2015 – where does time go

I know I have said this a lot, but I’m oh so good at neglecting my blog. Something that I do want to rectify, but y’know.. life gets in the way.

So, I guess first things first – I still spin, of course I do.

I have developed myself more as a spinner in recent years, and I am finding myself fitting more into a niche of what I like to do. I am, and always have been a fine yarn person. I love the process of spinning it, and the things I can use it for. I also have developed myself as a production spinner, so I spin fine yarn and fast a lot.

That doesn’t mean to say I spin nothing else, but fine yarn is my favorite, and my default. My default yarn seems to come out at a fairly fine laceweight nowdays.

With my love of production spinning comes a love of fast wheels. I mean FAST. I also entered into the world of custom/handmade wheels last May when I turned 21 and bought a golding travel wheel.

I came to a realisation that I am not going to put up with a lot of the oversights, inaccuracies and such that many factory produced wheels have. Handmade wheels generally have an extra level of detail to them that I like, so they are the way to go for me. I currently have 5 wheels in my collection:

lendrum upright, lendrum saxony, jensen ashley, schacht reeves 30″, golding travel.

I will soon thin that to 4 wheels as the schacht reeves is going, but the 4 that are not going are the wheels I use exclusively. Which do I spin on most? – ALL of them. I rotate them around. It depends what I’m spinning.

By far my favorite for production is my lendrum saxony. I own the flyer known by a variety of names – stupid fast flyer, the 60… Its a bobbin lead, air braked system that has a 60:1 ratio. It is the tool I have  the most productivity with. You see it here. My wheel is cherry in case you wonder. Also excuse bad iphone pic.

lendrum sax vff

The SFF is finicky, and there is a big learning curve. Plus you have to be able to draft fast enough. I actually love it, and it enables me to spin large quantities of mid-moderately high twist yarns. I spun up 6oz merino/alpaca/silk on it recently and that I calculated a rate of 650 yds per hr. I spin silk on the setup mainly, and it is great, but in a way I wish I could make it a bit faster as I really have to treadle to not outdraft it.

My golding is super smooth and silent, and does well for relaxed spinning. Top ratio is 24:1 which for my finer stuff spun worsted is ok, if a little slow. Longdraw I can get away with going for about 14WPI 2ply on it at the 20:1.

The lendrum upright is my favorite favorite wheel for travelling with. It is compact and incredibly versatile for its size. It is well engineered, and just works. When I haven’t got access to my saxony, I spin on the upright if I want to go for silk.

The Jensen is the newest addition. Its new and in black walnut. Very smooth, and easy to use despite having no sealed bearings. I have the high speed kit, but it still is a nice relaxed pace wheel for me. But, very pleasant and lovely.

In the pipeline is a very very very special completely custom wheel from a maker. I have no details yet, but it will be totally one of a kind!!

This brings me on to another point. In the last year, I have had a bit of an obcession. Spinning wheel mechanics. I am not at a point where I understand fundamental physics, engineering choices and am able to very accurately assess systems for errors. It comes with my background. Science is about taking a step back and thinking a lot of the time. So, I am having a massive amount of input into the design and engineering of my wheel which is cool!

With my new wheels, has also come a new hobby – weaving. In January of this year I bought an ashford table loom, and am opening my eyes to the wide world of weaving. I am a novice, but working on it!

I am also expanding myself as not just a spinner, but a spinning teacher. I have has the joy of teaching twice this year, and am a tutor this year at fibre east. I cannot wait!

http://www.fibre-east.co.uk/workshops/

I am also getting more into the writing side and publish for PLY as much as I humanly can! Jacey Boggs is the editor in chief there, and she does such an awesome job with that magazine, as well as being so laid back, and kind as an editor!

Last thing… I HAVE SHEEP!! yes, you hear me right. I am a very proud owner of 15 ouessant sheep. They are the smallest breed on earth, and are really very sweet. Flighty and very primitive, but lovely, endearing sheep. They are just going into lambing season, having had the first lamb born on st patricks day – the most adorable little black ewe! She’s a talented escape artist though!!

SO, assuming I keep up with this blogging thing.. expect ranting, spinning, lambs, spinning wheels, and probably a bit of physics/maths too! 🙂

In the words of the petunias – “Ohh no not again!”

Ok, i’ve managed to seriously neglect my blog YET AGAIN!

since I last posted not really much has happened. Ok actually it has. LOTS has changed.

