Monday, 20 October 2014

Fleecy Colours in my studio-

Or Stash aquisition beyond reasonable proportions - (all 10 lbs of it!)

The Woodstock Fleece Festival was Saturday.  Normally I'm found demonstrating spinning at the guild booth, but this year I was helping the guild with a class in the afternoon, so the morning was spent shopping.  I neglected to bring my list of things I'd forgotten to add to suppliers orders.  Places like Gemini Fibres will order and bring equipment to the Fleece Festival for pick up, which saves me either shipping or a rather long drive.   The Fibre Garden is my absolute favourite place to shop for spinning fibres.   They have  a fantastic selection of different fibres, reasonable prices, fabulous sales almost every month, and at least pretend that they don't mind adding to my order when I email them with an order addition two days before the Fleece Festival, when I know they are packing.

After picking up the items I'd ordered, I totally forgot about the dyed silk tussah and fine hemp roving that I wanted, and possibly some more coloured cotton sliver.  I was tempted by spectacular Icelandic fleeces, lots of Alpaca but resisted.   Instead, I was lured by pretty colours of superwash Merino mill ends which were inexpensive and so pretty.  Mixed with some nylon, these will make gorgeous sock yarns.  I can't believe that I didn't get the day glow yellow/green and some black.  It would have made perfect socks for Halloween!  (I keep wanting to put the apostrophe in Hallowe'en, but it seems to be constantly rejected by the all knowing spell checks)   I also found lots of white in sock yarn blends, and exotic Merino, Cashmere, Silk blends - also mill ends, but they card up so easily and spin nicely.  

I was playing with acid dyes a few days before when the skies were, once again, grey and dismal.   This is all Blue Faced Leicester.  I was trying new techniques, hence the odd interesting colour blends.  It's amazing that a length of fibre which makes one wonder why you did it in the first place, looks great when braided up.  The top right braid in the pinky red and light blues, looks awesome braided, but a little too much like cotton candy when unbraided. 

Playing around with little purple rolag/puni.  It's some purple Merino, tussah silk, sparkle on (nylon) and some bits of dark purple which I cannot remember even adding to this blend.  The dark purple is really short fibre, obviously wool and very tufty.  It makes interesting little nubs in the yarn, which I'll admit to pulling a lot of the larger,  globs out of the fibre as I get to them, if they don't seem to want to draft out nicely. 

The finished yarn is rather nice, considering I really hadn't put any thought into the yarn.  I was simply testing out a wheel and just wanted to see how it spun.    It spins like a dream.  The treadling action is very easy and incredibly smooth.   The flyer barely whispers as it spins around,  sweet murmurs, declarations of love with each stroke of the treadle.   It's a modern wheel though; very modern.  It folds into a backpack for travel and did I mention, it looks rather like a modern wheel?  But wow, it spins so sweetly.   The Kromski Sonata would make a lovely addition to any spinning wheel stable.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Spinning for fun

I recently participated in a spinners swap.  I sent off a packet of goodies and in return, I received all this bounty.  The pink and black project bag is a perfect pink and big enough to hold a sweater or everything I'll need to take my wheel out to a guild spin in.     The braid of fibre is pretty wonderful.  I'm not sure exactly what fibre it is, but probably Merino, Rambouillet or something similar since it's a soft, shorter/medium staple with a very fine, high crimp.

I've been feeling a little hung up on my homework.  The rattling off of small sample skein after small sample skein of yarn was getting to me.  I mean, this is year 5 and I've not done a huge amount of just fun spinning in there.  So.... I took a break.  Yesterday afternoon I undid the braid.  It was a crochet type chain, so just unraveled nicely.   I pulled a piece off, about 1 m long.  I divided the strip of roving into two.    I cleared off the bobbin that was on the wheel and tossed the bit of hemp singles that I was spinning by accident - stupid story there.  

This is three lengths of roving stripped in halves.   I made sure to keep the beginning and ends the same.  I labeled the beginning bit, with a numbered post-it note, so I could keep the lengths in order.  Hopefully I'll be able to match the colour changes when I ply the singles.

The post it note labels are just ripped part way down, folded over the end and then secured with the sticky bits together.   It would have looked much neater if I'd bothered to cut little squares and punch a hole in the middle, to thread the roving end through.  However, this is fast and will last as long as I need it too.  The other way would be more secure and long lasting if I needed to store the project for a while, but I don't anticipate having to store this for long.  If I do, I'll cut the little squares of card stock, punch the hole in the middle, label them properly and thread the end of the roving through the hole.

This is what I've spun since yesterday afternoon.  The subtle changes of the green are lovely.  It started with a pale yellowy green which reminded me of a spring green and then shifted to a greeny/brown.  Now the green has a little more blue in it and is brighter once again.  It's going to be so pretty when plied up.

Better yet, I'm having a lot of fun with this.  It's very refreshing to just play without having to worry about counting treadles and all the other stuff that goes into homework skeins.   On the other hand, I realize that I tend to sort of count anyway and get into a rhythm, but it's automatic, not something I'm obsessing over.  

