Category Archives: Sweet Georgia Yarns

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 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.

Getting ready for Spinzilla

Spinzilla is coming up. It’s the first of its kind spinning event. From October 7th to 13th it is “a community wide event where competing teams challenge each other to see who can spin the most yarn in a one-week period.”

What does this mean for me? Well, I joined a team – pretty respectable team of amazing spinners, the Sweet Georgia Yarns team, and I don’t want to let them down. I work full-time so will have to cram in my spinning time in the morning and after work – combined with spindle spinning over the lunch hour.

So this last while I’ve been getting ready.

Getting ready for Spinzilla, a full week of full on spinning, means that:

  • you have to have empty bobbins for all the spun yarn
  • a great deal of easy-to-spin fibre at hand
  • no decisions to make.

I don’t know how much I will need for an entire week. I know that during demonstration events when I just sit there and spin, I can  easily spin 100g in about 4 hours. All of this depends on the fibre of course. Some fibres are tricky to spin and take more time – others spin easily and create great yardage – which is what matters in this contest.
So here at the base of my Ashford Joy is about 3.5 lbs of delicious fibres all ready for spinning. In the next week, I may even draft out some of the braids so no time is wasted.
I am part of a great team and I really don’t want to embarrass myself at the end of the week. So I have to get ready. One week still it starts. . . . . . 

Best way to manage the blues

Yesterday I hosted a “Good Day to Dye 2013” at our home here in Glen Valley. There were five of us in total, all with varying degrees of experience making an indigo dye pot and doing the actual dyeing. Each dye pot could dye approximately two pounds of fibre. So we made three dye pots.

You start out by making the dye stock: that’s what’s below. After you make it you have to let it sit for an hour to “reduce”. In that process it turns from being a stunning deep indigo to a lime green.

After the stock reduces, you carefully add it to the five-gallon bucket of water (which has a wee bit a lye and ivory detergent in it). You can’t just pour the dye stock into the water, because you can’t let the dye hit the air. When it hits the air, it oxidizes and turns dark blue/indigo and expires the dye.

So you carefully lower the entire jar of dye solution into the bucket and empty it without letting it hit the air. Then you let that sit for another hour.

There’s a lot of down time as you wait for the stock to reduce, then wait for the dye to settle in the dye pot. So we entertained ourselves with good food, beverages and spinning. 
When the dye pot was ready, we added the wetted fibre and skeins to the dye pot – and then let that sit for half-an-hour. After that we carefully lifted it out of the dye pot, making sure to squeeze the liquid out of it while it was below the surface. The skein below was once white. When it’s lifted out of the indigo pot it looks light greeny-blue. But within moments, as the air hits it, it starts to turn a lovely blue. It’s a magic moment. You can do repeat dippings if you want to make the colour more intense. Just let the fibre/yarn sit in the air for half-an-hour and then toss it back into the dye pot.
The grey and white skeins below were added to the dyepot. Here’s what they looked like after they were spun and washed. 

The five skeins below are 1) a white skein, 2) the two grey skeins featured above, 3) another white skein and the last one will be explained further on. The fibre on top is the fibre we are going to be using in the sheep-to-shawl demonstration at the Aldergrove Fair Days.

Once you see the magic of the indigo dye pot, you get Dyeing Fever. That means you start to look around for all kinds of other things you can throw into the dye pot. I’ve had this lovely skein of hand spun blue-faced leicester (Sweet Georgia Yarns — Yellow Curd) in my stash for a while. It’s lovely and I have nothing against yellow, but I was curious what would happen if it went into an indigo pot. Here’s the before photo:

And here’s the after shot. I was surprised at how much indigo this absorbed with only one dipping.

However, once the dyeing is over, you let your fibre/yarn sit for minimum of 24 hours and then you give it a final rinse. So I may lose some of the intensity and see a bit of green.

And here are the results of my dyeing efforts. The rack was completely full yesterday with skeins and fibre from five gals. But this is my stuff after everyone left. Later today I’ll rinse it out and if there’s a dramatic difference I’ll do an update.

 It’s a beautiful process and I’m hooked.

Wellspring 1/2 mitts – working with the fibre club yarn

The yarn for these mitts came from Sweet Georgia Yarns Fibre Club – this was the March installment. The fibre is English Shetland, a lovely wool to work with. I spun this yarn up on my spindle. After working with the slippery fibres from the January and February installments, it was a relief to work with fibre that has a bit of stick to it.

While they don’t look exactly the same, they are definitely a pair. The pattern for these mitts is my own, it’s a coin lace with a lovely thumb gusset that grows gracefully out of the coin lace. Knit on 3mm needles with 48 stitches, they knit up really fast. It’s become my standby mitt pattern. It’s all in my head and I can easily make minor variations to mix it up a bit.

I’ll post it on Ravelry soon.

Candygram yarn complete

The yarn is all done. Here it is right after being made into skeins.

and here it is all washed and bashed up, ready for knitting.You can see how the yarn softens up and gets its bounce back after a good hot soak. In some sections it’s a sock yarn, and in others is a sport weight.

