One Week Later

It has been a week since the end of Spin-Together, while I had a lot of fun I am pleased to note that despite there being no deadline my spinning is still progressing. Thanks to Long Thread Media allowing the older editions of their three publications, Spin-Off, Piecework, and Handwoven to be available to all subscribers using their app I have been enjoying looking through old issues. While my current obsession is spinning, I am also planning on warping my loom for a Weave Along. Warp and Weave is having a Discover Color weave along where we are weaving Mug Rugs. I purchased the kit they recommended from Lunatic Fringe using the money I saved with the Ibotta app.

* I never advertise for things here, however through this app I have tried new foods (have not hated many yet) and gotten money back for my purchases. Most of these things are huge scams unless you spend hours on them, for me Ibotta is just convenient. I purchased this kit, my month of Sling that I watched while spinning and 2/3rds of the bags I just bought some of which I’m going to use as holiday presents. Done advertising, I have an affiliate link if you want to sign up.*

Back to spinning. Since this is my current obsession I’ve spent some time going back through past issues of Spin-off magazine and one article from Spring 2002 “Weaving with Singles” By Holly Schaltz inspired me to take the sparkly yarn I was spinning as a single to ply and turn it into a singles that I can weave with. The sparkle is such that I felt it would be fighting with another ply for color attention. I hope to weave it on a loom so that I can make a bag or pouch from it. I have also been doing alternative crafts.

This is a red pet bed with a wide opening at the front. Lying on top of the pet bed are scissors and red thread on a bobbin. The bed is on top of a blue blanket.

I managed to upcycle a pet bed from two old shirts and some foam. This project cost me $5 and two hours. When compared to the price of similar pet beds, this is well worth the effort. I have also been decorating my public library with spider webs made from corriedale wool. I intend to gather the wool and spin a yarn when the season is over, until then they are eco friendly especially compared to the synthetic webs my boss was going to buy.

Wool Spider web with a white spider on top holding a keychain library card. These are on top of an acrylic shield with a bookcase in the background and ‘library cards here’ sign at the upper left hand of the photo.

I love how crafting tends to insert itself into every facet of my life. There is always something useful I can create. While I have given in a little bit and wound up creating some of what I call “Garbage Crafts”, I am also ensuring that there are creative projects for people of all skill/creativity levels. I also throw them out the moment I am done with them ensuring that they are not hanging around my house.

Remember to Live Life a Little More Abstract!

3-D Printing

This week has been interesting. My school taxes are not nearly as much as I feared, and my 3-d printer arrived. I will confess, I was a little frightened of it. More that I was worried I did not have the technical expertise to put it together properly. Those fears were completely unfounded. I purchased an AnyCubic Mega printer, it arrived with everything I needed including several different Hex keys, wrenches, clippers, and PLA filament to get started with.

An Anycubic 3-d printer in pieces straight from the box.

Once I got over my initial apprehension I started putting it together. The instructions were clear, easy to follow, and broken down into simple steps.

AnyCubic Mega Zero printer assembled with accoutrements and power supply in front. No wires are connected.

Once I got over my apprehension about putting the machine together, came wiring the machine up. I decided to stop for the night and tackle wiring it in the morning. Once I started wiring it, with the exception of discovering that I put one of the side supports on with the screw holes facing inside instead of outside, the entire process was very simple.

AnyCubic Mega Zero Printer with wrenches and hex wrenches in front, PLA on the printing bed and computer connecting cable on the left side of the printer.

Leveling the printer took some time, however it was well worth the effort knowing that I had done the job properly and I was ready to print. I followed the specific directions and made sure that I set the test print properly. I started the print and went off, since it was going to take 2 hours. I heard a tiny popping sound and came back to find this:

A small rectangular model in white with strings coming out of the back.

It turns out that the model popped off of the base and was being pushed around by the filament head. I stopped it before things got too messy. I plan on installing the heated plate I purchased when I bought the printer to see if that corrects the problem. I also plan on trying to print a model my sibling gave me, because according to them the default model never works quite right with this printer. I look forward to experimenting more with this. While I have purchased PLA filament to start with there are 3 other types that this printer is compatible with, I look forward to playing with all of them.

