Monthly Archives: July 2012

In Praise of The Hackle

Why are we so obsessed with drum carders and mini-combs?  Where is the love of the hackle?  If you haven’t tried a hackle yet, consider it.  It is an amazing tool that is almost magical in its blending capability.  Your spinning will be effortless with hackled fibers and you will be able to create the coolest yarns.

Can you stand it?!

My hackle is a Lanicomb big boy.  It is 18 inches long.  The Lanicomb is a sturdy, well-made hackle.  It was very easy to use and I really love it.  It just so happens that it is the hackle that Deb Menz used in her book, Color in Spinning.  I highly recommend it.  (As for a hackle cover, I took a sheet of white poster board, cut it to size, and stapled the sides shut.)

Here it is with some more of the Hobbledehoy fiber I drum carded yesterday.  I lashed on across the combs with each color.

Me diz!

My lovely diz from Mr Forsyth is doing a great job.  I used his threader too.  They came with my Russian Paddle Combs, but I digress.

Soft!

As you can see, all the colors lined up and were pulled out at the same time, giving me lovely stripey goodness.  This will make a pretty heathered yarn.

Here is the finished ball waiting to be spun.

Next up, is the same fiber but in short rows.

Notice how the colors are next to each other here and not on top.  This will give a different effect when finished.

Add a little dyed tussah silk!  Just cause I can.

Dizzing, dizzing!

Notice how the finished fiber here is in blocky sections of color?  Well, with the silk blending it a bit.

The ball on the left is the first one I put on the hackle with the colors lashed on in long stripes.  The ball on the right is the second one in this post.  The yarn from the second ball will spin up with short stripes if kept as singles or chain-plied.

Check out what you can do in a short time with a hackle.  I got this hackle off kbb spin for only $50.  I had always wanted a hackle but thought them a luxury item and not a necessity for some reason.  I was so wrong.  You can hackle beautiful blends in less time than it takes to drum card a multicolored batt.  Another positive is that you will be handling the fiber the whole time.  For those of you who like pre-drafting just so you have an excuse to fondle your fibers, a hackle is for you.  Ask around and see if you can pick one up.  Seriously, this is a must for any spinner.

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Filed under equipment review, hackling

From Tree to Jar: Chutney

And here we go!

Picked!

My neighbor’s cherry tree.  We don’t know what it is but we call it a cherry tree.

The baby and I spent an hour or so collecting these cuties.

A couple hours later, they were all pitted, all 2 1/2 lbs.

The pits to prove it!

Mixed with other ingredients:

In the pot they went:

And we got this.

We made four jars.  This chutney is so excellent.  It is my favorite.  If you would like to make some of your own, here is the recipe.

Mywool’s Excellent Chutney

2.5 lbs pitted cherries

1 lb peeled, cored, and chopped granny smith apples

2 inches ginger root, thinly sliced and chopped

4 cloves

12 cardamom poda – seeds only

1 cup raisins

2 1/2 cups unrefined sugar

1 T sea salt

2 c cider vinegar

1 c red wine vinegar

Directions:

Combine and boil all ingredients for about 2 hours till reduced by half.  Let it cool and bottle.

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Deb’s Delicate Deluxe: A Review in Pictures

I took merino/silk fiber from Hobbledehoy and put it on the new Triple D.

Deb’s Delicate Deluxe, ready for duty!

The drum!

Meow!

Check out how clean this bad boy is!

Me lovey this carder!

The batt is all done.

Thank you Pat Green!

Loving this new carder!!  I highly recommend it.

 

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Filed under Drum carding, equipment review, fiber

Book Review: Fleegle Spins Supported

Do you recognize this book title, Metaphysics of Batrachomyomachy?

Gotta love it!

It is one of my new favorite books.  First, I love that I can hide it in any bookshelf and no one will ever pick it up or know what it is.  Second, it is a really fun book to own.  If you haven’t guessed already, Metaphysics of Batrachomyomachy is what it says on the spine of the printed book, Fleegle Spins Supported.  How I love that!

