Jobo Designs

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

9. December 2014 15:38
by Jobo
1 Comments

Yaksperiment... Experimenting with Yak Fiber

9. December 2014 15:38 by Jobo | 1 Comments

I have a good spinner friend who likes to challenge me...

She is always trying new techniques and new fibers, with the goal of creating different types of projects.

Well, the latest new fiber to try is quiviut! she is working on spinning a very fine lace weight from quiviut roving that she has... And it just so happens that I have a very small sample bag of both quiviut and yak fiber.  So I am going to play along with her.

there is definitely a learning curve with trying this yak fiber... The bag that I have is quite small, and I forgot to weigh it before I began. It's just a regular sized sandwich baggie with a few small poofs of fiber.  Some of it is a little bit compressed, so I thought it probably needed to be carded.

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How to card it is another important question... yak is a very short staple fiber at maybe an inch long in the bag that I have. That means worsted techniques an inchworm drafting are not going to work here at all. I carded my fiber into some tight Puni style rolags. 

The first one I carded I spread the fiber over the entire card but I think that was a mistake. I had to take the fiber off in three portions and I used small knitting needles to wrap the fiber around. I compressed it a little bit so it would hold on to itself during spinning.

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The next time I decided to just put the fiber on the first third of the the hand card and remove it in one single go with a larger knitting needle. This time I used 5 mm ones. And I did not compress nearly as much. I think that the diameter of the knitting needles better matched the staple length of the fiber and resulted in an easier to spin roll of fiber.  You could almost see the fiber spiralling out of the end of the rolags.

As for the feeling of spinning yak... I can only describe it as though it feels like I am spinning dryer lint... Lol. After hours of playing with this stuff I went and got a handful of lint from the laundry just to see how they compared.  The lint was really, really short, and I couldn't keep it together much past drafting.  I could draft maybe two inches, and then it fell apart before winding on :)  Yak really does feel a bit linty.

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I had to really adjust my usual spindling technique to make it work... I ended up using a kind of modified long draw technique. It seemed to work best when I drafted quite far from the spindle tip. I tried to keep my drafting triangle at least a foot or more from the spindle tip and held the fiber very very lightly. It felt almost like chewing gum stretching... But don't even think about stretching too far or this fiber breaks into little useless strings. The first roll I tried, I think I threw away as much as made it onto the spindle.

After a little experimenting and testing I decided I should try spinning some of the fiber directly from the bag to see what that was like too.  I fluffed up a piece and went for it - and shockingly, even though it had been a bit compressed, the fiber was clean and untangled and it drafted just as easy from this preparation as my pain-in-the-butt rolags had.  Lesson to self - simplicity.  Try it.

In the end, I just flew by the seat of my pants on this one, yielding a really soft, light two ply laceweight.  I thought it should spin finer, but this weight is what felt reasonable.  My yarn is very inconsistent, lots of slubs and thick or thin bits.  There are lots of fibers that I've tried, only to find them scratchy and unpleasant.  I'm surprised to say, that yak feels almost like cotton to me.  It's pretty limp and not very stretchy.  It's soft enough for close contact to skin... and I think I'm confident in saying I'd be cool with Yak fiber underpants in the case of a zombie apocalypse.  I'd probably sweat my derriere off, because this stuff is supposed to be mega warm though.

My friend is going to knit hers into a bookmark swatch... so I'm going to do the same... here is my unblocked progress:

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12. November 2014 09:53
by Jobo
0 Comments

Whatcha Working On Wednesday! Sampling with Samples

12. November 2014 09:53 by Jobo | 0 Comments

Trying to start something new...  I thought on Wednesdays I would just simply show you what I'm working on :)

On Monday, two of my lovely friends (Jo and C) came for a visit.  We had lunch, knitted, spun, and chatted for the day.  It was just what the doctor ordered, and VERY much appreciated too!

While they were here... C was carding some wool on handcards and inspired me to go grab mine, and some sample wool and play with it.  So I carded an unknown wool sample with some of Ruttiger's Soft Combings to make some soft fluffy Rolags.  I spun them up fine on my Phil Powell Jewel Russian.  I can always count on the girls for inspiration and enabling!

I chain-plied the sample and got around 40 yards or so of light fingering / heavy lace yarn.  The colors are really pretty... stretches of teal, blue, purple and sage.  I hoped to be able to show the finished yarn today, but alas, the dyer was enthusiastic about dyeing and not rinsing.  I rinsed three times last night, and the water was BLUE BLUE BLUE.  I soaked overnight and it's still blue.  This morning I've changed the water twice - still blue.  I'm glad I don't have a whole braid, I'd have been annoyed (and blue)

When the soaking stops, and the color stops bleeding.... I have a simple little idea for this teensy skein!  I'll keep you posted!

24. August 2011 08:03
by Jobo
0 Comments

Playing... with samples

24. August 2011 08:03 by Jobo | 0 Comments

Often when you buy a new spindle... a handful or chunk of some sort of fiber is included - presumably so you can test out the spindle and learn how to use it properly.  But what do you do with all of the little yarn samples?  they aren't really big enough to make an entire project with, but at the same time it feels wrong to just throw them in the leftovers bin with all the other tiny leftover balls of yarn.  (If I was smart, I'd likely throw some of that stuff away, but you never know when you need waste yarn to do a provisional cast on, or tie tomato plants to a trellis...)

diamond pattern 4 swatch

This is what became of the sample of Ashland Bay Merino that came a few weeks ago with a Turkish spindle I acquired... I didn't weigh the fiber itself, and I didn't measure the final yardage of the thread - but there was lots and lots.  I'd hazard a guess of somewhere between 100 - 150 yards of light lace weight.  The thread itself is 2 ply, and a little bit lighter than a standard lace. 

I love the color!  This is the "Violet" solid colorway.  I often shy away from solid colors, but I think I should try something like this again.  I liked the simplicity of the spin... no handpainted colors to arrange, or heathers to worry about even spinning so the colors would mix appropriately.

The swatch is another piece from the Haapsalu Shawl Book (which I've raved about many times before, and no doubt will again).  I've been working different samples from the book with the hopes that someday I will be capable of knitting myself an authentic (or as close as possible to it) Haapsalu shawl from handspun yarn.  Traditionally these are knit from 100% wool... which has a nice amount of bounce and stretch, and apparently is the best thing for knitting Nupps (the little bobble-ish things you see in the center of the diamonds above.  Nupp rhymes with "soup")  This particular pattern is one of the "Diamond" motifs, named Diamond Pattern #4 in the book.  The swatch was knit on size 4 mm needles, with a slipped stitch on the left and right edges to make an easily blockable rectangle of lace.  I like the way that the slipped stitch creates the chain-like edge... Perfect for simple blocking.  The finished sample swatch is 9 x 18 inches - if I had had 3x as much, it would have almost been a whole narrow scarf!  Yeek!

People have asked before what I actually do with my lace swatches, and the simple answer is - basically nothing.  I have a little pile of lace pieces.  I pet them, and play with them, and generally abuse them by carrying them in pockets to see how the yarn holds up to wear.  I've thought of sewing them together or something, but they are all different shapes and sizes.  The thought also crossed my mind of having some of the pretty ones framed or something.  Mostly, the swatches just help me to learn about the yarns I make, practice blocking intricate laces, and also practice knitting complex and foreign lace motifs.  It's like test-driving a pattern/motif before really committing to it ;)  I know some people hate swatching with passion, and feel that it is a big waste of time.  I think I might be a swatch-a-holic!

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