cotton, knitting, Sewing, Spinning, Uncategorized, Weaving

Whatever Your Hand Finds to Do

I’ve been making. Yes! my crafty fire still burns as bright as ever. I feel like I am in such a whirlwind of ideas at the moment. Inspiration to create new things is flooding me from all directions. I want to do more and more. This year has been filled with unexpected changes both at home and at school. I find myself struggling for my craft time more days that I want to count. With teaching summer school for the first time and a new school year underway, I have my hands full. That, and having my little nephew move back into my home has really kept me hopping around. Yesterday I was scrolling through my pictures and realized that although it feels like I haven’t made much I really have.

Look at all this handspun yarn I finally skeined and washed up!

Some projects that I started in the winter have become finished garments that I now wear and use over and over again. I’ve been spinning yarn, sewing, weaving, batiking, and block printing. Yes, I  have discovered some new crafts. Lately, I have been carving rubber stamps, burning rubber mats, stitching, and melting wax to add color and pattern to fabrics that I’ve been sewing.

I can’t even begin to describe the adventures I’ve been on in creating these items. Hopefully, these pictures will share the thousands of words I should’ve, would’ve, could’ve been sharing over the months on this blog.

I wove my first set of towels using a monk’s belt threading. There were 10 of them, no two are alike in true Melvenea fashion. I forgot to take a picture before I gave a few away and started doing dye experiments on them. I also finally got around to sewing myself a new cross-body pouch to use at school using a tablet woven band for an accent and colorful matching key-fob.

The printmaking idea hit me on a chance visit to the public library. Jen Hewitt’s Print, Pattern, Sew book was the springboard for my block printing binge. The book is filled with information presented in the clearest and colorful way. I immediately purchased a copy for my collection and got to work on making my own stamp collection.

The Spinner’s challenge project I did for Duneland Weaver’s Guild was a success. I created a yarn that was wool, space dyed, and chain plied with sparkle. I was intrigued by the resulting shawl. It is full of dimension.

There was also the natural colored cotton sampler yarn I spun at the Lindenwood Winter Spinning Retreat. It was fun meeting all the new people and I got to see my pal Kathy who I met at the Sauder Village Fiber Fest again. I am still amazed at all of the subtly different shades that can grow naturally.  I spun each color in a 2-ply yarn one after the other and eventually wove a shawl out of it. The light blue is the last of my recycled blue jean cotton fiber stash😢. The finished shawl actually has cowrie shells sewn into the border to add weight. It needed a little extra funk in my opinion. Those cool, calm colors of nature pair really well with the shiny shells that occasionally clink together as the shawl hangs.

I am not sure where the batiking shenanigans came from. I’m just doing it. The dyeing experiment eventually led to me making some pretty cool shirts. I find the Nigerian Adire cloth tradition especially alluring. Can you tell?

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As a bonus I got to teach my guild friends over the summer what I had learned so far about the technique. We made some pretty eclectic scarves.

This past spring I somehow got myself drafted to be the fashion show chair for my guild. I challenged myself to do a full handspun, handwoven outfit for the show. I used a mill-spun cotton warp and handspun weft. This was the last of my homegrown stash. I ended up not having enough of one fabric to make anyone garment. The whole project was a patchwork that is basically a bunch of rectangles sewn together until it all somewhat fit. I wanted to do my version of a South American hupil blouse and got this.

I like it! See, even when I plan ahead I end up taking a gazillion detours. I guess that’s just me.

This project was long-going with no real plans but a pretty awesome outcome. The yarn was spun from a silk/flax blend I bought from Inglenook Fibers. It got woven, sewn, and block printed with my custom blocks.

I made a tote bag

Now that that’s taken care of there is this cool new loom Glimakra Ideal loom I got myself for my birthday. I am playing with rags at the moment on it.

Alas, there are cotton plants in the ground too. Hopefully, soon there will be more homegrown cotton to spin😊

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Spinning, Uncategorized

Wait but There’s More

I did get a little housekeeping done. The Tour De Fleece skeins are finally washed. There was so much to wash that I just filled up my kiddie pool, added a little Dr. Bronners Castle Soap and gave them a swirl to set the twist.

 

I bought some stuff. I bought a lot of stuff (hangs head). A new to me wheel. It’s a Lendrum with a bunch of extras thrown in, including Spunky Eclectic Aspen BFL roving which I immediately spun up. I did try to vote my Ashford Traveller wheel off the island via Ravelry but no takers so I guess I’m a crazed lady with 5 spinning wheels. But, but I spin though.

 

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Oh yes, and then theirs a few spindles. I bought 2 bottom whirls one has a pewter whirl and the other is one of the illusive Ann Grout pottery spindles. It was a steal at $25 on a Ravelry destash. Then there’s the cute little Greensleeves teacup spindle and… let me just stop. But, but I spin though.

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My favorite is the cute little owl spindle I got from Woodland Woodworks. I saw them in the Inglenooks forum during Tour De Fleece then this happened…

 

I did start a new knitting project. This is the starts of a hoodie that I found on Knitty called Undercurrent.

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I did swatch…just in case this thing turns out to be a disaster. I tried to plan really. The yarn is crazy as all get out. The art batts were from Gargoylelover in the Starry Night colorway. I am adding in some white silk yarn that I’ve had in my stash forever in hopes of having enough yarn to finish.

 

Meanwhile I have some socks  lingering on the needles along my crochet Virus shawl which is slowly growing.

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Spinning, Uncategorized

Spinning Under the Influence: Artsy Yarn

Every since I joined a few Ravelry spinning groups last month I’ve been under a bit of a trance with my spinning. No, stranger to color it was only natural that I would see Inglenook fibers and need to spin some. They have the most imaginative colorways. I decided to follow the technique of the Ravelry folks for spinning my Hawaiian Shirt braid.

I would spin a two ply yarn that keeps the color blocks together by separating the fiber then spinning each color separately. This skein was completely spindle spun.

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I liked it so I did the same with a Fierce Fibers braid I purchased and the Oregon Sheep and Wool Fest

It did stop their there though. Texture! I have been spinning all the art batts I can get my hands on and pretty much any fiber prep with some irregular bumpiness to it.

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As a primarily fingering/lace weight spinner it’s really bizarre that I’m spinning inconsistent yarns now.

At Michigan fiber fest I got to card my own batt at the Uniquely Yours booth. I used blue BFL with green merino and added in shredded money. I couldn’t wait to see what it would do. I spun it like a wild woman and made a very thick and thin single then plied it with copper sewing thread, What?!  yes, I’m calling this skein dollars and Cents ya’ll.

I kept the craziness going with an art batt from Beyond the Fleece which I also spun willy nilly.

I spindle spun another batt I bought from her earlier this year at Ann Arbor Fiber fest in my usually lace weight. It’s a nice skein with some texture here and there but otherwise safe.

I should be done right? nope. I bought some roving from another vender (can’t think of the name at the moment) that is minty green with black silk noil. Texure! They called it Leopard Frog, I call it Mint Chocolate Chip.  Seeing as how mint chocolate chip is my favorite ice cream I had to go ahead and start spinning that too. I am swirling in some grey Shetland to make it a sweater quantity.

I’ve had a drum carder for at least 7 years and had only used it for processing until now. The fiber fest adventure has reprogrammed my mind so now I’ve taken it out to turn a bag of colorful odds and ends that I bought a long time ago into a spinnable batt. I will add the trinkets back in during the plying phase

This little treasure trove is now awaiting its turn on the wheel.  This has got to be a phase.

cotton, Spinning, Uncategorized

My Stash: Am I Busting or Building?

I have been spinning a lot of yarn lately. A lot. Now a sane crafter would be telling herself “Good job, see you may buy a lot of craft supplies  but at least you’re producing”, “Look at all of that yarn you’ve spun, one day soon your  fiber and yarn stash will be reasonable. Nope not me. I just go out and buy more. A lot of what I am spinning lately has been new acquisitions. Only about 3oz (the cotton/bamboo blend, and 1.5oz green merino/silk) was old stash. Womp, womp.

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Newly spun yarn (2- 4oz skeins of Ashland Bay dyed merino top in Baltic and Bermuda colorways, 1.5 oz of merino/silk green top, hand-dyed cotton punis, and brown cotton mixed skein.

I am having a lot of fun though. The latest finished project was 4.6oz  art rolags from Spindipity in the Monet colorway. They are so interesting to spin with all of the color and texture changes. There are 2 more art batts in my stash that I plan to spin up very soon.

I spun 4 ozs of Ashland Bay merino top on my KCL modular drop spindles.  This a bit of a milestone. I have gotten quite efficient.

