The Majacraft Blog The official blog of Majacraft

31May/160

Bobbin Treats!

Limited Edition bobbins? Different colours? Yes! We've got them! This is just a little heads-up if you didn't know about these already, because they are proving very popular and just go to show that us spinners love colour! Last year we brought out some super new Lime Green standard bobbins (there are still just a few left), they look amazing on the wheels and are really fun to use, and being our standard bobbin they fit all our wheels and flyers (except of course the lace and overdrive flyers.)

I love this colour, its so bright and my yarns look awesome on them which makes it even more fun to spin!

Now this year (2016) we have a new colour, in fact are you seeing a pattern here? Each year will see a new Limited Edition bobbin colour! These colours will not be repeated (hence 'limited edition'), so if you start collecting you will end up with a range of unique bobbins that you can use to colour code your spinning, decorate your studio with, and make your own bobbin rainbow!

We are loving the 2016 colour, and we are not the only ones, these are being snapped up quickly, in fact I think purple is one of the most popular colours for spinners.. maybe we should choose a pretty lilac next year to match, or should we go neon pink?! We don't know yet either :) But we do know these purple ones will only be available this year and only while stocks last. Check out your local dealer for availability and pricing!

31Oct/155

Custom Wheels? Yes!

This week we were able to send out a gorgeous batch of customised wheels, just check these out, we love them!

One of the joys of being a small company hand crafting our products, is that it gives us a lot of freedom to really personalise what we do to suit each customer. We don't have a giant production line using pre-set machinery that can only build one thing with no variation. We don't have an unchangeable system that churns out mass produced items. We start with our hands and our materials, and we craft each wheel, each carder, each set of combs individually, and very often to order because we also do not have a giant storeroom full of pre-made stock to flick out as orders come in, The beauty of this is, not only do our customers receive an item that has been made just for them, with our own hands, but we can also pause during the process and make changes to the wheel, add a personal touch on request that will give the new owner of this wheel a unique piece of equipment that belongs to THEM, that fits their taste and personality, a one of a kind wheel for a one of a kind customer!

We can do this in a variety of ways. We can colour them differently as you can see in the picture above, and there are so many colours to choose from :) Check out this gorgeous purple!

And then of course there is the 'tattoo' we can add to the wheels, laser etched to your specifications, this really is the fun part! We have had many requests for wheel designs and it is always a pleasure to send these out to excited customers, it is such a great way to truly connect with a wheel, a visual treat each time you look at it and work with it. We only ever make one of each of these, so if you send us your design, you can be sure no one else will ever get 'your' wheel, it is just for you exclusively! Take a look at some of the unique wheels we have created in the past..

We can really get a lot of detail into these designs:

and we can add design touches on more than just the drive wheel too:

and one more example of where you can add design here with my (Suzy's) 'One Wheel' which Andrew covered in Elvish script for me :)

Are you feeling inspired? Just email us at support@majacraft.co.nz and share your dream wheel wishes with us! We can talk about design and pricing, and together we can help make your ideas come to life with a spinning wheel you will love to use! If you already have a Majacraft wheel that you love, but want something personalised for you, we can customise individual parts for you to swap around as you like! Contact us for pricing and possibilities :) Your ideas and designs are an inspiration to us!

8Aug/154

Majacraft Tutorial: Making Tweedie Yarn

Hi Everyone! This week I wanted to share a project with you that I have been having fun with recently! If you have been following our Facebook page you will have seen that I am currently playing with the new 128tpi cloth drum on my Fusion Engine Carder (its so great with my fine fibres!). If you are also feeling inclined to do a bit of carding and spin along with me, I have created a mini tutorial for you right here! We are going to make a Textured Tweed style yarn, and I think you will enjoy how easy and fun this is to make.

The first step is to choose the right fibers. Remember, preparation is everything! Choose your main fibre, I selected a dark colour (Charcoal)  because I wanted something contrasting in my final yarn, but you can make this any colour you like, it will be the primary colour of your yarn.

For the main fibre, select one with a medium to long staple length such as Corriedale, BFL, or even Merino is just fine for this, the important part is that the main fibre is much longer in staple length than your 'texture' fibre. Mine is a NZHalfbred blend with a staple length of about 7-8cm.

