Happy Wheel-aversary!

Three years ago today, I brought my wheel home. Seems like I just got it!!! :)

What better way to celebrate than by spinning! :)

I have finished spinning the rainbow singles. I will let the twist settle a bit before I wash and finish the yarn.

I have now picked up the pink & black merino/tencel blend I started a while ago. (Although bobbin #1 is missing. Time for a bobbin hunt, I guess). But here’s the progress on bobbin #2.

Can’t wait to see how this looks plied!! :D

one reason why i love to spin yarn

I finally finished the cashmere/tussah silk handspun yarn! It was a challenge (not as easy as wool) but I made it work. :-)

(in progress photos can be found HERE)

I am still considering using this in the stripe study shawl as the contrasting color.

It took me a bit to find a way to spin this yarn that I wanted – which was more of a supported long draw than worsted. Here’s a very basic description of how I did it.

I pulled off a bit of the fiber and drafted it out sideways.

I folded that in half.

Then, from the tips, rolled into rolags(ish) and spun from the end. (I don’t really consider them to be rolags ’cause I didn’t card the fiber.)

I had just enough tension on my wheel to pull the fiber out gently and I pulled my fiber hand back slowly, matching the speed that the twist entered the drafting zone. I used my other had to control the speed & pull from my wheel.

I learned a lot from from spinning this yarn and got something very soft and pretty in the end. Soooo worth it! :D

fo: monet shawl

*tap tap tap* Is this thing on? Anybody out there? ;-)

Yes, I’m still alive and breathing. I’m attempting to make some changes in my RL and unfortunately, blogging seems to be a casualty in this case. I am sad about that, but there’s only so much energy and time a person has.

So blogging for the next little while will be a bit sporadic. But I’m knitting up a storm and my spinning wheel is even getting a little attention these days. Hope you’ll hang in there with me. I miss sharing my fiber adventures with you. :)

I finished my shawl! I call it the ‘Monet Shawl’ ’cause the colors in the barber pole yarn remind me of impressionistic art. It looks different from far away than it does close up. (you can see the fiber and yarn in THIS POST)

Started: March 13 2011 – Completed: April 28 2011

a little knitting therapy

Lately, I’ve been a little stressed and a little overwhelmed… so I decided that I needed a little comfort. That, of course, meant knitting.

So I pulled out some handspun, wound it up and started knitting a very basic triangular shawl. No specific pattern but lots of mindless stockinette with lots of color. The color of the shawl reminds me of an impressionistic painting so I’m calling it my ‘Monet Shawl’.

Here’s are some photos of fiber, yarn and just a small peek at the beginning of the shawl. Enjoy! :)


Remember these fingerless mitts…

made out of this handspun??

Well, I had some yarn left over so I had to make a matching hat.

I tried to make up a top down hat…

…but it wasn’t working.

So I camed across the Sockhead Hat. Very basic and simple and really allows the yarn to do most of the work. It’s designed so you fold up the ribbing over your ears to make it warmer, but I didn’t want to mess with the flow of color in the handspun so I only did half the amount of ribbing.

This is fun stuff. I love knitting with handspun (especially my own ;) )!

I got a new camera!

I got a preowned Canon 10D Digital SLR from KEH.com.

I really like it. My little Sony Cybershot P-72 serves me well but I was getting less and less happy about the minimal control I had over the settings for the pictures (and as a result, taking fewer photos) so I broke down and bought a ‘new’ one.

So, of course, I had to pull out some stash to take pictures.

But this one is my fave, I think. :)

tour de fleece 2010 – finis!

I finished my yarn on the last day of the tour! :) (It was very much a coincidence ’cause I didn’t know when the end of tour was – I just wanted to spin!)

I ended up with a very nice squishy yarn. Non-superwash merino. I am a little disappointed that the blue dye bled in the finishing wash, coloring the natural end of the of the yarn, but I’ll get over it. I suppose it was inevitable but still a little bit of a bummer.

This is the first yarn that I kinda designed. I think that’s cool. I call it ‘Gradient Blues’. There’s one thing that I know for sure – it’s gonna be used for something for me.

I think the photos speak for themselves so enjoy! :)

from fiber to finis!

I finished my fingerless mittens!

I call them ‘Elemental Mitts’ (aka Ele-Mitts). (A woman from my knitting group came up with that and said I could use it! :) )

They are mine, all mine and I love them! My first completed project using my own handspun! :D

I still have some yarn left to make something matchy-matchy so stay tuned for that. I’m still deciding what to make.


an ending and a beginning

I finished the pink shawl… FINALLY! Geez, it took me six months. I’m so happy that it is completed ’cause now I can gift it! :)

To celebrate it’s completion, I joined a knit-a-long … sort of. The SpinDoctor podcast is having a knit-a-long – Maine Morning Mitts using handspun. My ‘kinda-sorta-maybe-in-a-way-but-not-really’ participation is to make fingerless mitts with my handspun … but not use that pattern but more making it up as I go along.

