Archive for the ‘spinning’ Category

It’s been a long time since my first post on my Ashford Kiwi (here: https://ilovesocks.wordpress.com/2009/08/30/the-ashford-kiwi/).  I have since learned to spin much better yarn, had much fun mixing colors, and even spinning funky yarn.  Here’s one example, some home spun socks, and I put green coils in some of this yarn so that when I knit it would come out looking like these caterpillars.  I added some butterflies after making this yarn a scarf.  (I haven’t blocked this yet, the edges will probably look straighter after that.  This is another chevron scarf following this easy pattern – domesticrafts)KnittingCaterpillarScarfSocks

Back on topic – finishing my wheel!  I have stained and varnished things before, but never once have I done it RIGHT.  I always just painted things with random stuff and ended up with something scratchy feeling with odd lumps of varnish on it, so I hesitated all of these years.  In a way, that was a good thing.  This project wound up taking about 2 weeks in all, so if I had done it when I first got the wheel, I would have gone crazy having to wait so long to use it!  But now, after all of those years of spinning, this is how my unfinished Ashford Kiwi looked:


As you can see, you don’t really see the wood grain, its just flat and pale, but by far the worst looking thing is all of the lubricating oil which seeped up and down the pedals and footmen.  The wood looked so very thirsty, I decided to give it, and all of these other spinning accessories some love!  I wrote to Ashford and asked if any of this was going to be possible in this condition, and the answer was yes.  I just had to use sandpaper to sand off all of the oil down to clean wood.  (If you do this, be sure to only go up and down with the grain, I went in circles with the rougher sand paper and a little of that showed later.)  So began this learning adventure in woodworking.

Ashford recommends a paste wax.  I have waxed a floor before and it came out looking about the same as before and not very shiny.  So, I don’t know, the wax may be wonderful, but I wasn’t excited about that idea.  They had said in the past that danish oil was fine, but a negative about it is that it would cause dirt from feet to collect on the pedals and stain them.  I figured at this point I’d just try to spin in clean socks.

First application: (Best done outside, on a warm day with no pollen flying around.)  I decided to use Danish Oil.  In the beginning of this project, I was still looking for easy and fast and didn’t want to have to do a bunch of sanding beyond the amount needed to clean the wheel up, and it looked like Danish Oil would allow a quick application without needing sanding afterward, or to be reapplied after years.  (I am no longer sure if it’s true about not reapplying.  I’m getting all of this from the great wisdom of the internet –  so there is a lot of disagreement about just about everything.)  So, I sanded with a coarse sandpaper, then 220 grit, and had disassembled only to this point pictured. Then I applied the Danish oil in “medium walnut” with a paintbrush.  The oil will collect in the carved kiwi bird, so be sure to hold it sideways and pour it out of him right after applying and wipe off.  After waiting a few minutes as the can instructed, I wiped the oil off with a cotton rag and allowed to dry.


I LOVED the color, but as you can see, it was completely devoid of shine (this is a flash photo and you can see no light bounce-back from any of the pieces at all, only a window reflection on the floor).  The great and wise internet said that if you do coat after coat of danish oil, it will eventually get shine, but I do not know if this is true.  I did only one coat and didn’t really want to do any more.

I like that it absorbs into the wood, the particle board wheel just drank it right up.  Because the parts are different wood types, I expected them to come out different colors, and they are, but it doesn’t look bad at all.

So I read up some more and found that if I wanted shine, I could then coat after danish oil with a clear, oil based polyurethane (I chose semi-gloss).  There is much disagreement about whether one should do this over danish oil on the great wise internet, it seemed to be about 50/50 yes and no.  The no’s basically said that it wasn’t necessary, so since they had no other negative points, I went ahead, because by this time I had learned that the danish oil may or may not dry out and need reapplying.  So, not only did I want more shine, I wanted to seal the oil in and be done for good.  Time and future posts will tell how this wheel holds up.

I had to wait until the danish oil dried before applying the polyurethane, and while it was essentially dry after a couple of hours, it SMELLED of what I guess is linseed oil for about 10 days.  The dissipation of the smell is supposed to indicate complete dryness, so they say.  (You will want a dry place to allow it to sit for days away from where you or anyone else has to sleep.)

Waiting and sanding: I waited about 2 weeks (which I had to do anyway because it took that long before the weather got warm and dry enough).  In the days after drying and before I planned to do the polyurethane, I sanded any little nubs off of everything with 220 sandpaper where necessary, and with finer 600 black sandpaper afterward for complete smoothness. I then wiped all the sawdust off with a damp cotton cloth (cut up old t-shirt) and let dry.

