Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Kool-aid is to dye for

Got a second wind last night and decided to go ahead and try my hand at dying the handspun with some Kool-aid. It went well. I went with blue and purple. An unlikely combination, perhaps, but I think it looks pretty cool. Took pictures but am not currently on the right computer to upload them. Also took some pictures of how the room is coming along.

Today I hit the storage to get some more clothes out and grabbed some of the yarn I haven't inventoried yet. Having my stash sorted on the computer is proving to be very handy. Found a bag I missed before. I knew I had some more somewhere. Also located a couple minor displaced UFOs.

Speaking of UFOs... Last night I also got some updated pictures of most of those and uploaded them to my Ravelry. Now I have a better idea what's going on. Have most of them in one basket now too. Imagine that. Lol.

Have more organizing to do and must log in to me online courses today but I'm pooped now so better go eat and take a rest. It's soooo friggin' hot out so the trip to the storage drained me, especially in my somewhat weakened state. At least I'm feeling significantly better. Hopefully can get back to full functioning next week and start exercising again and all that jazz. :)

Monday, May 30, 2011

Where did my weekend go?

This weekend has been far less productive than I'd hoped. Unfortunately I am still a little under the weather. Woke up feeling pretty darn good and thinking I was ready to take on the day, finally. Within an hour or so I was having second thoughts. Still having some tummy issues and such.

Got a little more spinning practice in yesterday but not much. Still working on getting everything set up properly, as far as position and seating and stuff like that. Experimented a little with the Scotch tension option but I'm not sure about all that yet. It was interesting though.

One problem I'm having is that my sweaty little hands are making the fiber a hot mess by the time I get to the end of each piece in my hand. Bleh. Must find a fix for this problem.

Another problem I'm having is the wool being very grabby. I think I might need to play around with something a little less grabby for a bit. This was an issue I had on my spindle at first too. I do have an assortment of fiber I got from Webs a while back so maybe I'll dip into that in a bit (once I feel decent enough to sit up properly). Went ahead and ordered some more Knit Picks roving just now too. I liked working with their Bare WotA on my spindle so maybe it'll be good on the wheel. If not, I can work it up on the spindle anyway. And I can experiment with dying it without worrying because it's inexpensive.

Speaking of dying... I got a boatload of Kool-Aid and food coloring a couple days ago so I'm prepared to take on my first spindle creations finally and jazz 'em up a bit. Why not? Even if I ultimately decide to keep them in skein form and use them as decoration, they at least need some color. They're begging for it.

I am 1/4 to 1/3 of the way through the cuffs for the Magic Loop sample/baby socks. Also got through the first full repeat of the three charts for the Skull Isle hat swatch. My stranded tension is evening out and loosing up, thank goodness, but I'm still not crazy about how it's working up on US1 needles so I'm doing another section on 1.5's to see how that goes. Much better so far.

Might just work on that a little more now. There's so much I want to do today, spinning, dying, and around the house (not to mention how badly I need some exercise) but I just can't do much yet and it's driving me nuts.

If I feel better by tomorrow or Wednesday I'm planning to head out for a little shopping. I want to try to find the yarn store an hour or so away that is rumored to carry spinning stuff. I also want to check out a couple office supply places to see about a chair for the crafting room. Then I want to hit the bookstore so check out a couple books I'm considering ordering. And finally, I need to stop by Target and pick up my brothers belated birthday present because I didn't feel well enough to stop when I was up in Charleston last week.

Here's hoping I can get going soon before I go totally stir crazy. Until then, I guess I'll turn the TV on and knit and maybe read a bit more later My brother thinks I'm totally bonkers for reading the Big Book of Handspinning recreationally. This coming from a guy who reads history books for fun. To each their own I supposed. We're probably both nutty. Lol.

Saturday, May 28, 2011


First of all, I would just like to say, "Ta-Da!"

My wheel arrived yesterday!

Also, the lovely yarn and a big bag of wool

I didn't have the time and energy left to put it together last night after my brother's birthday dinner so had to wait until today. Spent the morning getting the rest of the room ready. I need to get some pictures of the whole thing. I finally have my craft room / closet room now. Cleared everything out of the extra "storage" bedroom (previously the fish tank room), pulled the carpet, and repainted the walls. Then put in a couple dressers and some shelves with places to hang clothes underneath. Also a long table for workspace and eventually to put my sewing machine once I get it out of storage. There was a perfect little spot left for my wheel. Granted, I don't have a great view while spinning and can't watch tv or anything but I think I need to concentrate right now anyway. Lol. And I can set my laptop up in there for music or movies or whatever if I decide I need some entertainment. It's a work in progress but a great little space. And a cat-free zone so I don't have to worry about anyone eating fluff or stealing yarn or scratching my wheel or anything. (Not to mention an area where I might be able to keep the fur off my clean clothes for five minutes).

