Friday, June 22, 2012

"It's A Small World"

The Internet has turned the world into numerous small virtual communities where the inhabitants have become close friends without having ever met.  This is certainly true in the Spinning and Fiber Arts Communities among others.  And when we finally get to meet in person its like a family reunion or getting together with that best friend you haven't seen in 20 years.  Last week I finally got to meet Miki of Funhouse Fibers.  I've been buying her fabulous fun batts for a couple of years and she is part of my Sparkle Spin Group.  I am also a member of her Ravelry Group, Fun Onion, and on the Fun Onion Tour de Fleece Team. (The Ravelry Group is a must for any spinner).  Miki came to Orlando for vacation and since I only live 2 hours away we decided to get together for a fun day at Islands of Adventure and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  It was like meeting a long lost sister and we had a wonderful time.  We drank butter beer and became Minions on the new Despicable Me ride.  We sat and knit and shot down aliens (see picture below).  Thank you Miki, for a fantastic day.

Another great part of this day was meeting Miki, the Artist.  I have to show you the pictures of the wonderful batts she sent me a couple of weeks ago.  One of the batts was part of a Fun Onion TDF Swap and the other was a Sparkle gift. 

Now these are no your regular size batts.  Miki has a new supersize drum carder and these batts are about 3 times the normal size.  I have spun some of Miki's gorgeous batts before and the resulting hand spun yarn was beautiful and was used by another artist to weave a fabulous OAAK shoulder bag.  Funhouse Fibers is a must see shop and source for unique batts and always fun fibers.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Fiber Summer!!!

The Summer 2012 is starting to look like the most fiber fun summer yet!  There are so many fun fiber events this year.  And most of them are on line through Ravelry.

May 18 to June 5 - Fun Onion Tour de Fleece Batt Swap Challenge
June 1 to August 25 - Hand Spun Magic Yarn Ball Swap

June 1 through August 31 - Nerd Wars, Tournament 5
June 9 - World Wide Knit In Public Day
June 30 to July 22 - Tour de Fleece
July 27 to August 12 - Ravelympics 2012

With all these wonderful events happening, I've started lining up all my projects and prepping my batts and rovings.

First in line are these two lucscious batts from JoAnne at Fleecepicker's Fiber and Yarn.  JoAnne also has an ebay store.

These batts are made up of Merino, silk, firestar, and angelina.  They are destined to become part of a baby blanket that I will donate through Bundles of Joy (please read my previous post). 

If you also have a fiberful summer planned, Fleecepicker's Fiber and Yarn has many beautiiful colors of roving and sheets of silk and other fibers to make your own one of a kind batts to spin from.

Bundles of Joy

You would think from the above title that this post is all about a blessed event and in some small ways it is.

Let me tell you about a place that consists of 3,468.86 sq mi (8,984.306 km2) of land area.  Of all those miles only 84,000 acres (340 km2) of land are suitable for agriculture.
  • As of 2011, population estimates for this area range from 28,000 to 40,000. 
  • 80% of residents are unemployed;
  • 49% of the residents live below the the US Federal poverty level (61% under the age of 18);
  • Per capita income is $6,286;
  • The Infant Mortality rate is 5 times higher than the US national average;
  • Amputation rates due to diabetes is 3 to 4 times higher than the US national average;
  • Death rate due to diabetes is 3 times higher than the national average;
  • Life Expectancy is among the shortest of any group in the Western Hemisphere and is estimated to be 47 for males and 52 for females;
  • Adolescent suicide rate is four times the United States national average;
  • Many of the families have no electricity, telephone, running water, or sewage systems; and many use wood stoves to heat their homes, depleting limited wood resources.  These homes are often old mobile homes with as many as 15 residents per mobile home. 
  • Elderly and young children die each winter on the reservation from hypothermia.
The most shocking piece of information concerning these fact is the location.  This is not some third world country.  It is the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, an Oglala Sioux Native American reservation located in South Dakota