The day of the final staining:  I tried applying the polyurethane with a brush, but this made little bubbles rise up on the wood, and I didn’t want any extra bumps, so I put it on with the brush, then wiped smooth with a small cotton rag (gloves necessary).  I let it dry, re-sanded with the 600 sandpaper (which really wasn’t much sanding at all, just a few swipes here and there), then wiped the sawdust off with a slightly damp rag and let the dampness dry a few minutes.  I reapplied another coat of polyurethane the same way with the rag and let dry.  Then, a final quick swipe with the 600 sandpaper to make sure everything was super smooth.

I LOVE IT!  It is so beautiful and shiny and smooth, I can’t even believe I made that happen myself!  (Every time I’m near it I pet it and admire its beauty!)   This is the finished lazy kate – so shiny!  The wood grain shows up, and those white stripes going vertical in this photo actually move like the shine inside a tiger eye stone when you move it back and forth in the light.  I find it kind of amazing.


This closeup of the bobbin assembly shows the shine and the grain in the wood.  (I did not finish inside the edges of the bobbin or the edges of the wheel to prevent the fishing line and drive band from slipping on the smooth surface.)


I love my kiwi, and I’m happy it is now not only more beautiful, but protected.


Note:  Do read the warnings on the cans. Both danish oil and polyurethane have nasty vapors and could start fires if you aren’t careful.  Just follow what it says on the can and it’ll all be alright.


Read Full Post »

I LOVE fairisle.  I have found its not too hard to manage 2 strands of yarn if I wrap them both around my right hand the usual way, but put one strand under the thumb and one over the index finger.

I wanted this to be a black and color changing scarf, with the black staying constant throughout, but the color changing in its background.  I spun this bright color changing yarn to be striped, but in very wide stripes for this reason.   This scarf is done twice the width I want it to end up, so I can fold it in half longways and sew the edges together, making only the nice side show.  (That’s why I don’t mind that its curling, it will be sewed flat when it is finished.)

I use charts for the fairisle, but otherwise, there is no other pattern, just make it twice as wide as you want and as long as you want.  My charts come from the book in the photo (citation below).   I hadn’t noticed when I was picking these charts, (I was mainly choosing ones that are 16 stitches wide), but its coming out looking like seasons.  Snowflakes at the bottom, then flowers, then I hadn’t realized it but that next one looks exactly like pine pollen under a microscope, then more flowers as it gets hot pink and hot outside… I’m recording my year in my scarf!

All of the charts used in the scarf come from:  1000 Great Knitting Motifs by Louise Roberts.  Trafalgar Square Publishing, Vermont/ Collins & Brown Limited, 2004.

Read Full Post »

I spun this yarn out of yak fiber purchased on the net.  The brown is the yak, and the color was wool added to make a few interesting stripes (I love color).  Yak is very short, but it was not hard to spin, it sticks together quite well.  I did spin pedaling slowly.  As you can see, this is plied to make sure it stayed together (this was my first time working with yak, so I wanted to be sure).  This made for a very fluffy yarn, as I tend to spin somewhat thick anyway.


And here’s the finished product, the gloves are made exactly the same way as the gloves in my earlier post here, from the wrist up so I can try them on as I go, always getting the size right.  It was a happy accident that the thumbs wound up matching.  Usually when I make my own yarn and do socks, they don’t match, but they look like relatives, so it works.  I expected the same for these gloves.  These are going to be WARM!  Woohoo!


Read Full Post »


This was so fast and easy to make, I’m making more!  Its very very easy, and took only about 3 hours or so.  Even if you don’t know how to crochet, I’m sure if you google how to crochet you’ll find the three stitches you need to learn to do this.  Mine is all kind of crazy colors, that’s because this is yarn I spun, but I didn’t spin enough of any one color to do much with, so I decided to combine a lot of different yellows.   The only thing I really regret is putting that line in the middle where the two colors would have blended together more seamlessly without it.  It was supposed to be an under-bust line, that’s why its pulled tighter below it, but it wound up further down.  (See, if you try stuff on more frequently instead of working on the bus, that wouldn’t happen.  C’est la vie.)


