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!

 

Pinterest Rocks for Fiber Arts (and a lot of other things too)

I know, I am currently at MS&WF but I’m posting this, What?  Okay so I have written this post earlier and put it up while I’m away because, it is important information that I think people should know, and I am going to be a bit busy right when I get back so I am not sure when I’ll get a chance to express my excitement over MS&WF.  This is, hopefully, the start of a mini-series every few weeks about different digital resources available to crafters that they might not be aware of, or might not have thought of that way.

There are amazing websites/resources out there that I really want to share with you and help you to understand how they fit in with your creative journey.  When I think of methods of creative discovery, Pinterest is one of the first websites I think of.  I will freely admit that I often do not use my resources to their fullest capabilities.  Pinterest is one of those resources, but I really do love it for what I use it for.  I know, that is one of the most confusing sentences ever.  For me Pinterest is inspiration personified, the very essence of every cool picture on the internet in one accessible place, where I can choose what I really love and want to look into further (for free, and with the permission of the pinner.)  I cannot claim it as my personal work, unless it is, but I can use the pictures to inspire my own creativity, instruct me on a technique or craft, or just cause me to pause and think further on something.

When you get started with Pinterest you need to sign up using an e-mail address.  From there you begin by creating boards.  I have boards ranging from Knitting, Sewing, Fiber Lust (all of the really pretty fibers I want or want to make), Cleaning, Cute stuff, Stuff I want in my House, etc.  I have a ‘secret’ board of stocking stuffers, since I really love to buy little useful things that I can give to family and friends.  You really could use this to inspire almost anything.  I have recently created a Mood Board where I put my color inspiration, and I hope to use this at a future date to help me create batts for spinning.  There are plenty of businesses that use these to advertise their goods, and I can easily see myself using this to manage my stash at some point.  I know that Ravelry has similar options to manage their stash within that website, but for my immediate needs Pinterest is faster.  I will be exploring some of the great options on Ravelry in the near future.

If you are looking to upload original pieces to pinterest there is a plus sign near the bottom right of the page when you are on pinterest.  If you press this you almsot always get a message stating that you can get their browser button and use that to pin items, if you hit Not Now then the entire box disappears.  When you press the plus sign a second time you are able to choose to upload a pin.  Your persistence is rewarded, from here you can add a caption, or metadata if you are a librarian or information professional, and pin to a board.  If you are using a personal computer, or if you do not share a work computer, it might be well worth it to obtain the browser button.

In addition to creating your own boards and searching for pins that mesh with your interests Pinterest gives you the opportunity to follow the pins of others.  If you have a favorite business/dyer/etc. or just some friends that have the same interests as you then you can follow their boards, or accounts, to see what they pin and obtain inspiration from there.  Pinterest will also send you e-mails, sometimes a lot of e-mails, suggesting pins and boards.  Sometimes these suggestions are very helpful, sometimes they are just annoying. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Pinterest, I am certain that there are ideas out there I haven’t even touched on, but I hope that this helps some.

If you are looking to start a new project, start a new craft, or just need some inspiration then Pinterest is a great place to start.  Whether you want to learn more about coupon clipping, bobbin lace, sprang, bullet journals, cleaning, or just need some new recipes, Pinterest really does have it all.

Happy Crafting!

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

Prepping For Class & Akerworks

This has been a very exciting week.  Let me start with the parts not mentioned in the title of this post:

  • My copy of “51 Yarns to Spin Before you Cast Off” By Jacey Boggs Faulkner has arrived, and I have submitted my ‘Default Yarn’ for her competition.  So far I adore this book, although I’m only about 20 pages in.  I plan on reading more today, and writing a review as soon as I can.  For my submission on Ravelry I used my current favorite skein from the Paradise Fibers Olympic Spin, and mentioned that I am more likely to crochet than spin.  Jacey Boggs Faulkner asked if I’d share what I crochet, *squee* so now I’m working like mad to crochet up a shawl using that yarn.  I’m loving how the shawl is turning out and really hope it will be done for Maryland.
  • I added a listing of my spindles owned/desired to my leather notebook I’m taking with me for MS&WF, trying to think of what else to put in there.
  • Ordered & received little presents for my Aunts who are hosting and hauling me for MS&WF.
  • Will finish ordering tickets for all three of us to get into the festival Friday.
  • My first guild meeting of the year we are going to start a lace project, it should be a ton of fun.

