Breakfast of Champions

I have a long, full day ahead of me, so I started it out right. Brock made me this heaping plate of peppery scrambled eggs and bacon. I couldn’t eat it all, so the leftover bacon is in a baggy for a snack later.

I am visiting a farm out in the country with some fiber friends where they sell garden supplies–hopefully I can get a good deal on some seedlings since the hail we had yesterday morning destroyed some of mine. After that I have some Farmer’s Market planning to do. Then, best of all, it’s Open Stitch Night at the PFA!

If you’re in the area, come join us from 7-9 pm at Potwin Presbyterian Church in Topeka, KS. Bring your favorite fibery project. I’ll be there with my spinning wheel and some sparklies, and hopefully will have had something to eat besides bacon.

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Building a Hackle

For about a month now, I have been determined to make my own hackle. A hackle is a tool for blending spinning fiber and/or for pulling your own roving out of fleece. Unfortunately, all the lovely professionally made ones have giant metal tines which made me uncomfortable. Four inch tall sharp metal spikes and five year old fingers just do not mix in my mind. Of course, the all powerful internet had the answer, in the form of a Homemade Hackle Tutorial. All told, I spent about $15. You could spend less if you already have clamps. (I find that folks don’t tend to give women tools as gifts like they do men. I think this is a small mistake. But now I can add clamps to small collection of hammer, screw driver, and needle nose pliers.)

My supplies: six hair picks, about a dozen screws (you can see size and type in the picture. My dad, whose hand will be featured in this post, said those would be best, I don’t know why), two medium size spring clamps, a washer to use as a diz once the hackle is complete, and a piece of scrap wood. You want to use a good hard wood. My dad just happened to have a perfect size piece of poplar laying around because he does a bit of carpentry here and there. We also discussed buying a piece of oak from the big box hardware store–about $5-$7–which we would have to cut to size. If you live in a place with actual lumber yards, or know a carpentry enthusiast, you might be able to find something extra cheap or free.


Measuring to center the picks on the wood.


We used a power drill to pre-drill holes in both wood and picks. When it came time to add the screws, the torque on the drill was too powerful and kept throwing the pick on the floor, so we ended up using a socket wrench. It didn’t really take any longer than a drill would have.


It would have been better if you could find all large picks so you could have two screws per pick. The ones with only one screw tend to be a bit less stable, though they still work just fine.


Clamped to the kitchen table. Loading the hackle for the first time with some local mystery fleece. My first ball of roving was a little rough, but I improved as the day went on. (For instance, I think it’s better to load the hackle in layers rather than clumps.)


My first little bump of handpulled roving. I made my hackle big enough to do about an ounce at a time, and I made three ounces of this blend yesterday. It’s the local mystery wool, some white alpaca, the merino/silk top I was bored with (much more fun to me in this form, for the record), my purple mohair locks and some purple firestar.

I am hoping for a arty-tweedy sort of yarn, which I was dreaming about weaving with last night, even though I don’t have a loom. I’ll post an update as soon as it’s spun!

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Picking Up New Skills with Pretty Things

When I first got bitten by the spinning bug, I ordered a drop spindle and some generic fiber off etsy and just kind of went at it. I mean, I had read a spinning book, and watched a few youtube videos, as you do, and then tried it myself. It was horrible. I had no idea how to draft, let along pre-draft, so I was spinning giant slubs of awful pink yarn. It only took me a few days before I was done working with the spindle and off to the Yarn Barn’s website to sign up for wheel spinning classes.

Fast Forward a year and some months and we have the 2nd annual Topeka Fiber Arts Bazaar. As one of the founding members of the brand new Potwin Fiber Artisans, I was there all weekend. I even had a table, see:

While I was there, I was admiring the lovely fiber over at Lori’s booth from Blushing Ewe. Go check out what she has up in her etsy shop. I can wait.

….

Gorgeous right?

What got me was some amazing hand-pulled roving that was spectacularly sparkly.

And with drop spindles sitting right there, what was I to do?

I picked it up and tried again. Obviously, it has been working for me much better than it did before. Part of that is because I understand the basic principals of spinning after wheel spinning for over a year. The class I took helped a lot, and I was able to apply that information to the mechanics of drop spindling. A big part of it was that I was in a supportive environment, surrounded by enablers friends who made me feel confident in my abilities. That my tools were pretty was kind of just a bonus.

Of course, now I am addicted to the hand-pulled roving, and want to work with more, more, more. Which means I probably need to figure out how to make it myself. Being newly unemployed there is no way I can justify spending money on hackle or a drum carder, so I am going to make my own hackle as soon as I can get into my dad’s garage and borrow his drill.

I am really excited to be a part of the Potwin Fiber Artisans. One of our first classes is an introduction to the drop spindle. The other is beginning knitting, taught by yours truly. I can’t wait to start teaching. Are there any fiber arts classes you would like to take?

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