Thursday, December 31, 2009

A 3 year old speaks his mind.

I wasn't expecting the conversation this morning that I had with my grandson Aidan. I realize the boy is bright and have been in awe that he has actually memorized some of the songs from his Noggin shows, pretty much word for word. Today was a proud moment for me...he actually pays attention to what I'm doing! Remember the Rainbow Hat for Addy? He was jealous about that hat, and he tries to wear it every chance he gets. We tell him it's a girl's hat, and it's Addy's. I kinda thought it was over the bright colors, and the fact Addy got something and he didn't.
Well, today I learned it goes deeper.
See the copy of Spin Off? This morning he got up and came to sit on my bed where I had just read my magazine. He pointed to the picture and said,"I want that!" I said, "What, you want me to make you some yarn?" He said,"Yes...I want a hat." You know, if he was 4 or 5, I could see him saying something like this. He'll be 3 in a few days. Anyway, I asked him," Are you mad about Addy's hat?" He said,"No,....I just want a hat." "You want me to make you a hat?" He smiled and said,"Please Nana...I want a hat."
Ok, what are you going to do? I went to the stash box and found some yarn I'd already spun up. I showed it to him and said,"I made this yarn...is it ok? " He stroked the yarn, and said,"Yes..I like it." He was all content, smiling and scampered on his way.
It blew my mind! He knew what that spindle was on the cover and knew it was yarn. He knows I make hats with the yarn. Isn't that just clever??? Am I a proud Nana or what? So the variegated blue yarn has been cast on, and I got a few rows done on his hat. He was all smiles when he got to try on the band for sizing. Now Addy is wanting to try on the hat. He told her,"Nooooo, Naddy, that's my hat!" What a smart little boy!! He also potty trained this week too! Hurray!
On the batty side...here's some California Red I carded up and painted with some copper and blue mohair roving. Yep...it's for Aiden some tube socks!
Happy New Years, Ya'll!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Addie's Rainbow Beret

Remember the Rainbow Batt I made a video of me dizzing off the batt from my Fancy Kitty Kitten drumcarder? That batt spun up sweet. I spun it worsted using a long draw on my Fricke spinning wheel, and came up with this fingering wt, 16 WPI navajo plied yarn. 120 yards. I was able to make long color changes, and the whole time I was spinning, I could just see this yarn as a Beret for baby Addie.
I found the pattern from One Skein Wonders by Judith Durant. I had to modify the pattern to make it toddler sized. I used size 5 circs, and cast on 12 stitches between markers instead of 14. I also knit 8 rows after the increase instead of 12, and knit between the decrease rows for 4 rows before I started decreasing on every row.




Now doesn't Addie look cute in her Rainbow Beret! It came out just like I wanted it too and I'm a happy Nana. Aiden on the other hand is not happy. He thinks this should be his hat and keeps trying to take it. I guess my next project will be a hat for him. I have some more spinning to do!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Lord, I give my humble thanks! You've truly been good to me this year in so many ways! I love being a Nana, and I think I love being a Nana better than anything else! I give thanks for my newest, little Averie Joseph Tomah, who arrived November 8, 2009 at 2:41 am weighing in at a whooping 7lbs 2ozs. What a cutie he is!


Then I give thanks for my number 1 grandson, Aiden Joseph Walker. He still knows how to make me smile! Look at what a dashing pirate he made on Halloween, contemplating his loot!
Then there's baby girl Addison Skye Townsend. She's not taking a backseat to these boys! I don't think I've ever seen a cuter fairy! Don't you just want to kiss her little face!Yes, Lord...I give thanks for my little grandbabies. I give thanks for my daughters and thanks that I can enjoy them all! I am truly blessed.
I have spent yesterday making 2 pecan pies, 2 pumpkin pies, a mincement pie, pumkin bread, banana nut bread, 2 dozen rolls, and magic cookie bars. The giblets are on their all night simmer, and in a few hours the turkey will go in the oven. This is Addie's first Thanksgiving and she has been right at my feet all day long sampling the batter, and smiling her big ole toothless smile. She knows Nana is making her something good!
From my family to yours, wishing you a Blessed Thanksgiving!!! (don't eat too much turkey!)



Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Ugly Batt/Trashcan Batt...

Ugly batt, trashcan batt. I've heard of them before. They are batts made out of the scraps, leftovers from carding sessions. Some people sell said batts, so I've been saving scraps in a little bag for a while. Today for the hell of it, I carded them up. I only ran it through twice to avoid making "mud".

I actually like this! Lots of grey with color peeking through! I only had enough for one batt, but it'll make a nice single to ply with a darker grey I think. I wished I'd put a bit more red, but hey...it's just an experiment! Click onto the bottom pic to see a real close up! Kewl, huh?


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Fancy Kitty Kitten motorized Drumcarder in action!

HA! I made a video with lots of help from my DD, Angela, my little techno wiz! I've been wanting to make some rainbow batts for sometime now, and I got some sparkley Firestar in. So it started of with making small 1/2 oz batts of rainbow colors. Firestar is camera shy, but it sure is sparkly! I then took these batts, tore them into 4 strips, and predrafted them really thin to run through the Kitten in strips. Now you can look at the video and see how I used the motorized base to diz the fiber off the drumcarder into beautiful roving, all ready to spin! Yo!u'll hear some clacking noise on the video...it isn't my Kitten drumcarder, it's a grandbaby playing with a toy truck! There's just no escaping them
video

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Batty Spinning!

I made several batts with my Kitten drum carder with the new motorized base. I really love spinning from batts. I think it's better than spinning with comb top because I can get fluffier yarn and spin long draw with the batts.
I like to take my batts and divide it into 8 peices, then roll them up with the length of the fiber to make rolrags. I can then predraft these a bit and roll them up into little nests, ready to spin. Now this yarn is the batt I carded up from the California Red and bamboo. It's hard for the camera to pick up all the wonderful Angelina in the fiber, but it's so sparkley and the yarn came out so yummy. The yarn was spun on my little Midi wt Bosworth. I got about 100 yards of woolen spun, fingering weight yarn off one spindle full. I Navajo plied for a 3 strand yarn. I'm thinking a pair of fingerless mitts would really be nice.
My spinning wheel has been neglected, so I started a bobbin this morning. I'll try to finish this up today. I dyed some wool and want to do some rainbow batts tomorrow!



Monday, September 21, 2009

Fancy Kitty Kitten Motorized Base Review

Here she is, all assembled, the Kitten with the motorized base. When Ron first asked me to testdrive it, I said sure...but seriously I didn't think I needed it. After all, the handcrank isn't exactly hard to turn. After trying it out, I don't see how I ever lived without it! Both hands free to add fiber and doffler it down is really nice! The motor is strong and the speeds are adjustable. It goes forward and reverse. Why is that important? Well, I found the adjustable speed was great full blast for carding up fibers, and then slowing it down for adding my precious Angelina. When I was done with my batt, the slow reverse makes removing the batt a breeze...you have both hands free! (It'll go really slow too!) I didn't post a pic, but I tried out pulling the fiber off through a diz to make roving...the drum going slow reverse is really great for this! Anyway, above you see the California Red fleece that I prepped with my new hand combs. Came out nice, huh? It was a lot of work, but I really love the wool. It's kitten soft!I decided I wanted to blend it with some bamboo top I had dyed up for a 75/25 blend. It went really fast with the motorized base attachment. I was really surprised. I was even more surprised to find that batts that came off expanded like crazy! They're the biggest batts I've ever done!
Having both hands free, I was able to concentrate more on adding fiber, and dofflering the batts down, so was able to add more fiber. I didn't have any problems with the motor bogging down either!( I was kind of fearful, but it was unwarranted. Like I said, the motor is really strong.) The color is really off in the pics, and Angelina is camera shy, but I have Angel blue glitzy batts...trust me!

Below you can see some of the batts spun up on my new Bosworth spindle. It's spinning up finer than frog hair! I love spinning from batts! I like to take my batts, split them in fourths, then split the fourths in half. I take that, and roll them into rollrags. Makes for some really nice woolen spun singles. I love squishy yarn! You can see the Angelina a bit in this pic, especially if you double click the pic. You can also see how well blended the batt is. I was very pleased!
So to summarize, I am pleased with the motorized base. I think it's a great asset that can free up both hands and increase your production. I really found this to be true when I ran the batts through for a second and third time. I love the reverse, and the adjustable speeds. The slow reverse made removing the batt much easier, and is definitely great for pulling off roving through a diz. Ron is just a phone call away for custumer support. He's a really nice guy, and will walk you through anything. He backs his products completely.
Next post I will see if I can get on of my daughters to take a pic of me dizzing off the roving. I wished I was tech saavy enough to do a video. Maybe one of my girls will know how too, they're usually up on the tech stuff more than I.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

How Mary got the VM out of her fleece or The Virtue of Hand Combs!

Well, the first picture shows some newly acquired fleece, California Red. Rather confusing since the wool is beige, huh? Well, the lambs are born red and as they mature, the fleece turns beige. The sheep maintain the red in their legs and their face. Anyway, I got a pound of this really soft fleece. The seller had it bargain priced because it has some VM (Vegatable Matter). I also ordered some hand combs, so I thought I give it a go. See all the little flecks, that's VM.

Handcarders are usually expensive, like a $100 or more. I found these on Etsy from a seller, catskillmtnfibers. They were only $45 and are 2 pitched,(2 rows of tines). I ordered them on Friday and had them by Tuesday. They are really nice and feel good in my hands. I gave them a thorough trial.
The hand combs work really great! In a short time I was able to get all this nice fluffy fiber ready for my Fancy Kitty Kitten drumcarder! Soon it'll be nice soft batts all ready to spin! That will be my next post. Something new is being added. Ron has made a motor base for the Kitten that'll I'll be trying out. I can't wait and will be giving a thorough review!

Here you can see the combs will the fiber on them after combing. It gets out the VM and also the second cuts...the little short peices that come from passing the shears over the sheep after the first cut. It will cause my yarn to pill, so we don't want that! The soft fluffy longer side is the keeper side!
See all the VM that magically falls out as you comb and separate the fibers? So much easier than trying to pick it all out peice by peice! I give the hand combs a 8 out of 10!!! They're well constructed, not too heavy and work very well. I just wished the tines were a tiny bit closer together.






Thursday, August 27, 2009

Current Projects

Here is the super bulky yarn I spun up for the Tour De Fleece on my Schacht rigid heddle loom. The weaving went remarkably fast and I was very surprised how much further actual yardage goes with weaving as opposed to knitting.
Fresh off the loom, I wound up with 1 1/2 yards of finished fabric. I love the way the colors pool. I used a 8 dent heddle and used beige cotton Peaches and Cream for the warp. It'll make either a nice recieving blanket for the new grandson I'm expecting in November, or I could cut the fabric into a nice bag. I haven't decided for sure, but I'm leaning towards the baby blankie. It's almost too nice to cut. My only concern is laundering since the weft is wool. I'd really hate for it to felt. I think the wool is superwash, but not 100% sure.
Then there is the Simple Prairie Shawl I'm knitting with some hand spun Llama. It basically a simple garter stitch with a Y/O increase at the end of each row before the last 5 stitches. It's 2/3's complete, so hasn't been blocked yet. It's totally rustic,simple and I'm going to love wearing it when it gets cooler. My kids and I have different temperature settings. They keep it too cool in the house during the winter for my tastes!
My next posting will be some drumcarding my my Fancy Kitty Kitten! I have some projects in mind. I have some of the Jacob fleece ready to process into batts for a coat project I want to start soom. Then I have some experimenting on 2 tone batts into rollrags I want to try out.



Monday, August 3, 2009

Jacob Fleeces

I picked up two Jacob fleeces last week. Boy, are they ever full of VM(vegatable matter). Which is a royal pain to pick out. The wool is very soft though, and I think they'll be worth the effort.(I hope!)
I first tried to comb out some of the VM prior to washing....nope, the lanolin makes the VM stick to the fibers worse I think. So I filled the tub with hot water,
Dawn detergent, and Woolite. I let them
soak until the hot water got cold, drain,
and rinsed with hot water again. I was
really careful not to aggitate the fiber.
They both came out pretty clean after one wash and one rinse. After draping the fleece on a clothes rack and allowed to dry, I found that the VM combed out much easier. Hopefully my next blog will be of my progress on the fleeces. It may be a while, because it really is a lot of work! I really love Jacob though! The lady I got the fleeces from let me come out and take Aidan and Addi to meet the sheep. Aidan was afraid, but Addi fed them Wheat Thins. (Nana forgot her camera too!!!) Oh well, maybe next year, if the VM doesn't scare me off. I paid $25 for each fleece, and they weren't skirted. The VM is excessive, and I'll wind up losing about half of each 6lb fleece. If I manage to get 5lb of fiber from both fleeces, at 10$ a lb, it's not much of a bargain when I can get processed fiber 16$ a lb. (It would save me weeks of work!) But, I got them for the experience of taking a raw fleece to finish, so there you have it!

My Tour de Fleece Yarn

Well, I didn't get as much yarn spun up for the TDF as I wanted to, but I did manage a 150 yards of semi worsted weight super bulky 2 ply. I'm generally pleased with it. I was also pleased with the bulky flyer I have for my Fricke spinning wheel. It really holds a lot!
The finished product is very squishey soft, and I have plans to spin some more for a bag I plan to do on my Flip Loom. So there you, I have been somewhat productive. I've been redoing my bedroom, so the spinning has been on hold for a couple of weeks. I now have my room rearranged and organized so I can more easily spin and weave. (Someday I will have a craftroom of my very own!)


Monday, July 6, 2009

Tour de Fleece on Ravelry.

I'm spinning in the Tour de Fleece on Ravelry. A little something someone cooked up to do while the actual Tour de France is going. I'm on 2 teams. For Team SSS fiberlovers, I'm spinning some Punta that I dyed myself on the drop spindle. It's very merino like, and I love how it draws.


Then for Team Frickin' Wicked, I'm spinning some turquoise/black/white mill end roving I got from thesheepshedfiberstudio. I'm trying really hard to spin a super bulky single without over twisting it. I have decided to make it 2 ply, and plan to use it to weave a bag. I have 2 lbs of this, so I'll have plenty to spin for sure!

Progress!

Lots of progress in the spinning department! First is the pound of natural grey Jacob I got from www.spunsilverdesigns.com . It's 450 yards super bulky semi worsted navajo plied. I really love the way this spun up, and plan to use it for Aidan a EZ Tomten jacket. I have some black to spin up to use for trim. I think Aidan looks dashing in grey!
Then to show you can be very productive on a drop spindle, I have 300 yards of bulky wool/silk blend in the peach, 300 yards in fingering weight in the ruby, and 100 yards of fingering wt in alpaca/tussah silk in chocolate. Yummy!!! I love spinning on the drop spindles and have them sitting in a bowl by my bed for spinning a bit when I'm watching TV or trying to relax a bit before I got to sleep. It's amazing how fast the singles accumulate. I also love the control you can get with drop spindles.( I tend to overtwist on the wheel)
It's especially helpful with the silk/alpaca...it's harder to spin and control the draw on the finer fiber, then the silk doesn't always want to draw smoothly. I find it helps to talc my hands beforehand to keep the fibers from sticking. (Silk is so catchy...it hangs on rough skin!)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Birthday Spindles!


I have actually been productive. First is the batts I made from the silk/wool that I got in a swap from Carole at http://www.thesheepshedstudio.com/ I navajo plied it and have 150 yards of 8 wpi so far. Still have half of the batts I carded up to go. Then there's the red fiber I dyed from Sheep Shed. I navajo plied this as well and have 200 yards of a nice fingering weight yarn that eventually will be a shawl. Then there's the green cotswold locks I carded up and plan to ply with tiny locks to make Aidan a monster hat. Hmmmm....need more spindles???? Well....

This is a Flutterberries by http://www.tiltawhorl.blogspot.com/ . It has just as sweet of a spin as my Kunderts. Ed custum made this one for me after I had admired a yellow one he had made. Thanks Ed!!! I love it!

Check it out! My Bosworth spindles from http://www.journeywheel.com/ came in! A Tasmanian Rose Myrtle maxi, a Canarywood midi, and a Bloodwood mini. I've heard everyone on the spinning groups on Ravelry rave about these and just let me say.....IT"S ALL TRUE!!! These babies spin forever! If you could only buy one spindle....make it a Bossie! Seriously. Standing up with my hands over my head and it's still spinning just as fast as when I first flicked it off my thigh. I've heard them called little whirlwinds, and it's justifiable! Just in time for my birthday tommorrow! Happy Birthday to me!



Monday, April 20, 2009

Spindle Review


Well, the new babies are in and I'm really pleased.

First up, the Golding...I'm in LOVE!!! Where do I begin? The Brass ring makes for the best rim weighted spindle ever. It's perfectly balanced. I love the notches on the ring, it makes stablilizing the yarn on the hook easier. The ridges on the end of the spindle makes it a breeze to get a great spin with a flick of the fingers. ( Rolling off your thigh makes it spin like a tornado!) Lastly...it's just plain beautiful and a pleasure to use! This one is 1.9 ozs, and while I would have like it to be a bit lighter, there are a full line of various wts to be had, so I'll just order some differents wts later. This spindle gets a 10/10!!! I have manage to get a lace wt single on it without difficulty, and have half a cop on it now. Goldings are pricey for good reason...it's the little details. The hand carved whorl is a delight to behold. Their spindles are a work of art. The engineering is pure genuis from the perfectly bent hook to the ridges on the bottom of the spindle. I just don't think you could go wrong with a Golding spindle.
The Kundert sisters are wonderful too! At 1.1 ozs, they are very light. They are very well balanced. I manage to get thread wt singles with the little batt sample Amy sent with the spindles. I should have took pics, but was having such fun. I manage to navajo ply the single into a really nice fingering wt yarn, and knitted said yarn into a headband for the baby. I love the spin, it'll spin a long time, but maybe not quite as long as the Golding. The rim weight is not quite as effective as that brass ring on the Golding. I also find it's not as easy to finger spin, and found rolling it off the thigh most effective. (Those little ridges on the Golding are pure genius!!! All spindle makers should have this!) I'm going to have to give the Kunderts a 8/10. I would reccomend them...the price is certainly an incentive...you can get 2 Kunderts for the price of one Golding.
So there you have it. So far the Golding is my favorite for sure. I'm still waiting to get some Bossies to try out'! I hear they're really sweet!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Mastering the Drop Spindle

I admit, I've always been a backwards kind of gal. After spinning on a wheel for some time now, I've finally mastered the drop spindle! Check it out...40 WPI, consistent even single on a homemade drop spindle! It was totally by accident too! I was just fooling around, wanting to see what the roving I just dyed up would look like, and it just all fell together....I was spinning on a drop spindle. I love it! So much so, that now I want some nice drop spindles to spin on! So I'm ordering 2 Bosworth spindles, and a Golding. I'm on the waiting list for a Bosworth Moosie spindle too! It'll be June 2010! Over a year long wait!!! Now I have something else I can stick in my knitting bag for the trips to McDonalds while Aidan plays! (Need more trips to McDonalds!)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Finished Object !



Off the loom, her blankie! I used Brown Sheep cotton fleece for this one. She'll be able to use it in the summer months. I really love weaving, and have the loom warped up to start weaving a bag for myself with the churro fleece I've been carding up. I'm still debating whether to spin up some chunky yarn with it, or to weave with roving. I have some cotswold locks I want to incorporate into the fabric as well. It'll be a fun project.

Then there's the fiber I just bought from www.thesheepshedstudio.com , 10lbs of the Big Bale Sale, 2 lbs of cotswold locks, and 1 lb of nylon that feels and looks like silk. Well, it covers a twin size bed, plus the box in the back is full! That's a whole lot of fibery goodness, isn't it!
I took some of it and dyed it up! Who knew that the greys would dye up so well? The gold I decided to dye a darker brown. I've got more dyeing to do too! Next time I'll be doing pics of some of the yarn I've been spinning. (Yes, I've been a busy Nana!)


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Batt Pics!


Ok, I've had a few requests for pics of some of my batts I carded on my Kitten drum carder. First I'd really like to say that I'm not a professional and the Kitten is my first and only carder. I know there is bigger and badder out there, but I LOVE MY KITTEN! It does what I want it too, and that's all that really matters isn't it? I just wanted a drum carder that would allow me to blend my own batts, process a bit of fleece when the need arises. That being said....here are some of my recent batts. Above is a blend of http://www.thesheepshedstudio.com/ superwash wool in peach carded with silk and firestar.


This batt is from the bird's nest I found in the Big Bale Sale from sheepshedfiberstudio. It was 10 lbs of mill end rovings for 5$ a lb. Not a bad price. Only about 10 ozs were really matted up, the rest is lovely, and can be spun as is. My kitten made short work of the bird's nest and I got 2 nice batts weighing 2 ozs. I find if I put more than 2 ozs on the carder, it starts wrapping around the licker in drum.


Finally, another batt from another birds nest. I got one of these, and 2 more in black. I'd post more pics, but blogger is being stupid tonight, and it's taken me an hour to get these pics to upload. I have some churro batts, and a sari silk blend. But you can see from my pics how well blended these batts are. I put the batts through twice, and use my hand carder as a doeffler brush to help smooth and pack the fibers on denser. I use a bamboo mat like for sushi to help get the batts off too. So I hope you like my batts. I'll post somemore later. I have to get to bed now!