Jobo Designs

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

10. August 2010 11:00
by Jobo
1 Comments

Russian Supported Spindle!

10. August 2010 11:00 by Jobo | 1 Comments

Isn't Ravelry an amazing crafting tool?  Up until a month ago I didn't even realize that there was such a thing as Russian Spindles, and I had not considered trying supported spindling either.  I was happy with my suspended spindles and my wheel...  Then I learned of this "other" method of spinning... and how this method might be the most appropriate way for me to spin lace weight yarns from my Fuzzybutt's baby coat... I was fatally intrigued!  And then I discovered Orenburg lace.... *faints from Gorgeous lace!*

Gripping Yarn Walnut Russian with Angora

This:  (see above) is my new Gripping Yarn Russian Spindle! (laying on a bed of Plucked Angora that I bought a long time ago, and was still too afraid to touch!)  I found out about Lisa Chan's spindle creations on a Ravelry forum for Spindle-Candy.  I learned that for fine lace weight yarns that the supported spinning method was the best way to go, and that shorter fine fibers, even more slippery fibers worked well with this method too.  I have a growing pile of very soft combings from the Rutti-bunny, which I would like to use to make something light and soft and airy.  His fur is such a soft silvery grey... I know some people say that the baby coat is not really great for spinning, but I don't want to waste it either.

So.  Having learned all of this... I decided I needed to try this!  Enter Lisa:  Spindle creator and Spinner Extraordinaire!  Custom spindles, turned specifically for the buyer, from whatever specified wood the spinner wants and the artisan has in stock, and then mailed out in as little as 2 weeks!  I couldn't believe it!  Her wood selection was extensive, and each one was so beautiful I could hardly choose.  I settled on a basic and practical Walnut in a mid range weight.  Lisa was quick to communicate by email, and the finished spindle was sent out in a snap! 

supported spindleThe day it arrived in my mailbox... I couldn't possibly wait to get all the way home before tearing it open!  The long skinny box was too much to resist!  She also included a pretty sample of Merino fiber to practice with.  (I spun it as soon as I got home... sorry folks no photos!)  I didn't have a proper spindle "bowl" so I've been using a little Pyrex finger bowl.  I know it isn't traditional, but it works for now :)

But there isn't a hook on that sucker?  Marky, understandably was a little skeptical that one could create yarn with this "stick"... but I got right to it... sitting cross legged on the floor with the spindle standing in the bowl, and me basically standing on my head trying to see everything and catch the knack.  Lisa's spindling videos on YouTube are very clear and easy to follow.  It's clear from watching her handle these puppies - Not only does she make a fine instrument... she obviously knows what she's doing too!

Basically, by standing the spindle in the bowl, this means that the thread being created can be very fine, as it doesn't have to be able to support the weight of the spindle itself.  Also, as the yarn builds up on the spindle shaft, it doesn't matter that it gets heavier... because the weight of the spindle here is basically irrelevant.

To make the yarn, you spin the top of the spindle shaft with a flick of the fingers, which in turn adds twist to the fibers and creates a thread... which is then wound onto the shaft for safe keeping.  I actually find this method fairly fast, even for very fine threads.  It is methodical and relaxing.  Flick, draft, flick draft, flick draft, wind.  repeat.

gossamer

I breezed through the first fiber that came with the spindle... then I "handy plied" it back onto itself to make the lightest softest 2-ply I've ever made.  (Again, too excited to wait and take a photograph of either the spindle, singles, or finished yarn.... at least I'm consistent!)  Since I have also become intrigued with Russian Lace - specifically Orenburg Down Shawls - I also ordered the Gossamer Webs Design Book, which conveniently arrived in the mailbox just a few days after the spindle. 

I started to knit the basic sample that is the first pattern in the book....  I love the sideways construction of the lacy points... and the way that the scarves/shawls are knit in one piece with stitches grafted and picked up to maintain the continuity of the design.  I love the geometric patterns... mouse prints, strawberries, fish eyes, pine trees, and scalloped borders.

I also love the gossamer, ethereal, almost floating texture of these shawls.  A well made Orenburg shawl (large in size too) can be pulled through a wedding ring.  I'm not sure how long it will take me to make fine beautiful yarns like that... but first things first!  here is what my sample looks like knit up.  Sadly I ran out of "thread" just before the finish line... but it still gives me an idea what the yarn would look like knitted, and how the basic construction methods fit together.  I had hoped to wet block, but I can't do that to an unfinished swatch I guess :( Better luck next time!

gripping yarn sample merino2

I love the lacy little points... so much that here we go again:

gripping yarn sample merino

The swatch was knit on a 2.5 mm Knit Picks Fixed Circular, since I think all of my DPNS are tied up in one pair of socks or another.  Apparently Orenburg lace is usually knit on straight needles... I will need to find some!

Since the first spindle photos were taken, I have about 0.5 ounces of that Angora (an oatmeal shade... and so so soft and light) built up into a nice cop of singles.  The center is starting to bulge and grow with each session... I will remember to take photos this time.  I promise!  I plan on plying this with some natural silk - I have some natural colored hankies that I think will compliment the angora very well, providing some more strength to my fine little thread, and also lending some shine!

How do you say "I love this thing" in Russian?  I Love this Thing!

