Thursday, May 21, 2015

My Two Weeks with the Lady Rue

So, two whole weeks have passed with my new (to me) Ladybug.  And I am still head over heels.  I adore her.

I think the name is sticking.  She is the Lady Rue from Prudence by Gail Carriger.  Love the book & the character.  And there is an airship painted as a ladybug.  It seems to work for her.

It is so amazing to spin on her.  I really do love her.  The treadle is super smooth and sweet.  It was definitely a great choice for me.

It is interesting though.  I am trying to teach myself to modify the way I spin.  With the treadle being so easy & wide, I don't have to sit so close to the wheel.  And since the orifice is lower than the Babe & I can sit back from her, I can move back from the wheel. 

Also, I think that I can lean back as I am no longer a novice spinner.  I can relax my hold & position.  I don't feel the need to be right on top of the wheel to control it.

I have room between me and the wheel to hold the fiber.  So I can spin straight into the orifice.   But it does require thinking about things & changing where I hold my hands.  And I had my Babe since 2008!  So nearly eight years of spinning a certain way.

I was holding my hands to the left.  So I was twisting my body slightly.  With the new wheel, I am trying to remember to hold my hands in front of me, close to my lap.  I really think it is helping give me better control.  That is a huge plus.

Though I do find myself doing it still.  But after nearly eight years, it is going to take a bit of time to change. But overall, it is going well.

I am definitely glad I picked up the Drafting from Worsted to Woolen Craftsy class with Jacey Boggs.

I watched this before getting the wheel.  So it taught me a more about control & consistency.  Some of the concepts are pretty basic. But it is so smart that consistent distance between the hands is critical to maintaining consistent thickness.  Great class.  Definitely the right class at the right time.

(On a side note about the class, the only thing I wish from it was that there was class materials with pics of the different advantages & properties of each drafting technique.  There is a pdf, but it doesn't include the info in the class like showing the different yarns side by side.  It is minor, but it would really help.)

The spinning is great.  I am finding I can spin finer, more consistent singles.  I spun some beautiful alpaca/silk that is super fine.  Though I need to work on my plying...  More on that later.

All in all, I am so thrilled with my choice.

I still think buying the used wheel with the Woolee Winder was the best move for me.

Though there is still that little voice that wishes I got a completely new wheel because I could.  But that is just a desire for new because I could afford it.  The wheel is really great.  It is in good condition.  And I couldn't have afforded the Woolee Winder & so many bobbins, that's for certain.

I did purchase a couple new poly bands & a double drive band.  I also picked up a new break & new large o-ring pieces for the Lazy Kate.  Other than the poly drive band, none were critical.  I will swap out the old o-rings on the Lazy Kate when they arrive.  But I did ply with the ones on there and it worked well.

I confess though, there is a clicking with the Woolee Winder that concerns me.  It may be completely normal.  It may not.  Some awesome folks on the WW board on Ravelry helped me.  I think there should be a little plastic piece that goes around the threading eye that moves.  There isn't one.  So either that is a design change made by the company since this one was made or it is gone.

Thing is, there are parts that should have come with the WW to enable me to take it apart to clean it.  But there aren't.  And I don't know if I can find them.  They are small & challenging to replace I have been told. 

I would be less concern if I had heard back from the WW folks.  I have been assured their customer service is outstanding.  But I would completely get if the guy told me that it is a used flyer so he doesn't service them.  But tell me if that is the case. 

I did get a response to my email before Maryland Sheep & Wool.  I asked if the WW flyer could be used in both scotch & double drive mode.  They replied the same day. 

I wrote two weeks ago about getting a manual.  Then I wrote a week ago about getting the flyer serviced.  *sigh*  Kinda frustating as I really do love the WW.  But two emails without responses...  Not great.

One of the people from the board told me to call them but I loathe calling!  *laugh*  I may break down and do it.  But we shall see...

I have to say I adore the people on the WW board.  One sent me the manual.  She offered to meet up with me at the Webs tent sale to take a look at it.  She also offered suggestions on things that it could be.  She determined the issue is probably the missing plastic piece on the eye.  Another offered to take the flyer to someone who *works* for the company!  It was super sweet of them both.

