Breaking the Silence

I have been doing better this year than the previous year in my canning efforts. So far I have peach salsa, tomato sauce, frozen green beans, garlic dill pickles, peach puree, apple sauce, ketchup, and a few different jams I have done. Some of the produce is from my garden, some from my mom, and some purchased at farm stands.

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I also managed to explode dough in my fridge!

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Still up, more apples (maybe try some pie filling?) more tomatoes, and more green beans!

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New Toy Review

I purchased a kick spindle from someone a month ago. What is a kick spindle? It works like a walking wheel but you spin the drive shaft with your foot or hand, rather than treadling like a traditional wheel. I didn’t know what one was until the middle of May, then in the middle of the stars aligning, I have now become the owner of one!

This one is created by Heavenly Handspinning on Etsy, who sells kick spindles as well as drop spindles, espinners, and wheels that they make. They use different types of wood and the woodworking they do on their products is beautiful!

So here is the first yarn I spun on the kick spindle, as well as you can see it in action!

 

This was fiber that was gifted to me by the seller, very eclectic in it’s fiber composition. The process of spinning on this wheel is mechanically different from other methods of spinning, due to the way twist is put into the fiber as well as the angle coming off the spindle. In addition, the coordination of my hands, feeding and drafting, was reversed from the way I traditionally spin on a drop spindle or a modern spinning wheel. After a short time I became acclimated to spinning on the kick spindle and could focus on my drafting technique. It was just as hard to get my spinning consistent as it was the first time I spun on a modern wheel, however I feel some of that is due to the nature of the fiber I spun. I did feel that the drafting lent it self much better to a woolen method of spinning than the drop spindles I use, and after I become more competent I intend to spin various fiber samples woolen on this spindle. I still am not as consistent in the thickness of fiber as I am on a drop spindle, although I do mean to keep practicing! I did not ply the first yarn on the kick spindle. I used a drop spindle for that, I am currently in the middle of plying my second yarn attempt, and I have to say I am not as comfortable plying on it as I am spinning. I have tried both pushing the fly wheel in the opposite direction as well as reversing the direction the kick spindle sits in front of me, and both feel a bit awkward. I am less than an ounce into my plying, so we shall see if it gets better.

In order to spin effectively, I found you had to anchor the kick spindle by using your opposite foot. Otherwise it slides around or can be pulled over. You need to keep the thread you are spinning at the correct angle coming off the hook and under tension in order to draft effectively. Your drafting zone needs to be out to the side of your body, unlike in front as in a drop spindle or modern wheel, in order to keep the spindle spinning as well as draft at the same time. Another thing that is different is the obvious, driving the spindle with your foot. This is more involved than a traditional wheel, and I found that the chair you use is much more specific than with the Lendrum I borrowed a few months back. The couch shown in the video is actually a little low for the kick spindle, since I have to lift my leg up in order to kick the fly wheel. In the video you see me continuously kicking the fly wheel, however it does spin longer now that I have implemented some tips I picked up from other places online.

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The final yarn produced was thick and thin, also very textured due to the content of the roving (merino, Falkland, BFL, bamboo, silk noil, sari silk, baby alpaca, border leister x romney locks.) I spun a 2-ply yarn 50 yards long, approximately a bulky weight.

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Since then I started a Polwarth/Silk blend, and I have been able to be somewhat more consistent. My drafting method for this was worsted, since it tended to slip out of my hand more easily and I felt I needed to give more control with my fingers as I drafted. There is still a wide variation in the thickness of the yarn and I have started plying it as mentioned above. I am concerned about getting 4oz on the spindle since it seemed fairly full with only two on it.

If you are interested in learning more about kick spindles there are a couple of other companies that manufacture them, as well as a Ravelry group (http://www.ravelry.com/groups/kick-spindlers) where they share their knowledge and provide links and information, answer questions, and share tips on how to get the most out of your kick spindle.

Sewing Bug

The past few weeks I have been thinking more about sewing, even though I had my hands on knitting and spinning, it was fiber in a different form that I have been daydreaming about. Which shows in my progress in those endeavors, which has been scant.

I finished a pair of Quick Change Baby trousers for a friend’s baby, using some cute flannel. These turned out very thick, I’m not sure how they will change with washing and wearing, but should keep him warm in those chilly times that are a fast becoming a vague memory.

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Those have been languishing for a few months, and they only got done because I didn’t want to change the thread in my machine again. I decided last minute that I wanted to make a cliché gift for my dad for Father’s Day, which actually turned out very nice! (Yes, this picture was taken on the seat of my car, which might tell you something about how last minute this project ended up being!)

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The pattern is from the Purl Bee, and I did not turn under the inner seam twice, causing it to be a bit wider which I liked better. I used tags my grandmother had to put his name on the back as a nice finishing touch. Even though I used a medium weight cotton, it was reinforced by the interfacing, causing this tie to have a nice weight. The amount of time to make this was very quick, only be warned that it is mostly hand sewing, so it will take time to give it that finished look.

