dinsdag 31 januari 2012

On the spindle...

As I mentioned in my earlier message about spinning: I'm in love! Nothing is more satisfying than seeing a beautiful, colorful yarn being created, by such a simple and natural power as twist.

In the last two weeks I finished three new skeins. The first one is this rainbow-coloured 2-ply merino yarn (about 18-24 WPI)... I called it 'Hot Air Balloons', 'cause that's what it reminded me of!

I really love how the many colors in this one plied together into al kinds of different combinations. 

For the second skein, I went a bit crazy. I created coils! Now tell me, can I call this my first (kind-of) art-yarn?! I called it 'Pastel Mermaids'... For anyone who's interested, both the roving for this yarn as well as for the 'Hot Air Balloons' were bought at Meervilt.

Making coils is pretty easy, I first spun a thick-and-thin thread of the pastel-colored merino, and then I plied it with a thin silk sewing thread. By keeping the sewing thread straight and slowly feeding the merino single thread, the merino coils itself around the sewing thread. When you shove this up, the sewing thread disappears completely inside the merino single. Hmmm...this sounds pretty confusing, probably. There are good tutorials on youtube with way better explanations than mine ;)

One big disadvantage of the coils is that they (logically) make your yarn shrink incredibly in length. This yarn turned out to be only 15 meters, while the 'Hot Air Balloons' (made of exactly the same amount of roving) was 100 meters! But, on the other hand...I think coiled yarn is often used for special finishing touches, like borders and such, and not to knit/crochet a complete project. So it's okay, I guess!

I crocheted a little hat for my Secretdoll Person with some leftover of the (unplied) thick-and-thin spun merino.

Okay, now to the third skein... Again made of merino fibers. I recently bought these 5 rovings at the Dutch webshop Bodyflower (not my picture):

I used the roving on the left (purple-pink) to make my third skein: a single thick-and-thin yarn. 

Now I'm not super happy with how this one turned out... I love the colors (and the fact that this roving was dyed in the length, which gives a candy cane-like effect), but somehow it looks so fuzzy! Anyone an idea of the reason for this? Maybe it's because it's a single yarn (plying makes it look more equal and less fuzzy)? I had some troubles with setting the twist in the thinner parts of the yarn, it holds way more of the twist than the thicker regions. 

Oh well, I think I'll just keep this one for myself. It's a learning process, after all this is only my fourth official handspun yarn ever! But if someone has some helpful advice, please leave a comment! I would greatly appreciate it :)

Okido, now one last picture, of what is currently on my spindle.

I'm using the purple roving of the Bodyflower collection for this one, and I'm spinning a silver thread directly with it (so no plying!). I'm very excited about how this is turning out! I hope the silver thread will make the yarn less fuzzy (holding it a bit more together). At this very moment I'm done spinning and setting the twist. It's not much (each Bodyflower roving was only 50 grams), so I'm probably keeping this one myself too. Maybe I can crochet a cute Blythe beret of it?!

zaterdag 21 januari 2012

One curly reroot

I've finished yet another reroot. I don't know how many reroots I've done so far, it might be 20 already...but this one definitely took me the longest! The customer asked for an extra full reroot, so I used at least 2 ounces of mohair: an endless amount of plugs!

It was done by the knot method. Not my favorite and fastest method to work with, but probably the safest for mohair. The two big advantages of the knot method is that you have a very small risk of pulling a plug through the hole while combing (this risk is bigger with the lock-loop method), and all the mohair fibers are in the one right direction (while with the lock-loop method you fold the plug in half, which will result in half of the fibers aligning in the wrong direction...this can become a big felted, knotted mess with mohair that tends to felt quickly!).
Oh, and I forgot another good point of the knot method: you can keep your locks long!

When I'm finished with rerooting, I usually secure the knots on the inside with a little layer of glue. I know some people actually put a drop of glue on each single plug of hair, but I find that one complete layer of glue (in combination with good double knots) work well enough to secure the strands. Plus it saves a little time!

Last part on this job was the perming. I used just velcro curlers this time (like these, the red ones). I cut them in half, 'cause a dolly scalp is not that big :) heheh! (Just be careful when you take them out, the hair easily sticks to them and will get damaged if you pull too hard...)
I put the rollers in wet hair, and laid the permed scalp away for a couple of days. When I took the rollers out again, the curls had set in beautifully!

Well, I hope the customer will be happy with her rerooted scalp. She waited quite a while for it, but hopefully it was worthwhile wait!

Ps. Don't mind the model... She's a customizing victim, I haven't done any work on her yet and she just laid around scalpless!

woensdag 18 januari 2012

A Yo-SD shirt...

Yesterday I made a little Yo-SD shirt, just 'cause I was in the mood to sew for this size :) I really love this floral fabric which has a tiny rib in it, I have been dying to use it! With the yellow rims it makes quite a special color combination...

