MI Fiber Festival

Every year over the third weekend in August, there is a fiber festival in Allegan, MI. I’ve wanted to go the last year or two, but it competed with Buckley Old Engine Show. I suggested the compromise of Buckley on Thursday/Friday and the Fiber Festival on Sat. but this year we decided to go to the Fiber Festival on Sun. It was less busy than it would have been on Say. and we had Boo with us so it made for a relaxing day instead of frustrating. I had a lot of fun petting all the fiber and drooling over all the tools. I found it interesting that some of the booths were yarn shops that packed up and came for the weekend while others are small independent dyers/spinners. We saw sheep, alpaca and a few other animals.

I tended to spend more time looking at fiber than anything, I had a list and a budget. I’m happy to say I didn’t over spend and found 60-70% of my list. Some of the things I purchased were for a swap I participated in and I forgot to take pictures before I mailed it off. I bought two things of sock yarn and a bit of fiber that I kept.
Next year I may have to save up a bit more so that I can have a bigger list of wants.

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Spindle Swap

I joined a spindle swap group on a knit/crochet/yarn site and this was my first swap. Our partners were assigned by a moderator and we swapped to someone different than who swapped to us. I swapped a Spindlewood spindle custom mini square whorl in holly made for my partner, natural Jacob fiber from The Counting Sheep Farm in White Cloud, a scarf pattern, a journal I made and lots of food goodies. Connie emailed back and forth with me to get the spindle just right. Steve did a beautiful job on the spindle. The next time I order one for a swap, I’ll have to mail it directly to its new owner or it may not make it to its new home.

In return, I received this lovely package plus a bumblebee tape measure I forgot to take a picture of at the time.

Golding Purpleheart Goldring Spindle, Colored Cormo from The Counting Sheep Farm, and a journal that was decorated very nicely. Not pictured is Penelope the Empathetic Monster that I received as a gift as well.

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A book review: Spin Control

by Amy King, 2009

a review/summary
I borrowed this book from the library along with many others to evaluate what books to add to my spinning library. This one will be joining my library at the end of the week, making an Amazon order for Christmas. Amy challenges the readers to play with the wheel. It’s nothing I couldn’t have figured out on my own but to see it written down, permission to play with the wheel whether it seems conventional or not, somehow makes it ok to set about doing. She tells us to change a specific setting one way then spin, then make another change and see what happens. Then change another setting and asks how it changed from the previous ones. (scientific method anyone?)

After the introductory chapters she gets to the business of explaining many of the questions I had in a blog draft like how to know how much twist to put in the yarn. She shows us how to evaluate previously spun or purchased yarn in an effort to reproduce it and encourages us to keep a spinning notebook. She shows us how to spin a variety to novelty yarns and even shows several knitted swatches of different prep and spinning techniques on the same base fiber. I feel like cover to cover gets me a spinning class. Can’t wait to get my hands on the book permanently. I’m off to browse the rest of the books, stay tuned for more reviews.

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In which we stay home and spin

I had hoped to go to White Cloud today and join in the spinning fun that occurs most Monday afternoons. Unfortunately, we were not able to, so we stayed home and had some spinning practice. Here is the bobbin yesterday and today:

As you can see, it’s a little more even and a little more full. I’m spinning rather fine yarn, so it will take me a while to fill two bobbins. I’ve decided to drop down one gear and spin a tad slower. My wheel was sucking the fiber in quite quickly and as a result, I lost hold a few times and had to fish it out again.

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In which I spin on my Ashford Traveller

I’m addicted. This is as much as I was able to accomplish. I completed the wheel early this morning, 1:30AM and then went to bed. I was able to spin two partial bobbins and then ply them this evening. I was a bit concerned that a double drive would be too difficult to begin with but it wasn’t. The flyer and bobbin do spin very, very, very fast but I was only frustrated a time or two because of speed. The furbaby helping me is Zorro. Boo needed mommy snuggles, so the yarn is on a third bobbin waiting. I need to get it off the bobbin and either wash it or just let it rest. so the twist is set.

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A Chronicle of my spinning wheel assembly

It’s a bit before midnight and since I’m blogging every day in November, I must interrupt my process and post now. (Wouldn’t want to miss a day just because I have a new tool.) I’m enjoying putting it together and I’m nearly finished. I only found one mistake in the instructions, which is funny considering it’s pictures. Luckily, it looked a bit off to me so I checked subsequent pictures to be clear. Sure enough, the one image is not correct. This goes without saying, so I’ll say it anyway, click images below for a larger uncropped picture.

