UndyedYarnpire’s Fiber Opera

December 31, 2009

Dragon spindle pictures

Filed under: equipment, spin — Tags: , , — UndyedYarnpire @ 12:25 pm

Spindle pictures:

From spindle
From spindle

I am extremely pleased with my spindle. This is the Woolly Designs Hollow Whorl “Dragon” spindle hand carved by Tracy Eichheim. I paid $70.65 including shipping. The ordering process is awkward. Check or money order only. One must email a stranger and ask for permission to order. It was extremely uncomfortable for me to initiate contact when the website said they were closed but would be open “in fall”.

There is no fixed price list where one can differentiate the difference in features or price between hollow whorl and rim styles. There are prices for some/most of the motifs, but I made my selection partially based on visible prices. (I am an ardent believer in “If you have to ask, you cannot afford it.”) The Dragon is one of the most expensive motifs. Eichheim has bargain spindles that are under $30 (“Hearts” and “Comets”) and shipping is flat for up to 5 spindles. (I should have ordered one of those as well. More is often better.)

Mr. Tracy Eichheim was personable and friendly enough to chat with me via email; he responded to some of my asides that I include everywhere. I often think that I prefer things where one can just order by clicking and inserting a credit card number, but I know I got the best suited spindle because I was encouraged to ask questions. The people who are sour and bitter and resentful of the time it takes to answer your questions but who do not have automated ordering are much worse than this was.

It was very stressful to send someone a check to reserve a place in the work queue. I guess I am paranoid, but I asked myself what happens to the money if something happened to the craftsman. I need not have worried. My spindle showed up exactly when it had been predicted to arrive. (Both the estimate at ordering and the shipping estimate with tracking number.)

I really do like my spindle. I am very glad I ordered it. I would have been happier if I could have clicked a button to order it instead of feeling like I was begging for a chance to buy one and there was such a shortage that other people would cry without one. When Tracy told me there were a bunch of orders already waiting but he might be able to fit me in before the end of the year, I really felt like I was getting the last dolly in the toy store window while a dozen orphan girls looked on with sad faces pressed against the glass. I had to be talked into sending the check because I do not like when my unique purchase comes pre-wrapped in guilt. Finally my husband said, “All those other people are too slow. They can buy spindles from that lame place [Ashford].”

The dragon carving is beautiful. I took a number of pictures just to show that off. The hook at the top is slightly bent toward the notch so the yarn goes perfectly straight up. The hook is so securely mounted that I would suspect welding had I not asked. (Eichheim described the various glues he uses when I asked. I did get a lot out of the pre-ordering discussion as much as I wished it could have been omitted.) There are a lot of really excellent details in this spindle’s construction. I think it is under-valued and should cost more than it does. Though if I had spent $135 on this, I would have expected low VOC varnish (less reeky) and non-styrofoam packing peanuts and credit card processing.

There are people who name their spinning wheels. I have not named mine. My Fricke wheel has always been a tool and I would not name it any more than I would name my breakfast fork. My spindle, however, wanted a name. If you want to guess, I would be entertained.

December 27, 2009

End of the holiday weekend, what was spun and done.

Filed under: equipment, fiber, patterns, spin — Tags: , , — UndyedYarnpire @ 11:13 pm

Having a real spindle really does make a difference. My Eichheim spindle (hollow whorl dragon) spins practically forever.  It spins long enough and fast enough that I can get fingering singles from head to floor. If I was standing on a scaffold, I would not need to stop even then. It weighs next to nothing so I can actually spin tiny singles without experiencing the “drop” in drop-spindle. I am quite pleased. The brick-like spindles I tried at [hack, spit] Yarn School sell for $20. This was $70 with shipping. It is definitely worth the difference in price.

So far the negatives are the long wait times and the whorl size being just large enough that I am having trouble finding a non-awkward basket for it. There will definitely be pictures, but please wait.

Pre-drafted and spun half of the overdyed SW BFL fiber. Found a shaped hood pattern using short rows, am thinking about making this mottled green yarn into a “Robin Hood”, but that might change after plying.  I was so excited by the hood thing that I actually printed it. My relationship with my printer is contentious, so that is a big deal. It has been easier to load PDFs onto my phone and view them that way, which says something.

Someone should write a sock book that promises HUGE charts and no purling. While I had the printer going, I figured I would print out some other things. I have dozens of sock patterns faved and apparently it was from before I had actually made socks because they are all ridiculously complicated motifs.

I will probably end up charting my own variant of the Monkey chart. Between the no-purl, offset, no-hole versions, I am not sure what I want. I rather like the YO increases because it provides flexibility in fit. No purl is important.  I like the offset idea. Many of those options do not have a given chart, so I would end up creating it anyway.  There was an interesting double increase I found during the search, a V-inc. It combines the Right-leaning Increase (LRinc in Bordhi nomenclature, the “Riley” in mine) immediately followed by a Left-leaning Increase (LLinc/Leelee), without knitting the superlative stitch between. That was part of the no-hole version. The YO increase version has adjacent YOs and requires some machinations. I need my own chart.