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fabric strip wrist distaff in use

It was a fairly quick spin especially once I started using a strip of knit fabric as wrist distaff. Having the interchangeable spindle shafts is also nice. I just fill two shafts up and wind a plying ball.

The plant fibers are finally seeing some action now. I whipped out my last bit of recycled blue jean fiber. The tiny sampling was striped with white cotton. In order to make more yardage, I plied it with singles spun from my last bits of carded bamboo. (I did not feel like carding up more).

While I was at it I made a cleanup-skein with bits of left over plant fibers on my bobbins.

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brown, white, and recycled blue jean cotton handspun

My other plant fiber spin was the art rolags that I bought from Buchanan Fibers.

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Dyed cotton/milkweed rolags

They were a blend of dyed cotton, milkweed, and nylon. The singles spun up fine but the headache came when it came time to ply. I forget an important lesson I had learned a while back. NEVER create a plying ball from a center pull ball with cotton singles. The high twist combined with fine singles WILL tangle and make you cry or even worse cause you to lose yardage. This method works well for wool only (maybe not fine mohair singles).

The most efficient way to divide yarn for plying is to weigh out equal amounts of fiber before spinning. Anyhow I did get it to work out but it was unnecessarily stressful and time consuming. The end result was a pretty nice yarn however. We’ll see how it washes up.

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Handspun cotton/milkweed/nylon skein

Alas, I have busted a lot of stash this month however there is more where that came from. I did a little inventory, organization a few days ago. I have 10- 5gallon bins of wool fiber and yarn, a bookcase of plant fibers and yarn, and a bookcase of weaving yarn.

No excuses folk, I know there are no excuses. I’m in pretty deep and loving it.

knitting, Spinning, Uncategorized

Finished Objects: Wheels spinning, Needles Clicking

I finished up spinning the 16ounces of llama fiber I began working on last month. Love It! It’s a little late in the season to start a project with it so I have decided to store it for later.

I really want to start working on plant fibers now for spring. We’ll see. I still have about 8oz of the golden merino left to spin lace-weight on my Kromski Symphony. Hopefully I can finish it soon. It has been on the wheel forever, like literally years.

I washed up the skeins that were recycled from some ugly knitted projects I made years ago and never wore. The skeins were hung to dry on a drying rack placed in my bathtub. They are now packed away awaiting a second chance at becoming something nice to wear.

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Hand Spun yarn skeins and sweater drying on a rack in the bathtub

I finished my Diminishing Rib Cardigan from Interweave Knits Spring 2009 cover and I like it. I kind of haphazardly spun and chain-plied that roving maybe 8 years ago and packed it away thinking I didn’t like it only to fall in love after it was knit up. I believe it is Ashland Bay merino top in the rose colorway. Sometimes it’s hard to perceive how a yarn will look once it is knitted, crocheted, or woven.

The pattern did not call for a closure however I chose to crochet two pairs of ties on it. I also stabilized the neckline with  2 rows of chains stitches. I am not sure if I did the tubular cast-on correctly but it made the neckline more stretchy than I wanted. This is my first handspun garment. I’m pretty happy with the result.

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Diminishing Rib Cardigan made from handspun merino yarn

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I had not finished spinning my llama roving yet but I wanted to make another winter item. I had  2 skeins of  bulky Noro Kochoran yarn in the color #65 that I bought at a local yarn shop liquidation sale. The yarn was hard on my hands. It was difficult to slide on my needles (Knit Picks nickel plated circulars in size 8). Kochoran has angora bunny in it. It shed a lot as I worked with it however I think that has resolved itself now that it’s knit up. I should have went up to a size 9 as recommended on the yarn label. ouch.  I alternated it with some chain-plied handspun natural white cormo yarn.

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What began as the Welted Cowl published in Vogue knitting  winter 2010 morphed into a pretty nifty poncho as I changed up the amount of ribbed purled bands, completely disregarded gauge, and used up every last bit of the yarn I had. It is super, don’t need a coat, warm.

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Welted Poncho
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Welted Poncho paired with a hanspun angora fichu
knitting, Spinning, Uncategorized

Spinning My Wheels

I have been in a crafty frenzy lately. Every since Winter break I have been pulling out all of my fiber stuff that had been hibernating in the basement for years. I have since put my dining table in a closet (heck, I only host people twice a year) so that I can have a workspace in my well lit dining area. Yes..I am back in make-mode.

