Moving this to Blogspot
New address is http://fiberarts-furrycritters.blogspot.com. See you there! My blog used to be on blogspot; I'll have to see if I can remember how to work things over there.
Moving this to Blogspot
New address is http://fiberarts-furrycritters.blogspot.com. See you there! My blog used to be on blogspot; I'll have to see if I can remember how to work things over there.
I was browsing Pinterest when I came across a very interesting project. I had to follow it to its source, and ended up buying three patterns from a designer named Heidi Bears. She uses a crocheted motif called the African Flower Hexagon to create marvelous stuffed animal patterns. I purchased three of her patterns from her Ravelry page -
and Max the Bulldog.
Are these not unbelievably cute? The instructions indicate fingering-weight yarn (the scrappy looks can be achieved with leftover sock yarn scraps) and a 1.75mm crochet hook. Of course, I had just about every size crochet hook except that one! I took a quick trip to The Yarn and Fiber Company in Derry to pick up that hook and two skeins of yarn, one for joining the hexagon motifs, and one for scales. I think I'll be starting on Puff the Stegosaurus soon.
In the meantime I keep finding other patterns I need to make. I have, I think, four sets of yarn and patterns for baby sweaters. Those include a Wonderful Wallaby, an Elizabeth Zimmerman Tomten jacket, and an Alan pullover (in the child size). I'm also still looking for an alternative pattern for the angora/merino scarf. I may use this Simple Chevron Pattern Scarf, which is also a free pattern. This always leads to other things as well, of course - in this case, another free pattern called the Boyfriend Cardigan. That exact pattern won't work because it calls for a fingering weight or so (size 2 & 2-1/2 needles). I need something that will work with the sweaters' worth of lovely gray Naturespun Sport that I picked up at Coveted Yarn last fall. I like that look, though - v-neck cardi, easy fit, and I love the look of the button band. As much as I'd love to do something with gorgeous cables (I just came across this one this morning - the Jurisfiction cardigan, by Glenna C. - but I just don't have the attention span for something like that right now.
This morning my feet were cold, so I finished these.
I only had 3 decrease rounds left on the toe of the second one (and running in some ends). These are made with Holiday Sock "Flock Sock" yarn, in the colorway Monster Mash. I started them in September 2013, and they've been my purse project all that time.
This is my new purse project.
The yarn is Regia "Zoofari" in pink and black. They are definitely brighter than the photo shows.
I also finished a crocheted cloth.
Love the colors in this one! I had started another crocheted cloth, but ended up pulling it apart to rewind the yarn after the cats had a party with it.
I have a couple of projects being worked on here and there. The first is a bulky hoodie cardigan for the baby. This is being done in Encore bulky.
I had finished this one most of the way, but started over to make it a little bigger, and to make the cuffs and bottom band much longer. I think the pattern has them only 5 rows long. I want 10 or 12 rows, I think. This goes quick, I just need some time! My every-other-Wednesday knitting group at the library helps a bit.
This is the other project. It's a scarf, in angora/merino yarn that I picked up at a knitting & crochet show, at the Lion Brand booth. That was some fun shopping! I've started this twice; I thought this pattenr would work (and it does) but I think I need something a little more mindless. Things are just too busy lately.
I went with my daughter last week to a store in Manchester called Manchester Music Mill. The store is fairly crowded, and stocked with tons of stuff. My daughter picked up an entry-level violin for her birthday. I spent some time looking at the guitars, of course! I have decided that I am totally in love with the Taylor Koa wood models, and have started saving for one. They had two there.
I like the one in the middle - the Taylor 324 ce-K model.
I don't even know what the difference might be between the 324 model and the 326 model in front of it, but I like the wood and grain of this one better. Koa is such an awesome wood! And Taylors are well-known to be exceptional guitars.
This is a circa 1991 Gibson Epiphone PR-350S. A friend bought it (20+ years ago) because her husband was going to learn to play, but he never did. It has since gone from living room, to spare bedroom, to closet.
My friend brought it to knitting night last week to show it to me, and I brought it home to check it out. This one is acoustic-only. (My Ibanez is acoustic-electric, which means it can be plugged into an amplifier, although I don't have one.) It's interesting, seeing the differences between this one and the Ibanez. The body of the guitar is thicker, as is the neck. The tone is slightly different as well. I took it to the music store where I take lessons (Northstar Music in Hampstead, NH) and had it cleaned up and restrung. It's in great shape, even after sitting in a case for two decades.
