The Week After EGLFC

This past week has been an absolute blast of creativity as well as work ‘stuff’.  On Tuesday I mailed out 4 applications for Civil Service Tests for Librarian positions in the larger county to the north of me.  If I get a job there it will be a 90 minute commute each way, however I will be able to stay in my home for a couple of years and save up a down payment on a home there.  I also re-interviewed for a position at one of my current jobs, I am not saving this as my only hope right now.  There is a job in Philadelphia I will submit an application for this afternoon.  Since my skill level is quite high, it really is a matter of which library will obtain me.  Enough about work, let’s talk about crafts!

Since I’ve gotten home I have been forcibly reminded why I need to make time to craft.   The weekend was amazing, and just in time since this past Saturday was the first anniversary of my mom’s passing.  I had a lot of fun, and this creativity stuck with me when I came home.  I have quite a few projects, KALs and more, that I want to be working on.  I took the time to finish the two soles for my knitted slippers for the Jimmy Beans Wool October-December project.

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They are the width of the large, however when I went to measure my foot, I decided to go with the length of the medium.  There seems to be enough yarn left over to create a pair of kids slipper soles, however I want to make sure I am not going to need this yarn for anything else before committing to that project.  I will confess that when I really got into ensuring that these were done they took about 2 days of knitting each.

I received the crochet project and have begun, though I have not gotten very far yet.

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I did manage to learn a new stitch, that is foundation single crochet.  This is going to be the basis of the slipper sole, I planned on working on this, however I managed to forget a stitch marker.  While the pattern does not call for any stitch markers I feel that it will be easier to keep track of where I am supposed to join the round using a slip stitch if I have a marker there.  Each sole is a total of 9 rounds, so even with the rather extreme number of stitches I will be working with toward the end these should not take too long.

The crochet hook I am working with is a Furls hook in an attempt to stave off carpal tunnel syndrome as early as possible.  With my extreme interest in all forms of craft, I need to keep my hands in tact as much as possible.  You may also notice underneath my project bag and hook is a colored piece of paper, that is my first experiment in ‘art’ since college.

IMG_2903This is a simple wash with watercolors on a special pad of watercolor paper with cheap Walmart watercolors.

I actually don’t think this turned out too badly, I plan on using similar techniques in the near future, though I believe I will have to work much harder to obtain clear color results.  The pigmentation does not layer very well at all when wet. I hope to try and improve this when I next have a stretch of time not occupied by crochet or spinning.  It is entirely possible that I will have better results if I try to work with Tube Watercolors instead of the hard palette, also if I try to wet the pigments more thoroughly.

7B969592-7C70-44CD-8E68-B82CC99F95D4The final crafts I managed this week were started at EGLFC. The first is to knit a lace sample with handspun Shetland yarn.  I love how this turned out, and fully intend to knit up the grey and black samples of yarn I have available. The other craft was to create stick-on sheets that can be applied to linen for crewel embroidery.  I found some sheets that I can print onto as well as several designs that were labelled on images.google.com as available for reuse.

I believe that these are going to be very difficult to spin the samples for and stitch, I really look forward to the challenge.  The D&D Dragon on the bottom left is certainly going to be a project for when I am a very good stitcher, until then I have plenty to work on .

Remember to Live Life A Little More Abstract!

Second Day of EGLFC

I will confess that the first day of classes I spent most of the night in the classroom spinning and carding.  When talking to one of the other students we were a little loud and around 10pm were asked to be quiet because people were trying to sleep.  I managed to finish what I wanted to work on, brought my notebook upstairs to work on, and finally slept around 12:30am.  I woke up just before my alarm at 7am to drink an energy drink and get ready for the day.  Okay, so I then went down to the classroom to do a bit of organizing and tidying.  I knew that we would have opportunity to do some indigo dyeing that day, therefore I decided I wanted to have two skeins ready to be dyed.  The first was a grey skein, the second was chocolate merino, they were both two ply yarns.  As you can see the chocolate merino looked almost navy blue, in certain lights it looks almost black.

