Friday, 30 July 2010

Fiber - Not Just For Spinning!

As well as being bitten by the drop-spindling bug, I've also become interested in needle-felting :) This I blame entirely on my friend. I was totally not interested in anything felty, either wet or dry felty. Then she got shown how to do it at Twist Fiber, and made tons of lovely stuff. Then, she broke her needles and I offered to go in and get her some more (well, it was an excuse to get more fiber and yarn that I just couldn't resist!) The pack had ten needles in it, so I ended up taking some of them for myself, and experimenting with stabbing fiber. And it's awesome!

Needle-felting basically consists of getting a long needle, with some sticky-outy bits on the end, and stabbing it repeatedly into fiber. OK, that's a bit of a rubbish description. Here's a better explanation from the Wikipedia page on felt:

Needle felting is a popular fibre arts craft conducted without the use of water. Special barbed felting needles that are used in industrial felting machines are used by the artist as a sculpting tool. Using a single needle or a small group of needles (2-5) in a hand-held tool, these needles are used to sculpt the wool fibre. The barbs catch the scales on the fibre and push them through the layers of wool, tangling them and binding them together, much like the wet felting process. Fine details can be achieved using this technique, and it is popular for 2D and 3D felted work.

The first thing I made was a little 3D tree:

Needle-Felted Tree

This was so much fun to make, even though it's kinda basic and doesn't even have any leaves - I've decided it's a winter tree so I don't have to stick tiny little leaves on ;)

I love the structural aspect of 3D needle-felting. You just hold a bit of fiber next to where you want to add and stab it in. And voila, your item gains a whole other dimension! It's like magic. All those little branches just appeared and made a 3d shape!

My next project for needle-felting is more of an "art" project. I'm taking each of the four classical elements - fire, earth, air and water (and possibly adding a fifth one of life energy) and making 2D representations of them, which will be added onto some kind of art picture thing, I'm not sure yet ;) I've made air and earth already:

Needle Felted Elements: Air

Needle Felted Elements: Earth

I really like how the leaf turned out :) The cloud again is kinda basic, but it's cute :)
Learning new crafts is fun :D
These turned out to be about the same size as my hand when held straight, both length and width-wise. Felting is ideal as something to do when I'm playing video games, which is good. I'm playing Pharoah just now, which is a city-building strategy game. You have to build huge pyramids and monuments, so it can take ages to complete a level, even though your city is totally built and self-sufficient, you still have to wait for your little guys to finish building. So needle-felting is good because you can just stab away for a while, then if you have to deal with anything going on in the game, you can just stop, and then go right back to where you were without having to think of dropped stitches or where you were in a pattern. It's just a perfect fit for that aspect of my life, which is awesome :D

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

My Tour De Fleece Spinning

My plan for the tour de fleece was simple, just to spin :) I didn't manage every day, but I got quite a bit done, and my spinning has definitely improved.

This is what I managed to get done:

What I Spun In The Tour De Fleece

and this is one of the chopsticks of single ply up close:

Orange Single-Ply Close Up

I bought a big bag of corriedale fiber from Twist Fibre Craft Studios. I bought 3 colours, because part of the thing that intrigues me about spinning is the ability to mix different colours, and create different effects. So what I've been doing with the three colours of orange that I have is just taking out a piece, spinning it onto the spindle, then taking a piece of another colour, and just joining it straight on. I've been choosing the size and colour of the pieces at random. Then, once I've spun up all the fibre (I probably have another chopstick's worth of fiber left, if not two!), I'll ply them into a 2-ply yarn. The colours should mix together totally randomly, I'm sure it'll be very interesting. But spinning gives me a way to experiment with colour in a way that I'm not too comfortable doing in knitting or crochet. I'm really enjoying the randomness :)

I've also spun some other singles:

Purple Handspun

Yellow Handspun

I'm going to ply these together to make a barber-pole effect yarn - which reminds me, I haven't posted my other attempt at this sort of yarn yet! Must take pics tomorrow and post about it!!

I've been doing quite a lot of knitting and crochet as well, which is the reason why I didn't finish the whole bag of orange corriedale fiber in the actual tour de fleece. Of course, I need to catch up on photo-taking for that too :/ I'm so bad at getting photos, I just tend to get really excited about the next project and jump right onto it!

Saturday, 17 July 2010

My First Handspun Yarn!!

Yes, I've finally gone over to the dark side (they had cookies, I couldn't help it!), and have finally learnt to spin!

I got a spindle way back in February, but I was a bit intimidated by it, and it just kind of sat at the top of my shelves for a few months. Then I saw that my local yarn shop, Twist Fibre Craft Studios, was running a drop spindle class last month. So I booked in before my courage ran out, and then excitedly waited for it to come along.

