Rolling On

Yesterday I attended the Western New York Fiber Fest with a friend that I used to work with. She has two boys, one under 5 one under a year, so I was happy to get her out of the house and doing something fun for the day. We had an absolute blast, I purchased some fiber (not that I needed more) to spin up for National Spinning and Weaving week in the beginning of October. I am so pleased with the mixture of fibers and colors I have to play with, hopefully they will provide a good distraction. On another topic altogether, I have been trying to label things for organizational purposes. Unfortunatly those hard, plastic, sticky labels with punch type on an inexpensive machine; yeah they don’t stick to anything for me. So that creating cute & functional labels is easy, and actually likely to happen, I plan on purchasing a Cricut. Originally I was going to get a Cricut Joy, however with the release of the 3 series the Cricut Explore 2 is only $20 more than the Joy, so I will be ordering one of those.

My supervisor and director have both agreed to allow me to bring my Saori loom to work so that our patrons can have fun weaving rugs for October. I hope to be able to drag it down there tomorrow. Of course the only reason I’m in a hurry to get it to work is so that I don’t start another project on it, lol. I am almost finished with the rug piece, I wound up dismantling some of the toothbrush rug so that I had enough yardage to create this floor rug. It is so exciting to be this close to finishing the rug and allowing a lot of people a chance to play with a floor loom.

That is about all the news I have worth publishing right now. I did realize I’m going to need to rip out every project I have going on that requires sizing since I have changed so drastically, yay.

Remember to Live Life a Little More Abstract!

Unfortunately Correct

I was unfortunately correct in saying that I was being overly optimistic thinking that I would get my wheel varnished on Thursday.

Unfortuntaely, that seems to be theme here, I do not have any photos of my current projects, though I do have a photo of the Chenille Stem (Pipe Cleaner) holiday tree I made for a December Project at my public library.

Pipe Cleaner Christimas Tree, tiny. The branches stick out in all directions, with two round pieces as a base and a paperclip attached to make sure it actually stays upright.

In addition to my holiday crafting I have been working on weaving up the yarn I spun for the Spin Together 2020 contest. I am using my rigid heddle loom, which is 10″ across and weaving 2 yard increments. So far I am on my second panel, I hope to have enough yarn to weave off 4 panels for a 40″ across piece. That should be sufficient to make a nice looking poncho, admittedly I would prefer about 60″. I love how the colors are working together to create something bright and cheerful with a bit of sparkle here and there. I hope to be able to sew the panels together before winter break.

The second project, that I am kicking myself for forgetting in the car, is a knitted shawl from the 716 batt I managed to spin up. I love how the knitting is going, however I can see where I plied loosely and the yarn is splitting with my maneuvering. I believe that this will wind up being a very colorful shawl, it is also a great platform for my experimenting with yarnovers and double decreases. The results are neat, though not what I thought.

I do have a third project in mind. Once I have the red that I am spinning fairly fine finished I hope to spin up another wild batt (maybe I can do this on my new wheel instead of waiting for the ladybug to be free), to create a match to my Blue Moon Halloween 2020 skein. Once I have them both spun I hope to use some wool yarn to weave up a shawl collar/cowl to wear as a decorative piece. I might even hold off on seaming up my panels to see if I can turn them into some sort of shirt…the possibilities are endless!

Okay, so I also have a fourth project I’m actively working on..I know it is a bit much. The Discover Color event is ongoing and I still have not threaded my heddles. I found the perfect excuse to delay until Thursday, the Winter Weavealong will start pretty soon. This is run by Two Ewes Fiber Adventures podcast, and I hope to participate this year.

I was reminded that we only have about 4 more paychecks until Christmas, so that is frightening. I’d better get my presents purchased and shipped before it is too late!

Remember to Live Life a Little More Abstract!

The Finish Line

Vogue Knitting sponsored Virtual Knitting October 2020 where I was able to take a class from Jillian Moreno. The class was focused on all of the different ways you can spin and ply a braid of colorful roving. This included different ways you can get your precious fiber to stretch and how plying colors can effect eachother. I loved this class. As she was talking I was recalling that I had read quite a bit of what she was discussing when I read her book “Yarnitecture” which I cannot recommend enough. During and after the class, 2 hours long, I spun up samples based on roving I had purchased years ago and that I had fallen out of love with. The samples certainly reinvigorated my interest, and I look forward to playing with my Allegheny Fiber Arts batt in Mango in the near future. All of my playing around managed to net me about 344 yards credit for Spin Together 2020.

