Spinning Awesomeness… And we aren’t talking about wool this time

If you’ve found your way here, I am so glad you’re here! If you have been following along… I want to apologize for being so quiet. Unlike in the past, this quiet is a beautiful quiet. It has been coming from working with my partner (I will refer to him as my “hubby” from here on out) to spin our dreams.

Life took some crazy detours last year. What a ride! The highs and lows were pretty intense. I lost some people, but I also gained some new ones too. And then there are those ones who were always there, quietly supporting and cheering for me in the background – many have resurfaced. It’s beautiful!

The most exciting part for me though is that I have decided it’s time to give this a go full-time. That has been my dream all along, but there were a lot of negative voices telling me that it couldn’t be done (those are the ones that I “lost” last year and over the past few years). I was even told by someone I once respected that I didn’t have the drive to work from home. Oh really, eh? Well darlin’ stand back and buckle up… You just added more fuel to the fire! I’m done listening to those dream-squashers.

The most exciting news (right now) is that I now have my work in at the SIRCH Marketplace and Bistro located in Haliburton, Ontario. If you have the opportunity to check it out, please do! The whole place is amazing. Home-style food and local artists all while supporting an organization that changes lives. If you truly want to support local, this is the place to do it.

If you’ve had a look around on my blog, you may have noticed SIRCH come up in my posts before. You see, when I say that this organization changes lives, I say that with conviction because my life is one of many that they have helped change. It started when I was sitting in the shelter with my baby boy and trying to figure out where to go from there; I was introduced to the CAPC program. While I was doing that, the Sew Resourceful pilot program was launched. It was because of the skills and confidence I gained from that program that I made the decision to enrol in the fibre arts program at Haliburton School of the Arts. The rest, as they say, is history.

Fast forward 12 years… SIRCH is still helping my family. Life had a few plot twists for my hubby. He had a knee replacement last spring, which meant he couldn’t go back to his manual labour job. He too has decided to follow his dream – he wants to work in the food service industry with the ultimate dream of opening a food truck. I suggested SIRCH’s Cook It Up Program. I told him that these programs change lives (ahem!). He signed up. When he went for his interview, that is when magic happened for me. In a beautiful whirlwind, I now have my work in the SIRCH Marketplace because HE decided to follow HIS dreams! Wow, my eyes are welling up just thinking about how beautiful this has all been for both of us!

So I’m in a place now where I feel like I have come full circle. SIRCH came into my life when I needed them most. Between them and the Haliburton County YWCA, I know I wouldn’t be writing this post right now. They have helped me so much in finding the stability I needed to give my son the best start to life that I could possibly give him. Now they are continuing to help me and now my hubby be a living example for him – Don’t give up on your dreams, son! I think one of the most beautiful parts is that I seem to be caught up in a “love loop” with SIRCH. SIRCH helped me. Now I get to help them with a portion of my sales going back to them. But they’re helping me by giving me a place to sell my work so that I can be working more to supply them with items to sell so that… See? Love loop!

If you would like more information about the SIRCH Marketplace and Bistro, please follow this link https://www.sirch.on.ca/bistro-marketplace/

Now I must go spin up some more dreams. Literally!

The Little Things

I’m attaching the hood to the main blanket portion. The pattern instructions say to sew the hood on. That works and is effective. However… This doesn’t work for me. It has the potential to be neater and attached sturdier. I crocheted an extra row and then crocheted it to the blanket. While it did take more yarn, it just looks neater. I also have the peace of mind that the hood is more secure. It’s the little details and extra care that make the difference ❤

Fringe Baby Booties

Cable Zig Zag Square Pillow


I won’t bore anyone with too much detail about why I’ve been so quiet. Life. One word sums it up. Single mom. Helping out Dad with appointments. Spinning course. Pattern testing. Pet sitting. I could go on.

In September I found something that has made things easier to keep those interested in my work in the “loop.” Instagram. While I know not everyone has it or even wants it, I have come to love it. With the touch of a few buttons and some clever hashtags, I could get seen on Instagram AND Facebook in one shot. How awesome is that?

