Monday, July 14, 2014


I've made some great progress on my lacy 100% alpaca shawl. I think I"m starting to remember the pattern now with a lot less help from my notes. Which is nice. I had to wind the rest of the yarn into a ball as the football shaped skein sort of started falling apart. I think I've knit like a good foot or so. It's so pretty and warm, I know it's going to be lovely once it's done. I've also been working on the counted cross stitch piece Expecting (HAED) and think I might be able to finish the top row of pages soon. Yay! I started a new project, but I'll wait to go into detail later on, other than to say it's one of the two projects I'm making for friends - same pattern, different fabric, this is the one that I dyed. Oh and I got some more lace yarn. I found a lace malabrigo yarn on the Woolery that is tardis colored . . . so I'm thinking perfect for the lace shawl with the tardis-es on it. (Or is that "tardisi"? Oh well don't care.) But unlike the alpaca I'm using, which is 2-ply, this is single ply. So . . . they had some at Mosaic, so I decided to get some to test out. I was thinking "hey, why don't I make another shawl like this . . . but make it wider!" and now I'm not sure if I want to do that or not. I think it might be fun to try another lacy pattern. Heh . . . I do have a lot of the varigated blue color I picked out, called "Oceanos". Each skein is 470 yds. But I've got time. I still want to go by Yarn Explosion before work one day to see what sort of lace (and possibly sock) yarn they have. And I still want to try out a couple of sock-weight patterns I found on Ravelry. One is a cowl they called something like Irish cable and the other is a baby shrug jackety sort of pattern called "vertebrae" which is designed to hug the baby's back snugly. Not that I know of anyone who is having kids ath this moment, I just like the idea of it. Plus, I do have another lace shawl to try out. Tho I'm not sure if I want to try the Oceanos on it or not. Plus . . . I still haven't gotten far on my sister's second sock for Christmas. (Or mine or my mom's.) Should be interesting!

Thursday, July 3, 2014


I was in a cross stitch group on Facebook and one of my little pet peeves happened.

One of the ladies in there said that blackwork is where you fill in a pattern using backstitching.

No. No it is not.

Blackwork is a specific technique. It most definitely is not backstitching. It is a specific technique where the back looks almost exactly like the front. You use a double running stitch. They're two different techniques.

I did a piece years ago (that my dad still has) of an iris done in counted cross stitch in front of a field of various blackwork patterns in geometric areas. Those areas were partitioned off by lines of satin stitch/couching. Each one of the patterns had specific stitch diagrams. They were really fun to stitch. And the way you could easily tell which was the right/front side was to look at the iris. I also added blending filament to the iris - 1 strand each blue and purple for the flower area. And I think I might have used iridescent for the yellow bits. (I thought I used green on the leaves, but I don't see it in the pictures.) I want to stitch it again in the original mushroom lugana/taupe/gold color combination, but also using black/grey/silver. So I'd have a day vs night. (one day . . . )

Here's a bit closer up:

And the other thing that sort of irritated me is the person (same one who answered the question of "what's blackwork" with "designs and fills done in backstitching") was also saying "I have heard alot of people say it is using black floss but I use any color i feel like." Um. Ok. Use whatever color you want, but the term "blackwork" comes from where the only color used was black. Just like "redwork" is the same as blackwork, just with red instead of black.

And is not backstitching.

Lace shawl knitting is badass

No really, it is. And I dare you to do it if you think it isn't.

I think I figured something out about my lace shawl. I feel kind of like a badass, not just because of the teeny tiny yarn and the holes that are supposed to be there and not dropping stitches, but also because it's just harder if you make a mistake.

I was knitting along nicely during last Saturday's game. I decided I'll not work on Melena during Book 2 of our campaign, as I'm playing a different character. I'm playing Sayyadina, who is my aasimar Bard/Cleric of Sheylin. And she's a fiber artist too . . . she spins and knits, both socks for the poor and lace shawls. Since she's a badass. (ok that remains to be seen) But Clerics of Sheylin are expected to create something beautiful every day. Hence, the knitting.

So, what happened?

The lace shawl alternates pattern rows with plain purling on the backside. I was on the wrong side . . . and started knitting the 5th row of the pattern. Crap.

It took me 30 minutes (well from the "I'll fix it" to the actual "I did fix it") a few days later to frog aka un-knit . . . one . . . little stitch . . . at a time that wrong side #5. And then re-knit it. Ok, so I thought. Now I'll do the purling . . . and onto row #5 on the correct right side. We're good, right? Right?

Nope. I'm missing 2 stitches.




So then I have to un-knit the row 5 I just did. And then . . . the hard part.

Time to figure out where is the oops?

Turns out I dropped a stitch near the left side when I frogged. And then didn't actually keep a yarn over, which is basically another dropped stitch. Bother.

So . . . after all that, I finally got to re-knit that and go on with it.

I was actually kind of exhausted after all that. It was rather mentally taxing.

Hence, this is why lace knitting is badass.

And I'm only on the 3rd repeat . . . I think it's like maybe at the most 4" long so far . . . this is gonna take a while.

But I do want to get some more lace yarn . . . I keep going "oh my gosh this is sooooooo pretty!"

I think I figured out a way to avoid the "do I have the correct number of stitches left for my repeat?!" mess . . . my pattern is 17 stitches wide. I could do more repeats than 4 across if I want a wider shawl or even a blanket. There's a garter stitch border on all sides, so if I want a wider one, I do a multiple of 17 (ie 2 repeats or 10 etc) plus the border.

So . . . my solution?

I added stitch markers at the end of my pattern! Woooo!

Ok so they're a bit annoying, but not nearly as annoying as not being sure I have all my stitches. So far, I can deal with the stitch markers and I love not worrying as much about dropping stitches. I like using colorful paperclips as my stitch markers. They're a lot easier to replace in case something happens.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Short update

There was a contest (ending today) where if we post a WIP pic with a sign (name/date) to the official HAED fb group, we'd be eligible to win a free chart off our wishlist. It ends tonight, so I need to scoot over to fb to post my pic. My intention was to work on Daddledore and post a nice WIP pic of that. Evidently, my projects had other ideas. Since My pregnant fairy piece - "Expecting" - decided I would stitch on her a while. I was hoping I'd get all of the top row of pages done . . . um . . . not quite. But I did get another color done and into the next one. There are a total of 10 colors, including the sparkly #4 braid in 032. Few colors, but so effective in where they're placed. But the trade off is confetti. Lots of confetti. But for some reason, and maybe it's because each one is used so much, it doesn't feel like confetti. Yeah, I'm going with that.

So . . . here's my fancy, new, updated pic:

I really like how I can really see her face and all the outlines I'm going to be filling in. I decided with this chart, I would only print off a row at a time (heh I had 3 out of the 5 (I think) pages done on this row without even trying!) . . . so I'm rather looking forward to being able to print off some more of this chart. I think I get to baby next row of pages.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Lace shawl part 1

So I decided to start working on the lace shawl pattern I found to use with the lace weight 100% alpaca I got for myself back for Christmas. They said it was sock/fingering weight, but when I got it . . . nope, definitely NOT sock weight. Definitely lace weight. I was a bit irritated over that, I mean it is beautiful yarn and oh so soft, but I wasn't intending to get lace weight. Which is why I didn't get the garnet colored lace weight 100% alpaca. So I found a pattern on Ravelry and they used that specific yarn in the example (which I mentioned in a previous blog post).

So . . . on Monday, I started winding the yarn from a skein into a ball. Well . . . it's more of a football shape rather than ball. But the main thing is that it pulls nicely from the center, which is the point. Though I did look up ball winder prices. And found one to bid on on eBay (they were much more expensive on either the woolery or paradise fibers). Now I'm just waiting for it to be shipped.

I've not actually ever used lace weight yarn. It's definitely way thinner than I was expecting. And winding it into a ball . . . just seemed to take foreeeever!

So, then I started actually knitting the shawl. There's a 2 inch border on all sides (and I really probably ought to be using a size bigger as I think it's a smidge small, but I'm going with what I have). I was knitting on it at the music show I went to on Tuesday (the Chuck Johnson Experience - lead singer of TK-421 singing/playing some really good songs at Buffalo Wild Wings, he played All Along the Watchtower, like I requested :) ) . . . after doing 3 repeats and counting only 12 stitches left instead of 17. Hmmm maybe stitching a lace shawl isn't the best idea while attending a music show at Buffalo Wild Wings. So I switched over to the rest of the sock I had started.

So yesterday, I wrote out the pattern rows so I could check them off methodically. And this time, I had 17 stitches left when I was supposed to have 17 stitches left yay!

So far, I've done 2 repeats of the pattern . . . so far so good. It doesn't look like much, but that's because lace shawls need to be pinned and blocked and such. I'm not entirely sure how I'm going to do that . . . but cross that bridge when I get to it.

So here's the pic I took! It's kind of hard taking a pic of a lace shawl on knitting needles . . . you hafta stretch it out and still need to take the pic.

