Blog Avoidance?

Don’t know why I haven’t been posting as regularly as I had planned? I don’t have writer’s block as I have many thoughts written down in notes. Maybe it’s the fact that there are only 24 hours in a day and I need a few of those for sleeping?

Craft shows are approaching! I have copies of our schedule printed for handing out to those interested in where we will be. I’ve revised my candle scent listing brochure, adding more scents (that will eventually be discontinued) to my sale column! This also meant relabeling all my inventory boxes and sorting through over 100 scents (does that explain why I am trying to cut back on my variety?)  Plus I’ve been making more candles, printing their labels etc. Hopefully I won’t have to make candles between some of the back-to-back shows.

And I’ve been dyeing!…lots and lots of wool fiber 🙂 Tonight I finally took the time to edit the many pictures I’ve been taking of the finished colors. And I’ve spun a few sample yarns, changing the look of the colors by plying them with different colors.

 

 

And I managed to achieve these each of these two-tone results in the same kettle of dye!

And for a visual hint of how this was done, the following two pictures are of the same roving;

 

And the latest two color-ways;

Most of the above fiber will be available at craft shows for $3.00 per ounce (both the Suffolk roving  and the Merino top is about 8oz per batch/colorway). If you would like to purchase some to spin, contact me and I can list it for you if it’s still here.

Hope everyone will continue to follow and realize, as I have, that I will probably always be a sporadic writer….too many irons in the fire…which reminds me, I need to plug in and do some new wood burning! Til next time, enjoy your lives, and hope you had a Happy Easter.

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On My Wheel

On my wheel today I have some llama. I just retrieved it from the fiber mill on Monday, so when I saw it I had to quickly finish the pound of super wash merino that was almost done.

When I sent the llama fiber that I had washed it was a combination of greys and white that I had washed and stuck together in a bag, thinking that they would process it together and I would have a heathered light gray to spin. Imagine my surprise to open the bag and find this fluffy striped fiber awaiting me 🙂

llama roving

white and grey llama

This is the start of the bobbin, today it is almost full so tomorrow will start the second spool to ply with it. Anxious to see the blend of natural colors that will result, no dyeing necessary!

spinning

spinning llama

And here’s a picture of the first pound of garnet red that I finished, the second pound is drying to set the twist. I have different colors of super wash to spin yet and also a few pounds of alpaca that was also processed at the same mill.

hand spun merino

garnet super wash merino

January’s Fiber

Normally people might read ” January’s fiber” and think I had made drastic changes in my diet! But no! I’m referring to the wool that I’ve been getting ready for this summer’s craft shows.

The biggest part of my time was spent spinning some more super wash yarn. After a sale on HandmadeArtists I realized how low my inventory of super wash was so decided to get busy. I managed to finish spinning five pounds of the merino super wash top from my stash, and dug out another 5 pounds to see if I can do the same amount for February. One pound of larch green was plied with one pound of dark olive for a total of about 1200yds. The red pound is called lipstick (about 550yds). Then a pound of light blue (about 600yds). And pictured the first skein of the pound-a bulkier art yarn of maybe 250yds. The rest of it is finished but drying to set the twist. I still need to label the individual skeins before I will have an accurate yardage count.

hand spun yarn

superwash merino hand spun

Then I took a day off to play with colors. Five batches/ four colorways gave me a start on adding to my top inventory. I will have the fun of spinning some of the top that matches the yarn to knit into a hat. The rest will find homes with other spinners or felters.

hand dyed

dyed merino top and alpaca blend yarn

Then my supervisor (Sheldon the cat) was inspecting the progress of some dryer balls! I think he likes being in charge of quality control!

Dryer balls

Sheldon inspecting!

And I’ve a head start on February’s to do list, just finished the first pound of singles and ready to start plying.

Happy February all.

Snowy Days

Snowy days and days and days, with a little freezing rain thrown in to the south of us!

snowy view

But with the snow comes lots of time to stay inside and craft so I’ve been very busy this past week.

rainbow dyed

merino top and alpaca blend yarn, hand dyed

Last Friday I dyed some wool and top and yarn. While it was drying I finished spinning some green yarn, plied it and set the twist.

dyed in the wool.

warm and cool primary colors, plus pink+blue=purple

When it was dry I spread it on the table for pictures, but first I had to play peek-a-boo with Sheldon! After the game was done he still was tempted to take a closer look at the wool, but behaved and just looked 🙂

cat peek-a-boo

my eyes are closed…you can’t see me

cat peek-a-boo

can I fit?

