Tag Archive: spinning

Fiberfest Friday

Today was a bit different for me. FIL took my drum carder off last night to try out what he is calling “Plan F” to get it motorized.  Since I didn’t have a drum carder, and no wool needed washed, I decided to spend the day spinning, plying and watching fiber videos.  I watched the Craftsy class called Fiber Preparation for Spinning. I enjoyed learning the teachers perspective on drum carder and wool combs. Very informative. She was also from Mebane NC, which is where we lived before we moved to OK. That was neat. 

After that was over, I watched you tube videos by BlueMountain Handcrafts. I really enjoy her style of presentation, and she’s very informative. 

I also did a lot of plying and yarn finishing 

All in all, it was a great day. I think I’m the future, every Friday will be Fiberfest Friday. It was a great way to end the work week. 



Ever since I have got back into the fiber arts, I have really been sad that we had to move my loom out of the house for a while. Until one of these kids move out, we just don’t have room for it in here. I really have had the urge to weave so bad though, and I have been looking at various looms online. I have requested a rigid heddle loom for Christmas, and I am keeping my eyes on the Craigslist and Facebook sales pages for my area, in case a smaller loom becomes available, but that doesn’t fix my “I Must Weave NOW!” urge.

So I started looking at pin looms.

Pin looms are small hand held looms that you wrap with yarn in three layers and then weave the last layer. You can find the vintage Weavette and Jiffy looms on Etsy or EBay, but Schact has released it’s own version of these little looms called the Zoom Loom, and ultimately, that’s how I decided to go. I had read that Schacts design made the little loom easier to use because of the scooped out edge on the inside of the loom that helps you get the weaving needle in the correct place. That seems to be true. That little scoop catches the needle and slides the needle up to the pins. I can see that if that piece of plastic was squared off it would be hard to get the needle to make that little step to get to the pins, as the weaving progresses.

There are lots of resources for using pin looms, because they were very popular in the 40’s and 50’s. There were many pattern booklets that can now be published for free on the internet because the copyright has expired, I suppose. One of the sites that I like the publishes these PDFs is eLoomnation I love the booklets that have different weaving patterns. Some of the clothing patterns are outdated, but might give adventurous fiber artists a jumping off point. Another site that has a lot of information about weaving with pin looms is Adventures in Pin Loom Weaving. Talk about just a treasure trove of information! I read a little bit there everyday as I try new patterns and techniques.

So far, my favorite yarn for weaving on the Zoom Loom has been hand spun. It is perfect for using up small bits that I made while sampling different fibers and blends. My absolute favorites were a Gotland 2 ply and a Gotland/Angora blend 2 ply. Both wove up just beautifully into the most wonderful little squares.

The least favorite so far has been a square I wove using a commercially produced cashmere that I got from deconstructing a sweater. It is two thin singles held together and knit as one. I had to double that to get close to an appropriate weaving weight, and it was still very delicate, and you had to be very careful that the weaving needle caught all the threads. The resulting square, while soft, was very thin as well. It just didn’t seem to be worth all the effort. Maybe I will spin that yarn into a plied yarn, set it, and then try again. I really did like the softness of it, just not the fiddlieness of the weaving.

All in all, this has been a lot of fun. It has satisfied my weaving itch, for now, anyway. I also think it will be helpful in my etsy shop, as I can spin up a sample of each of the fibers I have on offer, and then knit and weave a small square of each so potential buyers can see how the blend works up, for me, at least. I do a few squares in the evening while I am spending time with Sean after he gets home from work, and a few squares at a time quickly multiply into enough squares to make something. At least they will once I stop just playing with yarn and texture, and start working on an actual project! ]

If you have the urge to weave but no room for a loom, or if you just want to see if you might enjoy weaving, this little loom is just the ticket!

A New Wheel

We all know how expensive fiber arts equipment is. You don’t make a big purchase very often if you’re operating on a budget. When you do get a new piece of equipment, it is a big deal! I was so excited to find this little wheel advertised for sale locally on Facebook!

