Category Archives: Spinzilla

Spinzilla 2016 — 4,661 yards (4,262 metres)

Last week I participated in my fourth Spinzilla event. Spinzilla is a monster of a spinning contest that lasts an entire week. Starting at 12:01am on Monday, October 3 and ending at 11:59pm on October 9, teams of as many as 25 spinners spin like mad and submit their yardage to their team captains. It’s all done on the honour system – anyone who lies about their yardage will be plagued with snapped drive bands and shattered spindles.

Much to my surprise I am a very competitive person about some things – seems that a spinning contest is one of them. So for the first three years of the contest I worked harder and harder to spin as much as possible. Even booking three days off work last year so I could maximize my spinning time. I was rewarded in year 3 with a spinning total of 8,672 yards. That’s nearly 5 miles of spinning.

This year I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t take the time from work so my spinning from Monday to Thursday was limited to lunch hour spindling and wheel spinning in the evenings. As I have an early start to my day, I couldn’t stay up late or get up too much earlier to get in some spinning.

So I resigned myself to simply doing my very best with the time I did have, and not to fret about what I couldn’t get done. Here’s the photo story.

I started Spinzilla spinning some lovely grey Romney/Crossbreed fibre that I washed and combed over the summer. My aim is to make a fingering weight yarn for a friend’s weaving project. By Thursday evening I was tired of spinning fine and grey, so I switched it up, grabbed a bag of Mardi Gras by Kinfolk Yarn and Fibre. I took this lovely yarn and spun a two-ply thick and thin yarn. It only took about two hours to do both bobbins. Spinning slubs really chews into the fibre. It wasn’t going to give me a lot of yardage, but it was such a treat to make that yarn and play with colour and texture for a while.  Here’s a photo of what I had spun by Friday morning.

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On Friday I finished spinning all the grey I had prepped and started plying.

On Saturday I pulled out some Clun Forest roving from my neighbour. Talk about 100-mile wear – this yarn is from sheep living one mile away. I spun this woollen — using a long backwards draw. Here’s the first bobbin.

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And I spun for most of Saturday, in between making vegan cabbage rolls, pumpkin pie and apple crumble for Thanksgiving dinner. This is what I had by the end of the day.

On Sunday, I plied all the singles I made. Spun a bit more to finish up a bobbin and plied that in between stuffing and roasting a turkey and getting other items for the meal prepared and eaten!  By 9pm I was done. Really done. Unlike last year where I stayed up right until the last minute wildly plying hyper-energized singles into a three-ply yarn, I was ready to pack up my wheel. And so I did.

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Here’s my total production for the week. Eight skeins of two-ply yarn and two mini-skeins of singles yarn from my spindles for a total of 4,661 yards.

It’s a decent amount of yarn. Yarn that I am very happy with and have plans for. It was a good week.

Spinzilla 2014: Day 4

Here are the results from day 4 of Spinzilla. From bottom to top we have the following:

  • 64 grams and 367 yards of Bluebird Cafe – the second half of the braid that I spun on day 3. Superwash merino, spun fine for plying into a DK. I’ll probably do all my plying on Sunday – as that’s easy to do around making a Thanksgiving feast.
  • 97 grams and 292 yards of Penny Lane – superwash merino. These two skeins were spun to make soft singles. The merino will bounce up once it is washed and will fill out. If it isn’t as thick as I want, I’ll ply the two and get a chunky weight.
  • 96 grams and 280 yards – same as above
DISCLAIMER: I am carefully documenting my progress not to show off, but so I can have a good record of what I managed to spin each day.
Last night I went to the second spin-in hosted by Team Sweet Georgia. It was great to meet the rest of the team and to see old friends. General consensus is that plying is a good deal. You get to finish your yarn and you get credit for plying, which is way faster than spinning singles. So what’s to lose in that.
I also bought a couple more braids because they were the new fall colours – Bourbon and Grouse. Will spin those up today – polwarth and silk, can’t wait.
Over and out.

Spinzilla 2014: Day 3

Day 3 of Spinzilla proved much more productive because I booked the day off work. I had as much time to spin as I wanted. Talk about delicious.

So here’s what I produced. I finished the second half of the blue polwarth/silk you see at the top. Then I spun up the pink polwarth/silk you see in middle. And in the evening, I spun half a braid of Bluebird Cafe from the Sweet Georgia Yarns fibre club, September. It’s Superwash Merino and spins like a dream. All these fibres spin wonderfully.