Photo courtesy of Susan Stevens, used with permission.

The book was written by Fleegle.

No! Not that Fleegle!  This Fleegle.

Photo courtesy of Susan Stevens, used with permission.

Susan Stevens, aka Fleegle, is the author of one of the few books that are devoted specifically to supported spinning.  I think the reason her book stands out for me is the sheer size of it.  It is a textbook, in weight and appearance, running 400+ pages.  It is huge.  Good thing too, as Ms Stevens, aka Ms Fleegle, covers fibers and their preparations, spindles, spindle anatomy, makers, techniques, yarn, record keeping, and rounds it all out with cool appendices. (Yes, I read and refer to those in most books.)  Want to know the micron count of a tribble?  It’s in there.  No, I won’t tell you.  Get the book. (and you call yourself a Trekkie!)

Can I get some of that to spin, Captain? (Image courtesy of creative commons, http://nopsa.hiit.fi/pmg/viewer/photo.php?id=859337)

Although Fleegle Spins Supported is available as an interactive .pdf that you receive on a jump drive, I will be reviewing the hard copy.  Because I bought the bound book, I received the jump drive version too.  (I was not paid to review this book and paid full price for my personal copy.)  I did look at the files but I prefer to have a book in my hands to read if at all possible so I didn’t open the book file much unless I wanted to click to find a vendor.  Of course, I did watch the 18 demonstration videos.  (My daughter loved the spider one.)  The book is the same nonetheless, regardless of the format but my vote goes to the hardcover.

Fleegle Spins Supported is advertised as a full-color coffee table book.  Instantly, my mind went to Kramer, but it is true.  It has very beautiful photographs.  Think spindle/fiber porn.

Photo courtesy of Susan Stevens, used with permission.

Many times I take it off the shelf just to look through the pictures and dream.  You can see why the hardcover is so expensive when you look through it.  Every page has color pictures showing everything from spindles, to specific fibers being spun, to Neal Brand demonstrating turning a spindle.  How cool can you get?

Fleegle’s writing style is decidedly decided and quite humorous.  Her descriptions of techniques are easy to follow and are written in a step-by-step manner that I think most new spinners would be able to comprehend.  I particularly like the steps she gives to new spinners starting with twirling the spindle without looking for a week.  It reminds me of Maggie Casey‘s advice to treadle for 20-30 minutes to get the hang of a using spinning wheel.

The book starts with descriptions of fibers available and not available to spin with their strengths and weakness listed.  I really enjoyed this section and loved the pictures of each fiber making its way onto the spindle.  Ms Stevens adds her opinion on how each fiber spun for her and was most interesting.  If she doesn’t like a fiber, it is said in a good-natured way.  Readers can make up their own minds by trying each on their own.  One of the things that I loved was the section on Kozo spinning.  Kozo is a paper made from mulberry paper.

I can’t wait to try it.  I bought the paper and am ready to start. Thank you, Fleegle!

Her fiber preparation section was outstanding.  One of my pet peeves is incorrect washing instructions for raw wool.  She did very well.  Her pictures ranging from batts, clouds, to fauxlags are clear and sumptuous.  The pages devoted to making a batt make you want to run to your drum carder without haste.

The section on spindles and their makers is really dangerous.  I suggest you get out a towel for the drool and hide your credit cards.  They can only inspire you to buy one of each type.  After all, you can justify that, right?  It is for your education, isn’t it?

Photo courtesy of Susan Stevens, used with permission.

I followed Fleegle’s steps to learn supported spinning in her spinning technique section to the letter to give it a proper go.  The directions are uncomplicated and well-thought out.  If you aren’t proficient at supported spinning, or are stuck with park and draft and want to further your techniques, I think Ms Stevens can help you get to the next level.  I found myself a bit too advanced to experience it in the same way but found it useful and fun to revisit.  The videos that correspond to the written lessons are indispensable.  They are a wonderful addition.  I spin in the opposite manner of Fleegle, that is to say left-handed, but found the flipped right-handed video to be very instructive indeed.

