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!

Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival

IMG_1748I cannot for the life of me believe that MS&WF was a week ago already.  I feel as though I am just beginning to process all that I saw and did while there.  In addition, the tools and fibers I brought home are simply overwhelming!  I had so much fun thanks to my Aunt Debby, Uncle Fred, and Aunt Mikey.  They ferried me around and Aunt Debby and Uncle Fred let me stay with them, it was such a blast to see some of my younger cousins (okay Aunt Debby is my Father’s Cousin so her Grandchildren are probably my second cousins twice removed or something.) and teach them how to spin silk hankies.  They caught on so quickly, I was amazed at how much the boys seemed to enjoy the spinning!

Everyone was telling me that there is no way I could see everything in a single day.  All the while I was thinking, it’s a fairground how much can there be to see, some sheep, some vendors, it’ll be a blast and I can do everything I want to do, no problem.  Well I was not right, they were.  I managed to see quite a bit the first day, and even more the second, yet I did not get to see the speakers, nor many of the special events that occurred.

Since there really is too much for me to talk about in one post I will break this up into two posts, the first will be about the tools and wheels I was able to interact with, the second post will focus on the fibers and sheep I was able to interact with.  Each of these posts are going to have some length to them.

The Classic Carder Company, classiccarder.co.uk came from England to sell their wares at MS&WF.  They were absolutely delightful to speak with and kept their sense of humor despite the difficulties they and the american credit card companies were having with communication.  From this company I purchased a doffing pin and a doffing brush, both are intended to assist in getting batts of of a drum carder cleanly and with as little trouble as possible.  The quality of these tools is astounding, and I cannot wait to begin using them in earnest.

IMG_1757From Finnsheep.net I did buy some wool, which I will discuss in the next post, but I also obtained a flick brush.  This is a brush specifically designed to take locks and gently open them up so that they are easier to spin from without losing their alignment.  I was very happy to find this tool and see how well it would work on some of the locks I had obtained.  The results were amazing, and the tool was well worth the price.

From Snyder Spindles I obtained the three spindles I had been eyeing.  A ‘Dizzy Sheep’ spindle made from a fidget spinner with 3-d printed sheep on top, is a very lightweight and cute addition to my spindle collection.  A 3-d printed turkish spindle allows me to have a turkish spindle with quite large arms yet not very much weight at all.  I am very excited to take my time and learn to love this spindle.  The final spindle, actually the first that I picked up, is the Scottish Spindle the Dealgan.  This is a tapered piece of wood with a cross cut into the wide base.  This spindle can be spun and the base wound on so that the yarn being spun forms a center pull ball.  This is a very neat spindle rediscovered in Nova Scotia, an article can be found in Spin-Off Magazine Winter 2018 issue.  As with many things that I covet, I am finding the reality to be a bit different from my imagination.  I am sure that I will learn to love this spindle, we just might have to come to terms with eachother.

The final major tool that I obtained during this Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival is a Mini-Hackle with a cover created by Indigo Hound.  This amazing hackle was a fraction of the cost that I had seen similar items on sale for, actually I managed to obtain some very good sales at this event.  Previously I had seen individuals recommending the use of combs intended to get honey from honeycombs as wool combs so I had purchased a pair of these intending to use them as wool combs.  Now I hope to use them in conjunction with my new hackle to create some amazing combed fiber.

IMG_1760Speaking of purchases before and after the festival, my Christmas 2017 present finally arrived.  I had ordered an Electric Eel Wheel Mini from the kickstarter, and mine arrived the day before I was to leave for Maryland so it went with me.  I had so much fun learning to spin with this mini delight.  If you are looking for a completely silent electric spinning wheel, then don’t get this one.  There are amazing premium wheels that cost twenty times as much as this little delight that will give you a soundless experience.  For $60 I obtained a mini spinning wheel, accessories (orifice hook, spin control card, plying band, extra brake band, etc) and two extra bobbins for a total of three bobbins.  From other companies electric spinning wheels tend to start around $800 so I feel that I came out ahead.  This is not going to be my new default spinning wheel, however it might become a new tool for teaching drafting to new spinners in an easy way.  I did put the push pin in the front of the wheel to hold my working yarn.

The last experience I want to discuss, in addition to how amazing the entire festival was, is the opportunities there were for trying out different wheels and other tools.  The Yarn Barn of Kansas had a vast number of wheels available to test spin.  Everyone at that tent was very helpful and I managed to test spin two of the wheels I had been looking at for purchase, the Ashford Country Spinner 2 and a wheel with an orifice about 8 inches shorter than my current wheel. I discovered that the Ashford wheel is amazing, but the very heavy bobbins make it a little too clunky for what I was hoping to accomplish.  The Mini wheel was a lot of fun to spin with, very responsive and easy to use. but I am just tall enough that the yarn rubbed against the top of the orifice every time I fed it onto the bobbin.  Though this rubbing does not have any effect in the short term, I am concerned that it might be just a little too much wear and tear for a longer spin.

I was also able to test out two electric spinning wheels the Woolee Ann from the WooLee Winder company, and the Hansen Crafts spinning wheel.  These two delights are how I discovered that my Electric Eel Wheel mini is certainly the most basic form of an electric spinning wheel.  If you are looking for an electric spinning wheel and have the scratch look at these wheels or any of the ‘big brother’ versions of my Electric Eel wheel.  They are all delightful to spin.

In conclusion, I did not talk too much about prices, but I will let you know that all of the tools I purchased were well under the price points I had discovered online.  This in addition to the savings I accrued from a lack of shipping costs resulted in quite a bit of savings on the price of these tools.  Since I am a bargain hunter at heart I was very happy to discover this fact.  It will be my greatest delight in the rest of this year and the beginning of next to start to explore my acquired treasures and delight in the joy that they are all going to bring me.  I also plan on dreaming about next year’s Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, wondering what delights that will bring me!

Happy Crafting!

Getting Ready for The Trip

I am having so much fun planning for my trip.  The Ravelry group is a ton of help with advice and other tips.  So far my favorites are:

  • Bring something to sit on
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Plenty of bags for purchases
  • First aid kit
  • Kleenex
  • Sturdy, Comfortable shoes
  • Cash
  • If you don’t like fried food, bring your own

There is conflicting information as well: Bring cash/everyone takes credit cards; Remember to write down what you wanted from the vendor so you can go back to pick it up/there is still plenty of items on the second day/vendors tend to sell out of things; and other examples.  When it comes to the conflicting information I think I’ll just have to go with my experiences; bring cash with debit as a backup and pick something up when you see it (it will not be there if you go back for it).

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I think that it is really neat that there are vendors that don’t sell online as well as local vendors so I can obtain some materials that I would not be able to other wise.  I am also hoping to see something new/innovative/revolutionary at the festival as well.  There will be so much to learn and do, I am very excited!

Happy Crafting!