Tag Archives: crochet

Tools of the Trade

In addition to keeping the household of 4 adults, 2 children, 3 big dogs, 3 cats running, raising chickens for our  eggs and some meat, making soap, balms, salves, and beard products for my online shop and craft shows, I love fiber arts.  I sew, knit, crochet, and spin fiber into yarn for my own use and for sale in the shop and shows.

A couple of years ago, we were flying on a vacation, I took knitting with me to help occupy the time and keep me settled on the plane (I’m not a huge fan of flying).  The project that I took was  socks for one of the grandson’s for Christmas, Batman socks.  I had black and gold yarns and I wanted to put the Batman emblem on the cuff of each sock.  I rummaged through my bag and could not find a piece of graph paper though I usually carried a small graph paper notebook and ended up drawing a grid on the back of a receipt and graphing out the emblem.  Several days into the vacation, we were shopping in one of the native markets and I spotted a small woven fabric covered notebook cover with a graph paper pad in it.  It was inexpensive and I purchased one.  The pad got used up over time and I discovered that it was a non standard size and unavailable in the USA or on any online store I could scare up.  It was larger than the pocket Moleskine or Fieldnotes books, smaller than the medium Moleskine variety and it had to be side bound with staples, not a spiral.  The cover sat idle and empty, but I liked it.  Recently, it occurred to me that I could use the woven part of the cover and repurpose it with some added fabric to make it fit a standard size. My very talented and crafty sister in law was called on with several questions, many ideas, and finally, bravely, I cut the notebook cover in half, removed the binding, made a new liner, spine, and binding that enlarged it enough to handle a standard notebook.

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This required setting up the sewing machine and pulling out the sewing box. They are in the dormer in our bedroom where I have a handmade walnut table, pottery lamp, and shelving to store my yarn and fabric.

Compared to many of my friends in the fiber arts, I am a lightweight. Most of them have multiple wheels, looms, sewing machines. I do have two wheels or I will once the antique one has all of its parts back. But the rest of my equipment will fit into a tote bag.

wheel

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The Louët has a built in Lazy Kate for plying, but I don’t like it, so I use the one my son made me for Christmas.

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A swift and two different sized Niddy Noddys for winding yarn into skeins from a bobbin.

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And two different sized Lucets for making cord.

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An assortment of various drop spindles for portable spinning.

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Hand carders for combing unprocessed clean wool.

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A backstrap loom, that I need an instructor to teach me to set it up for weaving.

With one set of interchangeable knitting needles, one set of double pointed knitting needles in various sizes, a few fixed circular knitting needles, and several crochet hooks, I have all I need for spinning, sewing, knitting or crocheting.

It will all fit nicely in a beautiful hand made tote from a friend.

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Though I don’t carry it all with me, I could.

 

 

Falling Down the Rabbit Hole

Of fiber arts, that is.  Already, I knit, can crochet (but don’t much anymore), spin fiber on a spinning wheel and on drop spindles, and recently tackled kettle dyeing of yarn. Last week at the spinning group, my friend that taught the camp with me, brought me three of her rigid heddle looms to try and I brought one she was planning on selling home with me to play with for a week.  By week’s end, I knew I was hooked and told her I wanted to purchase it from her.

Today, was teach the newbie day.  She invited me over this morning to learn how to dye fiber, not just yarn, and yarn with multiple colors using a microwave.  She has a dedicated microwave in her utility room near her utility sink and work counter, just for dyeing.  With 3 bins full of colors to choose from, I was absolutely giddy.  I had taken a 150 yard skein of chain plyed Shetland yarn and a bag of white Romney roving, unsure which I wanted to dye.  She suggested both, then suggested a second pan of roving and walked me through the process with me doing the tasks while she watched.

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This is what I came home with from the lesson.  I can’t wait for the fiber to dry so I can spin it and see how it does.

While the fiber was cooling, the next lesson was how to warp the loom for a scarf.  Again, she talked me through the instructions while I did it to learn, provided reminders and suggestions to speed the process up and explain why certain things were done the way she does it which made sense to me.  Once the colors were chosen, the loom warped and the weft color selected, I began weaving on it.  After a few rows, we tried a lighter gray weft and then black and both of us agreed that the black was the way to go. We left for a drive through lunch and on to the spinning group where I un-wove the two grays and started over with the black.

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A scarf in the making on my newly acquired, gently used loom.  My husband calls me his “crafty” wife and swears he didn’t say “crappy” wife.

I am now the owner of a spinning wheel, 4 drop spindles, a set of interchangeable knitting needles, a few crochet hooks, and a 10″ rigid heddle loom.  Not terribly much invested in dollars, but lots of hobby time tools.

Confidence or Folly

As the Holiday Market Autumn edition is only 9 days away and the Winter edition a mere 5 weeks from now, more preparations are underway.

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So far 5 Soap Saks have been made, one more currently in progress.

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The soap making station set up and Mountain Man is cocooned in a towel until it can be cut tomorrow.

