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.


World Wide Artist Blog Hop with Kyla Grexton

Blogging artists around the world are taking part in the World Wide Artist Blog hop. We are to answer four questions and then link to a minimum of one, maximum of three artists who will post their answers the following Monday. The next Blog Hop post will be September 29th.

I was invited by Celina Lane of Simply Collectible Crochet and Crochet Street.

I have invited Pia Thadani of Stitches N Scraps and Tatha Lorenzen of Stitched in Love Crocheting to take part next week. Please be sure to check them out!

I have room for another artist if you’re interested in taking part in the blog hop. Please let me know and I’ll add your link. It can be any medium, not just fibre related.

The questions are:
Why do I do what I do?
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
How does my creative process work?
What am I working on now?

Why do I do what I do?
I don’t know how to answer this question in a short, condensed answer. There are a LOT of reasons why I do what I do.

The BIGGEST reason is for my son. Not only to financially support him, but to set a strong example for him. He has seen me go back to school twice now in my 30’s. He’s seen how hard I have to work to be able to maintain our very modest lifestyle. He is also seeing what happens when you follow your dreams. Another reason is so that I can spend as much time with him as I possibly can, yet still work at the same time. He’s needs my support now more than ever.

I also do it for my own well-being. With everything that has been thrown at me in the last few years (especially the death of my mom late last year), I’ve had to find something to help me keep my head above water and fight the battles that I must.

I also do it for the love of the art. It is my intention to learn as much about spinning as I possibly can so that I can pass it on and keep the art alive.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I don’t really know if I stand out from the others. If I do, I’m sure it’s because of my love of texture and bright colours. And purple. While I’m trying to work with other colours, you’ll possibly notice a lot of purple creep up in my work.

birthday wool

How does my creative process work?
A lot of my ideas seem to hit me in the shower. I have no idea why. So then I will get ready as quickly as possible and shoot downstairs to get those ideas captured in one of my many journals (before I forget!). I really should just keep a journal in the bathroom…

I find it best to be in certain moods to work in certain mediums. With that said though, the angrier I am, the quicker I’m drawn into spinning. I calm right down and am able to maintain focus on that.

From looking at my work, it’s pretty easy to see where I am. If I’m in a good place, I tend to work with bright, vibrant colours and wonderful textures. If I’m in not such a good place, the colours are more subdued. That’s not always the case though, because I do a lot of custom work. Then it’s all about what the customer wants. I’ll tell you though, when I’m in a “bright” mood, it sure is hard to stick to a project that’s solid black!


What am I working on now?

My biggest endeavour right now is OHS Level 1. I’ve done the in-class portion, so now it’s time to apply that knowledge to my assignments. It’s not just about spinning. There is dyeing, learning about various sheep breeds and other fibres… There’s a lot to cover in 6 years!

I’m still doing pattern testing and plugging away at crochet orders. It’s my plan to slow down on the crochet orders though because I want to move more towards my spinning and dyeing.

My plan is to eventually get my loom(s) set up and get weaving. I also sew/quilt in my “spare time.” Let’s just say I’ve dropped the word “bored” from my vocabulary!

Thank you for stopping by! I hope you enjoyed this little peak into my fibre-y madness.

Chart Maker Sites

An online friend had asked a question about where she could find free software to make a chart for filet crochet. One thing I pride myself on is searching for things on the world wide web. I’m pretty good at it… It’s not too often that I can’t find a link to help somebody out. I’m pretty stubborn though. Some things take longer to find than others, but I don’t generally give up.

As I was searching on my friend’s behalf, I discovered that all I needed to send her was a link to a chart maker. Easy peasy! I had used a wonderful one to create a custom hat for a customer last summer. So I figured I would share my discovery just in case anyone else is curious.

The first one I found was from Tricksy Knitter. I’d have to say that this one is a personal favourite. I was able to create an account, make my chart and then save it to a PDF or print it off if I chose to.

The second on is an online generator. This one works just as well, but you’ll need to have an image ready to upload. It’s called Knitpro 2.0

Happy charting!

Misguided Designers and the Gifts they Give

After buying a pattern last week where the designer had stated that “you cannot sell the items made from this pattern”, I have decided to create my own shrug. I’m actually going to send “thank you” vibes to this designer because if they had have stated their wishes in the pattern listing, I wouldn’t have bought it. And I wouldn’t have got angry when I saw the fine print at the bottom of the pattern, trying to dictate what I can do with MY work. I’ll respect your wishes and not sell MY work made from your pattern (with the one exception I made before seeing this statement). I’m coming up with a prettier, better-fitting item that I can call my own. Thank you for your narrow-minded thinking and misguided perception of power. You’ve forced me to reach into my creative toolbox and come up with my own thing. That alone makes the money I thought I had wasted worth while! And if I end up writing the pattern out and selling it, well, I’ll be sending you even bigger “thank you” vibes.

Yes, I was very angry and frustrated at the time. But I ended up getting an even greater gift. I took my anger and turned it into creativity. This is the biggest project I’ve ever worked on without a pattern. And by golly, I’m going to make it pretty!