Sheldon the cat

hi!

Then I teased some of the purplish wool to remove more of the VM (vegetable matter) that hadn’t come out in the washing.

cat

Can’t I help?

hand processing wool

teased wool and debris

After loading my hand cards with fiber, I found that Sheldon was still watching me!

hand wool processing

Dressing the cards

hand processing wool

carding wool with help

hand processing wool

carded wool

Here are some the rolags (rolls of carded wool) ready for spinning, but I have a lot more carding to do first.

hand processing wool

rolags ready to spin

As I mentioned before we have two black cats. The following pictures will show you how we tell them apart: Sheldon has the crooked ear from the injury he came to the shelter with. Stanley has half of a white whisker (the other half must of broken off during their wrestling matches).  While Stanley can usually be found be found on my husband’s lap and occasionally on mine, Sheldon has to see (closeup) whatever I am doing and shares his lap time with me and our son, while only occasionally my husband, maybe because that lap is already taken by his brother. Both take turns trying to help me spin or knit but are learning that yarn is NOT a chew toy.

cat

Sheldon

spinning yarn

Stanley helping me spin

The yarn that Stanley was helping me spin has now been plied and has formed skeins totaling over 500yds. Time to start spinning the next color/pound of superwash merino. Made more dryer balls today, so those are drying now. I’m thankful for the speed by which things dry during the winter months thanks to the even heat of our wood furnace. So winter does have its advantages!

spun yarn

singles of superwash merino

How do you enjoy winter days?  Anyone a fiberholic too?

Kitties and Crafts

Kitties and crafts are an interesting combination! Before adopting, one was on my lap while I was knitting on a hat! He jumped down through the loop of the circular needles, ignoring the yarn, so I mistakenly assumed that his twin brother would act the same 🙂

They did come home with us with slight colds (along with the medicine to treat their sneezes) Sheldon has recovered and Stanley’s sneezes are getting less frequent!  But that means their curiosity is increasing! Sheldon has to see whatever it is we are doing. With Christmas fast approaching I have been trying to get some knitting finished. Sheldon thinks moving yarn is to be bitten, then he jumps on my lap for a closer taste! Makes for slow knitting!

cat with knitting.

That innocent look of “who me?”

After nearly a week I decided I wanted to see their reaction to my spinning wheel. I started spinning some short lengths of my hand dyed merino top. Within a minute Sheldon had put his paw on the moving treadle but soon figured out that it would get hit by the wheel as the treadle raised. He moved to the side and with his paw on my toe  “helped” me treadle for a while. Then he jumped to my lap, smelled the wool , but was mesmerized watching the flyer spin as if trying to figure out how it was working. Then he bit at the yarn! After the second bite and second NO he decided to get down but continued to watch from a short distance. Unfortunately I have no pictures of this since my hands were full protecting my yarn!

merino

hand dyed top

I spun two bobbins with somewhat even color changes, hoping they would line up with each other when plied.

single hand spun yarn

spools of singles

The colors overlapped some but came close to what I’d planned. The most I could fit on my bobbin was 220yds (seen below on the niddy noddy) but with the two smaller skeins totals just over 300yds. (enough to knit another shawl!)

plied yarn

Plied yarn on niddy-noddy and in smaller skeins.

Oh What a Tangled…

green linen

Very fine linen yarn.

Oh what a tangle this skein of yarn became! This was part of a custom order that I worked on sporadically throughout the summer as I found time between shows. When I placed this thin skein of yarn on the swift to wind it into a cake to use in plying I found that instead of winding off easily onto my ball winder that it kept catching, tangling and sometimes breaking . I finally wound it by hand onto an empty cone. Thankfully the lovely lady was in no big hurry, just wanted her skeins of linen yarn plied to a thickness that she could use to knit.

When we first met to discuss the project, we decided on a workable thickness and that it would be wet plied. We then went about sorting all the lovely colors into groups of three or four skeins, since they were two different gauges, the one almost as fine as sewing thread.

