16 October 2006

Just Playing Around

For much of the last month, I've spent most of my spare time making puppets for Sprout using recycled wool sweaters. Once the basic puppet is stitched, I needle felt features onto the puppets to finish them. Ms. Sprout now has quite the growing collection.

I've left several of the puppets at my local fiber shop so that the owner could show them off to her needle felting customers when they come in. To make a long story short, interest in the puppets has been such that I will be teaching a puppet making class at the shop in mid-November. I'm also researching the notion of putting several of the puppets into my Etsy shop. I'm having so much fun making them and Sprout just loves them. She carries on complete conversations with them and gives them hugs and kisses. I love the needle felted eyes because it is so wonderful to have a puppet with no plastic parts. Because the eyes and noses are felted on with a felting needle, they're more difficult to pull free than even the "childproof" eyes recommended for young children.

I'm never quite sure what a puppet is going to be until I've stitched the muzzle shut and played with it for a minute or two. Once I know what kind of animal the puppet wants to be, then I can cut ears, which serve to underscore the identity of the animal. With the ears cut out, I can stitch them into shape and pin them onto the puppet to try to capture the personality.

With the ears stitched on, then it's just a matter of selecting the wool for their eyes and felting on the finishing details. My favorites, so far, are the dogs. There is so much variety available. Whether the sweater that I'm working with is brown, purple, or red, if I can get the ears right, and the muzzle shaped the way that I want it, Sprout has a puppy to play with that doesn't need to be walked or fed.

04 October 2006

Birthday Update

My frantic search for spinable fibers in the deapths of my needle felting box yeilded a small section of Arlene's space dyed roving, precicely one ounce. I've been afraid to touch the handpainted roving I bought on Etsy until I was sure what I wanted to do with it. I figured that a lace weight, 2-ply yarn would be ideal but I'm still not sure whether I want to ply it back on itself or if I want to ply it with a solid contrast single.

In either event, I knew that I wanted the final result to be somewhere in the 18 wpi range. The space dyed roving from my needle felting stash proved to be the perfect practice medium. Based on a little trial and error, it drafted very similarly to the handpainted roving. So, I pulled the space dyed roving apart , figured out how I wanted the color repetitions to work for me, and began spinning onto two separate bobbins.

When I plyed the two bobbins, I had succeeded in spinning the two sections of the roving to within 6 inches of each other. (I love it when a plan comes together...) The result, shown above, is approx. 105 yards of 2-ply yarn. I wrapped the yarn 18 times around a size 10 knitting needle and it measured just a hair under an inch.

I'm actually really pleased with the results. All in all, I feel like it was a really great exercise and an excellent use of some fiber that I bought to add to the felting stash with no clue how I wanted to use it.

02 October 2006

What can I do with...

I just finished plying approximately 183.75 yards (3.4 ounces) of handspun yarn. It started as a beautiful brushed sliver with blue, purple, green and fushia. I'm still trying to get the tensioning right on the wheel so my singles were pretty tightly spun. A tight twist in the opposite direction during the plying actually resulted in a pretty balanced yarn. I'm guestimating (I lifted about an inch worth of fibers from the skein and measured/counted it...) it at roughly 17wpi which would make it a fingering weight yarn. It may, however, bloom some when I soak it in hot water to set the twist so I'll probably re-measure the length and actually wrap some along a pencil or dowel to get a more accurate wpi measurement.

My friend H. is coming into town on Friday so I can pick her brain for ideas about what to make when I see her this weekend. (Consider yourself warned, H.)

It should be an interesting weekend. I'm having a birthday party on Saturday which I seem to have gone out of my way to sabotage. I don't remember when the last time I had a birthday party was. It's easy for me to blame K. for my reluctance to have parties because he's not the most social creature. The truth is, however, that if I wanted to have parties he'd indulge me in that as he does in almost every other way. (He won't let me start smoking again, but really who could blame him and I guess that I'd rather spend the money on spinnable fibers since I really only miss it when I want something to do with my hands.) I don't have parties because I become paralyzed by anxiety at the thought of preparing for a party and no one showing up. On some deep level I'm absolutely certain that no one really likes me or wants to spend time with me. Rather than face the rejection, I don't have parties, or (as I did this time around) I do something stupid to sabotage them like procrastinating on the invitations until everyone has already made other plans.
I'm sick... I need help... Maybe I should find something to do with my hands other than letting them loose on a keyboard to dump the unfiltered contents of my brain into my blog.

What's distressing me at the moment is that my spinning options right now are pretty thin... I didn't think to grab the fiber that I bought from Arlene after my drop spinning lessons so I can't spin that. Of the fiber I bought at Wool Gathering, I've spun everything but the natural black corriedale that I still need to wash the chocolate milk out of. (My beloved put the bag containing the roving on the floor under the car seat. Somehow - we won't point fingers or anything - a bottle of chocolate milk ended up being dropped into it nipple pointing down...) the other options are some beautiful handpainted roving that I bought on Etsy and recieved last week or a fiber sampler that I listed in my Etsy shop and now am really wishing that I had kept it for myself so that I could play with it...

For now, I think that I'll try to distract myself by needle felting features onto a hand puppet that I need to get out in the mail. Who knows, maybe I'll find something spinnable in my needle felting fiber case. I'm afraid that I may have a bit of a problem here... I just love the rhythm of spinning.

01 October 2006

BLOGTIPPING: October 2006

Given my current fiber obsession, I figured I'd focus my October blogtipping post on a handspinner. If you're not familiar with PippiKneeSocks.com I'd strongly recommend a visit.

I love the color sense represented by this site and the accompanying blog. The clean lines of the site combined with the dusky purple and green color scheme really serve as a soothing backdrop and manage somehow not to clash with even the most exuberant yarns posted to the site or the blog.

The availablity of tags for the blog posts makes it so much easier to find posts on the specific topics that I'm interested in at any given moment. I would love to invest the time and energy to read the entire back archive of the blogs that I stumble across either through posts in forums or through random web searches. Unfortunately, I don't have time to read and follow the forums I'm subscribed to and can't remember when I last managed to read a book so it's nice to be able to read selected highlights from the archives on topics that I'm particularly interested in of a moment. That ability keeps me coming back to the blog and encourages me to hit the subscribe with bloglines button on my tool bar. I wish every blog had tags... Which reminds me, I need to get my own tagging system back online. I'm in the midst of yet another computer migration and haven't made a point yet of pestering tech support for assistance in that area.

I love the eye candy. Pippi takes beautiful pictures and spins beautifully. The combination is inspiring to a novice spinner who does neither very well.

Which brings me to the tip portion of my blogtipping post... I'd love to see a photography tutorial for those interested in photographing their handspun. Whether the pictures are intended for use on a blog, ebay, or etsy, there are a lot of bad pictures of good yarn out there and I think Pippi may be just the person to change that.

Other sites that I'm looking enjoying (in part because of the usual acquisative frenzy of consumerist lust that comes with trying to answer the question "What do you want for your birthday?") right now are:

KnitPicks.com both their needle collection and some of their yarns. (They have an amazing collection of undyed yarns... Just what I need, another fibery obsession...)

Brainsbarn Custom Wooden Crochet Hooks are absolutely beautiful. Sometimes, beautiful tools make the work more enjoyable. I have some stunning handmade pottery tools that are a pleasure to use. I can only imagine how much one of these beauties would enhance the experience of creating crochet lace.

And, on that note, I think that I need to turn off the computer and spend some quality time with my baby and her daddy. They really are what's important in my life and I wouldn't want to get too carried away with my materialist day dreams.