Paradise Fibers sent me an email saying they are having a 10% off sale. I am thinking about buying some undyed things since I invested in the dyes already.

I did not end up receiving the Crown Mountain Farms fiber club from someone else whose credit cards are liked by paypal.  I guess there are still a few days left and I could call them myself.

I saw someone saying she was starting her dye work for Stitches. I do not think I am going to Stitches. There were a lot more fiber vendors last year compared to the year before, but the quality and value were a lot lower. I would like more Royal Hare, but the first year there were things like mottled brown… last year it was 6 shades of orange-pink or clown-costume. RedFish Dyeworks had some of the most phenomenal stuff I had ever seen my first year. And last year it was all garish and ugly. I was there Friday and a lot of popular places were picked over already from the people who had gone to the Thursday night preview.

That is it for tonight. I am hoping to get the pictures taken tomorrow. I have a basket full of things I should photograph, but holidays are a difficult time for projects requiring equipment and setup and a solid block of attention.

December 25, 2009

Finished gift.

Filed under: knit, toy — Tags: , , — UndyedYarnpire @ 12:32 pm

This is my chocolate bunny.

December 24, 2009

Status report.

Filed under: knit, spin — Tags: — UndyedYarnpire @ 11:17 am

Let me see. I feel like I finished knitting all the holiday stuff. Some of it went over so well that I got requests when I brought show and tell to knitting group.

I have been spinning. I spun 8 oz of “Avalon” corriedale pencil roving from Crown Mountain Farms (bought during the recent sale, for $17.60 plus shipping). It is a bulky-weight yarn and I am very pleased. This is far nicer corriedale than I have ever seen before.

I spun the purple fiber club shipment, with the 2oz of Falkland and 2oz of merino+angora. I plied that one single of each. There was leftover Falkland, so I wrapped some of it from a sparkly batt sample a friend gave me. The rest was Navajo plied. I had spun the Falkland looking for ~sport-weight yarn. The merino+angora was spun for worsted-weight. Normally I do not have that large of a mismatch from equal weights of fiber. But honestly, I struggle to spin merino very thinly. Merino has such a shorter staple-length compared to my usual fibers and I revert to inching along. Inching gets me puffier fiber that does not want to be twisted tightly.

I spun 2oz of tri-color alpaca roving from Alpacas in Wildcat Hollow. The tag gives the names of the animals whose fleece was shorn to make this roving. More VM than I am accustomed to, but an easy spin. It was so easy of a spin that I forgot to stop at the halfway point. I am trying to decide if I want to ply with a wool, if I want to n-ply, or if I should wind off onto another bobbin.

I have a ball of yarn on my desk now. It claims it wants to be a giraffe. I think I have a plan for how to construct a giraffe, so we might see if the yarn knows itself well.

No progress on the Mobius rainbow scarf thing. My enthusiasm waned after I botched the cast on and the yarn tried to melt during frogging. I have some n-plied coordinating yarn for the cast on edge now.

Some sweater progress. I have the first sleeve almost to yoke depth. The sleeve is provisionally cast on at a “short sleeve” length, so there is likely to be a lot more work remaining even after the second sleeve is ready to go. But the micro sweater I made (I am making a second one also) was good practice for the sleeve attachment and how to arrange round-neck yoke decreases. I feel like I know what I am doing.

I found the half finished sock from last February. I should finish those.

I found the needs-to-be-frogged sock toe in Mountain Colors’ Barefoot yarn. It was going to be that Wendy Johnson “Serpentine Sock” but will probably get converted to no-purl “Monkey”s even though I do not particularly like that motif. It is close to what I want and the socks will never get finished if there is purling in the texture. I am not against purling in general, but it bothers me in sock patterns. I am a very loose knitter. I loosen up even more in the transition between knit and purl normally. I have to fight my natural tension when knitting socks, constantly reminding myself to tighten up, but I do not think I could get it tight enough to compensate for the purl transition. Obviously this is not a huge problem structurally when there are already yarn-overs, but it really disturbs my mental retensioning.

My legs are cold. Wish my legwarmers had been ahead of the gifts, but since I shipped last Friday I would have regretted putting myself first.

Shipping notice on my spindle from Tracy Eichheim came Tuesday night. Tracking says it will be here today. I am sure there will be pictures of some of these things, but not today. ETA: arrived today (Thursday) afternoon. There will definitely be pictures.

Also ETA: predrafting the overdyed fiber from my recent dye experiments. I am incredibly abusive to my fiber, I managed to partially felt SW!

