The Daily Purl


ah sweet fiber

Just looking at this fiber makes me forget the piercing cold wind that’s whipping around outside.
I decided to take a short break from the needles and spent the weekend spinning some blue face leicester and alpaca from the yarn tree. Making yarn. Delicate movements, the rhythm of drafting in fiber, winding on the twists, very addictive.


grey alpaca

Rain and gusts of wind swirled around us while walking the dog late last night. After cleaning off her muddy paws I put on the teapot and finally got around to setting the twist on my latest handspun. I spun this fiber over the course of many evenings and it seemed to fit my mood and match the weather of late. Early this morning things had dried up and I was able to take a quick picture of the yarn before heading out for the day.
baby alpaca top from the yarn tree
Hope you all have a great weekend filled with yarn and needles.


spinning 1.3 twist energy

singles yarn (Baby Alpaca Top) and two-ply yarn (Blue Face Leicester & Alpaca)1
This past weekend I learned the Andean plying method – you wind the singles yarn onto your hand and then respin them together on the drop spindle in the opposite direction. The goal is to respin the yarn so it is balanced (the Z-twist and S-twist energies neutralize one another).
I washed the handspun in warm water and then let them dry – which took longer than expected. But after a few days, the two-ply really bloomed!
Rx Reading: Spin It by Lee Raven, Interweave Press. A great little book that gives step-by-step instructions on how to spin and includes a few patterns.
1 Fiber Source: The Yarn Tree
Thanks to Linda and Caroline at the Yarn Tree for the excellent instruction, fiber talk and all around fun. (Hi Barley!)

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spinning 1.2

Niddy noddy used to make a skein of yarn, prep the twist and count yardage.
My first drop spindle handspun yarn! I’m not sure if I want to keep it like this or knit it up right away.
It doesn’t get better than this – spending a Saturday afternoon in this lovely store surrounded by yarn, fiber, delightful people and interesting customers. One woman was looking at silk cocoons which can be used in spinning or weaving (or in her case, knitting).
I left the store carrying the niddy noddy in one hand and my bag cradling my handspun in the other. Can’t wait to return next week when I’ll make plied yarn.

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keeping the rhythm

My handspun looks a little sloppy wound up – an odd-watermelon shape. I slipped it onto a needle and will make a skein with a niddy noddy later. My thoughts on spinning right now are just to do it – even if it’s imperfect with slubs.
So to keep the rhythm, I started spinning some baby alpaca top in colour pacific sand.
Working with fiber. I know what I’m using isn’t raw. It’s combed and grease free and pretty. But the source of the fiber is on my mind. I love that The Yarn Tree lists the source of the fiber on their web site. The Targhee top, for example, comes from a Montana sheep farm. They also have Border Leicester Roving from a sheep farm in Vermont.
Spinning with this alpaca is smooth and delicate. I’ve been developing an obsession for alpaca for many months. I love the handle of alpaca and the way it looks knit up. And another reason to knit with alpaca…check out this post by the Worsted Witch.


spinning 1.1

Yesterday I learned to spin at The Yarn Tree in Brooklyn. Below, Caroline, spinning instructor extraordinaire, showing me how it’s done. Watching Caroline use the drop spindle, I was in awe. Caroline made it look so easy, but I knew right away that a certain amount of coordination was involved – using two hands, a tool, feeding fiber and watching the drafting zone. It looked like some kind of modern dance. I hope I wasn’t too poor a student (my spindle bobbled when I spun it and I kept on letting the twist enter the fiber supply). Experiencing something so different shocked my senses and pushed away the work fog that has accumulated over the past few weeks.
I started with Targhee Top. I learned how to pull out some fibers from the mass of wool, tease them and how to hold them in my hand with the ends out of the way. I started by using a small amount of fiber and folding it around my index finger.
I was so excited by the entire endeavor that I completely forgot the fact that the store was having a yarn sale. But I did get lots of fiber so I can practice before the next lesson.
When I got home I sat down at the kitchen table and started spinning. He said, “You haven’t even taken off your jacket!”