Spinning FO: Corgi Hill Farm Polwarth Silk

This was my first fibre order from Corgi Hill Farm, a custom-dyed braid of polwarth/silk in Burnt Orange. I was a little afraid of how tightly the braid had been made, but the fibre was a dream to spin and not compressed at all. I was aiming for a sportweight yarn for this, deliberately trying to spin thicker than my last skein, which came out as laceweight. That was polwarth too, I like spinning polwarth and a polwarth silk blend was something I’d never seen before.

Corgi Hill Farm 85/15 polwarth silk.

Fiber: 85/15 polwarth silk, dyed by Corgi Hill Farm

Construction: 2-ply

Amount: 306 yards, 5oz (25yds in a mini skein)

Tool: Majacraft Rose spinning wheel

This was some of the fastest yarn I’ve ever spun, 20 days from start to finish. It was difficult to adjust to spinning thicker, my default has been to spin as thin as I possibly could and accept the consequences. It came out well, it’s not entirely even but it’s close enough that knitting will smooth it out.

Next up is some Finn top I dyed red and brown with Amy. The undyed patches are getting nicely lost in the coloured sections as it spins.

Looking back

In 2011 I knit:

  • 6 pairs of socks (all my own designs)
  • 3 neck-warmer scarves (one from unspun silk hankies)
  • 2 shawls (Larix and Citron)
  • 4 toys (two bats, a hedgehog and a bunny)
  • 2 lace scarves (both knitspot designs, Butternut and an unblocked Aria Delicata)
  • 2 tops (Eris, still waiting for a zip, and a Dew Point shrug)
  • 1 washcloth and one mouth guard holder

That’s a total of 21 finished objects, which is pretty good. I taught two people how to knit, which I love doing.

I also spun three good skeins of usable yarn, one fingering, one lace, and one sport, plus the little leftover skeins from the bobbin ends. Could have been better.

In the last week, I’ve made five Celtic Star pendants, three Celtic Visions bracelets, and two Helm chain flowers, plus a bunch of short practice pieces of Box chain, Byzantine chain, and Full Persian chain. I have plans to make other chainmail bracelets, since the only bracelets that fit me well are ones I make myself. Manipulating dozens of small wire jump rings into shapes is like building a three dimensional jigsaw, and you end up with curiously mobile piece of jewellery.

In November I wrote 58000 words on a novel which turned out to be book #2 of a trilogy, book #1 being my 2009 NaNoWriMo novel. I’m not quite finished yet, though I’m working on the last three chapters and I can see the end from here. The final book of the trilogy will be written next year, possibly for NaNoWriMo.

I changed job this year, leaving a company I’ve been with for nearly seven years. Not an easy decision to make, but I’m loving the new company. Got my green belt in Kenpo and started working on 3rd degree Brown Belt techniques. Brown belt is the first of the advanced level belts and the tests get more difficult now. Also you’re no longer allowed to have people watch your test unless they’re above you in rank.

I read forty books and watched twenty-seven movies. I wrote twenty-seven haiku, which is a good habit to keep up. So, what’s next?

Back to what passes for normal

It was a long November. I haven’t finished my novel, though at 58,000 words it’s at the end of chapter nine, with three more chapters to go. I’m going to finish this one, read the first book, then this second book, and then plan out an end to the trilogy. I did win NaNoWriMo, my eighth win since I started this in 2004, and my first sequel (though I realised partway through it was actually the middle book of a trilogy).

I have several knitting projects in progress, most notable is a pair of socks for my karate instructor, and two secret projects. There’s a hat I’m toying with a design for (silver cabled band, rolled edge, orange crown with the cable band folded back) and a cardigan waiting patiently for two fronts and a button band. The socks are fun because I’m taking what could be a boring pair of ribbed socks and periodically breaking the ribs by purling across them.

Broken Rib sock.

This week I’ll be putting some good fibre on the spinning wheel, an orange polwarth/silk (an 85/15 blend) from Corgi Hill Farm, who dyes beautiful fibre and has interesting blends to spin. I have some of her baby camel/silk (a 50/50 blend) to play with after the polwarth/silk is done, that came in two 2oz braids. I love polwarth fibre, that and Falklands are my favourites, but I do not like spinning batts. Even very good batts, I much prefer roving. So, some beautiful Cupcake Fiber batts are on their way out of my stash to a good home.</p

Corgi Hill Farm spinning fibre.

The weather has turned wintery, first frost and snow flurries this week. Roll on summer…

Tour de Fleece 2011 wrap up

I’m calling this a win even though I deviated from my goals. My original Tour de Fleece goals were:

  • Spin every day
  • Finish the blue fibre
  • Sample some new fibre
  • Prep and spin 3oz grey Polwarth locks

Spin every day

Almost achieved. I skipped a Tuesday, but I spun on both official rest days. I could rearrange my mornings and spin a little first thing before work in front of my light box.

Finish the blue fibre

Achieved! 450yds of light fingering weight or heavy laceweight yarn spun, plied, washed and ready to be knitted. This was the best yardage I’ve ever managed.

Sample some new fibre

Not done, New Zealand polwarth was new to me, but I’ve spun polwarth before.

Prep and spin 3oz grey Polwarth locks

Didn’t even try to meet this goal, I got distracted with the thought of two usable skeins of yarn. I don’t think I’m much of a fibre preparing person, I prefer to work with roving or top.

