From Ewe To Me

Pin It

With Love.

DSC04118Which is absolutely spot on.

Over a year in the making, I have finally completed a project that started with roving from sheep fleece, spun it into yarn, then wove it into a blanket.

This is my ‘practice’ blanket.  I have another one planned for the alpaca I am still spinning, but this was a test to see if my handspun can hold up to the high tension requirements of loom weaving.  It is comprised of rough, lumpy, bumpy yarn that were mostly spun a year ago, which I then spent last summer experimenting with natural dyes and dyed a variety of yellow/gold/pale orange shades from 10 skiens of yarn.

DSC03473Once my tea towels were off the loom (which languished for 3 months, but in my defense, Christmas/life/cottage was hindering my loom time), it was time to prepare the warp for the blanket.

Warping a loom is time consuming, it can take anywhere from 1-2 days for thicker yarns to a week for thinner ones, luckily, all my practice yarn was roughly the same size.  Nice, thick and quick to wind on the loom.

Studio_20160108_091309_medium2Once the yarn was on the loom (special thanks to hubby for his help!) it was time to get down to business.  In just 3 days, it was finished and cut off the loom.  I knotted the fringe last night and just need to trim to an even length, then into the washing machine on a wool setting for the final finishing to plump up the fibers and soften them.

DSC04116Simple, Satisfying and Useful.  This is what people HAD to do before the days of the cheap cr@p made in China that filled our store shelves.  I know that there isn’t a lot of folks out there that are able to do what I do (either in need or want) but we have a choice to either buy the overseas garbage or make our own, I choose to make my own.  Yes it takes time, but in the end, I have an item that will stand up to a lot wear for a very long time.

Deborah

Follow Me on Pinterest

2016 ~ The Year of the Wheel!

Pin It

Happy New Year to everyone!  Yes, it has been awhile, but how many of you had the time to try and keep up a blog AND do all things Christmas-y?  Baking, cooking, shopping, wrapping, visiting, etc?

That is my defence and I am sticking to it.

I can also add spinning, knitting and weaving into the above as many of you who follow me on Facebook can attest to as I  regularly post pics of FO’s or WIP’s (Finished Objects or Work in Progress) to brighten the days of those cruising on FB.

Now that the holidays are fading in the rear view mirror, it’s time to concentrate on a New Year.  I have a couple resolutions, but these ones I am sure to stick too.  I gave up on the ‘must lose 10 lbs!’ or ‘stop eating chocolate!’ resolutions a couple years back.  Moderation is the key, you can still have your chocolate, just make sure you walk that stuff off the day you eat it.

My resolutions this year are to refine and hone the skills of my latest obsessions um…hobbies.  Weaving and Spinning.  I am well on my way in the weaving world, but there is always room for improvement and while spinning is a fairly recent craft, I am generally happy with where my spinning skills are at, but again, there is always room for improvement.  I am spinning yarn to not only knit with, but to weave with on my looms.  There is something so satisfying from taking a lump of fluffy fleece and turning it into yarn, then weaving it into a finished product.  Whether it is a scarf, blanket or fabric for clothing, it’s like taking raw food ingredients and assembling them into a Five Star restaurant type meal.

To aid me in my quest to hone my spinning is the addition of another wheel.  Yes, I clearly hear you when you scoff – “another wheel?! she’s turning into the crazy cat lady of the fibre world!”  No, not really, as there are many others that have many more wheels than I do.

20160105_134117Each of these 3 wheels are vastly different in function and spinning style.  The one on the far right, the small, boxy shaped one is a Spin-Well.  Made in the 1930′s in Sifton, Manitoba, she is the youngest of the herd and is a workhorse of a wheel.  She was built mainly to make thicker yarns, but I love her for plying 2 or more yarns together as the bobbins on her are just huge.  This is the one that I *obtained* from my Aunt & Uncle a year and a half ago that started me on my spinning odyssey.

