Category Archives: collecting

Stash flash – the spinning fiber edition

This was going to be a four-part inventory series for my own notes when I started it 2ish years ago – the first was commercial yarn, the second would be the handspun, the third spinning fiber, and the fourth the “froggers” (sweaters waiting to be unraveled). But my handspun has always been a small collection and recently on the needles pretty quickly, and the froggers get a regular toss to see if I can sell one or two whole, and my spinning fiber also kept itself to a couple of tubs and boxes. But I’d like to restrict it to a smaller space, and I’ve finally amassed enough to make some decent yardage. Though I do need to spin/knit up some mittens and slipper-like things, I’m not feeling the random 4 ounce braid these days – my scarf/shawls need to be in the 8 ounce range – and I don’t really need another hat at the moment. So a few of my 4 ouncers will be combined with random bits and larger bobs to become garment quantities of yarn.

Everything is still in decent condition with the exception of a few lavender sachet explosions, so I’ve introduced even more vegetable matter to some of it… And is there a shelf-life to wool? That shit survives on dead people in peat bogs and whatnot, so I’m not concerned with not spinning it up immediately, but I did wonder if some of my raw fleece was slightly more brittle* than before…

I started an inventory of weights and colors and fiber types, but it wasn’t really necessary – I’ve only got a few large collections and the rest are random bits. Most of the large amounts were acquired when I’d just barely learned to spin (and had more disposable income), and I’ve since mildly regretted buying some of it – I was mildly screwed/slightly taken advantage of, or the seller was just as much of a novice as me in a few instances and I’ve got some unspinnable stuff – or I’ve found that I don’t much like something after all.

The large collections consist of several pounds of mostly bright-colored Lamb’s Pride roving:

That raspberry colored stuff has come up here a few times, and I’ve still got around 12 ounces left. And this is a good example of too much enthusiasm as a newbie – I found a good price for it and bought as much as I could reasonably justify – and… I don’t love spinning it. Don’t get me wrong, I love Lamb’s Pride – it’s domestic wool, comes in great colors, and the yarn is strong and sheepy. But my color choices for the roving were limited, making my love for it slightly lessened just because of that, and I also just like spinning less-processed, more rustic roving more. (However, a good portion of this is also superwash, so it has to be very processed to be so, so I will buy it again as I spin down what I have since most of my gift knitting needs to be superwash.) And I need to figure out which is which! I saved the receipts (somewhere) for this purpose, and I’m pretty sure I had all of it separated in its own box, but that organization has been lost.

My aunt (thank you M!) sent me a few pounds/four large balls of llama a couple (three?!?!?!) years ago, and I was originally going to mix them with other things, but I’m going to spin them as one and make a throw blanket – I need to decide about stripes vs. gradients vs. random blends, but I hope to get it on the wheel this winter – it is currently third in line in my spinning queue, but it could be next…

And the raw fleece is the biggest collection with the most problems. I’m not going to buy raw fleece again. I’m probably not going to buy raw fleece again. I will only buy raw fleece in small amounts if it’s the only way to try a new breed, or is a pity purchase at a festival. Or maybe a little alpaca if it’s really clean. That six pounds of Romney was a bit of a scam – the seller put the cleanest, longest locks at the top of the bag; the bottom contained literal shit and short second cuts and very brittle, sunburned tips – I should have known better and they should have said it wasn’t skirted, or whatever… Lesson learned.

And there’s the lovely Nestor the llama I still have to finish – he was going to be my reward for finishing the never-ending Romney.

And then there’s the damned raw alpaca – I bought three bags (light, medium, and dark) of the stuff very early on – back when I still dreamed of being an alpaca farmer. I don’t think I even had a spinning wheel at that point… but I was in camelid love and had a festival fever and the price was good and the lady selling it was nice. And I got whomped again (this was actually the first time).

The light is almost all ridiculously short cuts underneath the thinnest layer of acceptable ones. I’m considering sending this out to be made into felt, or use it for stuffing, or make the felt myself… but this is the kind of situation that makes me hang on to something far too long because I know it is useful for something, just not my original intention…

But thankfully, the other two bags are mostly fine. I’ve been wanting to have a mostly black handspun shawl/scarf and this alpaca might be right for it – it’s got some sun faded tips, so it might spin up on the brown end, so I’ll have to run a test first (otherwise I’ve got a pound and a half of pure black Lamb’s Pride).

