skeinwinder tutorial for you

I’m so excited that I figured out how to embed a video! DH designed a skeiner for me, and wrote up instructions in case you like it enough to make one too. It works very well. The loop shown is just the right length to stretch out a skein on my dyeing table, which is a six foot folding plastic banquet table. I’m going to make a loop of waste yarn just that length, and tie my current project yarn onto it, so each skein is the same length.

Using the Hose Reel Skein Winder

Our purpose in designing the Hose Reel Skein Winder was to have a device that would allow us to wind skeins of any length, including very long ones, to facilitate special hand-dyeing projects. We also became frustrated using two wooden posts, because passing a ball of yarn around was unwieldy. This design allows us to have one person stand next to one unit and turn a wheel that winds the skein relatively quickly and easily.

The length of the skein is not limited and infinitely variable, because it is established by the yarn itself and not by any fixed setting on the winder. The first step is to measure the desired circumference of the skein from the end of the yarn, hold the point measured to, then tie the end of the yarn to that point. It is best to add a little to the measurement to allow enough yarn to make the knot. One technique is to measure exactly one inch more than the desired circumference, then tie the knot so that the measured point connects with the other end of the yarn exactly one inch from the end.

An alternative to forming the loop out of the yarn being skeined is to make a loop out of another non-slippery yarn, with a small loop to which the yarn can be tied. This would be particularly useful if the user often makes skeins of the exact same size, as measuring for successive skeins could be eliminated.

The resulting loop of yarn is placed over the hose reels on the 2 units of the winder, which are then moved apart until an appropriate amount of tension is placed on the loop. While we do not wish to stretch the yarn too much, we need enough tension that the loop will not droop too much between the units (not a problem) and there will be enough friction on the yarn at the driving reel that turning the reel will cause the loop to turn like a fan belt. The non-driving reel can be held by a helper or held still by tying to something, sticking the base under a chair or plopping something heavy on it. Movement, while it might interrupt the process, does not cause any serious problem, because the length of the skein is determined by the length of the loop tied in the yarn, not by the distance between the units. Similarly, adjustments to tension can be made by moving the driving reel around, without causing any problems with the length of the skein.

After the loop is mounted on the units and appropriate tension is obtained, the driving reel is turned so that the yarn from the ball or cone is pulled over the top of the driving reel. Left-handed users will probably want to put the driving reel on the opposite end of the loop from right-handers, and turn counter-clockwise, while right-handers turn clockwise. The other hand can be used to steady the unit and guide the yarn onto the reel to get a smooth, even skein. We have found it easy just to let the source ball or cone sit in a box at the feet of the operator, where it can bounce around happily while yarn is drawn from it. The entire skein is driven around the two units and becomes larger and larger as more yarn is taken from the source.

edit added 6/15/2008:  DH bought another hose reel, so that I will have 2 with slippery surface.  This is useful when using the device as a swift, to make a ball, or different length skein.  Because they detach easily from the framework, this presents no difficulty, but does add $10 or so to the material cost.

If you want one of your own, copy and paste the instruction pages below to your own file.

skeiner pg 1

skeiner pg 2

skeiner pg 3

I hope this will have all of us dyeing with greater ease.


what I did on spring break

DD Juliet didn’t remember the Biltmore House in Asheville. I didn’t realize it had been that long since we were there. So off we went.
Biltmore House

The path from the parking lot leads to this prospect. 1st impressions are important, no?

We walked the main house tour first, plenty of steps there, then a short break in the shops, located in the former stables. I would happily live in those stables. Must have been a cushy berth for an equine sort. Next, the rooftop tour. Our guide tells us there are more than 250 steps on the rooftop tour. Didn’t I know it the next day.
nice backyard

This is the backyard view of George Vanderbilt & co. Just a little country place.
view from Biltmore House rooftop

The front yard. Nice for a picnic.

A few friends I met on the roof :
Biltmore carving - cute butt Biltmore carving-moustache being

The first fellow, I couldn’t resist patting his butt. The second fellow is very handsome, but he may be suffering from a little gender confusion. That may actually be an asset in the dating sphere these days, I wouldn’t know. But I do suggest a supportive foundation garment. DH’s favorite rooftop sight was this:
pretty much straight up

Yes, that’s looking pretty much straight up at several tons of slate tile hung there for the most part over 100 years ago. Hope the wires hold. Time to go down? ok.
Biltmore Conservatory

Just a few minutes left in the Biltmore Estate day, enough to have a quick look at the conservatory, still very much a working place, as it provides botanical decoration for the house, winery, inn and other buildings on the grounds. These pretty flowers may be in Edith V’s boudoir tomorrow, who knows?
chinese lantern floweramaryllisthey are very smallpurple orchidwhite orchid 2wowwhite orchid

I think the last one is the most impressive, but I can’t decide which is the most beautiful.

The next day, we stopped to let the guys get a little exercise. Arthur fetched sticks in a lake for the first time in his life. This is what a standard poodle is supposed to look like:
Arthur is a water dog

Merlin was in no way interested in having a swim, but he enjoyed the walk.
Thank you, but I do NOT want to go for a swim

and then home again, home again.  It’s good to be home.

no tails to wag behind them

. . . but they’ve come home, just the same!

On the windy, sunny morning of Saturday, February 16, I went to my first sheep shearing, at Rising Meadow Farm where I got carried far, far away and entirely lost my own head, while gaining two sheep. Well, the fleece (fleeces?) of two sheep, to be more exact. Tina at Spinner’s Ridge was skirting fleece and gave me a few minutes of her scarce and highly sought time that day to educate me in how to choose. Thanks Tina! The first one I couldn’t resist is named Ganache. I’m a sucker for chocolate. And then I came across Helena, whose lovely soft, near pure white fleece will be wonderful for the dyepot. So they’re mine, all MINE MINE MINE HA HA HA HA. (I think a little celebratory hysteria is appropriate here, don’t you?) I’m not equipped to do all the washing and processing, and there were coupons there for 25% of the cost from Zeilinger Wool Company in Frankenmuth, MI. Frankenmuth, Frankenmuth, how on earth did it get named Frankenmuth? That’s beside the point. Anyway, that 25% offer is good through March 31 if one pays by check or money order. which I did. I was so eager, I had Ganache and Helena boxed, taped, labeled, postaged (by Click-n-ship, I had a good experience) and sent for gosh sakes, on Saturday, by USPS. The mall has a Post Office that’s open til 9pm Saturday! Who knew? Actually, I did, because DH is forever getting unimportant things like mortgage payments into the mail at the last possible second. Why that last possible second always seems to come on Saturday night, I don’t know.

So the two dears have been gone about a month, and I missed them, but I was trying to be very, very patient, as I had been told it could be several months before they came home. Then on my doorstep yesterday, was a box the size of which could only mean . . . . YES, YES it’s from Frankenmuth!!!!!!
they've come home

You might notice that the box is about the height of the kitchen cabinet under the drawer. Rovings are compressed by vacuum when they are to be shipped, so when they are unboxed you get . . . .

ganache and helena

more than twice the volume!! Look at the two of them fairly bursting their bindings. I can’t wait to see how they’ll spin up. No, must resist temptation, and tend to the 5 or so knitting wip’s I’ve got going, not to mention the 2 spinning projects I’m still in the middle of. I can do it, I can be very patient when I want to. I can, I really can. What’s this? An empty bobbin? Well it can just stay empty for a while, I’m not budging from my firm resolve. Even though they’re calling to me “C,mon, you can do just a little, just to see. You know you want to.” It’s called Ganache, for sheep’s sake. Aw shucks. Never could resist chocolate. Excuse me, I have to spin now.

blue is the color of . . . .

Veronica. A lovely ground cover that grows beside my mailbox, and for a week or two in early spring, is glorious.

So for the rest of the year, the chorus of the Elvis Costello song by the same name is so appropriate:

Do you suppose, that waiting hands on eyes
Veronica has gone to hide
And all the time she laughs at those who shout
Her name and steal her clothes.

This time of year, Veronica cheers me up every time I check the mailbox. I stole her clothes myself, recently, dyeing yarn for a colorway I’ve been thinking of as “driftwood”. You are looking at a gauge swatch of the same, a la Cat Bordhi from New Pathways.
gauge swatch

My first go at Judy’s Magical Cast On, and just as Cat claims, it IS truly magical. In the picture below, I’ve flattened the bottom of the swatch, so the cast on stitches are clearly visible. Only not clearly identifiable. Can you tell where they are? Nor can I. Judy Becker is a wizard.
truly magical

Same magic on the non-public side. Can’t find it at all. Made me brave enough to cast on my first pair toe-up, and both at the same time as well. So here’s two little sock toes, just begun. So far so good! I like how the yarn is knitting up.

rushing rivulet wip1

I was dyeing

with Mama E, and so were Keri, Carl, Niki and Kim. class picture

I handpainted 2 pretty skeins of sock yarn
my 2 skeins of sock yarn 2 handpaint skeins thanks MamaE!

this one is my favorite
a pretty pair of socks

and one roving
merino roving

if you think it looks kind of like entrails now, you should have seen it when it was still rolled up in plastic wrap and oozing dye. Have you ever seen a human placenta?

I think it will look fine spun up.

It was sunny, windy, shirtsleeve weather when I left Greensboro around 1:30pm, and raining when I arrived in W-S. Knit Picky is an adorable yarn shop located in a former residence, and still feels like a home. I knew I would like the people there, when I went to wash my hands and found a budgie in the bathroom! Cute little guy. We pretty much filled up the kitchen, and had great fun getting creative and messy. We took the group pics at the end, and it was COLD outside by then. It was Niki, I think, who put it so well, “a good day to dye”.

you’re it!

I’ve been Meme tagged!!

I’ve been tagged by Debbie, at with this meme. Here’s what you do:

Post the rules on your blog. Link to the person who tagged you. Share six non-important things/habits/quirks about yourself. Tag six random people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs. Let each random person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their website. Let’s go:

1.I sleep in the morning, and spin at night.
2.I like to sit with my back to the wall or better, corner, in a restaurant.
3.I’m pathetically addicted to Diet Coke.
4.My college major was Russian language and literature.
5.I buy maybe one pair of shoes a year, but they’re good ones.
6.I am a diabetic, and have found a way to eat chocolate regularly for health reasons.

O.K. Now here’s my links: