Sunday, July 18, 2010

A weekend full of activity

Etsy shop: I made new ads (which run on Ravelry). A new design uses a pretty good photo of a pink/peach skein of my handspun yarn. I added "handspun yarns & hand-dyed fiber" on the two existing ads with the blue sky and sheep. I'm wondering if this change will help people know what the ads are FOR and encourage them to click on them. As it is there has been VERY LOW SUCCESS with these ads so far.

I also listed the four 4-oz bumps of roving I already dyed last week, and the pink/blue/brown silk+mohair I recently spun from the Hello Yarn spinning club.

Dyeing: Last night I dyed some more roving. This time I used the Cormo I got from Juniper Fiber Farms; they had a fund raiser so I bought 8 oz to help out. It's lovely stuff, very very soft. This time I made fewer mistakes.

1. I wore gloves. This meant I didn't have to be so cautious about where I touched stuff, because I wasn't worried about getting my hands stained. (AND I didn't get my hands stained.)

2. I used a half a teaspoon of citric acid along with some synthex in the soak before applying the dye. This meant the dye took better.

3. I put the pot on the stove in our kitchen. This, admittedly, was forced upon me because the shite hot plate I bought at Target (on which the larger burner broke a year ago) completely stopped working, but it also meant that the heat was more dependable. Instead of using the microwave, which is a method I don't like so much, I put some water in the bottom of my large pot and a steamer tray, and put the two plastic-wrapped dye+wool packages in there to steam for 30 mins. At the end of this, it was late and I was tired, so I put the pot in the basement stone sink to cool overnight.

This morning when I took the wool out of the plastic wrap, I still had to rinse it a bunch of times, but not as many as last week, which I think was due to the fact that I used more citric acid and also a lot less dye, so more of it actually discharged fully into the wool. (I am still using up all this concentrated dye from last year. I can't stand to just put it down the sink; I'm pretty sure that's not safe anyway. Once it's used up, I will go back to the regular method I was using last year, and I'll be better able to estimate how much dye I actually need for each 4 oz of wool.)

Sewing: (I know! SEWING!) It's been forever since I did any sewing. However, I came across a tutorial for a "summer scarf" (which, counterintuitively, could really come in handy in the over air conditioned office yours truly works in) and then also, about the same time, saw that Purl Soho had some Liberty prints in. The confluence of events was too much for me to resist, so I got a half a yard (it was SUPER OVER PRICED but I only needed a half a yard) and it arrived Friday night. Today I went out to Michael's and got some elastic beading thread so I could make this.

Now, I've been sewing practically my entire life, so this was a pretty easy little pattern, not a huge challenge for me, except for sewing with a bobbin of elastic thread, which I've never tried before. It was NOT successful. Maybe the elastic thread I bought was too wimpy, I don't know, but it snapped several times while I was sewing the two lines, and finally I decided it was too unreliable. So I found some elastic cord, about two millimeters in diameter I'd guess, that was a lot more sturdy, and I sewed it on the back of the scarf using zigzag to create a kind of channel that the cord ran through. I tied a knot on each end and sewed the extra end into the channel as well on each end. I think it came out pretty well!

Spinning: I'm not doing the Tour de Fleece, but I have been doing a lot of spinning lately anyway. I have some lovely yellow-gold-red-brown silk+cashmere that I got from Spirit Trail Fiberworks last year when I was in her spinning club (it was a terrific bargain, in my opinion, but I couldn't keep up with the rate she sent stuff so I still have a couple installments left over). I spun that last week, and Navajo-plied it to preserve the color shifts. I also started spinning some great brown superwash merino/cashmere/silk roving from Pigeonroof Studios. The color shifts in it are much more random and varied, so I will double ply it, most likely.

And I sorted the locks of the fleece I washed by color lightest to darkest, only to decide that I want to spin it all mixed up instead. I started carding it, this afternoon; that is hard work, and slow going. I have about 20 rolags so far and MUCH more to go. I am going to spin some of it tonight if Adam ever finishes playing this game he's been trying to win this afternoon. It's an annoying game so I don't want to sit in there while he's playing it. I hope he finishes soon!

Gardening: We had about a 5' square part of our garden that I had intended to plant with, well, several things, but which never got planted with anything. Instead I just put newspaper and hay down on it and hoped that would keep the weeds at bay. It did probably do a little good, but they figured out where the edges were and came up along there with a vengeance. Finally this weekend I summoned the energy and the desire to remediate this scourge.

We went to Home Depot, which itself is an unusual event. Adam had to get a special tool to take apart the inside of the car dash to install the AUX input on the stereo (that was my birthday present, both the kit and the installation). I got a bunch of dirt (which always feels stupid to me to have to pay for) to move a very small root-bound dewberry tree into a larger pot, and some trellis things to stake up the cucumbers.

It was SO HOT in the sun that I put up the umbrella over the table and worked under the shady side of that while I was doing the repotting. Then I went to do the weeding. As this was in the direct sun, I rigged up a lean-to shade along the fence using some stakes and some mulch paper. It kept blowing down and I had to keep moving it as the weeding progressed, but it helped a lot. Even with my goofy sun-shelter I had to come inside twice to cool off because I felt like I was getting sick from the heat. But I got the weeds all pulled up. I put down more hay all over that area and it looks a lot better.

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