After those skeins I kept making embroidery yarn as well as using each of the colors of Shetland to make yarn to try colorwork knitting.  I also decided to make a gradient of white, grey, and black, to try some lace knitting.  I confess I wound up spinning and not knitting.

After an amazing day of spinning, dyeing, as well as carding wool, learning techniques, good food, and wonderful company, we were given an opportunity to do a bit of shopping.  There was an alpaca truck (with alpaca) where I purchased some amazing random locks, a yarn truck (where I bought a Batt and Mini Skeins), and various individuals selling out of their trunks.  I managed to buy a cross holder (for weaving), a shuttle, a book, and lotion bar.

The fashion show was that evening.  There was some distressing news, we were told before the banquet that one of the instructors husband died and had been found earlier that day.  The banquet was lovely, the stress upset my stomach so I missed the first part of the fashion show.  I managed to see some of it, fortunately they had all of the models come through one more time.  I then tried to go back to the classroom to find it locked.  This turned out to be for the best since I spent hours listening to and speaking with the other students and our instructor, as well as discovering a brand of champagne that I not only did not mind but actively enjoyed.

The final day was lovely, with an amazing breakfast, decent lunch (with bread pudding) and a day working on our own pursuits.  For the final day we learned about core spinning, making a lockspun yarn, and chain plying while inserting locks.

I will certainly be planning on saving for the next EGLFC in 2 years.  I am fully converted to attending classes in person.  This class has me looking at my stash in a whole new way.  I love the idea of using some of this yarn as crewel embroidery.  My mind is firing on all creative cylinders, I feel quite rejuvenated.  Remember to live life A Little More Abstract!

Paradise Fibers Spinning for the Throne

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Paradise Fibers has decided to run a Spinning for the Throne Spin Along for the month of May.  For their Fiber of the Month box they created four different merino silk blend colorways and they sent them out in two different combinations.  One set of combinations was “Not Today” and “Blue Eyes”, the set that I received is “He Who Knows Nothing” and “Mother of Dragons”.  We also received one of two tweed blends, “Ice” or “Fire” and some green Angelina they named Wildfire.

Right now I am in the process of spinning up “He Who Knows Nothing” in a short forward draw from the fold on my Ladybug using my Woolee Winder.

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The spin is supposed to be inspired by the Game of Thrones, however I have not watched very much of it so far.  What I have watched, almost 10 minutes of the first episode, contained a lot of blood.  Since I am willing to bet that this trend continues, I have decided to add in some splotches of blood to this mix, I do enjoy how it is turning out so far.  I had originally thought to felt some Dragon Wings and add them into the mix at random spots, however I am well aware of my artistic limitations, not to mention the time constraints of this SAL (Spin Along).

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Once this batch is done I will start spinning up “Mother of Dragons”, I still have the winter gradient that was sent, I think in December 2018, and two of those colors will go beautifully with the Mother of Dragon set.  My tweed is “Fire” which will also go well with the blues of the second set of fiber.  I am not sure if I will keep these as two separate skeins of yarn or see how they look when they are plied together, only time will tell.  In addition to all of this fiber, we were sent a magnet, sticker, an amazing stitch marker, and pattern for fingerless gloves that look like dragon scales.  I am really looking forward to having the chance to try and make the gloves.

Remember to Live Life a Little More Abstract!

New Tools

One of my new philosophies has to do with having the tools you need to achieve the results you want.  Can I weave tapestries with a picture frame?  Yes, but I will not like the process or the results.  Given that I have decided to invest in a couple of tools to make my crafting life a bit easier and my results a bit better. Before I get to the actual reviews, a disclaimer, I am in no way affiliated with any of the products below.  I purchased them using my own funds, I am not making any profit from these reviews/products.

Recently I have decided to up my knitting and crochet game.  I have started with socks, but I hope to progress to garments like cardigans, shawls, and sweaters soon.  Learning Tunisian Crochet, filet crochet, and lace knitting are also on my list of projects to work on.  With fitted garments gauge is extremely important.  To this end I have invested in the Akerworks Swatch Gauge, but I went all out and invested in the knitting tool kit.

