Friday, July 31, 2015

Tour de Fleece 2015

Since I always seem to be traveling during the Tour de Fleece, I end up focusing on spindle spinning. This year was no exception. I had started a very fine thread spin last year during the TdF and didn't make much progress on it during the year. I continued with it during this year's TdF

 This was the starting point. That little Trindle is about 5" long and weighs 4 gms empty. I am spinning Corgi Hill Farm camel/silk in the Deep Purple colorway.
 Along the way, I took a little detour and decided to decorate some of my spindle storage. I had bought some washi-like tape at the dollar store and found that the lace trim (on the right) didn't stick to anything. So I put it away discouraged. Then I finished up some awful powdered greens that I had bought years ago. One adds it to smoothies but it is gritty. Anyway, I slowly finished it up and the container seemed like a good size for a spindle case. But no matter what I did, I couldn't get the remnants of the glue off the outside. I tried solvents and soaking and scrubbing to no avail.

Then the lightbulb moment happened! The trim that wouldn't stick! I pulled it out and it worked beautifully. The other trim - the colorful one - is sticky. I used it to decorate a plain white cardboard box in which someone had given me Japanese cookies. My little Trindle has been living in it for a number of years. Now it is colorful. I used the rest of the colorful tape to finish off the greens container. I haven't found the spindle for it yet but I am sure I will.
 I made progress on the camel/silk, almost finishing the first half of it. However, somewhere along the way, at Camp, the top part of the carbon fiber shaft splintered and the hook fell out. After checking with Trindleman that I could super-glue it and not affect his ability to make repairs, I did exactly that. The wonderful thing about Camp is that there is a hardware store right across the street so the glue was easy to come by. I continued spinning till I got back from Camp and then I mailed the shaft out for repairs and started spinning another project. Trindles are warrantied as long as Trindleman continues in business so he is going to fix it and send it back.
 I had another spindle project going on my Jenkins Delight. I continued that project on the Turkish spindles till I was done with the first single. It ended up being four turtles. This is alpaca/silk from Lisa Souza.
After that, I started spinning the second single on my standard Trindle. This is a waterfall mahogany shaft. I picked arms so that the weight would be the same as the 16 gm Delight. I filled one shaft full by the end of the Tour (on the right). Now I will start with another shaft and continue. Once it gets too heavy, I don't enjoy spindling so it is better to move to another spindle.

And so ends my Tour 2015. I think I will be spindling a bit more this year outside the Tour than I did last year. Somehow last year was a Hansen spinning year.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Knitting Camp!

I have missed going to Meg Swansen's Retreat 2.75 for the past 2 years. The Campers are like family and going back was exactly like going to a family reunion.

I got there a day early and so Linda and I went to Jurustic Park on the Thursday morning. That deserves its own blog entry so I won't talk about it yet. The retreat starts with dinner on Thursday evening and ends with breakfast on Monday.

I completely forgot to take pictures till the last day but I more than made up for it. I won't bother you with all the photos but here's a sampling.
 I caught Meg taking a picture of me!
 That's Jane the devilish dragon who was a hit at the contest - theme was 'If I had wings"
 People looking at the immense array of donated goods during the raffle. Our retreat holds a raffle with items donated by the attendees to raise money for scholarships for the following year's Camps. This way people who can't afford to go can attend.
 Amy Detjen - our fearless leader in all things technical looking cute.
 The Schoolhouse Press room with all the goodies for us to look through and play with. We don't really play. Just drool. No, we don't drool either. Just walk around with glassy eyes. I can't believe the room is empty!
 In the evenings, we mill about and chat and knit and spin and visit. We also get to look at the marvelous samples that are placed on tables around the room.
Another view of the evening sessions. There is also a small market on Saturday but since I didn't pull my camera out till Sunday, no photos of it.

I didn't buy much this year. I have too much stuff. I got a small book of Turkish colorwork patterns, some alpaca roving, a scarf, yarn for a pair of socks for DH and some cards. I also won some yarn for my contest entry and a couple of needle cases in the raffle.

It was a lot of fun meeting everyone. These are my people, my tribe!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Beading fun and redux

I am sorry for the long silence. I have been very busy with work and travel and getting settled back in the house and have neglected my blog. But no more. I will be posting more regularly.

There were a lot of things to do around the house after we came back. There was the clearing of space to make room for what we brought back, the putting away of the duplicate things that we didn't need on a daily basis, decluttering and organizing stuff and, once the weather warmed up, the tackling of the weeds. Two years of unfettered growth meant that there were weeds every where and it has taken us most of the spring and summer to get control of about 3/4 of the beds. There is still a large area on the north side of the house that is weedy. DH is tackling it as he has more time than I do.

But enough about boring stuff like weeding. Let's talk about fun. You may remember that I bought a bead from Sheila Ernst of Glasspens. Here is the old post where I actually did something with it. Well, the necklace came apart when I wore it as the knots came untied. :-( I put it away and ignored it till it popped up in my organizing and decluttering.

I did some googling and came up with this design to really showcase the bead.
This weekend we had a bead show where I have successfully bought beads in the past. It isn't very big but there is a good variety of beads. I went through my stash and found the beads that I thought would work but I still needed a contrast accent color.  I recruited a friend, got some advice from the ladies who happened to be in the local yarn store yesterday and went to buy the beads.

The trip was a success. I was not only able to buy the beads, but I also got the rest of the materials I needed. I had most of them but I couldn't re-use the wire I used to make the wrapped loops and this necklace needs some beads right before the big bead to organize the various strands. Plus, I thought I would add a chain in the back to make the length adjustable. I got everything I needed except for some flexible wire but I can get that at the local big box craft store.

Ready to see what I got?
 The turquoise, amazonite and the other aqua beads are the ones I bought this weekend. I am not too sure about the AB beads in the background - on the black. The cuboid ones in the front are definitely in.
I forgot to include the fresh water pearls that I had in the previous photo. They are definitely in. I will have to see how the AB beads in the previous photo work when I am actually stringing them.

I am mentally fired up to finish this as soon as I am done with my current knit. I am knitting a sweater for DH that is about 90% done. Once that is complete, I will start on this.

And I will be posting at least weekly. I have travel stuff and spinning stuff and so much more to talk about.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Something old, something new

Yes, that is for weddings but that is what I was up to today.

I have been having a problem with my Viajante. It is rather long and I tend to sit on it. As a result, when I move my arm, the bind off sts pop. I had already darned it once, when I thought the edge had caught in a zipper and ripped. That was discovered quite a ways after it happened so there was a lot of fixing that needed to be done. Sts picked up, worked up and then a new bind off joined to the old one. Then it happened when i was wearing it. I heard the pop when the bind-off edge ripped. I promptly grabbed the sts and put them on a pin and put the shawl away.

I took it out today to repair the edge and also to do something to reinforce it. I didn't have enough yarn to do a crochet edging. If I had had that, I think a simple slip st would have worked. But since I didn't, I went through my leftover yarn and found some lovely soft superfine alpaca that I had used for a Stripe Study. A simple slip st edging just looked too wimpy in the contrast yarn so I did a scallop edging and I am very happy with the result.

It has been a long time since I did anything like this in crochet and there was a lot of edging to be done. I did a row of single crochet and then the scallops. The edge now is secured by the thicker yarn. As I was crocheting, another BO st broke so I just picked up the open sts in the single crochet border.

A close-up of the scallop edging

That was the new. New crochet and new edging. And now for the old. I found this the other day when I was decluttering. It is an apron that I embroidered and sewed in middle school in India. We had needlework every year and I must have done this one year. It looks pretty unused. So very 50's although it was the 60's when I made it. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

A giant fiber update

I really thought I'd be able to keep up with a weekly update but things got crazy after Thanksgiving and I have been delinquent. But I am on holiday now till New Year's so I am hoping to do a bit of travel blogging and of course, catch-up with the fiber stuff.

I finished the stole that I was weaving. In a week!

That is the stole laid out to dry. I wanted to show the red stripes that I added and how they were placed on the stole. 

And there it is all completed and folded. DH has accepted it as a scarf. it is light and warm.