I love experimenting with new products as well as learning new skills. Remember to Live Life a Little More Abstract!

Back to Everything and More

I managed to schedule art journal prompts for the entire month of September onto Facebook with examples for each prompt. I still have a video to shoot for Monday, and I just found out that we are going to be doing crafts for our teens at the public library. I am really excited to be working with a colleague to figure out what we can have them doing with minimal supervision.

This past weekend I had so much fun watching the speakers for FiberWorld 2020 and getting plenty of spinning done. I managed to spin up the Batt that I purchased from the 716 yarn truck:

Multi Colored batt with a card explaining the fibers. There is a ladybug spinning wheel with a 3-d printed bobbin on it behind the batt, and a stool as well as a television behind it.
Photo of the spun singles on a schacht ladybug with a 3-d printed bobbin. Bright pinks, greens, blues, yellows, and bits of white.

I made the mistake of only putting 2 ties into the skein…then one snapped when I was trying to open up the skein…now I’m procrastinating winding that skein into a ball.

For the August Paradise Fibers Fiber of the Month Box we received a selection of a lot of the previous fibers.

Basket containing a lot of different pieces of fiber

I realize I’ve shared this photo before. I managed to get the mini batts spun up and plied. I have a photo of the yarn on the bobbin.

Singles from the fiber pictured above. On a schacht ladybug spinning wheel with a 3-d printed bobbin.

For this skein I put 4 ties into this, the washing went well. I’m drying the skein and will get a photo up soon.

Right now I am going to start spinning up a combination of 3 dark pieces of fiber with sparkles and some other colors bleeding through. I hope that I can keep myself interested throughout this spin.

So, my first full week of work is this week. 46 hours, down from my previous 55 hours. I’m excited to see what this semester brings. Teen crafting, spinning, weaving, new experiences, and fascinating work. What more can I ask for!

Remember to Live Life a Little More Abstract!

Fibershed by Rebecca Burgess

I received this book from my Uncle Jimmy and Aunt Kathleen for Christmas in 2019, Thank You. This post is going to go into a lot of biology, environmental concerns, and more serious topics.  If this is not for you, my organization story will continue next week.

As a bit of my background relating to this book, my thesis to receive my bachelors degree in sociology surrounded the relationship between early menarche and hormones being fed to the animals that we, as Americans, derive our meat from.  Essentially I looked at the research tying children getting their first period as early as 5 years old and the hormones being pumped into the cows and chickens from which we get milk, eggs, and meat.  Hormones, and antibiotics really, that are not flushed out in any way before being fed to ourselves and our children.  Though I do not have that paper, there was certainly a correlation.  In the past decade or so I have all but forgotten that paper that managed to land me my bachelors degree, which I only needed so that I could get a my Masters in Library Studies.  To be frank, it is not financially viable for me to live an organic life.  This does not mean that these concerns should not be addressed, even if sweeping changes are not realistic.  My reading of FiberShed is not replacing the knowledge I gained from my thesis, but building on it in ways that I had not considered.  This is going to be a quick review designed to encourage you to read this book and others like it.  This review in no way replaces the joy, and extensive knowledge gained, by reading this book.

Synthetic fibers are derived from petroleum products, or have gone through chemical laden processes to be created and turned into clothing.  When these processes are occurring many safety precautions have to be taken to ensure the health of the workers, then the run-off has to be carefully disposed of so as to not contaminate the local drinking water.  The fact that all too often both of these steps are not taken seriously causes great ecological problems.  We are wearing these products on our skin, the largest, permeable organ on our body.  How many of these chemicals are we absorbing?  This book tackles these problems on both a local and global scale from a crafting point of view.  We as crafters can take charge of the yarns we buy, the fiber we spin, and the clothing we create.  This book goes from fiber, dyes, and encompasses all of the processes in between.  Exploring every aspect of fabric creation from where the cotton is grown, and from what kind of seed, to the sheep, processing the materials, dyeing the materials (naturally, of course), weaving/knitting these materials, even recycling them.  There is an amazing wealth of information, including how the methods of agriculture detailed will be profitable for not only the environment but the farmers and consumers also.  All of this information is interspersed with personal tales from herself as well as her friends and companions along this journey.