I had finished the first half of my big spin about Wednesday, which yes was a little late but as I told the captain of my team I lost about 15 hours spinning time between physical therapy and filling in for a colleague that had surgery. If I had the option I think I would take this week as vacation…if only I were full-time. Anyway. I actually got quite a bit of spinning done between Wednesday night and before my class on Thursday morning, that is the blue bobbin. Then I took everything off of my wheel to spin up my samples, they were so much fun. I thought about spinning more on the blue bobbin, however I decided to just start a new bobbin, this is the yellow bobbin. I finished spinning the singles late Thursday night and started plying with my first two bobbins immediately afterwards.

Before work on Friday I had managed to ply up one bobbin full, and knew that I would have to split the skein. Next year I am going to have to ply on my 64oz Firefly bobbin. Enchanted Mountain Weaver’s Guild had a meeting Friday night, the first I have been able to attend in months. I spent this time getting some plying done so that by Saturday morning I had managed to ply up all three bobbins of yarn, the first skein I measured off as 300 yards. This is 900 credit yards for spin together (2 plies and the act of plying). During the zoom meeting with the Paradise Fibers Team I managed to get all of my samples organized onto their pages (I’m still using the organization method I learned at EGLFC from Kate Larson).

In the end my Total Mileage was 1.66 Miles. This does not include my first day making an art skein. This is probably one of the lowest totals, however I did manage to spin over a mile of yarn, so I am pretty happy. Reading over the documentation we were sent at the beginning of things, oops, I realized that Paradise Fibers will be sending everyone that participated a ‘little something’ exciting. According to Tamara, our team leader, one of the other participants has sheep and will be providing everyone with a little gift. In addition to the ‘big prizes’ paid for by everyone’s entrance fee, Paradise Fibers is sponsoring prizes within our teams. First and second place prizes for: Most beautiful skein, art yarn, and mileage spun. Perhaps my art yarn skein will get something? No matter really, I am just happy to have participated and spun up some of my stash.

Actually that reminds me, I took this opportunity to spin 2 and 3 ply samples of my Unicorn in the Library by Hipstrings as well as my October box by Paradise Fibers. Now I have to remember that Cleaning Your House is also on the list of things I need to do, not just spinning more yarn.

Until next time, remember to live life A Little More Abstract.

Preparing for the Spin Together October 3-10th

I decided to join team Paradise Fibers, as I mentioned last post. Due to this, I have spend the past weekend preparing my fibers to start spinning on the 3rd.

I spent September 20th preparing the locks, flicking open ends, carding a few rolags, creating some cloud fiber. The spin should be tons of fun, I even found some white and black mohair locks to add even more texture. I’m debating if I want to ply this with a sequined thread I have or just leave it as a wild singles. I’ll see how it looks on the 3rd after I spin it. Right now I plan on spinning this on the 3rd so that I have the rest of the week to get as much mileage as I can.

I also took each piece of roving that I planned on using for this spin and split them in half so that I could have an approximately equal spin on two different bobbins. Using a basket and a bag I kept the two halves of the spin separated, but I also pulled off pieces of each main roving into 4-10 inch segments. After I had the fiber divided, I also added in some different colors that went with the theme, I rolled each section of roving into a little nugget. This will make it easier for me to pick out a random nugget of fiber to spin from. I also put a bobbin in each container, these combined with the one on the wheel give me two to ply from and one to ply onto.

I am super excited for this spin, it has actually given me to motivation to ply up some singles I have had resting on my weaving bobbins, but that is a spin for a different post.

Until next time remember to live life A Little More Abstract!

Back to Work Soon

I am back to having an absolute blast spinning yarn. Thanks to a friend of mine I remembered that I had a batt from a local company.

Television on in the background, spinning wheel and stepstool in front of the television. In the foreground is a small table with a colorful batt of fiber, card in front that states 716 Batt, description of fiber content and 4+ Oz priced at $20.

