Hand Spun

Hand Spun
Campfire Hat

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Prayer Shawl

I just completed my first knitted prayer shawl! I used the "trinity stitch" from the prayer shawl ministry's website and I'm very pleased at how it turned out. I got an owl shaped shawl pin to go with it and it completed the project perfectly.

 So almost 3 weeks after beginning it, I finally completed the Prayer Shawl project. I already have another lined up to start once I have the yarn. I'm going to try and spin enough of my own yarn to do the shawl so wish me speed and agility because I'll need about 800 yds of finger weight 2-ply to do it. I'm going to spin 100% alpaca to do it because I like the way alpaca drapes in a garment. I'll be getting my alpaca roving from Cleo at The Sheep Shed. She has a bunch of brown/white striped alpaca that looks really nice in its natural color. I don't think I want to dye the shawl yarn. Meanwhile I'm still doggedly working on washing and drying my fine merino for use with white angora.
Speaking of angora, my German angora, Licorice donated enough angora fur for me to spin up 112 yds of 2-ply yarn. I plied it with grey and white alpaca for the following look. It's now drying on the back of my craft room door with a can of enchilada sauce in the bottom for weight. :)
I found a couple possible projects that will use just over or just under 100 yds of yarn so I'm going to end up with either a lacy scarf or a snuggly cowl made up of this deliciously soft yarn. I've already started working on the alpaca for my next shawl and I'm spinning it on Suzanna (Kromski Sonata wheel). She spins an awesome single alpaca!!!
Well tomorrow I will try soap all by myself (hopefully anyway). Jeff finished my soap molds. They're a bit on the small side so I'll start with a small batch of soap and go from there. :)
It's a dreary day here at the Nest. The weather is just blah! and cold. Daisy and Qwynn woke Jeff and I up this morning with a parrot duet of  "You Are My Sunshine" and it was all I could do not to laugh out loud in delight. However, one peep out of me would have ended the whole serenade so I had to laugh quietly and wait for them to finish singing on their own. It was adorable. Daisy has a "thing" for music. She loves singing and whistling melodies. Qwynn, as an African Grey parrot, is excellent at imitating human speech and using words to get what she wants. The whole music thing is new to her but she seems to enjoy sharing it with Daisy. Daisy is learning straight speech from Qwynn so it's a share and share alike program at my house! The Nestlings have all been very well behaved today while I've spun and knit and just relaxed on Sabbath. We were supposed to go to church this morning but Jeff ended up with a stomach bug so we stayed home. He's been rather subdued all day not feeling well so it's good the birds have been pretty quiet. Enough for now I suppose. I have alpaca to soothe me and tomorrow is Sunday = chore day so I'm going to go enjoy what's left of my day of rest. :)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Adventures with Fiber

I've been having some awesome adventures with fiber!! I spun up some straight alpaca week before last and did my first 3-ply yarn. It looked awesome but I wanted something a little different. Here it is right after spinning it up.
Here's what it looks like now. :)
I now have 11 oz of mulberry colored alpaca 3-ply yarn. I dyed for the first time on Thursday night. I LOVE the fun of dyeing. I'm ready to try dyeing roving or batt now so I can spin it. I'm sure it will have a completely different look. On with the adventure!
Earlier this last week, I got another spinning wheel. :) My Ashford Traditional sold to a student at our local university and she's very excited to have it. In its place, I have a new travel wheel. I chose the Kromski Sonata. It's maiden spinning voyage was with grey and white alpaca. I spun a very nice single with it and I couldn't be happier with the wheel. Here's the single.
My intention with this single is to ply it with angora single for a 50/50 alpaca/angora blend. Today, Daisy my Blue Fronted Amazon and I spun up some angora single. I'll admit that Daisy's main job was to try and snatch the hand carders from me as I prepped the fiber. But she sang and chatted a bit too and I was quite entertained while spinning. Here's the angora from my rabbit named Licorice. I'm amazed by the depth of color of her fur. It's softer than butter too!
I used hand cards to align the fibers and then spun a straight angora single on my Majacraft Rose wheel.
Here's the video on YouTube.
Sorry about the jammies guys but I wasn't in dress-up mode today. I just wanted to play with fiber and relax with my birds. Even my hubby stayed in his man-cave for most of the day.
I might ply tonight after I put the birds to bed.
WEDNESDAY was craft night with the girls. We met at Carrie's house and I got to see her whole flock which was wonderful! Nicole and Susie are doing scarves, Carrie and I are working on shawls. Pretty funny huh? We didn't even plan that. ;)
Carrie started a group for us on Ravelry.com called "Birds of  a Feather Stitch Together".  It's pretty exciting to have our own group on Ravelry. We also decided as a group that we're going to start doing some things for charity. More on that as it develops. I'll post pics of everyone's projects when I get them transferred from my phone.
So that is my "Adventures with Fiber" story. I am taking a short break from fiber fun to blog this and then it's back to my knitting or spinning. I'm letting the birds stay up past their usual bedtime tonight and they're all pretty happy. My canary is actually singing at 8pm. :) I really needed this type of relaxation after the week I've had. There's just something so rejuvenating about spinning. I spun and listened to David Phelps and Celtic Hymns while Daisy kept me company. Here's Daisy coming in for a close-up.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Unfinished Projects

Those of you who craft know this tale. Project A begins with much enthusiasm and spirit. You are all kinds of excited to see the final product and you work fiendishly to complete it. Along comes Project B. Project B is new and novel and fascinates you! You want to start it right away but hold off because you still haven't completed Project A. While you're working away on A, all you can think about is B and how much fun it will be. Project A begins to lose its luster and you decide to "start" Project B because you're almost done with A after all and it can't hurt to have two things going at the same time, right? You throw yourself into Project B with as much enthusiasm as you started out with on A and it consumes you. You put Project A in a bag in plain sight because you have every intention of completing it and you are NOT giving up on it. You just need a break from A and B provides it. Enter Project C. Project C is unlike anything you've ever done before and you've always wanted to do it. The opportunity comes along to do C and you simply cannot ignore this seemingly once-in-a-lifetime chance to start Project C. After all, you may not get this chance again. Only a fool would pass it up, right? So you hastily put Project B in a bag and put it in plain sight because you have every intention of completing it and you are NOT giving up on it. Project A is still in its bag. You spend a little time looking at the two bags and decide that in order to save space, you'll put Project A in the closet. But it will go to the front of the closet because you still have every intention of finishing it once you get Project C done. Project B takes the spot Project A had before it was relegated to the closet because you need to make eye contact with it every day in your determination to keep Project B a work in progress.  And so the story goes. Sound familiar to anyone else?
Well I have several Project bags in my closet in the craft room. I will not freely admit to how many but take my word for it. There's a lot to be done. :) Each bag has projects in various stages of completion and no two  are alike. I could finish any of the projects any time I choose... if I can find the pattern for it or the rest of the yarn I had that goes with it or the rug hook I know I have in a drawer somewhere in my sewing room (the list goes on).
This is the story of my life. Not every project ends up in a bag. These things happen at certain stages in life. Well today, while lying on my couch with my cold virus to keep me company, my mind started to rummage through the Projects in my memory and I picked one out to finish. I got up off the couch and found the Granny Square afghan I have completed but haven't taken the time to weave in its loose ends. It's my least favorite part of doing an afghan, especially a Granny Square afghan so it was really easy to put it in a Project bag. :) Today it came out of the closet, was placed in a NEW bag meant to represent that it was once again an active Project and I'm going to take it to work with me tomorrow. On breaks and lunches I will now take the time to weave in those loose ends. I'll knit and spin and sew at home and at work I will try and complete the last stages of some of my unfinished Projects. It's not a New Years resolution or intention or whatever we're calling it these days. I just realized how many wonderful things I have in my closet that would take little effort to complete and make lovely gifts for people or useful items in my own home!
Here is my first Newly Active Project (hereafter called NAP - like that? ) Now I can NAP at home and at work! lol!
I will weave in all the loose ends on the back side of this blanket and it will be done! In case you're curious, I started and completed this afghan over 5 years ago and it's been sitting and waiting for those ends to be woven in all this time! :)
Wonder what I'll do with it once I weave in the last stray yarn strand.....