When I was working on it tonight, I thought, oh gosh, I can't wait to go home and knit some more on this! And I gotta say, in the words of my friend Gilee, lace weight shawl knitting is hardcore. I kind of felt a bit badass knitting on this shawl.

Monday, June 23, 2014

April, May, and some of June

Ok . . . so this is the post where I catch up with the counted cross stitch stuff. And then I'll be better about updating stuff, I swear this time!

So I decided tonight to take a pic of Melena. I really ought to work on her more. (I'm putting her first as I mentioned her in the previous cross stitch post):

That peachy bit is part of her cheeks.

Ok . . . so most of the time, I was working on the secret-can't-talk-about-it-until-July-or-so-project (so looking forward to being able to post that pic). But I did bounce back and forth between that and other cross stitch projects as well as spinning.

One of the ones I worked on a little bit (like a day or two) was the Shinysun's Cross Stitch Single Flower Iris (Lachri). I think I basically have like a page or a page and a half left to that. I did a lot of filling in of confetti. Yet another thing I want to attempt to do/get done by the end of the year, if possible. Here's the loveliness:

I know somewhere in there, I did work for a day or two on Rendezvous, but I forgot to take an update pic before this post. Ooops. Next time.

And I was supposed to start Daddledore on May 30th. Unfortunately, that didn't quite happen. Partly because I hadn't actually unearthed the fabric and had yet to start the gridding. Plus, after the "secret project", I just needed a break. So . . . I decided to pick up a project I had put down the year before. The pot-bellied Dragon!

White Willow Stitching

Pot-Bellied Dragon

Dee Dreslough

Full crosses 3 strands over 2 on 28 ct hand dyed fabric (I dyed it)

Started December 6, 2012

Finished June 15, 2014

I also started the second part of a four-part project. I had gotten Joan Elliott's Bewitching Cross Stitch book years ago. There is a pattern in there of a wizard looking into a crystal ball. And there are 4 possible patterns to put in the ball for him to look at. The one that was stitched in the model was the castle. The choices were an unicorn, a castle, a dragon, and an owl. I, of course, started with the dragon one. I did finish that one and put the other 3 aside for a while. Well I decided to start on the owl. Too bad I misread the symbol for 762 as 341. I frogged that and did restitch that. I don't have a pic yet, but that's because there's not much to see. However, here's the dragon:

And last night, while watching Camelot and Salem (so I say that's why I didn't get further along lol), I started Daddledore finally!

Here's the gridded fabric:

And here's after about 2 hours:

And as a bonus, I finally picked a shawl pattern to use the lace weight alpaca. I didn't feel like I could use it for socks as it is lace weight instead of sock/fingering weight. So I picked up a size 5 circular needle on my way home at Michael's. Hopefully, I'll be able to use it, even if it is 16" instead of 19". And I found a new sock weight yarn I want to try out. I bet I can get two whole pairs of socks out of it! So I picked the silvery grey one called "cool grey" to test it out. I'll start with a pair for my sister. She usually gets the test stuff. lol But it's nice and soft, so I can't be too unhappy that Michael's did away with the super nice yarn that had cashmere in it. Plus this stuff (ok it's mostly acrylic, but also has nylon) is only 2.99 so even better. But here's the alpaca lace weight yarn I had gotten, thinking that it was size 1/sock weight. Well, that's what the description said, at any rate. It is so pretty, it's got a subtle shading between pink and slate pink and a lavenderish and is super soft.

Ok so it's hard to see the lovely change in color. But the color name of "mother of pearl" is perfect for this. Hopefully, this will knit up nicely. I found a free pattern on Ravelry, called, "Tuscarora Beach Shawl" by Rachel Howard. The description says it features the "passionflower" motif. (The Big Book of Knitting Stitch Patterns) And I liked this one best for this yarn due to the fact that the material used for the the sample was 1 skein of Cascade Alpaca Lace in the color Amethyst Lace. And I like that is the same as my not-sock-weight yarn. So . . . now to wind it into a ball (I think I need a ball winder, btw) and then start knitting. I'm also going to need to figure out how to block this . . .

Tatting isn't dead! (and Yarn part 2)

What? I hear you say. Tatting, like doing tattoos? Nope. I mean tatting, like the old-fashioned making of lace using itty bitty threads and a funny looking shuttle.

I learned lots of crafts from my granny, who passed away back in 2011. Unfortunately, tatting was not one of them. So I missed out on her teaching me how to tat. :(

But . . . thanks to the Tubes of You, all is not lost. The Tubes of You has this one lady who has some really easy to understand how-to-videos. I've watched them but I've yet to actually attempt this. I was able to find not only the tatting thread, but also the little packets of shuttles! Not just one but several. I picked the pink/blue one instead of the more readily available yellow/green ones. Yay, thanks AC Moore.

