Spinning Once Again

I went to a spinning mini-class last weekend at my local favorite crackhouse for fiber addicts spinning shop, The Trading Posts for Fiber Arts. The teacher, spinning/knitting/yarn queen, Kate Larson, got me spinning again, and she gave me helpful personalized instruction on using my Ashford Traveller spinning wheel.   She helped me change my drive band (well, she did it and I watched carefully), showed me how to tighten things up, helped me oil all the right spots and generally just made me a lot more comfortable with my wheel. I spun up some pretty, muted yarn (a very small skein measuring about 69 yards), bought some dyed merino top in a gorgeous deep blue and purple colorway and just had a fabulous time.

The ladies present were quite amusing conversationalists.  Subjects ranged from Abraham Lincoln’s probable Marfan’s Syndrome to traditional Norwegian socks.  Apparently, these socks have a very colorful cuff, then a toothed pattern underneath that, and the rest of the sock (the foot) is white.  This is so any man other than your husband sees only the “teeth” at the bottom of your (long) dress.  Witty stuff.  We all laughed at that.

Eventually I wandered upstairs to the yarn sale area, and came away with lots of skeins of Cascade Eco Duo, my current favorite yarn in the world.  Watch for lots of pretty shawls, scarfs, and maybe an entrelac out of those. All in all, a very educational, entertaining and productive day. And then yesterday, I got out my wheel again.  First I plied some singles I had.  What do you think?  This colorway was called Birch.  I love the little gray parts, it really does remind me birch trees in summer.  I’ll be keeping this yarn for my greedy little self.

Birch yarn

And I found two other little single sections.  Here is one, shown with the Birch plied yarn.  I clearly have a thing for green and purple.

Purple-y Single

After that I spun 2 delicious singles in the new rich blue/purple colorway.  Just need to ply them, and then they will be available for purchase in the Etsy store.  Watch for pictures of that yarn soon.

All in all, I’d say I’m back on track with spinning.  I do find it difficult to take it up again after I haven’t used my wheel for a long time.  Not sure why, maybe just because I’m not a terribly experienced spinner and it’s kind of technical.  Need to remember my advice from my last post about practice making things easier.

I’m wondering what to do with small left over singles.  I’d love to hear what ideas other spinners have about those.  Please help a fellow spinner out and share in the comments.

The Square

One of the things Cheryl and I discovered at the craft fair we did in December is going to have a big impact on our future business.

We learned about The Square.

The Square goes to the farmer's market.Photo Credit wollytech.com
The Square goes to the farmer’s market.
Photo Credit wollytech.com

The first time I saw this little darling was when I bought my Ashford Traveller spinning wheel last July.  The Lady Peddler is a crackhouse for fiber addicts yarn and fiber shop housed in a turn of the 20th century (or maybe earlier, I am certainly not an architecture queen) building in the tiny town of Hastings, in western Michigan.

It was a gorgeous place – full of hand dyed fiber, fabulous yarn, spinning wheels, pattern books, everything the well stocked  crackhouse for fiber addicts yarn and fiber shop should be.  There were very high stamped tin ceilings and wide, creaky floor boards (maybe pine?), along with an ancient and well preserved  black and gold cash register.

Apparently that beautiful cash register is just for ambience, because when I pulled out my visa card to pay for my wheel, she picked up her Iphone, and ran my card through the little white square plugged into it.  She nicely asked if I wanted my receipt emailed or printed out.  I chose email so I couldn’t lose it.

On the way back to our rented vacation house my mother and I marvelled about how cool that whole thing was.  Sadly, (but not surprisingly) I completely failed to see any connection to my own business.

Fast forward to craft fair in December, someone asked us if we could take a credit card.  Cheryl and I looked at each other helplessly, and I overheard someone say something about a square.  The lightbulb went off, Cheryl dug out her cell phone, and hey presto – we are in business to take credit cards.  We have next day deposit into our linked bank account, and a reasonable fee of 2.75% per transaction.  That is cheaper than Paypal.

Maybe we are the last small business in North America to start using a credit card reader (but I doubt it).  I have discovered that PayPal has something similar, and Google too.  Many more will be coming soon, I’m sure.

