Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival

IMG_1748I cannot for the life of me believe that MS&WF was a week ago already.  I feel as though I am just beginning to process all that I saw and did while there.  In addition, the tools and fibers I brought home are simply overwhelming!  I had so much fun thanks to my Aunt Debby, Uncle Fred, and Aunt Mikey.  They ferried me around and Aunt Debby and Uncle Fred let me stay with them, it was such a blast to see some of my younger cousins (okay Aunt Debby is my Father’s Cousin so her Grandchildren are probably my second cousins twice removed or something.) and teach them how to spin silk hankies.  They caught on so quickly, I was amazed at how much the boys seemed to enjoy the spinning!

Everyone was telling me that there is no way I could see everything in a single day.  All the while I was thinking, it’s a fairground how much can there be to see, some sheep, some vendors, it’ll be a blast and I can do everything I want to do, no problem.  Well I was not right, they were.  I managed to see quite a bit the first day, and even more the second, yet I did not get to see the speakers, nor many of the special events that occurred.

Since there really is too much for me to talk about in one post I will break this up into two posts, the first will be about the tools and wheels I was able to interact with, the second post will focus on the fibers and sheep I was able to interact with.  Each of these posts are going to have some length to them.

The Classic Carder Company, classiccarder.co.uk came from England to sell their wares at MS&WF.  They were absolutely delightful to speak with and kept their sense of humor despite the difficulties they and the american credit card companies were having with communication.  From this company I purchased a doffing pin and a doffing brush, both are intended to assist in getting batts of of a drum carder cleanly and with as little trouble as possible.  The quality of these tools is astounding, and I cannot wait to begin using them in earnest.

IMG_1757From Finnsheep.net I did buy some wool, which I will discuss in the next post, but I also obtained a flick brush.  This is a brush specifically designed to take locks and gently open them up so that they are easier to spin from without losing their alignment.  I was very happy to find this tool and see how well it would work on some of the locks I had obtained.  The results were amazing, and the tool was well worth the price.

From Snyder Spindles I obtained the three spindles I had been eyeing.  A ‘Dizzy Sheep’ spindle made from a fidget spinner with 3-d printed sheep on top, is a very lightweight and cute addition to my spindle collection.  A 3-d printed turkish spindle allows me to have a turkish spindle with quite large arms yet not very much weight at all.  I am very excited to take my time and learn to love this spindle.  The final spindle, actually the first that I picked up, is the Scottish Spindle the Dealgan.  This is a tapered piece of wood with a cross cut into the wide base.  This spindle can be spun and the base wound on so that the yarn being spun forms a center pull ball.  This is a very neat spindle rediscovered in Nova Scotia, an article can be found in Spin-Off Magazine Winter 2018 issue.  As with many things that I covet, I am finding the reality to be a bit different from my imagination.  I am sure that I will learn to love this spindle, we just might have to come to terms with eachother.

The final major tool that I obtained during this Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival is a Mini-Hackle with a cover created by Indigo Hound.  This amazing hackle was a fraction of the cost that I had seen similar items on sale for, actually I managed to obtain some very good sales at this event.  Previously I had seen individuals recommending the use of combs intended to get honey from honeycombs as wool combs so I had purchased a pair of these intending to use them as wool combs.  Now I hope to use them in conjunction with my new hackle to create some amazing combed fiber.

IMG_1760Speaking of purchases before and after the festival, my Christmas 2017 present finally arrived.  I had ordered an Electric Eel Wheel Mini from the kickstarter, and mine arrived the day before I was to leave for Maryland so it went with me.  I had so much fun learning to spin with this mini delight.  If you are looking for a completely silent electric spinning wheel, then don’t get this one.  There are amazing premium wheels that cost twenty times as much as this little delight that will give you a soundless experience.  For $60 I obtained a mini spinning wheel, accessories (orifice hook, spin control card, plying band, extra brake band, etc) and two extra bobbins for a total of three bobbins.  From other companies electric spinning wheels tend to start around $800 so I feel that I came out ahead.  This is not going to be my new default spinning wheel, however it might become a new tool for teaching drafting to new spinners in an easy way.  I did put the push pin in the front of the wheel to hold my working yarn.

