Phew!

Sorry about the bad photo that is about to follow.  My fancy camera’s in the shop so I have to resort to my old point and shoot and I’m out of practice with it so it’s blurry.  Anyway, I had to do a 150 hour project for my level four homework.  164 hours and 37 minutes later it’s done.  Now onto the rest of the workbook.

African Adventure Quilt by Horst Schulz (Ravelry Link).

4.0 mm needles.

100% Bluefaced Leicester wool spun, dyed and knitted by me.

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Decision Made

I won’t be returning to Level 5 until 2011.  Trusting, that is, that they will be offering Level 5 in 2011 (it depends on numbers, of course).  I will be a Master Spinner eventually, but I want to be able to give my full attention to my Level 4 homework, and I want to spin for spinning’s sake rather than just for marks so that I can get my mojo back and be able to fully put my attention to Level 5 rather than piggy-backing two levels on each other like I have been doing.

And my friends are supporting me so that I will get back.  And I just feel so much better about life in general now that I’m not worrying about going back this year.

And my Christmas money may go to a fancier wheel, but I’m going to think about that for awhile.  I may also keep it on hand and maybe add to it and go on a vacation…for some reason, I really want to go to Portugal…although, it might be nice to go to Peru and search out some fibre-bearing wildlife.

Conundrum

I’m contemplating not going to yarn school this year.  I just finished my Level 3 homework 5 minutes after ringing in the new year, and I’ve only done two skeins for my Level 4 since then.  And along with the Level 4 homework, I have to do a 150 hour project (for which I keep changing my mind).

The pros of not going back to yarn school include removing a lot of the pressure, not having to learn how to spin synthetic fibres (I’m a natural fibre snob and have been since the summer of 1996 when I first entered the historical costuming world), and the ability to spin something fun for myself without feeling guilty about using the wheel for non-homework purposes.

The cons of not going back to yarn school include the concern that I may never go back, that I won’t learn how to spin synthetic fibres and won’t be able to boast about being a MASTER spinner, and if I go back another year rather than this one I won’t get to finish with my classmates who have supported me as I go through this and who I love working with.

I have a lot to think about.  So…I guess right now I’m asking for prayers or positive thoughts for me that I may get a little more productive in my current homework, and that I make the correct decision for the right reasons.

$114 Bike Ride

So, today as I biked to work for only the second time this year, I was pondering that this is probably only the fourth time that I’ve biked to work since getting Stella (I can’t remember if I took her three times last year or two…so I’m going with two).  So if you consider that I spent about $800 on her including accessories (helmet and side-saddle bag), this would be the 7th time I used her, so it’s about $114 for this ride.  But I console myself that tonight will take my rides down to$100.  However, if you speculate the value of riding past the multi-million dollar homes that skirt the river valley, and then that I bike through that valley which makes those homes worth so much, one may consider that worth it.  Although, I think to really make it a valuable trip, I should get a fishing pole and a fish basket so I can utilise the river too…

I’m hoping it doesn’t rain on Monday so my morning ride would be $88.88 and my evening ride $80.  I can’t bike to work tomorrow as I’ll be leaving mid-day to head over to the Muttart Conservatory to help celebrate its reopening after it had some pretty extensive remodeling done to it.  I’m taking my spinning wheel and various plant fibres to show that plants aren’t just for eating or smelling or looking at.  I’m probably also going to bring my Level 1 dye book to show that they can be used as dyeing materials as well, and a friend and fellow spinner may be joining me as well, which will be really nice.  Hopefully I’ll get an opportunity to wander around and take some photos while I’m there!

Dyeing to do This

Last week I attended Level 4 of the Olds College Master Spinner Program.  I heart yarn school!  It’s so awesome to meet other fibre addicts from all walks of life and to inspire and be inspired.  It was a busy but fulfilling time.

Here are my samples of the yarns we dyed with acid dyes as a group.  We all had to provide yarns (which we preferably spun) of a certain length and amount of skeins for each project.  We dyed our skeins in plastic baggies so that we could use one dye-pot and didn’t have to continue to reheat!  So efficient!  My skeins were 2-ply of one mohair singles with one Wensleydale wool singles, and the dyes we used were primary colours and it was the way we mixed them that created the varied colours.

Colour Wheel.  We were divided into 4 groups for this one, and we were each assigned 3 colours.  My group’s colours were blue, blue green and green:

Level 4 Colour WheelPercentage Dyes.  Two groups for this one.  My group was in charge of green.  Percentage pertained to amount of dye per weight of fibre.  From left to right for each dye we did 0.1%, 0.25%, 0.5% and 1%:

Percentage Dyed YarnsOmbre Dyeing.  This is where the skeins are all put in the same dye bath but were removed after certain lengths of time to create variations in saturation.  From bottom to top, 1 minute, 2 minutes, 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes and 30 minutes.  We may have to redo this one however as the gradiants were too slight:

Ombre DyeInjection Dyeing.  The top skein had been wound really tightly and folded on itself to create a snug spiral which I wound my syringes of dye around.  I wound the bottom skein around my thumb to create a tight little center pull ball, and then I gently injected dyes around the outside.  When I unwound the ball to return to skein form, I was delighted to find that the inside barely received any dye while the outside looked like confetti:

Injection Dyed Yarns

I didn’t get a lot of pictures while at Fibre Week because my camera spasmed and said I had an E18.  So yesterday, after looking around the internet and then calling the jerkface guy at my former favourite camera shop who told me I should just get a new one no matter how I felt about my lens, I tried taking it apart but couldn’t get one screw out, whacked it a couple times on my ironing table, returned the screws, batteries and memory card to their rightful positions, turned it on and it worked again!  E18 in Canon cameras means that the lens has either gotten something in its gears or it’s dislodged somehow.  I love how sometimes all you need to fix something is give it a good whack!

