12 March 2006

F is for..

I see that I've been beaten to the punch on this one, but F is for flowers for me, too. Specifically, I like houseplants that bloom and I've discovered that the north facing window in my office is ideal for violets:



.. and, after years of inactivity, Christmas cactuses.



The violets (I have two small plants, both of which bloom purple) have bloomed steadily and continuously since I put them in the window. They're watered at least weekly (twice a week when I remember) with water and Miracle Gro for Violets. I bottom water them, as I'm told that's what violets like, and clean off old blooms and dying/limp leaves about once a month.

The cactus has just started blooming, since I put it in the window about two months ago after hearing someone say that the blooming is triggered by changes in daylight. True to form, I now have three blooms in various states. I'm nor sure if it will continue to bloom, but having seen it at least once I'm confident that I can make it bloom at least annually now. It's also watered once a week with Miracle Gro.

(The window is also, incidentally, good for other, non-blooming plants, but most of those also do just as well on my desk for filing cabinets. I did move the aloe up to the window though because it seems to particularly like the natural light.)

And you really shouldn't be at all surprised at this, but F is also for fiber. Carol decided she needed to feed my addiction this weekend and gifted me with this lovely roving that she dyed with cochineal:



The color in the picture is a bit brighter than in person - they're more of a dusty rose hue and not quite so shockingly pink. There is more of it that she told me to take, but it was part of an A&S display and I thought it deserved more recognition than it would get if I stole it away. I'm going to try to spin the two balls up consistently and then ply them together and hopefully I'll have enough to do at least accent colorwork on a hat and/or pair of mittens.

I'm also trying to figure out plying, but I'm not sure I'm doing it correctly. I wanted to be able to distinguish the plys, so I decided to make my first attempt using two different colored singles. The singles have been wound into center-pull balls. I know I'm s'posed to spin the spindle in the opposite direction as I do when I normally spin, but if I do that and let the resulting yarn relax, it gets all crunched up.



If I spin it the other direction, it still twists up on itself, but it does it the way singles will spin up on themselves, which makes me think that's just a sign of unbalanced yarn, not incorrect plying. I'm trying to figure out if winding it into the center pull balls means that I'm working from the "wrong" end, and I therefore *should* be plying the same direction that I spin. It doesn't help that I'm using singles that are slightly different weights and almost certainly have different amounts of twist, so I'm sure the resultant yarn will be unbalanced.

And I'm not at all sure what to do next. I don't have a niddy noddy but I think that's the next step - skein the yarn and then figure out how to relax it (soak the skein? or do I do that before I skein it?), but I think it's pr'bly time to start gathering a library on spinning to rival my (admittedly small but useful) library on knitting.

I wonder if I can talk my husband into a run into town to Barnes & Noble..? *grin*

4 comments:

spaazlicious said...

It doesn't matter what end you ply from, an S twist is still an S twist, a z twist still a z twist. It sounds as if your singles may have too little twist or something, because the yarn is behaving the opposite of the way it should when plied.

You can do an elbow skein, or flip a chair upside down and wrap around the legs to make a skein. Tie four figure 8 ties equidistantly. Immerse the skein in water, spin/squeeze excess water out and hang of a hanger to drip dry; you can block it to hang straight by hanging a light weight from it, but the overtwisted properties may return when it is immersed. This means that something knit in stockinette may bias.

Momo said...

You are braver than I to embark onto a whole new area of fiber work. I think my obsession with knitting and crocheting is about all I can handle. Good luck on plying your singles. I'm sure you'll get it all sussed out soon and my next visit will show a beautiful skein of plied yarn. And thanks for stopping by my blog. Comments mean so much to me. :-)

Cheers!

Teej said...

Hrm.. I'll have to do more research on plying, I think. I'm too impatient to have someone show me in person, and I'm not exactly confident whether I have S or Z twists in the singles. Unfortunately, the only book at our local B&N was "In Sheep's Clothing" which looked utterly fascinating and I will get eventually, but which only had a very small section in the back on the process of spinning. I'll have to poke about a bit more online today to see what I can find that looks more promising (and somewhere back aways I'm pretty sure someone (Cate?) sent me some recommendations).

Thank you SO much for the skein and blocking information! I can't wait to try it!

Leslie Shelor said...

"Good "F's! When I ply I get a start on the bobbin, and then I ply a stretch and let it hang loose between the wheel and my hand. If it doesn't kink up it's balanced and that's what I should aim for in spinning. I treadle the same number of times per length of yarn before it goes onto the bobbin. Does that make ANY sense?