I just want to make beautiful things…

Carve

I love spinning. I want to make pretty yarn as often as I can but don’t make enough money to send my fiber to the mill that often. So, I decided that slowly but surely I want to produce everything myself!

It started last month. My uncles all have a certain skill that they have as a hobby, and for this I consulted the Carpenter, my uncle Ray

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We built a three sided box about 34inches long. This, ladies and gentlemen, will become a wool picker! The finishing touches will involve some 4inch nails hammered in thru the bottom and into the sliding lid, which, when you feed the fiber in, will pick the fiber apart, loosening any of the dirt and vegetation tangled in it.

Finally got back out to the shop to work on it today. I decided to stain the box the same color as my wheel Scarlet!

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While I was waiting for the conditioning coat to dry, I ran a crazy idea by my uncle. I wanted to see if he could teach me how to use my grandfathers wood lathe to turn a circle whorl to make a drop spindle. He was ecstatic to try!

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My uncle had heart surgery a couple of months ago, and he’s just been down and depressed since then. I truly live for learning new things, and being my teacher has kinda brought him out of his funk. So, it took a little practice and expiramentation, but after about two hours, we got it!

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Behold!!! I am so elated to have actually pulled this off! It’s a beautiful walnut piece, and I tried to put a “ripple” design on it, if you would. Now I just gotta buy and stain a dowel rod and we are all set to go everybody!!

Rach

Tour de Fleece

So, there is a lovely spin-along going on in correspondence with the Tour de France. I’m in the middle of cleaning out my fiber stash, so it’s the perfect inspiration for me!

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Some of my options! I also have a bunch of Superwash Merino to go thru in preparation for a craft swap I’m doing with an old friend.

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This is the drafted result of my favorite oopsie-dye job Lake Springfield! It turned out so lovely I can’t stand it!!

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This is what I’ve remembered to photograph thusfar lol. The white ones are easy 2-ply merino a which I’ll dye later, and Lake Springfield is 190yds Navajo plied 💘 Can’t get over how gorgeous it is!!

I have a funky fiber on the bobbin right now. It’s some awesome Mill Ends I got at a festival last year and I think you all will like it!

Rach

The House of Rachel

It’s been a good time at the House with Other Rachel. I’ll go days at a time without seeing her due to our work schedules, but there have been some fun antics lately.

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I got to play with her work gun, .09mm. Which came in handy when I went on that mothers day shoot out with my mama!

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We have been busting out some crazy good recipes together, like this chicken florentine and some sweet sangria.

Yesterday, I didn’t see her but a rather odd request occurred. After almost a year of working together and being friends, Other Rachel is now dating a really nice man we’ll call Dee. Dee is also an officer here in town and I’m quite impressed with him, as far as the opinion of a roommate goes. Yesterday he and OR went out of town for the day and I was asked to go let his bulldog out.

Apparently, Dee not only gave his pooch a bath and cleaned the house, but also left me some candy and told me to help myself to his ginormous tv. The boy scored some extra points for sure! So, I go to this house that I’ve never been to before and come face to face with a ginormous English Bulldog

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This is Melvin! I made it out alive with minimal slobber. He was so much fun to play with!

Now, one thing that comes in handy about having a skinny, scrawny roommate is that I have a model handy at all times. I am working in something called the Shalom Cardigan.

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I made one once before, but the original pattern is intended for a woman with a size 32″ bust. I’m…..a 40″. On a good day. So, Other Rachel has inherited my old cardigan and it fits her twigness like a glove. I’ll post a photo of her once I get ER to stay home longer than four seconds, haha.

So, remember this Superwash Merino I dyed last week?

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It turned out like this!!!

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This fiber is so…thirsty! I tried to feed it in end-to-end so I wouldn’t have any variegation, and intended for it to be like that dark green color on the right, but I was pleasantly surprised! Since I went kayaking that morning, I have named this fiber “Lake Springfield”, and I will be making it available for purchase as soon as it is spun!!

Amore
Rach

Mid June Catch-Up

It’s been a while and I’m sorry for my absence!

I’ve been busy with work and activities and all sorts of non-knitting stuff. I’ve been having a lowly time with Other Rachel. Yesterday we went hiking and out to eat some fabulous Indian food. We found some interesting places on our hike

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And, to carry on with the whole getting back to nature, my new coworker and former intern Tay and I went kayaking today

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We didn’t tip ONCE!! Lake Springfield is such a beautiful park, and the water was murky, but pleasant.

I’ve been spinning a lot more lately and trying to catch up on that hand quilt.

Today I decide to dye some yarn for the first time in a long while. I also took the plunge and am dyeing some superwash merino roving.

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Strangely, the merino soaked up the dye before I could get all the wool in the pot. The end will be very light, I’m just hoping they took dye at all.

We shall have to wait and see until tomorrow!

