Much of my crafting is around some secret projects that I will review in late July once they’ve been gifted to the recipients. I also cleared off some bobbins so that I can take place in Tour de Fleece this year. It was so much fun plying up some random bits and bobs, as well as using my drum carder to open up a bunch of fiber to spin in July. I plan on giving my wheel a spa weekend and hopefully making a dent in my stash this year. *I did not manage to give my wheel a spa weekend, too many other tasks too up my attention, I did however manage to spin for the first few days in Tour de Fleece clearing up 2 of the 6 batts I have carded out.
As a demonstration piece for some of the classes that I’m running next week I spun up some flax to create linen yarn. I then boiled the yarn with cream of tartar for about two hours changing the water once after an hour. Judging by the lack of changing color I need to either do this for another two hours or find some soda ash and use that instead of cream of tartar. I also pounded on half of the hank with a hammer and the resulting product was much softer and somehow whiter.
In addition to secret projects and spinning things I have been working on a personal health experiment, I’ve been trying to get another hour of sleep every night. Ordinarily I go to bed at 10 PM and wake up at 4:30 AM giving myself a solid 6 1/2 hours of sleep. Recently I have been trying to wake up at 5:30 AM. I am capable of sleeping that extra hour, however, it leaves me feeling worse during the day and I do not accomplish as much as I do when I wake up at 4:30 AM. Since I’ve been running this experiment for about two weeks I have decided that it is an abject failure. I have tried to return to my usual sleep schedule, however things like TikTok and an inability to fall asleep have not helped. I think that I may try to shift myself to falling asleep at midnight for a 6:30 wakeup to see if that helps at all.
My washer and dryer have finally arrived! After 8 hours I was caught up on my laundry and ready to face another week! I also have begun to migrate more items into my third floor for storage and realized that I cannot keep the carpets in the carpet if I ever want the cat smell to be completely gone from my house. Large leaps forward and small steps back are what make up the dance of life.
I believe that’s it for the week, I will let you know more as things progress! Remember to live life a little more abstract.
There is always something new going on. I have been sending out applications to try and get a full-time job, last week I dyed a cotton as well as a bamboo warp and weft with the Enchanted Mountains Weaver’s Guild (which was a ton of fun), and yesterday I had to put down my cat one month shy of 21 years old.
Despite being a long haired cat my Dad, who was extremely allergic to cats, just adored her. He would sit on his chair in the living room and tap the arm with her brush, Precious would leap on his lap and start purring like a motorboat. When he passed she was beside herself, didn’t know what to do. After a while she realized he wasn’t coming back, but she had mom at home to dote on her all the time. For the past few years Mom and I suspected that she was going a bit senile, in addition to her progressive kidney failure and the heart problems we found out about spring of 2018. The vet tech said that if we started giving her medicine for the heart troubles she might live to see 20. We decided against the medication and Precious lived almost a year past expectations. I am lucky that I had her when Mom passed in October of 2018, however for the past three months she has been getting progressively worse. Between missing the litterbox, yowling half the night, and just lately not eating as much as usual, it was time to let her go. Now I get to spend the weekend trying to clean up all of the stuff she left behind and figuring out if I can salvage the bathroom or if I am going to have to invest in getting it completely retiled in the future. I’m not mad about any of it, I appreciate the time I had with her and I am sorry that I had to let her go.
I have done some spinning for Tour de Fleece, however not nearly as much as I would have liked. There have been opportunities for me to work on different crafts, just today I am receiving supplies to see if resin casting is something that I can reasonably do at the public library I work for. One of the trees, a choke berry tree I believe, had to be cut down outside our library. The director was very opposed to this action, however we needed a new storage shed. The maintenance person managed to salvage several of the berries and now I have the opportunity to play with resin as well as creating a keepsake for my Director. Win-Win!
I have made considerable progress on my Furls Crochet Coffee Cup Sweater, right now I am working on the body and hope to start the sleeves mid august. The only problem I have with it is, I will need to either wear something underneath or the yarn had best full quite a bit and close up some of the gaps. I knew that this was a possibility when I saw that I would be using double crochets for part of it. This might give me opportunity to bust out my t-shirt collection to wear as a layer underneath. I Have started knitting my third quarter poncho pattern from Jimmy Beans Wool and look forward to seeing the finished product.
