Sunday, July 27, 2008

Things to Play With and Boy Toys

Things are fun and crazy and tiring and maddening and I think I need a really long nap and maybe a half a pound of chocolate and maybe a little snuggle with Lousmith.
This week I got some new hand painted fibers from Enchanted Wheel. The colors are lovely. Isn't it funny how you can have hand painted fiber from 12 different people and even if they all use the same colors they will all look different. On the very right in the picture is "My Little Pony". I really want to spin some of that...

It reminds me of a time when I was in my friends wedding and all of the bridesmaids were poor and lived all over the country so the bride bought the fabric and patterns for the dresses and sent them to us to make. We all had the same pattern and the same fabric and when we showed up we all had a different dress.

That's my next weaving project on the Wolf Pup. It is 5 colors from orange to pink to burgundy. I'm going to weave in a twill pattern with the same yarns (mercerized cotton). It will be two shawls when it is finished. Then I plan to a color study with Louet Gems Merino yarn.
Here is a beautiful shawl that my friend Denny made for me. The thicker yarn in the pattern is a 3 ply hand spun she mad on her drop spindle from roving I gave her. She masterfully matched it to some Malabrigio lace weight and knitted something lovely - squiggle knitting is what she calls it.
Hand spun scarf:-) I really like it. Hand dyed BFL spun intermittently with white BFL so you get a stripy scarf with no ends to weave in.
This is also a pile of stuff that Denny brought on her trip to the USofA. It is all still sitting on the table in the dining room cause I have this lame kind of thing about saving things people give me. It's all food and I need to use it.
My new friend Elayne brought me these most thoughtful of gifts. I love the little needle gauge and I've been wearing it as a necklace since she left. I have these for sale in my shop and it was such a coincidence that's what she brought for me. The spindle is bamboo and was hand made by her husband. It's definitely larger and heavier than the spindles I usually reach for but it spins forever. It's very lovely.
So, here's my newest toy. I've been wanting to play with one of these for years. Two weeks ago I was on the Louet website and saw that they finally had a few again and so I threw caution to the wind and ordered it. I do not regret it. The thing is fast! Like lightning. It's an accelerated wheel that has three ratios from 10:1 to 20:1.
I did a little fooling with it and then got out 8 ounces of the most beautifully dyed Masham that was given to me by my favorite designer Jillian. It was dyed by Black Bunny Fibers in my signature colors of pink and orange.

Each of those bobbins is holding about 4 ounces!
And here's the finished product. I LOVE IT! I forgot to figure the yardage. I'm going to guess about 500 yards. I'll get back to you;-)
So we got a new camera and Lousmith has been playing around with it. Here I am working and looking a lot less wrinkly than in some other pictures I've seen lately of myself. Heh.
Maggie's been busy making Maggie batts for me to put up for sale on the webstore. That lovely sparkly yellow and pink one has been removed (by Maggie) because the tiny girl takes after her mother and has decided to spin that one herself.
Also, I found this picture of me floating around the internet. I wonder if any magazines will pay a lot of money to publish it.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

A Bee in My Bonnet

Sunday night again and it's been some week!
This is Michelle. She comes to the shop to play most Tuesday nights. She is a fantastic quilter and does a lot of art quilts. It was her dog hair that I spun a few months ago. In exchange she is finishing the hand quilting on a quilt I made years ago. It's a hand pieced quilt and I thought hand quilting would be the best thing but...
Anyway, Michelle is working on my quilt in this photo and also trying to find out if she is sensitive to the new Chameleon Colorworks Merino/Tencel roving and the hand dyed alpaca lace weight yarn. (That's why she shoves them down her shirt. The merino/tencel was a winner!

On Wednesday Maggie and I went to teach about 10 8-11 year old girls to spin. It was so fun and several of the girls actually caught on in the hour we spent with them. There was a fleece to huff and spinning wheels to touch and a drop spindle and wool for everyone. Course I didn't even take one photo cause I was teaching.
This is the latest handspun from Maggie. Spun from an Abby batt that was made especially for her. It's very pink with some cut up yellow threads. It made a very lovely yarn which she is now knitting.
On Thursday the group arrived for the Janel Laidman workshop extravaganza. Denny and Elayne got a ride from Toronto with Lousmith and arrived in Howell at about 2:30. Then we all piled back in the car and headed to the airport to pick up the Janel. We stopped for a delicious dinner and then went to the shop and touched things for a while. We stayed up way too late and had a delightful time.

Friday was down to work after breakfast. There were class kits to make and furniture to move and details to work out..among the laughing and talking and harassing of Abby who couldn't make it due to "deadlines".

