Thursday, May 26, 2005

Refinished Chair

Two completed projects in one photo:

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I've finally completed the refinishing of the new (to me) spinning chair. I bought the solid oak chair for $14.99 Canadian at a second hand store. It was well worn and needed refinishing. I did all the work myself. After I had all the stripping and sanding done my husband offered to do the staining/lacquering for me, but I was having none of it! After putting all that work into getting the old finish OFF, I was going to plow right through and do the whole bit myself. (Pride in accomplishment and all that.) The chair turned out a little darker, but I got as close as I could to the color of the spinning wheel.

The yarn stacked on the chair is the completed spinning and plying of a huge bag of wool roving that was kindly given to me by Marilyn, a member of the Chilliwack Spinners and Weavers Guild. It spun up to a finished weight of 515 grams and has an average of 9 WPI, although my spinning improved as I went and the WPI ranges from 8 to 11.

Now to decide what to do with the finished yarn. I am considering making a vest from it, but don't know if there will be enough. I'll be able to judge a little better when I have knit a couple of gauge swatches and played with the design a bit.

Before I can work with the home spun I have the Cotton Sheep Pullover to complete. That project is going well. I have both sleeves and about 6" of the body (in the round) done. It'll be complete in a few days as we are traveling to Prince George and I get a lot of knitting done while my husband drives.

Saturday, May 21, 2005


Two bobbins of singles......

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....became two skeins of yarn....

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....which will at some time in the future become socks...or somethin'.


Woodworking CAN be fiber related.

First there was the Niddy Noddy that I showed a few days ago, then these hat stands.

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I have a handmade felt hat that tends to get squashed when I leave it on a shelf. I went searching for a foam wig head, but all the goodwill type stores I checked use them to display their hats and won't part with them. In one of the stores I saw that someone had used old chair legs and a couple of disks of plywood to make a few make-shift hat stands and I figured I was capable of doing the same. The next store I went to had a good selection of turned wooden table chair legs and quite a number of cast off wooden bowls. I loaded up with 6 bowls and three legs for just $2.25 and went home to start refinishing them. Not knowing about chemical strippers it was a Big Job! Thank goodness my husband took pity on me and helped out. I think the bowls make great hat stands. Much better than the plywood disk ones that inspired the idea.

The next project came about because my new wheel came without an orfice hook, the local dealer did not have one in stock, and I was too impatient to wait. I took an old wooden handled fork, and a meat skewer and had it refinished and refashioned (again by hubbie) into a wonderful new orfice hook complete with an eye hook on the end to tie onto the wheel.

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When I came home with this.....

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Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Computer Scare

We had computer problems yesterday. We kept getting error messages that would not go away. For a while there it looked like we might have to go the ol' Wipe And Reinstall route. Ugh. I really hate doing that. It takes me days to get everything reloaded and we lose our bookmarked "favorites".

We won't discuss who was a fault. (I really hate it when people rudely point fingers at me.) Many thanks go out to Jordon who worked diligently for hours to correct the problem.

This computer glitch has really made me realize what a valuable crafting tool the internet is for me. I belong to several fiber arts related forums and learn so much from the other members. I am also inspired by the blogs I read which showcase the works of others and through which I learn of new patterns and resources. I wouldn't want to miss out on some of the online stores that provide products that I can't get locally either. Personal email contact with members of the local guild and also international fiber enthusiasts I correspond with regularly would be missed too.

Breathing a tentative sigh of relief here. Things are not running perfectly yet, but at least I can access the internet again. If I disappear for a while, you'll know that "technical difficulties" cropped up again and I am in the middle of a major computer overhaul. :-Z

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Niddy Noddy

This Niddy Noddy was a Mother's Day gift from my husband. It came unfinished, but over the past few days he's been busy staining and lacquering it. It looks lovely now and is a very close match to the color of my spinning wheel.

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He's also working on a threading hook for me. *Grin*

Monday, May 16, 2005

Cotton Sheep

With all the spinning I have been doing lately my blog has been sorely lacking in knitting content. I've been knitting, but on several different projects at once which means I haven't made much photograph worthy progress on any of them. This project is a possible exception.

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I think of it as the "Cotton Sheep Sweater" because it has that natural wool color and is wooly-sheep looking but it is made of two cotton blends. The ribbings will all be Skacel "Sirenetta" (60% Cotton, 40% Acrylic) and the main portion will be Skacel "Vacation" 75% Cotton, 25% Nylon. I purchased both from a clearance sale at Elann.

This will be a simple, pullover with set in sleeves and a very deep front V-neck. It is my own design. The intent is to throw it on over sleeveless summer tops when the evening air turns chilly.

Sunday, May 15, 2005


Woo, hoo, perfectly balanced! And I know how I did it too, so there is hope for achieving balance again with the next skein.

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For the readers who don't know why I'm doing the Goody, Goody Dance about this I'll explain. For the experienced spinners already in the can skip the rest of this post. ;-)

When hand spinning yarn, you aim for a balanced skein. This means the twist in the "singles" matches the twist in the plying (two or more singles twisted together to form yarn) and the end result is a skein that hangs without twisting around the skein in the picture. It can be hard to achieve because the slightest variation either way (too much spin in the single or in the plying) causes imbalance.

Yesterday I carefully checked the twist in the plying frequently while I was doing it. It seemed perfect, but when I took it off the wheel and made a skein it was very UNDER twisted in the ply....making the finished skein twist "S". It was pretty obvious to me that winding it off the wheel and onto the niddy noddy was untwisting it.

