Sunday, December 25, 2011

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Thoughts about Classes I want to teach.

First let me say that I love to teach. When I'm passionate about something I love to share what I've discovered and how it's done. I do not have formal teaching credentials but I have teaching experience.

When my son was in elementary school, I helped organize the "computer lab" for the school. Computers were new at that time and most of the teachers were either "scared" of the machine or simply did not have the time or desire to venture into this new media. I have always liked gadgets and love to type so when computers first came into my focus I wanted one. I was lucky enough to get a Macintosh 128k, which is the first Mac Apple put out.

This started my teaching elementary school children. The old how hard could this be? As long as I was one step ahead of the kids I'll be ok. Well it was a crash course in teaching which is no easy feat. Especially in this day and age of Sesame Street and all the other visual and audio stimulation kids get.

It ended up that I taught for 6 years and finally had experience in every grade level. Since then there has been several different subjects I've taught but currently fiber is my passion and I am gearing up to teach a class at my local yarn store. The class will be "Design Your Own Shawl"

I have some of the material semi organized and I kind of have an idea of what and how I want to teach this. So I sat down typing out the lesson and designing some of the graphics of the shawl shapes etc. Then I needed to describe the class in an interesting way so people who do not know me would want to take this class from just reading this clever dazzling description.

Let's see maybe other's have taught this class before and I wanted to see how they described their classes. I googled "design your own shawl". And this was the first hit:

But this is exactly why I blog so I can keep track of what I'm knitting and how I go about it. Otherwise if I want to repeat anything I have to "reverse engineer" it. I made this little shawl over a year ago and forgot all about this blog entry. Here we go I will now expand on what I said in that YouTube video because I've now made about ten of those little shawls. Experimenting with dying different color ways, spinning the fibers different ways and then putting together a shawl. Almost all of them with this basic recipe that I describe in the YouTube video.

But most people do not read my blog but just look at the pictures so here are some pictures of the shawls....

This off white natural wool I want to paint, but that is another class I'll be putting together.

The store I will be teaching at is my favorite store in Los Angeles Twist Yarns of Intigue. Time and date will be announced.

Friday, December 16, 2011

One of my favorite things to do is to dye!

A friend of mine called me yesterday and asked what I was doing? I said I was dyeing! To which she answered I'm sorry honey what's the matter? No I said it's wonderful I love to dye! Wrong spelling I'm just playing with wool. Happy to see the instant gratification, being able to create just exactly the color that I want.

This is one of the benefits and perhaps one of the main reasons I started spinning my own yarn. Being able to dye any color and spin any weight just added a whole new dimension to the process. Often I would have an idea for a project but would have to search around for just that exact color, weight and fiber that I had in mind. Sometimes it would take me a couple of years to locate just the right material for the project I had in mind.

I would walk into a yarn store and at first glance it looked like a huge array of yarns. Wool, silk, mohair some man made materials in all hues imaginable. But just not the the brownish sport weight soft wool that I was looking for. Well now I can do just that! For example I have this brown outfit that I love and it fits and looks halfway decent on me but I wanted a little shawl for the cooler days. For the summer I made a cotton moebius that I beaded on the edges.

Perfect, very happy for summer but for winter I wanted something made out of wool and a bit warmer. But to find just that color and just that weight & texture was a hunt. Not any more! I have added new skills and am able to dye the wool the colors I want and spin it to the exact weight I like. In this case I was looking for "sport" weight which is a kind of difficult find in yarn stores.

When I first pulled this roving out of the dye pot it really looked like a hot mess but to my surprise the colors are blending nicely and it's knitting up lovely. Fun Fun Fun.

*BTW I'm not too keen on "matchy, matchy" but I do like harmony and colors that like each other.

**Of course I write this blog for my own amusement but once in a while I do hear remarks about what I write. I do enjoy keeping track of my projects and feedback once in a while.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

My hand hurts!

Darn it why do we have to get old and worn out? My poor thumb has too many miles on it. So I am limited in which craft I can work on. Knitting not so good, spinning not so good, chrochet maybe, plying yarn maybe and beading ok. Curious how I can crochet but not knit and I can sew but not spin. Different muscles used. So this is what I made.....

Brown Beaded Bowl

Used some of my handspun not so soft "shetland" wool, which is perfect for this job. Then I used glass beads around the edges. Turned out nice, I may even keep this or maybe not Christmas is so close it may be a present for a friend.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Some days you're hot and some days you're not!

