Monday, March 1, 2010


Done with the Olympics: I'm always a bit wistful at the end of the Winter Games because I enjoy them so much and always want to watch more than I can.

Done with Ravelympics: Whew, I'm relieved that I finished my little spinning and dyeing projects. I wasn't sure I'd make it, but I did and had a lot of fun being part of Ravelympics 2010. Maybe I'll be brave and try a slighter larger project next time.

Done with February: It was better than January, thanks to DS's birthday and the Olympics. Onward to the transitional month of March! Longer days, new projects, contemplation of gardening . . . all good.

Hope March brings you good things too!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

I'm on the podium! THE SEQUEL

Here's 2 skeins of handspun wool (spun a while back on handspindles) that I dyed with Kool-Aid for a Ravelympics entry in the Downhill Dyeing event. Fun! 

Friday, February 19, 2010

I'm on the podium!

Here's my medal for my first entry in the Flying Camel Spin event in the 2010 Ravelympics!  I made a 2-ply bulky skein of Racka wool on my Roosterick Navajo spindle.

It's a lovely grey, and I'm happy with it although it was softer in the batt than it is now. Hmm . . . I'm also working on some creamy-colored wool on a drop spindle and waiting on 2 previously spun skeins to dry after being dyed with Kool-aid.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Let The Games Begin!

Hurray! Today starts the Winter Olympics, my favorite sports event to watch. Also I am happy that tonight will also start the Ravelympics. I am on Team Spindlers and am excited to do some spinning and maybe some Kool-Aid dyeing. There are so many events that I wanted to do -- it was hard to pick. Are you doing it? If not, we all need a cheering section and you can monitor our progress on Ravelry.

I know what you mean about SOAR. I'm still going to try to save some money to go, but it will entirely depend on my family obligations and how much I've saved when it is time to register. Things should be much calmer around here by October, so at least I can go to the Market on the weekend if the classes don't work out.

EDITED TO ADD: My Ravelympics fiber you can see on my Ravelry stash. To follow Ravelympics in general, go to the Ravelympics 2010 group and check out the special Ravelympics tabs for events and live coverage!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Felted Hat BEFORE, and an Historic Day for Geology

Here's my felted hat before knitting! It's a natural brown because it was the only feltable thing in my stash in the right thickness. That's OK because my plan is to weave a sweet hatband for it. And to felt it before that, of course. 

And the Historic Day: I finally felt an earthquake! One of my very longtime geologist dreams.  There was a 3.8 quake yesterday morning, epicenter approx. 45 miles NW of Chicago, enough to give southern Wisconsin a shake. I woke long enough to wonder why the strong wind outside seemed to make the bed move and then I dropped back to sleep. I remember hearing a rumble but am willing to concede that might have been a snow plow.


Thursday, January 28, 2010

A harbinger of spring?

(pause while I try to think if I really know what harbinger means)

Yes, it's that time of year! Not the first robin (she'd be crazy to show up here in January), but the Spring issue of Rowan arrived yesterday! Something to warm the heart of the weary crafter.

Other things that also encourage: a new project (backstrap woven, in my case), time with family, the support of friends, reading, yoga, looking forward to the new issue of Knitcircus, a really good cuppa java. Hope you are finding these helpful as well.

On the gear side of things: I decided to sell my 16" loom and my Bond knitting machine. My plan is to eventually get a wider rigid heddle loom. In the meantime, I am happily exploring backstrap weaving and (of course) spinning and Ravelry and planning new knitting projects.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

On weaving and the weary mind

Like many fiber admirers, I am curious about textiles of all kinds.  I'd been curious about weaving for a while when I got my rigid heddle (RH) loom on ebay in 2008. I've made a few things on it: a scarf, some washcloths, a three-paneled blanket (my loom is 16" wide), and a few false starts. Weaving is fun, and the RH loom made it easy for me to get started and also get started on a library of rigid-heddle books ;)  And I already have a list of projects in my mind that I'd like to make. It's a great way to work with cotton, which I love but dislike knitting with. Of course, it is great with my beloved wool as well.

I'd been enjoying Weavezine for a while when I noticed this article on backstrap weaving. Wow! I could have a 2nd loom for very little money and try some new things. So after reading the article a few times and watching the associated videos, I found myself at Home Depot with some bits of wood and a fiendish grin. I joined weavolution and its Backstrap Weaving group, which is populated by friendly and helpful crafters.  I've been very much enjoying the Backstrap Weaving blog (Thank you Laverne!).

Here are my backstrap weavings to date and some of the books from which I have gleaned wisdom (I own these but have also made use of my excellent local library!):   

(we interrupt this post for some cursing because even though this image is NOT rotated before I upload, apparently blogger thinks this is what I want)  I apologize for any neck pain this may cause. Obviously I did not make the turtle but he is modeling a "karate belt" that I did make. That and the other orange strip were supposed to be new straps for one of my knitting bags but due to tension problems (the warp's, I think, not mine) I ended the second one early. Dear Son saw them laying next to the sewing machine and said what nice mini-scarves I'd made. So one went to him and the other to Dear Daughter. The larger strap with the green cords is a backstrap I wove (using an old T-shirt as a temporary backstrap).

