Thursday, September 29, 2011

Learning about my spinning wheel

I've been trying really hard to learn how to use my new spinning wheel - don't let the folks at the craft shows fool you, its not nearly as easy as they make it look!

First off I had my wheel set up completely wrong - I have a double treadle, double drive wheel.  The wheel comes with a scotch break, so I was confused about what I was supposed to do with it.  I have subsequently learned that I have a piece of my wheel I don't need to use - the scotch break

The picture below shows the WRONG setup.  I was using the scotch break and putting the drive bands around the flyer whorl. 

What I should have done was remove the scotch break completely, put one drive band round the other end of the bobbin and one drive band round the flyer whorl.

What I have also recently found is article in eHow which discusses changing the tension with an Ashford traveller double drive.  Now I understand why the wheel came with a scotch break at all!!

I think I am managing to get a little better with my spinning - I don't think I have my technique quite sorted out yet.  I am still struggling with drafting and not letting the twist get back into the bulk of the fibre,  I am having to control the twist by slowly letting it travel down the drafted fibre until I meet the bulk by just slightly releasing my pinch on the drafted fibres and sliding my fingers back along the fibres until I meet the bulk.  Then I pinch hard to stop the twist completely and then draft out the next little piece of fibre.  I know its not a classic or indeed correct approach but I don't think I have sufficient control of the speed and density of twist yet to just let it fly.

I decided that I would try to make things easier for myself by getting some pencil roving - the theory being if I don't have to draft then that I removing one complication, I  just have to control the twist.

Well as they say "the best laid plans of mice and men" .... the fibre is lovely, its 100% pure wool and very finely drafted from Cornish Wools. But sadly my talent is not up to the job.  When I tried to spin it, it just breaks immediately - I simply cannot get any twist into it - I have absolutely no idea what I am doing wrong and the experiment has just proved how much I have to learn.

In an effort to not waste such lovely fibre I decided to try spinning two thicknesses of the fibre together.  I have no idea if this was smart or not - but after a few false starts it "seems" to be working.... for now ... we'll see.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Crochet Frame Coin Purse

I've had a few coin purse frames for a while and just hadn't got round to using them.  So in between learning to use my new spinning wheel (still a work in progress!) and finishing off my shawl for my mum I decided to get them out and make a little purse or two.

Crochet Snap Purse

These little frames are abut 3.5" wide and have pretty little olive shaped heads.

Crochet Snap Purse

I Sirdar Baby Bamboo DK yarn in my two favorite colours, purple and green, alternating in single row stripes.

Crochet Snap Purse

I think its quite a cute little coin purse and not bad for a first attempt with this frame.

Crochet Snap Purse

I'll blog again soon with my next attempt with this frame size .... its still a work in progress.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

New Spinning Wheel - Have I got it right?

Can any spinners out there help?

So I have my new Ashford Traveller Double treadle spinning wheel, but I confess I am not sure I have it setup right ....

Spinning Wheel

The bit I don't understand is the Flyer, bobbin, drive band & break setup.  Here's how I started with it.
Spinning Wheel

Here's the thing, my flyer & bobbin don't match those in the assembly instructions.

My flyer doesn't have the stepped end next to the oriface.  Its at the other end.

Spinning Wheel

And my bobbin's have a stepped end, unlike the ones in the instructions


Now I originally had the break on the stepped end of the bobbin, but since the break thread length is 32cm between the springs that just didn't work.  I had to put the break on the other end - Is that right ???

Also in the instructions the drive band is at the other end of the flyer.


But the stepped "cap" I have doesn't have a hole in it so I can't put on the other end


An educated guess says I have this the right way round, the drive band on the right thing (the cap) and the break on the right end of the bobbin.

But, since I am a complete novice at this - does anyone know if I have this right or not??

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Finished my Shawl

I have managed to finally finish my Midsummer's night shawl.  Woo and indeed Hoo.

After my wopping mistake and the painfulness of having to rip back 17 rows when I had almost finished, I finally got there !!
Midsummer's night shawl

Midsummer's night shawl

In the end I really like how it turned out.  Even if it tested my patients enormously during the creation.

 I packed it up to day and posted it off to my mum.  I really hope my she likes it, fingers crossed.

Midsummer's night shawl

Monday, September 12, 2011

Expanding my crafting empire ....

I've been toying with this idea for a long while, ever since I tried out a drop spindle.  I managed to get the hand of drop spinning "fairly" quickly, but was frustrated at the speed of progress.  Also I had the habit of dropping the spindle on my feet rather too often (OUCH!)

I love hand spun yarns, they are so much more interesting than most commercial yarns.  But with the slow progress in trying to spin with a drop spindle I thought that the only course of action to continue was to get a wheel.

I first enquired about a wheel back in May and got some really good and honest advice from Shiela Dixon at  I wanted a compact wheel that I could store relatively easily and I wasn't sure if I should go for an Ashford Joy or an Ashford Traveller.

Ashford Joy
Ashford Traveller

After the some advice I have chosen the Traveller, which I finally plucked you the courage to buy over the weekend.  It is currently en route and I am like a 3 year old at Christmas waiting for it to arrive.  How I am going to explain what it is when it arrives at my office is any one's guess.  They already think I am quite eccentric :)

Check back here from time to time to see how I get on, perhaps I will be a one woman yarn factory before long :) having said that I would be thoroughly satisfied if I can successfully make enough yarn to keep my little projects moving.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Well frog it all to hell....

I have been working on my Midsummers night shawl that I am making for my mum.

I was getting on great, progress was going well - given that I only have a couple of hours a day at most to work on crochet.

I got up to the final piece of the edging and then disaster struck ... the pattern just didn't work.  After a couple of attempts and  a bit of head scratching I finally thought to check that the shawl was even on both sides.


It wasn't, damn it all .... I'd made a mistake, and not one of those "I can cover this up" sort of mistakes - a proper, buggered it up mistake.

So I took a deep breath and thought to myself. "It might not be that bad.  Just start frogging ("rip it") and see when the mistake happened, its probably not that far back".

17, yes 17 rows of frogging and I finally got back to where the shawl was correct.  17 !!!!!!!!!

Feeling pig sick, I wound myself up the largest ball of yarn and got back to crocheting those 17 rows.  So far I have managed to rework 6 of my rows.

I should chalk this up to a learning experience, at least now I am checking that everything is as it should be with every finished row.  I don't plan on frogging this one again.