Year Long Spin-Along

Ply Magazine, to celebrate their first book, is going to be hosting a Year-Long Spin-Along.  51 Weeks of chances to win  a year-long subscription to their magazine.  Being honest with myself, I cannot express how very happy I am that I pre-ordered this book before I even knew about the contest.  Now I get to participate, you can without purchase, follow along, and I saved $4 off of the cover price, lol.  This brings my thrifty heart a great deal of joy.  More importantly than all of that, this will bring 51 weeks of challenges to one extent or another.  The first few are easy enough, but I hope I will be able to get to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival this year so I can pick up some supplies for a few of the challenges.  Spinning a dual coated sheep will be interesting, but I have to find a source for the outer coat, a source for the inner coat, and a source where I can buy both coats mixed together.  Likewise with the lock spinning, I can find them, but my thrifty soul has issues with spending $10+ on an ounce of locks (very pretty locks don’t get me wrong) then another $5+ for shipping and handling.  If I can get a good price on some pretty locks at the festival then go me.  If I cannot get there this year, that is up in the air and I’ll blog when I know, then I’ll have to suck it up and find some good sales.

Had to share the excitement!  Happy Crafting!

Service Announcement About Valuing Time

While I think it is human nature to underestimate one’s contributions during the day I also believe that by discounting these accomplishments we undervalue our own work.  I had a colleague talk to me about how it wasn’t anyone’s business how many hours she put in since she was under a salary and put in however many hours it took to accomplish the work to her professional satisfaction.  What she didn’t see, or refused to see, is that by putting in extra hours but not letting anyone know that you needed that time to get your work done, you are actually undervaluing your time and contributions.  Yes you have to get your work done to your satisfaction, but if no one knows that it takes you 60 hours to do your current workload then they don’t value your work.

I have found myself doing the same thing.  Yes, creating a breed journal is fun, but I wouldn’t be sticking with it if it were not for my students. I hope to provide them with an idea of the rabbit hole they are jumping down, as well as getting them on the path of tracking their spinning early.  The problem with this is that I spend at least 2-3 hours per night working on spinning, documenting, learning to quilt (something else my students requested), and reading a bit.  This is 10-15 hours per week that I am working on crafts that I intend to use to teach.  Yes, I would be doing some spinning anyway.  Yes, I am embarking on something that I lot of spinners dream of doing.  I also did get into this craft for sheer love of spinning and fiber.  What I didn’t realize is that my supervisor didn’t know that it took me that long to work on spinning, learning techniques (buying classes and videos) or the hours it takes me to plan the classes and write up lectures for those that go beyond the basics.

The purpose of this is to remind you, if you are doing your crafting to teach then value your time and what it costs you to learn.  In any profession take the time to realize how much of yourself you put into your job that you are not getting paid for, or credit for.  Find ways to put these accomplishments into conversation.  If someone praises you on something then let them know, “Thank you, I spent time learning how to do … in the evenings/on the bus/during the weekends but it was well worth it in the end.”  Or, “Thank you, I took a class on that a couple of months ago in the evenings/etc.”

Okay, done with the service announcement.

Spindles, Storage, Thread Bowls, and Bullet Journals

This is actually going to be a busy entry I think.  Let’s start from the top!

I believe I told you that my ladies from my Wooly Wednesday classes were lovely and gave me a $100 gift certificate to  If not, well they did in August of 2017.  I decided to use that certificate to buy up a bunch of different kinds of spindles, supported and drop.  I know, if you don’t spin you’re probably wondering: “How many different kind of spindles are there?”  Suffice it to say, there are a lot.  Right now I have a Navajo Spindle, got on sale from Dharma Trading, Portuguese from Mielke Fiber Arts, Russian, Mayan, and Medieval from Woolery, and a Tibetan Pu Yok from Hipstrings.  I already owned a Tahkli (Made popular by Ghandi for cotton spinning) as well as top and bottom whorl spindles from when I was beginning to spin.  Shockingly this 9 spindle collection is barely scratching the surface, especially since I forgot my Mayan Spinner!  Okay so right now I have 10 spindles that I own personally and haven’t even really started collecting, lol.  Since I Hope to travel with my spindles, I need to find a way to safely transport them.  They are, unfortunately, not cheap.  Fortunately there is something called “Pick Pluck Foam” that can be used to customize a storage solution.

