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Crafting For Those Dedicated to Experimentation

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The Great Clean and Drag

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Some of you might remember my Loom from last year.  If you don’t, a gracious lady donated this heavy, metal, therapy loom to me.  At the time she thought that she would be moving to Maine, that fell through but she will be spending the Fall in Spain and walking El Camino, and so she was worried about transporting this monstrosity.  Her kind offer was met by great gratitude on my part.  I then set about trying to make sure that it would be in the best working order I could manage.  I spent the entire month of July 2016 scraping off old paint, trying different methods of rust removal, adding new paint, buying a new stainless steel reed, getting the heddles in order, and so much more.  Along the way I learned everything I could about the loom, along with NEVER SCRAPE OFF OLD PAINT, JUST PAINT OVER IT.  (lead content concerns, no point in courting cancer)

I left the loom to the mercies of my detached garage, the door doesn’t seal quite right and it is right up against the woods so, like all of the garages in the region, it tends to get mice.  At the end of 2016 I still could not get each of my treadles to move independently.  I utilized every trick I knew of and a few I begged off of guild members and still could not get the last two to move separately from each other.  I spent the winter brooding over it, and for most of the summer did not get around to doing anything with my loom.

Then early in September, my last weekend before the colleges I work for started up again, I dragged my big loom into the sunlight.  Now over a year later I looked at her again.  I need to touch up the paint, see if I can get some of the rust off of some of the springs, and warp her up to make some rugs eventually.  What I did accomplish was  enough for me, for now.

I wiped her down with Clorox wipes, making sure to pay attention to anything that looked like it might be detritus, and let her dry while I tried to get the painters tape off of the treadles (don’t let that sit on wood for a year, just not a good idea).  Then I took a cheap little hacksaw to the part of the treadles that looked like they were sticking.  My beautiful yellow loom snapped that hacksaw like it was plastic, luckily it snapped in the wood and didn’t cause me any injury.  Okay, so that isn’t going to work, oh well it was only a couple of bucks.

Next I went to the files I had purchased.  They are supposed to go into an electric drill, but, my cordless drill is not very robust and I cannot figure out how to change bits in my father’s old drill.  However, by hand I managed to hack and saw through some of the wood and loosen up the treadles, bit by bit.  After a half an hour or so of going over the top, up through the bottom of either side of both of the sticky treadles I began to move them at cross purposes, one up one down, several times very quickly.  They loosened up enough that I was able to get them each moving very freely.  I cannot say for sure if it was the naval jelly last year, the hacking, or just the sheer fact of trying to move them independently, but I am very happy to say that my treadles now work on my loom.  At least they did a couple of weeks ago.

Once I had her treadles moving as they ought I turned my attention back to tying up her harnesses to the appropriate treadles.   I had some Texsolv cord from last year that was anchored to each harness and then tied to the treadle, but not properly since they did not have freedom of motion at the time.  This was an awkward motion since I had to reach quite far back with my foot in an attempt to reach the point where I could push at the Texsolv to move a heddle or two.  Now I attempted to tie up my heddles to the treadles the way they were meant to be.  Okay, so my loom was on it’s side and when I turned it back over my treadles are almost flush to the floor and not really able to open a shed.  Oh well, at least they are threaded through the treadles and it is just a matter of taking up the slack so that they treadles are appropriately in the air and able to jack up the shafts.

By this point I am certain that you are wondering why I am going to all of this trouble right at the end of the season.  After all she is just going to go back into the external garage again, right?  Nope!  I managed to clear out a lot of my college stuff, it’s only been 10 years, from the garage under the house.  Now my beautiful yellow loom is living in my attached garage, yay!  There isn’t really a lot of room to warp her up so I do not know if I will have time to get her set up for Rugs before I have to start putting the car in the garage, but at least now she won’t have to worry about mice.

Hopefully next year I will be able to get the external garage cleared out and sealed up appropriately.  Until that time, I will get to look at my loom and hope that I get a chance to make up some rugs this winter.

Happy Crafting!

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Summer is Ending

I cannot, for the life of me, believe that summer is OVER!  It seems like summer just began and here I am looking at my last Wooly Wednesday Class Tomorrow!  We are starting up “Fall Crafting” next Monday during the afternoon but this still seems like the end of an era.

Wooly Wednesday’s could not have gone better if I had tried.  I do have some plans for how to modify these classes for the spring and summer in 2018 so that they are more comprehensive, don’t rush my students as much, and cover more students and class time for the same amount of supplies (my boss will like that one).

LOOK AT ALL OF THE COOL STUFF MY LADIES CREATED THIS SUMMER!!!!!

 

 

 

This summer of Crafting ROCKED, so did my Wooly Wednesday Ladies. I hope to see you this fall, I miss you already!

Happy Crafting

Days 5&6 of Tour De Fleece

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I have made some progress on my major spin for Tour De Fleece.  More importantly from my perspective, I have decided to take my time and enjoy the step I am working on.  My personality is such that I am usually looking toward the next thing.  The next project, the next skill, the next thing to learn, etc.  This means that I do not really spend much time, if any, enjoying the step that I am on.  Recently I have been reading where several spinners talk about the hours of enjoyment they have gotten from a piece of fleece/fiber.  I have, for me, a large project that I am spinning toward.

