Sunday, August 29, 2010

Catching Up.

Maggie and Ryan have started Tae Kwon Do. The above photo is Ryan getting a bit of yellow tape on his belt. He's quite into this. Maggie is liking it too though not as excited as Ryan. It's good for them and since we homeschool, this will be their Physical Education this year.
Galina was here. I love her. It was 2 weeks ago and I took like 2 pictures. Whenever she is here I work hard. My Russian Support spindle spinning had improved dramatically. it only took me 5 years and 2 days to get to the point I am right now.

We also had 2 days of working on Orenburg Warm Shawl construction. The construction of these shawls is very different than the Orenburg Gossamer shawls and I have been wanting this class for years. Finally!

I belong to a lace knitting group, as many of you know. The members include Faina Letoutchaia and Sharon Winsauer. So there is plenty of help available. A few of us will be working on designing our own warm shawl. If there are any people in the Lansing area who would like to join the group and work on this project please contact me and I will tell you all about when and where we meet.
In the mean time we have some new things in the shop. Black Bunny Fibers is owned by Carol Sulcoski. I originally came upon her work when I was gifted some Wensleydale dyed by her. I spun it up and knitted the Indian Summer Shrug from it.

I almost immediately began bugging her to let me put some in my shop. Finally she got sick of hearing about it and gave in. The colors are gorgeous and she does plenty of not the usual fibers. So if you are looking to try something new and you are tired of white then Black Bunny might be for you.
Also, this week we got fibers from Australia. Pear Tree is the company. I picked this up at TNNA. Just walked by and stuck my hand out and blammo! This is merino wool that is so fine it feels like cashmere. I'm not lying. And the colors....the colors....I really want to keep some of this.

This week i will be working more on spinning for the Spin Along / Knit along. The progress is slow. I will also be combing and spinning some Wensleydale and continuing to warp that loom that has been feeling neglected in the corner.

The beginning rigid heddle weaving class went very well. Almost everyone went home with a finished scarf that they liked and they are ready to tackle their next projects. Weaving is growing right now. Is it because all the spinners can't knit their yarn fast enough?

Also, here's the list of upcoming teachers:
For most I have a sketchy idea of what will be taught and pricing will be coming. But here’s the list.
If you’d like to sign up for any future classes we need a $50 nonrefundable deposit to hold it and then we will come back at an appropriate time to either collect the rest or another deposit. So here goes.

September 11&12 Michael Cook, Silk Reeling
Still 2 spots available - See classes page for details

November 19-21 Deb Robson, Breeds Study
Still 6 spots available - see classes page for details.

December 4 Shelly Lampshire, Needle Felted Sculptures
see classes page for details

January 28-30 Abby Franquemont, Andean Backstrap Weaving

February 25-27 Velma Root of Colorbomb Creations, Spinning colorful yarns…check out her website.

March 19-20 Stephanie Pearl Mcphee, Knitting with Speed and Efficiency

April 15, 16 Shannon Okey

May 11-14 Spring retreat in PA with me and Anne Hanson

May 27-29 Lisa Klakulak of Strong Felt, Felted Clutch

June 24-26 Miriam Felton

August 12-14 Deb Menz, Dyer’s Notebook - 3 full days of hard work.

September 16-18 (tentative) Amy King, Something spinny

October 21-23 Sara Lamb, Weaving Painted Warps for Clothing

That’s all I have at this time but the year is full!

If you want to reserve a spot, email or call the shop.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Just Like a Real Shop

Shelly Lampshire is here all weekend doing Henna and body paint out in front of the shop. Stop by and meet her. She'll be teaching Needle Felt Sculpting on the first Saturday of December and she's fantastic and fun.

And also, We got our new signs today. There are still a couple more to come but these are the focal points:-)

Mmmm Hmmmmm
I love them! Almost like a real grown up I am!

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Washing the Wool

So the spin along/knit along has begun and Chelsea dyed my fiber on Saturday. It is Australian Wool top which is just a mix of domestic Australian wool. It's pretty soft and has a lovely crimp.
Today I did some sample spinning and chain plyed the sample so I could knit a swatch. It is done but it is also too dark to take photos. Tomorrow, I promise.

