Please stand by….

…while we experience some technical difficulties…….

fattoria fiber works is going to be on a (hopefully) brief hiatus while I figure out my computer situation.

The laptop that I was using was great.  It was old and clunky and really didn’t function as a laptop, since the battery didn’t work and the wi-fi card that I bought for it ($50) I never could get to work.  So it was basically a desk top lap top.  But that was okay with me.  It was fast and did what I asked it to do.  Why is all of that in the past tense?  It didn’t stop working so much as it stopped turning back on.  Kind of important in a gadget.  The ON part I mean.  So I usually just left it on.  But sometimes it would turn itself off, then it would take lots of finesse and pleading to get it to come back to life.  Until a few days ago when it STOPPED turning ON.  When, finally, in its last gasps when I could still get it to come on, sort of, I got some kind of message telling me that the something something drivers had “either been corrupted or needed to be re-installed”.  Okay still, since my Ug has taught himself a TON about computers in this last year.  He graciously offered to re-install the driver thing-ys (which if I had been listening when he was talking about his computer projects and not glazing over for not knowing what he was talking about, I would have had a clue that he could do this), but now it won’t turn ON at all.  I’m sorry to see that old friend go.  And more sorry still that I have tons of photos on  the hard drive without back up.  I kept saying, I should really back these up, because one day this thing will just not turn ON, and then………**sigh**

So, since my Ug has become a whiz with the computers, there are several rehabilitated desk top towers in the shed that he has not been able to part with “just in case”.  Well, now I am sorry that I mocked him for saving them when he has his own super duper computer, and  recommended sending them to the dump.  Because he was able to pull one out of the shed, and that is what I am working on now.  I don’t know if I have ever mentioned the Carrabassett Thrift (i.e. the dump) but they have a garage type room where you can leave or pick up items that are still useful.  Couches, dishes, books, radios, computers, etc.  So Ug has gotten a few of these hard drives there, wiped out whatever junk was in them and brought them back to life.  Smarty.  But this one that I am working on, which might be the best of the ones he still has, is quiiiiiiiiiite sloooooooow.   So working on it is somewhat painful.  Moving from website to website is an exercise in patience.  Which is probably character building for me, but I don’t want to wait around to see what that character looks like.

So while I am very grateful that there was a substitute immediately available, it too needs some work.  I am going to take both units to the computer fix-it people in Kingfield–C-Prompt–and see what they think. Maybe a new ON button for the laptop?  Maybe just an upgrade in memory for the tower?  Maybe they will just laugh at me and tell me to get my butt to Walmart and buy a new one.  I don’t know.  I will just limp along until then, but for now, this little blog project will have to wait.

Please stand by for more information.  If this becomes a real emergency you will be notified where to tune in for further details……



It’s still fiber

Happy Saturday morning breakfast!  Multi-grain pancake mix.  I just found this yesterday at Tranten’s Family Market.  I really wanted pancakes for breakfast this morning, but not the plain old insta-quick kind.  Something that might actually be good for you.  Voila!

Some blueberries from the freezer and some homemade cinnamon crunch granola (the last of it).

Sizzle sizzle.  Sizzle sizzle.


And the rest will get made and put into the freezer for another day.

All done!

I finished this yarn last night.  It has been washed and is hanging to dry.  Once it is dry I will show it to you.  It is always an interesting feeling to finish a yarn project.  About 2/3’s of the way through I just want to get to the end, just to get through it.  And it seems like it will go on forever.  But then once it’s done, it makes me wonder what all the fuss was about.

This is the bobbin once it was full of the plied yarn.  And it turns out that the two spindles were almost even.  There was maybe only a yard or two left on one once the other had run out.  Not bad I think.  Even if I had weighed those spindles and made them exactly the same weight, the yardage might still be different.  One could have been spun slightly finer than the other, resulting in a slightly longer single.  And anyhow, I don’t work like that.  It will come out even or it won’t.  But I’m not going to fret about it along the way.   I will try to come close, but otherwise it’s not worth the worry.

