twist and shout

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like i was saying yesterday, i grabbed my joy wheel while running out the door for my long trip home and tossed it into the back of the car with a variety bag of wool rovings. i wasn’t really thinking straight—just that i always turn to the wheel when i need calm.

as for the rovings i chose, well, chose might not be the right word; i pretty much just opened the first boxes i saw in my work room and grabbed what was on top—a couple of grafton fibers
batts still in the bag from SPA

and an 8-ounce hank of crown mountain farms hand-dyed superwash merino that had arrived just the day before, in the secret agent man colorway.

(this picture shows the predrafted fiber, so it appears softer than it will on the CM website)

my mom doesn’t have room for all of us in her new, smaller home, so my brother joe, david, and i all stayed at a cousin’s house. the house was an incredible refuge for us during the week we were all together. our cousin was away for the winter in florida, so we had the place to ourselves. it was a quiet, comfortable, and restful place to go at the end of each day, and provided a nice environment for us three to have our own time and stay up late shooting the sh*t together. joe has a large family who stayed in texas, so it was nice for him and us to have time alone together.

i set up my little wheel right away on the first night we were there; i thought my brother would be completely taken with it, and he was (smile). it was like watching him watch a fire—all the time we talked he couldn’t take his eyes off it as i spun, and kept stoppping the conversation to ask questions.

it was great to show him about how the flyer works and how using the different whorls affects what happens to the wool and then, how the hands are involved. he completely understands all of this stuff mechanically, though he didn’t even try his hand at actual spinning. i was further impressed by the way he noticed that the dyed fiber looks so completely different as it is taken from one stage of spinning to another. first it is more intense in the roving, then it softens aftter predrafting, and then, more changes to the colorway as it is spun, then plied. he was extremely interested in the fact that an experienced fiber worker can control and manipulate all these variables to get a desired product. it reminded me of the intense discussions we used to have years ago about my painting and drawing, and how he always offered suprising and uncannily astute observations on art, though he is not an artist himself.

i love my brother.

seriously, i could sit and talk to him about all this stuff for a week . . . well, ok, i pretty much did. and we could do it for another week straight, i think. he always understands exactly what i’m talking about—even the most esoteric things. and he can’t even hear that well . . .

first i spun up the brown and turquoise grafton fibers batt. i was anxious to spin this fiber since i had heard so many wonderful things about it. though it’s not marked, i believe i have here their corriedale fiber. the batt was a mix of natural and dyed fiber, with the turquoise concentrated in the center. i tore the bat into strips, working from one side to the other in order so as to maintain the color sequence it came in. no special reason for that—alternatively, i could have mixed the strips up to get more color mixing throughout the yarn.

so what i ended up with was a skein that starts out dark brown and shades to turquoise in the middle and then back to the brown at the end. the fiber spins beautifully, acquiring the right amount of twist to make a nice-looking two-ply without much effort, probably due to the fact that the corriedale is still quite bouncy after carding, and the fiber is not combed.

i intended the yarn to be used for socks, but did not do a sample, so i ended up with a yarn that could have been a tad finer, after it was washed and dried. nevertheless, it is very attractive and i love it. i just wish there was more—i didn’t realize the batt was 2.5 to 3 ounces, and i only got about 230 yards. we all liked it so much though, that i’m checking in to see if i can get another. the men will have to fight over who gets these socks.

speaking of men fighting, the whole male half of the tribe went out on the last night they were together to see the 300, which was advertised as being “manlier than manly” (eye roll). they all came home grinning, grunting, and beating their chests . . . so it must have been good.

so let me talk the crown mountain farms fiber.
first of all, i need to sing the praises of teyani and klaus—they run a very tight ship at their place, and there is are few things i like more than an efficient operation. their attentiveness to each order is thorough and personal.

i went there looking for an additional hank of some silk to match one that i bought at rhinebeck. while i was there, i picked out another silk colorway and some superwash merino rovings in several colorways to spin for socks, since the actual sock hop yarn they offer is so rarely available. my order was at my door less than 2 days later, except for the additional silk which they needed to special order for me (no problem; i did not need that right away).

