Saturday, December 10, 2016

More Christmas stuff, some music, and a plug for Yousician!

I finished the elephant hat, and also made a Panda hat for a great-nephew (grand-nephew?)

I also managed to get a good start on warping the floor loom in the bedroom.  I threaded the reed last week 

and this week I threaded the heddles.  It took me two days to thread the heddles, and in the process I found several threading errors in the reed.  A couple of threads have been added, and some threads will have to be moved over after I get the warp wound onto the back beam.

Today we had our family Christmas party.  I dropped off most of the corn bag heating pads I made, and brought back several gifts for our family - a new couch blanket, the usual (and highly anticipated!) bags of Dunkin Donuts coffee from my dad, some chocolate, and a very special and totally amazing gift from one of my sisters:

This is a bluetooth speaker in the shape of the Millennium Falcon!  I love this!!  What an amazingly thoughtful gift!

I also had a great extended practice session downstairs this evening with my keyboard and my Breedlove guitar.  I have been using the Yousician app to practice guitar.   I love it!  It's so much fun!  I showed it to my guitar instructor; he said it's like "Guitar Hero, but for real guitars."  I like it so much that I paid for a subscription.  One of the fabulous things about Yousician is that you don't have to get a subscription.  The program gives you a half-hour (or so) lesson a day without a subscription.  No one-week or 30-day free trial, no putting in a credit card number and then needing to remember to cancel it.  And Yousician is good for guitar, bass guitar, ukulele, and piano.  Even though I have a subscription for guitar, I decided to try out the free program for piano.  I asked online and was told that you need at least a 61-key keyboard to use the program.  I found one very inexpensively on Craigslist, and two weeks later hunted down a full-size 88-key keyboard to continue with.  I ended up getting a Yamaha DXG-500.  It's so old it has a disk drive, but it works!  I passed on the 61-key keyboard (Casio CTK-611) to a family member.  I hope they sign up with Yousician and have as much fun with it as I do.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Christmas projects progression

I am making progress on my projects!  Not as much as I'd like, of course, because things like household chores and grocery shopping get in the way.  Nevertheless, there has been some knitting and some weaving.

I'm making progress on the elephant hat!  I think there are only 4 or 5 pattern rows left.

After that one I'll be starting the Panda hat.  I have already picked up yarn for that one; just need to make sure I have the right size needles, in a 16-inch.

I started weaving.  My dad asked me if it's something for him.  I told him, if he likes it, it could be for him! Of course, right after I started weaving it I found a threading error.  There was one thread that went through a heddle that should not have been heddled.  I fixed it, changed the thread path, and hopefully that will be the end of it.

If you look closely, the light color on the left of center appears uneven compared to the light color on the right side of center.

Now I'm just working on making the weaving and changing of the sheds a little more smooth and easy - especially as I have at least 2 more of these planned!  I think the selvedges look good, with the exception of one small spot on the left-hand side about a third of the way up in the above photo.

I have also found some absolutely fascinating tablet weaving designs that I may have to try!  Two of them look like little trees!  I'm wondering if I should warp up my Structo loom for card weaving.  I could remove the reed and beater bar (it just lifts out) and move the heddles to the sides, then warp through the center.  I think I'm going to be going out shopping for something like crochet threads or perle cotton hanks sometime very soon.  At least it's far more interesting than grocery shopping!

Friday, November 25, 2016

Knitting & Weaving

I'm still working on Christmas.  We have most of the gifts either finished or purchased, with just a few kids left to buy for.  I still have 3 hats I'd like to do - one is half done (the elephant hat - aka Rose & Lily).

The other two are Pandamonium (with pandas!) and Witch Cats Hat, which I plan to do in pink (with black cats).

Yesterday I watched the first set of David Mullarkey DVDs, on Card Weaving (aka Tablet Weaving).  I think I may eventually be able to wrap my head around that technique.  Tonight I warped up my inkle loom for a guitar strap.  If it comes out good, that may also end up as a Christmas gift.

Looking forward to starting the weaving tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Productive Day!

Two finishes, and a chore accomplished!

First up was a hoodie I finished for my grandson about a month ago.  It has been sitting around waiting for a zipper. I ordered one online, only to find it was much too long (by about 2 inches!  I have no idea how I measured that!)  I ordered a new zipper online last week, and it arrived 2 days ago.  This morning I spent some time pinning the zipper in - which includes unrolling the edge of the knitting, pinning in place, setting up the sewing machine (with zipper foot), finding the gray thread...  I held the edge of the knitting in place with the point of my scissors as I fed it into the sewing machine, an inch at a time.  I had to stop frequently to take out the next pin, reposition, etc.

After the first pass I turned the sweater over and sewed another seam from the edge of the zipper inside the sweater.