So I’m going to try reposting my posts here. If I don’t get a chance, I’m hoping you’ll make your way over to have a boo (you don’t need an account to check it out) and perhaps follow me. 

Thanks for hanging in there! ❤

OHS Level 4 – Best. Spinning Week. EVER.

Disclaimer: You are going to see references to various animal fibres, fur and hair. The instructors of this course have gone out of their way to ensure that they have sourced it from ethical vendors. The hair/fur collection processes include collecting fibres that have been shed, combing the animal and sheering the animal. Where I’m going with this – I don’t want you to think for a second that the animals were slaughtered just for their fur/hair. There is no way I would source fibres in this way and I know for a fact that the instructors wouldn’t either.

All I can say is wow.

Reeling Silk - keepmeinstitchez.wordpress.com

Reeling Silk

I had such a hard time getting things done with Level 3. I know I mentioned in my last post that I had questioned many times over the past 6 or 7 months whether or not I should hit the pause button with this course. I sought guidance from Wendy because I knew she would call a spade a spade. I shared with her all that was on my plate. She acknowledged that it was a lot, but I really needed to keep going because it will be so worth it. Level 4 is the game-changer. It’s when you get to have fun. It’s “playtime.”
I saw her in the hall after the second day and told her she was so right (again! hehehe)


Tussah Silk - keepmeinstitchez.wordpress.com

Tussah Silk

Oh my goodness, I have a new favourite fibre. I have a whole new respect for silk and those who work in the industry. One of our exercises was to reel silk. All I’m going to say is that really for me, it was an exercise in non-verbal creative vocabulary expansion. The silk thread kept on breaking, but I did not utter one curse word. Verbally. We also learned how to make Mawata. That’s is the art of making silk hankies from cocoons. The cocoons were boiled in water with a measured amout of washing soda in order to degum them. This gets rid of the sticky substance that holds the cocoon together. Once the coccoons are degummed, they are manipulated in a warm bath of water with a splash of vinegar (to neutralize the effects of the washing soda). You start off with a little blob and then you work it out to be a square. It is then stretched over a frame and dried. From there, you can either stretch them out and spin them or you can dye them. I’m looking forward to playing with some dye. I have an idea on what I want to do, but I have no idea if it will work. This is the fun part! We have a small article that we need to make out of silk. I’m going to check the assignment to see if I can use silk hankies I make myself. Is it more work? Yep. But I want to play!!!!! Will it happen? Who knows. If it doesn’t happen for the assignment, it WILL happen someday. Life won’t always be this crazy.

Mawata - keepmeinstitchez.wordpress.com

Mawata (silk hankies)

On Friday we got to spin some more exotics with Beth S. Oh my goodness, this woman was vibrating with excitement! Which was fully contagious! When I’m super excited about something, I vibrate the same way. And yes, I was buzzing too! What an informative class – from fibre harvesting, the rules and regulations to yak polo (yes, yak polo is a thing. Teena’s hubby has been elected to start a yak farm so that we can get a couple of teams going – we’re hoping to challenge the Level 1 class in the future – the guanlet has been thrown ladies!). I was amused with my yak-spinning experience. I struggled BIG TIME with the roving. Roving is normally the gateway; the warm-up to the harder stuff. Not this time. When we were asked to spin “from the cloud” (it’s basically a pile of uncarded fluff in your hand), I rocked it! I don’t get it. I’m also not going to over-analyze. I’ve found that to be a dangerous practice with this whole course. If it works, just go with it! Don’t ask why. Just do it, love doing it and love that you can do it! I never got past spinning the yak. We were given some mink fibre (NOT a pelt – the minks are still alive!) to practice our technique before we take on Quiviut. Quiviut is musk-ox fibre. It is very precious – I do believe that Beth said it ran around $50/oz. Yeah. I’m not going to let that scare me though. I’ve made the executive decision to give myself a loving smack upside the head if I get perfection paralysis this year. Again, going back to the reminder of the fact that we’re all still green when spinning these fibres. Even our most experienced instructors were beginners once! 

There was some Cashmere thrown in there too. I know there is more, but I’m suffering from the annual OHS course hangover – I’m not hugging the toilet, but the coffee tastes extra good this morning and I don’t have the capacity to make life-altering decisions. Brainy no worky… It’s a wonder I can come up with the words for this post!

Yesterday we started off with Angora bunny fur. Again… Le sigh… We started off by blending it with some Merino wool. If you’re not familiar with wool types, Merino is one of the softest, if not THE softest, wools available. I spun up a few samples with blending and then straight Angora. When I got them on the sample card, I compared the feel. There were a few giggles when I commented that the Angora made the Merino feel like sandpaper. I will reiterate – Merino is just gorgeous. What I wouldn’t give for a Merino fleece… The Angora was just THAT soft!

The final portion was what I have been waiting for for soooooooooo long… I won’t say that it’s the reason I’m taking the course, but it sure did sweeten the pot when deciding to not tap out…

Dog Hair.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned that I’m a pet sitter at some point or another. My beloved Kirby was my “pet project” when I was doing a service dog internship in 1999. Panzer was the reason I became a dog trainer through PetsMart. And then there’s Radar – Dad’s reason for getting out of bed. Needless to say, I LOVE dogs and the fibre supply here is endless!

I did have an idea of what was coming. I’ve seen Marty’s work over the years and I helped her on the studio tour. I also cleaned some fur for her too at one point. I did okay, but I still didn’t get out all the hairs that she needed removed. It takes longer to clean/process the dog hair than it does to spin it! The spinning part of it – I’m not worried at all. I’m more nervous aware about not getting enough of the guard hairs out. Marty said that it’s not something you can do all in one sitting. You’ll lose your mind. She said that she makes herself clean a handful before supper each night. That I can get on board with. I think I’m also going to invest in a good light to help with the process. I know this is going to become a thing. It’s inevitable with the other areas of my life.

One of our assignments is to spin a skein from whatever dog hair we want. That was a no-brainer for me. I’m going to spin up some Radar. Dad has been collecting hair for me pretty much since Radar came through the door. I’m excited to do this! I don’t know what I’m going to make from it, but I do know that I’m going to make something.

Oh, and it’s not “dog hair yarn.” It’s “Chiengora.” I cracked up when I saw that term. People are so funny. They will ooooh and awe over how soft and gorgeous the yarn is. But the second some of them find out it’s dog hair, they suddenly start sneezing and their allergies flare up. Meanwhile, they have been in the room for a considerable length of time. Allergies stem from the dander, not the hair itself! Sheesh!

Well, that’s my two cents of Level 4. I have a few Level 3 loose ends to tie up, but I’m hoping to be able to better document my Level 4 journey. I always take process pictures, but it’s the time factor with the posting. I’m starting to think that I should just post with few words and carry on. I may just do that.

I’m ready. DIVE! DIVE! DIVE!

Year Four: The Reward for Year Three

It is believed that year three of the OHS spinning certificate course makes or breaks you. They say that if you get through level three, you will most likely graduate the program.

I’m not going to lie, there were times this past year where I had seriously contemplated hitting the pause button. I didn’t want to quit. Oh hell no! I worked too hard to get to where I am. However, I did contemplate more than once if this was the right time to do this course. This year has seen a LOT of change in my life, both positive and not so much. There has been a LOT of things happen that were out of my hands. It prevented me from getting my assignments done on time. I was determined to get them done though. That’s how I am – I start something, you can bet your bippy that I’m going to finish it! (even all of my yarny UFO’s will be done at some point!). I was so embarrassed when I had to ask for extensions due to circumstances beyond my control. When I explained what was going on to my instructors, they were so wonderful and understanding. I can’t express how grateful I am. Not once have they ever questioned me. I beat myself up, but they had nothing to do with that. In fact, I have been lovingly “told” a couple of times to knock it off, I’m only one person and I’m doing everything in my power. It was reiterated once again today that as long as I’m in communication if something comes up, we can always negotiate.