I guess I have been busier than I thought. I will either be starting back up at the University Library I work at or be starting a new job. If the former I will have more time to blog, if the latter it might be a little while until I get into a rhythm again. If I obtain a new job I will post notification of a hiatus.
Until next time, remember to live life A Little More Abstract.
Before beginning the meat of this post, I want to state: I know that there has been a lot of politics involved in the crafting community in 2019. I am glad to be able to support diverse pattern makers, yarn suppliers, and more. I believe that the BIPOC crafting community as well as the LGBTQ+ community should have a voice. I am not willing to comment further on the political actions that some private websites and communities have taken. Onto the crafting!
Tour de Fleece 2019 has started! This is a roundup of my first week, it’s sort of pitiful.
Above are the fibers that I am going to spin this year, mostly the Shetland Moorit that I did not get finished with the Hap-Along. I have been concentrating somewhat on the crocheted sweater that I hope to have completed by September as well as looking for a full-time position. Due to these distractions I have not accomplished as much spinning as I had hoped, though I have managed to spin 4 of the last 7 days. I have made significant progress on my sweater, however it does not look like much right now so I did not bother to take a photo.
Hopefully next week I will have more to report, especially since I will have had my Dyeing Day with the Weaver’s Guild. That reminds me, I’d better wind my cotton warp this week!
Happy Crafting and remember to Live Life A Little More Abstract!
I love the alpaca seconds I was gifted with.
Due to the time consuming nature of cleaning these bags of alpaca I have decided to give Tour De Fleece a miss this year. This is an event that lasts as long as the Tour de France and involves challenges, rest days, and more just as the bicycling event. More than that it involves spinning everyday. While that is an overarching goal of mine, I would also like to focus on ensuring that I have this alpaca clean and ready to spin for the fall and winter. During these warm days as well as these rainy days I hope to take advantage of the weather, setting the fleece out on my brand new sweater racks while it is raining to wash them in a natural way, as well as setting them out in the sun to make sure that they are as dry as possible before I begin the next step in processing them. I am also hoping to comb or card out the fleeces before the snow comes, this will allow me to dispose of the fluff I cannot use in an eco-friendly way. Putting it out to be used as lining for animal homes or to decompose as mulch.
Flicking open the locks where I am able to and carding what does not flick is a time consuming process. For some of the coarsest seconds I attempted to turn the fur into batts, I managed to get three batts done, but I do not know if they will spin up very well. I plan on trying to spin them in a regular manner and if that does not seem to work, core spinning them. If it turns out that I hate spinning these batts, I do plan on gifting them to whomever wants them from my Guild. I hope to do this before my next batch of fleece is dry, that way I will know if this is a viable option for preparation.
That may have to wait though, I am currently spinning my June Box from Paradise Fibers, I am spinning the last third of those singles. The first two are pictured below.
My original intention was to ply the three bobbins together, however it is possible that they will be too muddy when I am done. Because of this concerns I will probably do a test sample to knit up, once I decide if I like that or not I will either ply all of them together or spin up a white single to ply with these.
Whew, that will keep me busy for a while!
Okay, so I didn’t do a lot with Tour De Fleece. Certainly not as much as I had hoped. On the other end of the spectrum my crafting classes are going very well. I have a lovely core group of ladies that are really enjoying the crafts I am introducing them to. Wet felting was a sloppy bit of fun, needle felting went off like a rocket (if you call it stabbing something a few hundred times it generates a lot of interest), and these past two weeks my ladies have taken to spinning like they were born for it.
During my Guild Meeting I managed to weave most of a towel, I have since finished that towel, woven another and a couple of coasters since I didn’t have enough warp for a third towel. I have also spun about half of my June Fiber box from Paradise Fibers. Okay, so I know most people are through their July Boxes but I don’t have that kind of crafting time.
I swear this is progress! I am still working on spinning up my 4oz of fiber straight from the roving in an attempt to create a unique piece from my June Box. While it does not look like I have made much progress, I swear it is there. I Can see my piece of fiber getting smaller and my bobbin filling up bit by bit. I do have to confess, I love my Woolee Winder. I cannot even begin to imagine trying to get even spinning while changing hooks constantly. I do realize that many people do not have any trouble changing hooks, spinning fine and doing a great job at both. I am still very excited to see this piece done so that I can work on the next. In between this piece and starting the next I will be teaching a spinning class at my public library, very exciting!
