Where we get fit and spin (wool)

Archive for the ‘spinning’ Category

People are Amazing

I think we need good news on a regular basis to uplift our spirits and help us to have a better attitude towards our fellow beings. God said to love our neighbor as ourselves, and that can be difficult at times. My obsession with fitness extends to all aspects of health, and mental health is one aspect that is part of the big picture. Hobbies are one of those things that seem to make people better. Most hobbies make us more active and give us motivation for our lives.

When I see what people do for fun, and how much mental and physical effort they put into it, I’m so impressed. When most people think of hobbies, they might think of sports, either team sports, or ones like swimming, biking or hiking. In your public parks, you might see people playing frisbee golf, Can-Jam, flying kites or radio operated planes. Some hobbies are so extreme you only seldom see them, like hot air balloons or ultra-lites. Rock climbing and horse back riding won’t be in every public park, but they are also hobbies for many people.

I just can’t get over how much of people’s spare time, money and effort go into their hobbies. I think it is a wonderful thing. When I look at the difference between people who have hobbies and those who don’t, I see a marked difference in the quality of life. Those without hobbies seem less interested in their own lives, less satisfied, and overall less happy. Those who have hobbies seem to stay interested in life in later years, and have better health overall.

The buckskinner Rendevous that I attended this past weekend is what prompted this post. I am always amazed at how much goes into this particular hobby. It requires a great deal of effort and equipment, along with a love of, and knowledge of, history. Here are two participants:Two buckskinner rendevous participantsIn case you aren’t thinking about how much is involved, everything has to be period correct, from the late 1700’s- mid 1800’s. (pre civil war). They have to obtain all of the equipment, which obviously isn’t manufactured anymore, so they need to make much of it themselves.

Here I am, with another participant, demonstrating spinning on a great wheel. Spinning, knitting and weaving are my hobbies, so that’s how I got into this. I borrowed the clothing from another participant. The author with another woman standing with a great wheelTalking with the woman pictured here, I found out beside Buckskinner rendevous and Civil War reenactors, there are also WW II reenactors and even some Vietnam as well.

We have two choices in life, We can ride  along, swept onward by the clock and calendar, bobbing across the top of life like a cork, or we can dive in, participating fully, experiencing as much as we can. You can easily see what my opinion is, I think the more you put into life, the more you get out of it. If nothing else, having hobbies makes you a more fascinating person, and keeps you out of mischief!

When Life Hands you Lemons-Make Sweaters!

So those fails I blogged about? I managed to make them into lemonade! First, I held the sad sweater up to the boy, and while it is too small for him, I don’t think it is too small for a younger child. I’ll save that one for the first grandchild. Same with the second one. The second might have fit him, but his dad nixed it as being “too pink”. You saw the pictures- too pink? I would argue, but hey, dad said no, so the kid won’t wear it. The third went from a disaster to a success-for me. It fits perfectly:striped sweater

and it looks great on me. Hmmm, was this a subconscious decision? In any case, all’s well that ends well.

To top it all off, sweater #4 turned out just fine.successful blue sweaterThe sleeves might be a tad too long. I followed schematics from “The Sweater Book”, following their pattern for increasing sizes, I decreased the size. According to that, the sleeves should be 10 inches, the  boys actual arms were only 7 inches. That’s ok, they can be cuffed. All’s well that ends well.

Epic Fails

No pictures, just tears. I do know to make a test swatch. I really do. I did. However, my mathematically challenged brain, and my overzealous hurry to make a sweater ended in disaster, three times. This last time, I was determined not to make an itty bitty sweater. So I didn’t. After I lengthen it, it will fit me nicely. It will not fit a child. *Sigh* It would be too short, anyway. I haven’t given up though, I have more yarn. This time I will use a book to go with my gauge swatch, to tell me how many to cast on. I had a gauge, what was I thinking? Gauge swatches are not enough. You need to translate that into sweater dimensions well, and apparently, my ability to do that is lacking. Not to mention I have both books and software to help me AND I DIDN’T USE THEM! Grrrr. Or Duh. Or both.

Live to dye another day.

Who can resist these puns? I just wanted to add the pictures.

explaining how to dye

explaining how to dye.

Dying is so much fun, and so easy, at least for protein fibers like wool. I would recommend doing it outside, in the summer. Do not do as I do-WEAR GLOVES. Especially if other people will see your hands. Good old Wally-World (WalMart) sells dye for cotton, linen, silk and other natural non-protein fibers(cellulose). Tulip brand.  I know, you are going to yell at me and tell me that silk is a protein fiber. I know, the package says it dyes silk, what can I say?

pot of dye over campfire

The old fashioned way

Here is the cake dye pot. Wilson’s icing dye- great stuff. Cheryl took such a good picture, you can see how it didn’t take evenly.

Here is the finished product of three or four different experiments:

dyed skeins of yarn hanging to dry.

A thing of beauty and a joy forever

The above were all kettle dyed. The ones in the foreground had the blue dissolved first, the skeins put in, then using a butter knife, other colors were put in the dye pot and lightly swished.

