Madrona 2014

So this past weekend was the Madrona Fiber Fest. Unluckily for me, I had no idea when class signups were and so I was beyond late and couldn’t sign up for any awesome class. But the marketplace and demonstrations were free, so I decided to make the ~40min trek down to Tacoma for the fest.

It was my first fiber festival and boy oh boy, was it an experience. I went alone, as I don’t know too many people who would want to give up their Saturday for a fiber festival, and thought it would simply be a shopping and watching experience. What I had failed to remember was that fiber people are incredibly friendly people (I’m trying to decide what crowd is friendlier and more welcoming: fiber people or frisbee people – it’s a toughie) and within a couple minutes of walking around the marketplace I was already talking to people about yarn, spinning, fiber, etc.

The first two laps of the marketplace experience were quite overwhelming. Prior to arriving, I set a cash spending limit so as to not go crazy with my purchases (I’ll recap afterwards). In order to absorb it completely, I just walked around the area twice to see what the whole entire experience even had to offer. Throughout that time I also talked to a few people about yarn options, colors, and the sort. After my warmup laps, I headed to the Habu booth since I also set a rule that yarn purchases must be in sweater quantities; no less. My stash consists of far too many single skein entities. In the end, I made out quite successfully with these items:

They include hand carders, some roving, habu yarn, size 17 dpns, some lovely boucle yarn, and an issue of ply.

    

I tried to get an image depicting how lovely the roving is, but I don’t think images or words could describe the silky softness of the camel-silk roving that I’d found. I got the roving from the Carolina Handspun (I think?) booth and it’s to die for. I’m afraid to spin it right now since I’m rather rusty on both my spindles and my wheel, but sooner or later I’m envisioning a delicious single ply.

That is the awesome boucle yarn I got from the Artful Ewe, located in Port Gamble, WA. The ladies at the booth were so sweet and delightful! I’m hoping to create the “Boxy Sweater” out of this…when I get to it.

Last, but not least, is the some of the Habu yarn I got. I love the variety of textures this company comes up with for the yarn…not to mention the amazing contemporary designs. But the textures are what get me every time I see Habu yarns.  I’m hoping to make a lovely, simple cowl out of these two balls.

Afterwards, I checked out the few demonstration booths they had: spinning tips with Sarah Anderson, some 12 pairs of socks being knitted with a magic loop, some kumihimo braiding, and weaving. I finally got to try my hand at a harness floor loom and it was absolutely delightful! (not that I had any doubts that I would enjoy the activity) This cemented the notion of getting a loom and luckily I have a friend who’s trying to get rid of one of her floor looms! As soon as I can figure out how to a) get it to my apartment and b) find a place for it, I’ll have a new toy! SO exciting!!

While I was only able to experience the magic of Madrona for one day this year, I’m going to make every effort to get some classes next year and spend much longer there. Though it was relatively daunting to be there without anyone I knew directly, I’ll definitely like to try sitting, knitting, and absorbing the magic that is fiber people there next year. Maybe between now and then I’ll be able to burst my shy/introverted bubble?

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Madrona 2014

Project Sheep to Sweater: Dyeing

Disclaimer: By no means take any of these statements for fact. I am a wanna-be fiber artist attempting to process her own wool for the very first time by means of the project titled “Project Sheep to Sweater.” The following series of statements and any future statements are my observations only.

So my wool has been washed and hanging out with me for the past 7 months. After acquiring it I had washed it multiple times (see previous posts on washing and shearing) and let it dry completely. It then sat in a bin for the next 7 months, travelling from Pomona, to Los Angeles, driving north over 1,000 miles, to Bellevue (Washington), and finally to my apartment in Seattle. After many long months of waiting for my life to transition, I finally started with the dyeing process, thanks to the readily available supplies that are pretty easy to find here at Weaving Works.

Dyeing, when done correctly seems to be a science. I, however, do not do it correctly. At least I’ll admit it to myself. I have a little here and a little there. But I can definitely say I understand how it should be done correctly with ratios of ounces of liquid, grams of dye powder, amount of fiber, etc.

I acquired a crockpot at the nearby Goodwill for a mere $10 which was great. I didn’t want to spend too much; granted I’m sure I could have gotten one for cheaper, but it’s in great condition and I probably could have used it for cooking if I had so desired. I decided on the crockpot method due to the seemingly easy method of leaving it and basically forgetting it, only coming back to check every now and then so I could do things as I pleased.

