Alpaca Adventures and More

I love the alpaca seconds I was gifted with.

Due to the time consuming nature of cleaning these bags of alpaca I have decided to give Tour De Fleece a miss this year.  This is an event that lasts as long as the Tour de France and involves challenges, rest days, and more just as the bicycling event.  More than that it involves spinning everyday.  While that is an overarching goal of mine, I would also like to focus on ensuring that I have this alpaca clean and ready to spin for the fall and winter.  During these warm days as well as these rainy days I hope to take advantage of the weather, setting the fleece out on my brand new sweater racks while it is raining to wash them in a natural way, as well as setting them out in the sun to make sure that they are as dry as possible before I begin the next step in processing them.  I am also hoping to comb or card out the fleeces before the snow comes, this will allow me to dispose of the fluff I cannot use in an eco-friendly way.  Putting it out to be used as lining for animal homes or to decompose as mulch.

Flicking open the locks where I am able to and carding what does not flick is a time consuming process.  For some of the coarsest seconds I attempted to turn the fur into batts, I managed to get three batts done, but I do not know if they will spin up very well.  I plan on trying to spin them in a regular manner and if that does not seem to work, core spinning them.  If it turns out that I hate spinning these batts, I do plan on gifting them to whomever wants them from my Guild.  I hope to do this before my next batch of fleece is dry, that way I will know if this is a viable option for preparation.

That may have to wait though, I am currently spinning my June Box from Paradise Fibers, I am spinning the last third of those singles.  The first two are pictured below.

My original intention was to ply the three bobbins together, however it is possible that they will be too muddy when I am done.  Because of this concerns I will probably do a test sample to knit up, once I decide if I like that or not I will either ply all of them together or spin up a white single to ply with these.

Whew, that will keep me busy for a while!

Happy Crafting

The Great Clean and Drag

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Some of you might remember my Loom from last year.  If you don’t, a gracious lady donated this heavy, metal, therapy loom to me.  At the time she thought that she would be moving to Maine, that fell through but she will be spending the Fall in Spain and walking El Camino, and so she was worried about transporting this monstrosity.  Her kind offer was met by great gratitude on my part.  I then set about trying to make sure that it would be in the best working order I could manage.  I spent the entire month of July 2016 scraping off old paint, trying different methods of rust removal, adding new paint, buying a new stainless steel reed, getting the heddles in order, and so much more.  Along the way I learned everything I could about the loom, along with NEVER SCRAPE OFF OLD PAINT, JUST PAINT OVER IT.  (lead content concerns, no point in courting cancer)

I left the loom to the mercies of my detached garage, the door doesn’t seal quite right and it is right up against the woods so, like all of the garages in the region, it tends to get mice.  At the end of 2016 I still could not get each of my treadles to move independently.  I utilized every trick I knew of and a few I begged off of guild members and still could not get the last two to move separately from each other.  I spent the winter brooding over it, and for most of the summer did not get around to doing anything with my loom.

Then early in September, my last weekend before the colleges I work for started up again, I dragged my big loom into the sunlight.  Now over a year later I looked at her again.  I need to touch up the paint, see if I can get some of the rust off of some of the springs, and warp her up to make some rugs eventually.  What I did accomplish was  enough for me, for now.

I wiped her down with Clorox wipes, making sure to pay attention to anything that looked like it might be detritus, and let her dry while I tried to get the painters tape off of the treadles (don’t let that sit on wood for a year, just not a good idea).  Then I took a cheap little hacksaw to the part of the treadles that looked like they were sticking.  My beautiful yellow loom snapped that hacksaw like it was plastic, luckily it snapped in the wood and didn’t cause me any injury.  Okay, so that isn’t going to work, oh well it was only a couple of bucks.

Next I went to the files I had purchased.  They are supposed to go into an electric drill, but, my cordless drill is not very robust and I cannot figure out how to change bits in my father’s old drill.  However, by hand I managed to hack and saw through some of the wood and loosen up the treadles, bit by bit.  After a half an hour or so of going over the top, up through the bottom of either side of both of the sticky treadles I began to move them at cross purposes, one up one down, several times very quickly.  They loosened up enough that I was able to get them each moving very freely.  I cannot say for sure if it was the naval jelly last year, the hacking, or just the sheer fact of trying to move them independently, but I am very happy to say that my treadles now work on my loom.  At least they did a couple of weeks ago.