So . . . wanna see my pretties? Well . . . they're right here:

And no, I haven't yet attempted to try this yet, but I'm going to try to get this accomplished by the end of the year, possibly.

And now for Yarn part 2:

I took a pic of the first yarn (the multi-colored), the tardis yarn (the blue), and the tweedy stuff (the grey and white Norweigan).

And this little gem is my yarn keeper that my dad made me - yes, he used bamboo for the uprights. And I've got, in order from the bottom, the rainbowy one (candy shop plied with white polwarth and also the little bit of n-plied candy shop), the Blueberry bash I n-plied, the alpaca (2 oz each of fawn and brown and plied together), the Firefly (the Serenity merino plied with grey/brown Romney), and the Serenity (the Serenity n-plied on itself).

And a closer look for a better view of the colors:

I'm slowly spinning up the Igloo polwarth, which is soooo pretty, it has purple and grey/white, and turquoise. So I'm looking forward to finish spinning this up. I've still got 4 oz of white Polwarth to be plied with this.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Yarns Spun part 1

Ok I'm not sure I've gotten pics of all the lovely yarn I've spun up, so I decided to title this as part 1 of Yarns Spun. In fact, I know I haven't as there are 4 on my yarn holder waiting for their dunking to set the twist.

That being said, here are the ones I have got pics of. Now the pics may not be the greatest, but that is because my phone's camera suuuuucks. Because it has big cracks in the little plastic thing that covers the lens. And yes, I am too cheap to buy a new phone - I've had it since the end of 2009 I think. I want the phone I had back before that - it was a silver flip phone that reminded me of the original Star Trek communicators, I could just flip it open.

This is the first bobbin of yarn I ever spun. The lady who runs Yack & Yarn showed me how to start it, but the rest is all me. And yes, I have definitely improved since this. All beginner yarn is "thick & thin" and people actually try to make it later and call it art yarn. I think I got like 135 yards . . . ok I totally don't remember now.

This is actually the first yarn I spun. Mostly about 20 years ago on the drop spindle. It's a rather harsh yarn so I'm not fond of how it feels. But I loooove the changeover in colors. How say I put yellow next to turquoise and you can see it spiral up and switch places. So pretty. Now I can't remember how long it was, I want to say 75 yards.

And the "sweet tarts" yarn - Malabrigo Nube (which means "cloud") in the color Baya Electrica. A 4 oz braid of Merino wool, all dyed up in pretty raspberry and purple. I spun this all on my original drop spindle and got like 167ish yards. It's so soft and I liked it so much I got another braid of it at Mosaic and am (very slowly) in the process of spinning that up. This first one took me a week and was a bit felted. That can be a problem with fiber. You just kind of have to pull it apart and then draft it. I wonder if it would help if I had a comb or something. (Hmmm slicker dog brushes are pretty cheap, might look into that) I watched Forever Knight while spinning most of this yarn. I had a great time with it.

Not a great picture, but this is when it was hanging up in my bathroom, drying over the tub. This shows the nice twist I have in it.

And here's a better pic:

I had gotten some fiber from Paradise Fibers to practice on. I found some Norwiegan wool in both grey and white - 4 ounces of each - that I decided would be a great tweeded effect. I got 225 yards out of that. (No pic tho) It spun up nicer than I thought but definitely good for outerwear.

I also found a bright blue Corridale that looks like it's the color of the tardis, so I got 8 ounces. I split it in half and spun them up. I got like 250 yards. No idea what I will do with it.

And then I got some alpaca/wool blend that I had wanted. I kept drooling over the lime sherbet that the seller had and also liked the 5 colored one called "froggy". So, I bought a total of 16 oz of it from them (3 lots of 4 oz each of the lime sherbet they had left and 1 4-oz lot of the froggy). I had good March productivity, so I felt I deserved it. I got it and decided to spin up the froggy stuff and Navajo ply, aka n-ply, it. That means it has 3 strands instead of 2, it's like making a really big crochet chain and twisting it up. It's good for when you want to keep the colors together or have 1 strand or things like that. I was a bit disappointed in this as it was rather greasier than I was used to. I couldn't seem to get the greasy/waxy feeling off of my fingers after I spun, so I couldn't spin a bit and then cross stitch, like I could with the previous ones. Also, there was a lot of "vm" in there. VM = vegetative matter = little pieces of grass and sticks and things like that. Buffy & Molly bring vm in on their fur all the time, silly goggies. So . . . I'm thinking I will wait and see how the lime sherbet (which I still have yet to spin up) behaves. Maybe it was just the froggy stuff.

