Branching Out

I’ve decided to branch out and try a new site for selling my handmade stuff.  I’m giving Big Cartel a shot as I’m not sure I’m on board with all the changes that have been happening over on Etsy.  Things were great until they opened it up to the wholesalers and the people who can sell “handmade” items that they bought for pennies from China.  Makes it hard for people who actually put time and effort into making their items to sell and make money when others can offer the same thing for cheap.

Anyway, here’s my new shop.  Sarandipity Handmade.  I’m still going to use Etsy for a while, but I’m just testing the waters.  Several of my friends have made the move over to Big Cartel and love it, so I’m hoping I (and you) will, too.

My first listing on BC is for my newest handspun yarn – Lollipop Guild.  This is spun from a braid of Organic Polwarth that I dyed with bright green, purple, red and brown.  It’s a 3 ply, navajo ply and approximately a worsted weight/heavy weight.  There are 2 skeins of this and you get both (I had to split it because my bobbins are small and I can’t fit all 4 oz on at one time).  There is a total of 124 yards and 4oz/119g.  I just love the fun colors of this yarn and hope you will, too.2015-05-22 17.05.56A

I’m also hoping that I’ll have more time to start blogging again, so watch this space for more shop updates and more crafty stuff.  I’ve got some things planned that I want to work on for the upcoming Madison Street Fair in September so I’m hoping to blog about that, too.

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First Day of School 2014

Today was the first day of school here.  Bug started 4th grade and Fidget started Pre-K.   Both were pretty excited about starting a new adventure.

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Here Fidget is waiting outside his classroom before he could go in with his new teachers and classmates.  The school my boys attend is an awesome school.  It’s a Montessori school and they have combined classrooms for the Pre-K/K classes and the 1/2 classes.  This means Fidget will remain in the same class for 2 years, with the same teacher and half of the same kids.  They do a lot of hands on activities and they teach in a child led manner (despite the fact that NY is unfortunately a Common Core state).2014-09-04 08.14.52

 

I will say that Fidget was a bit hesitant and scared about starting something new, but he did it with no tears.  He did try to make not one, but two attempts to leave with me, but once he was significantly distracted finding his cubby he was fine.  When I picked him up at the end of the day he said he had fun, left his lunchbox in his cubby and was very distraught over the fact that he couldn’t bring his nap blankie, that I knit for him, home.  He doesn’t quite understand that he’ll get to see it again every school day.2014-07-22 19.45.56My day was a typical housework day and while I was sad that my baby isn’t a stay at home baby anymore I was glad to have the break and the quiet, even though it meant cleaning.  I had the sheets off the beds and into the washer before we left for school, had them hung up on the line outside just after getting home, opened all the windows, had breakfast, put away some clean laundry, cleaned the living room and vacuumed it, put new sheets on the beds, cleaned one of the bathrooms, and gathered all the garbage and put it in the bin outside.  

After all that cleaning I did manage to do some crafting.  I’ve been spinning up some wool that I brought home from the Estes Park Wool Market this past June.  After attempting to dye it, I found that it’s rather sticky (almost like there is lanolin that won’t come out) and it felted with hardly any agitation.  Spinning it seemed to work better for it and I am actually liking how it came out – despite the fact the my fingers feel sticky whenever I touch it.  I finished the second bobbin of singles last night before bed and today I wound it into a center pull ball and made a 2 ply today, all while watching a couple episodes of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman on tv.  The first skein I made, which I re-skeined today, is 140 yrds of DK/sport weight (13-15WPI).  I also found that soaking the yarn in super hot water with dawn, followed by 2 hot water rinses and a conditioning rinse alleviated the sticky factor and the yarn is a bit softer.  It’s actually a very pretty ecru color…not sure if I’m going to bother dyeing it.  I think I might leave it plain.  

Not sure what tomorrow will bring…I need to clean the other bathroom, at the very least.  I’m hoping to do a little spinning.  I’m thinking of having a giveaway contest on my shop facebook page when I reach 300 likes.  I think I’m going to offer a skein of handspun faux cashmere as the prize.  If you are interested, hop on over to facebook and give my page a like – if you want to make sure you get in on the contest you can request notifications whenever I post anything…it will go directly into your notice bar.  🙂

 

 

Shop/Craft Update – Let’s Get This Blog Going Again!

I really suck at this blogging thing…with the end of school and the summer having the boys home I just never found a quiet moment to sit and type.  I’ve had ideas floating through my brain for what I could write about, but never put my fingers to the keyboard.  With school starting back up this Thursday I’ll have the house to myself for almost 6 hours a day!  Yay for peace and quiet!  

I still have my normal housework to attend to, but I’m sure without someone underfoot or needing me to do something or help with something I can get it all done fairly quickly.  I also plan on working on my shop/stock, advertising, and my crafting/spinning.

I currently have 3 knitting projects in the works.  The first is a hat, following this Cabled Dad Hat pattern, worked in Premier Yarns Alpaca Dance.  It’s a lovely silver color (silver fog) and is super soft.  It has a slight aura to it as well.  I’m 4 repeats into the first chart.  I’m not sure if I’m going to keep it or not.  I haven’t decided just yet.

The second pattern I’m working on is for 4 year old Fidget.  I’m making him a new pair of socks.  I’d planned to get it done before he starts school – he’s going into Pre-k this year – but I just didn’t get it in progress in time.  I finished the first sock today and with a little luck I can get them finished by next week. 

The last thing I’m working on is a shawl.  I’m actually using my own handspun for this project.  It’s a mix of corriedale, finn, and rambouillet cross spun into a laceweight singles yarn.  I called the colorway Little House on the Prairie because it’s a brownish green mix that reminded me of the cabin and the fields from the old 1970’s TV show.  I just finished watching the 3rd season on dvd with the intention of watching the rest when I get around to checking them out from the library.  The shawl is knitting up very nicely, using this Swallowtail Shawl pattern.  I think I made a mistake in the last row that I worked, but thankfully I put in a lifeline strand so hopefully I won’t lose too much of my work when I “tink” it back.  

As for my shop I’ve done some new colorways that I’m really proud of.  My favorite so far is Laetiporus, which was inspired by an awesome shelf fungus that I found in the woods at my parents house.  You are probably thinking, “Eewww!  A Fungus!  That’s disgusting!”  That’s where I think you are wrong…just look at this amazing, bright color that was created by nature.  

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Here is the colorway that I created.  This is dyed on a Merino/Firestar blend (85/15), this bright colorway closely matches the inspiration photo and sparkles slightly like it’s dew covered!  Click the image for the etsy listing.

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I’ve also been spinning, too.  I recently finished up an amazing faux cashmere handspun from fiber that I dyed myself.  This bright colorway is called Neon Lights and is available in my Etsy Shop.  This has all the amazing softness of cashmere without the high ticket price of the real thing!  

A2014-08-01 11.27.25Well, it’s almost bedtime for the boys.  Hopefully this post won’t be the last one for another 5 months.  I really do have plans to update this blog more often.  I may even try to offer photo or video tutorials.  

 

Happy First Day of Spring

Spring is finally here, though you wouldn’t really know it by looking outside.  It’s very dark and dreary with a fine rain falling on the layer of sleet that fell yesterday.  Hopefully, the weather will start improving, the buds will start popping up and Mother Nature will show her true beauty in all the flowers and green leaves.  I’m looking forward to the snow going away!

I’m also hoping that I won’t need all the winter woolies anymore.  Though, that will make me kinda sad as I just finished a pair of fingered gloves for myself.  I’m loving the colors (black, red, green with a hint of white and blue) and they match my winter coat and hat perfectly (well, the black and bright green do anyway), but I’m kinda sad that while I made them to fit me perfectly, they have stretched a bit with wearing them a few times and now feel like they are floating on my hands.  They are still warm, though and I’ll either keep them or give them to Darling Hubby if he’d like them.  I was considering making them with a mitten flap to go over the fingers, but I don’t think I have enough yardage leftover to do both flaps…Oh well.

I haven’t been spinning since the Ravellenics ended in February (geeze, that was a month ago almost!).  I went to Open Spinning at the LYS last night and finished up the 2nd skein of my X’s and O’s worsted weight Navajo plied yarn.  It felt good to finish something.  I finally washed the first skein of X’s and O’s and the skein of Ten and Tardis singles that I spun.  Now I’ve got 3 skeins of yarn drying.  I’m hoping the weather improves so I can get out on the porch to photograph.  The dark and dreary light of today isn’t great for photography…and my attempt at making my own light box was a failure.  😦  Sometimes I’m crafty, but this wasn’t one of those times!

Oh, and I have added one new project to my WIP list.  Little Fidget will be turning 4 in May and along with that he has the opportunity to go to pre-k.  I’ve already put his application in for the district pre-k lottery which will be drawn on 4-11-14.  We should hear if he got into our chosen school by the following week.  We’re really hoping that he gets into the same school his brother currently attends.  It would make life so much easier!  lol  Anyway, since school starts in 6 months I figured that would give me plenty of time to work on a “nap blanket” like I made for Bug when he went to Pre-k.  Fidget decided that he wanted something simpler than the Wheels on the Bus blanket I’d made for Bug.  In a way I’m grateful that he chose something simpler.  While the Wheels on the Bus was a cute blanket it was a lot of work and after a school year of weekly washing it didn’t hold up as well as I’d have liked. Plus, sewing all those 2 inch squares together was a right royal pain!  lol

Fidget chose a red blanket at first, then chose a red and black blanket.  I fell in love with the Moderne Baby Blanket from Mason Dixon Knitting so we scoured Ravelry together to find red and black blankets to give us ideas for 2 more colors.  We settled on black, red, white and dark grey.  So far I’m on block 6 and only messed up once, putting block 4 in the wrong place, but it will work out in the end I think with a bit of fudging.

Sadly, I don’t have any new photos.  Hopefully I’ll get something this week to share.  It’s weird, but I don’t like talking about my craft projects without photos to share!  Better get back to knitting.  Happy Spring, Everyone!

My First Homespun Yarn

In my Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival post I wrote about buying a Turkish Drop Spindle and some fiber with plans to learn to spin.  Since then I have been working a little here and there when I find a few minutes to give it a try.

I’ll admit that it’s not as easy as it looks…sometimes I feel like I need a 3rd hand, but it’s given me an appreciation for the art and a desire to branch out.

Now, I’m proud to present my first ever handspun yarn made with the batt from Loop Fiber Studio which is a mix of merino, bamboo, tussah silk and angelina that I purchased at Rhinebeck.  This skein weighs about 19gram (.6oz) (yes, it’s tiny, but it was just for practice) and is thick and thin in places.  I’ve been told that if it wasn’t my very first attempt at spinning it might be worthy of selling in my Etsy Shop as an art yarn.

 

I love the colors.  Different shades of blue and green with some blue sparkly tinsel randomly throughout.

 

It’s kinda of an arty type yarn with lots of sections of thick and thin spots.

 

Since I’m not a properly outfitted spinner, I didn’t have what’s called a Niddy Noddy for winding up the newly spun yarn into a skein…Since I’m crafty, I made my own temporary one out of  some string, 2 rulers and a tube from a roll of paper towels.  lol  Well, it was just a quickly thrown together things and I put the towel roll on as an end…I should have put the tube in the middle as it didn’t survive, but it worked and served a brief purpose before being put out for recycling.  In hindsight I probably could have just used one of my dining room chairs.  lol

 

 

I’m excited to try my hand at a different type of wool, some unidentified pinkish wool that my awesome spinning friend Barbara of Kitty Mine Crafts (yes, go check out all her awesome spun yarn and wool fibers!) sent to me to practice with.

My next adventure will be learning how to spin on a spinning wheel.  I’ve been doing some research lately and I’m going to check out a Kromski Minstrel and Kromski Prelude at The Spinning Room in nearby Altamont this weekend.  I’m kinda excited, but I’m not getting my hopes up on getting one soon since they are super super expensive, nearly $600 for the Minstrel which just based on the specifications is the one I’d most like to have.  Maybe Santa will be super kind to me.  🙂

Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival 2012

Yesterday was an adventure into all things fibery!  A couple members from the Frequent Fibers Club at my local library went for a drive to Rhinebeck, NY for the annual Sheep and Wool Festival.

Let me tell you there was so much to see, touch and even smell!  There were over 260 vendors, not counting the food.  That’s barns and barns full of yarn, wool, animals,  needles & hooks, spindles, hats, scarves, shawls, patterns, books and of course people…OMG I could go on and on…It was serious sensory overload.

This is just a sample of  the yarn.,  Every where you turned there were walls, baskets, bins, and tables full of yarns in all colors of the rainbow and every size you could think of.

Lots and Lots of Pretty Yarn!

We arrived at opening and immediately started shopping.   I decided before going that I wanted to try my hand at spinning my own yarn.  My friend Barbara who spins yarn for her online shop Kitty Mine Crafts makes awesome things and because of that I was bitten by the bug!   Rather than shell out a ton of money on a spinning wheel, I decided to try a drop spindle…I’d been advised to look for a top whirl one, but I’d viewed a video on Knit Picks with someone using a funky looking crossed one, so I’d already had that in mind.  In the first building, I ran across this kilted guy using that same funky looking drop spindle I’d seen in the video.

Kilted Spinner

He told me it was a Jenkins brand drop spindle and that I might find one a couple barns over.  Another pro to this particular spindle, which I later learned is called a Turkish drop spindle, is that if you wrap the newly spun yarn around the tines a certain way you can create a center pull ball!  Sweet!  My search was on.

In the second barn we found it filled with llamas, alpacas, sheep, their owners, and respective shops.  Here are some pictures of the more interesting specimens.

This guy was not happy about being the center of attention…no siree bob!  He gave everyone who got near his stall the stink eye.  I was just waiting for the spit to fly.

Unhappy Camper

This guy was pretty unusual.  He has a wicked under bite.  It just goes to show that you don’t have to have a pretty face to have pretty fleece!

Under bite!

These little sheep were playing shy.  They wouldn’t let me get a good shot of them.  I think the little brown one was too embarrassed to his his picture taken.

