Thursday, September 30, 2010

As the kettle simmers

As the kettle of cochineal simmers on one burner and the cutch on another, the study in red accumulates steam! Pictured above are most of the acid dye reds and red analogs that I have. I will be spinning singles soon to compare, combine and contrast! It should be a lot of fun!

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Zen of Alpaca Prep

My lovely creamy white alpaca fleece was riddled with VM! The day I washed it, the drain backed up so I was not able to get it as clean as normal. And, maybe you can see alpaca rolled in hay, twigs, seeds...proving once again that we spinners deal with agricultural product!
So, I made peace with my 5-pitch English combs. I reminded myself that I do not have to comb the whole fleece at once, at all or in one day. So, each time I run a load of laundry, I comb a little more. I also tell myself that I have given myself the delightful opportunity to touch the fiber more. ( Actually, I learned this attitude from Rita Buccanhan.) I have gotten into the ZEN of it, It is now, finally, fun.
Little nests of lovely, silky, creamy, dreamy alpaca are nesting together in a basket.
Isn't it lovely?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Sampling tails & corespinning

I have been sampling the last few days...tailspinning with and without cores, and corespinning clockwise or counterclockwise. Above is tail spinning of lovely mohair without a core. The yarn is a single, sturdy and relaxed. I thought it would be either too tight or fall apart. I did have drift apart with some slippery joins that did not survive the skeining...but the small skein that remained is very nice!

The 3 photos above are tail spun locks, spun clockwise over a handspun single, thus tightening the single. This was easy to do and surprisingly did not make a wirey nor an unduly overspun single. It's not like you are likely to knit a tailored garment with tailspun, so biasing is not likely to be a problem.

The tailspun in the 2 photos above was spun counterclockwise over a handspun single, thus loosening the twist of the core. It was a bit harder to do, but the yarn is nice and soft and sturdy. Not a whole lot different than the larger hank spun in the opposite direction.

The final samples were true corespun. I handcarded tiny batts of mohair and spun them horizontally over a commercial core: cheap pink acrylic yarn from the thrift store. In this test I saw a very big difference between spinning clockwise and counterclockwise. The acrylic yarn tightened dramatically when I spun counterclockwise, making a tight, overspun hank. The core that was spun clockwise made a lovely, glossy, relaxed single with only a touch of bias.

Moral of the story? Pay attention to the direction that your core was originally spun in when doing classical core spinning. When spinning tails? The jury is out. I like the tail spun on a core somewhat better than the core-less yarn...but the affect of direction on the twist of the finished yarn was harder to discern.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Pretty Pictures:Artyarn close-ups

Learning my way around a new camera, some new close-ups.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Outback Colors Abound

Three yarns, so far, inspired by my trip to Australia. So many more to much more dying to do!
These materials turned into the following yarns:

a wild batt, felted pieces of orange knitting, dyedlocks in sky and shadow colors, striped beads (bought in Oberlin, Ohio 8 or 9 years ago!) plied in with a fuzzy mohair I bought in NYC this spring.
An energized single from the brighter roving I dyed/

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Australian Colors

The Outback of Australia encompasses many ecosystems, from dry desert to tropical rain forest. The quintessential Outback, the one we Northern Hemisphere types think of, it the Red Center, the desert throughout the middle of the Australian continent. It is dry, dusty, brick red to golden ochre, with smatterings of purple and sage green. The mulga trees and other eucalypts have bark colors that range from nearly white to dark, dark brown. The spinifex grass is everywhere, spikey and dusty green. When it is hot, the trees give off their eucalyptus scent. I can't get the colors and textures out of my mind. Indeed, I do not want to.

These materials

spun on the Aura. Oh how I missed the Aura! What a delightful wheel to spin on.

The last 2 photos show the yarn plied, but unwashed and then washed. I did something different this time. I spun it in the Spin Dryer and then put it in the electric dryer. I figured it was so close to dry that any felting would be minor and welcome as the yarn was looser than I prefer. Success! It came out poofy and nice.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Suddenly Autumn

There has been a sudden temperature change here in Minneapolis, so I am gratefully wearing my wool tights and thin merino hoodie bought in Christchurch, NZ!
The outback colors are deep, deep rust red, dusty green, some greys and blue, blue sky. I hope to combine these into a scrubby, expressive yarn. The locks are handsful of Romney, Border Leceister and Icelandic and maybe one mystery fleece. All various shades of beige and brown, overdyed in similar colors to the roving.

Madlyn, the joyfuling rolling alpaca, has soft, beautiful, hayfilled fiber.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Where has Sue been hiding?

I'll give you three guess...Australia? New Zealand? Fiji?
Yes, all three. I traveled from August 3-August 29. You can follow my trip on the Susan Hensel Art Blog. Slowly but surely I am posting the notes and the photos.

I saw lots of austere, beautiful red sand and mountains in the outback/Red Center of Australia. Fed wallabies, watched birds, looked at and bought Aboriginal art, visited a cattle station, swam the Great Barrier Reef, drank at pubs, motored Sydney Harbour at night, toured the Sydney Opera House before it opened to the public, met a woman who had woven the restoration upholstery and drapery for the restored Governor's House in Sydney Domain. Traveled to New Zealand through breathtaking mountain ranges, sailed on fjords, saw seals & penguins, petted a Koala, stayed in a home in Christchurch, attended evensong at the Christchurch Cathedral, visited Anne Field & Marilyn Rea-Menzies studios in Christchurch (I hope their work is OK. Their buildings were damaged in the earthquake.), saw lots of sheep, sailed in Aukland Harbour, met a Maori king. Walked the beach in Fiji, got sick from the heat, drank kava and ate a luxurious lunch in an impoverished village home, toasted astounding sunsets from my balcony.
So I show you cotton! I did come home with a tiny bit of fiber from New Zealand: and alpaca/polworth mix that is lovely.It has the lovely silkiness of the alpaca, but the addition of the polworth gives it a delightful bounce. I will photograph it soon.

I was on a great tour, and did not find materials easy to come by. The "new" big thing over there was merino mink. They are heavily marketing the combo of merino and possum. The possum forms a halo much like angora. It is lovely. I did not find and yarn until I was nearing departure and worried about paying duty! I did come home with fingerless gloves and a knit cap. They were invaluable keeping me warm in the fjord.

Before the main drain back up today, I washed up some white alpaca (Dang, she was a rolled in the hay! I'll have to comb more of it than I like!) and dyed various wools in Australian colors. Imagine that! The drain is fixed, now. Plumbers work on holidays and drains ONLY back up on weekends and holidays.

In May, I purchased this Tahkli, a tiny supported spindle. Finally, today was the day to play with it. I've been home for a week and the jet lag is just about gone and a few creative thoughts finally began flitting across my brain. Yeah! I tried it in a little bowl. Didn't like that. I then read that some people spin it on a piece of leather. I liked that! So while I half-watched the Anthony Bourdain marathon, I spun thick and thin cotton...trying for evenness, but achieving it only intermittently. I am pleased, though. Lots of progress was made toward mastery.