So my first batch, I chose to do a chartreuse with my Rambouillet. (Quick project update: I’m blending my Rambouillet fleece with some Shetland and Tencel in order to get the strength of Shetland with some shimmer of Tencel; we’ll see how this goes). I thought, well 2 ounces of fiber will fit in the pot so lets do it! I followed that thought with “let’s fill (almost) the entire pot with water to ensure maximum coverage. Then let’s set it to low so it doesn’t felt. Then let’s open it regularly to make sure it’s okay. Then let’s add a little dye because this doesn’t seem to be working.”

Mistake. Fail. Fail. Meh.

The above picture is the crockpot at work. FOR SEVEN HOURS. It took so gosh darn long for the fiber to get up to temperature that I had to leave the house and turn it off by that time. Meaning there was no way in heck the dye set. So I was left with a wasted day and a pot of fiber that was attempting to dye.

Lesson here: Do not fill your crockpot up with this much water. You really don’t need that much water so long as it remains covered. Moreover, don’t keep opening the crockpot up! This only allowed the heat to escape so the temperature lowered, thus making it take way longer to get up to temperature.

I ended up having to recover from this pretty crappy mistake by redoing the process about 4 times until I got the desired result. In the end, I had to put this fleece into a bag where my not-so-satisfactory fleece goes that’ll be used for some woolen bitted yarn. But I absolutely despise waste so it will get used. Plus the wool became a weird green-light green with extreme changes that cannot be explained.

After this, I’ve gone with 1 ounce of fiber at a time, with barely enough water to cover it. This has resulted in a much more satisfactory result. Often times, I’ll let it get to the temperature it needs with a good amount of water, then keep it on warm through the night, turning it off in the morning. This way it lets the dye set and I can set it and forget it. 🙂

As you saw yesterday though it’s coming along really well. While the dyeing has been much more difficult and time consuming than I had thought, I still love it. And it’s getting better; lot’s better! I think if I can find a good sized pot at Goodwill, I might do the stovetop method when I have some spare time. It seems like it might go a lot faster, and seeing as I hope to dye/process about 1.5-2 lbs of fiber for this sweater, I still have about 1-1.5 lbs to go. I’m getting impatient with the dyeing.

Til next time!

Meet Penny, a dachshund from the Humane Society who had stolen my heart 2 weeks ago. She by no means replaces my Penny-weenie, but she is so heart-wrenchingly adorable. I am still rejoicing in the fact that she just got adopted today! 😀

Project Sheep to Sweater: Dyeing

Getting Up to Date

And so, it has been almost three weeks. Whoops. No legitimate excuses for my absence but I do have to say, between birthday season and work deadlines, blogging has taken a back seat.

But not knitting or spinning. Well, not exactly spinning but fiber preparation. Project sheep to sweater is well on its way to spinning! Granted, there are plenty of tips/tricks/lessons learned along the way that ultimately slow down the process, but it’ll definitely result in much better yarn. And I’m absolutely loving this raw wool to finished project process.

Some pictures of the process:

From left to right:

Dyed Rambouillet Locks; Carded/Blended Top; Container of Top

Some lessons learned coming tomorrow! (I PROMISE!)

Getting Up to Date

Deception

Being binge crafter, I’ve been on a relatively constant spinning kick this week, meaning I hardly made progress on most of my knitting projects. That’s not to say everything’s been stagnant here.

I’ve finally finished spinning up the batch of wool that I’d gotten when I went out to Whidbey Island in August. I went out there with the intent of just hiking Deception Pass and spending the weekend out there, but the first night I encountered an absolutely lovely craft store in the city of Oak Harbor (where I stayed) where they sold only local fibers, yarns, etc. Moreover, this was an amazing place that had its own workshop where one could dye or spin their wool (among other things) as well. If only I lived closer to this place.

Now deception might be somewhat of a harsh name to give such a lovely fiber and yarn, but I feel that the colors, spinning & plying methods, and place and meaning of the fibers acquired have warranted such a name. It’s exactly what I think of when I see this yarn, for literal and more personal reasons. I have no idea what the different fibers are within this yarn and the colors vary greatly. Funny enough, upon first glance, it appears to be an aqua, teal flavored yarn.  But upon further examination, you can see the variety in fibers really well. And I really do believe the variety gives the yarn an amazing flavor, though it has yet to be knitted up so I’ll keep that in mind.