My spinning wheels are back in motion.

On the Ashford traveler I have some bamboo fiber which I carded up to spin. This is my first time spinning a significant quantity of it. I have found that it is best to open up the fibers, which are quite compressed in raw form, with a drum carder. This makes it easier to card it into a spinnable cloud with 120 point fine hand carders. I do not make punis with the bamboo like I do my cotton. It tends to be sticky and somewhat hard to draft when compressed. I just recently discovered that the uncarded fiber is being sold rather cheaply as a pillow stuffing at JoAnne Fabrics. If I like the finished product I will certainly be getting more.

The Kromski Symphony has some golden merino top on it. I bought about 16oz of this fiber maybe 3 years ago in hopes of making a sweater with it. Perhaps it will finally make its way into a finished product. We’ll see. First things first, gotta get the yarn spun. It should be about 24wpi when I finish plying it. I am not terribly worried about the final yarn weight. I usually just let the fiber do what it wants.

I finished up 4oz of spot dyed merino top on the Kromski Sonata. It had literally been on the bobbin for years. I ended up with about 450yards of 2ply fingering weight yarn in a surprisingly pastel skein. I’m not sure what I will do with it.

I visited Baker Studios in Allegen, Michigan over winter break. I liked the shop owner so much that I decided to buy some locally produced llama roving. I have avoided purchasing a lot of wool since the major moth attack that nearly wiped out my entire stash of handspun yarns back in 2010. The roving is really soft to spin and has a grayish, magenta, purplish, with a little sparkle vibe going. I have 16oz. So far I have 8oz plied and am working on the rest. It takes me about 3hours to spin 4 ounces of singles. Plying takes me about half the time.

With all the spinning and carrying on I was inspired to get my knitting needles clicking again. I have a set of Knit Picks nickel-plated interchangebles.  The project I chose is the Diminishing Rib Cardigan from Interweave Knits Spring 2009.

I actually had 3 sweater quantities of yarn spun up at the time of the moth attack. The one yarn spun from commercial roving was spared by the moths. I believe commercially produced wool is treated with insecticide.

Anyhow, I had  bought about 16oz of Ashland Bay merino top in the rose colorway and spun it up. It has some blues and purples going through it. I didn’t really like it that much at first but now that I have begun to knit with it I think the different colors blended in give it a painterly effect. One of the skins has some dark pink/red splotches on it from when I washed the skins with other yarns during the moth recovery effort. Oh well. We’ll have to see how it works with my skin tone.

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I Navajo, or chain plied this yarn so it’s a 3ply. This was my first yarn plied in this way and it has lots of thick and thin spots and overspun curly pigtails sticking out here and there.  So far so good on the knitting. Please let this thing fit! It is my first hand knit cardigan.101_1763

Uncategorized, Weaving

Just off the loom: hand-dyed wool, natural colored cotton yardage

So, I am just having all sorts of fun weaving these days. I am really happy with how my handspun, hand dyed/ natural grey wool wrap turned out. It is really soft. I ended up braiding the fringe and adding beads. I left little loose tufts on the fringe. I think it adds character and reminds me of the playful nature of the yarn.

I warped and wove the full 15″ width of my Leclerc Dorothy loom with most of my remaining handspun colored cotton. Oh my goodness!! I love, love, love the feel of the fabric. Believe it our not I have never handled handspun, hand woven cotton fabric before. It has a certain wild yet lush quality to it. I plan to use it for clothing. It was fun just weaving bobbin after bobbin not worrying about the pattern. I just pulled random colors out of my basket and wove till I was finished.

My Dorothy loom only holds 4.5 yards of warp. I was amazed at the shrinkage of the cotton. My finished cloth was 4 yards 5 inches. After washing it was 3 yards 23 inches!

For what it’s worth, I do not own a bobbin winder and my shuttle only came with one plastic bobbin. Not to be deterred, I made some bobbins out of packing paper and wound them using a pencil with masking tape on one end affixed to my spinning wheel. Works like a charm.

 

I also put a warp on my Kromski rigid headle loom. This one is just some clearance navy cotton yarn I felt like using up paired with a tan/gold recycled sari silk that is too close to my skin color to look good on my without a contrasting color. There was only enough cotton warp for about 2 yards of fabric. The pattern is a very simple weft float using a pickup stick.