Given this I purchased a Pick Pluck Foam sheet and managed to store all of my expensive, new spindles, except for the Navajo Spindle.  Since that is over 3 feet tall, I think I will just have to carry it.  This did bring up another concern.  If I just transport the Pick Pluck Foam (with bottom) in my bag there is every chance that it will bend and distort thereby putting my spindles in peril.  This will not stand!  So I wound up purchasing a case, that comes with its own pick pluck foam (can you tell I really like that name?).  The case is hard sided, much like a toolbox, and will be a perfect solution in addition to possibly being a good way to transport my other three spindles.  If you are wondering what the foam and cases are usually used for, then the answer is those table top figurines that people use for gaming, guns, cameras, and essentially anything you want to transport without getting it broken.  There is one other item I hope to put into my new case, and that is a bowl for spinning.

Now hipstrings sells some really pretty bowls, and $12 is not a bad price for them.  (Don’t worry, since hipstrings has a new blend called Space Unicorn, they’re getting more of my money anyway). However I believe I mentioned in another post that I am very cheap.  Well really I’m a bargain hound.  I hoped to find a bowl for a dollar or two (at least under $5) at my local craft store (it’s a chain not a Local Yarn Store or I would mention a name).  However instead of finding a bowl I found a “Make your own Thread Bowl” kit.  Well, who am I to pass up on that?  No one, that’s who! I love it.  I am not fond of the fact that the glue was dried out and separated, but that is okay.  They advised that you take cotton fabric to reduce some of the sticky-ness of their double stick tape form that you lay on the bowl first.  That didn’t work for me, so the small bowl form is still really sticky on the form (I peeled a bowl off which is how I know that).  For the second attempt I wound up putting down a fine layer of Trilobal Nylon cut apart, it’s really fine and sparkly so I hope it looks good when I peel the bowl off.  Fortunately my mother is a crafter and has always encouraged creativity so we have glue all over the house.  I found some Sparkly Glue and my first bowl is looking really neat.  A thin layer of the watery stuff out of the kit, then a layer of sparkly glue, then a layer of clear gel glue, then a layer of Aileen’s Tacky Glue, over the course of two days.  I didn’t really let the last layer dry enough before I peeled the bowl off.  Some of the threads stuck to the tape and had to be tapped back in place.  The entire construction is a bit flimsy feeling to me, so I am in the process of reinforcing the inside with more glue.  Starting with, surprise, a sparkly glue layer.  My second attempt, the largest bowl mould, has a thick layer of Aileen’s Tacky Glue as its first layer and I hope that this will add a lot more structure to the overall result.  If I can manage these, not only will I put up a picture, but I hope to teach it along with Spindle Construction at the end of my spinning series.

Speaking of teaching, I warned you this would be a long one, I am currently working on learning how to Bullet Journal.  I hope that I can learn enough to teach it as a class for my local library.  My journal really started with this article from Interweave,  as well as a colleague at the Community College I work at.  She has a really neat notebook that is bound with discs.  There are a few different versions from Levenger, a little out of my pocketbook, to Martha Stewart, to Arc from Staples.  I wound up with Arc from staples and I bought the punch that goes with the set.  It seems a little expensive at first but in reality it will save me a lot of time and trouble in the end.  I have spent these past couple of months working on my organization and trying to keep my every day information close at hand.  This was partially inspired since Apple screwed up their calendar and I cannot see what appointments I have at a glance, and partially out of a desire to keep track of how much I do in a day. I have only started the bullet journal part a week ago but I have already found the value in having pages for thoughts, desires, and wish lists.

Thus ends my really long post. Happy Crafting!