Backstrap weaving is still used by numerous people around the world although it is not so well-known in North America unless you read Weavezine. It allows you to use a continuous warp that you can weave all the way to the edges with no waste from  tying it onto the loom. It can be used for a variety of projects and for different types of color work, so its humble construction does not limit creativity in any way! I continue to be captivated by this technique even though I am not very good at it yet.
Arghh. I feel like I need Backstrap Weaving for Dummies. I thought it would be fun to learn a new fiber skill completely from scratch and a welcome distraction from the challenges of my life. I was having warp tension problems before Dear Hubby's health problems (which I will not be blogging about here) but apparently my being stressed is complicating things as well. Or maybe I can blame my warping board (loose peg?). I've had a lot more false starts than I did with my RH loom. It's easy to fine-tune warp tension on a RH loom because the warps are tied on in small groups. With a continous warp, it's got to be good from the get-go. I may try backstrap weaving with a non-continous warp to see if it goes better . . .

I've warped my RH loom for some more washcloths while I think about it.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, dear friend and any readers out there in cyberland! It's been a crazy week, one of the likes I hope to never see again, so I haven't composed my resolutions yet. Still, I've been reflecting back over the year and there's been a lot of great things in it (and even in this last week).

I gave our blog a bit of a new look for the new year; feel free to tweak or change it as always, Alene. Hope your parents' visit is going well. We may get some new readers once I start posting more about my weaving; the backstrap weaving group on weavolution is a delightfully curious group.

Bye for now, Cindy

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Humble pie

Yup, I'm eating it. I got about 60% through a well-known, knitter-friendly lace shawl pattern (I won't mention the designer because it is so NOT her fault), and then realized about half my lace motifs were unrecognizable. Rats. I was following the chart closely; my stitch counts were good mostly. Huh?

This is ironic because I loved helping customers troubleshoot their knitting projects at my yarn shop job, and I even did pretty well with complicated lace. I deeply admire the amazing lace I've seen. I thought that after 30 years of knitting I should be able to do some lace more complex than "yo, k2tog" across and feather and fan (which I adore for its loveliness and simplicity). I can't honestly blame it on my slippery needles or slippery yarn or (ahem) relaxed gauge. Methinks (since this is not my first try at lace over the last few months) that my head is just not in the lace game right now. Me thinks also I will retry this pattern on different needles and yarn one of these days . . .

Craftwise, I have mittens and spinning and weaving on the brain lately. I want to do some knitting in 2010 for Afghans for Afghans. Did you know that SOAR 2010 will be held in Wisconsin?? I think I'd better start saving now -- I might fall down a lot at the market ;) Any chance you can come? C.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Slack and then slack some more...

Hi Cindy!

I've been a bad blogger and not really much to show for it. I've been doing some knitting and crocheting but nothing really to show for it, at least no pictures. I guess the uncertainty with work has me a bit on edge and I haven't really accomplished much. I started to set up an etsy store to sell some of my excess items but can't get to writing up descriptions and posting them.

We still have no news on the budget. The state legislature met in special session last month but couldn't decide anything. And they may or may not meet this month. The longer they push the decision the deeper the cuts are likely to go. I think my position will be okay since I'm the only one that does the job and I've been with the state a long time (17.5 years if you can believe it!) but the one thing I think the legislature decided on was suspending the personnel rules.

Anyways, enough downer talk. I started painting the bathroom over the weekend. My parents come out four weeks from today so I'd like to have it done by then. I've gotten the cabinet done so far, next on to the walls. We've had fish in there since we moved in, since before we moved in and it was time for a change. It was rather childish looking so it is time for a more grown-up feel. I'm going for a modern, SE Asian feel. The cabinet is a dark purple called Deep Aubergine. I didn't do a deep sanding on it so it was the stained brown to start and the purple over makes it almost a deep claret color. The inside is a bright green, quite a contrast but you only see it when the doors are open. The walls will be blue and cinnamon and the ceiling and door will be a taupe color. It sounds a little weird but it was a color grouping I picked from a layout in a paint suggestion booklet I picked up.

I'll end with a picture of the yarn I've picked out for a baby blanket for one of my friends at work. It will be a feather and fan pattern. They are expecting a girl in February and don't want to go the pink route. I'm dropping the green mix boucle and am adding a deep pink. I knit up a test swatch in the color order I'm going to use and showed it to the dad. He loved the colors and said they were exactly what they're thinking. In fact the wall color for the room is just slightly darker than the mustard color I choose. Gotta love Cascade 220 for their color choices!

Time to finish, Take Care, A

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A good fibery day

Last Thursday I got two goodies in the mail and finished my new project bag! It has a knit handle (originally intended as a scarf) and woven sides. It is made of my handspun; the purple is Kool-aid-dyed and the other colors are from plying with dyed roving. All the natural colors are from my first fleece.

I have no idea why my pictures have sidewaysed themselves . . .