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A batch of Winter Mint (Christmas Mint or Holiday Mint) is being prepped. What would you name it?Tomorrow when those two molds are freed up, or maybe later today if I choose to use the other molds that I don’t like as much, I will make another batch of Tree Hugger as Mountain Man and Tree Hugger coordinate with my Beard Oils and would make a nice holiday gift for a bearded fellow.

I can’t decide what other scent(s) to make for another scented soap for the Winter Market. My goal is to carry my 4 unscented signature soaps and 4 soaps scented with pure essential oils. What would you buy if you wanted a scented soap?  

A resupply of a few essential oils is necessary. I can purchase tiny bottles from the natural foods store, but I need to order larger bottles of my staple oils.

Perhaps I should get some small boxes and pair a soap and Beard oil or Lotion bar for the display.

 

Hooking Away

Ok, get your minds away from there, not that kind of hooking.  Normally, I knit and spin, but occasionally I pull out a crochet hook to do finishing work on a project.  I actually crocheted before I learned to knit, though I only made afghans and lace edgings then.

Before I did my first craft show a few months ago, I was weaving on a mini loom to see if that was another craft that grabbed my attention.  I’m into crafts that don’t have a huge investment in the cost of the equipment, and don’t take up a lot of space once purchased (ok, so the spinning wheel was a major investment and takes up a few square feet of space in the loft, but that was an indulgence that has soothed my soul a many of stressed out evenings).  I thought about adding Soapy Bags to my items that I was to vend.  A little woven bag made of natural fibers such as cotton, linen or hemp that hold a full bar of soap, with a drawstring top and can be used as a washcloth then hung to dry until the next bath or shower.  I made exactly one before the show and then did not even bother to take it with me.

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It is a cute little bag, but it took too long to weave, sew together, braid the drawstring and thread it through that I just didn’t think that I could make enough of them or sell them for enough to make it a worthwhile addition to my shop and supplies.

As I pulled out my wares to repack them in the little crates, boxes, and trays that I am using for the Holiday Market, I found the little Soapy Bag and thought again that this might be a good venue to sell a few of them.  The focus of this market is buying local for your gifts that you purchase for the holidays.  I really didn’t like the mini loom, but I still had a few balls of fiber and a set of several sizes of crochet hooks.  I knew that I could whip out one in a hour or less if I use larger cotton yarn so I set to work yesterday to add to the supply.

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They are very portable and I have two nearly complete, two different size yarns, two different fibers, two different colors.  If I work on them in the car and while sitting with Mountaingdad as he watches TV, I may get 10 made before the first market day.  Arranged in a basket with a seasonal bow, they might actually sell.  What do you think?

It puts my sweater on further hold, granddaughter might get her socks for Christmas, but maybe they will make a nice stocking stuffer for some Holiday Shopper’s loved ones.  If they do sell, perhaps I will get some in my Etsy Shop to go along with the soaps, lotions, salves, balms, beard oils, and yarns currently available.

For now, I need to go start a couple of batches of holiday soap and get back to hooking.

 

 

Fiber Arts and Needles

Knitters and spinners are picky about their equipment.  They find what they like and are ardent supporters of their favorites.  Sometimes it takes a while to settle into what “works” best for them.

I am no exception.  When I was just picking up knitting again, I would buy inexpensive needles in the size I needed for the project at hand.  As I got to be a better knitter, I learned that better needles lasted longer and were smoother to use, but I have never been a fan of metal needles, they make my hands hurt and have an off odor.  I also have learned that I prefer the shorter 3-4 inch length tips to the longer 5-6 inch one again as they don’t seem to aggravate my arthritis in my hands as much.  One of the products that has come out in more recent years are needles with interchangeable tips so that you need fewer needles and can change the cord to suit the project.  I loved interchangeable tips until my hand strength lessened due to age and the aforementioned arthritis and I could no longer tighten the connectors enough to even knit through a single row on a sweater without them coming partially or fully unscrewed.  Reluctantly, I advertised and sold my interchangeable sets on the social network for lovers of needle crafts, Ravelry.  I have thought about this problem more and more in the past year and have wondered why the designers of this style needle don’t use reverse threaded connectors, so that as you knit, you automatically tighten rather than loosen the connection.

The problem has sent me off in search of non metal, 3-4″ fixed circular needles in a size small enough to make a hat and long enough to knit a sweater or do the magic loop technique to close up the top of a hat.  The funds from selling my beloved interchangeables will just cover the needles in the most common sizes I use in two lengths, so now instead of having one compact case of tips and cables, I will have a basket full of needles.

The hand issues have also forced me to seek crochet hooks with larger shafts or the Clover brand that has the butterscotch colored flattened plastic handle with a thumb pad.

I have never gotten adept at using double pointed needles and have told my daughter that I would teach her to use them, but I feel like I’m playing pick up sticks with them.

It is all our different opinions that keep the companies in business.  Now I’m off to find an Etsy shop that sells a circular needle case that isn’t notebook sized to store my fixed circulars in once they come.  And to work on my sweater with the craft store metal needle with long tips until my new ones come..

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The pattern is Estelle, the yarn Quince and Co. Lark in Delft.  At least I can still knit.