Category Archives: spinning

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…

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under collecting, spinning

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

A post shared by astitchmatism (@astitchmatism) on

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…?

 

2 Comments

Filed under collecting, spinning, travel

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

A post shared by astitchmatism (@astitchmatism) on

And tomatoes are expressing their juicy demands.

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

A post shared by astitchmatism (@astitchmatism) on

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!

 

Leave a comment

Filed under collecting, gardening, knitting, spinning

Early August

This summer has been full of long days that go by quickly.

I’ve got a bit of return teen angst/summertime ennui that is somewhat satiated by lying in the direct sun in a sweaty stupor. I must need the vitamin D; I’m surprised I’m not more tan; I’m blaming reverse puberty for just about everything.

Nice tail. #bugsofinstagram #ithinkitsacranefly #insectsofinstagram #insect #bug #thingswithwings

A post shared by astitchmatism (@astitchmatism) on

The garden is doing that- just when everything looks absolutely awesome, it shits the bed thing – squash vine borer hit hard, and despite a few surgical attempts (only 2 out of 5 lived through it) we’re down to only 2 stressed out zucchini plants – I think we’ve eaten only 4 zucchini all summer. And the tomatoes, those lycopenian bastards – all was so very well with them until we got rain and hot temps and more rain and now they’re stressed out with leaf spot or a form of blight, or something that happens every year that hits hard and fast, only this year the big harvests didn’t start before it… But they’re coming in – some better than others, and some delicious.

First garden tomato down the hatch! #gardening #organicgardening #tomatoes #nicoisesalad #saladeniçoise

A post shared by astitchmatism (@astitchmatism) on

Much of this year’s grown and foraged fruit went into ice pops and frozen yogurt. Note to self: make ice pops with nut milk again – wineberry and chocolate almond milk was good as was gooseberry vanilla.

Frutti di bosco e backyard froyo. #fruttidibosco #homemadefrozenyogurt #froyo #wineberries #blueberries #fiestaware

A post shared by astitchmatism (@astitchmatism) on

I’m working/knitting on finishing up one shawl/scarf exclusively at the moment – I might be on the last ball of yarn, or there might be one more and I can’t find it which might be a slight problem, but I love this one – a super soft thrift store sweater yarn – I’m tempted to troll the online auctions to find another one of these sweaters for more/another project, but I’ve got other lovelies waiting in the wings.

Rocco now has his own Instagram account – N finally realizes the joy of looking at dog pictures and he can share their dawn adventures while I’m still sleeping or getting ready for work – he’ll still make appearances on my account, but I’ve got loads more pictures of him than anything else… And he’s totally potty-trained (Rocco, not N, well N is too, but has been for some time) inside the garden now, and stays out of the beds for the most part – he’s been a pleasant companion in there lately which is a relief and a pleasure for both of us (we still have a long ways to go outside though).

And I’m nearly finished with a spin – just trying to decide on a 2 or 3 ply… might just say 3 and do it now…

 

Leave a comment

Filed under gardening, knitting, spinning

Flaming balls of molten lava, ketchup, mustard, blood, candy corn, nasturtiums, atomic fire filled traffic cone roadkill smeared on asphalt in Mordor at sunset superhero sontag

I can’t say I’ve fallen in love with my latest (or any) handknit until it has proven itself wearable with a normal wrapping and unwrapping, pulling tighter or looser, not dipping itself into toilet waters, not catching in turnstiles, and fitting in or out of a coat test drive, but the current heatwave is preventing anything beyond kicking the tires.

I’m still ambivalent and slightly indifferent about it for several reasons, but it was a wild success in others, but first, a recap –

I bought the roving last September – I was (am I still?) on a kick to buy colors outside of my comfort zone – and by that I mostly mean colors that I don’t typically wear because they make me look like shit, but I don’t care how I look to a degree, so I can like and wear whatever color I want to dammit, but I do happen to prefer earthier tones in general…

The nasturtium decided to wait for cooler days… #organicgardening #flowers #nasturtium #autumn

A post shared by astitchmatism (@astitchmatism) on

And it also reminded me of nasturtiums which I love (and I ran out of room to plant this year…).

I got two braids (8oz total) from Fuzzy Frog Fibers because they are very affordable, she does fun and interesting colors, and I like the Dorset wool – springy and strong soft and 4oz doesn’t cut it for me for anything other than a hat, and yes, I can combine them with other things but I’ve already got several combo spins waiting in the wings (including another braid of the same only in my comfort colors from the year before).

I started spinning it a month or so later – I waffled a minute about how to, but I’ve been struggling with making a not-too-overspun single and figured I needed more practice. The Dorset is very forgiving on that front too – didn’t break in the skinny sections and not too sticky to pull out a bit more at the last minute on a big clump.

I also waffled a minute on leaving it as is and spinning each braid separately to have double the stripes/color changes, or combining both for one big gradient – not necessary a skill to practice, but something I hadn’t done before – so I went with that. And the spinning was done by the end of the year.

