Friday, January 31, 2014

Friday Felines - Vol. 5 2014


She's the boss of everyone and I refer to her as "Princess" - she's always got to have the highest spot.  She doesn't eat her treats on the floor with the boys - and she CERTAINLY does not do "sit" for them.  She jumps on the cabinet by the fridge for her treats.  The other day I had this stack of dish towels to put away that I put on the breakfast bar after folding ... apparently they were just a little bit higher and made a perfect seat for her princess derriere.  She's got the perfect majestic pose too ...

Thursday, January 30, 2014

FO: Hand Spun: Superwash BFL - Dreams of Iris

This is Gale's Art Superwash BFL top in the colorway Dreams of Iris. Its more purple than blue (purple is such a difficult color to photograph properly).

Fiber: Gale's Art Superwash BFL in Dreams of Iris
Yarn: 2-Ply (singles Z, ply S) Sport Weight; Approx. 230 yds
Ashford Traveller 10:1 singles; 7.5:1 ply
Started: January 20th 2014
Finished: January 29th 2014

Halfway through I decided to fractal spin it, since the braid looked to be folded in half and dyed the same, I was still able to do it after I had started.  Here is the second half split into many thinner sections.

Here you can see the fractal spun up, the bobbin on the left has long repeats of color, where the bobbin on the right has very short repeats of color.  This one was a pretty good divide - I barely had anything left on one bobbin ... not enough to even do anything with.

And here is the plying, you can see the barber poling, as well as the colors meeting up as they should when fractal spinning.  I also remembered to use my sliding hook flyer this time so I didn't run into problems with the plied yarn winding on.

It finished as a nice balanced sport weight.  The colors mixed as expected with some matching up and some barber poling.

Its quiet a lovely skein at 230 yards.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Friday Felines - Vol. 4 2014


He's so peaceful and sweet when he sleeps ... the rest of the time ... eh.  He's super smart ... which means he gets bored easily and finds ways to amuse himself.  He stomps around the house almost every morning around 2-3AM screeching with a toy in him mouth ... its really hard not to sneak up on him when he's sleeping like this and go "MEOW!" in his ear ... on occasion ... we do and ask him how he likes it :O)

Saturday, January 18, 2014

FO: Sockhead Hat II

Pattern: Sockhead Hat
Yarn: Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock Lightweight in Wavelength
Needles: Knitter's Pride Karbonz in US 2.5 and 1.5
Started: Sept. 27th 2013
Finished: Jan 12th 2014

Hand spun: English Shetland

I finished the Into the Whirled England Shetland Combed Top in the colorway Snow Angels with an Ood. It was beautiful fiber to spin and a lovely colorway.

Fiber: Into the Whirled English Shetland Combed Top
Yarn: 2-Ply (singles S, ply Z) DK Weight
Ashford Traveller 10:1 ratio spun and plied
Started: Jan. 8th 2014
Finished: Jan. 15th 2014

I stopped spinning when it was clear that the second bobbin was filling up more than the first.  I had a tiny bit of fiber left over to spin (about 19g).

I plied off of my lazy kate.  This is such a cool tool and the tension makes it so much easier to deal with the singles. 

I almost didn't fit the yarn on the bobbin.  Next time I'll remember to use my sliding hook flyer.  The yarn kept jumping off the hooks near the end and getting wrapped around the center rod that holds the bobbin.

The finished skein came out awesome and I am very happy with it.  I got about 130 yards, 11 WPI which is about a DK weight.

I have a tiny bit more to ply, I used the remaining 6 grams on the bobbin and spun  up the left over fiber and will ply that up into a little skein and get a bit more yardage.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Friday Felines - Vol. 3 2014


I love Riley's toes and how he always sleeps holding a back foot.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Combing Alpaca

I have some lovely (though a little dirty) Alpaca fiber in my stash. I did wash it when I got it to get all the dust and dirt out of it. Now it just has a little veggie matter in it.

Setting up to comb some fiber.  I have my fiber, combs, newspaper to catch debris that falls out and a bag to put the discard into.

This is some fiber ready to come off the comb.  I've made about four passes on it.

Here you can see the difference between the fiber that is not combed and the fiber that has been combed.

I have a whopping 0.5 oz of combed fiber for an hour of work.  Its not bad work though.  Its beautiful, isn't it?

This is my discard pile.  I'm getting better at discarding :o)  I usually try and save all the fibers, but its just not worth it sometimes.  There's a reason why its referred to as discard.

I have over 4 oz of this fiber to comb up - so it'll be a while before I start spinning it.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Special Episode: Spinning

A little 3 minute movie of spinning on my Ashford Traveller.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Re-learning to Spin

I decided that my next spinning project would be going back to basics and re-learning how to spin.  I was wondering why I was continually doing certain things that I did not like.  As we all know there's no wrong way to spin (unless you're not making yarn) - just like there's no wrong way to knit (as long as you are making stitches that form into fabric).  However, if you don't like it - then its not right for you.