I’m in my second year at uni now, still studying chemistry, and loving it dearly I’m hopefully going to do some research in the department on enzyme electrochemistry with any luck if I can get some funding from somewhere! In terms of spinning, well I had a stall at fibre east, which was a fabulous event! I had a great weekend there, and sold some fluff which is always a good thing for me! I managed to stay fairly restrained and only came home with 1kg Polwarth lamb, 1 black BFL fleece and 2kg mid brown bond. I also did buy a CVM fleece off of t’internet, but we’re not going to mention that in case my mother reads this and murders me. Ok, and we’re totally not going to mention the perendale I went halves on with my friend either! What??!! I like fleece ok 😛

In terms of wheels, I’ve added wheels to my flock since then! quite possilbly I hadn’t posted when i bought my suzie pro. Well, I have another one now, and its lovely. I even went and bought a woolee winder for it, and i have to seriously like a wheel to go and do that. More recently I did buy a cherry hansen mini spinner. I’m in the process of spinning some test yarns and will be doing a youtub video on that soon. Mainly a video review in fact.

Now comes the shameful bit…. I KILLED MY SUZIE D:

I’ve only had my suzie for 6 months. I bought her second hand from another raveller. Turns out Spinning 90WPI singles with the lace kit and fast whorl isn’t a good idea… WELL not when you’re treadling at about 90 drive wheel revs per minute. the equivalent is about 32:1 in actual ratio at my usual treadling speed. Ok here goes, the conrod actally fell apart. yes, it fell apart!!!!!! I wanted to cry, but took a text book to it (you’ve not seen my organic chem text book, It’s heavy and possibly should involve a license in case I one day go crazy and bludgeon anyone with it). But yeah, if I did i’d do a good job lol! So yes, armed with that as a hammer, I went and reattached the conrod and yeah it fell off again.. Ohh well itll mean 90 quid for a new one but worse things have happened I guess…. anyway thats me. hopefully i’ll not procrastinate and post soon 🙂

lets talk about spinning!!!

Hi Folks!!

I can barely believe it’s been almost a year since I posted on my blog! I can safely say that I have been neglecting it far too much! This will change!!

So, what’s new with me? – LOTS!!!! and lots and lots and lots… you get the picture.

Lets start off with the boring bits. well, after months of stress, hassle and work, I took my A levels back last June, and got into York university to study chemistry. I’ve just about finished my first year, and I have to say, i’m loving it! the course is great as is the department. I obviously live away from “home home” now, but I do live somewhere nice, and I have a brilliant mix of friends i’ve made since being here. Living on your own is an adjustment both in mentality, and practically, but i’ve got there just fine.

So lets chat about my spinning life.

Well, where do i start. things are somewhat exploding for me!! in a good way!

I have now got 4 wheels. that’s an extra to what I had last time. I still have the schacht matchless and the schacht reeves. I have however got rid of the louet victoria, and have an ashford traveller with a lace flyer (blog post to come fairly soon about that), and a majacraft suzie pro. the ashford and suzie live with me at uni. I have combs, and a drumcarder up here too so i’m set up for some decent spinning.

So, in addition to the wheel, I decided that it was about time for me to expand myself in terms of my dyeing. I took the plunge and signed up for Fibre East as an exhibitor. Many of you may know I am an indie dyer as well as spinner/knitter. I have an etsy shop which i had to close when i came to uni due to logistics and being able to get fibre dyed, but I have been working of easter to get lots of dyeing done.

I am in fact completely revamping and refreshing my image with dyeing, to make myself both more unique, and better in general. That has meant all new one of a kind dye techniques that play on my science background, aswell as new fibres and a new general outlook. The details are secret for now, but more will be along soon!

Next thing… ok. so many of you will know of the brilliant Jacey Boggs who is the author of the book “spin art”? well, she is also starting a brand new magazine for spinning over in the USA called “ply”. It just so happens I will be publishing an article in the november edition. I’m not totally sure if i’m allowed to disclose what i’m writing about (you can probably guess), so i won’t for now, but that means i’ve been busy on that, as well as spinning the samples. Still, actually getting something published is quite a big step for me that i’ve wanted to take for a while. Now is the time it would seem!

