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

Mohair Assignment – Spinning for end use

During the mohair unit, we discussed end use. One of the assignments is spinning a yarn geared towards a certain project. We had to draw our projects out of a hat. The one I got was “weft for a blanket.”

I’m a VERY green weaver. I’ve taken a couple of lessons and I’m confident that I could warp a loom alone and do a very basic project. However, I’m far from knowing all of the in’s and out’s. So this assignment required a bit of research and diving into my knowledge base about what I do know.

One thing I love about weaving is the logic found in the art. When I was analyzing this imaginary blanket, I would ask myself some questions, look up answers and I would often find myself correct in my thinking!

One of the things about this assignment is that it doesn’t give you any variables. You have to justify why you’re spinning the yarn you’re spinning, why it’s a 2- or 3-ply, why you chose the percentage of wool to blend with mohair. There was no information provided regarding what the warp would be on this blanket. So the yarn I’ve spun is based on a warp that is spun from wool. I know people have done 100% mohair. The issue with that though is that mohair protrudes (that fluffy halo) and when you’re weaving, the weft yarn would stick to the warp like velcro. So if I was to actually make this blanket, I would use a wool warp until I got more experienced.

So for the weft yarn itself, I have chosen a 60% mohair/40% wool blend. I chose this for a couple of reasons. I looked online to see what blends other blankets were made of. A lot of them were 70/30 mohair/wool. I would have liked to do that blend, however, we were not supplied with a very big sample of mohair. There’s just enough to completed the assignments (I hope!). I wanted to use a higher percentage of mohair because I wanted to highlight the fibre. It’s so soft and it would be perfect for a blanket.

Mohair/Wool in progress - keepmeinstitchez.wordpress.com

Mohair/Wool in progress

Again, I took to the internet to find out information regarding how many plies I should do. I realize that ultimately the decision is up to me. However, I know that spinners and weavers are a logical bunch. For the most part, there is a method to their madness. My initial thought was to go for a 2-ply because it stretches the material to the maximum (and it’s one less singles to spin! hehehe). I was open to a 3-ply though. Then I questioned if the third ply was necessary in this case since a woven blanket is flat. Would the third ply just get lost? After surfing around, the answer seemed to be 2-ply. One of these days I want to discuss this with somebody who has weaving experience (and I hope she’s reading this!) to see if I’m correct in my thinking. I’d also like to see if my thinking about 2-ply and weaving is correct. At this point I’m a lump of clay. Mold me!

Something else I decided to do with this assignment is use my fast flyer. I didn’t see anything anywhere stating we aren’t allowed to use it. It will certainly be noted in the assignment. As we were warned, mohair really does need a lot of twist to hold up. I’ve been using my regular flyer and I’ve had to treadle like a mad woman to get enough twist so that the singles won’t fall apart. Again, considering my lack of mohair experience, I am pleased that I made it this far with my regular flyer. I spun up a 70/30 mohair/wool blend with practice fibre. I only had 2 spots where the singles broke when I was plying. I’m going to consider that a victory.

Later that day…

Mohair/Wool blend spun for end use - blanket weft - keepmeinstitchez.wordpress.com

Mohair/Wool blend spun for end use – blanket weft

I am finished spinning and plying this yarn. My fast flyer made such a difference. The ratio I used was only one higher (12:1 vs 10:1), but it still helped immensely.

On thing that had me initially concerned was that even though I weighed out the amounts of wool and mohair, the wool seemed to take over the skein. Then I recalled hearing (and recording somewhere) that mohair fibre weighs more than wool. In other words, if you had a gram of mohair and a gram of wool, there would be less mohair fibres than there is wool fibres. So when I do up my notes, I’m going to make sure to mention this: percentages listed are based on weight. It has me curious how one could change the percentages up using volume and what the results would look like there.

One more thing I want to mention is just how much mohair blooms! Now that I’ve seen this for myself, one of my future observations is going to be WPI counts before and after setting the twist. I can see this being quite fascinating. I’m not sure if time is going to allow for this at this point. It’s something I’d like to investigate down the road for sure.

So up next… A 2-ply orthogenous yarn – one ply mohair, the other ply wool. I already have the mohair ply spun up. My thoughts on that will be in the next post.