After getting all the yarn and clothes baskets and half put-away stuff cleared up and the shelves up and all that, I put my wheel together. It went pretty well. I just have this totally OCD fear of messing something up when I put things together so it takes forever because I want everything to be just right. But everything was so nicely packaged and grouped and labeled that it was much easier than I feared.
So here she is:

Once I got it all together I practiced treadling for a bit with nothing on it. No problems there.
After dinner I pulled out the wool and a book and got down to business. :)

Ultimately, I ended up with this:

It was great fun once I started figuring out the adjustments. I don't really have a problem with the treadling and moving my hands at the same time. I do stuff with my feet a lot anyway. Lol.

One area I did have a bit of issue with was working out how to hold the fiber for drafting.
Apparently I'm a weirdo because when I spin on my high whorl spindle, I use my right hand as my "fiber hand" and control the twist with my left. (I also roll it down my right inner thigh with my left hand, which I guess isn't the norm either but it does get it going in the right direction so it works for me.)
I tried that with the wheel but it just wasn't quite right. But I'm so used to having the fiber on my right that it took a while to reverse that. I finally got pretty comfortable with it though.

Then I had to work through some adjustment issues with getting the drive band tension right. I have it set up in double drive right now. Haven't tried the Scotch tension yet.

In the process of all of this, there was a bit of yarf created...

That bit is pretty much beyond repair at least it got better.

At one point this was created and I immediately had to yank it and save it. Behold my first bit of balanced yarn:


I may very well mount it. Lol. Maybe on that blank wall behind my wheel.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The bad news, and the GREAT news

Well, the bad news is that my weekend camping trip plans fell through. The person I was supposed to be going with did not plan ahead properly and ended up having to work Friday night which would have thrown the whole thing off and made it too hurried and stressful, not to mention it would have caused us to miss the first day of festivities. Not cool. So I decided it just wasn't in the cards this time. I guess that turned out to be a good call because a few hours after I found this out Tuesday afternoon, I spent the evening being suddenly violently ill. Bad enough to suspect food poisoning if not for the fact that I was pretty sick one night last week and have been feeling a little less than fabulous overall. I guess I've been fighting some nasty virus and it got the better of me that evening after a long day out in the heat.

So I've been laid up for the past couple days trying to take it easy and avoid the 100 degree weather. I've been working on some sample socks I started on Sunday to learn the 2 socks on 1 circ toe-up Magic Loop method. It is going great. While I won't declare myself a total Magic Loop convert or devotee, I am most definitely a fan and I'm loving the 2 at once thing. Pics forthcoming... my camera seems to be hiding again. :P

Anyhoo... on to the super awesome fantastic news!
As of tomorrow I shall be the proud new owner of my very first SPINNING WHEEL!!!!!
I found a lovely Ashford Traditional for sale on Ravelry and it decided to be mine. :) Got a wonderful deal from the ever-so-fabulous Debbie of Debbie's Handspun Yarn.

Here are the pics borrowed from the listing:

Beautiful, no?
She's a 2005 Ashford Traditional, double drive, single treadle, w/ factory lacquer finish and obviously infused with lots of love.

Then I saw some of the lovely things Debbie has made with her and absolutely had to have this as well:

Llama merino blend! How could I resist?

I also saw some of her finished spin/knit projects and must say I hope I can produce lace even half as lovely as the previous owner.

I'm so excited it's downright ridiculous.

I have wanted a wheel since long before I ever even considered knitting or anything like that. I was one of the kids who saw Sleeping Beauty and the like and immediately knew I *must* have one.
I don't know anyone who spins but that didn't stop me from learning to knit either, right? I went to a knit night a few years ago where someone brought a Lendrum and while I thought it was neat, the upright style just didn't tickle my fancy like the traditional style. There's just something about that classic look that makes it even more appealing. So I knew that's what I wanted for my first wheel.
I haven't had the chance to try out wheels or receive instruction in person but I've done a lot of research and reading and came to the conclusion that an Ashford Traditional seemed like a safe bet for me. It seems very versatile and has or can have many of the things I want (or think I want). It seems to be as good a place to start as any.
I started saving a little money here and there last year in hopes of eventually having enough for a wheel, then I saw the prices of new ones and was greatly discouraged. I kept reading that used was a good way to go if you knew what you were looking for and could find one in good working order but those sort of items just don't pop up around here so that didn't seem like it was going to happen.

Then I discovered the wonder that is the Ravelry marketplace groups. I browsed and drooled and researched and compared... then I realized that since I decided to put off buying a new phone until after my trip, I might actually be able to swing the right purchase! A couple days later the deal was done! I don't waste any time once I decide I want something. Lol.

Doing business with fellow crafters has just been such a joy. I'm constantly amazed at what a supportive and upstanding community my fellow fiber fanatics are. :)

So that definitely softened the blow of my weekend trip falling through. Miss camping trip, fulfill a lifelong dream... pretty decent trade off. And my mom has agreed that we'll take a trip up to NC at some point later in the year when some interesting festival or fair is going on or we can visit some alpacas or something. We've been wanting to get back up there for a while anyway since that's the area my mom is from.