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In which we go for a drive to White Cloud

Boo and I drove to White Cloud to The Old Farm Girl store today. We paid for the spinning wheel, purchased some brown Shetland wool, 2 pounds to be exact (that is a huge ball-I’m told it’s enough to make a sweater), and returned home by way of several errands. We didn’t make it to knit night last night because he was a bit out of sorts. He had a much better day today, I think the caffeine was finally out of his system.

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In which I sit down at a spinning wheel

Today we went for a drive to White Cloud to visit a store we found a few weeks ago when we were driving around looking at the fall colors. The Old Farm Girl is a knitting, crochet, weaving, spinning and fiber store. According to the website, the owner of the shop had several wheels to look at and could order all the models I was considering purchasing. We were the only customers in the store for a good while, so I was able to sit at a wheel and start learning to spin. Evelyn started some farm wool on the wheel and then sat with me to show me how to long draw. I sat for about 20 minutes at a Louet S51 DT. It was more fun than I expected it to be and not nearly as difficult. It took me several tries to understand how my hands were supposed to work. Once I did, I was spinning a mostly fine single. I would just like to say, “FUN!!”

While she did not have all the wheels I was interested in trying, Evelyn had a Kromski Minstrel at home and let me know it was not very portable. Even though the Schact Ladybug and Matchless were on my list, deep down I fet the Ladybug didn’t seem like enough and the Matchless was too much. Evelyn seemed to understand my thoughts on the matter, so that left me with the Ashford Traveller. I’m going back tomorrow to pay for it, purchase some wool, and two weeks of patience.

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Spinning wheel research

Today, amidst squawks from Boo, I was able to do some concrete research on spinning wheels. I’ve ruled out Saxony wheels also referred to as “Cinderella” wheels. I don’t have the floor space for it and right now I can’t rule out portability of a wheel. I’m leaning toward a double treadle, double drive castle wheel. I admit I still do not know which one is “the one,” but I have determined which ones are ideal from each company listed and after this research I’m ever so much closer.

  • Ashford: Traveller Double Treadle Double Drive and then the Joy
  • Fricke: there’s only the S-160 DT that’s I’m looking at but I’m not sold on it.
  • Kromski: Minstrel, Sonata then Mazurka
  • Louet: I didn’t find any that jumped off the page at me.
  • Majacraft: Rose, Suzie, then Millie
  • Schacht: I would prefer a Matchless DT over the Ladybug

I found a knitting, weaving, spinning, and something else store about a half hour from where I live. I plan to visit on Tuesday with my research to come to a decision on what I want. I probably won’t purchase one for a little while, the hospital bill for my stay with Boo arrived today, a bit more than I expected but well worth it.

Next spinning post will compare across the companies for the ones I would really like to have.

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Spinning wheel got to go ’round

“What goes up, must come down, spinning wheel got to ’round . . ”
lyrics by David Clayton-Thomas, performed by BS&T

No, no, I’m not joining a 60s band. No, I’m not trippin’ on anything. I’m in the market for a spinning wheel. I have been toying with the idea for quite some time, but I’m ready to get down to business and seriously compare my options. For a while I thought I wanted an alpaca farm so I could have alpaca for “free” (giggle, giggle, snort, snort). After spending a lot of time researching, alpacas are not for me. I don’t think we’d be able to responsibly care for the cute, fiber-bearing critters. For our lifestyle if we were going to have livestock, sheep would better suit us. Before we invest in sheep, long before, I’d like to learn to spin fibre (that’s the cool spinner’s lingo for the stuff off the animal). In order to spin fibre into yarn, I need a wheel or a spindle. Since I’d like to spin and ply in volume, I’m looking at wheels. Making yarn can be fun 🙂 Then, once I’ve got the knack of spinning, I need to step back and learn to process the wool from the sheep (carding, washing, etc), to shear the sheep and how to raise sheep (mostly in that order). Wow, that’s quite a list.

I think I’d like a “travel” wheel. I like the idea of compact, easy to carry and store. At this point in time, our house is cozy and the wheel won’t receive daily use so storage and portability is key. Since I may want to spin upstairs, outside, at a friend’s house, and I can only imagine where-I’d like it to be portable. I’m obviously going for best quality for the money, but I don’t have an unlimited budget.

If you have a wheel you love, please share. If you have a wheel you didn’t love, please share. Do you process your own animal fibre? Please share. For now, I’m off to research. I’ll share updates as I have them.

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