Bertha has been providing us with rain all day long. Another front has stalled over our area and we are looking at 3 or 4 more days of rain on our saturated soil and full creeks. Another flash flood warning is in place. We are high above the creeks and sloped, but flat enough hopefully to not have mud slide activity, though there has been a lot of that including destroying a property and making a home uninhabitable in our tiny village.
With my spindle spinning, I am participating in a spin along using only the Jenkins spindles. Since I had filled them all a couple of days ago, I elected to report my results for the month and wait until June 1 to work with them again. I have a new to me spindle due in the mail tomorrow or Friday and received a gorgeous braid of wool a few days ago that I am anxious to begin spinning. To occupy my time, I have been using my wheel to try to make a bigger dent in the pound of gray Shetland that I have been spinning on spindles for two months. And knitting on the shawl that has been on the needles about that long. The first Shetland bobbin is nearly full and I will fill another before plying. The shawl was finished tonight, soaked and is pinned out to dry. I played a bit of yarn chicken with it and finished with only about a yard left, not enough for another row.
I have enough yarn spun to begin my sweater, but knitting a sweater when the weather is hot is not something I want to begin. With the current pandemic cancelling events daily, knitting more items for my shop seems futile, there won’t be craft shows and holiday markets this year. Most people don’t want to buy knitted or woven garments online without being able to handle them, try them on. I have a knitting request from a family member, but it will need to be superwash wool, which I haven’t purchased yet, and it is another sweater. Maybe I will just work on the Shetland, perhaps even one spindle that I can clear before the first of the month. We are going to be indoors for a couple more days, but I did get a bit of weeding done in the walled garden between rain showers today.
When the rain ends, I plan to make a compost bin to put in one corner of the garden. If I can make it sufficiently large, I will gather the composting material from where I moved the chicken run and use it as a base to finish composting along with kitchen scraps to have it ready to supplement beds as they get harvested and replanted. I really hope to fill the freezer and the canning shelves with homegrown produce for the winter season.
For Christmas, my love gave me a 16″ rigid heddle loom (in pieces). Christmas afternoon, I got it well waxed, assembled, and warped with some yarn on hand. Using the instruction booklet that came with it, I wove the samplet shawl/scarf pattern trying out various techniques. Christmas also brought the announcement that another grandson was due imminently, so I quickly rewarped the loom with cotton to weave a baby blanket and erred in tracking the panel length, so the second panel didn’t have enough warp left to make it the same length as the first. All of that was cut off the loom, ends secured, and the loom rewarped again to make the second panel. The blanket was shipped off to arrive as it turned out on the day the young man came home.
I had some Romeldale CVM that I wanted to weave, but not enough to warp and weft a scarf, but an online friend had some Shetland lamb, Baby Alpaca mill spun in a color that complemented the CVM and so I ordered 400 yards from her. It has been sitting in a bag waiting for me to warp and weave. I really like to weave, but am not a fan of warping the loom. I learned direct warping and that is what the booklet teaches and I don’t have a warping board. Direct warping requires a lot of walking back and forth from the loom to the warping peg. This yarn is fingering weight, so a finer heddle was required which means more warp threads per inch. Finally today, since I don’t want to put anything on my wheel before next weekend’s retreat, I wound the yarn into balls and warped for an 8″ wide, 6′ long scarf.
The warp uses both yarns and the remaining yarn was weighed so the shuttle has enough for each section of the pattern planned. The loom won’t travel with me, but I’m in no hurry to finish this project.
At least I quit procrastinating and got the loom warped.
Crafting has been part of my life since I was a teen with a break during college. I learned to crochet and knit in my mid teens and to sew earlier than that. After college, I took up counted cross stitch, needlepoint, and crewel work making Christmas ornaments, Christmas stockings for each of our children, hubby, and myself. A few gifts when we were young working parents without much money. One year everyone got a crocheted afghan for Christmas. Then I decided while pregnant with child 2 that if she was a girl (we didn’t know until her delivery), that I would learn to smock and French hand sew and I made dresses, Christening gown, and bonnets for her. All the ladies got hand smocked, hand sewn nightgowns that year.
