Spinning for a project – Use of colour

I am quite keen on making the most of both the time I spend spinning and the fibre I use, to that end I spin most of my yarns with a project in mind.
Hand dyed spinning fibre is a big temptation, but so many spinners are disappointed with how their yarns knit up. Due to; muddied colours, barber pole effects, length of colour repeats, strong striping, dye lot changes, etc. The list is endless.
So I thought I would write some blog posts addressing these issues.

The first issue I thought I would address is the effect on the length of colour stripes when the width of the knitting fabric changes.
Eg. You spin some beautiful yarn from hand dyed top or graduated batts, and proceed to knit a triangular shawl which starts with a few stitches per row and increases to several hundred per row.
The closer you get to the edge the thinner the bands of colour become, to the extent that the edge doesn’t even have stripes.
The effect may be pleasing, or it might not.

To keep the bands of colour more equal make a simple change to the way you prepare your fibre before you start spinning.

Here is an example:
I have 100grams of hand painted top which has repeats of colour along its length and 100grams of hand dyed top which has very little variation in colour.
I plan to spin both lots of fibre and ply them together to form a 2ply.
I then want to use it to knit a large circular shawl, If I work from the top as I received it, without any splitting the resulting shawl with have a large circular of colour in the middle with the bands of colour getting smaller and smaller towards the edge and even mottled at the far edge.
If I want the bands of colour to have a similar width across the diameter of shawl I can strategicly divide the fibre before I start spinning.
For this example I will just divide the fibre for 1 ply and leave the second more solid fibre as is.

Undivided Top
fig1: Undivided Top

I split the fibre in half length ways as my fibre is a silk brick which is much wider than regular top, so for regular top skip this step or your fibre may be too thin to split further.

Split in half lengthwise
fig2: Split in half lengthwise
fig2 diagram
fig2 diagram

Next comes the strategic dividing of fibre. I broke the top into 5 fairly equal pieces, you can do this based on the colour repeats in your fibre for best results.
The first piece is not split at all (1). The next piece is split in half lengthways to make 2 thinner strips (1/2). The next piece is split into 3 lengthwise for even thinner strips (1/3). The next piece is split into 4 lengthwise (1/4). The last piece is split into 6 lengthwise (1/6) (I can’t manage to get 5 equal strips so I do 6, I do this by spliting in half, then spliting each into 3.) You can see in the photo the piles of fibre getting thinner from left to right.

fig3: Strategic dividing
fig3: Strategic dividing

fig3 diagram
fig3 diagram

I then crochet chain the strips of top in order so that they don’t get mixed up before spinning, if you want the colours to follow in sequence make sure you take note of the ‘start end’ and the ‘end end’.
You can see in this picture that the chain goes from fat, to thin and then thinner, the thinnest I rolled into a ball as it would be messy to chain.

fig4: final chained top
fig4: final chained top

When you have spun and plied your yarn you want to use the end with the short colour changes at the small part of your shawl (centre for round shawls) and the slow colour change end will be for the longer edge of your shawl.
For this fibre I will straight 2 ply with the 2nd solid ply, but you could navajo ply for great colour alignment. Or if you are really confident in your dividing skills divide in the same way for both plies for a matched 2ply.
I’ll update this post with a photo of the shawl when its finished.

Triangular Shawl Calculator

Here’s a little way to calculate the maximum number of rows you can work on a shawl (top down shawls only). You need to have knitted at least 20% of your yarn to do get an accurate answer, though it will return a result with more than 10% yarn used.

Triangular shawl
This calculation will work for any shawl pattern that starts at the top and has a consistent number of increases in each row. (ie. 4 increases on every right side row and 2 sts on every wrong side row, or 4increases every other row.)
(Examples of this type of shawl are: ‘Swallowtail’, ‘Ishbel’, ‘Aeolian’, ‘Kiri’, ‘Traveling Woman’, My ‘Dew Drops’ & ‘Danish Ripple’ Shawls)
(I know these shawls have slightly different shapes, but trust me the maths works for all of them.)

You need to know:

Number of Constant stitches in each row: (eg. Swallowtail: 5, Ishbel: 7, Aeolian: 5 or 7.) (usually edge stitches on each side + centre stitch) (If you don’t know this don’t worry too much as it doesn’t make a huge difference to the result.)

Total yarn weight: (This is how much yarn you have available for the project, in grams is best.)

Used yarn weight so far: (This is the total weight of yarn minus what you have left un-knitted.)

Rows worked so far: (with many shawl you can count the number of holes running up the middle next to the centre st and x2).

Maximum Number of Rows:

This result is the number of rows you can work with the yarn you have available, it allows you 3rows worth of yarn to cast off which is sufficient for a very stretchy bind off.
If you pattern has a lot of increases in the final few rows, ie lots of yarn over’s for a pointier edge you will need to subtract a few more rows to allow for that.
If your pattern tells you to cast off with the yarn held double you will need to subtract a few more rows to allow for this.

