Friday, July 30, 2010

Enjoying Hand Knits

Here's Baby Cora enjoying her new hat by putting it her mouth. Yummy!
The wine-colored batts are all spun up. This is quite a bit of yarn so I'll be able to make something like a vest or use it as a base color in a sweater. One more week left of vacation...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

what I'm doing on my summer vacation

I'm taking a break from work and enjoying the summer. I took a trip up to Vancouver Island and Vancouver (the city) last week. I figured I'd be blogging more, but I haven't actually sat down to focus on this yet. I've been doing a little bit of everything in regards to crafts. My knitting project is a Danish Shawl. This project seemed like a good one for using up my vast collection of hand spun yarn.
My spinning project is the wine-colored batts that I dyed and carded last summer.
When I went back and looked at my blog to see what the fiber was (I didn't record it), I noticed that it was exactly one year since I made these batts. I started spinning them on July 25th. They are spinning up nicely even though the fiber only had one pass through the drum carder and then it was stored in a plastic bag in the closet for a year.
Of course my weaving class has been keeping me busy. Soon I will have to produce projects for the class and I'm thinking that I'll have to give all my free time to that. For now we are just trying out different patterns for our homework.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Live to Dye

Yesterday was another one of my crazy dyeing days.
I got up bright and early and began with the cool tones first.
The silvery blue roving is a wool-silk blend.
The teal-blue mass is a giant lump of silk scraps apparently left over bits from a mattress factory. Who makes silk mattresses? I'm not so sure about the story, but it's definitely silk and definitely scrappy. It's really soft and I like the colors.
Lastly, I dyed about 2 lbs of BFL top. Sadly some of the teal dye seeped out of the pan in the oven and left big spots on the orange top. I plan to pull out all the teal spots before spinning this.

Dyeing is one of my favorite things to do. It makes me so happy. Seeing this, my husband said that in our next house (we can't live in this rented apartment forever) he'd help me make a dye studio! My husband is really into multiplexes and he had the idea of using one of the apartments in this future house of ours to make more bedrooms for the kids and a kitchen could be easily turned into a dye studio for me! He is brilliant!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

From Raw Fleece to Finished Yarn

I started with 8 oz of raw Romney.
I washed it carefully with Dawn to get the as clean as I could. Then I used my Fricke flick carder to prep the fibers.
Spun some singles...
Plied it onto my big bobbin... Soaked it, dried it, twisted into a skein.
In the end I had a 5 oz skein of yarn. So that's 3 oz of grime and dirt and seconds flicked out during the prep process.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Hey, if you're not going to use that, would you mind...

When I was in my 20's I was given 5 huge boxes of fabric. It was the most thoughtful gift. The person who gave me the fabric spent months going to thrift stores and fabric stores when there were sales and buying chunks of fabric. She kept them until my birthday and gave it all to me at once. Needless to say, that's when I took up quilting.

I didn't have much money then. I had chosen to stay home with my babies and not work. When I sewed baby clothes or made quilts, I pulled from this huge collection of fabric. I combined colors and fabrics from my large, yet limited supply.

My high school art teacher once explained that creativity comes when resources are limited. If you could buy any material/art supplies at any time and had no restrictions on resources, you could of course make beautiful (or "profound", if beauty isn't your thing) art. However, if you are restricted to what you have now you will be challenged creatively in a more complex way--thus creating something more profound. I'm not sure if I believe this because it's true or if I believe this to make my self feel better about my finances.

A few years back I was in a thrift store and saw a big bag of roving for $2. I didn't know it was roving at the time; I thought it was "that stuff people use to spin yarn." Even with my little knowledge of spinning, my thrift store instinct told me $2 was a good deal.

I actually got into spinning to save money! What a joke. Who knew I'd become obsessed and spend so much money on equipment, wool, dyes, etc.? Sometimes I hold up a hank of yarn that I have spun and proclaim to my husband, "This would cost me fifty dollars in a store!" He'll compliment it and humor me by saying nothing about the real cost of making yarn.

After my serious thrift store score (see Just Like Winning the Lottery), I went to a different store to check for yarn. Instead of yarn I found issues of Handwoven Magazine spanning three decades. I bought 24 issues. Spin-off has been one of my best learning tools for spinning, so I figured that Handwoven would be the same for Weaving.

I have wondered if I actually won the lottery, would I be one of those people who still shopped at thrift stores? I'm not sure, and I'll never know because I don't really play the lottery. For now I'm content using other people's unwanted looms and yarns and magazines.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Just like winning the lottery!

My Basic Weaving class started last night and I can tell that I'm really going to love it. The pace is perfect for me and the instructor is excellent. We started to warp our looms with a 3/2 cotton. After my first two homespun wool projects I did at home, the yarn from the class felt so soft and fine. I figured I'd be weaving with all of my thick woolly homespun, and that's okay, but I'd also like to make more delicate weavings.

Today I headed out for a walk in the neighborhood and decided to stop by Value Village on Capitol Hill. After my quick check for looms and spinning wheels (I never see any) I wondered over to the yarn that hangs in plastic bags on the wall. Instead of the usual polyester grandma left-overs I found tons of gorgeous silk, soy silk, and Seacell yarn. Perfect for weaving!
This blue skein was marked $37.50---wow! I got it for a buck. The garnet colored soy silk skeins above were $15. each--I got 7 skeins. I spent a total of $18. The retail price of these skeins is over $800! My son thought I should sell it on Ebay, but no way--this is my chance to work with these new (to me) yarns.
The Thrift Store Gods have Blessed me!