September 25, 2008

Spinning with the Spinning Guru!

Now, you may have thought that I had fallen off the blogging bandwagon. No posts in 8 days and all. But I am here to correct you. I was actually taking a wonderful spinning class! Patsy Zawatowski came to Alaska and taught the most amazing workshop on Novelty spinning techniques. I was blown away! She really is the Spinning Guru! Thank you Anchorage Weavers & Spinners Guild for bringing her up here. Over the next couple blogs I will revisit the techniques that I learned. As a teaser here are a few of the things we covered and/or I did for the first time:

Spinning Silk Cap--Hello, can we just move right into a spiderweb?

Spinning Tussah Silk--Dreamy, just plain Dreamy.

Hard Twist or Soft Twist?--I really wonder if your default twist level says something about your personality? I am a soft twist person...I knit loose also. What does that say about me?

Big Yarns--Yes, it is confirmed, I spin everything thicker than the average spinner. I was gently (or not so gently) mocked the entire time for this precious attribute. To my credit, I think my thick yarns are delightfully soft & fluffy.

Thin Yarns--Work, work, work. This is what I need to do. I have the hardest time spinning thin. Which in general is fine except when I want to ply something and have the result be smaller than bulky weight.

Mohair Locks, Angelina & Silk Threads--My heartrate actually began to race when we were allowed to choose our own combinations of these three things, handcard them together and core spin them. Ohhhhhh, I LOVED IT!! Probably, my favorite part of the class.

This weekend I am devoting a lot of time to practicing all the magnificent techniques I learned last weekend. I will return to post lots of pictures.

September 18, 2008

Babe With Sticks

These days I have a lot of 1 on 1 time with LP (Lil'Pea). This whole tutu saga is evidence of that. What is truly amazing is the request I received after picking out all the yarn for her tutu cover.

"Mama, will you teach me to knit?" I could not refuse. I cast on and got the first row (10sts) knitted for her. She then sat with me and knit 2 more rows. Asking continuously, "Is this a sweater? I want to knit a sweater. What part of the sweater is this?"

The next day she asked again to knit, so we continued. She did her last row almost completely by herself. Then held the 4-5 row piece of knitting up to her body, "This part is done." She eventually decided we were probably knitting the collar. Because she could almost stretch the swatch around her neck.

Before I can blink she is going to be knitting her own tutu covers. At least I'll have a test knitter in the house when I finally get around to writing a pattern.

And yes, she's a picker like me.

September 17, 2008

Tutu Overload

For the record, I can chop wood like a fiend and not so long ago I could lift a 4x8 sheet of plywood over my head, vertically. That being said...I now have 3 different yarns with which to knit tutu covers. I even have 3 yards of sparkly, purple tulle to make a new tutu. And LP has a lovely pirouette skirt from the local thrift store.

This post will also serve as a lesson in photo posting. Can I get all the pictures I want with text around them? We will see.

Back to the tutus. Did I go overboard? Perhaps. It was more a case of finding out my main reason for driving to town was unavailable which left lots of free time, forgot to check my stash for possible tutu yarn, LYS had a shelf 75% get the picture.

To the right we have our newest acquisition. I think the main feature in both the tulle & the yarn is SPARKLES & PURPLE. Apparently, in a 4yr old brain both of these are a must. The goal is to make a tutu from the tulle and knit a lovely lace skirt that sits on top of all the fluff. Marco Polo is a rather thin yarn, combine that with big needles it should be light enough to not squash the tulle fluff.

To the left we have my endless stash of kid yarn. This was purchased in a very cheap, huge bag from a thrift shop and LP already has a poncho out of it. Massively thick n thin, this yarn is incredibly difficult to knit with. Heaven forbid you have to frog something. I prefer throwing it out and starting over. Unfortunately, it is beloved by my child. I have knit up a gauge sample on sz35 needles and it looks pretty cool. It matches her current pink tutu, will undoubtedly squash it, but I have enough to make leg warmers as well, so it will be a really cute, fuzzy, fashion statement. (or completely overdone atrocity that should never see the light of day)

This last yarn is some Mohair I bought planning great things then realized 1)it isn't that soft 2) it is rather difficult to knit and 3) don't even think of frogging it. It is my personal favorite for the tutu cover. I think it will be light, airy and add just a little halo around my lil' ballerina. She hates it. Nuff' said.

So, while I am almost finished with my fab red sweatervest, have 3 classes coming up and haven't finished my samples and umpteen other projects sit in the wings...this week I will be knitting tutu's. Stay tuned for the icing on the yarncake to be revealed in the next post.

September 15, 2008

Girly Stuff

Today was a momentous day. Today LP (Lil' Pea) my wonderful 4 yr old daughter started Ballet. Actually Pre-Ballet. She has been doing ballet with a dvd at home for a week or so and was SO excited to start the real thing. Her only complaint after class was that "there were no boys to pick us up." Obviously, my brainwashing technique of bringing home videos of famous ballets for her to watch has paid off.

What does this have to do with fiber you ask? Well, I have the sudden urge to knit ballet stuff. Knitted tutu's are flying through my head. What would be the perfect yarn? Rowan Kidsilk Haze--OF COURSE!! Knitted leg warmers--Aren't they all the rage anyways? About time I realized they are different than the 80's ones (I think). What about a matching set of Kidsilk haze tutu & leg warmers? Quick, someone hide my needles!