Today, while making a new skein, I compensated for that untwisting effect by slightly overspinning during the plying. So during the few "tests" I did while spinning, the 'test-loop' twisted back on itself slightly "Z". When I made the skein it hung in absolute perfection.

I know that I'm blathering on here, preaching the obvious to the experienced spinners and not explaining enough of the lingo to the non-spinners. Maybe the NEW spinners can at least relate?

Well off to spin a bit in celebration. I've set a goal for myself of spinning and plying one skein per day. My "goal" is also my limit as I don't want to overdo the spinning and neglect all my other hobbies. Speaking of which......I'll have some knitterly pictures soon. I promise.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Wool Pig

What does it take to go from "enthusiast" to "WOOL PIG".

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Have I crossed the line?

Three days ago I was nearly out of fiber to spin and had begun staring speculatively at fluffy, long haired dogs walking by. Then in stepped a couple of enablers (I'll stop short of calling them "wool pushers"), who found it in their hearts to take pity on this new spinning addict. First Marilyn showed up with lovely, clean, ready to spin, a bag of sheep's wool and the other a bag of a wool/mohair blend. (The two dark plastic bags at the front right of the picture.) I thought FANTASTIC, no need to go "cold turkey".

I then went to Louise's for a lesson on cleaning and preparing raw fleece for spinning. We (I used the term "we" loosely as she did 99.9% of the work) sorted and washed a fleece, spun it in her extractor and then while it was air drying we drove to Sea Bird Island. What's at Sea Bird Island? Lots and lots of sheep (thousands), and the facilities for sorting, picking, and cleaning the fleece. The huge flock is all white, but the caretakers have done an exchange with another producer and now have colored fleece available as well.

I couldn't go home with just ONE color as visions of fairisle were dancing in my head. I had to get dark brown (2 pounds, 14 oz.), light grey/beige (1 pound, 3 oz.), and a creamy white (3 1/2 pounds), the 4 clear bags on the left.

As I was leaving Louise handed me a another bag of wool that just needs to be carded (the bag at the far right/back, and loaned me the carders to do it.

I think I'm all set for a while now. Must. Go. Spin.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005


I dusted off my handy, dandy replicator, shoved in the guild's rental wheel, pressed the button and whaddaya know, out popped a second Ashford Traditional spinning wheel! The one on the left is mine. :-D

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Well okay, maybe it wasn't quite THAT easy. Louise hunted down a secondhand wheel for me and I paid the previous owner $250 for it. I did a bit of minor tweaking, replacing the flyer brake and the drive band and giving her a good oiling (lemon oil on the wood and sewing machine oil on the moving parts). She's a beautiful wheel and she spins like a charm. She says her name is "Mary". ;-)

Saturday, May 07, 2005


As close to "exquisite" as mending can come. This is a quivet toque I am mending for a friend.

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Most mending is hardly worth doing. Mending takes time, a resource that many people don't have an abundance of, then the mended item never looks quite as lovely as the original did anyways. Now-a-days most items are easily and cheaply replaced. This however is handspun quivet ($$!), knit by hand into a toque for a loved one. The toque was then loved so much that it was worn and worn and worn......until it was finally worn out. An item that loved deserves a second chance at a useful life.

I had wanted to use a Swiss darning technique that would be virtually undetectable, but ran into difficulties because of the thick/thin nature of the homespun, and because time and wear had blurred many of the stitches together. In the end I had to use a more traditional woven type of mending. Still, I think it turned out quite well. The bumpy yarn does a pretty good job of disguising the exact nature of the mend anyway. In this "after" photo, the mended parts appear a bit darker. The yarn I used to do the mending was spun at the same time as the original hat, but then spent decades tucked away not subject to the abuse that the actual hat experienced and therefore was protected from fading.

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Thursday, May 05, 2005


What a great spinners and weavers guild we have here in Chilliwack. Friendly and GENEROUS people. I can't believe the way the guild members are going out of their way to help me! They are SO willing to give of their time, talent and resources to help a beginner out.

I was given TWO lovely big chunks of wool to spin today at the guild's annual spinning/dyeing day. I loved the way this stuff spun. I am seeing a real difference in the variety of wools I have had a chance to spin over the past few days. Some wools, despite being good quality, I have quite a difficult time with, other wools spin so nicely that they make this novice look good.

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Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Handspun Scarf

Yesterday I showed a hat I made with my first hand-(SPINDLE)-spun yarn. Today I finished a coordinating scarf made from my first hand-(WHEEL)-spun yarn. I used up every last scrap of this particular handspun in the making of this scarf. The picture doesn't show the falls to my hips. I spun all the yarn from hand dyed Perendale Roving purchased from Sun Bench Fibres.

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Monday, May 02, 2005

Spindle Spun Gnomy Hat

I couldn't let those first spindling efforts go to waste so I made this:

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It's the "Gnomy Hat" from "Knitter's Almanac" by Elizabeth Zimmerman. She is a genius! This is the first toque I have ever tried on, let alone knit, that doesn't slide up off the ears in the wearing. It is specially designed with simple shaping that makes it a little longer over the ears. I think it looks great. It was easy to knit too.

What makes this hat EXTRA special (to me anyway) is that it is my very first spinning efforts. All of the singles, and most of the plying, were done on a drop spindle. There is quite a bit of variation in the thickness of the yarn. The very first bit, where I was an absolute beginner, is quite thick. As I learned it got thinner and more evenly spun. In the knitting of the hat, I had to double the strands of my later efforts to make them match the gauge of the earlier stuff.

The scarf in the picture is a WIP I'll be discussing later.