There are days when things just fall into place like a dream but then there are days when I just can't do anything right. I'm sure everyone is like this but it's so terribly frustrating when you do not have any control over it. It could be the moon or the stars or the energy in the air or who the heck knows what but it is what it is.

I've been dying wool and lately next to spinning wool my other most favorite thing to do is to dye wool. Today is not a good color day! I don't even feel like taking any pictures of the awful colors I am putting together. Why am I choosing these awful colors? I'm trying but the brown is "shi....ttie" the purple is "spottie" none of the colors like each other and I don't like any of them at all. Best pack it up and leave it for another day.

Part of what fascinates me is the transformation that takes place from what the color looks like in the un-spun fiber to the spun fiber. Then another transformation occurs when two single strands are plied together. And then another change occurs when knitted.

Here is a success story: "Swirly Dickey"

Sunday, October 30, 2011

How much yarn will 4 oz of roving make?

This is the number one question I get asked about spinning from non-spinners. And I may add it was my number one question also before I had some experience with this spinning thing. I bought 4 oz of fiber at NW Handspun Yarns in Bellingham, WA. A wonderful yarn store owned by my friend Meg Jobe. Meg has a great collection of spinning & knitting supplies and is very knowledgeable about spinning and fibers. I loved the shop and sat upstairs knitting with some good friends.

But how much yarn will 4 oz of fiber yield?

I would say it's a DK weight two ply that I am most comfortable spinning and it yielded 285 yards of yarn. Now to decide what to make? I will probably use it as an accent color because it has some wonderful shiny stuff in it.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Fiber Retreat

My friend Leslie and I went on a road trip here are some pictures of our fiber & food adventures. We did not buy anything because the prices in Canada were sky hi but we dazzled our eyes with all the pretty.

The view from our hotel! Spectacular! Thank you Leslie, it was a great choice. We checked in with all our luggage (we do not travel light). There is a lot of paraphernalia involved with knitting and spinning. The projects the needles the spinning wheels the fiber etc. Usually packing my clothes is not a problem but figuring out what project to take on the road gets to be involved.

I need a small project to knit while waiting at the airport and on the airplane and of course a back up project. Yes the back up project in case I get tired of the one I chose or something happens to it. Ok I admit it I'm a bit obsessed with all this but bear with me. Then the spinning wheel, what bag to put it in what fiber to spin and all the wires, batteries etc. It was no small feat getting all this stuff through security. But I made it and by the way my Zuca bag I chose was just perfect for this, it actually fit in the over head and I had a place to sit while waiting at the airport.

We visited two yarn stores: "Knotty by Nature" ~Fibre Arts~ and "The Beehive Wool Shop" both very nice but expensive.

After feeling up all this wool we got hungry and went across the street to a Korean restaurant and the food was delicious. Then a stroll through China town, after which back to the hotel with some spinning relaxation.

Victoria, BC Canada

As time permits I will post more (maybe).

Friday, September 16, 2011

Whirling like a Dervish Dancer

It was my son's birthday and I decided to buy him a new telephone, because his old phone met an unfortunate death. I wanted to surprise him so I went to the AT&T store as painful as that is but after all it's my boy and it's his birthday. I looked around and now it was time to take a look at my family account.

Can I see a photo id? Says the young lady who was helping me. Sure I say I got lots of those right here, oh my God my id pouch is missing! My heart sinks, WHAT? WHERE COULD IT BE? OMG. What do I do? Where do I look. Do I just call the credit card company right now? I can't remember when I used it last? Did I change wallets and forgot? No it's the same wallet.....

Excuse me young lady I got to go now. I ran to my car and high tailed it back to the house arriving slightly crazed. I ran in the house and started looking and throwing things my somewhat neat desk with piles of paper here and there are being tossed around like a salad. I am in a total panic. At which point my husband walks in and asks what I'm doing.

NOTHING! I say. Oh you are up to something you look like a Dervish Dancer.

NOTHING! I say again.

Then I finally figure that I will have to tell him this dilemma sooner or later so I confess and tell him that I have misplaced (surely not lost) my driver's license, my credit card and several other important cards from my wallet. To which he answers me with "Where did you have it last?"

WHERE DID I HAVE IT LAST? If I knew where I had it last it would not be lost!

