Fun With Spinning Batts

I have been experimenting with creating  batts on my new drum carder.  I haven’t made an ugly one yet, I actually don’t think it’s possible.


IMG_5699 IMG_5704 IMG_5715  Here are some yarns I’ve recently spun from my batts.  The top and bottom were done on a hand spindle, the middle one on my wheel.

IMG_5678 IMG_5711 IMG_5740

A few tips to get started:

Let the batt be the yarn it wants to be.  Don’t get hung up on spinning a super thin, super smooth yarn.  This is the time for having fun with the chunky, highly textured art yarn you’ve been wanting to create.

My favorite easy and quick method for spinning a batt on a hand spindle is to tear it in strips, predraft the strips, roll them into balls, and then spin them one by one.  Depending on the batt you can break off where needed to blend a different color or fiber into the yarn.  If desired, you can pull out little sections while predrafting and put them aside to add at strategic points.

Check out this guest post from Carla Hansen, she’s an expert spinner with lots of in depth advice on different techniques.  Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed.  Just begin!

If you’ve always wanted to play with spinning batts, but didn’t really know how to get started, or if you’ve tried them in the past and didn’t love the yarn you got, I urge you to try now.  Here’s a link to the batts in my etsy store, but there are many beautiful batts available all over Etsy.  Pick one and get started.  Have fun and be open to the beautiful, unique results!

Advertisements

Spinning And Dyeing Yarn – A Book Review

I ran across this wonderful book by Ashley Martineau at my local library.

spinning and dyeing yarn

I love it and think it’s a must for all beginning spinners. My five top reasons are:

  1. Great instruction on building your own fiber equipment, including a spinning wheel, drying rack, kick spindle (must try!),  and a niddy noddy. She even shows how to build a sturdy lightbox that will store things waiting to be photographed. Lots of fun for the do it yourself crowd, and you won’t need to invest much money until you know you really enjoy spinning.
  2. Directions on spinning fabric.  I want to try that, I have lots of fat quarters and bits of quilting fabric piled up with no particular plan for their use.
  3. Information on core spinning, including on a hand spindle!  I highly recommend starting to spin on a hand spindle.  The portability is wonderful and its so inexpensive to get going.
  4. Clear directions on washing wool.  I want to buy a fleece (or two) this year and process it myself, just for the fun of it.  I’ve been hesitating because I was intimidated about washing it.  Will I felt it?  Will I get it clean enough? How do I even begin?  These clear instructions make it look pretty straight forward.
  5. The inspiration factor – there are dozens of pictures of gorgeous fibers.  Yarns, roving, batts, it’s all here.  If these colors and textures don’t make you want to immediately begin nuzzling your fiber, maybe you aren’t quite as crazy in love with fiber as I am.

Five stars for this book.  Its perfect for beginners and a great resource for those looking to up their game and try new techniques.  Clear instructions, excellent pictures and even a section on going pro make this a winner.  This one deserves a spot in your fiber library.

This post’s fiber picture is something new.  We’ve recently begun making spinning batts.  Here’s a lovely one, its now available in my Etsy shop.

IMG_5614

 

Spinning Once Again

I went to a spinning mini-class last weekend at my local favorite crackhouse for fiber addicts spinning shop, The Trading Posts for Fiber Arts. The teacher, spinning/knitting/yarn queen, Kate Larson, got me spinning again, and she gave me helpful personalized instruction on using my Ashford Traveller spinning wheel.   She helped me change my drive band (well, she did it and I watched carefully), showed me how to tighten things up, helped me oil all the right spots and generally just made me a lot more comfortable with my wheel. I spun up some pretty, muted yarn (a very small skein measuring about 69 yards), bought some dyed merino top in a gorgeous deep blue and purple colorway and just had a fabulous time.

The ladies present were quite amusing conversationalists.  Subjects ranged from Abraham Lincoln’s probable Marfan’s Syndrome to traditional Norwegian socks.  Apparently, these socks have a very colorful cuff, then a toothed pattern underneath that, and the rest of the sock (the foot) is white.  This is so any man other than your husband sees only the “teeth” at the bottom of your (long) dress.  Witty stuff.  We all laughed at that.

Eventually I wandered upstairs to the yarn sale area, and came away with lots of skeins of Cascade Eco Duo, my current favorite yarn in the world.  Watch for lots of pretty shawls, scarfs, and maybe an entrelac out of those. All in all, a very educational, entertaining and productive day. And then yesterday, I got out my wheel again.  First I plied some singles I had.  What do you think?  This colorway was called Birch.  I love the little gray parts, it really does remind me birch trees in summer.  I’ll be keeping this yarn for my greedy little self.

Birch yarn

And I found two other little single sections.  Here is one, shown with the Birch plied yarn.  I clearly have a thing for green and purple.