This is actually my third guitar. My first one was a black entry-level Yamaha acoustic, a Craigslist find. I took a couple of lessons with that one before I found my purple Ibanez. That one was then passed on to my daughter, who used to play violin in school. I don't know if she has yet done anything with it.
I have my eye on one more guitar. It's an Ibanez "Exotic Wood" model, in figured ash - one of the prettiest guitars I've ever seen. I can think of good reasons to own two guitars (play with a guest who comes over - like my parents, or friends who can play; have a spare, in case a string breaks during practice) but I have not yet come up with adequate justification for owning three (although I have some ideas). Still, I'm hoping to have this one by my birthday (end of April). The music store is supposed to order one for me once the new models (this year's) are available. I've been lucky with my second-hand guitars so far, because none of the three have had any significant flaws, but I'd really appreciate the knowledgeable guys at the music store making sure a brand-new guitar is all it should be before I pay that much money for one.
I have good reasons, though.
On August 22, 2014 we took custody, through the foster care systems of two states, of our only grandchild. It was just days after his first birthday, and he is now 18 months old. Things have been very, very busy around here!
Right now we have four dogs (Zoey, River and Remy - Border collies, and Penny, the red tri Aussie, now 10 months old). We have four housecats; two never go outside, two are indoor-outdoor; and we have two barn cats who never come in. We have three Nubian (or nearly-Nubian) dairy goats, two girls and a boy. The girls will be giving us babies in the next month or two, and then we will have goat milk again. I stopped milking and dried the girls off shortly after the grandchild came to stay with us; things were just too busy.
We also have four Angora bunnies, and still have chickens.
It has been a long, miserable winter. We had a multi-day power outage over Thanksgiving. Thank God I have a gas range that doesn't need electricity to run. Thank God, also, that we have a good generator, and a generator transfer switch that makes it easy to plug the generator in and run it. We've had lots and lots of snow, and it has been bitterly cold for weeks at a time.
I've gotten very little knitting done, although I've started picking up the crafts again over the last month or two. It helps that there's now a knitting group that meets at our local library, twice a month. I really look forward to spending time with some knitting friends and, as much as I love being a grandmother, away from the grandchild.
He is a marvelous grandchild, and we really feel blessed to be able to take care of him. He's beginning to do things like color with fat crayons, and "read" books with us. We do love Dr. Seuss! We watch Sesame Street, and have started attending a toddler group once a week at the library where we sing and make hand motions, and ring bells, and listen to stories. And he loves music!
It was because of his love of music that, last October, I started taking guitar lessons. I've never been musically inclined, and have zero musical background (except for 4th-grade recorder, and forced music classes until 7th or 8th grade). I can't read music, but I can now read guitar chord notation. I have an awesome purple Ibanez guitar that I found secondhand through a Craigslist seller, and love it!
I am still taking the guitar lessons; I'm getting closer to being able to play an actual song, at something other than halting pace. Improvement is coming slowly, but it is still improvement, and I'm having a good time with it.
I started running again, and have been running off and on all winter - more off than on at times, but still. I've done several races this year, and signed up for the entire Millennium Running series of races. Those include a bunch of 5Ks and shorter races, but also a 5 mile race, a 10-miler and a half marathon, in October. My next race is the 2-mile Shamrock Shuffle, on March 29.
Last week we picked up a dozen new baby chicks to add to our flock.
We got a combination of Barred Rocks, Buff Orpingtons, Cuckoo Marans and Silver-Laced Wyandottes. They're still in the brooder (aka stock tank) and have a heat lamp. We lost one of the Marans chicks, but the rest are doing great.
I have several knitting projects in progress. One pair of socks only need the second toe finished, and that is already mostly done. I'm at the decrease every round part. I'm working on a baby sweater from Encore chunky. I'm re-doing it because I didn't like how it came out the first time. I've also picked up several three-skein sets and a few patterns, for a few more baby sweaters. Looking forward to making a worsted weight cardigan (possibly zippered), a hooded cardi, and a Wallaby. He's wearing a size 2 now, so whatever I start is probably going to be in a size 3 or 4, so it will still fit by the time I finish.
