Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Woolee Winder Love

One of my birthday presents this year was a Woolee Winder from my husband. I have seen all the cool kids online posting pictures of theirs for years now and I thought it was cool but I was still intimidated. I wasn't able to try one out in person so I relied heavily on the guarantee that if I didn't like it I could send it back.

First I tried a basic 2 ply yarn. It was difficult to get used to initially. I had to really oil it up and play with the tension but by the time I finished up plying it started to feel good. It is a little louder but it's a constant whooshing noise so it's not distracting. I wasn't sold though at this point.

Next up was a skein to Navajo ply and this is the one that sold me. At this point the bobbin was well oiled and I had found the sweet spot for my tension. I initially tried my largest drive but that didn't feel right so I went back to my normal one. Once I got started and found my groove it was amazing. When you're plying with both hands like that it's a pain to have to stop and switch hooks all the time. This was so smooth and easy. Absolutely the best way to go. I do need some more practice though at getting my plied yarn balanced. I tended to really, really under ply but when I tried to fix it I would over ply. That may be because I'm still getting the hand out of Navajo plying in general. By far the Woolee Winder made it so much more enjoyable to spin.

Last for the test was spinning singles. I've read on blogs and Ravelry threads that the Woolee Winder can tend to have a lot more take up than your regular wheel. I adjusted for that with barely having my spring engaged for tension and just dove in. I also wanted to see how much fiber I can pack on one of these bobbins because the Navajo plied fiber was well over 5 ounces and I had lots more room. I decided on Jill Draper's blue/orange (SU colors) fiber since I got about 6.75 ounces on my home scale. This is the original fiber:

After 2 nights of spinning this is what my bobbin looks like:

Isn't it the coolest thing ever? The singles do seem to build up a little on the ends of the bobbin but overall I am just so happy with this. I have to stop myself occasionally to stretch out my hands because it's so easy to just keep spinning and spinning. I plan to Navajo ply this when I'm done and knit up a hat or two for my son since he picked out the fiber at the Yarn Cupboard and demanded that I buy it for him. Just last night we had this conversation:

Me: After you go to bed, do you think I should spin or knit tonight?
Son: I think you should knit my hat.
Me: But I haven't finished spinning up the yarn yet.
Son: Then you need to do that now!

Keep in mind that we bought this fiber back in January and haven't talked about it much since then.

My goal is to have this fiber spun up and drying before I leave for my work trip on Monday. It's not too much pressure but it is more fiber than I normally spin at one time so I'm just going to keep at it.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

But I am still Spinning too

I have found a somewhat happy balance between my knitting and spinning time during the week. It's been tough when I want to do both all the time. It's been so long since I've shared spinning pictures that I had to go back to my KnitMeter account to figure out what I've finished!

My first big spinning project on my Strickland spindle was Holiday Yarns Silver:

Horrible picture (it's really much lighter) but I got about 356 yards of DK weight yarn. Amazingly to spin with almost no vm in it.

Then I challenged myself to spin from a batt (Spinner's Hill) for the first time and got two beautiful skeins of sport weight yarn (again, bad picture):

Then I challenged myself again and learned how to Navajo ply on a spindle. It's really not that difficult. I used Jill Draper's goth chick fiber and got 2 small skeins of worsted weight yarn:

I got this Pagewood Farms roving from my husband for Christmas:

Then Navajo plied it on my wheel for the first time to get 266 yards of worsted weight yarn:

Having a "To Learn" list has really helped me with picking projects. I have been having so much fun trying new things.

I thought I'd try spinning the singles on my Strickland spindle and then Navajo plying on my wheel (using my new Woolee Winder). I used Corgi Hill Farms polwarth/tussah silk fiber to get 200 yards of worsted weight yarn:

Also on my list was spinning some merino/yak fiber. I got this beautiful blend from Wooly Wonka Fibers in the color way River's Edge:

As part of the Woolee Winder trial process I did a basic 2 ply and got 238 yards of DK yarn that has very subtle color variations:

This is by far the softest yarn I have ever gotten from hand spinning. It took a bit to get used to spinning but it's well worth it.

I have projects on the wheel and spindle now but I'll save that for a future post. Someday I do need to figure out what I'm going to do with all of this hand spun yarn. For now, it just sits in my yarn cabinet and I pet it every now and then. It's going to be hard deciding on patterns - it's all so precious to me!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Knitting Mojo is Back!

It took me some time to work everything out but my knitting mojo has finally returned. I've settled into a nice balance of one large project for the evenings and many small social knitting projects during the day (one at a time).

First up, I finished my Bernhardt Cardigan in time for the retreat:

It was tough but I let Sandi Wiseheart give me all the critiques on fitting it better and I'm now armed with the knowledge to fix this and knit my next one better. I learned that sweater knitting isn't something that you can just jump into. You need to measure and swatch like crazy if you want it to eventually fit correctly. Oh and one tiny detail I like to forget: WASH THE DAMN SWATCH! I really, really, really need to start doing that.

My current large project for the evenings is a secret. Well, not really a secret because my friends know that I'm knitting them a massive baby blanket that is absolutely gorgeous. They just don't know what the yarn or pattern looks like. If you're curious, hop on over to my Ravelry projects and it's my current WIP. There's no rush to finish this since they haven't even started trying to conceive yet and I love not having a deadline looming over me. Plus, it's very enjoyable to knit.

For my small, social knitting projects first up is a new pair of socks for my son in the next size up:

Yes, he picked out the yarn and he still loves it. I think I have enough left to make him one more pair next year.

For our week of vacation in Florida I knit up 2 projects from my KnitSpot Fall in Full Color subscription club:

Echo of Bells scarf in mink/cashmere yarn

Woodstacking cowl

Then came a series of epic social knitting to knit up 4 hats in the same pattern for my husband's friends:

Bored yet? Yeah, me too.

So while I have a great evening project that will take a long time to finish my social knitting projects have stalled. It's the perfect opportunity to start working on mittens for the NNCS Mitten Campaign this fall. I'm going to use my leftovers from these hats to make my first pair. Not really sure how all these colors will work together but I'm going to experiment and have a little fun with it.