Falling into Autumn

Yes, I know that the title is quite cheesy. A quick update on life then into a craft I managed to work on during the past few weeks. The carpet dried quite well and the new dehumidifier is going strong. I do not believe that the carpet will need to be ripped up since I cannot detect any funky smells. This weekend I plan on putting the last of the kitchen and plastics I want to get rid of down to the curb for people to take and scrub the kitchen floor. This really is the last step to getting my house on the market, I’m nervous but excited.

Onto Crafting! In August I discovered something called Bengala Mud Dyeing. Well I could not let that go without looking into it further. One of the colors available went with the color scheme I am hoping to put in my new Living Room. To that end I decided I was going to dye 3 sets of Linen Curtains for the living room.

I started by running the plain, new curtains through the washer and dryer as I would anything else. I don’t really believe in babying my clothing/furnishings. By figuring out the weight of the curtains I decided I would need about 1/2 a cup of pre-fixer to dye all of the curtains. I used the grey water from my rain barrel to soak and squeeze the pre-fixer into all of the curtains. I let them soak overnight since I did this before I went to work one day. The next day I rinsed all of the curtains, again with grey water.

After that I let them sit for a few hours while I worked on other things. Later the same day I used some plastic storage containers to dye. Putting one piece of curtain, there were six total, into the container with enough water to cover the curtain. I then put some dye into the container and began to massage the mud into the fabric.

The massaging did take considerably longer than the 3-5 minutes recommended. I believe I massaged each piece for 10-20 minutes each. This was quite a bit of fun, and the results were quite interesting. I suspect that there were places that I did not manage to get enough fixative into the fabric since some of the panels look a little tie dyed.

My top recommendation, other than patience, with this type of dyeing is to not be disappointed in how dark the results are until you have thoroughly dried your pieces. I ran mine through the dryer and the very pale salmon color turned into a decently dark shade.

Each panel does look a little different, however I believe that they will be lovely in my new home.

Next week will be an update on my new Saori Loom and how things are going with that. Until then remember to live life in a way that is A Little More Abstract.

Interesting Week (not really)

Now, before I start writing this post I would like to remind everyone that I have Never claimed to be a good, or fast knitter. That being said, it took me 8 days to knit the cuff for the second Anne of Green Gables sock by Paper Daisy Creations. I really love the pattern, I will be starting the lace portion today, and I adore the color in the Purl Soho yarn I purchased on clearance when I visited Los Angeles with my sister in 2019.

17 rows of knitting using pink yarn on size 2.25mm Addi Flexi Flip Knitting needles.

I have been spinning on the lovely green wool I received, it spins up like a dream. The pin roving drafts so smoothly it is practically effortless while also being very meditative. I am really enjoying the process. The 2 ply sample I created looks great, however I believe I will wait to see what next months box brings me before figuring out what I want to do with this single.

MAFA (MidAtlantic Fiber Association) is having their Bi-Annual event this June as a Virtual event. This means that I will finally be able to attend. I had to skip Maryland Sheep and Wool since they mostly had their classes during the week and…well….I still have to work. Fortunately one of the classes I wanted to take is a class learning how to make Sprang Lace. I contacted the instructor early and our conversation was a bit weird. I asked her if I could purchase the loom kit she was selling as a part of the class even if I miss out on getting into the class. She responded that it wasn’t really a beginner Sprang class (then why are you selling beginner supplies as the supplies?!?) but I could take her 6 week course over zoom to learn Sprang in preparation for the class. Well since the course was several hundred dollars, and at 4pm on a Thursday I had to pass. Instead I purchased the loom through a source she recommended and the video she produced. Now I am going to spend the next month teaching myself Sprang so I am ready for her class mid-June.

