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.

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.

 

 

 

Cotton Seeds Sown, They know what to do

Last year I planted my first cotton seeds in my kitchen one frigid February, Indiana winter day. View Post. It was a lot of fun to watch the plants mature. I learned so much and at the end of it all I had useful fiber.

It took me a while to get around to spinning it up but I did finally get to it. I’m really happy with the result. The brown skein is especially interesting because there was a lot of shade/color variation in the crop that occurred naturally. To think they all descended from one gifted cotton boll with 21 seeds inside. Now I’m debating what to make with it.

Spinning  Cotton on my Ashford Traveller Wheel

Spinning Cotton on my Ashford Traveller Wheel

Bobbin full of white cotton yarn

Bobbin full of white cotton yarn

Winding Cotton Skeins

Winding Cotton Skeins

Skeins from 1st Crop

Skeins from 1st Crop

Finished skeins from first cotton crop

Finished skeins from first cotton crop

I found a straggler! It must've opened up over the winter.

I found a straggler! It must’ve opened up over the winter.

Of course I planted a new crop for this year. The kids from the youth ministry helped. Then my niece wanted to plant some too, so we planted more. I’m sure a gardener would cringe at our methods, those poor seeds.  The cool thing that I’m finding with cotton plants is they’re really hard to kill. Those seeds just know what to do! Even if you put too many in a whole and forget to cover them.

1 week old seedlings in my kitchen. Baby nephew is loving the new hiding place

1 week old seedlings in my kitchen. Baby nephew is loving the new hiding place

These cute little guys know just what to do.

These cute little guys know just what to do.

It's been pretty cloudy so far this spring so they are stretching for the sunlight.

It’s been pretty cloudy so far this spring so they are stretching for the sunlight.

My niece helped me pot the 2nd batch of seedlings

My niece helped me pot the 2nd batch of seedlings

About 1 month in, some of the plants have adult leaves coming in.

About 1 month in, some of the plants have adult leaves coming in.

 

So far so good

The Joy of Spinning…in Public

Although I have crafted textiles for a long time many people that know me have never seen me work. Most crafters rarely work in public. If we do, it’s usually with a small knitting group.

After all that fun I had at the living history event I realized how much I enjoy engaging the public about crafting. Especially spinning yarn. So many people are fascinated by the process. I love demonstrating the process, and letting people feel the different fibers. Most rewarding of all is persuading people to try spinning and teaching them on the spot.

A piece of the new spinner's yarn. I'm so proud of how well they did with just a few minutes of instruction

A piece of a new spinner’s yarn. I’m so proud of how well they did with just a few minutes of instruction

Ever the dreamer, I envisioned teaching lots of people to spin so I ordered 48 drop spindles.

I ordered 48 drop spindles in hopes of  teaching people to spin

I ordered 48 drop spindles in hopes of teaching more people to spin

Who does that? right.

It is too cold right now for me to attend outdoor living history events so I decided to pack up my spinning wheel and some fiber and spin at the St. Joseph Public library. Thankfully a wonderful crafty friend came with me. It was a hit. We had so much fun and met so many people that I decided to make it my Sunday community outreach.

Today was an especially awesome Sunday. I had 4 girls come and learn to spin! I should have brought more than two spindles. They picked up the skill extremely fast and are already talking about what they want to make. We even had a new weaver friend come and show us some of her beautiful brocaded trim. (I will try to get a picture to share next time). Next week I’m going to show the girls how to dye their yarn with sharpie markers and alcohol.

We can dye the small amounts of yarn with Sharpie markers and alcohol

We can dye the small amounts of beginner’s yarn with Sharpie markers and alcohol

I made small dots on the yarn with Sharpie markers. Sprinkling alcohol on the yarn will spread the colors and set the dye

I made small dots on the yarn with Sharpie markers. Sprinkling alcohol on the yarn will spread the colors and set the dye

Sharpie marker dyed yarn

Sharpie marker dyed yarn. Reminds me of Tie Dye

 

More Rag Rugs Please

Last year I purchased a rag rug to use in my kitchen. I spent about $40 dollars on a colorful 5ftX4ft rug I’m guessing made in India with all the bright polyester fabrics. I love it. Now make it? Dream on sister. My fabric scraps aren’t nearly so colorful and I’m not about to go buy fabric to make a rag rug. So I put that idea away.

A few months ago in October I went to a heritage festival in New Carlisle and found a woman crocheting rag rugs. They were gorgeous. She showed me how to tear long strips from lengths of fabric. Old sheets give the best yield. Just snip and tear and the strips become the yarn.

Later that month I asked my sister if she had some old sheets she wanted to get rid of. Lucky me, she had a huge Spacebag full of old faded comforters in her basement ready to give me.

I started tearing the strips. It must have looked fun because mom started in on tearing strips too. By the end of the day we had a basketful of yarn.

Mom tearing sheets for rag rugs

Mom tearing sheets for rag rugs

I crochet a rug as I saw at the festival. I liked it okay but the crocheting was hard on the fingers. So I put the project away for a spell.

First Crocheted rag rug

First Crocheted rag rug

Fast forward to November, I took a trip to Williamsburg, Virginia. In one of the gift shops I saw braided rag rugs. The strips were first braided then, zigzag stitched by machine into a finished rug. I liked them but the machine stitching turned me off.
I could do the braids then whipstitch the rug together with thread by hand and get a similar look but couldn’t it be done faster?

So the resulting experiment was a rug made by braiding the strips then using the same strips to whipstitch them together. Eureka! A nice, durable rag rug that is fast and simple to make. I have one in front of the kitchen sink and one at the patio entrance for now. We’ll see how long they hold up. So far so good.
I think I will use this technique again.

Fabric braid

Fabric braid

First whip stitched rag rug

First whip stitched rag rug