Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Fish Aren't Manly

oh sigh. Today I decided to use my gen-u-ine Indonesian tjap, which came off E-bay and arrived coated with gen-u-ine Indonesian dirt crusted all over it, to make a batik t-shirt. So I set everything up, got my wax to heating, swept off some of the dirt, and plunked the tjap into the hot wax. Then I plopped it on the t-shirt, and nothing happened. Goodness. So I stuck the tjap back in the wax and waited patiently (big lie) and then tried again. And this time, the wax was hot enough, the stars were aligned, and the wax stuck to the t-shirt. Unfortunately, there was only one shirt. So, well, I did it again. And again. And then I flipped the shirt over and did the back. Too ambitious for a first project? No. But maybe too many fish. I'll let you decide:

I like it. I like it so freaking much. So I took it to its intended recipient, the only size M in our house, and he said, "It's really pretty, Mom. But it's fish. Fish aren't manly."

Big sigh.

I may have wandered down the road to the sad world of rejected art tributes. So the back, I declare, shall be titled "Sad fish."

Not manly. Man. I am one sad fish.

Tomorrow's project: unmanly batik fish on a scarf.

How We Lure Sweet, Innocent Girls to the Fiber Arts

So, a few weeks ago I headed out on a jaunt to Rhinebeck's annual fiber festival. On the way, we picked up Linda Ann, an unrepentent non-knitting, non-spinning Fiber Agnostic. A non-believer of the worst sort. She came along, I imagine, because we promised her wild times. And wild times she got.

It's no easy task to turn a person toward fiber. You have to reel it out slowly. You can't just throw fiber at them and expect an overnight conversion. So we Fiber Tarts approached the task with care. "Hmmm... that's a pretty color. You'd look nice in something made from that." "You know, it wouldn't be hard to find a simple pattern... something reeeeally easy." "Why, you could make something simple with one ball of yarn... we'll just take a peek on Ravelry and see what we can find."

By the time she was one day in, Linda had made the first tentative step. My friend Denise bought the yarn - the first yarn is always free, you see. And then some knitting needles. You can't get started without some lovely knitting needles. A careful search for a pattern took place, and soon, Linda was on her way.

Note that two skeins were purchased. One might cause Linda to finish up and not pick up the next project. Two, on the other hand, obliges her to think about a second project. Leg warmers? A hat? A scarf? Mitts?

Here's Channyn, demonstrating that yarn looks good in almost any configuration. Why, it practically knits itself. You could just drape it over your shoulders...


Channyn picked up every stitch Linda left by the wayside.
And here's Linda's project:
All right, Linda, let me know what your next project will be. I can't wait to see it.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Fiber Nazi is Appeased

Last weekend I drove to Newburgh, NY to enjoy a Ladies Weekend with some college friends. And friends of the college friends. And friends of their friends. We showed up, pulled out wine, cheese and cookies, and gabbed. Yep. That's what we did. We took a side trip to a modern outdoor art exhibit. But mostly we just noshed and chatted in a lovely, positive environment. College plans for children, new jobs and old jobs... it was delightful to visit with my old friends and make some new ones. I can't wait to go again next year.

The best part of the trip, though, was a side junket to Poughkeepsie, NY, where I visited with my friends Lisa and Tina's mother, Katie. Katie weaves, you see, and I had weaving yarn, and a wee loom of my own, so I thought I could convince Katie to take the yarn and perhaps show me how to set up my little loom. I showed Katie my weaving yarn, and she looked at me and said that if I would not make her take the yarn, then she would teach me to knit. How could I turn such a proposal down?

Katie is in the middle of preparing to move, you see, and she says she can't set up the loom any more, as it is too hard to see. After I got home and tried to set up my wussy baby loom, I concluded that there must be people out there who you can pay to do that. My attempt did not go well. I am looking at my project right now and realizing that I will have to pull it off and start over again. And, of course, my scarf is looking rather "tilty". And the middle part is tightly woven, while the rest is loose.

But back to my visit... when my attempt to empty my car of yarn (six big boxes) didn't work out, I moved on to doing my dance of the seven veils. Basically, I brought out the handspun yarn and trickled it in front of the ladies in an alluring fashion. Before long my friend Lisa had found something she had to have, and the next thing we knew, a new knitter was born. Katie agreed to show Lisa how to knit a hat.

