KCBW6, Day 7: Your Time, Your Place

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Today’s prompt is to write about my crafting time and space.  I realized that every time I attend a special fiber-related event, I write an entire post on this blog.  Sometimes I mention going to my regular spinning or knitting group, but I’ve never written posts about the various groups I attend or my day-to-day crafting experience!

Crafting at Home

When I craft at home, it is almost always in my living room, while watching tv.  If I’m knitting or crocheting, I sit on the couch, and there’s almost always a cat in my lap.

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If I am spinning or weaving, I can’t sit on the couch because it is too low and I can’t sit all the way back.  Instead, I grab a “kitchen” chair and sit in that while I spin or weave.  “Kitchen” is in quotes because these chairs are part of a table & chairs set that I bought for maybe $60 many years ago (at least 20), but they are no longer used in the kitchen.  The table is an extension of my desk and the chairs are totally beat up because of the cats.  The chairs float around the house, pressed into service as cat beds, cat stair steps (so poor arthritic Pepper can get to her favorite sleep spots), step stools for me, etc.

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Travel Knitting

Since I’ve traveled so much the last few years, travel knitting is a regular part of my crafting time.  If I’m on a plane, I am almost always knitting.  If I’m a passenger in a car, and we are traveling a distance, I’m knitting.

I took this picture on my recent flight to Hartford, CT.  I often put my ball of yarn in the cup holder on the tray to keep it from getting away from me.
I took this picture on my recent flight to Hartford, CT. I often put my ball of yarn in the cup holder on the tray to keep it from getting away from me.

Crafting Groups

I regularly attend 3 groups that meet monthly as well as one weekly group.  I’m thinking of adding a fourth monthly group; they used to meet on Wednesdays, conflicting with my regular weekly group, but they moved their meetings to the second Saturday of the month.  I haven’t been home on the second Saturday since they changed the meeting.  I’m planning to attend that group in June and see if I can make it a regular part of my schedule.

Wednesday Knit Nights

The weekly group meets from whenever people arrive until 8 pm at my local yarn store (LYS), Knit!, located 3 miles from my house.  I’ve lived close to Knit! for 12 years, and ever since I picked up my knitting in 2006 after a hiatus of several years, it’s been my LYS.  Marney’s had knitting nights before, usually during the fall and winter, but I’ve never attended because of my schedule.  Last fall, she started up knit nights again and I plan to go every week, though of course I don’t always make it.  Most Wednesdays, there’s at least 6 or 8 people there.  On busy evenings, there’s been as many as 20 and no room to walk in the shop.  On the occasional slow night, there’s 3 people there.  I am excited that Marney decided to continue the knit nights through the summer this year!

l to r: Susan, me, Dawn, and Lisa.  We're all regulars on Wednesday night.
l to r: Susan, me, Dawn, and Lisa. We’re all regulars on Wednesday night.

Drunken Monkey Spinners

Drunken Monkey is a coffee shop in Orlando.  The spinning group meets on the first Saturday of the month from 8 am to 11ish am.  Most months, we have at least 8 people in attendance.  The most we’ve had is about 12, counting the 5-year old son of the group’s finder and the non-fiber-crafting husband of one member.  I joined this group in June last year, a few weeks after I got my spinning wheel.  I always bring my wheel because I can’t spindle spin!  Other members bring wheels or spindles or knitting or crocheting and we spend a lovely morning chatting over fiber.  Other coffee-house guests often stop and ask what we are doing, and we explain to them a little about how spinning works.  If you are ever in Orlando on the first Saturday of the month, you are welcome to join us!

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Weavers of Orlando

The Weavers of Orlando guild meets on the 3rd Saturday of the month in Winter Park, Florida from 10 am until noonish.  Sometimes there’s also presentations in the early afternoon.  The Weavers of Orlando has about 100 members and most meetings have 40 to 50 people in attendance.  Visitors are always welcome at these meetings, if you find yourself in the Orlando area on the 3rd Saturday of the month.

We have a number of members who live in Florida for the winter and elsewhere for the summer.  This is the lowest attendance I've seen since I started attending the Guild last fall, probably because some of the snow birds have flown off to their winter homes.
We have a number of members who live in Florida for the winter and elsewhere for the summer. This is the lowest attendance I’ve seen since I started attending the Guild last fall, probably because some of the snow birds have flown off to their winter homes.

