Monday, March 31, 2008

YES-finally making progress!!!

okay, so i know i haven't posted in a while, but i've really been trying to focus on my spinning, i've got to back away from the computer and get some actual work done! but i'm super excited to report that i have had some lucky breaks in helping me to get moving on the cotton spinning!

on a stroke of luck, i WAS able to go the spinning store! i was soo thrilled!!! and i didn't have to take the kids, i dropped them off to spare them from the boredom. i was extremely dissappointed to see they had NO cotton, except on lonely bag, which was the unginned *i think that's what it's called* which is the same thing that's driving me crazy now! i know it's a little store, and not that many people spin around here, but COME ON people, it's freaking texas!!! the only thing they keep stocked is 100% merino *which IS good quality* and 80/20 mohair and merino blend, which i have had alot of experience with theirs, and it doesn't make a particularly good yarn for what i normally make, so i NEVER get mohair there anymore. i will from now on be buying the same mohair i got the rainbow mohair curls from, exclusively, unless i find something i absolutely CAN'T pass up. and they also carry alpaca and some llama of limited qualities. this perplexes me even more. if you're not from texas, it's impossible to know how much the weather sucks down here! every five minutes it's different, even the weather men don't do a good job of predicting it. it's basically, if it's raining right now, it's raining, if it's hot, it's hot, but there's no way to predict what it will be like the next day. and as someone of a particularly hot nature, we just don't mesh well. i'm getting off point, but as you can tell, these are not logical spinning fibers for texas.

so after all the anticipation, it was a HUGE let down. i was also thinking about getting, a diz, a wraps per inch tool *the nancy's knit knack one, LOVE it* maybe some cotton, nothing. i DID get a puni stick *very surprised they had these, as the lady told me nobody in the store spins cotton* and the newest issue of spin-off *which i WAS excited about, because it's not even supposed to be out until the first. *i have not yet written about my obsession with spin-off, but i have driven people completely batty *at the two spinning stores within a 45 minute radius and the local hastings* calling everyday to ask if they've gotten it yet, they know me, they probably cringe when i walk in the door!!*

so, i went to pick up the kids from my grandparent's house, and i'd been meaning to talk to him for a while about making some tools for me, but i didn't know if he still had all his wood-working tools. turns out, he didn't. BUT he did have a few *he got rid of all of his table saws, and stuff like this, all the BIG stuff* but he did have basics, and much to my surprise, he was able to make me a diz! it's not very pretty because i wanted it right then, but it's functional. and i asked him about some bigger items and he told me that a couple of his friends that live in their subdivision are like MASTER wood workers, they make awesome stuff, almost like art pieces, they do all the hand-turning and stuff like that. so he's going to ask them about some custom projects for me. i need a yarn blocker FOR SURE, and hopefully if they agree, we can work on stuff in the future.

so when i got home i sat down with my half-already-spun batts of cotton, and got the diz out. to my surprise, it went very well! it was easy and relatively fast, i thought this might take forever. of course, with minimal knowledge of the process, i did break the roving about seven times, but it doesn't matter, it's still spinable, no big deal. i pulled out both the cream and red-brown batts for the first single. once i sat down to spin, it went like a breeze! there was still drafting to do *i'm not from the school that thinks you should just predraft everything so that once you spin, you only put twist into the roving, that takes all the fun out of it to me!* but the drafting WAS much easier, and FASTER!!! i'm so happy, i finally found a way to make this cotton thing easier! i have since ordered some cotton punis off the internet, i've heard they are a dream to spin-super easy. i'm going to compare and see what types of cotton are easiest and most user-friendly.

ok, so here are some pics of my rainbow bamboo *read, bellow* fair warning, it's a lot of pics, and some of the pics are a little blurry, but you get the idea!

my very beautiful singles for the rainbow bamboo!!! the second bobbin is tussah silk roving

ok, this is the BEAUTIFUL yarn, PRE wash, of course!

last pic, just showing a closeup of the plying method. it's not a great pic, but if you look BEHIND my hand *dur, sorry!* you can see some good examples too!

on another note, i have some very sad news. i went to wash my finished *note:BEAUTIFUL* bamboo yarn. on advice of the seller of the roving, i laid it flat to dry. when i went to inspect the dried was a DISASTER!!! my beautiful yarn turned into something flat, and squished, and looked like a drowned cat. i cannot explain how this yarn looked after it had been spun. it was perfection! after they ply, it was even MORE soft and lofty, it looked like a springy, bouncy wool! but i'm guessing it just didn't have enough twist and got too compressed with the weight of the water. i have tried to fluff it up, but nothing has helped. i'm going to contact the seller of the roving, and ask her about it. these are the trials and errors of a beginner! but it truly is devastating. i hope it can be salvaged.

Friday, March 28, 2008

information junky

so, i know it's been a while since i've blogged, but the past few days, i've been on upload. since it's been so long since i've been able to truly *surf* the net, i have so many crafty things i want to look up, and right now i'm looking for some stuff to fill up my dwindling stash, since i've been working so hard to get new stuff up on etsy. but more about buying stuff later, for now i'll give you the updates on my spinning!

i finally finished carding my cotton and have begun the arduous task of spinning it! i knew it would be tricky, after all i've heard about how hard it is to spin, but i didn't think it would be this unpleasant! i work on it at least an hour straight each day *i would usually do more, when i'm not on canstant upload to the brain!!!* but i've not even gotten a quarter of the bobbin filled yet, today was spent searching for long draw techniques and other tips for spinning cotton. i just cannot do the long draw!!! it drives me crazy! since i began spinning this technique appealed to me, but still it eludes me! i'm not sure what it takes to master this, i'm almost positive one day it will just *click* i spent many hours today looking at spinning videos on youtube, which, btw, you might be surprised at how man there are. there is one poster i particularly like, her username is rexenne, she is CRAZY, but her videos are filled with sooo much info, and honestly most of the other videos bordered on putting me to sleep! so the humor is nice, it keeps you entertained, even just because you're going *omg, come look at this chick* she has a vid called fiber porn, i think that sums up any spinners feeling! anyways, i'm hoping the cotton will start coming together a little faster, i must force myself to devote more time to it, it would more inspiring if i was making more progress!

yesterday i washed and two skeins of yarn, my rainbow mohair curls yarn, and my rainbow bamboo yarn, i know it sounds so repetitive, i didn't even realize it until just now, but if you've been keeping up with me, they look TOTALLY different! anyhoo-this of course means my pics were pre-wash! i know, i'm bad, i was just so excited to get them done, i had to post pics, i will be taking more pics though, and getting those posted, as well as changing the ones on my etsy, no one has bought anything yet, so i wasn't in a hurry to set the twist. but now i can post the bamboo yarn, i haven't done that one yet.

now for the stash rebuild, i have been shopping around for different types of cotton to broaden my current research on the subject. i want to see if all cotton is truly so hard to spin, or if it was just the preperation that makes mine so difficult, i will be getting either carder roving or combed top, not sure yet, i did hear carder roving is EASIER for beginners like myself however! i found some beautifully dyed punis on, but they were $16 for an OUNCE!!! how ridiculous!!! i was so ready to buy them, but for that, you've got to be kidding me! maybe it was an error, don't know. and i desperately need a wraps per inch tool. i'm so over doing it on wooden spoons! lol

well, it's uber-late, and i am SO wanting some ice cream, so, i'm going to retreat for tonight.....wish me luck on my spinning *fingers crossed!!!*

PS-i may be making a last-minute to a spinning supply store about 35 minutes away from here tomorrow, i haven't been in a really long time, and i know they had cotton when i was there last, so here's to hoping i can make it out of the house tomorrow!!!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

spinning around kids

well, i am making slow but steading progress on my carding and bamboo yarn. so here are the updates!

the yarn is a just about done. i experimented with the plying of it with the honey colored silk, and decided i liked wrapping the bamboo around the silk instead of the other way around, which was my first idea. but the bamboo deserves to be on the outside, not hiding under the silk, it needs to be shown off! it is turning out beautifully, i also added some knots of the silk yarn, to give it some more textural interest. and the super-good news is: i'm going to have about half a bobbin of the silk left over!!!! i can't believe it, how lucky am i? i didn't like spinning it so much, but i am loving it now, i think i may buy some more, it was processed roving, and i just found it slippery and didn't care for having to fight it to stay in my hands, but that was also quite a long time ago, maybe now, with more experience under my belt, i can whip it into submission!!!!

the carding is also very closed to being done, i will probably finish it as soon as i stop blogging. i sort of hit a snag with the last 2 oz of the darker color. for some reason it just had more vm *which, of course, i never noticed before!* so it has been taking longer for me to pick out before carding, because i don't want it in my finished yarn. but the colors are all so amazing, i definately am going to buy more of this kind of cotton. instead of making something for my daughter, i am thinking of making either a hat or dread band for my hair. i only hats made out of wool, and nothing for summer, and being texas, it has been summer since january. *crying inside* i am excited to start spinning cotton, it should be fun, i'm thinking more of a worsted to bulky size yarn, 2 ply, and i know it will be slightly nubby because of the carding, it should be good!! and so, i must hurry and get the bamboo yarn off my wheel to make way for more summer yarns!!!

on an off-hand note, the bamboo would make a great yarn for any type of accessory for the head for summer, since it is antibacterial, and central texas is an oven! i don't like summer!!! i want it to be cool, and early spring!

i must also start looking for new yarn materials... i have some ideas knocking around up there... i think i may dye some silk caps soon, but i have no idea what i will use them for! stay tuned!!!!

