Thursday, March 24, 2005

i have no clue

i was recently gifted a big bag of white/creamish FIBER. The previous owner said it was llama clippings. (i still don't know how he ended up with a bag of llama fiber, but oh well!) I have no idea how to clean and prepare this. do they have lanolin? does it felt? should i treat it like wool? i don't know. This fiber didn't feel very oily before i washed it, but now i may have changed my mind.

Inspired by Sheila, of Mutually Reclusive, i decided to give it a whack. last night i took a small handful of it and washed it in the sink with hot water and dish soap. there was a lot of vegetable matter in that was very hard to get out. The fiber has almost no crimp in it, it acts just like human hair in the sink. After washing it a few times, i laid it out on a towel to dry overnight.
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This morning, i attempted to card a little bit of it using my hand carders. I have watched videos online and read about how to use these things, and i just cannot figure them out! i've learned most of my knitting and spinning from books and the internet, but this is just going to be something where i need someone to show me in person. maybe i'm missing a step and need a flicker before going onto the combs? oh well. I did manage to create a few pathetic little rolags of fluff. With those a spun up a very small test skein. It looks harsh, but its actually quite soft, yet oily. I think when i wash the rest of the fiber i'm going to need to use very hot water and some serious detergent.
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Wednesday, March 23, 2005

boring progress shots

I love knitting baby clothes. they scoot along so quickly. i really am an "instant gratification" kinda gal. Here's the back of the pirate sweater:
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(its black and red. bad digital camera!)

which reminds me of a funny story. I met a guy a few years ago, and before any official dates we were having some of those "get to know you" phone calls. His family owns a sod farm. he took pride in being a caretaker of hundreds of acres of perfectly groomed lawn. that was strange, but in a quirky interesting sort of way that i find charming. But then he told me that his favorite hobbies were keeping large aquarium tanks of coral, and growing rare breeds of orchids. (two things that take years to complete, and require the most extreme patience.) He was planning on throwing a sudden party when the orchid that flowers only once a year did its thing. i couldn't dream up a person more opposite of me if i tried! When he cancelled our next date due to a sudden grass blight emergency, i wasn't too upset about it.

I started blocking my Ribby Cardi Pieces. The cats adore my blocking board for some strange reason. shortly after this picture i had to cover the whole thing with a sheet because Griffin as pulling the pins out and playing with them! ack!
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Monday, March 21, 2005

Spring Arts at the Station: a smashing success!!

I had a wonderful time on saturday at the Arts show! here's a picture that was in Sunday's Worcester Telegram & Gazette:

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Thanks SO MUCH to my friend Trista who came to help me woman the table. The event was so high energy and busy that i was brain dead and exhausted halfway through it and Trista came and took over the answering of questions, giving people my email address when i ran out of cards and such. she was awesome.

The funniest thing of the day was the mesmerizing effect of the spinning wheel on young children. Originally didn't think there would be room for the wheel... but when we got set up and saw how much space there was between the tables, i sent Darius home to fetch my wheel. People are amazed at how "low tech" spinning is, which i love. For some reason the movement of the spinning wheel is a siren song for children, i would sometimes have 8 of them standing transfixed. i get in that trance too when i'm spinning, but i had no idea the effect it would have on kids.

I also realized why i get myself into things like this - commiting to being in a craft show and then rushing and working under pressure to make stuff. Because without something huge like that, i am unable to prioritize my other thoughts and projects. When i got home and had to opportunity to work on ANY project i wanted, i couldn't decide. i wandered around the house thinking of all the fun crafts i could be working on but unable to decide which one i wanted. Did i work on Ribby Cardi? no. Blue/Green Aran? Rosedale? instead, I cast on the Pirate Sweater that i've been planning on making for a friend's baby. There are so many thoughts racing around at top speed through my brain that i just can't seem to focus without some sort of external pressure or deadline. argh!

Friday, March 18, 2005

Come to Worcester!

Looking for something interesting to do this weekend? Live nearby?

Browse wonderful arts, music, crafts, and performances from over 70 local and new england area artisans. See gorgeous Union Station. Get a jump on your christmas shopping! Along with handspun yarns and knitting accessories there will be people selling other knitted items, paintings, purses, jewelry, t-shirts, glass work, cartoons, buttons, cards, journals of all types and sizes, you name it!

For those of you (boston!) who think there's nothing going on in the Wootown, you're dead wrong. I could write a treatise on great places to eat in worcester - but i'll spare you. (seriously, if you want something cool to do in worcester... ask me! i'm your gal.)

Please come!

Thursday, March 17, 2005

mmmm, sheeeeep......

i guess acid dyes don't mask the smell of sheep in my fibers!
This morning i was inspecting all the fibers that i dyed last night and rolling them into little balls. I left them on the couch to go get some coffee... and came back to this:
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That's Sabine, carefully grooming each ball of fiber! yum, sheep. She prefers the romney, but when i put that away, she went for the colonial next. not the yarn though, i guess that's too processed to smell like sheep.

