Busy Is Good

Just keep telling yourself that!

New Yarn

Photo of rainbow gradient yarnEarlier this year I launched a new business, Washtenaw Wool Company, with two friends, Michelle and Heather.  We’re having a blast, learning a lot, and watching this seed of an idea grow into something that suits all of our different skills perfectly.

It’s all very stimulating! We’ve been dyeing up yarn using unusual and sometimes time-consuming methods. We’ve been building our community of like-minded makers. This weekend we have a show, a local show luckily, and then we will hit the yarn design drawing board in earnest.  I. Can’t. Wait.  Local wool yarn, here I come!

New Design

I am aswim with design ideas and lack only for time to make them come alive.  I have socks, a pair of fingerless mitts, and at least two shawls partially written up. I’ve designed an entire shawl with the help of Miriam Felton’s Lace Shawl Design Craftsy class and the Stitchmastery software. Now I just need to knit it!  Ah, time, you fickle friend. Is this the point where designers find test knitters?

Photo of a knitting swatch.

New Skill

I’ve started teaching knitting classes at one of our local yarn stores and privately. Turns out, I really like to teach knitting!  I’ve been doing it for years informally, but I am finally embracing the idea that I have something to share with people who don’t know me.  I was a little worried before my first class because I did not enjoy teaching snarky freshman Composition at the community college.  So kudos to me for not letting that one terrible experience define my relationship to teaching in general.

New Words

As my writing time becomes more precious, I feel a visceral tug to connect pen to paper.  I am no nube; I know this feeling.  It means, “Write more. Something needs to come out.”

Spring this year is slow to arrive.  We had thunder and graupel (I learned that word today) this morning.  My dreams — mundane and not — continue apace, fed by the energy of busy creativity.

How has the transition between winter and spring been going for you? Please tell me in the comments below.

Spinzilla was a blast!

Picture of a small skein of woolen spun Cormo

If knitting in public isn’t weird enough for you, you should take up spinning.

What I learned from Spinzilla last week was that spinners are, on the whole, a very happy bunch of people. We like to get together and ogle each other’s fiber, wheels, spindles, kates, niddy noddies, and freshly made yarn.  We encourage.  We help.  We teach.  We skip tea in favor of wine.

In getting ready for Spinzilla, I couldn’t wrap my head around what I wanted to accomplish.  Did I want to spin 4 oz per day?  Did I want to make more fractal yarn?  Did I want to try a combo spin?

A couple days before Spinzilla began, I assessed the fiber stash.  I sorted it by prep this time and found that my roving bin wouldn’t close!  That settled what to spin.  As for how to spin it, I figured a spinning competition was as good a time as any to learn long draw, which is a production technique that produces a woolen yarn.  I was almost swooning at the thought of spinning up woolen yarns in many colors to knit colorwork item. Peerie Flooers, here I come!

I opened up my Craftsy class “Drafting from Worsted to Woolen” with Jacey Boggs Faulkner and practiced long draw on a few different roving samples.  After an hour of playing around, I emerged with a lumpy and deliciously lightweight mini skein of woolen 2-ply dark brown Cormo.

Picture of a small skein of woolen spun Cormo

The night before Spinzilla started,  pulled out some of my oldest stash: 7.5 oz of light grey roving with some pale purple and yellow carded into it.  It was mystery wool that I bought on sale from a shop going out of business back when I was baby spinner.  I prepped it by pulling off two yard lengths (measured fingertip to nose, nothing too fussy), splitting that lengthwise, then predrafting, or attenuating, each piece until it was about doubled in length.  Then I gently rolled each piece into a ball so it wouldn’t tangle.

Picture of grey/purple/yellow balls of roving

The prep helped immensely with speed of spinning and it turned out that this mystery wool was even easier to spin long draw than the Cormo.

My second major endeavor for Spinzilla was an 8 oz ball of mixed Icelandic and Border Leicester lambs wool from Kathy Westfall named “Two Black Lambs.”  It was sooooo soft.  The staple length of this fiber was longer, which made the long draw even easier than the mystery wool.  It felt like it was spinning itself!

Here’s my Spinzilla 2015 pile:

Picture of handspun yarns

As team captain for Happy Fuzzy Yarn, I pursued people to fill up my team of 25 spinners.  I am really proud that we had at least 5 people on our team who were very new spinners.  Even though this is a competition for most yardage, my focus was education and community.  I wanted people to feel welcome, no matter their skill level or time commitment.  I am so happy with what each and every one of us accomplished.  I’m not burned out like sometimes happens with intense events like these, and I am already looking forward to next year.

This Spinzilla, I fell in love with the long draw.  I am just getting started.  I can’t wait to try more breeds and see what happens. And my happy spinner friends, makers extraordinaire, will be there with me.