But you can’t see ‘em until I’m done.


Don’t look at me like that.


Ok … here’s a peek. ;)


fiber friday: rainbow pastel

I took a small break from spinning for a few weeks but with the coming of Tour de Fleece and inspiration from The Hyper Monkey, I decided to start ‘training’ and finally sat down at my wheel to finish my current project.

This was spun from The Painted Tiger’s ‘CMY Party Mix’.

I just wanted a basic barberpole yarn, which worked most of the way except for a couple of sections of green & orange that are more solid.

I call it ‘Rainbow Pastel’. I think I like it! :)

fiber friday: after the storm

I recently saw a rainbow arching across the sky. It was after a rainstorm – the sun came out and as I was driving home, I looked to my left and there was a rainbow… almost a full rainbow. Inspired, I went home and started spinning this – 4 oz Superwash Merino dyed by The Painted Tiger.

My goal was the split the top in half and spin so the colors matched up.

Well… that didn’t work out as planned, which is why I ended up with two skeins.

Nonetheless, I like it. :)

a different kind of rainbow

A while back, when I was experimenting with dyeing, I tried to dye some silk. But it didn’t really turn out the way I’d hoped. I’d read that silk doesn’t absorb water as quickly as wool so you need to soak it longer. So I did. The result was that the silk top seemed to disintegrate in the water. Not wanting to waste good fiber, I dyed it anyway, trying a technique that I came up with on the spot. I never really liked the final product so I didn’t take pictures and hid it in my stash.

Last December, when I couldn’t decide what to spin next, I pulled it out. I hadn’t spun silk before and figured it would be an good introduction. Since it was more like roving, I used more of a long draw to spin this fiber.

One thing I’ve learned about spinning (and somehow keep forgetting) is that the ‘ugliest’ of hand dyed fiber can make the prettiest of yarns.

I’m gonna have to try this dyeing technique again. :)

winter rainbow

I finally finished yarn I started for my Ravelympics challenge. I wanted to spin 8 oz of fiber. Unfortunately, work kinda took over my life (don’t you hate when that happens?). Thankfully, that won’t be permanent, but the result was I wasn’t able to complete my challenge but I did finish the singles by the time the Olympics were over and about a week or two later the yarn was finished. So I present ‘Winter Rainbow’ – 8 ounces of Corriedale Cross (not at soft as Corriedale alone), dyed by The Painted Tiger.

As sometimes happens with yarns I make, I don’t always instantly love them – that was the case with this one … but it grew on me. It’s definitely spun a little more evenly than the previous version.

Ok, I’m off to knit the pink shawl. Happy knitting and/or spinning to you!

all I want for Christmas is handspun

The Fiber:
Superwash Merino in the colorway ‘Kaleidoscope’, dyed by Spincerely Yours.

The Yarn:

The top was split lengthwise in half; each bobbin spun from opposite ends to create a 2-ply barber pole effect. 3.9 oz / approx 401 yards.

I am very happy with how this yarn came out. It’s consistent and very soft and shows that all the work I’ve done to learn and improve my spinning is paying off, but I don’t love it.

Part of that is having too much green and another part is not being a huge fan of barber pole yarn. But with that said, I am holding out to see how this yarn will look knit up. Up until this point, I’ve been spinning for the sake of getting the yarn I want, with no regard for how it will knit up. Time to take it a step further. After I wind it into a ball (after the requisite period of just petting and squishing the skein), and determine wraps per inch, we’ll see what this yarn wants to be. (I know what I want it to be, but I’ve learned that Yarn can be a bit stubborn in that regard.) :)

I will end with a tip for you:

When wet finishing your yarn, it’s important to remember that the yarn is superwash, or else you’ll spend five minutes beating up your yarn, wondering why it’s not fulling & fluffing up. (Granted, this was my first superwash wool yarn, and I’m used to non-superwash yarn. Yeah. That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it! ;) )

I wish you peace, joy and lots of squishable fiber. :D

now… where was i?

Spinning-wise, I mean. When last you saw my spinning, I’d finished ‘Parasol’, a squishy, sparkley, very pink skein of yarn…

When I sat at my spinning wheel again a few days ago, I was motivated to spin some more yarn for the hand spun shawl. I decided to work with two ounces at a time and I have finished the singles for the first two ounces.

It’s just waiting to be plied. I spun this in more of a woolen style than the previous yarn because the fiber is commercial combed top. The fibers are very aligned and I didn’t have the concentration or energy level to do a more worsted yarn.

