Rounding up in small bites: 2014 September

Well, I fell off the wagon on the concept of the monthly roundup. I’m not too surprised… I tend to put too much in something like that, and the more detail I want to put in, the longer it takes, and the more likely I am to put it off. So I’m going to try again, with an alternate approach. Instead of a list of questions to answer every month, I’ll answer one question at a time in a post, and not necessarily every month. So this post, I’ll address the question:

What crafts did I work on this month (not what I finished, but what did I work on)?
And instead of saying this month, I’ll address it for the summer of 2014.
 
So what did I work on? Well, I’ve been sewing. A while ago, I signed up for the Sewing with knits class with Craftsy, as well as The Couture Dress class last year. Both of these things have been inspiring me to focus on sewing a bit. So I’ve tried to make the yoga shorts from the class, a couple of t-shirts, started on the couture dress, stalled out, and recently re-started. In the meantime, I’ve gotten more material to do two knit dresses (one from the class, one from Colette Patterns), one woven (the Cambie dress by Sewaholic), and have also done three Hollyburn skirts (by Sewaholic) in increasingly nice fabric. The third one is not quite finished, as I had to stop and buy a zipper, but the zipper is now pinned in and waiting to be sewn.
 
Quilting-wise, I haven’t been doing much until recently, but I did just this past week buy some cotton flannel to make some baby quilts, one by request, one as the gift for a first baby at church. I’m going to do pinwheels on point for these two baby quilts, one in blues and yellows, the other in greens and yellows. Plus, I’ve finally found a couple of quilting patterns that appeal to me for the quilt top I finished last year and intend to give to my nephew and his wife. Since it has so much squareness in it, I’d like to try some curviness in the quilting.

Follow your dreams quilt

Two patterns have appealed to me: the Trapped Ripples pattern that Leah Day showed recently and the Paisley Feather by Angela Walters. The Trapped Ripples pattern has triangles and curves, and the Paisley Feather has just curves, but that all contrasts nicely with the squares within squares of the piecing. I always want the quilting and the piecing to work to enhance each other, and in this case I want to use curves to contrast because I think there are hidden curves created by the square patterns. They show most clearly in the border, and I want to bring them out without making things too difficult — it’s a large quilt, larger than anything I’ve quilted before, and stuffing it under the sewing machine will be a challenge.

In knitting, I was slowed down by right elbow pain in April. After some research online, I concluded I probably had a form of tennis elbow, triggered by knitting with too much tension and mouse usage that left my elbow unsupported. I had to take a break from knitting for a while, but have slowly been getting back into it. (Solutions found: brace that helps keep the elbow muscle from tightening up, stretching exercises, not overdoing it, and changing the trackball to one I can use with my right AND left hand, which is properly supported under the elbow)

But I have got things done in knitting! I finished a pair of gift socks,

Gift socks in progress

 which will be given this week, working on orange cardigan for myself and purple pullover for my brother, and now ongoing socks for myself. I am not knitting as much as I was, but I am still plugging along, as I have too many things I want to make.

OK, what else have I been doing? Well, I finally finished spinning the grey Shetland top that was one of my first major purchases. With the last 8+ ounces of it, I spun a three-ply. I made a point of spinning it almost to the point of over-spinning so that I could ply tightly without losing too much softness. It’s drying in the bathroom right now, so we’ll see how it came out. I’ve also continued with the spinning study at the guild, although I’m behind, as always.

Weaving? The loom looks at me accusingly. All wound up and no movement happening.

Embroidery? The wool-felt applique gets and occasional bit of attention.

And I think that’s all for now…

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Craft goals for 2014

  1. Finish the Shelter sweater
  2. Quilt, bind, and label the big Follow your dreams quilt
  3. Sew knit clothing – go into more detail with that one.
  4. Couture dress to be finished
  5. Do old dress muslin
  6. Baby quilt or two
  7. Weave more dishcloths and handtowels. Weave regularly.
    1. After the kitchen, do some stuff for the bathroom .
  8. Knit brother sweater
  9. Knit handspun sweater
  10. Spinning study maintenance
  11. Spinning more fall colors to go with orange yarn
  12. Knit a batch of hats, for me and to sell.

Doesn’t include scrapbooking, but that’s not a fiber craft. Maintenance there will be satisfactory.

Hmm, no embroidery included. I think that means that this year it will continue to take a back seat.

Staycation

Well, it finally happened…the government shut down, and since I work for the government, I am now not working. It’s an unplanned, unpaid staycation. I’ve always dreamed of a staycation – though not one that was unpaid – but never had the leave time to take it without giving up something else. So there has been a positive aspect to it. What? Well, I have enjoyed some time off, with lots of reading and relaxing. And, well, finally getting the chance to confirm what I’ve always suspected: I wouldn’t be able to enjoy unending leisure time for much more than a week. I’m starting to get busy.

