Jobo Designs

Letting the crafty creative juices flow. Knitting, spinning, crafting, dyeing, rabbits, sheep and more!

25. September 2009 14:55
by Jobo

Swatching, Swatching...

25. September 2009 14:55 by Jobo | 3 Comments

I am still really new at spinning, as far as experience and skills go.  I am learning more and more with each project, but still need a lot of practice :)  and one thing I am hoping to get better at is 'designing' (for lack of a better word) yarns for specific projects, and creating yarns with specific characteristics.

I decided last night to dig into the stash and card up some Angora and Merino batts, to try and make a soft lofty fluffy yarn (perhaps to use as the lining of a pair of fancy mittens?) 

I haven't really worked with many commercially available Angora yarns, so I was unsure what mix to use... so I eyeballed the proportions, using about half of a 1 ounce bag of snow white angora and about 4 ounces of Merino Top - about 10 % Angora.  I figure since my favorite angora sweater is 10 % that this should be just enough luxury, and besides, the Merino is super soft too!  A few cranks on the Old Strauch Petite later, and pulling the batts out into a roving-like prep and voila:

Clouds in a Bowl Anyone?

The bumps of fiber are super soft and super light.  I prefer to hand-pull my batts before spinning them, mostly because I find that it is easier to draft from a roving state rather than a handful-of-fiber state.  I decided to spin up a small sample, just a few yards really, to see if I could achieve the characteristics I was looking for - light, soft, airy, fluffy

Because I know I wanted "airy" yarn, I used a big whorl, and really lowered the tension so that there would be the bare minimum of twist.  I tried not to squish out all the air in the carded fiber before the twist entered the zone with a sort of modified long draw.  (I still haven't completely figured out long draw yet despite my attempts)  The singles were quite soft compared with the extra twisty sock singles I have been making lately.

I hope you don't find white fiber too boring......

I want my final yarn to be a DK or Sport weight 3 -ply, so I decided to Navajo ply the sample just for simplicity sake.  My finished 3-ply sample was around 10 - 11 WPI, which is a little larger than I need.  When I spin up the remainder of the yarn, I will have to try and spin a little bit thinner.  My swatch, knit on 3 3/4 DPN's (My favorite set for knitting mittens) worked up to be around 5.5 stitches per inch.  I am also trying to be more consistant in adding things to my Spinner's Notebook... swatches, samples, measurements so someday maybe I could reproduce the results?

The resulting knit swatch was very soft, and not too hairy or fuzzy.  I like the feel of Angora, but I don't like yarn with so much Halo that it obscures the stitch definition.  I think that's why I never liked "faux fur" yarns or felted items.  Felting can look really awesome, but I hate that it completely wipes out any semblance of the design that existed before the Felt happened.

Very Scientific Pseudo-blocking method - pin swatch to pantleg... watch out for leg!

I was a little bit disappointed with the dingy colour of this yarn.  The angora was such a pure white, and the Merino on its own looks natural, but not so beige and dirty looking, almost Oatmeal.  I know it is only for the lining of mittens, but still, I might have to dye it some interesting colour, or at least give it some pizazz.

6. July 2009 18:51
by Jobo

Finished... Camel / Tussah Silk Blend yarn

6. July 2009 18:51 by Jobo | 1 Comments

As part of my adventure participating in my first Tour de Fleece one of my goals was to finish spinning this: 

A deliciously soft and creamy 50 : 50 Blend of Tussah Silk and Camel!

I had picked this up while Honeymooning in New Brunswick the end of June, and simply could not wait to dig in... so I worked my way through it a little bit at a time (literally a handful here and there) and to be honest I'm a little sad that it's all spun up... 4 ounces was definetly not enough he he...

Here are the finished Stats:

I managed to spin up 2 x 2 ounce bobbins of singles about as thin and even as I ever have.  The silk really added a lot of strength to the fluffy camel down and really allowed me to go thinner than I'm used to.  Even though the single was fine, it felt solid and strong.  

Then I plied the two strands together.  I thought for sure that I would be able to fit the whole thing on one bobbin - I must have been crazy!  I probably got 3/4 of the fiber on the bobbin, but in the end had to give in and start a new one.  I hate tying in ends, so that was my main reason for the bobbin gluttony and trying to squeeze an excess on there in the first place.  I guess this is all the more motivation for me to go and order that lace kit and the jumbo bobbins for my Traveller... sigh.  I'd love to have those items but was trying to hold off as long as possible because of the cost associated.

thats a freaking full bobbin... and I still put a bunch more on there before I gave up and started a second!

From there I took a moment to breathe (as one wise raveller put it:  "was the rest for the singles? or for you?") and used my new fangled handy-dandy homemade WPI gauge to measure my yarn - averaging approximately 23-24 WPI.  I also counted the wraps on my niddy noddy while skeining to get an idea at yardage.  I know my NN gives about 5 feet per wrap, had 330 wraps - approximately 1600 feet or 550 yards of yarn.  So this places my yarn at a lace weight, and I think I have enough to make a really nice scarf or something.  

thats one big fatty of a skein!

The feel of this yarn is out of this world!  It's silky and smooth, but light also.  The camel gave it lots of squish and bounce, but still feels like silk too.  I think this will be really fun to work with.  I'm half thinking of waiting to use this until I have designed something decent and original of my own... since it would be a shame to waste this on any old mundane thing.  I will have to keep hunting for the perfect pattern in the mean time...  Anyone have any suggestions?

a close up (yarn pr0n! gotta love it)

and starting tomorrow to continue the Tour de Fleece... I plan on doing some carding.  I have a bunch of blendables that I think should be in a batt together:

     White Superfine Merino

     Cream Soy Silk

     Snow White Bamboo Fiber

     White and Fawn Angora

Happy Spinning everyone :)


4. July 2009 16:43
by Jobo

Do it Yourself Wraps Per Inch Tool

4. July 2009 16:43 by Jobo | 0 Comments

I've been dragging my feet buying a WPI gauge.  I saw some really neat round/dowel carved ones, and some plastic flat shaped ones, and some wooden carved ones with mother of pearl inlays... then I saw a very plain wooden one that someone made from a paint stirrer stick.

SERIOUSLY Jo!  (I thought to myself)  Make one yourself... DUH.

So I hunted around the house for a piece of cardboard, grabbed a ruler and basically cut a 4 inch by 1 inch rectangle of cardboard and cut a 1 inch long notch into one side of it.  Just to be fancy (I'm pretty convincing, but I'm not sure even I can make cardboard from the back of a notepad exciting lol)  I decided to make a ½ inch cutout also on my WPI gauge... so if I ever want to measure laceweight I wont have to wrap 50 times.

Armed with my cardboard creation I set out to measure the WPI of some yarn scraps kicking around the house... shown here - Leftovers from my Kermit the Frog "It Ain't Easy Being Green" Jaywalkers in Fleece Artist Basic Merino Sock  ( see socks here )

All WPI articles I have read are very specific - carefully wrap yarn around gauge so each wrap is adjacent to but not on top of or squished into the adjacent wrap and... DO NOT WRAP YARN TIGHTLY around your gauge.  Some go so far as to suggest that instead of holding the yarn and wrapping it around the gauge, to rotate the gauge and allow the yarn to wind itself around by the force of gravity alone.   

Me?  well I just made sure I was not pulling the yarn tight or overlapping as I wrapped around.  Ideally in working with my own yarn, the goal should be to do a measurement at various points along the skein and take an average in case there were some inconsistancies in my Spinning.  I usually cheat too and use a little stash know how... and hold the yarn up against several commercially made and banded yarns so I could see how they measure up.

Here is one more up close pic for you detail people who wanna make your own:



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