Thursday, April 28, 2016

Another rainy day--a great time to work on the magazine article

Rain predicted any minute now and I'm excited. I snuck out early this morning and got the French fingerling potatoes in the ground. And I'm wondering why I didn't think to put in more kohlrabi and spinach seed. But I digress....

Rainy day means that I can catch up on several things inside. Like updating my Etsy shop with several new yarns. I've gotten the photos done, just need to tune them up in PaintShop, print out labels, write the descriptions and list the yarns. Some of the yarns need to re-skeined because I spun them at my southern studio and only had my small sample niddy noddy to wind them off and wash them. They look quite scrunched as little skeins!

I also need to finish spinning the Poppies yarns and another lavendar/purple/variegated top that's in the middle of the living room. A good time to binge-watch The 4400.

Then there's the work for the magazine article. There's sampling to complete, a prototype project to finish, and yarn to spin. This is the main focus for today, with the other chores scattered throughout the day to break up the work on the article. I find I can only keep my attention sharp for an hour or so at a time, so having a few projects to circulate keeps me on my toes for each of them. Well, that and a pot of coffee......

Be well and enjoy having today to play with.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Cotton spinning Down South

Here I am at the 'southern studio' again. On Monday I plied up the two charka spindles of cotton singles that I'd spun over the last week. Love this yarn and need to finish it up this week.

Yesterday morning I removed the tied-on scarf warps from the loom--what a shame to waste all those thrums but I just never get around to using them. Decided that I had time to put on the shawl warp before I had to leave for lunch with my cousin. This is what happens when you're away from all your tools and need to add 28 warp threads to a design:

And I almost jumped out of my skin while threading up the warp! It seems they're power-washing the entire complex. I had no idea they were working on my building until someone jumped onto my balcony! And I'm on the top floor so how the heck did he get up here? For a second I thought I was about to be burglarized until I saw his company shirt. The balcony is now sparkling clean and thank goodness he had the intelligence to not power-wash the balcony floor, as our half dozen planters are out there.

Somehow, on the way home from lunch yesterday, I accidentally stopped at the local yarn shop (Cottage Yarns) . Some very nice cotton yarn followed me back to the car and begged to be adopted. Except I have to go back for more as the summer top I want to make will require 2 more balls. 😀

Somewhere in between working on the cotton spinning, the shawl warp and the prototype for the next magazine article, I also managed to spin up two bobbins of wool singles. This is how I relax my brain from doing the must-do projects--I just spin some colorful wool to relax. I have an idea for plying these with other colors but haven't gotten there yet. Perhaps there will be photos later this week.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

What to do when a cold lays you low

Some time before the holidays I was rummaging around in my stash (which is extensive BTW) for something and came across six skeins of the old Aracuana Ranco Multi yarn. Matched up two colors and proceeded to knit a shawlette. Except I didn't like the colors in a shawlette so threw it in the Time Out Corner so it could decide what it wanted to be and would behave itself.

Earlier this week I decided it would be a Little Person's Cardigan, and so the designing commenced. This is the shawlette half unraveled:

And here's the beginning of the Cardigan:

Somehow that raspberry pink just wasn't working with all those colors in the shawlette, but the burgundy and pine green complement it nicely. I'm actually done with both sleeves--thanks to the snuffles and coughing and the reluctance to anything that requires braining--and am on to the body this afternoon.

I will now return to my binge-watching of MASH and knitting on the body and trim. Have a great day!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Quote of The Day

“When a toxic person can no longer control you, they will try to control how others see you. The misinformation will feel unfair, but stay above it, trusting that other people will eventually see the truth, just like you did”.
Jill Blakeway

This describes a lot of people who have been in--and then been pushed out of--my life. Several of them do not eventually see the truth, but that's not my circus nor my monkeys. And that's all I have to say for today.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

The true cost of participating in a sheep-to-shawl competition

In a conversation recently, the question was asked about how much it costs to participate in a sheep-to-shawl competition. I thought it was an interesting puzzle as I’d never really written anything down.

A team is usually 5 people—weaver, 3 spinners, and a shearer/carder. Our team does not own sheep nor is anyone a shearer, so we have to find a shepherd and pay their vet fees to certify that the animal is disease-free. Shearers run in the neighborhood of $150 for the 10-15 minutes it takes to denude a sheep PLUS the time they spend driving to/from the event, the hour before the event and a few hours afterwards so that, if their team wins, they are present for the photos and the auction of the shawl.

