Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Still spinning for the Estrella project

I'm still spinning away for my weaving project. I did the calculations, and assuming about a 1/3 shrinkage/take-up rate, I'll need to put 11 yards of 28" wide warp on the loom to make enough wool fabric for a 1200's style over tunic. At about 12 epi, that makes 3696 yards of warp needed. I just finished up another skein of white, which brings my current total to 3453 yards. One more skein of white should do it for the warp. Then I'll start on spinning some more blue for the weft yarn.

In and among spinning, I tried one of the free projects from Beading Daily.

Isn't it cute? It is a 3D cube, peyote stitched together from Delica seed beads. I put a jingle bell inside of it. The project suggests making several of these cubes, and hanging them off of a chain for a Gift Box necklace. But I think if I make some more, I'm going to do something different with them. I think I might write down the joys in my life on little slips of paper, and put the papers inside of the cubes. Then I'll display the collection of cubes in a bowl, and when I'm down I'll look at it and have a visual, tangible reminder of just how lucky I am.

Either that, or I'll make dice! I wonder what it would take to make up a full set of D&D dice out of beads...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Wet finishing singles hand spun yarn

Yesterday, I posted the above picture of a skein of yarn hung to dry with a bit of weight on it. I got another bobbin full spun up today...

...and figured I'd show you why I do the step about wetting the skein in hot water and hanging it up. I'm making single ply yarn for a historic weaving project, and single ply means the yarn is by no means balanced. Given the chance, singles fresh off the bobbin will cork screw up into little tiny twisty springs!

See that? Those skeins are wound to be the same length. But the one on the left is the fresh batch, and the one on the right was soaked down and hung to dry overnight. Makes a difference, doesn't it?

If I wanted my yarn even smoother, I'd put it on a niddy-noddy and suspend it over a pot of steaming water for half an hour. But I just want to make the yarn manageable until I get around to dyeing it, so this treatment is enough for now.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Fiber in Arizona

The Phoenix, Arizona area is a strange combination of urban and rural. I live on the west side of the valley, within walking distance of the stadium where the Super Bowl was held a few years ago. Yet, as I drive around on my daily errands I get to see what is growing in the farmers' fields that still dot the landscape. And I am fascinated by fibery things in their raw form.

For instance, the cotton crops are coming ripe and are being harvested. For a Midwest girl, cotton took a little of getting used to. (Fields are supposed to be full of corn.) Now though, I realize that the fields dusted with white fluff right before Christmas time? Not snow. Cotton. And if I keep my eyes open, after the fields are harvested I can find handfuls of it just blowing around, piled on the roadside.

And today while I was on my way to the grocery store, I passed a field full of mother and baby sheep. So cute! My sweetie was very patient with me while I pulled over to snap a picture.

Fiber on the hoof!

Back in the studio, I spent the afternoon listing the juggling balls that I made yesterday. They're up in the Etsy shop now. And then I finished spinning up skein #3 for my historical weaving project. Freshly spun singles yarn is very springy stuff! So to tame it until I can pop it in the dye pot, I soak it in hot water and hang it to dry with a little bit of weight on it.

No, hanging it on the back of the door and dripping all over the floor is not the optimal solution. But my patient sweetie was still in the shower when I was ready to hang the yarn, so this was my temporary solution. The skein is now hanging from the shower head, to drip dry with no mess.

All in all, a nice, fiber filled day!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Felt Juggling Balls

My inventory of felt juggling balls has been getting a little slim recently, what with holiday sales. So today I got to make 4 more sets. These are fun to do! They're small enough projects that I can play with all sorts of different color combinations.

These juggling balls have old golf balls at their core. I've got a box full of them, and when I run out, well, I live right near a golf course. They've always got used ones that they're willing to sell off, and I like the idea of recycling. I wrap the ball in three layers of wool roving, and then add wisps of other colors around the outside.

Then it is off to the bathroom sink. I use lots of hot, soapy water, and throw the bundle back and forth and roll it around in my hands. After a time, the wool shrinks down and velcros itself together into a seamless felt coating. After I get them to this stage...

...I cheat and throw the balls into the dryer for a final hardening. They come out great! The golf ball core gives the balls a good weight in the hand, and the felt covering gives them a bit of grip so they don't slide around so easily.

These will be going up in the Etsy shop in the next day or so.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Estrella project: plan B

Between making things for the Etsy shop, I'm starting to ramp up on my historical weaving project. See, I've got an event coming up in February called Estrella War ( that includes an arts competition as one of the activities. One of the three categories this year is weaving. The finished item needs to be something appropriate to Europe in the pre 1600's time frame.

I had planned to recreate a length of Viking cloth, complete with spinning the yarn on a reproduction Medieval drop spindle and weaving the cloth on a warp weighted loom. My husband had the loom half built...and then he got into a motorcycle accident. He's got another month before he can put weight on his broken leg. Well, that put a damper on that project. So, plan B.

I looked into my stash, and I have a batch of indigo dyed hand spun wool singles yarn.

There's 1660 yards there, which is a good start on the project. But I decided I needed more.
So, I ordered 5 lbs of white wool roving from the Sheep Shed Studio. ( This is mill end roving from the Brown Sheep Company, for $8.50/lb. I've ordered from them several times now, and have been pleased. The roving isn't always in perfect shape, but for the price you can't beat it.

Since I'm getting to a time crunch here, I'm not trying to spin all this on the drop spindle. Instead, I'm using my Kromski Sonata wheel, with the Woolee Winder attachment. When I want to spin for consistency and speed, that is my set up of choice.

I started a few days ago, in and among other work.

I took the first bobbin full off the wheel last night, wet it in hot water, and hung it up to dry. I'm pleased with the way it is turning out.

This first skein has almost 300 yards on it, and the box still looks full of roving. I expect even with the wheel set up, I'll still be spinning the rest of the month. Then, I think I want to pop it in the dye pot. I've got a pot of madder growing out front, though I don't know if there is enough to dye up the whole batch. Maybe stripes? I'm not exactly sure what I want the final cloth to look like--it will kind of depend on how much yarn I come up with in this spinning batch. But right now I'm leaning towards a batch of diamond twill yardage, with an eye towards making an overdress in the rectangular construction style. ('ll see.

In the meantime, I'm going to enjoy the spinning process. This roving is wonderfully soft to the touch, and a dream to work with.