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This includes, tape measure, scissors, two darning needles, knitting needle measuring tool, locking stitch markers, and various magnets across the back in addition to the gauge swatch tool.  Essentially this is everything that I would need to knit or crochet on the go in one compact tool.

The stitch gauge has the numbers engraved on the side that is facing down toward the fabric, but they are engraved backwards so when the tool is being used the numbers show in the right direction, but there is no real explanation as to what the numbers are.  Going horizontally across the top there are the numbers 1-4 and under the horizontal line are the numbers 1-10.  Comparison with a ruler proves that 1-4 measures inches while 1-10 measures centimeters.

The tape measure can be slid out of the compartment that houses it, but can also be easily used from its nest in the tool.  The scissors have comfortable finger holes as well as proving themselves quite sharp when put to the test against yarn.  The darning needles in addition to the stitch markers are standard but since they are metal they stay where the magnets put them quite easily.

When my studio is completed I believe that this will have a place stuck to the metal rack I intend to install.  The swatch gauge will be just at home measuring picks per inch as it will stitches per inch.

I have been lusting after the Eszee twist tool for about 2 years now.  Spinning is still my main passion, however all of the math tends to intimidate me.  No longer!  With the Eszee Twist tool I can measure the angle of twist, but more importantly I have a gauge which I can put my yarn on and have a  fairly good idea of what the wraps per inch are going to be without making a mini skein of yarn.  This kit comes with much more than just the measuring tool, it has a bookmark, knitting needle gauge, yarn tracker, in addition to a user guide that does double duty as an Everything You Need to Know to Get the Yarn You Want guide.

In addition to explaining what twist is, s twist, z twist, and angles of twist, this guide goes on to explain different yarn constructions such as 2 ply, 3 ply, Navajo plied, core spun, cables, worsted, and woolen.  The part that I find most useful is the simple math needed to calculate what size your finished yarn will be.  This simple formula was well worth the investment, but the guide and other tools provide everything you need to gain a deeper understanding of yarn construction.

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Yes, they are stitch markers.  Actually what they are is a charm bracelet I purchased through amazon and repurposed using some split rings and lobster clasps.  I just love the BBC production of Sherlock (except the last season and I HATE Mary) so I wanted stitch markers that reflected me.  However, I did not want to spend $5 for one to three stitch markers that really had little to do with Sherlock.  So I found a charm bracelet, there were 20 charms on it, a little manipulation, and I have 20 stitch markers that I thoroughly enjoy.  Since I made the entire batch in less than an hour I can certainly see the appeal in buying up a lot of charms and making these by the hundreds.  I wonder if I can recoup some of my yarn/fiber expenses by starting a stitch marker business?

Happy Crafting!

Still Spinning

Okay, so the 2 pounds of Shetland Moorit arrived so I am working on carding it into rolags to spin up for my Hap.  I was feeling under the weather a bit so in between my knitting, crocheting, laundry and dishwasher loads, I curled up in bed to look over past issues of Spin-Off Magazine.  While paging through I happened across a pattern for little wrist cuffs as well as ankle cuffs.  Each of these take a bit over 100 yards of fiber, well I have all sorts of little scraps so I decided to go for it.  In December I purchased the international box from Camaj Fiber Arts Spinning Boxes, she was selling off past boxes.  There were some very pretty fibers based on Korea and Norway/Finland that I decided to spin into a little skein.

IMG_2178  I absolutely LOVE how it turned out.  However, it is only 78 yards.  Yes, not even enough for one of the patterns.  Oh well, I have more little samples (I have already started) so I will be incorporating two mini batts, and three more random colored combed tops that look like they will fit the bill.  I am already almost half way through spinning this batch, it already looks like more singles than the last attempt.

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The patterns are from Spin Off Winter 2007 pages 46-47 titled “Anklettos and Wristlettos: Fringe Benefits” by Phreadde Davis.