Paradise Fibers sent me 8 oz of their Merino Blend in Bloom.  I split that in half to perform a Monet Spin, if you’ve been following me you know this already.  At present I am spinning about 4oz of the top in a straight short forward worsted spin on my ladybug.  This is resulting in the finest and most consistent spin I have ever accomplished.  However, instead of relaxing and enjoying this spin I am eager to get to the next step, spinning up the carded fibers.  I am also eager to see what the final plied yarn will look like, I have done two ply back samples and I believe I will have either a lace weight 2 ply or a DK weight 4 ply.  (it’s pretty fine)

Right now, I have spend almost three hours spinning up this first part of my fiber.  I am only capable of spinning about an hour or so at a time, the fineness of this spin means that should my concentration waver too much I will lose my consistency.  In those three hours, I have barely made a dent in my top.  This being said,  I have made a conscious decision to do my best to enjoy this time creating this yarn.  Haste makes waste is very apt in this case.  I am spinning a fine consistent yarn, taking my time, concentrating on how I am spinning and the results that I am obtaining will be key to enjoying this spin.  At my current rate of spinning I should get another 21 hours of enjoyment from this fiber.  Let’s see how it goes!

Happy Crafting!

Too Long Gone

I know, I have not updated in way too long.  Things have been moving and shaking in my crafting world.  I have had a lot of fun keeping up with my spinning, I cannot spin every day but those days that I do I really enjoy.  IMG_0034.JPG

I’ve been given the opportunity of a lifetime this summer, I will be holding weekly crafting classes at the public library I work at.  It is an amazing opportunity to introduce wool to my community and help them discover the different ways that they can create their own clothing, starting their design process from the fiber up.  It has been a blast getting everything together for these classes and figuring out what I will be teaching each class.  Unfortunately this has not left me a lot of time for updating my blogs.  I”ll work on that.

Happy Crafting!

 

Dyeing For Color

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I have to confess, this wool is so much softer than it looks.  All of these pieces of wool are dyed using either Liquid or gel food dyes as well as a combination of Alum and Cream of Tartar as a mordant.  I do enjoy how the colors have turned out, they are not as brilliant as I would have liked.  I did find out with the last batch of yellow I did, if I pre-mordant the fiber and cook up the dye bath in the mordant and use about half a container of the color then the colors come out very rich, the bottom two golden yellows.  The yellow right above was first dyed in Hibiscus Tea (a variety that was quite sharp though I usually prefer hibiscus tea).  This particular blend of tea is a very sharp red and initially turned the fiber a beautiful Burgundy…alas all of that color just ran right out of the fiber when it was taken from the bath.  The result was a very faintly beige color, you know that shade of eggshell where you are staring at it and saying “it isn’t quite white but it isn’t really anything else either.”  So I overdyed by plopping this fiber into a pot that I thought was exhausted (it wasn’t) and turned out to be very pretty and rinsed clear.

I am really happy with my experimentations.  If I get particularly brave this afternoon I might try to fill out cards with what information I have for them and start a dye dairy.  At the absolute minimum I intend to finish dyeing my fibers using the Wilton Cake Dye kit I obtained and Alum Mordant so that I have a wide Pallette of colors to play with.  If sometime this summer a yen takes my fancy I might look into obtaining some Jacquard dyes to get more colors.  I do hope to spend some time this summer and fall experimenting with plant materials and the dyes that they can create, how exciting!

Happy Crafting!

Progress, or not

So spinning every day was a great idea.  Unfortunately it did not take into account my being sick enough that dragging myself to work was about all I could do.  Therefore my spinning has fallen off track a bit, not irreparable though.  While I will not actually get 365 days of spinning this year, my goal was to take each month as it comes and deal with it that way.  January is sort of shot, I missed about 3 days, but I will finish strong and start up with February.

Speaking of starting up, Mom is almost fully recovered from her previous illness.  She has decided to see how many crafts she can finish with the supplies we already have laid in.  Essentially she has declared this her year of Stash Busting Crafts!  So far this month she has crocheted up 2 cowls from yarn she had on hand, I will put up pictures of those in my next post.

I have decided to accompany her on this quest, though for my major tapestry project I will need to purchase more wool in periwinkle, though I will admit to a desire to see how much of that project I can get done with the supplies I had already laid in.  (Warp threads, white weft, and some singles spun in periwinkle, with an addition of gold silk I hope to use to accent a particular portion).

I must freely confess I fear I am already making excuses for not following through, since my next thought is that I wanted to purchase some white wool to test dying techniques.  I suppose the best way of doing that would be to dig out what white wool I already have (alpaca, sheep, etc) and plan on using that to dye with until I have figured out which, if any, of the natural dyes get me the colors I want.  If the natural dyes don’t work the way I want then I will have just used some of my wool-stash anyway.  My next experiment is probably going to be centered around washing the batts that I carded containing ‘sticky wool’.  I am hoping that there is some lanolin or other processing oils contained in the batts that is making them sticky.  If that is the case then a good hot soak should loosen up the oils enough for me to wind up with a fluffy batt.  If not then washing with Dawn, if they start to felt then I might try to spread it thin and experiment with felting.