This batt spun up within a couple of days, it was so much fun. It filled up about 2/3rds of a bulky bobbin.

Filled 3d printed bobbin on a Schacht Ladybug spinning wheel with a WooleeWinder.

This batt is currently in the form of singles into a center pull ball that I will be using to ply from once I have my current project off of the wheel. My soap has not arrived quite yet, the package seems to have been lost. While I am waiting I received my Paradise Fibers August Spinning Box. I love it so far. It is a batch of samples from many of the past boxes. I dug right in, the little bits are just enough that I do not get bored with a color. I spun up about 10 in one day. I am trying to keep track of what I am doing with the spinning.

Big Kantha Basket containing little balls of fiber in a wide variety of colors and fibers.

While I am ready to turn the heel on my worsted weight sock, I have not gotten around to it yet. I am about 2/3rds of the way through sewing the hem…thing that I am going to pull my drawstring through my dress…thing.

Remember to Live Life a Little More Abstract!

Crafting Through These Times

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During these times I’m still working from home, it is going pretty well actually.  I am also doing some cleaning, not as much as I should, and some crafting.  For my public library I managed to create a video that uses some simple tools and cardboard to create art-ish.  The above is my creation.  I also did some work on washing wool.  I soaked some wool in cold water to get the basic dirt out:

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You can see, it helped a bit but there is still some major dirt and lanolin.  I washed a batch by scrubbing each individual lock across a bar of soap.  These results were amazingly clean, however very labor intensive:

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Then I took one batch and used hot water and unicorn simply clean to soak for ten minutes:

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This worked really well, I did not rinse this batch out just soaked and let dry so that I could use them as an example in the video I’m making.  For the rest of the picked locks I used hot water and unicorn to soak twice and then rinsed with just water a third time.  These results were wonderful, I just adore how well this works.

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You can see the amazing difference, how crisply clean and white all of the fleece is.  This is some Coopworth Yearling fiber, it started out as 8 ounces.  I picked out the washed locks and put them in a plastic bag after it had thoroughly dried.  I am so excited to be able to spin this fleece, however it is going to be some time.

I also used a large potholder loom I bought from Harrisville to make two separate potholders that were beautiful.  I’m looking at buying some more loopers for the larger loom, however they are a bit pricey.

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I’m also doing some work on my 7′ tri-loom.  I’m trying to do some cut string weaving as opposed to continuous string weaving.  Right now I think that there are too many gaps between the threads, so I am planning on trying to add extra yarn in between several of these picks.  Some of them I doubled up in one section, because of this I should be able to add a thread in between these doubled up to tighten things up.  In this flash I love how rainbow this looks, neat!

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Fibershed by Rebecca Burgess

I received this book from my Uncle Jimmy and Aunt Kathleen for Christmas in 2019, Thank You. This post is going to go into a lot of biology, environmental concerns, and more serious topics.  If this is not for you, my organization story will continue next week.

As a bit of my background relating to this book, my thesis to receive my bachelors degree in sociology surrounded the relationship between early menarche and hormones being fed to the animals that we, as Americans, derive our meat from.  Essentially I looked at the research tying children getting their first period as early as 5 years old and the hormones being pumped into the cows and chickens from which we get milk, eggs, and meat.  Hormones, and antibiotics really, that are not flushed out in any way before being fed to ourselves and our children.  Though I do not have that paper, there was certainly a correlation.  In the past decade or so I have all but forgotten that paper that managed to land me my bachelors degree, which I only needed so that I could get a my Masters in Library Studies.  To be frank, it is not financially viable for me to live an organic life.  This does not mean that these concerns should not be addressed, even if sweeping changes are not realistic.  My reading of FiberShed is not replacing the knowledge I gained from my thesis, but building on it in ways that I had not considered.  This is going to be a quick review designed to encourage you to read this book and others like it.  This review in no way replaces the joy, and extensive knowledge gained, by reading this book.

