Fiestaspun 

Today I spent my entire lunch break standing in my office, with my bobbin in a bottom desk drawer, fussing with this niddy noddy. I promise you, every time I use this thing I have to watch a video. I’ve watched quite a few videos to try to figure this thing out, but this video by Camaj Handspun Yarn is my absolute favorite.

I think the fussing was worth it though, don’t you? I am loving this yarn. I’ve named this colorwork”Fiestaspun” because the colors are a crazy party.  The ply is definitely imperfect. I tend to not get the hang of plying until I’m one-third of the way through the skein. The end is definitely a tighter and more uniform ply. This time around, I started to think about the plying process a bit more and want to try out different techniques. I love the yarn, but I think I liked it better as a single strand. When two-plying, I got even more variation in color which blended them together so much that some lost their vibrancy. I would like to learn to plan my spinning and plying a bit better for next time….but it makes my brain hurt.

It is crazy to think that it was a mere speck of beautiful, pure wool until I put my crazy colors on it and then spun it into a huge, imperfectly pretty and bold skein of yarn. I was in hate with this ball of fluff, then ended up being in love with it. You never know.
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Tour de Fleece – Week One

As a new spinner, I am participating for the first time in the Tour de Fleece. So far it’s a lot of fun. The gist of this is to spin every day, you can join a few teams on Ravelry so that you can share photos and keep track of your progress throughout the Tour.

I am into groups, the first for WC Mercantile my LYS here in Texas. This is where I purchased my wheel so it’s really fun to celebrate my first Tour in this group. The second group I am in is a fiber company I recently discovered called Into the Whirled, super cute name right? I purchased my first fiber from them which arrived in the mail on Thursday so I’m going to start spinning that up next week.

The Tour de Fleece started during Fourth of July weekend and I didn’t have my Into the Whirled fiber yet (because I’m irresponsible and complete forgot about the Tour). So I started off my tour by spinning with my hand dyed fiber from yarn school. Again I’m super happy with how this has turned out. I thought that it was super ugly when I died it but the colors came out bright and beautiful and spent together or just a lot of fun.

I also reached a new benchmark in my fiber obsession. Last weekend I decided to bring my spinning wheel with me to the coffeeshop for knitting group and took a picture of the wheel of my car. I’ve now become that crazy fiber lady… and I’m okay with that.

Here’s some photos from my first week of the Tour de Fleece. I’m hoping to ply tonight so stay tuned!

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Yarn School, Part Two. I’m Dye-ing!

lockersToday I’m recapping my amazing trip to Yarn School in Harveyville back in October.

Day Two = I’m Dye-ing!

On the first full day of Yarn School, we started in the Dye Lab. We had lockers stuffed with goodies, including what seemed like forty pounds of fiber, ranging from merino, 100% wool, Falkland and more. I was a bit overwhelmed because I had never tried to dye wool and I was certain I was going to mess it up.

Thankfully we had an amazing teacher, Adrian Bizilia from Hello Yarn (we also got some of her amazing hand-dyed fiber in our goody bag, hello!). Plus we had binders of information that we could take home when we decide to get crazy in our garages.

How’d this go? Let’s just say that I have a problem with measurements. I never lasted in Chemistry class and to this day I tend to “eyeball it” with recipes (which turn out very badly). I’m kind of a mess. I did the same at dye lab – but it came from an artsy place deep in my soul so I just went for it. That is typically my mantra in life, just close your eyes and go for it (not the best advice for driving though). I was pretty pleased with myself. Even the fiber that I thought was going to be a disaster actually wasn’t – it was kind of my favorite. My advice to you when you hand-dye? Just try it. Don’t panic.

dye timeThe first technique we tried was the crock pot technique. I will call this my “Crock Pot” fiber from now on. My goal with this was to mix all of the colors that I absolutely adore into one fiber. Not a lofty goal at all. I mixed bright red and deep purple hues, layering vermillion, purple, russet and cherry red. Then we turned the crock pot on low and cooked it.  I was officially having a Breaking Bad moment. I took a peek and it was glorious.

Then I got kind of too confident. And shit got real.

Bad idea. We next learned how to hand-paint yarn, a technique I much prefer. But Pookah got creative and mixed a bunch of random things, red, maybe some tan, some teal, a green? I was working off of an inspiration picture that I brought with me but when I applied the colors from it onto my yarn it looked like country western barf. I was not good at this, stick with simplicity Pookah. I named this fiber “Failure”. Turns out, this may be my favorite yarn of the bunch. After you cook it (microwave it, in our case), the colors are completely different. I just needed a bit more faith in myself. The name of the will stay as “Failure” – just because we need to realize that sometime beautiful things come from your mistakes.

