Month: June 2010

my first ‘bad’ skein

well, i’ve finally done it…

i have always counted myself lucky in terms of spinning that while i may not be (or was not, i’m not sure which since i don’t know any other handspinners in real life to compare my work to) a great handspinner, most of my yarn has been pretty decent. it’s even, the plies don’t break and i can get it to behave.

until today.

i spent three hours trying to chain ply about 2 ounces of a gorgeous handpainted superwash merino in purples and greens. everything that could go wrong with this skein, did. the yarn broke after plying, the plies tangled, the single either drifted or snapped….this thing was horrifically hard to manage. there’s a ton of knots and to add insult to injury there’s not even enough yardage to do anything with it.

so it’s going to sit in time out and think about what it did.

it’s not a total loss. eventually i’ll just buy more purple heavy rovings to go with it and just alternate skeins instead of using just that one colorway, unless i can get more of it off of etsy at some point.  and now that i look at it after having cookies and tea with my boyfriend’s grandmother, the knots aren’t even screamingly obvious. it’s like someone said on ravelry once- who cares unless you’re planning on selling it or entering it for judging; it’s not like you can’t tell people it’s deliberate.

that’s it, it was just a three hour, torterous decision to add a design element…

seeing green in my future

the only thing about dyeing with kool aid is that you have to have access to kool aid in order to use it.

you can mix a lot of colors from red, blue, and yellow i suppose, but you have to able to actually find them first.

apparently buffalo has a thing for red kool aid, and lots of of it. i’ve been on a kool aid hunt (or flavor aid, or shur fine insert knock off name here) for about two weeks now. i would have thought in a city this size that someone would have some other flavor than tropical punch, cherry, or black cherry. i remember kool aid coming in all sorts of bizarre flavors at one point. maybe it still does, i don’t know.

there’s two major grocery stores within walking distance to my house, and a 24 hour wegmans down the road. the tops at the top of the hill has a ton of red, and some lemonade. so i pick up the red there. the wegmans that i do my groceries at after i get out of work on sunday (yes i’m one of those people who works second shift on sunday so the rest of america can have a normal weekend) has blue rasberry and grape, so i get a light blue and purple there.

i took myself to the third store today (mainly because i was out of coffee and if there’s anything more important in my life than my partner and fiber, it’s coffee) and stopped in their juice aisle just on the off chance that they may have other colors. they have everything else- including one of the best and most inexpensive meat cases in buffalo.

and they do in fact have colors other than red, including the elusive berry blue. don’t ask me why berry blue is so sought after, but apparently it is. so i’ll be stopping in this weekend to stock up on koolaid.

project roundup, or insert cutesy name for it here

so i’ve still been spinning obsessively…eventually i’ll get around to actually knitting the stuff, or something. maybe i’ll trade some of it. i don’t know.

so finished projecets first:

i finished cotton candy last week, and i’ll post a pic of it later today. the weather should be good enough that i can grab a photo of it outside so the colors will be half-way true. i ended up chain plying it to itself. i’m hoping to get more dye soppers from slimchicken so i can get enough to make a hat, otherwise it’ll be mitts. there’s roughly 70 yards right now.

new projects:

-do over

do over actually isn’t a new project, or at least it’s not a new concept. call me a pack rat but i have a hard time getting rid of things that other people would just toss, especially if it’s something that would amount to something if put together with other little bits of things. all the little bits of fiber that are left over from spinning get shoved into a bag, and then recarded into rolags. the singles are chain-plyed and then overdyed with purple (1 package blue kool aid and 1 package of grape kool aid). eventually it’ll be some sort of scarf. there’s currently about 70 yards for that project.


i really wasn’t going to keep with the pagan name theme but we went to brushwood for solstice this weekend and the sunset colors were EXACTLY what the colors in this bump are spinning up to be. it’s silk that my mom brought back from rhinebeck for me last fall. i don’t like silk. it’s working up to be very pretty and i’ll chain ply it to keep the colors, but i don’t like silk. i’ll end up sending her the skein when i’m done with it.

other projects


i carded a bunch of wool at juggling practice (m spins poi with the buffalo jugglers in the summer) so i can start spinning it up again today. the red fleece took forever to dry so i’m going to stick to dyeing either roving or spun yarn. i was beginning to worry about mildewing, to be honest. so i haven’t actually spun on mokos lately- though in part because solstice is taking so long to spin.

