I Heart My Minion Onesie

Mom always got us pyjamas for Christmas. That is one of many traditions I have kept alive. This past Christmas, I bought myself a Minion onesie. It even has a hood!

Today is one of those days where I’m grateful that I got it. It’s dark, dreary and damp. Pretty sure I’ve caught the bug my Sweet Pea was fighting off. I’ve changed into my onesie and I’m curled up in a blanket. There is so much I should be doing. I had to take a day for myself though. If I don’t, my body will take control and MAKE me take the time off. So I give.

I decided over the weekend that I was going to at least start a sweater for a crochet-along hosted by A Crocheted Simplicity. Whether I finish it or not will remain to be seen. I’m off to a good start though. It’s a cool sweater.

Since I’m feeling like crap, I won’t take the energy to post all the links I could. I will post a link to my project page though. That has all the links. It also has a pic of my gauge swatch and the yarn I’ll be using.

Here is the start of my back panel:

keepmeinstitchez.wordpress.com - Crossover Pullover - back panel

Crossover Pullover – back panel

Just in case I don’t have the time to update my progress here on the blog, you can follow along on my Ravelry project page.

Elmo

I had a loyal customer contact me about an Elmo hat a couple of months ago. I was reluctant at the time because of how busy I was. I did explain that too her. I figured I could squeeze it in though. I had no idea what life had in store for me. I did see it through though and finally finished it on Friday.

keepmeinstitchez.wordpress.com - Elmo Hat

Elmo Hat

He is actually a combination of three patterns. The original pattern was for a baby. So I had to make a bigger hat base. I wasn’t fond of the nose, so I worked it from another pattern. If you’re curious about my project notes, you can find them here.

Twist and Grist with 5 Wool Types

DISCLAIMER: Remember, I’m still a student here. I’m still learning. So what I’ve written about my findings regarding my assignments MAY be incorrect. It is how it’s worked for ME at the time, based on notes I’ve taken throughout the course. If you’re reading this for your own assignments/personal growth etc., I encourage you to read other sources as well just to confirm because there may be a chance that I’m not understanding things correctly. There is no way that this is the be all and end all of spinning information. I definitely don’t know all there is to know about spinning. That’s why I’m taking this course!

I’m taking a moment here to do an update about the next assignment due for Level III. The only reason I’m taking a moment is because I have to wait for my breakfast to cook and cool down. Otherwise, I really don’t have the time to be updating.

Once again, life has decided to throw me some more curve balls preventing me from being as on track with things as I “should” be. And once again, all I’m going to do is do my best. That’s all I can do. Family comes first. Last. Foremost. That’s not going to stop me from busting my butt though to try to get this out on time (or as close to on time as I can). Anyway…

This set of assignments is focusing on Twist/Grist and the 5 different wool classes.

The twist is just that – how much or how little twist you put into your yarn. There are three ways you can change it up – changing the ratio on your wheel, your treadle speed or your drafting length.

The grist is the amount of fibres your allow into your drafting zone. It often gets mixed up with diameter. As I understand, grist applies more to the pre-spinning/spinning process and diameter is the result after it’s spun (WPI). Keeping a consistent grist is easy (for me) when it comes to spinning worsted-style. All I do is make sure I use the same sized distaff across the board. I’m still finding my groove with with woolen-style spinning.

As far as the wool types go, there is: Fine (ie. Cormo), Down (ie. Cheviot), Medium Fine (ie. Corriedale), Medium Strong (ie. Romney) and Strong (ie. Cotswold). The breeds in the brackets are what I’m using for these assignments. Of course, there are a LOT more sheep breeds that fall under the various categories. These are only five of them.

We are to spin three skeins of each wool type with three different twists. Of course we have to document how we achieved this – right down to our washing techniques. Then we have to do a sample swatch of each wool type with the three different twists. We have to have an end use in mind and then justify which yarn/twist would best suit the end use.

The exciting part of this assignment, to me, is the experimentation part of all of it. I think that many spinners, including myself, find our go-to spinning method. We have our ratios we like. The treadle speed we like. The drafting length we like. We’re comfortable with it and often have little reason to venture outside the box unless we’re spinning an exotic fibre or something like that. Well, this is forcing us to. This is about self-discovery. Of course this doesn’t apply to all spinners, but I think it’s safe to say that it applies to many.

I’m not sure if I’ll have time to take photos, but I’m hoping to. I have taken some of the prep. They’re on my phone and I’m on the laptop at the moment (working on the documenting part of things).

 

Mohair: The Moral of the Story

I enjoy sharing what I learn. I hope that it will inspire others to try new things. I especially hope it saves people from learning stuff the hard way like I have. Sometimes we’re given a head’s up, sometimes we’re not. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that many times we may have missed the head’s up. I think a lot of that comes from so much information being thrown at us in such a short period of time that it’s easy to miss the memo. There have been times though, where expectations were NOT made clear. I know I’m not the only one who has experienced this. I won’t go into detail, but it is comforting, in a twisted way, when you find out that you’re not the only one who has no record or recollection of something being said and/or demonstrated (this is course-wide, not this unit). But I digress…

What I’m going to discuss here are my PERSONAL findings with spinning mohair. You’ll see why I capitalized “personal” in a moment. Your experience may be far different than mine. Many of my classmates had spun mohair before. Not I. The first time I had ever touched a lock of mohair was in August. So this is from an absolute rookie’s point of view.

1. Remember that your mohair spinning experience is YOUR mohair spinning experience.

My biggest mistake in this mohair unit was to read about some of my classmates’ experiences BEFORE I spun my own skeins. Some of them had one heck of a time with it. So of course, I automatically assumed that I would too. This made me nervous, almost to the point of paranoid. I shut down because of perfection paralysis. When I finally psyched myself up to do it, I didn’t have any issues with the spinning itself. I really kicked myself for worrying so much and for letting it stop me from diving in. The biggest lesson I learned from this is that you have to make your experiences YOUR experiences. Just because somebody else is struggling with a particular fibre doesn’t mean you will. From here on out, I’ll only be checking in if I have specific questions or after the fact.

2. A l’il fluff’ll do ya
This may seem a little hypocritical after what I had just posted above. However, it’s a true story. When we were given our homework fibre, I was concerned about not having enough. This was likely because I’m so used to spinning wool. Yeah, we were fine. Well, sort of… While we did have enough to complete the assignments, it would have been nice to have more mohair to work with for sampling. Because, well… ROOKIE!!!!

3. Spin FINE
This goes with the point above. Seriously, you DO have enough fibre. Remember, it’s not wool you’re dealing with. I have found that with mohair, the finer, the better. I also found that one out the hard way because the first assignments I tackled, I used waaaaaayyyyyy too much fibre and spun waaaaayyyy too thick. I really wish I could do all of this over again. I have learned from my mistakes though. That’s the whole point, right?

4. Don’t expect your singles/plying to be perfect right away
Spinning mohair is a whole new ballgame. To me anyway. I needed to bust out my fast flyer. You need to put extra twist in your singles in order for it to stay. Mohair resists twist. So that means that you don’t need as much twist when you’re plying because you don’t want to lose what you had to put in the singles. This will take practice. You could be a natural though – if so, yay! If not, understand that finding your groove will take practice. Be gentle with yourself. Make sure to acknowledge your mistakes and note what you would do differently the next time.

5. Mohair fibre weighs more than wool
This reminds me of that riddle “What’s heavier – a pound of bricks or a pound of feathers?” In this case, the mohair is the bricks and the wool is the feathers. We had discussed this in class, but of course, brainy was in overload mode. When I weighed everything out to do my orthogenous assignment, I was thinking “WTH??? There is waaaaayyyy more wool than there is mohair. How the heck is this 50/50? AHA!” So remember -if you blend 50/50 by weight, you will end up with a higher percentage of wool fibres. This is where it’s super important to keep your end use in mind if you’re spinning for a specific project.