Once I had her treadles moving as they ought I turned my attention back to tying up her harnesses to the appropriate treadles.   I had some Texsolv cord from last year that was anchored to each harness and then tied to the treadle, but not properly since they did not have freedom of motion at the time.  This was an awkward motion since I had to reach quite far back with my foot in an attempt to reach the point where I could push at the Texsolv to move a heddle or two.  Now I attempted to tie up my heddles to the treadles the way they were meant to be.  Okay, so my loom was on it’s side and when I turned it back over my treadles are almost flush to the floor and not really able to open a shed.  Oh well, at least they are threaded through the treadles and it is just a matter of taking up the slack so that they treadles are appropriately in the air and able to jack up the shafts.

By this point I am certain that you are wondering why I am going to all of this trouble right at the end of the season.  After all she is just going to go back into the external garage again, right?  Nope!  I managed to clear out a lot of my college stuff, it’s only been 10 years, from the garage under the house.  Now my beautiful yellow loom is living in my attached garage, yay!  There isn’t really a lot of room to warp her up so I do not know if I will have time to get her set up for Rugs before I have to start putting the car in the garage, but at least now she won’t have to worry about mice.

Hopefully next year I will be able to get the external garage cleared out and sealed up appropriately.  Until that time, I will get to look at my loom and hope that I get a chance to make up some rugs this winter.

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

Tour De Fleece Days 7-12

I swear this is progress!  I am still working on spinning up my 4oz of fiber straight from the roving in an attempt to create a unique piece from my June Box.  While it does not look like I have made much progress, I swear it is there.  I Can see my piece of fiber getting smaller and my bobbin filling up bit by bit.  I do have to confess, I love my Woolee Winder.  I cannot even begin to imagine trying to get even spinning while changing hooks constantly.  I do realize that many people do not have any trouble changing hooks, spinning fine and doing a great job at both.  I am still very excited to see this piece done so that I can work on the next.  In between this piece and starting the next I will be teaching a spinning class at my public library, very exciting!

Last week I also attended the Southern Tier Fiber Arts Guild Meeting in Wellsville, NY.  The ladies were all lovely and I look forward to attending again next month!  This Friday I will be weaving a towel in Bradford, PA.  What fun!

Happy Crafting!

Working with my Spinzilla Yarn

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I decided that my second big project of the year, or third depending on whether I am counting Spinzilla or not, was to make a half-granny shawl for my mother from my Spinzilla yarn. I remain completely amazed at how well my chaotic riot of colors works together.  This was started while I was waiting for my mother to have a minor surgery, it was supposed to be half and hour and wound up taking two hours, thank goodness I had my crochet with me.  Fortunately mom came out with flying colors.  I enjoy the ruffled edge (alright it wasn’t supposed to ruffle but it’s cute anyway) seems to tie the entire piece together.

Happy Crafting!

Spinzilla Ends

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As of Sunday October 9, 2016 I had spun 3,488 yards of yarn for Spinzilla Credit.  This means that for every yard of singles that I spun as well as all that I plied I received credit.  Which means that for a 2 ply I spun that wound up 86 yards it would be 86+86+86=258, if I were to do a 4 ply of 86 yards it would be 86+86+86+86+86=430 Spinzilla credit yards, only 86 yards short of taking the 4 plies and spinning 2 skeins of 2 ply yet half of the plying effort.  This means little in the long run, but it was great incentive to play with creating a 4 ply yarn Sunday afternoon when my desire to ply was fading quickly.  When push comes to shove I managed to spin 1.98 miles of yarn in Spinzilla Credit.  I am very proud of my efforts, I think I went through about 3 pounds of fiber so next year that will have to be bulked up a bit.

As ever I am looking toward my next crafting challenge, whatever that may be!

Happy Crafting!

Spinzilla Day 1 Totals

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Monday Before work, this is what my bobbin looked like!  I do not have any numbers since I will get my first yardage totals when I ply.

monday-when-i-went-to-bed

Monday before I went to bed, these were my bobbins.  The first two were spun using double drive.  Since that was driving me mad, which is why the middle bobbin is much smaller than the first, I went back to scotch tension for my third bobbin and probably the rest of Spinzilla.

I did some spinning during my break at work, on my bottom whorl drop spindle, and I hope to add those bits of spinning into my total.  (Yes, during my break…no one needs to know about the time I spent standing next to the car admiring how pretty the silk looks in the sunlight as I spun.  No one needs to know that I found out spinning in the drivers seat while waiting for someone to pump gas is really not very comfortable…yes, during my break.)  I am having an absolute blast, it is almost torture waiting to ply those first few bobbins to find out how much I have accomplished so far!

Happy Crafting!