To me, that speaks volumes. They believe in me. They have believed in me when I haven’t believed in myself. I feel like I’m in the middle of running a marathon and they are cheering me on, wanting me to finish just as badly as I want to finish. That makes me even more determined to finish. Not only have I promised Mom, I owe them too for all of the time and energy they have invested in me over the past 3 years (it’ll be 6 years for Wendy).

This year has such a different feeling. It’s so much lighter. When I saw my classmates, it felt like a big family gathering. I will confess that my anxiety was running a little high due to one classmate. I won’t bother wasting any more energy on her – SHE IS GONE!!!!! The energy in that room this year has just been so wonderful. I don’t think I’ve smiled this much since I started this course. And it’s not like I’ve been miserable!

Saturday and Sunday saw us spinning exotic fibres. We started off with alpaca and llama. Then went on to camel. I think there was another one in there, but I’m pretty tired right now and I can’t remember. I love how our instructor reminded us of all the techniques we know now. I think the difference with this year is that we have options. In the previous years, the preparation and spinning style was set out for us. This year it’s whatever works for us. Having all of these options seemed a little overwhelming! I double-check with my instructor… “Am I understanding this right? We’re using whatever it is we have in our skills toolbox to achieve our best skeins?” She said I was correct and was hoping that that’s what we would take away from this course.

On a side note, I was amused at this whole new approach with spinning. I’m more or less at the same place in my martial arts journey. We spend the first part learning the skills/basics and when/where to apply them. After that, it’s blown wide open to use whatever it is we need to use to get the desired result. It’s the “art” part of martial arts! While both art forms are so different, my enthusiasm is very similar for both. I’m sure it’s the art and creativity I get to practice and release with both.

The last day and a half was spent in the dye room. We were playing with indigo. I have to say that I really enjoyed dyeing this time around. Maybe it was my partner, Mary-Lyn (I had never met her before Saturday – this woman is freaking awesome!). Maybe it was the absence of a bossy, domineering, controlling, sabotaging, narcissistic… Oh yeah, I wasn’t going there… Maybe it was the indigo itself. Or the instructor and her assistant. I think it was all of that. I’m looking forward to my assignment. We have to use 2 methods that we have learned. And then we have to do some overdyeing. I already have myrobalan from my project last year. I’m going to fire up another pot of that bad boy. I’m also planning on getting a nature dye that goes red. I’m not sure which one yet.

One other thing that is different this year is when our dye days were scheduled. For the first three years, they were always the last day and a half of the course – Friday afternoon and Saturday. By that time, we are all so worn out. I think having to do extra math and having the additional pressure of your classmates relying on you to get a perfect dye pot for their samples… It’s all just too much. It will be interesting to see if Friday and Saturday are different this year. At least if you’re tired and punchy, you don’t have to worry about letting anyone down. You only have to answer to yourself if you screw up. I have a feeling that I’m going to be just as enthusiastic Saturday morning as I will be tomorrow.

This afternoon we were introduced to silk. We started off with Tussah silk. It wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be. However, I need to speed up my treadles. Then we spun some Bombyx (cultivated) silk. The really funny thing is that I had an easier time getting a consistent yarn with it! It’s a lot more slippery than the Tussah. It was weird. What was also weird is that I spun an awesome sample “over the finger.” That is NOT my go-to method. In fact, it’s my second weakest method (long-draw being my weakest). I showed my instructor. She told me to save the sample and aim to spin my homework like it because it would be perfect. She was so impressed that she called her assistant over (her assistant was the woman who had taught this section of the course for many years before passing the torch – she knows her stuff!). She was impressed. So there’s hope for me! I shouldn’t say that… If there wasn’t hope for me, my instructors wouldn’t give me the push/gentle kick in the rear I need to keep going.