6. Lightly mist mohair and put into baggie overnight before working with it
This little gem is brought to you by Donna Hancock, our instructor and owner of Wellington Fibres. I am soooo glad she told us this AND I wrote it down! Since we were well into winter when I was working on this assignment, this was one of the most important tips we got. Static+mohair=nastiness. She also suggested that when blending with wool on a drum carder, to run some wool through first. Otherwise, the mohair will sink to the bottom and it won’t blend evenly.

I think that’s all the tips that I have to offer for working with mohair. It’s really not as scary as I thought it would be. I really enjoyed it and plan on working with it more in the future.

If you have any tips that you would like to share, the comments are open.

Choas Isn’t Always Negative

So I was on a roll there for a bit with the posting in January. I had everything balanced – my assignments, pattern testing, the occasional order (with the understanding I can’t give a completion date), the blog posting… In addition to the everyday awesomeness of being a single mom. 

Well, something awesome happened that shook things up. I’m not going to go into detail at the moment, but I will share when the time is right. I will say though that it left me with a LOT to do in a short period of time. All of this with spinning assignments due. 

In addition to that, some family things have come up that see me having to be even more flexible. I don’t mind one bit. I always find a way. However, it’s added responsibility and requires more balancing on my part. Meh. Nothing I haven’t done before.

Sadly though, this means that my assignments have had to take a back seat lately. I am NOT going to let that stop me from finishing them though. It kills me that things just keep getting hurled in my direction that prevent me from getting them out on time (like yesterday I was finishing some up and the batteries died in my freaking label maker – C’MON!!!!), but it’s all out of my hands. I have been/will be in touch with my instructors to keep them updated. 

At this point, I have no intention of quitting. Yes, it adds some stress to my life. However, this stress is different. I have consciously chosen this stress. This stress gives me some reprieve from some of the shit flung upon me resulting from my past mistakes. This is my reward for keeping my head high and having to keep flushing the toilet on the past. Eventually, the pipes will get cleared. There are plumbers on the job.There will always be some toilet-flushing because that is life. I get it. I continue to keep the faith that that which is clogging the pipes now will also move forward. Someday. 

No, I have shifted my perpective towards this course. I think I said that before. I will keep saying it too. I’m not here to get the highest marks. I not here to compete with anyone. I’m here to become the best spinner I can be. I’m here for the feedback and knowledge of the instructors we have. If it means I have to lose marks because I can’t get my assignments in on time, so be it. I’ve stopped beating myself up about it because I’m only one person. I can look myself in the mirror and know that I am doing EVERYTHING in my power to make this work.

I don’t broadcast a typical day in the life of me. It’s nobody’s business. If I did though, I think a lot of people would be shocked. I think many think I sit around on my ass all day with a hook and yarn in my hand when I’m not on Facebook. Oh, how shocked those people would be…

Right now though, I am taking a break. I’m pet sitting a cat and a dog. The cat wanted out on the enclosed deck. It’s a beautiful day, something that has been rare lately. So I decided to join her (figured it was a good opportunity to sneak in an update too).I just melted in a chair, basking in the sun. I’ve been going non-stop this week, so I’ve made the excutive decision to take five. I earned it. After the sun is no longer direct, I will get back to work (it gets cold in here!). For right now though… Butt planted in chair. It’s so blissful out here. It’s like I’ve plugged my soul in and it’s recharging. I need that. It’s not that I’m not happy. Quite the contrary. In spite of the toilet-flushing, I can say that I don’t think there has ever been a time in my life where I’ve been more at peace. This place just nurtures that. 

Bliss - keepmeinstitchez.wordoress.com

Bliss (complete with kitty photo bomb)

I’m hoping this next week will be a little more “normal.” I will be feverishly working away on assignments though. I may not get to post until after the fact, but I plan on taking pics along the way. We’re getting into some interesting stuff – twist and grist. I’m enjoying it!

One With the Sloth

One of the many awesome things about my bestie and her honey (who shall henceforth be known as “manbestie” because his awesomeness is of the same caliber which is why they’re together!) is that they love to watch Animal Planet. When I get to hang out with them, that’s one of the things we do. As a result, I now know what a sloth is.