I am thrilled with my purchase.  I love the Ladybug.  And I think it was the ideal choice for me.  I have been spinning daily. 

However, it caused the crazy to come out.  I purchased fiber to work on spinning enough for the Less Is More sweater.  A WHOLE FREAKING SWEATER.  Though after shelling out a whole lot of money, I realized that probably isn't in fact enough for a sweater in my size.  *pout*  Ah well.  I will see what yardage I get.  I may have to add some more fiber.  Mind you, this is probably a 3-4 year long project!  *laugh* 

I did wind the first yarn I spun on my Bug into a skein.  See that twist?!

Gale's Art
Alpaca-Silk Fiber Skeined w Overtwist

There are 3-4 twists in the yarn.  It is about over-plying I think. 

More pics and such are on my Ravelry page:

With the Babe, I have a bulky flyer which is much larger.  Also, I don't have a tensioned Lazy Kate for the Babe.  I use a box with pieces to hold the bobbins.  So the bobbins spin easily.  I suspect in trying to ply on Rue, I added way too much twist.  I did it on my largest ratio. But the Babe Bulky is very low.  (Can't track down the bulky ratio, but it is lower than the lowest ratio bobbins which are 5 7/8:1.  I think it was either 4 or 3.?.)   The lowest ratio on the Bug is 7:1.  So between the tensioning & the ratio, I definitely over-plied it.  *sigh*

I soak & snapped it.  But there are still some curly bits here & there.  The bulk of it is okay.  But I confess that I am bit sad as I had lace dreams.  An actual lace shawl with yarn I spun.  But alas, nope.  With the overspinning, I can't do anything with a detailed pattern as it may bias in a big way.  It could do bizarre things with any pattern. 

Mind you, I lost the tag & thought it was wool & silk.  But it is alpaca & silk.  And given the lack of memory in alpaca, not a great choice for lace anyhow.  *pout*  Ah well.  Even with the overtwist, it is still a pretty yarn.  The alpaca adds a bit of a halo which is nice.  And the silk adds some nice shine.  I am tempted to add some beads to weigh it down a bit to combat the twist.  But we shall see.  *smile*

I suspect I may use my Babe for plying unless/until I get a bulky flyer.  Though it would be interesting if I use the Lazy Kate on the Ladybug. 

I keep not getting this posted because I am adding to it!  So time to post it.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Maryland Sheep & Wool Part 2: Vendors & More

Now that I have gone on and on about my wheel...  *grin* The rest of Maryland Sheep & Wool which is just as awesome!

Here is a pic that tells a lot of the story without words...  *grin*
Maryland Sheep & Wool Loot minus Gales Art Fiber

It was so terrific going with my SIL, her husband & their knitting daughter.  They were terrific & super patient with me as I scurried around trying to track down spinning wheels.  *laugh*  It was nice having the company.  And I am hoping next time I go, I can go with them.  Because I was so fixated on wheels, I didn't get to do as much shopping with them as I would have liked. 

I did get to share some funnel cake.  At 9:30 am!  Seems way decadent.  And a lot of fun.  *grin*

I was checking out the items for the used equip auction in the afternoon.  I almost bumped into Leslie from the Knitgirllls podcast INSERT LINKS .  She and Laura were checking out the items.  I told them how much I loved their podcast.  They were both really sweet.  Leslie took the time to ask if there was anything in particular I was looking for.  I told them I was looking for a wheel & was leaning heavily towards a Ladybug.  Laura said how much she loves hers.  They were great and all.  I have to admit that I was impressed by how much time they took to talk to me.  It was above & beyond.  So great.  They seemed as genuine as they are on the podcast which is terrific.  *smile*

I tried to hold off on any purchases until I made my decision on the wheel.  I had taken out cash to buy the wheel.  I figured it was a better thing as I couldn't overspend if I had the money in cash. 