Last week I also attended the Southern Tier Fiber Arts Guild Meeting in Wellsville, NY. The ladies were all lovely and I look forward to attending again next month! This Friday I will be weaving a towel in Bradford, PA. What fun!
I have made some progress on my major spin for Tour De Fleece. More importantly from my perspective, I have decided to take my time and enjoy the step I am working on. My personality is such that I am usually looking toward the next thing. The next project, the next skill, the next thing to learn, etc. This means that I do not really spend much time, if any, enjoying the step that I am on. Recently I have been reading where several spinners talk about the hours of enjoyment they have gotten from a piece of fleece/fiber. I have, for me, a large project that I am spinning toward.
Paradise Fibers sent me 8 oz of their Merino Blend in Bloom. I split that in half to perform a Monet Spin, if you’ve been following me you know this already. At present I am spinning about 4oz of the top in a straight short forward worsted spin on my ladybug. This is resulting in the finest and most consistent spin I have ever accomplished. However, instead of relaxing and enjoying this spin I am eager to get to the next step, spinning up the carded fibers. I am also eager to see what the final plied yarn will look like, I have done two ply back samples and I believe I will have either a lace weight 2 ply or a DK weight 4 ply. (it’s pretty fine)
Right now, I have spend almost three hours spinning up this first part of my fiber. I am only capable of spinning about an hour or so at a time, the fineness of this spin means that should my concentration waver too much I will lose my consistency. In those three hours, I have barely made a dent in my top. This being said, I have made a conscious decision to do my best to enjoy this time creating this yarn. Haste makes waste is very apt in this case. I am spinning a fine consistent yarn, taking my time, concentrating on how I am spinning and the results that I am obtaining will be key to enjoying this spin. At my current rate of spinning I should get another 21 hours of enjoyment from this fiber. Let’s see how it goes!
On day 3 I did not get much spinning accomplished, that darn work got in the way. However I did manage to get half of my “Bloom” roving carded up to be spun in the “Monet” way. It appeared as though for a true “Monet” spin the fiber was to be hand carded. I did do about half of this section of fiber, a quarter of the total fiber, on hand cards but the other half was done on a drum carder. I love how this fiber turned out.
As for the 4th day, I managed to begin spinning the roving from my wrist distaff as it came. This is great practice for me, not only spinning consistently, but moving across the end of a piece of top. Both skills are taking quite a bit of concentration so I can only do so for about an hour at a time. This means that this 4 ounces of fiber is going to take quite some time to spin. I fully intend to enjoy the experience to the fullest of my ability!
I promise this really is about 2 hours of spinning. There is some corkscrewing, but from my experience these things tend to work themselves out in the plying.
I received my June Box from Paradise Fibers just in time for Tour De Fleece! Their Suggestion was to spin this Bloom Roving in a manner different from how it would normally be spun by me. One of the suggestions was to spin it in the Monet style. Well I had no idea what that meant, so I had to investigate. From what I can find out, without paying for the book or article which I might do in the near future, this is a method of spinning where a top is divided in half then half is spun straight from the top and the second half is spun from a carded preparation. (rolags seemed to be what I saw). Given these parameters I finished off my bobbin from the first day, split my top down the middle and started looking at it. Half I wound onto my wrist distaff, the picture on the right, and the other half I decided I would take into work to card up. (My drum carder and hand carders are living at work until my workshop series is over).
I’ve been watching the Craftsy Video Spinning From Woolen to Worsted by Jacey Boggs Faulkner. She has some great suggestions on getting a more even yarn and how to spin more thoughtfully. Given that advice I am attempting to spin this yarn more thoughtfully and at a smaller, more consistent, diameter. My progress from Day 2 is on the bobbin. I am enjoying this spinning experience and hope that I am becoming a better spinner.
On July 1, 2017 my Tour De Fleece started out with a bang. I decided that since the Tour De France was starting with a time trial I would spin as much as I could as fast as I could. This means that I wound up with a very full bobbin and I was very happy. The results are not perfectly even, but that is not how I spin anyway. I am very pleased with this bobbin, it has since, on the second day, been finished with the last of that fiber as seen below. I then wound that off as a center pull ball for plying at another time.