Who Knew?

Who knew that starting a new full-time job would completely disrupt my schedule? Okay, so I probably could have guessed that. Despite this revelation I have managed to get quite a bit done in January. I did start my new job and while there are nuances I believe I still need to learn I have the broad strokes of what the job is going to entail understood. The rest of learning the job is simply going to be living the job and seeing what comes up. Hopefully I will start touring houses this upcoming week and getting my pre-approval finalized. Yay. Onto crafting.

Spin-Off Magazine decided to hold a Cowl-Along for 2021, for this project we are to spin and create a cowl from the spun yarn. I chose the Creepy Corriedale Wool I received from Paradise Fibers in my October 2020 Fiber of the Month Club Box as my base fiber. It spun up beautifully, then I started having some concerns.

The colors changed considerably once I had the yarn spun up, that did not concern me too much as I enjoyed the darker aesthetic. However when I plied the yarn onto itself for a test the problems became apparent.

A small piece of woven fabric, less than 1 inch by 1 inch with a metal weaving needle placed on top. The overall weaving is very dark with few distinct colors.

This view is a little too close, however you can see that the colors just turn to mud when the sample is woven against itself, I do not want a cowl that looks like mud. So we are back to more sampling. I spun up some black bamboo fiber, white wool received in the Dyeing box from paradise fibers, along with some grey kromski merino wool. Once I had the new sampling yarn spun I plied it with the corriedale I already had and created a sheet to start to keep track of some of this stuff. Then I used my bookmark pin loom to weave these yarns into samples.

I adore how all three of these colors turned out. The top is the white, grey in the middle, and black on the end. The white allows the corriedale to brighten back up to what it looked like in the fiber, the grey pulls out the purples, and the black gives the entire project a homogeneous look with it looking too muddy. When I posted my progress in the Ravelry Spin Off Group I received the recommendation from Castielstar to perform a neck test and wear the pieces around my neck to see how they feel after some time. Since I spend so much of my time working I did not see a way to do this test at home (I also did not feel like explaining the three colored pieces of wool on my neck) therefore I decided that I would stick them in my bra and see how it goes. Surprisingly I had to pull the piece with the grey merino wool out before an hour had passed, then I forgot that the other two were even there. This easily narrowed my choices down to black or white. Looking at the woven samples, I know that I am going to go with the White. While the black is amazing I feel that the pops of color in the white sample will look better going into spring. Now for the next part of this project, weaving a cowl. Surprisingly there is another Ravelry group that is hosting something that will come in handy.

The Rigid Heddle Looms Group is hosting JAN/FEB 2021 V-COWL AND MÖBIUS WAL. I did not know what I V-Cowl was (I do now, very neat). This new technique is going to make weaving my handspun cowl very interesting, the next step I need to take is to spin up the rest of my white to ply with the corriedale and figure out what my sett is going to be. Ten inches is, I believe, quite tall for a cowl so I will just use my 10″ sample it loom. I have decided that I would like the warp to be 2.5 yards so that the end piece is a little bigger than 40″ long. This will give it room to go around my neck but not choke me ( I hope).

There is one more weaving project that I have decided to start, Mirrix Looms is hosting a Weave Along (Stay At Home Weave Along), while I cannot stay at home I can certainly have fun weaving along with everyone else. So for this weave along I cut off the piece I have not been weaving on my Mirrix and warped 5″ on my loom with double warp threads this morning. I did not purchase their kit, I’m still trying to cut down on my buying, however I do have plenty of tapestry yarn from my earlier dyeing experiments so I will be winding that onto golf tees this morning, since I cannot afford real tapestry bobbins.

In addition to my weaving, I have not been knitting much I will get back to it, I have been doing a couple of other small projects. One of my friends from the Enchanted Mountain Weaver’s guild taught us how to turn paper towels into mini pieces of cloth using watercolor and mod podge. I also obtained one of those wet felted soap kits. I enjoyed making the felted piece and have a ton of fun squishing it in the shower every morning.

