Seasons of Light

I have been coveting a Phat Fiber box since I saw the box a friend of mine received almost a year ago. Phat Fiber boxes are made up from samples that vendors send into Phat centeral and then get redistributed into one of three types of boxes. There are yarn boxes, fiber boxes and mixed boxes. I went after a fiber box this month and was lucky enough to snag one. It arrived today. I cannot upload pictures to WP as my host is “having issues” today, but I did manage to have enough patience to find my flickr info and put it there. I’ll post again tomorrow or Sat. with more pictures of the box when I have control again.

Clicking on each picture will take you to a larger image so you can see the details and vendors.

siggy

Super Secret Santa Sewing 2010 #1

Every year for Christmas, my husband’s family pops names into a bowl and each of us selects one person to give a Christmas gift to. We are encouraged to make it if possible. This year I have Granny again. I last had her in 2006, where I cross-stitched a stocking that took me a few years to actually complete. In my defense, I started the project too late and had a very busy next year.

As the following is super secret, please, for the love of everything good, don’t tell a soul. It’s why I’m putting it here, to keep it under wraps.

I have been contemplating this year’s present since we drew names. I have finally settled on a couple of things, the largest being a Northern Cardinal table runner. I have hunted high and low for the perfect pattern and not finding it I created one with Inkscape with the goal of cutting all the pieces with my Cricut. I couldn’t get things lined up just right so last night I sat down with paper, pen, and a ruler to draw. I’ve taken measurements of my drawing, made copies to color and am ready to head back to the computer for more drawing. I’m pleased with the results so today my goal is to size all the pieces with a seam allowance and get it back into Inkscape for cutting. There are entirely too many pieces to cut by hand. By next weekend I hope to report that pieces have been cut and I have started sewing them together. There will be a male cardinal at one end and a female at the other. I will use neutral border colors and center mounting squares so that Granny can use it any time of year. I haven’t decided on the quilting yet, but there’s plenty of time.

The second part of my gift is a handspun, knitted cowl (neckwarmer). I didn’t purchase enough fiber, so I’ve ordered more to be dyed but it won’t ship until the 19th. I was able to spin 50 yards in an evening, so my hope is that I can spin the rest (150 yds) the week it arrives and then knit. Merino-tencel is a difficuly blend for a newish spinner. I’ve received lovely advice that I think I’ll follow when I get the rest of the fiber-spin over the fold.

The last part of my gift came about as a a compromise on an earlier idea. I thought to make a fabric wallhanging of her family tree, but I do not have access to an embroidery machine for lettering. It would take me too long to hand letter as my handwriting leaves much to be desired and too expensive to have the work done by the companies in the area that specialize in those kind of things. I found a neat poster that maybe she will enjoy filling in and then we’ll mount it somehow and hang it when she’s used her beautiful handwriting to complete it.

Stay tuned for pictures and updates.

siggy

WWSIPD

I’ve participated in two spindle swaps this summer. I swapped with a lady in Singapore this time. Here is the latest swap for World Wide Spin in Public Day, which this year is September 18th.

From the top left clockwise: (a) Note set with stickers, envelopes and paper (b)Four green and black 100% Jacob batts totaling a bit less than 4oz (c)Two spindles-the one in front is 1.2 oz maple and walnut from A Spinner’s Lair and the one in back is an oak disc. Both fit into the cute drawstring bag underneath (d)Winter edition of Spin-Off, a golden bear with movable joints and a decorative clothespin (e)Unknown red dyed fiber around 2.5 oz (f)This is an overview of swap package, (g)A wrist distaff made from lovely yarn, two stitch markers and a postcard with a lovely note of explanation on the back from my swap partner

For my part, I sent a spindle, an as yet unnamed tool, fiber and “extra”. I will show this treat that I made for her-6 stitch markers plus 1 beginning of the row marker and a decorated holder for her spindle.

   

siggy

Spindle Swap

I joined a spindle swap group on a knit/crochet/yarn site and this was my first swap. Our partners were assigned by a moderator and we swapped to someone different than who swapped to us. I swapped a Spindlewood spindle custom mini square whorl in holly made for my partner, natural Jacob fiber from The Counting Sheep Farm in White Cloud, a scarf pattern, a journal I made and lots of food goodies. Connie emailed back and forth with me to get the spindle just right. Steve did a beautiful job on the spindle. The next time I order one for a swap, I’ll have to mail it directly to its new owner or it may not make it to its new home.

In return, I received this lovely package plus a bumblebee tape measure I forgot to take a picture of at the time.

Golding Purpleheart Goldring Spindle, Colored Cormo from The Counting Sheep Farm, and a journal that was decorated very nicely. Not pictured is Penelope the Empathetic Monster that I received as a gift as well.

siggy

Foggy February

I haven’t been focused on crafty things as much as I would like to lately, Boo (understandably) takes up more time than I seem to have in a day. With one week left in February, I’m not sure if I have finished much but I’ve had fun thinking about crafts.

After Christmas, I needed a quick break from long projects so I knitted a bunch of quick things:

  • Spinning Wheel bag
  • Lunch bag for Jason
  • Two reusable mop covers (which desperately need to be tested)
  • coolie ear warmer

I took lots of knitting with me out east when we visited my family for a week. I started knitting a bear for Boo before he was born and am stuck on the head. I keep ripping it out and trying again which slows the progress. I also brought my Christmas cross stitch project, an advent calendar. I purchased it as a kit a number of years ago, 2006 I believe, and work on it when I can. Now that Boo is here, I need to finish it. Next on the needles will be mittens and a hedgehog from my homespun yarn that I finished just before our trip. Already on the needles to finish: aforementioned bear and a few other plushie toys.

