Getting out of my way-Unsticking what is stuck

Lately I’ve felt stuck in my creative life and it’s been a largely unpleasant experience. I’ve noticed that when I’m not in a routine of spinning, carding or dyeing I tend to get depressed. The more depressed I become, the farther away from living a creative life I will drift which makes me feel even worse.

It’s a vicious cycle, I recommend avoiding it. Perhaps it is the shift in seasons that put me in a bit of a funk. I prefer Fall/Winter weather and lighting because it invigorates me. The hotter it gets as we march towards summer, the less I want to sit with a lap full of wool.

I can’t blame the weather entirely as I really am the only factor that is keeping me from moving forward. I’ve also been frustrated with some of my equipment lately, which leads to additional frustration in regard to looking at things that I covet in regard to a new drum carder or wheel. If I’m being honest with myself, I tend to get it in my head that those items would pull me out of the funk but I also know better, shiny new isn’t the answer.

Instead, I reached out to a group of friends that I trust implicitly and many of them had similar advice. Make time. Do something, anything, even if it’s just a tiny bit each day until it becomes habit again. I’ve done it before, it’s a trusted friend in its own way, and therefore I can do it again.

Also, to be clear, this isn’t about making money, it’s about getting back to what I love to do. Opportunities to make money are always available. The ability to make money would, in theory, lead to the potential for buying a new piece of equipment, but idea also isn’t the case here. I have equipment. Some of it is old, some of it needs almost constant tinkerputzing to make it go, but every piece of it was something that I acquired fair and square. To abandon it now seems rather selfish, actually.

So, tonight, instead of navel gazing until it is time to call it a night and feeling restless and exhausted at the same time, I stepped into the studio, pulled a bag of fiber and sparkles, and after some adjustments and careful operation, put together a couple batts that I then sat down to spin.

I reckon we all have to go back to the drawing board on a regular basis, I think it keeps us honest.DSCN1996

Natural Dye Spins-2015

Around this time last year I started dyeing bundles of wool top using natural, antique and plant dye methods. By the end of the summer I had a pretty impressive rainbow of colors. Something about a rainbow sequence really gets me so this year I decided to do it again. I like how the results are always just slightly different as I continue to experiment with this still new to me method of dyeing. Here’s a peek at what I’ve dyed in the month of March 2015, I have another set on deck for my next round that I’ll share once it is dyed:

DSCN1903

A couple new dyes in extract form that I added to the rotation this year are sorghum, brazilwood and chlorophyllin, which gives an almost Wicked Witch Of The West green. The mix above also contains extracts from lac, tansy, madder, marigold, indigo, alkanet, soapnut, and logwood. Also on deck is my first attempt at an indigo dye vat. I have everything I need to make it happen but I’m oddly intimidated by the process. I had kind of hoped to work on it this weekend but was distracted by Spring cleaning and spinning the above pictured collection.

No doubt I will get there though, I almost always do!

Cakes Of Yarn

As I continue to sort through the contents of the fiber artist studio I purchased this summer, I keep finding center pull cakes of handspun yarn that were presumably spun by the previous owner. As I stumbled across them I started adding them to a large basket and soon it was overflowing. I realized at some point that the yarn is not only handspun but it was also wound into the cakes in singles of two, held together but not plied. I don’t know if the original spinner intended to ply the yarns from the cakes or use them as is, it’s a mystery. Continue reading Cakes Of Yarn

Supply Overload

As I mentioned in my last post, I purchased the contents of a fiber arts studio over the summer. While I am still sorting through all the boxes, bags, baskets and equipment, I have taken extreme amounts of delight in the fact that I can now think to myself “I need fiber/fleece in this color” and chances are 9 out of 10 times it’s going to be found among that fiber studio acquisition.

For example, last night was the desire to create a collection of red-based batts and within 5 minutes of searching, I found exactly what I was looking for. I was able to take the red (mohair, in this case) fiber, mix it with some of my handpainted roving, a lot of sparkle and tada, exactly what I wanted for the tentatively titled Spectrum Series that I am creating.

While that certainly is handy, I have a pretty intense supply stash of my own, having built it since 2006. Which is why I really am considering moving to a bigger house in the Spring of 2015, I’ve outgrown what space I do have. That’s embarrassing and impressive, I would prefer to lean more towards impressive.

Although I suppose it could only be considered impressive if I’m actually doing something with all the materials that I have acquired and fortunately, I am. I tell myself “You don’t need to buy that, you have some stashed away that you’ve clearly forgotten about.” Then an argument with myself ensues and sometimes I ignore that nagging voice and buy what I think I need anyway and then realize I continue to live my life wrong in regard to real supply needs versus “Oh pretty/cool/awesome! I want that!” It’s a vicious cycle, I’m telling you.

Which is why last week I ended up caving to sari silk batts.

It’s a sickness, really. (If you are waiting for me to apologize it ain’t happening.)

I live, I yarn.

Um, wow. 2011 was my last post here? That’s just sad and pathetic. To be honest, my memory of this sadly neglected journal was only jogged by an email alert that essentially said “Hey, someone tried to access your account and change the password so….you want to fix that?”

