Jobo Designs

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

26. August 2010 08:52
by Jobo
1 Comments

Spinning Angora... in Russian!

26. August 2010 08:52 by Jobo | 1 Comments

angorarussian1 I've been making more progress on my Angora spinning project... using my new Gripping Yarn Russian Spindle (which is fantastic by the way)

I had a sample of 0.5 ounces of nice, soft, oatmeal colored angora... which has now been turned into a small ball of fine singles.  I wound them off onto a cardboard tube for safe keeping, while I try and decide what material it should be plied with to make the best possible yarn.  I definitely want to avoid simply plying the single back onto itself, just for the simple fact that I want to preserve the length... so I will be able to make something more substantial from it in the end.  I have a small sample also of some super soft fine cashmere fiber, that I want to try on the Russian sometime, so maybe I will use that...

angorarussian2

I might be addicted to this new-to-me spinning method!

Attractive features:

  • - portable spinning... fits snug-as-a-bug into my purse for travel spinning
  • - possible to spin while sitting in an enclosed area (no need to have room to "dangle" like a drop spindle)
  • - ability to spin superfine yarns!  (finer than I ever imagined I could)
  • - a little fiber goes a long way... double your enjoyment of expensive exotic fibers!

Now... on to the cashmere!  and I want Cake!  Chocolate Cake!  and a Pony!  ok... just the cake then!

(I guess I don't ask for much, right?  lol)

 

angorarussian3....mmmmmmm russian bunny.....

19. August 2010 09:50
by Jobo
2 Comments

A little Bit Husky...

19. August 2010 09:50 by Jobo | 2 Comments

While out doing one of my spinning wheel demonstrations last week... I was approached by a gentleman and his wife about potentially spinning up some custom yarn for them - from the combings of undercoat from their dog - a beautiful Alaskan Malamute!  The eventual goal would be to have some mittens and a hat made from the coat of their furry friend.

I had been a bit skeptical at first... knowing that some breeds of dog that have lovely fur on the animal, but spinning the coat from clippings or combings in some cases can make a horrible itchy yarn.  In the case of this breed though, their undercoat is so soft and downy, it blends well with wools and actually makes a fuzzy yarn that is almost like an angora blend.  I had the opportunity to look at and touch some Husky Blend yarns knit up into hats up at Belfast Mini Mills the last few times I visited, so I had a feeling that this yarn would work out just fine.

After some internet searches, and a some helpful pointers from Straw (a lady who posts regularly on some of the Chiengora Boards over on Ravelry) I decided that the easiest to prep the fiber would be to blend it with some wool - to help it have more memory and elasticity than just dog fur alone.  I have a nice stash of both Merino and Shetland wools, but I decided on the Merino because I felt that it was a little closer in staple length to the 1-2 inch undercoat, so maybe it would blend better.

Straw had suggested that somewhere between a 70/30 dog/wool blend and a 50/50 one would be appropriate... so for simplicity's sake, I chose to make a 50/50 blend... and went rummaging through the packing boxes for my little wool scale.  The scale doesn't measure as small of increments as I would have liked for this job... the undercoat is very light and airy, and surprisingly free of guard hairs and dirt. These folks must really love their pup, I'd say he is very well cared for ;)

My Ashford Hand Carders seemed to hold 4g of fiber quite nicely! (2g of each creamy white merino and downy grey undercoat)  I alternated adding the fibers to the carders to ease the blending, and carded lightly to get a nice homogeneous mix.  The resulting Rolags were light, soft, and a lovely dove grey heathered shade. 

husky wool blend carded basket

husky wool blend carded - gratuitous closeup!

I carded up around 1.5 ounces as a starting sample which filled a good sized basket.  The fiber was so light I worried it would float out of the basket while I tried to capture a decent photo... it was windy!

I have heard that dog fur, actually pet fur of any kind, is a lot warmer than wool on it's own, so I decided that a dk or sport weight yarn would probably be the best weight to strive for... that way the finished mittens and hat would be thin and comfortable for the wearer.  (I'm guessing a bulky weight yarn would have been way too warm, and then the items wouldn't get as much wear)

I actually only spun up around 0.6 ounces... dk/sport 3-ply as a navajo 3 ply.  By that point I had a good feel for what the yarn would be like.

 

Husky yarn miniskein

This:  is the resulting miniskein.  I did not measure the yardage or WPI on this one... but I will before I choose the garment patterns.

Even after only a little "thwacking" the yarn had already begun to show a nice amount of fuzzing and halo.  When I was picking through the husky fiber, I was worried that I might not have picked out enough of the guard hairs.  Obviously I pulled out any of the long bristly obtrusive ones, but there had been some finer ones.  I tried to take most of them out, but I feared that the ones I missed would result in a scratchy sample.  I guess they weren't coarse enough to make any problems, because the skein is quite soft.

I would describe it as being a little bit thinner than Patons Classic Wool, but about the same bounciness and just a little softer.  I think the halo accounts for that part. I always found the classic wool to be a little bit itchy for close to the skin garments like hats. (make my forehead itch a bit)

 

husky yarn closeup Closeup!

After spinning, washing with a little shampoo to remove any traces of dogginess, and then fulling... I left the yarn to dry overnight.  It was hard to wait... this stuff takes a fair bit of time to dry!  Maybe that's the ambient humidity's fault though... not the yarns!

swatches all 3 

The next step of course... was to knit some swatches to see what the yarn will *feel* like in a knitted state.  The yarn fluffed up a pleasing amount during the knitting process and has just the right amount of halo I think - fuzzy but not completely obscuring the stitch definition.  I tried a swatch of plain stockinette, a slightly lacy diagonal pattern, and a little 2 stitch cable... just to see how it stands up to each style of knitting.  Sometime this weekend, I hope to visit with the customers again and see what they think of the yarn.  If they are happy (and I bet they will be !!)  we can start a design session to choose the details for the final garments :)

** I also have a bit of dark brown fiber saved from the undercoat too... it's a pretty darker brownish grey, and there were only a few bits in the odd clump of fur!  I've been picking it out and saving it to card with some natural black merino which is a similar color and hopefully will use it for some sort of accent on the finished product... maybe a little sewn paw print somewhere, or a cuff accent or something :) **

More to come on this one... and hopefully I'll be able to add a pic of the Dog too :)

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!

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