The smallest largish collection is just under a pound of Jacob fleece and roving – the roving from Jenny Jump Farm is crazy lovely – it is a tricolor that was easily separated by color, then there’s a few ounces of just dark roving from another farm, and then there’s a bag of raw tricolor that looked clean and claimed to be 4 ounces but… you guessed it! It’s under 2 ounces and got a decent amount of scurf (sheepy dandruff) – I’m using most of it anyway since I have the least amount of the medium brown – and this was a fairly recent purchase, so luckily I only lost a few bucks and I now know which farms to avoid (if they’re even still in business by the time the next festival rolls around).

I started spinning the lightest portion and still haven’t decided on leaving it as a single or chain-plying it – either way it will be a gradient. And I’m pretty sure it will turn into a poncho. I’ve had ponchos on the brain for myself and the dude, and I’ve got many thoughts on their functionality, but perhaps those thoughts are for another day…

And then I’ve grouped together a sweater quantity for the next or third in line spin – most of this is local, or at least mid-Atlantic wool – some Gotland, more Jacob, some unique unregistered breeds, a bit of dyed stuff – Romney usually, and a few little bits dyed or not – one is an angora blend. And this is what I’m most excited about and/or have decided on as my collection policy: naturally colored wool, and a bit of dyed non-white wool – I want a murky depth of semi-muted colors.

I chucked a few other things that would go well together in bags and boxes – a sweater quantity of a couple of colors of superwash that compliment a lovely Pigeonroof braid, a sweater quantity of grab bag scrap fibers in warm colors with some natural brown roving, and a few experiments – I’d like to do a short spin with dangling Lincoln locks, and I have some fake flowers and whatnot to make some “art” yarn, but I’m not really feeling that now.

I will always buy from small fiber farmers – in fact, that is who I buy from nearly exclusively now since going mostly cold-sheep – I hesitate to even complain about occasional unsavory products when I’m guessing my disappointing purchases were also disappointing to the farmer – I get that – sheep have bad years, not all shearers are good, your scale goes on the fritz, you’re just starting out and don’t know better, etc., and yet you’ve still got to sell something. I’m not going to out those who I suspect might be a bit unscrupulous, but I am going to reach into the bottom of the bag and talk to the seller a bit more – and stick with the farmers I trust, even if I’m only able to buy a few ounces from them here and there.

*Wool could get more brittle if it’s stored in a highly acidic enclosure like cardboard or a cedar chest unless there’s a barrier between it…

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Woolly start to the new season

Feeling uneven from morning dental work, afternoon flu shot, a cold either minor and lingering, or just slowly beginning, catching up from some brief travel, and pressure systems changing from summery to autumny to a little summery again…

I’m usually ready to say goodbye to summer, but slightly less so this year, or maybe as usual, I’m just not willing to loose the daylight.

My favorite (and only one I attend these days) wool festival happened last weekend.

There was some sheep scratching…

Who doesn't love a good chin scratch? #sheep #jacobsheep #chinscratches #gardenstatesheepbreeders

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And oogling…

And of course, time for the dogs…

(Can you see the dog speck right of center near the top acting as gatekeeper?)

I kept to my strict budget of $30 (including parking) and came home with $3 left – again, took the penny candy approach and bought just a little fiber here and there (seen above).

And got it in mind to finally deal with some of the fiber I’ve been sitting on for years – especially this beast of a fleece (6 pounds I think?) that I’ve threatened to send out to be processed or have made into felt, but both cost money I don’t want to spend. So in the last few sunny days of the year, I’ll be picking and fluffing so I can card a little less messily indoors this winter (or just spin from the fluff and call it rustic and make a big blanket out of the mess…?

 

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Mid August

And so it goes – much the same as it has been…

Beans must be picked every other day.

And then suddenly there are 50 pounds of tomatoes…. #tomatoes #heirloomtomatoes #organictomatoes #gardening

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And tomatoes are expressing their juicy demands.

The rogues gallery. #notsojerseyfresh #organicgardening #organictomatoes #tomatodiseases #notsotasty

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And I need to learn about more diseases and pests to ward off next year.

Some thrifting is still being done here and there – picked up some “vintage” yarn for more and bigger scrappy things – I’ll probably dye the one on the right since the white is actually wool, or mostly, and it’s interesting that this seemingly semi-shitty novelty yarn was once spun in Belgium and France…

And some finishing is happening – this spin will be mittens or slippers, but will go on the back burner for a bit.