The one booth I hit *before* buying a wheel was Loop!  I adore her stuff.  And getting to see so many lovely Bullseye Bumps & her Clouds up close & personal was amazing.  I hope I wasn't too fangirl with Steph from Loop.  I did tell her I adore her Bumps & had loved being in her club.  I told her how beautiful her work was.  And I hope I contained myself.  But she will probably make a sudden escape next time she sees me coming... *grin*

I limited myself to one Bump & 6 oz. of some Cloud.  I got the Cloud in hopes of pairing it with The Devil Made Me... Bump I bought already.  But the Cloud all has shimmer in it.  And on thinking more about it, I just don't think I want that with the Bump since it is red, grey & black. I am thinking about pairing it with something different instead.  I still have two other Bumps I haven't spun.  There is an Ultraviolet that my SIL got me the year I couldn't get to MD S&W.  That might pair nicely with it.  We shall see.

My SIL, her husband & daughter all headed off about 11.  Her hubby was kind enough to lend me his cell phone.  My battery was already in the 50% range.  And I had been trying to be kind with using it.  Some update recently has the battery dying by about 2-3 in the afternoon!  And I needed to be able to reach the two people selling their Ladybugs as well as call my husband to get a ride!

I grabbed some yummy lunch at a place that was making Middle Eastern food.  I had some tasty Moussaka along with some lamb sausage in pastry.  Yum!  They also had Moroccan mint tea!!  Perfect with the temperature climbing.  (One of the food trucks that used to come to my office area had it.  I miss it and haven't had it in ages!)

During lunch I texted the two people & made arrangements to meet up.  (See part 1 for more on that.  *grin*)

I finished up my wheel shopping about 1:30-2.  So it was kinda late in the day.  But since I came in below my budget, I was able to do some shopping!!

I got to check out several vendors the Knitgirllls have talked about in their podcast.  I had been wanting to check them out for a while. 

Into The Whirled had amazing stuff!  I love their colorways.  They were beautiful.  It was hard to limit my choices!  The funniest part was that I got some Pakokku Sock yarn & a Falkland Wool Carded Batt both in the Excursion colorway!  Don't know why, but that was the one talking to me.  *grin*

I hit the Hobbledehoy / Marigoldjen booth.  Though it was late in the day.  So I fear that it had been hit pretty hard already. 

I wanted to check out the Hobbledehoy batts in particular.  There were many lovelies.  And in retrospect, I wish I had grabbed a chunky, bumpy batt as it would have been fun so see how that spun up on the new wheel.  But I didn't.  There were some beauties.  But nothing said I needed to take it home.

On the other hand, I found the most *stunning* skein of Marigoldjen yarn.  *happy sigh*  It is on her Merino/Silk Sock base.  It is called Magic Potion & is marked a OOAK skein!  Too bad as I would kill for more!  Stunning!

I had some Superwash Merino/Nylon Sock Yarn that I knit up by her.  Love it.  So I know this will be lovely to knit.  Can't wait to see what it becomes.

The woman I met from Arizona who encouraged me to start spinning was there - Kathy Withers.  I was going to thank her for getting me to think I could spin.  But she was busy with a customer.  And it was late in the day & getting too hot to stand still!   Also, I wasn't sure when my DH was going to arrive to pick me up.  So I didn't speak with her. 

I stopped by Susan's to do some shopping for other things & to see if they had a bottle of oil.  Of course I can't find mine!  I swear I should by a case of the things.  *laugh*

I had picked out three lovely things, two fiber & one yarn.  All in amazing reds.  Then I looked at the line!!  It was *really* long.  And there was only one person at the register.  So I put them back and headed elsewhere.  Too bad as I *really* want some more reds.  But alas, it wasn't to be. 

The funniest thing was that the line that had been out the door & half way down the walkway outside for the Miss Babs booth was only a few people!  I almost did some looking as I have heard good things about Miss Babs yarns.  But I also figured why get addicted to something so popular unless I really wanted it?  *laugh* 

I also stopped at Gale's Art.  I recall the Knitgirllls mentioned her stuff.  And she had sock blanks!  I love them but don't see them often.  Problem was, I didn't look close & grabbed the Special Secret Sock Blank instead of the double sock blank.  But I suspect I will just snip a stitch at the center & do my normal routine of two socks at a time.  They won't match but that doesn't bother me.  The colors are similar throughout the blank.  So I think I will really like them.  *smile*

I also got a skein of Wonder Sock in the Misty colorway.  Purples & pretty. 