The only other crafty related content is that I am trying to figure out what I want to do in regards to spring/summer wear. Originally I was thinking about purchasing cloth to make a few skirts and blouses for myself, not only to learn to sew and be a bit more eco friendly, but to have clothing that fits. There are several flaws in that plan however, the first being that eco-friendly cloth costs at minimum $20 a yard and a skirt seems to take about 3 yards for a plus sized skirt. The Victorian Walking Skirt I am in love with would take over 5 yards and is intended to be lined. $60-$100 for a skirt, plus the cost of the pattern ($10-$20) would probably be worth it if I have a one-of-a-kind skirt that fits me. However, I am also hoping to get down to my goal weight, then have surgery to remove the excess skin. Yes, I know that the end goal is still about a year away. However, it seems sort of wasteful to spend that much money on a single piece in my wardrobe that I would hope to outgrow in a year (well lose enough weight same difference). Admittedly, I spent more than that on my current shoes. However, I wear those shoes every day and will polish them to be put away for the fall and winter next year. Because of this dilemma, I believe I am going to purchase relatively inexpensive pieces from Dharma Trading Co. that are made out of natural fibers in a relatively eco-friendly process. They are not the best in the world, and I am still going to have to do some dyeing and possibly modifying to have them looking the way I want them to, however this is better than purchasing all new materials.

I spent yesterday gathering all of the clothes in the house and washing them. This morning I set my ‘get ready for work alarm’ an hour early so I could try on the clothes while clean and almost ready for work. I found out that most of the clothing I have been unable to wear because it was too tight, is now too loose. There are a couple of scoop neck shirts that I have to pin in such a way that the neckline looks sort of like a keyhole neckline. This accomplishes two positive things and one negative. The positives are that I do not have to worry about my bra straps showing, and I do not have to worry too much about the odd stray hair (PCOS Stinks), however since this is not the original neckline it does tend to pouch out a bit looking weird. I tried to look up modifying necklines, I might have to see if there is such a thing as taking a dart out of a neckline. The only other major modification that I plan on making is to figure out the correct way to take in some of the width of my pant legs. I’m probably going to look at the Curvy Sewing Collective or similar sites. I understand that there are plenty of heavy people that carry their weight in the their thighs and legs (one of my friends and colleagues has this figure), however I carry mine in deposits on my back as well as an apron on my stomach. This means that I have rather shapely legs that are very lost in voluminous pant legs.

Okay, that is about it for the week. Knitting Socks, signing up for learning new skills, and trying to figure out a spring wardrobe. I am fortunate that I already have quite a few clothes, hopefully I can modify them to fit well with how I would like to present myself. I hope that everyone has an amazing week.

Remember to Live Life a Little More Abstract.

Fun and Busy Week

I did it! Well almost, I managed to finish the sock in 8 days! I have the next sock in the set cast on, though it does not seem to be progressing as quickly.

Yesterday the weaving guild I belong to had an amazing Ice Dyeing Day, where we learned how to take ice, silk cloth, and some vinegar water along with powdered dyes to create amazing works of art. I managed to mess up my folding so instead of meeting in the middle the point was on one edge, I think I figured out where I went wrong in case I decide to do this again…okay let’s be real, as soon as I have my bills under control I plan on ordering more silk from Dharma Trading Co to try this again.

The Raven Black was supposed to turn into its component colors, I’m pleased it stayed mostly black.

I could not bring myself to throw away the left over dye so I took some Grey I obtained from my Paradise Fibers Fiber of the Month Club Box along with some white I had to pan dye the fiber. I then took some left over dry fiber and decided to do a cold dye with that to see what it does.

I hope that they turn out nicely.

To round out an amazing week I received my installment from Ewethfulfibermill on Instagram. I was the lucky winner and had my choice of fiber of the month club box or yarn box, I chose the fiber and received this amazing gift.

I cannot wait to spin it up. That is all for this week (it is more than enough don’t you think?).

Happy Crafting and Remember to Live Life a Little More Abstract!

Progress and Reflection

I have made progress on knitting my skirt as well as the tapestry challenge. I do not have photos of either accomplishment, though I can tell you I moved the top of my weaving so that it is closer to the bottom before I started experimenting with weaving slits. I’m using a pick up stick to open a shed then weaving the top and bottom at the same time before pulling the stick out to switch sheds. It’s fun to see the piece grow. I’ve also started my second skein of yarn on the skirt about an inch into the second panel.

The classes that I took for Vogue Knitting Live were amazing. The Intarsia Class was taught by an instructor in England, she was so patient and kind. She is WithCherriesOnTopToo on instagram, just an amazing knitter and teacher. She made the techniques very accessible and easy to learn, she was very patient with the students that did not catch on too quickly, and she was great about tagging me back when I tagged her on my Insta posts.