Monday, March 24, 2008

going, going, gone

so, with the holidays here, i have been hard-pressed to find time to finish any of my current spinning projects. i continued to spin the rainbow bamboo, but made only minimal progress. i finished carding the cream cotton, i was happy about that! it takes me forever to card, because i get very involved. i like to do alot of the work FOR the carder. i'm obsessive, so it's hard for me to just put a lump of cotton on the feed-in tray, and go for it *i need to work on that! i like to pull it all apart, and make little cotton clouds. it's fun to watch it come apart! it starts in this sort of condensed blob *it looks like the nasty cotton you would pull out of the medicine bottles!* but instantly when you pull it apart, it reveals it's true qualities! you can literally SEE how soft it is! i since i haven't previously worked with this material much, it's interesting to see how short it is!!!

anyways, so i finished the cream and started on the slightly reddish-tan color! it's great, i'm almost half-way through with it also. reddish-brown cotton *the color is a little bit light in this photo, bottom photo is truest color-isn't she a beauty!

these are the prettiest little batts!!!

and then i have 2 oz of of a light tan left. i've been thinking about the design of the yarn.... i have weird amounts of colors (1 oz cream, 1 oz reddish-tan, and 2 oz light tan), so i'm thinking i will make a varriegated stripey single of the cream and reddish color, and then a single of the light tan, and then ply the two together. it will be interesting to see final outcome of the colors in one yarn!

on a side note: i picked up some VERY interesting stuff from the craft store on easter sale!!! i'm not sure if i want to divulge my secrets yet, but i WILL give two hints!
1) easter grass
2)VINTAGE-style easter grass
i know it sounds boring, but it's not...i've never seen either of these products before

Saturday, March 22, 2008

new BAMBOO obsession!!!

in november, 2007, i went to my first fiber festival: kid 'n ewe and llamas, too! it was a small town afair in boerne *i'm sure some of my fellow fiber enthusiasts were there! but despite being small, there were some great booths! i bought some bamboo fiber from my favorite booth there. i have never spun bamboo, but these rovings were just too beautiful to pass up.

my buying strategy is always just to buy what i like, even if i don't have any clue what i'm going to do with it. i almost never have a project in mind when i buy fiber, but then, when the idea hits, i have it there. but i've also never spun bamboo, and find it a little frightening. and so, it sat in it's bag, unspun, silently intimidating me. so after i got some inspiration, i decided to break it out, and have a go at it. what a dream! it was awesome. it spins alot like silk, which is what everybody says, and i HAVE had experience with silk before, so it was pretty familiar. it was a little more slippery, in my opinion though, but with my wheel on the slowest ratio i was making great progress! it was FUN to spin, since it was rainbow dyed with longer red repeats in the middle, i could watch the colors come and go. it was fascinating to see how the colors came, at first with such intensity, and then as the next color would come along, to watch how they blended together. i always knew bamboo was a shiny fiber, but once the twist enter the drafted sections, the colors shone with such intensity! it was quite mesmerizing! i zoned out for about an hour, having found my rythym. and it went pretty seamlessly, i only hit a major snag once. it was a great experience for my first time!

my final design for the finished yarn isn't set in stone yet. right now i'm thinking i will ply it with fine white silk, but i think i want to do something novelty with it, i'm just not sure what. but i think i'm set on the white silk, because i want to keep the color of the bamboo the focal point of the yarn, and the white will make it pop! plus, the addded shiny-ness of the bamboo, i don't want to detract from it's beauty.

carding cotton

so, about six months ago i bought some beautiful naturally-colored cotton. it was processed to take out most of the vm, but not carded, so the lady told me when i bought it that all i would have to do would be the carding. simple, right? you would think so. since i don't have cotton hand cards, i decided to try my wool ones. i did effectively card A LITTLE fiber, but it ended up ALL OVER ME!!! *most of it in my mouth* so i turns out that cotton cards actually do serve a purpose *i used to think it was a scam*!so, i shelved the cotton. well, after spinning wool all winter, and having almost three months of summer in central texas by march, i was ready for the change. i thought that maybe i could card it on my drum carder. i have a strauch petite. their company claims you card anything on these machines, without having to change carding cloths or anything, but i was still unsure. after getting some expert advice from the company head, otto, i decided the best approach for this experiment would be to sandwich the cotton between a layer of mohair...

