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A Little More Abstract

Crafting For Those Dedicated to Experimentation

Keeping the Spin Going

I have not been slacking off!  Ever since my guild meeting I feel like I have been slacking off, sure I’ve been working on weaving an eyeglass case, starting my tapestry, spinning at least 15 minutes a day, prepping for a crochet class and figuring out how I’m going to afford a weaving loom of my own, other than the one in the garage. but I still feel like I’ve been slacking.  Right up until I think about what I have been doing these past 22 days, I’ve done a lot.  I love English Leischester Longwool locks, they are such a dream to spin!  I’ve got three bobbins of ‘Art Yarn’ singles waiting to be plied with some acrylic I’ve got lying around.  I managed to ply the yarn for an experiment I will detail in a later post, I just have to knit it up and figure out the results.  I have the yarns caked, the patterns printed, and the hooks bought for the crochet class I’m teaching (fingerless gloves).

Remember to take the time and reflect on your achievements before pushing to achieve more.  It is wonderful to look toward the next project, but not when you forget to enjoy what you are doing right now.  Craft on, but don’t forget to look back and enjoy what you have created.

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!

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!

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!

Spinning the Blues, Still

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These are my bobbins full of blues.  As you can see I spun a lot of blue.  I could not separate them out by color as I had originally intended…because I spun a LOT of blue, lol.  Also I do not have enough bobbins to separate them out by color.  The truth is I think this will work out better anyway.  I look forward to finding out how the different blues pool and interact with eachother.  It will be a blast to see what size this yarn winds up being and if I like it that size or if I will cable it in the end.  Yay, I cannot wait until I start this!

Books and Knitting

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Mom has been a busy beaver with her destashing projects.  In the midst of that goal she began reading the newest book in one of her favorite series, “Gone with the Wool” by Betty Hechtman.  In this installment of a quirky series about a woman that inherited her Aunt’s  knitting retreat business they are exploring loom knitting.  Mom wanted to explore in more depth what they were talking about in the books.  Fortunately one of the crafting motto’s we live by is “If you see it, get it, you never know when you’ll see it again.”  Yes, I know.  This sounds like a wasteful motto, but thanks to this motto we happened to have some knitting looms on hand.  (Okay so we have the whole set except sock and afghan looms because I had a coupon and they were on sale at JoAnn’s a few years ago).  I had a project already started on one and Mom has gone to town ever since!  She made these six hats in 3 days!  One of the white hats has a bit of a problem since one of the rows seems to be a bit looser than the rest but all of the other hats are lovely.  We are currently debating if these hats are going to go to Paradise FIbers for their donation contest or to the local knit and crochet group for the local hospital instead.  Either way!

Go MOM!  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!

 

Using Up Stash

Mom found a couple of patterns in one of her Plastic Canvas Books and wanted to see how they would turn out!  Without buying anything new, these are the patterns she found and they are made up to be magnets.  If you excuse the shadows of my hands trying to aim the camera, these are just beautiful.  The Celtic Knot on the left and top right is made out of two shades of green with a white background using long stitches.  The heart on the right and bottom right is made from pink, red, and gold using a combination of long and regular stitches on a heart shaped piece of canvas.

They both turned out great, Go Mom!

Happy Crafting!

Plying Fun

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I finished spinning my fine blue singles! Yay!  Then I plied up the wool, bamboo, silk, etc, singles I had lying around.  The singles are composed of all of the little bits of batts I had lying around.  Essentially they are my ‘destash’ yarn. It was a lot of fun to spin, even more fun to ply!  I wound up with 212 yards of plied yarn pre-washing.  I haven’t gotten around to washing this yarn yet, I am enjoying the unwashed energy too much right now.

It is always so much fun to see how the yarn will turn out!  Happy Crafting!

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