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.

Tour de Fleece 2019

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.

Tour de fleece 2019

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!

Project Progress

I really enjoyed taking the sock fiber from the February Paradise Fibers box and using coffee to dye it. I will have to wait until I can get a good photograph outside, because the color does not show very well at all in this photo. It was so much fun saving the grounds from my k-cups and turning them into a great fiber to spin. Should I decide to overdye this, the brown as a base will add a lot of depth to the new color. I cannot wait to spin this, but I have a couple of projects before I can get to this one.IMG_2221

Speaking of Spinning Projects I have made progress on my spin for a pair of anklettos/wristlettos.  Using the Ezee Twist tool I managed to spin my yarn at about 16wpi singles which should be 8 wpi 2-ply yarn.  I finished off the singles, they are currently resting.  IMG_2293

I have also signed up to take part in the Paradise Fibers Spinlympics again this year, even though there are no winter olympics.  I already had a grab bag of the merino fiber that they recommend using, I have carded up the yellow, orange, and blues with some silk I had around and made rolags.  I hope to start spinning this since the spinlympics are ending by the end of  February.  This will put me, although I am already, behind on spinning for my hap.  That is supposed to be knit up by the middle of March.  I don’t think I will make the deadline, but I certainly hope to have the spinning done for that by then.  I do not have any photos of my Spinlympics rolags nor my Hap rolags, so we will have to skip to sock progress.

I have the first two socks made from the pattern in Interweave Crochet 2011.  I did not do any extra shaping around the ankle in the blue worsted weight yarn sock.  However for the multi-colored fingering weight sock I added a few decreases before I turned for the heel.  This causes the sock to be a much better fit around my ankle.  Since I used the same size hook for both the fingering weight yarn is a looser fabric than the worsted, this will result in a sock that will wear out faster, but I have already noticed that the fingering weight sock breathes better on my foot.    Right when I finished the fingering weight sock I started on the second sock.  I am not too worried about the worsted weight one, but I really do want to have a pair of socks in this fingering weight yarn.  I had also purchased two skeins of Felici in the Baker Street colorway from knitpicks.  I adore the BBC show Sherlock (though I hate Mary) and so I had to have these Sherlock inspired socks.  I went down a size in my crochet hook, and I am also making the ribbing a bit longer than previously.  I have tried the cuff on, and 36 stitches should still be the right amount.  I am very excited to see how these are going to turn out!

That is all of my progress for now, 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.

Thoughts of Spring

I know, the year has not even ended and I am thinking about a Spring Dye Garden.  To be fair to me, January is National Seed Catalog Month.  I have just under 2 acres of land around my home, however much of that is either forest or too hilly to be useful for planting.  Fortunately I have 2 raised beds in the back of the house and one large raised bed facing the front of the house.  Throughout these past few years the beds have gone to seed.  I intend to put down some material that is supposed to deter weeds and cut around the few plants that I want to keep.  Then I intend to make some cement blocks, with inlaid glass designs on top, to hold down the material as well as further deterring weeds.  The cement blocks will also be a great base for the pots that I hope to use so that I can plant a dye garden out front.  I also hope that creating cement blocks is truly as easy of a craft as it seems so that I can use that as a craft at the public library I work at next year.

To get an idea of what plants I want to put in my dye garden I am researching using several resources.  From Knitpicks I purchased The Handbook of Natural Plant Dyes by Sasha Duerr.  So far I find it to be a fascinating resource that will help me a great deal toward understanding how to create dyes from plant materials.  I also purchased A Garden to Dye For through the Amazon Kindle Store.  These should give me a really good basis for understanding what plants I am going to need.  I am also trying to figure out what plants are native to my area of the USA so that I can avoid planting invasive species in my area.

In my two back beds I do hope to plant some vegetables.  Cherry tomatoes, Zucchini, Yellow Squash, spaghetti squash, and perhaps some others.  Again, I do plan on deterring the weeds and utilizing planters to create a garden with reasonable maintenance needs.

I firmly believe that this is going to take me several months, both to figure out what plants are good for dyeing and native (or at least not destructive) to my environment.  I would love to plant some cotton or flax but the reality is I am a little too far north for that to be a realistic dream.

So, I will keep dreaming, planning, and crafting.

Happy Crafting to All!

Pre-empting the Scheduled Post

I had another post scheduled, it will be out on Wednesday, but I could not wait to share this Month’s Paradise Fibers Monthly Club Box.  *SPOILERS*  If you do not want any spoilers, just skip this post.

Dyeing with highlighters step oneI was not going to go into the details of how to accomplish this but if you look you can find most of them.  In essence you are extracting the dye from the tubes of the highlighters, then applying it to the wool.  The more concentrated the dye the better the effects.  To get to this point you need to put on gloves, pry the back of the highlighter off, and pull out the tube.  I used scissors and pushed the end cap off, it is a wonder I didn’t break anything with the flying plastic.

Dyeing with highlighters step 2

After soaking for  a while it looks like there is quite a bit of dye extracted from the highlighter ink tubes.  The next time I try this, and I will be trying it again, I intend to just squeeze out the highlighter fluid instead of soaking it out.

Dyeing with highlighters step 3

I soaked the wool in the standard combination of water and vinegar to get the wool ready to accept dye.

Dyeing with highlighters step 4

I squeezed out the wool and put the dye on top.  Things looked good, until I looked down the side of the containers.

Dyeing with highlighters complication

The Dye did not reach the bottom of the wool.  Some adjusting fixed this for the pink and the orange, but the yellow was too light to be effective.  I took that piece of yarn and the left over orange and pink dye to form a variegated piece of wool.

Finished hIghlighter dyeing

When everything was dried the results were amazing.  I have not had them under sunlight long enough to tell if they do fluoresce, but even if not they are very pretty to look at.

This box, in addition to this neat new dyeing technique, came with a pencil pouch, sheep sticker, sheep pin, Paradise Fibers backpack, four mesh bags, and four bumps of shredded sari silk (intended to make a tweed).

The colors of Sari Silk that I obtained are pictured below.  These boxes are always an amazing value.  I love them, and cannot wait to see what is in them each month.

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Happy Crafting!