I have since warped for tea towels and have almost finished one. Here is the edging on the one side. I've finished that towel and will be adding the same decorative edging on the other side. I have enough for 4 towels. I have warped for 3 and will do the last one separately. I plan to do a different decorative edging with the same colored yarn on all 4. A way to practice lots of different techniques.

The yarn is a linen/cotton/nylon blend from Elann called Callista. The pink and peach colored yarns are other cotton and cotton blend leftover yarns that I had. The colored stuff in the very bottom of the photo is just a header which will be removed later. The towels will be green with the colored decorative border. This one is called Danish Medallions. Next I may try one called Brooks Bouquet.

I haven't finished the sparkly white yarn yet. It is still sitting on bobbins. But I started spinning something else. I wanted to try my hand at a new drafting technique that I learned from Jacey Boggs's Craftsy class on drafting. It is the short backward draw letting the twist in. The idea is to get a shiny yarn but one with more air in it so it is lighter. I am also practicing her technique to get a more consistent yarn.

Another view of the bobbin. I was trying to get the color right. I have now gone all the way across the bobbin shaft and am working my way back.

This is the fiber. It is called Rouge-Violet-Cerulean from Fiber Optic. I had 2 braids but sold one in China. 

I am also knitting. But it is a sweater for DH and I am on the circular part of the body which is a boring tube in a dark blue so not very interesting to look at. It is longer than in this photograph. The photograph is looking at it sideways. I am doing the saddle-shouldered sweater from Knitting Without Tears

I really, really, really promise I will do a New Zealand travelogue this weekend. In a series of posts and try to finish it up.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Broke out the loom this weekend!

I was going to write about New Zealand but I spent a lot of time on fiber-related pursuits this weekend so this is a fiber post, not a travel post.

First of all, I finally warped my Flip rigid-heddle loom! I bought it shortly before I went to China and apparently had only partially assembled it. When I took it out to warp it, I found that the apron rods were not attached. I couldn't figure out the instructions so I had to search online for better instructions. Amazingly, there isn't a video on how to put it together. I guess since it is 90% assembled, one is not needed except for people like me. I finally found what I was looking for in a video on assembling the Cricket loom which comes in many parts. The instructions talked about a chain in the cord that was supplied and I couldn't see the chain until it was pointed out in the video.

After that it was sort of plain sailing. I have the Craftsy class on rigid heddle weaving and I went back and forth between the lesson on warping and actually warping my loom. I made a few mistakes. The warping paper wound on crookedly so a bit of the warp is on and off the paper. I also didn't do a surgeon's knot when I knotted the warp but it is quite tight.

It took about 4-5 hours to get it all done. Now I have loads of weaving to do which can be done in bits and pieces. I did a bit this afternoon.
 I was going to use this cone of alpaca for warp but it wasn't strong enough. So I ended up using it for weft. I warped with Silk City Kashmir - a merino, cashmere, silk yarn I got years ago. I have it in 3 colors and used the white to go with the white in the alpaca above.
 Here is the bit I wove this afternoon along with the warped loom.
 And a close-up of the weaving. It is going to be a stole - about 18x65". The loom is 20" wide so 18 is pretty close to the full width of the loom. To add some interest, I may weave a few stripes of leftover yarn when I run of the main yarn in the shuttle. Just to add some color to the plain stole. Let's see.
 I started a sweater for my husband last weekend. It is in Rowan Felted Tweed DK in a color called Midnight. It is a bit darker than the photo - almost black with tweedy bits. It is going to be a plain stockinette sweater with saddle shoulders, worked seamlessly per Elizabeth Zimmermann in Knitting without Tears. I started with a provisional cast-on because I only have 10 balls and am not sure if it will be enough. If I don't have enough, I can do the ribbing in a lighter blue or a very dark purple - which I have in stash. The idea is to bust the stash.
I have also been slowly spinning the Kraemer Sterling Silk and Silver roving. I had started this in China and spun the big ball you see in the photo. It was a full bobbin like the one next to it. I wound it off when I got here because I needed the WooLee Winder bobbins reamed out at Rhinebeck by Nathan Lee. I didn't want him to have to deal with the fiber on the bobbin. Since then I finished up the rest of that single and the other single and now I have 2 full bobbins and 2 partial bobbins worth. I will probably start plying this evening.

