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Where Dwell the Brave at Heart

I have long had a a love affair with young adult literature. Especially of the fantasy variety. Growing up my favorite authors were Madeleine L’Engle, Roald Dahl, Dianna Wynn Jones, Patricia C. Wrede, and (of course) JK Rowling. I still go back and reread some of those old favorites every now and then, just for fun. I love the adventure, the opportunity for gross absurdity, the wisdom, and the fun that is found therein. This is the kind of thing I want to write (though it’s only taken me ten years to figure it out), because it’s versatile. I read them in elementary school and junior, I read them to my younger siblings when I was in high school, and now I am reading them to my son.

We just started reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (I only have the US edition of this book, unfortunately, but that doesn’t stop me from changing “Sorcerer” to “Philosopher”. Or “bathrobe” to “dressing gown” for that matter. Gotta instill my anglophile tendencies to Athrun early.) He has been having so much fun with it that he woke me up at 7am on New Year’s Day, begging me to read him the next chapter. One of the books I read while I was sick was Patricia C. Wrede’s Snow White and Rose Red. He asked me to read it to him when he saw me reading it, but reading aloud with a head cold is touch and go at best, but I promised him we could do that one next. It makes my heart sing that he like being read too. It is one of my greatest expressions of love, to be able to read aloud to him the books that hold a special place in my heart.

Apparently, my excitement at sharing Harry Potter with my son is coming out in my other creative outlets as well.

I dyed some merino and firestar with intention of blending it, and pulling some roving off my hackle. I dyed the gold and the scarlet separately, mixing dyes experimentally. I didn’t set out to make 100g of Gryffindor themed hand-pulled roving, but this morning as I was loading my hackle, I realized that is what I had.

Where Dwell the Brave at Heart now available at the Tiny Dino Studios etsy shop.

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Winter WoolFest 2012

Just thought I would nip in real quick and let everyone know that I will be one of the Vendors at Winter WoolFest 2012 in Wamego, KS. I will have everything you see listed in my shop, and hopefully a few extra special items that I will have time to make once the Christmas knitting is over.

I am also teaching the Cottage Knitting class, so if you want to learn more about lever knitting, I am your gal.

And, a sneak peak at what I have been up to with my silk.

There is a couple handfuls of the cocoons dyed to match some alpaca roving. This has since been blended on my hackle and spun. I will ply tomorrow and show off the finished product then. (You know, something to look forward to.)

I am off to nurse my silk blisters and work on my gifts. (The gift knitting will end someday, I promise.)

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Handmade Cyber Monday Haul

Last Monday morning, I sat down to work on my blog post for the day and edit some pictures for the etsy shop, but when I pulled up my etsy account, I got a little side tracked by the wonderful sales my online fibery friends had going.

Fiber Blending

First, I am in the process of putting together materials to work on my very own homemade hackle.. I have the fiber blending bug. Plus, there is just something so charming and nice about spinning with hand pulled roving. Since a drum carder is out of the question at the moment (where would I put it?), a hackle and hand cards are what I have to work with. Now, I normally prefer to dye my own stuff, but I came across this little bundle of mohair locks

and couldn’t quite resist. This mohair comes from MacGregor Hollow Farm. I plan on returning to perhaps purchase some undyed locks in the future.

A little more definition in this photo. I love how brilliant the color is, and I have some purple firestar that would complement it very nicely.

Sheep Shopping

Next, I have been thinking about what kind of sheep I would like to raise on the Future Fantasy Farm. I have been reading a little about Romeldales and California Variegated Mutant. I like that they are a rare breed. They are supposed to have really nice fleeces, and the CVMs have those adorable little badger faces. To find out for myself, I went looking for a little bit of fleece to test out. (Still thinking about purchasing a whole fleece in the spring) I found someone, namely Stella’s Fiber Farm on etsy who was selling only an ounce of CVM fleece.

It arrived on Saturday. I washed it immediately, and this is what it looks like now

A great big pile of fluff.

The fiber is finer than I expected it to be. For some reason, even though I had read in both The Knitter’s Book of Wool and The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook that CVM was a fine fiber, I still expected it to be closer to a medium wool. I was dead wrong. This fiber is fine fine fine. When I was at shepherding camp, I picked a merino fleece (as in prepping the fiber) and I swear this is finer. Of course, I know nothing about the sheep this fiber came from. The staple isn’t very long, and it doesn’t seem to me, to be in the greatest condition, but I am going to card it and play with today anyway.

