The Finish Line

Vogue Knitting sponsored Virtual Knitting October 2020 where I was able to take a class from Jillian Moreno. The class was focused on all of the different ways you can spin and ply a braid of colorful roving. This included different ways you can get your precious fiber to stretch and how plying colors can effect eachother. I loved this class. As she was talking I was recalling that I had read quite a bit of what she was discussing when I read her book “Yarnitecture” which I cannot recommend enough. During and after the class, 2 hours long, I spun up samples based on roving I had purchased years ago and that I had fallen out of love with. The samples certainly reinvigorated my interest, and I look forward to playing with my Allegheny Fiber Arts batt in Mango in the near future. All of my playing around managed to net me about 344 yards credit for Spin Together 2020.

I had finished the first half of my big spin about Wednesday, which yes was a little late but as I told the captain of my team I lost about 15 hours spinning time between physical therapy and filling in for a colleague that had surgery. If I had the option I think I would take this week as vacation…if only I were full-time. Anyway. I actually got quite a bit of spinning done between Wednesday night and before my class on Thursday morning, that is the blue bobbin. Then I took everything off of my wheel to spin up my samples, they were so much fun. I thought about spinning more on the blue bobbin, however I decided to just start a new bobbin, this is the yellow bobbin. I finished spinning the singles late Thursday night and started plying with my first two bobbins immediately afterwards.

Before work on Friday I had managed to ply up one bobbin full, and knew that I would have to split the skein. Next year I am going to have to ply on my 64oz Firefly bobbin. Enchanted Mountain Weaver’s Guild had a meeting Friday night, the first I have been able to attend in months. I spent this time getting some plying done so that by Saturday morning I had managed to ply up all three bobbins of yarn, the first skein I measured off as 300 yards. This is 900 credit yards for spin together (2 plies and the act of plying). During the zoom meeting with the Paradise Fibers Team I managed to get all of my samples organized onto their pages (I’m still using the organization method I learned at EGLFC from Kate Larson).

In the end my Total Mileage was 1.66 Miles. This does not include my first day making an art skein. This is probably one of the lowest totals, however I did manage to spin over a mile of yarn, so I am pretty happy. Reading over the documentation we were sent at the beginning of things, oops, I realized that Paradise Fibers will be sending everyone that participated a ‘little something’ exciting. According to Tamara, our team leader, one of the other participants has sheep and will be providing everyone with a little gift. In addition to the ‘big prizes’ paid for by everyone’s entrance fee, Paradise Fibers is sponsoring prizes within our teams. First and second place prizes for: Most beautiful skein, art yarn, and mileage spun. Perhaps my art yarn skein will get something? No matter really, I am just happy to have participated and spun up some of my stash.

Actually that reminds me, I took this opportunity to spin 2 and 3 ply samples of my Unicorn in the Library by Hipstrings as well as my October box by Paradise Fibers. Now I have to remember that Cleaning Your House is also on the list of things I need to do, not just spinning more yarn.

Until next time, remember to live life A Little More Abstract.

Results from day 1 into day 2

Don’t judge me. I spin the most when I can watch something on television and not have to pay close attention to it, when I don’t really care if I miss something or not. Listening to audiobooks, I just want to concentrate on the story, if I miss a plot point because I’m adjusting the tension on my wheel or choosing the next pit of fiber I’m going to spin, then I feel like I am not doing either properly. Because of this, and a desire to just take some time to chill and spin this month, I have restarted my Sling subscription. Cable is so much more difficult to get up and running again whereas with Sling I can just cancel or pause when I need to. I had such an absolute blast watching a couple of episodes of Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe (I missed that show) and spinning along. This is an added expense that I did not necessarily need this month, however I used some of the money that I have received from clipping coupons using the Ibotta app to pay for this. While this has put me a bit back on my ‘buy another wheel’ idea it is well worth it for me.

Saturday night I managed to get my art yarn skein wound off onto a niddy noddy, skeined up, and photographed in various Poses.

My art yarn spin that I am calling “Blue Moon Halloween 2020” took me 2.5 hours to spin and ply. The yarn is all sorts of various locks spun in a wide variety of methods. I also added in gemstone like charms in the shape of moons….not too many of those survived on the bobbin. Then I thread plied with a commercial cotton tatting thread size 3 I think, that thread had various charms on it. Some of the charms were too large to go through even my extremely large orifice, so next time I will use my electric wheel with a hook orifice to ply. I actually have a lot of prepared fiber since my bobbin could not hold quite what I thought it could which means that after this contest spinning is done, and my wrist is a bit better, I’m going to do another lock spun yarn. Perhaps between the two I will have enough to weave myself something vest-like.

