Tuesday, December 30, 2008
"The Godinger motto is, "customer first". Our aim is to focus on the unique demands of every customer, and to aggressively fulfill those needs. Our excellent customer service is what allows us to retain and grow our loyal customer base."
Really? In what alternative universe are you known for your customer service? Not here, not in my house right now. All I wanted to know was how to clean off the salt shaker so I could use it and learn how to care for it in the future. Godinger Silver is a lesson to me in how I will never treat a customer of mine. I may not be able to solve your problem, but at least I won't tell you that it's not my department and shove you off onto someone else.
All of which leads me to an small announcement. If you have purchased a copy of my Red Dog Redux Shawl pattern, please be aware that I've made some small changes to make the lace pattern easier to follow. If you're interested in receiving the clarifications, please contact me at feistywoman AT verizon DOT net.
Thank you all for being wonderful customers, wonderful friends and loving family this past year. May all your needs be met and may you enjoy good health, good friends and much love in the coming year.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Last month, I decided that I really needed to concentrate my efforts if I was going to complete the COE-Handspinning work for Level I. While in the Netherlands last year I did much of the research, but still have several in-depth research presentations to finish. Although I've done some of the spinning, I really need to start producing finished sample skeins to complete the 40 that are required. These are not projects that I can pick up and work on for 20-30 minutes but need my full attention. And all of it needs to be packaged in a certain way and sent off for the examination in October 2009. So this is my New Years resolution--I'll be devoting much less time to my Etsy shop and saleable items and spending several hours each day finishing up the research and samples for the examination. I'll still be teaching at the shop because I so enjoy enabling others, but I need to buckle down and get this done. I've already learned so much and refreshed my memory of spinning basics by doing the research. I'll be blogging about the work as it gets done and putting up photos, because I think this learning experience could benefit many of the spinners I know.
For those who observe the holiday (and those who don't, too!), I wish for you lots of yarn and fiber in your stocking, many happy hours of knitting, good health, and the love of those around you.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
New addition to the shop today--It's Only Natural neckwarmer and mitts set:
And early tomorrow I'll be posting this handspun/commercial wool scarf:
This August I worked a shift at my CSA in exchange for $30 worth of produce. Silly me figured that it it's free I should take a bunch of apples and cabbage. The apples came home in September and I made tons of applesauce, apple butter and dried apples (great in hot oatmeal!). In early October I picked up a case of cabbage and we shredded and packed it in 2 crocks to ferment into saurkraut. (I'm of German descent and there's nothing better than a good wurst, potatoes and homemade kraut with a cold beer.) Last weekend the kraut was done and we proceeded to can it. I had 12 quart jars left and figured that was plenty--HA! After all 12 were packed solid, I still had 2/3 of the last crock left! We packed the rest into every plastic freezer bag we had. We figured we had a total of 24 quarts of saurkraut. Yep, 24 quarts! So we started calling friends and family to rescue us. We've managed to give away enough to ease our storage problem, but I've got saurkraut enough for the next 2 years. We have decided that 50# of cabbage was....ummm.....just a tad too much saurkraut. What WAS I thinking?
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
I’d planned to use some of my own combed top with the Whirligig Yarns dyed alpaca, and I chose the wrong colors for it! Well, not the ‘wrong’ colors as there really ARE no wrong colors, but the wrong colors for the end product I was trying to achieve. Here’s the waaay too bright yarn—
And here’s the waaay too bright yarn being stripped off the spinning wheel bobbin so it can be un-plied and respun onto the bobbin. It's a good thing that the cats had gone outside to climb the apple tree--they think I do these things just for their amusement.
And then I had to spin another color that would be closer to what I wanted and ply the alpaca with it. It took me the better part of an entire day to unply, respin, spin and re-ply the yarn. The first successful skein is finished, so it’s onward to spinning the second skein the next few days, washing both of them to remove spinning and hand oils and give the alpaca a little ‘bloom’, and then they go onward to the next craftsperson. Check back to see what happens….
Sunday, November 9, 2008
I’ve just started spinning it, and it’s just lovely to work with. The colors when spun up are clear and change frequently and the color changes are subtle which is just perfect for the end use. I’ll be combining this with some of my own fiber and will hopefully get about 600-700 yards of sportweight yarn. I’ll be posting photos of the yarn being spun and the final plied and washed yarn. And at some point we should be seeing the finished product. I already know where the yarn is going and she’s a wonderful artist, but you’ll have to wait to see what she does with my yarn!
And on another topic completely, Pitt tromped all over Louisville yesterday, Penn State was beaten by Iowa (snort, chuckle), and the Steelers are set to beat the Colts today at 4:15 EST. Life is good…..
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Monday, October 13, 2008
New bikes--All ready to hit the bike trail Monday morning, and my front tire begins to peel off the rim. We find out the hard way that only Schwinn tires will fit their bikes, there are NO OTHER tires that will fit and there are NO dealers in the entire state. So we went bicycle shopping and bought 2 new bikes from Free Spirit Adventures in Caldwell. Amazing how many improvements have been made to bicycles since I purchased mine in 1990. They actually have comfortable seats now!
Cass Scenic RR--Since we couldn't ride on Monday we
headed to Cass to see the sights as it had been closed for the season last time we visited. Took a ride up the mountain on the Shay engine (not your usual steam locomotive) and visited the museum to see what this old company logging was like in its hayday.
Greenbriar River Trail--Not the most well-known bike trail (which is why we like it), this is a well-maintained trail for bikers, joggers and horseback riders. It's 76 miles long and we did over half that distance. Photos show hubby and I on the north end of Sharps Hill Tunnel. We'd have mid-morning coffee each day at Dirtbean Hale, pack a lunch and head out on the trail.
Highland Scenic Road--We drove the section that's Rte 150 from the Cranberry Mountain Nature Center to the intersection with Rte 219 near Elk River. I'll let the photos speak for the drive....
Fog rising from the valley on Saturday morning--
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Monday, September 29, 2008
If you've purchased this patten from me, please get in touch and I'll be happy to send you a revised copy. I can be reached at carol (underscore) mcfadden (at) verizon (dot) net--replace the words in parentheses with the appropriate symbols. In the meantime I'll be going through my records for customers who bought this pattern and sending them a new one.
On another front, I've been busy spinning up the recent purchases and posting some of my new sock fiber on etsy. The most recent additions are American Beauty (looks just like the rose when spun up) and Sweet Peas......
I love that sheep, don't you? He was a very-much-appreciated gift from a good friend who understands me only too well. Speaking of sheep, I'd also like to report that No. 55 (the speed-limit sheep from the mattress company commercials) is quite happily hanging out with his kin here at my house. Thanks, guys!
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Monday, September 8, 2008
Then we were off to northern parts to take our nephew to the bookstore and the ice cream shop for his birthday presents. Unfortunately, he's recovering from a nasty cold and had developed a bit of a fever by the time we left the bookstore so we took him home. Fortunately, he was entranced with his 2 books on sports cars and motorcycles, both of which have wheels (who knew that books on vehicles were now driveable?). I have to admit, the sports car book was something I pushed for--once upon a time there was a sports car rally near the LYS where I teach, and as I drove to class I followed a Ferrari F430 Spider and was beside a Shelby Cobra remake. When I arrived at the LYS I had to sit and spin for 10 minutes to calm down enough to teach. What I really wanted to do was follow the cars to the rally! I wonder why our youngest son owns 2 models of these:
Thursday, September 4, 2008
(Beginning Knitting Skills)
In this scarf, you have the opportunity to use up those little bits of handspun yarn to create a unique, reversible and easy scarf.
Yarn: approximately 100 yds each of 4 different Worsted weight yarns at 12 wpi. Mark them as Colors A, B, C and D. I like to use a variegated yarn, a textured yarn, and two solid color yarns.