So then last-ish thing. I am thinking very seriously about starting up a v-log podcast type of affair called “lets talk spinning”. I have a provisional first episode filmed and edited, and I think it could be something fun to do. I’m still thinking about it, and seeing mainly if anyone would actually watch it but it’s a possibility.

SO yes, that’s me, and what’s going on at the moment. I want to try and blog here more often than I currently am, but of course life gets in the way. The next blog I want to talk about my ashford lace flyer in fact. I have my exams in about 5 weeks time, so I may not get it done till after then but I really want to try and make it in the next week.

Anyway… please do comment, and let me know what you think to the podcast! 🙂

its spriiiing!

hi everyone!

 

ok so posting every week isnt going well, but I figure i’m busy for the mo. 

very little has progressed here actually, still studying for A levels which start in June, so next month and end on the 25th. so counting down the days till I can spend 3 whole months of my life blissfully free before I go to uni. 

i’m developing my love of fleece again which is sorta cool. have been blending some corriedale/alpaca/glitz in a 70/30 ratio. its coming out well actually and i’m down to the last say 70g or so of blending out of about 500g! what will I make? who knows lol how will I spin it? who knows! along with that i’m getting the merino and cormo back out. Fine wools are my favorites to spin, so it’s only right I give merino some space in my blog post. I have a few colours – moorit, black (well close enough to black more like dark dark brown) and mid grey. lovely fleeces – the mid grey is horrendously greasy even for merino! the others are om nom nom! my fave is definitely the moorit. 

I actually had a go with some unicorn power scour, and I have to say it does a great job! it was wonderful for cleaning my fleece at 60oC which is a good 15-20 degrees celcius less than I usually use. I also used way less! fairy liquid for about 100g fleece I use about 350ml fairy. thats LOTS almost a whole pint bottle!!! and probably about £1.40 worth! for 100g, my cost with the power scour would be about 75p. and not to mention the saving on power i’ll get because of not heating kettles and stuff! 

 

I confess to having done very little spinning or knitting. well, over the last 3 weeks i’ve maybe spun 10g worth fibre (any of you who know me know this is almost nothing for me) and knitted about 4 rows total on anything. 

 

and of course, no dyeing at the moment not till June! i will be doing a MONSTER SIZED July update though! we’re talking LOTS of fibre!!!! a good few kilos at least, so just you wait for that hehe! 

 

anyway enjoy!

 

James xx

first post of 2012, and ive gone and done it again! :P

hello everyone,

 

well, first of all I think i should say HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

ok, so blated happy new year, im only a couple of months late. anyway, I remembered my blog, and any of you wonderful people who read it and decided to do a little bit of update and nattering.

whats changed since I last posted… well not TOO much!

lets start with my career choice. well, as many of you know, i was going to be a vet and do veterinary at Uni. however, sometimes it takes a boot up the backside to show you where your interests lie, and this happened with me. i really dont like biology! so lets face it… whats the point of me being a vet if i wont enjoy it. my real love is chemistry. its what makes me tick. so after deligation, i have applied for Mchem Medicinal chemistry.

With this degree, it’s 4 years and includes a masters degree and a year abroad which for me will be in Spain. I applied, and have got offers from all 5 of my choices. now i just have to go and decide which to put as firm and which to put as my insurance, anyway, thats all good. im currently about to do my A2 mocks, which should be ok, so ive just been working pretty hard this week :P!

now. lets get off of the studying and get onto some good ol fibre!! :P!

well, suprisingly for me i have no change to my wheel assembly. the reeves is here as is the matchless and the victoria.

these days im spinning on the reeves more than anything. its my favorite wheel and has the least problems and things i dont like :P! yes, i still lust after a majacraft rose and maybe a new matchless, but i cant justify it, or get off my backside to do something about it hehe!

now, as ive had all this work and resat my AS biology, ive been shamefully unproductive in terms of spinning. this whole year has been so far! i’m spinning 200g of fairly fine laceweight at the moment. 4oz hand combed grey bond thats sitting on a bobbin spun, and 4oz Wizard island on 60/40 merino bamboo from fatcatknits.

GORGEOUS fibre!! let me tell you, fatcatknits is an awesome shop, and Ginny is lovely!! such a great eye for colours! i love her stuff, so much so i subscribe to her club, aswell as being a default member of my own ;p!

talking of which, yes, yes yes, the club still runs. at the mo, sporadically, as studying becomes pretty intense.

last month was actually quite a lot of fun. i dyed 50/50 royal baby alpaca and silk. the fibre was buttery soft and very scrummy!!

im in fact thinking of changing my club a little. i know that this summer ill be able to do some decent lots of dyeing, so i’ll be opening a 3 month club. where you’ll know the fibre or blend you’re going to get but not the colourway. there may also be a choice of fibres if i get enough orders :)!