The picture above is all of the fiber (Chameleon Colorworks BFL) that each person got in their kit for the Saturday class arranged beautifully on a cupcake stand.
Friday evening after a delicious dinner was Kitchen Sink Yarns - blending old, trashy fiber on a drum carder to make something beautiful. Maggie was the teachers assistant.
A motley crew - but serious about the class. (Elayne, Maggie and Denny)
Carding in action. These girls were serious. We had 5 different carders from 3 companies and so the ladies got to try out a few models.
Card Faster!
After class came the sleepover. We all laid down to sleep about 1:30AM I think. There was plenty of goofing off and I was trying to finish some yarn I started...I'll tell you why in a minute.
Saturday was Janel's Painted Rovings class. This is Jan and Deb ready for action.
And Janel, Carla, Jillian, and Kathy in Andean Plying action
This class was fantastic and I came away with lots more experimenting I want to do. So many things were learned about how to spin a painted roving beyond just spinning from the end. Part of the class included Fractal Stripes which was featured on the cover and inside the Summer 2007 issue of Spin Off. Here Janel is holding up the actual sock from the magazine. It is beautiful in person.
Here's the Denny version of Andean Plying. Notice the tangled yarn and the angle of the central finger.
So the shop was trashed again...nothing like after Abby's class but Ellen couldn't come and so the Wall O'Fleece was mostly intact.
There was a little gun play at the sleepover. I usually am scared of guns but it came in handy to handle some issues.
And there was the enhancement surgery. Above is the before photo.
And after. I think that from now on all enhancement surgery should be done with Abby Batts. They are safer than silicone, will not puncture and if you run out of fiber you can spin them and get more.

Also notice the new tattoo. Denny stamped herself with my address stamp.
Plus, there were new deliveries this week. This book is a fantastic book about needle felting a wide range of animals.
I'm not usually a huge felter but I do love this book. The photos are beautiful and the instructions are very complete.
Chameleon Colorworks arrived. Three different fibers - BFL, Merino/Tencel and Optim.
The optim colors are saturated and luscious. I've been spinning some Optim...which brings me to the late night production spinning.
Also this week I got this lovely Majacraft Rose. Every one of these is different. The wood ranges from very light to a lovely dark toasty color. This particular wheel had a very light handle, a dark wood veneer on the wheel and a dark flyer head. I fell in love with it right I started spinning on it. Well, Elayne fell in love with it too. So it now lives in Toronto after a nice train ride. I have a full bobbin of Optim to be plied this week.
Also finished today is this scarf which will be a spinning kit for the shop in a range of colors. It was fun to spin for it and fun and easy to knit.
Watch for details.

So, now everyone is home and tomorrow I will clean up the carnage of the weekend and get to work on my next projects. It was a fantastically fun and stressful week. Always worth it in the end.

Sunday, July 13, 2008


I went to Ohio on Thursday and Friday. Took the kids and invaded Abby's house for 2 days. I needed a couple of days away from feeling like I have to work all the time and so I made an excuse to go pick up my next batch of batts in person.
Abby's house is evidently lucky cause I found my first 4 leaf clover of the season. My find rate has really decreased this summer. Too much working and not enough outside time.
We were walking through the back yard on our way to pet the horses and there it was. Plain as day. I don't know why nobody else saw it.

Most of the time I did not have my camera so there are very few photos but we did make a video for Youtube about spinning on a top whorl spindle. As soon as it gets posted I'll let you know.

I also got to meet and get acquainted with Cardzilla as Abby made the last few of the batts for my box.
Maggie just loved the Journey Wheel. I took my new Lendrum Saxony with me to show her off and so the Lendrum stayed in Ohio and the Bosworth came home with us. We will do a switch back next month. I hope I get to play with the wheel a little but so far the little girl can't keep her hands off of it.
This si just a photo of a some ACRYLIC yarn I came across while snooping around the shelves. I'm in the land of cashmere and silk and here is plastic yarn. Just a little surprising.
This was the normal pose for Abby over the whole visit. Bossy.
So on Saturday I had the final class of the Breeds Study. I took this photo of Deb in front of the color and I just like it. So here it is.
Maggie's been spinning up a storm lately. On the left is some wool that Abby gave her and she liked it so much she spun it up on Saturday. On the right is a novelty thick and thin yarn she wanted to try. This was a roving dyed by Amy King.
I think she's really coming right along.So there are new batts in the web store. This particular color is Pond Scum. I did get to have one of these for myself.
This is one of the batts meant to keep me out of the batts for sale. I didn't make a note of what it is but I believe it is the same as the Peach Melba. I love it.
This is a braid of Karaoke dyed by Abby. I carry the Karaoke dyed by SWTC but I think it may not be available much longer so...the white I have in the shop may need some custom dyeing...stuff to think about.
I stuck this in my bag. Again I didn't write down the fiber content. Feels like Cashmere
Some beautiful wool dyed by Abby.
These Batts are called Beth's Problem - except these three have extra sparkle just for me:-)
This 2 ounces is 50/50 cashmere and silk. Named "Because of Love". I have my tiny Bosworth Mini picked out to spin these lovelies.
And finally. Mr Abby cooked dinner for us. He started smoking ribs at 8AM and worked on them all day. They were the best ribs I have ever ever ever eaten. He let me bring them home and Lousmith concurred. I also bought some peaches from a little orchard near Abby's house and so for dessert I had peaches with sugar and milk. So yummy.