"Let me see your wallet"


I realize that he is just trying to help but this is not helping. By now I am beyond upset, I am quite ready to have a total melt down.

Then I spot this little pouch on a love seat in the dining room. I sometimes throw my purse there or a sweater I've taken off and not put away etc. And slowly it's coming back to me now. I went on a bike ride and my husband insisted that I take my id with me. I had a business card with emergency info on it and a couple of dollars but he insisted that I had all my id with me. Ok I did and then I forgot.

What a relief to find my id. by then I was totally exhausted and put myself to bed. Never mind that it was only 7 pm. But all is well that ends well.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Twins or Cousins?

They are not identical twins that I know! First I thought I would strive for fraternal twins but maybe they turned out to be just cousins. You see I was using up small little balls of yarn for a class I took up at the Sock Summit.

The class was

Knitted Tessellation: Playful and Powerful Patterns in Practice

The teacher: Franklin Habit

When I first read the class description it sounded really exciting and it was a great class. I loved Franklin and he was organized and well informed. Over all a good class.

A hands-on introduction to the creation of tessellations: motifs that interlock without gaps or overlaps. Tessellations are as old and pervasive as design itself; they can be found in some of the most ancient examples of human craft, and were famously used in the modern era by the artist M.C. Escher. In this class, we will discuss the theories behind tessellating, and put into practice the basic techniques for creating tessellated patterns in hand-knitted fabrics.

There was homework:

Yarn: Sock- or fingering-weight yarns in solid or semi-solid colors. Two balls in highly contrasting colors if you wish to work in stranded colorwork; one ball if you choose to work in knit/purl texture patterns. (If the latter, white or a light solid color is preferred.) Needles: Any size appropriate to the yarn(s) selected–either double-pointed or circular according to your sock knitting preference. Notions: Stitch markers (8), scissors, notebook, pencils (not pens) and erasers for sketching and charting.


Using the sock knitting method of your choice, CO 64 stitches (using main color, if you choose to knit your class project in stranded colorwork) and work in k2, p2 ribbing for 1.5 inches. Do not cast off. And get a good night’s sleep.

Because I'm a good student I did as I was instructed and knit 64 stitch rib for 1.5".

When I got home I decided that I liked the idea and maybe had enough yarn to finish a sock. I had a tiny ball of Koigu and a tiny ball of hand spun that I did in Judith McKenzie's class the day before.

The Gentle Art of Spinning Socks

The only thing better than a handknit sock is one made from your own handspun. This class is all about spinning a sock yarn that will make a pair of socks that will last longer than it took to spin and knit them. It will help you decide what type of fiber to choose, how to prepare it, and how to spin it to make radiantly beautiful socks that will be a pleasure to make and a joy to wear.

After I completed the first sock I really liked how it looked so I reverse engineered it so it's kind of similar but not quite the identical twin.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Update on my Zuca Bag Research

(BTW the "miniSpinner" is a Hansen electric Spinning Wheel)

You can't say that I'm making this decision lightly. Now that I went down this road I had to turn every corner. Here is what I have figured out. The main difference besides the approximately $100 difference between the Zuca Sport and the Zuca Pro is the width and height. Not in the size of the actual bag but the way the wheels are positioned on the Zuca Sport it makes that bag almost 4" wider. The actual bag is almost the same size. The Zuca Pro has the wheels built in therefore making the Pro narrower so it fits in the overhead and rolls down the aisle easily.

Zuca Sport on the left and Zuca Pro on the right.

I was at my Spinning Guild meeting last Saturday and was lucky enough to spot two Zuca Bags. One of the members had a Zuca Sport and the other was a Zuca Pro! Perfect! I rolled them next to each other and compared in person.

Just to "muddy the waters" I do have one more addition, I just found out that there is a Zuca Pro Artist! The Zuca Pro "Artist" has vinyl inserts and the Zuca Pro has mesh inserts!

There! I have decided to buy a Zuca Pro with mesh inserts in the "Dusty Rose" color. Just because it's on sale and is a $100 dollar cheaper right now.

ps. I've decided to sell my Pocket Wheel if you know anybody who wants a Pocket Wheel let me know (there is a long waiting list for them)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Always happens for a good reason...