Beyond DIY

Last week I dove in. I’ve been wanting to really dig in and try to process all of my alpaca fiber myself and not sending it to the mill unless I absolutely had to, and now, I see the fruits of my labor.

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As you can see this is how I’ve been storing my fiber. Plastic bags coming straight off of the alpaca from last years shearing. One bag commuted suicide and fell to the floor, and God only knows what critters have been rolling around in there, so it’s going to the garbage. Everything else needs skirting, washing, and all that.

I didn’t have all day to go from start to finish, so I started with a fleece that my aunt had already skirted but kept forgetting to send to the mill.

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I split it up into two baskets, filled the tub with flesh-melting water and started the first wash. This round was with Dawn dish soap

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This was after round three, with hot water and vinegar

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The water got blacker and blacker every time! It was ridiculous. Finally after five washes I decided to go ahead and lay it out to dry

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Laying it out in the skirting table helped me closer examine the fiber, and made me realize that I had barely made a dent in my attempt, I found wee clumps of dirt here and there. But I take it as a lesson learned. My uncle who helped me put Scarlet together and I are going to make a Wool Picker, which I will use to “open up” the fibers before I wash them. It will definitely help me clean them faster.

Next item in the list: Hand Carders

Rach

Little Helpers

Strangely, I already wrote this post once tonight, so I’m sorry if this is a repeat. I’ve been spinning up a storm today and yesterday, but before we get to that, check this out!

Mom and I put my flower bed together!

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The withering plan on the left is an azalea bush mom bought us weeks ago that’s been struggling to hold on, as dad never came over to plant it. The bloom in the right is a pretty Queen Elizabeth rose bush!

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The ghetto bricks around it were just laying there when we moved in, and it was a complete eyesore before.

Now, onto business.

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This is my cousin Emma. She’s even more precious in real life if you can believe it. I gave her needles and yarn many months ago, but her mother threw it away because she “made a mess of it”. Thankfully I gave her crappy yarn for this purpose. Everytime I’m out at grandmas I knit, and Emma will drop what she’s doing and “help me” knit by holding my yarn and making sure I have just the right amount. Too. Cute.

In other news, these are the results of my labor today.

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I’m finishing up some Malabrigo Nube fiber, it’s 100%merino. I spun the first half I this ages ago before I even moved, and it’s been sitting there taunting me for weeks. This was the first time I used me WPI wand as well, and I can say it was definitely worth the investment.

For the uninitiated, WPI stands for “Wraps Per Inch”, quite simply how many times a spun single of plied yarn will wrap around a shaft for one inch. What is this purpose? It determines the “weight” of the yarn, and helps determine proper needle size to use with this yarn, and the gauge.

Personally, my body weight fluctuates to frequently that I don’t even bother with gauge. I grip it and I rip it. The WPI on the single I spun was 25wpi, which makes this what we call a Super Fine or Lace Weight yarn. Once I navajo plied it, the WPI decreased significantly.

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Now between these two skeins, I have about 380 yards and, of course, I have no idea what to do with it!

Cleopatra, of course, is another helper…in her own naughty way…

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I busted her about to jump in to my bag of roving again and again. Never once tried to take off with my malabrigo, but apparently she loves that alpaca/merino blend of mine!

She’s been extra snugly with me lately, I don’t know if it’s because of Other Rachel’s schedule or what, but she’s a lover that’s for sure, even had to interrupt me writing this original post earlier!

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Rach and Cleo

The Pursuit

So, from last weeks fiber festival, I wound up spinning one of the custom batts I made!

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Here’s what it looks like if you don’t remember from last week. Here it is spun up!

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I like to wear my yarn I’m sure you know. Especially my handspun!

I got 140ish yards out of it, single ply. I love the color differentiation but I wish not that I hadn’t started with that base layer of Icelandic wool, it’s too dark but hey, it was my first time.

The Thing About Drum Carders:

They are expensive as fuck!!!!

Forgive my French but it’s true. A drum carder or, hell, hand carders, would make my production go so much faster and cheaper if I could do it all myself!

I have yet to find a drum carder for less than $500. I paid $460 for my spinning wheel!!! And got free shipping!!!

Can’t stand it.

Even hand carders you can’t get for less than $60, but I suppose it’s better than nothing. It’s an investment I definitely want to make by the end of this year. Sending everything to the mill is expensive, and honestly, I love buying stuff that is…I don’t really know how to explain it. If I buy fiber from you, I’m curious about the animal it came off of. Several vendors at this festival just buy blends of fiber in bulk and sell it. That’s cheating. I think if you’re going to sell a product, it should be your own. From your flock, from your own spinning wheel, but maybe I’m just picky. Maybe I just pursue that whole ownership thing. Maybe I’m just awake way the hell to early in the Saturday of my three day weekend, ha!

Also in happy news, I won the designer’s monthly give away!! I got to choose between another batt, some handspun or a couture headband. I went for the batt and I cannot wait to get my hands on it!!!

Rach

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