Gauge: 4 sts & 9 rows/inch in Garter Stitch.
Check your gauge before beginning, although exact gauge isn’t necessary in a scarf.
Needles: 40" US #8 & 9 (5 & 5.5mm) or size needed to obtain gauge and/or make a fabric YOU like.
You will be knitting the scarf longways, making knots at the end/beginning of each row to form the fringe. To do this when the next row uses the same color, simply make a loop about twice the length of the desired fringe (8-1/2" loop for 4" fringe), make an overhand knot snug up against the knitting, and continue back with the working yarn. To do this when the next row uses a new color, cut the yarn to the desired length (4-1/4" for 4" fringe), tie a knot with this strand and the end of the new yarn.
The bind-off leaves one lonely strand of yarn–you may leave this end as is, or add it to the last knot, making that knot a 3-strand one.
Cast On and Rows 1 to4--A
Rows 27 to 31–B
Rows 33, 34 and Bind Off–D
With larger needles and Color A, cast on 250 stitches. Turn work, switch to smaller needles, pull out a loop for the fringe, make the knot and knit back across the row. Turn. Pull out a fringe loop, make a knot, and knit back. Continue in this manner, making knots either with the same yarn or the new yarn, and following the Row/Color Sequence chart. When you complete Row 34, switch back to the larger needles for the bind off. Cut the fringe loops if you want or leave them as is. Hand wash the scarf, lay flat to dry (Garter Stitch will stretch lengthwise if you hang it), and give the scarf to someone you love. Better yet, give it to someone you like and make them your new best friend!
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
blast choosing color combinations for these. All I have left to do
is add the appliques and finishing touchs, stitch my labels in and photograph them for the shop. These are just too much fun to knit and I think I'm addicted! This is today's pile of scarves to be finished--->
And this is the original scarf I designed last year to use up scraps
and sale bin skeins--->
I was too lazy last week to type out the free scarf pattern mostly because the table showing what color to use on which row just won't format for the blog. Hopefully, this week I'll have the time to sit down and reformat the pattern so it can be uploaded here and be easy to access. What I really, really need is someone to be my office manager/IT administrator so I can spend more time creating fiber and yarn and garments!
Speaking of creating fiber, here's a sneak peak of the
wool/nylon/bamboo sock batts I've been working on lately.
They should be up in the shop in a few weeks. This colorway is Morning Glories, one of the 10 colorways in my Posy Toes Bamboo line of sock batts. I've spun up several of these and they spin like buttah! And we all know how good bamboo is for our feet and for the environment! Now I just need to decide how many of the spun skeins will go to Natural Stitches for sale, and how many will stay with me--it's like selling my babies, y'know what I mean?
I also have a neckwarmer pattern in the works but it's still in it's embryonic stage. Very easy to knit up, very elegant to wear, and different from other neckwarmer patterns I've seen. I'm pretty excited about it. As they say in the advertising industry, watch this space for future developments......
Monday, August 25, 2008
The second pattern, a neckwarmer, should be ready for publication in a few weeks. I still need to finish knitting the first one, have it test-knitted and write up the pattern. And somewhere in there I’m supposed to restock my Etsy shop……
Not that I’m complaining. I love what I do, and I usually end up working 7 days a week just because I like what I do. Sometimes I have to remind myself that there is a life outside of fiber, y’know?
Monday, August 18, 2008
While 2-ply yarns is just fine for socks, you may want to consider 3-ply, Navaho ply (3-ply the easy way), or a cabled 4-ply yarn for you socks. 3- and 4-ply cabled yarns appear to make longer-wearing socks, but of course are thicker and can be more work to produce. You must decide for yourself what you want, but you should always ply sock yarn to make it stronger and even out the inevitable variations in thickness we find in handspun yarns.
