Tweed Chronicles

jenjoycedesign© spinning tweed

I can’t stay away from the blending board…

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 nor can I stop testing my instincts about color,

and layering them ever so finer … and finer …. and even finer…

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1st batt, 1st carding

 just to see how the colors will work together.

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Because perhaps I am just ridiculous!

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rolags from 2nd batt, second carding, and wonderfully oceanic!

So I have decided to make a new category  ~~  Tweed Chronicles ~~ wherein I can post my tweed yarn making refinements, as I explore both predictable as well as the unpredictable color combinations (maybe especially the unpredictable),  my learned improvements of technique, and so on.

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Techy stuff 

  •  20g of white undyed roving I acquired decades ago, the tweedy “nepps” from the slubby roving are excellent for tweed, 20g of mixed Shetland I over-dyed with color peacock, 10g of Corriedale  aqua, and 10g of Corriedale dark denim.
  • Layered very thinly … I mean really a lot of thin layers… using technique: Blending for tweed simplified. 
  • Lifted batt, layered again a second time.
  • Drew off rolags.
  • Total of only two “cardings”.

♣   ♣   ♣   ♣   ♣

I have found another gem in the “Hands” series I’ve been watching countless times over the last month, while I learn the technique of long-draw tweed spinning on my little wheel, and learn the art of color in fiber.  And because I have always been so deeply inspired from nostalgia, this one is my new favorite.  Enjoy!

Plied Seashells

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I have plied my seashells yarn singles, aren’t these spools lovely?

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This is basically a loosely blended micro batch using my blending method I talk about in Blending Recipe 1 – fiber lasagna .

The blending process for the seashells was back in  “The color of seashells” ,   but might be helpful to also see my  notes in  “Spinning Seashells”  .

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I am presently busy working on my next blending board experiment, and will post Blending Recipe 2 very soon ~~~  so watch this space!

Voila!

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Voila!

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In this post   I show you the blending of fibers for this handspun yarn,

and the recipe I am calling Fiber Blending 1.

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59 grams of yarn; relaxed, slightly slubby, infused with jewel tones.

I’m off to town, see you on the flipside with a more in-depth look at a little trick I discovered while blending the fiber for this yarn!

Blending Recipe 1

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Finally a few hours to play with texture and color!

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 I finally got into spreading color all over those metal carding teeth…

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Just look at these colors drawn into delicious fiber sausages to feed to my spinning wheel…

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Blending boards are an excellent tool to put color in the fiber mix; just little hint of color, or dramatic splashes of color! On the blending board colors can be laid out in stripes along the board then rolled off of the board into a rolag, and then the rolag can be spun from the end and each color will come out of the rolag the same as it was layered on the board, one at a time with some blending between color changes to create a nice transition from one color to the other.

A sort of multiple fiber ‘lasagna’ can be created on a blending board by making very thin layers of different fibers, or thick layers, then repeating the layers until the board’s teeth are full. You can peel off as a batt, pull through a small hole to make roving, or as I like best, to draw out with knitting needles to make into rolags. Because the fibers aren’t mixed, but only layered, a spinner gets to enjoy the little color & texture surprises as they appear.  I have worked out a sort of general recipe I’m calling Fiber Recipe 1:

1.  First, a main fiber, or fiber blend, of longer staple, for it will be the background color that is holding it all together. Think of it as the pasta layer of a lasagna.  In this blend I have an over-dyed teal roving of Shetland mixed dark & light, mixed with the white roving of unknown origin, and I hand mix it together to get a general base mix.  Then carded it on the board to produce a nice base for the bulk of the rolag. Between each addition I comb the fiber into the carding teeth with a paintbrush comb.

2.  Then there is the next layer of fiber & color that I wish to make secondary to the main fiber & color, and which is brushed on maybe half or a quarter as much as the main fiber.  For the secondary fiber its good to use the soft luxury roving, and also a good chance to balance the texture, for instance, if my main fiber is on the coarse side (which it is), I might want my secondary fibers to be ultra soft to make the yarn a little nicer overall. I like to think of this layer as the sauce, which is just as essential as the pasta.  As this was the case, I added secondary layers of  alpaca wool blend (drafted off of some super bulky yarn of alpaca wool mix) and some ultra soft Huacaya white alpaca.

3. These are the colors that I want to peek through, and the use of the color wheel can come in handy. These colors can be tertiary colors to the main or secondary fiber colors, or even opposites, however you want to create a little ‘wow’ in the blend. A texture difference is nice too, unexpected or even bright colors in different staple lengths.  In this blend I layered little splashes of amber & magenta Corriedale roving, then deep blue bamboo (adding a lot of shine with the color), as well as recycled sari silk, and little ‘brushes’ of  Shetland 2py yarn that I unplied and broke into pieces to hold together like a paint brush (more on this discovery of mine a little later). I like to think of these accents as the flavorings.

If I plan to make several hundred grams of the rolags, very precise notes are necessary, and weighing each color and addition and noting in which order I apply, and number of layers.  Two full layers can be achieved before the teeth are full, but today I put down all of the ‘pasta layer’ first in one thick base, then switched between ‘sauce’ & ‘flavorings’ .

