PSA – you need your hobby.

In times of great stress you need your hobby.
If you’re expending great energies emotionally in other directions, the thing that will help ground you is your hobby. And some of you said “yeah, like she’s saying something I didn’t know”. And others will say…. “I needed that reminder”.

When life gets hard sometimes it’s easy to turn to TV or solitaire games on your phone. None of these things are wrong but for many, they are time passers and they’re not the things that help abate the stress. You’re just setting the stress aside so you can add to it tomorrow, or while you sleep.

I am all too aware that there are times that the act of picking up my knitting and placing it on my lap to work a few stitches can seem like the most monumental thing. And sometimes that heavy piece of knitting or crochet in my lap just sits there as I stare off into space. But it’s a piece of comfort in my lap. Sometimes having it there, I’ll only stare off into space for a little while and then I’ll get back to my stitches.

Sometimes choosing to work on a long term sweater spinning project is intense. I look at the 2lbs pile of fiber and think, there’s no way I can tackle that. When the key is that I only need to tackle that a few fibers at a time. I’m not required to spin that whole 2lbs right hecking now.

I started the MOJO Challenges to help with this and I gave a big challenge in the fall and I didn’t finish it. I mean, I’ve finished things since then and I have all but 4 ounces of the yarn spun for it. But I have worked on 12 other things in the mean time.

AND THAT’S OK.

So here’s the new challenge. Just do something. And if that something is something new, that’s fantastic. It’s ok to set aside a long term project and start something new.  Let me say that again, louder for those in the back. IT’S OK TO START A NEW PROJECT. If your something is finishing up an old project, that’s awesome too! Just keep at it and I’m hoping I hear less stressed out voices around social media and see a few more projects being worked on.

If you’re in need of an easy project. Something soothing. Head over to Ravelry and look in their pattern section. All the way to the bottom on the left hand side, there is a “difficulty” option.

And yes, sometimes just looking for a pattern can make you feel better so do something and let me know how it goes. On IG use the tag #Mojochallenge or link me.

 

 

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Shave Em 2 Save Em

Have you heard of this campaign by the Livestock Conservancy? Here’s their write up about it :
In our ongoing commitment to making it more profitable to raise heritage breeds, The Livestock Conservancy created the Shave ‘Em to Save ‘Em Initiative. It’s a program that will recognize fiber artists for using wool from breeds on our Conservation Priority List while connecting shepherds of heritage breeds with customers.

The Livestock Conservancy has long said that the way to save endangered breeds of livestock is to give them a job. In the case of wool sheep, we need to start using their wool again. Because of marketing challenges, some shepherds discard or compost the wool after their annual shearing rather than cleaning it and selling it. In addition to encouraging fiber artists to try using rare wools, the program also educates shepherds about how to prepare their wool for sale and how to reach customers and fiber artists, thereby making it more profitable to raise heritage breeds.

There’s groups on FB and on Ravelry.  You can chat and help each other find places that have the wool or yarn you want. There’s even a directory of providers. Spunky Eclectic is on that directory without Shetlands and CVM Romeldales. All you need to do is let me know you’re playing along and we’ll send you a sticker for your passport like the one above when your purchase qualifies.

Rules for playing along. I think the most important thing to note is that it’s going on now until December 2021. You have plenty of time to play along. I will be and I’ll keep posting updates.

I have my Shetlands and CVM sheep but I’ll definitely be  seeking out other sources. I love so many of the breeds on this list and there’s a few that I need to try so I’ll be looking when I head out to shows. I’m still waiting on my passport because I didn’t think I wanted to sign up. Truth is, I love spinning and why wouldn’t I want to play along?!?!

 

Here’s the first wool I’m working on. I’m making a sweater for Kate and that will be 2lbs of CVM so I figure that’s a good enough start, right? I have a little more spinning to do but this is my 30 minutes in the am spinning before my day gets started. I have no deadline and thankfully she’s patient… at the moment.

 

Next up might be Shetland from my flock or this…. It’s a pretty little Dorset Horn/Horned Dorset that I picked up at NH sheep and wool last weekend.

Filling up my passport already!

 

NOW….
I know it costs $15 to participate in this event. And I know that can be cost prohibitive to some especially considering you need to buy the wools to play along as well.  So here’s the deal. On Instagram, in the next couple of days, I’m going to post on my wall. 2 winners. I’ll sponsor your passport and you’ll get your first breed, Romeldale/CVM. One person will get Fiber and one will get yarn.  That way you will get a free passport to play and your first fiber to get started. The rest will be up to you.  If you already have a passport, you can gift all or part of your prize to someone else.  Ok, the rest of the details will be on Instagram in the next few days so pop on over and make sure you follow me.

