I Hate Colds

*Little to no Crafting Content in this Post*

So when I had Influenza this past spring it was three days, 2 of fever, one recovery, then I’m almost back to normal.  This blasted cold however is still going quite strong 8 days in, I actually had the pleasure of waking up with a bloody nose since I must have blown a blood vessel trying to keep this cold from turning into an infection.  So yesterday was my first day off in over 10 days, and I really just planned on sleeping.  There are things I needed to do in my house, I really hate that my garbage has to be out Sunday night for Monday Morning Pickup, but since I got most of that sorted out yesterday I should be good.  I simply have to put the garbage into the cans, it is already downstairs, and haul the cans to the end of the driveway.  Then tomorrow morning before I leave for work, pick up what the crows and vermin have managed to scatter out of the can.  Between running a few loads of laundry and getting the dishwasher loaded and run I managed to catch up on rest for the day, if not actual sleep.  I had hoped to go through with the 30 books in 30 days challenge, however we are almost to the middle of the month and I have read/listened to about 2 books.  There is the possibility that if I were to listen to audiobooks every free moment of the day I could finish the challenge strong, since that isn’t going to happen I will have to resign myself to not meeting that challenge.

I did manage to complete another row on the sleeves of my sweater, this means that I have 7 of the 14 rows I need to do before the 2 rows of single crochet.  It looks like I am lucky I decided to just have 16 rows total on the sleeves, my yarn is getting a bit short.

I hope to get more knitting done on my poncho from Jimmy Beans Wool, really I just need to buckle down and work on it.  I haven’t even gotten through the first month of the knit poncho or the crochet shawl and I received the third months kit in the mail yesterday.  I do realize that a good deal of my problem revolves around my need to start new projects all the time, my lack of free time, and the simple fact that I come home tired, eat something, take my pills (vitamins, diabetes, etc.), read some fanfiction, then go to sleep.

Checking on my schedule I am working about 50.5 hours a week, with 2.5 hours unpaid travel time between places and, honestly, about 12 hours travel time to and from work with time added in to grab fast food.  This means that for about 65 hours out of every week I am in pursuit of work related activities.  Then take into account that I should be getting about 40 hours of sleep a week and there are 168 hours in a week that should mean that I have about 60 hours free per week.  Of course, 2 hours each day to get ready eat breakfast, coffee, etc. 6 days a week takes this total down to about 50 hours free time.  Well, this is unexpectedly eye opening. I know that I waste about an hour each day playing a few facebook games, however I think this total means that I am spending about 30-40 hours a week reading fanfiction.  Not that there is anything inherently wrong with that, sometimes, however I might need to move out of my rut.  Huh, with these revelations (and figuring out that it takes me about 5 minutes to knit a row on the poncho) I am going to start tracking where some of my time goes a bit better.  I realize that I tend to get into obsessions, not always a bad thing, and that Glee Fanfiction is my current obsession.  I also realized that the Glee Lads Singing “I Believe In A Thing Called Love” are much better than the original artist, especially since Chris Colfer is an actual Countertenor.  Who knew that the music appreciation class Dad helped me with during my undergrad days would pay off even though I am effectively tone deaf.  Okay, that is enough random ramblings:
GOALS THIS WEEK:

  • Figure out where my time Goes
  • Finish the Sleeves
  • Finish the first month of my poncho
  • Work on the first month of my crochet cowl
  • Decide on next project (not Jimmy Beans Wool)
    • Socks, knit
    • Ladybug Cowl from Kelly’s Knit Club
    • Cover for Strickt Planner, Knit
    • New Sweater from Kit (You have about 3)
  • Finish Winding the warp for your first rug, 10 epi
  • Figure out how many inches each of the sections on the sectional warp beam are supposed to cover
  • Look up information about job for interview, figure out some questions like benefits package, outreach efforts, community demographics, etc.

Okay, it looks like my week is going to be busy.  Remember to Live 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!

A Studio

This was slightly unplanned.  I have an external garage that has been neglected a bit over the past ten years since Dad died.  The wood around the garage door has rotted away, looking horrible, and up until recently there were a lot of mice inhabiting it.  Last year Mom had someone put on a new roof, she also asked for an estimate to get the place fixed up.  That person quoted 5k to insulate, seal, panel, and fix the outside door so that it looked better.  Mom was  hesitant, so it did not get done last year.  This is probably for the best.  It turns out that the majority of the problems with the garage stem from a lack of gutters, this causes water to run down into the walls and rot away wooden portions.  There are also no supports anchoring the beams holding the walls to the ceiling which is causing them to bow in the middle.  I found this out because the gentleman that acted as my exterminator is a carpenter so I casually mentioned that I wanted the other garage fixed up if possible at or under the other estimate.  Admittedly I am currently 3,600 into it, but there is insulation and paneling already installed, he will be working on the wiring as well as the ceiling this week.  I have contacted an external source to get my garage door repaired, mostly a new opener as well as bottom gasket for the seal, in addition to a quote for a screen door that will fit on my garage door to increase air circulation.