12. July 2010 14:01
by Jobo
0 Comments

Summer Knitting, and Bunny Antics!

12. July 2010 14:01 by Jobo | 0 Comments

Now that the moving and unpacking is finally under control? I am starting to get back to my usual yarny diversions :)

alexstraza1I have been working on a cowl (Alexstraza - by Robbyn Kenyon) and I just have to tie in the ends and manage some decent photographs! 

I enjoyed this simple project, and was more pleased with the results than I'd have imagined.  I only had a little bit of this yarn, which was my first real useable spindle spun yarn from several years ago. 

The fiber was a merino silk blend sliver from Fleece Artist that I chose from a bin simply on feel and color alone - I had no idea that silk was slippery and challenging! 

So I wanted to use the yarn for something practical, and since I didn't have enough for mittens or anything larger than a hat, a cowl seemed like a reasonable compromise. 

Robbyn's cowl was written as a flat-knit and then seamed at the end, but I decided to do the knitting in the round and forego the sewing part.  There were no charts, only written out rows, but after a repeat or two I had no trouble following along. 

I was a little concerned in the beginning that my yarn would be too *busy* for the dragon-scale lace, but the pattern still shows up reasonably well and makes the stripes in the yarn look like ripples.

Now I just need to do some blocking? the silk already feels nice around the neck, but I think a little soak and pinning will give this a more polished feel.

 

Ruttiger is also enjoying the sunny summer weather.  He finds things a little hot from time to time, so we try and cool him of by keeping some ceramic tiles and waterbottles in the freezer.  He has been having fun nosing the frozen bottles around his cage, and welcomes a relaxing bunny-flop on a cool tile. 

Here he is just Chillin' Out!

RutRut Chillin

He also loves fresh summer fruit? especially Pineapple!

5. July 2010 10:00
by Jobo
4 Comments

Bitterroot... actually kind of Sweet!

5. July 2010 10:00 by Jobo | 4 Comments

Well we survived the move... or at least mostly survived it!  All of our belongings are here at the new house now, and the majority of the important boxes have been unpacked.  I can officially cook supper now, and find silly bathroom things like nail files and q-tips, and we can crawl safely and soundly into bed.  I have been working towards unpacking my crafty stuff, but somehow those things always take the back burner to the necessities - even though for me, the crafty things really ARE necessities.  I?ve already needed my sewing machine for some impromptu curtain altering, and I?ve found most of my yarn boxes, though most of them are only cracked open with yarn spewing from them, not really any reasonable or orderly unpacking.  I love my new ?studio? room... which like the last one, is actually just a bedroom, but this time a nice bright one with a huge window that lets in the maximum natural daylight.  I sat and spun for about an hour today on my Traddy, and didn't even bother turning on the light!  perfect.  I plan on posting some photos of the new studio room when I finally get it organized.

So, even though I didn?t have unbridled access to all things fibery, I made absolutely certain that I would have access to appropriate amounts of yarn and knitting during the move.  For me, the knitting, is kind of like my own personal meditation.  Without stealing a few moments to work a few stitches here and there... I will admit... I am not a very nice person.  My brain needs the mindless and methodical forming of stitches to keep itself from freaking out and going seriously over the edge.  The week before the move I had finished a pair of socks, so I went looking for a few other straightforward projects that I could jump into if need be.  I started a Bitterroot Shawl, and kept 2 skeins of sock yarn on hand for anxiety emergencies.

And... here is the completed and blocked Bitterroot:

Bitterrootfull

You may notice that she is sitting on a familiar patio table... but on a new patio!  You may also notice that our new ?yard? is still as of yet un-grassed.... and will require smoothing out and planting ASAP if we are ever to have a proper lawn. 

bitterrootborder 

When I spun this yarn about a year ago... I?m not quite sure what I had in mind for it. I do know, however, that it was an excellent fit for this shawl pattern.  I thoroughly enjoyed watching each shade of green fade to blue and back again.  The pattern itself was quite straightforward, and while I did need to keep a copy of the charts nearby, I didn?t really need to write anything down, as it was fairly simple to read the lace in the knitting itself.  I mostly just kept track of the YO holes, and switched charts as necessary based on that.

bitterrootimprovised point 

My only strategy in knitting this shawl was a) to avoid moving stress and b) to knit until the smaller skein of handspun ran out.  Because of the knit-until-it?s-done scheme... I had to improvise the last few rows and the fitting of the leafy portion to the lacy portion.  Normally I like to follow a pattern to the letter, but here I totally fudged it.  I went from Chart C to realizing that I didn?t have enough yarn to do 20-some rows of Chart D, so I basically glossed over the sets of leaves in D and made the lace edge fit onto what I already had.  Don?t ask me how it went together... honestly I am as surprised as anyone that it worked out.  I was too tired to care the night I made that decision.

bitterrootlines

I really enjoyed the first section of this shawl... the way that the columns lined up along the way with the rows of eyelets was very pleasing, and made it easy to know where you were and that things were working out correctly.  These first rows just flew along and the colors changed before my eyes.  I think I might be addicted to this kind of yarn...

bitterrootoverlap

Yes... another satisfying project completed!  I will definitely do this pattern again sometime, maybe with beads next time? 

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