Hopefully once I have this yarn spun, plied, set, and dried, I will not be either bored with this idea, working on the hap, or ready for more installments from Jimmy Beans Wool.  I will admit to a small amount of introspection, I am aware that I have been keeping myself too busy to really take the time to miss my Mom.  February tends to stink since we lost Dad near the end, I have already found myself crying for no apparent reason simply because it hit me hard that she isn’t around.  Oh well, back to distractions!

Happy Crafting!

I Am Infatuated

For Black Friday weekend I decided to obtain a few things that I have been looking at for years.  One of them was the Blue Butterfly Originals 2″X6″ Pin Loom.  I am a librarian and had always wondered about making my own bookmarks.  I was not certain what type of yarn I would like to use with it so I started with a couple of bits of yarn that I had spun.  According to the directions, which I skimmed over, you can use any yarn up to a bulky yarn.  Within two days I had worked out that each bookmarks takes about 4 yards of yarn.  27 bookmarks later, IN TWO DAYS, I am still going strong.  IMG_2094If any of my relatives actually read this blog, you are probably going to get a bookmark.  One of my relatives is turning her old doll house into a car house for her two sons, and race car driving husband I am sure,  so I think that these would make great little blankets or rugs for the cars.

I have ten more balls of yarn measuring 4 yards each wound up and ready to be woven, alas I actually have to work today.  Since each of the bookmarks seems to take around 10-15 minutes to create I anticipate needing more yarn wound tomorrow morning.  At first this loom seemed a bit expensive, with shipping it wound up being around $29 (Which is why I took so long to buy it), but since in two days I have woven over 20 of the bookmarks, using smaller amounts of yarn that I wasn’t sure what project I made them for, I think that this is well worth it.  I think that this would be something that I would certainly consider adding to a craft show, though in order to justify the yardage of the yarn they would probably be about $3 each.  I might make it $5 each or 3/$12.  As the year winds down I am trying to figure out where I want things to go from here.

Right now I am balancing my books with some of the insurance money, and since my work is seasonal and two of my jobs have almost a month long break, January will be supplemented as well.  In February I am going to start seeing if I can live off of my three jobs and what changes I need to make to my current situation.  Starting in March I will be calling the Handyman that Mom and I have been hiring and seeing what he wants to put siding on the house and fix up the external garage.  Those will be my two major home improvements for the year, and hopefully for longer than that.  I do have someone currently working on getting rid of the mice in the house, I have high hopes for that situation.

That is what my life looks like now, though I think I’m going to give up on the food boxes, I do not think that they worked out how I wanted them to.  I do not like sour flavors and everything seemed to have lemon juice or vinegar in them.  I will see about using my instant pot to explore some other cultures with flavors I know I have a chance of liking.

Happy Crafting!

Phat fiber box September 2018

I adore how many beautiful sets of fiber arrived in this box.  There are a coup,e mini skeins of yarn that should be fun to lay with. I also received about 4 stitch markers as a lovely pin.  The box arrived less than a week after it was ordered.  I cannot wait to start spinning these  and hope to show off when they are done.

Happy spinning!

Spinzilla Totals 2018

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I had an amazing time spinning this year, and managed to exceed my 2 mile (3,520 yards) spinning goal.  To explain, every yard of 2 ply finished yarn counts as 3 yards, one for each yard of singles spun and a yard for the plying.  This means that for the yardage totals for my yarn, all of which is 2 ply this year, I get 3 times the spinzilla yardage.  Below please find my totals along with whatever information I have about the yarns.

Spinzilla 2018 350 yard skein

This formidable skein is 350 yards which counts for 1,050 spinzilla yards.  This is wool from Moon Rock Farms in Western NY run by a friend of mine.  It practically spun itself and was completed within the first 2 days of Spinzilla.  So fluffy and squishy I cannot wait to see what it looks like washed and ready to go.

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This is white left over from the original skein, plied from a center pull ball which is my favored plying method.  At 44 yards it counts for 132 spinzilla yards and should be a squishy accent for some project.

 

Each of these little skeins are about 10 yards (30 spinzilla), from various mini batts or experiments.  They will also make good accent yarns for some small project, or be incorporated in a larger hodge-podge project.