Not entirely sure how it’s going to knit up, in terms of how the colours will behave with each other. The yarn itself is lovely and soft and strong, so it could be a pair of socks. But the colours and patterning are really asking for it to be some kind of small shawl scarf.  
Then again I could just put it into my yarn collection with all the other stuff that I make. I simply love making yarn. This fibre club is a great way to satisfy my need to constantly explore fibres and colours and get out of my regular rhythms.  
I’m onto the March fibre now. I’m determined to have the Jan/Feb/March fibre spun up before the next cycle begins. January fibre is a merino/silk blend that will take a lot of discipline. That’s why I’ve jumped to the March fibre.  It’s a nice Shetland wool with greens and blues. Easy spinning, worsted weight. Will go fast, I type hopefully.
Will keep you posted.

February Fibre Club: Candygram

Sweet Georgia Yarns Fibre Club is a fun way to experiment with fibres and colours. It’s also a great way to boot you out of any kind of a fibre/spinning rut you may be in.  You sign up for three months at a time. Once a month you get a 100g bag of unspun fibre with a description of the content of the yarn along with some spinning suggestions.
The fibre for February is called Candygram. According to Felicia Lo, “All these saccharine pinks, lilacs, light lime greens and pale blues remind me of those little candy hearts that you get at Valentine’s Day.” And boy, she’s right. These are not colours that would have every chosen for myself. But that’s the fun thing about the Fibre Club. Once you have them, you have to work with them. And it ended up being really fun. I love these intense bold colours and the splash of silver glitter that ekes out one in a while. 
It is made of 63% Superwash Merino Wool, 20% Silk, 15% Nylon, 2% “Silver.” And it was prepared as a pencil roving.  A sleek amount of fibre, about the thickness of a . . . pencil.  
I’ve been off spinning with my wheel due to a spinning injury, and since the spinning workshop last week, I’ve been full on with my spindles. So this is being done entirely with my lace-weight spindles for the singles, and my heavier, Henry’s Dervish for plying.
I actually have crafted a detailed plan for spinning this yarn.  But I won’t explain my thinking until I am sure it worked.  Why bother otherwise?  But here it is nearly done – all the fibre is spun up and I am at the plying stage now.  
From left to right you will see, a larger spindle that I am using for plying with about a third of the plying done.  Next to that you will see two sets of purple balls next to lace-weight spindles full of singles. These are waiting to be wound into two-ply balls which make plying so much easier. The wee green ball at the bottom is the left over from winding a double-ply ball.  I am sure there will be others so this one will get incorporated into the final plan.  The mini skein at the very bottom is one of the sample I did as I tried to figure out how to get the best out of all these colours.

Will post the final results.

At the Ballet: Sample one

While I did promise that I was only going to spin yarn for my 100-Mile skirt this weekend, the January fibre club fibre kept calling me. I justified it by convincing myself I only needed to spin and ply one small nest so I could do a sample. Sampling is good.
Here it is wound directly from the spindle to a toilet paper roll using my ball winder. I attached both ends to the spindle and plied from this centre-pull ball.
I put a lot of twist into the plying and it shows. This is what it looked like when it came off the niddy-noddy. It’s 54 metres of yarn.

A warm water bath relaxed the twist and it settled into the yarn making for a soft , yet highly twisted yarn. The fibre is 50% merino and 50% cultivated silk. Fine fibres like these can take a lot of twist and still remain quite soft. I love the way the subtle variations of pinks come through.  Now I’m looking forward to spinning up the darker nests.

January fibre club: At the Ballet

As a Christmas present to myself, I joined Sweet Georgia Yarns fibre club.  I’ve joined it before and thoroughly enjoyed the surprise and challenge each month.  Last week we got our January fibre. It’s called At the Ballet. This is how Felicia Lo describes it:

At the Ballet is blush, cream and pinks, but not the younger girly kind.  It’s more wisened and more graceful. 

It’s 50% fine merino blended with 50% cultivated silk.  You can see the sheen from the silk in this photo that was taken with the flash on.

The colourway is cream, white and light pinks moving into deeper pink hues. A quicky sample on the drop spindle helped me decide how to spin it.  I wasn’t all that interested in barber poling — that’s when one ply is the lighter section and the other ply is the darker one — see photo below. With long stretches of each extreme, the light and the dark pinks, there would be a good chance that it would happen.

It’s a lovely fibre and spins up fine with little effort — just a heck of a lot of twist. So my colleague and I (who is also a member of the fibre club) decided to separate — as well as we could, the light and dark sections. What you see below are the nests of light stuff and nests of the darker stuff.  The plan is to spin all the light stuff lace weight and double-ply it. Spin all the darker stuff lace weight and double-ply that.  Then knit a lace shawl with the darker yarn and use the lighter yarn for the edging.

You can see the subtle gradations of white to pinks in the singles on the spindle above. When it is double-plied the yarn will have some depth, but not the dramatic barber poling you can see in the bottom mini-skein in the photo below.

So that’s our plan. This won’t get in the way of finishing up the 100-mile skirt because this is being spun at work over lunch hour. At least for now.