I have Two Mailmen

And therefore, two posts in one day, because I got two packages of exciting mail!

The letter-carrier dropped off some lovely dyed cotton roving (which will help curb the Level 3 Ennui) this morning.

whimzypinzy-acala-cotton

The parcel guy dropped off my birthday present from my parents.  A large hackle and a Turkish drop spindle (I had a Turkish spindle previously that was really poorly balanced; this seems much better) from B.C. I will be trying this hackle out immediately!

hackle-and-spindle

Nothing helps blogging better than items for show and tell!

Blog Ennui?

I certainly haven’t been posting as much this year as I used to.  Let’s blame this long snowy winter. Or something.

There has been little finishing these days.  The socks I started for myself using the Claudia Handpaints are on hold because the gauge is too tight to fit over my tall, narrow heels; I may have to go up two needle sizes or change the size I’m doing.  Dad’s socks are coming along, I’m at the heels but I may need to get another ball because I’m over half-way done the balls and about half-way done the socks.

I had spun and knit a Baby Surprise Jacket for a friend’s impending baby, but when the baby was born a “Diva!” I knew it wasn’t a good match.  So the EZ is going to another friend’s baby who was born a little red-headed boy (her third!), and I’m in the process of knitting a Diva-worthy Helena.  Pics will be posted after gifting.

Lil Rose Thorn’s cousin got her some Japanese crochet books in 2006, and I made a scarf for Lil Rose Thorn out of Sirdar’s Snuggly Baby Bamboo (80% bamboo, 20% wool) last January.  I stopped working on it due to my penchant for starting but not finishing items, but LRT was teasing me about it recently and I didn’t think it was long enough but when I brought it to show her she said it is long enough, so behold, a year old FO:

lil-rose-thorn-scarf

And I decided I needed a blanket that I crocheted for myself.  I have a few from my grandmothers but I wanted to make one on my own.  I think you can blame Jared, who I’ve been blog-stalking for quite some time and who has been knitting amazing blankets.  I know I could never finish a knitted blanket due to my startitus, so for fundamentally instant gratification I chose crochet.  If you’re on Ravelry you can see the notes here.  Otherwise it’s a pattern called Granny Ripple Afghan.  See the start of it below.

start-of-a-crocheted-afghan

I’m stalled on my Master Spinner Level 3 homework…I haven’t found the motivation to work on it, and time is running out; July is almost here.  Maybe it’s burn-out, maybe it’s because of the shoulders, I don’t know.  I got some weaving books with some Christmas gift certificates and I had hoped that telling myself I wasn’t allowed to weave until I got my homework done would help but it hasn’t; instead I’m pining for the loom.  I’m hopeful that my plans to take my wheel to work and stay late at the office to get it done will help; when I get home my brain is fried and I just want to play on the computer or the Xbox…

There are quite a few things to show you of what I’ve been doing at work, but right now they’re skirts and I want to build blouses to go with them before I share photos.

So, that’s my crafting life in a nutshell; a lot of projects partway done.

Woohoo!

I passed my Master Spinner Level 2 homework, and in my mind I did it remarkably well.  My teacher had it since October 6th, which made me paranoid that she hated it, though it was definitely more likely a case of she was busy running a sheep farm and volunteering in the Federal and Municipal elections in her area.  She gave me a bookmark!  It says, “Art is not a mirror held up to reality but a hammer with which to shape it.”  It’s a quote by Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956) and the print is by the Syracuse Cultural Workers. (It said .org on the bookmark but that’s something else entirely…weird)

This homework book was difficult for me.  I had to get an extension on it, and it wasn’t until I found a photo album that I found the true inspiration to finish it.  I should really get a decent picture of it so you can see.  Maybe today.

Anyway, I’m very pleased with my mark, and soon, when I have my time off that I’m going to spend fundamentally wallowing in my apartment, I’m going to really get started on Level 3.  But maybe I’ll start looking for the next mode of presentation since that seems to be the way to get my creative juices running.

Hankie Pankie

Yesterday I made a silk hankie.  We had made one in level 3’s class work back in July, but yesterday I wanted to try a different method and I’m glad I did.  I degummed the cocoons!  The end result is a much softer, drapier hankie.

I started with pre-dyed cocoons I got from Celeigh Wool in Millet (no website, sadly).  Look how dark they are!

Then I put them into 7 cups of water (1 cup each, not that I think that matters) with 1 Tablespoon Orvus paste, and a heaping 1/2 Tablespoon Borax.  I accidentally let them boil in the water for a couple minutes; I was only trying for 185 F and stepped away to talk on the phone for a bit and they boiled.  Hhhhh.  Ah well, I think no harm, no foul.

Then I rinsed them a couple of times in hot tap water, and the last rinse had a shot of vinegar in it to cut the base of the Borax.  The cloud isn’t leaching dye, it’s degummed fibres.

Then I stretched them on my hankie frame.  It wrinkled my finger tips.

And once it was dry, I had a cute little hankie, and it’s a lot paler than we started with.  I still intend to spin it, but I got distracted by some machine-carded bamboo I got in the mail and needed to do a little non-homework related spinning.  So the spun hankie yarn is still to come.