I’m extremely proud of the thoughts behind this yarn. Being immersed in thoughtful architecture has led me to search for a greater meaning behind every life decision, menial and major. Menial as it may seem, the meaning behind this wool makes spinning and (soon to be) knitting it so much more meaningful and enjoyable. I look at the yarn today and a wave of various feelings comes with a bundle of simple twisted fiber; I can see the twists and turns of life spun into this fiber.  More than just memories come with this fiber; emotions and nostalgia of that time in life.

I never really realized why the prospect of spinning and processing my own wool was so important to me. But after spending some time and thinking through all of the meaning and the ideas behind starting something from the very beginnings, it makes me realize how much each step of life can intrigue me. Knowing and learning about so many different stages in life and other forms of development such as design is absolutely fascinating and just constantly leaves me wanting more. I’m sure everyone has their medium for intrigue…any thoughts?

Deception

Dog Days of Summer

Getting a spinning wheel was by far the best purchase I’ve made since graduating. First of all, I’ve found that spinning (on a wheel) is so much faster than drop spindling – though that should have been obvious to begin with. Secondly, the start to finish speed is SO much faster than knitting. But it’s not quite the same finished satisfaction as knitting is, since what I’m left with is raw material for knitting…duh?  This is a skein of my first spinning wheel product, a blend of Corriedale and Merino, aqua-white. I blended on my homemade hackle (which is quite ugly, might I add) and my laser cut diz (super awesome!). I had fun taking pictures.

My project attention span is at an all-time low. In one day, I’ve found myself working on up to 8 different projects from crocheting to spinning to ink washing to knitting…multiples of some. But I’m starting to feel the finish project itch, you know, the one where you haven’t seen output in a while and want to sit and finish that one thing. Problem is, when you feel the finish project itch at the same time as the start project itch…well then you’re pretty much digging yourself into a bigger hole since finishing takes much longer than starting, and well I don’t swatch but I start…all the time…and you can tell where this is going. Throw my senior project booklet (which is required for my elusive diploma) and portfolio into the mix and I’m in a chaotic mess.  Any suggestions for curing one – or the other?

 

Dog Days of Summer

Romney Friends

Romney Friends

To be spun…

The Romney roving I got from Hawaii appears to be eating the Romney locks from Woods Hole, Massachusetts (where I’ll be going next week!). I’m spinning them together (first carding them) to be a delicious deep aqua/turquoise with just the right amount of brown…it’s so rich and delicious! Pictures to be posted in a bit! Yay, spinning!

Image

Toys and Trees

As mentioned in the last post, I’ve recently acquired (added?) to my “toy”collection! Well, this is toys in the hobby accessory category, but nevertheless I’m super excited to add them to my clutter. I guess I don’t really consider this clutter as it is extremely helpful to one of my favorite things in the world (yarn/fiber) but nevertheless, I present to you my new wheel and swift!

During my final quarter (ever) of college, I decided to top out my units with a craft class which allowed me to work in the model shop. Having had experience with the tools, I decided to go for a yarn swift, as I had been pining for one for quite some time now. A spinning wheel seemed too daunting a task, but a yarn swift was perfect! Funny enough my teacher had never heard of one, nor anyone in the class, so I also exposed everyone to how awesome knitting culture is! These finished pictures show what it turned out to be, but surprisingly enough it started out with a block of wood, American Walnut. I loved how rich the color became after coating it with both a linseed oil and a polyurethane varnish.

Last summer, as some of you may remember, a desire was born to learn how to spin. I figured out how to use a drop spindle, but chose to wait on a spinning wheel til I graduated (YAY!). Well, now is the time I learn! I was so incredibly fortunate enough (thanks to the help of many ravelers-yay ravelry and awesome knitters!) to find one through craigslist at a STEAL of a price, with some minor maintenance required. I haven’t been able to try it out, as I’m waiting for my maintenance kit to come, but it is an Ashford Traditional, and according to the site’s timeline, I believe it’s from the 70s! I doubt it’s been used in at least 20 years, so some parts need replacing, oiling, etc. But the flyer and wheel are in great condition and I’m so stoked to begin to self-teach spinning on a wheel!

And last, but not least, hiking is in season! Well, in Southern California, I guess it’s always in season, but it’s not always in my season. Well it wasn’t, now it can be, thanks to the gift of TIME. I went to lower Arroyo Seco a couple of days ago, and it was absolutely splendid (though slightly hot for my taste).

I also have a pretty severe case of start-itis. Unfortunately, no WIP pictures quite yet. But not to fear, they too will come!

Happy knitting/spinning/living!

Toys and Trees