Esty Shop Updated with Lots of New Loot!

Warning – this one has lots of photos!

My business partner, Cheryl, as always, has been super knitter.  She has recently completed several gorgeous new items and I uploaded them today into our Etsy shop.  Thought you might like a peek!

First we have the red Noro cowl.  Cheryl says it’s hot pink, I say it’s red.  I guess the eventual buyer will decide.

And a little close up.

Next we have another Noro cowl, this time in brown and pink.

And then there is the hazel, green and brown cowl!

One more finished item is the Noro rainbow scarf.

And, not to be completely useless, I have finished a hand spun yarn and it’s now in the Etsy shop.

I would love to know what all my knitting and fashionista friends think!

My next post will actually include some finished knitting I have completed.  Imagine that!

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Reclaiming Yarn from a Thrift Store Sweater

I went to my local thrift store yesterday looking for pans to use for dyeing roving, that was a bust (disappointing!), they had nothing suitable. But, while I was there I did take a look at sweaters. For a while now I have been wanting to try my hand at reclaiming fiber from a sweater. I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on this in case I ruined it and came out with nothing usable, so a thrift store sweater is definitely the way to go.  For $4.59 including tax I picked up this really pretty rose sweater, ladies size small.  Well, it’s nice yarn, anyway.

Before

I took the pieces apart, which took a couple of hours since I didn’t know how to do it the “right” way.  I have since looked up on you tube a couple of videos about disassembling sweaters, and next time I will do it much more quickly, I’m sure.  I did notice that the last button band came off much more quickly than the first piece, so I was improving during my first try!

I unwound the back onto my 1.5 yard niddy-noddy.  I need a 2 yard niddy noddy – Christmas list!

The back gave me around 300 yards of fingering weight yarn.  I still need to unwind the 2 front pieces and the sleeves.

After skeining all the yarn I’ll soak it in hot water to remove the crinkles (I wonder how long ago this sweater was knit?), and put it out to dry with a weight on it to help straighten it out.

I am very pleased with this project.  I have maybe 600 yards of fingering weight wool in a really great color for less than $5!  I don’t even need to dye it, since the pink is fine just the way it is.  I am less pleased with amount of time I spent on it, but I imagine I’ll get much faster.

I foresee another trip to Goodwill soon (and a sharper eye at garage sales).

Special thanks to my assistant, Stitch, for his help.

Stitch Wants To Help

Lace Shawl Design

I have taken the Craftsy plunge and signed up for a class! Lace Shawl Design with Miriam Felton was my choice, as I hope to sharpen my skills in this area. I love many things about Craftsy classes. For a very reasonable cost you get access forever to the lessons, it’s easy to watch part of a class again and again until you “get it” or if you were interrupted (thanks, kids), and there’s a cool way to take notes that are saved in the lesson so you can find them later.

Miriam is easy to listen to and watch as she demonstrates what she’s teaching.  Occasionally she seems the teensy tiniest bit nervous, but that just makes her even more human and endearing.   I have finished lesson 4 of 13 and have learned a lot about charting lace.

I easily charted a very attractive pattern called Openwork Leaf from Barbara Walker’s wonderful book Treasury of Knitting Patterns.  However, I am having quite a lot of trouble charting Fluerette from the same book.  The stitch count changes and I am having a  murderous time figuring out how to chart that.  So, I am going to take Miriam’s advice and knit a swatch in the hopes I will understand the pattern enough to chart it correctly.  It’s a really pretty lace; the pattern is described as an “charming old French lace pattern (with a ) delicate, meshlike quality”.  Sounds ideal for a shawl.

Another thing I like about Craftsy is that you can ask questions, the instructor and other students will answer, so I know this will be resolved in the end!

I met my business partner and friend, Cheryl, along with our  friend Christel to knit yesterday.  We spent an hour and a half catching up and knitting away on our various projects.  I’m working on a scarf for my lovely sister, Linda.  It’s almost done and then I plan to knit a series of cowls for my kids.

They asked for cowls last year and I just never got them off the ground, so this year I am committed to them.  If my daughters actually ask me to hand knit something I am certainly willing to do it, especially something as easy as a plain ribbed cowl (which, to be truthful, I will probably find a bit boring ).

Cheryl brought a cowl she knit from some of my hand spun yarn to our little knitting group yesterday.  This is the first hand spun yarn I’ve created that I’ve seen knit up.  I was stunned and really amazed at its beauty.  It is so much more than I ever dreamed!  What do you think?

And here is a close up.

I have an idea for a series of lacy cowls.  When will I have time to write up those patterns?  I see many days in the near future with very little housework getting done (oh, let’s be honest – no housework being done).  Hope no one minds sandwiches for dinner (over and over).

A Death In The Family

My father in law died this morning after a short battle with prostate cancer.  Cancer sucks.  Men, get your PSA test when your doctor tells you to do so.

My husband’s family is in England, he is there with them now.  He went last week at the urging of his sisters to “come now”.  So glad he listened!  He’ll spend a few extra days there, things are a bit in flux at the moment, so not sure exactly what will happen.

My father in law, Roy, was a wonderful man.  Gentle, quiet, funny in an understated and sometimes snarky way.  Easy to talk to, a great listener and always a gentleman.  He loved my kids and me too.  I am a lucky girl to have had him so long.

We saw each other in person every couple years and thanks to Skype, were able to speak and see each other fairly frequently.  One of the positive thing about long visits to each other’s homes is the intensive contact you get when you have to stay for 10 days+ to  “make it worth going”.    I spent 3 weeks on their side of the pond  a couple of times and had many shorter trips too.  And of course, they visited here numerous times through the 24 years we had together.

The first time we met he was remarkably welcoming and accepting of me.  I was a loud American who was 5 years older than his son.  Craig’s relationship with me meant he would leave the UK and move to the US.  It shows a lot of grace and innate kindness that he and Craig’s mum were so kind and loving to me from the moment we met.  I was very nervous about it!

Through the years he and I had a lot of congenial talks as we strolled through beautiful gardens at stately homes, wandered around museums, or explored parks.  I’ll miss those excursions, they won’t be quite the same without his presence.

Today will be a strange day.  I’ll go about my usual business, (except for the  dental appointment which I’ve just canceled – don’t think I can take that today), feeding my two feral cat colonies, getting a haircut (which I need desperately), fixing dinner for the kids, and of course, knitting.  But Roy and the rest of the crew will be in my thoughts all day.

My kids have been stellar – oldest daughter, only 17, said “you should go to England Mom, us kids will stay home – I got this”.  So proud of her today.

This grief feels like an turbulent ocean, with waves smashing into me.  I catch my breath and feel calmer, then it breaks over me again.  Gonna be a long day.

For my fiber-y friends, here is my latest spinning eye candy.  Here is the early part of the bobbin.

And here is the outside

Reminds me of grapes.  Will ply it with something else, not sure what color yet.  Maybe I’ll dye something purply pink.  But not today.

Book Review – The Crafter’s Guide to Taking Great Photos

This book is subtitled The Best Techniques for Showcasing Your Handmade Creations.

I was having a lot of trouble photographing hand spun and hand dyed yarn for my Etsy shop.  My photos were too blurry, too boring, too dull; they didn’t do my products justice at all.  I saw this book somewhere and requested from the library.

I read it on vacation and it was very helpful!  Pictures in my Etsy shop now  are crisp, clear, well-lit and show my lovely products off to their best advantage.  Here’s one.

Candy Necklace Yarn

I’ve read a review somewhere saying that this book isn’t all that helpful for knowledgeable  photographers and I do agree with that.  But it’s a great resource for creative people who don’t know much about photography (that’s me!).

There’s a lot of basic information about light, understanding how cameras work and how to operate them (a lot of this was news to me), choosing backgrounds, props, etc.   Point and shoot and DSLR cameras are both discussed, which makes this useful to a wide range of photographers.

The author features an interview with photographs in several different creative areas.  For example, she talks with a knitter, a jewelry designer, and a ceramic artist among others.  The interviews ask questions that I would ask and many of them apply across the board to lots of different creations.

