Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Plying: Andean and Navajo

I learned how to Andean ply last night. On Saturday when we were at Table Rock Llamas I saw an Andean plying tool and couldn’t figure it out from looking at it. So I went on the Internet and looked it up. What I discovered was a very handy way of plying with a drop spindle. I can see why it was developed since the Native Americans living in the Andes do all their spinning using a drop spindle and often do it while on the go. It is very practical since it wraps the fiber around the wrist and leaves the hands free for spinning.

It intrigues me that people are using it to ply on a spinning wheel. I don’t quite see the practicality there since a center pull ball works very well, but I’ll have to try it and see what the attraction might be.

If I’m doing two ply yarn from the same fiber/color, than I will usually use a center pull ball to do it. If I’m doing three ply yarn from the same fiber/color than I will do a Navajo ply. Since my tendency in spinning is toward fine the Navajo ply helps me to bulk up the yarn when I need it heavier for sweaters or caps.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Spinning a Yarn

One of the creative things that I really enjoy is spinning. It doesn't matter whether I use a spindle or my spinning wheel, it's theraputic and an opportunity to express myself.

Back when I first started, I discovered that I am allergic to sheep's wool, so I mostly spin exotic fibers like alpaca, llama, camel, mohair, silk, and cashmere. However, in a weak moment I succumbed to some churro fleece while at the Two Grey Hills Trading Post. I played with it in the truck while we drove and realized that my eyes weren't itching and my nose wasn't getting stuffed up.

So on Saturday I bought a churro fleece at El Churro. Now we'll find out if it was a fluke or if I'm not allergic to churro sheep.

Churro sheep were brought to the Southwest by the Spanish. They are ideally suited to the hot and arid conditions of the Southwest.

I've also just bought a new spinning wheel. While my old Ashford Scholar is an excellent wheel, it's not the best for spinning some of the exotic fibers that I enjoy. I sold my Ashford to a friend and coworker who wants to learn to spin and bought a Majacraft Little Gem. Wow!!!
Now I can really get down to business. I'm going to spend my very relaxing vacation in the mountain town of Breckenridge spinning anything I can get my hands on between then and now. The churro fleece, some mohair, a silk/cashmere blend, silk, and maybe even some cat hair.

Friday, July 14, 2006

My New Favorite Gel Pen

I like gel pens. My favorite type of pen is a fountain pen, but they aren't always practical. So for everyday use I like gel pens.

I've been searching for the perfect gel pen since they invented them. There have been a few along the way that have been pretty good and many that were pretty bad. But then I found the Uniball Signo 207.

So far, it's wonderful. I like the fine writing of the .5 mm tip (they also come in .7 mm). The ink stroke is clean, sharp, and doesn't bleed through the pages of my Moleskine notebook. Another biggy is the blue. Usually I'm a black ink person for my everyday pens. The blues generally available are uninspiring. The blue ink of the Uniball Signo 207 has just enough yellow in it to brighten and lighten the color.

Here's an interesting thought

What do you think? Does the US suck at design?