Next up, the one in the middle, is the wheel I picked this past summer.  She is a sturdy little wheel that will spin miles and miles of thinner yarn, and even though her bobbins are small, I can fill them to the max and then use the Spin-Well for plying.  I am not sure on her pedigree as there is no maker’s mark on her but she is similar in style to the Young family of wheels (there were 4 makers in the family) from Nova Scotia back in the 1800′s, which is where she came from and is estimated to be between 150 and 200 yrs old.  She is in exceptional condition for her age too.

My latest wheel is the largest of all, she certainly didn’t look that big when I picked her up yesterday.  Not until I brought her home and set her beside the other two – eek! her drive wheel is huge!   This means she can spin thinner yarn, faster than the others.  This wheel also has no maker’s mark but the owner said she was made in Quebec, which is info she received when she obtained the wheel last year.  I am currently on a hunt to narrow down her style/maker and while she is similar in stance to a CPW (Canadian Production Wheel), she lacks the tilt-tension which is the key to her not being one.  She is also very, very similar to a Louis Bisson, but again, lacks a very important detail, a swooping treadling piece along  with no maker’s mark.  She was incredibly filthy too, I spent a good hour cleaning her up with Murphy’s Oil Soap (excellent product for any wood furniture), she now functions as she should and looks much better for it.

20160106_081914And if I haven’t sounded crazy enough, I have names for all the wheels (and looms too).  As soon as I brought the new wheel home and sat her beside the other two, she just paled in colour against them…so I named her Blanch.  The Spin-Well (Grand Dame I call her) is much darker and Beth, is more reddish-orange in tone, so I have Grand Dame, Beth and Blanch.

I am looking forward to finding out as much as I can on these wheels, as well as to further my knowledge and skill in using them.  Cheers to 2016! ~ The Year of the Wheel will be a fun journey!

Deborah

Follow Me on Pinterest

Alpaca Throw Blanket

Pin It

I have a serious flaw.  I come up with crazy thoughts and ideas that cause me to spend days, weeks and even months doing something that results in an object I could have gone to the store and bought.  This time? I am making an alpaca throw blanket from scratch.  Way more fun than buying a made-in-China-piece-of-crap-knockoff.

Last Fall my lovely daughter and her husband visited an Alpaca farm just outside Niagara Falls and brought me back 2 alpaca fleeces.  As I was in the throes of Christmas prep, house renovations and purging/packing to move, the two fleeces were washed and placed into totes for storage.

I finally was able to get to carding the fleece (getting it ready to spin) this past summer.  I have most of Palladin (name of the critter it came from) done, he offered up some lovely creamy-white fleece that spins like a dream and feels as soft and fluffy as a cloud. Fert, not to be confused with Fart (he gets a complex if people call him that) is a rusty-brown colour. He is still in a tote to be carded, but I had to start somewhere and Palladin was the first tote I pulled off the storage shelf.

I am guessing at the weight of the fleece I have from both animals as I never weighed them (probably about 4 lbs each), but it will most likely come in around 2.5 lbs each after wastage from carding/spinning.

Thanksgiving weekend, I spun up 2 sample bobbins of lace weight and plied them together. Roughly a fingering weight of which I dyed with leftover mint dye liquor with an afterbath of iron. Resulting in a soft gray. This will not be the final colour(s) of the blanket, just something to test with and looks better than a plain ‘ol white skein.

I will be using both my new (old) wheel (Beth, an antique Nova Scotian wheel) to spin the yarn, but because her bobbins are not that big I am plying the yarn on my Spin Well (the sturdy Manitoban wheel) as she has enormous bobbins (my, that does sound risqué doesn’t it?)

I then took the sample (152 yards) and using my 15” Cricket loom, I wove a sample at 12 epi (ends per inch, the vertical threads) and 8 epi respectively and I played with the ppi (picks per inch, the horizontal threads) on both and ended up liking the 8 epi with a 10 ppi so that is what I will aim for as I love the feel of the fabric at that density. The sample was woven plain weave, but I will be using a twill pattern on the floor loom when all the fleece is carded and spun.