Okay, on to the titular subjects.

For my first dyeing class of the year I created samples.  Part of what I hope to get across to the students is that the dyeing is only the beginning of their fiber journey, it changes so very drastically from step to step that you cannot even begin to predict where your fiber will end up.  Not to mention that since it really is just wool, spinning is not the only place that your fiber can end up. wet felting, needle felting, or just using it as an applique.  They are all viable choices, but if you want to spin it, the results can be very different that your starting dyed fiber.  I know, that was almost like a mini class, lol.  I dyed up some samples and carded half of each color into rolags.  This shows how very different the carded rolag is from the original dyed fiber.  Then for one of the colorways, the pink at the top of the post, I spun one of the rolags into a mini skein of yarn.  I don’t have a photo of the mini skein yet, but it again shows how different the fiber is.  I am really looking forward to this first class!

Now the other half of my title, Akerworks Bobbin.  I received my collapsible Akerworks Woolee Winder compatible bulky bobbin for my Schacht Ladybug.  I absolutely adore it.   My minor, well for most people it would be minor but it was driving me insane, problem with the WooleeWinder bobbins was the rattle.  To be entirely fair and honest it wasn’t really a bad rattle, it didn’t shake the teeth out of your head or anything, it was just this noise while I was spinning.  Since I love the convenience of not having to stop to change hooks all the time and still wind up with a nice even bobbin, I thought I would just have to deal with the noise.  Not so!  I still use Lithium Grease on my shaft and orifice, but the rattle is just about gone.  I have a squeak that I think is due to either uneven foot height on my wheel or a loose screw at the back that I need to work on, but that tiny sound is not a problem at all.  The bobbin fills up evenly, it spins beautifully, I can see the fiber between the spokes when the bobbin is filled up more which is just pretty, they hold a ton of yarn, and there is no annoying rattling sound.  I honestly think I’m going to pick up at least 2-3 more of these bobbins once they are officially on sale.  (Probably 3 if a 3-ply is going to be my new default spin I’ll need something to ply onto).

That’s it for this past week, so much more to come next week!  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!

Happy News!

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This year I will be attending the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival!

I am so very excited, things just fell into place, and I am keeping my fingers crossed that nothing falls out of place, lol.  I was originally supposed to be driving down with a friend from the guild, but she has a wedding to attend the next weekend and that would be too much travel for her.  Then my mother, generously, offered to fly me down there.  I accepted her offer, but as a shot in the dark, asked my library director if the library would pay for the tickets as professional development since I spend so much time teaching craft classes.  She agreed, happily, so I will not even have to spend Mom’s money. My sibling is coming up to make sure that mom is okay while I’m down there, she’s on oxygen 24/7 and doesn’t get around too much.  A couple of my Father’s cousins are going to let me stay with them and they will shuttle me around.  This is going to be so much fun.  I really look forward to seeing a part of my family again as well.

I look forward to bringing back all sorts of stories and goodies.  This is going to be such a great time, now I just have to think of the right presents for my family that will be hosting me.  Perhaps a yarn in the tartan of my dad’s cousin-in-law, maybe a jar of painting supplies for the other cousin, well I have over a month to figure things out.

Happy Crafting!

 

Spindles, Storage, Thread Bowls, and Bullet Journals

This is actually going to be a busy entry I think.  Let’s start from the top!

I believe I told you that my ladies from my Wooly Wednesday classes were lovely and gave me a $100 gift certificate to Woolery.com.  If not, well they did in August of 2017.  I decided to use that certificate to buy up a bunch of different kinds of spindles, supported and drop.  I know, if you don’t spin you’re probably wondering: “How many different kind of spindles are there?”  Suffice it to say, there are a lot.  Right now I have a Navajo Spindle, got on sale from Dharma Trading, Portuguese from Mielke Fiber Arts, Russian, Mayan, and Medieval from Woolery, and a Tibetan Pu Yok from Hipstrings.  I already owned a Tahkli (Made popular by Ghandi for cotton spinning) as well as top and bottom whorl spindles from when I was beginning to spin.  Shockingly this 9 spindle collection is barely scratching the surface, especially since I forgot my Mayan Spinner!  Okay so right now I have 10 spindles that I own personally and haven’t even really started collecting, lol.  Since I Hope to travel with my spindles, I need to find a way to safely transport them.  They are, unfortunately, not cheap.  Fortunately there is something called “Pick Pluck Foam” that can be used to customize a storage solution.