For your textured  fibre, select one that is very very short, such as Yak, Cashmere, neppy Camel down,  silk noil, or you could even save up and use the waste from your carding and combing! I used some beautiful soft but very neppy ultrafine Merino. You can see the difference in staple length in the photo, in fact the pale coloured fibre almost has no staples at all:

You will need more of your base colour fibre than of the short texture fibre. Your fibre proportions are entirely up to you however,  depending on the amount of tweedy texture you want in your fiber. You will see in your batt as you add the textured fibre if you are getting the effect and quantities you want. Because now is the time to card it together!

Carding and Blending
You will be blending this at least two times. For the first run through the carder start by puting a thin layer of your base colour on the drum first. Then you can start adding more fibre, I like to lay some of the short fibre on top of the longer and run them through the licker and onto the drum together, but you might like to add them in separately.

You will start to see the effect very quickly as you card and your short fibres start to feed onto the drum:

 

When you have filled the drum as much as you want to and have achieved approximately the proportion of texture to base colour that you like, you can go ahead and remove the batt, split it into four lengths, and recard these, spreading them across the width of the feedtray to enhance the blending. You will see on the second pass that your short fibers are spreading through the batt.

If you are using one of our Fusion Engine Drum carders, with the very efficient carding ratio of 8-1, you are likely to find that just two passes is enough to get the tweedy effect you want. If you overcard this your little clumps of fibre and noils will get broken down too much and you are likely to lose some of the texture and contrast, so stop at the point where you feel you have a good distruction of texture versus base fibre, on some carders this may take three or four passes to get the effect you want. I liked this effect in my finished batt so I stopped at two passes:

And now we can spin the yarn! The idea with a tweed style yarn is that it should be light and textured, you can certainly spin this longdraw if you like, or you might like to spin it as I do simply by splitting the batts into strips and spinning it with a light forward draw in which I do not smooth the yarn down as I spin.

You will see you little clumps of texture fibre coming through as you draft, caught into the longer base fibres. Try not to smooth these down as you spin them in, they will get trapped into the twist and when we 'finish' the yarn will be quite stable.

I spun my yarn on my Little Gem, and created it as a simple balanced two ply, splitting my batt in half and spinning onto two bobbins. Here is how it looked freshly plied and on the bobbin:

The next step is very important!

Finishing and setting the yarn. This is particularly important for this yarn, because it not only sets the twist but it also fulls the yarn slightly, and this in turn helps to trap those short fibers into the final yarn, reducing the chance of them simply pilling up and pulling out. In this step you need to skein up your yarn, tie it well in four places, then immerse it into some hot water with a little wool soap. Let it sit five minutes. At this point I will give the yarn a little agitation, rough it up in the water a bit! And then take it out of the hot water and put it directly into cold water, swirl it around a bit more. Repeat this step several times. You should be able to 'feel' the fibre change its character a little and not only bloom but also become more (and this is the only word I can come up with to describe this) combined as the fibres start to grab onto each other.  Next press out the excess water. Once you have done that, and this is something I do not do to all my yarns but it works very well on this one, 'thwack' it against a hard surface. It feels mean and a little crazy, but its ok! It works to finish off that fulling process, it fluffs up your yarn somewhat, and remember this is a desirable character of tweed style yarns, and it further integrates your nepps and short fibers into the structure of the yarn.

This is how my finished yarn turned out: (to see them closer click the pic)


And here is another one I made using the same technique and the same texture yarn, only this time my base fibre was a soft grey NZ Arapawa.
And just in case you are wondering, this is how they look when they are knitted up!

I really love this effect, it can be subtle and create a gentle texture and colour variation in your yarn, or you can do this with many different colour and texture combinations to get more extreme yarns with pops of mega-textures. I love how easy it was to prepare the fibre for this yarn and the simple spinning that I enjoy when I want to just relax. For some other variations you could try plying this as a four ply cable yarn, or add an auto-wrap, or even coil your single instead of ply it! There are many possibilities for using this particular fibre prep, and  I hope you enjoy experimenting with this yarn too!

 

Till next time, happy spinning!
Suzy (WoolWench)

To create this yarn I used: the Fusion Engine Drum Carder with a 128tpi cloth drum, the Little Gem spinning wheel set on the medium size pulley and the standard delta flyer, and a mix of longer staple and very short staple fibres.