We’re starting the second week of this shut down, and I am finally establishing a bit more of a routine and working out how to achieve my goals, which is to use this time properly. So I have been getting busy. I’ve been slow to do this, I think, for two reasons: one, I did want some rest; and two, not having any sense of how long this thing is going to last makes it hard to plan my activities. To a certain extent, I have to plan day to day, while still balancing my enjoyment of time alone with the need for some social interaction. I may be an introvert, but that doesn’t mean I don’t also enjoy people.

Last week, I mostly rested and relaxed, with intervals of doing chores like cleaning and cooking. This week I have planned a bit more. I have a list of things I would like to get done. I want to:

  • do a good bit of scrapbooking
  • make a baby quilt for a baby shower at the end of October (piecing all done, quilt sandwiched and ready to go)
  • maybe work on purple leftovers quilt? or quilt on the big quilt that is ready to be quilted?
  • work on the couture dress
  • set up my loom for weaving with the warp that is currently wound
  • catch up on my spinning study
  • as well as spin some on the brown Romney
  • install the SSD in my old laptop, and get Linux Ubuntu installed
  • kill weeds, then pull weeds
  • scan a lot of old paperwork so I can get rid of it and/or organize it
  • get rid of some furniture and other items at the thrift store or via Craislist and/or Freecycle

And of course, enjoy myself with reading a lot. And maintaining my regular schedule of eating right, exercising regularly, Bible study, and reaching out to some friends for visits, especially some that I haven’t seen in a while.

I have a feeling I won’t get it all done, but I’ll give it my best try.

Project list, aka, ideas

I’ve got a lot of fiber projects going, and I suddenly realized that I am feeling slightly overwhelmed, so I need to re-establish my list so that I can see the priorities. So…

Items in progress

  1. Summerweight sweater, very close to being finished – take this to work
  2. Socks #29, just started, can be done leisurely, as they are not a high priority
  3. Pine & Ivy shawl, just need to plug along on it a little at a time
  4. Shelter sweater, need to focus a bit on numbers so that I can finish sleeves and put it together – take this to work
  5. Baby quilt, needed for end of October as baby gift
  6. Baby sweater, another kimono, to use up some yarn and have a gift ready
  7. Bedsize quilt, called Forgotten dreams, I think, which is ready to be quilted and then gifted. However, not a TOP priority
  8. Do next row on French braid quilt, which is meant eventually for my own twin bed.
  9. Purple leftovers quilt, which needs to be measure out a bit more precisely
  10. Blocking and/or washing of several knitted and handspun projects
  11. Need some knitted flowers to put on a baby hat for selling at Christmas craft fair
  12. Couture dress
  13. Dragged down old princess-seams dress
  14. Shorts in knit fabric
  15. Spinning Romney fleece, almost done
  16. Handspinning sampler project: finish Cheviot and move on to October sample
  17. Wool felt applique wall hanging

Bolded items are taking top priority.

Things I want to do that I haven’t really started yet

  1. Handweaving some more dishcloths, then some dishtowels: a warp wound but not on the loom
  2. Weaving a lacy stole on rigid heddle with some of my handspun, multiple skeins (gray wool, purple/gray bamboo/silk, beige camel/silk) – do a sample and/or get input from guild members
  3. Inkle loom weaving of shoe laces? playing with patterns, really
  4. Gray sweater with handspun
  5. Brown sweater with the Romney handspun mentioned above
  6. Purple Cascade yarn for cowl; hat from leftovers, I hope
  7. Leftover Shelter for hat? scarf?
  8. Creatively Dyed yarn for sweater
  9. Leicester longwool yarn for knitted stole
  10. Neighborhood Fiber Co. yarn for orange raglan cardigan (use the Knitter’s handy book of top-down sweaters)
  11. Enough heavy laceweight or light fingering weight yarn for four or more shawls
  12. Another large quilt. I enjoyed the last one I made, and small quilts, though nice in the visual sense, are less useful.
  13. Sewing some knit shirts, skirts, and shorts. Maybe pants? New Craftsy class that I just bought!
  14. I want to sew some skirts and dresses, especially re-creating some of my favored clothes that are showing signs of wear.

    Other things demanding my attention

  1. Money needed for Thanksgiving travel
  2. Visit friend travel
  3. Roof replacement
  4. Antenna for tv
  5. Scrapbook work
  6. Organizing for 16th birthday celebration
  7. Electrician work
  8. Underclothing purchase
  9. Contact teenager re: mowing and tree-cutting
  10. Air conditioner maintenance

Project planning mind dump

I have too many ideas…

  • Dishcloths for weaving on floor loom — high priority as I would like to do some for Xmas gifts
  • Cowl for me — linen stitch?
  • Hat for Mom — or maybe a headband? Make sure it is super soft!!!
  • Hat for me! — I want ear flaps
  • grey handspun sweater — shaping my ideas
  • I would say brown handspun sweater, but it is till being spun
  • Charity knitting: preemie hats — need to check my numbers
  • Inkle bands with leftover sock yarn? — I need some time to focus on the new patterns in the book
  • Rigid heddle scarves
  • Pinwheel quilt — idea testing stage
  • Felted wool applique quilt — in process
  • Christmas stockings? Request from a family that I am willing to consider (for pay!), but it needs some idea shaping
  • Stole with combination of lace and cables; I can’t seem to get a creamy white out of my head, even though I’m really not a white clothing person.
  • Baby sweater or two, or maybe booties? Hats?
  • Finish off friend’s quilt (for pay!)

Okay, I think that is all that has been floating around in my head. When I look at it, I can prioritize.

Crafts progress 2011 to 2012

I’ve suddenly realized that I haven’t done any kind of real craft update on the blog for a while, other than as part of the roundup. I think it’s time to consider what I’ve done in the past year.

Also, I DID have some goals — I’ll have to go find them. I know I didn’t achieve some of them, so it’s time to re-evaluate for next year.

Knitting projects completed in 2011

  • Socks #22 (gift for Mom)
  • Baby kimono #3 (finished and gifted)
  • Wool Peddler’s shawl
  • baby kimono #2 (finished and gifted)
  • Socks #21 (wearing and in the dirty clothes)
  • Chemo hat for a girl at church (finished and gifted, although I’m not sure she likes it)
  • Socks #19 (wearing and in the dirty clothes)
  • Candleflames shawl
  • Bamboo skirt (I’m still weaving in the ends and have yet to line it, but all the knitting is done)
  • Now it’s to be felted (a piece of knitted fabric that I hope to use in a bag)
  • Always on hand baby sweater (finished and gifted)
  • Socks #18 (wearing and in the dirty clothes)
  • Baby blanket (2X) for charity (finished and gifted)

Huh, that’s thirteen knitting projects finished in 2011; I find that rather gratifying.

Items still in progress: Summerweight sweater, boiled wool jacket, Shelter sweater, Socks #20, Pine and Ivy shawl, and Socks #23. Already finished knitting Baby kimono #4 in stockinette version, just need to sew together and block.

Knitting goals? Finish sweaters in progress; knit sweater out of gray handspun; do more shawls, a cowl, a hat, and plenty of socks. Figure out one or two of Cat Bordhi’s new sock structures so that I can adapt them. Right now I’m just following a pattern, and I want a certain amount of mental independence from that for socks.

Weaving: did some inkle loom weaving and messed with the shawl on the loom, but actually did very little. I want to focus on this more.

Weaving goals? Do two projects on the big loom. I don’t care if they are new or old, just DO TWO. Maybe take a class?

Quilting: finished the denim quilt, but did little at home. Did work on the feathered star wall hanging, but I would like to FINISH it. Also worked on French braid quilt a bit.

Quilting goals? Do some machine quilting on finished sampler top. Also finish the feathered star. Finish French braid top. Get to the quilting of it if I can. Figure out a new hand project to do at work. (I’m thinking of wool felt applique, which will be a nice blend of quilting and embroidery.) Maybe take a class?

Spinning: worked on some stuff off and on, but nothing with much consistency. Did finish the bamboo/silk blend earlier in the year.

Spinning goals? Just keep working on something as steadily as possible. Right now it is the camel/sick blend. Eventual goal is to get to that lovely brown roving for a sweater.

Cross-stitch/Embroidery: Finished Dragon and castle cross-stitch of many years. Started Celtic cross blackwork embroidery.

Embroidery goals? Just work on the blackwork project. I have no specific goals with this, even though I may choose to play with Take a stitch Tuesday. But that will be PLAY, not commitment.

Sewing: messed around with some stuff, but didn’t really do any sewing.

Sewing goals? Finish two garments. Probably a skirt and a dress.

What makes a craft appealing

Every craft has its appeal. People regularly make these broad, sweeping statements about their craft that really reflect themselves. I find this annoying.

Example:
Statement made: what makes quilting appealing is the mathematical puzzle of putting it together.

Response in my head: Really? What about all those art quilters that are creating a landscape or painting on fabric?  Are they being mathematical?

Answer: obviously not!

What is really being expressed is what they think appeals to them, and maybe the crafters with whom they are most familiar. And since we tend to be most familiar with the things we like, then our attention is disproportionately focused on those like themselves, thus there is a feedback loop that reinforces the generalization. But really this is just an example of sloppy thinking and inadequate research.

I really wish people would take the time to think.

Teeswater locks

As part of an ongoing effort to try out different sheep breeds, I worked on the Teeswater sheep breed locks that I obtained from Spirit Trail Fiberworks.

