Sunday, June 21, 2015

Using Art Yarn

In addition to spinning fine yarn, I do love to spin art or novelty yarns. I understand that a lot of folks don't use the fun and funky art yarns because they are at a loss as to how/ where to use them. One of my favorite blogs "Fibery Goodness" posted about this very topic this morning: But what do you do with it? Do take a look 'cause there are so many ways to use chunky, bulky yarns. Here's a pattern that I'm knitting now: High Flying Kit Art Yarn Shawl.

Art yarn is great featured as an accent.  For example, find a simple scarf or cowl pattern and a yarn that coordinates with your art yarn. Just add a row or two here and there and you'll have a unique piece. If you weave, a row or two of art yarn is great fun. You can even use an art yarn as a floating weft. How about crocheting (with fine crochet thread) a fringed yarn to collars or cuffs? A row or two of art yarn would be fun as an addition to the body of a hat. There are loads of way to use the stuff and it surely can add some dash to a lot of different projects.

Friday, June 19, 2015

It bears repeating....

Yesterday, I answered a question that someone had posted about a spinning wheel on Facebook. Someone had found a wheel for a song and wanted to know whether it was worth buying. Short answer? No. Long answer: the wheel was one of those Canadian SWSO's (spinning wheel shaped objects) that shows up pretty often. I'm NOT an expert but I did recognize the wheel. Anyway, I thought it might be worth trying to pull together some resources that I've enjoyed about buying a used, vintage or antique wheel.

First, my two cents. If you are one of those folks (like me) that enjoy the aesthetics of a wheel and need to like the look of the thing, don't buy one that doesn't appeal to you. You probably won't use it. Second, I believe you can learn to spin on an antique. People learned to spin on those wheels when they were new and you learn on one now. I'm not saying that it will be as easy as some of the "beginner" wheels out there but it can be done. Next, I strongly recommend against buying an old wheel that needs parts. Sure, you might be able to find a wheelwright to make an extra bobbin (about $60.00) but a flyer- bobbin assembly is usually specific to an old wheel and will cost about $250.00 to replace. Last and most importantly, do your homework. Read everything. Learn the anatomy of a spinning wheel; learn the terms, the abbreviations, join a guild, visit a shop that sells wheels, join a Ravelry group, a Facebook group, find a local spinner who can help......just study and learn. A wheel is a pretty big investment and worth every effort in picking one that is right for you and actually spins.

Here's a list with a few resources. This list is certainly not all inclusive and isn't in any particular order:

1. Abby Franquemont is a great teacher and a lifelong spinner:

2. This video by Abby is a must watch:

3.      of-antique-spinning-wheels/

4. This is link to a great group on Ravelry. These are nice folks with loads of knowledge that they are happy to share:

5. Another great group on Ravelry; this one specific to CPW's (Canadian Production Wheel):

6.  And still another great Ravelry group:

7. Here's a list of spinning guilds by state:                

8. A list of fiber events. There are wheels to see and people to meet:

9. Amelia Garopoli is another long time spinner with a great blog; "Ask the Bellwether":               wheel.html#.VYPc8vlViko

Lastly, don't forget the library. There are tons of books on spinning and even if your library doesn't have the one you want, they can probably get it on loan from another library. The bottom line? Do your homework and you'll stand a much better chance of getting a great wheel.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Tools that I love....

Yep, it usually looks about like this when I'm working.
DH asked me this morning which of the spinning things that litter our home is my favorite. I had to think about that. Alot. Spinning wheels didn't count so that did narrow things down but not by much. I defined "favorite" by most useful and here's the list that I came up with:

1. Drum carders (Pat Green/ Fancy Kitty)It is so much easier to drum card than to hand card. My old hands just aren't up to much hand carding.

2. Reel winder (antique);
Like my hands, my shoulder doesn't work like it used to so a niddy noddy was tough. The old reel cost very little and I wouldn't trade it for anything. I just count the rotations because the weasel isn't reliable.

3. Spool rack (Leclerc);
All those bobbins have a home! The rack holds all of them with room for more. It is a dream to use for plying as a sort of kate and the bobbin winder attaches to the top.

4 Bobbin winder and styrene spools (Fiber Artists' Supply and Leclerc);
You really do get a better yarn if you wind a single off the bobbin and onto a spool before plying. These two sure do make the job faster.

5. Pat Green flicker brush;
Cleaning a drum carder is just one of those jobs where you gotta do it and it isn't any fun; this brush helps.

6. Umbrella swift (Stanwood);
Makes unwinding a skein a breeze; nothing tangles and so much easier than a chair back.

7. Ball winder (Royal);
Better than I can make and a whole lot tidier to use yarn prepared into a cake than something I wound into a ball.

These are the tools that I use all the time and would hate to live without. As I look at the list, I suppose the reason that they make the list is that they are labor savers.  I got along without each item in the list for a long time and accomplished the same tasks but having them around surely does make the job of getting yarn made a whole lot easier.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Drive Bands

My dream wheel was always a 30 inch Schacht Reeves in cherry. After a lot of saving, a got one about a year ago. It is a thing of beauty but we just didn't click; my CPW was just way more fun for me because it has a more aggressive take up.  I was complaining about it and my friend, Lisa, suggested I change the drive band. Well, first, wishing I'd thought of that myself, I started trying different material the second that I could. I tried hemp first. The hemp is the kind that is used for stringing jewelry and it was perfect; nice and grabby and gave me the take up that I like. Big problem? Noisy. Really. Noisy. And, I really can't stand a noisy wheel.

Next, I tried some candle wick (size 2/0). Pretty good but too thick for the wheel. So, off to order something thinner from Amazon and retie the original drive band. I ran a candle over the band which helped a ton.  Now, I wait for Amazon to deliver a thinner candle wick.

Tying a drive band is a pain but it really isn't that hard.  Here's how I do it:

1. Cut a 6 yard length of material (this is plenty for most wheels and leaves plenty to tie). If you know the length needed, cut to size and add 6 or so extra inches for the knot.

2. Tear off a couple of pieces (an inch or so) of masking tape and put them someplace handy so you can get them easily,

3. Remove the flyer/ bobbin assembly. Move the MOA as close to the wheel as it will go,

4. Wrap the end of the band around an upright twice so you'll  have two big loops,

5. Tie the two ends of the band very loosely,

6. Pull the band into two equal loops,

7. Loosely tape the loops to the drive wheel in a couple of places,

8. Get the flyer/ bobbin assembly back on the wheel and make sure the drive band goes over the assembly,

9. Untie the loose knot and pull until the drive band is tight over the whorls (the tape should fall off easily),

10. Tie a square knot and ta da!

I use a tiny drop of white glue on the knot and let it dry completely before trimming the ends. You can run the knot and/ or band with candle wax or beeswax now that it is on the wheel, should you desire.