For a fascinating, if terrifying, look at our fast fashion culture check out this book.  Inside we are also taken through a journey of some steps that we might take to regain our chemical independence, as well as the steps that some conglomerates are taking to help our ecology, economy, and general sustainability.  Since this book comes at this from a crafting perspective there is some lamenting, but there are many more solutions.  Fantastic Read.

Remember to 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

Taking Time During the Week

So, this week has not been as bad as I had feared.  My doctor was relatively pleased with my progress, apparently I lost 8 lbs.  During the first of my two car appointments I managed to knit 8 rows on my poncho adding on one new color and coming close to adding on the second.  My day at work was relatively productive, and my evening at work was spent updating my book blog as well as discovering a book that I have meant to read for a while.  It is titled Crafting Calm: Projects and Practices for Creativity and Contemplation by Maggie Shannon.  I have not gotten terribly far in this book however it certainly does introduce a new way of thinking in regards to crafting.  Unfortunately since starting this post and actually posting this post I have not had much momentum in regards to actually reading this book.  It tends to be a bit on the preachy side, religious, meditation, mindfulness, etc.

Though I have not gotten much reading done, I did manage to accomplish a few of my more pressing tasks for the week.

  • I submitted a cover letter, resume, and references to a local job.
  • I obtained my transcripts so that I can send in applications for 4 civil service exams by next week.
  • I created a basic cover letter for another job, there are two things that I will be able to add to my resume by next week, I want them on this version before I send the application in
  • I chose to attempt to sell my two DODEC Wheels this upcoming weekend at EGLFC
  • I discovered that my supplies fee is due to my teacher for EGLFC
  • I plied a yarn that has been sitting for a while, since I plied from a center pull ball I also have an amazing example of Yarn Barf to show my students tonight
  • I cleaned and oiled my wheel.  I also got fed up with one of the arms of my WooleeWinder keeps hitting my mother of all and making a clunking noise no matter how much I tighten things down.  I sanded the edge of the clunking arm just enough that it can get past my mother of all without any noise.  I Hate being sensitive to noise.
  • I cleared out the back and passenger seats of my car
  • Now I’m at work, getting ready to teach a spinning class tonight

I have not made much progress on my knitted poncho since the garage, though I did find out that while I am on ball 13 I will need to attach ball 22 before beginning the decreases to end the first half of the poncho.  Since it is about 12 rows of knitting before I manage to add on another ball, we are talking about a lot of knitting left, just for the first half.  The second half of the poncho is a mirror of the first, this makes the entire project quite time consuming.  The next two projects are slippers, both in knitting and crochet, along with a mystery knit along being offered with my paradise fibers box in October.  I also need to cast on my mermaid knit along.

Next weekend I will be attending Eastern Great Lakes Fiber Conference (EGLFC), to take a lock preparation and spinning class with Kate Larson, I am very excited.   Check in will be after work on Friday (after I drive up there), then a light dinner and other events, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday are class sessions and shopping opportunities.  Due to this event I am suspending all non-essential (and some essential, lol) purchases until after EGLFC.  There are a couple of local and semi-local vendors that will be selling and I hope to get a souvenir skein or two.  A colleague and fiber friend of mine is leaving one of the jobs that I work at (she is then starting at another of my jobs) so as a farewell from the first job our company is going together to purchase a gift card for an online yarn store I know she has been wanting yarn from.  There is also a conference on Grant Writing that I will be able to attend part of tomorrow morning, so this week is also busy.

For this week, I need to:

  • Keep my spending very low
  • Work on Civil Service Entrance Exams
  • Pack for my Weekend Trip
  • Empty as many bobbins as I can, without yarn barf
  • Return the pop bottles, put that money aside for the trip if possible
  • Plan on bringing poncho for mindless (if big) knitting to do
  • Decide if you are going to bring 3 large energy drinks, and 3 2-liters of Dew so that you can stay caffeinated and hydrated throughout the conference.
  • Seriously consider bringing some kind of low-carb, shelf stable, snacks for the trip
  • Check if the local casino is having a promotion that you can hit on your way back to town that Monday.

