I found these wonderful stitch markers. Interestingly, both sorts are made by artisans in Nova Scotia. The first is a tiny little black sheep marketed by Fleece Artist. The second batch are the cutest teeny hanks of wool by Flying Dragon Designs of Windsor, NS.
I purchased a birthday present for myself last month. I've been waiting about a year to do so, and finally used my birthday as the excuse to make the purchase. I ordered myself a WooLee Winder for my Majacraft Rose wheel. One wouldn't think that a little thing like not stopping to move the yarn from one hook to the next would make a huge difference, but boy does it!
First off, I don't have to stop, so I don't take those pauses as a means to other distractions from my spinning. Second, it allows me to keep my rhythm and focus more on my spinning. The end result is that I believe my end product is more consistent and finer. Even my plying is better. Now that might just be the point at which I am on the learning curve for spinning globally, but since the marked change for me came with the winder, I'd like to believe the tool freed me up to focus more. In any event, I LOVE my WooLee Winder! And I get more yarn on a bobbin, too!
And if any of you have any doubt about autumn being upon us, here is my part of the Maine woods this afternoon. The colors are already bright and beautiful. The peepers planning their foliage trips in the traditional first two weeks in October will be too late this year! Summer felt like it only lasted about six weeks, and autumn felt like it was here in mid-August. There were hints of color at that time, but now we are into some serious color changes! Fair Isle of Leaves....
I started Lead or Follow last year, and stalled out (along with several other projects). In my current finishing mode, it has surfaced again. Since I had made some mistakes, I couldn't decifer where I had left off with the project. So, it went to the frog pond, and I started over. I made one change this time, however.
In the time interval the project has lain in the UFO pile, I found the Clover Knit Lites lighted needles. As my eyes have lost their accommodation powers, I find I make more mistakes with lace. My Ott light helps, but the light reflects off my Addis, and after 90 minutes or so, I can't focus any longer. I saw these in a shop, and after they showed them in action, I thought they might help with my lighting struggles to identify yarn overs from their adjoining stitches.... This is the first project I've used them on, so I have no idea yet how long the batteries last, but thus far, I really really like these needles for lace. They simplify identifying unique stitches. In the last photo, using just the light generated from the needles, it is easy to see the individual stithes on the needle tips. The nightshot shows how bright the tips are, which can even be seen on the Ott light shot on the upper left.
All in all, I am quite happy with this purchase, and it was less than half the cost of other lighted needles.
While at Fiber Frolic, there were booths with absolutely gorgeous nostepinnes, wonderful wooden swifts, black walnut knitting needles, and all sorts of fiber - wool/tencel, silk/wool, angora, cashgora, cashmere, mohair, llama, alpaca - all sorts of fiber animal fibers.
And there were many interesting booths with miscellany that supports us fiber folk - hand made glass buttons(Shipyard Point Glassworks - no website 207-565-2428), pottery buttons, sheep and llama pottery items, fiber animal puppets and marionettes, all sorts of bags with varying degrees of pockets to organize knitting tools or spinning items, hats, mittens, sweaters, spinning wheels, drop spindles, you name it.
There were creative folk who had finger puppet skunks knit from novelty yarn, itty bitty hedgehogs also utilizing novelty yarns. One gentleman who had French angora rabbits had a number of needle felted items, such as pumpkins, Santas and a needle felted mermaid of octagenarian era complete with boobies hanging down to the waist. This item totally mortified my DD, since she is sufficiently young as to be oblivious to the fact that gravity will win on her body, too! There were two renditions of rug hooking - one, Janet Conner Hand Hooked Rugs took used wool clothing items such as Pendleton wool shirts and cut strips of the fabric, then hooked rugs using the strips as the fiber. She has patterns and kits, and also sells completed items. She has a full catalog on her website that can be downloaded. The other woman , Rolling Knolls Farm (no website but phone 207-625-7198) used wool roving in finger breadth strips and hooked that in freestyle patterns as rugs. It was amazing to see what she came up with totally freelance, without predrafted patterns! Rolling Knolls had kits of fiber and rug hooking fabric, without any pre-stamped patterns. Both of these women did some beautiful work!
All of these photos should be able to pop up larger with the click of a mouse.
As I have enlarged my array of spinning tools to include a second wheel, a drum carder and much fiber, DD keeps swearing that she will never buy a wheel or spin on a wheel. However, since DD is probably about 16 years ahead of where I was at her age with knitting, it stands to reason she'll get hooked on spinning sooner as well.
So, when prowling around the vendor areas Saturday at the Fiber Frolic, our group came across some little tiny drop spindles. Four of our group bought these top whorl drop spindles and some fiber to get started. (I bonded quite well with my Joy and my Rose, but have never done very well with a drop spindle.) Sunday on the second trip to Fiber Frolic, DD and Robyne found larger, heavier drop spindles at Amy's Spunky Eclectic stand at the Fiber Frolic. Amy was there with Adrian sharing a booth, and showing their incredible wares. I found the perfect colorway to make the entrelac Christmas stocking I want to make my eldest. Amy is going to do some custom dye work for me for some worsted weight or bulky weight for that project. I found some great sock yarn. Robyne and I went together to buy one of the Kahuna Girls's birthday present. And Robyne and DD got the larger, heavier top whorl drop spindles. And of course, they came away with some beautiful BFL to learn on......