Because my garage is getting fixed up, I feel that it is the perfect time to turn it into a studio.  With a metal therapy loom that will be perfect for making rag rugs, my supplies for dyeing wool, and possibly a section for gardening since I hope to create a dye garden, this would certainly give me plenty of crafting options for the spring, summer, and early fall.  At present my floor loom, the therapy loom, cannot be used since it is blocked in by my car.  By putting it into the other garage where there is plenty of space I should be able to start weaving rag rugs.  I am quite excited about this, I think that the rag rugs will be a good addition to my home as well as something that I can conceivably sell.  Right now my dyeing studio and kitchen are the same space.  If I can find a worktable I like then I can utilize my mini-crockpots to create  my own dyed colorways in addition to having a well ventilated space to begin experimenting with natural dyes.  In theory I would also want to begin looking into a rain barrel for natural water collection, but at $90 I do not know if that is something I would want to invest in, although not having to haul water from the house is an appealing idea.

So far I am looking into:

A workbench that will work well with my dyeing setup.  I have 4 mini crockpots, should I be able to use all at once on a surface that would be ideal.

Some form of storage, I had originally thought of a metal cabinet that can close, but if I have a utility shelving unit that can hold not only the dye supplies but weaving also that would be useful.

Potentially another shelving unit or a potting bench for my gardening section.  This is the part I am not certain about however.  I want a dye garden but I am loathe to introduce dirt into my new workspace.  Perhaps a potting bench that I can take outside?

This is going to take some time and effort to get right.  There is also the possibility of just using this space as some form of storage, but I am loathe to do that.  Not only would I be likely to forget what is there, not having frequent human habitation tends to encourage animals to take root in unoccupied spaces.

MS&WF 2- Wools and Sheep

I managed to add at least 13 new breeds to my fiber study.  There was one booth that had over 60 breeds, but mostly unwashed wool.  Since my mother has COPD (and is recovering from double Pneumonia) I am unwilling to bring unwashed fleece into the house.  While I am certain that the sheperds do their best, Wool Washer’s Disease is also known as Anthrax, so I am not going to take chances.

Below please find some of my amazing finds, I cannot wait to get started spinning them!D9786F29-BD2F-4F4A-B1A4-796420E78E90522df623-edcd-4526-be6a-4540e5008031.jpeg

Above are my two braids of Rambouillet from two different vendors.  As you can see one is white and combed top while the other is a natural brown and I believe carded.  The preparations and probably micron count are so very different but both are extremely springy.  I cannot wait to get my hands on them to test and spin!152BD26D-40F5-4FD8-9A9C-3E6957FA59F2

Above is my Tunis top, I have half of this section already spun into a single, I hope to ply and create samples over this weekend.  It was an amazing spin, if a bit coarse.  The dyed blues and pinks have mixed together in places to create an amazing purple effect that I am fascinated to see plied.2CBA7F34-70FA-481C-B641-8523292E1013

The extremely rare hog island I obtained is extremely full of vegetable matter.  The texture is very springy and I am looking forward to working with this fiber, but I also believe I might try to use the Hackle to get out a lot of the vegetable matter before attempting to spin this fiber.

I must have jiggled the camera an extreme amount while trying to photograph this Black Welsh, but the fiber is divine anyway.  A little coarse, but with that deep black color who cares?  24caf879-a0f6-44e0-a96c-b67c4ef94c82.jpeg

 

I managed to obtain lincoln roving as pictured here, and lincoln lamb locks as pictured below.  I will admit I made a mistake, the lincoln lamb locks are not the beautiful long locks I envisioned, they are quite short and I will probably use them to add texture to a batt instead of flicking them open for a true worsted yarn as I first envisioned.  The roving is luscious, though a bit coarser than I was expecting.F9B71DA4-4BB3-4F26-91CE-1F4ECBBAE662

This half pound of Karukal is just begging me to sink my fingers into it’s pretty softness and spin like the wind.  Soon, I promise soon!C839AED6-AF55-47BE-A7F7-DB5581FEB20D