(Next up for spinning is still TBD – either a shit-or-get-off-the-pot spin with raw alpaca I’ve had far too long, or a quick palate cleanser with a colorful superwash braid… either way, the wheel is freshly cleaned and oiled and swept up underneath and is ready to go.)

And of course, beach time – just a bit here and there though – and I’m finishing up this knit – hopefully by the month’s end (secretly by the end of next week).

Some upcoming travel means socks need to be on the needles, but I’ve really run out of room in my sock drawer… In theory I “need” a few more pairs that better match my work clothes, but I have none worn out enough to purge to make room, so…

I’m going to knit them anyway and have more disorder and chaos and cramming going on in my life again!

 

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Mid July

The garden continues to be a verdant but demanding mistress, and she is the cause of my summertime wrist issues – rather pulling her weeds and picking her bugs – so I still haven’t finished the fiery molten traffic cone full of ketchup and mustard superhero roadkill shawl, but I’m nearly there. I’m at the almost yarn chicken stage – I think I could eek out 2 more rows and the bind-off with yarn to spare, but I want a stress-free time of it, so maybe I’ll just head in for the bind-off tonight…

I’m in a bit of a making funk – there are things I want to finish, things I want to make, and things I’m still thinking about – but time is short, body parts hurt, I don’t want the stress of fitting things or fighting with my sewing machines (several of which are in tension time-outs again), and unless it serves an immediate purpose, it feels too much like wasted time and pain.

I’m also no closer to figuring out how I feel about “art” and the less practical of the “crafts.” I lost my faith in all of it hard, and though I feel like I’m slightly softening, I still can’t make peace with it or figure out how it fits (or doesn’t) in my life. And history – I’m most attracted to old shit and dead people, but I don’t know what it is I feel about it and its stuff anymore – hopefully my collecting urge is permanently curtailed… I’m more interested in the past than the future, but that is another story.

N was bringing home old Sears catalogs from the library for a bit over the winter and it was a little frustrating as the past/present lines began to blur – I’d have a fabric pattern stuck in my head and couldn’t remember if it was old, or new, or new from an old one… So I took a few pictures, but annoyingly didn’t note the years, so hopefully I won’t be sued for copyright for sharing an adorable print of puppies in baskets from the late ’50s or maybe very early ’60s…

I’ve been off and on flirting with miniatures for the last several years too. I’ve got a little vintage/antique bath set I picked up a few years ago at an antique mall that I’ve seen since we moved, but haven’t found lately…

And I’ll be damned – it made an appearance here already a few years ago when we were apartment-dwelling…

And I’ve now got my dad-made childhood dollhouse with me since last Thanksgiving – I’m debating about fixing it up – rehabbing in miniature, or leave it in mock ruins.

Not too lively in the living room… #abandonedplaces #tinyhouse #abandonedtinyhouse #tinyhouseliving #minimalist

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These two rooms are the only left with wallpaper – the rest are just beige painted blanks – I think mice took up residence in it for a bit and chewed up the rest of the paper.

Abandoned. #tinyhouse #tinyhouseliving #abandonedtinyhouse #kitchenrenovation

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It was stored in a garage for at least 20 years, but the structure is sound, and the furnishings were stored elsewhere, so those are fine, though I’m missing the bathroom bits – I probably took them years ago because apparently I’ve got a thing for mouse-sized toilets and tubs. But there are several of my kid-made things in there too – mostly rugs I wove (rather shittily as seen in the kitchen above) on the little loom I still have.

So that’s on my mind too – some sort of regression to avoid the present, perhaps – but this tiny house has some awfully bare floors…

 

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Casting-on madness

Does the feeling of impending unlimited leisure time with the start of summer (that was had only as a very small child) ever go away? It’s this time of year from which I have to clean-up, catch up, and be burdened by (to a degree) unfinished projects for the rest of the year. I cast on several knitting projects with the excuse that: I’ll have vacation knitting time and don’t want to run out of projects (I never do because I’ll only have like 2, maybe 3 days of vacation where I’m not doing something else), I’ll have long evenings of natural light (I do but I can’t knit for any longer than if I didn’t), I’ll have undistracted time to knock out something more complicated (I sort of do, but never enough for anything larger than a hat), and I need a few mindless things on different needle sizes so I don’t have to pay attention to my hands (these are most of my projects these days).