And the photos are gorgeous!  I got a lot of inspiration just looking at them (and was able to pass on an idea to a jewelry designer I know).

I liked this book so much I purchased a copy for myself.  It would also make a nice gift for someone starting an Etsy (or Ebay) business,  or a blogger you know who struggles to take great photos.  (Christmas is coming, you know!)

If you are not happy with the photos you currently take of your creations, check this book out!  I think you will find it very helpful.

And, here is what I spun yesterday, love the watercolor blurry look of it.  I have been on a bit of a pink jag lately.  My next yarn will not feature much pink!

A Little Mystery

My favorite librarian (and lovely person) Sharon M. sent me some photos of a spinning wheel that she has come across.   Here is the first one I received.

As you can see, the flyer is missing and there appears to be no drive band, or perhaps the remnants of one hanging off the wheel.  The whole wheel could stand a good cleaning and waxing (poor thing).  Looks to have been well used in the past judging by the footprint on the treadle.

Of course, my first thought is “we must identify the wheel, so we can find a flyer to fit”.  I am no expert, but as I recently bought my spinning wheel, I have been looking at dozens of different wheels in the last few months, so it wasn’t actually very difficult to identify that (unless I’m completely wrong, of course).

My first hunch was some type of Ashford wheel – it just has that traditional look that they stick with.   After researching (which mainly consisted of looking at Google images of spinning wheels), I believe it is an older Ashford Traditional.

I would love to learn more about it and I will eventually, once I make contact with the current owner (who I suspect inherited it from a relative or came across it in a basement, barn or attic).

I’d love to make it spin again!  Hopefully that will happen eventually, I can only wait and see.  Wish I was more patient and better at delayed gratification!  My brother will help me (and to be honest, will probably do a lot of the actual work – I will be technical advisor).

While I wait, I continue to spin.  Here’s what I’m spinning now.

I plan to  ply this with a pink single, and  will probably give this to my mother for her knitting or weaving enjoyment.  I will take my wheel outside and spin on my deck today – it’s going to be a lovely day here in Indy.

Spinning Fever

For quite a while I’ve been wanting to take the plunge into spinning.  I bought a spindle and played with that for a couple of months and really enjoyed it.  Here is a picture of a pretty yarn while it was in progress that I spun on my hand spindle.   It’s finished (and sold) now.

So, I realized I really like spinning and creating yarn, but that I could never be very fast with a spindle.  In June I began looking for a wheel.  It’s quite overwhelming – there are lots of wheels around.  Did I want something traditional?  Modern?  From a big name manufacturer?  Or a new, independent maker?  Lots of decisions.

I rented a wheel for a month from my local fiber dealer, The Trading Post for Fiber Arts, and played with it.  It was a Majacraft Suzie, which is a beautiful wheel, but at $1055 list price, a bit too rich for my blood, especially for my first wheel.  Here’s a picture of a Suzie.

It’s very modern and untraditional looking!  I’m not sure that everyone would recognize this as a spinning wheel!

On vacation in Michigan I visited The Lady Peddler, where I bought an already assembled Ashford Traveller.  It wasn’t at all what I thought I’d end up with, and I’m not sure it’s my permanent long term wheel, but things are improving quickly!

It’s very traditional looking (not my thing really), and the bobbins are really much too small for my liking, but I’m getting better at using it and it will do for now.

Here’s a picture of the Traveller.  I think everyone would recognize this as a spinning wheel!

What I do like about it is that it uses kite string for the band on the wheel (easy and inexpensive to replace) and it’s very portable.  I take it out to my deck all the time – I love to work outside if the weather is at all reasonable.  Today I will take my wheel to show my wonderful business partner (and friend) Cheryl, and our great friend Carryn – we will be having a little knitting party.

The cool thing about spinning wheels is that they seem to hold their value really well.  I should be able to sell it for what I paid (or close to that) when I’m ready to move on, and someone else will get a nice wheel that is well broken in and spins beautifully.

Having lots of fun!  Here is a picture of some yarn I just finished.  It’s 100% wool, 2 ply, a gorgeous colorway I call Candy Necklace.