31 May 2012

Guess what came in the mail...

So, a package arrived in the mail today from someone on the RAK - Random Acts of Kindness - group on ravelry who wanted to gift me with sugar and cream yarn to start knitting my first dishcloth. I'm really excited to get started and I have to run to the store for needles. She threw in a couple of really cute stitch markers ... little yarn balls and sheep so I can't wait to get started!

30 May 2012

My first FO (Finished Object): Easy Crochet Headband

So, it has finally happened! I have started and finished a craft project.  Apparently, coasting on the high of live animals and fluffies has pushed me to continue to create.  I found a great pattern on ravelry, the Easy Crochet Headband by creativeyarn, (Alternate link on her site) that looked perfect for someone with a small amount of lumpy yarn who only knows the very super basics.

I wanted to use some of the new yarn that I spun this weekend, so I gave it a shot, and 30 minutes later I had the finished headband!

My head, sporting the latest in crochet fashion

I can imagine that it would be nice to whip out a few of these in a variety of colors to match different outfits. They are quick and easy and might make nice gifts, and I imagine they are super-easy to embellish with beads or notions or other little things to make it more interesting. The author has an amended pattern to include a crocheted flower, but my skills aren't quite up to that, yet.

Anyway, I made this thing, from fluff to finish.  Yay!

29 May 2012

Dyed roving: Quick Update!

On Sunday night, Polycrafty and I started a few batches of acid-dyed roving. I had to leave before the dye baths cooled and were ready for rinsing, so she drained and rinsed the fibers for us both the following morning.

In each pot we had my roving, some curly tendril-y cutesies that Polycrafty picked up at the fiber show, as well as some Alpaca roving (right?) that she had in her stash.  

My fluff is on the left, with twisty-curlies in the middle and the Alpaca on the right.  As you can see, the dye was picked up much more on my wool - this is because my fiber was on top and we poured dye from the top and sort of pushed it down with a spoon.

Blue-purple-green, my roving on the left. This is the 'top'.
Another interesting detail is that the purple color actually separated out into the blue and red components. The picture above shows a dark blue splotch at 6 o'clock on my wool, but when the whole thing is turned over (below), you can see that this is dyed red in the same place. Something to do with improper mixing at the beginning and densities and maybe having an over-full pot.
Blue-purple-green, my roving on the left. This is the 'bottom.'
And here is the red-yellow-orange.  Again, mine is on the left.  I love it!! It turned out so bright and sunshiny and happy.  I sort of wish there was more orange, but I suspect that as I feel less timid about working with all of this material that I'll be happier to push things around and mix more.
Red-yellow-orange, my roving on the left.
Ok, that's it.  Thanks to Polycrafty for the pics (taken by her and shared with me this morning).

Now, what to do with it.....?

28 May 2012

Great Lakes Fiber Show 2012 - and a day of fiber processing

My finished ball of center-wound yarn! Shown with drop spindle and card from the vendor.
Yesterday, I joined my friend Polycrafty and her mother for a trip to the Great Lakes Fiber Show in Wooster, OH. My friend has been working with fiber for years now, and I've always admired her hats, hand warmers, and scarfy shawl things, so I was excited to be able to join in.  Spoiler alert: I made this yarn!!

We spent the day visiting booth after booth of fleeces, roving, yarn, and tools and it made my head spin to see all of the craftsmanship at each step of the processes. Fiber was lovingly carded and dyed and skein-ed and I stuck my hands into nearly every bag of fluff that I found. There was nothing like being immersed in the geek-y underbelly to both (1) really appreciate all of the skill and detail and beauty that I doubt I'd have the patience to ever achieve and (2) be convinced that I could do a half-a$$ed job of it and come up with something sort of decent and lovely that I made myself.

I left the show with a drop spindle kit from Aboundingful Farm that included some pretty grey Icelandic roving from Vanessa the Longhaired Sheep and also 4 oz of white blend roving from Homespun Acres that is a Targhee/Mohair blend.  For those not in the know, Targhee is a type of sheep and Mohair comes from the Angora goat. Polycrafty's mother also gave me some bags of roving that she had at home for me to experiment with, so by the end of the day I had arms full of fluffies.

My handspun, pre wash-and-beat in the shower
I started spinning in the car on the way back to Cleveland and spun about half of the Vanessa roving into tight, overspun, lumpy thready yarn.  It was a little tricky to learn how much to pull the roving to control the thickness of the yarn (and, indeed, I still need to learn!) and I think that ultimately the whole bunch was completely overspun, but it was easy to learn and it went quickly and it was forgiving.

Bottles of powdered acid dye and premixed liquid dye
Polycrafty and I decided to do a quick dye batch or two on some of the treasures that she had picked up, so I split the gifts from her mother into two piles and picked out colors.  There are many methods to dye fiber, but we used an Acid dye (for animal fiber) and used a method where concentrated dye liquid is poured over the top of fiber that's already in a pot of hot water with some vinegar, and let the dye color soak down through the fiber. With this method, we were able to use a few colors per batch and end up with variegated, multi-color fiber at the end.  We chose a red/orange/yellow scheme for one pot and then a blue, purple, green for the second.
Blue, purple, green dye bath

Red, yellow, orange dye bat
Once we were finished playing with color, we sat down to watch a movie on Netflix and go back to the hand spinning. She was working on a pretty silk yarn and I was back to Vanessa the Grey Sheep.  It wasn't long before I finished up the whole batch of roving and then Polycrafty showed me how to wind it into a skein, wash it in warm water and beat it against the wall of the shower (to help it keep its twist) and hang it to dry. By this morning I had a buncha yarn that I wound into the center-wind ball above. I'm not sure what I'll do with it... but hey, now I have some grey yarn.  It's sort of knobbly and rough and fray-y looking, but it's mine.