Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Thanks, Peachtree Handspinners!

Thanks to y'all, I have filled my bobbin! Thanks, too, for all the fiber-obsessed time, including the chance to some dyeing. I had never used cochineal, and now I have some lovely dyed yarn to play with.

Seriously, the Peachtree Handspinners Guild was so fun. I plan to go again next month, and join once I'm sure I'm going to stick with this.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Spinning and felting and crochet, oh my!

Well, on the spinning side, I received a very prompt, very helpful reply from the Peachtree Handspinners Guild. It turns out that Interweave has a couple of free, downloadable brochures on spinning that look helpful. The kind woman who responded suggested that I attend their next meeting (at the end of the month), too. I'm really afraid I'll learn to do it horrendously wrong, so I think I'll put the spinning aside until then.

So, needle felting. Emily Barnard of Colorado Fiber Arts has the most amazing needle felted animals, at Art in Sheep's Clothing. Wow. That's intimidating. Someday, maybe, I can do that sort of stuff. Now, I'm more up to the cute little needle felted birds she teaches in her class. Or a needle felted ball, maybe.

Oh, I know! How about an eyeball, like the crocheted one at Monster Crochet? Big round ball, two concentric colored circles in the center...I can do that!

Did I mention I'm insane? I have to finish a crocheted Katamari...by Saturday. Somehow this slipped my mind. I'm using Simply Soft in Dark Country Blue (I think...it looks darker to me) for the body, with Berry Blue and Dark Country Blue in concentric circles for the little bumps. I hope to make it (semi) functional... Really, the pattern is just a really big crocheted ball, sort of like this one. I'm crocheting it with two strands held together, using an I hook, for the body; I'll probably use just one strand for the bumps.

I'll post pics when it's finished.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Spinning woes!

I'm trying to learn to spin with a drop spindle, but so far the results aren't exactly spectacular. I finally, after many tries, made a yard of something that resembles yarn. (I'm afraid that's the best I can say about it...)

It took a very, very long time, though, and it wasn't exactly done correctly. Plus, it has now mostly untwisted.

Oh well. I'll use that fiber for needle felting. You can use pretty much anything for the core... In the meantime, I've emailed the Peachtree Handspinners Guild to see if they can refer me to classes or recommend a good video.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Vacation crafting

Okay, I took several knitting and crochet projects on vacation with me. I figured, "All those hours in the car? I'll get tons of stuff done!" Uh, yeah. Apparently being on vacation means I'm suddenly unable to knit! About all I could do was crochet, though I even had to frog some of that!

Here was the plan: finish the backpack I was crocheting, start and finish the MagKnits Saturday Market Bag (modified in a manner similar to Disdressed's), work on my dragon stole, maybe start a new project.

Uh yeah. Right. Best laid plans and all that.

What really happened: work on backpack, frog, redo until I like the way the shape is working out. Figure out I'll never finish it in time to go hiking. Stop with one strap begun, but only two inches long.

Cast on market bag. Frog. Cast on market bag. Frog. Cast on market bag. Knit two rows. Frog. Cast on market bag. Knit two pattern repeats (eight rows). Put in lifeline. Knit three rows. Put down. Start fourth row. Almost fall asleep. Put away. Pull out knitting and realize I've lost stitches. Try to fix. Frog to lifeline. Knit four rows. Realize something is wrong before lifeline. Frog to beginning. Cast on. Knit seven rows. Frog. Cast on. Knit six rows. Frog. Cast on. Knit ten rows. Frog. Cast on. Knit six rows. Get to Atlanta. Knit six rows perfectly while riding bus and walking home.

Yeah, it was frustrating. And now, one row from a pattern repeat (and lifeline), I've messed up. I was talking to my husband, and I have no idea what I did.


Friday, July 6, 2007

So little time online...

I miss Craft Wonderland! Without me posting left and right, no one is talking much. :( The down side to my vacation.