I am looking at this post and thinking, “Did you always have this much time?” I know that the answer is no. Right now I am also back to work on Sunday’s at my private university job, just Sundays. It sounds a little silly, however the 8 hours I work on Sundays (if I work 4 Sundays in a month) means about $360 take home pay that month. Perhaps a little more if the mandated minimum wage increase goes through. (Private Universities do not pay nearly what State Colleges do from my experience.) This is about 1/2 a mortgage payment so I cannot afford to sneer at it even with a full-time job. To round out my month I signed up for three classes during the February Vogue Knitting Live Event: Beginning Intarsia, Crochet Socks, Dyeing with Kitchen Scraps. I have also upgraded to the Super Pass, it is very neat to see the recordings of the various demonstrations by vendors. Since I am trying to save up for a down payment on my house I will probably strictly limit any spending during this event however I am excited for the Classes. I used one of my transferring jobs presents to purchase 4 colors of DK yarn for the intarsia class since I seem to only have Fingering and Worsted weight yarn with a little bit of lace weight thrown in here and there. I also love that this is happening during Valentines Day Weekend, so I can genuinely say that I have plans for Valentines…okay so that is a Sunday and I am working at the University..that still counts as plans, right?

So there it is. I’ve had a great month, I am hoping that the trend continues for February. I am finding that my new schedule of getting up at 4: 30 am and going to sleep at 10 pm (on Fridays I need to be out of the house by 6:15 to make sure I get to work on time, it was easier to adjust my entire sleep schedule than have a different one on Friday), means that I have more energy most mornings to do something around the house and get a bit of crafting done. Since this is about a month’s worth of catching up I think that the size of my post is just fine. Until next time, remember to Live Life a Little More Abstract!

Day of Shopping

Saturday I bought YARN!  I live in rural western New York and as such the closest we have to a LYS is Joann Fabrics.  This past Saturday I had an opportunity to go to Erie, PA.  There were a couple of yarn stores that I wanted to hit, and boy was I happy I did.  Yoy cannot see it well from the photo but the first yarn, going left to right,  is super sparkly, the second will be great to ply with, and the third contains Hemp.  I hope to knit up the hemp so that my students get an idea of what a yarn containing hemp will be like.  I bought all three of those from the Cultured Purl.  This is also a great chance to play around with adding yarn to my stash in Ravelry, it was fun and easy!

The other LYS I stopped at is Rustic and Refined.  I was really lucky there, she was having a sale on Louisa Harding Angora mix yarn.  I was able to get two balls of two different colorways.  I hope to make scarves from them, they are so soft and pretty.  The last purchase I made there is the pretty yellow Linen Cotton blend yarn.  Again I hope to knit these up so that my students have an idea of what a sample of a linen blend yarn would look like.

I also wound up going to a local comic book store, much to my surprise I wound up finding four different older weaving books to add to my growing library.  I did spend some time in Barnes and Noble, I managed to find a soft leather bound notebook that I hope will be good for keeping track of my fiber desires.  I love that even though it is leather I can fold it up to stuff into my bag.

I am so very pleased with all of my purchases, I cannot wait to knit and block these samplers.  I have a Hokett 8 dent mini tapestry loom I am going to warp with 10/2 cotton to see if the angora makes a good weft at 8epi or if I have to try 12 or 16 epi.

I might have some very exciting news in the next few weeks, so stay tuned!

Happy Crafting!

Having a Blast with the Breed Study

I am having a blast with my breed study.  Right now I’ve got one sample blocked, one soaking, and I’m knitting up the last of the breed studies.  I’ve got 14 different breeds that I have managed to spin and knit.  Some I have managed to crochet, single, double, half double, into samples that are also on the breed study cards.  There was an amazing suggestion that I create weaving samples as well.  I managed to do so for one of the breeds, at 8epi.  I have as much information about how each of the spins were accomplished as I could manage, and I know what I can do differently next time.

The next time I do a breed study, which since my guild is planning on doing some fun spinning event this year might be pretty soon, I know what I can do to improve my spinning.  The first change I need to make is the time I spend on the spin.  I need to begin to enjoy the spin, working on obtaining a consistent spin and ensuring that I get as much yardage as I can to create samples and discover what I want my yarn to be.  I am thinking about utilizing some of the amazing information compiled on each breed then copying that information, with appropriate citations, onto a page placed in the back of each of the breeds I already have present in my study.  This would give me an idea about what each breed is good for.  I’m enjoying the spinning, enjoying sampling and seeing where things go.  I do know that I over-spun the Corriedale at least, but I really enjoy playing with what I’ve spun.  It certainly has inspired me to work with some of what I have created.

On a different note, Paradise Fibers has decided to create a Spin Along for the Olympics.  They are calling it the Spinlympics, and I plan on joining in.  I ordered the Brights pack, since I had a $20 coupon and they were having a 25% off sale I wound up getting the entire thing, shipping included, for $9.  The bag that is coming in with the kit is $8 on its own and the sticker would be a dollar as well, so (in my math) the wool, which is amazing, is free, just how I like it!  I’m getting my wool tonight so I am working on planning how I want to use the wool.  A fun aspect of this is that I am also planning on doing the Ravellenic Winter Games as a fun challenge.

