Sunday, June 3, 2012

Learning to Spin

So, something that I've been doing and not blogging about is spinning.  More specifically, I am teaching myself to spin yarn, mostly on spindles.  I started this learning this past October, and the Internet with all its resources has been an amazing learning tool.

At the moment I have three yarns in progress: a beautiful tropical colored Polwarth roving that I'm putting on my Turkish drop spindle, a pink and blue Border Leicester/Merino/Silk blend on my new wheel, and naturally fawn-colored cotton on my tahkli.  At the moment I'm mostly focusing on the cotton.

The tahkli supported spindle hails from India, and it's designed to spin very fine threads from short, fine fibers.  It's typically made out of metal and has a pointy end, so most people prefer to spin it in a bowl.  I bought my tahkli at this year's Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, and I am incredibly happy with it.  It spins so quickly and smoothly, and it makes cotton spinning so easy!  I was afraid cotton was going to be really difficult to spin, but it's not so bad.  I still have trouble making a perfectly even thread, but I have the same trouble spinning wool yarns too.  Hopefully as I practice it will get better.

Even better, spinning cotton on the tahkli is portable and extremely relaxing.  It's almost a zen process.  I bought some cheap plastic cases that artists use to carry paint brushes, and my spindle and some fiber fit in there very nicely for outings.  The only thing that doesn't fit is my bowl, so I either have to get a bigger case or a smaller bowl if I want everything to be perfect.

Here's the cotton that I've spun so far, still on the tahkli.

It looks really pretty in the picture, but if you really look at the thread I'm producing, it's not very even.  I hope it will look pretty after it's been plied and washed.  I still have plenty of cotton to spin, though, so I won't be done for a while.  Two ounces goes a really long way when you're spinning so thin!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Novel Construction

I really do suck at this blogging thing.  I keep telling myself that I'm going to update more regularly, but it just never seems to happen.  Also, I might have to change the name of the blog since all I do is write about yarn. ^_^

I haven't written any patterns since my Checkered Hat, but I still have some ideas that I want to develop.  It just seems like I hardly have time anymore, so when I do crochet I tend to follow patterns for small, instant-gratification items.  However, wanting to design more has made me pay more attention to texture and construction of crocheted items.  It's amazing how much there is to learn out there.

When I stumbled upon the basic method of tapestry crochet years ago, I fell in love with the idea of the technique.  A way to work in several colors without having to weave in a bazillion ends?  It's heaven.  Suddenly, I had a technique that I could adapt to make colorful hats without the tedious chore of weaving in lots of ends.  The addition of color to a simple pattern can really make an item pop.  For instance, my checkered hat is just a simple head hugging beanie, but the checkered pattern makes it eye-catching and unique.  The same pattern worked a single color becomes a lot less interesting.

Ever since I discovered tapestry crochet, I've been paying attention to beading patterns, cross-stitch patterns, and anything else that looked like it would translate well into tapestry crochet.  I've been doodling on graph paper, trying to draw little pixel pictures that would look okay in crochet.  It never occured to me that I was still thinking inside the box (literally) until I saw this.

It's a tapestry crocheted bag I bought at a local fiber festival, featuring a llama motif and made out of llama fiber.  However, I didn't buy it merely because it's pretty. (But isn't it gorgeous?)

The crocheted image is worked in a circle, which completely blew my mind.  It never occurred to me that I wasn't limited to constructing my images in squares.  Even when I work in tubes (aka hats), the images I was envisioning were still basically squares, because all a tube is is a square (or rectangle) that has been gently folded back on itself..  The price for the bag was extremely reasonable ($20) so I snatched it up and geeked out over the construction technique.  My dad, who knows nothing about crochet, was less impressed. 

Now, I don't know if I'm smart enough to actually design anything like this, but my mind is suddenly opened to the possibilities.  It's items like this that remind me that I don't know as much as I think I do.  But y'know, that's a good thing. ^_^