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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.

Yarn, redux December 4, 2008

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I took some new shots in better light – the direct sunlight ones were too glinty.

Pink one-ply - take 2

Pink one-ply - take 2

Seacell wool yarn - take 2

Get up close and personal with my plies.

Seacell wool yarn - take 2

Seacell wool yarn - take 2

As the yarn turns. December 3, 2008

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I soaked, thwacked and twist set that pink one-ply. It came out a lot fluffier and I’m not really sure I like it as it’s over spun just about everywhere. I guess I could call it an energized art yarn ;)

Pink one-ply

Pink one-ply

Then, there was kind of a fiasco with that (expensive!) Creatively Dyed fiber I spun up – I got the 7-odd ounces to fit on my bobbin, just barely. Then I wound it off into a cake so I could make it into two-ply, only it got hopelessly tangled multiple times where it was coming out of the center of the cake. Craaaaap. I guess seacell likes to stick to itself because it was a mess.

I untangled the first two or three train wrecks but quickly realized that I was going to destroy all that work if I didn’t change my plan. So I tucked in the mess, tossed it in a bowl and Navajo plied it from the outside strand.

This is the second time I’ve Navajo plied anything substantial and I got better at it as I went. I think this came out okay – it was a major bummer practicing a skill like this on something that cost me so much money but, oh well, live and learn.

Seacell wool yarn

Seacell wool yarn

To keep in the groove (since it’s so easy for me to get distracted and summarily disinterested) I immediately started in on some Shetland top I got from a UK eBay seller. It’s somewhat rougher than super-soft merino but the staple length is huge so I can pretty much go on auto-pilot while spinning it. It’s great for practicing long draw drafting, which incidentally goes a LOT faster than what I’ve been doing.

I think I like the idea of spinning sturdier yarns, ones that can be used for durable outerwear and won’t pill to high heaven as 100% merino tends to do. People love how soft merino is and the yarn is gorgeous, but no one thinks of what happens to the yarn after it’s knitted up into a garment and actually used. So, yeah, I guess I’m trending toward utility rather than skein attractiveness at the moment. Pictures when I’ve got em.

Weekend yarn November 24, 2008

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Not a lot to report. Weekend was okay.

I did get a bit of spinning done which I am happy about – I measured out that pink one-ply and it came to 233 yards. I can’t really say what weight it is as it varies quite a bit. I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to ply it or just leave it as a single, but Joy convinced me to twist set and thwack it to get all those kinks out and leave it as a single so that’s what I’ll do. I’m not completely happy with it but it’s a nice color.

Pink handspun

Pink handspun

I also spun about 7 ounces of that Creatively Dyed superwash merino and seacell fiber – I have about half an ounce to go and I’m hoping to cram it on the bobbin somehow. I’m very happy with how the single is spinning up, I think it’s going to be really neat once its plied.

On the Bobbin 11/24/08