I started with the straps by making a chain the right length for over the shoulder, then did 1 double crochet / skip 1, chain 1 (alternating as I went back the other way.  Strap done, make another!  Then I did chain for chest, back, and under the arms, like so:


For this one, all 4 of the chains were the same number of chain stitches (25 is what you see here).  Then you just pick up from the chain and work in a tube.  What I did was the first row all double crochet (leaving some holes with chains for decoration), then Row 2 on: (see chart reference).  So easy, and fast!  I did some fancier stuff at the bottom for decoration, but I just winged it, I don’t even remember what I did.  Try it, you’ll see, just do some double crochets and leave some holes in it with chains, it’ll look nice no matter what you do, as long as you repeat the same thing over and over, that’s what makes it a pattern.

Here is the sweater before I even finished working in the ends.  I plan to wear this over a lower backed white tank, not this one - looks kind of funny!

Here is the sweater before I even finished working in the ends. I plan to wear this over a lower backed white tank, not this one - looks kind of funny!

The daffodil color and the white and yellow were singles, and the reddish-brown and yellow bits were plied, so much thicker.

Chart for the middle from: The Crochet Stitch Bible.  Betty Barnden. 2004. Krause Publications, Quarto Inc.  This chart was “Arch Mesh” pg. 87.


I’m including these together because they’re so similar, but with very different construction methods.

This tank top was constructed in a more difficult way that was necessary, but there was a reason for the madness.  I’d suggest you just do it in a round tube from the underarms to the waist if you don’t have any good reason not to, it’d be easier.  I found myself with 2 very small balls of cotton yarn, and although they were meant to be the same color, they weren’t, the purple on one was a much deeper color than on the other.  I guess I must have bought different lots and didn’t notice, it was a long time ago so I don’t even remember.  I also didn’t want to have to buy a third ball, so I made this shirt in 2 pieces.  The front was done with 1 ball to see how much of it I could get done before I ran out.  Turns out I got almost the whole shirt front done.  Everything except that band of white at the bottom and the lace on the armholes (I just did that with some other cotton white I had). The back was done with the other ball in the same way as the front so they’d end up exactly the same (just with the 2 different shades of purple).  Doing a front and back piece back and forth also made the stripes of color wider, which was something I wanted too.

So, to start, I chained across the top front from shoulder to shoulder (make the neck hole the size you want, holding it up to yourself. I didn’t want the neck too big because I didn’t want it falling off the shoulders.)  Then I started the grid pattern (see reference below), going back and forth this same width.  Once I got under the arms, I added half a grid square on one row (same row, both ends, under each arm), then a whole extra grid square on each end of the next row so I was making a wider piece from the arm holes down. Then just go back and forth again until its as long as you want it.  Going back and forth like that on one piece sometimes requires a little backtracking when you’re finagling increasing things under the arms.  You can just backtrack by pulling chain loops up one after the other until you get back to where you want to be.  I only had to do that once under each arm, then I was set and going back and forth as usual again on the regular grid pattern.  Once I made the front, I made the back exactly the same way, starting at the shoulders to attach it right from the starting chain.  I counted grid rows to make sure I did everything the same number.  Then here is how I attached them together:

Seams under the arms:  (You can see in this photo the 2 different colors of purple.)  Again, if you just go in a tube under the arms, its much easier.  So, I started the back piece already attached at the shoulders like I said above, worked down to below the arms, then increased a half a square on the right numbered row (matching front), then on the row where there was a whole extra grid square under each arm, I attached the front to the back while I worked as shown in the photo.  It doesn’t really matter what you do and how you do it, just make sure its attached well (at the top and bottom of each row), and that you do the same thing on every row so it all matches and looks like you meant to do that!  This put my seams under the arms.  Seams for if you work in a tube: If you work in a tube, just put the one seam under one arm, or go in a spiral so that there is no seam at all, then when you end it at the bottom, shorten your last square to make it meet the row below it, and locate this under an arm so its not as noticeable.

Chart reference for the Horizontal Grid Tank:  The Complete Book of Crochet Stitch Designs, 500 classic & original patterns. Linda P. Schapper. Lark Books, New York. 2007.  Horizontal Grid was Chart #7, pg. 39.

Read Full Post »

I liked my blue waves hat so much I decided to make another, this time -less baggy on top of the head, and with yarn I spun myself.  I got the wool from Alpaca Direct, I used Crimson Colonial Top and Cranberry Merino Top, and alternated between these two when spinning (which is what made the striped pattern).  I only spun singles, no plying.  This hat was worked the same way as the blue waves hat, a rectangle was knitted back and forth that was long enough to wrap around my head, then the ends of the rectangle were connected to make the hat band, and double pointed needles were inserted on one side to knit around the top smaller and smaller until pulling closed.  I did my decreases always one on top of another to make the folded stripes on the top.  The chevron chart for the hat band is in the Leslie Stanfield book I’m always citing, and stockinette rows were done on the ends (sides of the rectangle) to accent it.