The class was great! There were four of us there and we got shown the basics of spinning, told a bit about the history and techniques, then given some fibre and encouraged to go right ahead and just do it.

It was much easier than I thought it would be! And so much more fun! Very addictive :D In the class I didn't really understand the whole mixing colour thing (my brain was obviously trying too hard to get the technique to think about things like colour!), so I stuck with one colour of fibre to make my first handspun:

My First Handspun - On The Spindle

My First Handspun - Drying On The Door Handles

My First Handspun - Plied

It was very "rustic" ie, lots of thick and thin bits, but once it was plied together and set, it evened out and I'm really pleased with it. It turned out to be a chunky/bulky weight yarn once plied and set. I've no idea how many yards it is though. It kind of seperated into three skeins because I had to judge halfway to ply it, and I didn't do too well at that judging. Also, my joining of bits of fibre wasn't great, so a couple of pieces kind of came apart when I was plying them. I'm much better at joining them now though. Practice makes perfect! This was done in the middle of June, so I've done a little more spinning since then, and am even taking part in the Tour De Fleece over on Ravelry. I haven't been active on the boards due to this grotty cold/infection that I've had, but I've been spinning nearly every day, and it's so much fun! Only trouble is, I thought I had a big enough problem with buying yarn, now I have to resist filling the house up with spindles and fibre too!

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

FO: IntSweMoDo#5 Tubey#3

Ug. I resolve to blog more often, and then what happens? I get a horrible cold that turns into some kind of nasty infection, and I haven't been near the computer for ages :( Typical! Anyway, I've decided I need to blog about my IntSweMoDo2010 progress, or I'm going to end up being hideously behind. I already am, I'm somewhere around my 7th or 8th sweater already, but I need photos and to blog about them before I consider them truly done.

Tubey #3

Pattern: Tubey by Cassie Rovitti

Yarn: Teddy Vanguard acrylic DK

Needles: 4.5mm (changed from recommended to account for different gauge)

Yet another Tubey! I love this pattern, it's so easy and fun to make, and I like the way it fits on me, and just generally how it looks. This one took a little longer to make, because I got a bit tired of the endless ribbing. Knitting 2 Tubeys one after the other meant that I got a bit burned out on the whole ribbing thing :) But the good thing about this pattern is that it's so easy to put down and then come back to later on.

Because of the different gauge that I got, I used the Medium size stitch count, but kept the 19" across the back of the smaller size. There was no problem with picking up stitches around the neckline, I just picked up the number of stitches for the Medium size, and it worked out just fine.

I think that's the last Tubey for now, but who knows? ;)

Friday, 2 July 2010

Happy July :)

Hiya! I've been away from here for so long... :( I've been a bit ill for the past month or so (depression/anxiety) and just haven't been able to get focused enough to write anything. My mood always goes down in the summer, I'm sure last year I had a bit of a blip in blog-writing too. I'm so weird, everyone else goes up in summer and down in winter, I'm the reverse. Now that the summer solstice has passed, I'm feeling quite a bit better, and hopefully I'll be able to catch up on this blog and on reading everyone else's blogs. I've really missed this place, but just wasn't feeling up to being on it. I'm glad I'm back :)

It's been a whole month and a half since I last posted here!! I've been continuing to knit and crochet during my hiatus, and I learned to spin as well, so I've got tons to talk about. I finished my poncho that I talked about in my last post, so many weeks ago.

Poncho, poncho, poncho, poncho!!!

I really like it, and I'm totally converted to ponchos now! I know, they're so five years ago, but that's how I am I guess. I can never like anything at the same time as anyone else ;) I have some lovely artesano alpaca in my stash in a beautiful jade colour to make another crocheted mesh poncho - I must get a photo of it, it's a gorgeous colour, I'm very excited about it.

I've also finished a couple of projects for my IntSweMoDo2010, a pullover and a cardi at least (it's been so hard to keep track without updating this blog!), but they'll get their own special posts :)

I also made the Etain shrug from Inside Crochet Magazine #7:

Etain shrug

Etain shrug

I loved this pattern as soon as I saw it in the magazine! I love the way it sort of has that diagonal line at the back. I made it out of a red wool that I had (and still have tons of!) in my stash, but I want to make more of them from softer, more lovely yarns. It was a good mindless crochet project, lots of back and forth, just what I needed at that time.

I've also had a serious case of startitis during this past month and a half, and have a ton of projects in various stages of completion that need photos and blogged. But now I'm feeling like it just might be doable, and am quite excited about getting it all done. Yay for getting the longest day over and done with, my life can get back to normal now!

So, to wrap up I'm super glad to be back, and I'll be popping round all the blogs I normally read, and catching up, both there and here. See you all soon!!