Two Left Needles

Knitting, spinning and dyeing
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(Warning: Photo Heavy but Fun!)

Last year I was slackerly in my Project Spectrum involvement. This year I decided to make a better effort to work on some kind of project for each set of colors. I cut it close by doing the work on Feb/March colors on March 30, but hey, better late than never.

About a month ago I had my first carding 'speriments with silk, color and the carder. I decided to do another carding 'speriment for my Feb/March Project Spectrum project, and to incorporate the "lessons learned" from the last 'speriment.

Feb/March colors are blue, white and grey:

Project Spectrum Carding Experiment - materials

I used:

in about a 1:2:1 ratio (first applied "lesson learned": use less silk).

The SuperCarder

Once upon a time, I promised photos of the drum carder in action. I eventually make good. ;)

Here she is:

Pat Green SuperCarder

Note the "No Fingers" warning and the red line. I give the carder proper respect and keep my fingers away from the line.

The lock was not to protect my carder from wily carder-lifting fiber fiends. It's a safety measure to keep the carder power switch in the Off position:

SuperCarder - lock

The variable speed dial goes from quite slow to quite fast. I usually keep it at 50:

SuperCarder - speed dial

In motion, it's a blur:

SuperCarder - in motion

'Sperimenting

I started with a thin layer of white merino (second applied "lesson learned": thinner layers of each color):

Starting with white merino

I figured with merino as the base, the batt would come off the drum easier than it would with a merino/silk or silk base.

White merino on the drum
thin layer of white merino on the drum

I then added a thin layer of the charcoal merino/silk:

Adding charcoal merino/silk

You can see the hint of color on the spinning drum (third applied "lesson learned": spritzing the drum with water periodically to prevent static and allow more fiber to stay on the drum):

Drum in motion

I'm sure I added more charcoal merino/silk than this, but it's the only photo I took:

White merino and charcoal merino/silk on the drum
charcoal merino/silk over white merino on the drum

Next, the fun part - adding color!

Adding dbpg tussah silk

Drum in motion with some blue silk
a little blue

Drum in motion with more blue silk
more blue

Drum in motion with a nice layer of blue silk
nice blue layer

After adding a thin layer of each color:

White merino, charcoal merino/silk, and blue tussah silk on the drum

I continued adding more fiber in whatever order occurred to me:

Adding more fiber

until I got tired or it seemed like the drum carder wasn't holding on to the fibers as well (due to static).

There was a little waste on the infeed drums:

Waste fibers

but not as much as last time.

Also, on the far side of the drum, stray fibers collected:

Stray fibers post-carding

Using the doffer tool in the above photo, I loosened the fibers at the ... I dunno what it's called, the join or the groove or the whatever section that doesn't have any teeth:

Using the doffer to lift up the ends

and then used the batt lifter to roll the batt off the drum:

Using the batt lifter to roll off the batt

You can see the "bottom" of the batt is white because I started with the white merino:

"bottom" of the batt

while the "top" is mostly blue/green from the last tussah silk layer:

"top" of the batt

(there's a better color photo at the end)

Spinning the batt

I tore off a section of the batt, and then split that into 4 strips to spin. No further attenuating was necessary:

Splash of color in the pre-drafted strip
hints of bright color

I spun quickly just to see how it came out, and then created an Andean plying bracelet so I could ply it from both ends:

Creating an Andean plying bracelet with the singles

The resulting 2-ply:

Spun sample

Thoughts

  • I liked the hand/feel better than the last batch; the added merino made a nice difference. The yarn actually feels quite nice.
  • The resultant yarn reminds me of Ashland Bay merino or merino/silk in their multi's colorways because of the tweedy color variation. But I didn't have to spin from the fold. ;)
  • The final colors are much darker and toned down compared to the original silk. It's to be expected, since adding black to anything will mute or tone down a color. But still, it surprised me.
  • I do miss the deep colors of the original silk.
  • The white adds hilights, which is a nice effect.

The carding went about as expected/hoped. The applied "lessons learned" went smoothly and improved the process and results. The colors did not go as expected, however. I felt like I lost the gorgeous colors of the silk. Next time I might try blending with a slightly more muted or lighter shade of the silk so that the silk really stands out. Overall, I had a LOT of fun with this 'speriment and couldn't wait to see how it turned out. :)

Beginning to end

Project Spectrum Carding Experiment

That's what I've been lately (and tired). I been napping all evening, conked out. I hope I can sleep tonight.

We went to see Gram yesterday and she's in rough shape. She didn't look like herself and, as it's been lately, it was hard to figure out what she's talking about. A few weeks ago it became evident she didn't know my name. She's forgotten Scott's name as well. She still knows who we are. It's really hard to see her like this.

Reminds me of an ex's grandmother, who also had Alzheimer's. His mother said to me, I wish you could see her the way she was, she was always so elegant and careful with her dress. She said, she is a shadow of her former self. It was hard to understand, since I didn't know her before the Alzheimer's. But I understand now. I can imagine what she might have been like, because I know what Gram was like. And how she is now.

She's been falling so she's been moved to a new place so she can be watched and cared for more closely. It's hard to accept that it's the best place for her because each time she moves, I see her losing more freedoms, or living in a place that seems "less nice" than the last place. She seems to be okay there, though. Adjusting and being sociable. And she asks about the baby every time we're there, which is good. I put my hands on my belly and tell her I'm still cooking. I look forward to bringing the little goober with us in a couple of short months (!). I wonder how Gram will react?

We've been hit with more snow, but without the ice, it's not much to speak of.

Snow

On a sunny day, it makes a nice background for newly washed handspun:

Freshly washed handspun

Hiding in the back (leftmost) is the Spunky Eclectic BFL (turquoise/purple) I spun at Spa. I'll have a better photo tomorrow. 

I haven't done much for Project Spectrum yet, so here's my token photo:

Winter sky

I think I'll spin up something in the appropriate colors (blue/white/gray) next month.

And for Twisted Knitters:

Lagoon - all spun up!

Yep, I finished the second bobbin of Lagoon! They rest on my wristwarmers, knit from, naturally, handspun. To protect against the snow.

It took longer to spin than I liked, and the slightly-felted-sometimes-very-felted-ness was not so pleasing. But I chugged along, and careful pre-drafting did wonders. In my head I kept a spinning deadline of February, so that I can spend March doing the knitting. That really motivated me to finish spinning.

I'm not looking forward to plying, though. I ply by sight and this stuff is pretty thin. And, there's a lot of yards of it. I'll have to buckkle down and do it this week.

On the bobbin now is cormo/alpaca from Foxhill Farm, purchased at MDSW. I'm spinning it finer than the Lagoon, if you can imagine. Gorgeous stuff, but talk about taking longer to spin... I feel like I'm hardly making progress.

Tomorrow is our next doctor's appointment. Running through my head: "I must have gained at least a pound. I must have gained at least a pound."