Purple-y Single

After that I spun 2 delicious singles in the new rich blue/purple colorway.  Just need to ply them, and then they will be available for purchase in the Etsy store.  Watch for pictures of that yarn soon.

All in all, I’d say I’m back on track with spinning.  I do find it difficult to take it up again after I haven’t used my wheel for a long time.  Not sure why, maybe just because I’m not a terribly experienced spinner and it’s kind of technical.  Need to remember my advice from my last post about practice making things easier.

I’m wondering what to do with small left over singles.  I’d love to hear what ideas other spinners have about those.  Please help a fellow spinner out and share in the comments.

Winter Grapes and Making Choices

I just finished a new hand spun yarn.  It makes me think of fat and juicy red, purple and green grapes!

Grapes Hand Spun Yarn

I’m really pleased with it.  It was very difficult for me to decide how to spin it.  I was torn between long color changes (think Noro!), or something more barber pole-y.  Barber pole won, as you see.  I just love the bright contrasts I get with this type of yarn.  It’s a very traditional “hand spun” look.

I spun this on my Ashford Traveller and I really loved working with these colors once I finally made a choice on how to do it.

I have a bit of a problem making choices.  It’s quite difficult for me to choose one thing from a long list of options.  It’s hard for me to let go of all the other possibilities, and that’s what has to happen when I choose one thing.

I used to have a very, very hard time in restaurants with huge menus.  It’s much easier now since I just look at the vegan friendly choices.  And, in Indiana, it’s usually a very limited number of items on any menu – so that makes it much easier for me.

I find I rarely eat out anymore; I used to love to dine out, but it isn’t the same now, I sit there looking at the menu thinking “I can make nicer things much more cheaply (and pretty easily) at home”.  So, I’ve found that we just don’t go out very often now.

However, if I lived in a city with lots of fabulous vegan eateries, I’d be at a restaurant all the time!

So, the grape yarn is in my Etsy shop already.  Go take a look if you want to see a few more pictures of it.  It really is luscious!

Let me know how you like it.

New Year’s Resolutions Indigo Kitty Style

I’m not normally one to make any kind of New Year’s resolutions, but I’ve been thinking about what I’d like to learn and accomplish in the upcoming year. Here’s a preliminary list.

Fair Isle – I picked up a gorgeous book at Half Price Books the other day, called Colorwork Creations. It’s subtitled Knit woodland inspired hats, mittens and gloves.
Here’s the cover
ColorworkCreations
Charming, right?  There are so many lovely patterns inside, for example chickadees, butterflies, ducks, cardinals, snowflakes.  Hard to choose one to start with!

I did purchase a kit from Knitpicks a while back for the bright woodland mitts. That seems like a good starting point for my fair isle adventures. I have a knitting date with my friend Wendy, who is a Fair Isle Queen for Jan 3.  Starting this project right out of the gate!

Here is a picture (from Knitpicks site) of the mitts.
woodland mitts

I’d also like to do more spinning and become more expert in using my Ashford Traveler spinning wheel.

Then there’s  hand dyeing fiber.  My business partner, the wonderful and brilliant Cheryl, gave me a very nice book for my birthday about dyeing.  It’s The Handbook of Natural Plant Dyes.  This looks like a lot of fun.  I plan to dye yarn and roving using acorns, coffee, blackberries, red cabbage and more.

Here’s the cover.

handbook of natural plant dyes

What a great gift!

Did you know you can use dandelion root to dye fiber red?  I’ll be paying the kids to get me some roots in the spring (and making the lawn look a bit better).   I can’t wait to get started!

I’d like to knit more fingerless gloves, we have a goal to have 50 pairs ready for next winter.  They are big sellers for us and a fun and easy knit too.

I want to write a pattern for a lace shawl and some cabled and lace cowls.  So many pattern ideas, I could probably work 24 hours a day and still have stuff rattling around in my brain!

And all those things should keep me busy for a good part of the year.

Wishing all my readers the best for a happy, healthy and prosperous 2013.  Keep on knitting (and spinning, and dyeing, and crocheting)!

Christmas Shopping

Today I plan to do a bit of Christmas shopping while the kids are all at school.  I have my list, and I’ve checked it twice – so, off I go.

I find it quite amusing that my husband is asking for make-up (a stage make-up kit).  I never thought I’d live to see that!

My Christmas list includes a jumbo flyer for my Ashford spinning wheel.  Today I plan to email my family a link to the one I need.  Otherwise they won’t have any idea which one to buy, and I’m sure to get the right one – hinting is good, right?

For those of you who have been thinking about ordering from the Indigo Kitty Knits Etsy shop this might be the time – we have free shipping this weekend.  This will be the last free shipping before Christmas, so if you’ve been on the fence – the time is now!  Use coupon code HAPPYHOLIDAYS2012.