The Cranberry Hat - I started with a yarn ball as big as the one on the left, and ended with it being the size of the one on the right.  Hats use almost NO yarn!

The Cranberry Hat - I started with a yarn ball as big as the one on the left, and ended with it being the size of the one on the right. Hats use almost NO yarn! Since I spun too much, maybe I can make matching gloves or something.

Read Full Post »

I go by the name ilovesocks, but yet, I’ve talked so little about them.  Its coming to winter now, so time to dig out those wonderful warm toe savers!

Candyland colored socks

Candyland colored socks

These were done by first dyeing the corriedale wool using food coloring (you use distilled water and mix it with some vinegar, and a few drops of food coloring – acid makes the dye washfast for animal fiber, then heat it until it steams).  Dyed it red, yellow and blue.  Then the yarn was spun, long sections of yellow, then long sections of red, long section of blue etc.  Then it was plied in the opposite direction with white wool to get the tweed effect for the foot.  (Another ball of yarn was spun using the red plied with yellow for the back of the heel up.)   These were knit starting at the toe with Judy’s Magic Cast on to make the toe seamless, then using short rows for the heel (you just leave stitches off the ends of your heel flap every other row, then start adding them back on 1 stitch on each end every other row when you get to the very back of the bottom of your foot, leaving a few stitches in the middle for the back of the heel – try it on as you go).  You may get holes on the heel sides doing that, just pick up yarn from around them as you go and knit the yarn with an added on stitch (knit the two together).

Made these toes too long, but still love the socks

Made these toes too long, but still love the socks.

You saw these uber-long toe socks before on the Magic and Lollypops post.  I sleep in these and that extra toe pocket is great for warmth.  I love these because of the tweedy yarn color changes.  These were spun by me too, but not dyed.  This is the effect you get if you don’t plan what you will ply together, and just make 2 balls of singles in random order then ply them together randomly.  Wonderful variety!

Read Full Post »

I wanted to spin some yarn that when knitted into something, looked like my favorite workplace garden. I’d never seen anything like this, so I had to think about this one for awhile.


So what's in it? Purple coneflower, black eyed susan, roses that turn from pink to white (and always one lonely hot pink colored rose that grows on the same bush)... blue spikey things, pale yellow I-don't-know-whats that stick out to the side....a lot of lovely colors you'd never wear together. I found this intriguing.

It would have to be crocheted. I could spin some yarn using small lengths of each color, but that wouldn’t look like flowers when knitted, it would just make stripes that probably wouldn’t look like much from a distance. So crocheting it would keep each segment of color in its own little “chunk”. To get crochet to turn into flowers, it had to be spun a few inches of green (for leaves), a few inches of sunflower yellow (for the black eyed susans), a few of dark brown (for the flower center), a few more of sunflower yellow, then more green. The same theme was followed for coneflowers, using 2 shades of pinky/purple with a brown center and green between every flower colored set for leaves. The blue spikey flowers were just done as a chunk of blue and likewise for the pale yellow ones.

width="600" See the black eyed susan?

Since the pale yellows are larger and stick out sideways in the garden, I left some fluff sticking out of the yarn to the side (for funkiness) which I could pull to one side of the item as I crocheted it. The roses were pink and white spun together a little fatter and softer to get that fluffy mix of pink and white. This yarn was left a singles, not plied, because it made it easier to keep the colors true. This was my first singles, (I always plied before) I wet it to set it once it was done (cool water), and let it dry outside in the heat and shade.  It wasn’t as horridly unravelly to work with as I had feared!

I was also going to do a tank top, but the spinning wasn’t going smoothly. Even though I’d predrafted all the wool into about 4 inch lengths, it was still a stop-and-go project, not smooth quick spinning. I had even started crocheting with one ball before I was done spinning the other. So, I only felt like doing enough to make the ends of a scarf (well, I’m doing it for the joy of the hobby, right? So if the joy is gone, time to move on!) Now that I’d started, I had learned I really could work with singles without it falling apart like ancient spider webs, so I had something else I wanted to try! I took the same colors and spun them together in long strips, eyeballing about how much length I’d need to get a few rows of each color, (not just one row). Each color was blended gradually together by spinning the two adjacent colors together for a couple of rows length.  Now I can enjoy my favorite garden in winter, when everything seems so brown for so long!

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »