Sunday, May 28, 2017

Studio 49 Retreat 2017 Challenge part 2

See this post for the beginning of this story.

I have finished spinning my yarn for the Studio 49 Retreat 2017 challenge. Yay! I scaled down my vasty many oz. project idea from last year. I decided that finishing it without undue stress and last minute spinning/knitting was going to be better for my health and for my family.

So the new project idea is to spin just the original 2oz. of creamy white Polwarth and 2oz. of lovely natural grey BFL (BlueFaced Leicester) I have in my stash. I will finish two separate yarns and knit a 2-color Mosaic Sampler Hat. A new technique and a small doable project! Sort of unusual for me. But smart this time around.

My singles.

I wanted a 2 ply yarn so I needed to divide the singles into two sections to ply. I didn't want to ply from a single ball for some mysterious reason. Here is my set up. I weighed an empty bobbin then weighed the full bobbin and did some calculations to figure out what my end half bobbin should weigh so I had two close to even singles ready to ply.

The red box is my homemade shoe-box lazy kate with tension device. I made her when I first started spinning in 2003 and she is still my go-to kate. Almost there with the divided singles.

Two pairs of singles!

Plying set up.

I used my 1970's Ashford Traditional spinning wheel with the jumbo bobbin set up to ply both yarns into big skeins. I added a couple extra treadle pushes to get the tighter twist I wanted.

My two finished skeins and a close up of the lovely yarn. The grey BFL is a wee bit thicker than the Polwarth.

The yarns wet finished nicely. Both are soft and squishy. The Polwarth in particular is stretchy and the creamy white just glows. It's going to be fun to knit the hat. But first...must knit a swatch!

Monday, May 8, 2017

School Play

I did theatre as a kid and as an adult. Both amature stuff and professional. I did lighting, set, and costume design. I acted for a long time too. I settled on costume design as a profession. I worked for a good 15 years in entertainment.

Then I got a straight job at a bank. Then I had a baby. Life changed.

But now my son is in elementary school. And it has a theatre club in its second year. Last year they put on a production of The Lion King. Lots of kids, lots of costumes. I worked on some of them.

This year the club is doing Beauty and the Beast. More kids than last year, more costumes too.

In neither production was my son involved in.

But I was. Of course. Why? Because I have sewing skills.

I haven't been backstage in more than a decade. This year I've been present for the last few rehearsals and bits of sewing. I even went backstage for the first time. I saw parents gathered to paint the set pieces as I was sewing in the multi-purpose room. There is a tremendous amount of energy and wonderful collaboration that happens when folks put on a theatrical show.

There were two separate casts for this production. These are my two Belle dresses.

Apron was finished the next day.

This is the Carpet with my son modeling for me.

This is the Teapot and Teacup I put piping on.

Cast member wearing the teapot.

This is me tea dyeing Belle's white aprons in the teachers bathroom at school. I brought a thermos of hot black tea, a bowl and a towel.

Rinsing above aprons in the bathroom sink.

Sewing in the dark during final dress rehearsal. This is so typical of almost every production I ever worked on.

While it is time consuming and sometime frantic, I was reminded of all the happy times I've had in the theatre. And I received the sweetest thank you card ever...

Monday, April 3, 2017

Thread Art

After more than 40 years of sewing both personally and professionally...I still make thread art sometimes...

Friday, March 24, 2017

Roarin' 20's

My son's public elementary school's Mandarin Immersion Program has an annual fundraising gala. The theme this year was the Roaring 20's. Such a fun and accessible idea for everyone. We had a "Bootlegger's Pull", special themed drinks and lots of sparkly hair ornaments.

Mostly I want to show you my outfit for the evening. While I was excited about the gala as a fundraiser, I have to admit to being more excited about having an event to dress up in clothes from one of my favorite time periods.

Way back in college, I made this dress for opening night of a production of Cabaret. It still fit albeit a little tighter around the hips (I blame my son Ian for that). I had to make a small alteration on the lower fringe which I covered up with a floral applique. You can see it on the lower left side.