It turned out good!  I stitched the edges of the zipper down on the inside, then had a few stitches to sew (with the original yarn) to attach the ribbing of the hood to the top edge of the seam near the zipper.


Grandson is pretty happy with it!  It actually fits pretty well - just a bit big, and he will certainly grow into that!  Should fit him nicely through next spring, I hope.  The yarn was Patons Canadiana (purchased at Hooked Knitting, in Essex, MA, during the Knit North Yarn Crawl earlier this year).  The pattern is called Moera, purchased & downloaded from Ravelry.

The second finish is a baby sweater.  This is the Baby Gansey Crossover Coat, from the book One Skein Wonders for Babies.  Last week I had finished most of this.  I had just one sleeve/side seam and the buttons to attach.  

I finished this one this afternoon, too!  The giftee is supposed to be picking it up later this week.

The chore was switching out the coats on the sheep.  They were outgrowing their coats (growing a nice coat of wool for me to spin next year!) and needed larger coats.  Last week I ordered a new set of coats from the Gypsy Tinker.  I have seen her set up at NH Sheep & Wool, and had a chance to talk to her when I went to Rhinebeck Sheep & Wool last month.

These are my two Jacob girls, wearing their old coats, along with the new coats I want to put on them.  I lured them into the stall with some corn, then shut the door.

I usually just grab one sheep (horns are convenient handles at times) and hold onto it between my knees while I try to replace the coat.  This time I decided to use the sheep/goat halter to tie up one sheep at a time while I changed the coat.  I had to remove the rear legs from leg straps, pull it over the head (requires untying the halter from the wall), put the new coat over the head while the sheep is untied, then attach the halter to the wall again as I get the rear legs into the straps.  It was much easier with the sheep held stationary!  Here is a picture of one in a new coat (light colored) and one in the old coat - next in line (tan coat - it's actually a different color, not just very dirty).

Second sheep done, just before I took the halter off and let them back outside.

Last of all, I have finished making up all the corn bag heating pads!  I made 50 of them all together, and will enjoy handing these out for Christmas gifts!

As of today, I have 3 Fair Isle hats I would like to finish for Christmas, and (what seems like) plenty of time to do it!  After that I can get back to warping my loom, and working on my cross stitch piece, "Master."

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Getting ready for Christmas

I have been quite busy lately, and loving my crafts.  Not all of it has to do with Christmas, but I am enjoying making things!

A couple of weeks ago I picked up a 4-harness counterbalance loom from my friend Diane.  I picked it up in parts, assembled it in my bedroom, and have so far wound a warp.  This is a vintage loom of unknown age or provenance, although Diane told me it came from Pennsylvania.

The warp I wound is from a towels-of-the-month club from Cotton Clouds.  I got a year of those, about two years ago.  I started winding one, ages ago, and decided I didn't want to do the calculcations to make it fit on my Structo table loom.  The one I started working on this time is called Roller Bird Bumbaret Towels.  The warp is a little complicated (lots of color changes) but was fun!  Now I need to finish my Christmas projects, and get the barn ready for winter, before I continue.

For Christmas, I'm doing corn bag heating pads again.  As of yesterday I have all the muslin pockets sewn (they hold the corn) and all the outside flannel cases, and I'm about 2/3 of the way through filling the corn bags and sewing them shut.  I need to get more corn.  You take the corn bag (in its flannel pillowcase) and microwave it for about 2 minutes, and put it where you need heat.  Also works if your hands or feet are too cold!

For a couple of people I am making some hats.  One pattern has elephants, one has panda bears, and if I have enough time, one has cats.

I'm waiting on new coats for the Jacob sheep, because they have really outgrown their current ones.  I thought they'd be here yesterday, but now I'm hoping for tomorrow, as they're only coming from Vermont.  I bought the new ones (size 34) from the Gypsy Tinker.  I met her and saw her coats when I got to take a trip to Rhinebeck Sheep & Wool last month.  (That was such a fabulous vacation day!)

Today I'll be cleaning bunny cages (four bunnies; three of them are fawn!) and cleaning around the stall doors so it will be easier to open/close them when it snows.  The goats are in the small stall for now - the two Pygoras, who had their first shearing in September, and a new addition yesterday - Margot, an Alpine doeling.  She's about 8.5 months old, and bred to a very handsome LaMancha buckling.

I got about 10 ounces each from the Pygoras' first clip, after skirting.  I'm sure it's going to spin up gorgeous!

I also traded guitars recently.  I still have my beloved purple Ibanez, and my Taylor, but I traded the Martin (with which I never bonded, for some reason) for this gorgeous Breedlove Oregon Concert!  I adore this guitar, and it is - for me, at least - easy to play.  I still have difficulty reaching the frets for the C chords, and changing to C from other chords, but the neck of the Breedlove seems to make it a little easier.

