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.

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!

Slow Fashion in the Midst

Thanks to a plethora of circumstances, I am finally close to being financially on track again. In October I will be able to pay my school taxes on the house and start saving for my January slump. Given these circumstances I am beginning to focus once more on finding eco-friendly clothing in my size. I would say at a decent price, however the prices for something vaguely eco-friendly start around $60 and usually hit $100-$300 very quickly. I am starting with socks, I tend to need them since I am on my feet quite a bit. I have 2 pair of alpaca, 1 of buffalo, and 1 wool from Ireland that I was gifted last Christmas. I enjoy all of the socks, however I love the wool ones since they remind me that I am loved. I noticed last week that I was getting a tiny hole in the toe of one of my Irish socks. Surprisingly, coincidences are really spooky sometimes, Jimmy Beans Wool then sent an advertisement about their new sock repair loom. To be forthright, I had not even done a google search on darning yet so this was complete coincidence. Needless to say I ordered the repair kit, then took a closer look at my socks. Yes, there is a tiny hole starting in the toe.

Tiny hole starting the the upper left part of the sock, looks like a bit of fraying from this photo.

However, when I looked at the socks closer something else became apparent.

Both of the heels had blown out of my, not even a year old, socks. Okay, the socks themselves never fit quite right, always really loose and slippery. I can see how this would contribute to a blow out of the heels. I will take my new darning kit when I get it and repair the holes, probably reinforcing the heels and toes at the same time. Yay for trying to extend the life.

On another front I have been spinning off the singles I had spun on various weaving bobbins in the hopes of freeing them up to ply from during the spin in. I love some of the yarns I have made, though this also reinforced the knowledge that I cannot spin silk from a center pull ball…all that silk wasted. Oh well.

Yarns of various weights, colors, and skein sizes.

MEDICAL TALK, VERY QUICK. SKIP TO AFTER *** IF IT MAKES YOU SQUEAMISH. The pin that was stabilizing my wrist was taken out last Thursday. I started with exercises designed to help me regain mobility on Friday. I am already seeing minor improvements, and hope to see another physical therapist soon to keep regaining mobility!***

There have been a lot of posts on Facebook of people discussing their fiber preparation for the upcoming spin along, someone was talking about the 16 pounds of fiber they have to spin, yeesh. I was happy with my couple of pounds and wild skein. Now I think I’m going to have to try and prep another few packets from Paradise fibers as well as choosing which braids I’m going to spin for the class I signed up for during Vogue Knitting Online October 8-11. These are going to be a busy couple of weeks. I am not happy that the spin in starts at noon on Saturday October 3 since I will be at work. Perhaps instead of taking a nap between shifts I’ll try and get started with some spinning.

Until next time, remember to 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!

All the Crafts

This has been a learning experience for me.  I have put up a fence around my well cap, it is right beside my driveway and but trucks tend to run over it.  I put up the remaining two fence pieces by my driveway so that my garbage cans cannot easily fall into the ditch.  I warped and started weaving on my rug loom in the detached garage.  I can shoot crafting videos, okay so I’m still improving on that.  I also discovered that I can spin if I hold my fiber very loosely in my bad hand, to do this I am  using my electric wheel because I tend to tightly grasp fiber in my left hand when using my regular wheel.  Knitting is something that can happen (on larger needles) because I only need to hold the needle still in my left hand.  (Crochet is not going to happen because I pinch my project in my left hand while crocheting to keep it still, that still hurts)  Socks still are not going to happen, however I can use size 4 needles.

 

I finished two plying projects, the one on the left is the Shetland Moorit I started spinning last year for the Spin Off Hap-Along.  The project on the right is when I took a couple of lace weight yarns that I plied together to create about a fingering weight yarn.  I do not think that this will actually be a fingering weight yarn, however I think it will be a wonderful project eventually.

I was able to swatch for a mitered square blanket I bought a couple of  years ago, when a knitted afghan project is under $35 it is hard to resist.  I’ve also progressed to knitting a worsted weight shawl out of the Hedgehog Fibres Potluck in a really pretty orange.  I crowd sourced whether I should add on some black or just be done, it was decided that I do not need to add on black.

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Finally I wound up lightly felting my 7′ shawl from my tri loom.  I took a photo before it came off of the loom, I will have a felting photo in another post.

