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Crafting For Those Dedicated to Experimentation

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Teaching

Class 3- Wet Felting

The ladies, and occasional gentleman, are having so much fun with these classes.  I find it so heartening that all of my students just jump in full force with all of the classes I am teaching!  I admit I keep forgetting to get pictures of everyone crafting, mostly because I am having a ton of fun right along with them!

Most of my students had created mini batts in our last class and they were using those to make their felt.  I had them wet down their batts and use soap to gently begin felting.  Since they were just mini batts they felted very quickly, though some had thin spots.  This felt is going to be considered the basis of their bookmarks as well as mini notebooks, so I would rather it be as solid as I can help them get it.  Since wet-felting doesn’t seem to be doing the trick we will be playing around with some needle felting (after another quick lecture on safety).  I hope that they will be able to needle felt in some filler for their thin spots as well as some embellishments.  (I’m going to experiment with bamboo and patching today).

These classes are so very exciting!  My supervisor has recommended I look for a grant to offset some of these costs in the future and this is certainly worth looking into.

Happy Crafting!

Class 2- Carding Wool into Batts and Rolags/Punis

My students are amazing, creative, industrious, and fearless!  They took to carding like ducks to water.  Once they had the skills mastered they began teaching each-other.  This was a glorious example of cooperation & creativity.  They wound up with such beautiful batts and rolags, I am almost more excited then they are for the wet felting class next time.  We used hand cards, a blending board, and a Brother Drum Carder.  Everything went smoothly, though I am certain the number of times I warned them to be careful if they weren’t up on their tetanus shot helped, lol.  Happy Crafting!

First Class Down, 13 more to go!

My First Dyeing class was a runaway success.  The techniques and materials were simple enough that the students had no problems following along.  Everyone’s wool turned out bright and beautiful, the results were phenomenal.  I hope that every class is as enthusiastic, cheerful, and helpful.  The questions being asked proved that the patrons were there to learn.  I am so excited for the rest of the Classes.  Dyeing Wool Handout contains the methods that I taught to dye fibers easily using materials found in a kitchen.  There are a million other ways to dye fiber, so do not take this as gospel.

 

First Class, First Week in June

For the first class I am teaching in June, 2 hours long, I hope to mention how eco-friendly wool is (sheep are not harmed in shearing); and cover some aspects of color theory while emphasizing that this is only the beginning of our wool journey not the end by any stretch of the imagination.  Since I am also planning on the students dyeing some wool and having a blast this is a lot to cover in just 2 hours.  A lot of preparation has gone into this class, so wish me luck!

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!

 

Spindle Experiments

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I love my Bottom Whorl Drop Spindle, the wooden one in the middle.  This is what I started with, adn I adore it.  I can get a good long spin, it looks cool twirling around and the hook at the top is perfect for catching on when I’m twisting my fiber.

IMG_1218Unfortunately within the concept of larger classes and getting people hooked on fiber arts, the price point is a little high for a giveaway.

On the left is a Babe Spindle without the whorl.  I needed to hit a price point to get free shipping on an order, the Babe Spindle cost less than shipping and allowed me to hit that goal so I ordered one.  It really is a neat spindle, allowing the user to decide if it is a bottom whorl or top whorl spindle in addition to allowing you to decide if you want to put one or two of the whorl discs on the spindle.  What I found neat is that if you keep the whorls off of the spindle entirely…or if they fall off because you didn’t put nearly enough tape on the shaft, oops, you can roll the shaft of the spindle down your leg and use the cup hook to hold the wool in place.  IMG_1219The shaft becomes a great little spindle, a bit awkward and no independent spinning like with my original spindle, but you have a lot more control over how the shaft spins, very neat.   This becomes a bit more of a reasonable price point, all a teacher would need to provide is a stick (dowel) with some cup hooks screwed into the top.  (also Wool)  Dowels are not that expensive, the cup hooks aren’t too bad price wise…I’d just have to find a way to get the cup hook into the dowel without it splitting.  I think I saw something about putting a nail in first to keep the wood from splitting, definitely worth considering.

Now, recently Mayan Spindles, I can’t really find out where the name came from as it does not seem to have anything to do with the Mayan Culture, have been showing up more in popular culture…okay, popular spinning culture.  This is a dead simple way of putting twist into fiber, attach the fiber on one arm, spin around, and voila yarn.  The spinning motion is very big and completely controlled by the spinner.  But the price point just went up again, a wooden Mayan Spindle (Spinner) is about $20, whew that’s a bit rich for a teacher.  However, doesn’t that spinner look a bit like a propeller?  I looked up plastic propellers on Amazon, lo and behold, they have 12 plastic propellers in a pack for under $5 with free shipping. IMG_1217 Okay, they came from China, and I’m washing them in hot soapy water before using because I’m a little paranoid.  (I didn’t realize that the Sari Silk from India might contain some really nasty diseases that are fairly rampant over there).  I try to Order American when I can, if you know of an American equivalent/retailer let me know, but these are fantastic.  They spin, just a tiny bit, on their own but allow for complete control.  They are lightweight and easily spun in one hand.  It is very easy for the spinner to see the twist as it enters into the fiber.  At about .25 each, they are cheap enough to be a giveaway that doesn’t hurt the pocket book.  I do think that I will glue the shaft to the propeller before showing these to anyone else, but it really does make for a great spindle alternative.