Pictured below (from left to right) is raw fleece (washed), then the carded “rolag”, bobbin full of spun yarn, plied and dyed yarn, then the woven sample.DSC03691

With the exception of yarn spun from Fert, Palladin’s yarn will be dyed using natural materials in earth tones (tans/browns/reddish-browns) to match our living room décor where the finished blanket will reside…whenever that happens, hopefully by the end of the winter….but that is being optimistic!

Note to self….keep a vacuum on hand while carding/spinning alpaca…holy fuzz batman!

Deborah

Follow Me on Pinterest

2015 Summer Vacation

Pin It

*Hello*!

Can you see me waving?

DSC03461

No, not the loon (who seems to be waving) but me! ;)

Long time, no chat everyone!  Totally my fault though as the past year has been nothing short of controlled chaos (and I use that term loosely).  Last summer hubby and I started getting our house ready for sale, meaning de-cluttering, purging, building a new bathroom, gutting and renovating the original bathroom and sprucing up the property.  All that effort eventually paid off, even if it tried our patience (and bank account) as we sold promptly this past March in 3 days.

After that it was on to the next challenge, finding someplace else to live.  We bought a lovely 1+1 bedroom condo apartment on the 8th floor overlooking Lake Ontario, and located about a km from our previous home.  Once we took possession, we then spent a week priming and painting over very garish colours and moved in at the end of May.  I spent a month trying to organize things to suit the new space, especially the kitchen, I probably spent the majority of time in there trying to find a good fit for what I use, when I use it, etc.  After that, it was on to figuring out what furniture that we brought with us would work and tossed what we couldn’t use.  We had already tossed our sofa and chair set prior to moving as they were well loved but no longer suitable.  So after living in the space for a month or so we decided what would best fit the space and then went furniture shopping (ugh, there really needs to be a better way to shop for furniture than walking into a big box furniture store and being immediately corralled by salespeople), anyway, we selected a sectional sofa and a new chair and got the heck out of dodge.

With the condo somewhat settled, it was time to split the big city and head north.  Prior to the end of June, we had not been up that much due to all the moving ruckus.  My vegetable garden was in place and growing nicely and wasn’t in need of much attention until later in the season but we did make sure to set up the automatic timer/watering system and let nature take its course so to speak.

So I packed up the car with a LOT of stuff.  Not just food and the usual household items needed everyday, but all my fun fiber stuff.  My small Cricket loom, knitting needle case, yarn galore, a very large tote full of alpaca fiber that I want to card for spinning and some already spun yarn ready for the next new *hobby*…dying with natural materials as well as planned sewing projects.

I then spent 2+ months spinning, weaving, swatting mosquitos, knitting, sewing, dying yarns, swatting mosquitos, kayaking, gardening and swatting mosquitos…which were really brutal during the later half of June through to the end of July.

DSC03409August saw my busiest month in the garden as it was starting to pump out tomatoes by the ying yang, there was a lot of processing to be done.  Over the span of a month, I probably roasted a good half bushel of cherry tomatoes (slice into 1/4″ slices, layer on a parchment lined baking sheet and roast at 225F for about an hour and half – awesome on pizza or in any pasta dish) and canned up jars and jars of stewed tomatoes and pickled Serrano/Jalapeño peppers.  I also made 2 batches of my Chipotle Peach jam, one for me and one for my daughter.  I  had also wanted to make more blueberry jam, but I was too late in going picking (others that were on the ball picked all that there was in the wild patch nearby) as well as we had a very dry summer so a lot of the plants were shriveling up from the heat and lack of rain.

DSC03404During the past couple months, I started dying skeins of handspun yarn with natural materials.  Birch and Oak leaves, Marigolds (seen here drying in the sun) andDSC03373

Tansy flowers (which are highly abundant weeds here in the north, like Goldenrod), Onion skins provided a lovely shade, which I dubbed “Antique Gold” as that is what it reminded me of,  take a look at the skein to the right of the bright yellow one and see if you agree.  DSC03369I then tried 2 attempts with a plant called “Phragmites australis” aka Common Reed.  It grows along roadsides and highways all over Ontario and is actually considered an invasive species by our government, so I did my part of hacking off the flowy flower heads to use as a dye.  I had seen someone else (on the internet no less, so it had to be true right?) attain a lovely shade of green using this plant.  What did I get?

