I went to my first fiber festival, my first in person fiber festival, in at least ten years. It’s been a long, long ten years and so many priorities came before spinning, knitting and my own fun. I used to love the Florida Fiber Ins in Orlando but everything was above my price range and I felt completely out of place when in attendance. That’s pre-pandemic, pre-kids, pre-Masters degree, pre-CPA. . . Last year, in the depths of my grief and anxiety, I went head first back into crafts and stumbled upon virtual fiber festivals. It may have even been about this time, but I’m not sure which ones I attended via Facebook. What I remember is bidding on Dunn Spunn’s fiber batts in a frenzy, not knowing what was going on. What I learned from that experience is that even though these batts are indeed gorgeous, I don’t like spinning from art batts. Sorry!
I got out of the house early on Saturday morning and drove up to the Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival in Berryville, VA. I stopped at Sheetz for coffee and a breakfast burrito and it was yummy. I definitely recommend it, especially if you are hungry as it’s pretty big.
First of all, I got there early so I got to walk around listening to the vendor’s talk and without the crowds. There were definitely a good bit of people in attendance later. I went through my first walk through, once again, not really knowing what was going on. That is a common theme in my life. I can find out more through other people’s reactions and conversations than I can research before hand. Through three walk throughs of the grounds and some strong will power on my part, I left with a grey gotland fleece, two bags of wool and hand plucked angora roving, one black cat knits hank of fingering weight sock yarn, some sweater stitch markers with instructions, 3 stickers and a shawl/hair pin that is currently holding up my bun. I desperately wanted a monster coffee mug but couldn’t fork over the $39 even if it was well deserved for the craftsmanship. I watched spinning on my dream wheel – a Monarch from Spinolution and watched weaving handspun on a barn loom. I was looking for a few more fiber processing tools but didn’t find the right one at the right price. Also, there were tons of carded batts and braided carded fiber, but I didn’t see anything really in the way of combed fibers. I like to spin worsted and I wish there were more of those combed braids available. I love the stained glass merino from spotted circus, which I ordered at some virtual fiber festival last year. I just wish I had spun it using chained ply instead of regular plying. I muddied the colors that way.
I cannot wait for my next fiber festival but I’ll have to take some time as it seems everything keeps going up in price. I still love it!
It’s happening again. I’m falling into that void where depression meets crafts. Normal people get depression, stay in bed for days with no motivation. Not me. I turn my grief, my anxiety, my huge amount of anger and drive it into a need to create. I have a Facebook feed filled with my creations. The worst part was after Christmas my arm hurt so badly (tennis elbow = knitting elbow?) that I couldn’t knit for about six months. I’d try only to be unable to flex my wrist or twist for days.
What have I been doing since my December knitting madness?
January & February were devoted to skiing. You can’t think while you are skiing. It’s waiting, waiting, waiting, followed by an intense one to five minutes and back up again. I put my audiobook on and let it rip.
March was just intense. I received some devastating news. I attempted to backpack my way out of the anger and grief. Then my body said, you haven’t been doing this for a year, WTH! Then I flipped to planning my garden and starting seedlings. I finished my cross stitch cross from last year. I also, painfully, finished my kids green sweaters.
April was when I really did a lot of work in the garden, doubling it’s size. Plus we got back into camping and I pulled out the spinning wheel again.
May and June were gardening, camping, backpacking, vacation and so much more. I started to realize I was overscheduling myself and coming off the worst of the March shock.
July and August were overscheduled again, but well worth it. The garden was abundant and we have jars of tomato sauce for the winter. I finished my rainbow blanket from knit picks and started a sweater but more importantly, picked up spinning again.
I’ll post about my spinning and dying and sudden returning intense interest in all things fiber in the next post!
So, I am a little more than half way through with my blue sky shrug. I really do love this pattern. It is so simple to follow but it is taking more time than I would like to finish it. I thought I had less yarn than I do and I’m already wondering what to do with the leftover homespun. Of course, I’m not as thin as the model below, but I’m looking forward to wearing this. Here in Florida, alpaca is used sparingly. Today is cold and my cats are continually sitting on my work in progress.
This weekend has been especially lazy. I have zero motivation. I’m even having trouble getting enough energy to surf through pinterest. I did manage to finish my chocolate homespun yarn. I bought the batt at the Florida Fiber In back in September but haven’t really had time to sit and spin it until recently. I tried to create a thicker yarn this time and it worked. I used the navajo plying technique to create a three ply and I can’t wait to use it. I’m not sure for what yet, since I don’t have that much.
Finally, I started a bobbin of what will become my cotton candy yarn. I also bought this at the Florida Fiber In back in September. I’m going to pair it with a gorgeous hot pink. I’m thinking socks for this two ply yarn.
Last week, my friend and I were hanging out spinning away and talking about ideas. We were talking about knitting and spinning events and retreats. Neither one of us have much money and now we’re both more concerned with Christmas presents but we would love to go and learn at one of these events that take place all over the country. Well, why not have one here? We joked about it and moved on to other topics of conversation.
And I keep thinking. . . why not?
Of course there are some things to consider.
1- I’ve never been to a knitting/spinning/ fiber retreat.
2- I love to knit and spin but am certainly no expert.