So, these are my Spindle Explorations!

Happy Crafting!

Tweed-Ish

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I have some batts that I carded up with some slightly sticky wool.  I had originally thought to sell these sticky batts, but have since decided that I would wash these batts and see how they spin up.  Right now they are spinning up almost like a tweed yarn, which is what I thought they might do.  There are too many Nepps (little broken pieces of wool) in the yarn for me to get a smooth product.  I am not great at getting a consistently thicker yarn, especially with an uneven batt like this, but I think I am doing an alright job.  I will confess to enjoying the speed at which this batt spun up, and I look forward to seeing how it will look plied with something.  I think that the actual singles are brighter than this picture is giving them credit for, I might have to ply them with a white to get the effect I want, or maybe find another of these batts that this will look good plied with.  At this moment I think I will try to create a 3 ply yarn of a thicker weight that might make a nice crocheted shawl or lap afghan.  Depending on how thick the yarn is and how many yards I manage to get from it.

Happy Crafting!

 

Big Project

This is where I admit that I have been Pre-Scheduling these posts so that I am able to have content each week!  Lol.  If I did not do that then I would have 20 posts in 2 weeks then it would be 3 months until I get back to it.   That being said, by time you read these posts I hope to be done with my project, but stay tuned to see how my summer went!

I promised myself I would do a number of larger projects this year.  Due to circumstances I think that my larger projects are going to be:

  1. Get the paint/rust off of my ‘new to me’ loom and heddle bars; repaint it and reassemble it for use (probably next year)
  2. Make sure that I have enough projects ready to go for a set of classes 1-2 a month (1/week if I can swing it) for the public library!  Very exciting

As a refresher, this is what my Loom looks like.

It is a bit hard to tell from here but the bar on the bottom that the pedals are attached to is completely rust covered and there are rust spots all along the paint.  Not pictured are the weights that came with this loom, since it was a Therapy Loom.  The heddle bars, pictured left, are not supposed to be that color, they are completely rust covered.

I just started this last night and since then I have managed to get the heddle bars completely cleaned off and one side painted for 7 out of the 8 heddle bars.  The 8th is being used to hold the good heddles, 734 total.  Tomorrow, if it is not raining, I plan on painted the other side of my first 7 heddles.

I have also begun trying to get the paint and rust off of the weights that come with the loom.  They are in pretty bad shape and I thought they would be a good place to make any mistakes.  Using an attachment to a cordless drill I am able to get the paint off quite quickly.  Within 30 minutes I had the paint off of one side for 2 of the pieces.  The rust is in there a little more deeply than I would like and so after I get the paint off of all of them I will get to work on the rust.  After they are cleaned off to the best that I am going to get them I plan on putting Rustoleum Primer and a topcoat of Yellow paint.

This is a huge project and I am a bit intimidated to get started with it, but I hope bit by bit this gets done this summer so I can have a fall and winter of picking out yarns to use on it next year!

Happy Crafting!

Teaching Knitting

The knitting class that I taught was amazing.  There were certain aspects that I did not realize were as difficult as they are!  Everyone was able to create a slip knot quickly but trying to get the stitches cast on was very difficult for 2 of my students.  My third student was simply being reminded of how to knit, she had done so years ago and just needed reminders.

For my new knitters we put the slipknot on the needle and then began trying to stitch the cast on, by not telling my students how important it was to keep their needles crossed as much as possible in addition to keeping the tail held firmly against the needle I set them up for failure accidentally.  Their stitches kept spinning around on the stationary needle while they were trying to get the third stitch cast on, this meant that the second stitch they made spun right off of the needles.

Once we had the rhythm down (for the 11 year old I had to do the cast on for her) my students took off!  They were stitching their hearts out, the older woman managed to create a sampler swatch and cast on a second piece, my re-learner finished her project and cast off!  My 11 year old managed to do about 5 rows and she is hoping to keep this going until next week when we will work on her cast off!

By reminding my students that this is not something that gets picked up in five minutes, encouraging them to take the time to learn the process, and exampling what to do (and taking the time to figure out what they are doing to get the results they managed), all three of the students managed to pick up on the skills.  I am very happy and find the entire process very rewarding.  I look forward to Thursday when I will see my students again and hopefully we can progress on our way to crafting success!

Happy Crafting!IMG_0602

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