You should also keep in mind that the amount of twist required in the singles yarn is affected by the amount of twist that will be subtracted when you ply. 2-ply yarn needs more twist, as the tight plying required for sock yarn will subtract twist from the singles; 3-ply requires less twist as there are three strands of singles being twisted in the opposite direction and thus less twist is subtracted from each individual singles. Cabled 4-ply is a yarn that takes some thought and experimentation to come out perfectly balanced—this is one that requires experimentation and note-taking, but is well worth the effort.
Some pros and cons of the different plying techniques:
Advantages: Quickest path to finished sock yarn
Disadvantages: Can wear faster than other techniques
Advantages: Great way to preserve the striping in variegated singles
Quickest way to get 3-ply yarn
Disadvantages: Little bumps can irritate sensitive feet
Requires finer singles and more yardage than a 2-ply of similar thickness
Advantages: Avoids the little bumps of Navaho ply
Allows use of 3 different (in color/texture/content) singles if desired
Disadvantages: Requires 3 bobbins/cops of yarn, all approximately the same yardage
Advantages: The longest-wearing socks
Allows for many effects with any combination of singles being different in color/content/texture
Disadvantages: Takes the longest to spin a finished, with 3 steps involved (4 singles, then two 2-ply, then one 4-ply
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Sample, sample, sample till you achieve the weight you want, and make short notes on how you made each sample (number of treadles, length of yarn drafted till wind-on, etc). For spindlers, you can lay the spun yarn on a piece of paper and draw a line to represent the twist angle, which will give an indication of the amount of twist you inserted in that particular length of yarn. Immediately after spinning a length of yarn, let it twist back on itself in a 2- or 3-ply—this is what your finished yarn will look like. When your sample is the yarn you want for your socks, simply continue to duplicate the steps in the notes you took for that sample, and check your yarn weight occasionally be letting it double back on itself and comparing it to the commercial yarn. By keeping notes and checking your spinning, you can interrupt your spinning and pick it up again later and still be consistent. Keep in mind that sock yarn needs a little more twist and a tighter ply than usual garment yarns because socks take quite a bit more wear and tear. More on this next time….
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Anyway, I took the opportunity to visit one of the estranged relatives who is "never going to speak to" his mom or siblings again. But I'm the aunt and figured since I didn't have anything to do with the spat and didn't even know what caused it, it'd be okay to visit and invite them over for dinner this weekend. Rang the doorbell twice--no answer so I figured it was broken and I knocked, causing the dog to go nuts--but I heard voices calming the dog and saw someone look out the curtain. Knocked a second time and announced myself, since they hadn't seen me in a couple of years. Their college-age daughter comes out, closing the door behind her, and announces that they are not interested in coming to see me and in fact don't want to see me at all. I ask what I've done to them, and the girl says she doesn't even know me, doesn't want to know me and wants me to leave. What kind of person sends their kid to the door to do their dirty work? Last time I saw this girl, she was about 5 and here she stands sending so much venom my way that it was overwhelming.
I'm not religious, but I do believe in being kind and behaving well. How, and why, do you teach a child to hate someone they don't even know. This girl and her sister have grown up not knowing their grandmother or 4 aunts/uncles, 5 great-aunts/uncles, 30+ cousins and multitudes of second cousins. Because their father is angry at his mother. And their mother is angry with him. It's just so sad that two people and their anger can ruin the childhood of two once-lovely girls. And what will those girls teach their children (if they can find someone who wants to share a life of anger and hatred with them)? Wow. Just......Wow.
Monday, August 4, 2008
Once you've chosen your fiber for socks (you can't go wrong with Posy Toes Sock Fiber), the key to spinning fine yarns like sock yarn is to use a thin fiber source. Meaning, if you're using top or roving (wool that comes in long ropes) it's best to split these lengthwise into strips about the size of your little finger or finer. I typically split top into 8 strips and roving into 4-6 strips. If you've got batts like my Posy Toes batts, you can make strips or roll them into really big rolags (see below for handling rolags).
