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A Little More Abstract

Crafting For Those Dedicated to Experimentation

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Tools

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!

Tour De Fleece

I am thinking about joining the Tour De Fleece Group on Ravelry this year, 2017.  http://www.ravelry.com/groups/tour-de-fleece

The Tour de Fleece happens at the same time as the famous ride Tour de France.  In this case it runs from July 1st to 23rd with two days of rest, July 10th and 17th.  In theory this means that I would spin and post my results each of these days.  Since I will be obtaining a WooleeWinder as my Birthday Present, I hope that this goal will not only be attainable but enjoyable.  The WooleeWinder that I obtained to go with my Schacht Ladybug spinning wheel is the Bulky version, in order for this to work properly I also had to obtain the Bulky Orifice.  The purpose of the WooleeWinder is so that I will be able to skip switching hooks while I am filling my bobbin.  The bobbin and flyer will work together to fill the bobbin very evenly.  This will have the added benefit of allowing me to fit more on a bobbin, partially because it will be a larger bobbin, but also because the bobbin will fill evenly eliminating the hills and valleys that are naturally created on a bobbin when using hooks.   Since I have obtained the Bulky Plyer Flyer version I will also be able to create more art-yarns that I have been capable of in the past.  I will  have to see how plarn works on this flyer, right now it gets caught in the hooks!

In case you could not tell, I am very excited about this new accessory.  Perhaps I will participate in the Tour De Fleece just so I can show it off, LOL.

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!

Equipment! Ack!

A lot of the equipment needed/desired for fiber arts is quite expensive.  Part of this is exclusivity, supply and demand, and people into the fiber arts are willing to pay for quality.  However there are a lot of plans for free/less expensive versions of equipment also.

I created my own warping board, following plans from interweave press, out of pvc.  I love it, I did have to glue each joint together so it would stop slipping, but that was my only set back.  Now I am turning my sights to Wool Combs and Hackles.  I do have a slicing tool coming in the mail, it is made out of metal so I have high hopes for it.  If that should fail, I found these plans on the internet:

How to Make a Wool Comb

I hope that this winds up being a viable solution.
Making my own spinning wheel, I love my Ladybug but would rather not spend $300+ to get a bulky/plying head.  On the other hand, if I do wind up going that way I can get a Woolee Winder for the exact same price or less, so that is a consideration.
Oh well, Happy Crafting!

Borrowing a Loom

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I am very fortunate that my guild allows their 4 shaft table loom to be borrowed.  I am having an absolute blast playing with color, threading, patterns, and more.  I will freely admit to being extremely overwhelmed.  The threadings, patterns, combinations, colors, etc. I am just lost with how much can be done with a simple 4 shaft loom…then there is how much and how many different yarns need to be purchased for each pattern.  I do not know how any craft-person can even claim to make a living on weaving, lol.  As a hobby I am finding it almost cost prohibitive.  But I persevere, I hope to find a single project that I am passionate about and work through things from there.  I have a 15″ weaving width to work with and right now I am having fun with some carpet warp and cones I bought on sale.  The picture above is a treadling sequence on the pink warp that was already on the loom using my variegated weft.

Happy Crafting!

Shuttle Bobbins? What?

I was watching “Get More Spun: Part 1” by Abby Franquemont on CraftDaily.com video subscription service when Abby mentioned storing singles on several bobbins to ply from later.  She stated that storing singles on several different bobbins and mixing them up before plying will help to even out some uneven spinning.  I saw the bobbins she was storing them on and it clicked, those are shuttle bobbins not spinning wheel bobbins!  I will admit to still having some apprehension about how many joins might be needed for these yarns, but my excitement is far outweighing any misgivings.

This did bring about another potential sticking point, I do not have a bobbin winder.  I picked up an attachment for my cordless drill but between my underpowered drill and my inability to get the bobbin far enough down the shaft so that I feel comfortable putting pressure to wind a nice tight yarn onto the bobbin, my winder is not going to cut it.  I looked at bobbin winders, over $100 each!  Fiber tools are so very expensive, and often for something that can only be used for a single purpose.  As Alton Brown would say, “Unitaskers!”

