Saturday, October 25, 2008

Banana Blue

I like the yarn I spun from some bright blue/purple corriedale cross fiber I got at Webs in Northampton, Massachusetts. The shade of blue is a lot like bananas under UV light - wow! Check out
The yarn was spun on my Louet Victoria wheel, and plied on my Ashford traditional double drive. I plied it using the Navajo ply technique and it resulted in about 12 plied twists per inch in the yarn.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Slippery Purple Slope

I am currently spinning this fiber, which I got from Webs in Northampton, Massachusetts in September. Wow, it's slippery stuff - a bit more challenging than spinning corriedale. Unfortunately I am not sure of the fiber blend. The color combination is pretty. It isn't making a variegated yarn, so I don't intend to Navajo ply it. I think this will be one where I ply two singles together. Webs, um, well, Web page is Lots of goodies on the site. Before you are tempted, be sure you have reaffirmed that you DO NOT NEED ANOTHER SPINNING WHEEL...

Friday, October 17, 2008


A milestone - I completed my first garment (okay, accessory really) out of my own handspun. It's brown and white fiber, spun rather unevenly. I forgive myself for that since it was one of my initial attempts at spinning. The benefit was that it had a rustic tweedy look when I knit it up. I didn't have much of it so I decided to make a simple hat. Being very textured yarn it looked best in stockinette stitch. Here is the picture - the hat modeled on its new owner, my very own brother Ed. He was very gracious about accepting it as a gift (thanks, bro!). He recognized it as a toque. Below is the picture of the yarn I knit it from.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Spinning at Great Falls

Once again great weather on Monday, and we celebrated the holiday spinning al fresco at Great Falls National Park, Virginia. Laura and I fielded questions from lots of curious folks. We can only hope that we are sparking a spinning revolution (get it? hah!). We were both spinning wool blend with some Corriedale. And (surprise), neither of us is quite sure what we will make out of the yarn we are spinning.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Spinning at Arts Safari

The wonderful weather Saturday made it a great day to volunteer at the Arts Safari at the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria, VA. The description of the event is at:
Members of Fluff `n Nonsense demonstrated spinning and gave kids an opportunity to try it out for themselves.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

One-Handed Technique

At the show in Montpelier, I saw an interesting book, Spinning for Softness and Speed, by Paula Simmons. Interesting concepts, basically focusing on avoiding using fingers to pinch the yarn and control the twist. Instead, allow the fiber to twist with the wheel and use only one hand to draft the yarn back, ahead of the twist so the twist doesn't go into the source. You can read more in the book itself about the advantages of this approach. Basically, the author states that it allows faster spinning, and automatically avoids overtwist, making the yarn softer.
I tried the technique - during the presidential "town hall" debate, no less! I found it difficult, and still hadn't gotten it after a couple of hours. The yarn frequently just separated so it was pulled into the bobbin and I was left holding the fiber. The main problem may have been with my tension - I was using my Ashford Traditional double drive, which makes it a little difficult to fine-tune the speed at which the wheel is taking up the fiber. I tried using different amounts of fiber to draft/spin. My end product was uneven, unfortunately. I think I'll be persistent, and try it out on my Louet Victoria, which has Scotch tension. Here is a photo of my initial attempt:

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Use the Force!!

Flash of insight - you can use your wheel (probably) as a tensioned lazy kate!! I found it a big help while practicing more Navajo plying. Using the wheel, I took off the drive band and put on my bobbin with the singles, with the Scotch tension on the bobbin. I set up my other wheel to ply on. It worked great, holding at bay the twisty curlicues that were so bothersome when I was doing the Navajo plying previously. The flyer on the wheel I was using as a kate didn't move as I pulled the yarn during plying.

Fluff `n Nonsense at Barnes and Noble

The Fluff `n Nonsense group met at Barnes and Noble on Monday October 6. The alcove we were allocated was great, and had a nice big table. About 10 people showed up and there was time for round-robin introductions. It looks so serious, but really, NOT.

Montpelier Fiber Festival

We had a great time at the Montpelier Fiber Festival Sunday October 5th. There were plenty of vendors, but the crowds were not overwhelming. The weather was great. I really want to thank Misty Mountain Farms for letting us set up for some spinning in their tent. The photos: Sue (in the dark sweater), Justin and me, practicing spinning, and an alpaca.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Means, Motive and Opportunity

If you know cats, you'll understand. I thought it was safe, I was just going to step out for a minute. Sure, I was in the middle of plying but they won't bother it, WILL they? Only to return to it - wrapped around my chair ... inspiring this warped version of a song by the Bobs, "There's a nose ring in my soup":

I’ve never touched a more fabulous fiber
Compliments on the yarn
The softness is better than yak from the Khyber
The twist is just right, so balanced and nice

I’m not used to Navajo plying
What way to loop the yarn next?
Counter clockwise, my wheel really flying
But one thing is strange that I wish I could change

There is cat spit in this yarn
There is cat spit in this yarn
And the slime of it is giving me pause
Was the singles gnawed by some tiny jaws?
There is cat spit in this yarn

You must listen to the original (abridged):
(click on the speaker picture)
The official Bobs site is - the lyrics to Nose Ring are there, direct link is

Thursday, October 2, 2008


Color is important to me when I choose fiber. It's the first thing that catches my eye. But what color yarn will I get? The colors turn out somewhat muted, because they blend as they're spun together. The fiber in the first picture is very bright, but once it's spun it's not quite as bright, as you can see in the second picture. If you ply the yarn, the method of plying the yarn makes a difference too. With variegated color as shown in the photos, the Navajo plying method preserves the color gradation - a transition from one color to the next. Navajo plying creates a three-ply yarn, as in the third picture. Variegated fiber plied as a two-ply yarn creates an effect with a blend of contrasting complementary colors. Washing changes the color of the yarn too, because quite a bit of dye can come out.
Though it's not obvious, perhaps you can see in the photos the subtle change in color from the original fiber to the spun yarn and then the Navajo-plied yarn (the final product).
For more on the Navajo plying method, check out the video on