March Madness

I am really happy with the projects that are being finished this month.  I really feel like I am accomplishing something here rather than just having a vague idea of what I have going on.  The next step is to start some sort of a labeling system so that as I am done with one project, I will really be done with it.  When I want to use a yarn, I will know exactly how many yards there are and what the fiber content is.  Some information about where it came from is helpful too, and not just utilitarian, but a nice reminder of events and fairs that I have been too.

This yarn is a combination of alpaca and wool.  The red skein, and the red in the red and purple skein is wool.  It is the same gray wool that I mentioned previously (my first ever purchased whole fleece) that was overdyed red.  When gray is overdyed, meaning dye added to the gray yarn, the gray and the color combine to make a deeper or more complex color than if that same color had been applied to a white or lighter colored fleece.  That same red dye added to white fleece might come out bright red, lollipop red, whereas when dyed over gray wool, it is more of a cranberry or wine color.  Anyway, in this yarn, the red parts are wool.  The plum color is a wool and alpaca mix.  I dyed the red, but not the plum. The plum was roving that I purchased at the Common Ground Fair two years ago.   When mixing the wool and the alpaca, the yarn retains a lot of its softness (not all, but a lot) and the wool adds some structure to the yarn.

I have named this group Ripe Plums.  I like the colors together.  The red is not too red (more red than this photo is showing) but blends with the plum nicely.

This photo below is pretty close to the actual colors.

I learned something today about photography too.  Outside light is much better and gives a far truer picture than trying to get the light right inside.  Obvious to some, but I am learning this stuff on my own.

The yardage totals end out like this:  Red–66 yards, Plum–90 and 105 yards, Red and Plum–55 yards.  For a total of 316 yards.


In the mail

This arrived in the mail yesterday.  8 ounces of Texas kid mohair.  83% Texas kid mohair, 15% nylon and 2% superfine merino.  It was $12.25 with $2.00 shipping.  Including shipping that is $1.78 per ounce.  Not bad.   I got this through Etsy, from Hippie Chix Fiber Arts.

It is soft and should take dye very nicely.  I was a little disappointed though.  It is soft, but considering the 85% mohair, I thought it would be waaaaaaaaay soft.  I think the nylon content will be great for socks through.  (ahem, um, Mum?)

So this will sit and wait patiently for dyeing day.  Although in my head it is DYEING DAY.  This same seller through Etsy has some nice yarn for sale too, which I think I might get to add to dyeing day.

How I fund my fiber purchases is that I have a separate debit account at the other bank in town (there are only two, and not even in my town).  I add a few dollars here and there to it.  It never amounts to much.  But I put in bottle return money, $5 extra dollars here and there.  When it adds up to about $20 or $25 I treat myself to something in the mail.  Absolutely half of the fun for me is the waiting for it to come in the mail.  The fiber is good too, but just getting something in the mail is great!  I keep this separate account for only mail order, or computer orders.  I never use my real account that I live out of on line.  I figure if anything should happen, all a hacker would ever get from me is the $3 or $9 that I ever have left in that account.  Makes me feel better about buying stuff on line.


Forward March

I have been happily working my way through the spinning projects that I had already started some time back.  But then I realized just how many of these half finished things there are.  Now I am somewhat ashamed by them.  Not by them, but by their number.  I don’t think its that I lose interest in the current project, but its more that I get very excited by the next project.

What I really want to be doing right now is dyeing.  Not spinning or knitting, but dyeing.  It is so much fun.  And so full of surprises.  So I am using that as a reward for finishing all of these WIPs they call it.  (Works In Progress).  No dyeing until the spinning is done, and the baskets of fluff and fiber are organized.

This is what is on the wheel now:

This just says “March” to me.  Crocuses, new grass, robins.  Or, given my earlier post today, what March should look like.

This is 100% alpaca.  I have done all of the work on this one.  This was raw alpaca fleece purchased from Hidden Valley Alpacas, not more that half a mile from my house.  Probably less that a half mile.  I washed, dyed, carded, pulled into roving, and now am spinning this.  I love to work with alpaca.  It is sooooooo soft.  It is so easy to spin.  It takes dye beautifully.  It just behaves well.  What it does not do is bounce back well, like wool does.  Because of this it has a nice drape, but no elasticity.  Mixing it with wool would be best, but I just love it by itself.  If I wanted to make a sweater, I would definitely mix it, otherwise I think it would end up being a droopy out of shape mess.  But I think smaller, less bulky things are fine being just alpaca.