It's made from spruce and myrtlewood.  Absolutely gorgeous figure, and great sound!  I recently subscribed to the Yousician app as well, and have enjoyed adding those exercises to my practice.

The only thing I haven't had time for lately has been the cross stitch, and I am really itching to get back to the Yoda chart, "Master."  Unfortunately, like some other things (warping the loom, for example!) that will have to wait until the Christmas projects are finished.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

New toys!

Some new toys ordered recently arrived today!

The first is a collapsible one-yard Niddy Noddy, from Katrinkles on Etsy.  It's made from bamboo; ingenious design!  I borrowed one with a similar design, made of plastic, at the Topsfield Fair spinning bee, and when I went looking for one, this is what I found.  I have a few other items from Katrinkles' Etsy shop, and have been quite pleased with them.

The second is a travel lazy kate.  This is also from Etsy, from a shop called Ogledesign.  I saw someone using one of these - this exact design and maker - at the St Distaff's Day gathering in January, and really liked it.  This photo shows it in use.  This is mine (maple) when closed.
This is what you see when you open it.  The pegs that form the supports for the kate and for the bobbins are stored inside.  A strong magnet keeps it closed.  The two shorter pegs support the kate; the three longer ones hold bobbins.  It is wonderfully compact, and a very clever design.
This is what it looks like set up.  The pegs hold the bobbins.  They are lightly tensioned due to their position on the kate.  It might be possible to add a little more tension with a string or rubber band; I'll have to experiment.
Both of these will be useful for spinning gatherings or competitions in the future.  I’m looking forward to using them!  For now they will reside in the Zuca case, with my Hansen Mini spinner and all of its accessories.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Updates everywhere

It's been a busy time, with lots of crafting and critter news happening.

In cross stitch news, I ditched the Guitar Strings pattern, and started one from Artecy - a rendering of photographer Dorothea Lange's Depression-era portrait, "Migrant Mother", in cross stitch.

The pattern has 9 pages.  I finished all of the first page, then did all the black on pages 2 and 3 (across the top) before I was distracted by something else.

My new distraction was a Star Wars chart, from Tilton Crafts.  They have both a website and an Etsy store.  I came across a charted creation based on Star Wars artwork by Tsuneo Sanda, called "Master".

There's also a Darth Vader companion piece called "Dark Force".

I bought both charts, and materials, and have started "Master."  I adore this piece!

Of course, my creative streak was interrupted by something else - the Deerfield Fair.  For quite a while now (about 14 years, I think) I spend all four days of the Deerfield Fair spinning in the Farm Museum.  I love it!  I'm also glad, after four days, to be done, but always look forward to doing it again.

After the fair, the Pygora goats were sheared, and the same day, I put the sheep coats on the two Jacob ewes.  The Pygoras are now 6 months old.  Still small enough to cause trouble, and still stinkin' cute.

Before and after of the goats!

I managed to get out to the Topsfield Fair spinning bee last Wednesday, for the first time!  I took a 3rd in wheel spinning (advanced) and first place in spindle spinning!  I know the procedure now, what's being done and what's being judged, and plan to do better next year!

Last weekend hubby and I (along with the grandchild) managed to visit three of the four stops on the NH Wool Arts Tour.

I didn't end up buying much, but had a great time visiting with friends and vendors!

The puppy, Jasper, continues to get bigger and remains almost impossibly cute!  He has reached 5 months, and is very busy!  Penny is his best friend.

I finished a couple of spinning projects, too!  The first was a cafe au lait colored Polwarth I was using as my demo fiber at the Deerfield Fair this year.  I ended up with 4.73 oz and 590 yds.

The other finish was my fine-spinning challenge, from my class with Abby Franquemont at the 2015 Fiber Revival.  After sitting around for a year, and surviving moving around and several puppy attacks, I ended up with 103 yds of two-ply, weighing just over 5 grams. Getting somewhere, but I still need some practice for the Longest Thread contest. I have learned several techniques for dealing with very fine spinning, however, so it is definite progress.

Another finish was a baby blanket.  This just needed to have the ends woven in, before being delivered to the recipient.  This was the ABC Baby Blanket, a free pattern from Ravelry.   It has now been finished and delivered.

I'm now working on a Pumpkin hat.  I couldn't find the exact pattern I wanted, so I am using a combination of two patterns - one called the Citrus Hat for the base, and substituting the pattern for the Berry Baby Hat for the top third and topknot of the hat.  This should be a very quick project - I'm hoping to have it done today, and ready to deliver to the mom.

Next weekend I'm off to the Rhinebeck Sheep & Wool Festival.  I am very excited to be able to go, and looking forward to an entire day to myself, without grandchild or other family!  I do wish hubby was coming, but the 3-1/2 to 4 hour drive each way is too much for him.