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Joy’s visit! July 7, 2009

Posted by jeninmaine in dyeing, food, spinning.
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It’s hard to believe that tomorrow is Joy’s last full day here in Maine. Wahhh! We’ve had a great time even though we’ve only had about a day and a half of not-rain in the entire time she’s been here. Talk about a bummer. I really wanted to make it back to the beach again and do some quality sitting around on the deck around the chimnea but sadly it just isn’t to be. Next time.

Yesterday we did a whole lot of dyeing – we took advantage of the nice weather Monday afforded and the empty counter tops in my kitchen thanks to the ant invasion. Poor Joy – she’s had to deal with ants and all of my kitchen appliances sitting out on the floor in the extension while we battle them. I tried the greenish way of getting rid of them by putting Borax out for them to presumably eat and carry back to the nest, eradicating the whole mess of them, but after a week there were even more ants partying down on the counters than there were before so Michael bought some sort of highly toxic ant bait that resulted in scores of dead ants piled around them the next morning. Hmph, fine.

Joy just pointed out that in their zeal to escape the toxic poison, the ants actually crawled up into the Borax traps and expired there. What an insult.

Anyway. Dyeing. We scored a couple of bags of yarnz from the LYS, I guess I can say she’s my supplier now as she gives me a sweet discount if I buy in bulk. We also cracked open the 22# bump of Falkland I’ve had stashed for a couple of months awaiting Joy’s arrival. I’ve weighed out at least thirty 4-ounce bundles and the damned thing is still bigger than Margaret.

We set up a couple of kettles on the stove, a few crock pots and I have a lidded enamel turkey roasting pan that fits two skeins of yarn or four ounces of roving. We started a bit late around 3pm as I was anal retentive about setting everything up and in the next 3-4 hours dyed around 25 skeins of yarn and at least 10 bundles of roving. Honestly I’ve lost count. They were hanging outside on the clothes dryer, warming happily in the late day sunlight so we left them overnight figuring they could finish fluffing in the morning. Sadly we woke to find it pouring outside so we’re considering adding the descriptor “rinsed in pure Maine rainwater” when we list them to sell. My house is currently filled with hung up bits of wool dripping water all over the place. It’s sort of homey in a “crazy yarn lady” way.

For further confirmation that someday we will indeed take over the world, Joy and I discovered that we have very distinct and different methods of dyeing that yield unique results. It’s kind of cool – the stuff I prefer to do isn’t what she prefers to do and vice versa. It sure made it easier as we weren’t fighting over resources. She also brought her Cushing’s dyes with which I had very much fun. If we could accomplish what we did in just a few concentrated hours, I can’t even imagine what we could get done in a permanent dye studio 2-3 times a week for, say, five hours at a time. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for that invisible trans-US bridge from Montana to Maine.

I am tippy tapping away on Joy’s swanky laptop (of which I am covetous) while she sits beside me on the couch knitting a really giant bag. No, it’s really giant. Like I could fit both of my kids in it giant, with room for the cat. She’s going to felt it when she’s done knitting (it has to get to three FEET long, like whoa) and I feel bad for her washing machine. Maybe I’ll recommend she go to the laundromat.

Another yay fiber thing was finding some amazing waste roving at the fiber gallery – they had a huge trash bag full for 0.75 an ounce, I’m not sure what it is but it’s snow white and so soft. It’s from the Jagger mill so it’s not perfect like combed top, but I combined some of it with some colorful silk/cashmere mill waste and it spun up in a super soft, nubbly and wonderful yarn. So wonderful in fact that we went back today so I could buy three more pounds of the stuff. It was even cheaper with the volume discount.

I used the studio’s drum carder to card up a bunch of it – I had sat and hand carded probably about twenty batts last week and was tired of it. I really need a drum carder someday, talk about useful. Anyway I got a huge bag of the stuff for a song and I love it. I’ll have to see if it felts, I’m pretty sure it will.

After visiting the fiber gallery we headed back to Kennebunkport as we were on a mission to find Cushing’s. I had to call for directions as the rain started coming down so hard I couldn’t see the lines on the road. We did make it there and now I know exactly where it is so I can finagle a visit there when we bring the kids (“Oh look honey! Cushing’s just so happens to be right there! I’ll just be a minute.”).

We rang the doorbell and I wasn’t sure what to expect – it was housed in a gorgeous old farmhouse and barn in a very swanky part of town. The woman who answered the door, Jillian, was probably one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. She was so happy to help us find dye and talk about dye and show us the sample book and talk about dye some more, not to mention she called us “girls” which instantly make me like her because I’m shallow.

We bought dye, of course, and since we came to the studio she put my name in their files so I will now and forever receive the volume discount even if I’m just ordering one packet of dye. That totally rocks! While we were chatting Jillian said, “Hey! Let me get you some dye technique handouts!” and came back with a sheaf of paper covering eighteen different methods. We both stood there with our eyes wide and thanked her. I practically clicked my heels together. I also wanted to try rug hooking so I bought a very small kit and asked if I could have a different background color and she said, “Sure!” and swapped out the wool strips and cut me a new backing on the spot. Talk about customer service! This place could be very dangerous – less than an hour away and super nice. Definitely worth the trip, Joy and I couldn’t stop talking about it as we drove away.

By this point we were ready to gnaw off our own arms out of hunger so we drove up Route 1 and discovered there are a hell damn shit lot of antique stores on Route 1. And tires. And dentists. And storage facilities. DO THESE PEOPLE NOT EAT?! We nearly stopped at a “saloon” (no shit, it was really called a saloon) until we saw a creepy middle aged gentleman leaning out of the open porch in the pouring rain staring at us. Joy held her arms out in front of her with her hands splayed open and said, “No!” Then we saw the attached seedy motel and the signs “no burnouts – no loud acceleration” and decided that perhaps this wasn’t the kind of place for us.

We ended up in a shitty little joint in Biddeford that proudly advertised “PIZZA – SANDWICHES – FRIED FOODS” on the sign outside and discovered that chicken takes a long time to cook. Either that or the dude behind the counter just didn’t want to make chicken right now. I mean, come on, it’s a fucking fryolator for cripes’ sake. We ate something edible and drank something potable and used a bathroom that was nasty (no, not together) and then hit the road.

On the way back we stopped in Portland to pick up our mugs from the paint-your-own-ceramics place, which was cool, then came home. I got one of those befrigged culinary chain letter “Amish Friendship Bread” starters from Jenn and had finally gotten around to baking the bread this morning so we had some of that, which was good (the kids friggin loved it) and I sneaked a bag of starter into Joy’s stuff to take home, heh heh. She said later, “You know, I’ll take one of those starters if you want me to,” and I replied, “Yeah…I already put it in your stuff.” Hopefully it won’t explode all over her suitcase on the plane.

Whew. Well, that’s a lot of what we’ve been up to. I’m going to relinquish Joy’s laptop back to her and I’ll probably update again once I’m back to work on Thursday (wah) since I’ll have to turn my computer on again eventually.

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Some actual progress. February 23, 2009

Posted by jeninmaine in bebeh, Crafty, knitting.
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It’s been a LONG TIME since I wrote about anything crafty, namely because the past month or so has been a big steaming pile of suck when it comes to free time. With the dog being sick and dying, the kids being sick (though thankfully not dying), me being sick…I’ve had to do so much catch-up with work that there has literally been no time to do much of anything. Housework has fallen by the wayside and now that everyone is better we’re still trying to get caught up.

Anyway I have managed to do a little here and there – no spinning, sadly, and only a wee but of dyeing of things I owed to people – mostly knitting. First I wanted to make something for myself, so I knitted a cowl out of the handspun I fell in love with and bought from Joy. I was trying to think of something useful yet simple to show off the colors in the yarn. I really like it.

I like how the colors are different depending on which side you’re looking at.
Cowl for me from Fabulosity handspun

Cowl for me from Fabulosity handspun

Cowl for me from Fabulosity handspun

Cowl for me from Fabulosity handspun

I plan to take the remaining 15 yards or so and rig some sort of cord so I can cinch it into a slouchy hat.
Cowl for me from Fabulosity handspun

Cowl for me from Fabulosity handspun

Cowl for me from Fabulosity handspun

I look like pan-fried ass in these pics because this was the day before I relented and went to the doc for strep.

Second I told myself I must finish at least one thing that I had sitting in my WIP pile so I did that, I finished knitting the Entrelac Scarf I started back when kidlet was a baby. I need to run in the ends and block it so photos will be forthcoming.

Thirdly I had all this Dream in Color Classy I bought the middle of last year so I could make a Tulips Cardigan for Mim, only once I had it in my hot little hands I got all intimidated and put it away.

DiC Classy: to be Tulips Sweater

I found it while cleaning up and said to myself, “Self, you really need to get over this and knit the damned thing before she’s too big to wear it.” The pattern goes up to 6 years old, but I wouldn’t put it past me. So I bit the bullet, caked all the yarn and jumped in with both feet.

Front
Tulips Sweater for Mim

Back
Tulips Sweater for Mim

Surprisingly and to my joy this is a very easy and quick knit! I don’t know why I was so cowed by the idea of making it but so far I am really loving it. I’m nearly done with the body and I doubt the arms will take all that long to finish, the only thing I’ve never done before is the applied i-cord that goes around the neckline. I love this yarn and plan to make a matching hat. And just imagine, I may actually have it done so that Mim can wear it this Spring! What a concept.

