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On the Wheel: Blue Lagoon

1 Apr

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My fiber stash has been neglected for a long time, so I’ve made a goal to do more spinning this year. My first time back on my spinning wheel in over a year was to spin up these 4 blue art batts. Unfortunately the label didn’t include the fiber content or name, so it is a bit of a mystery, but from spinning I can tell it contains wool, mulberry silk, and firestar. I named it “Blue Lagoon” and the depth of the blue is really hard to capture on camera.

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With the first skein I was able to get a nice 2-ply in approximately DK weight, and it was devoted to making a garter stitch hat for a friend who loves knitted hats. It came out to about 192 yards which was just enough to make one hat with just a few inches to spare.

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The next skein is yet to be finished and its intended purpose is unknown. I’ve been trying to practice a little “over the fold” and long draw spinning techniques, but I quickly realized this was the wrong batt to do that with. The mixture of the different fibers requires me to have a little bit more control over the spin, so I’ll have to pick a different project to attempt those techniques again. I’m so happy to be spinning again, and my goal is to clear off my bobbins (I have two other spinning projects in-progress) this year.

How I Kettle Dyed My First Roving

18 Feb

I have been wanting to try dyeing yarn and roving for a long time, so I picked up a bunch of Kool-Aid in different colors, pulled out some undyed Corridale roving I’ve had stashed away for awhile, and got to work. I looked up some different techniques online and decided to do kettle dyeing since it was the least messy option.

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First I picked purple (grape) and blue (tropical punch) because I knew that they would mix together well. I put 3 packets of each in two separate measuring cups of 2/3 cup of warm water and set aside. To prep the roving, I put two 2.5 ounce bundles in my crockpot with warm water. The biggest thing to remember is not to put the fiber through any extreme temperature change or it will start to felt.

I let the roving heat up on the “hot” setting for an hour in the crockpot covered. Then I took the purple and added it to the water first. The roving immediately starting soaking up the color. I carefully flipped the roving in the water (again, don’t agitate too much or it will cause felting) and then added the blue to where I could still see white. I gently pushed the roving back down into the water so it could get completely saturated with dye.

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After another almost 2 hours of heat-setting the dye on high in the crockpot covered, the dye was exhausted (meaning the water was clear and all the dye was soaked up into the fiber). I let the roving cool back to room temperature and then dumped the water and gently rinsed the roving in warm water. A quick squeeze in a towel and a few hours outside to dry, the fiber was done! 

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I call this “Royal Tuesday” and I was shocked by the color depth that I was able to get from just a few packets of Kool-Aid. I am excited to spin this up so I can see if I should keep dyeing fiber (I can guess the answer will be “yes!”).

Redo

6 Jan

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Several years ago I made the above pictured hat out of my handspun yarn, and as soon as it was finished, I knew it was the wrong pattern for the yarn. The complicated cables got muddled in the self striping sequence and the softness of the yarn didn’t lend well to the structure this hat needed. When I wore it, the hat constantly slid down my head and was too floppy. I loved the yarn but I didn’t love the hat.

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Fast forward to last week when I decided to frog the hat (and matching fingerless mitts, which also didn’t work for the same reasons and had developed a hole needing mended) and make something that I would love to wear. I knew a simpler pattern would help showcase the yarn, so I decided to knit a garter stitch hat instead. The finished hat is perfect now, sitting just right on my head and not sliding off, not too slouchy, and the garter stitch gives the soft yarn just the right structure it needs.

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The handspun was one of my most favorite ones ever so I couldn’t stand to have a finished object that I didn’t love to wear. Now I am super happy with the new hat and so glad that knitting can always be taken out and redone.

New Website

10 Oct

Welcome to the new Kounting Sheep Website.

If you are seeing this post, then you are in the right place. Yes, my website is still kountingsheep.com but things might look a little different. That’s because I have completely moved to a new platform, WordPress. I have been using blogger/blogspot as my main blog since 2007, but as I start to expand Kounting Sheep, I figured it was time to move to a platform that will grow with me and give me more control over my website.

You will still be able to find all of my old blog posts both by scrolling through the main homepage  and by the clicking on the archive drop down menu in the sidebar. And I will be posting new blogs from now on over here. If you had kountingsheep.blogspot.com bookmarked, please make sure to change it to kountingsheep.com, as I will no longer be using blogspot.

Thank you to all of my followers and enjoy the new website!

Tour de Fleece 2013

10 Jul

I wasn’t sure if I was going to participate or not this year in the Tour de Fleece. Last year my plans got interrupted when I started dating this one guy, who, you know, became my husband. I guess that’s a pretty good excuse not to spin. But this year, I didn’t have any excuses, so I’m using this opportunity to finish up some languishing spinning projects.

First up was some black merino lace singles that I had begun spinning on a wheel at the yarn store that I was trying out for an afternoon. I plan to get some more merino so that I can get another bobbin full and then 2-ply this lace yarn. For now, I have one bobbin finished with 2 ounces of fiber.

The next one to tackle was my project from last year’s TdF, my Tea Party Phat Fiber samples. Surprisingly, even though I had forgotten what my original plan was, when I read last year’s post about it, I ended up doing exactly what I had in mind. I was able to finish the singles today and I will be Navajo-plying this up tomorrow.

I can’t wait to see how this Wonderland Tea Party yarn turns out, especially since it looks like 3 different yarns as I took progress pictures while spinning; this aptly-titled yarn will definitely be quite the mix of colors and fibers.
 
I’m hoping to finish out the Tour by working on the natural-colored Jacob fleece that I still have half of the hand-carded rolags left to spin up. Pictures of finished yarn to come soon.

Business Cards

24 Jan
 
I’ve been wanting to get business cards for a long time now, but kept forgetting to either create my own or find a place that could. But after being stopped in a movie theater over Christmas break by a person asking about my hand-woven scarf, and then asking for my contact details, I decided it was time I finally get my own business cards. Especially now that I will be a full-time fiber artist, I wanted to have something to give to strangers who see me displaying my work and show interest. Also, if I ever decide to someday start participating in craft shows of some kind, I’ll have these all ready to go. I’m really pleased with how these came out, especially since I found an inexpensive pre-made template option that matched my website design, which meant a lot less work for me. The other great thing was that they came with a free card holder, so I can just throw it in my purse or project bag and always have them handy when needed.
I am grateful, though, that I waited, because now these have my soon-to-be new last name! It’s a little surreal seeing a different last name next to my first name; I’m so used to my maiden name that it will take some getting used to spelling out this new long, hyphenated beast (although, I’m grateful it at least spells the way it sounds, unlike my maiden name). Only 16 days until the wedding!

On the Wheel: Phat Fiber

10 Jul
 

Remember when I posted about my first Phat Fiber box? Well, for the second week of the Tour de Fleece, my goal is to spin up all my colorful little samples into a fun tea party yarn.

First I laid out the fiber in a gradient spectrum to go from the darker colors to the lighter colors, which means I also plan to navajo-ply this so I can keep it as a gradient yarn.

For Day 9 (yesterday) I was able to get the first color on the wheel, a grey shetland that I’m mixing with a mulberry silk to get a marble effect (first picture). I have enough of the cream silk to carry it through most of the darker fibers. The solid colored mini braid in the photo is 100% bamboo that I think I will try to carry through most of the lighter colored fibers. This spinning project is such a fun opportunity to mix and blend. I’m looking forward to seeing what the finished yarn will look like.

I think my goal at the beginning of the Tour was a bit ambitious, now that I’ve considered all the other projects I need to complete in July, so I think I’ll cut it in half and aim to spin up 3 different projects. That would still be more spinning in 3 weeks than I did earlier this year in 3 months!

And We Have Yarn

6 Jul
 
 Day 6 of Tour de Fleece, and I have a finished skein of yarn!
Golden Peaches
276 yards, 2 oz
Navajo-ply
22 WPI, fingering weight
Merino/silk blend
This is only half of the original roving, so I’m hoping that the next half will yield a similar yardage. I will be selling both skeins in my etsy shop at the end of the month. I really enjoyed spinning this yarn–the fiber was very easy to draft, thanks to the silk.

Tour de Fleece

2 Jul

This summer is a busy one for me. I’m still in shock that it’s already July! Where did June go? Oh yeah, I spent it packing, unpacking, and repacking as I went to Prescott, to house-sit, and to California about a week apart each. I’m hoping July will be a slower month (which it should be), since this year I’ll be participating in the Tour de Fleece (Ravelry link).

For those not aware of this “event,” it runs simultaneous to the Tour de France (and if you don’t know what that is, it’s an intense cycling competition in France) for those who spin yarn to “spin-along” with the Tour. I’m excited to be doing this, since I missed the event last year, and this year I’ve had very little spinning time. Tour de Fleece is quite simple: spin every day (if you can) that the cyclists ride their bikes, and if you want to, challenge yourself with goals and special projects.

My goal is very simple: spin as much as possible. I’m hoping to spin up at least 6 braids of roving, with some of the finished yarns being ones that I can sell in my etsy shop for the first time. I’ve been wanting to reach the point where I can sell my handspun, and I feel confident that I’m at that place now. The problem is just finding enough time in the day! That’s why it’s helpful to have a spin-along that will push me to be on my spinning wheel every day. First up is a peach/brown/yellow/green/white roving that I’m hoping to spin up into 2 fingering/sock weight yarns to sell (as pictured above).

I will try to refrain from posting pictures every day of my spinning progress, but check back for periodical updates (which should be more frequent than my posting in June).

A Phat Tea Party

19 May

As I mentioned in my last post, I purchased my first Phat Fiber box last month. I’ve been following the Phat Fiber blog for a few months now, having stumbled across the concept through the Knitty blog (I love how interconnected the fiber community can be), but had somehow missed how to sign up to receive notifications for when the monthly Phat box went on sale.

Basically, the Phat Fiber box is a monthly box centered on a different theme each time. Independent fiber artists from around the world send in contributions, which are samples of their work (yarn, fiber, teas, gift tags, stitch markers) to include in the box. Secret “drop” times (one in the morning and one in the afternoon) are emailed to everyone on an email list, and then you wait on the website until the boxes go “live.” Hundreds of people are trying to snag a box all at once, and the thrill of the chase is so exciting (and probably devastating if you don’t get one). They are usually gone in a few minutes. The whole point of the Phat Fiber box is to support independent fiber artists and to try out samples of their work. You can either get a “Stitches” (yarn), a “Fluff” (spinning fiber), or a “Mixed” (both yarn and fiber) box.

Each month, the fiber artists who contribute to the box create full-sizes of their samples, whether it be yarn or spinning fiber. Then during the “drop weekend” (when the boxes go for sale), they offer special discounts in their shop. That way, if you can’t afford to buy a box or don’t get one, you can snag the same wonderful fiber straight from the artist.

Last month I saw that the theme was Tea Party, and I managed to catch a whiff of the drop date three days before it was supposed to happen. At first I didn’t think I would try for one because we don’t have internet at the apartment, and I would have to go in to work (which, I work at the church) to use the internet there. At the last minute, I decided to swing into the office, with only about 3 minutes to spare before the afternoon drop time. As I sat on the computer, hitting refresh over and over again, there it was, a Tea Party Mixed box popped up on the screen. Within a few minutes, I had already paid for it and got my confirmation email; my first attempt was a success. Tea Party describes all the things I love: Alice in Wonderland, tea, flowers, lace, British, delicate, pastels and colors, tea cups and tea pots, and more. I couldn’t resist getting this box!

A few days later I got my box in the mail, and I’ve never been so excited to see mini yarn and fiber samples in my life. Even my roommate was excited, and joined in my rejoicing as she asked me to show her the contents of my box. I have since knit up almost all of my little samples into blanket squares for a sock-yarn blanket I’m gonna start making. The fiber will be spun up hopefully sometime this summer into more yarn to knit into squares for the blanket. I was also able to buy one sample called “One Lump or Two” from WishFox Dyeworks that I can’t wait to spin up either.

Finally getting a box fulfilled its intended purpose–I have since become familiar with a bunch of new fiber artists and now have resources for buying great quality fibers while supporting independent crafters like myself. There may or may not have been a couple purchases of full-sized samples from this month’s theme “Greek Mythology” (since I won’t be trying to get the Phat box this month)…

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