Friday, April 25, 2008

broken computer makes way for LOADS of new yarns!!

so, it's been a couple of weeks since i've updated, but for good reason. our computer apparently is suffering from multiple personality dissorder. it decides what it wants to load or not, whether or not you can use the internet at all, and what settings it will choose to change. it's weird, there's obviously something seriously wrong with it, but we don't have the money to fix it :(

and of course, this is just about the only website it will absolutely NOT let me get on *today was a lucky accident* anyhoo, so until we get it fixed, my posts will probably be very sparse.

on the other hand, we have a lot of good news to report! i made my first actual sale on etsy! oh yeah, not a trade, but an unsolicited buy!!! i'm so happy! and the first to go? the rainbow bamboo yarn! i hope the girl likes it and can give it a good purpose in life! i also added some new stuff, after the trade and the sale, i only had 3 yarns left. so, i added the the ballet shoes yarn, and the super kid mohair yarn. these are great yarns, the ballet shoes is one of my favorites! it's super soft and squishy finn wool *probably my favorite wool i've ever worked with!*, and it has tons of ribbons and vintage rick rack poking out all over like a bad hair day! the colors of the trims are super sweet, little girly colors, hence the name, it's like a 5 year old's ballet recital translated into yarn. there are 2 skeins, but i put them up as one listing on my etsy. they are identical yarn, except the plying thread. on the first yarn, i used a rainbow sparkly thread, and much to my surprise, i ran out. i scoured every store looking for another spool, and after months of no luck, i decided i would have to make do, and use the same brand thread, in a different color; irridescent pearl. so, although both are spun the same way, i wouldn't want someone to find out half way through a project that they were slightly different, this is why i'm selling them as one lot of 2 mini-skeins. but they are awesome, i almost want to keep this one for myself! every time i pick it up, i just have to squeeze it, the wool is magnificent!

ballet shoes yarn on bobbin

both ballet shoes yarns; one ball and one skein

the super kid mohair yarn is AMAZING!!! it is one ply commercial yarn and one ply handspun mohair in a few different greens, yellow, and a tiny bit of purple. i spun the single quite a long time ago, but didn't have anything to use it with *it was a color-blending experiment i did when i first bought my drum carder* the adult mohair is plied with a commercial baby blue super kid mohair yarn, and this stuff feels like cashmere!! and the resulting yarn looks really great, it's 290 yards *and is super-jumbo skein, it's a monster!!*

super kid mohair yarn


i also finished two other yarns; the COTTON yarn *rejoice!!!* and i started and finished a new bamboo yarn. i waited forever to ply the cotton yarn, because after i spun the singles, i really thought i was going to HATE the final product. so it sat there, unloved, until last night, i ran out of what i was spinning, and didn't want to get up :P and guess what was sitting right there on the floor next to my wheel? you got it....the cotton. so i just did it. and turns out, i LOVE the plied yarn! it turned so much better than i could've expected! it's all lumpy and bumpy and irregular, and it's just the type of yarn i LOVE!!! such a happy surprise, and i got TONS more yardage than i thought, 195 yards! i didn't think i'd get anywhere near that! so now i'm thinking since it's way more than expected, i just may put this one up on my etsy, too, but i'm not sure yet...

the final yarn *yes, i was very busy while i was away* is another roving of bamboo, from the same lady that i got the rainbow bamboo roving. this is almost the exact opposite, though. it's very springy tones in yellow, green, purple and a light blue *not quite baby, more cerulean blue* it's really pretty and refreshing. i spun a thin single and then navajo plied it. this is one of my favorite techniques! i just love the hand movements, to me it's very relaxing! this one will go up on my etsy, as soon as i get pics taken! :) and i'm probably going to be ordering more from bamboo from her soon i get the chance on this damn computer! :S

so everybody cross their fingers, and wish me good luck, and maybe i can this infernal piece of machinery up and running again! and btw, i have lots more to update about, but i hate reading other blogs when the posts are super check back shortly!

Monday, April 14, 2008

much exciting news!

yeah, i made a sell on my etsy.... well, actually not. but close! i made a trade with a very talented seller, raimbowtree. she is awesome! she knits these amazing knit dreadbands *or headbands, depending on what style hair you have!* her shop announcement said she loved to do trades for handspun, so we set one up! i sent her a skein of my peacock 80% mohair, 20% wool yarns, and she made me a custom dreadband with her signiature raimbowtree logo on it, it's super-cute, i'll have to post some pictures once it gets here! i'm so excited, i also sent some exta sample yarns, so hopefully she may buy from me in the future! i'm really trying to get my name out there, so people will buy some stuff. i also issued a store-wide sale: the first 5 people who buy from me will get a discount on their order! so if you're reading this and love using handspun yarns, go to my shop FAST!!!

so, after i went to the post office, i went to check the mail and got a great surprise; the raw fleece i ordered from frene creek farm came in! this is the fleece that i ordered to spin for the danish tie shawl, if everything goes as planned. it looked quite small, even upon opening, there was 1 lb 12 ounces stuffed into a regular-size grocery bag! upon opening the bag i stand there exclaiming how beautiful it is. the crimp of this fleece is amazing! my husband is looking on, holding the baby, dumbfounded. he's like *that looks terrible, it's so dirty!* i giggle, knowing he will never understand this exhiliration! i went directly to the washing machine, because i knew if i waited to wash it, i would never get around to it! *that's just me!* and if you let a greasy fleece sit, the lanolin will really set up in the wool, and it will difficult to ever get it out. i have learned this lesson the hard way. i purchased that claimed to be washed *and this was from a very reputable seller* but not knowing any better, i had it picked, and spun it, and now, after a long while, i that i have had more experience, i know it is still quite greasy, and even the yarn i spun will have to go through one hell of a wash to clean it *if it even works :(*

i was still very nervous to do this washing raw fleece thing, even after all the books i've read and research i've done on the net. but it turns out everyone is right! even though my water is not quite hot enough, i'm still surprised by the process *your water has to be around 150' to successfully remove the lanolin in the wool* i will just have to do more washes, but another good tip is that since i'm doing mine in the washing machine, if you close the lid of the machine, it helps retain the heat and steam in the machine.

i've done about 3 washes now and although it was apparently a rather dirty fleece, it's looking MUCH better, and a lot whiter already *it was a very dirty yellowish-tan* i've had to stop for now, because the baby is asleep in the living room, but i'm going to start on the vinegar rinses next.

fleece after 1 or two washings, can't remember!

here is a lock of the beautiful targhee fleece *i know you can't see the crimp well in this pic, but it's amazing!!*

now for some spinning news! i have finished the first singles of the cotton yarn, and am currently working on the second single. i have finished the first batt *out of two* and since i didn't pull out the second batt into roving yet, this yarn has been temporarily postponed. oh-and i figured out the secret to spinning a cotton yarn! you have to resign yourself to the fact that it's going to take forever! i'm not kidding, this is the trick, and once i did this, the spinning went by much faster! there is, in fact, only a tiny bit of actual skill needed to effectively spin cotton!! i did come across an informative paragraph on a site selling cotton roving, however. in a previous post about the cotton yarn, i mentioned the white cotton being much easier to spin than the colors. this totally perplexed me! but, not anymore! apparently, the colored cottons are what's called "lint" from the cotton plant. and the white cotton is the longer cotton fiber. this is a good thing to keep in mind when buying cotton in the future especially for beginners! anyways, the point is, i only have one batt left to spin before i'm D-O-N-E. and i'm happy about that! :P

yesterday, i was extremely happy to start spinning something else. and what did i pick out of my stash..... a beautiful new bamboo roving! it's the only other one i bought off the fiberlady at kid 'n ewe fiber festival in boerne. it's a very springy color way, just what i needed, something to make me happy! i get all cheery just looking at it! the colors are really pretty together, it has yellow, purple, blue and green where the yellow and blue mix together. once i started spinning it though, it really came alive! the colors are much brighter *usually the opposite of a roving once you start spinning, they can sometimes blend all together and get muddy* they're like day-glow, it's so awesome! it's going to make a very nice summery yarn! i can't decide whether i should navajo ply it or just do a regular two-ply, i really want to navajo ply it, but i'm afraid the LONG color repeats will become very short, making it like ikat knitting yarn, which only works for that type of knitting, it's a very specific style and taste. but i do want to offer something a little different on my etsy, so i think i'm just going to have to experiment once i'm done with the first single, like i usually do, i never know exactly what i'm going to do, i don't like to be very scientific, if can't tell! :)

i'm not going to go on for much longer, but i want to mention now, and hopefully i'll remember to talk about it in full later, i bought some wool combs today! i'm so excited, after much research and agony, i found a set i think will suit me well; i got the majacraft complete combing set with double row combs... i can't wait for them to get here! and i ordered at the exact righ time, majacraft just raised their prices like a week ago, and i was able to get some before the prices were posted, now cross your fingers they won't email in a couple of days and say "we're sorry, but we're going to have to charge you an ass-load more money for those combs you already purchased!" i'll be devastated!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

discovering a whole new ETSY

i haven't talked much about my etsy store on my blog yet, so today i'm going to give you a basic rundown of how that started off, up to present time, and how things are going there.

when i first started etsy, we didn't have the net, and i was like 6 months pregnant. i had to go to the library to update everything and they have a one hour restriction limit, so it was always *hurry up, get pics up, write a horrible description* no wonder i never sold anything. so, after i had the baby, i just gave up, i wasn't dragging her along every time, bothering the people who go to the library for some peace and quiet. so my listings went inactive *they are only good for four months* and i just forgot about it. we wanted internet FOREVER, but we just never had the money with all of our other interests! finally we just decided that was it. so after alot of working, i got all my items relisted and waited...... nothing happened. still no buys. i was dissapointed to say the least. i never was active in the etsy community, didn't ever visit anyone else's shop, hell, i didn't even know all the AWESOME ways you can shop on etsy *pounce *my fav*, shopping locally *great for green people!* treasuries, they're all pretty cool! once i started looking around, i discovered this whole new world, and i fell in love with etsy all over again! i TOTALLY redid my shop, i'm currently having a shop sale *hint, hint, go check it out! ;)* and found some pretty neat ways to try to promote my shop, contacting other sellers, i'm even working on a trade with raimbowtree who does awesome accessories! i'm excited, i hope this will help get my name out there. i'm now set up to do custom work through alchemy *people can post listings of things they want made, and then sellers can bid on the chance to make it for them*. i just hope it picks up, i love what i do, but i don't really use yarns for myself, i just like to do stuff for other people, that's why i want my etsy store to work out. i'm investing alot of time into lately, but i also really enjoy it :D

today i asked my husband to get my fiber stash box out for me, i've been wanting to go through it so bad, but it was behind a bunch of stuff and i couldn't get to it *you try to fit a married couple, two kids, and alot of hobbies into a tiny two-bedroom duplex :S anyhoo, he got it, and i was astonished to see tons of stuff i had completely forgotten about while i was riffling through it, throwing fibers all around the living room! there were a bunch of left over handspun yarns from previous projects, some were enough to list on etsy! but i was overjoyed to find some more stuff to work with because i was getting a little bored! and i really need to get some stuff done that i started spinning a long time ago, and didn't know what to do with! all these ideas were just pouring out of my head! so now i'm trying to get some of the easier yarns done sooner *ones that only need to plied and stuff like that* so can build up some inventory in my shop. this is going to sound really dorky, but working at my shop makes me feel really proud, like I DID THIS... AND I WANT TO TELL EVERYBODY!!!!!

update on the llama fleeces:
from the highest high to the lowest low. turns out, apparently the llamas or barn DO have bugs. i have no idea what's going on. i've emailed a bunch of local people trying to figure it out. the bags of fleece sat in my kitchen, and i went to check on them, open it up, guess what?!?! there's bugs. i'm just speachless. after all those hours of sorting and skirting, and the wasted money driving over there... it's a bummer. oh well. i'm probably going to have to resort to throwing them out, even without knowing what the bugs are. i almost mistook them for tiny bits of vm, they're so small and a very light tan color, until you watch it for a minute, and they're moving. it's got to be mites, i don't think it's lice, never seen lice, but i've heard it's white, it's definately not ticks or fleas, and mites are the only other thing that i can find through my research that will live on llamas. oh well.


Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Hooray! for shearing day!!

today the llamas got sheared! i know i said they were alpacas, because i thought they were, but apparently not! sort of dissapointing because i have never felt alpaca before! BUT llama is also a great fiber to work with, if you have the tools to process it straight off the sheep.

some words about llama fleece:
i think it is imperitive to have wool combs. llamas have gaurd hairs that SHOULD be combed out; you can of course spin these with the rest of it, but they can be coarse and they tend to poke out from the yarn and be scratchy *not fun*. if you are lucky enough, i have spun llama with gaurd hairs, that were so soft, they didn't need to be removed, and made a good enough yarn, just not perfect. it's a preference thing. but if you WANT to remove these hairs, and you don't have combs, you have to pick them out by hand *trust me, i've tried to think of ANY other way, but didn't come up with any* needless to say, this is tedious, and because i am a picker, i would spend hours upon hours thinking every hair was a guard hair. i finally just gave up.

ok, that's enough education for one day, back to the story:
i was so excited to go, but i wish i could've been there to see the action, it was much to early in the morning for me to be able to get myself up and ready, and ON TOP of that, get both of the kids ready *one of whom is currently potty training, the other is miserable due to teething!* so i dropped the kids off with my grandparents, and went on my way. it was a slightly humid, drizzly day....blech.... but luckily, we were in a barn. as i was driving down the entrance, i could see the llamas all running about, they must have been so excited to have been shorn! it was super cute! unfortunately, the vet who shears them knows nothing about shearing for spinners, so picking through all the fleece was quite hard *there were 4 fleeces, but only the belly fur, they leave everything else on, i don't think all other people do this, but it IS actually better, because the neck and leg hair are usually coarser* but he know nothing about secong cuts, so there were alot of varrying lengths of cuts. and apparently, he RAKED all the fiber into a stall in the barn, so the top of the pile was okay, but once i got past that, it was almost unusable, i salvaged all i could, but he had raked up all the hay and poo along with it. i spent like two hours shaking vm out of the fleece. i was incredibly lucky enough, however, to get pretty much a whole fleece from the ONLY baby there, which is spectacular!!! it is a beautiful cinnamon color, and of course, uber-soft!!!

now here's the part where i really cringe: i forgot my camera!! i know, i know, trust me, nobody is more mad than myself! it didn't even cross my mind this morning! but i'll take some pictures of the fleece before or after i wash it. this will also be the first fleece i've washed...i'm nervous. it's a good beginner, though, since llamas don't have lanolin like sheep. but i did finalize my order for a little more than a pound and a half of targhee wool today! i'm just diving in head first!

my order came in from nancy's knit knacks today for the wpi tool! i'm so excited! this will definately make all the spinning coming up alot easier!

Monday, April 7, 2008

you get what you need

ok, so i am a firm believer in the phrase *you get what you need*. but i am wondering exactly what i needed when i decided to take on the cotton yarn. it's true, i haven't really challenged myself lately in my spinning. i did try out the bamboo for the first time, but it wasn't really a challenge *i thought it would be, but if you've spun silk top, then you have an idea of what it will be like* the only challenge there was the unexpected outcome after washing it. which, by the way, i finally got a good tip on: tie the skein and throw in the dryer on low for a couple of minutes, i really think that might work! back to the cotton...i finally finished the first single!!! yay, i'm so happy, it only took forever! so i've started on the second one, it's still going slow, but we are moving forward!

i finished another yarn last night that i haven't yet mentioned here; the ballerina yarn. i started it a long time ago, but ran out of plying thread, so i cut it in half, and after looking for AGES for the same thread, i was forced to go with a slightly different one. but this yarn is beautiful!!! i started out with a washed finn fleece. this was the most beautiful wool i have ever seen! the crimp was so fine, and it's amazingly soft! this is now one of my favorite breeds. anyways, then i tossed in some satin and organza ribbon snippets and spun a thick and thin yarn, plied with sparkly thread. it's amazing.

left: cotton single, red-brown and cream

right: ballerina yarn

close up of ballerina yarn

today i got one of my internet order items in: my cotton punis!! i'm so excited, but have no idea what i will do with them. these are the punis that every store carries on the net, they come wrapped in the indian newsprint. it is rather interesting, though, and better than a plastic bag! this is about 3.5 ounces, but i thought it looked rather small, and upon opening it, found them to be very squooshed in there and tied extremely tight! and the wpi kit i ordered from nancy's knit knacks barely got shipped out today, after almost a week! *argh, i get so frustrated, i thought ordering it directly from the manufacturer would make it faster. *

cotton punis

i got some AMAZING news from my stepmother! i totally forgot that she works for a man who owns 8 alpacas, and every year when they shear them *prepare yourself* they THROW IT AWAY!!! i know totally devastating...but not anymore! so wednesday is shearing day, and i will be going out there to watch and skirt, and bag up the fleece! i'm going to ask the shearer lots of question though, because these animals are not kept for their fleece, they are purely for show, and last year the bag i got had bugs in it and was directly thrown out. i was devastated. but the unknown bugs could've come from the fleece just being laid out on the grass for probably a day before being picked up. so i'm going to ask him if they have any parasites while he's shearing them *surely they would refuse to shear them if they had lice or fleas, and they do get treated, they're not neglected* i'm super excited!!! the only down-side is, we are potty training our i don't know how this is going to work with a 45 minute drive, and then being out there for god knows how long, because i do want to skirt SOME while i'm out there! but i'll be sure to take loads of pictures!!!! can anybody say: *HooRay for shearing season!!!*?

so, i was reading through the new issue of spin-off, and i came across this awesome pattern and a small article with some background on it. the article is called "traditional danish tie-shawls". these shawls are amazing! they tie *obviously* but this is one of the main things i don't like about all of the shawl patterns i have seen, is that they look a little old *no offense* but i'm 22, and while i would love to knit one, i wouldn't love to wear one! but the way these are worn, it really looks good at any age! and they're knit with handspun singles *ok, seriously, at this point, can this project get any better?!?! now i just have to figure out how to make a relatively balanced singles yarn, although it won't really matter, since the entire pattern is knit in garter stitch* but considering you have to spin 18 ounces of yarn *at 6-8 wraps i think* it's a good thing that it's just singles, although 18 ounces at any wpi is still alot! after i read the article, i looked on the lady's website, and they have more amazing shawls, same styles with slight differences and patterns that can be purchased in english. but the gallery alone is worth a visit!i'm so stoked, i can't wait to start this project! i MIGHT be purchasing a raw fleece to use on this project *hehehe* it would be my first one, but wouldn't it be incredible to take a SUCH a big project from total start to finish?!?! i think it would be... but i'm a hippie!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

dye pot anarchy

so, one thing i've never talked about here is dyeing fiber. there's a reason for this: i suck at dyeing. no really, this technique portrayed as such an easy technique to master is the hardest one for me. my main problem *and know you're going to laugh, and probably think i'm crazy* when you read this, is that i have never used professional dyes. *hangs head in shame* i know. but there are reasons.

  1. i don't have adequate space. our kitchen table is the computer table, we live in a tiny duplex, with no counterspace *seriously, i can barely cook in this kitchen*
  2. *and this is the most important* without a seperate studio space away from the house *and children* i was always too afraid that some horrible, possible exploding disaster would happen. it's just not great to do around kids.
  3. then there is all the serperate dyeing pots you need. for some reason all i have are small pots, when all i ever cook with are big ones, so sparing the big ones for dyeing is impractical. and we're poor, i can barely feed my fiber habbit! i DO currently one large, great pot for dyeing... ONE!

so my only dye history is kool-aid and wilton's icing dyeing. and though the kool-aid does work surprisingly well, i just gave up on it, after lusting for all the beautiful colors and possibilities of acid dyes. not to mention kool-aid is not great for blending colors because they have no primary blue. so pretty much, what you get is what you get.

but yesterday, i decided i was being a baby about it. now here is the interesting and main factor to my decision to retry it: a friend of my mil gave her some silk dyes that she didn't want, which of course can also be used on wool. they came with no special instructions, so i prepared everything as per normal wool dyeing. i broke out some picked finn fleece, threw it in the pot. i mixed all my colors, let the pot get hot and threw everything together. after going back a couple of times to find the wool had taken almost NO color, i gave up and turned the heat off. i let it sit there overnight because i was just so disgusted that after all this, i had failed yet again! and of course, in the morning, my kitchen stunk of vinegar because of how much extra i poured into the dye pot when things were going wrong. so i dumped everything out, rinsed the fiber *i had mixed some beautiful green, turquoise and two yellows, which were now an ordinary kelly green* and now i had a mint green wool. *barf* while laying it out on the washing machine top, i noticed some big grass and what-not still in the wool. upon picking this out, i made an amazing discovery! the grass in the wool had actually dyed!!! and it WAS turquoise! what an amazing and completely unexpected discovery!!! i'm thrilled, i thought these dyes were now totally useless, but i discovered, i just might have to use them in a different way! and think of all that beautiful COTTON i have waiting there for me on my bobbin....

a contest of irony

ok, so things have been running smoothly here, still going on the cotton yarn. i have given up trying to learn the long draw with cotton, i am still going to learn it, just NOT on cotton, i think i bit off a little more than i could chew there! maybe with some merino, i heard that is a good wool to learn on, and since i'm uber-experienced with it. i've resigned myself to the meter-worm method, much like the inch worm method, except literally BARELY moving my fingers apart! but i'm up to half a bobbin, and almost done with the first ply!! YAY!!!

i looked on today and saw she did an interview on crafster, so i checked it out. along with the podcast interview, they are having a contest *it's running until march 11th* about spinning stories! they could be funny, inspiring, whatever, HOW IRONIC!!! so it was very befitting that i post my bamboo disaster. the winner gets pluckyfluff's new book intertwined *which, of course, i already own...and love, but i will take two, and this one would come with an awesome story, IF i win* i think it's hilarious, i don't even care if there WAS a prize, i would've entered anyways!

i'm thinking about what i'm going to spin next... i know, it's a little early, haha, but i can't help it! i was thinking i really want to knit socks, and it just so happens i have a spinning project on my traveller already *my poor ashford has been so neglected since i got my little gem, i can't help it, it's just SOOO beautiful, and the treadling is so smooth!* anyways, i never finished this yarn, i don't even remember why, but it's a commercially processed, i don't know if it was hand dyed or not, but it was such an amazing color way, i had to buy it. it's all fall colors *probably my favorite colors* i'm such a neo hippie! and the yarn is great, i've already plied a sample skein, navajo plied, to keep the color changes intact. i'll have to take some pictures. so next i think i'll finish that one, BUT i also need to spin more yarns for my etsy, damn cotton yarn! it just so happens i've never multi-tasked any spinning projects *of course, i just got my little gem this x-mas* so maybe i need to LEARN! i still need to figure out what i'm going to do for my easter surprise yarn: i know you have no idea what i'm talking about, because i'm being so sneaky *hehe* but i'm so excited i really want it to be a surprise! i suppose i'll have to do some samples, i don't even know how i'm going to prepare it yet, adding elements while spinning, or carding everything together.