Wekiva Knitters

The area I live in is called Wekiva, after the nearby river.  One of the librarians at the local branch organizes Wekiva Knitters; the group meets at that branch on the 3rd Saturday of the month, 1 pm to 3 pm.  Since the library is a polling station, including for early voting, during elections the group is cancelled or rescheduled.  The attendance varies dramatically from one month to the next.  Sometimes there’s only one or two people there.  The largest group I’ve ever personally seen is about 10.  My own attendance at this group is erratic.  I first went in August of 2012, then didn’t make it there again until June 2013 due to travel and other obligations.  I really enjoy this group, though, and try to get there as often as I can.  It’s only a mile from my house (shorter, as the crow flies), so if I’m home there’s no excuse for missing it! image

KCBW6, Day 6: Polls Apart

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On this blog, I write about knitting, crocheting, spinning, weaving, and dyeing.  It’s obvious just from the count of posts in each category that I spend more time on knitting than I do on the others, even though I know how to do them all.  I want to learn to sew, tat, and make bobbin lace.  But what about you?  Which fiber crafts do you already know and what do you want to learn?  I’d love to know — it’ll help me write blog posts that meet your interests!

NOTE: The poll is an embedded Survey Monkey poll.  I discovered when I was previewing the post that the poll did not show up when the page loaded, but it did when I refreshed the page.  Also, if you are reading on a mobile device, the poll may not display.  The poll consists of 3 questions. You may need to scroll down in the embedded box to see the third question and the submit button! If you prefer, you can follow this link to Survey Monkey and take the poll there.

 

KCBW6, Day 5: Something Different

Today’s prompt is to publish something different than you usually publish.  The ways in which this particular post is different for me has more to do with process than content.  I always write posts from my desktop at home.  If I’m not home, I don’t write.  I no longer carry a laptop with me and my iPad can be a bit annoying to use for blogging.

Despite this usual practice, I am writing this post on my iPad, while sitting in the West Hartford, CT library, 1500+ miles from my home in Florida.  I wanted to share my past week with you!  Last Friday, May 8, I left Florida and flew to Hartford, then drove up to Burlington, Vermont.  I’ve wandered around New England, visiting family, friends, and yarn stores.  I’ve limited myself to one picture for each day of the trip — also a departure from my usual wordy posts.  Don’t worry, there will be more posts on the yarny portions of the trip!

After I arrived in Vermont, I had to cut the ends off the Dr. Who Scarf.
On Saturday, I attended my cousin's college graduation.
On Saturday, I attended my cousin’s college graduation.
On Sunday, I visited a dairy farm and a cow tried to eat me. Seriously! She wasn’t just licking — she wrapped her tongue around my wrist and tried to drag my hand into her mouth.
On Monday, I check out the Burlington, Vermont area.  This included a tour of the Ben & Jerry's factory.
On Monday, I checked out the Burlington, Vermont area. This included a tour of the Ben & Jerry’s factory.
On Tuesday, I yarn crawled my way from Burlington, Vermont to Northampton, Massachusetts.
On Wednesday, I visited WEBS!! (For the uninitiated, that’s the largest yarn store in the U.S.) I had them ship my yarn because cones don’t compress well in luggage.
On Thursday, I visited The Book Barn.  This is my favorite used bookstore and it is located in Niantic and East Lyme, Connecticut.
On Thursday, I visited The Book Barn. This is my favorite used bookstore and it is located in Niantic and East Lyme, Connecticut.

Today, I’m flying home.  I have so much yarny wonderfulness to share with you from this week.  I can’t wait to get home and start writing!

 

KCBW6, Day 4: Bags of Fun

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Today’s prompt is to share the contents of our knitting bag, crafting caddy, or other tool organization system with you.  I don’t usually use a knitting bag and I don’t have a bag dedicated to that purpose.  I keep each WIP in its own gallon-sized Ziploc bag which contains the yarn, needles, pattern, embellishments (like beads) or unusual tools needed for the project.  When I will be crafting out of the house, I might just grab one of the WIP Ziplocs and toss it in my purse.  If I will be working on multiple projects or the project is large, I’ll put everything into an appropriately sized bag to make it easier to carry.  While I have a pretty impressive stash of yarn and fiber, I don’t have an extensive tool collection.  I like my tools streamlined and multifunctional.  It’s fun to dig through my stash, looking for just the right fiber.  Once I find it, I want to get to work with as little fuss as possible!

I’m writing this post a few days after the St. Johns River Festival of the Arts (see my blog post about that), when I spent two entire days in the Weavers of Orlando booth, doing demos.  On Saturday, I mostly spun and on Sunday I mostly wove.  I also brought a knitting project with me.  This is the most stuff I ever carry at a time, so I figured I would take pictures of everything in the bag.  It’ll give you a good sense of the scope of my tools.

