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Today I accomplished two things.

1) A long walk all the way to the beach, where I watched city dogs cavort with glee in the sand and the waves. The beach had more people than usual but I wouldn’t call it exactly crowded:


2) Finished spinning the bundle of Corriedale I started in February 2013:


The singles is going to rest overnight and I’ll wind it into a plying ball tomorrow. Well, that’s the plan at least.


Here we are, about to say fare thee well to 2014. A few of you have emailed to ask whether I’m still alive (because I’ve certainly quite neglected Mmm… Yarn since summer); tonight’s as good a night as any to say “yes”!

I spent over a week away from home for Christmas, visiting family members and a friend. We don’t do gifts anymore, thank goodness, except for ones for the small children, so it’s a stress-free event. My mom and I took a walk on Christmas Eve and watched the waves crash:


And the Christkind felt compelled to leave me this that same evening (apparently beating Santa to it):


On December 25 I briefly visited the spot where Mr. MmmYarn and I got married over 8 years ago. Pretty, isn’t it?


I am home again and still have a few days left to do whatever I want. Work is on furlough between Christmas and New Year’s, and with the extra week I took off before the holidays and furlough started, I will be off work 19 days total. I’ve read a lot, caught up on correspondence, and cleared some stuff out of the apartment.

Today was chilly indoors (well, outdoors too), so I went to the Academy of Sciences, where I visited the alligator, the rattlesnakes, the unusually active octopus; saw the planetarium show; and spun with the fishes at the Philippine coral reef tank:


You can see my cop getting a little unruly there at the bottom; fortunately, I’m nearly out of fiber so I only need to manage that mess a little while longer. A few kids noticed what I was doing but only for a second before they went back to finding Nemo (clownfish) and Dory (blue tang) in the tank.

I don’t do resolutions, but I’ve already accomplished something I had planned to do in 2015 thanks to a friend. I mentioned to her I wanted to get some Indian cooking tips but I couldn’t find a class, and she found a willing lady at her church who came to my house two nights ago and answered all my questions. I can make chapatti like a champ now and got other good tips. Years ago, we realized we were leaving a little too much money at India Clay Oven every month, so we bought spices and a cookbook and dove right in. I still cook Indian most of the time, just love the flavors, although I sure do miss Mr. MmmYarn’s help when it comes to chopping stuff. And still go to India Clay Oven when I want something that’s just too much work to make at home.

With just a few hours left in the year, I have my evening’s entertainment possibilities all lined up along with my booze (I’ll toast Mr. MmmYarn, of course! although he would have stuck with rum and coke) and snacks:


I’m somewhat determined to finish off that fiber tonight or tomorrow so I can ply it before I go back to work on Monday. I had hopes of finishing up some UFOs, too, before 2014 ended but can see that isn’t going to happen because it’s rather an embarrassment of riches in that department. Yarn, yarn, everywhere! In the words of Elizabeth Zimmermann: “My word, what good fortune. I can only hope the same for you.”

And I do. May you also have a lovely, cozy celebration tonight to ring in 2015, and an excellent year of crafting ahead of you.


The weather was warm enough and only a light wind today so I took my new little spindle and Corriedale with me on my walk in the park and sat on a newly-installed bench on the island and watched. Watched the birds and turtles doing their thing, and the people in rowboats and pedal boats, and the spindle going round. Here was the view:


That’ s my giant knee. I had the Joby tripod balanced on my leg and set the camera for a 10-second delay.

Then came home and vacuumed, which was less fun but very necessary. I despise the time change, makes me sleep poorly for days.

It’s time once again for a spinning wrap-up post. It’s not anything to do with Tour de Fleece, just my regular turns at wheel and spindles. As usual, spinning here at Mmm… Yarn goes in spurts: I spin every couple of days for a while, then both wheel and spindles sit doing nothing for weeks at a time. Production has been good despite this.

In 2007 I went to Lambtown for the first time and came home with a sack of 2-color Jacob fiber from Meridian Jacobs:


It sat around, not because spinning up this much was daunting, but because (1) every time I looked at it (not often) I was undecided whether to spin each color separately or create a marled yarn and (2) I didn’t want to give up a great means of handwarming. This stuff is so warm that whenever my hands were cold I plunged them into the bag for a few minutes. In October I finally said “marl it!”, split the entire bundle in half, roughly separated it into its two colors, and quickly spun up 2 plies of each color. Instead of resting overnight on the bobbins it rested 3 months (remember what I said about spinning going in spurts?); in January I plied it.