Robyne and DD were using their drop spindles all the way back to the Bangor area in the car. At one point, Robyne was asking me questions while I was driving. After that, we decided I wouldn't help them until we got home.
PS The spindles depicted were from a different booth, but too beautiful to not show.
Now that I have finished washing my first raw fleece, all ten pounds of it, I read about a method for washing that makes a lot of sense. In short, one takes a 2' X 2' piece of tulle, and takes locks of fleece and sets them about 3" apart on the tulle. Once a row is completed, one folds the fabric over the locks, turns it over, and begins a second row, in the spaces between the locks on the previous row. Continue folding the fabric over completed rows until there is no more fabric to do so. Roll up the bundles of wool from one end, wrap with a rubber band or tie with yarn.
These fiber packets can now be set in hot soapy water for washing without fear of fibers tangling. The mesh of the tulle allows hot soapy water in, and allows dirt to get out. Soaking for 15 minutes, then drain and repeat until the water is clear. Then rinse well. The packets can be put on a towel for 15 minutes or so to drain, then unrolled all allowed to dry on a drying rack, still on the tulle to keep the locks straight. This method keeps the locks straight, ready for combing into top, knitting directly from locks, or worsted spinning.
I haven't tried this yet, but I bought some tulle for the next raw fleece I prepare.... it sells for $1.29/yd 54" wide at the fabric store... so that will be less than $0.16 per 2' square. One can find it in all sorts of colors as well, though I selected boring white so I can better tell if my fiber is cleaning up.
Last fall at the Common Ground Fair, I bought a Best of Show fleece - 10 lbs of it. The fleece was a covered fleece, so it has very little VM in it, and is relatively clean. I have sat on this treasure until this past weekend.
Over the weekend, I unearthed the fleece from its hiding place, and began washing it in my bathroom sinks. It is fairly clean, having been covered, and is well skirted. It only took two wasings, and two rinsings for each batch to come clean. I filled my four sweater drying racks with fleece over my bathtub, where it has been drying for two days. (I'm glad I have a separate shower for bathing purposes!) Tonight, I brought out my drum carder. Mind you, I've never used a drum carder, nor have I seen one in use. I think I had a bit of a fear factor going with regards to starting to use it. Well, that factor is gone now - the drum carder is easy. It is incredibly fast as compared to hand carding, and much more affordable than electric ones. The pile on the left is the carded fiber, and the pile on the right is the uncarded, washed and dried fiber.
I am already racing ahead in my mind to start blending bunny fiber or dog hair into wool for fun. (My DD has previously, unbeknownst to me, begun saving her rough coat collie's underfur in case I wanted to spin dog hair!) I covered my bed with a huge pile of carded fleece tonight, and that was probably only 4 lbs of the 10 lbs of raw fiber. I wrapped it up in a clean sheet for the time being to keep the batts nice and dust-free. Next step - spinning and designing!
Now, if I can keep Hero and Dadiva out of the fiber, raw or processed, life'll be good!
After twenty years of good service, my plastic Royal ball winder has started giving up the ghost. The plastic parts at the base no longer reliably stay put, sometimes leading to flying balls of yarn as I am winding. That is a nice feature for my two dogs that steal yarn, but not amusing for those of us who would rather knit with yarn sans dog drool. Seeing as how the ball winder is clearly telling me that after twenty years, it thinks it should retire, and the fact that with increasing frequency I am finding oversized hanks of wool to wind, I ordered this wonderful tool for myself from Copper Moose.
And of course, since I have a new ball winder, and am in the mode of retiring plastic from my tools (seems somehow incongruent with all the naturalness of wool, knitting and spinning), I indulged in this complementary tool from Purple Fleece . Don't get me wrong, my plastic swift and ball winder have served me well for twenty years, but they need replacing, and I love the feel and beauty of wood. (And no, I don't keep lots of area rugs all over my hardwood floors - the purple bathmat is a dog rug since they kept laying on my bathmats and these are more washable than most dog beds.) One of the nice things about not being married any longer is that so long as my kids have their violin & cello lessons, bass guitar and banjos, and tuition paid at college for the two older ones, I don't feel like I have to justify my fiber habits and tools to anyone but myself.
Remember Merlin's top-down rollneck raglan in my last post? Well, it turns out that he is bigger than I assumed for an eleven year old. So, the decision has been made about frogging the sweater and making my raised increases more consistent - it has to be done in order to fit him, so it gives me the chance to make it more perfect. Now I am on the search with Kathy from City Side Yarn Co. (my LYS) for some more Shakespeare in Color 13... I have seven skeins, and figure I need a minimum of three more, and four would give me the comfort zone I need now on this project.