Saturday, February 16, 2013

Madrona! (and blog pimping)

Madrona comes once every year to the Tacoma area, and Mom and I have made a point to go every year. It's only 20 minutes away via bus, so now that we know about it, it would be ridiculous not to go.

We usually just go for the market place, where all kinds of venders offer their yarns and rovings. I love it because most of the time there will be one or two people that own the animals so not only is the fiber less expensive, but you get to talk to interesting people. And if you ever have a question, vendors are always more then happy to chatter your ear off with the answer. We get passionate about our work. =)

My "haul" from this year is in the corner over there. It's not much (surprisingly) but it's all fibers I haven't worked with before. The Romney is one lovely pound of raw fleece, so I'll get to experience the joy of washing it myself. Mostly to get some of the dirt out, and the lanolin. That should be fun.

The other three are 4 oz each. I've never worked with either cotton, Jacob, or Finnish wool. So that will be awesome. With all these new fibers that I'm trying out, I'm thinking that maybe I should start keeping a journal of some sort. Just so I can keep a small sample on hand to remind me of what the fibers felt like; and why I love/hate it.

On different news, the construction directions for my flip-top mittens were used by a very lovely designer in her own mittens. They are Dr. Who inspired Tardis mittens and are just too cute. I'm really tempted to make myself a pair...even though I don't wear mittens. So, you guys should check her out.

Now I think I'm going to go and finish the first sleeve of this darn baby sweater. It's part 2 of the beginning sweater class tomorrow (I'm teaching) so I might want o have something presentable before class begins. sweaters.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Dyeing to spin

Nuked Masham
Nuked Merino
I decided to dye some roving today. So as soon as I got home I pulled my stash bin out from the closet and pulled my Masham and Merino wools out.

Fear of ruined counter tops or floor had banished me to the car port during the summer, but with family members still asleep I crafted myself a little  work station in the laundry room. I put my jersey-rug down on the floor first, followed by a large double layered piece of cardboard, and then the cling-wrap...which clung to itself marvelously.

I let the masham wool soak in a bath of vinegar and water first. The roving had been tied off every few inches because I was hoping it would give it a tiny bit of a tie-dye look. I'm sure I've failed miserably with that. Oh well. I turned the single string of merino roving into a braid and while I dyed the masham I let the merino soak.

Colored Masham
For the masham I dabbed the wine color on with a sponge brush. At first I thought about putting it down in particular spots, but then just dabbed quick lines down the roving. If the color went away I bunked the bush back into the cup, and then continued down the line. Mom still had some purple in the little squeeze bottle she had provided, so I simply added more. The purple I gently sprinkled all over the roving, not caring where it landed.

Double-sided Merino
While the masham was being nuked in the microwave (pot? cooking? PAH!) I worked on the merino. This time I started with purple, and liberally squeezed it all over the braid. The color didn't bleed through to the other side though. So with purple all gone (what was in the bottle at least) I changed to the wine color. I added it into the bottle, turned the half dyed braid over, and squeezed the red onto the still white side. So now there is a purple side of roving, and a red  (well pink is more accurate really) side of roving. I have no idea what the inside of the braid looks like though...

Both rovings are drying right now. And I can't wait to spin them up. I've never used masham wool before, so it should be interesting. And of course, I'm very excited to see what the colors will look.
Merino unraveled

There is still a 4 oz braid of merino sitting in my stash bin. I wonder what wonderful colors it will adopt.

Edit: I unwound the merino braid earlier this morning (02/06/2013) to let the roving dry faster. And I just had to share with you all how amazing the merino turned out; in my opinion at least.The purple and pink are made wonderful little speckles all over the white roving. I can't wait to spin this up and see what happens with it. The Masham is quite lovely too.

Masham and Merino drying

Back to Basics

Drop spindle, white Corriedale
Sometimes, it's nice to get back to the basics.
Even though Buggy has a lovely chocolate brown Corriedale on its bobbin, I decided to work on a drop spindle project for a little bit.

I started this for the Ravelenic Games back in July, thinking I might actually finish it within those 2 weeks...on top of the 5 knitting projects I had picked out. Hahahaha, yeah right.

