UndyedYarnpire’s Fiber Opera

March 25, 2012

six months later

Filed under: fiber, hat, knit, project lists, summary, yarn — Tags: , , , , — UndyedYarnpire @ 2:45 pm

I said last September that I was getting back to my fiber crafting now that things were looking up. It has been six months since then and I am doing things but not writing about them. My productivity is odd and taking pictures of things is a huge chore. Posting the pictures and linking them into Ravelry is such an enormous task that I would snap a few shots begrudgingly and tell myself I would work on sharing if I ever felt like it. Then I started just piling new things to the side to be photographed and would only take pictures of things if I was sending them out. There was even one project that I sent out without photographing it. But all the pictures have been taken now. Some of them have been uploaded. I plan to work on this in small stages in the forthcoming time.

I finished spinning a pound of CMF BFL which sat unfinished on my wheel for 1.5 years. It came out at a different gauge than the previous half, so that is not good for my consistency with a huge gap in the project. (The pictures for this are not up because I took them when it was too bright and without a diffuser for the sunlight so you cannot see anything.)

I spun half a pound of dyed-by-me fiber (from Yarn School, it wasn’t all hellish craft-wise, just the worst social and travel experience ever, you really do not want to go to that if you are a grown up. But it was such a neat idea that I wish someone would create the Club Med version.) It was fiber everyone complimented me on at the time but which I knew was awful. The spun yarn really is ugly.

From yarn school fiber

I made myself a hat.

From 2012 January

The Tardis socks are at the window level. I made 2 scarves and a hat to give away. I created a stole which was so far off in gauge it was 4 times bigger than expected and will need to be frogged. I finally put up pictures of the Kindle bag I made myself last year. I dyed socks that I bought from Sock Dreams. [Feel free to browse for these pictures, as they are being uploaded. If you have “followed” or “subscribed” or whatever to my Picasa albums, UndyedYarnpire, then you can receive an email update listing everywhere I have added pictures. I subscribed to myself and use those as a list of things to tick off when writing these update posts.]

I went to Stitches 2012 with a friend I met at what was my LYS’s knit night. They have since stopped being my LYS. Which is, I suppose, news related to crafting, that I started going out to things more, meeting people, and found a place I liked so well, I started to consider them my store, where I would shop first. It did not work out. For such an urban area, it probably was not a feasible model. How much yarn does anyone need? I personally have a huge stash to tide me over during lean times when there are no stores and so there is something ready to go for almost any urgent project. But one ball of Tosh chunky would certainly take a month of work to finish (unless I was doing something overly simplistic) because that would be for me. Even though I thought nothing of dropping $10 on dinner before knitting, I was really put off by the idea of buying $20 in yarn even monthly. Where was I going to put it? I bought a pattern and a book, and 2 skeins of yarn in 4 months. The store owner kindly announced the change in policy before Stitches, so I felt free to spend the earmarked “support the LYS” money at Stitches instead. I will still shop if I ever need daytime in-person yarn shopping, but it was at the far edge of my normal range. There are a lot of people I met there that I would like to keep up with, so it is somewhat sad that there isn’t another group we can all migrate to. Some I got to know well enough that we can go out separately.

I have pictures of all the Stitches 2012 purchases.

  • I got 3 braids from Redfish Dyeworks. They remain my favorite dyers. (Crown Mountain Farms is my second favorite and one I buy much more of.)
  • I bought solid fiber from Opulent Fiber. A 5 pack sampler in shades of blue, a really awesome gray, and a copper colored silk
  • I got one braid from Royale Hare, but not the “Napa Nutmeg” colorway. They turned out not to be sharing a booth with Romi this year, I missed pretending that she remembered me while she was just being polite to yet another stranger.
  • I got a really great skein of sock yarn from a new place, Forbidden Yarn. There was a card in my bag saying they were looking for fiber festivals and I was sort of hoping to tell them about the Oakland Fiber Festival, but there is no email address anywhere. You can leave a blog comment but why would I want to post in public if I am likely to be rejected (it is a long trip)? I am not going to add hobby related things to Facebook or twit about it. So if you, the Forbidden Yarn people, google for yourselves and see this, contact Bente at Piedmont Yarn because I really liked your stuff, just not enough to jump through hoops, yeah? Forbidden Yarn named their yarns after the deadly sins. I have a variegated purple skein of their Gluttony, which is an 8-ply sock significantly less crunchy to the touch than Everlast.
  • And I bought a bag. I have always wondered why people spend that kind of money on bags for their knitting, but I do not use my Namaste bag for my knitting. I use it for everything else. [bag is not pictured, but is the purple mini-messenger if you are familiar with Namaste]

Speaking of OFF (Oakland Fiber Festival), I did finally take a picture of the rabbit fiber I bought last Summer. It was really hard to get a great shot of it because it would blow away when I breathed before pressing the shutter button.

