Saturday, September 30, 2006

High Fashion?

So, a bit of interesting news before I take off to dance class. I walked into the yarn store where I'm selling my handspun yarns on consignment, and had a little chat with the owner this morning. And she said that a woman had come in, who was very interested in my yarns. This woman, it just so happens, is a spinner and knitter, and used to be quite a high profile designer for the New York runways. And aparently she was quite adament about the fact that she Really liked my yarns and thought they were very well-spun. So I'm taking this as a good sign, considering the lady is also a spinner!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


So I decided to take pictures for all you nice, and patient folks (and you drive by readers), and also the wonderful alpaca farms who are trading with me and would like to see what I do here at the Dandelion Spinnery. This is my yarn production for the month of September up until now.

Adult male huacaya, Silver Grey (I know it looks blue, but even though alpaca comes in 22 natural Still isn't one of them).
TLC Alpaca Ranch

Adult female huacaya, Rose Grey.
TLC Alpaca Ranch

Adult female huacaya, Light Fawn.
Xtreme Alpacas

Adult Female Suri, Off-White.
New Moon Alpacas, LLC

Sadie & Shadows of Grey:
Sadie - female cria huacaya, White.
Shadows of Grey - I spun this yarn from Bullet and Eve's fleeces to be very subtley variegated, with a new technique I unvented. Aparently I did something right, it was the first to go at the fairs.
TLC Alpaca Ranch

Nailah Peet:
Adult Female Huacaya, Dark Brown.
Saints Alpacas

Midnight & Silk:
Midnight - Male cria huacaya, Black w/grey base.
TLC Alpaca Ranch
Silk - Dyed by a very nice local lady, this was spun as a laceweight 2 ply from silk hankies.
Barb Robinson A.K.A The Silk Lady

Sandy Sadie:
75% Sadie the white huacaya, 25% Chiengora (from a shetland Sheepdog).
TLC Alpaca Ranch & Zetos Dog Spa

Adult Male Huacaya, Light Fawn.
YKnot Fibres

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Hypocritical Hippo-Critic

So, my good readers, today we are having Wheel review part 1! Today I'm going to focus on ashford wheels, long-trusted and well known workhorses for most of the people who own them. All ashford wheels have add-on kits, such as lace flyers, jumbo flyers, distaffs and quill spindles.

Single drive VS Double drive. A great explanation on how to choose, though I would go if single drive if possible. Changing bobbins is already enough of a chore.

With single treadle wheels, you use only one foot on the treadle. This can lead to a terrible affliction, in avid spinners, known as SLS, or Spinner's Limp Syndrome. Not that while you can shift your body position and treadle with the opposite leg, this can put you at odds with the way you normally use your hands to draft. With double treadle wheels, instead of sitting on an angle, you Usually sit more or less straight on, depending on the wheel. You can use only one foot to operate a double treadle, if you so choose. SLS is not prevalent in spinners who use double treadle wheels, though it should be noted that sitting down to spin after jogging in a town set entirely on a 45° angle will cause leg cramps.

First up, the Ashford Elizabeth 2.
As we can see, this is a very pretty wheel. The Elizabeth only comes in double drive and single treadle. as with all ashford wheels, you can buy a distaff, lace flyer, and jumbo flyer. starts at $615 USD. I personally have never used this wheel, but i have been told by several people that it is "tricky", and not a beginner wheel. More of a looker than an easy-to-use, take anywhere wheel.

Next is my personal favorite, the Ashford Traveller.
The Traveller has been available as a double treadle option only for several years, though if you come across an older, single treadly model, there is an upgrade kit. It's a nice, compact and sturdy wheel, and mine has served me well these past 2 years. I chose the single drive model. I can spin chunky to fine laceweight on the flyer it comes with, and as a bonus there is a built-in lazy kate. This seemed odd and a slight hassle at first but after hauling her to a spin-in the park and having people ask to "borrow" my lazy kate (while I was spinning) I understood how useful it is! I would definitely reccomend this wheel to a beginner, or someone who needs a wheel for more than to look at. Starts at $385 USD.

Ashford Traditional
Affectionately known as the "traddy" this wheel is the kind people find for 25$ at a garage sale, because someone's grandmother has moved to a home and no one knows how to use her spinning wheel she bought in the 70's. I've tried a few, and always found treadling more difficult than on the traveller. It seemed to have a tendency to stop on a whim, but that could have been my fault, since all the traddies I've tried were single treadly, though it is available in double. Note, though, that people have loved this wheel for a Long time, and the wheels from 35 years ago still work competently today, even if they've been beat up. Lots of beginners choose this wheel, not quite as portable as the traveller, but still good for transport. Starts at $365 USD.

Ashford Joy
I didn't get to spin long on this wheel Very long. Treadling was easy, It's not very high off the ground though. If you're tall, it could be awkward. Very portable, folds up and has an optional carrying bag. I've heard that Plying on a Joy can be tricky, and you really can't overfill the bobbins at all, like you can on other wheels. I wouldn't recommend this wheel if you have the ability to keep one in a more permanent location. come sin both single and double treadle, but unfortunately has no add-ons. starts at $495 USD.

Ashford Country Spinner
If you're looking for big and bulky yarns, this is not your wheel. Unless of course, you could lift a cow above your head with your legs. This wheel is enormously difficult to treadle, and has really wacky take up. I really would not recommend this wheel to anyone, it makes spinning very difficult, and if you're a beginner, probably very frustrating. Starts at $475 USD

If anyone Has had experiences different than mine on any of these wheels, do tell! Also, does anyone else's traveller have one unmarked spoke?

More wheel reviews next time!