Mohair Assignment – Blend using kid

I’ve been prepping mohair all week and while I’m not ahead of the game, I’m not crashing and burning either. There have been a couple of kinks thrown in like two snow days in a row. That hasn’t been too bad though. I get to spend extra time with my hunny bunny, but he’s also at at the age now where he doesn’t need my constant attention. It’s actually quite pleasant. I love having him around, even if he’s doing his own thing and I’m doing mine. He’s happy. I’m happy.

So… What am I learning with this whole mohair process? Lots. The first time I ever touched a lock of mohair was in August. So there is lots for me to learn. One lesson I learned in this whole course is to make sure to go back and reread the notes MORE THAN ONCE (yeah, I learned that one the hard way in a previous assignment). Don’t assume you know what you’re supposed to be doing because you probably don’t! Thank goodness I learned this lesson when I did because it has saved me a whole world of pain with these assignments. It’s made a difference in how I’m approaching them too.

Mohair and BFL before blending

Mohair and BFL before blending

One of the things I read was that if I’m going to use a drum carder, make sure I separate the locks, lightly mist them and put them in a baggie overnight. Once I’m ready to card, make sure to put a light layer of wool on the drum carder first. These steps will help make the mohair distribution more even. Well, I did all of those steps. Since my mohair experience is nil, I’m not sure if I was successful at blending. I’m going to note this in my assignment (that was another biggy I learned – if it’s not perfect, acknowledge it!). I am content with the blending, but I don’t know if it’s up to standards. I know there will be feedback provided. And that’s the whole point of the course! I would have liked to run it through the drum carder a third time, but I didn’t want to risk damaging the fibres.

Open locks, mohair, BFL - keepmeinstitchez.wordpress.com

Open locks, mohair, BFL

The actual assignment gave us a choice of using a homogenous or orthogenous blend. I decided to go with the homogenous at a 50/50 blend with Blue Faced Leicester (BFL). We’re supposed to justify why we made this choice. My real reason? I knew I wouldn’t have an issue spinning a blend. I haven’t spun straight mohair (that’s today) and I hear it’s challenging. The frugal mama in me didn’t want to waste the kid mohair since it’s far more valuable. Now for the blend amount, I went with a 50/50 because I want the yarn to keep the shape of the end use project. Since the higher the mohair amount, the less shape retention, I figured this would be a good ratio. The mohair is still very obvious, but not overpowering. I went with BFL because of its staple length and softness. Since I’m choosing a shawl as my end use, it will be soft next to the neck and if the recipient were to wear short sleeves.

Kid mohair/BFL - keepmeinstitchez.wordpress.com

Kid mohair/BFL

I’m also seeing a huge difference in the hand between this sample and the yarn I spun the other day with mohair and Corriedale. BFL is softer than Corriedale to begin with. Add in the softness of the kid mohair versus mohair and…. Yowza! What a difference. This sample is so soft!
So I can see this blend being something I will enjoy spinning in the future. That’s what I’m loving about this course. It’s like a big buffet, allowing you to sample next to everything. I’m finding what I like and what doesn’t work for me. All this fibre, zero calories!

I’ve also learned that there is a difference between shooting for perfection and doing your best. Doing your best is just that – you put your all in, but you also remember your experience level. Acknowledge it within yourself and note it to the instructors. Use the feedback to get better and don’t take it personally. Because it’s NOT personal. In this case, I know my mohair experience is minimum. Am I going to spin it perfectly? Not a chance. I know this. Perfection is forgetting about the experience you have and stressing out/beating yourself up about it not being perfect. It where you let your marks define you and your spinning skills. Make or break. Do or die. I started off the course in this frame of mind. It was taking the enjoyment out of it very quickly. I had set the bar far too high for myself. Now… Ten years down the road if I’m still spinning at the same level, THAT is when I’ll be concerned about it. I already know that’s not going to happen though. I’m growing every time I touch that wheel. So no, I’m not going to strive for perfect. I’m just going to do my best. If I get a bad mark, I’m not going to let that stop me. I’m going to apply the feedback to the best of my ability and do it again. And again. And again if I need to. Those of us in the course have a golden opportunity with a small window. Now is the time to ask for the feedback and clarify if needed.