When that was done, I went back to what had been sitting on my wheel, waiting ever so patiently.

I know! It’s pink! I don’t know what is up with all the pink in my stash. I don’t wear pink. I don’t buy pink stuff. I don’t even buy pink yarn. But for some reason, in fiber, it really catches my eye. It is rambouillet wool that I dyed myself – pink with splashes of red. It totals about three ounces. It’s going to be 2-ply yarn.

Dave reminded me that I can tone down all the pink by being daring and actually taking two different colorways and *gasp* spinning them together. I’m not there… yet. One day, perhaps. :)

can’t… stop… knitting…

There has been a major shift here at saffronknits. But, before I get to that, I want to you show the last yarn I finished.

I had 4 ounces of ‘Cotton Candy’ mini batts from Spincerely Yours

I chain-plied this yarn, being very conscious about the amount of twist I was putting into it and I am very pleased with the results. I’d say this is a pretty woolen yarn as I spun this with a supported long draw. I call it ‘Pink Parasol’. (Inspired by line in The Sound of Music).


But back to that ‘major shift’. After finishing that last yarn, my spinning mojo went on vacation but an obsession with knitting has taken it’s place. Want proof?

I bought that Dream in Color Smooshy – Visual Purple and made the ‘Simple Yet Effective Shawl‘.

I saw someone knitting an Ulmus shawl (designed by Through The Loops) at my LYS and went home and started one of my own. I’m using Claudia Handpainted Yarn fingering in the colorway ‘Carousel’ and Koigu Premium Merino in Black, both from my stash. I’m so glad to finally be using this yarn.

My issues with reading patterns reared it ugly head and I misread the chart so my Ulmus is more of a stockinette version. I really like it!

I’ve had to rip out about 16 rows to fix a mistake, but that hasn’t really slowed me down. I still love knitting this shawl.

And finally, a shawl made out of my own handspun. The very first time I’m knitting with my own handspun. I’m so in love with knitting this, I almost can’t stand it!

Once again, it’s the Simple Yet Effective Shawl. It’s completely in stockinette and I completely love it! (The picture shows the shawl upside down – The navy is the top of the shawl.)

I’m going to knit all of color blocks then add black at the bottom. I’m still deciding if I want the garter stitch edging to be in color or in black.

Ok … enough blogging … gotta get back to my knitting.

i love this yarn!

‘CMY Party’ – 8 oz Corriedale from The Painted Tiger:

The spun singles:


I call it ‘It’s My Party’

What fun, right? I love all the colors in this yarn! No predrafting – I just spun the top from end to end then chain-plied it.

Started on 09/20/09 and finished on 09/28/09. It is approx 423.33 yards. There is a knot in this skein because I wanted to maintain the progression of the colors as they were in the top. It has way too much twist in most it, but I still love it. I can’t wait to see how the colors stripe as it is knit!

But what should I make???

in the pink

I bought some ‘Cotton Candy’ mini batts from Spincerely Yours.

I got a total of 4 ounces and the singles are almost done. I am trying a variation of the long draw which I think could be called a form of supported long draw.

Twist seems to be the bain of my spinning existence. Either I have too much or not enough. I’m still working to find that balance. I plan to chain plying this.

le tour de fleece finis

During Le Tour de Fleece 2009, I spun a total of 11.5 ounces, completed three skeins of hand spun (plus one sample) and improved my skill on Navajo-plying (chain-plying). My goals evolved during the tour and working on chain-plying became my focus.

To start things off, here’s the mini-skein I spun during the tour… I forget which night…from a batt sample from Spincerely:

On Friday, July 24th, I tried to start my day spinning. I’d finished these singles the night before:

And I wanted to start plying. But a few minutes into it, I became frustrated because I wasn’t liking the results so I stopped. I knew I was practicing the definition of insanity – doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Also, there was just a feeling impatience, which is not good when trying to learn something. And little did I know, this was the beginning of a very bad Friday that ended with a headache.

On Saturday, July 25th, I went to my local yarn store to knit and pick up some yarn that they had custom ordered for me – some Blue Sky Alpaca’s Skinny Dyed organic cotton, DK weight, in a lovely pale pink (color# 305)… but more about that yarn in another post. The rest of the day I was a little under the weather and didn’t spin, so that became my rest day since I did not rest on Monday.

Finally on Sunday, July 26th, I got back to the spinning wheel after deciding to let go of the frustration and had one of those moments that are special when you’re self-taught – where something clicks, for whatever reason. In this case, I was fixing a broken single, trying the splice in the end and I had to switch my hand positions and things started to work. Among other things, I got better tension and I was liking how the twist was looking.

The finished yarn definitely is not perfect, but it’s better.

Never stop learning.