So not a lot of fiber arts or critters, but I'll try to update more frequently. Now that it's starting to warm up, I have bunnies to groom, and I'd really like to get back to some spinning. I'm looking forward to being able to take the baby out in the jogging stroller for my runs, instead of waiting for him to take his nap. We have two little Shetland sheep who will need shearing soon (I'm looking forward to that fleece!) and I will definitely be continuing my guitar lessons. Music lessons, along with learning a new language, are supposed to be among the best things to keep your brain young.
Earlier this week I was looking through things, and came across a reed hook! Obviously this one didn't end up leaving with my floor looms; and it was exactly what I need for my Structo!
I also needed a tray or container of some kind to keep weaving things close to the loom - the reed hook, shuttles and bobbins (when I have some), etc. I looked at several local stores, and finally found what I needed in my barn. This was a broken baby chick feeding tray. I did cut plastic hinges and nubs off the edges, and it fits perfectly!
I found some more small looms when I was looking for that reed hook, too. I have two Weave-It (Weavette) looms, and a book of patterns for them.
I also have this - a reproduction of an 18th century tape loom, which functions in a manner similar to an inkle loom. This was made (not by me) from plans in a old issue of "Early American Life" magazine.
Yesterday I picked up a gallon of Evapo-rust to see what I could do about the Structo loom reeds.
Here is the "before" shot of the two reeds.
Mid-point - after about 3 hours:
After soaking overnight. Top one is from the older loom (est. 1940), bottom one is from the newer one (est. 1973).
Edge of the older reed. The top bar is not rust, it's old glue. This is a 15-dent reed (15 slots per inch), 20 inches wide.
This is the newer reed, same 15-dent, 20 inches wide. Some discoloration is still present, but the rust is gone.
And this is the progress on my inkle loom. I've done about 9-1/2" of this band, and this picture shows my new Thomas Creations inkle shuttle in use. Love it! This one is walnut, and I'm already thinking of buying another one.
This is what I picked up today:
This is a wooden Structo table loom, probably manufactured in the 1940s (I'm working on finding better information on the manufacturing dates). It has 4 harnesses (shafts) and can weave up to 20" wide. It was missing the back beam (which holds the warp as you weave) and one other small metal peg. I bought this from a friend I was talking to at the Fiber Revival. I mentioned I was looking for small looms, and she said she had this one for sale.
I had also seen, recently, an ad for an Artcraft loom on Craigslist. The Artcraft loom was the name of this loom in the 1950s and 60s. I took a chance and drove an hour and a half into Massachusetts, and picked up this one very inexpensively:
This one had different issues than the one I got from my friend, and was missing different parts. It did, however, have the parts I needed to complete my Structo! Both looms together cost less than $100 total. I plan to sell off any parts of the Artcraft loom that might help someone else get their loom up and running.
That completes my loom collecting. The Structo is about 2 feet square, and can be put away in a closet or on a desk. It takes up a little more room than the inkle loom, but not much compared to a floor loom. I also plan to explore card weaving and backstrap weaving - both of those can be bundled up to fit in a grocery bag (or smaller) when not in use.
I still need to clean the reed on the Structo, which is rusty but not intolerably so. I'm told that soaking it in Coca-Cola will work. After that, I'm looking forward to putting on a cotton warp for some dishtowels! I love handmade dishtowels and have missed being able to make them!
And here is the beginning of my first inkle band! (I need to go shopping for a bunch of 10/2 cotton!)
I did mention inkle looms in my last post. Well, I had found a second-hand inkle loom, relatively local, and made arrangements to meet the seller at the Bolton Fair in Bolton, MA on Sunday. After church we drove down, and managed to get fairly lost in the road detours set up due to the fair. Google Maps had us ending up at a local school, several miles away from the fair, but we eventually found it.
It was a small fair - maybe among the smallest we've attended (outside of local town "old home days" festivals, popular in New England. I don't know if those are done anywhere else.) It was fun, though! I picked up a couple of bars of soap (love homemade soaps, and I always make a point to get some!), had a freshly made lemonade, and got a couple of very discounted tie-dyed t-shirts. It was the last day of the fair, last couple of hours, I'm sure the vendors were happy to have less stock to pack for the return trip!