Gray – with very, very faint hints of green and red streaks running through it (really strange actually), but very cool looking (the skein on the left in the above photo).  Apparently, so I am told, I need to harvest the flower heads in July, I had picked them in August so that is the only difference between what I had seen online and what I actually attained.

If it is one thing I have learned about dying with natural materials, is that you are never quite sure what you are going to get when you pull the skein out of the dye pot…take the vivid yellow skein of yarn that I dyed with Marigolds…talk about bright!! It is almost neon yellow, clown yellow I call it.  I saved the dye liquid and over-dyed another skein that was dyed with oak leaves earlier and it came out a similar colour to the onion skin dye.  After that, there was still colour left in the pot, so I placed another skein of yarn in and came out with a nice, mellow yellow that is similar to the Birch leaf dyed skein (Birch leaves give a gorgeous, clear, sunny yellow colour).

DSC03473All these variations of yellow dyed skeins are destined for a weaving project, which will be the subject of another post down the road a while.

If the above doesn’t sound like I wasn’t busy enough, I spent some time carding up the aforementioned tote of alpaca fleece.  This is what it looks like before carding (middle of photo), and this is what it looks like after (on the left). DSC03482Nice, fluffy tubes of fleece (called rolags) ready for spinning.  Carding takes all the fibers from a fleece and arranges them neatly in one direction, easier to spin that way, plus it gets out any remaining bits of hay, dirt and dust.  This needs to be done on a nice calm day so you can sit outside and have all the bits float away outdoors instead of covering the inside with alpaca fuzz.

Not to be forgotten, my Cricket loom got a workout in July when I cranked out 6 scarves destined for gifts this Christmas.  DSC03218Nor did my knitting, I am currently working on a sweater made from Cotlin (blend of cotton/linen) yarn, but it has been on the back burner the last couple weeks as we had a spell of hot weather that makes it uncomfortable to try and knit a large item in the heat so I switched to a pair of socks and now finishing up a hat made from yarn that I spun ON MY NEW WHEEL!

11947550_10155969213730291_964574286738722593_nIsn’t she just gorgeous?!  She is lovely and old and estimated to be over 150 years but doesn’t look a day over 30.  She spins like a dream too, a nice, smooth and even action.  Then I went and did something stupid, I was trying to get the full bobbin off the flyer and snapped the flyer in half….I then spewed out a string of very un-lady-like verbage which would make many a sailor blush.  So the flyer has just been replaced by a fellow I found nearby to the southern home that makes and repairs spinning wheels and I am back in business.

Now don’t think I just sat on my tush and knitted, spun and wove all summer.   I also did some heavy lifting, in the form of wheelbarrow-fulls of sand and dirt.  We had a pile of sand that I had started to sift and relocate as where it was situated, the fella that plows our driveway in winter kept heaping snow laced with driveway gravel on it.  So I painstakingly sifted about 2 yards of sand and wheeled it over to its new home off the side of the driveway (after depositing more on our beach along the way).  This was a 2 year project as where it was located, could only be done after mid-August or you were swarmed by skeeters, plus, if it rained, well, that made pushing the sand through the home-made sieve really challenging.  With the stretch of hot sunny weather a couple weeks back, I managed to get the rest of it sieved and moved….then, last week I had 2 yards of dirt delivered….for…. my new garden bed!!!

DSC03385I am so excited!  Hubby built another raised garden bed for me, a twin to the existing one which basically doubles my gardening space.  We spent this past Sunday morning moving dirt and filling her up, she looks beautiful and I am so excited for next Spring’s planting and will spend this winter getting my seed selections and layouts done – woo!

Well that pretty much gets you all caught up on my summer antics, there was more, but these were the highlights.  So what did you do on summer vacation?  Would love to hear what you all had going on so leave a message below!

Deborah

Follow Me on Pinterest

Do You Hear Crickets Chirping?

