Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Crafty Bastards fall '08

I did it! Whew, it feels so good to have all that stress and crazy craftin' over with. I managed to spin more yarn than I brought last time, and I think I improved my booth. I sold more too ;) I brought home about 4 skeins, 4 batts, and a few knits. I didn't get as many pictures as I hoped, since I was so busy at the fair...I really wanted to take picture of my corespun kid mohair yarns, but I didn't manage to get any and they all sold. I hung up a sort of "yarn curtain" of corespun skeins along one side of my booth, which I thought showed the yarns off nicely - plus it attracted more people, since they stopped to pet the enticingly fuzzy yarns. Here are the few pictures I managed to snap of my wares:

crafty bastards fall 08

crafty bastards fall 08

crafty bastards fall 08

crafty bastards fall 08

I also had pick-your-own felty baubles again, and I have a lot left over, which makes me happy! So I'll probably be spinning up some bauble-y yarns in the near future.

Some of the yarns that didn't sell surprised me, cause I thought they were good ones! I just finished listing them in my etsy shop, so you can see more pics there. It feels good to have more than one thing listed on etsy again!


I also came home with a few other goodies - handdyed falkland wool sock yarn from Woolarina for teaching Lucius how to knit socks, and about 6 bars of soap. I picked out the sock yarn, Lucius is the one who went crazy with the soap. It's all really nice stuff, from Oliba and Biggs & Featherbelle. The only thing I'm sad about is that I missed checking out the awesome wooly hats at Rocks & Salt. I really wanted to get myself a hat from them, but the one time I managed to get away from my booth for a moment, their booth was completely full and I didn't have time to wait.

I'm back to spinning for etsy now, so I should be updating regularly again! Hurray! Did you miss me? I missed you.

EDIT: I can't believe I almost forgot! There was a huge B-boy battle at Crafty Bastards, right by my booth. Lucius sat and watched it for 2 hours! The guy in the rainbow shirt in the link above was his favorite.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Crafty Bastards preview

Ack! CB is two days away! I'm almost at my "WHATEVER" stage of craft show preparations, where I throw my hands up in the air, polish off what I have finished, and stop my panicked crafting. Almost.

I've got self-striping yarns, patchwork yarns, vegan yarns, and novelty yarns. And even a few knits! I spun up a bunch of deliciously luxurious corespun yarns (pictures cannot even begin to convey their fuzzy-soft allure), including three from the batts in one of my previous posts:

corespun yarns

Remember those purple kid mohair locks? Ohhh, so soft and gorgeous. I want to keep all these yarns and cuddle with them like teddy bears. They're super super bulky, about 70-90 yds per 4 or 5 oz, so these will knit up into awesome instant gratification scarves! And each skein should be enough for a scarf - you can probably use like size 30 needles, cuz not only are they really really bulky but they should develop a nice fuzzy halo with wear.

dark crystal handspun

A bunch of the corespun yarns were spun from local mohair, fresh off the goat. I made a trip out to a small local goat farm two weekends ago and picked up 5lbs of soft goatie curls that were fresh off the goats. I washed, dyed, fluffed, carded, and spun them, and I'm hoping they sell well so I can make another trip out to see the goats!

mohair locks

I've been chucking all my finished yarns into a big plastic bin as they dry. Here's what I've got as of this morning:

crafty bastards yarns

Although I still have a bunch more that are either drying or waiting to be set. Whew. I have been crafting my butt off the past few weeks! Including making my own handmade wool felt and cutting it up into soft organic leafies to be spun into yarns:

new leafies

I'm excited that I finally tried making flat sheets of felt, because it didn't take as much time or effort as I thought - so now I can make lots of fun felty embellishments for my yarns! I have some really thick felt leaves that are too heavy to be spun into yarns, so I may have some felt leaf pendants for sale at the show.