The last experience I want to discuss, in addition to how amazing the entire festival was, is the opportunities there were for trying out different wheels and other tools.  The Yarn Barn of Kansas had a vast number of wheels available to test spin.  Everyone at that tent was very helpful and I managed to test spin two of the wheels I had been looking at for purchase, the Ashford Country Spinner 2 and a wheel with an orifice about 8 inches shorter than my current wheel. I discovered that the Ashford wheel is amazing, but the very heavy bobbins make it a little too clunky for what I was hoping to accomplish.  The Mini wheel was a lot of fun to spin with, very responsive and easy to use. but I am just tall enough that the yarn rubbed against the top of the orifice every time I fed it onto the bobbin.  Though this rubbing does not have any effect in the short term, I am concerned that it might be just a little too much wear and tear for a longer spin.

I was also able to test out two electric spinning wheels the Woolee Ann from the WooLee Winder company, and the Hansen Crafts spinning wheel.  These two delights are how I discovered that my Electric Eel Wheel mini is certainly the most basic form of an electric spinning wheel.  If you are looking for an electric spinning wheel and have the scratch look at these wheels or any of the ‘big brother’ versions of my Electric Eel wheel.  They are all delightful to spin.

In conclusion, I did not talk too much about prices, but I will let you know that all of the tools I purchased were well under the price points I had discovered online.  This in addition to the savings I accrued from a lack of shipping costs resulted in quite a bit of savings on the price of these tools.  Since I am a bargain hunter at heart I was very happy to discover this fact.  It will be my greatest delight in the rest of this year and the beginning of next to start to explore my acquired treasures and delight in the joy that they are all going to bring me.  I also plan on dreaming about next year’s Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, wondering what delights that will bring me!

Happy Crafting!

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 Woolery.com.  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!

Have a Very Crafty New Year

Right now my New Year looks to be full of crafts.

Almost every week I will be teaching a craft class at my public library.  They will cover a wide variety of topics from spinning yarn, weaving, making bath bombs, and much more.  I am really looking forward to these Monday’s.

In addition to this, my mother has decided that I need to needle felt a nativity for next year.  I’ve tried to explain that I’ll have to do one animal a month or some similar method to that, she is adamant so assembling the fibers for this project is next.

This year, my crafting goals are a little different.  I hope to work on assembling a collection of types of spindles from around the world.  This should be a ton of fun, and I am really looking forward to discovering how to use all of these different spindles.  In addition to my spindle and spinning exploration (and my new felting projects) I hope to advance my weaving skills in the new year.  With the Nativity I am now going to felt, I was thinking about seeing if it is viable to weave the camel coverings in bright and beautiful colors.  I do not intend for this to be anything too fancy, but I do plan on making several variations and enjoying the process.

The first step in my new year of crafting, in addition to buying the wool I need, is to cut off all of my old warps (since I wasn’t weaving them anyway) and starting fresh in the new year!

Happy Crafting All!

Experimenting

I managed to spin quite a bit of white wool.  The I wound it into a center pull ball, actually I used to strands to wind a ply ball on my ball winder.  This is the first time I have played with a ply ball.  I put a rolled up piece of paper in the center of the ball so that it didn’t collapse into itself, and plied from the outside ends.

I used a bottom whorl drop spindle and just went to town.

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This is my spindle when I was finished, the singles were wheel spun so there was quite a bit to them.  I love how my unwashed skein turned out:

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Over 120 yards of 2 ply yarn.  I really liked how the center pull ball worked for plying.  I might just hand wind a tight ball next time, since it will be a silk merino blend, instead of using the ball winder.  Trying to get a tight ball so that the singles didn’t crimp, yet loose enough so that my ball winder didn’t make that awful grinding noise.