Oh, and during my breaks from spinning, I tidied my studio. I reorganized all my tools and fibre from the Knit City workshops I did over the weekend.

The total yardage for day 3 is 973 yards. Not bad at all. This year you get credit for plying your yarn, so I may take a break from spinning singles and ply the Temptress skeins from day 1 and the Bluebird Cafe skeins. We’ll see. Right now I am just having fun busting through my stash and making a dent in it.

Tonight’s the second spin-in at the Sweet Georgia Yarns studio, and I’ll get to see other members of the team, and see what they’ve been up to.

Spinzilla 2014: Day 2

Day two of Spinzilla was a bit more difficult because I had to go into the city to work. I brought my tahkli along to spin cotton because it is so portable, and I can also get a decent amount of yardage on it. Finally.
So this is the amount I spun over lunch. I haven’t measured it yet. I plan to fill another spindle with cotton, wind them into a double-stranded ball and ply it. Then I’ll measure it. 

I didn’t have much time after work as I had an Executive meeting for the Langley Weavers and Spinners Guild. Despite that, I brought my Ashford Joy along to the meeting and spun half of this skein. I finished it up on the morning of Day 3. So the yardage for this has to bridge two days.

And that ends the day 2 show and tell.

Spinzilla 2014: Day 1

I’ve been silent for a long while and there are a variety of excuses for this, but they aren’t half as interesting as this. Ever since Monday, October 6th at 12:00 am I’ve been involved in the second Spinzilla contest.

Spinzilla is a monster of a spinning week. It is a full week where spinners sign up in teams to work to spin as much yardage as they possibly can. I was a member of the Sweet Georgia Yarns team in 2013. I spun 630 grams of fibre resulting in 4496 yds. That’s 2.5 miles of singles!
I am surprisingly competitive, so this year I joined again and have challenged myself to beat my last years yardage. I gave myself an advantage this year by booking off the last three days of the week so I could spend the entire days spinning.
In the next several blog posts I will show you the progression of my spinning.
Here is day one:
This is the first bobbin. It is Temptress a Superwash Merino 80%, Cashmere 10%, and Nylon 10% blend from Sweet Georgia Yarns Fibre Club. I managed to do all this spinning around a work day. One hour in the morning right after I woke up. A half-hour a lunch time. And then when I booked off at 4:30 I spun my heart out putting in another three and a half-hours. 

And here it is wound up on the Niddy Noddy. That’s the way I have decided to measure my yardage. For me it is a more precise way to measure the singles and it also conditions them by allowing the twist to even out as it it wound into a skein. The twist doesn’t leave the singles, it just gets evened out along the line.

And here are two of the lovelies. Almost equal. The top one is 293 yds and the bottom one is 294 yds. Imagine that.

More tomorrow.

Story of a shawl – Part 2

I tried another shawl with the Waterfall yarn I made during Spinzilla week. This is the Spiral Staircase pattern from Ravelry. Easy peasy. While it does do what I was hoping it would so, show off the subtle colour gradations – I should have used larger needles. This shawl is too small for my liking and the fabric that knit up — on the 4mm needles is too dense. I’m going to try it again with 6mm needles so the fabric will be looser and have a chance to drape.

And I will plan it better, so I use every inch of the yarn, unlike the sample above.

Story of a shawl – Part 1

This incomplete story is the tale of a shawl — from fibre to yarn to shawl. The shawl itself is not complete as is this blog post. But stay tuned. I’ll find my camera and take pictures of the next phase of this art object.

This shawl started out as a lovely roving from the Sweet Georgia Yarns fibre club. The colourway is called Waterfall.  In the notes that accompanied the roving, Felicia suggested we try an Ombre approach. Separating all the colours, spinning them in the single colour sequence and then chain plying. So that’s what I did.

This was the first thing I spun  for the Spinzilla contest. And here are all the rolags nicely carded into the colourways and put into some kind of Ombre order.

After an hour of spinning, I was mostly finished with the blue.

After a couple of hours, the green was done too.

[Not sure why this photo is the size of a postage stamp.]

Here is the final yarn, chain plied to preserve the colour ways. You can see the silk shining through.

And here’s the first attempt at a shawl. It’s the Adhara Rainbow Shawl — pattern was from Elann.com but I can’t find it anymore. It’s essentially a feather and fan pattern that grows.

