Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Spindle storage!

Any crafter will go through this at some point or the other.. Yes. That's right. Storage issues! I think almost every crafter is a hoarder in disguise. Not true?? Then, I guess at least, I am a hoarder moonlighting as a crafter. ;-) Living in a 3-bedroom apartment with floor-to-ceiling shelves has its own advantages. I can, for the most part contain my crafty paraphernalia to one room and its shelves. But, I'm always looking for storage solutions that look nice. I collect cute looking boxes and tins in a hope that they'll come in handy some day... So, I had this whiskey tin that I filched form my Dad to hold all my straight knitting needles. When I came across it in my craft room, I had different ideas for it.

I'd been looking for a way to store my drop spindles without getting the shaft warped. That means, hanging the spindles by their hook from somewhere. but, where?! When I saw this tin, I had a light bulb moment.. What if I let the spindle hang inside the tin from its lid?! how about if I put a loop in the lid for the spindle to hang from?! good idea? Absolutely! so, that's what I did. Ta da!!

I punched a hole on the tin's lid and put in a loop with a jewelry finding so that the spindle can hang from the loop. There is foam lining the insides of the tin and it can store great amounts of fluff to give the spindle a safe padding. Here is a closer look at the loop..

Smart, isn't it?! Now, all I need is a few more whiskey tins to store all my spindles. Anyone willing to donate a few whiskey tins for a valid cause?! I guess, I need to find friends who drink and make them drink whiskey that comes in tins! Too bad that we don’t drink. ;-)

 If you are drooling over the spindle in the photos, its a Spinzone spindle which spins like a dream. It feels so right in my hands.. great finish and perfect balance. I didn't like the triangular hook that came with the spindle. So, I tweaked it a bit and now, its perfect for me. I'm spinning my Polwarth fiber on it now.

I have another Spinzone spindle on which I did some spindle surgery. ;-) I removed the hook on the top-whorl entirely and I am using it as a bottom whorl and it spins just as lovely as this one. I'm spinning some Merino fiber on it and I can't seem to put it down. The fiber is from WC Mercantile and it drafts like buttah!

As you can see, I've removed the hook from the spindle. I'm also seeing that I like spinning with the bottom whorl as much as I like a top-whorl spindle.. Here is a picture of the spindle in its entirety. The finish is lovely and the spindle feels heavenly in my hands.

Here is a close-up of the whorl.. I love the wood grain on it... see, the hook is missing.

I think I opened a can of worms when I bought the spindle starter kit 2 months back. I have a total of 8 drop spindles and one Russian support spindle on its way to me, as we speak. :D Remember, I'm a crafter hoarder! I guess I'll join a 12-step program for spindlers now. ;-) So, what's your latest crafty addiction? yarn? fiber? fabric? We can never have enough, can we?!

P.S: Thank you so much for all the bag love for my previous post. My new bag feels very loved and the owner is very proud of it. :-)


This post is linked to WIP Wednesday hosted by Tami's Amis.

Friday, October 21, 2011

I'm ready to paint the town red!

...with my shiny new bag! The bag that I showed in progress in my last post is done and I am thrilled with how it turned out. I bought the wooden bag handles on a whim and never gave them a second thought after that. So, when I finally wanted to use them, I was stumped by the shape of the handles. I've seen many bags in stores with such handles..but, never paid much attention to them.. so, I couldn't recollect them to reverse engineer their shapes. Finally, my google-fu brought this cute bag up from Flickr and I liked the look of it.

So, here is my interpretation of a simple rectangular bag with oval wooden bag handles. I didn't stick to any strict measurements. I made the bag roughly about 12 inches tall and 13 inches wide. The outer fabric is printed linen quilted onto plain flannel with diagonal lines. Pssshh! Don't look so closely. The lines aren't straight! ;-) I love how the handles go with the outer fabric.

I love the cheerful print and I was lucky I had all the items in my stash. The lining fabric is a simple cotton print and I had matching zippers too. As usual, I put in 2 zippered inner pockets using this tutorial from U-Handblog. I added magnetic clasps on a tag for the bag closure. Here is the close-up of the inner pocket and the magnetic snaps.

I am glad the body of the bag came out proportional to the handles. Its very handy and holds all my usual stuff without being bulky. The inner pockets are an added bonus. This is now my most favorite bag in my collection. Here I am , ready to paint the town red, with my shiny new bag!

I didn't think the bag will turn out so, I am tickled pink with it and, it only took me about 3 hrs to make it.. of course, with a zillion interruptions from my son. So, what did you make recently that you were very thrilled about? Care to share the excitement with me?


This post is linked to FO Friday hosted by Tami's Amis and Creative Friday hosted by Natural Suburbia.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

WIP roundup!

Its Wednesday and time for the weekly WIP roundup. I have a few active WIPs that I am excited about. After a brief hiatus from sewing, I am back at my sewing machine to make bags. I got these wooden bag handles from a supplier a few months back but, never bothered with them till date. I got my spindle spinning kit around the same time I got these handles and the handles were easily forgotten. After 2 months of exclusively spinning, I was itching to make bags. I raided my fabric stash yesterday and re-discovered some printed linen that I got while I was in Hyderabad. So, the fabric and the handles are on their way to make a new bag.