When I’ve been at my wheel these last few days, I’ve felt the same way I did when I first started spinning. Excited. Ecstatic. At peace. Smiling the whole time. I haven’t felt this way in a long time. It’s not that I haven’t enjoyed spinning. I think I just lost why I was doing it for awhile. I’m so used to having to fight to be happy in many of the other areas in my life. I have no control of that. I do have control over this though. And I don’t have to fight. I just have to be. I have to remember that the chances of putting out perfect samples may or may not happen. Beth “told” me today… It came up about learning curves. I was saying about how when a karate student gets frustrated when they’re learning a new kata. I say “How many times have you done it?” “Once.” “Is it going to be perfect then?” “No.” “There you go. If you’ve been doing it for 10 years and you’re still at the same level, THEN be concerned.” Well, I was told to practice what I preach hehehe

We’re not half way through the course and I’m just flying high, ready to dive in to the homework. Even thinking about tomorrow, my heart starts to race and I have butterflies in my stomach. Geez, it’s like being in puppy love (except that I know that it won’t end up in a messy breakup!).

I’m hoping that I will have more time to update this blog. As I mentioned earlier, this year has just been absolute chaos. I’m hoping to be able to manage my time better. Although even those with the best time management skills would have difficulty with the things that I’ve had to endure. I got through it so far though. Again, this is where I will never be able thank my instructors enough.

Tomorrow is another day. I so can’t wait!

The Best Tips On Turning Your Hobby Into A Business – Guest Post by Aimee Lyons

Photo via Pixabay by SplitShire

Having a hobby is a wonderful way to express your creativity and find happiness in your own abilities, and there are many things you can do, from crafting to sewing to rebuilding vehicles. Putting your time and energy into something can really boost your self esteem and self worth, and when these hobbies turn into something more, they can be beneficial in a different way by helping you earn money…or even find a new career. They can also help you find peace and strength if you’re going through a big life change, such as addiction recovery or a divorce.

These days, it’s easier than ever to turn your hobby into a business. By utilizing social media and resources available to you online, you can begin taking the thing you love to do to another level and potentially make a new career out of it.

Here are some of the best ways to do just that.

Do some research

It’s important to do some research–both online and locally–to find out whether there are similar businesses already and what they entail. Get a feel for their pricing, their hours, whether they offer free or discounted shipping, and what sort of business plan they operate under.

Ask yourself some hard questions

It’s imperative to ask yourself whether you’ll still want to perform your hobby if the business doesn’t work out. Will you still get the same joy from it? Also, is it something you can do under pressure? Starting a business means you’ll have a commitment to your customers and you’ll be working under a time crunch rather than being able to do it whenever you feel like it. Not only does your business’s reputation depend on it, but your financial stability does, too.

Get some advice

Starting your own business isn’t easy, and often you may find that you’re doing everything yourself or with very little help. It’s important to make sure you’re ready for that kind of commitment, so talk to someone who has been through it and get advice on how to get started and where to find resources that can assist you when you need it. Speak with local business owners to find out what they might have done differently when they first opened up their store.

Get social

Starting your own business–whether it’s making jewelry or fixing motorcycles–means you have to be good at selling your service or product. That means starting social media pages to connect with potential customers, doing trade shows and conventions, working long hours, and talking to people about what you do to give them an idea of what your business entails. In some areas of business, there’s a lot of competition, so it’s imperative for you to find a way to stand out in the crowd. Make up some eye-catching business cards and do your best to make connections and network with other entrepreneurs.

Build a plan

After you’ve done some research and are sure of how you want to proceed, start building a business plan with some assistance from an attorney, an accountant, and possibly the Small Business Administration. It’s best to have some legal advice so you won’t be in the dark in regards to your rights and responsibilities. Start with the basics–such as whether you’ll be opening a brick-and-mortar store or keeping everything online–and work from there.

Keep in mind that although it will take some hard work and long hours, starting your own business can be a worthwhile venture, especially if it means you get to do something you love and make money at it. With a good plan and some support from your friends and family, there’s no reason you can’t make it a success.

Author: Aimee Lyons

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.