The only one, actually. :)

Shuttles, Spindles and Skeins in Boulder, Colorado

When I posted on Craftster about visiting Colorado, everyone said Shuttles, Spindles and Skeins in Boulder was a must-visit. I was a bit confused by this, since I said I was visiting Pueblo, Colorado Springs, and Denver. Well, silly me. Boulder is only half an hour from Denver! So off we went.

When I walked in, I was floored. It was far, far more than I expected--and I couldn't even see the back area or the other room! There was fiber everywhere, in every form: cones for weaving, balls, skeins, and hanks, and roving. In front of the window: probably two dozen hats, each with a note attached detailing the pattern, yarn, needles or hook, everything! Nearly every yarn had a swatch, and the number of colors available for each yarn was astounding.

It was like a big playground, with fiber, patterns, tools, needles, hooks, looms, spindles, books, more fiber...but no one offered to help me. No one greeted me. No one even acknowledged my existence, except a nice women knitting at a table who said hello and said to let her know if she was in my way.

There were at least three employees in the store, all at the checkout and talking to each other. I believe one was on the phone with a vendor or something, so she was busy. But the other employees didn't speak to me, either, for half an hour. Ten minutes before closing, one woman asked if I needed help.

She was very nice, and when I asked about drop spindles she quickly found someone with more spinning experience to help me. The second woman was quite nice, too, and reasonably helpful. She didn't really offer me much advice on choosing a spindle; she said it was mainly personal preference. But if you've never spun, how do you know what you prefer?

I showed her the Schacht Hi-Lo Spindle, which I had looked at online. She told me it could be a good choice, since it would allow me to try both high whorl and low whorl spinning. The price was comparable to what I've seen online, so I decided to go with it. (I like to support local shops when I can.) She showed me which roving was the cheap "starter roving" and helped me decide on a quantity. (She suggested two to three ounces, but I don't have an easy local source, so I bought four and a half ounces. It will probably take at least that much before I make anything even sort of decent...)

If you're going to be in the area, I definitely recommend visiting Shuttles, Spindles and Skeins. I haven't seen a yarn selection like that since the weaving supply room at college; it simply has to be seen to be believed. But because of the service, I decided to skip buying anything I could get elsewhere, and only bought four skeins of inexpensive yarn (besides the spindle and roving) and a thread cutter (easier than scissors when travelling). Next time I find myself in Denver, I will definitely visit again. Hopefully, the service was simply a fluke, and everyone will be nice and helpful.

Maybe by then I'll be an expert spinner with a good loom. (Hey, let me have my dreams!)

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Colorado Fiber Arts, Pueblo, Colorado

Colorado Fiber Arts in Pueblo was one of my planned stops. I found it doing a Google Search for "yarn store" near Colorado Springs. Well, we were going to pass through Pueblo, so...why not stop?

It was my third yarn store of the trip, and there was still new stuff to see. First, they had an actual selection of needles for needle felting, not just the standard single tool. Plus, they offered the colored roving in little one ounce bundles; many places only offer pre-packaged selections, which force you to buy colors you'll never use, and still have left over from the last package...

So guess who bought a felting needle and two different colors of roving? Yep, me: two bundles of red and one of a very dark navy. I'm thinking dragon... (Big surprise, huh?)

I also bought one skein of Candy by Artful Yarns, in Jelly Bean, which is a blend of blues, greens, and white. It's definitely going to be a hat for one of my nephews; there's an adorable baby hat pattern on the label. I saw a sample hat in the shop, and it's perfect! Candy is 64% cotton, 32% acrylic, 3% nylon, and 1% elastic, which results in a nicely stretchy fabric which returns to its shape quite readily. (Seems like a great idea, since little ones pull and tug at everything...)

The lady who helped me was very nice...which seems to be a pattern for yarn store employees! There were a couple of ladies working on projects at a table in the back, but other than that it was empty. She was helpful and knowledgable, and showed me all sorts of cool stuff!

