Apr 21, 2011

Shetland and Pygora

Off my wheel and spindle
I had the opportunity to spin two types of fiber that I had never spun before. So exciting!

I purchased a braid of hand dyed fiber from Juno FibreArts because I loved the colorway Smoky Rose. I was a little hesitant at first because the colorway was only available in Shetland which I thought was a little to skratchy for my liking.
Well, I was wrong, not only was it a delight to spin but it is also very soft, maybe due to the fact that Shetland, or at least my Shetland, bloomed like crazy after soaking in water. I spun it so thin that I thought the 2-ply result would be a light fingering weight - how wrong! It puffed up like crazy!

Wow, a friend of mine in Seattle purchased 3 different batches of Pygora fiber when he came upon a sheep fair by accident (thank you, Conrad!!!).  I had heard and read but never touched it before and had to do a little research. Pygora is a goat bred from Pygmy and Angora goats. There are three types of fiber they produce: Type A is Mohair like, Type B is like a blend of Mohair and Cashmere and Type C is like Cashmere. This is not a scientific description - just what I remember reading. I think, the first 1 oz batch that I had from a goat called Sally Moon in a beautiful silvery grey color is Type A because the fibers were long and shiny. It's not really scratchy but definately not cashmere soft either.

The second batch are 2 oz in natural white provided by 'Drake'. It feels fuzzier and softer so I am assuming that it might be Type B. As with Sally Moon, I am spinning Drake's fiber on my Wildcraft spindle. Most of my spindles are light weight (around 3/4 oz) but this one has a long shaft, so I am hoping to be able to spin the 2 oz in one go.

Pygora Breeders Association

Off my needles
We have a large living room window looking out onto the street and sidewalk. I don't mind it much when people walking by look inside but it is nice to have something there that gives you a little more privacy. So I make decorational items that I hang in the window. They draw people's attention away from the inside and sometimes make them smile. With Easter around the corner I used some of my variegated sock yarn left-overs to knit colorful eastereggs. My son, being 2 years old, loves them, but imagine how surpised he will be when on Sunday he finds chocolate eggs instead of woolly ones.

On my needles
I have been knitting, but will update you on my various progress in the next post.

Apr 8, 2011

My new toy - a Bosworth Charkha

Back from my trip to Seattle - which was wonderful, because I got to spend time with my friends, and awful, because my son was sick for most of the trip.

However, I have a new toy!!

I have wanted a charkha ever since reading about Gandi and his spinning. It took me a long time to decide whether to buy a more authentic Indian charkha, or the luxury version made by Jonathan Bosworth in the States. Even though I feel a little guilty I decided to get the Bosworth charkha because of it's compactness and it's beautiful craftmanship. SinceI had to come up with quite a few dollars I decided that I would wait until I earned the money with selling my handspun fiber. So last fall I was ready to order, and now I have it!
It is just as beautifully made as I had hoped.
I tried the cotton that was supplied as a fiber sample and didn't like spinning it. Then I used some Merino, and loved it!
It does take some time to get used to the mechanisms of turning the drive wheel with you right hand (Iam righthanded) and feeding/drafting the fiber with your left. Well prepared fiber helps a lot!
I have to practice a lot more to get profficient but I was surprised of fast you can get the hang of it.
It will be the perfect traveling wheel for me! I will keep you updated of my progress.

Read the Wikipedia entry.

Off my wheel
I have finally finished spinning the singles of the crimson colored Merino/Silk blend from Corgi Hill Farms that I decided should be lace weight. I still need to ply, but the majority of the spinning is done. yeah!

On my wheel
Now I am spinning a wonderfully soft and shiny BFL/Silk blend, the February Club fiber by Squoosh Fiberarts in the colorway Samba. After all that thin lace weight spinning I decided to spin thicker singles, probably for a 2-ply DK or light worsted yarn.

On my spindle
Strangely, trying out my new charkha made me want to spindle again. So yesterday I spun up 1 spindle full of a mystery fiber, and am almost done with the 2nd.

I red a little more in Respect the Spindle by Abby Franquemont (on loan from Ballee), and found a tip that seems so logical that it makes me wonder why I haven't done it before. Instead of winding the yarn onto the spindle homogenously from top to bottom and back, it said to wind it on in a figure 8 style. Works great, is faster, and will probably be easier to wind of, too! Check out this book if you haven't yet - well worth a read!

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