Ravelry: What is this?

Have you ever wished that there was a way you could go to a website and see what yarn you have and what projects they might be good for?  Is it a dream of yours to be able to share your Love of All Things Sherlock Holmes and your Love of All Things Knitted/Crocheted with a group of like minded people?  Do you want somewhere that you can see what yarn/fiber/tools/wheels/looms people are willing to trade?  Have you ever had a dream where there was a magical website that knew what yarn you had and could suggest patterns that you could knit/crochet with that exact yarn?

Well, Ravelry is all of that and more (Except the magic part, you have to enter your stash in but it does make suggestions, it rocks like that).  Now I can already hear you advanced to intermediate crafters saying “I am not spending my precious crafting time taking three years to enter my stash into anything, no way, no how.”  To that I will say, “Start with your newest acquisition, then make some project pages, and go from there.”  While I do know someone that inherited their grandmother’s stash and fully intends to put that entire stash into her Ravelry account, that is not something that you have to do.  Like any other tool this is as useful as you make it, but if something overwhelms you then you can give that part a miss, (this is what I keep telling myself is my reason for not putting my stash in there).

To start you need to create a Ravelry Account.  From there I did a search on what interested me and joined several groups.  Okay, I joined a lot of groups, darn my varied interests.  Fortunately the active threads of the group tend to float to the top of that groups feed so you can see what people are talking about, and peek in on what they are up to.  I really enjoy checking out my feeds, especially since I can organize them into different tabs, Podcasts, Everything Else, and Literary Interests.  Since I have really become interested in listening to podcasts, and discovered the Sherlock and Cthulhu boards, I have taken advantage of the tabs to get a bit more organized.  Eventually I hope to create more tabs such as Sales, Weaving, and Spinning.  Instead of doing that I am creating this post, lol.

In addition to the  interactive elements your Notebook allows you quite a bit of creativity and organizational capabilities.  Inside the Notebook menu you have options like:

Projects, Handspun, Stash, Queue, Favorites, Friends, Groups & Events, Needles and Hooks, Library, Message Box, Blog Posts, Contributions, Purchases, and Upload a Photo.

Whew, that is quite a bit to get through.  Some of them are fairly obvious, Favorites are favorite patterns/yarns.  Friends are the friends that you have made within ravelry, message box is like your e-mail inbox, purchases are patterns that you have purchased within ravelry, and Upload a photo is where you can upload a photo to add to your stash/comments/etc.  This function does cost a nominal fee every year, I think $5.

*Projects, these are your current WIPs or Works in Progress.  You can choose your yarn, pattern, progress, name your project, and show off to everyone.  This is a great way to get people interested in what you are working on and also to give yourself some motivation to continue.  As a general rule people are very encouraging and helpful!

*Handspun, if you are a spinner (or just like to buy other people’s handspun) then this is the tab for you.  You can upload information about your yarns, and keep track of what handspun you have available to work with.  There are some great suggestions for information you might want to include in your description of your yarn, some you might not have even thought of but that will help you decide what you want to do with your handspun in the future.

*Stash, okay so this is pretty obvious and I have covered it pretty extensively in an earlier paragraph, but I cannot emphasize it enough.  Once Ravelry knows what yarn you have and how much of it, it Makes Suggestions about Patterns.  That really does rock.

*Queue If you know that you are going to be working on a particular pattern next with a particular yarn, put it in your Queue so that your friends know, and so that you don’t forget what you bought that yarn for.  This is a great way to keep track of what future projects you might want to work on.

*Needles and Hooks Say you are out at your LYS (Local Yarn Store) and you want to know if you have a set of size 8DPN (double pointed needles) for the yarn you are looking at.  Do you buy another set just in case you don’t or do you buy the last three balls of that color and hope you have the needles at home?  You don’t do either, you check your Ravelry page and see Oh, yes I have those needles so I’ll buy the extra yarn instead.  While I’m on Ravelry Anyway I’ll just add this yarn to my stash, oh look at that pretty pattern I can make with that extra yarn!

* Library  I love the library function, I am able to add patterns that I find/purchase on Ravelry as well as patterns that I have available to me through my own book collection.  I have not had a chance to go through my mothers (many decades) of patterns that she has accumulated, but as I discover my own interests/passions I am finding that I can record what patterns I have acquired and where I can find them for future use.  Actually that is one of the most useful tips I found on Ravelry.  As I get a new Magazine, mark it in my stash and mark what patterns are found in that issue.  That way if I go back and look for a pattern I can find it in my library and know which magazine to look for it in.

*Blog Posts  Ravelry is linked up with my blog and so I can see my blog posts, and others can see my blog posts right from Ravelry.  This is a good way to obtain some exposure for my blog.