This is a niddy noddy.  I know you were just on the edge of your seats waiting to see it.  What a name, eh?  A niddy noddy is used for making a skein of yarn, and to measure it as it comes off the bobbins.  Mine is 1 1/2 yards.  Some are 2 yards, some smaller to make mini skeins.  So on mine, one complete trip around the ends is 1 1/2 yard.  Count the trips round, times 1.5 is how many yards in that skein.

When I got this the wood was really light.  From use, from lanolin in the wool, from the oils in my own hands, the color has darkened.

This is the yarn wrapped around the niddy noddy.  There is too much glare on the yarn.  It was late last night.

The ends of the yarn are tied to the yarn to keep it from tangling once off the niddy noddy.  This is the yarn right off the niddy noddy.  It still needs washing and hanging.  It is really a pretty balanced and even skein.  I can tell this because sometimes when I take a skein off the niddy noddy, if it is over spun it will curl and spring right up on itself.  Again the color is odd because of the lighting at midnight!

So from a 2 7/8 ounce batt, this is 145 yards +/- of yarn.  It is probably a sock weight yarn.  My knitting knowledge is not sufficient to  be able to estimate what I could make with this.  My mum will have to give suggestions on that.

This is the finished yarn.  It is still a bit damp, so I hung it back up. But I wanted you to see it.

It is soft, but not as soft as all alpaca would be.  But the addition of the wool will give it some body and elasticity.  Alpaca alone can be kind of droopy.  I think the color is pretty too.

This whole process is a bit slower on drop spindles instead of on the wheel, but I had a project on the wheel already, and not enough bobbins to just take the other project off and put this one on.  Also, I have an ankle that sometimes doesn’t work as it should.  I think it has some arthritis in it (makes a great clicking noise sometimes).  And it makes it hard to work the wheel.  Ironically, using my spinning wheel seems to snap my ankle back into place.  So it hurts at first, then it works itself out the longer I spin.  Isn’t 40 great?

Anyway, finished yarn, onto the next project!  What a lot of steps there are in making a skein of yarn.

Plying time

After I finished spinning last night, I wanted very much to start plying these spindles together.  When plying from bobbins that have been spun on a wheel, a tool used to hold the bobbins is called a lazy kate.  This tool holds the bobbins a bit apart and on some types has a break to keep the singles (the un-plied yarns) from twisting back on themselves and creating a real mess.  Plying from two spindles is a bit trickier.  I don’t know how other people do this.  I have never read about it or seen it in magazines or on the net.  So I figured I needed a lazy kate for spindles.  A quick look round the house turned up this plastic tote/basket thing.  With holes that would suit.  The spindles are kept well apart from each other, and they freely spin inside the box.  I have placed a weight in the bottom of the box so as to keep it from flopping around while plying.

This make shift lazy kate worked okay in so far as the fitting the spindles was concerned, and I will use it again for these spindles, but it needed a break.  Something to keep the spinning spindles from spinning back on themselves in the plying process.  

Bungie cord to the rescue.  If a bungie cord, duct tape or zip ties can’t fix it……

Anyway, a bungie gently stretched over the spindles allows them to spin still, but provides enough resistance to keep them from spinning back the other way.  If the spindles spin the other way in this process, the yarn coming off them becomes slack and gets tangled.  More frustration.  This solved that problem.

I tried to ply last night.  But since I was over eager and just charged ahead, I neglected to take the time to perform the necessary maintenance on my wheel.  A wheel should be kept dust free and properly oiled at all of the mechanical joints and pieces that turn.  I have not done this in a while.  It should really be done every time a project is completed or started.  Not every time you use it, but every time a yarn is completed is enough.  I have quoted this in an earlier post, but it bears repeating again.  “A properly maintained wheel will last 300 years.  A poorly maintained one will last three.”  This poorly maintained wheel bucked and fought me the whole time I was trying to ply with it.  Nothing will work right on the wheel when it is dusty and the mechanisms are dry.  So all I accomplished was frustration and wasted time.  Look how dusty my poor wheel is: (disregard the dust you can see on everything else in the photo!)