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April 29, 2010

Second Elephant

Filed under: toy — Tags: , , , — UndyedYarnpire @ 12:36 pm

January 2, 2010

New Year, new projects. Old successes.

Filed under: discussion, equipment, fiber, patterns, project lists, spin, yarn — Tags: , , , — UndyedYarnpire @ 11:46 pm

Recently spun yarns:

From Fiber Club
purple yarn (one ply angora+merino, one ply Falkland for the main yarn, n-plied and wrapped for the two smaller side skeins– 4oz total)

_______

From CMF
turquoise yarn (“Avalon” CMF Corriedale pencil roving, 8oz 2ply in 2 skeins.)

__________

From yarn school fiber
calico yarn (3 ply alpaca: tri-color roving from Alpacas in Wildcat Hollow)

__________

From Fiber Club From fiber dye
Robin Hood (2ply overdye SW BFL)

New Year’s Eve, I cleared my yarn area. I pulled things I was never going to finish off the needles and put everything away in the tubs. There was some squishing required, but everything still fits. (That is the limit. 4 small tubs for yarn, 2 big tubs for roving, 1 under-bed storage for overflow… anything else has to be turned into a finished object.)

I found the sock I started last March. It is feasible to finish it soon because I had already finished the heel turn. The mate will need to be made, but that was worth rescuing.

The pillow front is still on the needles, despite needing 2 more rounds tinked.

___

New Year’s Day I started a new project, leg warmers for me. The yarn is 2-ply bulky from 8oz of “12th Planet” CMF BFL. Its a nice sort of brown purple colorway.  I think I am going to base these on the “Tree Trunk” pattern which is a straight tube with cables on a knit field. I want mine shaped though.

I measured my leg. 11 inches from ankle to knee. I then put tick marks every inch. Then measured around with a measuring tape. So I cast on and my number is 48. I figure I should have 8 repeats of 3×3 cable around. Then  after the increase, there will be 4×3 cable, then 4×4, and so on. At the biggest circumference, I will have 6×6 cables.

I added an inch of horizontal ease so it can go over jeans. And I plan to pretend my row gauge is more like 8.5 instead of the 7 I really get. That way these should have a little bagginess. Cuffs at the ankle and knee, possibly with a lace edging to be added afterward.

Today I also started a replacement cabled cowl. It is kkpp 3×3 pkkp 3×3 ppkk. Same cable idea. Using Knitpicks Gloss Heavyweight yarn, which is about Aran weight. 4sts/inch 6rows/inch using #9 needles.

____

I need another row on my abacus. I want one where there is a fat bead every fourth row. Maybe I just need an abacus where the beads can be interchanged and a big box of beads.

If I can find a new abacus frame, I will most certainly buy bird-shaped beads for this cable pattern (and feather-and-fan) so it goes, “Duck, duck, duck, GOOSE!”

My current abacus frame is a rectangle of wood with beaded wires just wrapped around the edges to hold them in place. The wires cannot be bent and unbent without self-destructing. There is a crossways wire to be the Rubicon. It is a tight horizontal wire threaded under the bead wires and beads have to be lifted over it.  That means if I drop the abacus, I do not lose my place. It is entirely functional with 3 bead wires. I have one wire with alternating big/little beads which I use to keep track of which kind of fancy row I am on. Then I have digits counters (10 medium beads on one, 10 little beads on the other: tens and ones digits). Sliding the beads is fun and does not require both hands unlike those little twisty row counters. Row counters are not useful if you resent having to use them.  I need one more row to count the frequency of fancy rows, but that changes from pattern to pattern.

Speaking of which, when you have chosen a cable, how do you tell how often to execute it? Like my 3×3 cable, is that every fourth row as shown in Knitting In The Old Way or was some of the chart omitted? Most of the examples were 2×2 cables and were every fourth row. I asked a friend who said a good rule of thumb was spacing equal to the number of stitches in the cable. (Which is going to make those legwarmers even more complicated!)

Back to the abacus. I think I could make a travel one with seed beads and coil-less safety pins. That would be a fun project right there.

Now I am going to stop and actually go find the pictures to add. 2010 really needs to be the year of the much more streamlined photo blogging procedure.

December 31, 2009

Dragon spindle pictures

Filed under: equipment, spin — Tags: , , — UndyedYarnpire @ 12:25 pm

Spindle pictures:

From spindle
From spindle

I am extremely pleased with my spindle. This is the Woolly Designs Hollow Whorl “Dragon” spindle hand carved by Tracy Eichheim. I paid $70.65 including shipping. The ordering process is awkward. Check or money order only. One must email a stranger and ask for permission to order. It was extremely uncomfortable for me to initiate contact when the website said they were closed but would be open “in fall”.