I borrowed a long strand of pearls and long black gloves. I had my own vintage and costume jewelry for the earrings, necklace and bracelets.

I had new pumps from last year that I never wore. I added black ribbon bows at the ankle for a more period look. Someone described them as "naughty".

Amazingly, while randomly out shopping for nothing, I found this cut velvet cocoon jacket on the sale rack at Anthropologie. Couldn't be more perfect.

I purchased this peacock feather fascinator for my hair from etsy shop, Axentz. I put it on a glittery elastic headband and added a rhinestone clip earring on the other side.

With advice from a hairdresser friend and Pintrist, I was able to cobble together some semblance of a flapper-esque hair-do.

And wallah....a roaring 20's version of myself...

Me with some of my beautiful friends.

It was a grand evening!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Knitting Needle Storage

Recently, my knitting needle storage went from this...

To this...

Each size has it's own bag. I sorted all the various straights, circulars and double points by size. The bags are contained on two giant separating rings. The two bundles do take up a little more space. BUT, I can actually see what I have now and easily search for what I need. I discovered that I had more of each size than I thought I had. Many never used. Not all of them very useful based on the type of projects I like to make. Then again now that I can find the right needles I might use them more.

I have to thank my friend Wendy for the idea.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Weaving Software Workshop

Yesterday I had the opportunity to take a one-day workshop with Robyn Spady on how to use weaving software. The software of choice this time was PCW Fiberworks.

Here is the cover of her workshop booklet. 

Robyn included both PC and Mac tutorials for us to follow. She had one of each platform set up and would switch back and forth on the monitor teaching the features and differences offered by both platforms.

My brain is a bit overwhelmed with the possibilities presented by using software to design weaving drafts. As much weaving as I've done I realize that I'm not sure I've done enough yet to fully understand all the weaving terms that would make using the software more efficient and fun. I am clear however that I REALLY need to take a paper drafting class. AND weave lots more!

The class was sponsored by the Studio 66 Workshop, of which I am one of the organizers. Robyn taught a 3-day weaving workshop on lace for us in February of 2016.

Closeup of my Bronson Lace.

My finished lace sampler.

Robyn is a wonderful teacher. It was great to have her back again. I highly recommend her workshops.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Tony's Socks

I tried to darn my husbands old store-bought house socks. Disaster! First, repair yarn was too thick and really, the socks had just too many holes. They are after all 20+ years old.

Then I saw the Bulky Sleep Sock pattern from a class at Yarn del Sol. Loved the simplicity. So I bought yarn, Plymouth Yarn Encore Chunky, and started this week on my very first pair of socks.

Tony's socks are grey with brown toes, heels and cuffs.

My first short rows and provisional cast on. Neither was as difficult as I thought it would be. Although...

My provisional cast on using a crocheted chain gave me a little trouble. As you can see in the center of the photo below, I split the gray yarn of the crochet chain when I picked up the new stitch in brown yarn. It meant that when I finished the short row toe section I could not unchain the provisional cast-on easily to pick up the live stitches. I had to cut the yarn at each split stitch. There was more than one split.

I worked both socks concurrently on different needles. One sock with magic loop and the other with 2 circulars holding stitches and a third circular for the knitting.

I only had the right size needles in circulars of varying lengths. It is a little spidery but it's working out.

A whole toe! And if you look carefully some of the picked up stitches from the provisional cast-on chain are twisted (right side of brown toe at the color change). I guess I picked up the wrong leg of the live stitches. I didn't see it until I'd knit several more rows. I was able to place them on the bottom of the foot. None the wiser!

A heel! Identical to how the toe was made.

A whole foot!

Two feet. And I ended up buying a second set of needles with a long cable to do magic loop. The spidery multi-needle mess got to be unwieldy.

Finished. A very thick and warm pair of house socks for my best guy.
 Happy feet!