Socks and Spindles

The second ball of sock yarn has been spun and knit! Just in time for summer 🙂 The stripes aren’t exactly even but its a good effort and result for a first attempt. I must admit that I do, indeed,  love these socks and the turquoise, white, and orange stripes.

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I have also discovered a true joy of the humble (and often not so humble) spindle! I admit that I did try one briefly before I got my wheel but never really took a shine to it. But after going to a spinning guild open day and seeing all the beautiful spindles and the ladies and men spinning away on them so efficiently I was eager to give it another try. I bought an Ashford Student Spindle which is pretty hefty but with practice I have been able to produce a single which is thin enough to be plied into a 2 ply sock weight yarn. Encouraged by my success I ordered a turkish spindle which I hope arrives in time for my first Tour De Fleece which begins on July 5th.

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Socks!!

Voila…a hand dyed, hand spun, hand knit sock!

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Its BFL dyed with Jacquard acid dyes and chain plied. I am pretty pleased with this yarn and the sock.

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The stripes, as expected, weren’t perfectly even but they were only off by a few rounds – not bad for a first attempt. I have spun the yarn for the second sock and it is resting until tomorrow when I will chain ply it and finish it…..hopefully the second skein will be more or less similar to this one.

Thin Is In!!

When I first got a spinning wheel I knew exactly the type of yarn I wanted to spin: sock yarn.

A skein of sock or fingering weight yarn has so many possibilities: socks, a small shawl, fingerless gloves, a hat. Its my absolute favourite yarn weight and a quick shuffle through my stash heavily confirms this! But as much as I wanted to create sock yarn I soon discovered that it was not, for me, the easiest to actually produce. But I persisted and finally produced my first mini skein of consistent, 3 ply sock yarn!! It was truly a personal triumph!

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I spun 30g of BFL into a mini skein of sock yarn measuring 88m. The single was about 35 wpi and the finished yarn, which was chain plied (so not really technically a 3 ply) was 15 wpi. Since there was not a whole lot to do with such a small amount of yarn I decided to knit it up into a swatch to check out the consistency and over all feel of the yarn. I was pretty impressed with my efforts. Now onwards and upwards to my next project – hand dyed, hand spun, hand knit sock!!

 

 

It’s “only” Natural

I have a confession to make – since I have become a spinner I seem to have developed a case of attention deficit disorder . It manifests itself in a complete inability to spin any roving that isn’t a variegated colourway! Well not entirely but I certainly can not seem to spin it in a timely fashion. Yes, I find spinning natural undyed roving extremely boring.

Dyed, variegated roving holds my attention. I find it exciting to see how the yarn is developing. I also can spin to this or that colour and then take a break. But natural roving is just a mindless expanse of brown or white or black – so monotonous, so boring. Don’t get me wrong! I love the resulting yarn whether its dyed or undyed – but the spinning, meh, not so much.

So my poor oatmeal BFL top sat in my fiber stash for months – neglected and unspun. Such a pity because the colour and the natural tones are just gorgeous. Before you think that the picture below is an indicate of a turning tide – that lovely yarn which is 80g of oatmeal BFL 2 ply should have been a 3 ply but, alas, the sheer tediousness of spinning another ply got the better of me and my 3 ply became a 2 ply.

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Spinning for Singles

Spinning for Singles – sounds like it could be a dating service for fibre lovers 🙂 As charming as that sounds I’m talking about spinning yarn that will be left as a single ply yarn. I am very much a plying kind of gal – 2 ply, 3 ply, chain ply – never met a ply I didn’t like.
But I dyed some roving recently and decided to spin it up as a single. I spun it on a slightly larger whorl so that the single was slightly thicker than I normally spin it. When the single was all spun up I immediately wound it onto a niddy noddy and then put it into a hot water then a cold water dip, repeating this three times. Afterwards I thwacked the skein a good few times.
The skein ended up nicely balanced and slightly fulled.

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I have plans for it to become a lace shawl – this will be a true test of how well the single really turned out!

Ombre Dyed Roving

My daughter is a huge fan of anything ombre, and more specifically blue ombre. So when I started dyeing roving one of her first requests was for me to dye ombre roving, spin it up, and then knit it up! I was happy to oblige!