In one of the later rows of vendors we stumbled across a shop called Still River Mill.  They sold interesting yarns like yakaboo (combination of yak and bamboo yarn) and dog hair yarn.  I contemplated the yakaboo yarn, but decided it was too thin to make a hat (I was thinking something for Darling Hubby since it was a nice gray color) and ended up picking up a dark blue skein of the Seven Sammy’s dog hair yarn.  It’s made from the hair from a Samoyed sled dog team from Cambridge, VT.  It has a beautiful halo effect after handling and I’m partial to Samoyeds having had a big white one named Sheba growing up.  Her long hair would have been perfect for spinning.

Also around that area we came across this cute little knitted monster.  I couldn’t resist taking a picture of him.

Eventually I did find the spindle I was looking for.  It was indeed a Jenkins brand (hand made by Ed Jenkins) Turkish drop spindle, made from purpleheart at 2.22 oz.  I’m excited to give it a try.  I know I’m not going to be perfect right out of the gate, but a girl can hope!  Maybe I’ll take to it like I did to knitting.  The best thing about that purchase was the other customers there that I spoke with.  One was adamant about using a bottom or turkish spindle while her friend was all about the top.  They both were really helpful in giving me pros and cons about the different spindles and I think I made the right choice.  The one woman, Elizabeth, even gave me her card and told me to shoot her an email if I got stuck.

Now, before I could even think about trying out my new purchase, I had to get some fiber to practice with.  Having not purchased fiber before it was a bit overwhelming, to be honest.  There were so many different colors, feels, and blends…I really didn’t know where to start.  Barbara told me to look for something with a long fiber and I did my best…I ended up getting a 2oz bag of a mix of merino from Loop Fiber Studio in a gorgeous sea treasure colorway.  It’s got lots of greens and blues and a bit of sparkle.  I also found a merino and silk mix, from another shop that sadly I missed the name of, that is so soft!  I do remember they also had adorable 8 week old bunnies for sale.  They were so sweet!…Not that I need a rabbit!  lol  I fell in love with the black, blues and silver of this 2oz of dyed wool.  I know this will be rather difficult to work with out of the gate, but I’m holding on to it for when I get better.  It was just too beautiful to resist.  I think it will make a gorgeous yarn!

Aside from knitted monsters we came across a knitted critter that looked like Eeyore and a knitted moose. Both were too cute to resist taking a picture of.

 

Other things we saw were a demonstration of needle felting and of someone using a circular sock knitting machine.  Personally, I think hand knitting is more fun!  lol

Circular Sock Knitting Machine

There was even this funky contraption below.  It was a spinning wheel created by this woman’s husband.  It was called a pendulum spinning wheel…it was a crazy looking thing.  Basically it had this super long arm that had a spindle at the very end that was spun around by the wheel.  It seemed to me to be a version of a drop spindle laid on its side.  Personally it seemed like there were many easier methods of spinning…and the amount of room that was needed was enormous…I don’t even think it would have fit in my living room!

Spinning Contraption

Later in the afternoon was the drop spindle contest.  There were approximately a dozen people signed up to see how much yarn they could spin in 10 minutes.

Drop Spindle Contest

It was interesting to see each person’s method of spinning.  Some preferred to sit, while other preferred to stand.

Drop Spindle Contest

Some preferred to drape their roving over their hands and others over their shoulders.  A few, along the back wall, were able to continue a full conversation while spinning…they didn’t even seem under pressure.  lol

Drop Spindle Contest

Some gave their spindle a quick flick with their hand to get momentum while other preferred to spin it down their leg.  I was a bit disappointed to only see top whirl spindles as I was hoping to see all the different kinds in action, but it did give me an appreciation for both types of spindles.  The winner of the contest was able to spin 16 yards of yarn in 10 minutes and there was a tie for 2nd place with I think about 13 yards.  I hope that I can one day be that good.  I also got to see this thing called the niddy noddy in action.  Apparently that is how you can wind your spun yarn into a skein and know how many yards you made.  I may have to get one in the future…lol

And the day wouldn’t be complete without a picture of me wearing a big fluffy, fuzzy wool hat.  I think it suits me!  lol

Here are a couple pictures of some of the other random animals that really had nothing to do with fiber arts…they were just there to keep the kids entertained in the kids zone  🙂  The red kangaroo seemed to be posing…He was sexy and he knew it…lol

This was a ginormous bunny.  I think it was a Flemmish Giant.  He was also in with a big tortoise.

Overall we had a fun day with beautiful fall weather.  We couldn’t have asked for a better day, especially at the end of October.  The sun was shining, the weather was warm and not too humid.  There was a ton to see and by the end of the day we were all a little overwhelmed and a lot tired from all the walking.  I’m looking forward to maybe going again next year.  Maybe by then I’ll be an accomplished spinner and can broaden my horizons even further!  One can hope, right!