As for me, things have changed. I moved from Montana to Wyoming in late 2012. New job, new life, new just about everything around here.

I’m still spinning and dyeing wool when I can find the time to squeeze in between my job and living my life. Perhaps not as much yarn as I’d like, but if you follow my Facebook page you’ll see that I’ve been active since 2011 and didn’t just crawl out from the WordPress rock I have apparently been hiding under.

In 2014 probably the most exciting yarn event to date has been the acquisition of a full fiber arts studio that belonged to a spinner who passed away in late 2013. I purchased all the wool (all washed/dyed/picked), a wheel, picker, drum carder and boxes and baskets full of assorted odds and ends that I’m still sifting through.

This year I will once again be participating in the same craft show I’ve attended here in Sheridan, it will be held Saturday, November 22 at the Sheridan County Fairgrounds. So, I’d better get going on that inventory! If you are seeing my newest banner above, part of this year’s inventory at the show will feature many of the handspun yarns I created over the summer using natural/plant dye methods. The usual suspects will be there as well along with new items that I’ve been hoarding while I build inventory.

Thanks for stopping by if you are new here and if you are returning (as I am), wow, that was a long wait!

And there goes August!

And goodbye August, or nearly so! 

Woosh, the month went flying by, just like that! 

For starters, it’s been busy on all fronts. Home, work, yarn, etc. But a good type of busy I suppose, it definitely makes the time go by faster. 

I took a few days off from my day job and traveled to WY to visit my parents. While I was there my mom and I set up a outdoor dye studio and did some natural dyeing with sunflowers. My mom and dad went out into the country one evening on their 4-wheeler and walked up and down the ditches on the side of the road picking sunflowers that in turn were boiled so they’d release the dye. 

I will say this about my parents, they have always been extraordinarily patient with my crafty and artistic endeavors and never once in all the years I’ve been coming up with one crazy scheme or idea after another did they tell me no/that’s not a good idea. It’s how I am raising my son, I think it’s an excellent way to parent. So, thanks mom and dad! :) 

So the first day I was home we did the sunflower dyeing and after that was done (1+ pounds of roving plus hanks of yarn) my mom and I tackled the handpainted yarn project. In the next two days she helped me dye 50 skeins of yarn! It was crazy productive, I have never knocked out that much yarn in that short of time. 

Since then I’ve had time to focus more on spinning, I hope to have time to update my Etsy store soon as well and continue to prepare for craft shows this fall and other events coming up in September. 

Somewhere in all this I start classes in September (I’m finishing a degree via online coursework), got my son off to his first day of school, work, have a trip to Denver planned, etc. Busy! But again, busy is good, it keeps my life interesting even if most of the time I feel like it’s like Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride around here. 

How about some photos?

This is what sunflower dye looks like in progress. I prefer to call it something nice, like peridot. My dad thought it looked like calf scours. Being from ranch country, I guess I can see why he had such an opinion!

When the yarn and roving came out of the kettles it veried in shade from a pale green to a buttery yellow. I plan to spin the roving and ply it to get the full effect of the subtle color shifts. As you can see, the deck at my parents house was absolutely built for someone like me and yarn madness!

Here a couple shots of the handpainted spree, these were taken on day one. As I said previously, by the time we were done we’d completed fifty skeins!

 

 

 

 

 

So there you have it! Happy Almost-Autumn, we’ll all need hats, scarves and socks before you know it!

Goodbye July

This weekend was blistering hot so staying indoors seemed to be a fantastic plan! Saturday morning I dyed a pound of faux angora fiber using my oven and had it all shut down by 9 a.m., just as it was getting uncomfortably warm in my kitchen.

That task complete, I hauled a box fan downstairs to my work area, grabbed a giant glass of ice water, put on a good record and set out to tackle the giant reskeining project that had been looming over my head for the past week. When I first started handpainting yarns I didn’t reskein it but as time has gone on I have learned to appreciate the much better presentation of the yarn when I do so. I personally tend to fixate on one block/pool of color, it prevents me from seeing the big picture.

For example, here is a skein of my handpainted before reskeining. I kept fixating on the red tone:

And after: much, much better!

In order to make this project successful I set up my yarn swift at one end of my work desk and my yarn winder at the other. Then I wind, wind, wind, until my arm gets tired!

 

When I was done, I had this! The bottom row is worsted, the rest to the top is sock yarn.

 

Last year, my friend Donna who owns and operates Nor’East Architectural Antiques contacted me, she’d found an antique yarn winder at an estate sale and would I be interested? Of course I was! It arrived shortly thereafter and has by far become one of the most valuable pieces of equipment I have in my collection. In this photo there are six skeins of worsted weight yarn on the winder, each skein is 250 yards in length.That’s a lot of yarn! When I’m done winding I just take the wheel off and slip the skeins off the bottom. So easy! If anybody out there knows more about these winders I’d love to hear from you. I have no idea how old it is but it’s sturdy and a complete workhorse piece of equipment.

 

Now that I’m done with that type of project I have to get caught up on my spinning. As usual, I have everything I need, I just need more time! :)

 

Fabulous Yarns, Fabulous Things!

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