The next two yarns were also hand-painted, but I was alot happier with them. One I called my “Brilliant Blues” goes from light to dark in an ombre effect. The next, what I called my “Pumpkin”, which literally included a dye color called pumpkin, transitioned burnt orange, scarlet, chestnut and golden yellow. This was the one I was most excited about.

Dye LabAfter we got all Breaking Bad and cooked our yarns, assistants laid them out to dry above the school gym, which was school central for us. All of our stinky, colorful yarns floating above our heads was something I will never forget (though I was so entranced I forgot to take a photo).

We then took a caravan to a local ranch full of alpacas, where we had a local meal of fresh garden tomato soup and salad and lunched with the alpacas. My friend Keena and I made friends with the locals (those sweet alpacas!).

alpaca dayHere, I made my next yarn purchase of the trip, some 100% alpaca loveliness, so pure that there’s still bits of hay in it. It’s so soft that I kind of just want to hug it and imagine those big, brown alpaca eyes.

After the alpaca trip, I got to watch other spin yarn on their wheels and be completely intimated. Tomorrow I would – quite literally – take one for a spin. In the meantime, I practiced my drop spindle, learned how to use the hand carding machine, and admired all of our dyed fiber hanging from the gymnasium rafters.

Speaking of, here is a picture of my hand-dyed yarn! Look at all of the pretty colors! From left to right: Pumpkin, Failure, Crock Pot, Brilliant Blues. Um, “I MADE THIS!!!,” she screamed – loudly.

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This day was exhausting, informative and full of color. I was covered in fiber and pretty darn happy about it. Next up, this spinster takes a wheel for a spin. Watch your fingers.

Interested in learning more about The Harveyville Project? Click that link, yo.

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Yarn School, Part One

So wow. Alot of knitting has happened since I last posted (don’t be mad at me?)! My first post this week will be about the most fantastic crafting experience ever, Yarn School. Yarn School is a sweet little school in rural Harveyville Kansas, where crazy knit-folk – like me – get together to create. I loved it. This was my first year attending, but lots of the students have been going for years. If you are interested in learning how to dye fiber, spin or already know how to do both, this is the place for you. Check it out: The Harveyville Project.

The first part of my post will be all about getting there, which was full of delicious grub, colorful yarn stores and endless corn fields. My friends and I set out late in the evening for a long trek to Kansas – like a 12 hour kind of trek. So what else do we have to do besides knit, grub on road trip snacks (do NOT buy those Cappuccino Lays Potato Chips), and search for local yarn stores?

The first stop was two former Californians obssession, In-n-Out Burger – because we obsess over hunting it down wherever we can. Mmmmm. But in the morning, we headed directly to Norman, Oklahoma and stopped for a coffee at the most amazing coffee shop, Gray Owl Coffee. This is a magical little place where the coffee was amaze, origami and bicycles hung from ceiling panes and the local paper let us know that we were in the right place.Norman Coffee Shop

After some caffeine and a chocolate pumpkin muffin, we embarked on our shopping missions. Like good little knitters, we had done our research and knew that L&B Yarn Co. was on the top of our list. This place had a billboard on the highway. That takes some balls (of yarn, of course).

Norman

L&B Yarn, wonderful. It is the perfect size for a knitting store. We weren’t overwhelmed by shelves overflowing with yarn, there were super cute couches, the staff was so friendly and interested in us and our projects. I purchased a skein of Socks That Rock in colorway Farmhouse, but not after carrying around (aka hugging) two skeins that I was trying to decide between. I had budgeted myself on this trip and knew I should only get one. I decided on Farmhouse (left) and was super suprised to find Gnome on the Range (right) in my Christmas gift from knitter friend Nicole, who saw me agonizing over which to buy. She rocks (like the socks do). I highly recommend L&B. Plus, we met our first Yarn School friend there, Debra, a knitter also from Texas.

We stopped at another knit store and had some ice cream at Braums. We knew we got to Kansas when we saw all of the corn.

cornWe arrived at Harveyville grinning ear-to ear. We were welcomed by a stone schoolhouse that reminded of my midwestern youth, frolicking through decades-old school buildings. I was nostalgic, excited/nervous and extremely happy. Harveyville school is full of strange knick-nacks from the past, 1950s anatomy dolls, old basketball trophies, hair school busts… and now approximately 30 loud, chatty knitters/spinners. It was glorious.

Arrival

Kansas is just, wow.  The endless cornfields, the bright blue skies which fade into brilliant rainbows the evening, awaking to the chickens jabbering and the sheep trying to ignore me. I want this to be my life!

Up next you will get to hear all about my dye-lab day. Also know as “i was never that good at chemistry” day.

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