So tonight I took the time to assemble some basic tools.  I do not have any proper wood care oil, so I am using vegetable oil.  Oil is still oil and the wood soaks it up.  I did have some 3-in-1 oil for the metal parts though.  And a few other basics were all that I needed to get my wheel back in order.

Glossy and shiny again.  The metal parts that the wheel and the flyer unit rotate on were lubricated too.  15 minutes was all it took to take care of this wheel.  It is a lesson that I seem to keep re-learning.  After the oiling and polishing, it worked just fine.  I really do need to get some proper oil though.

This is the beginning of the plied yarn.  The colors muddy a bit in the plying.  It will be an over all softer color than the distinct colors of the carded fiber.  This is okay with me.  If I wanted to keep the color changes to remain distinct, I would have carded and spun this fiber differently to maintain those distinctions.

Once the fiber is off the bobbin and onto the niddy noddy I will show you that too.  What the heck is a niddy noddy anyway????  You’ll see.

And then there were two

The unspun fiber that you see by the spindles is all that is left to spin.  Maybe a movie’s length left.  So I should be able to finish that tonight when I get home from work.  There are two spindles now which will have roughly the same amount of fiber on them.  Once the fiber is all spun, it will be plied together.  This means that the two singles will be spun together into a two ply yarn.  This can be done from one ball of yarn, which uses all of the spun single, but I find that can get messy.  I will do one like that in the future and show how it is done.  I like to use two spindles or if doing this on the wheel, two bobbins.


It doesn’t look like it will make much yarn, but you’d be surprised how densely packed the singles are on those spindles.  I like to see how the color changes as I’m spinning, and how the yarn piles up on the spindle. 

After the spinning is done there will be a few more steps before this yarn is completed.  There will be the plying, then winding off onto the niddy noddy, then washing and hanging to dry to set the twist.  There will be pictures as I get through each step.  And a few explanations.  Like what the heck is a niddy noddy?

And I know that you are wondering whats on the MP3 right now from LibriVox……..Sherlock Holmes!  So much fun in the car on the way to and from work and around town.  However does he solve those crimes?!?!?!

A cup half full……

The cappuccino fiber is spinning up nicely.  It is really nice to spin.  It is soft and the fibers are of a length that they are not constantly falling apart.  This is about half of the fiber spun.  Maybe a bit less.  As the spindle fills, its weight increases.  As the weight increases, the spinning motion becomes more fluid, and the spindle spins longer.  As the yarn is made, the process speeds up.  The more you spin, the faster you spin.

This amount of spinning represents a few hours time.  Three or four, maybe.  I don’t look at finished yarn and think of it in terms of the value of my hours work.  If I were to do that, then my monetary worth for my accumulated work would literally be about 50 cents or one dollar per hour, if I were to sell this yarn at a reasonable, market value price.  I don’t look at it this way.  I can’t look at it this way.  It has to be something done because of other values received or completed or created. 

Sometimes the process itself is worth much more than the outcome.  The time spent spinning is more valuable to me than the completed yarn.  I can buy yarn.  I can buy nice yarn at a pretty reasonable price.  If I did that, I would be missing out on the process.  This is why it does not bother me to knit and knit and knit, realize a project is not right, then rip it out.  Sometimes it is not about the completed item, but about the time spent in the repetitive, reflective act itself.

 I think that when people who do not make things think about people who do make things, if they think about them at all, they are often missing most of the picture.  When people who do not create things, or are not creative or especially imaginative in other ways consider spinning or knitting, all they see is some boring, repetitive task that old ladies do, or did a long time ago.  I think that what they don’t see is the sense of calm, or even well-being that takes over when working on a project.  Almost a form of meditation practice.  External things fall away.  Worries are lost.  Or sometimes it provides enough time to really focus on and work through an issue.  The work that the hands are doing becomes simply a vehicle for keeping one part of the mind working on the task in your hands while another part is then able to go somewhere else and work through bigger issues.  Or to be given the freedom to stop working through and thinking about issues.  And if the end result is also something tangible and useful–socks, mittens, many many hats, all the better.