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Happy and Spinning again!

And the part about being happy definitely has a lot to do with the part about spinning again. :) I have spun up two bobbins FULL to bursting with 100% alpaca single in rose and white. Most of it barber-poled as I spun it but there are sections of pure white and dark sections of pure rose in there as well and I can hardly wait to see it as a two ply yarn. I have enough roving left to spin another bobbin though and I'm rolling around the possibility of a 3-ply yarn. I've never done a 3-ply before but I have a great video on it. I'll probably stick with two ply though. In the meantime, I bought yarn from an LYS (local yarn shop) to do a scarf for my grandmother in New Jersey. It's a lovely rosey color and the fiber is alpaca, silk, merino and little chunks of tweed in it as flecking. It's working up into a nice scarf. I'm doing a regular seed stitch on it because I haven't done that stitch yet. Each new scarf is becoming an adventure in stitches. I ordered some cashmere blend yarn from Knit Picks to do a scarf in as well and I'm very excited to get it.
My soap fragrances came today! Hooray! I'd forgotten what I bought actually. :) I bought it all from Nature's Garden. I got a "Tommy" like fragrance because Jeff wears "Tommy" cologne and wanted similar smelling manly soap. I got Pina Colada, Blue Hawaiian, Amish Quilt, Citronella (for summer camping trips!) and they sent me a fake rose bud soaked in Champagne Pomegranate that smells heavenly! I could become a scent addict very easily I'm afraid. So I now have all the ingredients necessary for my first solo act at soap making. I still may ask Carol if she's available for some soap fun the day I try my hand for the first time. She's been really busy at work though so I may be on my own. But she taught me well and I took good notes. :) I actually am keeping a spinning journal and I put the soap recipe and steps down in that. It's becoming more of a crafting journal than strictly spinning at this point. I want to be able to look back at my first attempts at spinning and my first yarns and say "wow!" and remember how much fun the whole journey has been and continues to be.
Craft night with the girls is scheduled for Jan. 12th for sure and there are four of us confirmed coming. I admit it's going to be great to sit in a room full of other crafters  and share our projects, tell stories, laugh, and eat snack foods of various types. I'm really looking forward to it. I'll get to see Carrie's whole flock for the first time too. I've met a few of her birds but not all of them and I'm excited about that too. I'll take pictures again and share them.
My do-over for New Years day seemed to go better. The plumber had to come out and fix us up but it wasn't too involved. It was, of course, expensive because it was a weekend but it's well worth it to have my kitchen and laundry room functioning again! I'm not going to complain but be grateful instead. I am so used to the little blessings in life like running water and drains in the kitchen, that when they are taken away, I feel very vulnerable and dependent! I don't like feeling like that one bit. Guess it's the price we pay for living in a modern society. But things are finally running normally here again at The Nest and even though Jeff is fighting a cold and the new cat is having to be confined to the garage so he doesn't run away, things are settling into a routine for Winter 2011. (The cat is scared of his own shadow by the way so he runs first and asks questions later. If he gets away outside and takes off we'll never see him again and the coyotes will most likely make him a meal. I couldn't stand that happening so we're locking him up until he settles into his new home.)
I "syndicated" this blog on Facebook so let me know if you have trouble commenting or reading it. I can unsyndicate it just as quickly. I found and am following some great new blogs I found by syndicating though. There are some talented and entertaining spinners and crafters in blog-world! :)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Renee and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day - Even in Australia

