Spinning my wheels

I seem to have some sort of mental block about blogging lately. I think about it, even plan posts. But then I don’t actually log in and post. Then I feel guilty, then I realize that’s silly because it isn’t a job, and then I remember that it is how I keep track of my projects and I feel guilty again.

My brain is so odd.

But the Winter Olympics are on! I always pick a craft project, usually knitting to work on while I settle in for two weeks of sports that I know nothing about. (Being honest, that is pretty much all sports no matter what season. I’m a crafter, not an athlete.) But I love the pageantry and the speed and how much they all care about going faster, higher, farther and I get very sucked in.

So I needed something to watch during the very exciting snowboard cross races and the less speedy but somehow really gripping curling matches. And the s**t show that was women’s figure skating. (Pardon my language, but !?!?)

I tried a lace project with a variety of reds in a marling attempt at a scarf, but it crashed like an upside down bobsledder. (Sorry, attempted a joke because I’m watching bobsledding as I type and some of them were upside down at the end. I won’t do it again.)

I just ran a couple spinning workshops at school during our intersession, and the spinning wheel was dusted off for that, so I decided to clear some bobbins that have been sitting in a drawer for forever.

First some black fiber labeled “half-bred with silk noils” (did they mean a mixed breed sheep?). I had about a third of it already spun, so I did the last five ounces and made some tweedy 2 ply. That helped me remember how to spin consistently, although the noils threw me off somewhat.

Then I had two bobbins already spun up that needed a third to tie them together, so I spun a single of a humbug BFL that I’d dyed in autumnal colors.

I loved the three singles. I’m less sure about the 3 ply that I ended up with. The colors muddied up somewhat when plied together. But I think I’ll like it again when it is knitted up as it will become a fabric with flecks and stripes of all the possible color combinations.

It ended up making two full bobbins and one that has the end of the three ply, a length of two ply, and – when the second bobbin also ran out – some chained plied purple/blue.

Today I’ll skein up the yarns, give them a soak to reactivate and redistribute the twist and then I can look around for knitting patterns that will suit them.

Yarn dithering

The newest shawlette, not yet blocked

I can’t settle on a new knitting project.  A finish of a complex multi-chart lace shawlette led to a binge knit of three identical cowls that are destined to be Chrismukkah presents.  They were about as simple as a knit can be – stockinette tubes.  The excitement was in the yarn.  A fluffy mohair silk strand held together with a linen cashmere.  It made for an almost weightless piece of cloth.


The unblocked presents-to-be

Since then I’ve been scouring my Ravelry favorites, trying to match yarn and patterns without success.  The two just aren’t meeting up.  I’m not sure what I really want to make.  Nothing too complicated, but not just another cowl or scarf.  It needs to be something I can knit while watching TV.  It needs to be from stash yarn.  I’m leaning towards thin rather than thick yarn.  The yardage isn’t right, or the pattern is too expensive, or the color doesn’t work.  I’m stalled.

I even started a scarf tonight, but ended up unraveling it all.  The yarn combo I came up with just didn’t work.  I will have to keep trying.


The failed scarf yarn choice heading back to the bins

In digging around I did come across a handspun silk scarf in progress that I last remember knitting on six years and two house moves ago.  It was really buried!  I will add a few inches to it while I ponder my next start.



A mountain of yarn

Happy New Year, everyone!

I felt a rare organization urge this morning and decided to tackle the yarn stash.

I dragged yarn bundles, baskets and bins from all corners and with the help of my boys piled it in the living room.


This is the before picture.

I sorted by type and weight, created a bin for lace weight, one for fingering, a big bag for bulky, and so on. One big bin is now filled with remnants to go in the slip stitch afghans I make, and another is for thinner yarn remnants for similar scarves or weaving.  Sweater lots were put together, and all the full skeins of handspun went into a zipper bag.

I did try to cull.  There is a fair amount headed for Goodwill:


One woven basket of yarn showed some signs of moths, so I threw out a lot there and put some in the freezer.  And no more woven baskets for storage.  I was also able to get rid of the big white plastic bins from the before photo, which frees up some floor space in the little craft room.

Here is the after picture:


Still a ridiculous amount of yarn, and there may be more pruning, but it is more organized and took up less space when I put it all back.

I also pulled out all the yarn I spun in 2016 for its own photoshoot.


In 2016 I spun 6 lbs of fiber into these skeins.  That leaves 26 lbs. more to be spun.  My 2017 goal is to get at least another 6 lbs. spun and to get and keep the fiber stash below 20 lbs.

The fiber is next up to be pulled out and sorted, but not today.

Spinning our wheels


More snow yesterday paralyzed the city – it only takes an inch or two to do that around here as we aren’t used to it and are never prepared.  We knew it was coming thanks to the weather reports, so I ducked out from school a little early.  It took “only” two hours to get home because I abandoned the freeway early on to take side roads.  It was a white knuckle drive – at one point I slid right through an intersection when I tried to stop at a red light.

Some people spent the night in their cars, and there were students from the Portland and Beaverton school districts who didn’t get home until midnight.  My kids got home pretty much on time, but my husband’s commute lasted three hours.


They’ve already called off tomorrow in both our districts as the slush is refreezing into ice.  So the boys and I are officially on winter vacation!

While the boys went sledding and threw snow about, I spun yarn.

I had two different fibers in complementary colorways, one a merino/soy silk and the other a polwarth.


I loved them as singles., but when I plied them together I was just, meh.  So I stopped and switched to chain plying each one on its own.

The result is three smallish skeins of finished yarn.



From left to right, the chained merino/soy silk, chained polwarth, and the two ply.

They’ve since been soaked and thwacked and are now hanging to dry.

They’ll join my other spinning finish this week.  Years after I kettle dyed the red alpaca/wool fiber, it is all finally yarn as of a couple days ago.

I used the Andean plying method when I was down to the last bit on the last bobbin so I didn’t waste even an inch of the singles.

The finished yarn is a deep heathery red with touches of gray showing through.


Time to dive back into the stash for the next spin.

Visiting socks

My friend came into town for a weekend visit.  She is my long time knitting and spinning buddy, with a particular passion for sock knitting.  Countless pairs of socks have come from her double pointed needles!  Currently she’s working on a basket full of colorful mismatched socks from all the leftovers of previous pairs.  The plan is to sell them at a craft fair – people can choose any two of the socks they like.

Crazy socks

She also wanted to try weaving, so we warped up my Kromski loom with more sock yarn.

Weaving lesson

The two of us converged as crafters from different starting points. I began as a knitter, way back in college, though I gave it up for about ten years after college because of tendinitis. There were a few years in there somewhere when I was an avid cross stitcher as well.  Ten or twelve years ago I took up knitting again and quickly developed a lace knitting passion.  About five years ago I also started spinning, and then added some weaving.  She is a quilter who shifted to mainly knitting about 8-10 years ago and became a spinner fairly recently. And now she can also say she weaves.  I took up quilting two years ago (after a bit of simplistic quilting years and years ago that faded away) and haven’t been doing a lot of knitting since, and even less spinning.   Amongst my fiber friends we all pass the various skills and interests around to each other.  Everyone teaches someone else one of their interests until we all can do most of them to some degree.  Keeps the interest levels high!  We move into and out of various types, but the love for fiber in all its forms never goes away.

I so so miss being part of the knitting and spinning group we had up north.  I really need to do something about finding a group around here to do fiber crafts with.  I’ve just never been good at going out into a group of strangers.  She and I have been friends for more than 30 years, since before either of us had anything to do with yarn or fabric, so it was easy to slip into her already in place group when my husband and I moved back to the U.S. some years ago.  Starting completely from scratch with new people is harder for me.

Oh, and she brought me this!

Sock yarn to dye

We went in together on an order of undyed fingering weight yarn.  So much potential just waiting for me to splash colors onto it!  Add yarn and roving dyeing to the fiber skills list for our crafting circle of friends.

It was great to spend the day together.  She wove, I worked on my running stitch embroidery, and a third friend who joined us for the afternoon was knitting, so there were a lot of different fiber forms represented around the table.

A brief detour

There has been little to no crafting in the last couple of weeks.  Finals and essay grading played havock with my free time, though I did get the Scrapitude quilt sashing done and I’ve started to sew together the blocks.

But it then even that minimal progress was interrupted by a planned-but-not-prepared trip to New York.  We abandoned the children to Grandma’s loving care and headed with friends to the airport the day after school got out.  Since then, we’ve been hoofing it around the city and the only fiber activity has been about two inches of sock knitting that I did on the plane.

Though I did find a yarn store in Manhattan and bought my trip souvenir.

New York yarn purchase

A skein of Tosh merino light in Vanilla Bean (On the right)  and Maiden Hair silk & mohair yarn.

There was supposed to be more fiber craft pics as today my plan was to spend a lot of time at the Folk Arts Museum, but to my first puzzlement and then disappointment, the eight story museum building was torn down by the MoMA people to expand their building, and the folk arts are now a three room squeeze in a corner of a nearby Mormon temple.  All the many crafts have disappeared somewhere and they only have a single rotating exhibit at a time.

I did not take this well.  There were sad exclamations, and curb kicking, and trash talking of modern art.

And honestly, having visited MoMA the day before, I do not GET modern art.


Yoko Ono exhibit


I believe that Yoko Ono has been perpetuating an elaborate hoax for decades and is secretly laughing at museum visitors.  It is the only explanation I could come up with for pages and pages of little typed squares like this:

Yoko Ono exhibit


So, not a fan.  Probably just uneducated, but still, not a fan.

Since this is a crafting blog, I’ll get back on topic and share part of a really interesting exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art I was a fan of.  It involves cloth and sewing, so it counts.  They have a show called China Through the Looking Glass about how Western culture has borrowed from Chinese culture, usually without really understanding it.  In one of the rooms, I inspired by blue and white china like this:

China plate

there were dresses like this:

China blue and white dress


Broken China dressChina blue and white dress


Between the the dramatic outfits scattered through the many rooms and the Chinese embroidery, I was slightly reconciled to the loss of the Folk Arts Museum.

Well, no.  I’m still really disappointed and a little pouty. But it was a good museum visit if I had to make a substitution.