Received a shipment of knitting machine equipment for the Studio 360 knitting machine: ribber, intarsia carriage, automatic linker, rib transfer carriage, 4 color changer, garter stitch transfer bar, lace carriage, shadow lace transfer tool, seven sets of punchcards and some blank ones, a few assorted books, and a punch machine. I have no idea how to use most of these things but hopefully the classes I have scheduled with Newton's will educate me.
The PM-10 punch machine is really cool, and if I ever get to the point that I'm ready to punch my own design cards, will sure make it faster than using the little punch tool I already had. Rather than trying to explain it here, I found a YouTube video that shows exactly how it works.
Spent one Sunday taking a lesson from a local spinning teacher, Ruth, a.k.a., the Dizzy Ewe. My friend Susan made the arrangements and we held it at my house (hooray - I didn't have to drive anywhere!). There were just five students plus Ruth, and we had a great day. Ruth offers several different classes on different spinning techinques, dyeing, carding, and combing. She put together a custom workshop for us on selecting fleece, several methods of preparing it for spinning, and a little bit of spinning technique.
After the Dorset Debacle, I needed the instruction. Ruth brought six raw fleeces (or parts thereof) and we learned the etiquette of evaluating a fleece at a show, how to look for breaks or canary stains, and how to divide the fleece into locks or clumps for washing.
|Washed CVM Locks|
I learned that I do not have the patience to wash a lock at a time and will opt for the clump method in future. For this, we spread a smallish clump of fiber as evenly as possible in a thin layer in the lingerie bag, placed it on a rack, and set the whole thing in the sink or a tub. Then walked away. No poking, not swishing, no wringing. Nothing. About 20-30 minutes later, we lifted the rack out of the water and let it drain. Again, no handling the fiber! Repeated this until the water in the sink was clear, then gave a final bath in HOT water with a dash of vinegar added. Then we spun the bag in a salad spinner to remove excess water and laid it out to dry in the sun.
|Unwashed CVM Clumps|
Each of us worked at her own pace, and with so few students, Ruth was able to answer questions, lend a hand, and share information as we worked. I have to confess that I did not get a lot done other than the washed locks because I was so busy seeing what everyone else was up to.
After lunch, we learned about combing and carding fleece. I'm already a so-so carder, but I've never used woolcombs. I bought a set of used single pitch Viking combs a d few months ago and never found the time to try them out. Found out I LOVE combing wool. Even with the fear of skewering myself on those lethal looking tines.
Ruth provided some washed CVM/Wensleydale X fleece. I spun up the combed fiber before I thought about taking pictures, but the result was just lovely. This was also the first long-wool fiber I've spun and it was so much fun -- it pretty much drafted itself and I've never spun anything so fine before. I didn't get around to spinning the carded fiber -- it came off the cards in puffy clouds and I think it will make a lovely woolen if I can get over my worsted habit.
|Carded CVM/Wensleydale X|
|Spinning Combed Fiber|
A few other breeds of wool we discussed (ok, fondled) were Mohair (our only non-sheep fiber), Shetland, Texel, Navajo Churro, and Romney. We received samples of each type in varying states of washedness. Ruth also gave us each a large portion of pin-drafted CVM/Romeldale.
By the way, fleece comes with all manner of unsavory biological matter in the raw state and if you're squeamish, you may want to stick to already prepared roving and top. But you're going to miss half the fun that way. If you do process fleece at home, be aware that any sink you use needs to be thoroughly disinfected afterward. And please don't use any containers or tools you use for processing fleece for cooking afterward. Ever. You might also want to make sure your tetanus booster is up to date.
In other spinning news, I want to give credit to the HansenCraft folks for excellent customer service. I was spinning at my class Wednesday night when my miniSpinner suddenly stopped turning. After a few minutes of panic over potential motor failure, we figured out that the join in my drive band had come apart. Of course I had to post immediately on the Ravelry group asking what I might have done to break the band. By the time class was over, Kevin had replied that the join was probably defective and offering to send me a new band gratis. Got notification last night that it has already been mailed. Now that's customer service!
In the bonehead department... I signed up for a class at Newton's to take place today (November 30). Put it on my iPhone calendar, but the entry disappeared. This is not the first time I've had this happen and I learned recently that it's a common problem that's supposed to be solved by updating the device OS, which I did just last week. But that's beside the point.
So I THOUGHT I remembered signing up for Friday, November 30, and emailed Newton's a few weeks ago to check. They confirmed Friday, November 30. I proceeded to enter the appointment on my desktop calendar for Saturday, December 1. And have looked at it several times since wondering why I thought I was scheduled for Saturday, since I had wanted to take the Friday class. And not thinking to check my email. Because it was on my calendar and therefore it couldn't be wrong.
Just called Newton's a few minutes ago to make sure my Studio 360 is all ready for me to work on (it is) and was asked why I wasn't in class. Hunh?! Yes, I was supposed to go today and I have been blissfully ignorant of the fact. They were very nice about it and rescheduled me for another class in mid-December.
But I also got some good news from Newton's. A piece of the plastic needle bed for the MK-70 (this machine has no spongebar and the needles are instead supported by plastic) was broken when I took it in to be checked out. They were able to find a replacement part so the machine can be fixed!