I like mixing my own paints much the same as I like mixing my own dyes. I like coming up with new colors even if it means I’m not likely to reproduce them. In watercolors its especially fun to play around with mixing and come up with browns…without using brown.

Or greys with out using black.

Of course the standbys that are already premixed for you are easier but it’s fun to see what unique ones you can come up with when you do a little mixing. Sometimes when I want to paint but I don’t have anything in mind, I just start making dots of full color and blending them together to see what I get.

This relates to what I do as a fiber dyer too. Sometimes I forget how quickly things can turn brown. Or what if I want a new brown or a new grey. All of this mixing helps me to make new dye colors too.

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Lasers are dangerous

If you don’t like swearing or lady parts – exit now. I’m not censoring this post.

Shaving constantly is not fun. So not fun that I often let my hair grow on the legs and just leave it. It gets to the point where it catches fiber and is necessary to be removed to not walk around like a rainbow Sasquatch. I started to look into alternatives that might be more permanent. Laser treatments is what I came up with and asked my darling husband, Jay, to help keep an eye out for Salons that have Groupons that could cut the costs of treatments. Treatments are pricey but come on, no more razors? Smooth legs? No more pits or bikini zone shaving bumpies? I’m willing to give up other things in the budget to make this happen.

Yesterday Jay said I had a Valentines surprise. Yes, he knows what month it is, that’s part of the surprise. This thing is what showed up:
Cute right? Unassuming and sweet. It is a home laser hair removal kit from Tria He found some kind of coupon deal that made this little machine a smarter bet than going to a salon. I also don’t have to try to make appointments. I can provide my own torture in the comfort of my home.

Now. I’m normally a jump and ask questions later kind of girl but this time I read the directions. Look at me being all grown up and following instructions! There’s 5 settings. The instructions say to start at the lowest and test it out. ok. I can do this. My hand is easily available so lets do this. 1….didn’t feel a thing. skip to 3….didn’t feel a thing. Skip all the way to 5…..didn’t feel a thing. hmmmm….

Jay is watching the whole time and has suggested that maybe it’s not working. I say “Nooooo…it says it is” The little window says it’s working as it should be. But maybe not. I pull my pants down and make ready to attack the bikini line. Now this is the bane of all my shaving. I’ve worn shorts in the pool just so I didn’t have shave this line. I don’t wanna wear shorts, I wanna wear my regular bathing suit without looking like I’m smuggling a badger! This thing has to be working….keeping the setting at 5, I pop it at the edge of the bikini line.


I jumped about about 3 feet, tossed the laser and started dancing around with my jeans around my knees.
Jay is laughing his butt off and reaching for his phone to take video. He didn’t get it in time so don’t bother asking. Then he asked if I was going to do it again so this time he could get it on video. He’s laughing too hard to actually get the phone up and steady – I wasn’t going to recreate this disaster. At least not with him watching. By this time I was laughing too because obviously, even though I read the directions, I’m still a jump first and ask questions later kind of gal. wheee!

I ended up doing another test and 3 is about right for the bikini zone. Ya know, in case you were wondering. Shave free by summer 2015 is still my goal. I can do this thing.

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Let’s talk Fair Isle

In the Spunky Club Ravelry group, we’re doing an along for Fair Isles. Spin it and then knit it. It doesn’t need to be a sweater or anything huge. It just needs to be handspun and use fair isle. There are so many patterns available. For experienced spinners and knitters picking out a pattern may be the tough part. For others it might be spinning the yarn or picking out proper colors. That’s what this posting is going to be about.

Spinning good yarn for fair isle.

What do you want to get out of your finished piece? Do you like the hazy watercolor look of some fair isles or do you want your pattern to be very defined? Watercolor looks comes from fluffy yarn. This could be light singles or plied yarn that is soft plied and just fluffy. You know the yarn I’m talking about right? It’s airy, it’s fluffy, you want to snuggle it and you can just tell it’s not going to make a very defined stitch. it has it’s place and that place may be in your fair isle if you want a hazy look.

If you want good definition then you need to work with something that is rounder and more defined. Think of a tightly plied 2 ply or a nice round 3 ply. That’s not to leave out singles entirely. Many fair isles use Jamiesons Spindrift which is a single. If you have ever looked at this yarn you know it’s not just any single. It’s fairly tightly spun and fulled. I’m actually going to make a replica of this yarn for my sweater. I don’t have samples yet but I will show you later when I do.

Here’s a couple of swatches:
The large one is lightly spun singles, the other is a tightly spun 3 ply. Check out the difference in stitch definition!

Picking out colors for your fair isle:
Some of these techniques might be hard to do if you’re looking at colors online. If you’re ordering from me (and I’m sure other indie dyers are the same way) you can, and SHOULD, message me with your intent. I can custom dye something or help make sure that your fiber will work in your fair isle.