Thursday, November 19, 2009

How I'm doing on my fleece

Sorry I am pictureless again ... blog slacker, that's me. Oh, and I changed the comments to not allow anonymous any more since it looks like a spammer found my last post.

So here's the story so far of my fleece:

1. Go to farm and spend idyllic hour or two with kids and farmer on an early spring day. Leave with glorious fleece in back and kids in love with farming.

2. Roughly sort fleece at home and wash it. Discover that a better job of sorting (by texture and amount of VM as well as by color) would have been helpful. Glad that most of fleece pretty clean and not grass-embedded.

3. Start carding and spinning long draw after becoming enamored with this video.

4. Spin up a bunch of wool, ply some of it with itself and some with dyed samples from the April Phat Fiber box. Love just looking at the yarn.

5. Notice that although I am enjoying fiber prep, I am not doing it very evenly. Find this discouraging since I was thinking I might get enough yarn of the same weight to make a sweater version of this Rowan pattern.

6. Decide to make a vest instead. Decide that next time I get a fleece, I will have it professionally processed so as to be more consistently prepared. Fiber prep most fun if it turns out the way you want. :P

7. Decide vest will be too warm too, and opt to make a bag so I can have some of my special fleece with me in all seasons. Start bag twice (first time took too much yarn, 2nd try way too big). Remember pretty bag pattern in Weaving Made Easy and make a version of that instead. Bag is almost done; pics once assembly finished!

8. Join Team Spindlers for the 2010 Ravelympics! This should be fun as well as give me a timeline for getting that last pound of fiber ready for spinning. Enjoy thinking about what that yarn will become.

When you have time, would enjoy having an update on your WIPs! Love, Cindy

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Ahh, autumn

Yep, my favorite season is here. I'm planning to get back to my neglected rigid heddle loom, which you may (or not) remember was an ebay purchase maybe a year and a half ago (or not, middle age memory block). It's been weird having no children at home during the school day but productive! I'm almost at the end of putting up tomatoes, and I've been doing a variety of household projects. I've also dipped into the archives of the Cast On and Weavecast podcasts.

I've made some time for crafts, too. And just this morning I was thinking I ought to have a local mill card the rest of my fleece for me. Feeling weary of my preparation "skills", I tossed the bag of remaining fleece on my kitchen scale. One pound. You have got to be kidding. Do you know how much space one pound of clean fleece can take up? Apparently a lot. I'm not going to ask a mill to put a measly pound on their giant carding machine. Time to get back at it!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Silk Fusion

Hi Cindy!

Hope the kids are still enjoying the new school year. DH had two tests this week, both on Monday night so he spent much of last weekend studying. While he was busy I took a Silk Fusion at Tempe Yarn and Fiber on Saturday afternoon. Here is the store's account of the class along with a few more pictures. Do you remember the article from last year's Interweave Felt where they fused a stack of silk hankies to make a small purse? This is basically the same process except the fibers are teased apart and laid flat. They are then dried vertically to give them a better feel.

Here are the five panels I made. This was the first time the class has been offered and they scheduled it for 3 hours. It was a bit long. I had used up my first pack of silk fibers (the blues, purples, greens and reds) by the end of the first hour and picked out a second pack.

We used 18" square plastic trays to lay the fibers out on top of tulle. The first layer was laid down and then a second layer was placed at right angles. A second layer of tulle was put over the top. From there we wetted the entire packet with a dilute solution of Textile Medium (1 part medium to 4-5 of water). We worked the solution in and then flipped the packet over and made sure all the layers were thoroughly wet. We then squeezed out the excess and hung the fused silk out to dry.

Being a hot Arizona day the fibers quickly dried. I did have to touch up the Textile Medium on one of my squares as it was not completely fused, and I may do the others too this Saturday. I have enough of the gold and green silk, with a little red, that I can do another square before I need to get more fiber.

This last square is my favorite and was actually the first one I did. It reminds me of a peacock. I have it hanging up in my cubicle at work. It could use a pressing but still looks really nice. I need to come up with a design for a bag.

Take Care, A

Monday, September 7, 2009

Take 2

Hello! Hope things are cooling off there, and that the start of fall is going well for you. We're in the midst of tomato harvest (yep, lots of the garden is slow because of our cool summer) and adjusting to school. My house is strangely quiet during the day now. I'm doing a lot of jobs around the house to celebrate (??) my "freedom." I still feel busy but my stress level is going down!

I had to restart my felted bag because it was using way more yarn than I thought it would. I decided to go with a single-strand of yarn rather than the double I was trying and use a simpler color pattern to get the most mileage out of my handspun. I'm now making Hermione's Magic Knitting Bag from the fun book Charmed Knits. I also started my first real lace project! It uses laceweight yarn but on size 6 needles (whew) and is from the All New Homespun Handknit; it's called the Prairie Scarf. I got the book on ebay and it came with some alpaca/silk laceweight (not handspun, but it'll be eons before I have the skill the spin enough consistent laceweight to make anything). I don't have pictures of those yet, but I did update my Ravelry projects page with pictures.

Bye for now, love, Cindy