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!

Books and Knitting

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Mom has been a busy beaver with her destashing projects.  In the midst of that goal she began reading the newest book in one of her favorite series, “Gone with the Wool” by Betty Hechtman.  In this installment of a quirky series about a woman that inherited her Aunt’s  knitting retreat business they are exploring loom knitting.  Mom wanted to explore in more depth what they were talking about in the books.  Fortunately one of the crafting motto’s we live by is “If you see it, get it, you never know when you’ll see it again.”  Yes, I know.  This sounds like a wasteful motto, but thanks to this motto we happened to have some knitting looms on hand.  (Okay so we have the whole set except sock and afghan looms because I had a coupon and they were on sale at JoAnn’s a few years ago).  I had a project already started on one and Mom has gone to town ever since!  She made these six hats in 3 days!  One of the white hats has a bit of a problem since one of the rows seems to be a bit looser than the rest but all of the other hats are lovely.  We are currently debating if these hats are going to go to Paradise FIbers for their donation contest or to the local knit and crochet group for the local hospital instead.  Either way!

Go MOM!  Happy Crafting!

Using Up Stash

Mom found a couple of patterns in one of her Plastic Canvas Books and wanted to see how they would turn out!  Without buying anything new, these are the patterns she found and they are made up to be magnets.  If you excuse the shadows of my hands trying to aim the camera, these are just beautiful.  The Celtic Knot on the left and top right is made out of two shades of green with a white background using long stitches.  The heart on the right and bottom right is made from pink, red, and gold using a combination of long and regular stitches on a heart shaped piece of canvas.

They both turned out great, Go Mom!

Happy Crafting!

Progress, or not

So spinning every day was a great idea.  Unfortunately it did not take into account my being sick enough that dragging myself to work was about all I could do.  Therefore my spinning has fallen off track a bit, not irreparable though.  While I will not actually get 365 days of spinning this year, my goal was to take each month as it comes and deal with it that way.  January is sort of shot, I missed about 3 days, but I will finish strong and start up with February.

Speaking of starting up, Mom is almost fully recovered from her previous illness.  She has decided to see how many crafts she can finish with the supplies we already have laid in.  Essentially she has declared this her year of Stash Busting Crafts!  So far this month she has crocheted up 2 cowls from yarn she had on hand, I will put up pictures of those in my next post.

I have decided to accompany her on this quest, though for my major tapestry project I will need to purchase more wool in periwinkle, though I will admit to a desire to see how much of that project I can get done with the supplies I had already laid in.  (Warp threads, white weft, and some singles spun in periwinkle, with an addition of gold silk I hope to use to accent a particular portion).

I must freely confess I fear I am already making excuses for not following through, since my next thought is that I wanted to purchase some white wool to test dying techniques.  I suppose the best way of doing that would be to dig out what white wool I already have (alpaca, sheep, etc) and plan on using that to dye with until I have figured out which, if any, of the natural dyes get me the colors I want.  If the natural dyes don’t work the way I want then I will have just used some of my wool-stash anyway.  My next experiment is probably going to be centered around washing the batts that I carded containing ‘sticky wool’.  I am hoping that there is some lanolin or other processing oils contained in the batts that is making them sticky.  If that is the case then a good hot soak should loosen up the oils enough for me to wind up with a fluffy batt.  If not then washing with Dawn, if they start to felt then I might try to spread it thin and experiment with felting.

I am sort of excited to let the wool speak for itself and decide what it will become.  I am still spinning thin with the blues, now that I am feeling better.  So many exciting things going on!

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!