A quick search of Ravelry shows no knitted tutus. So far my favorite ballet slippers are these from Apparently, any top that is sits above the waist and wraps around your torso is a 'ballet top'. Since I had no idea this was true, I see my ballet fashion knowledge is starting up a steep learning curve.

Speaking of a learning curve. This web thing is strainin' my noggin'! I have tried to imbed a link...let's see if it works. If I have figured this out right, you should be able to click on the word "these" in the previous paragraph and get taken to the knitty site. Let me know if it totally doesn't work.

Knit On!

Pretty in Pink n Purple

Originally uploaded by tikkagirl
Here are the results of my dyenight. On the left we have my handspun wool. The original fiber was a carded blend of cream and brown. The result is a toned down wineypink yarn. Little Pea (LP) loves it and into a hat it will go. At the top right is a laceweight cashmere that sat in the same pot as the wool beside it. The cashmere was originally creamy white and it sat on the top of the pot. Both of these factors contributed to the bright wineypink end product. In the lower right corner we have laceweight yak yarn. The yak started out as a natural yak color, a dark heathery grey. Add to that a strong redpurple and this is the result! I didn't mean to dye yak to EXACTLY match my bathroom towels, but obviously, my color leanings follow me wherever I go.

Will I sell these? Will I knit with these? Only time will tell.

September 12, 2008

Let the dyeing begin!

I realize, as I sit down to write this note, that I have no pictures to wow you as to the total coolness of dying. When I start dying I tend to let the world fade away as I pretend I am a mad chemist mixing potions that will change the world. My poor children. It is as if they do not exist. Which is why today I only mixed potions. I do not have enough time before needing to make dinner to ignore the universe.

I am planning ahead this time. I would like to recreate any awesome color I happen to make, so today I made 1% dye stock solutions. Before I began actually mixing I delved into the topic of the ideal dye powder to use. Jacquard Acid Dyes or Sabraset dyes.

Deb Menz recommends Sabraset. I adore Deb Menz. I have her book, Color in Spinning, and it is well on it's way to becoming dogeared. I took her workshop on plying as well. Which is why I bought her book. She is a color genius and entirely more concerned with the details than I am and her book has LOTS of info on dye formulas, DOS and everything else. She ONLY used Sabraset for protein fibers. That is a problem. Sabrasets are available from Pro-Chem and until I call them and whine about shipping to Alaska, the shipping is PROHIBITIVE.

Jacquard Acid dyes are available all over the place. Dharma Trading seems to have them for the best price and the shipping is half that of ProChem. Hmmm, do I sense an AK prejudice?

prepare for shipping rant: Extreme shipping to Alaska is usually charged by companies who think saying 'continental US only' excludes Alaska. HELLLOOOOO we are on the continent of North America, just like you!! In fact, Fed Ex & UPS have, like, their 3rd largest hubs in Anchorage so the chances that your packages go through AK on a regular basis are pretty good. Contiguous is the word to use and when a company or person knows the difference I accept their shipping prices. If the shipping is still unreal after using Contiguous I politely use a different vendor. We use the same stamps that you all do. We even share the US Dollar. Okay, rant getting out of hand. Whoa there Nelly! Let's go pet a moose and remember why we live here.

Jacquard dyes use only vinegar or citric acid to bind and have lots of pretty colors to choose from. If I wasn't obsessed with mixing and blending I might not even have to if I ordered all their colors. But that would take all the fun away.

Based on availability I have decided to go with Jacquard for now. Besides, it is available in my studio RIGHT NOW. And I would have to order any Sabraset and wait. I hate waiting. So, today I mixed up 1% solutions. Why? I guess it will be easier to mix colors, less mess to inhale when I don't have to mix powder each time, and I get to have big jugs of mysterious chemicals on my shelves. What more could a wanna be chemist have? The next step is to photo all my fiber in it's current state. Do a ton of math to figure out my Depth of Shade (DOS) etc and come out with exact amounts of dye stock, vinegar, water & fiber. I am exciting just writing that. Lord, help me, I'm addicted.

September 7, 2008

Dyeing left & right

This week I am going to dye. With a y e, not an i e. I am going to dye cashmere, camel & yak from Mongolia. I will also do my first attempt at dying roving. I am going to start with gold superwash roving because it is really hard to felt superwash fibers. So I've been told. We will see. I have some lovely handspun that will go into the dyepot as well. Pink is on the top of my list of colors. I will also do some red, orange and lavender.

Anyone have any other requests? Yes, I realize that the only people I have given this blog address to are my two sisters. I also posted it on my Ravelry page!
The picture is of the single ply camel yarn. I will ply a bunch of it into 2 & 3 ply yarns and kettle dye it. I am a little tired of plying after the dying process. I still have a lot of dyed singles ready to ply.
Wish me luck. Handling chemicals is always a blast!

September 6, 2008

In the beginning...

I have taken the plunge. I have started a blog. In my snarled mind I would like this blog to serve as my accountability partner. I will post goals, deadlines and dreams for my business and artistic life, Snarl Design. I will ask questions of the stratosphere and hope that answers float back to me. This is my venue for listening to those who would request a certain color of cashmere or ply of yarn. My creativity is limited to the ideas in my head--everything I hear and see adds to the creativity so the feedback of others is vital.

Then of course there is my personal life. I do not think this could be an honest blog if my personal life didn't enter. But I do hope to concentrate on my artistic life--not the squabbles of my children.