Immediately after arriving in Albany, NY, Aaron and I headed over to Trumpet Hill Yarns; an adorable shop that is one of his favorite spots for knitting and spinning. We walked in to find Celeste and the gang all sitting in a knit/spin group, happily talking about the events of the day as the weather suddenly turned from cloudy to rainy. It was the only time it really rained during the trip and we all felt safe, knowing that if something happened the yarn shop has plenty of fiber, yarn, patterns and supplies to keep us satisfied until help arrived!
While I was there, I picked up "Outlaw"; a fantastic neckerchief / shawl pattern designed by Celeste Young, as well as some beautifully dyed roving from Spinner's Hill. I look forward to spinning up the fiber and making that pattern!
Get your very own copy of the pattern by visiting the pattern page HERE on Ravelry!
We were all ecstatic when we discovered the "scrap bins"! (we were like "pigs in mud!") We had the chance to get some random scraps and so a few of us dug through the bins and picked up bags of fiber. I am not really sure what the fiber content of my purchase ended up being, but the majority of it seemed like alpaca, along with some (itchy!) wool.
These scraps are left over from the processing of the fiber... bits and pieces that are hiding in the machines and come out only when coaxed by cleaning. Since someone else grabbed the ENTIRE bin of colored fibers, I decided to experiment with browns and greys. I dug through the fibers and based my decisions on color and texture, doing my best to keep my color selections limited to a few shades.
All of this was done hoping that back at the retreat center Joe had brought his drum carder. (He had!) - and so enters the next big adventure from the MSKR12; drum carding! I had never worked a drum carder so this was the perfect opportunity to learn.
That evening, I worked with some of the guys to turn the scraps of brown and grey processed fiber into roving that could be spun into yarn. I knew that some of the fibers were alpaca (soft!), and some were different types of wool (hearty!). They are all naturally colored (undyed) and range in quantity, softness, and staple length. My goal was to create a 2-ply yarn with distinct different colors but hopefully when it is knitted up (or woven) it would show minimal pooling. Here's how we did it:
First, we divided the scraps into color families including light brown, dark brown, light grey and dark grey. Those piles of fiber were put through the drum carder to blend them together, align the fibers and get them ready for further processing. Once that was complete, I was able to see how much of each color I had.
Drum carding takes a bit of patience, and one lesson I learned is to be sure not to overload the drum carder. Make smaller batts if necessary so that you're not working harder than necessary and stressing the machine.
Here are all the batts all laid out and stacked on each other, showing off the 6 different colors I ended up having from my "harvest" of the scrap bin.
Then, we separated the fiber into sections and created striped "groups" that would then be re-carded. We tried to make each group somewhat distinct, knowing in the end they would all be similar.
Those groups were put through the drum carder, most of them like a sandwich (working across the layer, carding each color of fiber on top of the previous one, creating layers). Each batt was then removed from the carder and rolled from side to side lengthwise creating a "jellyroll". That roll of fiber was stretched a number of times, lengthening it and making it thinner, then rolled up into a ball.
I didn't take a photo of the fiber when it was in the ball ("Bump") stage... sorry.
The two bobbins of singles turned out really good! I am happy with the varied colors, and they were pretty much the same weight.
From there, I needed to ply. I brought a special wood bobbin just for the event. I asked Joe Wilcox, Ted Myatt and Aaron Bush to all sign this bobbin (using a Sharpie permanent marker) so that I could carry the memory of learning with them during the weekend along with me whenever I spin. They all obliged, and so begins my new tradition of having instructors, mentors, and icons sign my wheel bobbins. As the years go by, I imagine having many bobbins filled with the names of many different inspiring fiber artists.
Here's that bobbin showing the first 3 autographs:
...and that's the bobbin I used to ply the yarn. I don't have a lazy kate, so I made one. I took a box, used a hole punch to pop holes in it, and slid US 10 straight needles through the holes to hold the bobbins. I added a rubber band around the box to create a bit of tension on the bobbins to keep them from flying around while I plied. It worked like a dream and, when it's all done, the box stores my bobbins, the needles, and other tools I use when spinning!