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!

Weaving Tools

This is a brief article to promote the free pdf guide to weaving tools.  I thought that the article, though I really recommend the PDF as well, was thought provoking.

The author, Interweave Editorial Staff, I guess they know who wrote it, begins with an interaction they had with a very enthusiastic “Earth-Mother” Type.  *I like to think of them as the Simplicities.*  Those that eschew any tools that are above the bare bones basic.  Those that say “I didn’t buy a Niddy Noddy, I just use my foot.” Or “I’ll never buy a wheel, why waste the money when I can just spin with a stick.”  Or, “There isn’t any need to buy a big loom, I can do anything I need with Backstrap Weaving!”  (Okay, the last is an exaggeration but you get the idea.) *

So the author is being lectured about how tools can be very simple and don’t have to be complicated, then they ask the killer question.  Why?  Why would you want to stick with the simple tools when there are more sophisticated tools out there?  *Not that we should all go out and buy a Golding Loom, though that would be pretty neat.* If there are tools out there that help you be a better crafter, and let you get the results you need, then take advantage of them.

*If you have foot, ankle, knee, joint issues, and want to spin then either a drop spindle or an electric wheel might be better for you.  If you have rotary cuff problems then you probably don’t want to mess with a drop or supported spindle too much but a nice wheel or electric wheel might do the trick.  For weaving, if you have knee, etc. problems then a floor loom with treadles that you have to push down might not be the thing for you, a table loom where you can just flick a switch and the shafts respond might work.  If you have shoulder issues then a backstrap, inkle, or perhaps rigid heddle loom might do you more good than a table or floor loom.  (I”m not an expert, this is just some advice, for more information contact a guild, health professional, or support group.)

If you just HAVE to try everything in existence out, (and  can afford it) then go for it.  Honestly you don’t know if something works for you unless you try it out.*

This synopsis is almost longer than the article.  But, in conclusion, don’t let anyone shame you.  There is NO Cheating in crafting.  Even if you haven’t shorn the sheep, washed, processed, and dyed the wool, then spun it, finished it, wove it, cut the cloth, and sewn the shirt, your project is still handmade no matter which step you started your process on and no matter what tools you had to utilize.

Happy Crafting!

Getting Ready for Ravellenics & SAL

I am getting myself psyched up for the Paradise Fibers Spin Along for the Olympics as well as Ravelry’s Ravellenics.  For the spin along I purchased the Brights package from Paradise Fibers, it contained a rainbow of colors as well as three other shades off of primary, burgundy, a blue, and a fluorescent pink.  I didn’t think that these colors would do much but I wanted to card them with some sparkle anyway.  I loaded my handcards, and away I went.

I tried going for a bit of a striped effect but soon discovered that I liked how everything looked when it was blended more thoroughly.  I decided to create punis from my carding, since they are so much fun to spin, and I really hope that when I spin them they create an amazing tweed effect.


I decided, rather whimsically, to name them “Unicorn Fluff & Faerie Dust”.  They have a lot more sparkle to them in person than they do in this photo.

As for the primary colors, I will make that into another post when I have pictures.  I am very happy with how that turned out also.

As for the breed study, Heaven Help Me, I’ve decided to get a bit organized with it.  I managed to spin and knit 13 different breeds in January.  As stated in a previous post, I need to take more time with them.  Unfortuantely for my resolve to move onto something different until I find out what my guild is doing, Camaj Fiber Arts is selling Perenale Wool for $1 an ounce as their wool of the month (which might be different by the time you are reading this post).  So I have decided to look through the Field Guide to Fleece by Deborah Robson and Carol Ekarius to see what breeds I’m missing, which I already know are 90+.  This should be a blast to work through, and since I have created a spreadsheet I hope to minimize my duplication of effort.  In other words, I hope I’m not going to buy a bunch of breeds I’ve already spun, lol.  Back to listing breeds.  Later this week, or early next, I hope to post pictures of the pages I’ve already finished.

Happy Crafting!

