Friday, December 2, 2016

Tomten/Nisser/Gnomes/Forest Folk

Earlier this week my mom and I took a trip to the Bachman's Idea House (our favorite destination for decorating ideas) and saw an adorable tomten ornament. 
I figured they would be easy enough to make, and it wouldn't cost me $8.99 each.
First I grabbed a branch from my back yard and cut it into about 3 inch lengths, then I assembled the rest of my tools and materials. 

First, I pushed a nail through the center of a half-yard length of ribbon and then nailed into the top of the branch segments. Next, I threaded on a large wooden bead.
This was a step ably performed by my faithful assistant.
                                 
Next I tied a length of freshly combed wool roving with the ribbon for the beard.
Then came lots of braiding, and more braiding and finally a little hat.
The Youngest made her own (I did the nailing and tied two knots, but she attached the hair and sewed her own hat!) and she decided that since this one was a princess she would need a pink hat.
As a secular Presbyterian, I usually go for the winter-themed in Christmas ornaments rather than the religious ones and these fit the bill perfectly.
The best part of this is that I had all the materials on hand, so they were all free! (okay, I know I bought those materials but not for this project, so I stand by my earlier statement.)
Hope you're all doing well out there in internetland.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

A New Sweater

I cast on a new sweater on Sunday with the yarn I have been spinning, and I am slowly making my way through it.
There are 6 colors of yarn here, three from a pack that was graciously gifted to me by a friend, one natural grey sheepy's fleece, one natural white sheepy's fleece, and the green is hand-dyed with marigold. I am excited to see how it develops. The plan is to use all of the colors in a Icelandic-inspired yoke.
First I have lots of plain body to knit, and that should be a nice calming activity while I am still processing the election.
What's on your needles?

Thursday, November 17, 2016

You Spin Me Right 'Round, Baby, Right 'Round

Spinning has been very therapeutic for me over this election season. 
I think I have spun about 800 yards or so. It's been about 100 yards per day. 
This week, since the weather has been dramatically warmer than usual, I put out a call for marigolds and my mom and a few friends offered me their remaining blossoms. 
These have all been dyed with marigolds. The first dye batch had some nasturtiums in it and I wonder if that's why the yarn came out so very bright green. I love it! 
I let that batch cool and then heated it up again and I got the darker gold below. The largest yellow skein, second from the top, was a new batch of dye. I really liked that one too. In fact, when I finished dyeing the yarn I had so much dye left that I threw in a couple of shirts of mine and dyed them.
I have another skein in the pot right now that I was promised would come out pink (avocado skins), but the yarn isn't taking the dye very well and it's just kinda brown. 
I will see how that shapes up after a few more hours to soak up the color
I have tried dyeing spun yarn and also combed top. The top was surprisingly easy to dye and then process. The only skein above that was dyed after spinning is the second from the top, as I look at it.
The spinning is still pretty inconsistent, but I am pleased overall.
I have great plans for a sweater with all of this right here: the green is the first skein I dyed that didn't make it into the other photo, the teal, blue and darker gray are a bfl/silk blend from a generous friend, the browns are alpaca I snagged at a fiber festival Saturday before last and the light gray is from my farmer friend.
Now I need to pick a pattern.
Maybe this one with a white body? or something like this or I could just make another Grettir.
The main problem is that the fleeces aren't all quite the same color, and I don't have any more of this white. But I could do a border on the hem and cuffs in one of the colors and I think I would almost have enough.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Next Steps

I don't have any words about the political situation. It's too painful. 
This is how I have been coping with the stress of this election.
The other day I found a tutorial to make wool combs. The real things are over $100 and this seemed like a good way to dip my toes in.

I took my cleaned fleece into the house and separated it into locks,
combed it out,
there was a lot of it,
Then I started spinning and I kept spinning and spinning until it was all gone
(singles and plied yarn)
I ended up with about 500 yards of worsted-ish weight yarn from my first half-fleece. The remainder was little fluffs and chunks, which I think could be carded or used for doll stuffing.
I will post about my weekend adventure in a minute, this post has been sitting in my blogger for a week or so, so I thought I would finish it up.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Mid-Life Renaissance

A lovely friend of mine who also turned 40 this year coined a wonderful new term: Mid-Life Renaissance.
Her choice of Renaissance was to learn the cello. She had always wanted to do it, and now she is.
I so admire her for going out and doing something completely new and exciting.
I posted the other day about starting to spin yarn.
It occurred to me that this is my own Mid-Life Renaissance.
It's been in the back of my mind to learn about yarn production since I was 7 years old.
The process has fascinated me since we had a spinner visit our 3rd grade class.
Saturday night I finished up spinning the last of my practice fiber and Sunday I knitted this hat from my own handspun. The yarn is pretty inconsistent, as you can see, but it felt pretty awesome to be involved in (almost) every aspect of the production of a garment.
My mom has a friend who keeps sheep and I casually asked if she had any fleece hanging around. She gave me 6! and I have been studying the youtubes for information about how to actually do something with them.
One tutorial that inspired me was this one. The table with mesh to let the schmutz fall through seemed like something I could whip up using what I had on hand.
So I started with this IKEA table that we bought a few summers ago and is a little the worse for wear.
This table has leaves that you can add on the sides, and the supports slide in under the slats, so I cut away all but those.

I had this mesh in my stash from an aborted garden fencing project and it was exactly the dimension of the space in the table.
My mom is all in on the sheep situation, and she helped me staple the mesh over the large openings and we framed in the top to cover the cut edges, and also to contain the fleece somewhat.
There is a lot of literal and figurative sh*t on a farm-dwelling animal, so the gloves were a necessity
So far we have washed one fleece (relying heavily on this video and this one too) and skirted (pull off the poo parts) two more.
One video recommended that you add lavender to deter the critters, and I happened to have some in my garden patch right next to the table, so we threw some in for good measure.
I am truly excited about my Mid-Life Renaissance, and I can't wait to see where it takes me.
Next year I have to start a dyeing garden! Coreopsis! Marigolds! Hollyhock! Rhubarb! So exciting!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Knitting and Yarn

When I was in third grade a spinner visited our class at school. She brought carding combs and a spinning wheel and showed us how to process the fleece and how to spin.
I was fascinated, and my whole life I have been waiting for the time when I could afford my own wheel and learn to spin.
A couple of weeks ago I found what may have been a decorative spinning wheel at a yard sale,
though I think I may be able to make it work. I posted about it on the facebook and a delightful former co-worker was amazing enough to lend me a spinning wheel that actually works

and since then I have been working on my spinning technique. It's not too easy, but I am loving it.
She also let me raid her fiber stash and gave me almost a pound and a half of roving.
I love it so much, I think I will try to make a sweater from it. I have to keep practicing on something not so gorgeous as this Blue-faced Leister silk blend before I attempt it, so first I practiced on some fleece from my farmer friend (Lydia's Flock on instagram)

The yarn is pretty inconsistent,
but I was able to knit from it. In fact I made an ear warmer from a three ply bulky.
(Someday, in the future, I will learn to take not silly selfies...)
In other non-spinning and yet still knitting news, I have almost finished my first sleeve on my Twig and Willow sweater.
I finished up the body a few days ago and found some perfect buttons in my stash.
What's on your creative plate lately?
Joining Nicole for KCCO

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Snapshots on a Tuesday Night

Tea and cookies for Colbert-watching


Knitting away on a new sweater.


Great score at a garage sale this week.


After some small repairs I think it might actually spin some yarn.

These things are distracting me from the big project of the week: removing the old grubby carpet from our stairs.
It's been slow-going. Each stair takes about 30 minutes because I have no experience or skills.

Hopefully I will finish in the next few weeks.
Maybe I need to have a carpet-pulling-up bee.