On My Birthday

My birthday was several days ago.  We got home from New Jersey only a few days before that.  I was tired and needed to get back into a rhythm at home.  I decided the best gift I could give myself for my birthday was progress on personal projects.  I made progress on three projects: (1) Finishing a loom and spinning wheel; (2) Scouring fleece; and (3) Spinning a batt.

Finishing

In early January, I wrote about the problems I have with the finish on my rigid heddle loom and my spinning group’s wheel.  My mother-in-law passed away the day after I wrote that post.  When we left for New Jersey, I left all the pieces out on the workbench.  I was at a bit of a loss of how to proceed because after five passes with the mineral spirits, some of the pieces were still tacky.  On my birthday, I took the loom and the treadles to our local Woodcraft store and explained what I had done so far.  They said I probably put too much Danish Oil on, which is why it never dried.  They said that continuing with the mineral spirits was the correct approach but that if that doesn’t work then I will have to remove the entire finish and start over.  I was using paper towels to apply the mineral spirits.  They suggested that I use a shop towel because the paper towel might be too smooth.  Over the course of the last several days, I applied another 5 or 6 rounds of mineral spirits.  Some of the pieces are no longer tacky, some have parts that are tacky and some that are not, and some are still tacky all over but are not as tacky as they were before.  We continue to move in the right direction!

Scouring

In early January, I scoured some fleece and wrote a long post about it.  That day, I only scoured a fraction of the fleece I needed to scour.

The day my mother-in-law died, I was at a friend’s house, about to scour more fleece.  My spinning group was holding our third annual retreat (I posted about the first one).  This year, we decided to spend the day at the home of one of our members.  These retreats are usually low-key, bring a project and do your own thing affairs, but this year several of us had fleece to scour, others had never scoured and wanted to learn, and our hostess has excellent space for scouring, so we decided to do a scouring day.  I brought all the fleece I needed to scour and all my equipment.

Since several of us were processing fleece and since I had several 4 – 16 ounce samples, I put all my fleece into mesh laundry bags.  Inside each laundry bag, I wrote the name of the breed on a tyvek wrist band (Amazon affiliate link).  I used these wristbands when dyeing and scouring because they will not dissolve in water and you can write on them with a Sharpie.  I had just finished putting everything into bags and was about to start scouring when my husband called to tell me his mother had passed.  I immediately packed up all my fleece and drove home, leaving my equipment behind since everyone else was using it.  I picked up the equipment after we returned home.

I still wanted to get all that fleece, plus additional fleece I had at my house, scoured.  So I spent the afternoon of my birthday scouring fleece.  Here’s all the fleece I put into laundry bags while with my spinning group.

My friend Nancy told us that she and her sister now do cold soaks of fleece before scouring.  I decided that I would try that method.  We have a plethora of 5 gallon pails.  We use them for putting water into our hydroponics system, for toting around tools, and for storing things in the garage.  Last September, we bought several more to use for water storage as part of our Hurricane Irma preparations.

TANGENT/

We filled the bathtub after I took this picture. Total water storage: 35ish gallons in the tub, 50 gallons in buckets, 6 or 7 gallons in the frig, 50 gallons of non-potable water in the rain barrel.

Copious water storage was an excellent thing because we were without power for 6 days, without water for 24 hours due to a water main break on our street, and on severe water restrictions (no showers, no flushing the toilet if you only peed) for a week because 85% of the lift stations in our county were without power.  Lift stations move waste through the pipes to the treatment facility.  If they can’t do their job, somewhere that sewage will seep into someone’s home.

Six trees came down at this house, including two that came through the roof in the middle of the storm, nearly hitting one of the teenagers. The family fled to a friend’s house. The roots of two trees pulled up through the water main, breaking it in multiple places.

 

No running water, no showers, no electricity, high heat and high humidity. This is how we kept clean.

 

When our power went out, the dishwasher was full of dirty dishes. After a couple of days without power, they really needed to be washed. I did it in the backyard, using water from our buckets. I did the three bucket method, with the last being a chlorine bleach rinse which meant I didn’t have to heat water on the propane camp stove.

/TANGENT

Sorry about the tangent.  As I was saying, we have a plethora of 5 gallon buckets.  I used those for the cold water soak.

No soap, no hot water, and maybe 15 minutes in the bucket at this point.