I have put in 2 inner pockets with zipper closures and plan to put in a magnetic snap for the bag closure.I like my bags to have secure closures. I was lucky I had zippers that match the lining fabric. The lining is a simple cotton print I had that complimented the outer fabric.

I designed the bag on the go. I got the idea for the shape from this cute bag I saw on Flickr. I drew the pattern on a newspaper and used the newspaper template to cut the fabric. I love the outer fabric. It is so cheerful. The only thing pending now are the handles. Here is the body of the bag waiting for the handles.

Moving on to the spinning front.. I got some Polwarth fiber from Woolgatherings recently and I am spinning it on my Spinzone spindle. The spindle is a beauty and spins nicely with perfect balance. It came with a triangular hook and I wasn't comfortable spinning with it. So, I tweaked the hook and now, its perfect for me. Here is the spindle with the fiber on it.

Polwarth is lovely to spin and I am trying fractal spinning with this braid. Fractal spinning is one where the entire braid is separated lengthwise into thinner locks and spun from. When plied, this results in preserving color changes to a certain extent and the color changes blend in otherwise. Lets see how this goes. Here is the braid of fiber before I started spinning from it.

Moving on to some knitting.. here is the progress on the scarf I started with my handspun Shrek-in-the-swamp yarn. I started the lengthwise linen stitch scarf that is available in many versions online. I love seeing the color changes in the scarf and its my travel knitting projects as its mindless and easy. I'm about 30% done with the scarf.

The pink yarn around the edges is the provisional cast on. I'll unravel it and bind off the edge using the same bind-off used for the other edge. I haven't decided on the bind-off yet. Here is a close-up of the scarf.

Phew! That was a LONG post, wasn't it?! That is what happens when you have too many things going on at the same time. So, tell me what are you busy with now? knitting? crochet? spinning? sewing? Share with me and make me feel better about the zillion WIPs lounging in my home.


This post is linked to WIP Wednesday hosted by Tami's Amis.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Shrek in the swamp - Done!

If you've been following my blog o'er the past few weeks, you would've seen umpteen updates about Shrek in the swamp.. The yarn is finally done and I am happy with it. I got about 360 yards of fingering to dk-weight yarn. So, the fluff went from this..

to this..

I switched spindles in between the spinning..which turned out to be a rookie mistake. The consistency of the singles changed resulting in the variation from dk-weight to fingering weight. I Navajo-plied the singles to preserve the color changes in them..

I love this technique of plying so it uses up all the singles without any remnants and the color changes are preserved. I did write a photo tutorial on how to Navajo-plying on a drop spindle. Do check it out if you plan to try this technique of plying on a spindle. Here is 2 ounces of the yarn N-plied on my 3G Woodworks spindle before the twist was set.

Here is the yarn on my 1-yard niddy-noddy. I love winding yarn on the niddy-noddy.. Its almost a form of meditation..

I've started a scarf with this yarn..but, I'll tell more about it in another post. Hope you all had a lovely week and hope your weekend is a fun one.


This post is linked to FO Friday hosted by Tami's Amis and Creative Friday hosted by Natural Suburbia.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Navajo plying on a spindle - Tutorial

Here is the promised photo tutorial of Navajo-plying or chain-plying on a drop spindle. Its very easy to learn this technique and you can make a 3-ply yarn without the hassle of making a 3-ply plying ball or wrangling yarn from 3 separate plying balls. All you need is one single stranded plying ball , a spindle and a few inches of leader yarn. This is a photo tutorial and I have tried to capture the steps involved. If any step is unclear, please feel free to let me know.. I'll try to get better pics of it.

Disclaimer: There is no spinning police and there is no single way to skin a cat. This is how I do it and I do not take credit for the method. I learnt it from various youtube videos and from the stellar book, Respect the spindle by Abby Franquemont.

Navajo-plying or Chain-plying on a drop spindle - A Photo tutorial

 A plying ball is easier to manage and keeps your singles under tension, avoiding tangles and unnecessary swearing! For this tutorial, I used a 2-ply lace weight yarn as I didn't have spun singles lying idle. I keep the plying ball in my left hand for easier control. This method is easier to visualize/understand if you already know how to make a foundation chain in crochet.

Attach the leader yarn to your spindle and thread your single from the plying ball through the loop in the leader yarn.

Make a simple loop of the single by tying a knot in it. Make this loop big enough for your fingers to enter.


 Now, put your fingers through the loop in the single and pull some more single to make a new loop.. just like making loops in a foundation chain in crochet.

Now, reach through this new loop and pull some more single to make another loop. Keep doing this till you have about an arm's length or a length that you can manage to spin on the spindle.

Once you have the length you can manage, move the live loop on to the index finger of your left hand (the hand that holds the plying ball).  You have made a length of 3-ply yarn but without any twist in it, out of a single-ply plying ball.

Pinch the junction where the 3 strands end and only the live loop is left. I have circled the junction in the pic below.

