Thursday, September 25, 2014

Winding Yarn

Clock reel gears
Winding yarn into a hank can be a pain, literally. A niddy noddy can be exhausting to use if there is a lot of yarn. Enter the antique clock reel. I found mine on Craigslist and it wasn't very expensive. The ones that I've seen range in condition from barn fresh to pristine. I'd say mine spent some serious time in the barn. When shopping, all you really need to check is whether the thing winds. It isn't hard to count and 2 yards is pretty standard for one rotation. Mine has a weasel that still pops and does so after every 40 turns (80 yards). It won't reset though so the pop is just a novelty. Don't discount these oldies; mine sees daily use and is still going strong. 

Clock reel

While we are on the topic of winding yarn, I thought I might provide a few definitions:

1. Hank: this is the yarn off of the reel; it is tied in several places and twisted for storage.
2. Skein: this is a mill spun preparation.  They come in cocoon shapes and may be center pull.
3. Cake: these cute little pats of yarn come from a ball winder. They are usually round tubes that are flat on the top and bottom.
4. Swift: As in the umbrella type. They come in many shapes but all serve the same purpose, to hold a hank of yarn so that in can be wound into a ball (by hand) or a cake (ball winder).
5. Clock Reel: see above. Finished yarn is wound onto these and the niddy noddy.
6. Niddy noddy:  Turned wood (or other material; I made one from PVC pipe) in the shape of a capital "I" that fresh yarn is wound onto and into a hank.
7. Ball Winder: Used to wind yarn from a swift into a usable preparation like a cake. Different winders may make different shapes.

Many of these definitions and tools are used interchangeably. Here's one way to remember: Yarn is spun onto a bobbin, then wound off onto a clock reel or niddy noddy and into a hank. The hank goes onto the swift and is wound into a usable preparation with a ball winder.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A Place for Everything

Coat rack for project bags
And everything in its place. Well, I've made a few more steps in my seemingly endless attempts to organize.  Organize might be too strong a word, declutter might be a better description. In any event, I can't work when there is a mess around me. Here a few of the things I've done to confine the clutter; maybe you can use one or two:
Metal shelves for bags of fiber and yarn
(Yeah, in the dining room)

Rolling table for the mS

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Sterling Fair

Mt. Wachusett in the background

Joshua the Camel

Giant Veggie Contest

Sid the Ox

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


The end of the peach season has arrived here in New England. A mere ten weeks and it's over. Freezing peaches works wonderfully and is really easy. There are directions out there for canning them but this method is so much easier.

Cut a small slit in the bottom of each peach and drop them into boiling water in manageable batches (say 5 or 6). Wait for about thirty seconds and remove them with a slotted spoon into a giant bowl of ice water. Peel them(the peel just slides off) and slice them off the pit into another bowl*. After you get them all done, ladle them into zip bags, squeeze to get most of the air out and pop them into the freezer. They will last through until the next peach season. This method works equally well for tomatoes.

I've done both tomatoes and peaches this year and I know I'll be glad when there's snow on the ground.

*Peaches turn brown when they are exposed to air. Add some fresh lemon juice to prevent this and, if they do turn brown, they still taste great.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Works in Progress

It occurred to me that I hadn't taken pictures of all the current spinning works in progress. These are yarns that I've spun from various fleeces. I have an end use in mind for all of the yarn*. For example,  Hector, a Jacob sheep, will be a sweater; the brown Bond will be a scarf. Icepick, (another Jacob) will be a shawl and etc., etc.....

* Until I change my mind.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Travis and Jake

Poor Travis in his e-collar. We are hoping that he'll leave his foot alone and we can set him free at the end of the week.

Here's Jake; looks like he has a cigarillo.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Before you buy another bobbin for your spinning wheel......

Consider buying a bobbin winder. These are more typically used for weaving but they are a boon for the hand spinner. First, if you have an antique wheel (I have a CPW), it probably came with only one bobbin*. It costs around fifty dollars to get a new bobbin made and while it is being made, you'll be without your wheel because the wood turner will probably need the flyer assembly to make a bobbin that actually fits. Using a bobbin winder and weaving spools or bobbins for storage allows me to spin as many singles as I need for plying on the CPW.  Even a modern spinning wheel bobbin can be pricey; the Aura's are about fifty dollars

Another reason to invest in a bobbin winder is the improvement in plied yarns rewound bobbins afford. There are folks who have been spinning way longer than I and who know way more about spinning than I ever will. They recommend winding off to storage bobbins and plying from those. The action of winding off leaves you with a neat and tightly wound bobbin from which to ply and gives you a chance to even out the twist in a single.

Cost? I got my winder from Fiber Artists' Supply for about $65.00. The bobbins are Leclerc styrene spools from Webs....they are about four dollars.  So, for about the same cost as a new bobbin for my CPW, I have a winder and a bunch of spools and I make a better yarn. Seems like a bargain to me.

*My CPW probably had only one bobbin when it was new. On the flyer arms, there are visible grooves where yarn rubbed the wood as it was wound yarn directly off the bobbin. I recall reading somewhere that the bobbin was rarely removed from these wheels.