The yarn that is spun already may stay a single, or I may ply it together.  I’m not sure yet.  I really like a two ply yarn better than a single, but I feel that sometimes when the color is really vibrant in a roving, once plied it gets sort of muddied, or toned down as the colors barber pole together.  But a two ply is just more balanced and a nicer yarn that a lace weight single.  It will tell me what to do with it by the time I am done.

I just love this color.  I can’t remember now what I thought needed working on more than this to cause me not to finish this all at once.

On the wheel today

It was too cold and windy to be outside today.  Sunshiney and looked nice, but too windy and bitterly cold here.  There is yard work to start, but not quite yet.  I did some spinning today.  This is a project that I started last week.  Or re-started last week.  I had already spun some of this before on a drop spindle.  Sometimes I do a test skein to see if I am going to like the finished yarn before I start spinning the whole lot.  So maybe 20 yards on a spindle, then ply it together and see what it looks like.  So, I had done that sample skein, and liked it, and last week started with the wheel.

This is a random mix of fibers.  All wool, but odd lots of stuff mixed together.  The gray is from the very first fiber that I ever bought—a whole fleece about 6 years ago.  I still have a couple of bags left of it.  Some washed and some not.  This gray though I had mixed in a bit of the dyed wool with.  I liked the mix with the gray, just barely there.  I have saved out a piece of the gray mixed with the burgundy to use as a sample.  I would like to have some of just that combination.  A later project.

The dyed wool was just a very small amount that I purchased at Pins and Needles in Farmington.  They don’t really sell spinning fiber, but she had tiny little bags made up for felting.  I think the little bag was $2.  I really love the color, but whoever packaged up this roving made a big mistake and CUT it to length.  Never, never, never cut roving.  It will ease apart on its own if you gently pull it.  It will separate at the ends of the fiber.  Cutting it causes there to be lots of little blunt ends, not naturally tapered ends.  Anyway, I’m glad I only spent two bucks and only got a little.

The white is just some generic “domestic” wool roving that I’ve had for a while and is good for dyeing.  I’m not using much of it in this mix, just a little accent here and there.

On the bobbin:

I like this yarn much better when it is loose, rather than wound into skeins.  The color variation comes through better I think.

As I am spinning a particular color, it usually tells me what it is called.  This has not done that yet.  Any suggestions?

As you have probably gathered, there are a lot of half-finished projects going.  I am trying to work through these before I start anything new.  And I am also itching to do some dyeing.  But I think I will use the dyeing as a reward for getting all of these half-finished things done.

Overall it was a pretty good Tuesday off.  Kind of low-key, not exactly a productive day, but a restive one.

Lending Library at the Laundry

I work for the Tranten family in Kingfield, Maine.  Here in Kingfield, we have a grocery store, a laundromat, and a convenience store.  It is the convenience store that I work at.  The laundromat is next to the grocery store.  I thought it would be a good place to have a book swap.  It really took about a month for people to get the idea of what to do (i.e, bring in their own books for it).  At first it was just me bringing in books from my own collection that I was getting rid of.  I had, previously, been bringing them to either the thrift store or to the  transfer station, but I thought this would be a nice way to share them.  After a while, other people started bringing in books and magazines too.

We have libraries up here, of course.  But since they are staffed by volunteers and not by professional librarians, they are not open very much.  Kingfield library is only open 8 hours per week, 4 hours each on Wednesday and Saturday, and New Portland is open 8 or 10 hours per week, but something like 2 hours in the afternoon 3 days per week and a few hours on Saturday.  Disgraceful if you ask me.  To get to a real library with daily regular hours with librarians who are paid for their work, we have to go to Madison.  Actually, this is funny…..since we are not from Madison, we would have to pay $10 per year for a card at that library.  When I told the librarian how few hours our libraries are open, and what a shame I think that is, she gave me a card for free.  Good for her!

So this is our little book swap.  Every once in a while I go through my books and pick out the ones I either didn’t like or don’t want to keep, or have duplicates of and re-stock the shelves.  Sadly, it does often degenerate to just romance novels.  I very snootily feel that I bring in at least some classics and some more meaty reading than that horrible romance junk.  Should we be horrified that this is what people are reading, or at least satisfied that people are reading at all?

Since part of my duties at the gas station are to tidy up and lock up the laundry at night, I keep the shelves organized, and find that I often throw out the religious tracts that people insist on leaving there.  Anyway, my contribution……