I pinch this place together with the plying ball like this.

Now, give the spindle a spin in the plying direction which will be the one opposite to the direction in which the singles were spun. Once the entire length is plied, wind the plied yarn onto the shaft leaving a few inches free. Make a half-hitch or use the spindle's hook and free the pinched live loop. Move this loop onto your right hand and make some more chained loops and continue the process as described above.

Ta da! you are making Navajo-plied yarn! And, you thought this was rocket science?! ;-) I find it easier to sit or stand and park the spindle between my knees and then make the chained loops. It gives a bit of tension when you make the loops which avoid tangles and kinks in the singles.

 One other way to make this even more easier is to make a plying ball entirely of chained singles. So, just grab one end of the single cop that comes off the spindle, make a loop by tying a simple knot and chain big loops with your fingers. Wind this chained singled into another plying ball and then ply this plying ball in the plying direction just like any other plying ball. Did I make any sense at all?!  I prefer to ply as I chain the singles as it becomes one single process rather than make another plying ball and then ply it.

I hope my text and pictures made sense and helped you in some way to master this plying technique. Let me know if it helped or not. I'll be glad to hear from you.


Friday, October 7, 2011

First attempt at Navajo plying on a spindle

I'd heard so much about this technique that I was intimidated by it and almost didn't want to try it. Navajo plying on a drop spindle! Well, I tried it and its very easy. Its so easy that I can do it on auto-pilot mode now. I referred to a few videos and read about it on Abby Franquemont's book, Respect the spindle. I recommend this book to anyone wanting to learn to spin on the spindle. Its very comprehensive and lucid which makes it  a wonderful reference book for beginner and experience spindlers alike. And, it has photos of gorgeous spindles to fuel your spindle addiction.

 Remember the half ounce BFL samples in pink and blue that I got with my spindle purchase from Babknits @ Etsy. I decided to try my hand at Navajo plying or chain plying on a drop spindle with those samples. I love the small amounts of fiber samples that come with spindle purchases. They let you try new techniques on a small scale just like the quilted mug rugs.

So, I spun the singles on the blue wooden spindle and plied it on the same.. The best thing about Navajo plying is the less amount of yarn wrangling needed for plying. Make a simple plying ball or wind off the spindle directly to Navajo-ply the yarn. This technique is easier if you know how to make a foundation chain in crochet. I am planning on a photo tutorial for this technique.. I hope to get it done over the weekend. :-) So, do you want to see what this fiber became after the spinning and plying? Here it is..

I got about 65 yards of fingering weight yarn in each skein. I love the way the colors have shown up in the plied yarn. Navajo-plying preserves the color progression in the dyed fiber, which I love so much. I am planning to make a double knitting sample out of the two skeins.

But, these days.. I am more interested in making yarn than knitting anything out of it. ;-) I am thrilled with how my first attempt at Navajo plying on the spindle turned out. I've started N-plying my Shrek in the Swamp singles too and I'm liking the way its turning out. But, that's a post for another day.


This post is linked to FO Friday hosted by Tami's Amis and Creative Friday hosted by Natural Suburbia.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Spindle acquisition!

I am almost done with 4 ounces of my Shrek in the swamp BFL fiber... I can't wait to finish spinning it so that I can start plying it. I've conquered the Navajo-plying technique and will use it to ply this one as well.. Here is what is remaining to be spun..

Do you recognize the WIP's living quarters? Its my up-cycled shoe-box that I use as a WIP box and it matches this spinning project. :D The spindle is my most recent acquisition from 3GWOODWORKS. Its a 0.77oz Lacewood whorl-Walnut shaft spindle and it spins like a dream..

I bought 2 spindles from them and I've only used this one. The other one was bought on a whim and I'm not sure if I'll ever use it.. I must have been out of my mind when I ordered it as its so tiny.. Here is a pic of the tiny spindle with my cellphone for comparison.

and. the gorgeous lace wood/walnut spindle..

I dropped this one hard on the floor while spinning and kinda loosened the hook. I had to do a minor surgery on it to repair it.. Its alright now..but, the incident has made me scared of dropping the spindles frequently. Also, I think I need to stop buying spindles and buy more fiber instead. After all, what use are these spindles if there is no fiber to use them on?! Any one else go on irrational buying sprees for your hobbies, like me?!!


This post is linked to WIP Wednesday hosted by Tami's Amis.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Alvin turns 4 today!

The li'l imp in my home turns 4 today! And, I'm still in denial that its been 4 years since I went screaming into the labor room. ;-) My brother and in-laws are visiting us and my SIL is joining us for a lunch-do. There's gonna be yummy food and of course, cake! I still can't believe that 4yrs have gone by.. It feels just like yesterday that I was given the li'l bundle into my hands! Happy birthday, Alvin! We love you!

The sleepy pic was taken on his 8th day in this planet and the other one was taken today. :-)

Thank you so much for the comments on my first lace weight skein of yarn. I am a bit behind on responding to the comments on my previous post..I'm sorry about that.. I've been busy with planning this day for Alvin...I got to go now.. so, you have a nice day, my dear friends!

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