one thing i love about the way they sell the dyed merino roving is that the bundles are 8 ounces. there is plenty there then to spin the same colorway in different weights. often, when working with the usual 4-ounce bundle, i find i wish i had a few more ounces so that i could spin some for socks, and some in a heavier weight for a hat or scarf. with the CM bundles i can try the roving in several weights and have plenty for a project in each.

anyway, i spun up about 3 ounces of the secret agent man for socks and it looks like this

now, i have a thing about secret agent men; when i was small, in the early 60s, my favorite show was the saint. the green hornet was another favorite, but i later found out that was sort of a spoof. i also loved all things mission impossible as well as get smart. i’m attracted to anything that has a spy theme.

naturally, this yarn caught my attention. and it does have spy written all over it, don’t you think?

it has all the mystery and shadiness of a shadowy figure, with a hint of pink as a telltale sign of a secret lady friend. ok, that might be investing the yarn with just a little more life than is warranted, but hey, it’s a game i like to play, ok?
(i can’t decide which picture is the best of all, so you’re getting more than one of each today . . .)

teyani puts a lot of care into her dyeing and it really shows in the finished yarn. i can’t wait to knit it and see what it looks like in a fabric. i think it will be somewhat stripey, but not too. the fiber is superwash merino combed top, so it’s slippery; it was a little hard to spin on the joy wheel; i thought i was putting way too much twist into it, but then when i plied it, it’s actually looser than i’d hoped for. and the joy just doesn’t handle merino all that well in my experience—it jerks it around too much and it’s hard to get consistency in the singles. and then, while plying, the brake kept seizing up the bobbin for some reason.

it would have been better to spin on my schacht. that’s why i saved the remaining 5 ounces or so to work with here at home—i can’t wait; i know the schacht will handle it much better. i am spinning the remainder into a bigger, loftier yarn to use for other kinds of projects requiring worsted weight yarn. once i get it done, i’ll show you how the color compares when changing the yarn weight. one other note about the color—i washed this yarn in water that was a little too warm and it lost a tad of it’s intensity; next time i’ll use cooler water as teyani suggests
(yeah, yeah, i didn’t see that part before i plunged it into hot water . . .).

now that i’m home and have completed the two pair of sox from last month, i needed another desk sock, so i went foraging in my drawer and dusted off this one that i started last summer from a wool/hemp/mohair blend yarn. it’s a little heavier weight, and not very soft on the hands to work with, but i think david will really get into having hemp-blend socks, so i’m going to persevere on it.

hopefully they will knit up quickly on the bigger needles compared to the size-0 sock knitting i’ve been doing so much of lately.

you’ll also be glad to know that i got right back to the starlight evening wrap last night and am working away on the edging for the second end.

i am about two evenings away from being finished! i better get busy on the pattern because i know a bunch of people are looking forward to it. i finally broke down and bought some new software from knitfoundry that i can use on my mac for charting stitch patterns. previously, i had to work between two computers and that got to be a real hassle. i’m looking forward to putting the new software through its paces on the starlight pattern.

well, that’s about it for today, and good thing, too, because i see i have run on and on and on.
good thing there’s pictures, eh??

49 thoughts on “twist and shout

  1. Now I’m wishing I’d ordered some of the merino superwash from CMF! I just received a box of their corriedale pencil rovings – easiest stuff in the world to spin.

  2. Every word was interesting and enjoyable to read. I love Teyani’s color sense and rovings. Nice work on the Grafton batt, too!

  3. Wow- that Grafton fiber spun up even prettier than I imagined it would. I must have some of that- MUST. (one of my spa buddies, Kellee, bought some of that colorway and I was heartbroken that I missed it.)

    Now, too, I have to go check out Crown Mountain again. Great job with that yarn. (oh crap, I am so screwed on that site.)

    Brothers are great, aren’t they? So nice that out of this difficult time you two got to really connect.

  4. Beautiful spinning job. I love the brown and turquoise together. I’ve been meaning to ask you for a while. The calendar on your desk… what is it?

