Problem Solving

In October 2016, I went to the Southeastern Animal Fiber Festival (SAFF) with several friends.  A subset of those who went are members of the monthly spinning group I attend.  We found a good deal on an unfinished Kromski Fantasia and split the cost so that we could have a spinning wheel to use for teaching people to spin when they stop by our group or for members of our group to borrow to learn to wheel spin.  I brought the wheel home to finish it.

I decided to finish the wheel with Danish Oil.  I also decided to apply Danish Oil to my 15″ Schacht Cricket Rigid Heddle Loom.  I started working on both in December 2016.  I applied clear Danish oil to the wheel and dark walnut to the loom.  I applied three coats, waiting at least 24 hours between coats and making sure that they were dry to the touch before applying the next coat.  I was trying to finish them before Orlando Distaff Day 2017, which was on the first Saturday of 2017.  I signed up to do a wheel assembly demo and planned to bring all the parts of the Fantasia with me and assemble it at the event.

Early on the Friday morning before Distaff Day, I applied the fourth and final coat of Danish Oil.  That Friday night and into Saturday morning it POURED.  We’d had no rain for weeks and it felt like the sky had saved all the rain we should have gotten and dumped it all at once.  The pieces of the loom and wheel were on the workbench out in the garage, which is where I’d been working on this project.  The garage is not climate control.  When I got up on Saturday morning, the loom and wheel were both tacky to the touch.  In fact, they were tackier than they had been when I applied the fourth coat on Friday morning.  Obviously, there was no way I could bring them to Distaff Day!

I left the loom and wheel on the workbench for 3 or 4 weeks.  They were still tacky.  I brought them into the house, and laid them out around the house on any spare flat surface.  I figured they would dry better in the climate-controlled house.  Every month or so, I checked the pieces and they were still tacky, though it did seem as though they were slowly improving.

In the spring and summer of 2017, I took some woodworking classes, including one on finishing wood projects.  I asked the teachers about my problem.  They shook their heads.  In all likelihood, the reason for this problem was that the earlier coats weren’t cured as well as I thought they were.  I could continue to let the pieces to sit.  I could try to wipe them down with mineral spirits, which is the solvent for Danish Oil.

 

Since the fall of 2017 was so crazy here — Hurricane Irma left us with no power and no water / water restrictions for a week, my mother-in-law’s health declining, my husband getting laid off — I did not think about the loom and wheel pieces at all.  When I checked them in late December, for the first time in months, I discovered that they were slightly sticky, but not so much so that you could see my fingerprint on the surface.  I decided to try wiping them down with mineral spirits to see what happened.  I did just the pieces of the stand for the rigid heddle loom.  I figured that was the easiest thing to replace if the mineral spirits ruined the pieces rather than improving them.  I wiped the pieces down three times, letting the pieces dry in between.  Then I had something else to do and forgot about them.

When we came home from our Christmas in New Jersey, my husband finished the project he’d left on the workbench when he unexpectedly left 3 weeks earlier.  Then he asked me what projects I have to do.  Due to the high humidity of our summers, woodworking is a winter task here and he knew that I’d been saving up some projects, waiting for the weather to co-operate.  I checked the three pieces of the loom stand and found that they were no longer sticky.  The mineral spirits worked!  For the past two days, I’ve been working on the remaining loom pieces and the wheel pieces.

This morning, I wiped down the pieces with mineral spirits for the fourth time.  The repeated coats of mineral spirits seem to be doing their work!  It’s been humid the last two days and I think that this has caused more of the oil to come to the surface.  Despite this, the pieces are clearly improving and becoming less sticky overall.  For some of the pieces, this fourth coat should be the last coat I need to apply.  I will need to flip a couple of the pieces over so I can do the back.  My previous despair and fear that I’d ruined two expensive pieces of equipment have given way to hope.  I think this is going to work!

Tour de Fleece 2015, Day 1

Saturday, July 4, 2015 is the first day of the Tour de France.  This means it is also the first day of the Tour de Fleece.  The latter is a (yarn) spinning event that takes place each year on the same days as the famous bicycle race.  The bicycle race is obviously a challenging event, full of world-class athletes.  In that spirit, participants in the Tour de Fleece set their own challenging goals.

The Tour de France starts on July 4 and ends on July 26 this year.  There’s two rest day during which the racers do not ride.  This year, those dates are July 13 and July 21.  There’s also one day that is particularly challenging.  This year, that day is July 23.  On that day, the racers will climb 5 mountains.  The Tour de Fleece encourages participants to follow a similar schedule.  Spinners don’t spin on the Tour de France rest days, and set a particularly difficult personal goal for the most challenging day of the Tour de France.

This is my first year participating in the Tour de Fleece.  I only started spinning in late April 2014, six weeks before the Tour de Fleece started.  I knew about the Tour de Fleece because I have friends who take part every year, but I didn’t feel ready to participate last year.  I’m excited about this year!

Goals

My personal Tour de Fleece will be cut short this year.  July 21 to 26 I will be in San Diego for The Knitting Guild Association Conference.  I’m not bringing a spinning wheel with me, so won’t be able to spin while I am away.  Since I’ll miss those dates, I’m not going to take any rest days for the rest of the tour.  I’ll also miss the challenge day.  I’m not worried about that though.  I think it’s apparent to anyone reading this blog that I tend to challenge myself every day 🙂

My Tour de Fleece goal is to spin at least 30 minutes each day from July 4 through July 20.  I hoped to finish the cormo before the Tour started, but I did not.  I’ll work on the cormo until I finish it and then I’ll start on 3 Feet of Sheep in Colors of the Capital.  I also plan to ride my bike at least 3 miles a day for each day from July 4 through July 20.

Today’s Progress

Since today is the first Saturday of the month, it was the regular meeting day of my local spinning group.  I started the day by spinning with them.

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imageThen I came home and spun some more.  At the beginning of the day, my bobbin of cormo looked like this:

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When I finished spinning for the day, my bobbin looked like this:

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I spun for about 7 or 8 hours today, far exceeding my 30 minute goal! I also rode my bike for 3.12 miles this afternoon.  Since it’s the summer in Florida, we had our usual afternoon rain showers.  Chris and I managed to sneak a bike ride in between two separate storms.  Despite the ominous hue of the clouds, we made it through the entire ride ahead of the second wave of storms!

I’m spinning the cormo very fine — it’ll definitely be lace weight 2-ply — which means it takes a long time to spin.  In fact, it’s taking 2 hours to spin 0.5 ounces.  I have about 0.75 ounces left, and I’m hoping to finish spinning it tomorrow so I can ply on Monday.  I can’t wait to see just home much yardage I get.  I think it’s going to be ridiculously high!  On Tuesday, I’ll start on Three Feet of Sheep.

Drum Roll, Please…

I finished spinning the Nerd Girl Yarns Lux Top that I have had on my wheel since last July!  I am absolutely in love with this yarn and am already looking for knitting patterns.  If you have any suggestions, let me know!

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The Neverending Spinning

I finally finished the yarn I have been spinning that is made from one ply of pin-drafted undyed cream-colored wool from Ohio Valley Fibers and one ply of an undyed brown 50% Shetland / 50% Mohair blend from Psalm 23 Farm.  I bought both fibers in April at The Fiber Event in Greencastle, Indiana and started the spinning for this yarn at the beginning of May.  I finished plying on July 29, but got so much yardage that it took a while to wrap it on to my niddy noddy so I could set the twist.  I just finished setting the twist yesterday.

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Only a Mama

You know how people say, “That kid has a face only a mama could love?”  That’s how I feel about my first handspun yarn. I’m excited — I spun that!!!!  It’s awesome!  I MADE YARN.  It feels like a superpower.  Secretly, though, I know it isn’t very pretty. Here’s a preview:


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My Wheel Arrived!!

My spinning wheel arrived.  I bought the wheel on Friday at The Fiber Event in Greencastle, Indiana.  Susan told me that by ordering it on Friday, I should have it on Monday.  All day, I was distracted, waiting for the wheel to arrive.  FedEx and UPS deliver to my house late in the day.  I rarely get packages before 5:oo pm, and at busy times of the year (December), I’ve gotten packages delivered as late as 9:00 pm.  Still, I paced around the house.  I randomly peeked out the window at my front stoop, just in case I missed the sound of the doorbell ringing.  Finally, at 6:10 pm, the doorbell rang. My wheel had arrived!!!

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The Fiber Event, Greencastle Indiana, April 18 & 19, 2014

I don’t go to a lot of Fiber Events. As far as I know, there are only two (now three, but I’ll get to that) fiber events that take place near me: Distaff Days in early January and The Florida Fiber In in mid-September. I have not made it to Distaff Days yet because I’m often away for the holidays the first weekend of January. I have been to The Florida Fiber In twice. The third event is the Florida Sheep, Wool, and Herding Dog Festival, which is a new event, held for the third time this year. I have not been to that event before, because I did not learn about it until after the second time it was held.

This year is an exception to the few fiber events pattern. I am actually attending fiber events three weekends in a row. The Fiber Event in Greencastle, Indiana was the first, held April 18 & 19. Second is the Florida Sheep, Wool, and Herding Dog Festival held April 25-27. Third is Maryland Sheep and Wool on May 3 & 4.

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