Now my 15" Schacht Flip loom is warped with handspun and I am weaving some samples with handspun singles. I want to see what will happen if I mix the Z and S twist singles softly beaten and more tightly beaten.

Coming up on Friday and Saturday are the Janel Laidman classes. She is just wonderful and if you haven;t seen her new book called Eclectic Sole you need to get your hands on a copy. I'm still waiting for the distributor to ship mine - hopefully this week. I do have one in my hands if you want to check it out.

So it's going to be a busy week...and Denny is coming! Yes. Canadian Denny. Always a party.

Oh and some advance notice. On August 2nd Ted will be in the shop from opening to almost closing time. Come by and meet this fantastic blogger in person. We'll be drum carding and spinning and lace knitting. He's a great cotton spinner among all of his other spinning pursuits. Check out his blog and you'll see what I mean.

K. off to do some reading with the kids.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

I promised an update on some projects. Well, they aren't all here but I can show a couple right now and I'll get caught up in a couple of days.

Lace Blocking
I added a lace blocking service to the shop a few months ago. I love blocking lace because of the transformation that happens. A lot of people don't like it because it takes a lot of time and sometimes can be difficult. So here is my method for a circular shawl.
I run a nylon cord through the edging. It varies, depending on the shawl, how close together my running stitches are. For this shawl I went into each loop. I always go the same way with the cording. In this case I went from under neath on each loop. I run the cording before I soak the shawl because it's easier to do when the shawl is dry.
Here's the shawl after soaking. This is knitted in Jaggerspun Zephyr and, as expected with red yarns, it ran a lot. I lay a sheet down on the floor on top of a carpet or heavy rug.
Then I start pinning with T-Pins on four opposite sides so that I can try to be as even as possible from the start. With a square or triangle shawl I use a T-Square and yard stick to help get straight lines.
So here I'm just working my way around the shawl little by little trying to get the pins evenly round.
Once I get all of the rounded points pinned I begin measuring from the center point out to the pin to make sure it will be as perfectly round as I can make it.
Her is the shawl all pinned and drying. This process from start to finish took me just under two hours. Then I let it be for at least 8 hours to make sure the shawl is completely dry before unpinning.

The shawl was delivered to it's owner yesterday and everybody was very happy.

A delivery from Franquemont Fibers
Two pounds of hand dyed Tussah silk. All I have are on the webstore but they have already been very popular. The colors are fantastic and I didn't even save one ounce for myself - though I wanted all of them.

Easter Egg Dyeing
So I began with some BFL top. So lovely in it's natural white. But I have about 50 packages of Easter Egg Dyes and so I thought I'd start experimenting a little with the microwave.
I filled wide mouth mason jars about halfway with hot water and vinegar and dropped in one tablet and let it dissolve. At the same time there were four ounce bits of blue face soaking in the sink.
After the wool had soaked for 20 minutes or so I squeezed out as much water as I could and then stuck the fiber into the jar.

I microwaved the jars for about 8 minutes and then let them sit until they were almost to room temperature...I say almost because of impatience.

Much of the dye was taken up and probably all of it would have been if I had been able to wait longer.

Then I removed the fiber and rinsed it and set it out on the porch to dry
I love them. The colors are very springy. There is that uneven kettle dyed look I was looking for. I think I will keep this up for a least til I run out of dye tablets.

I'm playing with my new Schacht rigid heddle loom.
I'm doing a direct warp here using a peg. My skein of yarn is on the swift behind the loom. This is hand spun merino I'm using but I think I could have used a little more twist in the ply. We'll see what happens when I get to weaving. I've got the yarn almost ready for weaving - half of it is still on the wheel.

A New Toy
It's right there in those boxes. Big, right?
Here's what I saw when I opened the larger box. Right on top is a bag of merino top and yes, those are balloons. Party in a least that's what Maggie thought.
Here she is all unpacked and ready to work. 28" Cherry Lendrum Saxony. Spins beautifully. She's coming to my house. This was a lucky find on Ravelry and I have my friend Abby to thank for pointing her out for me and sending the reserving email for me as I was on the road when she was listed. No name for her yet so if you have any suggestions...

July Lace Knitters
Two shawls from Sharon Winsauer. The above shawl is finished and is in testing stage and so I'm sure will be available for sale shortly alongside another famous dragon shawl.
This is the one I've been watching come to life over the last couple of months. It now has two square corners. After all four corners are done there will be a flat border knitted on and it will be added to the collection of genius creations. I apologize in public for saying it was impossible.

O.K I promise next to post photos of the Abby Shawl under slow construction:-)