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Geranium slips and socks

Every spring I plant a couple of Geraniums.  They come a variety of shades, especially shades of pink and they are readily available.  I found that for years, I would miss the sale where the potting Geraniums are on sale for .58 cents.   I decided one fall, that I was tired of that and took cuttings of the plants which were colours that I liked.  There are always pink Geraniums available, but some years they aren't actually pink!   They can be peachy pink, or pale pink, or stripey pink.  I had the perfect pink Geranium that year.  I loped off a bunch of stem pieces into 3-5 inch lengths.  I snipped off the flowering bit, trimmed off any leaves from the lower half of the stem and stuck them into a little jar of water.   I stuck the jar in a sunny window and about half of them rooted.  I usually put them into the front bathroom window, where it is very sunny but quite cool.  I've found however that I tend to forget to water them, which adversely affects the rooting rate for some reason.

Bright Pink Geraniums
I've found out since then that I get better rooting rates if I just stick the cuttings directly into fresh potting soil.  It's fast and easy.  I don't use rooting compound because I've read that Geraniums don't need it.  The fact that it's not actually easy to find, helps with the not using it either.

Dark Pink/Burgundy Trailing Geraniums
With the temperatures dropping and getting close to first frost, I figured it was time to snip my summer's plants and re-root them.   I got out my secateurs (don't you just love that word) and went to work.   My pink Geraniums cuttings are in a rectangular planter box.  I put one extra cutting into a pot, along with a rooted Geranium which I cut severely back and repotted.  Not only did I trim back about 2/3 of the branches, but I trimmed the roots back a few inches as well.   This is my security plant, in the event that for some strange reason, all my cuttings fail this year.  I also put the pots in a sunny window, in the livingroom, where I'll remember to water them!
I've had this sock yarn in wait for a while. It's bright, it's soft and it's a tad thicker than I normally use.  I had to go up a needle size and use a slightly smaller stitch count.   I'm doing a simple spiral pattern with a single traveling/cable stitch.   It's fast, interesting and unlike cabling with multiple stitches, I don't need a cable needle.   The downside to this yarn is that it was a gift and it had a few moth nibbled breaks in it.  Regardless, it's still sturdy everywhere else, it's bright and an interesting colour that I might not have chosen for myself.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Love that Lustreware

We were in town and had a few minutes to spare.   We decided to wander through the antique/flea market warehouse.   It's one of those places with lots of little rented booths full of everything from old toys and collectables, old furniture, antiques and everything in between.   Of course there were items which caught my eye, like a handcrank Singer 99k which looked like it had never been used and an old flax spinning wheel in perfect condition.  However, I had exactly a single $5 bill in my pocket, a toonie and a half a handful of nickles and dimes.   Not enough for a big shopping spree, that's for certain.

However for a grand total of $5.65, I found  some lustreware.  I love lustreware.  It's not horribly old.  While there are lustreware techniques which date to Coptic Egypt and the Roman times, and some different styles from the 19th century, most of what I love dates from1930 - 1950.  It's pretty.  It's shiny and it's relatively cheap.  I mean if  you only want a complete set, you can pay a pretty penny for it, but for odds and ends, incomplete sets and such, it's often priced to sell quickly.   I have full sized tea cups/saucers from a variety of different sets, a teapot, a few small plates and a creamer.    I also have several different partial sets of doll dishes.

Lustreware doll dinner service

This is the most complete set of lustreware doll dishes that I have.  At some point it was probably a complete dinner service set.  I've seen some sets which even include silverware! This set still has the teapot, a tureen, what I'm thinking is some sort of gravy dish, a platter, both creamer and sugar bowl, all the saucers but only 2 tea cups and 5 plates.

Today I found this small set of doll dishes for $5.  It's a lovely pattern and since most of the lustreware I find is gold/ orange, the blue stands out nicely. It's also nice that this set has a
Lustreware doll dishes
tea pot.  Most of my doll dishes don't have tea pots.  I  played with china tea sets when I was a child though they weren't nearly as fine and pretty, being more modern.   I'm certain that the tea pot was always the first item to break.

Included in this batch of dishes was this smaller but full sized sugar bowl.  Noritake seems to be the name printed on the bottom of a lot of lustreware dishes, as is on the bottom of this little pot.  It's missing a spoon, but I have a tiny metal spoon which would fit nicely.

Lustreware sugar bowl
So for $5.65 ( gotta add those taxes), I got both the doll dishes and the little sugar bowl.  I was pretty happy with that deal today. 