A little over three weeks ago I went to visit my daughter who is a medical student at Des Moines University.  While I was there I had the privilege of attending a presentation by Dawn Bowker about the complexities of practicing medicine among our Native Americans.  During her presentation we learned about the living conditions on Pine Ridge Reservation.
It was very hard to hear that these conditions are right here in our own country and touched me and everyone else there deeply.  It is time for me to share some of what God has blessed me with these people

I've spent some of my time over the last three weeks researching ways that I can help.  The first thing I did was join the Bundles of Joy (BOJ) group on Ravelry.  This group knits, crochets and weaves beautiful things that are desperately by these people.  Because of them many newborn infants are now sent home with more than a blanket and a diaper.  I looked through my stash of yarns and found a beautiful, soft hand spun and am about halfway finished knitting my first baby jacket.
Wool/cashmere/nylon hand spun yarn being used to knit baby jacket.

I have also decided that I will use or giveaway about 50% of my hand spun yarns for making items to be donated to Pine Ridge through the BOJ group.  If you want to knit or crochet or weave something to be donated through BOJ and don't have the yarn in your own stash, contact me and I will send you some.  Bundles of Joy also has a team for the Ravelympics this year for those who wish to have some extra fun while making items for the babies at Pine Ridge.

For more information and ways to help the people on Pine Ridge Reservation you can check out the following web sites:

Monday, January 23, 2012


You heard it here first.  My sons have coined a new name for fiber (and other) enthusiasts. I must say that my sons have a knack for turning a phrase and adding new ones to the English language.  Now for the story behind Kudzobbies.

It's Sunday morning and we quite often go to breakfast together before or after church.  It's a fun way for my husband, myself, my two sons (ages 36 and 28) and my daughter-in-law to catch up on each others lives and solve the problems of  the world.  This last Sunday the main topic under discussion was presidential candidates both past and present and possible future ones. This conversation eventually turned to our options if Hilary Clinton became President. The conversation sort of went like this:
D (younger son):  If she becomes president, I'm moving to Canada.
Me:  How about New Zealand? (I'm always thinking about those lovely sheep).
R (older son):  No, New Zealand is having a lot of political, economical and other problems.
D:  We'll just all have to move to a private and isolated island.
Me:  Both of you had better get your books published so we can afford an island.
R:  Don't need to.  We just perfect the method of using gravitational pull to capture and asteroid and place it in a temperate location to make our own island.
Me:  I have a better idea.  We can buy a TARDIS and live in it.
D:  That is a good idea.
Me:  And I can have a special area in the TARDIS for my fibers and spinning wheels.
R:  You know that won't make any difference.  Before long the TARDIS interior will be festooned with your yarns.  You have to admit, Mom, that your yarn grows and takes over everything.  It's a Kudzu Hobby (Kudzobbie).  You always have Kudzu Hobbies, even when you made jewelry the beads took over the house.

I had to admit that my sons were correct.  My fiber enthusiasm has led to boxes full of yarn and spinning fibers.  But it doesn't stop there.  You will find little pieces of yarn wherever our shoes or the cats take them.  One of the cats likes to decorate his food dish with my yarns.  You will also find wool and alpaca dust bunnies throughout the house since I prefer spinning to sweeping.  The family room is filled with my boxes of fibers and the living room is now home to 2 spinning wheels, a yarn swift, a skein winder, a niddy noddy, a nostepin and several Turkish spindles.  It is definitely reminiscent of Kudzu cover trees, yards, and even entire buildings like the ones that have been destroyed by that voracious plant in the Carolinas and Georgia.  What someone really needs to do is turn Kudzu into a soft spinning fiber similar to banana fiber or SeaCell.  It is already used for basket weaving.  I bet it would make a beautiful spinning fiber.  We could reclaim our  south central states and have something beautiful to spin.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


I know a lot of you (including me) do not enjoy or understand the reason for blocking your finished knit, crochet and woven pieces.  I have always been one of those people who avoided it if possible.  Now I find myself doing it more for numerous reasons.  In researching this blog article, I found some excellent reasons to start blocking all my finished pieces as well as gauge swatches.