There is no fixed price list where one can differentiate the difference in features or price between hollow whorl and rim styles. There are prices for some/most of the motifs, but I made my selection partially based on visible prices. (I am an ardent believer in “If you have to ask, you cannot afford it.”) The Dragon is one of the most expensive motifs. Eichheim has bargain spindles that are under $30 (“Hearts” and “Comets”) and shipping is flat for up to 5 spindles. (I should have ordered one of those as well. More is often better.)

Mr. Tracy Eichheim was personable and friendly enough to chat with me via email; he responded to some of my asides that I include everywhere. I often think that I prefer things where one can just order by clicking and inserting a credit card number, but I know I got the best suited spindle because I was encouraged to ask questions. The people who are sour and bitter and resentful of the time it takes to answer your questions but who do not have automated ordering are much worse than this was.

It was very stressful to send someone a check to reserve a place in the work queue. I guess I am paranoid, but I asked myself what happens to the money if something happened to the craftsman. I need not have worried. My spindle showed up exactly when it had been predicted to arrive. (Both the estimate at ordering and the shipping estimate with tracking number.)

I really do like my spindle. I am very glad I ordered it. I would have been happier if I could have clicked a button to order it instead of feeling like I was begging for a chance to buy one and there was such a shortage that other people would cry without one. When Tracy told me there were a bunch of orders already waiting but he might be able to fit me in before the end of the year, I really felt like I was getting the last dolly in the toy store window while a dozen orphan girls looked on with sad faces pressed against the glass. I had to be talked into sending the check because I do not like when my unique purchase comes pre-wrapped in guilt. Finally my husband said, “All those other people are too slow. They can buy spindles from that lame place [Ashford].”

The dragon carving is beautiful. I took a number of pictures just to show that off. The hook at the top is slightly bent toward the notch so the yarn goes perfectly straight up. The hook is so securely mounted that I would suspect welding had I not asked. (Eichheim described the various glues he uses when I asked. I did get a lot out of the pre-ordering discussion as much as I wished it could have been omitted.) There are a lot of really excellent details in this spindle’s construction. I think it is under-valued and should cost more than it does. Though if I had spent $135 on this, I would have expected low VOC varnish (less reeky) and non-styrofoam packing peanuts and credit card processing.

There are people who name their spinning wheels. I have not named mine. My Fricke wheel has always been a tool and I would not name it any more than I would name my breakfast fork. My spindle, however, wanted a name. If you want to guess, I would be entertained.

December 27, 2009

End of the holiday weekend, what was spun and done.

Filed under: equipment, fiber, patterns, spin — Tags: , , — UndyedYarnpire @ 11:13 pm

Having a real spindle really does make a difference. My Eichheim spindle (hollow whorl dragon) spins practically forever.  It spins long enough and fast enough that I can get fingering singles from head to floor. If I was standing on a scaffold, I would not need to stop even then. It weighs next to nothing so I can actually spin tiny singles without experiencing the “drop” in drop-spindle. I am quite pleased. The brick-like spindles I tried at [hack, spit] Yarn School sell for $20. This was $70 with shipping. It is definitely worth the difference in price.

So far the negatives are the long wait times and the whorl size being just large enough that I am having trouble finding a non-awkward basket for it. There will definitely be pictures, but please wait.

Pre-drafted and spun half of the overdyed SW BFL fiber. Found a shaped hood pattern using short rows, am thinking about making this mottled green yarn into a “Robin Hood”, but that might change after plying.  I was so excited by the hood thing that I actually printed it. My relationship with my printer is contentious, so that is a big deal. It has been easier to load PDFs onto my phone and view them that way, which says something.

Someone should write a sock book that promises HUGE charts and no purling. While I had the printer going, I figured I would print out some other things. I have dozens of sock patterns faved and apparently it was from before I had actually made socks because they are all ridiculously complicated motifs.

I will probably end up charting my own variant of the Monkey chart. Between the no-purl, offset, no-hole versions, I am not sure what I want. I rather like the YO increases because it provides flexibility in fit. No purl is important.  I like the offset idea. Many of those options do not have a given chart, so I would end up creating it anyway.  There was an interesting double increase I found during the search, a V-inc. It combines the Right-leaning Increase (LRinc in Bordhi nomenclature, the “Riley” in mine) immediately followed by a Left-leaning Increase (LLinc/Leelee), without knitting the superlative stitch between. That was part of the no-hole version. The YO increase version has adjacent YOs and requires some machinations. I need my own chart.

Paradise Fibers sent me an email saying they are having a 10% off sale. I am thinking about buying some undyed things since I invested in the dyes already.