December 18, 2009

Finished, except the waiting at the post office.

Filed under: knit, toy — Tags: , , — UndyedYarnpire @ 1:02 pm

I finished all my holiday knitting. There was less this year than some years. I would say that is because I did not make unsolicited items, but I did. This was the year of the animals.

I am going to share the elephant pictures because the recipient does not yet use the internet.

From elephant

I brought it to the knitting group at the library and one of the librarians tried to buy it right then and there. (That was a bit weird.) The other librarian said I should do a show (they have “gallery” space for local artists). These are the same librarians who saw me with my first knitting projects. I started learning to knit from library books because I was ahead of the trend curve and there were no yarn stores. So these women saw me with the knitted equivalent of an adult with a macaroni collage. I got better. I know I did an awesome job on the elephant. Everyone has a sense of when they have “nailed it”. It makes me happy to see the improvement in my own work, but I do not really consider these “art”.

One of the librarians suggested that I sell knitted rabbits for Easter at the farmers market. She said I could probably get $25 for them. Aside from the fact that is a copyright violation. It took me at least 12 hours to make the first one. Even if it only took me 4 hours, and that is definitely the minimum considering how fiddly the pattern was, that is under minimum wage. Add in the overhead of having to have a tax license, the fees to the market for having a booth, the cost of materials, people who complain that they only want one if it comes in [insert favorite color]. I just cannot see it being worthwhile.

I think I would like to make a giraffe. The idea interests me. I think I should go to the zoo and take pictures of actual giraffes for inspiration. Admittedly the idea of going to the zoo and taking pictures of giraffes interests me a lot more than actually knitting the giraffe.

I also finished the giftcard holder sweater. I made this according to the round yoke directions in the book by Priscilla Gibson-Roberts, Knitting In the Old Way.

From micro sweater

December 8, 2009

CMF pictures.

Filed under: fiber, yarn — Tags: , , — UndyedYarnpire @ 6:20 pm

[click any thumbnail to be taken to the page with the larger photograph.]

The Adonis yarn I dislike, pictured with a dime for comparison because the picture with the Addi #00 needle was blurry:

The fiber, BFL:

The fiber, corriedale pencil:

December 7, 2009

My Peace of Mind made me Upset.

Filed under: yarn — Tags: — UndyedYarnpire @ 11:16 pm

My Crown Mountain Farms order arrived today. I ordered right when the sale was announced, was told there was going to be a delay while some items were dyed, but it shipped Saturday and arrived today.

I got 4 8oz bumps of BFL and 2 8oz bumps of corriedale pencil roving in various shades of blue. I also ordered a skein of Adonis sock yarn, which is 100% SW BFL. That is dyed a multi-color colorway called “Peace of Mind”.

The sock yarn is what I want to talk about. I am upset and disappointed. It has been my experience that “fingering” is developing a ridiculous variance as sock yarns become more popular. For the most part “sock yarn” knits at 8sts/inch. Almost all sock patterns want that. Therefore, sock yarn must have that gauge in its range.

I complained about the Knitpicks “Essential” which has now become “Stroll” sock yarn because I had to buy #0 needles and it looks like I will get 9sts/inch so I will have to do all my own math even though I have a specific pattern in mind for that yarn. The Knitpicks yarn is about half as thick as the Pagewood Farms sock yarn I used in my best socks to date.

The CMF Adonis “sock yarn” is about half as thick as the Knitpicks Stroll. It is, no question, laceweight in my own parlance. CMF also sells a laceweight yarn, but that  must be what the Emperor’s New Clothes are woven from. Adonis is pretty close to what a double-ply of  heavy-duty sewing thread would look like. The description on the website says knit with #1 or #2 needles. (If I knit this with #2 needles I would get something airier than cheesecloth.)

Now. My question is this: Should I complain to CMF? It was, theoretically, custom-dyed for me. I did not get a bargain price on it because it was not included in the sale. Custom-dyed sale items, those could not possibly be returnable, of course. Should I keep it in case I have a project wanting a laceweight yarn, or need a gift for someone with a lot more patience? Or should I try to find someone to trade with?

If you are looking for normal sock-weight yarn, consider the Apollo which is 18WPI compared to Adonis’s 22WPI. I have not tried it, but there is no hope for Adonis being considered sock-weight. Probably at this point I would suggest buying your sock yarn from someone else entirely.

I looked online after writing this and Ask The Bellweather has “fingering” yarn at 19-22WPI and a citation to make me accept those numbers. Which means I cannot validly complain. Although I am still very unhappy with my purchase, I can afford to chalk it up to a learning experience. Out of a dozen brands of sock yarn I have bought, all of them have said “fingering”, and all of them have been significantly thicker than this despite how none of them gave a WPI measurement. There was not enough information for me to have known I was going to be unhappy.

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