I Hate Colds

*Little to no Crafting Content in this Post*

So when I had Influenza this past spring it was three days, 2 of fever, one recovery, then I’m almost back to normal.  This blasted cold however is still going quite strong 8 days in, I actually had the pleasure of waking up with a bloody nose since I must have blown a blood vessel trying to keep this cold from turning into an infection.  So yesterday was my first day off in over 10 days, and I really just planned on sleeping.  There are things I needed to do in my house, I really hate that my garbage has to be out Sunday night for Monday Morning Pickup, but since I got most of that sorted out yesterday I should be good.  I simply have to put the garbage into the cans, it is already downstairs, and haul the cans to the end of the driveway.  Then tomorrow morning before I leave for work, pick up what the crows and vermin have managed to scatter out of the can.  Between running a few loads of laundry and getting the dishwasher loaded and run I managed to catch up on rest for the day, if not actual sleep.  I had hoped to go through with the 30 books in 30 days challenge, however we are almost to the middle of the month and I have read/listened to about 2 books.  There is the possibility that if I were to listen to audiobooks every free moment of the day I could finish the challenge strong, since that isn’t going to happen I will have to resign myself to not meeting that challenge.

I did manage to complete another row on the sleeves of my sweater, this means that I have 7 of the 14 rows I need to do before the 2 rows of single crochet.  It looks like I am lucky I decided to just have 16 rows total on the sleeves, my yarn is getting a bit short.

I hope to get more knitting done on my poncho from Jimmy Beans Wool, really I just need to buckle down and work on it.  I haven’t even gotten through the first month of the knit poncho or the crochet shawl and I received the third months kit in the mail yesterday.  I do realize that a good deal of my problem revolves around my need to start new projects all the time, my lack of free time, and the simple fact that I come home tired, eat something, take my pills (vitamins, diabetes, etc.), read some fanfiction, then go to sleep.

Checking on my schedule I am working about 50.5 hours a week, with 2.5 hours unpaid travel time between places and, honestly, about 12 hours travel time to and from work with time added in to grab fast food.  This means that for about 65 hours out of every week I am in pursuit of work related activities.  Then take into account that I should be getting about 40 hours of sleep a week and there are 168 hours in a week that should mean that I have about 60 hours free per week.  Of course, 2 hours each day to get ready eat breakfast, coffee, etc. 6 days a week takes this total down to about 50 hours free time.  Well, this is unexpectedly eye opening. I know that I waste about an hour each day playing a few facebook games, however I think this total means that I am spending about 30-40 hours a week reading fanfiction.  Not that there is anything inherently wrong with that, sometimes, however I might need to move out of my rut.  Huh, with these revelations (and figuring out that it takes me about 5 minutes to knit a row on the poncho) I am going to start tracking where some of my time goes a bit better.  I realize that I tend to get into obsessions, not always a bad thing, and that Glee Fanfiction is my current obsession.  I also realized that the Glee Lads Singing “I Believe In A Thing Called Love” are much better than the original artist, especially since Chris Colfer is an actual Countertenor.  Who knew that the music appreciation class Dad helped me with during my undergrad days would pay off even though I am effectively tone deaf.  Okay, that is enough random ramblings:
GOALS THIS WEEK:

  • Figure out where my time Goes
  • Finish the Sleeves
  • Finish the first month of my poncho
  • Work on the first month of my crochet cowl
  • Decide on next project (not Jimmy Beans Wool)
    • Socks, knit
    • Ladybug Cowl from Kelly’s Knit Club
    • Cover for Strickt Planner, Knit
    • New Sweater from Kit (You have about 3)
  • Finish Winding the warp for your first rug, 10 epi
  • Figure out how many inches each of the sections on the sectional warp beam are supposed to cover
  • Look up information about job for interview, figure out some questions like benefits package, outreach efforts, community demographics, etc.

Okay, it looks like my week is going to be busy.  Remember to Live Life A Little More Abstract!

My New Loom and Purchases

I was recently gifted a Union counter balance loom with 2 harnesses.  The loom is slightly dismanteled, so I have the opportunity to clean, reassemble, and oil all of the loom before I get started.  This will be a great way to get to know my new loom.   The loom came with a steel reed, which was already slightly rusted. Since the weaving width is 40″, and I would like to weave sometime this winter on this loom, I decided to price and purchase a stainless steel reed.  This type of reed does not rust and can be cut down to size relatively easily (there is a store in town that will do this for me for free).