It is roving so I spun it long draw and hope to get a worsted weight yarn out of it. Let us see.

I am spending an hour or two spinning or now weaving after dinner. I found that if I sat in the family room and did something, I ended up munching on something even though I didn't need it. By going upstairs to the guest bedroom and doing something other than watch TV, or even be around the TV when it is on, I am not motivated to munch. It is a win-win. Good for my waistline and good for getting fiber-y things done. I watch spinning or weaving videos or listen to podcasts.

Last weekend, I organized my stash. Wow! I have a lot more fiber than I thought I did. I had a lot of partially filled boxes of yarn in my closet so they all got combined into large plastic tubs which have been put up high. I put yarns of the same type together and found quite a few that I can use for weaving. I was going to get rid of some of it but decided against it because the weaving will use up yarn faster than knitting. Plus I like all of it!

The fiber also went into plastic tubs but lives in the guest bedroom closet. Once that closet is cleaned out and decluttered, my yarn is going in there too. The good news is that I have less yarn than I thought I did. And a lot of it is fine yarn which is good for weaving.

I will try and get to posting about New Zealand during the week.

Sunday, November 9, 2014


After quite a while, we return to the travelogue. After our trip down the Great Ocean Road, we spent a day wandering around Melbourne. Melbourne is a lovely city. It doesn't have the glamour of Sydney's harbor but it is accessible, compact and I like visiting it. I've been there a number of times on business and one of the things I like about it is that our office is in the heart of downtown. Sydney used to be like that decades ago but Melbourne still is.

But this time we were there on holiday. Our vacation hotel was on the other side of the Yarra river from where I usually stay. This was nice as it gave me a different perspective on the city. Melbourne has gorgeous Victorian architecture so we spent the morning walking around the city center looking at buildings.

This is Melbourne's China town entrance up ahead. Melbourne and Sydney have a very diverse population which shows in the variety of foods and faces and culture that is visible.



Juxtaposed with the lovely Victorian architecture is very modern architecture. This is Federation square from which our tour left. The day we went on the bus tour was Superbowl Sunday in the US so there was a giant TV showing the game and people hanging out. But this was the next day and it was quiet.


Flinders Street station - across the street from the modern architecture above.

One of the government buildings for the Victoria provincial government.


Melbourne has a trolley system in the city center. The trolley cars are old and acquired from other cities. They are gussied up with paint. There is a free trolley that goes on a circular route around the city center. We took that a couple of times. We didn't take the others because the ticketing is complicated. You need a card, which you have to get from specific places and which need a deposit. It wasn't worth it for a day. We did take a hop-on-hop-off tourist bus to see some of the further out places.


There was a protest going on outside this government building.

A row of yarnbombed trees.

RMIT - one of the universities in Melbourne - has a lot of really intriguing modern architecture. This is one of their buildings.

After wandering around the city center, we went a little further on the tourist bus. We wanted to see the Melbourne Cricket Ground, the Tennis Center (home of the Australian Open) and the Botanical Garden.

See that tiny bit of green in that picture? That is how close I got to seeing the cricket ground. From the outside, it is a giant sports stadium which I could not capture in a single picture. It was rather boring. We went inside and were told we had to pay to take an hour long tour. We didn't want to spend the money or the time. I thought I could sneak up and get a photo of the grounds but this as close as they would let me. Darn!

From the cricket ground, we walked across a long over-pass which went over the railway tracks to the tennis arena.

These are the outer courts of the tennis center. We couldn't get into the Tennis Center either.

Next up Botanical Gardens. These were not as nice as Sydney's. But it was nice after being in the sun all day.

We also went to the Shrine of Rememberance - Melbourne's war memorial.

The top provides gorgeous views of Melbourne.

Looking up at the shrine.

The actual shrine.

The four corners have these structures that are meant to evoke the trenches of World War 1. They are quite interesting and serene to spend time in.

And with that, we walked back to our hotel. A very long walk because we missed the last tourist bus to get back. We were able to get it from the shrine to the Botanical Garden where it ends. But we couldn't get the next one that starts from there and goes to our hotel vicinity because we had just gotten off the last one.

The next day we flew to Auckland for the New Zealand leg of our trip.