Mom always told me “All you can do is do your best.” I get it now.

Mohair Assignment Warm-up and Self Pep Talk

I’m sure I’ve mentioned a condition I have called Perfection Paralysis. Symptoms include negative self-talk, procrastination and anxiety about the task you have at hand never being good enough no matter how hard you try. It’s irrational. It’s rediculous. But it is very real.

I have some friends who believe I’m a procrastinator. I can’t argue with that. While yes, I have MANY plates spinning, the work I have to do for the assignments is not overwhelming if you break it down. It really is manageable.

No, my procrastination comes from a serious lack of self-confidence. For some reason, I have it in my head that if I wait until the last minute, I won’t screw it up as badly. As write this though, I think a big reason is that if I complete it too early before the deadline, I will have time to go back and second guess myself. It makes sense.

So this is where I need to learn to let go. Just let ‘er rip and get that bad boy in the mail before the reality of finishing my assignment sets in. If it’s in the mail, I can’t pick it apart. It’s not going to get any better than it is. I put my best into all I do. Mom always said “All you can do is do your best.” And I do.

So rather than freak myself out with my minimal mohair spinning experience, I grabbed that goat by the horns and did a practice run. This is a 5o/5o mohair/wool blend. I added some sparkle in there because the world needs more sparkle.

wp-image-934544905jpg.jpg

Mohair/wool/Angelina blend

So now I’m as ready as I will ever be. Time to let ‘rip!

I Assure You We’re Open

I didn’t realize I had been away from my blog for so long. I knew it was awhile, but over a year? Oh my goodness! So what has happened that can be summed up in one post? A LOT. So I’m going to do my best to catch up over the next while. I hope. Things have just gotten a little more crazy for me this month, but I’m going to hold that under my hat for now. What I will say is that it was already intense because I have a spinning assignment due at the end of the month. And I have a HUGE spinning assignment due at the end of February.

So yes, I’m still plugging away at the OHS Spinning Certificate program. I am in Level III. I had questioned last summer as to whether or not I could pull it off. There is still some ongoing personal crap that just won’t seem to die (seriously anticipating the day I can let that rip – it would blow your mind and you would question whether or not my blog turned into a somebody’s horrible nightmare). I didn’t want that to be the reason I didn’t carry on. I will NOT give ANYONE the satisfaction of stopping me from achieving my dreams. I also got a fortune cookie that told me “Never Quit” on the day I contemplated it. The cookie doesn’t lead one astray. So I’m continuing to put my all into it. I will do my best to chronicle what is going on with that. I still don’t want to forget. Someday when I’m kicking back in the hot springs under the northern lights after spending a day with my sheep in Iceland, I want to remind myself just how determined I am.

My work life has taken a serious unexpected turn. I’m sure at one point or another, I may have mentioned my love of animals. I may have mentioned I did an internship with a service dog organization. I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned I am a pet sitter. That was something that just sort of fell into my lap. I sat for a breeder. That breeder gave out my name to another breeder. And then word got out to other people. Then I was down to just one breeder. Then one day somebody asked a friend with a kennel if they knew anyone who looked after pets in their home. She gave them my name and BOOM! I’m pet sitting again. You know, timing is a funny thing. The pet sitting was quiet when Mom was so sick. There was no way I could have done it and helped her out at the same time. About six months after she was gone, that’s when things exploded. I don’t advertise. All of my clients are word of mouth. And that’s the way I love it. We have regular people that call us. It’s so wonderful. My Sweet Pea just loves this job. He’s got such a big heart and the animals know this. This is the perfect compliment to our lives. It allows me to carry on with my fibre work and I’m still available for my Sweet Pea. So yeah. That’s been keeping me busy.

I did a LOT of pattern testing for Crochet by Jennifer‘s new book, Crochet Style: Over 30 Trendy, Classic and Sporty Accessories for All Ages. It was released in November. I didn’t post any photos because we needed to keep quiet until it was released. Oh my goodness, that was one of the hardest things ever! She had us start testing in December of 2015. So now that it’s been released, I would like to post some of the finished product photos. I just need to get past my perfection paralysis when it comes to taking photos!

Speaking of perfection paralysis and the quest for the perfect photo, I finally launched an Etsy shop. Before you get too excited, I have to update it. I have a LOT of items I need to list, but I have to get the perfect photos. Or as close to perfect as I can.

Before I close this post out, I have one more thing to share. I got to cross something off of my bucket list last spring. I went to see Meat Loaf in concert. IT WAS AMAZING! The man didn’t stop! When I found out he was going to be playing in Kingston, ON, I jumped on the chance to go. It was the ONLY weekend I wasn’t booked for pet sitting. I did have a job come up, but I had to decline. I don’t know how much longer Meat Loaf is going to be touring (he actually collapsed during the show after the one I saw), so I wasn’t going to take any chances. I put it out to my friends on Facebook to see if anyone wanted to go with me. Nope, no (local) takers. So I said screw it, I’m going by myself! It took me over 4 hours to drive down there. Dad paid for a hotel room for me. I navigated Kingston transit alone on a Saturday night. And I had the time of my life. When I was 17, I made myself a promise that I would see him perform Paradise by the Dashboard Light live. So now I can say been there, done that. And yes, I did get the t-shirt! (It says Paradise by the Dashboard Light 2016!)

So that’s the last year+ in a nutshell. If you’ve made it this far, I thank you. I promise my next posts won’t be this long! I think I may start posting more photo posts. Because eye candy can be inspiring. And that the real reason I’m here in the first place.

And yes, that IS a quote from Clerks.

OHS Level 2: Day 8

I started this post on August 27. That is how crazy things are here. It’s crazy/good though.

I apologize if anyone was waiting for this post. I got my Sweet Pea back on Sunday and we’ve been busy making up for lost snuggle time. I’ve also been trying to wash fleece and get things organized in the house. It’s been a crazy summer and I’ve been away from home for the most of it. I want to be organized for this fall so that I can get my assignments completed on the early side and so that I can spin my brains out. I’ve done a lot of prep this summer, so I should be good to do a lot of spinning this winter.

Speaking of assignments, I just ordered the mordants I will be needing for the nature dye assignment. I have a game plan about how I’m going to find out more information. I know I can use Golden Rod, but I’d like to do something different if I can. Golden Rod will be Plan B. I think I’m reluctant to make it my first choice because it’s too readily available LOL

Once again, class went too fast this year. I enjoyed it even more than I did last year. I feel so much more relaxed coming into Level 2. I’m very clear about the format now so I’m just going to let ‘er rip. I’m not just doing this to get by, for the prestige. I want to pass this art on. A few things were made clearer. Had I have known these things last year, my assignments would have looked much different. I was pleased with my marks, but I felt limited because of what I didn’t know. I have some more info I’ll be adding to my “Notes for Newbies” so those who take the course down the road won’t encounter the same limitations. 

Here are the results of some of the nature dyeing we did the last 2 days of class:

Marigold - keepmeinstitchez.wordpress.com

Our group used marigold and this was the results

Marigold-dyed fibre - keepmeinstitchez.wordpress.com

The fleece we put in our marigold dye pot to level out the weight

OHS Level 2 nature dyeing - keepmeinstitchez.wordpress.com

Another group’s work

OHS Level 2 nature dyeing - keepmeinstitchez.wordpress.com

And another…

OHS Level 2 nature dyeing - keepmeinstitchez.wordpress.com

And another still…

OHS Level 2: Day 7

Today we prepared for nature dyeing tomorrow. First, we soaked our samples in a variety of mordants: alum/cream of tartar, copper, iron and a couple of others that I can’t exactly recall at 11pm. Yeah, it was a long day.

For those wondering what a mordant is… It’s like a colour booster. Each mordant reacts differently with each nature dye. It’s really quite interesting.

Then we prepared our dye stock. They all needed to soak overnight at the very least. Each plant varies. My group prepared marigold.

It was a fun day. Tomorrow will be even more fun to see the results from the dye pots! The down side is that it will be our last in-class day.