The entry fee for the competition $10-30. Most of the above fees/costs are covered by our guild. The auction proceeds also go to the guild to offset the vet/entry/shearer fees, and the auction price can range from $600-$3,000 depending on the event venue and design of the shawl. So our guild can reasonably expect to receive at least $300. From that, they pay each team member $35 to help defray our travel/hotel costs, leaving the guild with at least $125 in profit. However, this does not take into account the costs incurred by the individual team members. This year’s breakdown for the team in which I was a member was roughly:

Days Inn, 4 rooms for 2 nights, $125 each (some family came
                to assist with hauling equipment)                                                 $   500
Gas for 4 vehicles to/from the event, $50 each                                                 200
Costumes, 5 members (we purchased the shearer’s
                costume for her), $37 each                                                               185
Practice fleeces (we went through 3 in 6 months), ~$60 each                          240
Food at the event, 4 people for 3 meals, about $40/person                              160
Display (required by the venues)--historic photos, graphics, yarn                    120

Total spent by the team to participate                                                           $1,405

That comes to an average of $351 per person (weaver & 3 spinners)! So our guild receives a profit of at least $125 and each team member spends roughly $350 out-of-pocket to participate in the competition. Wow! I never realized until I wrote it all out just now. And most of those costs are not negotiable. You must have lodging/food/gasoline and a display. A team could possibly cut down on the cost of practice fleeces if they know someone with appropriate fleece that they'd contribute free of charge, but that would only save the team $240.

I often wonder if people realize that, in addition to the work involved in designing a shawl around an appropriate theme and making the 2 shawls (a sample shawl is always required by the venue), there is SO MUCH MORE that team members do to make it a successful trip.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Harmony Fiber Art Festival--Shameless self-promotion

Looking for something interesting to do on Saturday, June 13? The town of Harmony is holding a series of events that day for their Spring Fest. There's a plant sale, roving musicians, food trucks, kids' activities, and more. And there will be a first-ever fiber festival!

I'm sharing a spot with my friend Sue and we've been working hard and fast to make scrumptious accessories for you. Sue specializes in handwovens while I'm the spinner/knitter, so there will be plenty of scarves, shawlettes, hats and even some handspun yarn for those who want to make it themselves. Handspun, handwoven pieces are generally one-of-a-kind or one of only a few produced by the artist, so investing in one of these pieces is a special opportunity. And handmade accessories generally are warmer and last longer than items from those big box stores. Treat yourself to a special piece of art!

You can find our booth in the Center of Harmony building, upstairs and in the middle of the room. And if you're interested in supplies for your own crafting endeavors, I'm sure you'll find something among the other booths--there's weaving, spinning, knitting, crochet supplies. There will also be demonstrations of many of these crafts to whet your appetite for getting involved. We all need something to do during those dreary winter months, right?

A sampling of what I'm bringing to the festival:

Handspun, handwoven scarves

Handspun handknit cowl

The back of the gradient shawlette
A shawlette in gradient-colored handspun

Pillbox hat knit with my handspun

A slouchy beanie that can also be worn as a regular tossle cap

A lacy tam/slouch beanie in handspun yarn

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Sweden--the Vasa Museum

Once upon a time there was this Swedish king who felt that for political reasons, he needed to flex his muscles show the world the power and might of his reign. So he commissioned a mighty ship, covered with meaningful carvings and equipped with 64 canon able to fire from the 64 gun ports along the ship's sides. It was launched on 10 August 1628 from Stockholm harbor, caught a gust of wind and heeled over but righted herself. The second gust of wind did her in, water rushing in the gun ports flooded her decks and took her down with most of the crew and guests. You can read the full story here

When we walked into the room, I stopped dead. I have never been so awe-struck over anything including the birth of my two boys. By way of explanation, my father was a master carpenter and I love wood and wood carving. This ship was covered with marvelous intricate carvings, every one of which had meaning--either of royal might or royal lineage or royal benevolence.

And the original carvings were painted!

The stern today

The stern as it would have appeared in 1628

They didn't have acrylic paints so used ground minerals and salts mixed with oils and any substances they needed to preserve the color.

They found about 15 bodies under the ship, some of the clothing, and many of the day-to-day objects needed for life aboard a ship in 1628. I discovered a glove liner that was created using nalbinding. No photo because the museum is kept on the dark side to preserve the objects, and flash photos help to speed the deterioration of those objects.

And I leave you with this..... the ship was certainly a testament to his power.