  5. I think it’s great that the spinning really brought you comfort and peace when you needed it. And I love Grafton Fibers AND Crown Mountain, too.

  6. Remember Honey West? She was a female spy from the early 60’s. Oh, how I loved that show!

    I’ve worked with CM’s Corriedale pencil rovings – pure bliss in that you just spin without worrying. I’ve not spun any superwash yet although I have 4 ounces to dye up.

  7. My favorite book as a child was Harriet The Spy and I spent a lot of time lurking in the neighborhood writing down the goings-on. I still have my spy kit.

    I’m glad you had that time with your family, even though it’s an unfortunate way to gain it. I often think that the loved ones we lose give us that one last gift of the time we spend together to grieve.

  8. I like the secret agent yarn too! Strange, though, that the roving seems to have so much white in it, but the spun and plied yarn has so little. I’m still amazed by this kind of thing.

  9. I’m new to your website, but I was sorry to read about your loss. I’m glad you were able to knit and spin with your family, and I’m also glad you can share what you did with us! I’m not a spinner yet, but I’m looking into getting a wheel in the next couple of months. It’s inspiring to see these projects of yours!

  10. Oh that Secret Agent Man colorway is right up my alley. Very nice! I am impressed that you held off on those remaining ounces when you ran out of projects. I was worried for you in yesterday’s post. 🙂

  11. I’m not a spinner and I’ve never had a chance to even watch someone spin. I never would have expected the Secret Agent Roving to become the yarn that it did. Very beautiful.

  12. Reconnecting works wonders for the soul. I have an Ashford Joy and have always had trouble spinning merino. I love the Secret Agent roving and yarn. Way cool.

  13. Actually I’m wanting to see 300 for all the well oiled hunky men in loin cloths :D. Looking at your spinning just makes me so excited to be getting my fiber in the mail. Although I don’t have a spinning wheel, I do however have a drop spindle that will drive my cat, 4 year old daughter and 5 month old son wild. My husband has just put in an order of socks :D.

  14. I do hope the graduated fiber gets a twin: it would b a shame for that not to be a pair of socks. Lovely spinning. Glad it was a peaceful place during your sad time.

  15. I’ve missed you terribly, Anne, and am so glad to have you back and sounding as though you and your family are coping well, with each other’s support. My heart is with you all.

    And on a happier note, I’m totally 100% IN LOVE with the secret agent man yarn. Seriously. It makes me want to buy a wheel today on the slim hope that maybe, just maybe, someday I could come close to something so lovely!

  16. I really enjoy reading your thought process around spinning a given roving. I can’t see the looseness you describe. It looks Navajo plyed, yes?

  17. How wonderful to have someone in the family that “gets it” about yarns, fibers, the spinning, the knitting…no one in my family gets it…I asked my daughter for foot lengths for socks for her and her boyfriend for Christmas – and she told me she didn’t want any sock…she’d rather have a quilt which I am also working on for her.

    The yarn you spun is GORGEOUS!!!

  18. Two things: one – you didn’t mention the Man From UNCLE. I remember one episode in which the Girl From UNCLE had to unravel her sweater because they needed string for something or other. I guess you just never know when a knitted item will be a lifesaver. And two, get your glasses off of the chair before someone sits on them! Well, three things I guess: number three – you are still in my thoughts daily. Sending you vibes of comfort and cheer.

  19. Oh…my wheel has been sitting un-used for some time now because I’m in a sewing phase and not a spinning phase lately. Your pics are making me want to spin tonight though…that spinning looks great!!!

  20. Oh, I just love how that yarn turned out (Secret Agent Man), that is just gorgeous. How it looks in roving vs. being spun up is truly amazing. I’m glad that spinning gave you and your brother some well-needed bonding time during your trip.

  21. Lovely yarns, as always! And thanks for sharing how great was the time you got to spend with your brother, it was nice to read.

  22. Your handspuns are just exquisite — alwlays. You have such a good eye for color. What looks like blotchy rovings/batts to me becomes magic in your hands.