I was originally planning on obtaining this from Woolery in addition to the spinning wheel maintenance tools I will need for my spinning class in October.  Fortunately for me, I also checked on Paradise Fibers, They had the reed that I need, a little shorter than I planned but that will work out well, as well as a coupon.  For orders over $170 they would give you $30 off.  Since the reed itself was $140 this means that I was able to get a second 10 dent heddle for my Ashford Sample-it loom.  This means that for $3 (the heddle was originally $33) I will be able to experiment with 2 heddle patterns, and doubleweave, on my rigid heddle loom.   Admittedly, while I was purchasing that I went a little overboard.

I Obtained the spinning supplies I am going to need, a 50th anniversary shuttle, and carpet warp from Woolery.  Since I am going back onto a 6 day a week work schedule, 10PM 3 nights a week, I would like to have my ‘entertainments’ up and ready to go as soon as possible.  My handyman is still working on getting the paneling up in my studio, so he is going to have to work around my new loom now.  I hope by time the days start to get shorter I will have my new loom, and my older floor loom, warped up for making rugs.  My older, gifted, floor loom is entirely metal and a 4 shaft loom originally used for therapy.  2-3 years ago I spent the entire summer scraping, scrubbing, oiling, and repainting this loom.  It still looks a bit scruffy, however I managed to get all of the moving parts ready to go.

Once my studio is paneled my Handyman has offered to haul my metal loom over there, and I will take the time to completely go over it one more time.  I believe that each of these looms have an average of 2 yards loom waste (so much yardage) so in order to create even a 1 yard rug I will need to plan on a 3 yard warp.  Cones of warp are about $8 for 800 yards (sounds like a lot right) for the 40′ loom at 10 epi that is 400 yards.  Oops, 2 yards loom waste, so 800 yards covers the loom waste.  So for me to weave anything I will need at least 2 cones of warp.  I know, I do not have to weave the entire width, however I would like to see what the results would be.  $16 for a rug really is not that expensive.  I believe that I have plenty of fabric for the weft, no worries about that.

The plans above are actually for the new 2 shaft loom since I know what the weaving width is off-hand.  I will need to re-measure the weaving width of the metal loom to see where it falls and plan a warp for that loom as well.  There are many more exciting patterns available for the 4 shaft loom, I would like to see what an undulating twill will look like woven as a rug.  I do still have my cotton scarf on my rigid heddle loom, my bamboo scarf on the guild’s table loom, and my kitchen towels on my little table loom.  These are presently in my studio underneath the house, I do not believe I will move them into the garage, however I may change my mind.  The last loom that I will need to make a decision about is my 16 shaft loom.  I am seriously thinking about moving my kitchen table out to the  new studio, warping the 16 shaft loom with my cotton-linen yarn, and knocking out some amazingly patterned curtains for the kitchen.  Again that is going to have to wait until the paneling is up, however I hope that will be very soon.

Well, all of this weaving talk has left me excited to get started!

Remember to Live Life a Little More Abstract!!

Pi Shawl Finished!

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I finished this shawl before 8 am Sunday May 5, 2019.  Since I began this shawl April 16th, this is pretty good.  Completely unblocked it looks like the shawl is about 24 inches wide.  I am hoping that the phrase, “Oh, that’ll block right out” is true.  The center puckers, the edges don’t want to lay flat, the lacy bits don’t show up very well.  Aargh!  So, I am going to throw this in the wash when I get home with some other stuff (the way I think my sibling will…) Hmm….I don’t want my sibling washing this.  They will not know how to block it….I’ll tell them if they don’t get it dirty it doesn’t need washed.  If they do I’ll pay the postage send it home and I’ll clean it.  A little fussy, but it’ll work.  Okay, that being said, I’m going to throw it in with some wool wash and lukewarm water to give it an initial wash.  Then I’ll block it aggressively and hope that it stretches to about 40″.  I originally wanted the shawl to be about 60″ (my wingspan) but this will have to do.  Perhaps my next will be a different size.