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Neps, Short cuts, breaks

One bit of neps from a half hour of spinning

I've been tardy with spinning some Angora (bunny) exercises for homework. I kept putting off finishing the exercises because I wasn't enjoying the experience.  It's not that it's a horrible fibre.  It's actually a lovely fibre and spins to make gorgeous yarn, all soft, fluffy and warm.  However, I seem to have managed to get the mother of all inclusion of neps, short cuts or breakage in the fibre.  I have sorted the fibre before carding it, picked through the batts and rolags after carding and then picked out more short cuts as I was spinning.  It wasn't fun spinning most of the time because it was start and stop.   Still, I was missing lots of neps and was picking some of them out of the finished yarn. 
Angora samples on the bobbin.
Though I'm not happy with my finished yarns, I'm leaving it.  I've spent too much time as it is, trying to get samples to work up nicely.  When I find a good handful of bunny hair, spinning is delightful.   The angora was a welcome gift from our Master Spinner level 5 instructor Donna, and I'm more than appreciative of this since I couldn't find a source for bunny hair locally.  There are lovely handfuls of fibre in the bag, I just didn't realize it until I'd started carding or I'd have been a bit more careful.  Since I was the one who divvied up the lovely bag of fibre, I can't fault anyone but myself.  I sure hope that I'm the only one that got the short cuts though.  

Finished Angora and blended samples.
I have to say that my favourite was the Merino/Angora blend.  It is so soft and except for the constant picking of bits, was fast to spin using a long draw.  I didn't like the angora/silk blend much as it was slippery fibre against slippery fibre.  It was awful to blend and I came out looking I'd been rolling in piles of shedding bunnies and rejected silk.  Next time I might use a mask as I sneezed for two days afterwards.

So what did I do when I was done wet finishing the final skein?   I made hand dipped candles of course!

Friday, 26 September 2014

Pretty Colours for September

 This is a handspun 3 ply Blue Faced Leicester/Nylon sock yarn, from a commercially blended roving.  The skein only weight 105 g though and measured up at just under 300 yards.  I don't think it's quite enough for a pair of socks with cuffs of my preferred length.  I will either spin up some extra to use for the toes, heels and ribbing or finding some odd bit that coordinates in my stash, just to be certain I have enough yarn.  I dislike socks which are too short in the leg or cuff.  It's dyed with weak acid dyes.  I used Navy and magenta, which work really nicely together.

I'm trying to find an interesting pattern for these socks, but so far all I'm doing it stashing new ideas for future projects. 
 I've not been very successful with getting home started perennials to survive over the summer.  The past couple of autumns though, I've just sprinkled the desired seeds in a suitable garden spot and walked away.  Both times I've tried this, I've come back the next fall to find big, beautiful plants.  The Phlox is lovely and so is this lovely Pink Fall Aster.  So pretty and so very pink!
  The wild purple asters are abundant this year.    Even though some of the flowers are starting to fade, the bees and few remaining butterflies are out in full force.  We don't seem to have the Yellow Jacket Wasps this year, but have Bumble Bees galore.  Luckily they aren't aggressive and just keep working away.  Today's weather is perfect for their last minute foraging with the mild temperatures, sunshine and gentle breeze.

I've started on the second Christmas quilt.  I've 2 of the 3 sets of blocks cut out.  I realized after I was half through cutting the second set of blocks, that I could have save a whole bunch of time by strip piecing and cutting out whole rows of pieced squares.   Now I have to lay out every set of squares for each row, making sure that the blue print is running the same way, since it's directional.   Oh well, the quilt is only going to be about 55in. x 65 in., so it shouldn't take that much time to piece together, even doing it the long way.

Now to get the third fabric cut up and to sit down and piece this baby together, in time to get it quilted.  

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Playing With Colour

Playing with making rolags and puni  of different colour and fibre combinations.

 More colours here and elsewhere.  They are starting to pile up.  The big consideration is making enough of one colour combination to actually have enough fibre for more than sampling.  I was surprised at how much time it takes to make good rolags this way.  I've seen some very messy ones which look like they'd be difficult to spin.  These spin so nicely that it's worth the effort.   It adds a nice change and twist to fibre processing.   It's a bit easier to manipulate the colours in a precise way than the drum carder or hackles.

 Playing with new project bag designs.  While I was making these, I was sure I wouldn't like them.  However the moment they were done, I loved them.  The larger one is big enough for a small project, notions and a pattern.  Awesome!  

One sock done and the other is started.  I was hoping to get these done before the end of September but I'll have to actually set aside some time to work on them if I want to meet that goal.  The cuff is a bit fussy, but once I got the grid work pattern worked out, it was super easy and the foot patterning became intuitive.  I love the use of the single cable travelling stitch, which I can do without a cable needle.  It's fast, fun and adds a nice bit of decoration to the sock, without any fuss or muss.

I spent an afternoon washing Alpaca.  It took over 2 days to dry because of the weather and the fact that I let the top and the bottom part of the fibre salad spinner get separated thus couldn't spin out the excess water.  Yay me!

The truck broke down, the day before I was going to head out for a day at Westfield.  It was Saturday morning and that's a dreadful time for getting emergency repair service.  We only have the one vehicle, so not fixing it wasn't an option.    However, we were 3 feet from the repair shop parking lot and they could fit us in but we'd have to wait 10 minutes, was that okay?  So after 3 hours in the waiting room, without my knitting, a book or some handsewing (argh), we had the truck back, with a shiny new alternator.  It wouldn't have been so bad but less than 2 weeks before, we replaced the alternator on my son's car and had to get new tires.   Bad things come in threes?  I hope that's it for a while.