This beautiful black braid of Zwartables is going to be a blast to spin, again it is on the coarser side of things, but who knows what it will do once it is spun and washed.  The guessing is half of the fun!694FFC24-009C-4604-8C3C-22B4BAA684A5

I went a little overboard with the Wensleydale, but I cannot for the life of me regret it.  I have this amazing half pound that I can use to spin worsted and see how well the finished yarn takes to dye as well as a braid of yellow Wensleydale near the bottom of the post that I can spin up and see the different shades of yellow pop out!99B83696-ACD8-42D6-864C-BBDAE22412C4

This braid of Textel seems to be on the downy side of wool, it should be a fun, soft spin, and the resulting yarn will be amazing (in its own way just like the rest of the yarns).714329AA-6DFF-4C20-8E65-B340C4891842

At the Coopworth booth they didn’t have any prepared roving but they did have an amazing selection of curls.  I love how they look in their bags and did manage to comb out a tiny portion on my new hackle.  They comb out beautifully, I think that as I have time I will pick apart the locks that I can find for combing and then use the drum carder for the rest.  This will give me a great chance to explore differences in preparation and how they effect the finished product.  So much fun and so much to learn!4CD66172-5F89-47F8-A734-B2F4FE163DEB

One of my patrons assured me that I already had some Finn that they spun as a part of their breed sample.  Oh well, I didn’t have it written down as a breed that I own, but even so this is such a fluffy bunch (and I was able to practice on an electric wheel for the first time with some skirted finn at the Folk Art Booth, so there is a special memory in this wool already).F1BC11E6-57B0-4035-9532-CDD205ABD86C

This mohair along with the pink locks below were obtained at a booth with two amazing ladies that offered to let me go see their goats anytime I wanted.  Even though I don’t live in Maryland I am tempted anyway!  At least I have this amazing roving and curls to play with!15633D07-5A4C-4293-AA33-771153D5DB4580BEA30B-B92E-4F76-B946-1F7FD546E4BC1CDB9AB4-EE61-46EF-ACF3-3E430363AF4B

No one ever told me that Cormo is one of the softest breeds ever.  I don’t know how this is going to spin up, but for now it is like petting my faux angora, so soft and beautiful!

The Cotswold below is such a delight to pet.  I cannot wait to spin it up.  The Ross Farm was one of two booths at which I found Four different Breeds that I had not spun yet. It was so much fun finding these different companies that raised or processed different heritage breeds.

7D9C0379-E0AC-4D5D-9E48-7D73DA6BEDF8This fiber is like trying to spin very coarse hair.  I have not gotten a chance to even pull it out of the bag other than the tail sticking out the top but I can already tell that spinning this is going to be interesting.  I cannot wait!93A291E2-CFBD-4828-A7FB-3F69B766DC8565BD7A1B-91DF-4006-8059-F0C4032B8F334885860F-0036-4032-981D-F46DCE671153

The last, but certainly not least, bit of fiber I purchased was some Superwash Targhee from a vendor that is friends with my father’s cousin who took me to Maryland Sheep and Wool on Saturday.  The colors are interesting but more than that I love spinning Targhee for it’s springy texture.  I am not thrilled that it is superwash, I have heard that some people have skin troubles with the chemicals used to make it superwash, but I look forward to working with it anyway.C7CBF171-AD58-43F8-AEC5-967E8E1CB892

So, there you have it, my stash haul from Maryland Sheep and Wool.  I cannot for the life of me believe that it was two weeks ago already.  Oh well, more time to save up for next year!

Happy Crafting!

Kool-Aid Results

I still don’t have any sugar free kool aid, so the sprinkling has not been tested.  Darn life getting in the way!  Unfortunately the blue wool wound up getting some rust since the pan completely dried out and began to rust a bit. That’s what I get for buying cheap pans, but it is a good lesson for the classes I’m teaching.  Take your wool out to let it drip dry.  So I had to throw out the blue wool (I might have been able to scour it but didn’t really want to mess with it).  Before I did that though, I did try and rinse out the Kool-Aid, and it did not move an inch.   The dye seems to have stuck to the wool despite the lack of heat.  This makes sense since there are individuals that Ice Dye with Kool-Aid and then do not seem to add heat.  I’m very pleased, and I will have to try this again when I have a free weekend and can do all of the steps in a day or two instead of a few days later.

Result: You can dye with kool-aid and no heat.  It does remain in the wool, however you want to take it out of your pan to dry, and rinse within a day or two.

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

https://www.interweave.com/article/weaving/free-weaving-tools-guide-from-weaving-today/?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=wt-alo-fb-180223-Freemium-WeavingTools

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!