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To dye this roving I divided 100g of BFL into 4 sections and then dyed each section in fainter blue stock. I used an immersion method and tried to keep the amount of water/vinegar (2 c H2O and 1/2 c vinegar) in the pot consistent for each section of roving while adding less dye stock – the first section had 2 tablespoons of blue dye stock, the second 1/2 a tablespoon, the third 1 teaspoon, and the fourth section 1/4 a teaspoon. I must admit that while it worked I was utterly underwhelmed by the resulting ombre roving. I’m not sure entirely why. Possibly because I had become used to more colourful dyed roving and the dark blue to light blue was all a bit boring! It might be that I didn’t know how the yarn would turn out. So the ombre roving sat for quite a while before I got round to spinning it. But when I did the result was really lovely!!

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I spun up the roving as a single of about 22 wpi. My daughter informed me, while watching me spin, that it would be nicer if the roving ran from dark blue through to white undyed roving so I added an addition 25g of white BFL after the last faintest blue section. I then chain plyed it which resulted in the above yarn which is 125g, approximately 167m, and 15 wpi.


I really enjoyed dyeing and spinning this yarn! It was a great little experiment and I think that I will certainly be spinning more ombre and gradient roving this way again!

 

Pricing Handspun Yarn

A friend from my knit night recently asked me to spin her a custom yarn blend – greens and purples, about a double knit weight enough to knit a small shawl. I incredibly flattered by this request! Its nice to have someone notice your work and want to have some of it for a special project. She offered to pay me but since she is a knit night friend we settled on her covering the cost of the materials. It was fun to dye and then spin up yarn to a custom request.

 

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But it got me  wondering how long it takes me to spin yarn. If I wanted to spin handspun yarn for sale how much I would have to charge to make it worth my time and efforts. I timed myself while I was spinning this yarn,  the fiber was 100g of BFL and I spun it to a single of about 20 wpi and then chain plyed it. It took me 4 hours and 17 minutes to spin the single and then a further 1 hour and 24 minutes to ply it. That’s a total of 5 hours and 41 minutes for one 100g skein of yarn! That’s quite a chunk of time!

In terms of how to price handspun a google search led me to a few ways. One was was a certain amount per length – I saw several people recommend 0.10 cents per meter. Another was a simple formula on the Etsy website: Materials + Labor + Expenses + Profit = Wholesale x 2 = Retail

If I used the cost of 0.10 cents per meter and used the length of the single, approximately 400m, to determine the yarn cost then it would be about: €40.

If I used the Etsy formula and gave myself an hourly wage of a meager €5 per hour then it would cost about €34.75 for wholesale and almost €70 retail! Of course I would hope that as I became more adapt at spinning I would produce yarn in a shorter length of time thus reducing the overall cost using this pricing method.

A search on Etsy reveals that the average for a similar yarn would be in the range of €25 to €35 – using this pricing as a guide and applying that to the Etsy formula that would mean that I would be paying myself an hourly wage of a dismal €1.50 per hour. Or if I were to apply the price per length method then it would mean about 0.08 cents per meter of single spun.

Any way you spin it pricing hand spun is pretty challenging!

 

 

Immersion Dyeing…from pot to skein

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I can’t even begin to say how happy I am with how this yarn turned out!  Its merino roving which I hand dyed using a low water immersion technique.

I then spun it into a single which I chain plyed. The yarn has a delightful spring to it and the colours are lovely (if I do say so myself!).

Yarn details: merino 70s, immersion dyed with acid dyes, wpi 14, ~160m

 

 

Gift

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I wanted a spinning wheel for about a year before I actually got one. Despite never having used one I knew that I would love spinning. But for me it was a pretty big financial commitment so I waited patiently for a special occasion to justify such an expense. My 40th birthday in November was just such an occasion! My wonderful family bought me the wheel I had been swooning over – a Schact Ladybug. It is beyond fantastic and easily one of the best gifts I have received!

As presumed – I do, indeed, love spinning! And I especially love dyeing and spinning and then hand knitting with my own unique yarn. It is so gratifying!

Spun Out

Happy Blog day to me!

At long last I am finally doing something which has been on my to do list for ages…starting a blog! A blog all my own so that I might go on and on and on about my love of knitting, spinning, and dyeing. Basically if it has to do with yarn I shall rant and rave about it!

 

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