 

anyway thats enough from me for now :P! 🙂 enjoy

 

James xx

I’m still here! :P

hi everyone! 🙂

 

WOW! has it REALLY been that long since I last posted on here…! sheesh diddn’t realise it’d been that long!

 

well, anyway, basically… school happened lol… well 6th form technically. As some of you may or may not know, i’ve just finished my first year, so I took my AS levels.

so yes, the majority of my time was then taken up by those, and I hardly did myself any favours with my subjects! I took chemistry, biology spanish and geography. so not really the easiest of rides haha!!

but anyway, after those, the blog got a bit forgotten, I went to the USA, and the poor blog was left neglected hehe!

then I had the worst week last week which made me want to do anything but blog lol!  Basically, I got my AS results… My choice of career is veterinary medicine. To be able to apply for the course, I need to be predicted 3 As at A level (bio, chem and one other). in the end I got Spanish – A, geography – A, chemistry – B, biology – C. so yeah, not happy. especially since I had been predicted an A in biology and only got a C, anyway i’m having a remark so all is not lost, but still its highly unlikely that chemistry will agree to predict me an A for it, but it is possible to bump that up. it just takes lots of work. which i’m happy to so, so its a case of taking a gap year really, and applying a year later with actual A level grades, not with predicteds

 

but yes, so if i have a gap year, i’ll be able to get some work experience, and also to put more time into my dyeing which will be nice! :). maybe get a couple of fibre shows done!!! Must admit i would like that.

 

but yes… enough about me going on about my life hahaha xD!!!! its time for me to go on about spinning instead :P!

well…. July led an expected delivery! 😛 to be exact a new wheel!!!!!! my 30 inch DT schacht reeves in ash!!!! :D! it arrived 2 days before I flew out to the US. seriously, this wheel is GOOOOOOOOOOOD! just try and take it away from me :P! i ask it to do something, and it just does it no questions asked! ohh and did i mention its FAST! like 24:1 of fast… i have a whorl on order to put it up to 38:1 though. this should be “crazy fast” enough for me to do some decent longdraw! 🙂

here he is :)!  i’ve been spinning merino fleece onto him for the moment. i’m spinning deliberately fine. about 8 fibres to the single.. on 20:1 shortdraw from some fleece i combed a while back.

aswell as the new wheel, i opened up a fibre club this month too! :). the september signups have ended now, but october will be a good one (signups for that will open on the 1st september on my etsy shop) , and i’m thinking of upping the doses i’m going to offer. theres a thread about it on my group on ravelry.

it doesnt run every month, as i cant always find time to dye enough fibre each month, but mostly i’ll be running a club. from now until christmas it should be fine, :)! the price will also vary a little with each month as i’m going to be offering luxuries aswell as more normal choices for fibres.

so yes… all in all its been a while, but i’m hoping to be blogging a bit more regularly tehe! :)!

glad to be back! 🙂

 

James xx

this is my friend.. cardzilla!!!!

hi everyone,

so I have been thinking this week about a topic that I like to talk about, and so it was either going to be something about dyeing, a spinning technique or fibre prep. In the end I decided on fibre prep, but what about it?!!! well, something I often see discussed is drumcarding, so I thought it was probably my turn to share how I do mine.

ok, so first I shall introduce you to my friend :

this is Cardzilla… he is my beloved drumcarder. to be exaxt he is a Pat green debs delux. the teeth on this carder is very fine. it is 128 PPSI, so in comparison to the norm of about 72, this carder is fine. It also has a crawly slow infeed ratio of 30:1, so it can handle fine fibre like angora bunny. This is the carder I do over 90% of my drumcarding on.

so. How do I get this monster to make batts? well… like this:

I start inevitably with a fleece. This one is probably one of the nicest fleeces I have. Its a BFL/ryeland I bought from Olwen Veevers 2 wonderwools ago. its all sorted into colours (variegated greys), and is well washed. I have been lucky here in the fact the prep is going to be easier for this fleece as its firstly very open, not at all felted, and doesnt have any breaks or brittle tips.