I sat on it for a bit, thinking about what to make of it – it was going to be a neck thing or a body thing or a poncho-y thing… I felt it needed to be an empowering sort of thing to power through the terrible election and dark days, and almost made this sweater with the molten yarn on the back flappy cape thing, but my gauge was off, the thick and thin yarn isn’t hard enough wearing for clothes, and I haven’t finished something that needs to fit in years, and I wanted to finish it by year’s end.

So easy garter was the answer – and a top-down triangle shawl – a shape which I’m also ambivalent about but thought it was because I hadn’t made one big enough yet. And I cast-on for basically this shawl (I used size 7 needles and about 1.000 yards instead) just before a week’s vacation when rain was predicted – and my gauge was okay and the stitches felt good.

I fell for the few yards of pinky muddled grey and made note to try to recreate this with another spin and/or I’m pretty sure I unraveled a sweater with similar colors.

It's getting warmer… or bleeding? #handspun #knitting #shawl #red #fuzzyfrogfibers #sontag

A post shared by astitchmatism (@astitchmatism) on

I knit more in that week than I likely had since the start of the year, or maybe before – no gardening, home improvement, office work, or major cleaning meant my wrist wasn’t in pain and could go for an hour or more knitting sessions.

And then I finished up at home – at a slower pace – and it was a good beach knitting project too – the wool wasn’t too sticky for sweaty seawater sunblock hands.

After washing and light blocking it still smells a bit of the beach (except the rotting sea-things) and didn’t change – I rarely wash garter things right off the needles, but this is headed for plastic summer storage so I wanted it to be as clean as possible.

So in the end I was able to tick a few boxes off: I acquired, spun, knit, and completed something within a year – something I want to become habit – less so on the acquisition end, but I’m almost always able to go to the state fiber fest and want to support the local and local-ish folks, even if it’s only $30 worth of fiber spread out over 3 booths; I finally made a decent (still needs work, but I didn’t have to run it through an unspin cycle at least) single; I figured out my current knitting speed is very roughly only around 700 yards a month; and I made a top-down triangle about twice as large as my last one.

And the jury is still out on the triangle until I can wear it a bit – I’m leaning towards it’s just not my thing (side to side triangles totally are) – but I’m always futzing with the less stretchy edge – tuck in under? fold it out? let it gape? and want more tail and less triangle – maybe this needed to be even bigger, or maybe I should have increased the tails more and the triangle less – I also could have eeked out 2 more rows of yarn, but didn’t want the stress, but there’s probably enough for a picot or other edging, but I don’t really like edging, unless it’s i-cord…?

I can wear it crossed in the front and tied in the back but I feel like I’m smuggling my own boobs, so I’ll most likely do the kerchief thing, or a half drape thing pinned somehow, or the traditional shawl across the shoulders thing…

Or the roll it up and pretend it’s a scarf thing.

We’ll see a few chillier months from now, and maybe N might be game to wear it instead?

But I am definitely in love with the mostly black top portion, and would like to spin and knit a mostly black thing soon, and locate the dirty pinky-grey yarn I think I have… But I have to finish or frog other things first.

 

3 Comments

Filed under knitting, spinning

February follies…

Yes, I jinxed it.

After a gorgeous day in the 60s that permitted a few moments of bare vitamin D-sucking arms in the yard…

They say snow's a'headed our way… #sunset #winter #clouds #treeskeleton

A post shared by astitchmatism (@astitchmatism) on

We woke up to this, and a snow day:

Much ado about not too much… #snowday #snow #treeshadow #yard #snowdaysarentfunifyoudontgetpaid

A post shared by astitchmatism (@astitchmatism) on

And snow days are not the barrel of monkeys when you don’t get paid for them, and then have to go in to work on your normal day off, and have to reschedule the electrician, and everything gets pushed back a week, and it’s not that big of a deal but yet sets your nose out of joint for a bit.

But the snow was only half of what they predicted and over halfway gone now.

I broke my commitment to finish shit first and cast on for a new project.

In my defense, it is a gift, or might be a gift…

It will either be fabulous or fugly – if the later, it should breathe its last breath in a few more rows, but each row takes me about 20 minutes.

And my wrist is acting up again – I started another spin last week too – I need to find a good balance of a bit of spinning to keep my wrist strong, but not too much, or not to rough/hard/nasty wool to exacerbate it.

This is rough/hard/nasty wool – bit’s o’shit I’ve gotten for a buck or so at the fiber festivals –  and a bit of some very lovely soft alpaca that I feel like I’m wasting, but I never had a good plan for it.

The plan for this is a bulky, uneven, rustic 2-ply yarn to be knitted up into mittens, and likely lined with an un-unravelable thrift cashmere sweater. At least that’s the plan now – I do need some mittens, but this yarn will be hell to knit up.