I am sort of excited to let the wool speak for itself and decide what it will become.  I am still spinning thin with the blues, now that I am feeling better.  So many exciting things going on!

Happy Crafting!

New Goal for 2017

A new year brings about a lot of new ideas and reflections.  This past year seems to have gotten lost; but there are many things that I have to be grateful for.  My continued decent health, my mother’s life, opportunities to be creative, new skills to be learned, and new goals to accomplish.

My goals for this year:

Spin 1lb of Corriedale wool in Periwinkle as singles

Warp my tapestry loom

Weave the Train tapestry

Create a project using Sprang

Create a Sampler using the tabletop 4 harness loom

Spin once every day for at least 15 minutes and post on Instagram with the tag of #spin15

My aspirations for this year:

Dig out the back raised beds for a potted garden

Purchase the pots to be put in the potted garden

Plant a potted garden, vegetables and flowers for dyes

Finish the external garage as a fiber studio

(This includes cleaning the whole thing out, putting mesh wire in every section for   mouse repellent, probably putting in insulation, and covering the insulation with some kind of particle board/drywall/pegboard for finishing things up. (Or I can see what mom’s handyperson will charge to do all of this))

Turn one room in the house into a craft room, with an organizational system in place

Create a teaching plan that involves some form of crafting each week of a year.  It would be easy enough to include some psychology and sociology into this; be productive, remember to appreciate your skills, there is as much knowledge gained in failure as success, etc.

While I am certain I can accomplish and will accomplish my initial goals, I do hope that I can accomplish at least one of my aspirations.  The aspiration I am most hopeful to accomplish is creating a craft room with an organizational space.  Truthfully, that is more for Mom than for myself.  She has her yarn scattered all over the house, which would not be a problem but then she has troubled putting her hands on what she wants when she wants it!  I purchased a clear organizer with 20 cubes that all have doors to them.  This should allow her to get an idea of what is in each cube while keeping the actual materials clean.  Yay!

 

Happy Crafting!

 

My New Drum Carder

My drum carder came!  My Brother Drum Carder finally arrived, and it is all ready to go!  As you can see from my ‘unboxing’ pictures my Brother Drum Carder arrived assembled and ready to go with instructions in a lovely plastic pouch.  The intake drum and larger drum are at the right depth, though there are detailed instructions for how to change that depth if needed.  I will admit I followed directions from another website, I cannot find them again to give them credit, and did some sanding.  I took an emery board and ran it in all directions across both drums of my carder, this was supposed to take out any little burrs left by the manufacturing process.  The emery boards were all chewed up at the end of the process so I hope it worked.  The carder itself works like a dream, but it really is a good idea to be up on your tetanus shot before working with something like this.

I am having an absolute blast playing with my new drum carder.  I am experimenting with corriedale, merino, and some other colored wools.  I will post later today or tomorrow about my new batts!

Happy Crafting!

3D Printed Drop Spindle

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I managed to download this pattern from Thingiverse and it was created by kg6gfq.   One of the libraries that I work at obtained a 3d printer about a year ago but I have not heard of it being utilized too much.    Being the very curious person I am I decided to poke that particular rattlesnake and print something out.  I checked out Thingiverse and found Drop spindles, bobbins, even the plans for an Espinner out of printed materials.  I was over the moon, so I downloaded the ones I liked, came into work a couple of hours early, and started to mess around figuring things out.  The first thing I found out was that none of the files were in a format I could use.  Some checking around led me to believe that I needed them in Makerbot Formula.  None of the libraries computers had that format so I would have to bring my laptop next time (my home computer is a Mac but my Laptop runs Windows 10) install Makerbot and see what I could do.

The next week I brought my laptop in (I only work at that library once a week) downloaded the software and began to convert the files, it was actually pretty simple once the program was installed.  I was very happy thinking that I would now be able to print out, at least, my 3d spindle.  I went home pleased with how next week was going to go.

The third week into my venture I went to work an hour early to see about getting my printout started.  I plugged my usb drive in and went through the materials I wanted printed.  Everything worked perfectly, time estimates, printing sizes, etc.  Except that nothing would print out.  There was no filament waiting to be used to print.  Darn.  I looked around a bit and finally had to admit, I was going to have to ask someone.

After a couple of e-mails and a further couple of weeks I now have my 3d printed turkish spindle.  While it would have been a lot less aggravation to just order the thing from Turtlemade or another company that prints them, I am pleased that I now know how to convert a file to be usable on a Makerbot printer.  My next steps are to see about creating an original pattern to print out, finding out what they are going to charge in the future for printing jobs, and testing out my spindle.  I knew I should have brought fiber to work with me, lol.

Happy Crafting!

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