3- Southwest Florida doesn’t have a lot of knitting shops in the area and no spinning fiber whatsoever.
4- I do not know how to plan events.
But on the plus side.
1- Naples is a great destination with natural beauty and wonderful weather during the winter.
2- It might be a lot of fun.
Would anyone be interested in this? Does anyone out there have any experience planning these things? Let me know. This is just a thought at this point.
I have to apologize for not being attentive in my blogging. I have been overwhelmed by work/classes and housely duties that I’ve ignored for too long. I did have some more fun this weekend with food dye.
1- On my needles: 1 entrelac baby blanket still in progress. This will last the rest of my life 2- Mulberry Hat from Modern Top Down Knitting which is coming out too big and has been put down till I have the brain power to figure out where I went wrong.
2- On my wheel, brown alpaca from Nancy in our spinning group. I want to make a four ply yarn for a jacket/sweater with three parts wool one part alpaca. Florida is one of the few places where “You know, Alpaca is really warm. . .” could be a bad thing.
3- Out of my dye pot. Okay, this was never actually in a dye pot. I used the Knitty instructions with the Cold Pour Method. I thought this came out wonderful. I even created a giant niddy noddy with pvc to skein it up. I put an old plastic Christmas tablecloth on the kitchen table before I started. I wasn’t sure how messy this would get. I did put paper towels under the different colored sections to prevent mixing. As you can see from the pictures below, I wound up with blue hands and there is a green fingerprint in a yellow section of yarn. All in all, I think it was great. I’m sending this off to Mom so I won’t have finished project pictures unless she provides them.
My Ashland Bay Blue Face Leicester Top BFL Undyed Spinning Fiber arrived from Paradise Fibers and I had one goal for this weekend. As I mentioned last week, I’ve been keenly interested in Navajo plying. I sat down Friday night, finished a bobbin of one ply yarn for the above wool. It was so easy to work with. I’m actually having to overtwist it so it doesn’t unravel on me. Then I took it off and started navajo plying. I have a few issues with this technique. 1- Starting it is difficult. I kept loosing it when trying to get it to take on the bobbin. Finally I made a knot onto the starter yarn. 2- I’m getting a lumpy yarn. I think when I’m plying, I’m loosening the fibers and creating bumps. 3-Breaking. As I was plying, it kept breaking. The finished yarn came out unbalanced and different widths but I decided to dye it anyway.
I read this over and over and over. First I soaked the yarn overnight in 1/3 cup of vinegar. Then, I woke up early and put the yarn in the crock pot with 1/2 cup of vinegar and just enough water to cover the yarn. I wish I had put less water in. After a little over an hour, I mixed my dyes with hot water and began covering the yarn. I was really going for a blue and orange yarn with spots of green, but the colors muddled a bit. This is really a clean process though. I had no spills or stains. I added more dye, not liking that the colors were so light. I believe this is why I got the muddled colors. By the end, there was too much water in the crock pot.
I used tongs to pull the yarn out and hung it first on my kitchen faucet over the sink. Once it cooled off, I rinsed it, and hung it outside to dry. I was a little impatient. I didn’t even wait for it to dry 100% before winding it on the homemade nostepinne. Okay, it was a size 15 straight needle. I think I did a great job for the first time using a nostepinne (Knitting needle!)
So below is half of the final product. The colors weren’t what I was trying for, but all in all, I think it worked out very well.
I have been chock full of ideas in this last week. I’ve ignored the housework and have been focusing on fiber related projects. I spun up a skein of white alpaca and yellow wool plied together. This came out perfect and I’m really happy. However, I had some left over potluck wool on one of my spools so I decided to try navajo plying, which is spinning one ply into a three ply by creating loops with one hand and controlling the twist with the other. It took a little bit but I caught on and can’t wait to try it again.
I have some wool/mohair mix that friend gave me and I decided I would try a few new things that I’m looking forward to. It spins up real easily. I started this yesterday and then the hubby and I went to a neighbor’s party. I don’t know if anyone else has this problem, but if I have more than one drink, I can’t sleep! So, I wake up repeatedly this morning and finally around 6 am I give up. With a glass of water and a cup of coffee, I sit in front of the spinning wheel.The rest of the wool/mohair mix spins up quickly and I go to navajo ply it. I try and try and try but I can’t get the flyer to pick it up. The yarn keeps breaking. I was really looking forward to navajo plying and then dyeing it with food coloring. Uh well. I finally give up and pick up my socks that I’m making with my homespun.
SOCKS. Filled with frustration, I rip out what I’ve already done. I’m using Judy’s magic cast on for toe up socks. I love the book, Socks from the Toe Up. I think toe up socks are easier to do and better for someone like me who tends to drift from the pattern and think, “I know how to do this.” You can try it on as you go along and can fix problems as they come up. The problem I have with the Judy’s Magic Cast-on is that it is easy to create a whole in the toe area if your cast on/knitting is not tight enough. I had tried this twice before and decided to switch to smaller needles. I am a simple sock maker and wanted to try something a little nicer. I try different patterns on the top of the sock and can’t seem to get anything to look right. The yarn is variegated (or closer to muddled) so it should be a simple pattern. I’m now on my fifth attempt trying a seed stitch pattern. Oh, and I don’t like how it looks. Sigh.