I kept getting lost in the pattern and ended up un-knitting more than I was knitting. So decided that the yarn/pattern were telling me something.

So I tried another one.

Photos of that one tomorrow.

Spinzilla: The Final Photo Shoot

Spinzilla is over and the plying has ended. The first three skeins are double-plied, the next two are Navajo plied, and the last one on the right is a singles, and will stay that way.It has all been washed, thwacked and bashed about. In other words, it’s all ready to be made into some fantastic object.

Though right now, I am not entirely sure what that will be. Some things to consider: all the yarn is a wool/silk and at times, something else blend. It’s sleek, fine, and has potential for a lovely drape.

The only skein I have plans for is the Waterfall one. That one is the fourth from the left. It was done in an Ombre mode, so the colours blend in a long colourway. That one begs to be a shawl. Over the weekend, I’ll tour around Ravelry and see what’s possible.

I will of course keep you posted.

PS – Team Sweet Georgia – the team I spun for, came in 6th out of 34 international teams. I’d say that’s a good showing.

Spinzilla 2013 – the final tally

Last week from Monday, October 7th until 9pm on October 13th, I spun every single moment I could for Spinzilla – a Monster of a Spinning Contest. I got up an hour earlier than normal and spun in the morning. (Some days that worked better than others.) I carried around my Houndesign spindle and spun in the car, on the train and on the bus during my commute to the city. It is not easy to spin on the bus. You don’t have much room sitting down, and it’s impossible to do so standing up what with all the starting and stopping. And people stare at you. I am used to folks looking over at me while I’m knitting, but they really STARE at you when you haul out a spindle. And of course, I spun in the evening after dinner.

There were many times during the week that my leg or back got sore. When that happened I got up, walked around a bit and then got back to the wheel. Like a marathon, it’s all about pacing yourself. And as you are part of team, you know that everything you do will help the team. I was on Team Sweet Georgia – as all the fibre I used during Spinzilla was from there. It’s wonderfully prepared and the colours are simply lovely. They propelled me forward.

Yesterday was particularly tricky as I was working on a final push – and preparing a Thanksgiving feast.  But I got it done. I finished this duo (London Town in Panda) at 8 pm last night. I only had one more hour left and didn’t feel like starting a new braid of fibre. As well, my back and leg were sore, so I got out my spindle and spindle-spun myself until the clock said 9 pm. Done, done, and so very done.

The final result was 4,496 yards (4,150m) of singles yarn — from 630 grams of fibre – that’s 1.4lbs.  All the fibre I worked with was blended – super fine wool like merino, BFL or polwarth with bamboo, tencel, nylon, and or tussah silk. It was easy stuff to spin fine and once I got going, that was the plan. Yardage was the goal. If the contest was how much weight to spin, I’d have spun chunky weight. But as it was all about the yardage, so I cranked my wheel to the second highest speed and treadled away. 
Here’s the photo of the entire fleet of spun singles. I’ll be spending the next while plying these into two-ply and three-ply yarns and will proudly display the results.
Go Team Sweet Georgia — I hope we do well. I know I did my best for the team. And I’d do it again in a heartbeat. 

Spinzilla – Day One

Today is the first day of Spinzilla – a monster of a spinning contest that spans miles and time zones. I am a member of Team Sweet Georgia. (#teamsweetgeorgia) I am working all week so I have to plan my spinning around the work. So, I got up early today and was down at my wheel by 6am. This tray awaited me — 36 carefully prepared rolags that I would spin in order to get an ombre effect. 

I spun until 9am and then started my (paid) work. I took three 10 minute breaks throughout the day and spun a rolag. At lunchtime I spun for half and hour. I had a couple of tele-meetings so was able to spin through those. The fibre is Waterfall – merino, bamboo and tencel from Sweet Georgia Yarns. In fact, all the fibre I’m spinning this week is from Sweet Georgia Yarns. They are of exceptional quality and have such amazing colourways, they are a delight to spin.

At 5:30 I spun for another 15 minutes and then finished up. Here’s the finished braid all spun up. It weighs 128 grams.
That finished I started on the next one – this is a contest after all. There’s no time to rest. Well really, I had a hot bath because my leg was sore. After the bath I spun for another 45 minutes on this – Indian Summer. BFL and 15% nylon SGY.

I’ll see how far I get with this while I watch M*A*S*H Season 3.

More tomorrow.