Anyway, here is a visual slideshow for you to see what I just did, beginning with the blue & white cloud of hand mixed fiber…

 

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After I drew off all the rolags, I divided them in equal halves for two bobbins. After both bobbins are plied I predict to have about 50-60g skein when I am finished spinning it up, it was a small batch just for the purpose of making this slideshow.

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I almost think I enjoy creating the rolags more than I do the spinning of them, which is an entirely new art for me!

Spun

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I am experiencing a bit of a renaissance in hand-spinning. I never was that much of an intentional spinner, although I am attempting to be now…. perhaps I’ve grown up a little bit? With this alpaca that I brought out of the recesses of my loft closet, I worked it from raw fleece and  in this post  I show the carding & blending process.  After spinning it up, here I am measuring & weighing the yarn to discover what gauge it is.

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Here is what I do:  I run the yarn through a ‘winding station’, which measures yardage while winding off the skein on to a ball, then weigh the ball, and take notes.

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This is about an aran weight. Getting more savvy in substituting hand-spun and I am itching to ‘paint’ again with fiber on my blending board. Recycled sari silk (yes, made from silk cloth of saris), bamboo, rose fiber… the works, and Oh! This was my most recent creation over the weekend, taking some very coarse Lincoln-Corriedale I’ve had for 30 years (from my sheep Hazel, plus another part fleece I have long forgotten where it came) , and blended it up together into a bat of 50/50 dark & white, which the white was extremely slubby (thats having little bits of wool puffs) I used that blend to layer with some ultra nice dyed corriedale roving  I recently bought, in colors amber, mulberry, and ruby, and also a little Huacaya Alpaca , and made tasty little wool sausages….

jenjoycedesign© tweed rolags

And, over the weekend, here is what I spun up…. slubby, exotic woolen spun blend

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Meanwhile, the general news…

Emma is in her last days of having to endure The Cone, for the surgery she had a week ago already (to remove a low-grade sarcoma on her front leg, she will be alright, no reason to be alarmed). My nieces have started school already, Miss Seventeen is a senior this year, and Miss Fourteen is now in 9th grade!  I’m very busy presently working up two patterns to be available in a double download, and prototyped in the hand-spun alpaca!  And we’re having some gorgeous cool foggy mornings at last! Life is good.

Emma in the cone

Emma 2 days after surgery.

 

Woolen or worsted?

jenjoycedesign© spinning

Spinning from rolags is a different experience for me. Especially these tightly rolled sausage-like ones drawn off of those nifty blending boards, and from which  I posted about a few weeks ago.   Raw, dirty & weedy alpaca is what I’m practicing this woolen technique I am learning, from rolags. In my spinning past, I’ve spun from locks, from picked fiber ‘clouds’ , from bats, had also tried a badly produced rolag or two and gave up ~~ but mostly all the years I’ve spun its been from roving, sliver, and combed top. I am learning that although I was getting better at spinning a fine even single, the yarn I’ve been spinning has been dense, tough type of yarn. I think I was unconsciously aspiring to spin worsted (or semi-worsted) , however there is true woolen style of spinning which is done this way, from rolags I am learning, and ‘long draw’. Okay, I’m getting this…

jenjoycedesign© spinning alpaca rolags

I must say, this rolag thing is where it is at! Its fascinating, long-draw spinning method, and as yet I am far from being able to do it, and I must resist the urge to pinch the twist too much and let it compress through my fingers into tight even yarn, for that is what is to spinning, like knitting yarn with too small of a size needle I think. It creates a dense compact yarn, that squeezes the life out of the fiber.  Just look how the yarn pulls out of the rolag in a line all by itself, with really very minimal fussing if you do it right…

jenjoycedesign© spinning alpaca rolags 2

Well, I’ve got this pile of rolags that I made from my first carding on my board, a loosely carded alpaca, and when I’m done with this, I will wash it very well as it is dirty. Hopefully it will bloom and be fluffy & beautiful.

As I’ve been ordering & collecting a bit of fancy fibers to play with and blend, and even ‘processing’ some bits of yarn I have on hand to incorporate into the tweed mixes which  I am envisioning for art rolags!  For now I’m glad to be taking a break from knitting as the previously posted yarn was not very nice at all, and I sent it back only to have to start all over with nicer yarn that I enjoy knitting, and more important, that my nieces will enjoy wearing! So I’m waiting for new yarn to come in. In the mean time I’m spinning!  All you spinners out there, I invite you to share in the comments about your preferred spinning methods, and anything you might be able to say about woolen vs worsted spinning ~ thanks!

I’m closing with a posting of a video from 1970’s that I found about sheep & spinning in Donegal Ireland, I hope you love it as much as I do!

Tee Two

jenjoycedesign©Penny-Candy-Tee two Well knitters & friends out there… I am emerging from my knitting woodshed, now with not one, but two Spring Tees in my holster ! I am going to be doing a lot of (photo) shooting in Calistoga this coming weekend with my beautiful & adorable nieces modelling! A second knit of my latest design ~~ Penny Candy Tee ~~ prototype in  previous post, but this one is a little different. Not four colors , but three, and it is not shaped (for an eleven-year-old, c’mon…) and, I used up some left over stash Malabrigo Sock yarn for the lace, which is… um… quite a bit finer than the yarn of the rest. Not enough to get worried over.   And just like the original in last post, the lacework  is the feature of the design, an unlikely pairing with stripes, but hey, they get along wonderfully ! No fights in the playground yet . . . jenjoycedesign©ruffly

jenjoycedesign©detail Waiting patiently

now , for their girls to sweetly adorn,

I’ve got them folded away from distracting last-minute changes.

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  This sign I have had propped up on my spinning wheel by my knitting loft door, well, I’m so pleased that what seemed a daunting task a month ago when I hadn’t even started them,  is now….

done & dusted !

jenjoycedesign©check! As I am presently working like a pair of oxen writing the pattern for Penny Candy Tee, that will be coming up next, for Spring knitting ! Details found on Ravelry HERE

Red & Green

I woke this morning, and wrapped a bunch of little presents to send off in the post to Jeff’s sister’s family in Vancouver & his dad’s too.  Lots of little things, and I found as I had plenty of wrapping paper, I was totally unprepared in the festive colors ribbon department.  No worries… with a huge stash of every color yarn, and a spinning wheel… a spool o’ Christmas twine is not but a few turns on the wheel away !

jenjoycedesign©plying red & green

See how whimsical & cheerful a little pom pom is to finish it with?

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I was only lying to myself.

I can’t not make more gifts.

This my friends, is the shift I was hoping for, into high gear  making  , and I will do my best to post finished things here.  Starting with this one, my secret recipe shortbread, for the Scottish host of the Christmas party I attended on the weekend ~~~ and it was a particularly delicious batch!

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It got all wrapped and tied with plaid ribbon and everything, and it was so smart looking. Oh, also, I wore my Vineyard Rows Tam (California Highlands Bonnet) and had so many lovely compliments from the folks at the party about it, it has inspired me to make a little game with myself, which is this :

I vow not go out into town for the rest of the winter without wearing something I’ve hand knit. Today I went grocery shopping wearing for the first time my Red Cardigan ~~ I can’t believe that was the first time I wore it out, it was wonderful indeed! I felt extremely lovely in it. Well, here’s to the holiday spirit, and all things hand-made !

Yarn Candy

I’ve been enjoying a little rest after a flurry of deadline projects came to a crescendo last week. Back at it again, reading my favorite blogs from spinners, knitters & designers (while spinning), and started to be overcome with that oh-so-familiar impulse to post something ! A little like journalling, but involving tactile sensations as well as color and light ~ an addictive combination. When this happens I grab the camera.

I love the afternoon light from a particular skylight , which brings a trueness and a warmth and a glow to colors, which frankly seem lost with the camera, and so so difficult to really grasp ~ but with a little help from photo settings, I think I managed pretty well on this one.  Just look at the purple I am spinning up, and this suri alpaca is just so soft !  I started yakking about a few days ago,  it in this post .

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What lovely fine purple yummy yarn-candy indeed !

Spinning Up Alpaca

I’ve got two decades of stashed alpaca bursting out of this basket and that.

Alpaca fleece from three different friends in the alpaca farming business, and spanning two different spinning groups I’ve been lucky to be a part of. That’s quite the stash.  With Peruvian Churo and/or Himalayan Sherpa hats on my mind to make, and general Andean artifacts from this book I found last year at this time …

I thought best to spin up all of the alpaca.

There is light brown, ecru, and black raw, as well as a quite a handsome batch of roving in rose grey and dark grey and white. I have definitely got enough to make some nice natural contrasts for stranding, without having to overdye anything. This is going to be how I will be spending my spare time his week !

Alejandro’s Manos


I pulled out my bags of raw alpaca, and began spinning a few days prior.

The perfect choice of animal fiber for Alejandro’s gloves, he who frequently ski’s the snow of the Andes Mountains, in Patagonia.

Plying natural black with natural grey .

I used the basic charts from   Ann Budd ~ Handy Book of Patterns  as a guideline (especially since I was knitting with handspun and needed a custom gauge). However, I prefered a ‘left’ and a ‘right’ glove, so I had to somewhat re-invented the off-set thumb for myself ~a definite improvement .  I would enjoy publishing my own version of a glove pattern ~ soon ~ because I love making gloves now !

Hazel’s Hair

Hair , not really … it is wool.  Lincoln-Corriedale wool, and bags of it.  I cared for this sweet brown ewe for a few years back when I was just learning to spin,  and ended up with fleece for a long many year.  Still spinning it !

I think Lincoln-Coriedale is a beautiful wool,  and Hazel’s in particular was a lovely deep chestnut & hazel colored lamb fleece , with greys starting to gradually overtake and a more charcoal color developed.  In the end (after she died) I  became overwhelmed with the 5 various fleeces that I had let accumulate (a sin!) and had them all processed together into roving and batting at the Yolo Wool Mill, and I will have this wool for many a year.  Perfect for rugged sweaters knitted from semi-woolen/worsted spun , I think I could make some seriously lovely and long-wearing fisherman ganseys.