We ended the day with a trip to Marty’s. I picked up some more merino/stellina wool. I also got some nylon with the intention of making some socks someday (I will blend it with 75% wool). I picked up some more of Marty’s magical moth mix and some nettle tea to help fight allergies. And I thought I didn’t need anything there…

As I always do, I had Little Mickey and Pooh with me. I promised my Sweet Pea that I would take them with me everywhere because he left them with me to look after me. So it has become tradition that I take pictures of them doing different things on our adventures. My plan is to possibly put a scrapbook together for him someday.

Fleece for dyeing - keepmeinstitchez.wordpress.com

Fleece that was added to the yarn samples

Samples of plants for dyeing - keepmeinstitchez.wordpress.com

A sample of some plants that can be used for dyeing

Dye plants - keepmeinstitchez.wordpress.com

Some plants we’ll be using for dyeing tomorrow

I also had a bit of a self-realization moment today. It came to me while discussing group leadership versus teaching. I’ve discovered why I’m not a leader in a group situation if the group has other ideas. If the group is respectful of my assigned position and has an open mind, I’m totally comfortable with that role. I’m totally comfortable in a teaching role. There are some situations where it may be expected or understood that I would be in a leadership role within a group. I have no problem with that unless I’m accosted by a bossy and/or domineering person or people. If my peers don’t respect my assigned position, I won’t argue with them. I have been through too much BS to even try to get somebody to listen to me who clearly thinks they know more than what I do (they may or may not – but I was assigned the role for a reason). I’m weary from fighting to be heard. I have little left. I have nothing left for those who don’t care to open their minds. I would much rather focus my energy on somebody who is open to what I have to share. I may not know all there is to know, but you’re missing out on what I do know if you choose not to listen. We all have different experiences and I enjoy sharing mine. You may even learn something.

The other part of it is that if you think you know better than I do and you screw up, I don’t want that reflecting on me. There has been more than one occasion where I’ve been in a group scenario and the group decided to not listen to directions. If I was taken seriously as leader, there’s a very high probability that that wouldn’t have happened in the first place. I’m very detail-oriented, which is probably one of the reasons I was assigned the role. I would have gone to the instructor to verify if there was any doubt. But hey, you know best, so just go right on ahead. I’ll be over in my corner waiting for instructions.

I think what it comes down to is the abuse that I endured. Everything was always my fault, even when I wasn’t involved. I got the blame for everything. My thoughts, opinions, experience and feedback meant nothing. So now as a result, I’m constantly in cover-your-ass mode. So if I’m in a group that doesn’t want to take my leadership role seriously, I’m not going to kiss there butts. Plus, my ass is covered for when they screw up. If I was in a leadership role and the group actually listened to me and the team screwed up, I would take responsibility for it because clearly I had passed on misinformation. But if the group chooses not to listen to me and there is a screw-up, it’s not my problem, is it?

Teaching/assisting on the other hand, is completely different. If I’m teaching/assisting, obviously I’m there specifically to pass on my knowledge and adhere to the set out curriculum. I’m there for a reason and that reason is because I’m a fit for the job. I was asked what I would do if I encountered a student who gave me a hard time or chose not to listen. Because let’s face it. I can come across as a bit of a pushover. Again, it comes down to choosing my battles. I have encountered a scenario where I had a student who challenged me. It was in dog training, but it was still a teaching job. He was on a mission to make me look like I knew nothing. I didn’t claim to know all there is about dog training. I’m not a behaviorist. That’s a whole other field. I was given a set of guidelines that I needed to follow for my classes and I did. I did it well. I got to the point where I had to tell the student that I was there to pass on what I know, which met the expectations of the company I worked for. I wanted to see him and his dog succeed. But if he had an issue with my methods, he was free to discuss the situation with management. If my classes weren’t meeting his expectations, then he may want to consider finding another dog trainer that can meet the needs I’m not.

After that, he had nothing more to say and my classes went smoothly.

Teaching and group scenarios are two different things. If you’re teaching, it’s because you have worked hard to acquire the skills and knowledge to pass on to others. People are there with the intention to learn from you. You can learn a lot in a group setting as well as long as you go in with an open mind. Many don’t. They judge before you even open your mouth. Who’s losing out though? Not I because I won’t expel the energy on somebody who has no interest in my experience, therefore, does not deserve it.