The section on record keeping is fabulous.  I ordered my DMC blank embroidery cards straight away.  (I am terrible about keeping records since I had the baby.)  I feel that the trouble shooting section will be of great service to the new spinner.  The appendices!  Yes, one of my favorite things. I find them just fun to check out.  Don’t miss them.

Photo courtesy of Susan Stevens, used with permission.

All in all, I would highly recommend Fleegle Spins Supported.  Ms Stevens has wit and opinions.  She allows for the reader to ignore what she thinks and probably would encourage each spinner to try all aspects for themselves as we are all different.  Her opinion is not to be set in stone.  For example, she admits to having small hands.  I wonder if this effects some of her spinning times.  We all are different sizes and may use spindles in different ways.  One of the vendors who she lists with a twirling time of only 7.9 seconds on an empty spindle.  I tried it at home, since it is one of my fave spindles, and got more like 32 seconds.  That time would have been more than the leading spindle in that category.  The longest time was 24.2 seconds with an empty twirl.  I think it behooves the reader to take the book as a guide and not as gospel.  A very good, lovely, fun and knowledgeable guide but a guide.

Photo courtesy of Susan Stevens, used with permission.

If you are thinking of learning to spin supported, there can be no better instruction without a teacher present.  The .pdf book costs $30, and the hardcover, which includes the .pdf, is $100.  Another option is to take advantage of the Support Spindle Starter kit offered by Malcolm Fielding.  For $100 + shipping, you will receive the .pdf copy of the book, fiber, and one of his  Dervish spindle and bowl sets.   I have paid more for workshops where I have learned less.  I ask you to consider it as such.  You will not regret it.

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Huh? Schacht Cherry Matchless?

Look what followed me home from Estes Park Wool Market this year:

I was really proud of myself.  I had only bought $18.00 worth of yak and was about to leave.  Then I walked by Susan’s Fiber Shop and saw the wheel.  Before I knew what I was doing, I had asked to try it and then it was done.  It spun so well!  I have a Schacht Matchless in maple that I am not really all that fond of.  I gave the maple one to the baby last year so I probably needed to get another, right?  Plus, Susan was a sweetie and gave me $100 off which is awesome. (Btw, I love Susan’s Fiber Shop. She is so generous with her time and really knows her stuff.)

I lovvvee the changes they made to the Matchless wheels.  I also love the painted black orifice hook. :)  The new scotch tension is so responsive.  Wonderful wheel!

I leave you with the grain that melted my heart!

This is a very dark wheel.

I mean, leave a wheel with that grain? No way!

 

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Look what I got…

Can you guess?

Do you know yet?  Any idea?

For your carding pleasure!

I found this bad boy on Craigslist Colorado for a great price.  I was so happy to do so after the fiasco with Fancy Kitty.  This is a Pat Green Deb’s Delicate Deluxe drum carder which was featured in the famous Deb Menz book, Color in Spinning.  If you don’t have that book yet, you need to order it…now.  Seriously!

It had one owner who bought it from Susan’s Fiber Shop at Ester Park Wool market in 2006.  She processed one clean lamb’s fleece on it and put it away.  Lovely and like new!  She even kept all the paperwork that came with it (along with the doffer, fetling brush, and burnish tool, bless her.)

Here she is just waiting for fiber.  I tested her out with alpaca/silk, BFL top, and some Lincoln longwool.  She did just fine.  I love the teeth.  It came with the fur drum which has very fine teeth.  Really excellent in separating fibers.  The machine is silent when working.  I lovvvvve the poly drive belt.  I am so used to chain drives that I was surprised at how much more I liked the poly belt.  It is really easy to remove and put back on.  Also, I have to say that I prefer a metal feed tray.  The fibers just slip right on with no problem.  I will post a full review as soon as I can. :)  A lovely machine!

Update:

As requested, here is a pic of the tools that came with the carder.

Carders tool belt!

From left to right, the most awesome doffer, burnishing tool, and fetling brush.

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Filed under Drum carding