Here’s me going on and on about this… aka, a new video:

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Sewing Panties

Let’s talk about our underthings for a moment. They ride up. They cut off circulation. They fall down…. this one really gets me ticked off. I’m working away and I can feel my panties falling down underneath my jeans half way down my bum. It’s maddening.

Now it’s no secret that I’ve gained some weight recently but my panties didn’t seem to be able to grow quite as much with me. I set about to make panties that I liked and would fit. I’ve done it before but it was when I was thinner and don’t remember feeling like I had as many requirements for my undies.

I bought a pattern from Wardrobe by Me called “Loved Yourself Hipster“. I didn’t want to draft my own because I usually draft my own items from things I already have that fit. Like I mentioned, the panties didn’t seem to grow well when my butt grew so I didn’t really have any that I liked the fit of. So I made a pair from Wardrobe by Me and then altered those and then a little touch more altering and I had my undies that fit.

Now…. let’s talk materials. This is an important… VERY important thing. For one thing you don’t want them to stretch out and not come back. You don’t want them to itch, and you want your cooch to breath. Yes, mine needs to be able to breath and I bet if you asked yours, it would want to breath too.

First, let’s look at bad materials:
The argyle material has no stretch. It’s awful. You need stretch or it will make your bottom half cry. The sparkly material will scratch up your everything. Seriously. Feel the material and rub it on your face to see what you think.  That santa material is adorable but it stretches out and doesn’t bounce back. It will be stretched and off your bum in no time.  Just look at how distorted these santas are:
Now, you could use the ones that will stretch enough to get on if you wanted to only wear them for a short amount of time “wink wink”. But they won’t make your bottom regions happy for a full days wearing.

These 2 fabrics are cotton with spandex. One thinner
one thicker.
Your cooch will be happier with these. Cotton breaths! The thin one would be better for summer wearing but still… both could be ok. Make a pair and listen to your front bottom. What does it say? Does it like this material?

Now, this is the material I ended up using.
It’s cheap and it really does actually feel snug and comfy on. It has one great flaw though. It doesn’t breath well. I made 7 pair of these and I’ve been happily wearing them. I do know that come summer when I sweat without moving a muscle that my lady business will be screaming and suffocating. So I will test out other materials but right now I really do love this synthetic double brushed jersey. It’s cheap, it comes in a ton of colors and its fun.

So that’s the materials in a quick nutshell. The next important part is about about the waistband and legs. What do I need for elastic. I find some elastics to be itchy as all get out so this is an important part.  So I set about with some experiments on leg and waistband treatments.

Fold over elastic?
Lingerie Elastic?
No Elastic?

Here’s my bum’s consensus on all of this (and the lady bits concur):
For the waist band, at this shape and size I find the lingerie elastic to be useless but the fold over elastic or the self made band, I do really like.

I should make a note that I have started to test out the more cottony fabrics and the self made band made from the same material stretches out too quickly in that material. Test your materials and the bands so you know what you can do.

For the leg bands; lingerie elastic is scratchy and itchy so I didn’t even do that one. I already know that’s a no go for me. The fold over elastic is overkill. The elastic lace is pretty but doesn’t add any security. That leaves just folding the edge over and doing a zig zag. It’s easy and cheap so most of my pairs ended up with that treatment.

Now I need to point out that if I was making bikini underpants instead of hipsters, that my results would be different. Because of the shape of this panty, it covers far enough down my sweet cheeks that I don’t need any extra elastic to keep it in place. It is also high waisted so I don’t need any extra strong elastic or prayers to keep it on my bum.

If I were to change the shape, I would likely need to change the findings. For now, the parts are all covered and comfy and we’ll just keep rocking on with this set of panties I’ve got until the summer heat starts making me too hot to handle or I outgrow this set.

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Getting SE ready for a show

This was a special request but I’m going to turn into a series. I talked a little bit about getting my planning done calendar wise and I mentioned that it takes me at least 6 weeks to prep Spunky Eclectic for a show. I never thought it would be of interest but maybe how I prep for everything can be of use to some one.

Here goes….

It really starts more then 6 weeks out. Years maybe. There’s a file on my computer with a gazillion photos and a list of color ideas. I might be over exaggerating and I might not be. Most of them are nature photos and yes a bunch are copyrighted. I’m not using the photo, it’s only for color inspiration. I might use all the colors or just some. Some have a notation with them that it’s just a single color in there I’d like to match some day.

I have to build a color wall.
I have a wall for fiber and a wall for sock yarn. I usually start dyeing the sock yarns since they all dye differently. Depending on the show, will depend on how much room I have for yarn and how I need to design my color palette. This is a 2 panel display for SPA and Revival. Every other show I can fit in a 3 panel display. I tend to only do 2 full color sets a year, spring and fall with a few new colors showing up here and there. So yes, you are seeing the spring set and this is all listed online. Since I have another panel being added for Maryland, there are 5 more colorways coming that won’t be released until May.

Anyway. Back to how this is built. I try to think of the range of colors I want and then using my lists and my photos. I will pull out colorway ideas for 14-20 yarns. This particular set started with 16 yarns.  There are 13 up there and another 3 that I didn’t release yet as I haven’t decided if they’re just one offs or going to be fall.

I come up with this detailed list and It’s not just colors noted, it’s pan or pot placement. I dye in several different ways and I’ll make notes in diagrams on my page so I’ll know what I need to do.

And by the end of dyeing the notes usually look like they’ve been through the ringer because I keep them at the dye table and sometimes have to make notes as I change something. If I’m smart I take a pic of my notes before I get started in case anything gets ruined (it has and I haven’t had a photo, always trying to learn)

I get my colors dyed out on one yarn base. I skein them up and look at them. Really look at them. I arrange, rearrange and start deciding. Sometimes I sub in an old colorway or two (anyone know what 1 old colorway made it into the line up here?). Then I decide based on the space that I have for a set up, which ones are going to be reproduced on all the yarn bases I’ve decided to dye. And I get to dyeing.

In between all that I’m also working on the fiber line to go up with it. The dyeing that works on yarn mostly works on fiber but not always. Splotches or speckly things (like the yarn left) don’t translate to fiber so I either do something else similar or drop that one from the fiber line. I decide which fibers are going up where in the booth and how much I have space for each… I make my notes and I add that into what I need to dye.

Somewhere in there I manage to put together the weaving and the knitting kits. I always kind of think of those things a little separate from the main dye wall. I mean, I like to bring kits and I need to have them but they’re a completely separate dye listing based on the colors that work with the knitted or woven item. They may or (most usually) may not be yarns that are in the line up for the show.

And also somewhere in there I pull together the pottery needed to bring to the show. Pottery is always being done but I will do a few extra sheepy things for the fiber shows. Pottery takes longer so it’s one of those slower always working away at it sorts of things that happens.

At the 1-2 weeks before event mark, I start to braid, hank and label. I use laundry baskets and I have them filled all over the shop just before a show. It’s nice to see them transform from unruly fibers and yarns to pretty hanks and braids.

A few days to just one day before the show, I pack up everything I need into the bins, boxes and bags. One day before the show, I play real life Tetris and I get all the booth set up and product for sale, packed into the truck. Everything (even for the 30×10 booths) fit into my one 1500 Silverado back seat and 6 foot bed with a standard cap. I think of a trailer sometimes but I have always liked Tetris.

oh yeah, somewhere in this time, based on the company, I order resell products that need to go in here. Spindles, combs, cards, looms, wheels, etc. I know I’m forgetting something else. There’s always something I even forget and don’t realize until I’m at the venue. It’s a little nutty but I’ve been doing shows of my own since 1997 and fiber since 2001.  And I say on my own because my parents did craft shows when I was growing up and I loved going with them.

And I made a video to go with all of this:

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2 ply

The most basic of plying. In my video for today I went over plying. Just the basics of plying a 2 ply on a wheel. You are taking 2 singles that you’ve spun (let’s say spun in Z direction) and you’re going to attach them back to the wheel and spin them in the other direction (so in this case S direction) .

Your wheel is move in which direction?
Z twist = Clockwise
S Twist = Counterclockwise

In the video I talk about how a general simple 2 ply is made and in some specific ways but if your way is different but works for you, keep going with your way. If your way doesn’t work or you want to try something different, then try this way.

Lazy Kate:
You can make a simple one with a basket and knitting needle but you might also have a manufactured one.

Either one works. The important thing is to have the lazy kate set behind and to the side of you. The movement I show in the video gives you the idea of why. If it’s an on board lazy kate like this, then you are pulling the yarn off the bobbins towards you then feeding it back to the wheel. If you can keep the lazy kate behind and to the size of you then you are just creating a straight line into the wheel. It helps the yarn to behave better.

So I attach the yarn to a fresh bobbin.
I start the wheel traveling in the direction I want and away I go! I keep the 2 threads separate in one and the other hand directs the twist for me. Spin Spin spin. One of the helpful things to many is once you find the twist amount you need, is to count the treadles. 1..2…3….4 treadles and I let the yarn go into the orifice. Over and over, check my twist, find my rhythm and then I can settle in to keep spinning away.

How do I know its the right twist? Well. Some of it is based on the yarn I’m making and my personal preferences. For me and the yarn I’m making here, I do a little plyback testing and look:

Too Little:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Too Much:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JUST RIGHT:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remember some of the twist settles out in wash and finish of your yarn. So for me, this is the exact way I want my yarn to look. It will still be balanced once it’s finished even if it doesn’t look so right now.

ok. y’all. Happy Spinning!

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Choose your Rigid Heddle Loom….

Notice this isn’t “Choosing a Loom”. I think if you want a big loom, you should get one and you should call a reputable dealer or a weaver and get some help. We all have opinions but it can help to talk to someone about what you want. Getting a big loom is different then a rigid heddle.

I also think rigid heddles aren’t necessarily a “starter loom”. They can be just that but they don’t need to be and you don’t need to start with a rigid heddle. You can start your weaving journey with a big loom if that’s what you want. You can start with a rigid heddle if that’s what you want.

I have all kinds of looms and I use them all. I really like my rigid heddles and I’ll do some other posts/videos to help you choose other looms but right now I wanted to start with Rigid Heddles. Partially because I’ve written this so many times and had it posted in a couple of different places. It might as well get posted once again.

When Twist Collective closed it’s doors, I made sure to have the download from their publication. I really like this version so I’m reposting it now, here:

Twist – Looming Decisions

That’s my article on choosing a rigid heddle loom but because this is what I do now… I’ve made a video to go with it as well. So below is my companion video to the article I wrote for Twist Collective and hopefully it will help you choose a loom.

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Getting some loft.

This blog post goes directly with the video. It’s not a direct transcript but it’s pretty close. Sometimes in video I do go on and on a bit more then I do in written word.

Let’s talk a little bit about getting a little more loft in our yarn. Now, a really lofty yarn can be made from roving but we can also use our lovely handpainted combed tops and get a little more loft in it. Meaning instead of spinning right from the tip and having a more dense yarn, I’m showing you a few tricks to get a little bit lighter yarn with your combed top.

Now, this isn’t about long draw. I’ll do that another time. This is about still using our short draw that I worked on this video. This about a few different tricks to make a little more loft.

Spinning from the fold. 
I’m breaking off a piece* and I’m going to do a special hold where I”m folding it over my index finger and gently holding it with my other 3 fingers and thumb.  I tease a bit off the tip of my finger and get it it going. I spin right from that. Now don’t give it a death grip. You want it to be a light hold.

Now, this jumbles up the fibers… that fold there. It gives you a bit of air and loft, simply by jumbling it up a bit. That fold is the trick. If you don’t find it comfortable to have your finger in there, that fold by itself and spinning from the side will help you get more loft.

Note that the loft doesn’t always show up just from the first yarn as you’re making it. So don’t expect to see magic on your bobbin. Sometimes it takes skeining it off and washing it to see that you have indeed added some loft to your yarn.

FauxLag – Fake Rolag
Break a piece of your fiber off – Open it up and fluff it out. Then roll it up and you’re going to spin from the end. Tease a bit off the end and that’s where we will spin from. You can see immediately that the fibers are more jumbled and that’s immediate loftiness right there!

You should note that this can change the color of what you are working on. You can see how I split it, that has 2 colors in the pieces, those colors will blend. It’s a great technique for blending. You can use this technique and keep separate colors but you will need to be careful and work at it.  I just wanted to throw that in there so no one was disappointed when they realized that this does do some crazy color blending.

*how big of a piece do you want? Well. Many will say that you only want one staples worth of fiber. But if you’re working with really short stapled fibers, that’s too little. So I generally go with what is comfortable in my hand. It’s still going to jumble things up even if you have 2-3 staples worth. Work with what works well for you.

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