Speaking of shepherding camp, when I was at Juniper Moon Farm last month, this one gigantic braid of roving kept catching my eye. It’s dyed in bright amazon rain forest Macaw type colors and did I mention it’s gigantic?

It’s so big I had to wrap it around itself to get a good picture–mostly of the colors–I admit. As soon as I read about the Juniper Moon Cyber Monday sale, I went over and snapped this baby up. It is nearly 8 oz of the strongest, crunchiest medium grade wool I have handled in a while. I keep thinking of navajo-plying it and knitting a big cabled gansey to wear outside in the cold to help out on the farm. Now, I know it’s not enough to make a gansey for me, but if it could only be part of a gansey, the technicolor parrot dye job would still just make my day every day.

Supporting Local Shops

I made my way back to etsy with the notion of supporting one my local sellers. I headed over to Lori Warren’s shop Blushing Ewe and purchased a gorgeous Merino/Silk batt.


(This is one of Lori’s photos from the listing, used completely without permission, because I have already pulled this batt into roving and half spun it up. Pictures of the yarn to come. Plus, this photo is much better quality than any of mine today.)

Lori does a beautiful job of combining texture and color in her spinning fibers. She is also very helpful when a newbie spinner like me starts asking questions about technique and blending. (She even let me come pick this up form her house instead of shipping it–since we live about three miles apart–and I got to see her Cricket loom. Now I must have one myself.) Plus, I unfurled the batt after it sat on my desk for a couple days thinking I just wanted to admire the layers of merino, silk, and firestar. Before I knew it, I had pulled it out into a great big ball of roving and was spinning it up.

I love the contrasting textures available in hand blended fibers over tops where everything is combed together. For instance, I bought this gorgeous merino/silk top which I dyed up and put in the shop. I am in the midst of spinning up a little bit to bolster the handspun section over at Tiny Dino Studios, and it’s just kind of, eh. I mean, it’s gorgeous fiber. It’s soft and fluffy and has an amazing hand, and I know there are some folks out there who just swoon over the ability to spin those two fibers together in a well-combed top. I am not one of them. I am much more excited about the crunchy medium wool stuff. Give me texture over softeness any day–and I realize this is not necessarily a very popular position, so somebody please take this merino and silk top off my hands!

Merry Christmas

Finally, my self-indulgent splurge was another skein of sock yarn for myself. A Christmas present of sorts.

I am calling it my sparkle yarn. Hot pink and black, self striping sock yarn with little flecks of sparkle here and there. It’s like Laurel from Spinning Fates was reading my mind when she dyed this yarn. I applaud her clairvoyance. And I can’t wait for January and the chance to cast-on.

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Picking Up New Skills with Pretty Things

When I first got bitten by the spinning bug, I ordered a drop spindle and some generic fiber off etsy and just kind of went at it. I mean, I had read a spinning book, and watched a few youtube videos, as you do, and then tried it myself. It was horrible. I had no idea how to draft, let along pre-draft, so I was spinning giant slubs of awful pink yarn. It only took me a few days before I was done working with the spindle and off to the Yarn Barn’s website to sign up for wheel spinning classes.

Fast Forward a year and some months and we have the 2nd annual Topeka Fiber Arts Bazaar. As one of the founding members of the brand new Potwin Fiber Artisans, I was there all weekend. I even had a table, see:

While I was there, I was admiring the lovely fiber over at Lori’s booth from Blushing Ewe. Go check out what she has up in her etsy shop. I can wait.

….

Gorgeous right?

What got me was some amazing hand-pulled roving that was spectacularly sparkly.

And with drop spindles sitting right there, what was I to do?

I picked it up and tried again. Obviously, it has been working for me much better than it did before. Part of that is because I understand the basic principals of spinning after wheel spinning for over a year. The class I took helped a lot, and I was able to apply that information to the mechanics of drop spindling. A big part of it was that I was in a supportive environment, surrounded by enablers friends who made me feel confident in my abilities. That my tools were pretty was kind of just a bonus.

Of course, now I am addicted to the hand-pulled roving, and want to work with more, more, more. Which means I probably need to figure out how to make it myself. Being newly unemployed there is no way I can justify spending money on hackle or a drum carder, so I am going to make my own hackle as soon as I can get into my dad’s garage and borrow his drill.

I am really excited to be a part of the Potwin Fiber Artisans. One of our first classes is an introduction to the drop spindle. The other is beginning knitting, taught by yours truly. I can’t wait to start teaching. Are there any fiber arts classes you would like to take?