One reason is to make sure all your little ends that you have so painstakingly taken the time to weave in will become secure during the blocking process.  Reason two - it will help set the stitches.  Reason three - your swatch gauge might change sizes if blocked.  This is very important when knitting or crocheting a garment to a specific size.  Reason four has become very obvious to me now that I use a couple of continuous weave looms - it will even out the tension and make those lovely shawls, stoles and scarves look like they weren't woven for use by a lopsided human.  My scarves no longer look like a slightly ruffled parallelogram. 

Now that I've accepted blocking as a way of life, I have started looking for tools to make it easier.  Fortunately one of those needs was provided by my Mom, who was given a slightly padded blocking board with the grid printed right on the the fabric cover of the board.  Thanks, Mom!

Now on to some amazing tools from 7 Yaks Design.  Lynne sent me these wonderful Mitten Blockers.

Aren't they fabulous!  They are made from acrylic so you never have to worry about them warping the way wooden ones could.  And the thumb pieces do double duty as WPI gauges with a one inch gauge one one side and a half-inch gauge on the other.  Even better is the New and Improved Mitten Blockers set in her etsy shop.  The new ones have cute heart cutouts which have been turned into needle gauges and a diz for pulling your roving.  Lynne also has three sizes of sock blockers, leg and yoga warmer blockers, and wrist warmer blockers which all double as various types of gauges.  There are also some beautiful snowflake needle gauges which would make a nice gift item for your next swap.  Also in acrylic are some beautiful spindles and a strand holder for your spinning (I just ordered one for myself).

7 Yaks Design is one of those lovely little shops that carries almost everything a spinner and/or knitter may need including yarns, fibers, tools, needles and hooks, felted toys, beads and jewelry.  You must stop in just for a peek at Lynne's unique creative vision.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


I must admit I am partial to alpaca.  I love the softness, the ease of spinning, and they are just too darned cute. If I was 25 years younger, I might even want to own a couple.

Several of the members in our SparkleSpin group are Alpaca farmers, one of which is Lisa of Maranatha Alpaca Farm.  Lisa sent me this beautifully soft and lofty roving.  I have decided to dye it Red Vermillion to use in a shawl for one of my aunts.  I had decided to gradually spin and weave a shawl or stole for each of the female members of my family.  So far I have finished 2 of them for a couple of my nieces who recently graduated from college.  If you want to do something similar or would like to arrange a farm tour so you can see these adorable animals, contact Lisa at Maranath Alpaca Farm.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Happy 2012 Fiber Year!

What better way to start off the new year than playing with fiber.  And this fiber feels even softer than it looks.  Those beautiful balls of fluff in the picture are just aching to be used.  This gorgeous Tahiti Sunrise dyed balls of fiber are the most luscious bits of cashmere that will soon be meeting by drum carder in preparation for spinning something ultra fine.  If you want some of these loose cashmere fibers for yourself, they can be found at Girl Meets Spindle on Etsy.

Rachel has many fascinating hand painted fibers and rovings in her shop.  I just wish I had a lot of extra money to buy more of this loose cashmere fiber in the Painters Palette section of her shop.  It really is the some of the softest, loftiest fibers I have ever touched.  Another section of her shop, Plant Fiber, has some banana roving that I have not had a chance to spin yet.

Thank you Rachel for the beautiful cashmere and your wonderful talent for color!

It's a Wonderful Life!

That sounds like a cliche and more than a little schmaltzy but it's true.  Christmas this year was fantastic.  I just felt this wonderful sense of Joy throughout the holidays. For our family the holidays began on December 23 when we were all able to spend the day at Universal Studios to celebrate my daughter-in-law's 25th birthday.  The weather was perfect and the Butterbeer was deliscious.  We had birthday cake and more Butterbeer (my own version) on December 24 after Church and before we opened our Christmas presents.  I was fortunate enough to receive a beautiful skeinwinder from my husband.  It was quickly named "the Pirate's Wheel" by my children.