It all works out in the end.

In the meantime, I finally set the twist for my first batch of spindle spun yarn yesterday. It is the common beginner's thick-thin masterpiece. Lol. Next I need to ply the second batch. But first, I think I'll grab some Kool-aid and try my hand at some dying. I have two small skeins from the first batch so I'm thinking about doing them each one color, then doing half of the second batch in each color and doing a 2ply from that. Then I'll knit it all together into... something. Probably just a big swatch, honestly. Lol. I figure I can make a few of those from my first few trial run creations then put them together to form something artsy. I have no delusions of my first few yarns being highly functional.

I also did a little more work on the fiber shown in the my previous post. After getting that off the spindle, I started working on the remainder. I thought I only had about an ounce left but it turns out I have just over 2oz left! Perfect. I have no idea I had half of it left. That should make plying a bit easier if I can keep my yardage about the same.

So it's been a week of immersing myself in fiber-y goodness and I'm planning more of the same for the weekend.

School starts again next week so this is a good way to spend my last few days off. :)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

It's been an eventful couple of days for crafty goodness here...

Next week I'm going on a long Memorial Day weekend trip. Well, it suddenly occurred to me yesterday that I don't have anything small or simple on the needles! No socks or hats or dishrags or anything. It's all sweaters, shawls, afghans, lace, etc. And of course this calls for new yarn, right? In my defense the stash was all in storage. So I was poking around online then considering a trip to the LYS (over an hour away) when it occurred to me that we have an LYS here in town now! So I made my first visit to Coastal Knitting. It was a very pleasant experience. Finding parking downtown is a bitch but I finally found a spot not too far away (thankfully, since I had to go feed the meter a couple times because I spent too long fondling yarn). The owner, Judy, is lovely. She was very nice to chat with and helpful. I'm looking forward to some advanced classes this summer. Then I had a nice lunch down the street while she wound my haul for me.

I ended up getting some Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine for some experimental magic loop socks for the trip. I loves me some Ultra Alpaca so I have high hopes for the lightweight version.

I also picked up some Cascade Heritage sock yarn to make the Skull Isle Socks from Stitch 'n Bitch Superstar Knitting. Today I decided to start with the Skull Isle Hat first since I've only toyed around with stranded knitting once or twice. I have a better chance of ending up with a hat that fits someone around here than if the socks go awry. Between my mom's smallish head and my brother's big ol' curly topped pouf there's bound to be someone who can wear the hat... I hope. Of course now my mom wants the mittens so I may end up getting more yarn and making the whole set. ;-P

I also got a pink skein of Heritage to swatch for the Dockside Cardigan from the latest IWK. And a couple half priced balls of Knit One Crochet too Ty-Dy Sock yarn in a cammo color. Irresistible.

Oh, and 16" and 24" HiyaHiya stainless steel circs. Today I used those to teach myself 2-circ small circumference knitting and start swatching for the hat. So har I like them. And I love the price (half the price of Addis). I'm not sure how much I'd love the cord for magic loop but It's good for anything else. It's nice and flexible and doesn't loop up or anything but isn't quite as soft as the Addi or Knit Picks cables. Better than anything else I've tried though.

I hope to have both the hat and the magic loop socks on the go by the time I leave Thursday so I'll have one simple(ish) project that I can knit in the car and one more interesting one I can do if I have a little more downtime at some point.

Also, today I taught my momma to knit! She loves the washcloths I have her for Christmas and asked if I I thought she could make one. Well that's all the invitation I needed to get some needles in her hands. ;-) She said "I can't learn to knit! I just want know how to make washcloths!" Lol. I tried to convince her it was not that hard and kinda like 'crocheting with sticks' (since she used to crochet a little) but she didn't believe me. I got her going with my favorite US 8 bamboo straights and some Cotton Ease in her favorite lime green color this afternoon and she was truckin' right along on a garter stitch cloth in no time. I cast on for her because that would have been too intimidating but otherwise she picked it up quickly. I'm thrilled because I've wanted her to try it for ages but she's convinced she can't learn things like that.

And finally, to give myself a break after working on the fair isle this afternoon I picked up my spinning again but unfortunately my spindle had gotten too overloaded to continue on through the last ounce or so, so I transferred it to my new niddy noddy:

I also spent an undisclosed amount of time inventorying most of my stash and uploading the info and pics to Ravelry. The family seems unfazed by my odd fiber driven OCD-ish behavior at this point so no one asked too many questions when they saw the giant bags of yarn all over the living room and caught me taking pictures of the individual skeins ona taple I set up with a cloth for a uniform background and then typing madly on the computer. Lol.
The biggest upside to this is that now I have a good idea of what I have and how much so I can put it away a little better without having to dig it out and go through everything each time I want to start something or want to know if I have enough of something.
Working on inventorying my needles as well because I have a ton but never know if I have what I need.