– midsummer

i just took the first 20% off of my spindle, partly because it was overloaded (i couldn’t get it to take the roving anymore) and partly because i want to work on mokos. i think that this will be raffled off in the future (more details later). it actually is a gorgeous color now that i have it on the bobbin.

-ostara and pumpkin

i plied the first hank of ostara last week and have to get it skeined and washed this week. i spun a little (very little) on the pumpkin in the last week and decided that as bad as mokos is, spinning a plain white is even worse. i have to force myself to finish the white so i can get to the colored plies and get this thing finished.

chain plying on a spindle

plying is a fairly recent development for me. for a large chunk of my spinning career, i really didn’t want to ply. i’m not sure what the issue was, outside of pure laziness. i didn’t want to deal with it, i didn’t think that it mattered much, and frankly i just was too impatient to really want to mess with around with multiple plies.

i managed to get through a wool peddler’s shawl last summer with singles and decided that it was time to move on to plying. there’s a lot of advantages to plying singles- it makes for a stronger, more stable yarn with less pilling (though there are a lot of factors involved in pilling, admittedly).

i’ve been doing a ‘normal’ ply for about a year now. i’d spin two or three plies, store them on tennis balls, then wind a ply ball onto another tennis ball and ply the singles together. i had heard about chain plying as a method to ply yarn together to achieve a three ply yarn with one single, as well as maintain color seperation in the project.

i don’t care so much for the color seperation issues. i’m not all that concerned with barber poling. push comes to shove i can trade yarn i don’t like or over dye it, but my love of the fug is legendary so there’s rarely a yarn so ugly that i can’t use it for something. i try not to buy so little fiber that i can’t accomplish something with it, even if it’s just fingerless mitts (i like mitts).

the 3 ply with one single thing though intrigued me, because it would let me spin a thinner ply and theoretically achieve more yardage. the downside is that you have to make sure that you spin thinner since you can’t control the ply length through pre-seperating the fiber the way that you can with a more straightforward three ply (at least that’s what i’ve found). but it’s also faster and cuts a lot of steps.

chain plying on a spindle is a lot more straightforward than what i thought it would be. it’s a fairly simple process- you start out by making a slip knot and pulling a loop through the knot like you’re starting a crochet chain. pulling the loop out as far as desired in a 90 degree angle, place the initial loop on the hook (don’t pull the first loop tight). holding the top of the loop in line with the active single, place the loop over the thumb of the non-dominant hand and add twist. when the twist has run the length of the three plies, wrap around the shaft and pull more of the active single through the loop to create the additional two singles. essentially, you are creating a massive crochet chain but you’re not tightening the loop down, you’re just laying the loop against the active single to create three threads and then twisting those three threads together.

i guess (in the sense that i’ve heard of it being done) to spin and ply in one process- you chain ply as you spin so that there is never just one single at any given time. however, i’ve been winding it onto a tennis ball and plying from there. i find it easier that way and seems to work just fine. chain plying also seems to work best with rested singles, so the ball method helps for storage as well.

adventures in kool aid land, part 1

i decided to take the plunge into dyeing this week.

my parents gifted me with a few fleeces for Yule a few years back and i’ve been working on spindle spinning them off and on since. the issue is that the fleeces weren’t well processed which makes them hard to spin, and there’s just so much wool in every fleece that i get sick of the color by the time i’m a third of the way through the fleece.

i decided to try kool aid dyeing some of this particular fleece. i went with a red- i like red, and i figured i would aim for enough to make either full mittens or fingerless mitts if i didn’t end up with enough yardage for regular mitts.

i also decided to try dyeing on three different stages of fiber prep (mainly because i had an extremely small amount of wool actually spun at that point and i didn’t want to wait until i had more yarn actually spun). i had three mini skeins spun up- 2 in a ‘normal’ 3 ply and 1 in a chain ply. i also had a handful of carded wool that hadn’t been spun up, and a partial grocery bag of wool to be carded.

