more. At the moment I think I’m leaning more towards the carder as I don’t even have any hand carding paddles anymore so…

While researching drum carders I did come across the most coolest toy and would LOVE to get my hands on it. It’s a double carder

Double Carder

and it’s probably about the size of my lounge room. Now if I got everything I wished for I would need a museum to keep it all in I think. We just went for a visit to a second hand store in Yackandanda, which is about 15 minutes from my parents house and I found a very cool butter churn, two 19th century cameras (they are HUGE, and cost several grand each), add that to the double carder and the floor looms *sigh*

Now I know that I’ve been silent for the last several weeks, but I haven’t been totally no crafty while I’ve been visiting oz. I’m actually proud of myself really, I’ve been knitting, well I’ve knitted one thing, a beret, it’s the first knitted project I’ve ever actually finished and didn’t give up on out of boredom (scarves suck and so do blankets that are essentially scarves sewn together). Doing this hat, I managed to do increases and decreases, undo and repair mistakes (I made a lot of them) and pickup dropped stitches, and I’m very proud of my finished item.

Freedom Spirit Pattern

I still need to do the little flowers to make it extra pretty but they will take very little time to whip up. I’ve never been very excited about knitting, my grandmother was an amazing knitter and I’m sure I’ll never match her for speed, but I have decided to attempt a little more knitted projects – just no scarves thank you very much.

Naked Sheep

Fully Clothed:

Clothed Sheep

Undressing:

Getting naked

Naked Sheep:

Naked Sheep

Bag-o-fun:

Bag-o-fun

I helped to shear 24 sheep and as a reward I was given 4 fleeces and the contact number of the sheerer who has coloured fleeces he is happy to give me (yes for free) because apparently he can’t sell coloured fleece!

This is Smudge

Smudge

she is the only blackish sheep of the bunch. From her I have a selection of white, gray and black fleece which will be fantastic for my floor mats I’m going to weave.

Ply?

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