Visit My Etsy Shop

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Schacht Cricket: Stash Reduction Part Two

The Aura is in a box in my workshop.  Just thought I'd let you know :-)

Here is all the stash reduction I have been doing with my Cricket Loom over the past couple of weeks.  I have scarves, coasters, and even made fabric for the Little Hippie Vest.

I was not sure I'd like weaving because compared to my passion, (lace knitting) it seemed very boring.  BUT I was wrong on both counts.  It is a lot of fun - very relaxing.  I can finish a project in a couple of days rather than a couple of weeks.  I can use up yarn - it takes much less yarn to weave a scarf than it does to knit one.  And I can carry on a conversation while I work (unlike lace knitting DON'T TALK TO ME I'M COUNTING!!)

Yesterday I got a delivery of looms from Schacht.  I have 6 Cricket Looms, a 15" Flip Loom, and a 20" Flip Loom.  If you're interested in learning to weave and prefer to own the best quality rigid heddle loom available, send me an e-mail or give me a call.  The Crickets are $140, 15" Flip is $235, and the 20" Flip is $255.  All of the looms are portable and easy to assemble.  They're made of beautiful, SOLID maple and the kits include a warping peg, 8 dent reed, heddle hook, shuttles, and instructions for warping and a couple of practice projects.  FREE shipping!  And the Flip looms come with a free gift of yarn and a lovely "how to" book with multiple small projects.  Stash Reduction Rules!!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Aura Fever

Grandma says, "I have Aura Fe-vah!"

My Aura is on the way, shipped last Thursday.  That could mean...TOMORROW!  I've seen photos, some specs, diagrams, etc, but I really, really, really want to get my  hands on that wheel.

Today I received a delivery of nine Schacht looms - 6 Crickets, two Flip Folding Looms (really gorgeous looms!) and a Wolf Pup.  Nothing is assembled.  My house is full of cardboard boxes, heddles, shuttles, and raddles, but i will clear a space for Aura when she comes! 

Yeah, the workshop is kinda crazy!  My daughter gives her senior recital tomorrow night, I've got a house full of company, but when Aura gets here, MOVE OVER LOOMS AND PEOPLE!  My espeically handy-with-tools girlfriend Kerry will come over and help me assemble it, and I'm sure we'll both try spinning.  I'll try to get in at least a couple of hours of spinning, different fibers, different kinds of yarn.  Then I'll write down what I think and share it here.  I'll be really honest.  I will pull  no punches.  You will definitely get my first impressions.  Might be Saturday, might be Sunday.  It will depend on when the wheel comes, and how much time I can carve out.

BUT I AM SO EXCITED!!!!  I'll keep you all posted!

Friday, April 23, 2010


Kid or lamb?  I can't tell, can you?  All I know is that this cute little critter is HAPPY! Have a great weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Handspun and Handwoven: What Can I Make?

I love my Cricket Loom!!!!!  It's small and portable and quick to warp.  I don't use a lot of yarn for a project, and the weaving goes much MUCH faster than knitting a similar scarf or piece of fabric.

I've made scarves, plaid coasters, more scarves, a belt and (sound of happy dancing feet) enough fabric to make a toddler-sized vest.  I call it "The Little Hippie Vest".  I lined it with soft, washed linen and made a pair of little khaki shorts to match.  Now all I need is a little hippie.

The yarn I used was the same corespun alpaca as I used in the scarf only this time I warped the loom with a finer yarn (Aunt Lydia's Crochet Bamboo) and used a higher sett (that means, more stitches per inch).  After washing and drying and ironing the piece, I laid out the pattern pieces and CUT my weaving.  Ok, yes, it felt evil.

A few hours later I had this outfit.  And I had used up a very so-so orphan yarn. And I had moved one step closer to TOTAL addiction to a wonderful new craft.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Suzie/Rose Cozy: A No-Sew Wrap for your Wheel

Here is a quick, inexpensive way to wrap your Suzie or Rose for transport. 

You will need 2 yds of polar fleece fabric, medium to heavy weight and a pair of sharp scissors.  You will also need a Rose or Suzie spinning wheel.  If you don't have one yet, call or e-mail and I will be happy to help you remedy the situation.

Lay the fabric out on the floor and set your spinning wheel toward the end that is nearest to you, as you would face it to spin.  Loosen the wheel knob and fold the wheel down so the handle is sticking up, then re-tighten the knob to secure it.  If you have a Suzie, bring the close end of the fabric up and poke two holes where the bobbin holders are, and slip the fabric down over the spindles.  If you have a Rose, snip a hole big enough to accommodate the wooden knob on wheel assembly.

Next, take the corners of the fabric closest to you, and tie them in a big square knot at the back of the wheel, covering the conrods.

Now take the rest of the fabric from behind, and drape it over the front of the wheel.  Pull the fabric slightly so that all is taut on the back side.  Poke another hole and fit it over the  front knob.  It should be a snug fit.  Once the fabric is secured to the knob, find the handle and cut a hole slightly smaller than the handle but big enough for the handle to poke through.   Be careful not to scratch the handle.

Last, gather up the remaining two corners of the fabric, bring them around to the front of the wheel and tie another square knot.  Your wheel is snug in its cozy and you're ready to go! 

Friday, April 16, 2010

Fiber Orphans, Part One

Our church crafter's group made Prayer Shawls during Lent.  Our goal was 40 shawls during the 40 days of Lent, and we made 47!  They will go to the local nursing home.  It was a great project and a lot of people contributed, both money for yarn and time spent knitting, crocheting and praying!