Pin It

It has been a crazy few months around the Southern Homestead.  So much to do in so little time that I have neglected one of the things I love to do most….write my daily adventures.  Hence the title of this post…the long time sound often used to denote nobody or nothing is around or listening.

Let’s see if I can catch y’all up here…

I spent almost every waking moment from January until 2 weeks ago purging, cleaning, primping and staging our home for sale.  I sewed new throw pillow covers for pretty much every room in the house (14 in all!), there was touchup painting and cleaning and washing the insides of cabinetry, then set finishing touches in every room.   I even cleaned windows, inside and out, in subzero temps.  As a Realtor, I know the importance of maximizing your homes potential for a quick sale.  All that hard work paid off as we listed and sold within a week for over our asking price.  Then, just 5 days later, we bought a condo apartment.  Another whirlwind of emotions with the end result being we have the next chapter in our life to look forward to.  More on that in a later post though.

In between all the house staging/selling hoopla, I managed to finally somewhat master the spinning wheel I borrowed from my Aunt and Uncle last summer.  Once I figured out that moving parts were gummed up and employing help from hubby to rectify them, I was off to the races.  As when I learned to spin on the drop spindle last Summer, the first output of so-called yarn was laughable at best.  So I sat for about an hour a day, usually evenings or early mornings, spinning from roving (prepared wool) that was on the rough and scratchy side (practice fluff) and  I now have a skein of yarn that can actually be made into something without falling apart.

DSC02895Bob the loom is still set up with a project as well.  A scarf that I am weaving with some handspun yarn created last Fall on my drop spindle, of which it is about half done.  I need to get that finished up and off the loom before the loom gets taken apart for the big move.

DSC02903Packing has also commenced, along with more purging of *stuff* in the crawlspace.  I tossed an awful lot of things into that deep canyon while prepping the house for sale.  A crawlspace is great place to store things, but it is so huge, that before you know it, it is filled to the brim with things that you no longer use or need but don’t have the time to get rid of.  Time to knuckle down now though if I want to be out of here in 60 days.

So my living room is set up with empty boxes and there is a staging area in the crawlspace for garage sale items, which is probably at least half the stuff in there if not more.  The rest will be donated or recycled in some fashion.  I detest sending anything to the landfill unless it is broken and of no use to someone else. Hubby and I are very environmentally conscience which comes from years of cottage life experience as well as our own morals of what we want for the planet. Hence my gardening/self-sustaining practices.  Of which, TODAY is the day I finally start my seed planting for the garden.

YAY!

DSC02901I was delayed a week or two by the house selling routine.  I couldn’t very well have a living room window full of seed starting trays and pots, people would think it was a greenhouse, not a living room.

Cooking has also of taken a back seat lately, I cook to feed ourselves, but haven’t had time to experiment with anything new and exciting, which is a bummer as that is something I really like to do.  Once the move is done and we are settled into the new digs, then I will get my creative chef’s hat back on.

So that is about it in a nutshell, the important things anyway.  I will post quick updates as we move along with the move, but I hope for a return to a normal routine come June.  Just in time for all things blooming and growing in the gardens and the peacefulness of summer at the Northern Homestead.

Deborah

Follow Me on Pinterest

Dyeing With Marigold Flowers

Pin It

This year I had an abundance…..no…an over-abundance of Marigold flowers around the Homestead.  They not only provide cheerful, sunny, colour to my garden landscape, but they are also perfect companion plants in vegetable gardens as their somewhat obnoxious smell wards off harmful insects, as well as luring the pollinators towards my veggie plants.

So what to do with this overabundance of flower heads? Well, you can’t eat them, but you can use them to dye yarn with.  Which makes sense since I have been spinning up a passel of yarn in the latest hobby craze to enter my life.

Dyeing with Marigolds is easy on the environment and easy on protein fibers (wool, alpaca, silk, etc.) plus you hopefully get to relive some of that bright, cheery colour in your yarn long after the last flower head keels over from the touch of Jack Frost.