I'm excited for this sunday! Makes sure to come say hi if you're in the area - it might be rainy, so bring an umbrella. I'll be in booth #26.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Vegan Yarn Club - the making of

I thought my vegan yarn club peeps might like to see a bit of the "behind-the-scenes" of me making their yarns, so last month I took pictures of the yarns in-progress. I think it's safe to post them now, since everyone received their yarns. I chose a theme of bright, multicolored gypsy-inspired yarns for August's yarn club, and this was the first month that everyone's yarns all came from the same dyelot (before this, I dyed up custom colorways for each person). I started out by sitting down and making up a list of 14 different colors that I wanted to include, and then I dyed up a storm...this is about 2.5 lbs of organic cotton, plus another 8oz or so of loose bamboo:

august vegan yarn club

august vegan yarn club

(you can click on any of the pictures in this post to see a larger, more detailed version on flickr)

I separated the fiber out into piles for each individual yarn. I spun two different types of yarns, according to each person's preference - organic cotton patchwork 2-ply and organic cotton/bamboo chunky thick-and-thin thread-plied novelty yarn. So for the patchwork yarns, I had to prep the organic cotton roving into a more easily spinnable form, and for the thread-plied yarns I carded up batts of organic cotton and bamboo. Organic cotton takes forever to prep or card, so this was the most tedious part of making the yarns.

august vegan yarn club

Once all the prepping was done with, I starting spinning! And spinning, and spinning... Each skein was a hefty 5-6oz, so for the patchwork yarns that meant spinning 400 yds of singles (and then plying them together for a total of 600 yds of spinning, but only 200 yds of finished yarn). The thread-plied yarns spun up faster, since I only had to spin one ply and they were pretty chunky. My regular bobbins were packed full of fiber. This was the second most tiring part - and I got pretty sick of spinning the same colors over and over.

august vegan yarn club

Luckily, I have a short memory, and so by the time it came to ply the yarns I was back to liking the way the colors were turning out. I'm especially proud of the dark teal color, which was a new invention for me! I mix all my own colors, so every once in a while I discover a "new" one. It's impossible to see the teal in the yarn pictures (I think the color is a bit off, since I took them late in the day), but if you look at the first picture of the organic cotton fiber you can see it tangled in with the pinks.

august vegan yarn club

Once the yarns were plied, next came the boiling. Yes, boiling. It's my preferred method for setting the twist on my cotton yarns. I put a big pot of water on to boil, and when it's hot enough I plunk the skeins in, turn the heat down to a simmer, and leave it for a few minutes. I like watching the yarns plump up and relax into their new shape while they bathe. I didn't take pictures of this part since I usually do it late at night. After their hot bath, the skeins get hung up to dry, which can take quite a while for cotton, depending on the weather. If it's sunny, I stick the skeins in a window where they will be completely dry in 1-2 days, but if it's damp, cold, or rainy, they can take several days to dry all the way.

When the skeins are dry, I weigh them and write out the labels and make them look pretty before packing them up. Here are a few of the finished skeins from August:

august vegan yarn club

Some of the lovely patchwork skeins.

august vegan yarn club

One of the thread-plied yarns - this one was plied with a nylon novelty thread that was black with bits of red, yellow, and blue popping out. Most of the other thread-plied skeins were plied with metallic threads.

I'm working on September's yarns right now, in the midst of my craft show spinning - this is the last month of my vegan yarn club! It's been fun, but I'm also relieved that it's over. I will probably do another club in the future, but when I have more time & less craft shows!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Carding day

I'm so super busy with fiber right now. A new 22lb bale of organic wool just arrived, and so I've been dyeing that up into new patchwork & self-striping yarns. I just finished up all the vegan yarn club yarns and custom orders I've been backlogged on, and now I'm spinning away for the fall Crafty Bastards show. Today I prepared for a corespinning marathon - I carded up a bunch of super airy, lofty, mohair-y batts:

mohair batts

That I'm planning on spinning up into a bunch of lovely corespun yarns like this one:

seafoam handspun

I love mohair, but it usually spins up too rough if I just spin it into a single or 2-ply yarn, and it doesn't really agree with thread-plying (unless you want a crazy slippery loopy yarn). Corespinning is perfect - you get a super soft yarn with a gorgeous halo. I've been carding shiny bamboo, soysilk, tencel nepps, and sparkle into the batts for textural interest.

Most of the mohair I'm working with is kid mohair locks (heaven!!) that I bought from a small farm. I'm using up the last of them now, so I need to order more! This is some naturally colored pale grey kid mohair that I overdyed in shades of purple, a color I don't work with often. The natural grey looks really good overdyed! I carded it up along with some bamboo & sparkle. I just watched the movie "The Dark Crystal" the other night, so this yarn is sorta inspired by that.

mohair locks

I give the locks a good floofing before running them through the carder - this ensures that they'll open up enough to corespin well, but still preserves some of the texture & curl. I alternate layers of locks with bamboo and sparkle and nepps.

mohair fluff

The batt starting to build up on the drum - yum!

drum carding

Back to work now!