I bought my new to me spinning wheel from a young couple in Tahlequah. They had bought it to spin alpaca fiber on, as they owned a herd of alpacas (more on that later!). But the lady of the couple has moved on to pottery, and is no longer spinning. They were selling the wheel, a set of hand carders, some fiber and a tiny niddy noddy, all together.

When I asked them where they had bought the wheel, they said they had bought it from someone that had put the wheel together as a kit. I just assumed that meant, the previous owners had bought a spinning wheel and assembled it at home. The wheel was finished beautifully, and worked well. A part of the distaff was obviously missing, and she only had one bobbin, but since I was looking for a wheel to teach beginners to spin on, I thought she would do. I just feel in love with her.

I spent a lot of time searching the internet looking for clues to this distinctive little wheel before I gave up and turned to Ravelry. If you need to know where a spinning wheel originated, Ravelry is the place to find that information! I found two groups in particular to be very informative. The first is the Antique Spinning Wheels group, which is where I got my first clue as to the maker of this wheel. I posted there and was ultimately pointed to Hallcraft 2710 spinning wheels. At first glance, it did in fact seem to be one of these wheels, which were produced by a company in Ohio, as kits, and then sanded, finished and assembled by the purchaser. On closer inspection, though, the legs, the distaff, and some other little differences led me to believe that while we were in the right ball park, I needed to keep looking. The other group that I have began to stalk is the Working Wheels group. It is so informative, I find myself reading threads just to see what they are talking about, how they identify various wheels, and what to look for if I ever decide to buy another wheel.

So I did some searches on Hallcraft on Ravelry, and was led to 3 or 4 discussions that lead me to believe that what I actually have is a Jacob Plum wheel, produced by the Midway Mfg. Co. Also a kit, but the legs and distaff are exactly the same as the legs and distaff on my wheel. Even more amazing, someone had just bought the rest of Midways stock a few years ago, and had finished, stained and sold these wheels for $350! I contacted the woman that was selling the wheels, and asked if she might have the missing part of my distaff or bobbins left over. She did! So I bought two more bobbins, and a whole distaff since she obviously didn’t want to split up a whole distaff. The whole bunch plus shipping cost me about $65, which is a lot cheaper than having bobbins made would have been. The new bobbins are a tad shorter than the original,but they fit! So now I have a nice little wheel with three bobbins. I still need to buy and install actual spinning hooks, as I hate the cup hooks that had been installed on the flyer. Just need to wait for that next pay check!

Here you can see the difference between the two bobbins. The larger one is the one that came with the wheel, and has the distinctive double etched lines found all over this wheel. The smaller one is one of the newer bobbins I just bought. Those smaller ones actually work better on the flyer, but I think they will hold less fiber. I have a plan to solve that problem though!

All in all, I think this is a good wheel. She spins smoothly, and is small enough to be transportable. I was worried about the tensioning system, but there is actually quite a bit of play there. I can adjust it from barely taking up at all, to feeling like there’s a truck pulling the yarn in. It was a pleasant surprise! I’m really pleased to have her. Now I just need a spinning student!

Fiber Christmas was good to me!  I had a wonderful time, my classes were fantastic, and Sean spoiled me the entire weekend!  The only down side was I was just getting over a mild case of pnuemonia and Friday after my class I was exhausted. I had to skip the dinner and the guest speaker, go back to the hotel and sleep. 

My first class Friday afternoon was Fiber Blending with Judy Crouch. She did a fantastic job teaching us why we might want to make a fiber blend, and how to get good results. We were encouraged to use all the fiber tools available to experiment with our own fiber blends. I used 5 pitch combs to blend teeswater (I think) with angelina, hand cards to blend wool top with silk noil, and my drum carder to make an art batt out of wool, silk roving, and other things. I don’t remember what all was in there. I learned a lot and can’t wait to start blending some of the angora I have from my rabbits with other things. The knowledge I gained from that class will surely serve me a long time.

