Thursday, October 23, 2008

I'm Gonna Show You My Wood

Shhhh....don't be frightened.

In honor of falling down and buying another beautiful spindle today (yeah, thanks Cristi, ya big enabley jerk .... I can't blame myself in this, that would be admitting weakness - it's her fault!) I thought I'd talk about spindling, something I haven't alluded to much, ever.

When I decided to try spinning, I started where most of us do - with a spindle. I sucked at it, my arm hurt, and I didn't make the greatest yarn. Or, to phrase it another way, I made sucky yarn. So rather than give up like a normal person would do, I went and blew a wad of cash on a (now sadly neglected but still passionately adored) Lendrum wheel. I can spin like a champ on a wheel! So, after determining that I was not the world's crappiest spinner, what did I do? Stick to what I knew and did well, forsaking all spindles? Hell no. I started snatching up spindles and forming a small but enviable collection of pretty woods that hardly ever get any attention. I think the only time I really start focusing on spindles again is whenever I'm around Kristi, or visiting wool festivals. (I can't be certain which of those is the real influence, since I'm only really around Kristi at festivals, and I'm only really around festivals with Kristi. Hmmm.)

I have been hitting the spindles a bit more lately and have zeroed in on a project in mind. I'm going to spindle three four ( spindle) different two-ply fingering weight yarns from natural (undyed) fibers and knit one of those wonderful simple garter stitch lengthwise scarf/wrap things. I'm not one for stripey crazy shawls or for letting the majesty of handspun work for itself (mainly because I never let the majesty of handspun do anything but sit on a shelf) but I think spindle-spun yarns are allowed to stand alone. And if the stripes run the full length of the wrap every few rows, it's not so ... you know? Chunk-of-color/chunk-of-color/chunk-of-color. Nothing wrong with chunks of color, but when it's only grey/brown/tan to begin with, it lends itself to those thinner stripes. I'm not even close to the knitting yet, though:

Bosworth mini spindle, camel down fiber

I picked up this Bosworth mini at Estes Park Wool in June. And gee, look how much progress I've made on the camel-down fiber I've been spinning on it! (Admittedly, this is the toughest fiber to spin of all the ones I'm working on. That's my excuse.) Gorgeous little spindle, light and twee.

Kundert spindle, cormo fiber

This was my other Estes Park Wool spindle - this is a Kundert, and isn't it a beauty? I'm working up some creamy delicious cormo wool on this one, and making more significant progress than on the camel down. What's that, you want a better look at that wonderful woodwork? Mmmkay:

Kundert spindle, cormo fiber

I'm amazed at this sort of thing. How....what....I wanna....

Finally (for now), my new Ledbetter, procured at Taos Wool. I didn't do much shopping at Taos Wool, and this is pretty much my one big score. You know what I did do a lot of in Taos? Taking pictures. Sure wish I still had those pictures. But it would cost me less money to fly out to Taos and spend a week re-taking those photos than to recover the ones I did take from my poor crashed hard drive. (Got a new one though, and my laptop is back up and running and I'm trying hard to not look back! I'm not looking back in absolute silence, of course, since all my music is gone now, and I'm not looking back without retouching, because Photoshop is also gone. Ah well. I'm sure one of these days I'll find a way to reverse-engineer my music back into iTunes from my iPods/iPhone, and I can use the Canon software instead of Photoshop for now. I'll survive. It is nice to have my hard drive all cleaned up and tidy....yeah, that's the ticket.) Right, back to my wood:

Ledbetter spindle + alpaca

The inset wood is olive wood, which is the main reason I had to have this - my dad lived in Israel for a few years, and growing up there was olive wood evidence of his stay all over the house - little sculptures, wooden vases, wooden bangles my mom and I argued over whose turn it was to wear...this spindle is special. (And I know it was probably a real challenge - olive wood is difficult to work with because it grows differently, in circular spirals and knots.)

The fiber pictured is a yummy grey alpaca also from Taos Wool. But there's not any actually on the spindle - I know. But behold:

Handspun Alpaca, spindled

An ounce of fingering weight two-ply handspindled alpaca! Hurray! It doesn't suck! I used a little "cheating" technique Kristi shared with me for the plying that made life SO much easier**.

When my new spindle arrives, I have the option of either another alpaca, a little softer tan color than the camel, or a wool/angora blend I also picked up at Taos, which is nearly white but seems like it's almost a pinkish white - it's lovely, and soft as a cloud. I want each fiber to be different, so I'm not sure about the alpaca since I'm already using that grey alpaca - but so many people in the world are allergic to angora, and I don't want my wrap to make someone sitting next to me at the movies all sneezy. I have plenty of time, though - fingering weight yarn doesn't spindle itself, and with everything else that's going on lately, that wrap might well be my retirement gift to myself!

**Basically what you do is wind the single off onto a ball winder, then take the ball you've made, match up both ends (from the inside and outside of the ball) and wind them together into another ball. There's your two-ply - you still have to spin it onto the spindle to get enough twist into it and all that, but it's so much easier than working with two balls of singles!