So it's been sitting in my basked, waiting for me to pick it back up, to finish the second half of the roving, and ply it together with its sister.

There is something even more relaxing and satisfying about spinning on a spindle, I think. Everything is done by hand; supplying the spin, adding the twist, handling the fibers, coaxing the roving into the perfect thickness. Of course you still do the same thing with a wheel. You still have to hold the roving, you still have to draft it out and make sure you're getting the right thickness. But I feel like a spindle is more of an accomplishment. Kind of like hand sewing versus sewing on a machine. You still need to know what you're doing, but the machine makes it easier. For me, a spinning wheel makes spinning easier.

It also gives me a new appreciation of the way things used to be done. Before spinning wheels were invented, and before spinning machines came to be, this is how people made yarn and fabric. Until the mid-1700's rural households still helped make a majority of the textiles. Merchants would give them the raw materials, the families would spin and weave them for a little bit of money, and the merchants would get back usable fabric. All done by hand. How crazy is that? It wasn't uncommon for women to take a spindle with them when they had to trek anywhere so they could work on the go. It makes me feel connected somehow.

While Buggy will probably always be my go-to piece of equipment if I want to make yarn, I'll still use my spindles for sometimes projects. For when I want to get really into my spinning, when I want to handle the fibers as much as possible, or when I want to make something incredibly fine. Floss anyone?

Friday, February 1, 2013


My BIL purchased a game on the xBox 360 called Minecraft. It came out first for the computer, and I watched a few videos about it online. It looked incredibly boring. Your character pops into a world with nothing on him, and you have no tutorial that tells you what to do (a bit like a metaphor for life I suppose).

DH convinced me to play it with him, and after my initial "this is stupid" reaction,  I played by myself. And oh my goodness is it addicting!

I spent the first ten minutes hacking away at dirt and trees, shoving into my (I'm assuming) pants pocket on the way. Then I accidentally pulled open the "crafting" menus and found out that I could turn my blocks of wood into planks, which could become a crafting table. Since I had nothing else planned with the wood, aside from maybe stacking it attractively in a corner,  I figured I might as well.

With a crafting table placed in the middle of the woods, I walked around to explore. I came across a bunch of cows, pigs, and sheep, and hacked away at them with a block of dirt until they died. Hey, I needed to eat! Then it became dark and I came across a funny looking green creature. I thought that maybe it was a strange mythical animal, and approached to whack it with my dirt....and was promptly blown up...and lost all my dirt and wood. =.=

So I started again. And was killed by a zombie.
So I started again. And was killed by a spider.
So I started again. And this time I dug myself a little hole in the ground and sat there as soon as the sun went down. I was not going to die again!

All this happened a week ago.
Since then I have made myself weapons and armor, I have figured out how to mine for iron and diamonds. I have even made myself a cozy little house with a basement right next to my old hidey hole. Which was blown up because I forgot to close the door and a darn green thing followed me down. >.>

Minecraft, I have learned is a lot like Legos. Only it's on the xBox. You're given a world of materials that you can shape into anything you want! But in order to really enjoy the game you need a project. You need to want to make something otherwise you'll get bored after a while. The only thing holding you back is your own imagination....or exploding green things...and zombie...and spiders.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go back to playing. I left cow in charge of the house, and I'm sure that he and sheep are going to tear the place apart...and that desert to the left really needs a gigantic obsidian castle in the middle.

Oh come on!

While I sat in the school library today, arguing with a school laptop, I glanced up and saw a girl sitting across the way, moving her hands in a very familiar rhythm. Even though her backpack was in the way (out of which hung a bright pink strand of yarn), and she was sitting at an angle to me, it was easy to see that she was making a hooking motion with her right hand. In her lap was a mass of pink and I got so excited to see someone else doing something crafty in public that I almost got up to talk to her.

And then she lifted up her left hand, presumably to untangle herself from the pink. And in her left hand she held a loom....


Suffice it to say I hunkered down even more on the couch and didn't move. Instead I argued with the dumb laptop a little more and studiously ignored the loom of lies. By now, you lot probably know my thoughts on looms and the lies it produces. If you don't know, go read this entry. I've ranted about looms before.

*grumbles* Looms....knitting....pah!