Fiber: 100% Jacob from Meridian Jacobs in Vacaville, CA
Quantity: 8.5 ounces (238 grams)
Finished yarn: 4-ply, 158 yards
Spun 10/1-10/9/2011 at 15:1 and plied 1/15/2012 at 7:1 on a Lendrum wheel

The fiber had plenty of lanolin left in it plus a fair bit of vegetable matter that I had to pick out as I spun. I didn’t worry about spinning it evenly, decided to go for a rustic yarn. I had 10g of natural brown left over at the end so I made 19 yards of skinny little 2-ply:


I believe I should knit a set of rectangular coat pocket liners with this stuff to replace my Big Sack of Warm-Handed Goodness, because I do miss it. Even in nearly August.

I was quicker to spin and ply this merino and silk blend from Opulent Fibers. I had taken a spindling class in December in which I learned to spin over the fold. This is my first go at spinning over the fold while on a wheel. The result is decidedly thick and thin:


Fiber: Merino/Tussah Top by Opulent Fibers; 70% super-fine merino, 30% Tussah silk
Color: Lace (their name for it, not mine; I call it dark tan)
Quantity: 2 ounces
Finished yarn: 2-ply, 64 yards
Spun 1/16 and plied 1/17/2012 at 12:1 on a Lendrum wheel

While the new drafting technique definitely contributed to the thick and thin effect in the finished yarn, I can’t say it’s necessarily the main reason. I found drafting this evenly to be difficult in general. It’s some pretty slippery stuff which is not what I usually experience with Tussah silk. Maybe it’s the super-fineness of the merino that made it more slippery. Tussah is usually more grabby and I have problems with clumping rather than with fiber slipping so fast I can barely hold on to it.

This green merino is some of the first spinning fiber I ever bought. I remember I used some of it early on when I first learned to spin but was so discouraged that I didn’t want to use my “good” fiber on bad skill. I spun up the rest of it in May. It was my usual merino experience: smooth and easy.


Fiber: 100% merino by Widdershin Woolworks
Quantity: 80g
Finished yarn: 2-ply, 128 yards
Spun over the fold in May, plied 5/20/2012, both on a 35g Kundert high-whorl spindle

A Verb For Keeping Warm had some temptingly pink Blue Face Leicester that caught my eye during the spindling class in December and I bought two 2-ounce bundles of it.


Fiber: 100% Blue Face Leicester by A Verb For Keeping Warm
Quantity: 115g
Finished yarn: 2-ply, 174 yards
Spun over the fold, ply 1 on 2/20, ply 2 on 5/21, and plied on 5/25/2012 all at 15:1 on a Lendrum wheel

My over the fold draft has gotten far better here! I find BFL easy to work with in general. The fiber grabs the next bit of itself so neatly that I was able to relax and just let each fold pull the next one. The only time I had to slow down was when joining the next bunch of fiber.

There’s more spinning but this is enough of a post for one day. I need to get back to my knitting. My mom is visiting me next week and I’d like her to have at least a half-finished body of a sweater to try on then and as I write this, the body is only 25% done.

Normally I spin fiber onto a spindle until I can’t manage the singles anymore, then wind off so I can ply it from both ends, either using a ball winder or nostepinne, or wrapping it around my wrist Andean-style. Here’s a picture that’s been here before, showing Andean-style plying from both ends:


It works well and uses up every inch of singles exactly, although there are small snarls from time to time. This time I split the fiber in half and spun each half separately, sliding the first half of the spun fiber onto a knitting needle to wait while I spun the other half. Now I’m winding the singles from both cops off into one firm ball (with a large ball of mercerized cotton as the center so the winding goes faster), which I’ll then ply from there. Here you go, my first plying ball, still in progress:

Plying ball

I imagine it will be easier to ply from than anything two-ended because I won’t be dealing with any tangles but this will also show up my intermediate spinning skills and possibly inaccurate kitchen scale, in that I’m sure there will be many more yards of one ply than another.

Updated two hours later: my scale and I are better than I thought. One strand is only a few inches longer than the other:

Plying ball

One of our vacation souvenirs was a bottle of port wine that came in a wooden box. How fortunate that the box is just the right size to use as a traveling spindle case:

Traveling spindle

Two of my spindles fit in it (come to think of it, they could fit in there both at once); the third’s whorl is too large for this box to accommodate it. I obviously will need to pad it with loose fiber on the sides, a large wad of cotton at the hook and tip, and maybe a t-shirt all around it because the wood is rather rough and the fiber will snag otherwise, but this box should be sturdy enough to protect my spindle after I turn my suitcase over to the gentle-handed (!) folks who fling baggage into and out of the underbelly of an airplane. The box also fits neatly between the metal posts that hold the suitcase’s telescoping handle, giving it more protection. It’s not that I can’t go a few days without spinning. It’s that my grandmother often asks about my current projects and I want to demonstrate what I do for her.