*Contributions If you are a pattern designer, or if you spin/paint/dye your own yarn then this is where you can make contributions to the fiber arts community, whether for free or for profit.

As you can see, Ravelry is a great way for you to get organized as well as sharing your love of fiber arts with a lot of like-minded individuals.  Whether your love is very general or very specific, if you are organized/would like to be organized/have no interest in organization at all Ravelry has a place for you.  This is a great resource, that I under-utilize, but I hope to become more active in the near future.

Happy Crafting!

 

51 Yarns week 7

I cannot believe that it is week 7 already!  I did a really neat lockspun yarn from some Mohair locks I obtained off of facebook and the faux angora that I received from the Paradise Fibers April box.  I spun this on my Ladybug with a short forward draw, I did not plan on this for my faux angora but I really like how it turned out.  I cannot wait to see how it knits up.

This is my first lockspun yarn, I wound up splitting the fiber while I spun the singles to add in the locks.  Then I wound the yarn onto weaving bobbins to even everything out.  I wound up having two weaving bobbins of the lockspun singles, part of that is simply how bulky the lockspun singles are.  I then wound off the rest of the faux angora onto four other bobbins.  I decided to make this into a three ply yarn, I am not sure of the yardage since my Niddy Noddy was in the cellar and I wasn’t going down there last night.

Happy Crafting!

 

MS&WF 2- Wools and Sheep

I managed to add at least 13 new breeds to my fiber study.  There was one booth that had over 60 breeds, but mostly unwashed wool.  Since my mother has COPD (and is recovering from double Pneumonia) I am unwilling to bring unwashed fleece into the house.  While I am certain that the sheperds do their best, Wool Washer’s Disease is also known as Anthrax, so I am not going to take chances.

Below please find some of my amazing finds, I cannot wait to get started spinning them!D9786F29-BD2F-4F4A-B1A4-796420E78E90522df623-edcd-4526-be6a-4540e5008031.jpeg

Above are my two braids of Rambouillet from two different vendors.  As you can see one is white and combed top while the other is a natural brown and I believe carded.  The preparations and probably micron count are so very different but both are extremely springy.  I cannot wait to get my hands on them to test and spin!152BD26D-40F5-4FD8-9A9C-3E6957FA59F2

Above is my Tunis top, I have half of this section already spun into a single, I hope to ply and create samples over this weekend.  It was an amazing spin, if a bit coarse.  The dyed blues and pinks have mixed together in places to create an amazing purple effect that I am fascinated to see plied.2CBA7F34-70FA-481C-B641-8523292E1013

The extremely rare hog island I obtained is extremely full of vegetable matter.  The texture is very springy and I am looking forward to working with this fiber, but I also believe I might try to use the Hackle to get out a lot of the vegetable matter before attempting to spin this fiber.

I must have jiggled the camera an extreme amount while trying to photograph this Black Welsh, but the fiber is divine anyway.  A little coarse, but with that deep black color who cares?  24caf879-a0f6-44e0-a96c-b67c4ef94c82.jpeg

 

I managed to obtain lincoln roving as pictured here, and lincoln lamb locks as pictured below.  I will admit I made a mistake, the lincoln lamb locks are not the beautiful long locks I envisioned, they are quite short and I will probably use them to add texture to a batt instead of flicking them open for a true worsted yarn as I first envisioned.  The roving is luscious, though a bit coarser than I was expecting.F9B71DA4-4BB3-4F26-91CE-1F4ECBBAE662

This half pound of Karukal is just begging me to sink my fingers into it’s pretty softness and spin like the wind.  Soon, I promise soon!C839AED6-AF55-47BE-A7F7-DB5581FEB20D

This beautiful black braid of Zwartables is going to be a blast to spin, again it is on the coarser side of things, but who knows what it will do once it is spun and washed.  The guessing is half of the fun!694FFC24-009C-4604-8C3C-22B4BAA684A5

I went a little overboard with the Wensleydale, but I cannot for the life of me regret it.  I have this amazing half pound that I can use to spin worsted and see how well the finished yarn takes to dye as well as a braid of yellow Wensleydale near the bottom of the post that I can spin up and see the different shades of yellow pop out!99B83696-ACD8-42D6-864C-BBDAE22412C4

This braid of Textel seems to be on the downy side of wool, it should be a fun, soft spin, and the resulting yarn will be amazing (in its own way just like the rest of the yarns).714329AA-6DFF-4C20-8E65-B340C4891842

At the Coopworth booth they didn’t have any prepared roving but they did have an amazing selection of curls.  I love how they look in their bags and did manage to comb out a tiny portion on my new hackle.  They comb out beautifully, I think that as I have time I will pick apart the locks that I can find for combing and then use the drum carder for the rest.  This will give me a great chance to explore differences in preparation and how they effect the finished product.  So much fun and so much to learn!4CD66172-5F89-47F8-A734-B2F4FE163DEB