My Knit Kit

I love my Knit Kit.  It’s the one thing I carry with me wherever I’m crafting.  It fits in my purse and it’s got all the everyday tools I might need in a pinch.  I had a Knit Kit, but left it at my sister’s when I was helping her move, so I just bought a new one at Distaff Day in January.

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It’s got a row counter, double-ended crochet hook, tape measure, and blade built into it.  The cover on the bag is a needle / hook sizer.  The interior compartment holds a pair of folding scissors, stitch markers, and tip protectors.  I never use tip protectors and don’t like the rubber stitch markers, so I removed them and stocked the back with my own preferred tools:

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Two tapestry needles, a sewing needling, a key for KnitPicks interchangeable needles, lobster claw clasps, gourd safety pins, and jump rings with interior dimensions of 3mm, 5 mm, 8 mm, and 10 mm.

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I use the jump rings as stitch markers.  I use the lobster claw clasps and the gourd safety pins (available on Amazon (affiliate link)) as row markers.

Spinning Supplies

Of course, I had the Cormo that I’m currently spinning.

I had extra bobbins, just in case I filled the one on the wheel.

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I had the two metal posts for my built-in lazy Kate, the ball of yarn I’m using for leaders, and spinning wheel oil.  I take the metal posts of the lazy Kate out of the wheel when I’m transporting it so that they don’t damage my car.

 

Weaving Supplies

I had a pile of warping sticks.  I brought some with me to place around the knots as I wound the beginning part of the weaving on the cloth beam.  The rest of these came out of the weaving.  They’re dirty because they fell out of the weaving on to the pavement or floor as I wove and because the llama yarn that is my current warp is pretty hairy and shedding a lot.  Fortunately, they are easy to clean since they are vinyl.

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Bobbins with the yarns for the current project and empty ones that I already used.

 

The balls of yarns for the current project, for when I need to wind more yarn on the bobbins.

The card telling me how many inches of each color to weave, and a pen to cross off when I’ve finished that section.  (If you want to weave a Dr. Who scarf, don’t bother trying to copy this down from here.  Next week, I’ll have a blog post with a link to the Google spreadsheet that has all the information you need).

 

Miscellaneous Bag Contents

The Super Secret Shawl in its project bag, in case I wanted to knit rather than spin or weave.  I ended up not knitting at all during the weekend.

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A finished Summit shawl, knit by a friend.  She asked me to block it for her and gave it to me while we were at the Festival.

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The apron I was wearing while doing demos on Sunday.

Not in the Bag

I have a few tools that I really like, but didn’t need to carry over this weekend.

My fiber scale.  I have a kitchen scale that I use only for cooking, and this scale which I use only for fiber-related purposes.  I weigh dye on it.  I weigh leftover skeins of yarn to calculate the yardage in a finished object.  I weigh loom waste to calculate how much yardage I lost in the waste.  I weigh bags of fiber to see how much I have left to spin.  I love this scale.  It weighs in either grams (down to 0.1 gram) or ounces.  It has a tare function so I can put a bowl on top, reset the weight to zero and put larger items in the bowl for easier weighing.  It weighs up to 2000 g (about 5 pounds), which is sufficient for my fibery purposes.

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My mini scissors.  When I travel, I take the foldable scissors out of the Knit Kit and put them in my checked luggage.  Technically, I should be able to take them in carry on because they are less than 4″ long, but I hate to take the chance.  If I don’t have checked luggage, I leave the foldable scissors at home and toss these mini ones into my carry on.  Unfortunately, they are a little too fat to fit in the Knit Kit scissors section, but I love them anyway.

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My needle notebook.  My entire collection of knitting needles and crochet hooks lives in one zip up binder notebook.  The entire collection.  If I wanted to, I could carry all my needles with me all the time.  I rarely take the notebook with me, though.  I just don’t need to have all my needles with me.  I probably will bring the binder with me to the TKGA Conference in July, and think it’s awesome that it is so easy for me to do so.  I purchased this binder from KnitPicks, back when I first bought my interchangeable needle set in 2005 or 2006.  A few of the interior zipper pockets came with the binder, and I bought more pages separately.  Unfortunately, KnitPicks discontinued the binder several years ago.  I think it’s the best item they’ve ever sold for needle storage and don’t know why they discontinued it!