There are lots of fingerless mitts, which are very affordable and so practical.  I wear my mitts all the time; it’s so convenient to be able to adjust the radio, clip on the leash, open my coffee or answer my phone without taking off my gloves. There are also many scarves, cowls, shawls, and even a hat (in Noro, of course).  You are sure to find something just right for those who like color, or neutrals, or lace, or fuzzy things, or smooth things – well, you get the idea.

Here is one more new thing in the Etsy shop that I’ve not posted on the blog yet.  It’s a pointy shawlette/scarf made of Noro (of course!).  This yarn is Silver Thaw,  which is unfortunately discontinued.  It’s wool, angora and a little nylon.  The drape and feel are lovely!  This is my current fave yarn in the world.

silver thaw wingspan

Noro has such great names for their yarns!  Did you know that Kureyon (which is probably their most popular yarn) means crayon in Japanese?  Silver Thaw makes me think of a winter woodland  full of birdsong just beginning to melt as the sun comes out after an ice storm.  Great imagery and fantastic yarns!

A Visit to the Woolkeepers

Saturday I went with some friends to the Woolkeepers 9th Annual Hook In.  They hold this rug hooking festival/shopping event in a beautiful old church camp now used as a conference center.  It’s been beautifully maintained (possibly restored) and it was a gorgeous venue.  The weather was marvelous, cool and sunny – a real change of pace from our torturous summer.

Most of the booths concentrated on primitive style rug supplies and muted colors, but there were a lot of great things to see for people like me who love bright colors.

I really loved this flower.  It reminds me of a big, flat, rather abstract sunflower.

I’d like to try making knitted roses (camellias?).


There were a lot of very complex rugs in the rug show.  This is my favorite “fun” rug.   I love the whiskers!

And my favorite “artistic” rug (I am making up these categories).

I absolutely adore the way the artist shows the locks of the sheep using swirly color.

My favorite felted item was this great little handbag.  Beautiful, bright colors – I’d carry this (if I didn’t need a small suitcase to lug around all my junk).

There were two spinners, and one was only about 20 years old.  She was spinning art yarn, it was engrossing to watch her.  I learned a lot from standing there observing for just 10 minutes!  Here’s a peek at her bobbin.

It was great to see a young artist like that!  Overcome those stereotypes of fiber artists as middle aged ladies with long gray hair – that idea of spinners, dyers, knitters and crocheters really burns me!

Vendors had some Christmas things out, and I liked these ornaments.  I did not buy a kit as I do not have the patience or skills to make it.

I loved this sign.  Seriously considered buying it, but thought my family might think I meant it (I do).

I enjoyed wandering around the area where some artists were hooking rugs, the skill and design sense on display was inspiring!

Wondering what I bought?  Nothing!  I looked through a table of vintage linens hoping to find a nice apron, or maybe a tablecloth to use as a background for shooting photos of finished yarns or knitted items.  No luck – nothing was quite right.  I did see a darling nightstand scarf that had a little black and white doggy holding a sign that said “Welcome Guest”, but as I have no guest room, that seemed a bit unnecessary.

The linens table threw me back in time to the days when I spent hours during summer vacation embroidering dresser scarves, pillow cases and dishtowels.  When I was growing up in the 60s and early 70s embroidery was taught to a lot of us girls by our mothers and grandmothers, as were knitting and crochet.  I was decent at embroidery and actually enjoyed doing it, but I refused to get into knitting or crochet.  I finally learned to knit when I was 49 and am still only a very mediocre crocheter.

My former mother in law tried to teach me to knit in the mid-80s, but she was a thrower and that just did not work for me, I just could not develop the coordination needed.  My mother finally convinced me to try again, but – she is a continental knitter and that I found I could manage.  It makes me a bit sad that I didn’t learn until I was almost 50 (all those years wasted!), but there’s nothing to be done about it…

On  our way home we stopped for lunch in the Mass Ave shopping/restaurant district.  We noticed something funny in the upstairs window of the place we ate.  Can you see it?

There is a lamp made of a leg in one of the windows.  Not for me – no body part furnishings in my house, please.  But it is funny and gets plenty of attention, I’m sure.

And no visit to the Mass Ave area of Indy would be complete without a visit to

I bought nothing here also, as I made a bit of a pig at myself at lunch.  The Chatham Tap has a massive black bean burger and I stuffed myself eating the whole thing and almost all the home made potato chips too.  It was very, very nice!  The burger was moist and flavorful, and not overly salty, which I find restaurant food often is.

I did get the old mystery spinning wheel Saturday, but no back story yet.   Waiting for a call from the owner/finder.  Hope the phone rings soon!