First, cut as many flower heads as you can and set them out to dry.  This will take up to two weeks as there is a lot of moisture in them.  I picked bright orange ones as well as some darker reddish-orange heads thinking I would get a different tone…more on that later, meanwhile, are these not the most colourful things you have seen?

DSC01848Once dried, take some scissors and cut the petals off the flower heads, you can save the seeds that are inside the flower cap for planting next year if you like, but be forewarned, you will have oodles of seeds if you keep all of the remaining heads. Heck, you could package them up and sell them to the neighbours, which could be a nice little side business in the Spring for you.

Anyway, back to dying…..If you have a food scale, measure out 2 ounces of each flower head colour.  In a stainless steel or enamel pot (make sure they are *old* pots, once you use utensils for dying, they are not be used again for cooking, garage sales and thrift stores are great places to get used utensils), add 2 litres of water and bring to a boil.  Boil for one hour, then using a fine mesh strainer, strain out the petals.  Then let the dye liquid cool for about an hour.

DSC02131While you are boiling the flowers for the dye, you have to prepare your yarn to accept the dye.  This is called mordanting.  If you do not pre-mordant your fiber, the colour will not take as boldly as it should and it will fade/wash out over time.  Certain fiber types call for certain mordants as well as what type of dyes you are using.  Since I am using natural dyes on protein fibers (like wool, alpaca and silk),  you can use vinegar or alum (potassium aluminum sulphate).  There are precise ratios of mordant type to weight of fiber, so make sure you have a scale handy to measure your fiber.

DSC02143This newly finished hand spun corriedale wool, 3-plyed worsted, weighed in at 3 oz., believe me, it is as soft and squishy as it looks.

I used vinegar to mordant the wool as it was handy and seeing as I was up at the northern homestead, an exhausted alum dye bath isn’t to be sent into a septic system so I pretty much had no choice but to use the vinegar.  I measured out one cup of plain, white vinegar to 4 cups of water.  Place your yarn in the water, gently pressing it down to soak all the fibers, BUT, DO NOT STIR or AGITATE the fiber or it will felt.

DSC02147Slowly bring the mordant bath up to 180°F over about 30-40 minutes.  Keep the temperature constant and let the fiber soak in its hot tub for one hour.

Drain and rinse the fiber in the same temperature water as any sudden temperature differences will felt the fiber.  Squeeze out as much water as you can (do not wring).  You can use the fiber right away to dye or hang to dry and dye later.  If you dye later, you will have to soak the fiber for at least an hour in water prior to dying.  Seeing as my dye and fiber were all set, there was no need to hang to dry.

DSC02165

DSC02153

I had two skeins that I coloured separately.  The 3 oz. skein went into a pot of boiled reddish-orange petals and a small, leftover skein went into the bright orange flower petals.  Was I surprised at the results.  The small skein took on a lovely, mustard yellow hue, but the larger skein came out builder beige.  I was quite surprised, considering the dye bath was rosy-orange in colour.

DSC02157After I removed the skeins from their respective dye baths, I added the orange petal dye bath into the rosy-orange dye bath, then gently placed the larger skein of yarn back in and brought it back up to temp.  I let it sit there for another hour and the colour darkened somewhat, but it wasn’t the same hue as the smaller skein.  It came out more camel coloured.

DSC02168It was an interesting experiment(s) to say the least.  Once dry, I knitted up a hat with the larger skein, mind you, the colour shown above are not truly representative as to the finished product.  I was having a hard time getting a true colour to show on the day I took the photo (it was gray outside), the picture below is what it actually looks like.   With the leftover yarn from the hat, I knitted up a coaster with it and the darker yellow skein, then felted it.  It now graces my office desk as a place to keep my tea mug.

DSC02276_medium2I am now anxious to try my hand with other natural dyes in different hues, but first I need to spin up some more yarn…and I have just the fiber too…..Alpaca, in all its soft and snuggly glory… coming soon to a drop spindle near you.

Deborah

Follow Me on Pinterest

From Sweaters To Soups To Spinning

Pin It

It’s hard to believe how fast *summer* flew by.  By summer, I mean that bright yellow thing in the sky that was supposed to give us heat for oh…say about 3 months or so?