Plans for sewing continue, as am ready to cut out pattern pieces to sew pajama’s for a little girl who is dancing around my lair as I write this.

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Random Thoughts on a Thursday

After a long session of following my thoughts, here is where I ended:

“Wouldn’t it be awesome if there was a discussion panel in which the Yarn Harlot taught Will Wheaton to knit?”

Discuss.

Speechless

My husband has decided he wants to go with me to Maryland Sheep & Wool.

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Making the Cut

I had a lot of time today to work on my projects, and while I did work on some spinning that is in progress, none of my current knitting projects called to me. Instead I went for the shiny new things that I have been itching to cast on.

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First some self stripping socks out of Twisted Limone’s Spooky colorway. I have been wanting some simple stripy socks for me, and I added a small cable to keep it interesting. Totally from my head. I didn’t like the color in the ball, but now that I am knitting it I really like the subtle depth of colors and how the different stripes go together. Also, I figure I can finish these in time for Halloween, thus being able to say I have socks for that holiday!

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Second, I have been meaning to knit this scarf for Riley since I spun this yarn up. She asked me when I was spinning it if she could have something out of it, and mentioned she needed a scarf. I think she even helped spin a few yards by treading the wheel. The fiber is Falkland, dyed by Into the Whirled, color Serenity, one of the club colorways from last year. Pattern is the One Row Handspun Scarf by the Yarn Harlot. I’ve knit this pattern before, so it was one that was simple and came to mind.

As if I didn’t already have anything to knit. I am now ignoring my other WIP’s, and am considering a sweater. I was close to casting on today, but that might change in the next few!

Post Retreat Wrap-up

When I mentioned that I accomplished a lot of knitting and spinning this weekend, I meant I did a lot more than I have done in the past four months!

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  • Finished Riley’s pink stripy socks, which she happened to talk about to Grammie while I was away.
  • Finished 2oz of the Wool Gatherings roving I bought last year at MDS&W.
  • Finished the 43g of undyed English Shetland I received from Highland Handmades
  • Bought a new spindle, and immediately spun 18g of purple sample fiber from Daily Fibers on it.
  • Proceeded to sit on two of my spindles, snapping them. Luckily their manufacture has a lifetime guarantee.
  • Also succumbed to two new pretty yarns. (What can I say, I am weak)

I hope I can continue to be productive, however since it is now after 9pm and I was planning on being in bed at 9, plus the kitchen still needs cleaned, I doubt that I will match this output for a while.

Fiber-ific Weekend!

This weekend I spent 3.5 days with some fabulous fibery people. Jess of Storied Yarns created a retreat for us at Fall Creek Falls State Park in TN. I conned one of my knit group members into making the drive down (I didn’t have to twist her arm hard!) and we stayed Friday and Saturday night, staying at a hotel half way home on Sunday night so we didn’t have to rush on our way back. There was lots of knitting, spinning, crocheting, and batt-making, as well as much sugar-binging and fireside revelries. The weather was less than sunny, so I didn’t get to do any hiking to enjoy the beautiful surroundings I could barely view from the car drive past, but I enjoyed my time, and hope to go back next year!

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After a bit….

I have done a bunch of crafting in the interim, and have lovingly thought of my lone readers left bereft of my thoughtful prose (sorry cousin!!)

But today I sat down and did a project that I have been planning for the last week as well as one I picked up on the spur of the moment in the craft store today.

pink skirts

I made two skirts for my little one!

The left one was fabric she picked out of my fat quarter stash, and then some coordinating fabric. I didn’t use a pattern, just cut the elastic band 2” (5cm) longer than her waist measurement, cut the top of the skirt piece the same width, making the side flare in a slight A-line shape. I cut the bottom band the same width as the bottom of the skirt panel, then sewed everything up. It fits great!

The right was one I saw at the store in the half price bin and immediately thought of making her a play skirt. I simply seemed the end into a tube, folded the hem over and stitched it, leaving an opening for the elastic, which I added. I made it a little big, but that just means she can get more wear out of it. Simple, effective, and she immediately put it on and didn’t take it off until bedtime.

Ahh, the satisfaction of crafting!

In return, she gave me her cold. Thoughtful child!

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Only a Smidge…

I think my UFO/WIP pile is out of control. I have 12 projects on needles.

Let me flash them for you, and you can tell me.

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(I kinda felt like the Count… 1, 1 WIP! BAHAHAHA!)

So, some of these are gifts. Some are not. Some have not been touched in over a year! Some need to be done now, some can wait, but not long. Suffice to say, I have decided I cannot cast on anything else.

What has this caused? Why yes, MUST CAST ON ALL THE THINGS!

So the day after I took most of these pictures, I cast on a hat. Just one hat. It took two days to knit.

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Isn’t it cute?

I still feel the itch to cast on something else. Since I can’t cast on, I think I am compensating by buying more yarn. This isn’t a problem either, right?!

(pattern is the Icing Swirl Hat by Ysolda Teague)