Friday, June 29, 2012

I made a spinning wheel!

I've spun fiber into yarn using a drop spindle a couple of times but found it to be a lot of work that went slowly and was dreaming of the day I could afford a spinning wheel...  Then my friend turned me on to a group in Ravelry that was teaching you how to make your own spinning wheel for $7!

I immediately read everything there and got to work on getting my parts.  My cost turned out a bit more than $7 (try $26.42) but still so much more affordable than the usual $300 and up wheels.  Then the hard part began...  The directions were somewhat vague at times but it was more of a guide as everyone learned together.
All my cut pieces

Rough layout of the wheel
The day after everything was bought I began the cuts on my 1x4x10 piece of wood and then sanded them all down.  Based on some thread discussion about staining/dyeing/painting the lumber I went with food dyeing.  I had a day off working on the wheel as I needed to by some regular food dye from the grocery store.  I mixed the red and blue together with some vinegar (about 1 tsp) and a little water (1/2 c at first, but switched to 1/4 c for my second coat) for a purple stain.  I did all the pieces one time, let them dry for a few hours, and put a second coat on all the pieces except the wheel parts.  Those were then left to dry overnight.  The following day I put on two coats of spray polyurethane then let it dry overnight.  
Close up of the stain, yes, I forgot gloves

All my purple pieces
Finally, assembly day!  I assembled the base without too many issues, except the brads did not seem to be holding it together securely.  I just kept on going, thinking it might work itself out as I got other parts together.  So I moved on to the spindle part, where I realized that two of the bolts I bought did not have threading all the way down, therefore would not work for this project.  A quick trip to the hardware store was necessary to purchase the correct bolts and I bought some cotton twine while I was there.  I started assembling the wheel pieces but the brads were causing me problems again, so I gave up for the night.

Bright and early today I set to finishing this wheel if it killed me!  I started by putting my pieces together to make the wheel and then I measured out the size I would need for the wheel cross bars and cut those out so I could poly them right away and give them some drying time.  I finished up the base by making the holes for the twine, then made the hole in the spine for the wheel placement.  I put my cross bars onto the wheel, drilled the hole for the bolt to attach to the spine as well as a hole for the shaker peg.  After putting some nuts, bolts and washers in the correct places I had the wheel assembled except for the drive band.  

At this point I found some fine tuning my wheel needed.  In order to have all the parts move smoothly the holes I drilled for the dowel to go through needed to be opened up a bit more so the dowel wouldn't get caught up and the two small blocks that were the base of the spindle needed to be nailed together so the twine wouldn't get caught between the two and create a gap.  To stabilize the base I used three nails on the back to hold it together more securely.  I was having a lot of problems with the peg, I may have drilled a hole just a bit too large.  I first tried to correct that with glue which wasn't drying fast enough, so I tried to nail through the other side.  That created all kinds of other problems and I ended up creating a new hole on the other side.  It was definitely more secure but I ended up super gluing it in just to be sure.  I took a small piece of leftover dowel and filled in the hole from my first peg placement attempt.

The completed wheel!
It's certainly not perfect, but it works and I think I will likely try this again with all the knowledge I gathered as I made this.  Now I'm off to spin for the first time!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Lots of work and video podcasts

While I am still busy knitting, real work hours have taken a jump so I haven't had much extra time to talk about the knitting.  Besides my usual random knits, I had a request for two summer cropped cardi's which I am working hard on completing.  I have one down but I think it needs reshaping... they're lacy and I think I blocked it too aggressively.  I also have a grad present hat I'm about to start as a gift.  I worked on some quick baby knits for a new baby boy in the extended family as well. 

For a little background noise I like to watch shows on the internet while I work.  I recently became obsessed with video podcasts on knitting and after pulling almost 100 from iTunes based on name/description alone I've gotten through over 75 in an effort to find all my favorites.  I am honestly amazed at how many there are on this topic!  I am keeping notes and look forward to sharing my ratings and favs.  I have no intention of putting any down, rather I plan to list reasons why my favs suit my taste and why I'll pass on some others... although honestly there are very few that I plan to completely pass up!

Here are a few pics of recently finished objects (taken by iPhone)
Baby H bib, cloth and toy

Purple tank top for me

White lacy cropped cardi

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Magical Skein

I don't normally (ever?) knit with lace/fingering weight yarn, so maybe this is how it always works out, but 240 grams of this yarn has yielded so many items, I think it may be magical...

A friend of mine was recently destashing yarn and gave me a heads up in case I might like some.  We ended up exchanging a medium "it fits, it ships" box of yarn for an Amazon gift card.
We really like purple!
You can't really see in this pic, and I didn't take any pics before I started knitting, but in the top right of the box, is part of this magical skein.  It was wound in two hanks, one of 170 grams, the other 70 grams.  I caked up the larger hank and got to work on a lacy shawl (Ravelry link).  I was rather shocked to find I had a significant amount of the cake left!
I knit from the center of this cake, see that tiny hole?
And had this lovely mini shawl (yet to be blocked, so maybe it will get a big larger)...
But there is so much left, and I really enjoyed knitting with it (even though the pattern used size 4 needles, I usually hate going lower than 7!)... so I went browsing for another pattern I might like to use this for.  I found this pattern (Ravelry link) although I am not sure from where anymore.  I am down to the last 4 or 6 rows of the whole thing and I'm glancing at my remaining cake and thinking, really?  There is still MORE of this yarn!
Excuse my lame attempt at a quick phone photo, it was supposed to be lazy Sunday and blogging inspiration struck me
The funny thing is (or the other funny thing?) I can't get enough of this!  It's my only project on the needles (I'm not counting the living room afghan which hasn't been touched in weeks), not to say I didn't try.

I cast on a knit top between these two shawls using 2 skeins of my friend's destash and had it finished before I cast on for the second shawl (as it called for the same needles).  I ended up being rather unhappy with the top, thought I'd come up with a great way to fix it, only to have my mind changed during the partial frogging which went horribly.  Apparently my purl stitches puts the yarn through the loop in such a way that it has to be pulled back through not just unlooped.  That top was totally frogged, I caked the mess of yarn which remained and let ideas of my own creation for a top ferment which I continued to knit shawl two.

Originally I was thinking that the top would be recast after this shawl was finished, but really, I think I'll end up knitting with this never-ending mystery lace/fingering weight yarn because it's got me thinking, how far can it go???