I spent the last few days spinning on the spindle and the wheel. Currently on the wheel: a gray Lincoln-Corriedale blend with a red streak of bamboo going through it. It’s 10 ounces so I split it into 4 70-gram bundles and am spinning it at 32 wpi to get an 8 wpi 4-ply at the end. I’m semi-successful at keeping it at 32. As usual, there are thicker parts and thinner parts. Here I am at the halfway point:


I’m always fascinated by how fiber can take up so much less space once spun.

Among many other things, I made yogurt today. The instructions on the package of starter were a little vague and after letting it sit in its mason jar for 4 hours in a warmed oven that cooled over the time period I still had liquid. A quick Google search to the rescue (how did we all manage pre-Internet? I guess you asked a yogurt-making neighbor or friend) and I pulled out Mr. MmmYarn’s heating pad to wrap the jar. I now have a pretty solid substance. No photo because it’s just a jar of white stuff, not very interesting. I’m also getting ready to take my first trip since Mr. MmmYarn died. Sort of looking forward to it and sort of not. It’s a family visit and I’m happy about that. There won’t be much of being a lone tourist but it involves a suitcase and a flight and a possible semi-intimate moment with a TSA officer (definitely taking bamboo and not metal size 2 needles on board) if I’m one of the fortunate ones selected for screening.

With all the spinning I did last fall I needed to free up all bobbins. Mr. MmmYarn spun a little, too, and made blue merino and silvery-gray merino/Tencel 2-plies in 2008 of which he left some leftovers on 2 bobbins. I plied them together into a 50-yard skein, which I don’t count in my totals but do want to show off here at Mmm… Yarn:


Continuing on from the previous post with the rest of 2011 spinning. This next fiber came in a box that contained 7 small bundles of different colors of naturally-dyed alpaca. I laid out the colors to decide what order to spin them in (went for alternating darker and lighter colors), split each roughly in half, and spun two singles, changing colors in the same order. I plied them together and got self-striping yarn:


Fiber: Tinki 100% alpaca
Quantity: 70 g
Finished yarn: 1 skein of 2-ply, 78 yards
Spun and plied on a Lendrum wheel in July 2011

According to the box this alpaca was intended as craft/felting fiber and not spinning fiber. It was lumpy, hard to draft because it was already a little felted, and had a lot of vegetable matter in it. I spun it roughly without worrying whether I was maintaining a uniform thickness.

At Stitches West last year I bought a crazy batt of every fiber under the sun. Mmm… pretty:


This I spun in two evenings:


Fiber: Faerie Mountain Fibers “Handcrafted Crazy Batt” with a wild mix of fibers
Quantity: 2 oz
Finished yarn: 1 skein of 2-ply , 108 yards
Spun 9/25-9/27 and plied 9/28/2011 on a Lendrum wheel, both at 15:1

This yarn contains everything including angelina, which got everywhere and I still find scattered around the apartment even though the batt never left the area around my wheel. Drafting was smooth in places and difficult in others, depended upon the particular mix of materials in any one spot. I wound the singles around my hand to do an Andean ply. I learned 2 ounces is too much yarn for this maneuver; my middle finger ached by the time I had it all wound on. The finished yarn is thick and thin and in at least one place part of the singles is all angelina. The colors are beautiful and I truly like how the yarn turned out. Now, what to make with it?

This purple and red is top I bought probably close to 10 years ago, back when I first learned to spin. I set it aside as the “good” fiber to use once I was done with off-white. It was late summer’s Laundromat spinning:


I spun it all on my spindle and Navajo plied it. I did a bit of that on the spindle but that was a true pain in the rump so I plied the rest on the Lendrum. I noticed it matched a nearby sweet pea plant:


Fiber: Royal Hare 100% merino
Quantity: 4 ounces
Color: Santa Rosa Plum
Finished yarn: Navajo ply (same thickness as but different construction than a 3-ply), 164 yards
Started probably in August and finished October 2011

There were a few other little off-white 1-ounce trial bits and practice stuff that I didn’t photograph, except one. This pretty much represents the lot of it (this is 99 yards of superwash merino lamb top):


All in all, approximately 1898 yards (1.07 miles) of yarn spun in 2011, which works out to 4392 yards (2.49 miles) if you count all the plies. I should have left leg and right arm muscles of steel with all the wheel and spindle spinning I did. Alas, no.

Should I ever publicly complain that I have nothing to knit or that I can’t figure out why I never have time to play the guitar anymore, tell me to re-read the previous paragraph.

Nice, clear title there. This is indeed the great spinning write-up for 2011. I had planned to write these up as I made them along with notes on how the fiber felt working with it. Obviously, I dropped the ball (ha! ball-sports reference on Super Bowl Sunday) on that one.

