Saturday, April 29, 2006

New Fiber

I just got my new fiber from Copper Moose Fibers on eBay. Ohhh it's so gorgeous. I bought it in white because I wanted to dye it for the Spindler's Dyeing for Spring Exchange but I had to just grab a handful and try it on my wheel. Thank goodness it came with so many bobbins! A blend of Alpaca, Merino and Tussah silk; it sheds SOOOOOOO badly but oh it's so soft and lovely. I hope I don't trash it! I also got some kid mohair blend in white for dyeing. I'm a tad intimidated by dyeing fiber. I've dyed yarn but somehow the fiber just seems so much more vulnerable and unwieldy! I'm going to do a bit more research on the net and then maybe next weekend bite the bullet. This is so much fun!

How to trade your stash for someone elses!

Friday, April 28, 2006

Wonderful Wheel

It came! Far faster than I expected. I got home last night to see a large box on my bed, which I immediately tore open; didn't even take off my coat or shoes! It went together easily, partly because the lovely woman I bought it from thoughtfully included the instructions. Wow.

Wow. What a different feeling! I knew from the Spindler's List that practice is needed; so I sat down and just treadled for a while. Feels strange at first, and it's hard to keep it from going backwards every now and again, but it got better as I practiced. So then I added some commercial yarn, just to get the idea. Finally, I tackled some wool. Frustration! It was really really hard to get it started. The strand kept breaking. I finally figured out that there wasn't nearly enough twist, so I figured out how to keep it from winding on until the twist built up. Tada! I spun an ounce of the sample wool that I got with my original spindle from Mielke Farms. It's a tad rough, but not bad! Then I tried some of the mill end I got from The Sheep Shed Studio. That's a little rougher. It's much harder to draft, so theres'a lot of thick/thin areas. It's also overtwisted, I think. I spun until my fingers ached though, and I think I'm getting better. It took me a while with the spindle too, so I suppose I'll get it! I'm already wondering how I'll do with some silk....

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Family Updates

I'm totally heartbroken. Murphy lost his first tooth on Monday, sometime. We don't know exactly when, because it appears he must have swallowed it. I so wanted to save it. It brought me to tears, my baby is growing up so fast! I still have most of Eric's teeth in a medicine bottle in my jewelry case, collected by the tooth fairy over the years. Such a milestone! Since he lost the tooth, we didn't have one to put into the "Tooth Fairy Pillow," so we left the tooth fairy a note. "Dear Tooth Fairy, Sorry I swallowed my tooth. I really wanted a penny from you. Love, Murphy." The Tooth Fairy was very understanding and left him a whole dollar!

Eric is making plans to attend Ventura College; he took the entrance exam and received 40/44 out of 40/45. I'm so proud of him, in so many ways. He's so patient with his adoring little brother, and he's so much better a person than I was when I was his age. Oh dear, I'm going to be the mother of a college student! I literally burst into tears when he brought me his cap and gown today.

My DH has been doing some work with the elderly. He's going to be teaching a computer class twice a week. He and I have both started our diets again, and I'm so proud of him. He's working really hard at it, which motivates me so much. The hardest part is changing your thinking, and he's making huge strides.

And a miracle; right now, we're all relatively healthy! A few scattered allergy symptoms, but nothing worse, thank goodness. It's been a while! It's been a very long winter.

Another miracle: I finally packed away the Christmas decorations. It's only April, after all! We took them down in February, but I've been so sick and tired I just never had the energy to do the intensive planning necessary to pack so much into so little space. But I finally did it last night. Tonight? The dreaded right corner of the bedroom. I'm motivated for that one though; that's where the Gem is going to go!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

I can't believe I did it!

I won. I actually won. It hasn't really sunk in yet. I put a bid on a Majacraft Little Gem spinning wheel on Ebay and I won! I'm horrified that I spent that much at this particular time (yes, I'm broke) and yet I'm so thrilled to have the opportunity to actually own a wheel that I'll be able to use! It even comes with the large flyer and bobbin kit. I must say that my usually incredibly supportive husband isn't wild about it; he thinks I should just get the old wheel fixed. Which believe me, I plan to. But I expect it will cost almost as much as I paid for the Gem, and take ages, and I just couldn't wait. Not when I saw that deal! If it's anywhere near what it's described, it really is a great deal. He also thinks that now that I have a wheel, I can sell my spindles. I mean, after all, if you can use a wheel, why use a spindle? I tried to explain, but I don't think he gets it. Maybe I'll have to use a guitar metaphor to illustrate.