Even though at the time it was very annoying. I was walking around at the market place during a break at the Sock Summit admiring all the goodies. My yarn and fiber stash is overflowing so I'm trying not to buy too much in that department but tools and bags and jewelry is always tempting. The best part of these collective market places is seeing all sorts of things that I may not see at any of my Local Yarn Stores.

Because I travel several times a year and have always been.... well ok I'll admit it I am a luggage junkie. Packing is fun and trying to get just the right bag for the occasion is part of the fun of traveling. I like to have a rolling carry on and have had one for years and it's starting to show it's age. Even though my Dear Husband reinforced it very cleverly, it's starting to be not the ideal rolling bag. It has a lot of miles on it and it has served me well but all good things must come to an end. I am shopping for a replacement.

After looking at many options I've decided that a Zuca bag will be the next rolling carry on I want to get. There are many many reasons this bag is kind of amazing and part of it is that you can roll it around and sit on it. You know all those lines you have to wait in and sometimes there is no seating available etc. So as I was walking around at the market place I see that Morgain from Carolina Home Spun has several Zuca bags. She had them for a reasonable price and had several colors to choose from. No shipping or taxes I thought it would be good deal to buy one in person.

When I first started to shop around for this Zuca bag I came to realize that it was not so simple. There were models and colors to choose from. I mean lots of colors and patterns.... it turns out that the bag was designed for kids with sport activities ie. ice skaters etc. That is the reason they have all the colors like hot pink frame with Pink Dots & Hot Pink Reversible inserts. Oh my the colors.... I was very happy to see some of these bags in person but I kind of would like to have a bag that does not stand out like a loud sore thumb. I kind of would like to have some sort of dark color with a darkish insert.

As I was admiring all the frames and picked out a black frame and there was several choices of inserts. One of them was a black insert but it had rhine stones and kind of a tacky buckle. I was trying to decide weather I could replace this buckle or could I live with it. As I was deciding another woman showed up and she started giving her opinion on which one I should get. Often this happens when shopping people are friendly and will give their opinions freely.

Which one should I get I said? The black bag or this brown one? I put the black one on the chair and held up the brown one. Just at that moment when I took my hand off the black bag this woman picks it up and says I'll take it with the black frame. Those were the only black bag Morgain had so I would have to choose bright pink or polka dot something.

I can't believe what she just did, I'm looking at this I say! She tells me oh well "You snooze you loose".

She paid and took off in minutes and left me standing there in disbelief! WTF?

I don't want a pink bag with little pink flowers! So I walked away empty handed. When I told this story to my friend Angela she tells me that there are two different styles, one is called the Zuca sport and the one you want is the Zuca Pro!

Well you see I would have bought the wrong bag. The Zuca Sport is for sporty kids and is wider and has different dimensions than the Zuca Pro. The Zuca Pro is designed to fit in the overhead and roll down the aisles of the airplane the Zuca Sport is wider and will not roll down the aisle as easily or fit in the overhead. The Zuca Pro has No flashing wheels nicer colors and yes a bit more expensive but it's a sturdy aluminum alloy frame which is super strong and would support 300 pounds. I've made up my mind this bag should last for quite a few trips to come.

Developed for the seasoned road warrior, the ZÜCA Pro is a PATENTED new concept in travel that protects your valuable gear and provides a place to sit. You can also use the seat as a platform for carrying additional gear. Measuring 19" x 13" x 10" the Pro fits in the overhead compartment of standard commercial aircraft from 737's up. Easily roll down narrow aircraft aisles with an adult friendly 41 1/2" telescoping ergonomic handle. The ZÜCA Pro is protected by a limited LIFETIME WARRANTY, see details. With the ZÜCA Pro, you will always have the best seat in the house.

Monday, August 15, 2011

I call it "Clever Kate"

It functions as a Lazy Kate but I prefer to call it the "Clever Kate". It's the MacGyver version of building your own Lazy Kate to wind your bobbins.

Materials you will need are: A $1.00 basket from the bargain bin a couple of rubber bands and a set or two of size 9 knitting needles.

It works like a charm.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Birthday gift

My DH surprised me with this gift he made. He even rummaged through my knitting bags and picked out two little canvas bags I had to house this gift.

We call it Lazy Ana. More commonly known in the spinning world as Lazy Kate and I have no idea why Kate was Lazy. It seems to me that Kate was very clever how else can you ply several strands of single yarn strands together?

He it is and I LOVE it.