SquareUp.com, the creaters of The Square, will mail you one free, but if you are in a hurry, you can get them everywhere for around $10.  Walmart, Staples and Walgreens all carry them – this is what makes me think we are not the last business to begin using them, but we certainly are not early adopters.

Now, I just need an Iphone like Cheryl has.  That’s another post…

New Year’s Resolutions Indigo Kitty Style

I’m not normally one to make any kind of New Year’s resolutions, but I’ve been thinking about what I’d like to learn and accomplish in the upcoming year. Here’s a preliminary list.

Fair Isle – I picked up a gorgeous book at Half Price Books the other day, called Colorwork Creations. It’s subtitled Knit woodland inspired hats, mittens and gloves.
Here’s the cover
Charming, right?  There are so many lovely patterns inside, for example chickadees, butterflies, ducks, cardinals, snowflakes.  Hard to choose one to start with!

I did purchase a kit from Knitpicks a while back for the bright woodland mitts. That seems like a good starting point for my fair isle adventures. I have a knitting date with my friend Wendy, who is a Fair Isle Queen for Jan 3.  Starting this project right out of the gate!

Here is a picture (from Knitpicks site) of the mitts.
woodland mitts

I’d also like to do more spinning and become more expert in using my Ashford Traveler spinning wheel.

Then there’s  hand dyeing fiber.  My business partner, the wonderful and brilliant Cheryl, gave me a very nice book for my birthday about dyeing.  It’s The Handbook of Natural Plant Dyes.  This looks like a lot of fun.  I plan to dye yarn and roving using acorns, coffee, blackberries, red cabbage and more.

Here’s the cover.

handbook of natural plant dyes

What a great gift!

Did you know you can use dandelion root to dye fiber red?  I’ll be paying the kids to get me some roots in the spring (and making the lawn look a bit better).   I can’t wait to get started!

I’d like to knit more fingerless gloves, we have a goal to have 50 pairs ready for next winter.  They are big sellers for us and a fun and easy knit too.

I want to write a pattern for a lace shawl and some cabled and lace cowls.  So many pattern ideas, I could probably work 24 hours a day and still have stuff rattling around in my brain!

And all those things should keep me busy for a good part of the year.

Wishing all my readers the best for a happy, healthy and prosperous 2013.  Keep on knitting (and spinning, and dyeing, and crocheting)!

Christmas Shopping

Today I plan to do a bit of Christmas shopping while the kids are all at school.  I have my list, and I’ve checked it twice – so, off I go.

I find it quite amusing that my husband is asking for make-up (a stage make-up kit).  I never thought I’d live to see that!

My Christmas list includes a jumbo flyer for my Ashford spinning wheel.  Today I plan to email my family a link to the one I need.  Otherwise they won’t have any idea which one to buy, and I’m sure to get the right one – hinting is good, right?

For those of you who have been thinking about ordering from the Indigo Kitty Knits Etsy shop this might be the time – we have free shipping this weekend.  This will be the last free shipping before Christmas, so if you’ve been on the fence – the time is now!  Use coupon code HAPPYHOLIDAYS2012.

There are lots of fingerless mitts, which are very affordable and so practical.  I wear my mitts all the time; it’s so convenient to be able to adjust the radio, clip on the leash, open my coffee or answer my phone without taking off my gloves. There are also many scarves, cowls, shawls, and even a hat (in Noro, of course).  You are sure to find something just right for those who like color, or neutrals, or lace, or fuzzy things, or smooth things – well, you get the idea.

Here is one more new thing in the Etsy shop that I’ve not posted on the blog yet.  It’s a pointy shawlette/scarf made of Noro (of course!).  This yarn is Silver Thaw,  which is unfortunately discontinued.  It’s wool, angora and a little nylon.  The drape and feel are lovely!  This is my current fave yarn in the world.

silver thaw wingspan

Noro has such great names for their yarns!  Did you know that Kureyon (which is probably their most popular yarn) means crayon in Japanese?  Silver Thaw makes me think of a winter woodland  full of birdsong just beginning to melt as the sun comes out after an ice storm.  Great imagery and fantastic yarns!

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.