I also picked up a braid of alpaca/silk fiber.  The tag says chocolate alpaca 70% / silk 30%.  Though the Ravelry listing says 80% Alpaca / 20% Silk so this seems to be a slightly different blend.  It really does glow with the silk content.  And is super soft. 

I skipped Fiber Optic.  Not because I didn't want to go.  But it was nearly 3 & it was still jam packed!  I just wasn't up for dealing with so many people.  I was all peopled out by that point.  Mind you, the timing was perfect as my husband called right about then. 

I stopped off at the vendor with the Ashford wheels & got my bottle of oil.  Hooray!  So I have oil again.  Hoping that means I find my other bottle.  *laugh*  Wish I recall who that was.  The woman at the register was super nice & tracked it down for me.  *smile*

So it was a llloooonnnnngggg day, but really wonderful. 

I am not sure why I decided that the Gale's art needed to be first on the wheel.  It is kinda a funny choice given normally you would want something to play with, that you didn't care if it turned out right. But I needed fiber.  And it was sooo lovely...  On the end, I think it was a perfect choice.  It is really highlighting just how wonderfully & consistently I can spin with my new darling.  She spins like a dream and it feels amazing.  Also, it is allowing me to test things out.  And I working on making a three ply with it.  Since it is a rich color without a lot of variation, it means it really will highlight the spinning even more than the colorway.  So that is kinda perfect. 

I am really hoping it will become something with which I can make a shawl/ette with some design to it.  I am not certain it will.  But it is a nice idea.  Most of the time with handspun, I stick to simple patterns.  In part because there is too much variation in my finished yarn's WPI.  And in part because the colorways I tend to like are too busy for much pattern.  Most ornate designs would just be lost in the work.  But I am hoping that won't be the case with this one.  Though given it is only 4 oz. & a three ply, I probably won't get a lot of yardage from it.  But still...

On a spinning wheel note that I forgot to add, it was *such* a good idea to bring my own fiber.  It meant I was familiar with the fiber when I was testing out wheels.  And that told me a whole lot about the wheel.  Since I knew the pull of it, I could gauge what was the fiber & what was the wheel.  I would recommend that to anyone buying a second wheel.

Though I suspect as per usual, my route to a second wheel isn't the same as most peoples.  I know a lot of people go to guilds or have friends with other wheels.  I don't.  So the fiber festival was the best way for me to test them out.  So very glad I did.  I think I found the perfect wheel for me.  And I also got some amazing fiber & yarn. 

I also realize I really miss this.  It had been too long. It helps that I had saved to make the trip possible.  So that helped a lot.  But I am hoping I can get back to NY S&W too.  Don't know if this will be the year that happens.  It is always anyone's guess about that!  Depends on if the family is well.  Though the beauty of NY S&W at this point is that so long as *I* am not sick and none of the kids are too bad off, I can daytrip there.  So it is less pricey. 

But NY has also gotten a bit crazy as it is so large.  People come from all over the country at this point.  So it is a bit insane.  MD seems more manageable.  Mind you, I don't know how much of that is about the fact that other than that the last time I went was 2008!  My first Rhinebeck & my first fiber festival was 2007!  So it was all overwhelming.

I tried to go again in 2011.  But I mistakenly thought my husband & kids should come.  I really don't know what I was thinking...  We got there at about 10:30 to 11.  The parking lot was a *mile* away from the grounds.  We would have had to take a bus to get to the grounds.  With two kids & a stroller.  Uggh.  No way. 

We will see what comes.

I am grateful I got to Maryland Sheep & Wool this year.  It was a great day all around.  I left wiped out, but also so excited.  It is amazing to see all the lovely fiber & all.  It reminds me why I love knitting & spinning.

Maryland Sheep & Wool Part 1: My New Wheel

I had an amazing time at Maryland Sheep & Wool.

It is my first fiber festival in years.  I went to MD S&W in 2010 when my daughter was under a year.  So five years to be exact!

I went with a mission.  I wanted a new wheel. 

I got my Babe wheel in June of 2008.  Wow.   I have been spinning for almost seven years.  Kinda hard to believe.  Some times more than others, but still. 