I did not end up receiving the Crown Mountain Farms fiber club from someone else whose credit cards are liked by paypal.  I guess there are still a few days left and I could call them myself.

I saw someone saying she was starting her dye work for Stitches. I do not think I am going to Stitches. There were a lot more fiber vendors last year compared to the year before, but the quality and value were a lot lower. I would like more Royal Hare, but the first year there were things like mottled brown… last year it was 6 shades of orange-pink or clown-costume. RedFish Dyeworks had some of the most phenomenal stuff I had ever seen my first year. And last year it was all garish and ugly. I was there Friday and a lot of popular places were picked over already from the people who had gone to the Thursday night preview.

That is it for tonight. I am hoping to get the pictures taken tomorrow. I have a basket full of things I should photograph, but holidays are a difficult time for projects requiring equipment and setup and a solid block of attention.

May 29, 2009

fiber clubs, or how the weight of too many holds back success

Filed under: discussion, fiber — Tags: , , , — UndyedYarnpire @ 5:32 pm

I got the May fiber club shipment today (in case of revisions, today is: 29 May 2009) from Susan’s Spinning Bunny.

This is definitely going to be my last fiber club. I like a lot of the things you cannot get any other way. Most fiber clubs are the only sources for odd fibers, because very few fiber vendors sell non-standard fibers. (Though Paradise Fibers does, and so did Yarn Barn when I was there in person, obviously I just live somewhere with a dearth of fiber-friendly stores. (A boutique yarn store is not fiber-friendly, it’s about looking good through the window.) ) I am not sure why no one sells baby llama. I am not sure why it is impossible to find naturally colored alpaca+silk. But I am extraordinarily picky about dyed fibers. Sometimes I admit that I chose my matching Rav username right around Halloween, but a lot of the sentiment behind it holds true.

Mass production certainly does not help, and that holds true for all clubs. Spunky Eclectic sent out an 80% white thing with random splotches of blue and brown. I bought fiber at Stitches that was still wet. I have seen shipments where the fiber is exposed during shipping. But the worst thing about mass production is how the perspective is wrong. When a dyer is doing umpteen batches of the same thing, there is a tendency to cut corners– leaving lots of white, using dyes straight up instead of blended, fingerprint splotches of other colors… and lousy packaging. Because it is hard to do a mass production, the final quality is usually lower. But each customer only gets one.

You see what I am saying? It does not matter if the dyer does 1000 or 2, each person only gets one. So each recipient can only evaluate one. I am not evaluating how big a project it was to dye 50 pounds of wool and get it shipped out even though there were supply issues and holidays. (The logistics of doing that as one person are a nightmare.) I look at my shipments for any fiber club and I am not seeing an artisan practicing a craft, I am seeing the 8-pack of fat crayons kindergartners use.  

I am disappointed while I know the dyer is damned proud of her*self because something went out the door and on time. (*her because 100% of the dyers I have dealt with and seen are female, but this is not about one person and there is a possibility that there might be men in this field somewhere. In fact, someone recommedn one to me and I will sign up for his club and we will see if I am non-sexist enough to tell you honestly whether his quality is better.)

Overall, I think fiber clubs are a good idea to push me out of my rut of buying the same fibers over and over and over and using the same kinds of colorways over and over and over again. But I hate pink. I hate orange. I hate yellow (until enough black has been added that it is an olive green, then it can be a nice foil for jewel tone colors). It seems like I should do something else with my money because it is extremely unlikely that something intended for a wide audience would exclude half the colors. 

I keep hoping that fiber clubs are going to be more like spin-alongs. But the spin-alongs I have seen prove that a group homogenizes on the mediocre (they always choose lousy dyers and hideous colorways and mediocre fibers— but somehow without saving any money). 

I guess spinning has to be about the yarn because I sure as anything certain am not making any friends this way.

April 25, 2009

We have cashmere.

Filed under: fiber, spin — Tags: , , — UndyedYarnpire @ 2:37 pm

I finished spinning the fiber club selection. That would be spinning the singles, plying, washing, drying, and photographing. Today is Saturday and the package arrived only 5 days ago. That was awesomely fast. 

I have about 175m of 2-ply [2.5] yarn. It is a bit thick for “fingering” which is what I was going toward, but it is very fluffy, so it probably will knit like a [2]. That is from 2 ounces.

From Fiber Club

(Click the thumbnail to be taken to the full size picture’s page.)

I nicknamed the fiber, “little thundercloud”, but the spun yarn has a lot better emphasis on the colors, which is all due to my skill and talent, of course. So I think I will rename the yarn to “April’s Little Rain Cloud”. The lace beret project is very likely going to get a name building off “silver lining”.

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