I liked the cold water presoak a lot.  It is amazing how much comes out of the fleece, simply soaking it in cold water.  I put the fleece into the pails to presoak, then finished setting up the rest of the equipment for scouring.  When I took the fleeces out of presoak and put them into scour, I dumped the water out, filled the pail with clean water, and put more fleece in to soak.  All the fleeces were in the cold water for a minimum of 20 minutes.  Some were in there for an hour or more while I scoured others.  With cold water, I don’t have to worry about the water cooling and lanolin redepositing onto the fleece.  Anything that came out with just cool water should stay out!

I did only one scour with detergent on most of the fleece, followed by two plain water rinses.  This was effective for almost all the fleeces.  One particularly dirty alpaca fleece got two rounds with detergent and three plain water rinses.  One or two of the greasier fleeces needed more scouring and I will be doing another scour on them.  Stay tuned for more detailed blog posts on which ones needed more scouring and how I handled that.

I made one other change to the process I described in my previous post on scouring.  I added two more bins for scouring, so I had 6 going at one time.  When I was at the spinning group retreat, I discovered that my dish pans hold the same volume of water as the other containers I was using for scouring, so I set up two dish pans plus the containers!

With six bins going and the presoak doing a lot of work before scouring, I was able to scour 19.5 pounds of fleece in 4 hours.  I have one fleece left to scour, an 8.5 pound black Corriedale fleece that I intend to scour a lock at a time using Fels-naptha soap.  Stay tuned for a blog post on that when I get it done.

Spinning

My birthday was the day that NBC broadcast the opening ceremonies of the Olympics, so my parents came over and we watched that while I spun.  I worked on the SassyBee polwarth batt I’ve been spinning for a bit.

It was an awesome birthday!

Post Script

My parents wanted to spend a day with me and told me to pick what I’d like to do and that would be their gift.  The Tuesday after my birthday, we played an awesome escape game at Escape Effect

We had fabulous Indian food at a restaurant in the same plaza, then we went next door to Escape Effect and took the museum tour at the Chocolate Museum and Cafe.

Yes, this Taj Mahal is made out of chocolate!

 

WIP Wednesday: January 3, 2018

This week, I’m sharing my two active projects.  I have a lot of WIPs / UFOs that are sitting around, waiting for me to get to them.  As part of the inventory that I blogged about on Monday, I will be making sure Ravelry is up-to-date with those projects.

SassyBee Orchid

My current spinning project is two batts of SassyBee Orchid on Polwarth.

SassyBee Fibers (this is a link to her FB page as her website isn’t active) is a vendor at The Fiber Event in Greencastle, Indiana, which I have attended for the last 3 or 4 years.  I love her batts and I have a pile of them.  In fact, all the batts in the suitcase full of batts, pictured in Monday’s post about inventory, are SassyBee batts.  In addition, one of the big bins in the big pile of bins is full of SassyBee batts.  They are so beautiful, but I had not spun any of them.  In fact, I had never spun from a batt at all.  On the first Friday in December, I spent the day spinning as a demo during the Weavers of Orlando Annual Holiday Sale.  My wheel was empty, so I grabbed a SassyBee batt and spun that the entire day.  I’ve spun a little more on it since, but not a lot due to the holidays.  I’m about 3/4 of the way through the first batt.

 

Mesa

Last year, my LYS had an Anzula trunk show.  This cape (available on Ravelry) was one of the sample items Anzula brought with them as part of the show.  I tried it on and loved it.  I also thought my mother would love it.  I bought the yarn and the pattern and intended to finish it for her birthday in March.  Then for Mother’s Day in May.  Then for Christmas.  I only have about 10 rows of knitting left, then I have to weave in the ends, sew on buttons, and block it.

Sweet Summer Shawl

I finished this shawl yesterday, and I’m super excited because it’s the first time I’ve knit with my handspun!

Official Stats

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About This Project

I loved knitting this project.  I’m happy to finally knit with my handspun.  This yarn is a massive improvement over my prior handspun, but it still has some anomalies.  The Sweet Summer Shawl pattern is forgiving of yarn anomalies, since it is mostly garter stitch.  The shawl is knit from end to end not top down or bottom up.  I was looking for a pattern knit in this manner to maximize the yarn I had.  I managed to use all but 6.9 grams of the yarn.