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It has been very busy here.  One of my supervisors is talking about starting procedures for opening back up, presuming that we will be doing this in Mid May.

Remember to Live Life a Little More Abstract, and if you are an introvert check on your extroverts!  Be safe!

Keeping the Momentum Going

Alright, so I have not precisely kept my momentum going.  This week I have been forced to focus a bit more on my finances, my resume, and working on my crafting plans for the library I work at.  Plan for the worst, plan for the best, hope for the best.  That philosophy is generally how I manage to keep on top of work and my personal life.

My garage studio is coming along quite nicely, I am very pleased with the insulation going in.  There was a minor problem with a squirrel trying to make  nest in the corner, however that has been cleaned out and sealed up quite tightly.  My handyman suggested that I look into indoor outdoor carpeting for the floor once everything is insulated and the paneling is up.

There has been some crafting going on however.  I have not made any real progress on the crocheted sole, I hope to do some this week.  I am almost finished with half of the spinning for the mystery knit along from paradise fibers.  Since that means there is another half to spin, ply, and then start knitting, I do not anticipate that being finished this upcoming week, though tomorrow may surprise me.  I grabbed a drop spindle, one of my less expensive ones, and a piece of fiber to take with me.  I am currently working on spinning that up to be used as embroidery thread for a pretty flower pattern I found.  If we count paper crafting in my list of accomplishments, then I have been working on using the stickers I obtained from Stickii to upgrade my bullet journal, it is looking very fly.  I also purchased some cardstock and a 3 ring binder to create my own version of my samples notebook from Kate Larson’s class.  Wow, I guess I did more crafting than I thought.

Thursday one of my co-workers decided that we should talk about Halloween costumes, I mentioned that I have a red velvet cloak and she suggested that I make cat ears.  I’m not sure how those two topics combine, however I decided to make wolf ears.  My basic plan is essentially Little Red Werewolf.  So far I managed to create the basic outline for the outer part of the ears.  I hope to crochet an inner piece that has white inside along with some white chenille for texture.  The plan is to then sew these ears, probably stuff them a little, onto a headband (which I still have to crochet.)

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I am really happy with how these are turning out.  Tomorrow is my day off.  I had ordered a Blue Apron Box to arrive on Saturday so that I could do the cooking and have the meals ready to grab this week.  Of course that means that the box will arrive on Monday by 9pm, my next short day is Thursday.  This probably means that I will spend some time this week scrambling to make sure that I can cook the meals in the mornings before I leave for work.  The main problem with this is the need for things to be cool before putting them in the fridge.

Life is complicated and every time I think I have things under control something happens.  However, this is not going to stop me from living 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!

Finn and Firefly

Spinning for the Hap begins tomorrow, so I have cleared the Finn that I spun for a breed sample off of my bobbins.  I managed to get 56 yards before washing, I love how it looks.  I am aware that I tend to overspin my yarn in places creating those little curls in the plies, but I really like that effect so it will probably remain.  I spun the Finn singles on the Ladybug and really enjoyed the process.  I used the Spinolution Firely to ply the finn as well as another sample I had created.  Let me back up a bit.

I obtained the Firefly for Christmas so that I can use the 2 pound bobbin (32oz) capacity to create very large skeins.  I originally intended to spin singles using my Ladybug and ply using the Firefly.  I did have to try the Firefly spinning singles first (I just had to, there was a leader already on the wheel) and this was a great way to figure out how the controls work and how well I like this wheel.  The truth is that I really do like this wheel, though I cannot pinpoint why.  There are a lot of options that allow this wheel to work however you want it to, if you like it on the floor then that works, you can put it on an angle, if you prefer it on the table then do so, you can even angle it on the table.  Should you be working with larger yarns then there is a hook rather than an orifice option.  You can easily switch between the larger and smaller heads, though the drive band is a bit finicky.  When using the 32oz option you need to turn the speed to the second dot before it will begin moving, and at that point it moves at a leisurely pace.  It is easily set up with so little pull you have to almost force the yarn onto the bobbins.

If you are looking for a wheel to help a beginning spinner focus on twist and draft then I highly recommend this wheel.  Without worrying about treadling at all the beginning spinner can focus on twist and draft while the yarn gets spun at a very leisurely pace.  If you are an intermediate spinner that wants to become more mindful of your spinning, or simply wants to be able to ply two completely full Bulky Plyer Flyer bobbins of singles together into a single skein, then this is the wheel for you, with the 32 oz head.  Actually, I think that any spinner that wants to work on bulky yarns and art yarns would benefit from this wheel.  I am certain that expert spinners can come up with even more options than I have mentioned here.