I sighed, pouted, and decided to see if any of the sites online (Ebay, facebook fiber tools groups, etc) had a bobbin winder that I could get at a price I was willing to pay.  In my travels I looked at the charkha a tool used for spinning cotton that Ghandi popularized in India to help free his people (it really is a fascinating subject that I intend to dedicate at least one post to in the near future).  The Ashford version looked sort of like an amped up bobbin winder, but at almost $400 it would be an even sillier investment than the Unitasker!.  However, there was another option a Babe Linten Spindel Charkha Wheel. At $150 it is not less expensive than buying a bobbin winder, and it could be argued I could get a book Charkha and a bobbin winder for about the same price, I am very happy with my purchases.

Babe’s Fiber Garden was amazing at helping me figure out if using their wheel as a bobbin winder would be a reality or not.  They even offered to send me some bands that are used for animal castration thinking that these will be a good size to keep my bobbins on their spindle.  I really look forward to playing with my new Mulit-Tasker as soon as it gets here!  I have some cotton left over from last year when the Cotton Clouds kit was on clearance from Woolery, but this playing might have to wait until Spinzilla is over!

I may even get time over the next year to tell Babe’s Fiber Garden that their new Garden loom looks like it would be good for Sprang!

Happy Crafting!

Warping Board Lessons

One of the ladies in the weaving guild I recently joined mentioned that a warping board is one of the least expensive pieces of equipment you can obtain.  Ow. At over $100 she may be right, but it does stand out as a good example of why weaving is an expensive craft to get started in.  If you have your Mothers or Grandmothers loom and shuttles, or if someone gives you a Loom (Thank you Linda!), then the first purchase is taken care of and the little extra bits can be slowly accumulated over time.  Admittedly, a warping board starts around $100, if you want a bobbin winder they are around $130, if you need some shuttles the wood ones start around $30+, so on and so forth.  There are a few more necessities but these are the ones that make it difficult to begin if you are lacking them.

I love these old crafts, it brings me a great deal of joy to know that I can accomplish a skill that young ladies have been working on for centuries.  That being said, I am also a modern girl and I really like my technology.  I managed to find, online and through Interweave press, plans for a warping board made out of PVC pipes.  I put this together, thanks to my local hardware store which cut the pieces for me, and took it to my first guild meeting/class.  This prompted the comment about how a warping board is one of the least expensive pieces.  For that first lesson where I wound about 80 ends of worsted weight yarn to sley my rigid heddle reed for a scarf, the board worked perfectly.  There may have been a tiny bit of bending, but not enough to effect the quality of my end product.

With this bit of success, and my loom sanded/painted/polished, I decided to try for something a little more difficult, I wanted to wind the warp for my 50 inch loom.  Due to the simple mathematics I had decided to wind my warp in 5 inch weaving segments of 50 ends (10 ends per inch over 5  inches is 50 ends).  The first five inches went wonderfully, I tied it off, created the choke points and did the crochet chain thing.  The first five inches are great.  I then tried the second five inches, at 46 ends in disaster struck and things started to bend, the top came loose and I was not happy.  I had done a counting marker so the first 40 were salvaged but the warping board was not going to work over the long term.   A little gorilla glue, okay a lot of gorilla glue, and hopefully the problem is solved.

Crafting can be very fulfilling.  There are some shortcuts that may work just fine, I have high hopes for the plastic shuttle and the bobbin winder that works on my cordless drill, but some may not work at all.  If this warping board works, then even with the glue it cost me under $20.  If it does not work, then I have learned an important lesson about what will and will not work, for under $20.

Happy Crafting!

Big Project Update 3

I cannot believe it!  The loom is almost finished!  For Reference, this is what the loom looked like when I started:

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This is what the loom looks like now:

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I still have some work to do with the pedals, the two furthest to the right do not seem to want to work right.  It is amazing what a little hard work, primer, yellow paint, and Feed n’ Wax will do for a piece of furniture.  Please note, I did paint the heddle rods inside each frame, I did not prime these pieces.  That was a big mistake.  I think it is simply the fact that I did not add primer and that the heddles are metal, but the paint has been flaking and chipping since I began putting the heddles back on.  I believe now that they are on the rods the chipping will slow down, but it is something to be aware of.

Since this began life as a therapy loom there are weights on top of each heddle frame, I will not be keeping them there but I did want them painted to match the loom.  I am so very excited to see the loom this close to being done, I have a semi-gloss topcoat that I will be putting on…well I intended to get it done soon but Mom is so excited to see what this device can do the final gloss might wait for the colder months!

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