Tons of crafty and kid photos. November 19, 2008

Posted by jeninmaine in bebeh, dyeing, Etsy, kidlet, Ravelry, spinning.
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I finally have a good bunch of photos of what I’ve managed to work on lately.

First, let’s start with a cheesecake shot of the yarn I had laid out on the table.

Cheesecake shot

Ahh, yarn. It looks kind of neat like that, and even neater knowing I made all of it.

Here’s all the yarn packed up and ready to be shipped out. The white box is half a dozen whoopie pies from Labadie’s – because I’m sorry but a whoopie pie just isn’t authentic unless it’s from Labadie’s. I find it funny that on their website they sell them for $24.95 a dozen (plus shipping) but if you buy them from the retail bakery they’re $0.50 apiece for six or $5.00 a dozen. Nom.

Packed up

Here’s the box! All told it was about nine pounds, so if you take out six whoopie pies that’s still a lot of yarn.

Boxed up

Joy received the box just fine today, whew! Here’s some excerpts that made me laugh. D is her coworker:

Joy: OMG YARN!
YARN IS HERE!

Joy: D is rolling around on the floor in my office.

Joy: WHOOPIE PIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Joy: Woot!

Joy: OMFG YOUR HANDSPUN.
O.k. I’ll stop yelling now.

Joy: D is freaking out.

Joy: O.k. so D is kind of totally fucking freaking out. (this one made me guffaw for reals)

Joy: Hehe, so the mail guy is standing there and he puts the box down and I grab it and make a run for it and he hollers “Wait! Wait wait wait! I have to scan that!”

I lurve her. :D :D :D

Moving on – some of you may remember the big fluffy pink and orange batt I cranked on Joy’s drum carder.

Fiber from my MT trip

Last night I wanted to do some spinning and that batt was speaking to me. It said, “Spin me slubby!” Now I’ve never spun a slubby yarn on purpose, I tend to be somewhat anal retentive and as a result can’t relax and spin anything that isn’t as close to perfectly uniform as I can get it. Which frankly pisses me off about myself. So I tried really hard and managed to spin the slubbiest single I’ve ever spun. I think it came out really pretty – I’m not sure if I should ply it or just leave it the way it is.

Handspun

I think I like it – it was definitely a LOT faster just going to town on it and I enjoyed the process. I’ll have to do this more often and get better at it.

I also buckled down and finished the teensy bit of that purple merino I’ve had sitting around forever, it was literally about half an ounce left sitting in the basket.

On the bobbin

I plan to ply this with another single of the same thing. I’m not sure if I’ll spin another 4 ounce bump or just ply this one on itself, in any case I’ve set it aside to work on later so I don’t get burned out.

I ALSO also practiced Navajo plying. I had a couple hundred yards of single on a bobbin with no home so I cleared that off and tried to get the hang of a new skill. It wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t post detailed closeups, so here you go:

Navajo ply practice

Navajo ply practice

Okay, that last one looked good but here’s the reality – I had a few trainwrecks. You can see I even got my own HAIR in it. Nice.

Navajo ply practice

Overall though I think I’m starting to get it. I need to slow down as the resulting yarn is extremely kinky. Maybe I’ll ply something else around it and make aht yahn.

Last but not least, what is to come! I got some amazing, AMAZING rovings from The Loopy Ewe that were made by Creatively Dyed – what a fantastic customer service experience and what incredible rovings!

Ugh, they’re so pretty I can hardly stand it. 70% superwash merino, 30% seacell fiber. These are 8 ounce rovings, too, which means they’re HUGE.

Be Mine:

Creatively Dyed roving

So In Love:

Creatively Dyed roving

I have a second bundle of So In Love since I adored this colorway so much – last night I slivered it up to get it ready to spin. I discovered that it twists and kinks very easily due to being so soft and floaty, it was tough to split it the entire length but I managed all right. I can’t wait to see how it spins up!

Creatively Dyed roving

So, that’s it. I hope that was enough photos for you fiber enthusiasts. I do have one last photo – I had placed my wheel in front of the window to take photos, then moved it over when I was done. I looked down and thought it looked kind of artsy and the light was better so I took a few shots of it next to my table. The plaids of my cheapo Goodwill tablecloth and my tattered fug chairs clash a bit but overall I like it.

On the bobbin

Erm, ignore that Cheerio.


Last but certainly not least, I was browsing some of my other Flickr photos and came across two of my kids that I thought bore comparison. My finest works in progress:

mrh

Bebeh!

fin.

Thursday September 25, 2008

Posted by jeninmaine in bebeh, dyeing, spinning.
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Wow, Thursday already? How the time does fly!