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This 70 yard skein (210 spinzilla yards) is my faux mohair and sari silk skein.  I don’t like how it looks, and hope that it works up to be prettier than it is in skein.

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This random blue art batt wound up being 76yards for 228 spinzilla credit.

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The purple pop is 124 yards for 372 spinzilla yards.  Like most of the yarns here this was such fun to spin and ply.

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My pumpkin spice yarn is 37 yards, 111 spinzilla, of squishy glory!

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104 yards of maritime bliss accounts for another 312 spinzilla yards.  This was a beautiful roving of superwash targhee I obtained at the Maryland Sheep and Wool festival from the daughter of one of my aunts friends.  It spun like a dream and should make a very pretty project for someone.

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This 168 yard skein reminds me of a beautiful mellow spring, it counts for 504 spinzilla yards.

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This slightly bolder 158 yard skein might pair well with the targhee to make a larger project.  It accounts for 474 spinzilla yards and was quite fun to spin.

Last but not Least is the skein created from the Rolags I made using the Alleghany Fiber Arts roving.  spinzilla 2018 13

At 142 yards, 426 spinzilla yards, this is such a lofty and squishy yarn.

I wound up spinning long draw and creating wonderful woolen yarns.  I have not washed any of the yarn yet, and so they have not reached their full squishiness.  If they bloom more than I expect I will post just a collage when they are all dried.

For those of you keeping track I spun 3, 939 spinzilla yards.

Happy Spinning!

Bobbins Cleared and Wheel Tuned

The bobbins are cleared and ready to spin, my wheel is tuned and ready to roll.  I have more fiber than I should be able to use, from yak silk to an amazing roving from a local herd.  I actually plan on starting with the fleece from Ellen’s flock since I have a spin in event tomorrow.

Ellen's Flock Spinzilla 2018

If I decide I am bored spinning normally then I have a sari silk tweed batt and a couple of Art Batts to spin.

Then all of the rolags I have been preparing throughout September, but I already posted those.  Spinzilla begins 1am EST October 1, 2018.  If I am honest, I hope that I am not awake for that, but I do think I will try and wake up one hour earlier than planned to get some spinning done.  Sometimes life stinks but you need to get up and find joy in something.

Happy Crafting!

Pre-empting the Scheduled Post

I had another post scheduled, it will be out on Wednesday, but I could not wait to share this Month’s Paradise Fibers Monthly Club Box.  *SPOILERS*  If you do not want any spoilers, just skip this post.

Dyeing with highlighters step oneI was not going to go into the details of how to accomplish this but if you look you can find most of them.  In essence you are extracting the dye from the tubes of the highlighters, then applying it to the wool.  The more concentrated the dye the better the effects.  To get to this point you need to put on gloves, pry the back of the highlighter off, and pull out the tube.  I used scissors and pushed the end cap off, it is a wonder I didn’t break anything with the flying plastic.

Dyeing with highlighters step 2

After soaking for  a while it looks like there is quite a bit of dye extracted from the highlighter ink tubes.  The next time I try this, and I will be trying it again, I intend to just squeeze out the highlighter fluid instead of soaking it out.

Dyeing with highlighters step 3

I soaked the wool in the standard combination of water and vinegar to get the wool ready to accept dye.

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I squeezed out the wool and put the dye on top.  Things looked good, until I looked down the side of the containers.

Dyeing with highlighters complication

The Dye did not reach the bottom of the wool.  Some adjusting fixed this for the pink and the orange, but the yellow was too light to be effective.  I took that piece of yarn and the left over orange and pink dye to form a variegated piece of wool.

Finished hIghlighter dyeing

When everything was dried the results were amazing.  I have not had them under sunlight long enough to tell if they do fluoresce, but even if not they are very pretty to look at.

This box, in addition to this neat new dyeing technique, came with a pencil pouch, sheep sticker, sheep pin, Paradise Fibers backpack, four mesh bags, and four bumps of shredded sari silk (intended to make a tweed).

The colors of Sari Silk that I obtained are pictured below.  These boxes are always an amazing value.  I love them, and cannot wait to see what is in them each month.

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Happy Crafting!