Given this I purchased a Pick Pluck Foam sheet and managed to store all of my expensive, new spindles, except for the Navajo Spindle.  Since that is over 3 feet tall, I think I will just have to carry it.  This did bring up another concern.  If I just transport the Pick Pluck Foam (with bottom) in my bag there is every chance that it will bend and distort thereby putting my spindles in peril.  This will not stand!  So I wound up purchasing a case, that comes with its own pick pluck foam (can you tell I really like that name?).  The case is hard sided, much like a toolbox, and will be a perfect solution in addition to possibly being a good way to transport my other three spindles.  If you are wondering what the foam and cases are usually used for, then the answer is those table top figurines that people use for gaming, guns, cameras, and essentially anything you want to transport without getting it broken.  There is one other item I hope to put into my new case, and that is a bowl for spinning.

Now hipstrings sells some really pretty bowls, and $12 is not a bad price for them.  (Don’t worry, since hipstrings has a new blend called Space Unicorn, they’re getting more of my money anyway). However I believe I mentioned in another post that I am very cheap.  Well really I’m a bargain hound.  I hoped to find a bowl for a dollar or two (at least under $5) at my local craft store (it’s a chain not a Local Yarn Store or I would mention a name).  However instead of finding a bowl I found a “Make your own Thread Bowl” kit.  Well, who am I to pass up on that?  No one, that’s who! I love it.  I am not fond of the fact that the glue was dried out and separated, but that is okay.  They advised that you take cotton fabric to reduce some of the sticky-ness of their double stick tape form that you lay on the bowl first.  That didn’t work for me, so the small bowl form is still really sticky on the form (I peeled a bowl off which is how I know that).  For the second attempt I wound up putting down a fine layer of Trilobal Nylon cut apart, it’s really fine and sparkly so I hope it looks good when I peel the bowl off.  Fortunately my mother is a crafter and has always encouraged creativity so we have glue all over the house.  I found some Sparkly Glue and my first bowl is looking really neat.  A thin layer of the watery stuff out of the kit, then a layer of sparkly glue, then a layer of clear gel glue, then a layer of Aileen’s Tacky Glue, over the course of two days.  I didn’t really let the last layer dry enough before I peeled the bowl off.  Some of the threads stuck to the tape and had to be tapped back in place.  The entire construction is a bit flimsy feeling to me, so I am in the process of reinforcing the inside with more glue.  Starting with, surprise, a sparkly glue layer.  My second attempt, the largest bowl mould, has a thick layer of Aileen’s Tacky Glue as its first layer and I hope that this will add a lot more structure to the overall result.  If I can manage these, not only will I put up a picture, but I hope to teach it along with Spindle Construction at the end of my spinning series.

Speaking of teaching, I warned you this would be a long one, I am currently working on learning how to Bullet Journal.  I hope that I can learn enough to teach it as a class for my local library.  My journal really started with this article from Interweave,  as well as a colleague at the Community College I work at.  She has a really neat notebook that is bound with discs.  There are a few different versions from Levenger, a little out of my pocketbook, to Martha Stewart, to Arc from Staples.  I wound up with Arc from staples and I bought the punch that goes with the set.  It seems a little expensive at first but in reality it will save me a lot of time and trouble in the end.  I have spent these past couple of months working on my organization and trying to keep my every day information close at hand.  This was partially inspired since Apple screwed up their calendar and I cannot see what appointments I have at a glance, and partially out of a desire to keep track of how much I do in a day. I have only started the bullet journal part a week ago but I have already found the value in having pages for thoughts, desires, and wish lists.

Thus ends my really long post. Happy Crafting!