Tag Archive | wool

Vintage Yarn Crafting

Yesterday the husband and I spent the day antiquing, and I saw all kinds of fun yarny things, like this cool swift:

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It was functional enough that I was a little tempted, but it also would take up more space than my current swift, so I resisted.

I’m not a rug-hooker but I can certainly appreciate the colors and textures in this wall of wool:

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I also came across what I think are spinning supplies. (I can’t remember what those wooden things are called, but they’re for spinning, right?)

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And then I just liked this “Wool” sign. It would be pretty cute in my craft room.

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This handknit child’s sweater was priced at only $25, which seems a little sad because I know how many hours when into the making of it. I mean, look at those cables!

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But I successfully resisted making any impulse purchases. At the end of the day, we even stopped by a yarn store, and despite the call of the Anzula, I walked out with just the 9″ circs I wanted for making socks. Hooray for willpower!

Yarn for the Nerd in all of us

Have you heard of Make magazine? Or maybe the Maker Faire? They’re parts of a larger Maker movement that encourages people to…well, to make stuff. They want people to interact with their environment, to open their minds enough to think about how to do something differently, or to create something fun and interesting and helpful. The magazine has all kinds of project ideas, and my husband has been reading it for ages. He loves to find fun things to do with the kids. I’m awfully glad he does too, because it led to a new yarn source for me.

So, the Maker Faire. It’s “the Greatest Show (and Tell) on Earth—a family-friendly festival of invention, creativity and resourcefulness, and a celebration of the Maker movement.” Sounds cool, doesn’t it? Kansas City hosted a Maker Faire last month, but unfortunately it fell on a weekend when we simply did not have time to go. But shortly after, the Make blog featured one of the KC vendors, Nerd Girl Yarns, and since Alex reads the blog, is a nerd, and has a wife who loves yarn, he watched the interview. (Watch her interviews here) And then he shared it with me, and I got all excited because guess what? NGY is in Odessa, Missouri which is only about 30 minutes from me!

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I couldn’t believe I hadn’t heard of them before, but as I poked through the website I realized that it was because she focuses on the dyeing, and selling custom orders. She does have a small retail space, but it seems to be more of a sideline. And I’m okay with that, because the yarns she creates are awesome. Yesterday I got out to the studio for the first time to see some of the yarn in person. The retail section is small, with just one little bit of wall devoted to yarn. The other side has the hand-dyed clothing, and there were a couple of chairs for those inclined to stay and be crafty. I wasn’t there for that. I was there for the yarn.

A lot of the colors are inspired by Doctor Who, like a blue and brown named Tenth Doctor. There was a red named I Am the Cyber King, and a Gallifrey with oranges and reds. There was a TARDIS blue, of course, and a yellow/orange with a touch of blue Sunflower. I was really hoping for the Blue Box Exploding, which is mostly blue with some yellow/orange too. She has Don’t Blink, Doctor Donna, Fantastic, Raggedy Man, Regenerate, and Time Machine. Both my kids (and the husband) are Whovians so I’d love to get some of each to make them lots of Whovian presents. I can’t do it all at once, though. I know. Patience, grasshopper.

They’re not all Doctor Who, of course. There’s Windu, Nevermore, Resurrection Stone, Serenity Firefly Class, Forbidden Forest, Walking Dead, Girl on Fire and so much more. So many references that I don’t even get! I can’t list them all, so you really should check out her stuff yourself. Go to her website here.

The really cool thing is that you can order the colorway on any base you like. So if you adore fingering weight, you can get that. If you love bulky yarn, like me, you can get that. You can get exactly the yarn you want!

“What did you get??” I can hear you asking. My eye went first to a gorgeous purple sparkly yarn named Secretly Spiders. The site says it’s inspired by Night Vale, and sadly I have no idea what that means. All I know is that I love it. It’s on Smashing, which is a DK of 70% merino and 20% silk with 5% silver-toned stellina to make it shine.IMG_2677I kept picking skeins up and putting them back. I really needed to restrain myself to 2 or 3 skeins, but it was hard. I struggled with choosing based on the Whovian names or the colors. I ended up going for the colors this time. So my second skein was a beautiful blue-green blend named #nofilter. The colors were more vivid on the fingering weights, but I knew I’d enjoy a heaver weight more, so I went with Foxy. Foxy is a DK weight too, but it’s 85% Polwarth Wool and 15% silk.IMG_2679Once I got through the initial getting-to-know-you phase, I was able to look beyond the wall o’ yarn, and that’s when I saw the sale section. It wasn’t big, and there were only two bowls of yarn, but any sale yarn is good yarn in my book. My third selection came from that.IMG_2682This is called Shtako. No idea what that means. Feel free to enlighten me. But the purple caught my eye, and as soon as I touched it, it was mine. It’s on the Luscious yarn, and it really is luscious. It’s Heavy Worsted, 60% superfine merino and 40% silk. It’s heavenly. It’s only 100 yards so it will have to be a small project; I’m thinking some fingerless gloves.

