Tuesday, June 28, 2011

More Vacation, blending fiber for graduated yarn color

After a week back at work, my friend Deb and I met in NC at my brother's.  Its still nice here. Here's the lace that's not knitted

There are some new animals

I suggested the names of "Midnight" and "Ink" but that was rejected.  They may wind up as "kitty 2" and "kitty 3".

Deb is helping me to improve my hand spindling techniques.   She is also teaching me how to make my own graduated color yarn.


Pick four colors of top, split in half

 Move half of each color to the side for later.

Pick the first two colors that you want to grade from one to the next, split in to five piles

1) 100% one color A
2) 75% color A, 25% color B
3) 50% color A, 50% color B
4) 25% color A, 75% color B
5) 100% color B

Repeat with all colors, making similar piles, steps 2 through 5.  You'll have some left over.

 Within each pile, pull apart and put back together gently to mix by hand. 

Put in baggies and label cause you'll soon be unable to recognize. Decide if you want to spin the left over at the  beginning and the end or wherever, or save for another project.

Spin the best you can.  IF YOU'RE ON VACATION you use a drop spindle. Repeat with the other halves and make two ply if you want.  If you do and you've spun evenly, the color sequences SHOULD match up.  

Admire your friend's spinning technique.

Deb also taught me how to spin from the fold. 

Decide that you REALLY need the other type of spindle that your friend has (top whorl). 

Get tired and go work on some knitting.

Have a glass of wine, get tired, go to bed to rest up for jewelry casting class (more on that later). 


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Book Report: "Trafficking in Sheep"

I enjoy reading about raising sheep and I just finished Anne Barclay Priest's book entitled Trafficking in Sheep.

Over a period of years, Anne bought an island in Nova Scotia, and decided to keep sheep on it.  I thought about this and it made sense, natural boundaries and all. (It of course put me in mind of the on North Ronaldsay in Scotland).  And, as it turns out, lotsa people around the world keep sheep on islands.

Anne kept Scottish Blackface sheep, which I saw in Scotland.

Not very soft, but practical.

Anne later build a home in Greenville, in upstate New York, where she would take her first year ewes to prevent the ram on the island from impregnating them, as the girls needed to be two years old before having lambs.

I googled Anne's name, hoping to get in touch with her, and discovered some information about her on this lovely blog. Here is another entry with great photos of sheep handling and shearing.

Anne later kept Border Leicesters on her farm in Greenville, enjoying the softer wool for knitting sweaters for herself.  She  mentions briefley in the book that she also was a spinner and weaver.

Another google hit, revealed Anne Barclay Priest's brief obituary in the New York Times, which indicates that she passed away last November (2010) while feeding her sheep.  So lovely that she published this memoir for us.

This book probably would be most interesting for those of us frustrated by not being able to be a real shepherdess ( a genre entitled agrarian fantasy by goodreads.com!), and also by those who already are. 

This all puts me in mind of my favorite Billy Collins poem


It has been calculated that
each copy of the Gutenburg Bible
required the skins of 300 sheep.
I can see them
squeezed into the holding pen
behind the stone building
where the printing press is housed.
All of them squirming around
to find a little room
and looking so much alike
it would be nearly impossible to count them.
And there is no telling which one of them
will carry the news
that the Lord is a Shepherd,
one of the few things
they already know.

Billy Collins

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Vacation, Garden Shawl progress

My brother lives west of Asheville in a little town in the mountains of North Carolina

I'm here with preferred company for a week of hiking local trails

There are lots of fun things to do here other than hiking, for example

admire a 1942 Ford pickup that my bro is working on for a friend

 (it's my next ride)

look at wildflowers

talk to animals

(well, gumby's not an animal but I couldn't help it)

My KSH garden shawl is progressing, thanks again Evelyn

Yes indeed, I am coming back later this month for a week at John C. Campbell Folkschool...

Monday, June 6, 2011

My Peruvian Hand Spindle

I am trying to learn more about drop spindles.

When in Peru in summer 2010 I bought this little drop spindle

 I just discovered Abby Franquemont's blog.  In this post she discusses these Peruvian low whorl spindles.  Apparently the dark marks on mine may have been created by woodburning.  And apparently they are hard to find in the US, easier to go to Peru to purchase one. 

I could learn alot more about spinning if I actually took the time to read more of Abby's blog.  But the post I mention is fascinating, and Abby talks about how to easily make a similar spindle of your own with a trip to Home Depot or similar.

I bought my spindle above at the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco in Chinchero

 Here are some of the ladies spinning on the same sort of spindle:

And a poorly labelled but interesting video, courtesy of Youtube

 At another branch of the Center in Cusco, on a main boulevard

Could I look any happier?  I am wearing a bit of backstrap weaving, which was done by a schoolchild!

 I might recommend this

it's available here.

It has alot of basic spinning information for the novice not very good spinner like me.  Also some direct projects for knitting with handspun.  Abby has a couple of articles in it too, including one on high vs. low whorl spindles.