*the layer of mohair already added, cotton waiting to be fed in to the drum

it worked!!! no problems at all, i was so impressed! so i now i one lovely batt of cotton (and a little mohair) and it looks absolutely wonderfull. i will finish carding the rest before i attempt to spin any.

here is some cotton already carded onto the drum, it was a little noily and bumpy, but i like it that way! if i were to put it through again, it would get sorted out, but i don't usually card more than one pass

and below are some pics of the batt once it was taken off the carder. it turned out really nice. i couldn't get any good pics up close of the amazing TEXTURE, but it really is spectacular, and the color! it's the purest cream i have every seen, just beautiful. this was about a one ounce batt.

*these cotton batts don't stretch AT ALL, my wool batts, once taken off the drum, look twice as big!

Friday, March 21, 2008

busy busy busy

today was non-stop working. i was hoping to take new pics because the ones i took yesterday were too dark, but i never got around to it. i have really been wanting to get more yarns up on my etsy store, so i posted the one i finished yesterday:

rainbow mohair curls

this i a 2 ply super bulky (avg. 4-5 wpi)one ply darky grey to white varriegated corriedale and 2nd ply rainbow-dyed mohair curls. this mohair was the most EXTRAVAGANT mohair i have every spun! i usually pass up mohair, becuase i'm not a fan of the way it spins up, but i couldn't resist the rainbow! and my intuition was right! it is literally the softest and best quality of mohair i have every encountered! i put it up for sale today on my etsy store, i hope someone falls in love with it!

i also carded some cotton, which actually turned out be a great experiment! the first time i ever carded cotton, it was a DISASTER! i had bought some BEAUTIFUL naturally-colored brown, tan and cream cotton, which was mostly processed, all that was left was some VM. not having cotton cards, i sat down to card on my wool carders. BIG MISTAKE! somehow, most of the cotton ended up on my mouth *lesson learned, they actually have different types of carders for a reason, not just to scam you for extra $$$* it was horrible. so before i ruined anymore of the cotton, i gave up. 6 months later, i thought about trying again, this time on my drum carder, and after emailing the company to make SURE my Strauch Petite could take it *they say their carders can blend ANYTHING without having to use different carding cloths, but i was still unsure of such a short fiber, this cotton must be 3/4 of an inch* they said to sandwich it between mohair, and all should be well. IT WORKED! i was over the moon! now i can spin my beautiful cotton! especially since we have already had two months of summer in central texas, i can't take anymore wool!!!! i'm thinking about making something my daughter, either a hat or a dress, but i'm not sure if i'll have enough for a dress, maybe a shirt, i'll have to see how it goes!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

photos-setting up a blog

ok, have set up an account on photobucket for downloading all my pics and getting them to the blog. this is the part that is so time-consuming!!! i still haven't taken any new pics....i'm so intimidated! i wish i knew someone that had great advice for taking pictures of yarn! i also need pics for my etsy account, i had it all set up, but got tired of going to the library to manage it (not to mention the hour time-limit), but now that i can do everything from home, i need to relist my items that expired on etsy, i'm trying to build an empire here!!!
*if only i could do it all during nap time!*
i'm thinking about getting a list of WIP's going and of course finished projects. hopefully it will motivate me to resume work on some of the projects i haven't worked on i while!

intro to blogging

so here goes my first attempt at blogging.
my mission statement: spinning in the real world is all about what beautiful knits and handspun yarns look like in the pages of glossy magazines, and what really happens in the real world, amidst kids and LIFE!!! any craft is all about dedication to what YOU want it to be, to turn out like. you don't just start spinning and out comes this gorgeous yarn, it takes time, and thought. most things never turn out the way i thought about them in my head, which is just the way i like it. you must take it as it comes. just as in anything else.

what i hope to be doing in the near future is to really get this blog up and running! i must find a good spot in our duplex to take pictures for the site, (i have never taken pics for the web here, my mother-in-law has a set up at her house, not to mention more experience, so i have her help me, but now that we have the web here, i need to learn to do all of this myself!)

i have a freshly-spun yarn straight off the bobbin from this morning that i will try to take pics of, and a newly finished (well, almost!) project knitted for my friend who is getting married on march 29th. more on those later...

i must go get the kids ready for their nap