What I didn't like:

1) It takes me months to spin up 4 ounces of roving.  Why can other spinner's spin skeins and skeins in a month??  I spend hours and hours spinning, get discouraged at the lack of progress and then let it sit untouched for weeks at a time.  I often just get plain sick of looking at the same fiber for this extended period of time.

2) Its uncomfortable and frustrating - I am constantly fighting with fiber, treadling way too fast and racing against my feet to draft.  My legs get tired, my back hurts and I feel frustrated and annoyed when I am spinning.

What I realized:

1) I spin way too thin - that's fine if that's what I wanted.  But with an overwhelming stash I am looking for quantity here and I am also looking to expand my skills to spin different weights of yarn.

2) I really do a half-a*%$^ job pre-drafting.  Pre-drafting is not an absolute necessity, but it is if you are trying to learn and want to make things easier on yourself.  It makes it easier to draft when spinning, especially if you are like me and something has been in your stash for 2 years.  It also allows you to get to know the fiber before spinning it.

3) I over spin everything.  Sometimes the finished yarn feels like twine, there are coils in the singles that I either go past or spend too much time undoing while plying.  The singles get all tangled up on each other when plying because they are crazy energized.

4) I treadle way too fast.  Everyone has their own comfortable speed - this is not comfortable.  And its not necessarily just too fast, I increase over time, its not consistent.

I took this beautiful fiber out of my stash to work with.  Its English Shetland Combed Top from Into the Whirled.  It has a long staple length and a beautiful preparation.  I split it in half and pre-drafted one half entirely about four times the thickness of the final singles I wanted.  I spent about 2 hours on the first bobbin.  Unbelievable!  I am spinning it thicker than I usually spin - on purpose - but I am also being conscious to not over spin it.

What I learned:

1) Slow down your feet!!  This is not Speed, the wheel is not attached to a bomb that will blow if you decrease below your typical maniacal treadling speed.

2) Take breaks or just stop for the day.  Its better to spin more frequently, but for small periods of time.  Just like any muscle memory task.  For now I am finding that 1/2 hour sessions are working well.

3) Stop and review - check the singles frequently to make sure that they are consistent and not getting too thin.  Also check that its not getting over-spun - this can easily be fixed by stopping and drafting out more fiber to take up the twist built up in little coils.

4) Check your feet - pay attention and count off frequently to make sure the feet aren't going faster and faster and faster.  By the third session I could actually stop paying attention and I was maintaining a consistent treadling.

5) Take your time and pre-draft!!!

There's still one tiny bit that has the over spun coils in it in the middle there - when I stopped focusing and was watching something on the computer.  But all in all pretty consistent and spun well.

I solved all of my problems.  At this current rate I could easily finish a skein in a week.  I am not frustrated or causing back pain.  Its nice and calm and fun - what spinning is supposed to be!  They are all things that I know and have heard time and time again, but I just wasn't applying them for some reason.  Now I just have to remember and apply all of these things when I spin.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Fun with paints

Took a canvas painting class at the shop where my mom and I have taken pottery painting classes.  I am very happy with my finished painting.  It was fairly easy, the trees were a little difficult.  The colors in the photo are slightly more yellow than in real life (the moon is actually more white than yellow).  

Now I'll have to find a frame and somewhere to hang it!

They do classes quite frequently - so I'm sure you'll see more in the future.  There is a freestyle one in February I am thinking of taking, where you can bring in a picture and they will help you paint it.  I'm thinking of finding a picture of the Dr. Who Tardis!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Friday Felines - Vol. 2 2014


Paper bag ... cat ... need I say more?

Thursday, January 9, 2014

FO: Kaire Polwarth

This was a braid of Polwarth fiber from BlueDogFibers in the colorway Kaire.  I started spinning this last July and then it sat for a while.  Its fractal spun 2 ply and probably somewhere around fingering weight.

For fractal spinning the entire roving is split in half down the middle vertically. One half is left as is, the other half is split into smaller bits again and again. This produces one bobbin with very long color repeats and one with very short color repeats.  At some points in the final skein the colors meet up and at other points the typical hand spun "barber poling" occurs with different colors. 

As usual I OVER-SPUN the singles.  This year I am focusing on re-learning how to spin and to stop treadling like I am in a bicycle race trying to escape from a zombie hoard and my life depends on how fast I can go.  

Spun clockwise singles, counterclockwise 2-ply on my Road Bug on the medium whorl using worsted drafting.

Here is the finished plied yarn looking a little crazy.

Washing and beating into submission calmed it down a little, but its still bordering on Art Yarn in some spots.  The fractal spinning worked out well for the colors.  I had approximately 300 yds before washing.

Monday, January 6, 2014

My Stash Runneth Over

I've been a member of the Into the Whirled Fiber Club for a while now and memberships are currently closed.  I am currently unemployed, but until it comes time that I cannot pay a bill, I'm staying put and holding on to my spot.  