This is what my bathroom has turned into. Last night was here at work again, tweaking my dyeing procedures and throubleshooting the mixing and painting process. (the yellow did need to be heated... but it bombs out of solution once it cools down!) And, just for my friend at Crafty Scientist, here's the "Action Shot" of what my bench looked like last night, mid dyeing.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Bovine Fiber Protein Chromatography*

(*lab speak for Yarn Dyeing)

Using Jacquard "Yellow Sun", "Cherry Red", and "Sky Blue" we began by making 2% stock solutions. The dyes weren't going into solution very well, even though we started with a small volume paste and diluted into the total volume (as suggested by The Dyer's Companion). We couldn't figure out if the stock solutions should be clear or cloudy. The Jacquard company website suggests adding a little bit of alcohol. That seemed to help a little bit, but not completely. Since heat is used to set the protein to the fiber, i didn't know how much we could heat it to help it dissolve. we decided to go ahead with it even though it wasn't completely dissolved.

the colors looked pretty washed out when we first saw them, so here are kat and trista testing the color with kimwipes and the microwave. (it really does develop and intensify when it sets!)
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Even though i had set out with every intention of keeping track of dilutions, writing down formulas, doing things "the right way"... i just couldn't wrap my head around the formula's given in the companion. it was getting late, and my usual lack of planning prevailed: we decided to just dilute the concentrated stock solutions and mix colors to what we thought we wanted and see what we got. oh so scientific like. heh. a bit more tweaking and we were off.

Trista started off by testing out a very cool progression from blue to green,
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each color is a 1:10 dilution of our stock solutions. 100% blue, then 25% green/75% blue, 75% green/25% blue, then stock green.

Kat set out ot make some more Faery goodness yarn, in the same vein as her kool-aid dyed skein:
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I tried very hard (and yet failed) at making a good Turquoise.
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We set the colors by steaming for 20 minutes. I took the skeins home and spun them out in the washing machine.
This morning we had these lovelies:
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The colors are all way more vibrant than my sickly morning lit living room can display. they are GORGEOUS!!

The one quirk that want to work out tonight: the dye didn't take evenly throughout the yarn. There are splotches of very deep color randomly mixed in. It may be because the powder wasn't completely dissolved. We did soak the yarn in soapy water before painting it. The book suggests adding Sodium Chloride to spread the dye and help the yarn take it up evenly, so i'll try that next time.

Friday, March 11, 2005

not much crafting accomplished

First off, I nearly missed my plane on friday morning because i was running around my house trying to gather up a knitting project!! yikes. i finally settled on Rosedale. I completed the first few inches of the body on the flights down to texas, which took me quite a while because i have never knit corrugated ribbing before. It did help me figure out how to do two handed, two color knitting though. maybe someday i'll tackle a whole fairisle sweater.

My return from texas was severely delayed due to leftover weather grossness in new england. In classic "me" style, i managed to lose the pattern and couldn't get any knitting done for the entire return trip! i wasn't feeling bold enough to forge ahead and makeup my own shaping, even though i know i could've. so i read magazines and cursed myself for the 'wasted' knitting time. :(

spinning joy

I didn't have time to post these before leaving, but here are some fun pictures of the obsessive amount of spinning that i did the week before going to texas.
That long beautiful roving that i painted? it became these singles:
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and then was navajo plied (to maintain the really great color progression) into this small little skein of yarn:
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(i should've just left it singles, but its so nice and squishy navajo plied... but 1/3rd the yardage. c'est la vie.)

my favorite roving:
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became this awesome skein (single ply):
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(my camera couldn't seem to capture the really great "monet's garden" blues/greens/purples in this one. its so pretty! shows up a little better in the last picture.)

Mia's Easter Egg painted roving became this little cutie:
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and here's the whole group:
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did i mention how obsessed i'm getting with spinning? i love it! i don't even want to knit anything anymore.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

in need of an airplane project

on Friday morning i will be jetting my way to Austin, TX for my last grad school interviews. I need to do laundry, pack, find someone to feed the cats, etc, etc. The most important decision is, of course, what will i knit on the plane? i don't want to bring Ribby Cardi because i've only got one sleeve left and i don't want to be seaming on the plane. here are the choices for things that are already in my stash waiting to be knit:

1) work on my blue/green Beaverslide aran. it needs two sleeves which would certainly take me a good long time

2) Make something with my kureyon taken from the kureyon disaster sweater. I'm thinking of making Rosedale, but i'm open to other suggestions.

3) I've got 8 or 9 skeins of lusciously soft Cashmerino Aran by Debbie Bliss in black. i was originally making a top-down raglan cardigan but i've since lost the pattern. I don't have enough for anything big or fancy, but i was thinking about making Sitcom Chic. That would satisfy the serious deficit of a plain black cardigan in my wardrobe; the original intent with which i bought the yarn.

4) an entire bag of brick red Lana D'oro with no pattern earmarked. It could be almost anything.... well anything that can be make in 1100 yards. The problem with being a big busty gal is that i just cannot find a decent sweater to make for myself with 1,000 yards. i'm thinking of: BPT cardigan. Nope. Rogue? no way. Mariah? nuh-uh. I'm not married to knitty patterns or anything, these are the just first ones that jump to mind. What this really means is that if i want to use this yarn for myself i need to sit down and pore over all my books and find a simple (NO CABLES!) pattern that i like. Maybe something like this. i'm sure i've got the perfect pattern somewhere. i've already got a red poncho...

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

reminder and inspiration.

sometimes i need to remind myself of things that i've made in the past in order to inspire more. I want to make more knitting needle / crochet hook cases sometime soon. So as reminder and inspiration, here is one that i made last year for ANT. I really liked how it came out. It was made from a combination of new and vintage fabrics, and fit large knitting needles. Unfortunately, the event was very poorly attended and noone wanted to buy it, but i did trade it to another artist who liked it a lot. (check out her books! the website doesn't do them justice, they are breathtakingly beautiful).

outside, rolled up:

hopefully this will help to inspire me to bring out my sewing machine and get to work! of course, that would mean cleaning up the bead explosion that currently inhabits my "craft desk" (half of the shared home office).