Synthetic fibers are derived from petroleum products, or have gone through chemical laden processes to be created and turned into clothing.  When these processes are occurring many safety precautions have to be taken to ensure the health of the workers, then the run-off has to be carefully disposed of so as to not contaminate the local drinking water.  The fact that all too often both of these steps are not taken seriously causes great ecological problems.  We are wearing these products on our skin, the largest, permeable organ on our body.  How many of these chemicals are we absorbing?  This book tackles these problems on both a local and global scale from a crafting point of view.  We as crafters can take charge of the yarns we buy, the fiber we spin, and the clothing we create.  This book goes from fiber, dyes, and encompasses all of the processes in between.  Exploring every aspect of fabric creation from where the cotton is grown, and from what kind of seed, to the sheep, processing the materials, dyeing the materials (naturally, of course), weaving/knitting these materials, even recycling them.  There is an amazing wealth of information, including how the methods of agriculture detailed will be profitable for not only the environment but the farmers and consumers also.  All of this information is interspersed with personal tales from herself as well as her friends and companions along this journey.

For a fascinating, if terrifying, look at our fast fashion culture check out this book.  Inside we are also taken through a journey of some steps that we might take to regain our chemical independence, as well as the steps that some conglomerates are taking to help our ecology, economy, and general sustainability.  Since this book comes at this from a crafting perspective there is some lamenting, but there are many more solutions.  Fantastic Read.

Remember to Live Life A Little More Abstract!

November Already

I cannot believe that November is here already, two more full weeks and it will be Thanksgiving week!  This year has both dragged and flown by.  This past week I received my November Paradise Fibers Box, the fibers look neat but the patterns for knitted ornaments are what has really caught my eye.

I received the more subdued colors of fiber, the white was what everyone received, my second color was a light pink rather than bright pinks and purples.  I enjoy the colors, especially since I have enough brighter fibers to use as pops of color for the ornaments.  I almost repurposed the spinning I was doing to be used as embroidery thread, however I decided to stick to my original plan.  I do still believe that I will use any left-over yarns as crewel embroidery rather than scrap projects (if they are not big enough to knit into hexipuffs).

Speaking of things that I learned from EGLFC I have decided to use the highly textured yarns that I created that weekend as a sort of commemorative scarf.  I managed to get my Ashford Sample It Loom threaded and tensioned using a 7.5dent heddle.

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I love how it is turning out, however this is going to be the very definition of ‘Slow Cloth’ Weaving.  Each time I open a new shed the yarns stick, since the textured yarns are in the slots they do not like to move up and down or separate from their neighbors.  Keeping the actual locks to the top, without interfering with the addition of new horizontal picks, and so many more problems.  The fascinating part of this is, I do not mind the problems at all.  Yes, I am not really happy that one of my warp threads had to be tied back together when it snapped, I’m a bit worried about advancing the warp and how much trouble beating is going to be (I think I’m going to use a fork or tapestry beater at times), however I believe that I am going to enjoy taking my time and letting this scarf become what it wants to be.  IMG_3095

There are several other projects going on in my life right now.  I am working on upping my bullet journaling game, not only because of the class at the end of the month, but because I am trying to be more organized.  As I hinted earlier I finished a small braid that I am going to use for embroidery thread, it was a sample from my Holi Spinning box earlier this year.  At present I am pulling off lengths, allowing them to ply back on themselves and tying them into bundles to be steamed when I have time.

For other projects, my handyman has finally gotten around to putting up the paneling in my ‘studio’, of course since it has snowed already I had to purchase a small heater that claims it will heat up a room twice as big as the one I am using.  Finger’s crossed, I hope so because I had to lay out a few home truths to him about the nature of working on a part time basis for a community college and private university, specifically that from my last paycheck in the middle of December I will not get another from those two until February.  Fortunately I have enough crafting supplies stocked up, and just enough pay coming to me in the next six weeks, that I should be able to handle all of the major bills for January relying on my public library pay for food and gas.

I am not certain about the holidays at present, there are some good sales on Turkeys and Hams, so I believe I will stock up a bit on major protein sources.  Life goes on and I am luckier than most.