Somewhere later after kids were more independent, I took up basket making and tried a few craft shows with a friend who was also making baskets. Then I learned the “I could buy that at *name big box store* for $5” line that I still hear now that I sell hand crafted soap, handspun yarn, and knitted or woven garments.
After moving to the mountains in anticipation of retirement and having a new grandson, knitting returned to the forefront as I made socks, soakers, shirts, and sweaters for the little guy and I discovered the local yarn store (LYS) which became the Tuesday night hangout while I awaited hubby to retire and move up here too. Many friends were made there.
One summer, the LYS decided to host a retreat at a nearby hotel with vendors, classes, and social time. Having two households, still working, I didn’t have the funds to spend for the whole weekend, but did go for some social time and to take a couple of classes, one was learning to spin with a drop spindle. The instructor brought bags of various types of wool, my first introduction to anything but the merino of most yarns. I bought a basic drop spindle and fell into the rabbit hole.
The yarn on the left is the result of that class, thick, thin, poorly plied, several different wools, but it will still be in my stash when I die. Spindles have come and gone, the current supply are pictured, the small light one on the left was purchased for re enactment when a wheel is inappropriate but it is too contemporary with a hook. Next to it to the right is a Dealgan, a Scottish whorless spindle. It is fun to demonstrate in costume as it is a very old style spindle. To the right of it is a ring distaff and spindle that has 3 whorls that can be used independently or stacked to make different weights. That is the most authentic period appropriate one with the distaff to use re enacting and is taken to events. The top two are Turkish spindles, my daily go to spindles that can spin very fine yarn and usually reserved for purchased fiber blends with silk or bamboo added to the wool or for pure Alpaca.
The rabbit hole got deeper as one of my knitter friends, a University student at the time found an old Ashford Traditional spinning wheel in a barn, rescued it and made it functional and learned to spin. She then won a new wheel and decided to sell the Traddy, I bought it. That wheel was used to learn how to translate the spindle to a wheel and at the time, not knowing anything else, I purchased mill prepped roving online. Wheels came and wheels left as I tried to find the perfect one for me. Used wheels are fairly easy to sell. About 5 or 6 years ago, I started spinning at one of the local museums for events, and decided I wanted a period spinning wheel. I ordered one from E-bay (a mistake I won’t make again). It came at Christmas while eldest and his family were here and we unboxed it and tried to put it together. Parts of it were shipped to Bobbin Boy for repair and eventually I got it functional, but it was difficult to keep spinning and hurt my knee to treadle it. It was sold. Later, we were visiting eldest son and his family and walking down the main street of his town, I spotted this beauty in the window of an antique shop.
Again, parts went to Bobbin Boy for repair and adjustment and I learned to spin on an antique walking wheel.
For years, I spun happily along on various wheels and spindles using mill prepared roving and was happy as a clam. Then a local friend asked me if I was interested in the Livestock Conservancy challenge Shave ‘Em to Save ‘Em to promote the 22 rare, endangered breeds of sheep and I joined. Again, I started with roving, spinning breeds to which I was unfamiliar, but then deepened the rabbit hole more by undertaking clean unprocessed fiber, combing or carding it to spin.
And then even deeper as I started purchasing half pound amounts of raw dirty fiber to wash and then comb or card to spin. And even deeper with a few raw whole or half fleeces.
This is 2 1/2 pounds, half of a Santa Cruz fleece currently in a 24 hour cold water soak prior to scouring it in hot water and rinsing then drying to prep and spin.
And part of a whole Jacob fleece that has already been washed and dried. It goes with me to events where I spin and I comb it as I need it, then card the waste to also spin. The picture above with the combs and carders, has two rolags of carded waste and a bobbin that is filling slowly with this Jacob yarn as I sit at events and talk about fiber and it’s use in the Colonial period of our history and the equipment that was used, the process, and a plug for the Livestock Conservancy who is trying to save some of the heritage breeds, not just of sheep.