I managed to finish my piece the same day I started it, knitting through the start of my other classes until those projects got rolling. I did not finish weaving in my ends until this morning however, I still plan on blocking this out lightly. I love how this turned out, I know that there are probably some mistakes, I’m hoping a quick wash evens out the starts of each colorwork section. I’m so excited to see what else I can do with this, it also has reminded me that I took the double sided knitting class last month, or maybe the month before, and I still have not cast the shawl on. A friend told me to place stitch markers every 10 with a special one at 50s, so I’m going to do that when I wind the skeins up at home. NO FEAR, okay so I have fear, I’m just not going to let it stop me.

I loved my crochet socks class, it was a great reminder that crochet can look great and socks don’t have to be scary. We cast on the toes, well started crocheting, and used bulky yarn to practice two types of heels. I’m definitely going to stick with the heel flap, though I’ll probably put stitch markers in each step that will need picked up later. I adore how the colors are showing up in this yarn, the toe is done by crocheting in a spiral while the body of the foot is done by going back and forth in rows. The spiral makes it hard to keep track of rows, while the back and forth leaves more of a ladder structure, they are both very interesting. I loved my instructor, the genius behind ACCROchet and her passion for crochet. As she said, “I can knit, I just choose not to.”

The natural dyeing class was interesting and informative. I loved that the instructor mentioned that in some practices, such as witchcraft, individuals might choose to dye with certain plants not for the colors they obtain but for the properties that the plant might imbue into the fabric. I love this concept, and I really enjoyed the thought experiments that she brought forth about how to ecologically obtain material and dispose of the same. Her main thought is that the dyepot should be the last place that dyestuff is used after medicinal and culinary uses. She was a fascinating instructor with the unfortunate need to use the word ‘Shit’ in almost every other sentence. I understand that we are all adults, however it just did not do anything to add to the conversation. I can understand that once in a while a bit of strong language is needed, or conveys what you want to convey best. I just cannot get why some need to use it every other word. Oh well, that combined with her disinterest in sending links (or putting them on her handouts) means that I will probably not take a class with her again. I will look at the resources I managed to screen capture (my stove where I was dyeing and my PC where I could take a note were three rooms away). The dyeing went well.

I dyed two skeins of tapestry wool and one length of white wool, pre mordanted using alum and baking powder (the mixture was all that I had on hand), in spring water. I also boiled the yellow onion skins in spring water to extract the dye for a bit over an hour. There is also a cotton bag, also mordanted in the same mix in my well water (I believe that I have an high iron content in my well water). I dyed up the skeins and wool in class last night, letting it set overnight before rinsing this morning. I simmered the second pot for about 30 minutes last night and another 30 or so this morning before adding the bag to simmer for an hour. I let that cool thoroughly, though I have not pulled it out to rinse yet. The first dyebath exhausted so I poured it down the drain before hanging up my dyed pieces to dry. The photos are in reverse process order.

I really enjoyed my time taking these classes, I love learning the new techniques and putting them to practice. Maryland Sheep and Wool is also holding their classes virtually, unfortunately they are holding them Monday-Friday so I cannot really attend any. That stinks. Oh well, this has been a great weekend and I hope that the trend continues through next week. I’ve tomorrow off for the federal holiday and plan on using the time to do some work around the house since it looks like I will not be moving in the next year or so, the realtor finally told me that he will need proof that I have 10-14% of the price of a house available even if I am pre-approved for a certain amount…I don’t have the scratch yet and will need time to save.

Until next time Remember to Live Life A Little More Abstract!

Using Swatches and Testing Patterns

One of the crafts that I have been concentrating on is knitting. While others are brushing up their sewing skills and learning how to sew masks I have been knitting little swatches. Fortunately these swatches are usually at least 4 inches long and a couple of inches wide, this is the perfect size to add buttons and create an ear saver for your masks.