I don't remember how much I spun . . . . I really ought to label stuff . . .

I went to Mosaic and got 2 4-oz braids dyed by Spun Right Round Fibers. One is a rainbow colored one in very bright colors called Candy Shop. It's a Polwarth. I love bright, rainbow colors, so I decided yes, please. I found some white Polwarth at the Olde Liberty Fibre Faire I went to in March and decided to ply it with that.

I got 363 yards when the two were plied up and I even had some of the candy shop left over, so I n-plied that.

The other 4-oz braid I got there was a Merino called Serenity. And yes, it is indeed named after the ship in the show Firefly. It has brown for the brownshirts and blue for the "hands of blue" as well as some white, black (I guess for space), and purple. I decided to ply it with a lovely brownish-grey Romney I found at the same fiber fair. I'll take a pic of it (I've finished spinning/plying it) - I got 417.5 yds of the Firefly and not quite 128 of the Serenity (n-plied). I found that the Serenity only is really pretty - I want to go back and get the other braid! And the Firefly is a lovely, subtle color. I think it'd be a great yarn for something for a guy, it's actually rather neutral, but has sort of a masculine feel to me.

And I also got a braid my Y&Y lady dyed. I probably could have happily bought all her yarn, but restrained myself to just the one 4-oz braid. It's Falkland wool dyed in blues/purples, named Blueberry Bash and is rather smashing. I was able to get 160 yds n-plied of this:

And a bit brighter with the flash on:

I also spun up 2 ounces each of a brown and a fawn colored alpaca that my dad got me - 245 yards, whew!

Pics to come of the actual spun up yarns! And my Yarn Keeper my dad made me.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

2014: off to a good start

Ok so I decided I will do the update blog of 2014 in several pieces. And I know they'll be more overview, but still, at least I'll make the effort.

Ok . . . so 2014 started off rather wintery and with an imminent finish, that being QS Salvatore. And oh my goodness, I got sooooo sick of pink! And on January 7, 2014, I finally finished the shoe. Yay!

QS Salvatore Tcherekov HAED 20 ct lugana I hand dyed myself 2 strands stitched over 1 for full crosses Started: 7/7/13 Finished: 1/7/14

And then I got it all framed:

My sister adores it. She picked it up in March (I think) and took it back to her home and it's in a place where she sees it every day. She loves the pieces I pick to make her.

In February, we had the 2014 Winter Olympics, which marked the 22nd anniversary of when I learned (ok taught myself) how to cross stitch. And that reminded me, I hadn't done much on my Olympic piece. Which, if you don't remember, was my HAED Rendezvous, which is basically Tannith & Corsaire.

And in case you don't remember:

Now if you don't remember (and I cannot remember now if I actually blogged about it or not), the Olympic Project doesn't have anything to do with the Olympics. Rather, it has to do with someone's post on the bulletin board where she stated she starts a big project during the Olympics and then the idea is to get it done by the following Olympics. So I picked Rendezvous for the 2012 Summer Olympics. Now, I silly thing that I am, thought "I could get that done by the 2014 Winter Olympics" hahahaha that only works if you actually work on the thing! I will blame the 2012 and 2013 HAED BB SAL pieces . . . yeah I'll go with that . . . So . . . that means I've got until Rio to get this piece done. There are 4 rows of pages, so I figured, if I get the bottom row done this year, the next 2 in 2015, and the last/top row in 2016, that'll work, right? I mean I really do want to be able to start the piece I'm planning on for Rio for 2016. I'm stitching Rendezvous on 18 ct with full crosses - 3 strands for 310 and 2 for everything else.

So . . . here's the starting point, well what little I got done in 2012:

Not nearly as much as I hoped for. I decided to attempt to work on it each day during the Olympics (ok didn't stitch each day, but a majority of the days). I even took it with me when we got snowed in at work and I and a couple of co-workers were put up at the hotel across the room. I had my own room, which was nice, I got to spread out on the big bed. So . . . here's what it looked like at the end of the Olympics:

I have gotten further along than this, but I don't have a pic of it yet. I do intend to work on it more this year.

And here is the one I am planning on doing for Rio in 2016:

It is called Mayan Aztec Montage and is decidedly a MCBAP ("massively complicated big-ass piece") - lol I am so not thinking I'll get it done by the 2020 games, I just really liked the idea of starting it for Rio.