For crafting, I also picked up the Charollais I received as a part of Holi, I was fascinated by the lock structure and hoped to use it as some texture in a new yarn.  When I picked it up, it felt a touch tacky.  Thinking that a bit of lanolin was left in the locks, I immersed it in some very hot tap water, that immediately turned brown.  I had been harboring unwashed wool!  There is nothing inherently wrong with unwashed wool, if you know it is there so you can keep an eye on it or make sure it is away from the rest of your stash.  Unwashed wool is what attracts Wool Moths and Mice, neither of which I want in my stash.  I gave this wool three really good rinses and hopefully this will be enough, it is almost half way dry as of this morning.

Remember to Live Life a Little More Abstract!

EGLFC 2019

From Friday October 11th until Monday October 14th I attended the Eastern Great Lakes Fiber Conference (EGLFC).  The class that I signed up for was Colorful Crimp,
Preparing & Spinning Dyed Locks class with Kate Larson.  I have to say that Kate was an amazing instructor, she had such a wide width and breadth of knowledge that she freely shared.  She not only explained the notebook that she uses to keep track of her projects, she provided all of the materials (Which can be ordered from her website) so that we were able to create our own notebooks with samples and information about the fleece and spinning construction.

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During lunch the second day we were given a lovely set of magnets, provided by Heddlecraft.

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During the final banquet we had a lovely centerpiece consisting of amazing chainmaille around a wine goblet that I was lucky enough to win.  They also gifted us with coasters and little purses that were provided by the Rochester Weaving Guild. During the fashion show, which made me positively green with envy for all of the remarkable pieces, we were given cookies.

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I will get into details in later posts, but I did want to mention that after the fashion show I spent a lovely evening with several members of my class and the teacher.  Some of the ladies had wine, I caved in and tried the champagne.  This was the first alcohol, other than a bit of Midori, that I have actively enjoyed.  I took the bottle back to my room to photograph the label.

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Next post will focus on my arrival, the room, as well as our first day of classes.  Until then, remember to live life A Little More Abstract!

Spinning Box February 2019

I have been meaning to purchase a Fair Trade Basket made in Africa for a couple of years now.  Unfortunately, they have always seemed very expensive for something I am concerned I will just push around.  When The Spinning Box had their limited edition baskets filled with fiber, I fell in love with this version.  It is even roomier than I thought, and while my first photo is poorly done, the vivid colors on the inside cannot be mistaken.  All of this is before taking into consideration that it was filled past the brim with fiber and a couple of other goodies.

This basket was in celebration of the holiday originating in India called Holi.  My understanding is that it is a celebration of color and joy, which this basket certainly represents.  Bundled with the basket is also a set of videos intended to demonstrate ways of making the spinning box into a cohesive unit.  I am still working my way through them, I do not know if it is because I am watching them on an Apple device or if my internet is just not very compatible with the server the videos are hosted on but for me they lag quite a bit.

The variety of fibers is quite remarkable, from Targhee, Merino blends, and Lincoln to name a few.

I am hoping that I can spin these two targhee rovings well enough for a pair of socks!  There are enough Merino fibers that I believe I can blend them into a decent sized project, depending on how they want to spin.  If I have the patience to draft them into laceweight I might be able to knit a shawl, if they want to be thicker perhaps some leg/arm warmers, maybe I can weave something with them.  No matter what they become, the colors are guaranteed to shine.

As you can see pictured above there was a wide variety of merino!

There are a few other little batches of fiber that I have to figure out what I want to do with them, if I can manage to get 110 yards of 2 ply out of a breed then I should be able to knit some wrist/ankle warmers which might be fun.  I have the skein for my first attempt at knitting the pattern ready to be balled up so that is also on the agenda.

There was also a wand of some sort, pictured upper left, and a pendant containing an elephant (not pictured) included.  I am very excited, and rejuvinated, by all of this color and opportunity to experiment.  One last interesting feature is that apparently the basket can be wetted and reshaped if it should become deformed.

Was this basket expensive, Yes it really was.  However I could have easily spent that much just for the basket, so I know that the hours of enjoyment that the fibers are going to bring me are certainly a bonus.  I am trying to think of the best use of the basket, right now it is holding all of the merino blends so that I can carry them around into different light and decide how I want to put them together.  Perhaps I can use it to display finished skeins for color inspiration.  Until next time!

Happy Crafting!