I had 2.5 hours this morning to do a bit of spinning and managed to get this far. I’m off of work at 6pm and hope to restart spinning about 6:30 until 10-11 tonight. Hopefully I can get through quite a bit of this first half of my spin!

Remember to live life A Little More Abstract.

Spin In Day 1

Good Morning, I’m posting this well before the Spin In Begins. Today the spin in starts at noon, I will be home at 2:30pm until about 5pm. I hope to spin my first project today, which is my wild skein. For this skein I purchased two ounces of curls, the vendor had some emergency vet bills I wanted to help with, and will use these couple of ounces in addition to the other fiber I had already prepped.

For my first regular spin I plan on using my two bags/baskets of fiber bits to spin up randomly on two bobbins.

Various bits of fibers with a green bobbin in an African Bolga Basket.

I think right now, except for the art yarn, I hope to do all of my spinning beforehand and plying on the last day (Maybe Friday just to ensure everything is counted.) For my second spin I hope to spin up my pound of Unicorn in the Library from HipStrings.

Purple, pink, black, grey, white mixed roving labelled The Unicorn in the Library.

If I get around to a fourth spin, third for credit, I have two batts I would love to see spun up and center plied. One is mostly purple while the other is mostly black and sparkly. The sparkly one has been split into three parts, and both have been kept in plastic boxes.

Next would be a winter gradient set I obtained from paradise fibers fiber of the month club some time back, I’m not sure if I would split each section in half to spin them onto separate bobbins, or just spin and do a center pull ball in the end.

Four balls of roving clockwise from top right: Black and purple; white and light blue; light blue and gray; medium blue and black.

If I finish spinning that up then I can work on the highland package I received from Paradise Fibers not too long ago.

Roving balls from left to right; Dusty blue; Green above beige; Red; White on a piece of cloth.

Should I manage to finish all six of these spins, including the wild skein, then I still have a variety of fibers to choose from. 3-4 sock packs that I can later dye, several exotic fibers, still a few more Paradise Fibers Boxes that I have not managed yet. I hope to get through at least three of my spins, especially since I loaded up long spins in the first three (well really the two that count for yardage) allowing myself some freedom within the last three.

I am very excited to get started, I’m not sure how I am going to last through work today! I might have to see if I can sneak one of my drop spindles in with me so I can spin a bit during my lunch break. Live Life a Little More Abstract!

Preparing for the Spin Together October 3-10th

I decided to join team Paradise Fibers, as I mentioned last post. Due to this, I have spend the past weekend preparing my fibers to start spinning on the 3rd.

I spent September 20th preparing the locks, flicking open ends, carding a few rolags, creating some cloud fiber. The spin should be tons of fun, I even found some white and black mohair locks to add even more texture. I’m debating if I want to ply this with a sequined thread I have or just leave it as a wild singles. I’ll see how it looks on the 3rd after I spin it. Right now I plan on spinning this on the 3rd so that I have the rest of the week to get as much mileage as I can.

I also took each piece of roving that I planned on using for this spin and split them in half so that I could have an approximately equal spin on two different bobbins. Using a basket and a bag I kept the two halves of the spin separated, but I also pulled off pieces of each main roving into 4-10 inch segments. After I had the fiber divided, I also added in some different colors that went with the theme, I rolled each section of roving into a little nugget. This will make it easier for me to pick out a random nugget of fiber to spin from. I also put a bobbin in each container, these combined with the one on the wheel give me two to ply from and one to ply onto.

I am super excited for this spin, it has actually given me to motivation to ply up some singles I have had resting on my weaving bobbins, but that is a spin for a different post.

Until next time remember to live life A Little More Abstract!

Busy Week

Not really crafty until after second *. *This was my first week back to all three jobs, it has actually gone well. I am under some financial strain since the government did not extend the federal unemployment payments and I wanted to continue to work a couple of days a week. The beginning of this month is going to be short and I wound up applying for an Amazon Credit card. I did not really want to, however this will enable me to invest in my skill-set and make myself more marketable.*

I ordered a 3-d printer with heated plate and filament for under $200, on credit through Amazon. I have already created two original drawings in TinkerCad, a free online 3-d creation tool. My sibling recommended the slicer software that they use, and I plan on doing some experimenting once I have my set-up at home. The two drawings I made are below, the first is supposed to be a stone-like set of stairs while the second is supposed to be a dice tower.