I also got a medium project bag with the logo, like you see in that first picture. You can never have enough project bags, and at $12 it was the perfect price. She didn’t have any Blue Box Exploding, so I’ll probably be ordering some in the near future. And we got to talk to Christa, the owner, for a little while, and she mentioned the possibility of doing quarterly events where they dye larger quantities of some of the popular colorways. I’m really hoping that happens, because I’d be there in a heartbeat! If you’d like to find out when that happens, follow her blog here. Maybe I’ll see you there!

This Easter, the treat is the basket itself!

I finished another project the other day, and I’m quite tickled with it. It was the cutest little bubble bag pattern, and since I’ve been on a felting kick lately, I thought I’d give it a shot with one of the random skeins of wool in my stash. I picked a bright grassy green and cast on, and the knitting went so quickly! It felted quickly too, unlike my last bag. This one only needed two wash cycles and it was ready to dry. After that, I found a pink ribbon to thread through the eyelets, and voila!

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It’s small–only 5″ by 7″–but it would easily hold all the essentials. I’m also thinking it would make a great small-project bag! You can easily switch out the ribbon for any other color. For now, though, I’m thinking it needs to hold some Easter eggs!

Available for sale here

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That Felt Great!

Wool is not always my favorite fiber: it can be itchy and scratchy, especially against my sensitive skin. But one thing I do love is how it felts! I’ve made a few small felted purses in the past and just love seeing the transformation from the loose, floppy, shapeless piece of knitting into a firm, sturdy piece of felted fabric. I also love that it negates the need for sewing in a lining. I recently found a few books showing felted purses accented with novelty fibers, like fur or eyelash or pompoms, and I liked the contrasting textures. I’d picked up some more books at that huge estate sale, and in one I found my perfect pattern: this adorable Vintage Bubble Bag. And after I got my new shelves set up, and my yarn all organized, I could see that I finally some good possibilities to work with.

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I started with the pinky-purple Cascade 220 because I had two full skeins of it, and I quickly matched it with the multicolor novelty yarn. I knew I didn’t have enough of the Cascade for the bubble bag, so I was toying with the idea of a contrasting band around the top edge. I liked this dark teal Lamb’s Pride, and it matched the teal in the novelty yarn, but I thought it would be too stark a contrast between the pink and the teal. I picked up a different skein of the Lamb’s Pride, a lovely shade called Supreme Purple, and as soon as I set the three together, I knew it was the right combination. I cast on right away, and since I was using two strands and bigger needles, I had the body of the bag done quickly.

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As it laid there, I wasn’t sure I’d done the right thing. It was bigger than I expected, and I wished I’d switched to the purple as soon as I ran out of the novelty yarn. But it was so close to being done, and I figured the felting and shaping process would change it quite a bit anyway. So I knitted the endless 40″ of I-cord for the handles, stitched them on, and the bag was ready for felting.

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In the past, felting had gone quickly and smoothly. Two cycles in the washer with a towel or a pair of jeans, and bam, it was felted. Not this time. The first cycle did nothing, and my washer complained that the load was too small. I added a couple of towels and tried again. The pinky section started felting, but the purple band and handles still had complete stitch definition. I was already using hot water so I had no idea what I could do differently. I tried one more cycle but saw little improvement. It was going to be hand felting for me. I talked to my SIL, consulted my knitting books, and filled up the sink with hot hot water.

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I stirred and rubbed with the spoon, I beat it with the spoon. I rubbed the bag together with my hands, focusing on the purple band that refused to felt. Finally I picked it up, squeezed out some of the excess water, and started throwing it into the other sink. I really heaved it, feeling the sink shudder slightly with the force. I beat the bag against the side of the sink. At one point, I confess I even took it outside and slapped it against the side of the house. Then I did it all again. In a way, it was good therapy, allowing me to vent my frustration at the silly thing for not wanting to felt. Eventually, it got close enough that I was happy, though the purple band never felted completely. I didn’t have anything perfect to shape it with, so I just lined with a plastic bag and stuffed it full of newspaper, adjusting it until the was the shape I wanted, and I left it out to dry.

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By mid-afternoon the next day, I moved it to the sunny windowsill and flipped it to allow the bottom to dry.

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Finally, after almost two full days of drying, the bag was done! I’m so happy with how it turned out. It feels wonderfully Springy to me, and the little bits of blue and teal just pop out of the wool. It’s about 10″ tall and 12″ wide, so it’s great for either a large purse or a good project bag. I added it to my For Sale items on my Facebook page and my Etsy shop, though I’d be happy to carry it myself…especially with my cute little Junie Balloonie flower added!

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Where does all the yarn come from?

Today is a busy day so my time is limited, but I was enthused by my local paper this morning and had to share. There was a lovely long feature article about a local fiber artist, Jamie Root, who raises her own sheep for the wool. The article talks a bit about how she readies it for use and turns it into yarn, and then where she takes it. I met Jamie last year at the Kansas City Renaissance Festival and spent quite a bit of time talking to her as she showed me a bit of the process. As a newbie yarner, I was fascinated, and she was so friendly and welcoming. Most of my yarn time is spent on the latter end of the process: buying and using the already-dyed, wound yarns. I’m just now starting to realize how much more there is to the craft–or do I mean art? That’s another discussion for another day! Click here to read the article.