One of my patrons assured me that I already had some Finn that they spun as a part of their breed sample.  Oh well, I didn’t have it written down as a breed that I own, but even so this is such a fluffy bunch (and I was able to practice on an electric wheel for the first time with some skirted finn at the Folk Art Booth, so there is a special memory in this wool already).F1BC11E6-57B0-4035-9532-CDD205ABD86C

This mohair along with the pink locks below were obtained at a booth with two amazing ladies that offered to let me go see their goats anytime I wanted.  Even though I don’t live in Maryland I am tempted anyway!  At least I have this amazing roving and curls to play with!15633D07-5A4C-4293-AA33-771153D5DB4580BEA30B-B92E-4F76-B946-1F7FD546E4BC1CDB9AB4-EE61-46EF-ACF3-3E430363AF4B

No one ever told me that Cormo is one of the softest breeds ever.  I don’t know how this is going to spin up, but for now it is like petting my faux angora, so soft and beautiful!

The Cotswold below is such a delight to pet.  I cannot wait to spin it up.  The Ross Farm was one of two booths at which I found Four different Breeds that I had not spun yet. It was so much fun finding these different companies that raised or processed different heritage breeds.

7D9C0379-E0AC-4D5D-9E48-7D73DA6BEDF8This fiber is like trying to spin very coarse hair.  I have not gotten a chance to even pull it out of the bag other than the tail sticking out the top but I can already tell that spinning this is going to be interesting.  I cannot wait!93A291E2-CFBD-4828-A7FB-3F69B766DC8565BD7A1B-91DF-4006-8059-F0C4032B8F334885860F-0036-4032-981D-F46DCE671153

The last, but certainly not least, bit of fiber I purchased was some Superwash Targhee from a vendor that is friends with my father’s cousin who took me to Maryland Sheep and Wool on Saturday.  The colors are interesting but more than that I love spinning Targhee for it’s springy texture.  I am not thrilled that it is superwash, I have heard that some people have skin troubles with the chemicals used to make it superwash, but I look forward to working with it anyway.C7CBF171-AD58-43F8-AEC5-967E8E1CB892

So, there you have it, my stash haul from Maryland Sheep and Wool.  I cannot for the life of me believe that it was two weeks ago already.  Oh well, more time to save up for next year!

Happy Crafting!

Very Pink Knits Podcast

Very Pink Knits:

The tagline of this podcast is: “Where we turn knitting questions into knitting answers” and that really covers this podcast well. There are bits of their personal lives involved, just enough to make them seem human, but there are also a lot of questions answered. Very good, and I have heard great things about the teaching videos also available from verypinkknits.com.  The hosts are likeable and friendly but they also tend to dive right into the questions.  There are ususally 2-5 questions answered in a podcast but the hosts are very aware of the time, so the shows are usually about 20 minutes long, which I find to be a decent amount of time.

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!

51 Yarns to Spin Before You Cast Off by Jacey Boggs Faulkner

Before getting into a review, I have to state that this book ROCKS!  So does the contest Jacey Boggs Faulkner is running on Ravelry, Instagram, etc. to give away subscriptions to her magazine Ply.  #PlyMagazine

51 yarns book

Yarn is not nearly as simple as non-crafts-people would have you believe.  “There’s like, bulky, and really tiny, right?” ; “What do you mean linen is from a plant, it’s a cloth right?” ; “Doesn’t that hurt the sheep?” ; etc.  There are plenty of non crafts people that have a clue, so I’m not putting all non crafts people down, just the ignorant ones, lol.  Because of this, for you non crafts people, if you have a SO or loved one that is into any fiber craft, pick up this book so you can start to throw around terms like low-twist singles, coil yarn, or z twist with ease. Or at least have a clue of what they are talking about when they throw those terms around.

For people interested in crafts already, or active crafters this is a great book.  Originally I was going to say, if you like/love/live & breathe spinning then this is a good book for you, but scratch that.  If you have any interest in fiber arts/crafts then this is a great book for you.  I imagine that there are plenty of K&Cs (knitters & crocheters) that see the Koigu yarns (very pretty yarns that seem to come as singles a lot of the time) and have not known that this is only one kind of yarn.  Why should you use 2, 3, or 5 ply yarns?  Why aren’t there many 20 ply yarns?  This is a worsted weight yarn, what do you mean worsted spun?  Etc.  I think that this should be titled 51 Yarns to spin & Knit/Crochet/Weave before you cast off, because I think that any fiber artists would benefit from a deeper understanding of the yarns available for their crafts, how they are constructed, and why they do what they do.

In Short, BUY THIS BOOK!  READ THIS BOOK!

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