Summer hasn’t meant significant leisure for nearly 4 decades now, but I still acquire a large number of paperbacks and projects – the books are usually finished by the following year, the projects usually not.

And I still haven’t finished last years vacation knitting, or in the case of a long suffering sweater, the year before that…

But I’ve also got it in mind to start spinning with more of a purpose and sooner-on-the-needles time now too. I don’t have too much handspun (that I like) waiting to be knit up so it’s not really a problem – it’s easiest to solve things that aren’t really a problem. That fiery roving I got last fall is becoming a sontag-like shawl – I’m not sure I’ll use up all of the yarn on it yet, and I’m not sure I like it yet, but I do like the black portion and have been wanting a black neck-thing for a bit, and I do have some black roving, so spinning a lumpy bumpy black yarn and knitting it up will be maddening on both counts, but on my list of fiber priorities and I know it will get a decent amount of wear.

Unlike this one? I don’t know – I was thinking it would be a good visibility piece for hunting season walks, but I don’t wear knits in the woods due to branches and brambles, so unless I stumble across some meadows or moors around here it isn’t likely I’ll use it for that purpose…

I just tossed and re-organized the stash and only found one surprise – some cotton I’d forgotten about, and I’ve now forgotten why I got it – I think it was going to be a skirt since I got it (on sale) around the time I’d made another cotton knit skirt (that I’m likely going to frog soon).

Otherwise the rest was familiar and waiting patiently – I’d even paired a few skeins with the pattern I intended to use…

I’ve been thinking/half remembering about this one for a bit – a Shapely Boyfriend out of Malabrigo and Noro – my only hesitation is that Malabrigo is absolute shit for wear and tear. I made a scarf for N out of the stuff a few years ago and it was a pilly fuzzy mess before the season was out.

But the ones I’m actually sticking in the summer knitting bag are an Amiga out of gold bamboo & cotton, and a Burton Vestigan out of green wool & mohair. The biggest gaps in my closet are spring/summer/fall things and buttoning things.

Also soon on the needles is a hat for N out of reflective yarn.

And this very rustic handspun for mittens for me, but the spinning won’t be finished for a bit.

Filthy rough kinky (wool). #spinning #wool #spinningwheel

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I’m also thinking about felted things, though I haven’t felted with our front-loader yet – some felted clogs for others and myself, and I’ve got some skeins set aside for a couple of felted bags (as well as a heap of feltable cheap/scrap yarn).

And I’m also thinking of a cabled pullover with some special wool, a few other cardigans I can’t decide on yet, possibly a blanket out of handspun llama (or alpaca?) I’ve yet to spin, a poncho – make that two – one for N and one for me (but not matching), gloves (never made those yet), more mittens, more scrappy stole/scarf things like the one earlier this year, and a coat, (and socks -I’ve taken a wee break on those at the moment, but that moment won’t last long).

(Still on the needles is a cotton blanket, a pullover that’s reeaally close to being done if I’d ever work on it, a Paulie cardigan on small needles that has zero satisfaction since I can work on it for hours with little progress to show though I’d get a lot of wear out of it assuming I don’t get bigger before I finish, a dish/wash cloth (I think the last) for waiting room knitting since I don’t have a pair of socks on the needles for the first time ever, a couple of thrift sweaters getting knitted cuffs, collars, and button bands, an old shale/feather and fan scarf that I’m 95% sure I’m going to frog, and this shawl/scarf that I love and should just keep on keeping on with it…)

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[Late] spring cleaning

Spring finally slowed down, cooled down, and I’ve had a chance to line up with the season again. The house still needs a deep, very deep clean – there’s still dust from the bath reno underneath the furniture, and I don’t think it’s ever had a lift-up-the-rugs-and-wipe-down-the-walls cleaning yet. And the windows could do with some clarity and de-dogslobbering.

A couple of weeks ago I sadly had to say goodbye to the best little vacuum cleaner I ever had. When I left my first (technically second, but the other was brief) professional job out of grad school, my fellow co-workers chipped in to give me an incredibly generous gift card as a going away present. I treated myself to the vacuum cleaner, channel lock pliers, and a fancy saucepan. It merrily sucked away in my old squirrely apartment, our first house, our shitty but adequate apartment, and this house – for a lifetime of about 15 years. I even bought a few new parts for it a year or two ago.

N got the same model a few years later, but it sucks – not good vacuumy sucky, just doesn’t suck enough, suck. So I can still clean, but it doesn’t look like I did.

