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!

 

Phat fiber box September 2018

I adore how many beautiful sets of fiber arrived in this box.  There are a coup,e mini skeins of yarn that should be fun to lay with. I also received about 4 stitch markers as a lovely pin.  The box arrived less than a week after it was ordered.  I cannot wait to start spinning these  and hope to show off when they are done.

Happy spinning!

Faerie Knitting by Alice Hoffman

This is a lovely book that serves not only as a pattern guide but as a reminder that Faerie stories come from within as well as being passed down through the ages. All too often we forget in our times of ‘politically correct’ and ‘historically accurate’ that these stories were constantly revised to fit the day that they were being told while remaining true to the lessons within. I love that there are no names associated with these, no major background information or world building, they are just simple tales with simple morals. Some of the morals are a little progressive, and the stories are all set within rural environments (with the occasional city or castle thrown in), but they are still very well written. I love the patterns also, though at my skill level they are mostly beyond me, but they are certainly worth aspiring to complete.

Happy Reading!

Sheepspot Podcast by Sasha Torres

Sheepspot by Sasha Torres is a great podcast and an overall great spinning resource.  If you are looking for a podcast that will help you become a better spinner then this is the first one I would recommend.  She is very strict about sharing information and making it clear that each podcast is going to have a lesson to teach, but that there will be print resources available.  Even if you do not listen to the podcasts, subscribe to her newsletter.  You will certainly get more out of it if you do both, but even with just her newsletter you will gain access to all of the great resources she publishes.  At a wild guess I would say that Sasha is a librarian or otherwise involved in higher education, she gives detailed resource information for all of her podcasts and makes sure that the information is concise, clear, and readily available.  As of the writing of this review she is just working on six ways to get out of a spinning rut, her online course.  It does run a bit expensive, but I imagine it will be handy.  Since I have not taken it, nor will I have the means to do so in the immediate future, I cannot say it will be worth it or not.

Check out this great podcast/resource.  It is well worth the time.

Happy Listening.

Prairie Girls Knit & Spin Podcast

Prairie Girls Knit & Spin, I will confess I have not managed to get caught up with this series at the time I wrote this review.  Even saying that CHECK THIS PODCAST OUT!  It is amazing.  The ladies that are responsible for this podcast are very funny, knowledgeable, and willing to let their knitting geek flags fly proudly.  They are always working on new projects or finishing up new projects.  If I was at all willing to spend more than 15 minutes knitting at a time I would be very jealous at how much they can achieve from week to week.  Since knitting is just a minor hobby of mine I’m not too worried about it and I really enjoy hearing about their progress.  They are always hosting new contests and other events, they have KALs or Knitalongs (but they don’t have very firm deadlines, which I can get behind).  While Prairie Girl Susie seems to be a strict knitter Prairie Girl Danie knits, dyes, sews bags for her website, and spins, so there is a variety of topics to keep a listener interested (and that is how they refer to themselves, as Prairie Girls).

If you are looking for a podcast featuring two very enthusiastic knitters that love to share their wisdom, enthusiasm, and donated goodies then this is the podcast for you.  They can go on for 40-60 minutes so this is not a quick listen podcast.

Happy Listening!

The Wheel Magazine by Ashford Handicrafts

This is an interesting publication presented by the Ashford Handicrafts Company.  For $10 NZD (New Zealand Dollars) per year you can have a subscription to this publication as well as access to the past digital issues.  Since this is under $8 USD this access is an amazing value.

While there are quite a few advertisements for Ashford products, they are good products, there are a great number of projects and techniques mentioned and described in the publication.  For 14 past issues, each one having more than 40 pages, and a new years worth of subscriptions this is a great value.  In issue 28, 48 out of 52 pages were about projects rather than products, though their products are featured heavily.

From what I have skimmed of the publications there are at least 4-7 projects featured in each issue that are described in depth and would be fun to work on.  Their crafts range from spinning, carding, weaving, felting, and more.  A wide range of fiber arts, that show off ashford products, are readily available to work on as well as being easily accessible to all levels of crafters.  These projects are broken down so that most people can follow them, or at least figure out the terminology for the aspects of the craft you are having difficulties with.

Happy Crafting!

(I am in no way affiliated with/sponsored by the Ashford Handicrafts Company.  I simply discovered this new periodical I had been unaware of and decided to write a brief review.)