I am very excited to begin learning the ins and outs of 3-d printing. I have not had a good technological challenge in a while and I look forward to exercising those muscles again. A colleague and I were asked to put together easy craft ideas so that another colleague can keep them occupied after school.

We were given about two weeks to come up with ideas, samples, and teach the other person. Fortunately we had about two weeks worth of dead simple crafts that I could whip out right away. We are asking the person in the room to have the teens, and now pre-teens, to brainstorm as many ideas as they can come up with, we can figure out a way to have them learn almost anything. I already obtained some feedback from a teen that worked with the children’s department over the summer, and he suggested Clay as a medium he enjoyed. We received the e-mail the same day I was going up to Buffalo for my third cast change (one more to go then the pin comes out in October), so I swung by Michael’s Craft Store to get some supplies and ideas.

From left to right, black clay teardrop pendant, jack-o-lantern made from pony beads, wooden owl face (upside down) colored with brown, white orange, and pink paint pens, leather bracelet half colored with blue leather marker, half colored with green. Tiny star imprinted on leather and colored yellow.

I am also planning on having a demonstration piece of Kumihimo cord, lucet cord, and a knitted fingerless glove. Two of my colleagues have teen/pre-teen children so I hope to ask them if needle felting would be too dangerous.

I find that during zoom meetings that I can take at home is when I get around to spinning on my black skein. If I am home and not on my computer then I tend to mess around with the Kumihimo and Lucet work, though not for very long stretches of time, since they involve pinching the work with my left hand. The pinching problem is also why I do not have the top hem of my skirt finished yet either.

I did finish plying the 716 batt, and I discovered why it is best to make sure you have 4 ties in your skeins of yarn. I tried to get away with just 2, one snapped, which left me with a yarn barf to sort out.

Brightly colored yarn tangled up, whites, blues, pinks, greens, and more. This close you can see where there are thinner spots and puffier spots.

Fortunately there was not a ton of yarn in the skein, though I am still not sure how much, so I was able to wind it into a ball in about an hour or so.

Ball of yarn, pink, green, blue, purple, whites showing through.

I cannot wait to be finished with these sample pieces so that I can work up a couple of test swatches with this yarn.

Until next time, remember to Live Life A Little More Abstract!

Back to Everything and More

I managed to schedule art journal prompts for the entire month of September onto Facebook with examples for each prompt. I still have a video to shoot for Monday, and I just found out that we are going to be doing crafts for our teens at the public library. I am really excited to be working with a colleague to figure out what we can have them doing with minimal supervision.

This past weekend I had so much fun watching the speakers for FiberWorld 2020 and getting plenty of spinning done. I managed to spin up the Batt that I purchased from the 716 yarn truck:

Multi Colored batt with a card explaining the fibers. There is a ladybug spinning wheel with a 3-d printed bobbin on it behind the batt, and a stool as well as a television behind it.
Photo of the spun singles on a schacht ladybug with a 3-d printed bobbin. Bright pinks, greens, blues, yellows, and bits of white.

I made the mistake of only putting 2 ties into the skein…then one snapped when I was trying to open up the skein…now I’m procrastinating winding that skein into a ball.

For the August Paradise Fibers Fiber of the Month Box we received a selection of a lot of the previous fibers.

Basket containing a lot of different pieces of fiber

I realize I’ve shared this photo before. I managed to get the mini batts spun up and plied. I have a photo of the yarn on the bobbin.

Singles from the fiber pictured above. On a schacht ladybug spinning wheel with a 3-d printed bobbin.

For this skein I put 4 ties into this, the washing went well. I’m drying the skein and will get a photo up soon.

Right now I am going to start spinning up a combination of 3 dark pieces of fiber with sparkles and some other colors bleeding through. I hope that I can keep myself interested throughout this spin.

So, my first full week of work is this week. 46 hours, down from my previous 55 hours. I’m excited to see what this semester brings. Teen crafting, spinning, weaving, new experiences, and fascinating work. What more can I ask for!

Remember to Live Life a Little More Abstract!

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!