I did achieve two personal bests though, the longest skein I’ve ever spun (450yds light fingering weight 2-ply), immediately superseded by the longest and thinnest skein I’ve ever spun (638yds laceweight 2-ply). I think I need to try spinning some sport weight yarn, just to make sure I still can. I also spun almost all of two 4oz chunks of fibre (I had a half bobbin of the blue when I started the Tour), which makes a little extra room in the fibre box.

Tour de Fleece 2011.

From left to right this is the blue merino/bamboo/silk light fingering weight, the Sunburnt Country polwarth laceweight, the Falklands leftovers, the laceweight mini skein, and the blue leftovers.

I ended the Tour with all five bobbins empty and no leftover singles. It’s time for a stash diving expedition to find what to spin next. Cream Cormo is a possibility, dark brown CVM would be a new fibre to try, or maybe pink/grey/blue merino. I’ll see what speaks loudest to me.

Tour de Fleece 2011 (part five)

The final days of the 2011 Tour de Fleece! Pictures when the skeins are all dry.

Thursday 21st July

Working from home, so I spun for a half hour at lunchtime. Finished the second bobbin after work! Reset the wheel for plying, put the bobbins in the Majacraft bobbin box, will work on it tomorrow. Wound the leftovers from one blue bobbin to Andean ply into a small skein.

Friday 22nd July

Started plying, showed Bella how it’s done. Like the thickness of the emerging yarn, but I have a long way to go before it’s finished.

Saturday 23rd July

Did some more plying, I think this will be quite a lot of yarn. Hard to tell which bobbin has more singles on, they are never exactly the same.

Sunday 24th July

The final day! Finished plying everything, leaving five clean bobbins. The final tally is:

  • Merino bamboo silk, 2-ply, 450yds
  • Falklands wool leftovers, 2-ply, 102yds
  • Merino bamboo silk leftovers, 2-ply, 36yds
  • NZ Polwarth, 2-ply, 638yds
  • NZ Polwarth leftovers 2-ply, 127yds

Today’s three skeins are all drying in the bathroom. I have spun real laceweight yarn! This is the best spinning I’ve managed yet. Need to slow down while plying a bit, and probably put less plying twist in the yarn, but I’m really pleased with the results.

Tour de Fleece 2011 (part four)

This Tour de Fleece is the most spinning I’ve done in months, and I want to keep up the momentum. One thing I learned from National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is that a deadline has magical motivating power. I will aim to spin three more skeins in 2011, using fibre from the stash and taking November off to write a novel. I definitely want to spin up my 75/25 merino/possum fibre as one of the skeins.

(NB: These daily updates are posted on my Tour de Fleece 2011 page first.)

Saturday 17th July

Spun a little before knitting group, I’m wondering how the yarn will look when it’s plied, and also what to spin next. I much prefer shaded solids to variegateds, so it might be a braid of green/grey BFL from my friend Amy, who has an Etsy store called Fibercycle that returns September 1st.

Sunday 17th July

Spun after karate practice in the basement, got one sixth of the way through the second bobbin. This half of the fibre seems to have more orange pink sections than the other half. Hoping to finish the bobbin this week and ply it before the end of the tour next Sunday. Did some more spinning after escaping the evil afternoon heat, one quarter complete and counting.

Monday 18th July

The second official rest day, but I’ll spin today and rest tomorrow. Made it over the halfway point with the second bobbin after an exhausting (but good) karate lesson. Hoping this yarn turns out to be another light fingering weight yarn.

Tuesday 19th July

Spun after work but before karate, 2/3 through the bobbin now. I have two kitchen towels I use as lap-cloths, one white (for dark fibres), the other dyed black (for light fibres). In theory they keep the fibre off my clothes. I drape one over the spinning wheel when I leave to hide the fibre from inquisitive cats.

NZ Polwarth.

Wednesday 20th July

Spun when I got home, after karate practice. Made it past the ¾ mark on the bobbin, hoping to finish it tomorrow or Friday, then ply at the weekend. I’m about ready for this yarn to be done.

Tour de Fleece 2011 (part three)

Knitting goes by the wayside during the Tour de Fleece, restricted to lunchtimes at work and some time at the karate studio between and before classes. The knitted projects currently being neglected are an Aria Delicato lace scarf, and a hemp wash cloth using doubled laceweight yarn.

I’m trucking along with my New Zealand Polwarth this week, I got this in January 2009 as a custom order, the colourway is "Sunburnt Country" and I was expecting it to be a lot more orange and less pink from the pictures.

(NB: These daily updates are posted on my Tour de Fleece 2011 page first.)

Monday 11th July

Official rest day for both Tour de France and Tour de Fleece, but my goal was to spin every day, even if only for 15 minutes. Working on the red/pink Polwarth from Southern Cross Fibres, I’m liking the colours more as I see them up close, I’m aiming this to be a little thicker than I spun the blue fibre, but not much. Blue and red skeins are almost dry.

Tuesday 12th July

Taking this as my rest day from yesterday, exhausted after an hour of karate class and an hour of sparring.

Wednesday 13th July

Accidentally destroyed my blog and spent two hours of spinning time doing low level repairs in the database to restore it. And yes, it is now thoroughly backed up and repaired. Spun some polwarth, but not near as much as I’d hoped to get done. Finished the first quarter of the first bobbin, started on the next fuzz lump.

Thursday 14th July

Spun for 10 minutes before work, liking the colours more as I see them spun up. Did some more after karate practice at home, while watching old episodes of Doctor Who, have just over a quarter left to go on this bobbin. The fibre spins better from one direction than the other.

Two skeins and a bobbin.

Friday 15th July

Spun between work and the karate group class at 4:30pm, and again after dinner. Finished the first bobbin and started the second.