Next, you'll need to pre-draft or attenuate the strips. Hold the end of a strip in two hands, making sure that your hands are further apart than the staple length of the fiber. In other words, if your individual wool fibers average 3" long, your hands should be 4" or more apart. Gently pull the strip in one direction so the fibers begin to slide past each other. You'll notice that the strip is slightly fluffier and less compressed--that's exactly what we want! Continue working your way from one end of the strip to the other. You can leave your attenuated strip in a heap on the floor and spin from that or, especially if you have feline pets, you can roll it in a ball and keep it in a basket or your lap while you spin.
If you're using rolags made from batts or from handcarding, simple take one between your hands and start stretching it out. Work from one end to the other, and if it's still not thin enough for your likeing work back to the other end. Carded batts take several passes until they're thin enough for sock yarn.
Once your fiber is prepared, there's nothing left to do but spin it up. More about deciding the yarn grist (thickness), twist and plying in future posts.......
Thursday, July 31, 2008
Monday, July 28, 2008
On another topic, we've just spent the weekend working at our other house where I grew up and which needs a bit of renovation before we can move in. We're hosting a family reunion there in 2 weeks and want to have the garden in some sort of shape by then. Last year it looked like this...Garden is finished! August 4, 2008
We've taken down the old deer fence, cleaned out all the dead plants and numerous butterfly bushes, lifted the walking stones, laid down a weed barrier and are in the process of covering it with pine/black walnut mulch made from trimming the trees on the property. We'll then re-lay the stones and put up another deer fence. My arms and back hurt from all that shoveling, but next year and all future gardening years will be much easier once this work is done. I'm really looking forward to eating all those fresh organic veggies and fruits.
Monday, July 21, 2008
We left CT early, and dropped our son at his place in Manhattan. Then we headed for Allentown where we had tickets to see His Holiness the Dalai Lama at Lehigh University (hubbys alma mater). He gave a 90-minute talk on Generating a Good Heart and was given 2 standing ovations before he even opened his mouth to speak. I have no words to describe how I felt or how the entire lecture hall felt—there were no coughs, no cell phones ringing, no undercurrent of chitter-chatter. Just silence and rapt attention to his words and thoughts and laughter at his jokes. He brought the house down when asked what he would choose to do if he hadn't been chosen as the Dalai Lama--he would have chosen to be an engineer which is what Lehigh is famous for! I find myself hearing his echo in my head every time I’m anxious or starting to stress out or thinking that someone is a jerk. He has a very clear, peaceful and serene outlook on life. If you’d like to hear his entire lecture (or even download it), Lehigh has it online here http://www3.lehigh.edu/dalailama/multimedia.html
I’m off to get some work done. Everything seems to have piled up while I was gone—imagine that!
Thursday, July 3, 2008
Monday, June 30, 2008
It's just a little lighter and airier now, isn't it? Can't wait to get my wheels and fiber moved in there. The space in the last photo is where I'll be putting my antique loom once I get it out of storage, cleaned up and set up. There will be track lighting with both indoor and outdoor fixtures so I can work in the best light possible. I'm so excited to se this project nearing completion!
On another subject, does anyone speak both knitting and Dutch? I'm in dire need of someone to translate a book for me. While living in Noord Holland last autumn, I bought the latest Filati Mens Sweaters booklet from a friends shop in Hoorn. It's full of wonderful timeless-yet-sophisticated mens sweaters. We thought it would be no problem to have Filati send us the English version, but then we discovered once I returned home to the US that they were discontinuing the English version with this issue. In February I gave the book to my Pittsburgh Dutch friend who has translated 3 of the patterns. She emailed me yesterday that she will be too busy to complete the translation (about 6 more patterns if I remember correctly). Is there anyone who can finish the translation for me? The patterns themselves are only about 1/2 page long in the book, which comes to about one page as a Word document. Help.....