Speaking of things I want to start, I saw one of the new releases, Make Merry, and went "omg!" He looks like my dad, there's something about the mouth/beard that looks very much like him. And the glasses he wears are half-moon shaped. Not half-circle glasses, half-moon. Like Dumbledore. So . . . I shall call him Daddledore. (Dad likes this.) My original intent was to start him on May 30th, as it was not only a 5th weekend, it was also his birthday. Unfortunately, I've yet to start him - I have all the materials tho. I blame it on the "secret stitch" project I'm not allowed to post the name or pics of yet (tho that will be coming soon to a blog near you in the not toooo distant future). It was kind of complicated and confettilicious, so the idea of starting another BAP, kind of intimidating. But here's Daddledore:

See how awesome he is? He'll be epic.

Let's see . . . what else in the first quarter of the year? Um . . . oh St, Distaff's Day. There's an event at our local library, run by the lady who runs Yack & Yarn, who taught me to spin, which is basically a yarn swap and crafty time. It was a lot of fun, even if I didn't bring anything to swap. I think next year, I'll probably help her run it as there were a lot of people there.

I also started stitching another character picture. I play Pathfinder (like Dungeons & Dragons, but better). And I started playing a character I've tried playing twice before. Melena Belden, my half-orc-who-doesn't-look-like-a-half-orc ranger who eventually gets magic. We get to dual level/gestalt, so I get to do both ranger and sorceress stuff at the same time, plus fighter. (Actually I'm not sure if she kept her maiden name or changed to Cartwright.) She loves her great axe and is very good at using it. And like Tannith, I picked a HAED as what she looks like. I decided I will only work on her during games (or a little bit for the weeks we don't game).

So . . . I started her on January 11, 2014, on 22 ct Hardanger with 2 strands for full crosses:

What Melena looks like:

I don't have an updated pic and I'm not going to post the last one I took as it doesn't look like anything.

Dad got me some alpaca yarn and I made a scoodie for myself. It's very warm.

I also decided to start the outline only of QS Tagalong aka QS Penguin Lady. I think I'll wait to post a pic until I have finished her.

I started and finished this little treasure for my sister - perfect for her bathroom:

Both Tannith and Legend got a bit of love, as did Expecting:

And I did a little desert scene:

And a baby rattle to welcome my friend's friend's baby boy - I realized afterwards the colors are the colors of Mardi Gras, which is appropriate, as they live in Louisiana:

And in March, my friend Stefy came to visit me! Woooo! And left with a pair of crystal pink socks. :)

Ok I think that's everything I can remember for January - March 2014 . . . not including the spinny stuff. Stay tuned, more blogs to come.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Something new!

Or maybe something old. Well it's not a new craft, nor is it exactly new to me . . . but it is something new to my blog.

What is it?

Spinning yarn.

No really. Spinning yarn, like from wool that I can use to make stuff with. For reals.

So how did this happen? I got the idea of seeing if dog fur could be spun (yes it can if it is long enough). I had originally wanted to have a lady I know from our Yack & Yarn group spin it up. Then I realized, hey I could do that myself. So I looked into the various models of spinning wheel. I had a drop spindle from a kit my mom got me like 20 years ago. Ok I might exaggerate, but I don't remember when I got it. I spun up almost all of the roving that came with the spindle and then rolled it into a ball and tossed it in the closet. I wasn't happy with the thin/thick of the yarn and it was a lot harsher than the nice, even commercially available yarns I was used to. I still don't like the texture of it, but I can appreciate the "art yarn" look now. I probably will never use said yarn, but I'll keep it So . . . which one to get? There are lots of different models and options out there. Wood, pvc pipe, probably even metal. Double treadle? Single treadle? What kind of tension? Scotch? Irish? Double drive? Saxony wheel? Castle wheel? Travel wheel? It can get overwhelming when you are learning this stuff. I did like some of the ones I saw, look-wise at least. There was one with cheerful/busy bumblebees and bee hives on them, I do sort of like that since it is a motif found lots of places in Utah (due to the Mormons, of course) and that's where I was born. And there was one that had lovely carved roses on the upright that was really pretty. Not that I particularly wanted to spend lots of money. I can always save up for something later if I need to.

So . . . my main ideas were that I wanted something portable, like so I take it to Yack & Yarn with me. Ok yes, a drop spindle is the most portable . . . but it takes so long to make anything with it . . . so a portable wheel. Though the Saxony wheels are cool looking, I'd probably want to get one if I had a house of my own.

Next thing, double vs single treadle. Each configuration has its proponents and detractors. The research I did suggests the more efficient treadling would be the double treadle. Since one foot pushes down while the other foot comes up, so with the exceptions of the most extreme up/down, the energy being put into the yarn is more continual. Though my dad did have a good suggestion if he were going to do a wheel - put a toe clip or a strap on the end of the pedal like they have on a bicycle. That way, your foot can push down and pull up, doubling the energy used. My dad is rather smart like that. So I went with the double treadle, if you hadn't figured that out.