For 2014 my goal is to spin 12 skeins.  This is much more than I've spun in the past.  While I was employed and making good money, I bought fiber like a fiend!  I have an ample stash now and know it.  What I didn't REALLY know was just how ample that stash was... 12 skeins would put a good dent in it ... it would free up a whole bin!  

I figured since I can never really decide what to spin next I would choose the first January shipment from the ITW club.  So I looked on the Ravelry group and searched January 2013 .... wait a minute, that's not the first shipment I got ... so I searched January 2012 ... oh that's the first shipment I got.  So I now have TWO YEARS of Into the Whirled shipments ... in addition to all the other stash I purchased in the past.  Wowzah!

I've always wanted to put my stash up on Ravelry, so I figured why not start with my ITW stash.  Today is rainy, cold and dreary, so not the best day for photos ... but at least its done!  Right now I have all of 2012 and 2 of 2013 in there and some other stuff that was in my craft room for a total of 29 entries.  

I'm done for today, I still have ways to go.  I kept an Excel spreadsheet of my fiber stash and it was mostly updated, except for all of the ITW club - I stopped buying fiber in 2013 when it was clear that my stash was out of control, because I had to keep going to Walmart to purchase plastic storage bins.  My spreadsheet has 99 entries ...

Friday, January 3, 2014

VideoCast - Episode 75 - Happy New Year!

Theme-a-licous 2014 January

This is a humming bird and fuchsia cross stitch that I started over 5 years ago.  We moved 5 years ago and I do remember working on this in the other place we lived ... so other than over five years ... I don't really know how long this one has been going on for.  There's nothing wrong with the left side of the fabric there, its not blue ... that's just a shadow because I am too lazy to set up for a good photo :o)

When we moved, we actually GET hummingbirds in our yard!  They look just like these ones, and aside from the feeder, I also get two fuchsia plants every summer that they frequent by the kitchen.

There's not too much left to finish this one, there's one more bird that I started up the top, so filling in on the flowers, border and then back-stitching.

Friday Felines - Vol. 1 2014


The new favorite seat in the house.  I got this cube bean bag seat to play chess, cards and dice games at the coffee table - so I can sit across from the couch and be level with the table and not on the floor.  The cats quickly commandeered it as their's.  I haven't sat in it since it came into the house ...

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year!!

Happy New Year!

This isn't going to be a resolutions post ... my one and only resolution for 2014 is to be happy. I watched an old episode of Monk the other day and Randy said, "I made a decision right then and there to be happy and I have been ever since." I may be paraphrasing, but that was the gist of it. Well I've made that decision.

2013 brought a lot of changes and headaches - and I will leave it at that. I started writing this post the other day and had two paragraphs of reflection on this stuff and I've decided ... it's in the past and that's that. Though I am still dealing with some of it, the actual initial issues are done and gone now - so goodbye!

There are some things I would like to do in 2014 and they all focus on the keyword here - which is happy.

Less clutter - its stifling and suffocating. I'm not a "hoarder" in the reality tv show sense, but I'm real good at keeping a lot of crap. Its all stuffed in cabinets and drawers, which makes it real hard to find stuff and its frustrating. I did a good job of cleaning out some cabinets and tossing things in the last few weeks and would like to make this a habit.

Water - I am terrible at drinking water, I get muscle cramps and strain, am always cold and tired. I was doing well at this at work, with those fancy UV filter dispensers and my pretty purple water bottle. Then I got laid off and stopped drinking water again.  We all know how important water is - so I won't bore you with the details here.

Blogging - Not just blogging myself, but reading and commenting on other people's blogs.  I solved one issue just today.  My Kindle Feedly app doesn't open the keyboard when I click on a comments box, well there's this little button for the Chrome browser in there and it'll open the post, yeah its a few extra clicks, but it works!  I read most blogs on my Kindle and now I figured out how to comment on it!  Yay!

Shut up and do it - Whenever someone asks me to make plans or do something I hem and haw and have to check my 'schedule' - I don't have a schedule.  We don't have a dog now either so there's nobody waiting for me to get home to go potty.  I often wonder if I have agoraphobia ... When I got laid off from work I started accepting all of my work BFF's invitations - movies, food, etc. and enjoyed every one.  Granted because I didn't have to work and commute I had plenty of time now for these things - but I enjoyed them!!!  How many other fun things did I miss out on in the past?

Project 365 - take a photo every day of the year.  This is something I've wanted to do for a while, but never remember at the beginning of the year ... well I remembered this time!  Check it out!

So now that the shoulds are done with - how about the wants?!?!

What do I like to do??  Knit, spin, read, play video games, learn guitar, photography, cross stitch, design knitting patterns, write - so here's hoping you see more of this on the blog in 2014!!

Happy New Year to you and I hope 2014 brings you lots of HAPPINESS!!!!!