Joy has been an awesome host in that she lets me sleep in as long as I want. I feel a little bad about it but then again I’m getting quite a workout wrangling teh bebeh for the past week. Honestly it hasn’t been terrible at all as Jeff and Joy are more than willing to grab her so I can use the bathroom or entertain her for a few minutes when I need both my hands but now that she’s so very mobile she’s making it very very hard to keep her contained. She is attempting to get into everything.

Yesterday she very happily sat on the floor next to Joy’s big wooden desk while she spun and I used the drum carder, playing with a little karaoke machine of Jacob’s. she played for at least half an hour, maybe longer. Last night, however, there was nothing doing with that and she wanted to be everywhere else – behind the television nomming on wires, pulling herself up on everything and making me afraid she would topple over and hit her head (again, sigh), and lastly playing with Smitty’s ping pong ball toy, which pissed him off and made him come over and lay on it while halfheartedly playing with it to prove that, yes, this WAS his toy and not hers. Ha. We tried putting up a baby enclosure just to keep her from jamming her body into spaces it shouldn’t go and oh my god she got so OFFENDED! She immediately looked up at me and went “WAH!” and would have nothing to do with the whole works. Picky bebeh. Don’t fence her in.

Joy unearthed a stand-up exersaucer-type toy but bebeh has tired of that, too. She doesn’t want to be kept in one place, she wants to be cramming her torso between the back of the chair and a spinning wheel while pursuing a plastic ziplock bag full of yarn that was put back there deliberately so she wouldn’t find it.

The drum carder, by the way, is made of awesome. I really love cranking the heck out of that thing and have made a shitton of batts, most of which Joy has already spun. Joy is a spinning machine, no joke. I’m still in the middle of dinking around with some roving I started the other day and she’s spun circles around me, something like ten skeins in three days, and that’s definitely not full-time. Impressive and a bit intimidating. I think I fart around trying to come up with “the perfect idea” too much and not just creating, and therefore defeat myself. I have managed to finish knitting a hat out of the Misti Alpaca Chunky I bought myself for my birthday but have yet to run the ends in and sew on a button. Sigh. So batts are fun – you pick stuff, you card it, you pull it off in a big fluffy lump.

We went to a simply amazing quilting shop yesterday, it had the most awesome fabric selection I think I’ve ever seen. It also had tons of notions and kits and Joy found a full range of Jacquard dyes which was fantastic as she doesn’t have to order and wait for them to be shipped any more. Coolness! I loved that place. I hope we go back tomorrow just so I can drool on some more stuff. I bought some wool felt with the Grand Idea of making some cute thingies out of it, I hope I can follow through before I get distracted by the next shiny thing.

I can has inter-dimensional bridge? September 21, 2008

Posted by jeninmaine in bebeh, dyeing, knitting, spinning.
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I used my hand cards for the first time, carded up some curls of something or another, it spun up pretty even though it was a PITA and I didn’t like the way it felt. I plied it and that looked nice, too, though toward the end it got all kinked up and I just said the hell with it and tossed a whole knotted portion of it out. Not a fun spin. I feel a lot more confident carding rolags, though. I want to make a ton of them and keep them in a big basket.

I also made my first batt on Joy’s drum carder – wow, what fun! Super easy, too. I made one fugly batt out of random stuff (though she assures me it’ll look a lot better after being pulled into roving and then spun up) and another out of some red and orange roving I got from Joy’s wool supplier. I’m pretty proud of that one, it looks awesome and I plan to make a few more to bring home if I don’t spin them this week. Now I want a drum carder. Not likely I’ll get one any time soon unless I chance upon a used one at an antique store or something. No big deal, I can use the hand cards even though they’re slower. Or, I just remembered, Melodi at the fiber gallery did say I could drop in and use one of their drum carders any time – I should plan one day to go and bring as much fiber with me as I can.

Joy has two huge bags stuffed to overflowing with raw Jacob fleece that she’s been too overwhelmed to deal with – I know the feeling, I have a bag of raw fleece of my own sitting at home. It’s really soft stuff and the colors are amazing, so I’ve suggested that she and I take an evening or two to sit out on her deck and pick a couple of pounds of it just to get some momentum. We’ll prep most of it to go to the processor though I also thought we should try our hand at washing a bit, too, since I’ve never tried that. Doing it with someone else makes it feel a lot more doable, if that makes sense. Alone I’d never tackle such a thing but since I’m here with Joy I feel motivated to try.

We also got some cute string lights and paper lanterns to decorate Joy’s fiber studio, and later this week I want to sew her some cutie curtains for the window. I bought some rayon thread on which I plan to string seed beads and ply with something. I’m working on a couple of knitting projects. I plan to card a whole lot more roving. And spin. And make things with paper. I feel very inspired being here and it’s only Day 3.

I can has inter-dimensional bridge between Maine and Montana?