20130106-143730.jpg From the pattern

20130106-143759.jpg My OWN design

For those who are unfamiliar with the in’s and out’s of patterns and your rights v.s. the designer’s rights…
When you purchase a pattern, you are purchasing directions to make an item. You cannot legally claim it as your own, copy, sell or share the pattern with anyone else in any form (unless you have some sort of agreement directly with the designer). You CAN sell the items that you have made from the pattern regardless of what the designer says. You own YOUR work, you’re the one who bought the materials to make it and you’re the one who put your time in to make the item. They don’t own the item, they own the pattern. Many think that they can tell you that you can’t sell your work online. There are even bigger rip-off artists that try to sell you “cottage licenses” for various periods of time which they claim give you the right to sell the items you made from their pattern. THIS IS A SCAM. You’re not even legally required to provide a link back to the designer (although it is good Karma to do so).

I was 3 rows out from being finished this project when I noticed the designer’s “wishes.” Had this designer listed their wishes in the pattern listing, I would never have bought it. While it is a beautiful design, I will not support people like this. What was even more frustrating was that the item I worked on turned out to be a little too small. There is NO WAY I’m going to rip out all that work and start from the beginning. I also don’t have anyone that I could gift this item to. Nor should I have to. I am going sell this item because it is my RIGHT to do so. I’ll even provide a link to the designer, but I will also include a note regarding their wishes.

I think most stitchers who do this for a living are on the same page. I’ve found that this is quite a sore spot in the crochet community. Many who I’ve talked to about this issue have felt the same way. It’s one thing if the designer states this up front. We have the option to purchase it knowing their preferences. But when it’s not put in the pattern listing, that is just plain dirty. I will NOT respect their “wishes”, I will exercise my rights. I have a family to feed and I buy patterns to make items to sell to feed said family. Why would I buy a pattern where I can’t sell the finished items from?

If you design patterns and you don’t want people selling THEIR creations from your pattern, then don’t sell your patterns! It’s that simple. People are going to do it anyway regardless of what control you think you have over THEIR finished items.


Patterns And How They Are Affected By Copyright Law

Selling Goods Made From Patterns – Copyright Infringement?

UFO Experiment Time!

I bet you thought I was going to talk about litle green men that came down to Earth in their space vehicles, didn’t you? Uh, no. I’m talking about the thing that EVERY crocheter and knitter has (and if you say you don’t have one, you’re either just starting out or you’re lying to yourself)…

UnFinished Objects.

I see status updates from various pages on Facebook asking fans to comment on how many UFO’s they have. I don’t even go there. I haven’t counted. I’m going to have to dedicate some time in the new year to get these altogether.

I think one of the percieved barriers of finishing up those projects is that there is a chance that you have used the yarn in another project. Or you varied the pattern in your head. Used a different hook and can’t remember which one now. I’m working on a way to overcome this.

I have started to write stuff down in a journal. I actually started that a year and a half ago. Thank goodness I have! When I work on something, I’ve started to make notes in a journal and there have been a few times I have been very grateful that I did. Take for example today… A friend of mine had ordered a couple of hats awhile ago. She said that the ones she ordered for were small for their age. I looked the measurements up online and it seemed that there was about 1″ difference between sizes. So I went with the smaller size against a gut feeling. A couple of weeks ago, my friend asked me if I could make them hats for Halloween. I said I could squeeze them in. This time I went with my gut and went with the bigger size. I wrote that info down. I found out today that the orignal hats were too small (and my gut called it!). So I told her I would make the next size up for her. She told me that the other ones fit and she thought they were the same size. Nope. So I’m going to refer to my notes so that I will get the size right. YAY ME FOR WRITING IT DOWN!!!

I’ve also started something else. Sometimes when I get started on a project I haven’t worked on before, the sizing comes out wrong. So rather than rip it apart, I just set it aside (this is why I have so many UFO’s floating around here!) I’ve noticed the UFO’s getting out of control. Why is that? Because I didn’t have notes for them. When I tried tweaking a pattern recently, the results came out too big. But it looked good. So I wrote my notes down on a piece of paper along with the hook size, type and brand of yarn and colour. So when I get a day to work on UFO’s, I will be able to do it more efficiently.

I think one of the keys to this line of work is doing things as efficiently as you can. I think this is one of the things we can do to contribute to that. Feel free to add this to your bag of tricks.

Just Had to Share :-)

Stick your head in the clouds from time to time. You never know what may manifest. Play out those POSITIVE “what if’s” in your head. Don’t worry about how you get it. Just visualize having it. If you told me 3 years ago that I would be going to school, and own a spinning wheel and a loom, I would have asked you what kind of glue you were sniffing! Look at me NOW! Just because I stuck my head in the clouds 😀

And now, back to our scheduled programming…

Had a successful week this week with getting my OSAP documents in for school. Only 80 more days until school starts! (I apologize to those who like the summer…. I’m an autumn person, so I’d be pumped about September regardless of if school was in the picture or not!)

On a side note… Apparently my autocorrect isn’t working for some reason. Normally I would be cursing it, but I’m kinda missing it! Lol

So it seems I have had the urge to work on things other than what I’m “supposed” to be working on. I made some dishcloths for my brother. I also made a bag …


I’m not quite sure why it is. I am in the process of tying up some loose ends from my “old life” and I think it’s possibly related. If I have the urge to work on something, I’m no longer denying it. Fortunately, my orders aren’t due until Christmas season. I still plan on having them done by the end of August. The last thing I want is to be rushing when I’m in school. So back on track I go.

I also have 3 pairs of socks to add to the three (four including Goob’s) sweaters I have on order. This is exciting!