We did meet so she could see and approve of the progress but she wanted to wait to reclaim her yarn all at once. After many more hours than I had originally thought and well over 7000 yds of plied yarn the project is finished! I really want to see the finished items that it will become under an expert knitter’s hands. And best of all I’ve made a new friend.

The finished skeins covered my card table in a single layer, so here are the pictures with some overlap. The one multicolored skein is the uneven yardage from the original plying, plied with a continuous length of two of the finer singles that were left.

linen

plied linen

2 linen

plied linen

3 linen

3-ply linen

linen yarn

more linen

linen yarn

And more overlapped skeins

 

 

Last Craft Show!

It’s been over a week now since we did the last craft show of our season for this year!

train in Port Sanilac Museum

Entering The Train Depot

It was a first year fiber show that I didn’t find out about until our fiber show that was the end of September. In spite of common wisdom that warns against first year shows, late advertisement for vendors, and a 200+ mile drive to a region of the state that we haven’t explored before I decided to send in an application! I’m glad we did!

The organizer communicated well, asked for pictures of our set-ups and products, and responded promptly to all my questions. The show was held in buildings of a historical museum in Port Sanilac and we needed to be able to fit our display around the furnishings of the buildings. After seeing my pictures she placed us in the Train Depot and let me know that I should be able to use my grid-wall (a display that I didn’t think I would be able to use there) but gladly brought. While this was going on I was busy trying to downsize what we would bring to fit into the suburban. After hauling a trailer full all summer I didn’t want to chance dragging it there and home if there should be a snow storm. (Michigan weather has been unseasonable this year with 50 degree  temps instead of the normal cold, but they are saying snow for this weekend!)

craft show display part 1

Left side of our display, with my shawl and wheel.

craft show display 2

dyed fiber, yarns and knitting, nestled around their glass display case and Ben Franklin stove in the back corner.

The weather was beautiful, the organizer and all the volunteers were helpful and friendly, and from the number of people that came through, advertisement had been good. We were placed next to a couple who are always our backside neighbors at the other fiber festival so we enjoyed their company as well. We did splurge for a motel and ate out (instead of our normal camping) but this first year show didn’t charge a fee. Next year they are but we signed up to repeat it and will look for cheaper lodging.

craft show display 3

smaller grid wall but still held hats, hand dyed yarn and some soft sculptures (needle felted)

craft show display 4

Son’s display of needle felting and copper shawl pins with neighboring booth in the background.

Now that the shows are over I have been catching up on a couple of custom orders, looking forward to posting more often, doing some more dyeing, knitting, and maybe even finding some time to weave!

What are your plans for this fall and winter season? Would be glad to hear what you are planning?

When Life Gives You Lemons….

“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade” is something we have all heard I think. But I prefer lemon pie!

So when life gave us snow yesterday (about 8 new inches after having almost all bare ground), I decided to try some snow dyeing! I’ve done it at guild meetings on silk and cotton(using cool temp dyes), but decided to try it with my wool dyes on wool yarn and top.

I pre-soaked my wool in warm water with vinegar added, then lifted on a mesh to drain in my colander.

ready to dye

yarn on wool top

Meanwhile I gathered a bucket of snow, then froze my hands carefully packing it around and on top of the wool, to a depth of about 3 inches, then sprinkled a little more snow on top.

I sprinkled powdered dye carefully on top of the snow, using magenta, teal, and yellow.

They looked so pretty as they started to melt into the snow.

snow dyeing 2

dyes beginning to migrate

The science behind snow dyeing is that as the snow melts, the different components of each dye dissolves and spreads at a different rate,remixing and being carried into the material below it. (Of course there is a pan underneath to catch the run-off.)

snow dyeing 3

After the melt and before hot water bath.