Next, and really most important, cost.

I am kind of cheap. Not build my own cheap because my level of skill with woodworking tools is not up to par, but cheap enough to research a lot into cost/durability/etc. And one of the sites I looked at was the Babe's Fiber Garden. They have wheels made of pvc pipe and wheelchair wheels. Would it be nice to have a wooden wheel. Of course. But those run about $350 - 2000 or more. (Like the Golding wheels - it'd be afraid to spin on one of those as they're so expensive! But so pretty.)

So what did I go with? Factoring all the bits in, I went with a Babe's production double treadle in white. It has the double treadle and, while a bit bulkier than I originally thought, is relatively portable being 8.2 pounds. And the cost was in my price range - $325 including s/h. So I ordered it and waited for her to get here like an expectant mother. And put her together and named her "Matilda". I had to go to Yack & Yarn to see how to start my fiber in person, but once I did, no power in the verse could stop me from learning more spincraft. Evidently I am a natural . . . the lady who showed me how had been spinning for like 26 years and mine looked pretty much like hers when she put her bobbin next to mine. How cool is that?

Here's the stock photo, but Matilda looks like this:

I had originally wanted to get their Charhka (like the little spinning wheels Ghandi invented) but it has a spindle instead of a bobbin. And I'm not sure I'm yet ready to start learning that. Though I do know, when I do, I'll get the Babe's one, so it'll match Matilda. Evidently, they're supposedly good for spinning cotton and spinning it really thin. And that's something I'm really rather interested in.

I still have - and use - my original drop spindle from the kit. It is a bottom whorl drop spindle. And yes, if you draft your fiber too thin, it can pull apart and drop . . . hence the name. The shaft on my original spindle is a slight bit oblong. I can still use it just fine, but I have a feeling that's got more to do with that I think I have the ability to spin on anything. Is that my mutant power? The power of spinning yarn? I could live with that.

So . . . here's my original drop spindle with some of the first yarn I spun after I learned how to spin on my wheel. I wasn't going to post fibery pics yet, but I don't have one without fiber on it. This is the first "sweet tarts" yarn I made on this spindle. I went back to the store and found more and am in the process of spinning more. Malabrigo Nube in the color Baya Electrica.

And then I decided I ought to see how a top whorl drop spindle suits me. I found one - really much nicer than the price suggests, they were right about that in the ad - on eBay. I really, really like it. Actually, I like it enough to go back and get a bottom one to match this one:

You can see that the hook on the top whorl one is near the whorl while the bottom one (with the yarn) is far away. It's just a slight difference in how I pop my wrist/where I hold it between them to make sure they don't wobble.

I've learned how to better ply my yarn. I've learned how to Navajo ply it. I'm getting better and better at spinning. Soon I'll get cards or combs or something and learn how to blend fibers. I need to blend the pommy fur with wool, as their fur is really hair and doesn't retain the memory like wool. I also want to combine fibers in different ways. And to use different fibers. Not just wool or alpaca (tho that's lovely to use), but camel, yak, dog, mohair, angora and just about anything that has long enough fiber. And what about milk protein? Yes, they make fiber out of that! But not just animal fiber. I want to branch out into plant-based fibers as well. Like cotton or bamboo (which people know about) . . . but also rose, corn, and banana. I want to combine milk protein with corn and maybe even banana and call it my "breakfast cereal" yarn. So many things I want to do and try!

And I'm looking forward to Spinzilla. This is a week long "spin as much as you can" event. If there weren't already 2 people off that week, I'd have asked for it at work. It starts at 12:01 am on Oct 6th and goes to 12:00 Oct 12th. This is the 2nd time and the first year, there were like 600 people in both teams and rogue spinners and they did like 1.4 million or so yards of yarn. I don't remember, but it was something like that. I think I might do a rogue spinner this year.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The rest of 2013

Ok, so I caught up on the pics from several posts before the last one. So that's catch up to bring it current with 2 posts ago. Sort of. Either way . . . time to catch up with the rest of 2013.