On the spinning front, I just ordered larger bobbins, more smaller bobbins and some attachments for the wheel so that I can ply longer sections at a time. My prototype ball winder is great as long as I keep the right amount of tension on the yarn. I attached another clamp so that I can keep one hand on the yarn at all times. Next up I need a swift, I think that may take care of some of the tension issues.

I need to finish Julie’s placemats, 11 more to go I think. I’ve started thinking about my Christmas 2010 project, I’ve got an idea, but it needs some work.

Boo’s borrowed cloth diapers are getting small, so I’ve been cutting out new ones like crazy. Seven cut, two more sewn but needed modifications and zero in currently circulation.

siggy

Whirlwind Weekend

I’ve had a busy weekend spinning, knitting, and cutting fabric for Boo’s diapers. The spinning is brown Shetland wool I bought in November with my spinning wheel. I’ve certainly improved my spinning since then. I made a 3ply yarn this weekend and I think the best bobbin was the last one I prepared and the worst was the middle. It appears as if I spun with my attention on something else during that second one. I had huge deviations in thickness over the bobbin. I have about 354 yards so far, with a bit more on the wheel still to ply. I’m going to n-ply or Navajo ply because I don’t have an even amount left, the middle bobbin ran out much quicker because I measured the bobbins by weight and some of the fiber was used up in thick areas rather then length. N-plying will allow me to ply each single against itself so I can’t run out. I think I’ll make mittens, scarf, maybe a hat of some sort.

I finished some this weekend: a reusable washable mop cover and a Calorimetry for keeping my ears warm. I followed a free pattern from a big box craft store sponsored by a big yarn maker for the mop cover or it’s online. I didn’t so much like the pattern and won’t make it again. I didn’t make pieces and sew it together, instead I picked up stitches and made the rest up as I went. The Calorimetry is from Knitty. The light brown thing is the bottom of a lunch bag for my Sweet-ums. It’s almost finished now, I’m working on the last few rows, then I have to make the draw string and handles.

siggy

A book review: Spin Control

by Amy King, 2009

a review/summary
I borrowed this book from the library along with many others to evaluate what books to add to my spinning library. This one will be joining my library at the end of the week, making an Amazon order for Christmas. Amy challenges the readers to play with the wheel. It’s nothing I couldn’t have figured out on my own but to see it written down, permission to play with the wheel whether it seems conventional or not, somehow makes it ok to set about doing. She tells us to change a specific setting one way then spin, then make another change and see what happens. Then change another setting and asks how it changed from the previous ones. (scientific method anyone?)

After the introductory chapters she gets to the business of explaining many of the questions I had in a blog draft like how to know how much twist to put in the yarn. She shows us how to evaluate previously spun or purchased yarn in an effort to reproduce it and encourages us to keep a spinning notebook. She shows us how to spin a variety to novelty yarns and even shows several knitted swatches of different prep and spinning techniques on the same base fiber. I feel like cover to cover gets me a spinning class. Can’t wait to get my hands on the book permanently. I’m off to browse the rest of the books, stay tuned for more reviews.

siggy

Confessions of a book-aholic

I love books. I have loved books since I was young. I can’t remember not loving books, I can’t even remember my first book that’s how many books I love. I have sung the praises of visiting the library as a child to check out my limit of books every Saturday. If you live in Michigan, check out melcat to see if your local library participates. If your library doesn’t participate, ask the librarian why not. If you don’t live in Michigan, see what your state has that would be similar. I love sitting at home and searching the database for books to request from far off libraries or ones just down the road, interlibrary loan is wonderful. I have requested books for knitting, book club, biographies, home birth, many whims and fancies and of late-spinning.

I love that at the time I searched I found 19 different books on the topic of spinning that I wanted to check out and could order then without leaving the couch. Last week, 4 books came in for me, my library had 3 on spinning, and today another 10 arrived. While I will not be able to read all of them word for word by the time they are due, I will be able to evaluate the copies to see if it would be an excellent addition to my spinning resources. The final cut will most likely be renewed just to be sure. Some of the books are out of print, so I will have to settle for used books and in some cases retired out of a library.

I made my list using various online sites that recommended books here and there. I also searched melcat for handspinning once I found that tag in common. I am doing a single elimination process. If I look at book and don’t see how I will use it or it has information that another book already has, off the list it goes. If it has new information or combines information from two or more other books, on the list it goes.

So far it’s a tentative list but here are four possibilities:

  • Teach Yourself Visually Handspinning
  • The Spinner’s Encyclopedia by Enid Anderson
  • The craft of hand spinning by Eileen Chadwick
  • The Complete Spinning Book by Candace Crockett

The first one I’m fairly certain of wanting, the second is a reference book rather than a cover-to-cover read. The last two are rather redundant, so I don’t need or want both, but I don’t know which is better at this point. I’m hoping that after borrowing the rest, it will be clear.

siggy

In which we stay home and spin

I had hoped to go to White Cloud today and join in the spinning fun that occurs most Monday afternoons. Unfortunately, we were not able to, so we stayed home and had some spinning practice. Here is the bobbin yesterday and today:

As you can see, it’s a little more even and a little more full. I’m spinning rather fine yarn, so it will take me a while to fill two bobbins. I’ve decided to drop down one gear and spin a tad slower. My wheel was sucking the fiber in quite quickly and as a result, I lost hold a few times and had to fish it out again.

siggy