They did very well, with a lovely luster. This is before I washed it, so you can see it is still very energized. After the washing, thing improved a bit, but it was still rather twisty. I don’t know if the problem is me overspinning them, or what. But I must say, I like them. I’m still trying to figure out what I am going to do with them, but it can wait.

Teeswater breed handspun, 2-ply

Teeswater breed handspun, 2-ply

Teeswater handspun, combed, 2-ply

Teeswater handspun, combed, 2-ply

Summary of work

Summary of work that was finished back in October 2009. Why I hadn’t yet published this????

Have I finished anything? Well, actually yes!

  1. Weaving dishtowels — I finished two and got the warp off. My beginning status definitely showed clearly.
  2. Spinning silk — Finished! Looks good.

    Silk spinning finally done.

    Silk spinning finally done.

  3. Domovoi shawl — Done with that too!!!

    Domovoi shawl done and blocked

    Domovoi shawl done and blocked

  4. Socks — Having regained stitch covers, I have worked on several socks since then.
  5. Lochinvar sweater — still hibernating until I pick up the arms
  6. Top-down sweater — done!
  7. Scarf — Frogged and still contemplating. this one is turning out to be a problem. But I think I may have finally have the solution: double knitting. Now to find instructions.
  8. Baby kimono — Done!
  9. Dragon crossstitch — All stitching done, lots of backstitch done, but still need to work on the dragon backstitch.
  10. Quilting of denim quilt, done by hand, moving along slow but steady
  11. Sampler quilt for machine quilting — I need to baste it
  12. Crazy quilt — still piecing
  13. French braid quilt for bedroom — still piecing
  14. Bag for DNiece1 — holding
  15. Nightshirt for learning about sewing with knits — did one successfully, now I need to do some unsewing on the second one
  16. Muslin for dress in style I really like — still undone
  17. Baby hat, using up leftovers — did two
  18. Weaving done after February class.

Okay, that’s enough for now. I need to take a look around and see what I’ve done since then.

Use it before you lose it (spinning)

Of course, if you can’t use it quickly, at least write it down.

So… this weekend, I took a class on Shetland spinning and lace knitting, traditional techniques for how to produce those wonderful shawls that helped the Shetland islanders to earn a living. (of sorts, I think; the history that I know of indicates they were badly underpaid)

What do I want to remember from that?

For the spinning, I must remember that the right fleece is essential. And I don’t mean just a Shetland fleece, but one that is good quality, with fibers of the right thinness, etc. And that it is preferable to spin in the grease. Now I would never have thought that, but apparently the lanolin helps the fibers to hold together when you are spinning the extreme fineness necessary for laceweight and cobweb-weight yarn. And it’s not as much of a problem with Shetland breed fleeces as it is with other breeds, because they don’t produce the overwhelming amount of lanolin that makes spinning in the grease a questionable choice.

Watch out for the rise (the new growth after the winter’s dormancy), because if there’s too much of it, then you are paying for something that you are not going to use. And be strong — you are going to throw away a good bit of it. Some of it will be okay for spinning for purposes other than lace, but there is still a noticeable portion that is just rubbish, and throwing it away is okay. (For some, this is very difficult.) The areas most likely to be thrown away for the lower portions of the leg, the center down the back, and definitely the belly wool. The nicest is generally close to the head and neck area, but the sides may have decent stuff. The closer you get to the rear of the animal, the lower the quality goes.

You are also watching for dirt, etc. Get rid of the worst bits, but remember that a reasonable amount of vegetable matter will come out in the prep. NOTE: if the fleece is good except for the extreme dirtiness, then this is one time you might wash it beforehand. But do a very limited washing, since you don’t want to lose too much lanolin.

You can card it or comb it. Do it in small amounts, as you work. The more traditional method is combing it with something like a flick carder or a dog comb-type tool. Full-on combing is not really good, since you lose a lot more material that way. You are more interested in achieving a lock-by-lock spinnability. For lace spinning, one lock can last a long time. Carding is acceptable, but you will end up with the fibers more mixed, and are less likely to end up with the worsted-spin that is the traditional focus.
When spinning it, do an inchworm draft. Long draw just is not going to cut it for the degree of control you need to produce really fine fiber. For two-ply laceweight, you really are looking at around 5-7 fibers in a single. For cobweb-weight, you are looking at 3-4 fibers in a single. (I didn’t quite achieve that during the class; I think the best I got was in the 8-10 fibers in a single, but since that is better than I’ve ever done, I’m not complaining.) Be sure to put LOTS of twist in the single; lots more than you have ever done before. Then put a little more. But when you ply it, do so lightly. You want enough ply to make it difficult to split the yarn during knitting, but really no more than that. The light hand in plying helps to preserve the softness of the yarn, which is desirable for something that may end up next to your skin.

Okay, at the moment I’ve run dry for spinning remembrance, but I’m going to share this with my fellow students and see what they might have to add.

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