I very much enjoyed knitting this Pi Shawl, though I believe that one skein of fingering weight yarn is probably too little yarn for a shawl with this much straight stockinette stitching.  Should the shawl have more lace elements, and therefore more holes making the yarn stretch further, then this might have been enough yarn.  Given that information I believe that I will buy sock yarn in pairs of skeins from here on out so that I have the opportunity to make two pairs of socks or a really rocking shawl.  I will also test this theory by taking one of the single skeins of sock/fingering yarn I have and trying out a half pi shawl.  If my (pretty bad) math is accurate, this means that I should be able to get to the…Okay so I tried to draw this out and write it out to figure things out, then I had to admit I cannot.  If I were to knit along with my patterning then I would stand a chance, but just sitting here and trying to imagine it, not going to happen.  Due to this, I believe that I am going to do three things.

1) Search ravelry for a fingering weight half-pi shawl.  If I really like it I will buy it

2) Check the BluPrint papers for the shawl construction sheet and use  that information to begin ‘writing’ a pattern for a shawl

3) Trawl my stashed yarn on Ravelry for what kind I would like to use.

Fortunately with the MyBluPrint class I was able to discover the ratios that I need to make my own shawl with an approximate depth of 18 inches.  This should be enough to come about mid back on me.  With the help of the website “New Stitch A Day” I was able to narrow down, without being overwhelmed, my knitted on border choices to 4.  This may be revised at a later date.  Since all four of the borders involve techniques I do not know off hand I plan on using them to create bookmarks so that I can:

A) Practice

B) Block

C) Gauge Yarn used

D) Gauge size of edging when finished

Now I just have to Woman Up and Cast On!

Remember to Live Life a Little More Abstract

Shifts in Time and Perspective

Today is when we set our clocks ahead an hour, thereby losing an hour of sleep but gaining an hour of daylight.  For me this means that spring is ever closer, and a quarter of the year is almost gone.  I know, that will not be true until closer to the end of March, but time is certainly marching on.  Taxes are soon going to be filed, the cat is going to the vet tomorrow, gardens need to be prepared, and it really needs to stop snowing.  Thinking about all of this is giving me time to remember what the name of this blog is really about.  It is too easy to take life very seriously, and think of things in a very linear way.  Sometimes you need to think in ways that are A Little More Abstract, about life as well as craft.

February is always a bad month for me.  The end of January was my parents wedding anniversary, February 21st was the closing of the 10th year since we lost my father.  This is my first full year without my mother.  March begins a new month, a fresh month, working our way toward spring.  Lent is upon us, if you are Christian, so we begin a march toward Easter.  The word ‘March’ in the phrases, “March toward Easter”, and “Time is Marching on” tend to bring the unfortunate connotation of drudgery.  You think of an army slogging its way toward a battle, instead I think of a steady progression.  When soldiers March they tend to do so with their heads held high, marching proudly toward their destiny, whatever that may be.

This is where my shift in perspective is coming into play.  I need to figure out where my destiny is going to lay.  These past 10 years working several part-time jobs and taking care of mom has been a wonderful learning experience.  I have had the time as well as freedom to learn a lot about myself and what I am capable of in addition to some of my limitations.  Now it is time for me to face what the spring and summer will bring.  I know, this entire entry is a bit maudlin, but that is what this time of year does to me.

Yesterday I managed to wrap all of the warps for the shoelace weaving project I will be teaching tomorrow, put together a shelving unit for my studio when it is completed, and set up pans for the 12 stepping stones I hope to make out of cement.  I intended to begin pouring the stones yesterday, but since the weather is supposed to get up to almost 50 by the middle of the week I decided to hold off on actually mixing and pouring the cement.  I have the sand poured and the glass set, so it is just a matter of adding the cement and leaving them to harden.  Hopefully things will be in good shape by Wednesday, when they are coming to install my new garage door, and Thursday when I hope to mix the cement.  The decorations on these stones are pieces of glass, but I believe I will change that out for mosaic tiles or decorative stone for the actual class.  The glass shards are too much of a liability to consider as a good solution.