...Empty, except for the five guys I brought in with me! Dredd and all three of his brothers came in, as well as my husband. A couple of the younger guys were amused by the copy of Knitting with Balls they found on one of the shelves. (Two teenagers and a preteen...LOL) They hung around a while, then headed down to the public library, less than a block away.

It's a beautiful library, with a reflecting pool and everything. We went there for coffee (Dredd, my husband, and I) and smoothies (the guys). Very yummy. So if you visit the store, be sure to stop by the library if it's open. There's even a museum on the top floor! Too bad I didn't get to see it.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Oodles Yarn and Bead Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico

I knew there had to be a yarn shop in Santa Fe, since it's a very artistic city. Sure enough, we checked into our hotel Sunday night and I found a flyer for Oodles Yarn and Bead Gallery!

So, my husband gets to the hotel room and there's the flyer, in the middle of the floor, right in front of the door. Gee, how did that get there? Tolerant man that he is, he immediately agrees to take me there, Tuesday morning, on our way out of town.

Oodles is small, but they have good stuff! The front two-thirds of the room is given over to a sitting area and tons of fiber. When we stopped in, a good bit of the floor was also given over to yarn...there was a sale. :)

And, to my husband's delight, there was also a guy there, knitting away on the sofa. So my husband chatted with him (and sometimes the owner), leaving me to shop. The gentleman, who's a friend of the owner's, was funny and nice, as well as a skilled knitter. Very cool; glad my husband got to see a man knitting! (Though he enjoys listening to David Reidy's Sticks & String podcast, he's never actually met a male knitter! Not that he will ever start knitting...)

I found some Classic Elite Bam Boo yarn (on sale) in a bright blue; it may be China Blue, but I'm not sure. It's my first bamboo yarn! I also bought a skein of something else, but I can't remember what. Typical...

In the back, there's a big table with beads, and more beads on the left wall. The back and right walls had more yarn. I bought some pretty glass beads for my magic yarn ball swap partner, Kel. (We're doing our first mwb swap at Craft Wonderland, and I have to mail it out as soon as I get home.)

The owner was very nice. She was helpful, but she wasn't pushy. (I don't like pushy. Southerners usually equate "pushy" with "rude.") She was knowledgeable, so I could tell she knew what she was doing. The finished samples around the shop were proof!

One cool thing about Oodles: there's lots of handpainted yarn! There's lots of high-quality fiber, but she has a good selection of novelty fibers, too, if you're in the mood for something a little frivolous. I'll definitely be back if I return to Santa Fe.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Serendipity Needleworks, Tuscaloosa, Alabama

I spent about an hour and a half at Seredipity Needleworks in downtown Tuscaloosa this morning (actually, yesterday morning, but I haven't been to bed yet). I had a great time. There were so many beautiful yarns everywhere! I wasn't really optimistic when I saw the "Needleworks;" I figured it would be mostly embroidery, with some yarn thrown in. But to my surprise, there was tons of yarn and a great selection for embroidery, too.

The owner was so nice. She was knowledgeable about yarns, both those she carried and those she didn't. She greeted me cheerfully when I entered and offered help, but was never pushy. When I needed help finding a yarn substitute, she was was able to offer me several options, and give me advice on needles. When she needed to step to the back, she checked first to see if I needed anything.

The customers were great, too. I chatted with some of the women there for the Sit 'n' Stitch, and they were all cheerful and enthusiastically discussed their projects and mine.

So, my purchases... One of the projects on my dream list was the Scribblin' Shawl from Mason-Dixon Knitting. When I saw the beautiful red Lang Venezia yarn, I knew the shawl would be my next project! The owner helped me find substitutes for the Rowan Kid Silk Haze used in one of the sample shawls; I went with Douceur et Soie in black, for the body of the scarf. It's only a few rows long (I need to finish my backpack), but so far I'm happy with it!

Other purchases: Classic Elite Cotton in red and Berrocco Cotton Twist in Satin Beige (a taupe-ish color) from the bargain bin, plus three ball-ends for $1 each.