Friday, 24 August 2012

Spinning Fractals

While I was at the beach I took pictures of the process of preparing Fractal Rovings for spinning so that they produce repeatable stripes.  In hindsight, Thing Small's towel was perhaps not the best background, however, the pictures do show the process:

 First I undo the ties around one of the roving skeins.  This is the long stripe, so I'm going to split it into 2 so that the stripes are fairly long.  When I make sock weight yarn this split gives me about 2" of each long stripe colour in a sock.

I want to keep the sequence so I start the split and mark both ends by tying strings to them.
 I split the roving as evenly as I can.  It usually has a natural split in the middle so it's pretty easy.  I roll each half into a ball as I go along.

The roving often gets twisted in the process and can jam so every once in a while I stand up and let it untwist.  To do that I let out enough of it to hang without hitting the ground and then bunch up the skein and wrap the end around it with a half hitch so it can hang in the air and freely turn until it's untwisted again. 
 Now I have two balls of roving.  I want to roll them into 1 ball so that I don't mix them up with the other roving skein that will be the other ply.  But if I just wind one around the other I'll end up spinning them both from opposite ends and my stripe pattern will reverse. 
 So I rewind one of the balls so that it's string tag is on the outside.  Then I wind it onto the other ball.  Now I have one ball from one of the roving skeins.

When I make socks split the long stripe roving as above.  I split the short stripe roving into 4.  The process is the same as above, except that I mark 4 ends at the start, split into 2 and then split each half into 2 again.  I roll into 1 ball making sure all the pieces are going the same direction.  Splitting the short stripe into 4 makes each short stripe go about 1 row when I knit socks.  (why yes, I did sample and figure this out ahead of time, so you wouldn't have to).

Next I spin the short stripe on one bobbin and the long stripe on another.  For socks I spin a singles with about 9 twists per inch and 40 wraps per inch.  Then I ply them together - 6 twists per inch for a balanced yarn.  With the roving split as described I get about 2 knitted inches of long stripe with 2 repeats of the short stripe pattern against each long stripe.

I'm not making socks with the above roving and I want longer colour runs so I'm just splitting each piece in half.  If I wanted the longest colour runs I could just predraft the rovings a bit to loosen them up and then spin them as is.  I think I did that with the other skein for this project - if I did I can show you the difference later...  Maybe I'll do a 3rd kind of split for the last skein for this project.  These skeins were destined to be a Colour Affection shawl in 3 values of the Periwinkle colourway.  Other projects may push this one to the back seat for a bit.  Stay tuned.

I can play with how I split the rovings to change my stripe pattern.  For the shortest stripes I could split the long stripe into 4 pieces like I do the short stripe.  I haven't tried it (would sort of defeat the purpose...), but theoretically I could match the short and long stripe lengths by splitting the long stripe in 4 and not splitting the short stripe at all since the long stripes are about 4 times longer than the short ones.  Hmm, I have a couple of "oops" rovings I could play with...

Thursday, 23 August 2012

The Commander

Thing Tall had a rough winter.  The doctor finally realized that his iron was seriously low and responsible for most of his symptoms.  Thankfully, she did so in time for him to land a seriously cool summer co-op placement at Jenda Paddlesports in Osgoode.  One of his favourite subjects was Outdoor Ed. so working with kayaks and canoes was right up his alley.  The owners are lovely and have since given him a job there.  Well, he couldn't work there without a boat of his own, so one day we came home with one.  He got a 14' Commander - sort of a hybrid canoe/kayak, open like a canoe but set up to paddle as a kayak. Thing Tall does not fit well in most kayaks, his legs are too long and so are his feet.  One test paddle session I watched him get stuck getting out of a boat.  He landed sitting in a foot of water.  Funny, but uncomfortable...  Thus the Commander.  We took it to the cottage for the long weekend.

Kid who is usually cautious and careful is pretty relaxed in boats and on the water:

He came into the beach to try to get Rags to join him.  Standard Poodles are supposed to be water retrievers but Rags thinks the water can stay right where it is.  She lasted about 6" and hopped out.

I tried it the next day but it was really windy and choppy and Thing Tall was backseat paddling so I didn't get far.  We'll go out again when it's calmer.