Dyeing to Get Started

I cannot believe that my Spring and Summer Classes are only about a month away!  I am still running a few experiments on how to dye my fiber to the best advantage and teach at the same time.  It occurred to me this morning I can look at St. Vincent De Paul’s to see if they have any cheap crock-pots, I’m hoping for under $5 and 6 crocks.  If not, well I have enough pans for the pan dyeing and can use my stockpots for the pot dyeing.  If I manage to get what I want then I can do the pot dyeing right in the room, so I’ll keep my fingers crossed and hope.

As for what I am doing for my own crafting, I have my loom over half warped so I hope to be threading the heddles sometime in the next week or so.  I have a guild meeting this Friday, so I have to pay my dues and sign up for the lace weaving project.  Then purchase supplies for the lace weaving project, lol.  My spinning is going well, right now I have spun a sample of the Perendale that I bought from Camaj Fiber Arts.  It was a bit rough spinning, the unfinished sample was a very sturdy and shiny yarn.  I have a 45 yard skein washed and drying.  It will be very interesting to see how it looks when knitted and crocheted.  I almost plied it as a 3 ply, but decided to be more consistent with my sampling.  I have also spun up my sample of “The Oncoming Storm” given to me by Hipstrings when I bought my spindle and their Dr. Who Merino Pack.  I really like how the yarn turned out it is about 15 yards of a 3 ply yarn that is currently washed and drying.  I cannot wait to see how that will turn out!  On a slightly different note, while most of my samples are spun up on my Schacht Ladybug with my Bulky Woolee Winder I have decided to give spinning some of the ‘Vegan’ Fibers, bought from Camaj Fiber Arts a year ago, a try on the drop spindles I have for my students.  Right now I have some TriLobal Nylon on my spindle and I cannot wait to finish this sample and ply it, it is so thin and sparkly.

On a related, but slightly different note, the Akerworks Company has decided to create a bobbin for the Bulky Flyer WooleeWinder for the Schacht Brand wheels and they are looking for test spinners.  I have put my hat in the ring, and I have my fingers crossed.  At heart I am a bargain hound, so I have been coveting some of the items from Akerworks, in addition to a couple more bobbins for my WooleeWinder.  Whichever one has a good deal first is where I am probably going to put my money.  Admittedly, if I get a couple grand and already have my 16 shaft loom, then I will probably get the electric wheel from WooleeWinder.  Oh well, so many more crafts to play with before I worry about that.  Besides, I have an electric eel wheel on the way from the kickstarter!  Admittedly, I think I was 500 or 700 in line so it will be a little while but he did send out an update that the first 100 were being assembled and ready to go out in a week or so! Very exciting!

Happy Crafting!

Never Content

I swear I am not going to be happy until I drive my mother completely around the bend.  I went to a quilt trunk show, the quilts that this woman produced were remarkable, beautiful, intricate, and so amazing!   The most remarkable fact, she Hand-Stitched every one of them!  Well, from what I understand she hand stitched the front, back, and the pieces on the ends (they are called something I cannot remember right now) and then someone else did the machine quilting in the middle that has the top, batting, and bottom holding together.

Now I admit, I have dabbled at sewing every now and then.  My Grandmother  was an amazing seamstress, and could sew about anything you can think of.  My experiences with my sewing machine has always been, “Push gently down on the pedal, no a little more, a little more, now you’re sewing at 120 MPH. Now your line looks like there was an earthquake, what are you going to do?”  Right about then, I give up.

My only real consolation, and there isn’t much of it, is that Mom cannot even get that far.  However, I now have hope.  I freely admit, I want to be able to do anything and everything.  However, I know that isn’t a realistic goal, that will not stop me from trying.  On that note, and with some wonderful encouragement from the woman displaying her quilts, I am going to give hand quilting a try.  I think I have the concept of the rocking stitch down. I know how I want to start sewing the squares to minimize waste, I even know how I want to cut the squares.  Right now it is just a matter of getting a couple of supplies and giving it a shot!