This looks like a busy week, however I believe it will be tons of fun.  Okay, time for me to get ready for my class.

Remember to Live Life a Little More Abstract!

New Tools

One of my new philosophies has to do with having the tools you need to achieve the results you want.  Can I weave tapestries with a picture frame?  Yes, but I will not like the process or the results.  Given that I have decided to invest in a couple of tools to make my crafting life a bit easier and my results a bit better. Before I get to the actual reviews, a disclaimer, I am in no way affiliated with any of the products below.  I purchased them using my own funds, I am not making any profit from these reviews/products.

Recently I have decided to up my knitting and crochet game.  I have started with socks, but I hope to progress to garments like cardigans, shawls, and sweaters soon.  Learning Tunisian Crochet, filet crochet, and lace knitting are also on my list of projects to work on.  With fitted garments gauge is extremely important.  To this end I have invested in the Akerworks Swatch Gauge, but I went all out and invested in the knitting tool kit.

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This includes, tape measure, scissors, two darning needles, knitting needle measuring tool, locking stitch markers, and various magnets across the back in addition to the gauge swatch tool.  Essentially this is everything that I would need to knit or crochet on the go in one compact tool.

The stitch gauge has the numbers engraved on the side that is facing down toward the fabric, but they are engraved backwards so when the tool is being used the numbers show in the right direction, but there is no real explanation as to what the numbers are.  Going horizontally across the top there are the numbers 1-4 and under the horizontal line are the numbers 1-10.  Comparison with a ruler proves that 1-4 measures inches while 1-10 measures centimeters.

The tape measure can be slid out of the compartment that houses it, but can also be easily used from its nest in the tool.  The scissors have comfortable finger holes as well as proving themselves quite sharp when put to the test against yarn.  The darning needles in addition to the stitch markers are standard but since they are metal they stay where the magnets put them quite easily.

When my studio is completed I believe that this will have a place stuck to the metal rack I intend to install.  The swatch gauge will be just at home measuring picks per inch as it will stitches per inch.

I have been lusting after the Eszee twist tool for about 2 years now.  Spinning is still my main passion, however all of the math tends to intimidate me.  No longer!  With the Eszee Twist tool I can measure the angle of twist, but more importantly I have a gauge which I can put my yarn on and have a  fairly good idea of what the wraps per inch are going to be without making a mini skein of yarn.  This kit comes with much more than just the measuring tool, it has a bookmark, knitting needle gauge, yarn tracker, in addition to a user guide that does double duty as an Everything You Need to Know to Get the Yarn You Want guide.

In addition to explaining what twist is, s twist, z twist, and angles of twist, this guide goes on to explain different yarn constructions such as 2 ply, 3 ply, Navajo plied, core spun, cables, worsted, and woolen.  The part that I find most useful is the simple math needed to calculate what size your finished yarn will be.  This simple formula was well worth the investment, but the guide and other tools provide everything you need to gain a deeper understanding of yarn construction.

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Yes, they are stitch markers.  Actually what they are is a charm bracelet I purchased through amazon and repurposed using some split rings and lobster clasps.  I just love the BBC production of Sherlock (except the last season and I HATE Mary) so I wanted stitch markers that reflected me.  However, I did not want to spend $5 for one to three stitch markers that really had little to do with Sherlock.  So I found a charm bracelet, there were 20 charms on it, a little manipulation, and I have 20 stitch markers that I thoroughly enjoy.  Since I made the entire batch in less than an hour I can certainly see the appeal in buying up a lot of charms and making these by the hundreds.  I wonder if I can recoup some of my yarn/fiber expenses by starting a stitch marker business?

Happy Crafting!

