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!

 

Spinzilla 2018

Elvira from Ellen's FlockEvery October the National Needle Arts Association holds an event that they call Spinzilla.  This year it will be held Monday October 3rd until Sunday October 7th.  The singular goal of this spinning time is to get as much yarn spun, and plied if that is your jam, within that time frame.  Nothing that has been previously spun counts toward your total yardage.   My personal goal is to spin a mile, or 1760 yards.  Fortunately plying is counted, so if you have 3 singles that you have plied together (and all of it has to have been spun within the week of Spinzilla) then you measure the yardage of the finished 3 ply skein and multiply it by 4 (spinning each of the 3 singles as well as spinning the ply).

September is when participants in Spinzilla can begin registering for teams, and paying their registration fees.  There is a minimal cost to join, 15 or 25 something like that, and the fee goes toward supporting programs that promote the needle arts among the younger generation.  There are prizes donated toward the winners in particular categories.  You can spin rogue, and not join a team.  If you join a team then your entire team works toward the goal of spinning the most yardage you can.  I believe that there are other prizes such as most creative spin, most individual yardage, etc.

This is a really fun event that promotes spinning in all different forms.  My only goal is to beat my spinning from the year before.  This year I believe that means that I will need to spin more than 2,240 yards.  To this end I plan on spending most of September plying off my bobbins, carding the wool that I have into rolags so that they are easier to spin, and ensuring that my wheel is in the best shape it can be.  I recently received information from the Schacht Spindle Company, who produced my wheel, about how to perform a minor repair which has my wheel purring.

I am getting really excited about Spinzilla, and will be posting more as I get my bobbins cleared off and spin some!

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!

Final Getting Ready

I am on the final stretch of getting ready for my trip.  My sibling, who is going to come up and keep an eye on Mom while I’m gone, let me know that I can have a carryon and a purse so I don’t have to worry too much about that.  I am getting really weird about this.

I have made sure that I have enough room in my favorite Timbuk2 bag to hold my yarn that I am trading Buffalo Wool Co. for a discount on a skein of their yarn, as well as all of the bags I am hoping to take since many of the vendors do not provide bags, and the first aid kit I picked up for this trip.  I have a bunch of little wallets to squirrel away my money so that I do not spend it all at once and so that I can keep track of how I am doing with the spending.  My personal grooming equipment is in a plastic box that I plan on putting in my suitcase.  There are two pairs of sneakers that I picked up with good arch support so that my plantar fasciitis doesn’t flare up during the trip.  It is quite painful when the muscle in the arch of your foot is pulled so tight you cannot sleep.

I plan on packing my pill container as well as a list of the medications I take so that the TSA doesn’t have any reason to be concerned.  I know, I’m a bit obsessed.  I messaged with my second cousins to see if they have any advice, and now I can only hope that things are going to go well.  I’ve got a great class to teach tomorrow and then I’ve got three more days of work to get through before I will be winging my way off to Maryland.

More to report from the road, and maybe something about my class.

Happy Crafting!