so first step, is prepping the fleece for the carder. this means teasing. Teasing is “opening up” the locks.

for teasing I start at the edge of a chunk of fleece like here:

from this photo, you can see that the lock length is pretty long. Probably about 5 or 6 inches – on the long end of what i’d probably want to put thr0ugh my carder.

what I do to tease it, it lightly hold each side of the lock, and pull, so I basically pull the lock out sideways, attenuating it into a sort of long thin fluffy bunch of fluff haha to try and describe it.

here we are…. this pic above ^ shows what I mean. I’ve attenuated out sideways the lock. this means it’ll go through my drumcarder easily and wont bend any teeth. It will also make for a batt needing less passes.

ok, so I do this with a whole chunk of fleece.

Here is that chunk of fleece in the first pic all teased and now ready to be put through my drumcarder.

the next step, is to put the fleece through the drumcarder.

on my drumcarder i’m lucky in that I have a feed tray on my drumcarder making things easier. I lay on a wafer thin layer of fleece. literally wafer thin. If I can’t read a newspaper through it then its too thick. This photo shows about how thin your layers should I think ideally be.

after laying these locks on the tray, using one hand to turn the handle, I use the other hand to very lightly apply just a teensy bit of pressure onto the locks if they look like theyre being drawn in too quickly ect. apart from that, I don’t touch the fibre otherwise, it will run around the lickerin (smaller drum) and get stuck.

I keep going adding layers of locks onto the drum in the same way until I have them built up on the carder so as they go up to the level of the teeth, so essentially you cant see any carder teeth sticking out from the fleece. I give this a squish to see how compact it is, and if it’s a bit airy, then I use a paintbrush to apply pressure and turn the handle, which just squishes the fibres down a bit and makes a more dense, orderly batt.

after i’m happy with the amount of fibre on the large drum, then I have to take it off for the first time. I use the doffer stick (pictured in first pic of cardzilla). I find the metal strip which can be seen here in the above photo, and place it under the fibre. I run it along the whole length of the strip so the lot of the wool on the metal strip is on the doffer stick, I then pull up and back. this detaches the fibres and makes them come off of the carder in the right direction so they dont get resnagged by the teeth. this is what my batt looks like after doffing:

I then grab the end of the batt you can see in the photo is off of the batt where the doffer stick is. this is the opposite wat to the way the teeth face, so the batt comes off easily. I use one hand to hold the top of the batt, and the other hand to turn the handle the anticlockwise slowly whilsy peeling the batt off the drum. after the Batt is off of the drum, it has now been carded for the first time.

from this pic, you can see that whilst the prep is pretty good, there are still some uneven spots in the batts which might not make it as spinnable as you might like.

to make this batt nice and even, it needs to be passed through the drumcarder another time. to do this, the batt first has to be stripped down. the same rules as the first pass apply. wafter thin layers. what I do, is to tear strips off of the side of the batt, and open them out sideways and pass those through the carder.

like this:

then finally after the fibre has been carded onto the drum the second time, it needs to be doffed off of the drum, which is done exactly the same way as before. the resulting batt after doffing is as you can see from the below picture, far more even, and uniform. this will be smooth and just gorgeous to spin.

for me, after I’ve carded a batt, I like to fold it lengthways in half, then twist as if it were a skein of yarn lightly, and wrap it round my hand before tucking the end in where I take my hand out from. this just makes the batt I feel into a more manageable small “pack”. I can fill a bag with small “nests” and then spin them later.

heres what they look like:

now as a conclusion to this post. this is just how I card normal fleece. not extra fine or extra long fleece. they require extra steps which I havent got time to go into at the moment.

i’ll also say I am at an advantage with this fleece and my carder. You may find that many fleeces arent like this in the way they wont be as unfelted as mine, and they wont be as open, and might not have as few brittle tips of breaks. If yours do, then you may find flicking each lock  better than teasing. the same rule applies for feeding locks onto the carder though.

you may also need more passes than I do aswell. my carder as i’ve said, is ultra fine toothed, so it will often card a batt more smoothly in fewer passes. whereas then I only need 2 for this fleece, you may need between 3 and 5 to get a decent batt, but its down to personal preference and how you like batts, and how fine your drumcarder is ect.

anyway. this is how I card, 🙂 I hope you’ve enjoyed reading, and happy carding!!!!

Longdrawjames 🙂 x