Blooming an Idea Journal

It is already past the middle of January, ack!  I cannot believe that three weeks are gone.  Fortunately for me, these have been fairly productive weeks.  I received my January box from Paradise Fibers, it was a Breed Sampler Box!  How very exciting!  Since I am going to be teaching several classes on spinning this Spring I began thinking about the Journaling that is recommended for spinners.  At first keeping track of what you are spinning sounds like a real pain.  My excuse was “I just want to get good at spinning before I begin recording my results, it all looks bad right now.”

As a matter of fact, the ‘bad’ spinning that I didn’t like tends to get the most compliments.  Who knows, right?  Since these first heady…well okay 21 months….of spinning I have come to realize a few things:

A) I cannot just keep creating yarn, eventually I’m going to have to weave/crochet/knit it so that I can figure out what kind of yarn I (and possibly mom) like working with. (Thank You whomever came up with the ‘Half-Granny Shawl’ pattern it looks great no matter what yarn I use.)

B) If I don’t know what it looks like knitted (lace & cable) and crocheted (possibly eventually woven) then I won’t know what I want to use it for.  (My goodness, all of those people saying sample, sample sample, are on to something! *gasp*)

C) I won’t actually remember what kind of fiber that is a couple of months later when it’s in an unmarked skein and I’m trying to work with it.  (Okay, so I won’t actually remember what kind of fiber it is when I finish spinning it sometimes…did I mention I don’t have the best memory?)

D) By Gum, Journaling Might Be the Answer!  (actually journaling is the answer as well as labeling with water-proof labels.)

Given this hard won knowledge, but boy I have some really pretty skeins..if only I knew what they were made of other than ‘wool’…oh well, granny shawls here I come, I have decided to begin to journal my spinning starting with my January Paradise Fibers Box.

As of writing this post (okay last week) I had split each tube of fiber in half, keeping half in the tube so that I can have samples for myself and to show my students.  Half of each tube was spun, plied from a center pull ball, the twist was set.  I decided to spin 1/4 of my Targhee sample since I was given twice as much of that fiber and I saw something about spinning sock yarn from Targhee (I’m going to work on my consistency before tackling that).  My Targhee still has not been completely spun, I did start but work got in the way.

Before spinning each sample I took a staple of the fiber, taped it to a note card with the Breed, date, where I got it from, the wheel and settings I was using.  Then as I was spinning, usually near the end (when I remembered) I took off a sample of spun fiber, let it ply onto itself, then taped that onto the note card labeled ‘2-ply unfinished’.  *In theory if I did this when I was spinning and referred back to my ‘plyback sample’ I would be able to create a more consistent yarn, maybe in the next two years.*  Since finishing the yarns I have managed to Knit and Crochet two of them as well as blocking these pieces.

Okay, in all honesty I had to wash and block them twice.  The Paradise Fibers Box came with a sample of Unicorn Power Wash, I was really excited since I have been wanting to order from them but I didn’t want to invest a lot in case I didn’t like it (boy am I glad I waited).  When I washed and blocked my samples the first time, I was really excited with how they looked, but I started getting a headache which was odd for me.  After a bit of thought, especially with how sudden the headache was, I realized that it was the Unicorn Power Wash that was causing the headache.  I gave the samples a thorough scrub with Dawn and hot water, then rinsed them again.  There was still too much scent.  I wound up soaking them overnight with a lemon scented handsoap I had on hand, they are fine now.  However all of this washing caused one of my samples to ‘bloom’ a bit more than I would like but the halo effect is really pretty.

Once these samples are dry I intend to tape them onto a piece of paper, along with the sample card I made earlier, and put these into a sleeve to go in a three-ring binder (thanks mom for that Idea!).  I do plan on knitting *lace and cable* and crocheting each of the samples, so that I have a comprehensive journal of these fiber samples that I can refer back to in the future.  Okay, so I’m mostly crocheting to use up the last of each of my little skeins, I am better at crochet so I can make that sample fit any size I need it to.  I will also say that this sampling is a great way for me to up my knitting game, I was terrified of cables and lace before I realized that plain knit-one-side-purl-the-other wasn’t going to cut it.  I am almost positive that my ‘lace’ stinks but until I let a knitter see it I’ll live in ignorance.

This entire experience has been an absolute blast.  While I know it will be harder to find crafting time while I’m working I still like knowing that I have a specific project I am crafting toward, and a deadline really…April will be here before you know it!

Happy Crafting!