Alpaca Adventures and More

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!

Happy Crafting

Year Long Spin-Along

https://plymagazine.com/ply-books/51-yarns-spinalong/

Ply Magazine, to celebrate their first book, is going to be hosting a Year-Long Spin-Along.  51 Weeks of chances to win  a year-long subscription to their magazine.  Being honest with myself, I cannot express how very happy I am that I pre-ordered this book before I even knew about the contest.  Now I get to participate, you can without purchase, follow along, and I saved $4 off of the cover price, lol.  This brings my thrifty heart a great deal of joy.  More importantly than all of that, this will bring 51 weeks of challenges to one extent or another.  The first few are easy enough, but I hope I will be able to get to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival this year so I can pick up some supplies for a few of the challenges.  Spinning a dual coated sheep will be interesting, but I have to find a source for the outer coat, a source for the inner coat, and a source where I can buy both coats mixed together.  Likewise with the lock spinning, I can find them, but my thrifty soul has issues with spending $10+ on an ounce of locks (very pretty locks don’t get me wrong) then another $5+ for shipping and handling.  If I can get a good price on some pretty locks at the festival then go me.  If I cannot get there this year, that is up in the air and I’ll blog when I know, then I’ll have to suck it up and find some good sales.

Had to share the excitement!  Happy Crafting!

Breed Study Sheets Progress

These are my breed study sheets so far, February 2018.  I plan on doing a lot more with this project, but other projects have taken my attention.  I have two new breeds waiting for me to spin them up and a third on order.  I am also considering doing a similar project with the artificial ‘vegan’ fibers that I have available to me so that I can get an idea of what they are like spun as a yarn on their own.  This may wind up being a lifetime project!  YAY!

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.

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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.

Have a Very Crafty New Year

Right now my New Year looks to be full of crafts.

Almost every week I will be teaching a craft class at my public library.  They will cover a wide variety of topics from spinning yarn, weaving, making bath bombs, and much more.  I am really looking forward to these Monday’s.

In addition to this, my mother has decided that I need to needle felt a nativity for next year.  I’ve tried to explain that I’ll have to do one animal a month or some similar method to that, she is adamant so assembling the fibers for this project is next.

This year, my crafting goals are a little different.  I hope to work on assembling a collection of types of spindles from around the world.  This should be a ton of fun, and I am really looking forward to discovering how to use all of these different spindles.  In addition to my spindle and spinning exploration (and my new felting projects) I hope to advance my weaving skills in the new year.  With the Nativity I am now going to felt, I was thinking about seeing if it is viable to weave the camel coverings in bright and beautiful colors.  I do not intend for this to be anything too fancy, but I do plan on making several variations and enjoying the process.

The first step in my new year of crafting, in addition to buying the wool I need, is to cut off all of my old warps (since I wasn’t weaving them anyway) and starting fresh in the new year!

Happy Crafting All!

The Great Clean and Drag

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Some of you might remember my Loom from last year.  If you don’t, a gracious lady donated this heavy, metal, therapy loom to me.  At the time she thought that she would be moving to Maine, that fell through but she will be spending the Fall in Spain and walking El Camino, and so she was worried about transporting this monstrosity.  Her kind offer was met by great gratitude on my part.  I then set about trying to make sure that it would be in the best working order I could manage.  I spent the entire month of July 2016 scraping off old paint, trying different methods of rust removal, adding new paint, buying a new stainless steel reed, getting the heddles in order, and so much more.  Along the way I learned everything I could about the loom, along with NEVER SCRAPE OFF OLD PAINT, JUST PAINT OVER IT.  (lead content concerns, no point in courting cancer)

I left the loom to the mercies of my detached garage, the door doesn’t seal quite right and it is right up against the woods so, like all of the garages in the region, it tends to get mice.  At the end of 2016 I still could not get each of my treadles to move independently.  I utilized every trick I knew of and a few I begged off of guild members and still could not get the last two to move separately from each other.  I spent the winter brooding over it, and for most of the summer did not get around to doing anything with my loom.

Then early in September, my last weekend before the colleges I work for started up again, I dragged my big loom into the sunlight.  Now over a year later I looked at her again.  I need to touch up the paint, see if I can get some of the rust off of some of the springs, and warp her up to make some rugs eventually.  What I did accomplish was  enough for me, for now.

I wiped her down with Clorox wipes, making sure to pay attention to anything that looked like it might be detritus, and let her dry while I tried to get the painters tape off of the treadles (don’t let that sit on wood for a year, just not a good idea).  Then I took a cheap little hacksaw to the part of the treadles that looked like they were sticking.  My beautiful yellow loom snapped that hacksaw like it was plastic, luckily it snapped in the wood and didn’t cause me any injury.  Okay, so that isn’t going to work, oh well it was only a couple of bucks.

Next I went to the files I had purchased.  They are supposed to go into an electric drill, but, my cordless drill is not very robust and I cannot figure out how to change bits in my father’s old drill.  However, by hand I managed to hack and saw through some of the wood and loosen up the treadles, bit by bit.  After a half an hour or so of going over the top, up through the bottom of either side of both of the sticky treadles I began to move them at cross purposes, one up one down, several times very quickly.  They loosened up enough that I was able to get them each moving very freely.  I cannot say for sure if it was the naval jelly last year, the hacking, or just the sheer fact of trying to move them independently, but I am very happy to say that my treadles now work on my loom.  At least they did a couple of weeks ago.

Once I had her treadles moving as they ought I turned my attention back to tying up her harnesses to the appropriate treadles.   I had some Texsolv cord from last year that was anchored to each harness and then tied to the treadle, but not properly since they did not have freedom of motion at the time.  This was an awkward motion since I had to reach quite far back with my foot in an attempt to reach the point where I could push at the Texsolv to move a heddle or two.  Now I attempted to tie up my heddles to the treadles the way they were meant to be.  Okay, so my loom was on it’s side and when I turned it back over my treadles are almost flush to the floor and not really able to open a shed.  Oh well, at least they are threaded through the treadles and it is just a matter of taking up the slack so that they treadles are appropriately in the air and able to jack up the shafts.

By this point I am certain that you are wondering why I am going to all of this trouble right at the end of the season.  After all she is just going to go back into the external garage again, right?  Nope!  I managed to clear out a lot of my college stuff, it’s only been 10 years, from the garage under the house.  Now my beautiful yellow loom is living in my attached garage, yay!  There isn’t really a lot of room to warp her up so I do not know if I will have time to get her set up for Rugs before I have to start putting the car in the garage, but at least now she won’t have to worry about mice.

Hopefully next year I will be able to get the external garage cleared out and sealed up appropriately.  Until that time, I will get to look at my loom and hope that I get a chance to make up some rugs this winter.

Happy Crafting!