And does anyone need the bottom part of a Morse sewing machine case?

morse-case-bottom

It’s a pretty standard case, so it would fit most average-sized vintage machines (I had a Singer 66 in it) but it won’t necessarily match up to other Morse tops – I had this issue – and it’s in semi-rough shape, but still sturdy. It’s free to a good home, but I’d appreciate shipping reimbursement or some sort of trade. I’ve offered it on ravelry too, and will likely drop it off at the ReStore (or possibly try to sell it online) by the end of February otherwise.

(And I’ll likely find a cheap-can’t-be-passed-by machine that needs a case right after I get rid of this… but that kind of thinking has left me with 25+ years of shit to purge/sell now…)

Leave a comment

Filed under home, knitting, recycling, spinning

‘Tis the season…

I’m having a moment of old computer functionality again…

This is a wrap up (mostly for my own memory notes) of things of late.

The garden is officially done – we ate baby beets and their greens for Thanksgiving and again a week or so ago.

holiday-beets

The baby carrots went down the hatches of all of us a week or so ago too.

And just in time – we had a bitter cold snap last week followed by a shellacking of ice.

Our Thanksgiving on the actual day was a pleasant gluttonous one with just the two of us and a bunch of delicious Italian courses – including ravioli with squash and sage from the garden.

holiday-ravioli

Then we traveled to the family one a week later for an Eastern European version.

(I can’t remember the last time I had turkey and mash potatoes et al, and that’s just the way I like it.)

Rocco has been on much better behavior in some areas – Thanksgiving happened without a single counter-surfing incident since he’s learned to sit in “his spot” just outside the kitchen when we’re in there.

(Step away, however, and anything is still up for grabs.)

holiday-rocco

We also had a little jaunt up the Hudson to see Andrew Bird in an old music hall and stayed in a great Airbnb with a view of the new and old Tappan Zee, only it was frigid, so I didn’t take advantage of the balcony…

holiday-tarrytown

I’ve been meaning to do a wrap-up of all of the works-in-progress I’ve got going on, as this time of the year I’m usually in the mood to bang out/wrap up/undo and move on, but when I go to dig them out, I end up working on them a bit because I could check them off if they’re done, but they’re never as close to being done as I think they are.

(Or I have a marathon day with a staple remover at work and my hands can’t knit for a day or two afterward.)

I have a few paper-pieced quilt-like things in the works.

One I completely forgot about:

And I’ll likely play with it some more, but though I thought a lot about it before I started it, I’m not feeling it as much now – I’m not feeling a lot of “craft” or art now – it won’t be a viable source of second/additional income I hoped it to be, I pretty much hate what social media has done to it, and the art side of everything still burns.

The other long-term pieced piece I was working had a bit of a message – one that though still active, has passed in the popular mind – and the other issue I’ve got with hand-piecing is quilting – I really don’t want to do it by hand, but it seems somewhat wrong to machine quilt something that has hundreds of hours of hand work? Or it can be something for the wall and doesn’t need it, but I’m not making things for the wall…

I unearthed N’s quilt that I started as a housewarming gift for his/our first house nearly a decade ago and have it near the sewing station south to finally finish this winter, but I need to clean/oil/and in some cases repair, and find new parts for, all of the machines down there…

These socks are on their way to being wearable – just on the long cuff slog now, but I can do that without any thought and minimal looking, so they should be done soon. Another pair of socks on the needles are thick and fast, but a bit unwieldy to take for waiting room knitting, etc., so I’ll probably cast-on another pair as soon as I finish the aforementioned ones – perhaps suck it up and knit a fine-gauge pair with a maddening dark and boring yarn that I would really like to wear now, but haven’t wanted to knit.

Otherwise, there’s a sweater on the needles that is 75ish% done, but hurts my hands a bit, so it has to be slow but it’s finally cold out enough to wear it, so I’m motivated to finish, and there’s a fingering-weight cardi that I sometimes forget about and haven’t touched in a year? but I’d like to get back to soon. I’m not loving the way some of my old clothes fit these days, so I need to figure out the ideal dimensions for any new projects – definitely want things longer and with more ease, but that means more yarn and longer knitting.

And I still love working on my oh-so-soft Paris Toujours, but I feel like I need to bang out the few older things first – but this has promise to be truly grand – I want all of my shawls to be bigger, ridiculously, almost impossibly bigger these days and this might start to scratch that itch (but the amount of yarn left could be deceiving since the rows are constantly increasing).

I’ve also promised a poncho/serape sort of thing for N, as well as scarves for him and another, and why has another winter appeared without a pair of mittens out of handspun for me…?

But mostly I’m still just unraveling everything – a few old projects and dozens of thrift store sweaters – making for a sneezy cloud in the basement, much bigger muscles on my winding arm, and a pleasant non-thinking calm state of mind.

 

2 Comments

Filed under gardening, home, knitting, quilts, recycling, sewing, spinning, travel