3 Styles of knitting Top to bottom: Stockinette, Cabled, and Garter stitch.

I also purchased the YarnIt from Make Something Prym. I have been attempting to find a yarn bowl, box, or something where I can put a realtively large ball of yarn, not have it flying everywhere gathering up cat hair and dust (I don’t vacuum as much as I should), and still be able to easily access more yarn when needed. This device accomplishes all of that while having an option to quickly remove the yarn from the device without ripping out an entire pattern and storage in the bottom. There is even a carrying strap. I admit I was skeptical at first, however after using it for some time I really enjoy this device.

Cascade 220 worsted weight skein and slipped stitch sock

I am knitting up a worsted weight sock from the cuff down with a slipped stitch heel using the pattern known as Accogliente Socks by Stacey Winklepleck from KnitPicks website. I had a bit of misunderstanding with the phrase: set up row. Now my slipped stitches are on the outside of the sock instead of the inside, I’m calling it a design feature. It is my plan to use koolaid to dye these socks in a video once I have them both knit up.

Until then I hope that you have an amazing week. If you are an introvert, please check on your extroverts. Remember to live life A Little More Abstract!

Dyeing to be Crafting Again

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Not even torn ligaments are going to keep me from my crafting.  To be honest, I’ve had fun exploring the different crafts that I can accomplish with just one hand.  Another fun discovery is that I can still dye up some tapestry wool I purchased from Purl Soho last year.  I had pre-mordanted the fiber using alum and let it thoroughly dry.  To reactive the mordant I wet the fiber, and added a touch of vinegar for good luck.  The fibers pictured above are dyed with some food coloring, 30 seconds in the microwave to set.  I’m planning on having some fun simmering fibers on the stove over the next week.  Hopefully I will have results to post next weekend.

I have also discovered that I can do some little bits of weaving on my Mirrix with just one hand, I’m using a paperclip as a shuttle since I want to use several small colors at a time.  I really would like to get a few tapestry bobbins, however they are about $20 for 3.  I’m still trying to keep within my budget, so it is going to depend on my next couple of pay periods.  (I had to buy a new pair of shoes, my last ones were good for about 9 months, so if I can get that out of these I will be pleased).

In my week, I have a lead on a potential full-time job relatively locally.  I hope to hear back from them this week for an interview.  Should this job pan out I will be able to make a big difference in a nearby community, live in Pennsylvania (be closer to my sibling), and purchase a house to set up just the way I want it to be.  I am very excited for this opportunity to make a fresh start and concentrate my attention on the intricacies of a single job rather than juggling three.

Have a great week and Live Life A Little More Abstract!

Ever Learning

I really enjoy dyeing wool and silk, the two main sources of water that I use are city water, from the public library I work at, and my own well water.  It has never occurred to me that if I were to experiment more with natural dyes I should be more mindful of where my water has come from.  The article I linked to below is a font of information about an experiment that some dyeists have undertaken and some of their results.

https://www.wxpr.org/post/science-art-combine-show-waters-different-lakes-produce-strikingly-different-dye-results?utm_source=Mielke%27s+Fiber+Arts+Newsletter&utm_campaign=12ce5e6089-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2020_01_16_03_53&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_1c69f401ff-12ce5e6089-107039657&ct=t(EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_1_16_2020_11_11)&mc_cid=12ce5e6089&mc_eid=92603a0e99#stream/0

Halloween Aftermath

Between the asterisks * and before the photo is non-crafting related content.  Some may be disturbing, if you’re not interested don’t read.  Crafting content starts at the photo.

*The Trunk or Treat event for Halloween that my public library had, was interesting.  This is the event that I dressed up for.  I believe that my makeup was relatively successful, I certainly got enough complements, however I do not like how the photos turned out so will not be showing those.  To give some background, the Monday before I had one student at my craft class.  We talked about quite a bit and they confided some things to me.  Two most relevant to this conversation, other than their medical issues, were that they tended to become very attached to people and that they were, essentially, interested in me…to date…it was pretty direct.  I, as gently as I could , told them that they were not the gender I was attracted to but I liked them as a person (and that I was a decade older than them).   So during Trunk or Treat when they sought me out, I engaged evasive maneuvers.   Since I am actively seeking employment it is not likely I will remain in the area, so even if I were interested it would not be fair to start anything with them.  A little later, after a tent had blown into a tree, this individual sought me out again.  They were having some medical issues, and in the end they were taken off in an ambulance.  It was a complication of their earlier problems, and part of an ongoing issue.  The last was a lost and then found iPhone, which makes a total of 3 problems that night.  I may see this patron again tomorrow for my silk scarf dyeing class, and I intend to push them toward organizations that may be able to help with their problems.  Not a great Thursday, I must admit.*