So I added knitting socks to my herd of projects. And ok, I admit, I kinda went a little sock crazy. I decided to start a new Christmas tradition of having new socks to wear on Christmas morning and hey, I could make them. That's what started it. Well after my sister, mom, and I each had a pair to wear on Christmas morning, I found a lovely ball of pink yarn . . . perfect for my sister. And oh here's an obnoxious ball of yellow yarn . . . hey this will work for mom . . . so I ended up making a second pair for each of us. And then . . . I decided my friends ought to have socks too. (ok this is getting into 2014, but the sock craze has tapered off so I'll go ahead and finish my story lol) I even made socks for friends who live elsewhere. One pair went to Louisiana and two pair all the way out to California. One of those was my experiment in both using cotton and knitting a pair of men's socks. I'd only ever used acrylic and/or wool, so bakers cotton was different. I've got enough to make a pair for myself, they're a bright turquoise plied with white. And the socks I'd done previously had all been for ladies, so it was a way to see how the pattern works up for gents. Another pair (for my sister) had me trying to make pedicure socks - out of sparkly black yarn. It'll be a while before she can test them out with actual pedicures, but still, she loved them. I was inspired to make "Hobbit" socks, I think they're called yoga socks for myself. Not that I do yoga, but it sort of reminds me of the Gelflings in The Dark Crystal. But my first foray into this was not so well done . . . I'll try again later.

So what is with the knitting? I did some more back in 2013.

I found this neat yarn with loads of twisties in it. It reminds me of when my sister used to do that with her hair and call it "fiddledoodles". I wanted to see how it worked, so I found a free vest pattern with the yarn and made a test piece. I gave it to my co-worker, as her little girl was still small enough to wear it. I did one in blue for my cousin's baby boy.

The other piece I did was called a huggy bear cape. It uses a reaaaaaally soft yarn (I'm pretty sure all acrylic) that I would be happy to pet just about all day.

And of course, I did a lot of counted cross stitch. I had the 2013 HAED BB SAL piece I signed up for to work on and get turned in by a deadline (which I met yay me!) and I had the shoe picture to do for my sister.

This is the one I picked for the 2013 BB SAL: QS Literate Dragon - stitched on 22 ct Hardanger with 2 strands for full crosses. Started 1/7/13, finished 12/2/13. I called him "Colonel Fubster" (yes as in a named character in Harry Potter) and the cat was known as "Besty-the-cat". In retrospect, I might have called him Admiral Fubster, or even Admiral Adama as the glasses are exactly like the ones that character wore in Battlestar Galactica. Oh well . . .

And I started "the shoe" as my sister and I were apt to call it. We spent foreeever deciding what color/count/etc the fabric ought to be. I dyed a piece and we decided that 20 ct would be the way to go. We also had to decide black or hand dyed. I had seen this pattern when it was introduced on the HAED site and thought "I want to stitch that but I don't know for!" and then remembered my sister loves shoes and I've done her several pieces with the pink/green colors.

So . . . HAED's QS Salvatore aka "the shoe":

And to test out the black vs hand dyed, I did a sample part and framed it. I was rather pleased with the little frame. We still have it at home since my sister left it here.

And a WIP pic . . . taken 12/11/13. I started this pattern on 7/7/13.

I have been so very bad at keeping up with this blog.

Well my first thought was to look at the last blog entry (Aug 27th) and then just figure out what I've done since then. And I realized, I didn't actually update stuff before then as well. Like back in the "Wow" post, I realized I had posted some items I had finished but did not actually post said pics. Ooops . . . guess I'll fix that now . . . since I want to update this with the other lovelies and nifty new things I've been learning/doing and gotta get this out first.

Ok this is the "magic mouse" as I like to call it. It's White Willow Stitching's Tribal Mouse. Stitched on 14 ct purple potter aida with 1 strand #8 braid or 2 #4 in silver for full crosses. Started 4/14/13, finished 6/17/13.

SK Logan (HAED) - I stitched this for my mom since she loves lady bugs. 18 ct aida with 3 str for 310, 2 for the other colors for full crosses. Started 5/12/12, finished2/27/13.

I stitched this for my cousin, I still need to finish the one for my other cousin. (I never could get it exactly straight up and down. oops)

QS Snowflake (HAED) Stitched on 18 ct oatmeal aida with 2 strands for full crosses. Started Started May 2, 2012, finished January 1, 2013. I'll stitch QS Bubbles to go with her.

The 2012 HAED BB SAL piece: SK Forbidden Doorway. 22 ct Hardanger with 2 strands for full crosses. Re-started January 30, 2012, finished December 28, 2012. My first BB SAL piece.

I can't seem to find the other ones, but I'll be updating this blog again to show the rest of 2013. Soon, no really I swear this time. I've got 2013 part 2 in cross stitch, 2014 so far in cross stitch, and 2 new things I learned. (Which means like at least 2 more posts, maybe 2 for one of them and one for the other.)