I have NO idea how a day could start out with such promise and go downhill so very quickly but I believe the insidious nature of water to be the root cause of my woe. Somewhere between our washer/dishwasher drain pipe and the main drain pipe, there is a clog. We found out the hard way today. Our kitched sink backed up when we ran the dishwasher and Jeff, being the industrious husband he is, set to work fixing the problem. With a plunger. He plunged and plunged for a good half hour never leaving the kitchen sink for a moment. However, when I walked past the laundry room which was by that point, entirely flooded with water and food debris from the garbage disposal, I couldn't subdue my gasp of horror. Jeff and I got towels
and the shop vac and he vacuumed the water off the floor and set up the box fan to dry it all out. Once that was done we worked on those pipes for a while and let the water softener drain into that drain to see if it backed up. It seemed to be going well until Jeff went into the kitchen and issued the twin gasp to mine of earlier. The kitchen sink had overflowed with water and now the KITCHEN was afloat. Luckily no more food debris. We'd had enough. So now he's at Home Depot buying a snake to work down through the pipes to clear the clog. My house, which started out clean from yesterday's efforts, is a little thrashed. I hate living in a thrashed house. But there's no point putting it back together until we know we won't be cleaning up another deluge.
I'm unaccountably upset by this whole thing. That I can lay at the door of New Years. The new year was supposed to start out lovely and bright, safe and warm and peaceful. Instead we got this. It beats how 2010 was ushered in though I guess. Last year at this time my baby Amazon parrot Jia died from neurological disorder and malnutrition from the breeder who starve weaned her. THAT was truly an awful death and I hope to never have to see another animal suffer like that again. I held her for 4 hours while she struggled to live and lost the fight. So I supposed, next to that, a little water logging isn't such a bad thing. But it's not what I would have chosen if God had handed me a list and asked me to chose how my first day of 2011 would go. I was so agitated that I messed up a few rows of my alpaca scarf and then was terrified to touch my spinning lest I somehow damage my work there too. We didn't go to church like I had planned because of my awful allergies. We adopted a new kitten yesterday from the Humane Society. I named his Grady and he's 8 months old. He's been banged up a bit from something or other and in order to keep him around so he knows this is home, he's living in my bathroom for a couple of days. I'm so very allergic to cats! I love them dearly but I suffer when they're in such close proximity for long periods of time. Like 10 minutes. :) But  when Zipper died we meant to adopt another cat and got our chance yesterday. He's a neutered male and he's soft as cream. Here's his picture. He took to hiding in my bathroom closet until he ventured into the linens. I had to relocate him after that. No cats in my sheets please.
He's not actually cross-eyed. But his eyes are a little close together for all appearances. In actuality, it's that white stripe up the middle of his face. It does this optical illusion thing when you look at him so that his eyes seem too close together. They really aren't. I hope that in Heaven I get to have lots of cats in my forever home to sit on my lap and sleep with me on my bed at night - or whatever Heaven offers of that variety. I hate being so allergic to such wonderful, soft, sweet critters. Tomorrow we introduce him to the other cats and the rabbit in the garage where he'll actually live. We live on 1.5 acres in the country and the mouse population has spiked because the neighbors are killing the foxes and coyotes. Rabbits and rodents of all varieties are flourishing out here now. So we have 3 cats now to help keep the gopher (ick!) and mouse populations in check in our immediate vicinity. I've told Grady that me may NOT bring home any of these...
Our cat Zipper who died earlier this year used to bring these to us. We rescued and released 3 baby cottontail bunnies this past summer from Zipper. This is only one of them. Cute isn't it? I've never seen a baby bunny so small until this one.
Well Jeff just called and he's on his way home with the snake - and ice cream for me. :) There's one resolution I've already broken. It's why I never made resolutions before. Guess I need to stick to not resolving to things. He also said that he bought the supplies to make my soap molds. I ordered my fragrances and unscented cocoa butter to make my soap with. The cocoa butter is what I'll super fat the soap with to make it extra creamy. I'm just waiting on fragrances now. They're on their way from Ohio and should arrive around Jan. 4th. I'm pretty excited about that!
So Sabbath is over, the 1st day of 2011 is on its way out and I'm hoping for a do-over tomorrow. Wish me luck. :)