Homespun Honeysuckle

I’ve had fun this summer learning to spin on my Cassandra wheel by JMS Spinning Wheels.  Part of the fun is playing with the colors that develop when the wool spins onto the bobbin.  Now as I look around my yard, I see so many colorways that I would like to duplicate in yarn.  This yarn was inspired by my honeysuckle.

This yarn started as an experiment in using pokeberries as dyestuff (I’ll talk about that more in another post).  I also dyed some wool roving using food coloring.  After dyeing the wool roving, I hung it up to dry–my, it turned out so bright and pretty!

In the dye bath

Drying in the sunReady to spin!

The next step was to spin the wool onto bobbins.  One of the best thing about my wheel is that it came with 8 bobbins and a lazy kate.  (I never thought I would need so many bobbins, but it is amazing how many projects you can get going at once!)  After the singles were prepared, I plyed them to make the finished yarn, about 450 yards worth.

Pokeberry on the left and food coloring on the right.

Pokeberry on the left and food coloring on the right.

Homespun Honeysuckle Skein

I think this project turned out very nicely.  This skein is already into the hands of a knitter, so hopefully I’ll have some pictures to show how the yarn works up.

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The Cassandra Spinning Wheel by JMS Wheels

For my graduation present to myself, I gave myself a lovely spinning wheel.  I started spinning yarn this past winter on a drop spindle, but I was finding it difficult with my old, creaky shoulders.  I took at spinning class (that is yarn, not bicycles!) at the Yarn Barn in Lawrence, Kansas.  It was a great treat; I got to try out some different wheels and learn more about the process.  I did some looking around, and I finally settled on this little lovely wheel made by JMS Spinning Wheels.

My well-loved Cassandra spinning wheel

My well-loved Cassandra spinning wheel

My Cassandra was hand-crafted specifically for me (she is short!).  Besides the affordability for a new spinner, what really sold me on this spinning wheel was the small footprint and its sturdiness.  It is made with salvaged cherry, pecan, and walnut wood, making it one of the most beautiful and practical pieces of furniture in my house.  It came with a lazy kate and 8 bobbins; I never thought I would need that many bobbins, but when you are learning and trying new techniques and wool, they do fill up rather quickly!

Which brings me to another big selling point–the orifice and bobbins on the flyer are already large enough that I will never need to invest in a second flyer (most wheels come with smaller flyers/bobbins and you have to buy the larger size separately).  Another point that I really appreciate with this wheel, is that John has designed it so that many parts (some hardware, polyurethane drive bands, and the hemp cord scotch tension band) can be easily replaced if or when needed.  The most care it has needed so far is a little oil to keep the footmen from complaining.

John and Cassie at JMS Wheels have been wonderful to work with.  Cassie even called me one day to help me figure out what I was doing wrong when I tried to ply 2 singles.  I have to say, even though the scotch tension has been a little challenging to get a handle on, this wheel has been amazingly simple to operate and works like a dream!  I also joined Ravelry, where JMS Wheels has a group; there I can read what issues and solutions other Cassandra owners may have, plus I get to see what fabulous yarns I can make with my new wheel.  Please keep checking back, as I plan to blog about my adventures with my Cassandra!