For me, there was a bit of a learning curve, but I believe that this is true of any new tool.  I like the idea of the hook orifice so I have kept that one on, but I do find that I do best when I hold the yarn straight out from the hook.  If I hold the yarn to one side or another I tend to get little jerky shakes in the yarn which can lead to breaks in finer yarns.  For plying, this is an absolute dream.  Since I am not worrying about treadling I get to focus on the yarn forming those little perfect bumps and then feeding onto the wheel.  I get to slow down my plying and see how everything looks without worrying about bobbin chicken or hurrying up to get the wheel free for more spinning.  The ability to change the speed at which I am spinning simply by twisting a knob, as well as the lack of worry about speeding up or slowing down as I get excited by the yarn/music/book/show is amazing.

If you are thinking of getting an electric spinning wheel then focus on what you want out of it.  I do not recommend the Electric Eel Wheel mini, the drive band broke on mine and I purchased the replacement recommended.  Right now, and for the last couple of months, it is under some extra tension to stretch it out a bit so that when it is on the wheel the little motor can actually spin the bobbin so that I can get some twist in the yarn.  Splurge a bit, get a really good wheel by a very reputable maker.  Maybe some of the other eel wheels are fine, but I am not impressed.  If you want to be able to spin really big yarns make sure that your model has larger spinning heads, if you want portability check weight, if you want lace weight see if the wheel you are looking at is good for that.  Above all, check reviews!

Happy Spinning!

 

Paradise Fibers Video

I am always surprised when I realize that there is something that I have not even attempted.  I consider myself a fairly tech savvy person, while I do not like how I look or sound on camera I did think that I made a conscious decision not to get involved with uploading videos to Instagram and Youtube.  WRONG!

It turns out I was just a big chicken.  With the help of iMovies and my photo library I have been able to upload unboxing videos and tutorial videos quite easily from my iPad.  I admit that I have added no verbal commentary nor any music to my videos, since I tend to mute those anyway I choose to believe my lack of sound does not detract from my videos.  My explanation of how I am spinning my fiber is in this video.  I am very grateful for the Paradise Fibers challenges with this month’s Fiber of the Month Box since it required me to think outside my usual box and try something new.

On another note the first yarn for my first set of curtains has arrived.  As soon as I figure out how long I want this first warp to be I will warp a loom for my first set of curtains.  The yarn is a cottolin blend that I hope will turn into amazing curtains.

I have not set up my 2019 crafting goals, so that is in the works.  Until then, try something new!

Happy Crafting!

 

Spinning with Nepps

For the August Fiber of the Month Club we were sent some beautiful fibers and Nepps to work with.  If you do not know, nepps are ususally bits of fiber that were caught in the teeth of the drum carder and became little wool balls.  Sometimes these are the weak tips, or if the fleece was too fine for the kind of carder you have it will result in nepps.  In this case it looks as though it were little felted wool balls dyed to go with this box.  They are a really pretty rainbow of colors and I was sort of excited to get them.  I sorted them out by color and used some of the little bits and some Perendale Wool I had to create little rolags to spin woolen for a fine, light, colorful yarn.

Nepps went everywhere.  I had not used a large amount to begin with, but what I did have went everywhere leaving few in the yarn.

Perendale spun Woolen with Nepps

I was undaunted, okay, I was a little daunted.  However I decided to persevere.  I used my drum carder and some Corriedale wool I had.  I put down a layer of Corriedale, then some nepps sandwiched under some Wool, and I kept going.  This resulted in a very pretty batt.

Corriedale Batt

I then proceeded to spin this into a thicker yarn.  The resulting yarn was neat and textured, but there were still a ton of nepps everywhere.  When I plied even more nepps flew off, and when I washed the resulting skein even more nepps wound up flying everywhere.  I sort of like how the skein turned out, but I really want to be able to spin a finer yarn with the nepps (I will probably never do anything with the bulky yarn).

Corriedale spun semi woolen from batt with nepps thick

I look forward to continuing this journey and seeing where I am taken.  I will keep you posted as I learn more about how to use nepps in spinning.  Until then, Happy Crafting!