Sunday, January 30, 2011

Mmm, Spinning!

We had the most fabulous, beautiful, sunshiney Spring-like weekend ever. I have to tell you, I really tried my hardest to enjoy every second of it! All the rain and snow and cold weather that's been keeping me holed-up in my FREEEEEZING house was chased away by the sunshine on Saturday. I dragged my spinning wheel out onto the back porch and sat in the glorious sun and spun all my cares away!

Look at me in my short sleeves OUTSIDE!

So since I rarely do any spinning (too many other things need my attention on a regular basis), I haven't felt comfortable enough to bust into my "good" fiber stash. Unfortunately, fiber waits for no woman and I was becoming more worried that my unprocessed (dirty) fleece was going to disintegrate long before I had a chance to mess it up.

I got this fleece from Three Creeks Farm out in Charlotte. For those of you with kids and fiber addictions, there is NO BETTER PLACE to take your kids -and- stock up on fibery goodness! She has a literal petting zoo of animals. Sheep and goats and ponies and a lovely garden full of flowers. She sells fleeces in every stage of processing, plus rovings both dyed and natural and spinning wheels and WHEW I'm running out of steam. Lets just say, the place is a little piece of Heaven.

I believe this fleece cost me a whopping $10. It's not a processed fleece, it's pretty much straight off his little warm sheepy back. The fella this came off was named Duncan, and it was his first (baby) shearing so it's his utmost softest fleece EVER. I saw him in the pasture and attempted to kiss his sweet sheepy snout but he was having none of that. I did have the opportunity though! I think that's the important thing anyway.

I soaked it in small batches in my kitchen sink, but no soap because I wanted more of a lanolin-ey spinning experience with it. It soaked and rinsed and I plan on washing the finished skein(s) of yarn when they're wound up and dying them whatever color(s) are appropriate once a finished piece is chosen. The water was very muddy! Fortunately, the soak water only smelled like mud, no strange sheep poo odors and the fleece has never smelled of anything but sunshine and faintly sheepy - it's a warm good happy smell!

I set the few rinsed bundles on my deck chairs to dry in the beautiful sun, only took a few hours since there was a lovely breeze.

This is the first little bit of carded fleece, spun up into oatmeal colored yarn. I'm wasting a good deal of it while carding, but it's my first fleece, my hands feel AMAZING, and the bits I'm not using are going outside for the wild birds to hopefully use in their nest building projects this Spring. Can you imagine the happy warm little chicks?

For the record, I always put pet and people hair clippings outside for my wild birds. I haven't seen evidence of much being used, but it's out there if they want it. I figure at best they'll use a little and at worst it decomposes in my salad patch where I strew it around for them.

Above, is another of my spinning endeavors this weekend. It's a beautiful pre-painted roving my DH bought from Haus of (HellBitches) Yarn a couple of years ago when he got me a beginning spindlers kit. He picked two painted rovings, one in pinks & blues and the other in yellows / blues. I saved this one because I wanted it to be usable (the other one really wasn't). I don't know how much closer I'm getting to making a really nice & consistent yarn but what I'm spinning up these days does knit up pretty and sturdy so I'm on the right track now.

Really, the first yarn I ever spun up on this wheel, I've made into a part of a mitten and it feels just wonderful. The thick & thin-ness of the yarn really looks spectacular knitted-up. Maybe I'll go dig it out and finish it since I've got some more of the same yarn skeined up after my spin-a-thon!

Monday, January 17, 2011

A Creative Weekend

We got to see Bonny's latest artistic creation this Sunday at Knitting. Y'all might not know that she's a painter! I love when she gets into her creative painting moods, and this happens to be one of my favorite things that she's ever painted. It's her version of Starry Night, but I think I like her creation much better than the original - it's so bright and happy!

Unfortunately, I was unable to talk her out of it. (I REALLY tried!) I don't blame her, if I'd painted that, I would want it on my own wall at home too. So in lieu of getting hers I went out and got a couple of canvases from Hobby Lobby and Keegan and I went home and made our own art.

His is the Transformer, which he free-handed completely himself. Mine isn't finished yet but I am trying to get some of the swirly air current clouds that I love so much in Bonny's. Maybe I'll get a chance to do some more work on it this week around my work schedule.

If you've never painted before, might I suggest that you give it a try? Hobby Lobby is running a GREAT sale this week, but their low prices make this an affordable thing to try any time. This week, their canvases and paints are 30% off and I think Bonny said their brushes were 50% off. I had brushes already, a nice set I got at Michael's years ago. I did purchase two 2-packs of canvases that were priced at 5.99 before discount. Bonny got two larger canvases (also a two-pack) for 7.99 before discount. The paint set you see in front of Keegan cost $14.99 before discount too. It's acrylics, which I really love because they are water soluble and will act like both oils and watercolors. So you can have dreamy colorwashes or you can build up texture. They dry fast and don't require any special oils or chemicals as the brushes just wash off in water.

You can see from our fancy setup that we don't need any specialized equipment or training to have a good time painting together. Go grab your kids & get to Hobby Lobby while this great sale is going on! I spent around $20 for the paints and four canvases and we had a whole afternoon of fun and creativity right on the kitchen counter. Not to mention, I get more original art for my walls!