UndyedYarnpire’s Fiber Opera

February 7, 2010

I can spindle.

Filed under: spin — Tags: , — UndyedYarnpire @ 1:04 pm

There have been some spinning experiments.

I wheel plied spindled oatmeal BFL singles with remainder (gray, white, tan) singles and some under-plied yarn I had stored on TP tubes on a shelf to get a mottled gray effect.  It turned out wonderful since I am looking for more elephant yarn.

Last night I also did my first spindle-ply yarn. It came out really nice.

I do not enjoy it like I enjoy wheel spinning. There are some ergonomics issues that irritate me. Like there is no good place to grab the spindle to add spin once the stick is full of yarn (top whorl spindle). Also it is hard to unwind a spindle onto storage bobbins for plying. There needs to be a snap-on collar near the whorl and one for the other end and the whole thing should be sold with a rack like fancy wine rack inserts to function as a lazy kate for the spindle. My fancy spindle spins wonderfully and these issues do not dampen my adoration, but it is hard to imagine a time when all cloth was woven with spindled yarns.

I think I would like to have a bottom whorl spindle with a hook. (The whole half-hitch knot business seems stupid.) But I keep imagining it as having a huge open space so it would be easy to get my hand in to flick it into spinning. Obviously there would be the same problems once it had yarn on it but my imagination is stuck in its own reality.

There are some yarns I have not shared pictures of. I am really thrilled with the “Calico Cat” yarn, and have been browsing for plush animal patterns because that is what I want to make from it.

The mottled green yarn that looks like the very beginnings of fall colors looks to be wanting to be a lace triangle. I am hoping it will be large enough to go over the head so I can call it after something from Robin Hood.


Things did not end well with my volunteer knitting teacher gig. For once it was not ill-handled on my part, and I felt like a grown-up when I kept my even keel and quietly realized I would never have said that.

There are several positives about this. I will have more time and less fiber-related frustration. I was not the person leaving someone in the lurch so I burned no bridges. And my perspectives about knitting were refreshed if not expanded.


I am still wavering on attending Stitches. I feel obligated since it is so close and so many people cannot go due to distance. But I am also thinking that I bought almost nothing last year, and I still have fiber from 2008’s Stitches West that I have not spun (I was saving it until I got better enough to be worthy.) I would like a companion with whom to attend. I can drive and I do not need you to kick in for gas money. I am really terrible at buying stuff, so if you are concerned about going because you might spend too much money we would balance each other. The email address at the side (if you are not reading this via feed) is valid, or send a Rav PM. I am in Oakland and would prefer to go on Friday but would make an exception.

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.

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