 My second class was Solar Dyeing, taught by Dawn Riden.  It was meticulously taught. Her mastery and instruction of the subject extended to regular dyeing as well, I think it will really help me get better results in all of my dyeing. We got to prepare three dye jars with fiber to take home. 

All the jars made by students of the Solar Dyeing class. Pic by Dawn Riden

Then of course it was cloudy and cool for the next several days and I could not get the dye to strike until yesterday.  Finally, though, results! 

From left to right, Cherry Red, a combo of Honey Mustard and Saffron Spice, and Hot Fuschia

Sean bought me way too much stuff while I was in class. The first day, we got back to the hotel and I found these two batts waiting for me, on top of the spindle he’d already bought me while we were perusing the vendors.

Then the next day, we came upon a wool picker. It was practically brand new, and the price was reasonable. However, when we went back to look at it after class, it had been sold. Oh well, there were lots of plans for pickers on the internet, and we were sure we could build one ourselves, given enough time.

Then I went to get my stuff out of the back of the van, and there was the picker! Sean really likes to pull off surprises and he really succeeded that time!  Look at the beautiful cloud of fiber ready for carding! 

This picker does not have a makers mark that I can see, but looks exactly like a Fancy Kitty swing picker. They haven’t made this model in 7 years, but this one looks brand new.  

I had a wonderful time. I can’t wait to go back next year! 

not much

I haven’t been up to a lot of knitting lately, although I continue to work on the sock I have been taking with me to Chad’s art class. I’ve just turned the heel, so I’m happy about that. What I have been working on is fiber prep and spinning.

When I first got my carder, I wanted it mainly for the blending capabilities, and it did that well. However, when I used it to card clean raw fiber, I was disapointed in the amount of noils in my fiber. At first I thought it was because of the fiber I was using. THe only fleece I had to card was the fiber that we had sheared off of Ivy and Tootles, and everytime I tried to card it it just ended up horrible.

So I haven’t used the carder in a while, it has sat in my room and I have even thought of selling it once in a while and just buying another pair of hand cards. With all this angora fur sitting around though, I began to think that maybe I needed to give it another try. Angora fiber used by itself here in OK wouldn’t be very wearable except for the coldest of days. So last week I got it out and took it apart and cleaned it really well. I oiled it, and put it back together, and then started carding. This is what I have learned.

In order to blend the two fibers (Ivy’s wool and angora fiber) it worked best if I first carded a half the total wool I was using for each batt. Then I would card on the entire amount of angora for the batt, then the other half of the wool. This sandwiched the fly away angora between the much easier to handle wool. Then I would split each batt in half, and then half again, and feed each 1/4th onto the drum slowly. After peeling that off again, I would repeat the process. Each batt was carded three times.

Then, as I was reading during a coffee break (with all that cranking, I needed a coffee break!) I saw a comment that in order to blend the color of the wool and get uniform color throughout, you should blend a part of each batt into one batt. So I took the four batts I had made, split each into fourths again, and then carded 1/4th of each batt into one uniform batt. Then I repeated the process 3 more times before I was done with the carding and ready to start spinning.

I have been trying to break myself of the habit of spinning super fine. If my fingers are left to their own devices, that is exactly what they do. They spin a single that is so fine that even plied it is going to take forever to knit something with it. I wanted this yarn to be a sport weight, but I still think it is too fine. I’m hoping it will really bloom when I wash it, and be much thicker than it looks like it is going to be.

I will probably dye this once I have it all spun and plied. I did not like the results I had when I dyed angora before it was spun, it really snarled things up. I don’t really have a project in mind for this yarn either, but I am getting quite a collection of natural colored yarns that I have spun, and I am thinking it might be nice to have something made out of them. Maybe a shawl made on the tri-loom? Still thinking about it.

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