On the actual doing things front, I ripped out the fishtail scarf I had started. The needles were too big and the yarn too small, and I didn't like the result. I still plan to make it but have to regroup and reconsider. I started a vest from the Stitch 'N Bitch Happy Hooker book; have a few rows done. I like that it's done in one piece; I hate joining! I'm still spinning the silk, but last night tried to go back to the Corridale on the Kundert; it was SO hard! The silk drafts so easily, so beautifully, and I felt like I was fighting the wool. It's probably not a great idea to go back and forth between such drastically different fibers and spindles, I decided.

So now I'll sit on pins and needles awaiting the arrival of the wheel. I'll try to focus on cleaning and organizing to have a place to put it

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Guild Meeting

Today I attended my second meeting of the Ventura County Handspinners and Weaver's Guild. It was a lot of fun. There are such a variety of people from all ages and backgrounds, and everyone is so nice. I'm so shy, I was afraid I might huddle in a corner, but everyone was so friendly, and my curiosity overcame my shyness. I shared my pink yarn and got very pleasing reviews. The speaker was a little over my head, as I barely know the difference between warp and weft. She spoke about tapestry weaving throughout history and had a wonderful slide show to illustrate. Then she showed some of her own work which was incredibly detailed. The shading from color to color was amazing, truly art.

The most inspiring part however was seeing and learning about two spinning wheels. One was an antique castle style wheel that was just lovely, very elegant and beautiful to look at. The other was a Majacraft Rose which I am totally enamored with. It's so versatile, compact, quiet and pleasing to the eye. I must have one!

After the meeting I detoured on the way home to visit Anacapa Fine Yarns in Ventura. Here's my haul. I finally scored some Noro Silk Garden at 20% off. Picked up some much needed knitting needles. I've been hankering to try a knitted lace shawl of some sort, which is probably going to be way over my head, as my knitting skills are beginner at best. But I'm going to try this:
the Fishtail Lace Scarf. I'm using the alpaca I bought on Ebay, and my brand spanking new size 6 Crystal Palace Bamboo needles. So far it doesn't seem too difficult, but then, I've only done one repeat. We'll see how it progresses.
On the spinning front, I've spun a fair amount of that wonderful silk roving I started Thursday night. I continue to be loving it. I just can't wait to see the finished product. I have no idea what I'll do with it when it's done; maybe just put it in a bowl and gaze at it. I've had to be very strict with myself and threaten punishment in order not to give in to the desire to buy more in all those lovely colors available at Blue Ridge Silk Works. Gorgeous!

I have a few other works in progress but suddenly realized that I can't publish info on them as they're gifts for people who might have occasion to look at the blog. Duh! So I'll have to catalogue those elsewhere.

I'm off to try one more repeat before bed. Good Night!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Two Bossies

In looking at the pictures of my spindles, I realized it was difficult to judge the size. So here are my two bossies, one midi, one featherweight, side by side. The featherweight is loaded with silk roving, spun tonight. I think I'm in love. Silk is the most amazing stuff! It just glides so easily, so soft and wonderful. I've spun it so thin I'm not even sure what I can do with it; I twisted four lengths together to mimic four ply and it was still tiny. I really am so in love with silk! Now I'll need to feed my addiction and find more, in lots of colors... purples, and red, and some bright blues...

I'm SO Excited!