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As you can see, I am still making progress on my crewel embroidery.  This, along with my spinning, are quick easy crafts that I can pick up and work on within a couple of minutes of sitting down.  There is no figuring out where I was in the pattern, what row I finished, what my stitch count should be.  Just thread the needle with whatever color wool appeals to me in the moment, or pick up whatever fiber I am spinning on at the time.  As winter approaches and I start to fill out my civil service tests these easy projects are going to be great for me.  If the weather clears up next weekend, and there is significant progress on my studio, I hope to warp the loom Saturday and start weaving so that I have another easy to pick up project.  Speaking of weaving, I have made some progress on my bamboo scarf, however it does not look any different so there is no point in putting a photo of that up.

A couple of weeks ago we had dyeing as the craft du-jour at my public library, dyeing wool specifically.  Since we had left over dye I threw a few pieces of wool in to soak things up.  I forgot them in the car for a week and in my bathroom for another week.  Last night I started to rinse the green out, it was hemorrhaging blue.  I am not certain why I took the time to let it all rinse out and never thought of using the leftover dye to dye something else, silly.  The yellow was sheer perfection, no dye leaking out.

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I love how they look and cannot wait to see what they are like dry.  When the pink started to bleed, I finally realized that I could capture the leftover dye on another fiber.  I happened to have some beautiful grey merino top and I wanted to see what the vibrant hot pink would look like on the grey fiber.  The result was spectacular, and surprising.

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The remarkable hot pink showed up as a completely different, almost raspberry.  This was an amazing end to a decent week.  I believe that this will also be a good start to November.  Life goes on, and so will I.  Remember to Live Life a Little More Abstract!

Progress On My Studio

Okay, so late this past winter a contractor that was recommended to me by a friend and colleague started work on getting my unattached garage turned into a studio.  Truthfully this has been very slow going, I think he started in March and it is now the end of August, however that is not entirely his fault.  It turns out that in addition to the mouse problem, we live in the country there are going to be mice if you have any holes at all, the garage did not have any gutters.  So after I purchased and had a new garage door installed, gutters were installed eliminating that problem.  The rafters were reinforced, apparently they had not been and the entire structure was leaning a bit, and a new door frame was installed.  The entire building is now insulated, however two weeks ago the wiring shorted out.  I received a phone call saying that things would be delayed due to the flames shooting out of the wall.  Needless to say, I am happy that this happened when my handyman was there and not when I was by myself.

Now the wiring is fixed, and the last things to do are install the paneling and haul my stuff over there.

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The new garage door and doorframe look amazing, one of the gutters runs into a rain barrel.  It is going to be amazing that I can use grey-water for dyeing and possibly washing fleeces.

Right now the entire thing does not look like much, however it really is quite a bit of space.  I have a metal floor loom that I plan on installing so that I can finally weave the rag rugs I want to.  I procured a potting stand for a steal that I believe will be amazing for dyeing.  I also bought an ergonomic rolling chair so that I can, hopefully, avoid any back issues, as well as a heavy duty storage rack.  Once I see how much room I have left over I will have to consider weather I am going to install my 16 shaft table loom out there, or keep that in the house.  Now that I think about it, it might make sense for me to just move my old kitchen table out into the garage for my table loom instead of purchasing a new one.  I already am going to have to buy at least a heater for the garage and probably an air conditioner as well for when the summer hits.

It is my greatest hope that this will get done by October so that I can have everything ready to go by time winter really hits.  With the new door, and relatively air tight structure I should be able to spend some time weaving and dyeing throughout the winter.  Since I have a mild form of SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder, I believe that having a place that I can do some work that does not give me easy access to an area that I can just lay down and sleep will help me to keep my spirits up throughout the winter months.

Remember to keep Living Life a Little More Abstract!

Always something…

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.

Precious Cat

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.