Beekeeper Update

I Have some things going on with Mom, she reacted badly to an antibiotic, so my sibling has had to come and keep her company for a couple of weeks.  I had two really busy weeks at work, 13 hours, 10 hours, 13 hours, 10 hours, was how one week went, and so having my sib. in the house for mom really helped a lot.  This does mean that I didn’t get a ton of crafting done.  I’ve really made up for this over a couple of weekends, but I really have to split it up into several weeks of posts or else they are going to be too long.  This week is going to be mostly the photos of the hexies I’ve done (or found since I had several completed but couldn’t be found).

So, here comes the hexies!

Crocheted Shawl

It turns out that if you lock the cat in the computer room with you and let mom sleep in for a couple of hours you can crochet up a Half-Granny Shawl.

IMG_0815I love this pattern simply because it is so quick to crochet up and the results are amazing.  This is with the brights wool I spun up for the Paradise Fibers spinlympics & entered into the first week of the 51 yarn challenge by Jacey Boggs Faulkner.  This is my third shawl that I have crocheted with my handspun yarn, though it is the first using just one skein.

I’m really loving my yarn and handspinning, it is a joy when things get a little too busy in my ‘real life’.

Happy Crafting!

Happy News!

img_0616.jpg

This year I will be attending the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival!

I am so very excited, things just fell into place, and I am keeping my fingers crossed that nothing falls out of place, lol.  I was originally supposed to be driving down with a friend from the guild, but she has a wedding to attend the next weekend and that would be too much travel for her.  Then my mother, generously, offered to fly me down there.  I accepted her offer, but as a shot in the dark, asked my library director if the library would pay for the tickets as professional development since I spend so much time teaching craft classes.  She agreed, happily, so I will not even have to spend Mom’s money. My sibling is coming up to make sure that mom is okay while I’m down there, she’s on oxygen 24/7 and doesn’t get around too much.  A couple of my Father’s cousins are going to let me stay with them and they will shuttle me around.  This is going to be so much fun.  I really look forward to seeing a part of my family again as well.

I look forward to bringing back all sorts of stories and goodies.  This is going to be such a great time, now I just have to think of the right presents for my family that will be hosting me.  Perhaps a yarn in the tartan of my dad’s cousin-in-law, maybe a jar of painting supplies for the other cousin, well I have over a month to figure things out.

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!

A Good Idea in Progress

I now have two pages completed for my new fiber artist journal.  Grey Norwegian Wool Top and White Charollas Wool Top.  They are both spun, knit in lace & cable, then crocheted.  Mom suggested putting them in sleeves, which is where the glare came from, so that they will stay cleaner for longer.  It was a fascinating experience working with these two fibers and then yarns.  I can certainly see why a lot of people are hesitant to take the time to sample.  There were seven fibers in the Paradise Fibers Sample Box from January, I managed to spin five up quite quickly.  The sixth is spun, but the seventh is going to take a bit of time (I don’t feel too well so I don’t want to spin sick, knitting seems fine though).  Since spinning, plying, setting the ply, drying, balling up the yarn, it has taken quite a bit of time for me to knit up a lace and cable sample then crochet the left overs using single, double, half double crochets.  Once the samples are knit and crocheted they get another wash, then they are blocked and left to dry for a couple of days.  That is what is happening with the Black Welsh Fiber, once it is dry I will get started on the Mixed Blue Faced Leicester (I have the lace knit, I’m working on the cable next then crocheting the rest.)

In addition to creating a new, healthy, useful, practice, I am learning a lot about my spinning.  Mostly I am learning that I am not spinning nearly as thin as I thought I was, but that isn’t a bad thing really.  I don’t like working with the very fine yarns, okay I do want to make a very light fine shawl some day, for the most part I like having a sturdy yarn in my hand.  My knitting has gotten a lot better, I am not really afraid of ‘knit two together, yarn over, repeat 3’.  I am starting to understand what the lace looks like, I know I’m not doing it really ‘correctly’ yet, but I enjoy it.  My cables are getting better too, talk about something else I was afraid of, and I am starting to understand how many rows should be between cables to create certain effects.  The entire process is enlightening.  I am beginning to, sort of, see what knitters are talking about when they say that a two ply is better for lace than shawls, but I like how my cables are popping…I think that has more to do with using needles too small for the cables.

This is really a learning experience all around, and I hope to be able to instill some of these practices into my students…LOL.  I still have to figure out how to sample my yarns as weaving also.  Fortunately I have the backs of these samplers to put any weaving samples I can manage.

Happy Crafting!

 

Blooming an Idea Journal

It is already past the middle of January, ack!  I cannot believe that three weeks are gone.  Fortunately for me, these have been fairly productive weeks.  I received my January box from Paradise Fibers, it was a Breed Sampler Box!  How very exciting!  Since I am going to be teaching several classes on spinning this Spring I began thinking about the Journaling that is recommended for spinners.  At first keeping track of what you are spinning sounds like a real pain.  My excuse was “I just want to get good at spinning before I begin recording my results, it all looks bad right now.”

As a matter of fact, the ‘bad’ spinning that I didn’t like tends to get the most compliments.  Who knows, right?  Since these first heady…well okay 21 months….of spinning I have come to realize a few things:

A) I cannot just keep creating yarn, eventually I’m going to have to weave/crochet/knit it so that I can figure out what kind of yarn I (and possibly mom) like working with. (Thank You whomever came up with the ‘Half-Granny Shawl’ pattern it looks great no matter what yarn I use.)

B) If I don’t know what it looks like knitted (lace & cable) and crocheted (possibly eventually woven) then I won’t know what I want to use it for.  (My goodness, all of those people saying sample, sample sample, are on to something! *gasp*)

C) I won’t actually remember what kind of fiber that is a couple of months later when it’s in an unmarked skein and I’m trying to work with it.  (Okay, so I won’t actually remember what kind of fiber it is when I finish spinning it sometimes…did I mention I don’t have the best memory?)

D) By Gum, Journaling Might Be the Answer!  (actually journaling is the answer as well as labeling with water-proof labels.)

Given this hard won knowledge, but boy I have some really pretty skeins..if only I knew what they were made of other than ‘wool’…oh well, granny shawls here I come, I have decided to begin to journal my spinning starting with my January Paradise Fibers Box.

As of writing this post (okay last week) I had split each tube of fiber in half, keeping half in the tube so that I can have samples for myself and to show my students.  Half of each tube was spun, plied from a center pull ball, the twist was set.  I decided to spin 1/4 of my Targhee sample since I was given twice as much of that fiber and I saw something about spinning sock yarn from Targhee (I’m going to work on my consistency before tackling that).  My Targhee still has not been completely spun, I did start but work got in the way.

Before spinning each sample I took a staple of the fiber, taped it to a note card with the Breed, date, where I got it from, the wheel and settings I was using.  Then as I was spinning, usually near the end (when I remembered) I took off a sample of spun fiber, let it ply onto itself, then taped that onto the note card labeled ‘2-ply unfinished’.  *In theory if I did this when I was spinning and referred back to my ‘plyback sample’ I would be able to create a more consistent yarn, maybe in the next two years.*  Since finishing the yarns I have managed to Knit and Crochet two of them as well as blocking these pieces.

Okay, in all honesty I had to wash and block them twice.  The Paradise Fibers Box came with a sample of Unicorn Power Wash, I was really excited since I have been wanting to order from them but I didn’t want to invest a lot in case I didn’t like it (boy am I glad I waited).  When I washed and blocked my samples the first time, I was really excited with how they looked, but I started getting a headache which was odd for me.  After a bit of thought, especially with how sudden the headache was, I realized that it was the Unicorn Power Wash that was causing the headache.  I gave the samples a thorough scrub with Dawn and hot water, then rinsed them again.  There was still too much scent.  I wound up soaking them overnight with a lemon scented handsoap I had on hand, they are fine now.  However all of this washing caused one of my samples to ‘bloom’ a bit more than I would like but the halo effect is really pretty.

Once these samples are dry I intend to tape them onto a piece of paper, along with the sample card I made earlier, and put these into a sleeve to go in a three-ring binder (thanks mom for that Idea!).  I do plan on knitting *lace and cable* and crocheting each of the samples, so that I have a comprehensive journal of these fiber samples that I can refer back to in the future.  Okay, so I’m mostly crocheting to use up the last of each of my little skeins, I am better at crochet so I can make that sample fit any size I need it to.  I will also say that this sampling is a great way for me to up my knitting game, I was terrified of cables and lace before I realized that plain knit-one-side-purl-the-other wasn’t going to cut it.  I am almost positive that my ‘lace’ stinks but until I let a knitter see it I’ll live in ignorance.

This entire experience has been an absolute blast.  While I know it will be harder to find crafting time while I’m working I still like knowing that I have a specific project I am crafting toward, and a deadline really…April will be here before you know it!

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!