The results; The snow (in the house) melted 🙂 The resulting wool didn’t look anything like I had envisioned (I had gotten carried away and sprinkled way too much dye for the amount of wool I was using.) Since this dye is heat set I placed my lump of wool into a pan of hot water and heated it for about an hour. Lifted carefully by my trusty mesh I then put it into two rinse waters.

drying dyed yarn and top

Actual yarn colors are deep red/burgundy, dark purple, and high-lights of blue

Looking at the dyed snow water drippings, I added those to my heating pan and placed more wool top in to heat. I always try to exhaust all of the dye from the water and sometimes get some interesting shades.

the results of dye exhaust

dye exhaust is a soft purple/mauve

Snow dyeing is fun, but I have more predictable results with my rainbow dyeing and kettle dyeing (unless I’m in the mood to play “mad chemist”, then any unexpected color may appear 🙂

Playing Catch-up

Yes, this week was as busy as the last one, so I’m going to attempt to catch you up on things I’ve been doing.

Finished projects; knitting

The green hat is finished and ready to felt!

Green and gray wool hat to felt

ready to felt!

The white mohair cowl is also finished, doesn’t seem to need blocking, is fuzzy and light but very comfortable and warm. Have been debating adding some dye to it, in hopes that the pattern would show up better. What do you think? I’m leaning toward leaving it white, to go with anything?

mohair cowl

You can still see my table through two layers! That’s airy.

I also discovered a new shawl pattern, Maluka. Decided to try it, since sorting through some of my stash I had found some lovely sock yarn that I know I will never turn into socks. And one skein should be enough, so another choice to make! Of course I chose the one that had red in it. Wound into a ball it looked even prettier. On the third start on the pattern, it’s beginning to take shape. Not the fault of the pattern, but the user! This is my first time knitting from a chart for anything but color changes, so 12-14 rows in each time I realized my mistake and had to frog! At least it was a different mistake each time 🙂

skeins of sock yarn.

which to pick?

 

 

Yesterday was a family day, involving a lot of driving, time outside (in 30 degree weather) to watch a parade, some shopping, some visiting, another long drive home with some more shopping on the way (my husband found the perfect easel for his summer sketching and our son added to his collection of charms for wire wrapping) Last night I was too tired to even partake of Jacqueline’s wonderful Brunch Party, but that is still going on today so be sure to pop by and meet some interesting bloggers and enjoy her great food and music!

Last night my eyes were too tired, from driving with the bright sun in my eyes, to read blogs or even knit so I pulled out some roving that I’d obtained from a friend last summer and started spinning. Once started it went so quickly that I finished the first ball of roving and decided to  ply it with some of the mohair that I’d used for the cowl. I wound that skein off this morning (130yds) and should soon have another the same size. The mohair added a nice bloom and softness to the colors.  Now to decide, is it to keep, to sell, or to knit into something to sell ?

wool roving

red, white, and blue roving

2+ oz. of spun wool yarn

one ball spun

Thinking I was tired enough to spin a lumpy type art yarn, training kicked in and it is an almost balanced knitting worsted size 🙂 I guess I have to work harder on making lumpy yarn!

 

I’ve been making magnet prints of some of husband’s canvases and still have the regular sized prints to make (in my spare time)

Stay productive everyone and if you have a moment leave a comment about what has been keeping you busy.

This Week’s Spinning

This week on Monday at spinning guild I started working on 8oz of fiber that I had dyed last month. I spun more that night and Tuesday, by Wednesday I had two spools of 4oz each and plied them together. (Took me longer to get the pictures on my computer and edited 🙂

Woodland colors, hand dyed top

Dyed merino top

closer view of dyed wool top

dyed top, spread cross-wise and on bottom as dyed.

 

 

For the top I had chosen colors that reminded me of an early fall forest, the blue-green of spruce trees, a touch of orange for early turning leaves, and of course the brown of twigs and trunks.

top spinning into single yarn

see the color rearrange as spun

When I started spinning it, the wool transformed into more subtle, softer shades of these colors, transforming my mid-day forest into one viewed in early morning or late dusk.

single yarn and top

single on spool compared to un-spun top

 

At this point I could have chosen to ply it with a dark single to make the colors pop a little again, but the softness of the shading was asking to be kept together. I now have two skeins, one of 200yds and one of 84yds. Time to set the twist, label them and add them to my craft show inventory.

finished pliedwool yarn

finished skeins of yarn

And of course, I must decide what will be next on my wheel. Have a happy fiber-filled week.

And please leave a comment to let me know what your favorite colors of yarn are?