We’ve watched Meet the Sloths a few time. They just crack me up! They go along at their own pace, many with goofy little smiles on their faces. I get the impression that when people talk about sloths, they think they’re lazy because of how slowly they move. After watching this show, I’d say they’re anything but. When they want something, they will dang well put their all into getting it. There was one little guy that had lost an arm if I recall correctly. Did that stop him from trying to climb trees? Nope. Did falling out of said trees and hurting himself stop him from climbing trees? Nope. Did he seem worried about it? Nope.

Well, I’ve decided that this is how I’m going to approach the spinning course for the remainder of this level and the future levels. I am going to be one with the sloths. I am going to keep on keeping on. Sure, I have fallen out of trees because I missed a detail, didn’t fully comprehend the assignment, can’t read minds on how to mount assignments (there is a suggested template, but it does not work for every assignment – that’s a whole other rant that will be saved for after the fact)… However, I am NOT going to let this stop me. Ten years from now, I won’t give a rat’s ass that I didn’t mount my assignment “correctly”. I won’t care that I lost marks for under plying. I won’t lose any sleep because I wasn’t able to achieve the expected angle of twist.

I had decided last year after I had the proverbial wool pulled from underneath me that my sole purpose for doing this course is to make me a better spinner. No matter what my marks are, that is what is going to come out of this. I will be a better spinner. I will have tried fibres I never knew existed. I will have the opportunity to find what I like, what I don’t like. It will likely open even more doors for fun and experimentation with techniques and fibres. The most valuable piece of it all though is going to be the feedback. I have found that on the rare occasion, it can come off as snarky and maybe a little condescending. Whether or not that is the intention, I’ll never know. I’m not paying these people to be my friends and sugar coat stuff though. What I need most from them is to know what I’m doing right and what I can do to improve. They have all delivered. Look at Gordon Ramsey – absolute asshole in the kitchen, but he knows his shit. If people can filter out the condescending asshole piece and use his feedback, there is no doubt their skills become stronger. Fortunately for us spinners, it’s not THAT bad!

When I went into this course, I did it for some right reasons and some reasons that are starting to change. The main reason was my love of spinning. That will never change. Another was to help me with the loss of Mom. That has helped me IMMENSELY. To show my little hunny bunny that you’re never too old to go back to school or follow your dreams. I LOVE that I have removed that excuse for him. I will continue to do so! hehehe

Another was to be an instructor. There is no doubt that spinning has changed my life. I want to share that with other people in the worst way. HOWEVER… This objective has caused me a lot of stress and heartache. I had it in my mind that I have to have perfect marks in order to achieve this. A year ago last fall when I got a horrible mark, it killed me. I had missed a HUGE part of the assignment. If I knew that was to be included, I’m sure I would have ended up with high 80’s or even more. It was in an area I’m somewhat strong in. But for some reason, I missed that part that had to be included. I was crushed. Absolutely crushed. I saw my dreams of becoming an instructor fading very quickly. I’ve noticed other things since the beginning of the course that has me questioning things as well. I feel that assumptions are being made without confirmation and I fear that this is impacting my future in instructing too. Or at least I did. Assume away. You probably have no clue. Again, if I don’t end up instructing because of crossed wires and assumptions, that will save me a whole world of pain.

After processing all of that, it had me re-evaluating WHY I’m taking this course in the first place. Enter the sloth.

THAT is when I woke up and realized that marks aren’t everything. It’s one person’s opinion. Yes, there are guidelines to be followed, but if you gave the same assignment to another instructor to mark, there may be a different outcome. As I pondered it further, I asked myself if all this stress was worth it? I have enough stress going on in my life without this. So I had two options. Either I recognized that I’m navigating uncharted territory, pat myself on the back for doing my best and take the feedback and run. Or freak out over the fact that I’m not perfect so nobody will want me to teach for them because all instructors are born perfect. Uh, no. I’m at a place in my life now where I believe that if you’re going to judge my CURRENT skills based on marks I obtained at a time that I was just LEARNING those skills without seeing my work NOW… You’re wasting MY time. It would be the same thing as assuming your reading level today hasn’t changed since your first evaluation in kindergarten. I want to be an instructor with my whole heart. But I also refuse to sell my soul or jump through excessive hoops to achieve this. I was put on this earth to teach. However, I have a lot of other skills to share in my bag of tricks. If teaching spinning doesn’t pan out, there’s not much I can do about that. I am confident I will find my place regardless. If it’s meant to be, it will happen.

