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.

IMG_1842

Happy Crafting!

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!

Trials and Tribulations

My first dyeing class of the year went off without a hitch, well the actual class did not have any hitches.  Unfortunately the individual that is supposed to be in charge of the classes has chosen to set new parameters that she let me know about by sending me a very rude e-mail.  The situation is a little too complicated for me to write a lot about, but it boils down to:

I have been doing these programs for 11 months alone and with no real supervision so I Have done the best I am able, and they have flourished.

Four months ago, in the beginning of December, I gave this supervisor a plan covering a years worth of crafting classes that specified what the materials fees would be going toward and that these two classes would be 3.5 hours long.

Two weeks before the class was going to happen this supervisor e-mailed me all sorts of accusations, what was I going to do while the speaker was there (“We’re paying you to be there…”), they need to approve speakers before they come in (never mind I let them know that I was approaching a speaker and they gave no indication further action was required on my part), etc.  I managed to take this to our respective supervisors and we temporarily have things hammered out.  Unfortunately my attempts to open up channels of communication, sending out a confirming e-mail that I had the details of the meeting correct, was met with radio silence for a week.  Then upon prompting I received “it looks fine” as a response.  Just like that, no capitalization and no punctuation.     These details might seem petty, but we are supposed to be grown-up professionals.

Due to these troubles, I know that I will see my commitment through the end of June when my spinning classes come to a close.  However, I am not certain if I will pursue this through the summer and rest of the year.  I love doing the classes, but if there is no communication I will not wait around for the next bullying e-mail from this individual.  By discontinuing the craft classes I will be taking myself out of their sphere of influence.  I also have plenty of work that I can be doing, computer tutoring, computer classes, developing my collections, etc.

Right now I am going to wait and see if this supervisor sets up a meeting to go over the programming planned for May and the summer.  If this meeting does not occur and no further efforts toward communication are made, then I will see my current commitment through and ask for written guidelines so that I can consider picking these classes back up in December.

*I seriously considered deleting this post, it can sound like whining.  However, I firmly believe that it needs to be put into a public forum that just because you love doing something you do not have to put up with bullies to be able to do what you love.  If I do decide to discontinue teaching these classes at the public library I intend to find another forum to express my love of these crafts.  Whether it is lessons on this website, setting up private lessons, creating a studio, requesting opportunities through the local arts council, seeing if my guild will sponsor events, etc.  I want to pursue this, I need to pursue this, and I will find a way.  Just because someone tries to beat me down only means that I will arise stronger and more determined than ever.  I will not be bullied, and I will not be stopped.*

Happy Crafting

Kool-Aid Results

I still don’t have any sugar free kool aid, so the sprinkling has not been tested.  Darn life getting in the way!  Unfortunately the blue wool wound up getting some rust since the pan completely dried out and began to rust a bit. That’s what I get for buying cheap pans, but it is a good lesson for the classes I’m teaching.  Take your wool out to let it drip dry.  So I had to throw out the blue wool (I might have been able to scour it but didn’t really want to mess with it).  Before I did that though, I did try and rinse out the Kool-Aid, and it did not move an inch.   The dye seems to have stuck to the wool despite the lack of heat.  This makes sense since there are individuals that Ice Dye with Kool-Aid and then do not seem to add heat.  I’m very pleased, and I will have to try this again when I have a free weekend and can do all of the steps in a day or two instead of a few days later.

Result: You can dye with kool-aid and no heat.  It does remain in the wool, however you want to take it out of your pan to dry, and rinse within a day or two.