If you want to join us, we are spinning and knitting for a project. Conversations will happen in the Spinning Loft group on Ravelry and on Facebook if you click the Discussions tab on the Spinning Loft page. Everybody who finishes by December 31 will get a 10% coupon for their next sweater quantity fiber purchase (a pound or more).
This past Monday was my monthly Lace Knitting Group meeting. We meet at Rae's Yarn Boutique in Lansing. The above throw is the latest design by Sharon Winsauer. If you are not familiar with Sharon's Lace designs you will want to check them out. Everything she does is pretty spectacular.
Next thing is....I've been washing some wool and thought maybe somebody might want to see. The fleece above is Wensleydale and the fleece below is Blue Faced Leicester. Both beautiful specimens but neither one is clean.

For fleeces which I am not worried about preserving lock structure I have a very simple washing method. Generally, I wash 8 to 16 ounces at a time in this lovely dish pan.

Fill the dish pan with HOT water. For fleeces that aren't as high in grease as Merino boiling isn't necessary. When the pan is half full I put a squirt of Unicorn Power Scour and then let the pan fill the rest of the way. This just keeps the sudsing down.

When the pan is full of water I add the fleece. You can let it sink down but I am generally impatient and so I push it under the water with the bottom of the wool wash bottle. I don't use my hands cause the water is too hot:-)

I let it soak for at least 15 minutes...up to 30. I don't want the water to cool too much because the grease and dirt starts to migrate back to the fiber as the water cools and the grease starts to solidify again.

I go back and dump the water and fleece into the sink (I have a little strainer over the drain so the fiber doesn't go down). I squeeze the fleece and try to get out as much water as I can with my hands without wringing and agitating. Then fill the dish pan again with a tad less Scour and soak the fiber again.
It is important to remember that there should be no swishing and not fooling around with the fleece too much while it's wet.

After at least 2 washes I generally do 2 rinses which is exactly the same steps but with no scour.
If the water isn't looking somewhat clean after 2 washes I'll do another but remember that 2 rinses will follow so completely clear is not necessary.

Then squeeze as much water out in the sink with my hands and then roll it in a towel and stand on it to remove even more water.

Then all of the fiber gets spread out on a sweater dryer or a screen to dry. Takes at least a full day and sometimes up to a week if it's damp outside.
The above fleece is the washed Wensleydale and Below is the washed BFL. Both of these will be combed in the very near future.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

It's All About Color

The fabulous Amy King came to town. She is Hot and loads of fun. She brought me a present which I love. The lovely Chelsea is modeling it. It is handspun Merino / Tencel that she crocheted into a beautiful scarf.
Beauty shot.
Then we got to work with the dyeing. She didn't make me fall in love with dyeing but she does do some very different things that I haven't seen other dyers do. I was quite impressed.
+There was some shopping during breaks and at other times:-)
At the end of the room there are the tops we dyed. On Friday evening we dyed Organic Merino which was so beautiful. On Saturday we dyed Finn. We also did some spinning which I will talk about in a sec.
Those are the three that I dyed. The top two are the exact same colors. The more purple one was soaked in cold water and then cold dye was poured on and then it was heated. The middle one, same colors, soaked in hot water and hot dye was poured on and then it was put in the steamer for a bit. You can see the dye struck much faster and almost no blending happened.
The bottom one was an experiment I did. I didn't soak the fiber at all. Hot dye was poured on dry fiber and then put in the steamer. I like it a lot.
On Saturday we also did some spinning experiments. All of the above yarns were made with the same dyed top. The top one was stripped into 8 pieces and then spun and plyed to a two ply. The center one was not stripped at all. It was just spun back and forth accross the top of the fiber and the bottom one was just spun thick and thin and left as a single.

There were some other things I was supposed to do i think but I am a pretty bad student.
Chelsea has been over taken with the dyeing. Last year she took a handpaints class with CJKoho who's fibers we also carry. She had a great time. And now that she's had another taste she is off and running. She's is developing repeatable colors.
Keep an eye on the webstore in the next week or so when these fibers will be introduced for sale to the public. I'm very impressed with her color talent and also that so far, no felting at all!

And before I go I just want to mention that there is still room in the upcoming classes with Galina Khmeleva. Friday evening will be spindle spinning and Saturday/Sunday an Orenburg Warm Shawl Construction class I've been wanting to take for years and is rarely offered.
Check out the classes page for all the info.

Oh, and also, we've added a page called Workshops to the website. It lists the classes I am currently teaching and am available to teach to your group. I'm happy to travel or have you come to me.