I spun up a luxurious silk and merino fiber from A Verb For Keeping Warm:


Fiber: A Verb For Keeping Warm 50% silk, 50% merino
Colorway: 10% Chance of Rain
Quantity: 4 ounces
Finished yarn: 1 skein of 3-ply, 235 yards, 13 wpi and 1 skein of 2-ply, 27 yards, 17 wpi
Spun at 12:1 and plied at 7:1 on a Lendrum wheel
Started 9/19/2010 (you last saw it on the Spin in Public Day post I did back then) and finished 1/3/2011

This is dyed with indigo. My fingers stained blue while working with this but washed clean with just a normal washing, no super-scrubbing needed. I want to make the Selbu Modern hat with this and some dark gray merino/silk I have yet to spin, with the dark gray as the base and this blue as the pattern.

This is a fiber I called presumed Jacob. It didn’t come with a label but felt like Jacob.


Fiber: unknown, presumed Jacob
Colorway: natural
Quantity: 8 ounces
Finished Yarn: 1 skein of 3-ply, 357 yards, 6.75 ounces and 1 skein of 2-ply 124 yards, 1.25 ounces
Spun at 17:1 and plied at 7:1 on a Lendrum wheel
Started 4/26/2009 and finished 1/12/2011

This was rough and lumpy in my hands and I felt like I was fighting with the fiber to get it to spin. This has to do with the fiber’s preparation, I know, but I don’t know exactly what the deal was. It also felt like it had quite a bit of lanolin still in it. I stopped fighting much and let the lumps go in where they pleased. It turned into a nicely balanced yarn in the end.

Some Laundromat spinning on my drop spindle was a blue wool. This turned out nice and thin and surprisingly even given my skill level. I was also surprised at turning out 342 yards of 2-ply, which means I spun up 684 yards of singles to create this.


Fiber: wool (unlabeled so don’t know exactly what)
Quantity: 3 ounces
Finished yarn: 1 skein of 2-ply, 342 yards
Started February-ish 2011 and finished 4/16/2011

In one day I spun 2 ounces of this cashmere and silk blend, then let it sit around nearly 2 months before I plied it:


Fiber: A Verb For Keeping Warm “Finishing Touch,” 50% cashmere, 50% silk
Colorway: Transnational Fury (how could I not buy a color with that name!)
Source: A Verb For Keeping Warm
Quantity: 2 ounces
Finished yarn: 1 skein of 2-ply, 114 yards
Spun 3/12/2011 and plied 5/22/2011, both at 15:1 on a Lendrum wheel

Cashmere is a short-staple fiber. This was slippery and short bits flew around like mad while I was working with it. I had huge fuzzballs of orange cashmere stuck to my clothes.

Part II to follow.

OK, not toward freedom, but toward yarn. My little high-whorl drop spindle has been whirling frequently. I finished off the bright pink wool singles you saw in progress on a park bench in December. The very next thing I did, before plying it even, was grab the 10-yard 2-ply skein I spun a few years ago from a mix of wool and silk I made on my friend’s drum carder,



and I made a wrist distaff with it:


If you’re a spindler, I recommend the wrist distaff! It made my spinning life so much easier. I found the instructions for making it in Connie Delaney’s book “Spindle Spinning from Novice to Expert.” Its purpose is to hold your fiber supply. You put the loop around your wrist and wrap your fiber around the fringe at the bottom. This holds the fiber completely out of the way of the spinning spindle, even when the wind blows.

To start plying, I wrapped the singles from the spindle loosely around my hand (also detailed in Delaney’s book as a Peruvian trick):


Then I pulled my middle finger out of that wrapped yarn to make a loose bracelet of singles around my wrist, from which I plied with one inner strand and one outer strand:


This was the easiest plying on a drop spindle I have ever done. Here is my first little skein:


Fiber: presumed Corriedale
Quantity: .75 ounces
Finished yarn: 2-ply, 69 yards, 15 wpi
Started 12/10 and finished 12/18/2010

I have made a lot more since then, more about which in a later post. Spindling is great for when I’m on the phone or at the Laundromat. Ever since my wet laundry was stolen from the dryer this past summer, I stand around in front of my washers and dryers when they’re running (because sitting in the chairs you can’t see your machine so you have no idea if someone has opened it up to browse your closet), and since you get lots more spinning length while standing than sitting this time is perfect for that. The next time Urban Fauna Studio offers its intermediate drop spindle class I’m going to take it; it’s supposed to help with ergonomics. Right now I’m getting a crick in my neck when I spin for more than an hour and I’m guessing my posture is the cause; I need to learn to draft horizontally instead of vertically so I’m not reaching up above my head so much.

today’s post title courtesy of Kang


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