Here is  more traditional “space-dying”, where you dissolve you dye in hot water in dispensers, then strategically place the color where you want on the fiber that has been soaked in vinegar/ water. That is what I am demonstrating in the top picture.

fiber dyed pink and yellow

Here is the dyed fiber

That’s all for now. I have to get a sweater done by Thursday. Thank goodness for a knitting machine. We are supposed to go horseback riding tonight, leaving me about 4 hours before Thursday, although if I really get crunched, I can take it to work and try and finish it on my breaks.

It’s a Looming Problem

What can I say, I love puns. So I am going from a relatively simple Schact, 15″ 4 harness table loomschact table loomto a nameless 43″ six harness floor loom.

6 harness floor loom

"Me eat you for breakfast."

While I am excited and grateful for the opportunity to expand my skill, this is an intimidating machine. I am awed by the fact that some nameless person was able to design and manufacture such a complicated piece of equipment. You can tell some of the pieces were recycled from something with words stamped in it, and the holes in the foot treadles look as if they were hand carved. The back beam is pegged on, and is removable for easier warping. I’m not sure what my first project will be. I have one or two things I have been waiting to make, but I’d like my first on on here to be rather simple and short, to get the hang of it.

Before I get to that, I have to finish my Arden sweater. Actually, it is Arden #3. I switched from the hand dyed when I realized how big 4T is. I then had to dig through my stash and totally rework my concept. Instead of tie dye like this:

I had to go with what I had enough of, in the same weight, which for me is always earth tones:

knitting on knitting machine.

This is why your stash can never be too big. You never know if there is an emergency sweater  lurking in the future. If this one doesn’t work, I’ll have to mail one to him. I’d really like to be able to hand them something hand made when they get here. On Thursday. This Thursday. Three workdays from now. That leaves me, oh, five hours if I’m lucky. 8 if I short myself on sleep. Oh well, I’ve never been one to let reality get in the way.

Back to the fiber

a group of friends eating lunch
together we dye.

Just in case you thought this blog was never going to talk about fiber, we had a dyeing day recently. Do you know just how many jokes you can make about dyeing?  We had a lot of fun, and got some beautiful colors. I did kool aid and some different acid and food dyes. Some of the others really got into the Wilson cake dyes. Those are amazing. If you don’t stir much, the colors separate as they strike, making some of the most beautiful yarn. Unfortunately, I was too busy to take many pictures, and the others posted theirs on Facebook. I don’t know if I can copy them from there.

I did take one picture of my sad sweater I made from my experiment. I say sad, as I really have a problem with size, and as you can see, while it is supposed to be a baby sweater, it will only fit a very small baby with long arms. and possibly a small head. I have since found out that the 11 month old I am making this for is just shy of 4T, changing my plans completely. More about that and the LOOM I GOT in my next post. After I get some sleep. Wait till you see this loom, it is amazing. It isn’t a brand name. But you’ll have to wait. Until I get some sleep. Did I mention I was tired?

han d dyed baby sweater

sad, sad sweater. What did you want to be when you grew up?

Who Knew Hair Could Be So Controversial?


This is hair, not a scalp or an atrocity

I went online to one of my favorite spinning sites, Ravelry, to find out if anyone has spun human hair, how they did it, how successful it was, etc. Little did I know, I was stepping on a landmine.  I found two forums that had that as a topic. One was locked, due to the sensitive nature of the topic! Ok, how could spinning hair be so sensitive? For some reason this topic on both threads devolve into the holocaust and scalping. We are talking about spinning cut hair that people give you because they want you to spin it. Someone gave me the ponytail that she had cut off when she was a child, to see if I could make anything from it.

That in itself might be interesting or humorous, to see how certain topics trigger thoughts and emotions in other people that never occur to you. What struck me though, was the misinformation that accompanied the opinions. According to some of the writers, white people invented scalping. I was tempted to do some research and write a bit of a rebuttal, but I read on and saw some people had already done so.

This brings me to reading articles on Yahoo. Most articles have room for comments down below. Every time I read the comments, I’m struck by how little they have to do with the topic of the article, how emotionally charged they are, and how little thought goes into them. I was reading an article on the causes of the downfall of Detroit, and suggested possible solutions. The comments were some of the most racist, hateful things I have encountered on the web in a long time. Most of the time, I am mercifully protected from the filth that can spew from the human soul.  The forums and blogs I read are moderated, so someone else is filtering the ick. The Ravelry thread, while emotional and ignorant, was not hateful, if there were comments like that they were expunged.

The lack of facts behind opinions is discouraging.  I’m thinking that maybe that is why I am not delving into political topics. When you stick to topics where the facts are graspable, there is less room for opinionated blathering. Once you get into “the big issues”, all @#$#@ breaks loose, all heat and no light. Can anyone truly discuss the “facts” of the health care bill, when the bill is over 1000 pages, and most of it based on supposition?

I’m not going to spin the hair by the way. The few threads that stayed on topic were very negative on the worth of that, it makes a coarse, scratchy yarn, not really suitable for anything. As bad as the worst guard hairs.  Please comment, but be polite, and check your facts.

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