If you’ve read this far, you may be asking what prompted this post. Well, for the most part, it’s seeing my poor classmates freaking out over the twist and grist assignment we have due at the end of February. Some of the most experienced spinners in our group are losing sleep over this. I’m not saying don’t put your all in and don’t try to wrap your head around it. However, it’s not worth losing sleep over though! If you get it wrong, guess what? The sun is still going to come up tomorrow. Your wheel will still be there. You won’t be any less of a spinner because it’s not perfect. If you don’t end up understanding it, the instructors will explain it to you and help you grasp it. I could be wrong, but freaking out about it is likely causing you to shut down. So any information you find at this time may not stick because of where your head is. This is NOT your fault. You’re LEARNING. Mistakes and not understanding things are a part of learning. If you don’t get perfect, be gentle with yourself BECAUSE YOU ARE LEARNING!!!!!!

I’m just going to be over here, being my sloth-y self. I feel I do understand the assignment, but for all I know, I could have it all wrong. Only one way to find out, right? So yes, I’m going to dive it and get ‘er done. This is the approach I had to take with one of the bigger assignments due in October. I just got to my breaking point. I stressed about and then I conceded. Whatever. I screwed up, but by the time I realized it, it was too late. What could I do about it? Nothing. I’m expecting lousy marks and I don’t really care. I did my best with how I understood things. I know where I went wrong. Knowing your mistakes are far more valuable than a mark that probably won’t have that much bearing in your life.

I don’t know what has changed within me. I was starting to think that my give-a-damn was busted, but it’s not. I still care. I do think that I’m getting worn thin from the other garbage going on in my life, so I’ve had to just scale everything back so I don’t let it overpower me. I think that smack of reality upside the head with that one assignment had a part to play. I think that practicing martial arts has made a huge impact too. But those sloths… I am going to be more sloth-like from here on out. I’m going to start early, do my best, go at my own pace and not stress about the outcome. Detach from the outcome. Once you hand that assignment in you have no control over it. The stress isn’t worth it.

Those sloths have their shit together.

Mohair – Orthogenous 2-ply Skein

The name of this assignment cracks me up because my spell checker doesn’t acknowledge orthogenous. What is an orthogenous 2-ply skein? In this case, it’s one ply spun from mohair and the other ply spun from wool.

Mohair Singles - keepmeinstitchez.wordpress.com

Mohair Singles

The was the first time I had ever spun straight mohair, other than playing around in the summertime. I didn’t have much left from the materials we had to purchase (that may warrant a rant of its own, but for the moment, I’m treading carefully). So I was terrified. I was nervous. I put it off as long as I possibly could. And guess what?

It wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be.

I knew that it would need extra twist to hold together. So again, I busted out the fast flyer. This time I spun it at 15:1. No issues at all. No breakage. It was wonderful. One thing I have learned is to not expect the same experience as other have shared because most of the time, I have experienced something different.

The second ply was good old Corriedale. I’ve spun this a million times. I wasn’t quite sure what ratio to spin it at. So I spun it at 12:1.

Wool Singles - keepmeinstitchez.wordpress.com

Wool Singles

I took a guess with the plying ratio at 10:1. I think it ended up being underplied so I will go at it again. I checked my notes and I didn’t see any suggestions/discussion/tips about spinning an orthogenous yarn with mohair. So I went with what I do know. I guess I’ll find out if I’m right or wrong.

Orthogenous Yarn - keepmeinstitchez.wordpress.com

Orthogenous Yarn