  23. Anne, you always brighten my day with your wonderful wit. While I love the brown and turquoise, I have to say the secret agent man just stole my heart away! What gorgeous socks that yarn will make. I’m beginning to wish that I spun my own yarn too!

    Your time with your brother Joe sounds like it was a balm to your souls. I’m glad you had each other for support.

  24. I think handspun yarn porn is so much hotter than those of the manufactured stuff. If we must make the allegory to “real” porn, I’d say handspun is like a sexy naked chick without fake breasts. Goodness me! I love your pics.

  25. “There’s a (yarn) who leads a life of danger…” Sorry. The tune is now playing on the jukebox in my mind.

    It’s majickal how roving turns to yarn turns to fabric. Believe me when I say you do fantastic work!

  26. like karen, my favourite book was also “harriet the spy” – i’m still a sucker for spy films (or anything with diguises!). i still have my childhood copy of the book, which was so well-loved that it’s now held together with duct tape!
    & i would like to state for the record that it’s all your fault that i’ve just emailed crown mountain to find out about international shipping costs… sigh. good thing my “knit-from-your-stash” new year’s vows only prevent me from buying yarn, & don’t cover fibre… 🙂
    glad you’re back, & hope you’re feeling a bit better after your awful few weeks. so sorry to hear about your brother – your family sounds great.
    xo lilith

  27. your brother and I must have similar mindsets – I don’t spin, but my sister does and it IS just like watching a fire – my eyes glaze over and I just stare. It’s mesmorizing….(plus, the analyst in my loves to see HOW it works too)

    the sock hop is so pretty. Teyani does such an incredible job. I am hoping I can get some yarn the next offering….

  28. I love nothing better than seeing what the roving looks like spun, and then knit, and how many different ways different spinners can make the same product look. Very cool.

  29. Lot’s of really nice fiber things happening in your corner of the world. Aren’t we lucky that we have such a wonderful outlet that gets us thru some of the more difficult times.

    I’m going to give my hand a try at dyeing up merino this week…any suggestions?

  30. I love the way you think and write about your spinning. I do so long for a time when I have some spare brain cycles to do more than just what comes as rote to me at the wheel.

  31. Great conversation and awesome spinning – what more could one ask for?

    I so wanted to be agent 99 so I could marry Max! No secret agent life for me although I do live in KAOS 🙂

  32. I loved the long post after the long absence. The spinning is gorgeous. You make me wish I was finished with the solid red merino that’s on my wheel now so that I can play with some colors too.

    It’s wonderful that you and your brother “get” each other and were able to spend time together. Makes me miss mine.

    I can’t wait to see the Starlight Wrap finished.

  33. Anne, your spinning is simply beautiful. I think I would be mesmerized by the whole process, just like your brother.

    I am fairly new to the fiber and knitting world and variables other than yarn, yarnweight, color, solid, variegated, bamboo/addi turbos needles, stitch patterns, lace, cables and what not would make my head explode…

    (note to self: patience…patience…!)

    I would love to see your drawings and paintings…

  34. Hi there, this is my first time commenting, although I’ve been reading for a few months now… I was really sorry to hear about your brother, you and your family have been in my thoughts. It sounds like your brother Joe is a great guy to have around. Your spinning is just gorgeous, I love the Grafton yarn!

  35. Hi Anne,
    Started reading a couple of weeks before your brother died, and am so happy to have you back writing.
    In the meantime, I’ve been looking at your pattern catalog and trying to “make up my mind” as ordering one of everything isn’t particularly realistic.

    I suspect your brother knew how much it would mean to you to find that he still had the sweater you’d knit him. Take good care of yourself and family.

  36. How wonderful that the spinning gave comfort to you and your family. It is a gift from all directions.
    And you totally “got it” about Secret Agent Man ! (big grins here) thanks. I also cannot wait to see it knit up – I have not yet had time to spin it, but that was one of the ones I had a final “snapshot” in my mind before I dyed it. fingers crossed here.
    Comfort and blessings go out to you. the heart heals slowly – spin it through.

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