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.)