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The pattern suggests knitting 10 repeats of the increase section then 10 repeats of the decrease section.  I started weighing my yarn after the 8th repeat and every repeat after that.  I ended up with 11 repeats.  I knew I didn’t have enough yarn to knit a 12th increase repeat plus a 12th decrease repeat.  Now that I finished the pattern, I wish I’d knit one repeat without either increasing or decreasing.  I had enough yarn to do so, and I think I would have been happier with an odd number of points.  Since there’s not a central point in the pattern, it ends up slightly asymmetrical and I would have preferred symmetry.  In the grand scheme of things, this is a minor quibble.  It’s a fun, easy pattern to knit and I KNIT WITH MY HANDSPUN!!!

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May 2015 in Review

Since I haven’t posted in a couple of weeks, I thought I’d write a quick post re: finished projects and activities.

Finished Projects

Slytherin Houndstooth Scarf

  • Draft: Houndstooth
  • Loom: 15″ Cricket Table Top Loom
  • Reed: 10 dent
  • Warp Stats
    • Yarn: 150 yards (including loom waste) of  Knit Picks Capretta in Platinum and 150 yards (including loom waste) of Cascade Heritage Silk in Pine
    • Loom waste: 31 yards
    • Total Warp Ends: 110
    • Ends Per Inch (EPI): 10
    • Warp Length: 100″
  • Weft Stats
    • Yarn: 153.6 yards Knit Picks Capretta in Platinum and 142.8 yards Cascade Heritage Silk in Pine
    • Picks Per Inch (PPI): 10 – 12
    • Width in the Reed: 11″
  • Ravelry Project Page

I didn’t write a post about finishing this scarf, though it’s appeared in several WIP Wednesday posts (January 22, February 4, March 25).  I had to finish it so that I could weave the Dr. Who scarf on my rigid heddle loom!  Since this is the fourth Houndstooth Scarf I finished (see the posts on Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, and Ravenclaw Houndstooth scarves), I felt like I didn’t necessarily learn anything new on this project.  I did apply the lessons learned on the prior Houndstooth scarves, so the Slytherin is the most consistent of the four.

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Cotton Candy Corriedale

  • Wheel: Kromski Fantasia
  • Spinning Twist: S (clockwise)
  • Plying Twist: Z (counter-clockwise)
  • Ratio: 8:1
  • Singles Yardage: 978 yards
  • Fiber: Sassy Bee Corriedale in Cotton Candy
  • Finished skein:
    • Ply Structure: 420 yards 2-ply; 46 yards n-ply
    • Weight: 4 oz
  • Ravelry Stash page

This is another project that I’ve been working on for a while and which has appeared in a couple of WIP Wednesday posts (February 4, February 18).  As of February 18, I’d finished plying and had wound most of the yarn onto a niddy noddy.  It then sat around, still on the niddy noddy, awaiting washing.

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Dr. Who Scarf

I did write a blog post about this one!

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Felted Cat Bed

  • Pattern: garter stitch
  • Yarn: 440 yards Patons SWS in Geranium
  • Needles: US 13 / 9.0 mm
  • Pre-felting dimensions: 23″ wide by 40″ long
  • Post-felting dimensions: 11.5″ wide by 19″ long
  • Made for: Pepper
  • Ravelry Project Page

I whipped out a new cat bed to line the bookshelf where Pepper likes to sleep.  Although she wasn’t very co-operative re: posing for the picture, she loves the bed.  It’s now her favorite sleeping spot.

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Semi-finished Projects

These projects are “semi-finished” because I’m making multiple dishcloths from the same patterns, as part of my ongoing Dishcloth Advent Calendar (details in my 2015 Plans post) project.  I’ve finished at least one individual item, but am still working on making more.  I need to make 18 dishcloths in each pattern, and will write blog posts with all the project details when I finish all 18.

Heart Illusion Dishcloths

I finished 9 of these in May.

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Bias Knit, Crochet Cotton Dishcloth

I only finished one of these.  Even with two strands held together, it took about 3 hours to knit one of these, and I didn’t even make it as big as the pattern suggests.  It’ll take me a while to make all 18 of these, but I do like them.

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Activities

I participated in three demos with the Weavers of Orlando.  I’ve written blog posts about two of those: St. Johns River Festival of the Arts and Arts at Audubon Elementary.  The third demo was just this past Friday, and I’m working on writing a post about it!

I also traveled to New England to attend my cousin’s college graduation.  While there, I visited 12 yarn shops, including WEBS!  I bought yarn in all the shops, and will be writing multiple blog posts about the experience.  I needed to take pix of all the new stash for the posts and to update my Rav stash.  I’ve been working on it and I’m just about finished.  I will be posting about these shops throughout the month of June; I plan to get all the posts up no later than June 25 since several of the shops I visited are part of the 2015 I-91 Shop Hop which starts that day.