That said, let’s look at some fair isles.
Neutral vs a crazy color.
This is probably an easy one to see how it will work out. I was still a little worried about the darker spots in the “Standing Stones”. I can squint and get the overall idea of how it will work. If I split these colors lengthwise a whole bunch and ply them into 2 or three plies, they colors will be more homogenized so that will help. Squint. Can you see it working? I might need to do a small test spin just to be sure. I dyed this up for either a Couronne or an Akebia.

Here’s the thing. The Couronne has big patterning that help make it so I don’t have to be so specific. I could even do a moderately spin single for that and have the pattern pop. Akebia needs a little more stitch definition to make the design pop and make me happy.

Let’s move on to the sweater I think I’m actually going to spin for this along. Venezia. I’m going to do a progression for the background and either white or “Oatmeal” for the design. BTW, I custom did my colorway for this and if you want to make a Venezia or something custom using a progression, message me on the business site for that as well. So let’s take a look at the fiber with the Oatmeal.
And with the white.
Here’s a camera trick that helps to see how the colors work….B/W
You can see how the brightest blue at the end doesn’t work so well with the Oatmeal but the white is fine, as one would expect. It might end up working out ok with the blue as the Oatmeal has some lighter spots and sometimes in fair isle there are blurry sections. I could spin and swatch or I can go with the white from the get go. Stay tuned.

Oh, and I greyed out the Mandy/Standing Stones sample
It mostly works out. Depending on how I spin it up or if I get rid of the darker spots in the Standing Stones, this could be wonderful.

If you aren’t a member of our group already, join us and we’ll all help you make a terrific fair isle.

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Andean Plying over a book.

In my book and my Craftsy class I showed how to set up an Andean plying bracelet. For many it’s just not comfortable. An alternative is use popsicle sticks and a book. Here’s my example using my daily journal and a couple of our tongue depressor WPI gauge business cards:

I put a couple of rubber bands to help keep the book closed
I started the yarn by holding my end in one of the rubber bands and
then worked it just like you would if it were on your hand.
Loops sitting on top of loops.
My journal cover is a soft leather and the yarn stuck to it a bit so try to use a book that has a smooth cover that will make it easy to pull of your threads to ply.

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Rhinebeck Sweater

I’m 90% sure that I’m going to make it to Rhinebeck this year. We’re building a new shed for the sheep and I have to have that done before I can go. I can’t waste a single weekend. Now, I would never say Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool is a wasted weekend but when you need to get a building built before snow flies, the rules change.

In anticipation of getting everything built and sheep moved in quickly, I’m going to work on my Rhinebeck sweater. All that know me might have realized that I’m a glutton for punishment. Normally I’d start a brand new sweater a week or two before Rhinebeck and bust my butt to finish it. Now, we’re not super close to Rhinebeck so that may still happen but my time is really at a premium these days so I’m declaring a half finished sweater as my Rhinebeck sweater. Right now….This is the sweater that I’ll make for Rhinebeck:

This sweater uses Less is More for the coloring but the pattern is based on Driftwood. I have the body done. I need to do the neck and the sleeves. I think it’s reasonable to think I can manage this in time without taxing myself.

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The Sheep

Some people know I got sheep recently. I hadn’t necessarily planned on getting them until the spring but they happened to arrive early is all. I was out snapping some photos for the weaving club a few weeks ago and I took pictures. I thought I’d share a few so you could meet my girls (and boy)

This is most often how I see them. Eating.
Unlike our goats, these guys nap inside. When they’re out, it’s all about food. And they can’t be tricked. They see me….
I know they’re looking to see if I have the grain bucket in hand.
Good lord. She doesn’t have the grain bucket and I don’t think that thing in her hand is edible. uh…..
We should bolt.
I see a lot of sheep butt.

They have improved and will eat grain out of my hands but they won’t come over to just get pets. They’ve been with us long enough that they’re out of quarantine but they haven’t moved in with the goats yet. We plan to build a bigger enclosure in the next couple of months so hopefully soon they’ll all be hanging out together. Maybe the goats can tell them how nice we are.

PS: They’re CVM/Romeldales. I’m hoping to pick up a ram this fall and maybe in a couple of years we’ll have babies.

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Spinning yarns

I make yarns. Did you know that? It might not be super evident because I seem to go on a lot about painting and such lately. I promise you I still make a lot of yarn and I have a few things to show for it.

First. I made a class with Craftsy.
It’s called Foundations of Spinning
So many yarns were made and a lot of work was put into that thing. It was a great experience and I’m so happy to hopefully be teaching more people than I can in my limited engagements here and there.

Next, I completed the TdF spinning all the days I was supposed to, even if it was just a little bit. I have a few yarns to show for it.

Mostly, right now, I’m working on a commissioned project and putting together samples for new classes. I’ve had some great impulses to put together new classes and of course they all need sampling or swatches. As everything comes together and things aren’t a secret anymore, I’ll show you.

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