Emily wanted to model it for us. Ever since she came back from her spa @ Viridian House, I can't believe how stunning her little face is. Most of my dolls have a mischievous attitude, but Emily is another story. Her look is more innocent, and sometimes even shy.

As soon as I have made some more (non-commissioned) clothes, I will do a little update in my shop. I'll keep you posted about that, right here and on my flickr-photostream! 

Off to bed now, it's almost midnight...sweet dreams!

woensdag 11 januari 2012


Last Christmas I learnt myself how to spin, using a drop spindle. It's something I've been wanting to try for a long time, so at the end of december I finally took the challenge and ordered a drop spindle, with some wool roving to practice. 

I must say...I really enjoyed spinning my own yarn for the first time! Feeling the fibers flow through your fingers and seeing a beautiful thread slowly growing on your spindle has something calming. It's easy to do something else in the meantime, like making small talk, watching a movie or listening to an audiobook. 

Another aspect that excites me about it, is the surprise of what the final yarn will look like. You never know beforehand, and you have endless possibilities! You can ply, spin thick-and-thin, use different kinds of fibers, etc. I'm sure I haven't discovered even half of what's possible!

So...here's a little photo story of the making of my first 'official' (non-practice) yarn. 
It al started with the choosing of a roving. One fine place to start for that is Etsy, my favorite virtual shopping mall. There's so much choice! All varieties are available, in both fibers, colors and price. It actually feels like visiting the candy store. Be warned, your hands will get grabby!
My final choice was the soft wool top roving in the next pic, from jstforewe (www.jstforewe.etsy.com). I simply fell in love with this adorable hand dyed 'Koi Pond' roving, plus it wasn't too expensive. Another plus was that I already had a little experience with wool fibers and their behavior during spinning.

The roving arrived pretty quickly! It was well packaged, smelled lovely and had a little handwritten note attached to it. Thank you Jennifer, for such excellent service!

First thing I did (after just admiring my pretty roving for a little while, heheh!) was predraft the wool. This means you pull the fibers softly between your fingers, to acquire some looseness and lengthening. Because I was aiming for a two-ply yarn, I made two balls of predrafted roving (the pic shows just one).

Now the spinning begins! I use a top whorl spindle, simply because most instruction video's on youtube were made with this kind of drop spindle. I'm still a newbie, so let's not make things too difficult at once!

After spinning for quite a while, this is what my drop spindle looked like. Yummy yarn winded up on it!

Spinning takes quite some time, I think it took me about three evenings to finish spinning the two balls of predrafted roving (both from about 150 meters).  I winded the single yarn up to two balls. There's a lot of twist in it, so if you don't wind it up it will curl up on itself and become a big knotted mess. Also, it's easier to ply from a ball! I saw a tutorial somewhere that described how to make one ball out of two single yarns, to ply from. I haven't read it yet though, so I simply went for two balls.

Plying time! Plying is fun, it goes pretty fast (you don't have to draft anymore, just let your spindle spin and feed the two single yarns to it). It's exciting to see the resulting yarn growing slowly, and to watch how the colors of the two single yarns combine together.

After I finished plying, I wound the final yarn off my spindle directly around the back of one of our kitchen chairs. Excuses for the bad picture, it was dark already, but I really didn't feel like waiting 'till the next morning to proceed!

I wound about 5 little threads around the yarn. This will prevent the yarn from curling up and knot when it's taken off the chair. 

Tadaah! Looks like my plied yarn is already pretty balanced. This means it doesn't curl up easily on itself... Still, I decided to set the twist, just to be sure and finish it decently.

To set the twist, I filled our sink with warm-hot water, and carefully put the yarn in it, gently dipping al of it under water. I left it for about 15 minutes, then I took it out (again carefully, I don't want my yarn to felt!) and gently wrenched out excess water. After that I hanged it, and left it to dry! I don't know the exact science behind al this, but somehow the hot water and the hanging/drying makes the yarn balance out. When it's al dried up, it won't curl up on itself anymore...yay!

Now this is the final yarn:

A nice skein of 145 m of DK soft wool yarn, 2-ply. Isn't it lovely?
I decided to call it 'Azure Home', 'cause it reminds me of the little multicolor houses you can find on the Azure coast. 

If you're interested in it, I decided to put it in my Etsy shop (I can't keep al my babies, I already have more yarn then I will ever be able to use!), for a nice price of course, 'cause I still feel like newbie.
You can find it here!

This is how I made my first official yarn. It might not be the best or most scientific method, it's just how I figured it out by reading tutorials and watching video's. I'm still discovering a lot about it! If you have any tips or advice, please let me know by leaving a comment. I would greatly appreciate it!

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