Bargain Hound

When it comes right down to brass tacks I tend to be a bargain hound, I find it very hard to resist a good deal.  This, of course, gets me into a bit of trouble, but who needs groceries some weeks when I’ve got yarn?  It isn’t quite as bad as that, but I do stock on freezer meals when they are on sale so I don’t have to worry about getting something for dinner some days.  Part of that is the fact that between my 3 jobs I work 6 days a week therefore cooking is a luxury not an every day thing.  Enough of my digressions, the point of this is that I subscribe to a lot of different crafting sites mailing lists so that I can take advantage of bargains when I come across them.  Some are well worth my time, some I can do without.  My weaknesses come in the form of under $10 bargains, especially those touted as half-off.

If something is under $10 and I can use it, I will probably pick it up.  With under $20 I tend to take some time to think about it, will I actually use it, do I have enough of this already, etc. then I buy it or not.  Anything over $20 has to be something that I have been thinking about/craving for at least 2 weeks before I even consider it.  This causes me some problems with the independent knitting patterns for sale on Ravelry.  I know that it took you quite some time to come up with your pattern and you are trying to make a living off of it, but at $7.50 it is a bit expensive for me, especially if it is novelty and not like a sock or a sweater.  This brings me to the new quagmire I have gotten myself into, Happily Hooked, a digital magazine I subscribe to, is having a 26 week course called the Stitch Mastery Program starting tomorrow, and guess what?  It was under $10.

This course, for non members, is $20.  It comes with 26 weeks of learning a new stitch every week complete with videos and 2 projects for each stitch.  So my bargain hound soul is singing with the idea of 52 projects in 26 stitches, and six months of learning for $1O.  Those of you thinking about the hooks, yarn, etc. I have a ton of that from Mom.

While I did not need another project/set of projects, I am very happy to be learning yet another new skill.  I think that 2019 is going to be a year of learning.  When I get working on the projects I will let you know more.

Happy Crafting!

Weaving Update

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The lighting is not great, I used my ipad instead of my iphone so the photo quality is not the best, but I did finish weaving off my sibling’s scarf!  It is just as well, my sibling returned to Pittsburgh on Sunday and by Tuesday we had to ask them to come back because mom was not doing well.  She is doing better now, but the extreme humidity is making things difficult for her COPD.

My sibling loves their scarf, and I am so very happy that I was able to give it to them.  This took me less than a week to weave up, and then a day to wash and full it.  Then it dried for a couple of days, but the entire process was so much fun.

Just today I finished my cotton weaving sampler, Acadian, for my guild.  I took it off of the loom and washed it.  The next step is to let it dry then seam it.  I made the bottom a little bigger than might be advised using rags to create a very solid base.  I wound up running with the idea and made the ‘handle’ (well I thought it would be a handle) the same weight and width.  It turns out that it will be just long enough to create the sides and reinforce the bottom.  In the past this might have discouraged me, right now I think it will either make a great basket for the table or, perhaps, I can practice making inkle bands and use one of those for a good handle for this bag.  I will have to see how sturdy the bottom and sides look when this band is inserted.

As further updates, I have completed about 7″ on my spring towels, I think I want my first one to be about 18 inches long, so this is a decent amount!  My rigid heddle loom is currently empty as  is the guild loom.  I have two projects in mind that I need to get my courage up for.  I would like to weave a silk pouch out of some gold yarn I have so that I can use that to hold my USB drives.  I would want it to be about 3″ across and a total of 12″ long.  This would be a 4.5″ high pouch with a  3″ flap to hold it closed.  I will probably chicken out, find a very small crochet hook, and crochet the pouch I have envisioned.  This will give me an excuse to use the ‘left over’ yarn to experiment with a fancy weave, lol.  The tricks we play on ourselves. In addition, Kelly Casanova has held a Krokbragd weaving course.  I just obtained the yarn that I plan on using for this ($16 from $36  yay!), and hope to be able to warp my loom this weekend.  The Krokbragd can be done on a rigid heddle or a 4 shaft loom.  I think for my first effort I will use the 4 shaft so I can avoid the thought of a pick up stick.  I have to read the instructions very carefully before I attempt this.

That’s all for now!  Happy Crafting!

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!