I made four adult-sized prayer shawls and while I was knitting and thinking about the dear old folks who would receive them, I thought I'd like to make a little prayer shawl for a four-year-old little friend of mine.  She is very girly and loves pink, loves to cuddle and still sucks her thumb.  I had a 4 ounce washable merino roving that was part of my orphaned fiber stash (dyed, but no plan) and so I set myself a goal of seeing how fast I could do  the project.

I divided the wool in half and spun it with a long draw, paying little attention to grist.  I spun what I spun.  After one night on the bobbins, I plied the two together.  Time spend spinning - 3 hours.  I finished the yarn and once it was dry, I started to knit.  I had just under 300 yards of thick 'n thin.

We were using a triangular shawl pattern that called for heavy yarn and size 13 needles.  I figured I could make a mini version using size 7 needles.  I cast on, knitted the shawl, and cast off.  I had ONE YARD of yarn left!  Whew!  Time spent knitting - 3 hours.  It was exactly the right size for a little girl and I have been informed that it lives in the pile of snuggle blankies on my little friend's bed. 

I am working at using my orphan fiber.  I've got rovings, carded batts, and a lot of yarn that never made it to a project.  Please tell us about any orphan projects you've recently completed, or you plan/strategy for using up stash!

More about Fiber Orphans in upcoming posts. 

Monday, April 12, 2010

MAJACRAFT ROSE: A Thorough Review

My friend Kerry sent me this link. It's a very nice review of the Majacraft Rose. Keep in mind that the review was made in 2007 - several improvements have been made since then, for instance, the flyer bars have been made more aerodynamically efficient. The standard orifice is now made of stainless steel, and the bearings (which were always great) have been improved. Hinges have been upgraded...AND the price has definitely gone up :-)

It is still one of the nicest "everything" wheels available. Dollar for dollar, I believe it is the best spinning wheel in its class.

This month every Rose wheel comes with ALL the Majacraft whorls. Spin thread, spin rope. You choose!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Weave It Away - Super Stash Reduction!

If you are like me you have many, MANY skeins, balls, yarn-cakes, cops and other blobs of yarn. You spun it, you bought it, you stored it...sometimes for a long time.

I am finding that learning to weave is a very quick and easy way to use up odds and ends.

A while back I did an experiment with core spinning. I dyed a pot of alpaca - just squirted in three colors of dye and let it sit. When I was finished I had a bag of multicolored alpaca locks. I also had a cone of very fine silk 2-ply. I decided to grab bits of alpaca on the fly and spin it around the silk.

The results: 1200 yds of somewhat oddball, thick and thin, fuzzy and smooth alpaca multi. I knitted a swatch. I felt it was somewhat blah, so it sat in my bin. Until yesterday.

I warped my Cricket Loom with a store-bought bamboo-silk yarn and wove the alpaca right as it came off the ball. It took half an hour to warp the loom and about an hour to weave a 6 foot scarf. The MINUTE it was off the loom my husband claimed it. It is heavy, soft, drapey, and the bamboo/silk warp shows through enough to give the whole piece a nice sheen.

A yarn that was ugly when knitted is beautiful when woven. Weaving was fast. I didn't have to buy yarn. And best of all, I have at least half of the alpaca yarn left and will try it with another, finer warp.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Learning to Spin, Learning to Weave

I never cease to marvel at the difference between how children react when they see me spinning and how adults react. Here are some typical responses.

Kid Questions: Is it fun? Can kids do that? Was the sheep purple? Why did you take off your shoes? Can I try it?

Adult Questions: Is it hard? How long does it take to make yarn? Why would you spin when you could just buy the yarn? Did it take a long time to get good? Oh, I could never do that...

Guess which group of people is harder to teach?

Is it worth pondering. Why do so many adults approach new tasks with the certainty of failure? Why are they so discouraged by the fact that it takes TIME and PRACTICE to master a new skill? Our brains are marvelous! There is no real barrier to learning a new skill - except attitude.

I am living proof that 1. adults can learn new skills, and 2. adults can MASTER a craft if they will put their minds to it. In under three years I have gone from never having touched a spinning wheel to being able to spin anything I want, spin on any wheel, take a wheel apart and put it together again, and teach others the skill. I am not some kind of craft genius. I am an ordinary middle-aged woman, but when I decide to learn something, I throw myself into it like a child. That's the key. Be a kid.

I CAN learn. I WILL improve. NO TOOL is smarter than I am. I call this the Crrafter's Mantra!

I am learning to weave. (Why not? I have a LOT Of yarn around!) In fact, I have added a Schacht Loom dealership to my business. So far I have made three scarves and nine coasters. I have also spun up 4 ounces of merino with the intention of using it for weaving. Right now I am a Child Weaver, with less skill than the tiny girl in the photo, but that is going to change. I am going to become a GOOD WEAVER. Not overnight, not in a week or a month. It will take AS LONG AS IT TAKES!!

More about Schacht Weaving products later! Contact me if you want a loom and I'll make you a deal you can't resist :-) In the meantime, whatever your craft, say the Crafter's Mantra a few times each day.

Friday, April 2, 2010

MAJACRAFT - The New Wheel is Coming!

Here is all I know. It makes yarn. Seriously. The only info I could get out of Glynis was that I would not need the high speed accelerator any more. "The ratios will be adequate for your spinning," she said.

Will it be purple? Will it have spokes like the Rose? Will all my other Majacraft goodies work with it? For now we must remain in the dark.

Mum. They are SO mum.

I will have my new wheel the first of May. Once it has been unveiled at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival (Glynis will be there in person!) I can post photos and tell you about it.

Glynis assures me that I will have it in time for the Minnesota Shepherd's Harvest Festival on May 8 and 9. I'll have a booth there, all my Majacraft wheels, lots of wool, and some Schacht looms. Come and see me (and the new wheel) if you are in the neighborhood!