This calculator requires javascript to be enabled.
I hope you find this page useful, I provide it free for everyone, please link to it here.
Contact me through Raverly, or email me if you have any questions.
P.s. Please don’t blame me if the answer doesn’t work out for you, I provide this script working to the best of my knowledge, free to everyone.
(c) Bex Hopkins 2010, please do not attempt to steal this script.
If you would like to know how this is calculated please contact me.

Spinning Journal

I have been keeping a spinning journal for a while, and I consider selling these hand bound spinning journals in my shop, but that’s now unlikely to happen, as I don’t think their potential sale price covers my time to make them.

So I’m going to write a tutorial to share what I have learnt in the process of making mine, and what I finally came up with.

To start with, here is the pdf of my page template. Its an A4 template, the pages are folded in half for hand binding, giving an A5 journal.

Spinning Journal Template

Schacht Ladybug Tutorial: Adjusting the flyer

How to adjust the flyer to reduce noise.

After a few months of using my Ladybug Spinning Wheel I found that it had started to make a ‘chattering’ noise as I spun.   This tutorial describes an adjustment that can be made to reduce this noise.  If you are in any doubt about something related to your Schacht wheel I recommend you contact your Schacht dealer, or Schacht directly for support.

There are many things that can cause your spinning wheel to make unexpected noises while spinning, this tutorial is for noise caused by the flyer moving backwards and forwards between the Maidens only.

Before trying this I suggest you remove your flyer, clean off all oil and grease, re oil as the Schacht Ladybug Manual instructs and try applying some white grease to reduce any noise caused by the bobbin.

Will this help me?

With your flyer assembly in place and the Front Maiden pushed back as far as it allows and the Front Maiden Knob tightened.  Using your hand try to move the Flyer backwards and forwards.

If the flyer moves more than a few mms you may have a reduction in noise by adjusting the Front Maiden.  If there is little or no movement this tutorial will probably not help and you should look for other causes of unexpected noise.

You will need:

  • Schacht Ladybug Spinning wheel with Flyer
  • Small Screw Driver

Have a look at the Ladybug Labeled Parts diagram on the Schacht Website to familiarise yourself with the part names.

Ladybug Maiden fig1
Ladybug Maiden fig1

Loosen the Front Maiden Knob and remove the Flyer. (fig1)

Ladybug Maiden fig2
Ladybug Maiden fig2

Unscrew the Front Maiden Knob Fully and remove it. Remove the Front Maiden from the Ladybug. (fig2)

Be careful not to loose the Front Maiden Knob and its white washer or the Front Maiden Glide Stop (fig2) or the Barrel Nut (fig5).

Ladybug Maiden fig3
Ladybug Maiden fig3

Locate the screw driver slot on the Front Maiden Glide Stop.  (fig3)

This is the part which stops you being able to move the Front Maiden back too far.  It is an important part of your spinning wheel, enabling you to glide the Front Maiden to the correct position every time without worrying it is too tight against the flyer.

Ladybug Maiden fig4
Ladybug Maiden fig4

Use the Screw Driver to turn the white threaded piece of Front Maiden Glide Stop. (fig4) You only need to turn the screw driver a small amount, approximately 1/4 turn.

If the Glide Stop is orientated the same way (as in fig4), with the screw slot towards the front  of the wheel (this is the flat part of the Maiden, the part closest to the flyer is curved). Turning the screw anti clockwise will allow the Maiden to move further back reducing the amount of flyer movement.   Only make tiny changes before trying the flyer again to check the movement.

After making a small adjustment place the Front Maiden and Flyer back on the wheel and check the movement in the Flyer while holding the Front Maiden as far back as the Glide Stop allows.

You can now replace the Front Maiden and the Front Maiden Knob to secure it. Ensure that you fit the Front Maiden facing the right way (as in fig1). When the Front Maiden is slid back as far as the Glide Stop allows the flyer should only move forwards and backwards the smallest amount.

However you do NOT want the Glide position of the Front Maiden too far back otherwise it will cause too much friction on the flyer, making treadling harder and may cause unnecessary wear. As well as making it harder to get the Front Maiden in the correct position. If it is too tight, remove the Maiden and re-adjust the Glide Stop (clockwise to give the flyer a little more space).

Ladybug Maiden fig5
Ladybug Maiden fig5

While doing this you may find a metal component falls out (Barrel Nut) (fig5).  This nut goes inside the Front Maiden and the Front Maiden Knob is secured into it.

Ladybug Maiden fig6
Ladybug Maiden fig6

If the Barrel Nut falls out, or you have difficulty screwing the Front Maiden Knob back in,  Push the Barrel Nut into the hole in the side of the Front Maiden (fig6). You may need to use a Screw Driver to align the Nut with the slot upright and in the centre of the Maiden, to enable the Front Maiden Knob to screw in.

Schacht Ladybug Glide Stop + Barrel Nut
Schacht Ladybug Glide Stop + Barrel Nut

If the Front Maiden Glide Stop falls out it can be held in place with a small amount of white grease.  Some spinners have reported finding this part has fallen out of their wheel during changes in temperature etc, if this happens slot it back in (as in fig4) and hold with white grease if necessary.  There is some information about this on the Schacht Website here.

I hope you find this information useful, but if you are in any doubt I recommend you contact local Schacht dealer or Schacht for support.