WIP Wednesday: February 18, 2014

I started this week working on some UFOs, but later in the week cast on a couple of new projects!

MAPLE LEAF the Ninth!

Yes, really!  It’s been sitting around since December, and I finally picked it up again.  I was sick over the weekend and spent two days sitting on the couch watching tv, so I got quite a bit done.  I’ve finished the first of the five corners, and should be totally done with knitting this shawl before next Wednesday.  I’m not sure if I’ll get it blocked or not.  My new-to-me floor loom is currently sitting in the dining room, in front of the table I use for blocking.  I’m not sure if I have enough leaves in the table to block a MAPLE LEAF shawl or not.  If I don’t, blocking will have to wait until I can move the floor loom into my home office.

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Sassy Bee Cotton Candy Corriedale

I finished plying this fiber while at spinning group the first Saturday in February.  I have it wound onto the niddy noddy.  I just need to tie it and wash it to set the twist, and it will be done.

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Narwhal

This is the first new project of the week.  This is part of a narwhal-along in Ravenclaw Tower.  I cast on last Saturday, and expected to finish it that day.  Instead, I went to buy a floor loom.  I still have to sew on the flippers.  I’m also going to find something different for eyes because I think the beads I used are too small.

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Scarf

On Monday evening, our cat Pepper did not look well.  She was straining to use the litter box, but nothing was coming out.  She would get out of the litter box, rest for a while, then try again.  She also tried squatting in inappropriate places, like the cat’s toy basket.  I realized I was probably going to have to bring her to the emergency vet, and that I didn’t have any knitting that was mindless enough to work on during a midnight wait at the vet.  I quickly cast on this scarf, knit one pattern repeat, and bundled Pepper off for an enema at the vet.  I got about 4″ knit while I waited.  I knit a little more while waiting for dinner to finish yesterday.

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Crochet 365

I finished the star-rating index three weeks ago, but haven’t looked at this project since.  This week, I started looking at the 90 one-star patterns, contemplating the order in which I want to crochet them.  I made three separate lists: one of patterns that use a solid color, one of patterns that use multiple colors, and one of patterns that the author’s note identifies as a “good beginner square.”  Along the way, I made notes on the patterns, identifying stitches used or techniques, and contemplating the end uses of these 365 squares.  Some of the squares will definitely be dishcloths.  Some of the squares might be afghans or scarves.  I need to have some ideas so that I can pick out appropriate yarns.  My head was spinning a bit after looking at all the information, but it was a good start at determining the best approach, given my modest crochet skills.  I hope to make the final project list this week.

WIP Wednesday: February 4, 2015

As expected, I haven’t had a whole lot of crafting time over the last two weeks due to office rearrangement.  I finished rearranging the furniture and I set up the new computer.  I’m now sorting through all my files, throwing away as much as I can.  This is step 3 of household organization using the method Marie Kondo describes in her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.  I read that book last September and have slowly been working my way through it.  I had three file cabinets in my office.  One was already empty of files, but being used for storage.  The second was half storage and half files.  The third is all files.  I’d like to get two of them out of my office entirely, in order to make room for yarn and fiber storage.  My yarn is currently in my bedroom.  Some fiber is in the bedroom and some is in my office.  I’d like all my fiber craft tools and materials to be in my office.  I expect to have the office totally finished by the end of February!  In addition to working on my office, I have been crafting three projects.

Continue reading “WIP Wednesday: February 4, 2015”

The Fiber Event, Greencastle Indiana, April 18 & 19, 2014

I don’t go to a lot of Fiber Events. As far as I know, there are only two (now three, but I’ll get to that) fiber events that take place near me: Distaff Days in early January and The Florida Fiber In in mid-September. I have not made it to Distaff Days yet because I’m often away for the holidays the first weekend of January. I have been to The Florida Fiber In twice. The third event is the Florida Sheep, Wool, and Herding Dog Festival, which is a new event, held for the third time this year. I have not been to that event before, because I did not learn about it until after the second time it was held.

This year is an exception to the few fiber events pattern. I am actually attending fiber events three weekends in a row. The Fiber Event in Greencastle, Indiana was the first, held April 18 & 19. Second is the Florida Sheep, Wool, and Herding Dog Festival held April 25-27. Third is Maryland Sheep and Wool on May 3 & 4.

Continue reading “The Fiber Event, Greencastle Indiana, April 18 & 19, 2014”