At some point, one or the other of my cats sharpened their claws on the front :-(
At some point, one or the other of my cats sharpened their claws on the front 🙁
Each pouch zips shut.  This one, in the very front, has the extra keys and cord end caps.
Each pouch zips shut. This one, in the very front, has the extra keys and cord end caps.
Each size cord has its own pouch.  I made the labels; the pouches did not come labeled.
Each size cord has its own pouch. I made the labels; the pouches did not come labeled.
My crochet hooks.
My crochet hooks.
US size 3 and smaller aren't available as interchangeables and are the only needles I have as fixed circulars.
US size 3 and smaller aren’t available as interchangeables and are the only needles I have as fixed circulars.
There's usually two sizes of needle tips per section.  In the mid-range of sizes (US 4-9), I have at least two tips in each size.  I only use larger sizes infrequently, so only have one pair of tips per size from US size 10 through US size 17.
There’s usually two sizes of needle tips per section. In the mid-range of sizes (US 4-9), I have at least two pairs of tips in each size. I use larger sizes infrequently, so only have one pair of tips per size from US size 10 through US size 17.
I keep a KnitPicks needle sizer in the front pocket of the binder.  It has to be a KnitPicks brand sizer because KnitPicks has two different size needles (2.25 mm and 2.5 mm) marked as US 1s and two sizes (2.75 mm and 3.0 mm) marked as US 2s.  I have needles in all 4 sizes, and only KnitPicks branded sizers have slots to differentiate between them.
I keep a KnitPicks needle sizer in the front pocket of the binder. KnitPicks has two different size needles (2.25 mm and 2.5 mm) marked as US 1s and two sizes (2.75 mm and 3.0 mm) marked as US 2s. I have needles in all 4 sizes, and only KnitPicks branded sizers have slots to differentiate between them.
The binder lives on a bookshelf in my office, tucked in with the fiber library.
The binder lives on a bookshelf in my office, tucked in with the fiber library.

 

 

 

KCBW6, Day 3: Experimental Photography

The prompt for today is to take creative pictures.  On this blog, I usually use straightforward pictures.  However, I often take creative pictures of the pieces for fun or to include in homework submissions for the Harry Potter Knitting / Crochet House Cup.  Professors often give bonus points for creative pictures!  I decided to pull out some of my favorite pictures and share them with you today.

In 2010, I knit a crown in Ravenclaw colors.  Since Tiger believes himself to be king of the house, I thought him an appropriate model.  I love the look of disdain on his face.
In 2010, I knit a crown in Ravenclaw colors. Since Tiger believes himself to be king of the house, I thought him an appropriate model. I love the look of disdain on his face.
This skein of yarn was a present from my friend, Stacy.  She collaborated with Christa of Nerd Girl Yarns to plan a custom colorway, based on the colors of the frog in my Ravatar at that time, and named after my imaginary magical beastie (this is a thing in Ravenclaw Tower).  Here, I've posed my Frogman statue with the yarn.
My friend Stacy gave me this skein of yarn. She collaborated with Christa of Nerd Girl Yarns to plan a custom colorway, based on the colors of the frog in my Ravatar at that time, and named after my imaginary magical beastie (this is a thing in Ravenclaw Tower). Here, I’ve posed my Frogman statue with the yarn.
Cats often interrupt my photo shoots!
Cats often interrupt my photo shoots!
While its not a fibery picture, I love this photo of Pepper stalking the  Christmas village.
While it’s not a fibery picture, I love this photo of Pepper stalking the Christmas village.
On my recent trip to India, I took this photo of goats lounging on the steps of a temple.
On my recent trip to India, I took this photo of goats lounging on the steps of a temple.

The Weasel of Wrath

In the fall of 2013, the Weasel of Wrath became a thing in Ravenclaw Tower.  Every project I turned in that term included a picture of him and told a piece of a continuing story.  The Headmistress Challenge that term was to write your own lyrics for a wrock song, with bonus points for recording it.  I wrote lyrics, another member of Ravenclaw Tower recorded the vocals and instruments for me, and I put together a music video.  The photos below are my favorites from that term.

The Weasel wearing a sock toe hat.
The Weasel wearing a sock toe hat.
Searching in the jungle (aka our hydroponic system) for the Raspberry Monster.
Searching in the jungle (aka our hydroponic system) for the Raspberry Monster.

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The wrock video included two different sets.  The lyrics are about basilisks, so I went to the home of a friend who has snakes and shot stills and video there.
The wrock video included two different sets. The lyrics are about basilisks, so I went to the home of a friend who has snakes and shot stills and video there.
The other set was the Weasel's burrow.  This behind the scenes shot shows the burrow set up on my dining room table.
The other set was the Weasel’s burrow. This behind the scenes shot shows the burrow set up on my dining room table.
The Weasel of Wrath, with his friends Foxy and Jewel.
The Weasel of Wrath, with his friends Foxy and Jewel.