I have completed 2/3rds of the Jimmy Beans Knitted Cowl and have begun the final third.  It is actually my goal to have that knitted by the end of this week so that I can block it out and take a final picture for a blog post next week, fingers crossed.  I have not make much progress on the second installment of the Crochet Pouf but that is going to be my second goal, I believe.  This may get sidetracked depending on how complex the first installment of the Sherlock Afghan is on Saturday.  I also have socks and dishcloths I am fiddling with, hopefully things will get past the stage of stitching into nothingness and some progress will be made.

So that is the end of it for now.  Shifting time, shifting perspective, and a shifting list of priorities.  Learning more about myself and what I can do, playing with cement is new, and reminding myself that I can do anything I set my mind to.  So until next installment.

Keep crafting and remember to keep your life a little more abstract.

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!

Mice and Me

The handyman that my colleague recommended to me is amazing, he has done so much work over the past week I can hardly believe it.  He is getting the basement cleared out, going to set up traps, seal any holes, and generally make sure that more mice getting in is impossible.  He has also managed to greatly disturb the existing nest and last night I heard what sounded like claws on the linoleum.  So, I didn’t sleep last night at all.  I dragged all of the cardboard out of the house, I had to put it by the external garage since pickup is not this week but next.  I looked for detritus, mouse droppings, and found none.  I called the handyman and he mentioned that since I have drop tiled ceilings in the basement the scratching  could have been coming from below the floor, which means I might be able to sleep tonight.

This is sort of a relief, however I think I need to get a professional organizer in the house anyway.  I had it in my head that I was going to take this one room at a time, blah, blah, blah.  In reality I know what I want to do, but have no idea how to achieve it.  Hopefully hiring a professional to accomplish this will help me to succeed and overcome this overwhelming sense of not enough space, not enough time.

On another note, I have received my Mirrix Little Guy Loom and I am enjoying myself a great deal.  I have begun to understand where this shopping retail is coming from and it actually is not depression.  My sibling’s (transgendered) driving force is travel.  They have always wanted to go to Japan and see the world.  I would like to see the world, but my driving force is Crafting.  Part is the primal driving force to connect with my fore-mothers through the crafts that they used to spend hours, days, weeks, months, and years learning and perfecting.  A portion is to try everything and find out what I am good at.  Another portion is simply a love of creating something tangible, meant to be used, held, and worn out.  If I gift you a bookmark, use it until the threads fall out, I’ll make you another.  If I give you dishtowels, please use them, I would love to hear that you wore a hole in them.  Art is pretty and it functions to decorate walls, Tapestries are prettier, decorate walls, and insulate your house.  So while my sibling is going on a trip to Japan in 8-10  weeks I am stocking up my studio to see what I can create in a year.  Right now I have a pair of tapestry cuffs on my Mirrix loom, I am enjoying testing out the different weights of wool and silk that I have to see what they will do on the loom.

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It really is true, you can get by with inferior tools but working with the right tools makes all the difference.  This loom warps up amazingly quickly, I am using the 8 dents per inch, and the shedding device allows me to add weft to the tapestries at an amazing rate.  I can easily adjust them up and down so that I have more room to work, and the tension system allows me to get a much tighter weave.  Looking at these it would take some imagination to think of what a worse beat is, I have to work hard on my selvedges.  This loom is also good for bead weaving which is an art that I want to become involved in.  I look forward to that exploration.

There are three more weeks before the end of the year.  In the next post I hope to have an update on the mouse issue, the organizer issue, my current tapestries, as well as a review of my Spinolution Firefly wheel.  To clarify, I purchased a 16 shaft Ashford loom which I will be discussing, the pin loom which was in the last blog post (I still love it), the Mirrix Loom which I will be exploring in depth this year, the Spinolution Firefly (electric) wheel package that includes a skein winder, lazy kate, 32oz and 16 oz heads, and more, as well as a variety of Jacquard dyes to color my weft threads.  It turns out that four or five skeins of weft from Treenway Silks costs about the same as a big skein of undyed silk yarn from knitpicks and some Jacquard dyes.  I had a pink dye already and found a good deal on Salmon (which is a brighter pink than I would have thought).  All of these supplies should stand me in good stead for working on my breed spinning experiment this year, making bookmarks, finding the right diameter of yarn for my 7′ triangle loom, and working on my curtains for the kitchen.

For now, Happy Crafting!