While I adore my Babe, I am feeling like the Irish tension is holding me back a bit.  It is hard to spin very thin.  Since the bobbin is pulling the yarn, it was really hard to get it to get super fine. 

Again, could be me & not the wheel.  But after so many years with it, I was feeling it was time for a new wheel. 

So I had been researching.  Spreadsheets.  Info about the ratio, drive type, prices, materials, you name it.

I had a list of wheels I really wanted to test drive.  Along with some that really just wouldn't work for me (too little room to grow, out of my price range, etc..)

I went to a yarn shop about an hour away to test out wheels.  Myra at Woolbearers was so sweet.  It is a terrific store.  I wish it was around the corner & not an hour away. 

They had four for sale & the owner had one of hers she was willing to let me test out.  Two of the wheels, the Ashford Traditional & Louet S17 were both single treadle.  So they were out right off the bat. 

I had been looking at the Schacht Ladybug for ages.  But I hadn't gotten to try one out.  The other double treadle was the Ashford Kiwi. 

Myra had her Matchless which she graciously offered to let me try.  But I knew it was really bad idea to test drive it!  It was soooo out of my price range.

So I tested the Ladybug first.  It sang to me.  I was IN LOVE! 

I did try the Kiwi for about 30 seconds.  But after the Ladybug, there was no way I was going to get that.  (Also, it is also kinda limited.  A good starter wheel.  But I already have my Babe...  So I needed to grow.)

I *almost* tried the Matchless as it was in double drive & the Ladybug was in Scotch.  I wanted to see the difference in the feel of the drive systems.  The Ladybug can do both. But I just knew it was a Bad Idea TM!  So I didn't do it.

It was so hard not to walk out with the Ladybug...  But I knew Maryland Sheep & Wool was the following weekend.  And I would regret it if I tested out wheels & fell in love with a different wheel.  So I waited. 

I confess that I also wasn't thrilled that the floor model was the same price as the new one from the Woolery.  It is my understanding that the Ladybug was used for beginner classes & such.  That makes me a bit nervous honestly...  Mind you, my Babe was used for spinning classes.  But it was half the price of a new model.  So it was worth it to get it.

I kept it in mind that I could go back and get it if I decided I wanted it...

So then it was off to Maryland for the weekend.

I decided to go MD S&W on Saturday.  My SIL always goes on Saturdays.  I was open to either day.  Though I was leaning towards Sunday as it is supposed to be less crowded.  However, my SIL told me a trick which I won't share on a public blog.  *grin*  So we headed off Saturday.

I spent some time walking around.  And I have to confess I was really surprised there were only four vendors at MD S&W that even had spinning wheels. 

One only had Ashfords *in their boxes.*  (They may have had a couple out to test.  But given I didn't take to the Kiwi, I wasn't very interested.)  Another had a Lendrum Original & the discontinued Kromski Mazurka.  Another had the Kiwi & a few others that weren't that appealing to me.  (I completed forgot about them until just now since none of their wheels appealed to me.)  But Susan's Fiber Shop had a whole bunch to test drive.

The Yarn Barn of Kansas was supposed to be there with a really large booth.  But they weren't.  No idea what happened.  But they might have had more wheels as their website shows a bunch & they had MD S&W deals listed.  So perhaps they normally have a bunch.  I am not sure honestly.  Then I went last time, I wasn't looking at wheels.  So I don't know if there were any. 

I plunked myself down at the wheels at Susan's booth.  They had a lot of different models, including three of the Schachts - the Ladybug, Sidekick & Matchless. 

I tried the Sidekick.  I just didn't like it.  No real reason.  But I knew it wasn't my wheel.  I avoided the Matchless again.  Just knew it was a *terrible* idea to try it.  *laugh*

They had the Kromski Fantasia.  I have been drooling over it since I first saw it.  It is gorgeous.  But I tried it.  Within seconds, I knew it wasn't my wheel.  The treadles weren't right for me.  Again, nothing bad, but not right for me. 