Got home from work today to find my new Featherweight Bossie in Lacewood at my door. It's absolutely beautiful. It was a tad difficult for me to use at first on wool, so I decided to try some silk. Now, this silk top was one of the first fibers I ever purchased. It was horribly disappointing in my first attempts; my spindle was too heavy and the single would break constantly. Admittedly, I'd only been spindling for oh, about two weeks at the time, and hadn't really begun to master the most elemental of fibers. So with much regret, I tucked it away. Tonight, I thought maybe, just maybe, a featherweight and a little experience; maybe I could manage that silk! And look!
A single no bigger than sewing thread; maybe even smaller! And I haven't dropped the spindle once. Ohhhh I am in heaven, absolute heaven. I need to find a way to do my job (Office Manager)and still find more hours in the day to spin and knit and crochet. I'm having so much fun that I'm staying up too late trying to finish "just one more repeat" or "just this piece of roving," and that's not good when you're up at 4:40 am.

Thank you, Sheila; you came through again. Can I be your apprentice?

Spindler's Logo

This is the Logo for the Spindler's Yahoo Group. The spindles pictured are from Sheila & Jonathan Bosworth. Gorgeous, aren't they?


Ever since I saw women carding wool at Sturbridge Village when I was very young, I have wanted to learn to spin. Finding a wheel, just waiting for me, here when we moved in was just amazing. But before I touch the wheel, I wanted to learn the basics. So using the internet, I discovered drop spindles, and a whole community of women spinning their threads, and just had to learn.

I wandered over to Mielke's Farm and bought a learn to spin kit. Then I found some roving at my lys and here is the result. The roving is a lovely blue with a fluorescent yellow/green highlight. This spindle is a bottom whorl, which I have discovered is a little harder to use than a top whorl, and that it's also very heavy. My first attempts weren't bad, but spinning is something you need to see and do to learn to figure out how much twist to put in, how thin to make your strand. So through the mailing list I joined, I met a very friendly woman from So. Cal, who was willing to meet up in person and teach me. That was very helpful. Now I needed more spindles!

So I purchased this one. It's a Kundert, and quite lovely. See the gorgous purpleheart wood? The roving being spun on this one I won at my first meeting of the Ventura County Handspinners and Weavers Guild and I just love the colorway. It's a gorgeous blend of rust and copper and gold and blue and I can't wait to see the finished yarn. I'm hoping to make it a 2 ply sport weight or fingering weight, but we'll see!

Well, I love the Kundert, but it's still a very heavy spindle. I needed something really light to help my single become more fine. And then I found The Journey Wheel. And I found Sheila Bosworth, and her husband Jonathan, who create what someone at my guild called the "cadillac of spindles." Sheila's customer service is the best I've ever gotten. I bought this one with her help, a tulipwood midi that is just incredible. It spins forever and is so beautiful to look at and to touch. I already have plans for a collection. The fiber on that spindle was a free bag of mill ends that came with a full box of fiber from The Sheep Shed Studio. I'm really pleased with the fiber I got from them.

I have a few more spindles in my collection already that will have to wait for another day to be displayed. Tomorrow: my WIP's!!!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Fingerless Gloves

I love fingerless gloves. They look so cool, and they're so practical. My cold metal desk at work freezes my forearms in the morning, so I made some to keep warm and still be able to type. Here are a few I've made. This is the first pair I made in a varigated acrylic, crocheted in a ribbing stitch.

These I made for Murphy, my five year old. He's fond of a video game called "Gruntz", in which clay "goo" creatures use gauntlets to smash rocks. He was fairly thrilled about them. Again, an acrylic in a ribbed stitch; I added a couple of popcorns to look like spikes. Which I just noticed you can't see in the picture!

These I made in microspun, in a really pretty shell stitch. I like that they're not bulky, and I made them elbow length to keep my forearms warm on that metal desk! I made a similar pair for my DMIL who has issues with arthritis and skin tears. I hope she likes them as much as I do.

These are my most recent creations, made of bamboo yarn which is so silky and wonderful to the touch. I used a front/back post stitch suggested by my spinner friend Elisa. Thanks, Elisa!

Think that's it for tonight; will work on a few more images tomorrow.

First Post

I've decided to split my blog into two; one to track my political rants and the other to track my fiber arts projects. I hope to get lots of pictures of my projects and my treasured spindles and fiber up, along with a journal of sorts of each thing I make.

Right now, I'm off to start taking the dreaded digital photos! Hope to have them up by tomorrow.