While I am getting the guts up to try my hand at this, I have decided to try weaving some spring towels for Mom out of 8/2 cotton.  Three spring colors and a cheerful variegated.  I have the warp wound and about 25% of the reed threaded.  One good Nap on Mom’s Part and I should be able to finish threading the reed and start on the heddles, LOL.  I have  few days off here and there throughout the month in addition to my one day off that I usually have so the extra time can be partially spent toward crafting.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed!

Olympics are Over

I am not including a photograph of my shawl for Ravellenics…because it has not grown since the last photo.  I have been plagued by these weird should and neck aches, I use a memory foam support pillow so I don’t get these anymore…so it was weird.  Then I was waiting in the doctors office for mom to finish her stress test, knitting away on my shawl, hunched up trying to get these tiny stitches to do what I want, and realizing, “Shoot, that’s why my neck hurts.”  So the shawl went into the, “When I get better at knitting I will try this again.” Or more Likely, “mess around with this every now and again until I deem it done.”  Either way the shawl is not going going to be finished anytime soon.

My Spin along went very well!  I am very happy with my 300+ yard skein of rainbow yarn.  It is beautiful and so very sparkly.  (I have to figure out how to photograph sparkles so they show up, I’m working on it.)  I also have my Unicorn Fluff and Faery Dust Skein spun and washed at about 150 yards.


Again, I really love how this skein turned out.  Before long I hope to pick up my spinning for the breed study again with a combination of breeds and non-animal, non-plant material spins.  I recieved a Vegan Box not that long ago and I’ve used the fibers for demonstrations.  I have not taken the time to spin the vegan fibers to see how they work up.  I really am looking forward to adding that aspect to my explorations and sharing the results with my students.  I cannot believe in 6 weeks I’m going to be dyeing wool with students again.  Shoot, I’d better get started trying to figure out what went wrong last time I tested things with the commercial acid dyes.

Happy Crafting!

Weaving Tools

This is a brief article to promote the free pdf guide to weaving tools.  I thought that the article, though I really recommend the PDF as well, was thought provoking.

The author, Interweave Editorial Staff, I guess they know who wrote it, begins with an interaction they had with a very enthusiastic “Earth-Mother” Type.  *I like to think of them as the Simplicities.*  Those that eschew any tools that are above the bare bones basic.  Those that say “I didn’t buy a Niddy Noddy, I just use my foot.” Or “I’ll never buy a wheel, why waste the money when I can just spin with a stick.”  Or, “There isn’t any need to buy a big loom, I can do anything I need with Backstrap Weaving!”  (Okay, the last is an exaggeration but you get the idea.) *

So the author is being lectured about how tools can be very simple and don’t have to be complicated, then they ask the killer question.  Why?  Why would you want to stick with the simple tools when there are more sophisticated tools out there?  *Not that we should all go out and buy a Golding Loom, though that would be pretty neat.* If there are tools out there that help you be a better crafter, and let you get the results you need, then take advantage of them.

*If you have foot, ankle, knee, joint issues, and want to spin then either a drop spindle or an electric wheel might be better for you.  If you have rotary cuff problems then you probably don’t want to mess with a drop or supported spindle too much but a nice wheel or electric wheel might do the trick.  For weaving, if you have knee, etc. problems then a floor loom with treadles that you have to push down might not be the thing for you, a table loom where you can just flick a switch and the shafts respond might work.  If you have shoulder issues then a backstrap, inkle, or perhaps rigid heddle loom might do you more good than a table or floor loom.  (I”m not an expert, this is just some advice, for more information contact a guild, health professional, or support group.)

If you just HAVE to try everything in existence out, (and  can afford it) then go for it.  Honestly you don’t know if something works for you unless you try it out.*

This synopsis is almost longer than the article.  But, in conclusion, don’t let anyone shame you.  There is NO Cheating in crafting.  Even if you haven’t shorn the sheep, washed, processed, and dyed the wool, then spun it, finished it, wove it, cut the cloth, and sewn the shirt, your project is still handmade no matter which step you started your process on and no matter what tools you had to utilize.

Happy Crafting!