This was a display of live raptor birds. I find them fascinating. Owls, in particular, are awesome!
A local quilting group had a nice booth with some pretty quilts, and had this awesome antique quilting frame set up! I loved it!
I like the way this one adjusts. Fascinating! The ingenuity of our predecessors seldom fails to amaze me.
This was a recreation of a hearth oven. Very interesting.
And, of course, I met the person with the inkle loom, and brought it home with me! I stayed up late tying heddles (I used tatting thread) and warping the loom with several colors of #10 crochet cotton I had in the basement. I'll get started weaving today!
I made it to the Fiber Revival in Newbury, MA on Saturday. I think this is the first time I've attended this particular event! It was small, but fun. I saw several unusual (to me) wheels, and had a brief sit & chat with some spinning friends. I didn't have a lot of time to spend there, but enjoyed the time I had!
I got to spend time with my friend Diane, and a couple of other people, at the NOBO Handweavers display.
I haven't done any weaving in several years and have, in fact, sold off my floor looms; unfortunately, I no longer have room for them. I have recently been exploring alternatives, however, which include card weaving (shown in the picture above, on the left); table looms (above, on the right), backstrap weaving, and inkle weaving (more on that in my next post). All of those take up very little space, and/or can be put away easily.
Here are a couple of the special wheels I saw!
This is a Pocket Wheel. These are made on the west coast, and very few of them are seen this far east! I think this is the first one I've ever actually seen in person.
This is a Carson Cooper travel wheel. It is so cute!
This is a wheel constructed by Jonathan Bosworth of Journey Wheel. It is a combination of ancient Chinese charkha design, with what I believe is a Journey Wheel flyer added. Quite a construction!
And this is a Hansen mini-spinner! Right now this one lives at the top of my wishlist. It is an electric spinning wheel. It has huge bobbins, can run on a small rechargeable battery for portability, and is so quiet!
After my time at the Fiber Revival, I only bought one thing (besides lunch). This Star Wars project bag, from Stitched by JessaLu.
On Sunday I finally finished spinning up all of the Bunny Blend fibers. Yesterday I spent all day plying, then started winding off onto a niddy noddy, while counting revolutions so that I could estimate the amount of finished yarn somewhat reliably. I was about 3/4 of the way through the process when 16 yo DS walked through my strand of yarn and it broke. At that point I was tired and still had non-spinning chores to do, so I stopped. Then I fed the barn animals, milked the goats, and fed the humans.
This morning I got right back to it. I finished skeining the rest of the yarn off the bobbin, then did measurements and weight. It is 3.3 oz, and about 900 yards. It's definitely a laceweight. It's already had a soak in Eucalan, and there was a surprising amount of color in the water. I'm hoping the dye is at least mostly discharged at this point. This will probably end up a shawl, unless I sell the yarn.
I had an appointment for auto maintenance today, so I brought some drop spindles along. This gave me a chance to play with my collection. These are my featherweight drop spindles - most are under 10 grams in weight.
I managed to get some very fine thread spun on the gold filigree spindle. Some of these are extremely light. That's one of them. The filigree one (an Etsy buy) is 7.7 grams. The one with the stone whorl (at the bottom of the top left pic) weighs 12.3 grams. The two spindles with wooden whorls are Bosworth spindles; the lighter colored wood is mahogany, I believe, and weighs 11.2 grams, the other is 17.9 grams - actually a little heavy for my purposes. The purple one is a Jesh spindle (not sure they're being made anymore) and was manufactured with a 3D printer. That one is a 10 grams on the nose, and spins wonderfully! The smallest one is the Trindle spindle, purchased at last year's Rhinebeck Sheep & Wool festival. That's the very thin one with beads for arms. That one is also the lightest, at 6.0 grams.
Next on the wheel, before I start spinning for the 2015 Longest Thread contest, will be the merino/angora from Rhinebeck.
Stay-at-home mom with many varied interests - fiber arts (knitting, spinning, quilting, etc) to small farming (chickens & dairy goats). Currently have 4 Border collies, 4 housecats, 2 barn cats, 3 dozen chickens, 3 goats.