But the woolens come first, and all of my neck things are freshly washed and tucked in plastic bags for the season. Some of my sweaters are still needed at the office, but the others are mostly washed and tucked away now too.

Though I still have a fairly small closet by US standards, it’s bigger than my last, so the rest of the hung up woolens can stay and just be moved to the hard to reach side rather than encased and crammed into another closet on another floor that was always an avalanche when opened.

I still have some things (nostalgic and/or supplies) in boxes and tubs – I think all have been consolidated and I know what’s in them now, but I was happy to finally find a few things I thought were lost.

Those scissors were nearly new before they were packed up – in a place I thought would be memorable and handy but wasn’t – and I’m over the moon about that spool pin – it goes to my Red Eye Singer 66 that I recently turned into a hand cranked machine.

I whipped out a quick knit for a gift, and forgot to photograph it in its finished state…

But it was another Turn a Square in 2×2 charcoal and grey-green stripes.

And I finally tackled the mending pile – some things of mine, some of N’s.

Visible mending, or can't be arsed to change the spool? #visiblemending #zigzag #mending #notmybutt

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I keep thinking I’m going to unravel this cashmere hoody that is one of my favorites, but is a tad too short, and I blew out one of the elbows. But I knit up a patch from leftover yarn and it’s good to go again (as long as I’m wearing a long shirt underneath it).

Blew out the elbow on a favorite thrifted cashmere hoody, knit new one… #visiblemending #knitting #mending #patch

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And lastly, it was time again to toss the stash –  I never incorporated the yarn from the errant box I found last year (hell, that was two years ago now), and I’m maddeningly missing a small niddy noddy that has few places left to be hiding.

The niddy noddy was not there, but everything was in good shape, is now entirely organized, and in a reduced number of boxes – it’s a good stash now, not too overwhelming (though it could still loose several pounds), and enough to keep me busy with enough variety for some years to come.

And now I have a raging case of startitis…

 

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Maymeanderings

I’ve got a few posts about small side projects in the hopper, things that I was futzing around with before the bathroom project hit, and now the garden and yard have hit, and hit hard, and once again my wrist isn’t happy and the projects still have yet to be photographed and/or cleared of their winter cobwebs and/or condemned to life or death…

My brain still has some cobwebs though – I’ve hit the anniversary of shit hitting the fan last year and I can’t say I’ve quite come out the other side yet – I still don’t know what I want for a career again and/or the right (or right enough) work for me – I know more about what I like and don’t, but those are just luxuries and I don’t get to be choosy.

My meantime work is renewed for another term though so at least I’m keeping afloat.

But afloat is also adrift, but I can’t go down that hole just now…

I’ve had a dumb week of former employer/COBRA/health insurance/fuck-ups and appointments cancelled and re-scheduled woes – things that take up time – time I thought I would have a bit of again now that the plumber isn’t here all day on my day off every week.

*****

N and the dog brought home some glorious morels from their dawn walk the other day.

I was over the moon – hillbilly gold. I miss my childhood home and land,  but not the people, or the area in general, or the state mostly as a whole, but these make me a tiny bit homesick (and they’re the only thing I saute in butter). We threw their soaking liquid in the yard hoping a stray spore or two might take hold.

Oh yeah… #morel #fungusamongus #morelmushrooms #mushrooms

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(If only I could find a Paw Paw patch here too…)

My winter/early spring online used clothing sales did pretty well – thankfully I don’t usually unravel my thrift sweaters until I’ve got a project about to hit the needles, so I can sell off the excess ones that are still in decent shape – and I don’t love unraveling the thin cashmeres anyway. What’s left of the vintage wool clothes and whatnot should fit in just one tub for the fall when I’ll try to sell it again or just re-donate. Up next is more random shit – vintage dishes mostly – things that don’t do so well, but I just can’t give away without trying…

But I have half a closet free in my studio/sewing room now, and it’s the first visible progress in a bit – much of my organizing and purging is invisible – trashing the dried-out paints in a box of paints still leaves you with a box of paints, only all usable and at the ready now…

I’ve got to do some repairs and lots of painting to do in the utility room in the basement next – just the walls though, not the cabinets yet – but hopefully that should take no more than 3 days.

And I’ve got a quick gift knit on the needles to revive my tiling-sore fingers and remind my wrist what its place ought to be.

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