They had the Kromski Sonata in its bag.  The booth owner wasn't there and neither of the people working the booth knew how to set it up.  They said I could come back later & perhaps the owner could set it up.  A bit disappointing honestly.  When I returned later, I was told it hadn't been assembled.  So there was no chance of trying it.  But the treadles look very similar to the Fantasia.  So I don't think I miss anything in not trying it.

I avoided the Majacraft wheels.  Beautiful.  But out of my price range.  So best not to get attached.  Though they look like stunning wheels.

Next to the Ladybug sat the Lendrum Original.  I really liked the feel of the Lendrum as well.  So I went back & forth between for a while.

I decided to wander a bit more.  This was in hopes that I could try the Sonata later. And I wanted to check out other places.

I came across the vendor with the Lendrum & the discontinued Kromski Mazurka.  Really nice guy.  Was kind enough to take the Mazurka down to let me play.  It is *gorgeous!* 

Though since it was discontinued, I hadn't even put it on my list.  The moment he took it down, I suspected it wasn't the wheel for me.  It was a single treadle!  While testing it out, it landing in my lap *four times* within a few tries.  I knew single treadles aren't for me!  I push too hard on the treadle.  Just not what I need.

The woman at the shop came back to the stall.  She told me about how it was a rare find since the wheel was discontinued.  I told her it was stunning.  I did tell her it wasn't my wheel.  But assured her it would find a good home with someone.  I really hope it did.  I am sure it was user error & not the wheel.

I went back the Susan's booth & went back and forth between the Ladybug & the Lendrum Original again.  It was really down to those two.

It was feeling a bit torn until I heard the woman tell someone else the Lendrum was over $900!  I thought it was less.  My phone was dying or I would have checked the spreadsheet. 

But I knew it wasn't that pricey or it won't have been on the list to try.  They have it listed for $630!!  That is crazy...  In hind sight, I am really thinking I must have misheard the woman.  It can't have been nearly $300 more!  That would be crazy.  And I checked their website.  Their price is the same as the Woolery.

The woman said that was their last Ladybug.

Before heading down, I had read the Ravelry MD S&W board.  There were two people selling used Ladybugs.  One was $200 less than new.  The other was the same price as new, but it had a Woolee Winder.

So now I was debating if I should get a new one or used.  I contacted both people.  All the while praying my phone wouldn't die.

The woman with the newer one without the Woolee Winder was terrific.  She was so kind.  I met her briefly but told her I had scheduled a time to look at the one with the Woolee Winder.  She said to just let her know & she would meet up with me later if I wanted.  So awesome.

I met with the woman with the one with the Woolee Winder.  She was super sweet.  She took me to her car & let me sit on the front seat to test the wheel out.  It was a bit tough on grass & all.  But it was good.

Here she is:

New To Me - Schacht Ladybug

Thing was that with the Woolee Winder, 6 bobbins (3 regular & 3 high speed) and the on board Lazy Kate, it was a great deal.  (Doing math on new it would be almost $500 for the add ons alone, not to mention $650 for the wheel.)  And I have been tempted by a Woolee Winder since I have heard about it way back in the days of listening to the Lime & Violet podcast, so 2009-2010 maybe...

After spinning with her for only a few days, I can say happily that I adore her.  The treadle is sweet & so easy.  She is quiet and super responsive.  I am already able to spin finer singles than I had been with a lot of effort on the Babe.  All in all, an amazing wheel. 

And the Woolee Winder is incredible!  It is so sweet not having to pause unless I need to adjust something with my spinning.  It winds so evenly and easily.  Honestly, I think it helps with the quality of my spinning.  But I could be imagining that.  That could be about the wheel.

I confess that the tiniest part of me wonders if I shouldn't have just gotten a new wheel.  But honestly, I wouldn't have gotten the Woolee Winder.  And I think I may be an addict & advocate for WW now.  And the WW bulky flyer is *cheaper* than the Schacht!  So when the time comes, I suspect I will go with the WW.  I don't *need* the bulky yet.  I have my Babe wheel.  Do you hear the "but..." at the end of that statement or is it just me?  *grin*

I am going to end this post here.  I am hoping to write some more about the *rest* of MD S&W.  But if I don't splice it into two, who knows when I will get done with it!  ALso, as always, I am long winded.  *grin*