Posts Tagged ‘natural’

22
Feb

Fair Projects for 2015

Posted under Charity, Crochet, Knitting, Life, Models, Paper Crafting, Sewing and Quilting, Woodworking No Comments

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It’s getting to be the time of year when you’ve got to start thinking about what projects you’re going to be making for your county and state fairs. Ideally you’d start too as working right up to the deadline is never fun, though it seems to happen more often than I’d like!

So far, most of my projects are rather bland looking, but I promise there are colorful projects coming too!


natural colored projects

Here we have a lace baby sweater which will ultimately be part of a three-piece set, a knit lace doily, and a crochet lace bag all in progress.

I’ve also been working on filling the first of three bobbin lace pillows I’m making for myself. I really enjoy the bobbin lace beginners kit I got for Christmas, but the failings of a beginner ‘pillow’ are more than apparent. I done some research on the best and longest lasting bobbin lace pillows and how they’re made. Then, I presented this information to my physical therapist and we worked out a stand set up to prevent any undue stress on my body. Now I’m building that stand and pillow set up! This is the first pillow in progress.

bobbin lace pillow stuffing

 

Kaia seemed rather displeased with my pillow stuffing as a few bits of straw landed on her in her bed!

dog with straw

The pillows are filled with natural straw cut into 4″ or shorter pieces. Cutting the straw is a painful and dull process, and stuffing the pillows is painful and slow going as a result, but when they’re done, I’m going to have fantastic traditional bobbin lace pillows, a standard 24″ cookie pillow and a more rectangular pillow with a roller in the back for making yardage. The pillow above is the roller that will go into the rectangular pillow. The exterior is a natural canvas material sewn into a tube with drawstrings on either end. Inside, there is a dowel running the length and I have two discs cut from 1/4″ plywood. One disc is already in place at the bottom of the pillow and the other will go in just before cinching up the other drawstring. The dowel sticks out a few inches on either side which is how it will connect to the support pillow.

The last big WIP keeping me busy lately is a paper craft project. Some friends asked me to make a 4′ tall LEGO minifig as a decoration for a Boy Scout party in March. After that party, the gigantic LEGO man will be a county and state fair entry for me before finally being sold to the highest bidder to fund some new LEGO sets for me! The main framework of the minifig is cardboard sheeting from Costco. Some of guy pal’s friends from work taught me how to use anti-fatigue mat foam to create the complex curves and gave me some foam to use for the project. Atop the cardboard and foam frame is paper maché. This will create a surface I can sand to a perfect finish. With the glossy paint a LEGO minifig has, any imperfections in the body will show. That’s why I’m doing the paper maché coating. There will likely be some spackle to help fill any gaps prior to sanding as well. Here’s the first two pieces being coated in paper maché, the head (which is upside down in this photo) and one of the arms. They’re the most curvy pieces and thus require the most paper maché to get perfectly smooth.

LEGO head and arm WIP

 

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01
Mar

New Month, New Projects

Posted under Life, Sewing and Quilting, Spinning No Comments

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It’s officially the first of the month, though I’ve got to say as I’ve not slept yet it’s feeling a lot like February still. I am taking advantage of the time I need to stay up to make sure the laundry gets done so I’ve got work shirts tomorrow. The Craft Yarn Council just changed up my class offerings in a big way, so I’ll be doing a demonstration tomorrow looking for class signups and working on some of the new samples. Tomorrow looks like it’ll be pom pom rug making day.

I started spinning a wonderful single of natural colored BFL wool which will become a 2-ply light fingering weigh yarn for my mom to knit into a scarf for my grandmother. I’d spun some yarn before, but as a DK weight yarn, I’m afraid it’ll be too thick and warm for her to wear in Southern California. Thanks to my new electric spinner, I’m almost done with the first ply, about 45 grams of wool if I recall correctly. Not too bad for a quick evening spin!

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When I needed to get up to change the laundry, the yarn kept coming undone when I wrapped it around my flyer like normal. It’s not the most wonderful way to hold the yarn when you have to get up, but sometimes it works. Then I thought about the package of new clamps I’d just ordered sitting right beside my wheel. Perfect. They’re just easy enough to open without sacrificing clamping power for me to be in love with them. Then as an added bonus? I find out the reinforced nylon handles weigh just enough to keep the very high twist yarn from untwisting under the weight of the clamp on the platform. I clipped the yarn into the clamp and then just set the clamp down. You can’t get an easier and more foolproof way of setting your spinning aside! I’ll definitely be keeping one of these guys in my spinning supply box from now on. I’ll post a full review of the new clamps too once I get to try them on my woodworking, but I figured you guys would love to see my new spinning solution!

Then, since I just tossed my work clothes into the dryer, I figured I’d get some fabric I bought last week into the wash so I can cut it up and get sewing. My physical therapist has a small pillow which we use every week under my shoulder because I can’t lay flat on my back on a hard surface without something under my right shoulder. The pillow in question here is an airline pillow that was stolen ages ago and is starting to really show it’s age in the fragile from the start blue cover. It’s just falling to shreds. So I’m going to make a pair of washable covers for his extra positioning pillow!

Here’s the fabric I picked out for him.

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The black with glow-in-the-dark skeleton fabric will be for the body of the pillow. Then, for the border along the open edge, I found this wonderful black and white grid which to me looks a lot like graph paper. I think it’s the perfect combination. We’ve got the anatomical organic shapes from the human body and it’s infinite complexity mixed with the rather stark, mathematical grid of the relatively nonsensical numerical grades and measurements for everything to keep insurance companies happy. Sure, it’s a little deep for a pillowcase, but I’m thrilled with it so far. It can only get better from here. Plus, it looks like I should have enough fabric leftover to make a cover for my equivalent little pillow at home and maybe a couple ice pack covers for me too! Sometimes little treats like a goofy ice pack cover can make all the difference on a high pain day.

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27
Feb

A lucky bit of color

Posted under Free Patterns, Knitting, Spinning, Techniques No Comments

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I’ve become hooked on knitting with my own handspun yarns to such an extent that I can usually control myself in a yarn store, even one with great sales. Now a fiber shop? I’m in trouble. I look at a big bump of top and think, “What do I want to make? A bulky weight hat? How about a lace shawl?” I love the freedom to take a fiber I like and literally make anything with it.

Last summer when my grandmother was visiting, we bought some natural colored BFL top which I spun. I wasn’t nearly so good of a spinner back then and have improved immensely since then, but my 3 ply sport weight yarn is at least usable. I knit up a bit into a cute little toy mouse as one of my Ravellenic Games projects. This little guy earned the Bobsled, Toy Tobogganing, Stash Skeleton, and Single-Skein Speed Skate medals.

As I knit him, I couldn’t believe how lucky I was. The heathered yarn is mostly just that, a heathered yarn, but thanks to my pre-drafting and the chain plying technique, there are periodic sections of yarn that are solid white and very few that are solid brown. The handspun yarn turned white at exactly the right spot to make a lighter colored face on my mouse! I couldn’t have planned that if I’d tried!

When it came time for a face, I wanted to maintain the handspun feel of the mouse, so I headed over to my loom and cut off a bit of the remaining black handspun warp from the rainbow bag fabric I wove. Hooray for not yet cleaning up my loom!

To stuff the mouse, I used some lower quality wool I had and mixed in a few pinches of dried organic catnip. It felt so, so strange to be mixing in vegetable matter into my wool when I spend so much time trying to get it out normally! Even though I did load this mouse up on catnip and make his tail short for kitty safety, I just love his lucky face so much. I think I might have to keep him and make grandma’s cat another one from the same yarn. This one is just too cute to end up lost under the refrigerator! Looks like he’s headed to the shadow box of handmade mini critters instead of a lifetime of kitty breath, teeth, and claws.

For those wanting to try out the mouse pattern themselves in whatever yarn you’ve got some scraps of, handspun or not, the pattern is available for download free on Ravelry here. It’s made entirely in one piece and works up rather quickly as a result. The ears were an interesting technique and one I’ve not done before, so go check it out! The ears are actually cast on and then drawstring tied up. This requires you to cut your yarn leaving a very long tail for completing the knit and carefully using that very long tail on a tapestry needle. It sounds complex, but when you get to that point in the pattern it feels shockingly natural. Plus, worst case scenario and you get stuck? A large bobble would work just as well!

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11
Feb

Handspun BFL to FO

Posted under Knitting, Spinning No Comments

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I ended up only spinning about half, or 2 oz, of the BFL from January ‘s spinning study group. I ultimately decided that the BFL we sourced was just too full of VM for my tastes and it wasn’t worth the effort to try to clean, card, and spin it into a lacy yarn. I’d originally planned on spinning 2 bobbins each with 2 oz and plying them for a lace weight 2 ply yarn. Instead, I chain plied my one bobbin which gave me about 200 yards of a light fingering weight yarn with about 16 WPI.

I hate having my handspun yarn just sit around and collect dust, so I started looking for a suitable project immediately. I settled on some fingerless mitts. They’re absolutely lovely. Here’s some photo highlights! They’re so light and airy it’s crazy!

The most important thing I learned about spinning came while knitting the yarn into mitts rather than while spinning the yarn. I’d started with a washed but still not super clean fleece and carded it by the handful into rolags to spin. In randomly grabbing wads of fleece to card, I’d grabbed some cleaner and some dirtier sections of wool. This caused some subtle color variations in the finished yarn that doesn’t wash out because dirt is so tightly spun into the yarn. It is most noticeable in this photograph. See the horizontal line across the finished mitt juat above where the thumb separates off?

Next time I’ll have to run the wool through the cards twice. Once to clean it up and get it untangled from the locks it came in, and once to jumble up bits from rolag to rolag so that I get a more uniform finished yarn color! Even with the color variation, I am really looking forward to taking these with me to my spinning study group meeting for February! I’m in awe of the idea that only a month ago these beautiful, light and lacy fingerless mitts were just a large handful of filthy wool from a sheep named Poppy. It’s magical.

 

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10
Jan

Spinning Study Group

Posted under Spinning No Comments

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On the second Thursday of each month, I’m lucky enough to get to join a spinning study group at Table Rock Llamas. The ladies in the group are wonderful and I’ve learned so much just being around them. Almost every month, we have a dedicated thing to work on learning. Two months ago, we had a workshop taught by a study group member on how to spin coil or beehive yarn. Here’s my beehive yarn from November being modeled by my older dog, Sketcher.

In December we just goofed off and held a gift exchange. I ended up with something I had no idea I needed so badly, a yarn bowl! I’ve been using it non-stop since I got it and I’m considering getting one made from the same local artisan for holding two separate balls so I can use it for fair isle work, particularly as I’m planning at least two stranded projects for my county and state fair entries this year. If you haven’t tried a yarn bowl, you need to!

As for this month? We did a study of Blue Faced Leicester wool. Blue Faced Leicester is pronounced “blue faced lester,” and commonly referred to as just BFL. BFL is a fantastic fleece for the handspinner. It’s got a magnificent crimp and shines almost as though it contains silk. BFL is known for it’s luster. BFL is considered a longwool and the narrow locks range from 3-6 inches on average. The wool I’m spinning today has some variance but lends itself toward the long end of the spectrum. While the wool is rather soft and could be worn against the skin, I’ve gotten a bit spoiled with affordable Merino wool top and if I’m going to really splurge like I had to on the BFL, I’d rather just save a bit longer and snap up a bag of cashmere or higher micron count Merino than I usually buy.

The shop owner where we hold our meetings bought two BFL sheep fleeces for us and washed them. Here’s the view into my sack of BFL after today’s spinning. I’ve got a ton left to card and spin. Just look at that shine though! Wow!

Washed BFL

Members of the study group could buy as much as they wanted for $4 an ounce. That’s a lot more than I usually pay for sheep’s wool, but it was a matter of wanting to spin with the rest of the group.  I’ve spun BFL before, so it wasn’t a huge deal, but I’m very, very glad I splurged on some of this local wool from a sheep named Poppy! (my donkey’s name is also Poppy) BFL is fairly uncommon in our area so fleeces command a higher price. I ended up buying 4oz. That’s about as little as I ever buy of any spinning fiber because 4oz provides plenty of freedom to decide how to spin the yarn and a multitude of possible projects. I could make a lace shawl, a pair of fingering weight socks, or a worsted hat. The only time I buy less than 4oz is when I buy little bitty 1/3oz bumps of fiber for spinning hexipuffing yarn, but that’s for another post.

Given the high crimp of the BFL in our study group fleece and the burning desire I’ve had to try out the Majacraft lace kit my brother D got me for Christmas this year, I opted to spin my BFL into a lace weight yarn which will then most likely end up knit into a shawl of some sort depending on the finished yardage. Due to the quantity of vegetable matter in the wool even after washing, spinning is a bit slow. I’m carding my wool into woolen rolags and picking as much VM from the wool as I can both while carding and while spinning. With the high crimp and the wool’s luster it is working up to be a fantastic fine thread of a single even if it is slow going due to the relatively dirty wool.

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I will later ply this, likely a chained 3 ply, to make a finished lace yarn. I will probably also dye this fiber as I’d like to see first hand how the BFL takes up dye. I’ve heard good things about BFL’s receptivity toward acid dyes and that the wool’s natural luster makes the colors shine from within.

 

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