i skeined up the spun wool and then wrapped the rolags and fleece in separate pouches made out of cheesecloth so i could move it from soak to pot with minimal problems.

i ended up using three packages of tropical punch kool aid and 1 package of ice blue raspberry lemonade. it ended up sort of a rusty red on the fleece. the dyeing process itself was fairly minimal and straightforward- i soaked all the wool overnight in a water bath with a glug of white vinegar*, then mixed the kool aid with fresh water and the left over bath solution, dunked the wool in, and brought the whole thing to a boil in a stock pot on the back of the stove. it took me about an hour, start to finish. you’re supposed to let the dye solution go clear before removing the skeins but i think that i used too much koolaid. most of the sites that i’ve been reading have been saying 1 package to an ounce of fiber and i don’t own a kitchen scale so i took a shot in the dark with regards to how much fiber was actually there. the wool is pretty dark as well so i thought that i would err on the side of too much dye and have a saturated color than not end up with it taking at all.

the skeins came out looking kettle dyed. i think that the chain ply is my favorite out of the skeins- the loops tend to have less dye than the outer plies so it looks mottled. the rolags came out really saturated but i think they were at the bottom of the stock pot. the uncarded fleece is really mottled with some segments barely having been dyed at all- i’m guessing that if i do uncarded wool again i need to put less wool per package, more kool aid, and less stuff in the pot at a time so that all the fiber can get saturated. i think i may need more vinegar for uncarded wool as well. this is greased fiber as well so i’m not sure if the lanolin makes a difference.

i’ll post pictures of the results if the sun comes back out today, or i’ll post them tomorrow weather permitting. the lighting in this house is horrible.

*most sites say that you don’t need extra vinegar since kool aid is really acidic when it’s unsweetened, but a couple did advise a vinegar bath in case your water is hard, or just using bottled water. i couldn’t see buying water when i already had vinegar and i was trying to keep this as low cost as possible.

Current Projects

I’m a rather fickle creature. I like to have a lot of things going at any one given time. I can’t be monogamous to a single project, I get bored too easily.

I have…five or six major spinning projects right now. Eventually I may finish one of them if I’m lucky.

These are the current projects:


Mokos was a deity in the Slavic pantheon who was believed to watch over women and fertility, but was especially concerned with what was generally considered to be women’s work- things like spinning. Slavic deities in general are pretty murky (there’s not much known about them, period, or what their functions were with the societies) but she was believed to be a fate deity as well.

Mokos is a multi-part project. I have a babydoll fleece that my parents gave me for Yule one year…after putting it through the washing machine. It came clean but it’s also got weird felty bits. Right now I’m spinning and dying some for a pair of mittens. It’s the fleece that I use for practice purposes as well. I just taught myself to chain ply on a spindle with this fleece. Tomorrow I’ll be using it to dye with for the first time. I’m actually dying three stages of the fleece with koolaide: spun yarn (both a chain ply and 3 ply), rolags, and uncarded fleece.


Midsummer is a bright green wool with deep blue bits that I picked up at Ravaloe earlier this month. I think that it’s Ashworth wool but I’m not sure-it was marked as ‘wool’. I’m not picky. I’ll spin most everything. This is going to be spun as a two ply on a hi-low spindle.


Ostara is about four ounces of wool (again I don’t have the breed- I’m not sure if I ever asked) dyed in greens and purples. Right now I’m spinning for a three ply and any left over singles will be chain plyed.

-Acidic Pumpkin

Yeah…this is what happens when you send your mother to Rhinebeck for roving. It’s a corriedale with a gorgeous hand. It’s brown, cream, orange, and livid lime green. I’ve spun about half of it into a 2 ply and the rest will be a three ply.

-Cotton Candy

My boyfriend named this project…it’s dye soppers from Slimchicken on ravelry. It’s actually really gorgeous. I’m spinning it for a chain ply to make a hat for myself for the fall.