Having a Blast with the Breed Study

I am having a blast with my breed study.  Right now I’ve got one sample blocked, one soaking, and I’m knitting up the last of the breed studies.  I’ve got 14 different breeds that I have managed to spin and knit.  Some I have managed to crochet, single, double, half double, into samples that are also on the breed study cards.  There was an amazing suggestion that I create weaving samples as well.  I managed to do so for one of the breeds, at 8epi.  I have as much information about how each of the spins were accomplished as I could manage, and I know what I can do differently next time.

The next time I do a breed study, which since my guild is planning on doing some fun spinning event this year might be pretty soon, I know what I can do to improve my spinning.  The first change I need to make is the time I spend on the spin.  I need to begin to enjoy the spin, working on obtaining a consistent spin and ensuring that I get as much yardage as I can to create samples and discover what I want my yarn to be.  I am thinking about utilizing some of the amazing information compiled on each breed then copying that information, with appropriate citations, onto a page placed in the back of each of the breeds I already have present in my study.  This would give me an idea about what each breed is good for.  I’m enjoying the spinning, enjoying sampling and seeing where things go.  I do know that I over-spun the Corriedale at least, but I really enjoy playing with what I’ve spun.  It certainly has inspired me to work with some of what I have created.

On a different note, Paradise Fibers has decided to create a Spin Along for the Olympics.  They are calling it the Spinlympics, and I plan on joining in.  I ordered the Brights pack, since I had a $20 coupon and they were having a 25% off sale I wound up getting the entire thing, shipping included, for $9.  The bag that is coming in with the kit is $8 on its own and the sticker would be a dollar as well, so (in my math) the wool, which is amazing, is free, just how I like it!  I’m getting my wool tonight so I am working on planning how I want to use the wool.  A fun aspect of this is that I am also planning on doing the Ravellenic Winter Games as a fun challenge.

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!


Slow Start, Working on It

I want to start by mentioning a really neat article I read about keeping your handspinning resolutions: by Interweave Press.  I can tell you right now, I have already invested in a new spinning too, a Portuguese Spindle I obtained from Mielkes Fiber Arts and I absolutely LOVE IT! However I told myself that since I got the hang of it a bit I would just leave it alone rather than spin all of that lovely merino silk on it so that I had a pre-made piece to show my students….but now that I am thinking about it…that’s downright stupid!

The more I practice with it the better I will get.  The more likely I will remember what I am doing with it.  Frankly I’m not doing much with my yarn right now anyway so if the skein winds up really little, who cares?  I’m going to master the Portuguese Spindle, which is a modified support spindle since you are supposed to have it in your hand the entire time, before I start teaching my classes in April.  I am also going to buy several other types of spindles and do my best with them in the next couple of months, including but not limited to a Russian Spindle, Navajo Spindle, and Tibetan Spindle (all three of these are support spindles).  I hope to get another Turkish Spindle and a Delegan (Scottish Style Drop Spindle) so that I have a very wide variety of spindles to show my students.

My next work project is to start typing out mini-lectures on different aspects of spinning for my classes.  I would like them to go away with not only a basic knowledge of How to spin but a basic appreciation Of Spinning, as a craft, history, way of life, building block that civilization was created from.

The mini-lectures are on the following topics:  History of yarn, types of wool, trusting your twist, exploring fiber preps, prepping your fiber, plying your singles and why, And Finally Creating your own spindle and whorl.

For the History of Yarn I plan on emphasizing how important yarn and spinning really is, every culture around the world does some form of spinning, and many have modified their own version of appropriate tools to do so.  Spinning can require amazing tools or just fiber and your leg.  It really is as simple or as complicated as you want it to be.  I will give a wide variety of demonstrations as we go through the lecture, at the end all of my students will be using a top whorl drop spindle to learn how to create yarn.

You get the idea, there really is a lot to spinning and I am very excited to begin to share this amazing craft with my students.  My group from last year seemed to be very excited, and I am using the gift certificate they provided me with to buy three of my spindles for this year!  As for creative things I have done, well I used a tissue box and some printed paper to make a donation box at the suggestion of my library board.

Happy Crafting!


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.


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:


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!