The main advantage that I can see from winding a center pull ball is immediate feedback on what the yarns will look like together.  My ply ball would be from the Gemvember box by Paradise fibers and seeing how the separate colors would work together would be a big advantage.

Keep experimenting, there is always something new to learn.

Happy Crafting!

Summer is Ending

I cannot, for the life of me, believe that summer is OVER!  It seems like summer just began and here I am looking at my last Wooly Wednesday Class Tomorrow!  We are starting up “Fall Crafting” next Monday during the afternoon but this still seems like the end of an era.

Wooly Wednesday’s could not have gone better if I had tried.  I do have some plans for how to modify these classes for the spring and summer in 2018 so that they are more comprehensive, don’t rush my students as much, and cover more students and class time for the same amount of supplies (my boss will like that one).

LOOK AT ALL OF THE COOL STUFF MY LADIES CREATED THIS SUMMER!!!!!

 

 

 

This summer of Crafting ROCKED, so did my Wooly Wednesday Ladies. I hope to see you this fall, I miss you already!

Happy Crafting

Dodec Wheel!

I received my set of Dodec Wheels from Porter Threads today.  I purchased these spindle wheels for my Wooly Wednesday Workshop Series at the Public Library I work at.  These are a very inexpensive version of a spinning wheel since they lack the bobbin and flyer component.  There are also free plans for building your own wheel, which I lack the carpentry skills to create.  I was able to buy two wheels, with four spindles and assorted parts, for less than $200.  They arrived in two separate boxes taped together.  Each box contained the wheel, two spindles, two drive bands, two pieces of paraffin, two crescent wrenches, and the wooden components that are easily assembled.

Since it is raining today waxing or otherwise staining these wheels will have to wait.  Assembling the wheels is as easy as taking the part with the pedal putting it on the ground, take the part with the wheel and slide it into the appropriate slot in the base.

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Each wheel also came with 2 spindles and two drive bands.  Installing the spindles is a matter of unscrewing the rectangle of wood sticking out of the front, I am going to call it the front maiden, and installing the spindle.  Finally screwing the front maiden back on.

Then before you know it, you have the spindle installed and since the bulky portion acts as your flyer to turn the spindle you have that installed as well!

Dodec 9

Once you have the drive band stretched over the flyer piece and the wheel, hook the treadle to the drive wheel and you are ready to go.

All of this took about fifteen minutes!  I cannot wait to get started spinning on the spindle wheel to see how different it is from my Ladybug!

I look forward to reporting how simple this is for my beginning students to learn this after their drop spindles.

Happy Crafting!

Making Notebooks with Their Felt

All of the notebooks look so Great!  My students used their wet felted wool to create these amazing notebooks.  Since there were a few issues with thin spots on their felt and a desire to add decoration I introduced some needle felting techniques to the process so that they were able to create the notebooks of their dreams!

Since our spinning class is coming up in a few weeks I decided to look into the plans available for the inexpensive ‘DODEC’ wheel.  They look very easy to use if you are, or know, a woodworker.  However, the gentleman that created the plans also sells the wheels already made.  At $178 for his 2 wheels and 4 spindles you might think that expensive.  Consider this however, an Ashford Kiwi (single drive, bobbin/flyer wheel) starts at $450.  Given this information I have ordered his complete package to be sent to the Library.  These are similar to the old fashioned ‘great wheels’ insofar as they use a spindle instead of a bobbin and flyer to add the twist into the fiber and to store the fiber.  Honestly, for me, they are a beautiful step in between the drop spindle and a wheel, they allow the mechanics of a bobbin flyer wheel to be introduced gradually to the students instead of going from a drop spindle to this complicated looking wheel.

I do hope that they are simple to use, or at least that I can get the hang of them quickly.  I will let you know when they arrive and I stain/assemble them!  The link below is to the store, from there you can purchase a wheel or access the plans.

http://porterthreads.weebly.com/store/p4/Dodec_Spinning_Wheel.html

Happy Crafting!