Not this year.  We had snippets of heat, but certainly not what we are used to.  Rainy too.  Good thing I have a home-made recipe for killing moss, because I need to use it on my hair to get rid of what’s now surely growing up on my head.

With Fall snapping at my heels, it is almost time to pull out the soup pot.  First I have to use up what is left in the freezer though from late last Winter/early Spring.  I had a one cup container of my Madeira soup and a half cup of filling leftover from my Black Bean & Wild Rice Enchiladas in the freezer…hmmmm…what if I?  Hot damn, but that was a marvelous notion that popped into my head.  Combining the two made for a thick, chunky soup (albeit a small portion) that warmed me to my toes with the amazing flavours of Mexico and Spain united.  Love it when a spur of the moment experiment comes together.DSC01934

After that awesome dinner of experimental leftovers, I sat snuggled under an afghan, with a cup of cocoa at my side and yarn and knitting needles in front of me, I can now officially concentrate on attending to my UFO’s (un-finished objects).  Nothing like a blast of chilly air to spur one into getting that sweater or pair of mitts finished.

I had been pre-occupied with spinning the past few weeks and my knitting was sitting there pouting at the neglect.  My latest hobby has seen me perfect the technique of the drop spindle in taking soft, fluffy fleece and spinning it into yarn.  It is so cool to see it materialize before your eyes.  The trick is to keep it spun into yarn and not have it fall apart from being under-spun, or so tight and kinky it reminds you of Shirley Temples trademark bouncy curls.

Now that I finished spinning a practice bag of dyed brown English Wool roving into several bobbinfuls of *singles*, it was time to learn to ply two of them together.

Plying is like magic.  It takes 2 (or more) strands of hand-spun yarn and twists them together like a rope, automatically smoothing them together seamlessly into a beautifully finished product.  The end result is a balanced yarn that drapes well and doesn’t try to kink up on itself.  Magic!DSC01908DSC01881

Pardon the crude “Lazy Kate” (a nifty item that holds 2 or 3 bobbins of single spun yarns to be plied together), necessity is the mother of invention and empty tubes of toilet tissue/paper towels make great bobbins while a box and knitting needles allow them to be unwound for plying.

Now that I feel comfortable spinning on a drop spindle… I *accidentally* acquired a brand new (well, new to me) toy.  A few days ago I took a run up to visit an Aunt & Uncle in Northern Ontario.  Leaving from the Homestead makes it only a 2 1/2 hour drive vs. a 7 hour drive from the southern home.  My visit was well worth the trip too!  My uncle’s mother owned a spinning wheel and from the time he was a tot, my uncle remembers his mother sitting down to the wheel and churning out bundles of hand-spun yarn to be turned into sweaters, socks, mittens and hats, after all, this was Northern Ontario, where the average winter temperature is a sustained -25C or lower.  Lots and lots of fleece was needed to  keep the family warm.

As no one else in the family wanted this treasured piece of history, they graciously loaned it to me.  What a beauty this machine is too!  With an interesting history to boot as to the manufacturer.  I won’t bore you to death with the details, but it came from a small company out of Manitoba in the early 1930′s that ended up starting the Mary Maxim yarn company.  For those interested, google Sifton, Manitoba and the Spin Well Mfg Co.DSC01892I brought my latest treasure back to the Homestead and once she is given a good cleaning and oiling of particular parts, she will be put through her paces to see if she can still deliver some hand-spun yarn.  Which I am sure she will have no problem with, it will be me learning how to use her to make yarn from a bag of fluffy fleece.  Spinning on a wheel is very different from a drop spindle, there are drive ratios to figure out, drafting to re-master and controlling the take-up.  Do I know what these mean yet? barely…but I will update y’all as I go.

DSC01895Meanwhile, I have a couple trays of tomatoes and Serrano peppers that are calling my name, so I best be off to the kitchen to process them.

Until later, stay warm and happy spinning!

Deborah

 

 

Follow Me on Pinterest