Tag Archives: spinning

Spinning ramie

Ramie 2 ply
Ramie 2 ply

I decided to “challenge”  myself for this year’s HdF by spinning fibers that I’ve never worked with before. One of the was ramie, which I bought based on the oh-shinny effect only.

After the package of fiber got here, I did a few searches on Google and on Ravelry, trying to find anything I could about how to spin this fiber.  I didn’t find much, so I did what I thought was the best for it (read: I spun it the way I’m more comfortable).

I decided to write a post about it since there’s so little on the internet about the fiber and how to treat it while spinning.  I hope this post will help someone.

Ramie is a vegetable fiber – you can read about it on Wikipedia, or Google it.  To me, the fiber looks a lot like silk, and kind of feel like it to an extent.  The biggest difference from silk (to me, at least) is that the fibers don’t stick to each other like silk does.

I spun it dry,  using short draft and then plied 2 singles together.  Even though I spun this during a very moist summer in Kansas, there was a lot of fuzz on my clothes and chair after each session of spinning.
Ramie is very easy to draft, and I think that it can take a look of twist (I didn’t try over spinning it, though).  The singles looked and felt like dental floss.

I tried 2 different ways of plying it.  The first was holding both singles in one hand and adding twist.  The second was by holding each singles separately (one in each hand), treadling and then bringing the singles together near the orifice.
I found out that the second method gave me a rounder yarn, but it was over-plied (which tells more about my lack of practice than about how the fiber behaves).

Since I had no idea how to finish this yarn, I boiled it like one would do to linen.  I didn’t see any difference in color, sheen or hand of the yarn once I was done.
The yarn has no give – at all, yet it’s nice to knit with (I’m knitting this pattern and will add an edging from Heirloom knitting to the bottom).  I’m hoping it will become a bit more fuzzy once I put it through the washer.

You can find more pictures and a few more details about it here.  If you have any questions or want me to discuss details I didn’t post here, feel free to leave me a note here or on Rav.

It’s been so long since I wrote here, people might be thinking I gave up on the blog entirely.  I didn’t.  There was this thing, and then another, and then something else…I kept on thinking, well…after this one thing (bad cold, finishing another design, fill-the-blank excuse) I’ll post again.  Time did its thing and I went from not having the stamina to post, to no having anything to say, to how will I tell about everything that happened in between my last post and the next?

Early in the year, I caught an awful cold that made me feel sorry for myself for a full month.  It was so bad I didn’t even knit.  I did play a lot of games on the Surface, though :P.

Then, there was (still is) the next design on the E-book that I will eventually publish.  The patterns were already out of sync with the seasons, but it’s already the end of July and I haven’t decided on the next pattern – supposed to be named for Winter.
To be honest, I think I have the right design now, but I still have to knit it – yet again – since the size is still way too small.  There’s also the little nagging voice in my head, reminding me that I need to come up with the last design for the collection, the one for Spring.

So, after being stuck for a few months trying to come up with the last 2 designs for the book, I was reminded of a promise an offer I made to a friend, and stopped everything I was doing to design her wedding shawl:

Tru Wuv
Tru Wuv

Between the shawl pictured above and another one that didn’t make the cut, I spent almost a month knitting nonstop.  Then, there was the soccer cup and the Hoar de Fleece, and I most of the month of July spinning and watching games ;).

I spun more this year than I did the last, but I still fizzled out on the last week.  Part of the reason I didn’t spin anything on the last week of the HdF was because I wanted to knit with some of the yarn I’d spun – which isn’t something that happens to me very often.

Well, this entry kind of sums up what happened since I last posted here.  Sometimes, having a boring life isn’t so bad.

Hoar de Fleece – so far

So far I haven’t spun as much as I planned – and chances are, I’m not going to.  I finished two skeins of lace weight – ish yarn and then something funny happened: one of the yarns I finished wanted to be knit – by me.

Hippie yarn
Hippie yarn

This is unusual because I normally don’t have any desire to work with my own hand spun, which is odd, but it’s the way I roll.  This one, though, was taunting me, whispering that it would look awesome as a stole that I had yet to design.
I endured the siren song for as long as I could, even started on the second half of the blue silk, but the calling got louder.  So much so that I had to stop the spinning (which I wasn’t enjoying anyway) and spent 2 days playing with the charting software.

Once I had the charts the way I wanted, I wound the yarn into a cake without even bothering to finish it first and started knitting.  Again, it’s an unusual way for me to design.  For most of my patterns, I start by knitting and only after the thing is done and blocked, I go to the digital end of the business: charting and writing the pattern.
I’ve noticed that as my designs begin to incorporate more elaborate, bigger stitch patterns, the more I start out by charting.  It doesn’t take away the need to actually knit, but in some ways, makes my life easier: by the time I have a photo of the finished item, I also have a rough draft of the pattern.  Making the process of test knitting move faster.

Beginnings of a new design
Beginnings of a new design

So, I began knitting and as usual, found a few mistakes.  Back to the software we go.  The photo here is my third attempt – the first two didn’t work so well.

I was actually surprised at the number of mistakes and adjustments that had to be done in order to knit this – there weren’t that many :D.

Because of this new design, I haven’t spun for two days.  I needed to get back on that horse, so today I put what I have (it’s bigger now) in a nice hot bath and it’s blocking as I type.  By bathing the swatch(?), prototype(?), I’m buying myself some time to work on my spinning and some house work.

I have known about the Tour de Fleece for a few years now, but had never had any interest in joining.  The thought was that I would lose interest before long as I don’t like to do things on demand, so to speak.
I joined this year because of some nastiness that went on, and only did so because a new sort-of spin-off group came into existence.  At first, I wasn’t going to spin.  I just joined for the fun of it, but it got contagious and I ended up spinning more than I’ve done in the last 2 or 3 years.

The goal of the Tour (or Hoar, in my case) is to challenge yourself and push your boundaries.  At first I was a little disappointed on myself for falling back into what I already knew.  At some point, though, I realized that I was, in fact, learning new things.  I came to understand that I was behaving like a production spinner who needed to get done with one roving as soon as possible so I could move on to the next.  This wasn’t working for me – I didn’t really had the time to appreciate or enjoy the process itself and it was taking a toll on my well-being (head,knees and back pains, sore fingers and even a few cuts from singles rubbing against my skin).
When I joined the Hoar de Fleece, I had to scale it down and take breaks.  I could have 7 skeins done by the end of it (I have made at least one 4 oz skein in 48 hours before) but there wouldn’t be time for anything else.  I also know that if I had tried for that I’d burn out by the end of the first week.
This time around I learnt to slow down, take breaks from one hobby by doing another and manage my time better.  Maybe next year I’ll try some long draw ;).