The story gets better, of course, because Lisa had heard me whine about my great big apothecary jars full of not properly appreciated yarn, so she took Katie to her home and immediately set to work, and then sent me this picture:

My fiber nazi instincts are appeased by this most excellent rendering made by Lisa. Her reward? She is welcome to look through the pictures on this blog and if there are any yarns that she would like to use to make something else (that she will lovingly photograph), then she is welcome to them.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

How I Became My Very Own Fiber Nazi (or, Pickled Fiber in Apothecary Jars, Oh My!!)

I can't knit. OK, I knit. I don't like to knit. The directions look confusing. I fall asleep when I do it, and I look all slack-jawed and drooly. And it's a struggle to get anything to come out in the right shape, and the only shape I've ever tried to make is a rectangle.

So there I was, sitting outside one of the barns at Rhinebeck, spinning, and I found myself explaining to a very nice young woman the story of what I do with my yarn.

Me: "First, I spin it up. Then I put it in a big jar. A big apothecary jar that I bought from Walmart for $10.00. There are many jars. I probably should stop buying jars when I get to about 10, or people will start thinking funny things about me."

Her: "Why don't you knit it?"

Me: "Oh, don't get me started. My knitting is embarrassing."

Her: "So you're a yarn hoarder?"

Me: "Err... well I guess I am."

Her: "You should sell it."

Me: "Nope, can't do that. Nobody would pay enough to cover costs for high end fiber spun on drop spindles. It takes about 8 hours to make a ball of yarn."

Her: "Hmmm... well you could give it away."

Me: "Tried that... nobody sends me thank you notes with beautiful pictures of what they made with it. And when I send something all made up, if they send me a picture, I swear, they throw the thing on and hold their camera in the air and snap a blurry picture. Nope, nobody deserves that yarn, not even me. Pickled yarn in apothecary jars is the way to go."

That, my friends, is how I became a Fiber Nazi. "No yarn for you!"

 There's room for six more jars, and then I start looking a little quirky.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Starry Starry Night

Last week I elevated my travelling fiber hoarder status to a new level by journeying with some friends to Rhinebeck. Rhinebeck, NY, is the home of the Dutchess County Sheep & Wool Growers Association. Up until now I've just been going to the Hemlock Fiber Festival in Hemlock, NY, but I had a little free time and a bee in my bonnet about going to something a little bigger. So my friends Denise, Channyn and Linda headed out with me for some fun in Dutchess County.

So, I found a fewwww things I liked. The purchase that I found most interesting was fiber called Starry Night, from Tintagel Farm. It's a blend of 45% Mohair, 45% Wool, 10% Llama, and Angelina. The vendor created this lovely fiber based on Vincent Van Gogh's famous painting:

My friend Channyn says I need to show you the full evolution of the fiber, so here's what it looked like at the festival. You can see why it caught my attention. I loved the idea of taking colors from a painting and making fiber with that blend of colors. It seemed like such a creative idea. I'd like to try that myself, so now I need to ponder how I might go about it.
I spun it up on my drop spindles. So, a pound of fiber filled up four big drop spindles.
And then I plied it. Four balls of yarn doesn't go very far, in my humble opinion, so when I was plying, I tried a couple of different ideas. First, I plied the single to itself. And second, I tried plying to another single with another fiber I've been working with. The second fiber, a slate blue, is 50% pygora 50% cashgora. The pygora/cashgora blend is from Firefly Farm. While the Starry Night single was pretty soft, the pygora/cashgora blend was even softer. I thought it would make a yarn with a softer handle, and it did:
So adding in the slate blue definitely softened the color. The slate blue plied with Starry Night is on the right:
Here's all the yarn I made. Personally, I don't see a lot of difference between the two yarns. I'll bet you can't tell which is which in this picture:

And then I knit both up into a swatch, which nearly sent me into a coma, because knitting does that to me. The section circled in yellow is the two ply yarn with one ply Starry Night and the other the Pygora/Cashgora blend, and the rest is the two ply of Starry Night: