Priorities…what are your top five?

20131022-162233.jpgSometimes life can get crazy. Not just out of balance, but cuh-razy. Seems like everything hits at once. When I have those compact moments (like the past few weeks), I like to pull it all back and think through what matters the most, and then my craziness slows down.

For me, it looks like this:
1. Faith. I can’t imagine life without it, and starting my day with quiet time and prayer grounds me.
2. Family. Moments with family and friends are the things that make life real. And joyful. And sad. But oh, so….real.
3. Exercise. If I don’t take care of myself, how can I enjoy the rest of what life has to offer?
4. Art. For me, that’s knitting, spinning, weaving, creating. I come alive..or get introspective. Both are great.
5. Work. Yes..in my top five. But, it’s the last on the list, and that makes me happy. For years, it would have been #1 or 2.

Here’s the deal. Last weekend, my mom came to visit. She’s ill. Two kinds of cancer, and the liver one is untreatable. So I love the moments I get with her. We went to the beach and she took pix of the knitwear that’s on my etsy site.

We. Had. A. Blast. We laughed at the really bad pix, at the cold, and enjoyed the fall leaves. I’m no model, and she’s not a photographer. But somehow..it all came out good.

I’ll leave you with a few moments of fun…and I am off to my wheel.
Spin on!!

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Celebrate Life & Dare to Dream!

yarnTime to share a dream.  On the eve of my 45th birthday (halfway to 90!!), I am stepping out to do something that started as an idea almost 10 years ago.  I had just started spinning, and I knew down to my core that this was a form of art for me.  I would dream patterns, yarn colors and styles, and I taught myself how to weave, knit and clean/card my own wool so that I could create things that are as close to locally sourced as possible.

All the while, I was wondering that the true value of this is.  Yes, it brings me joy, and Yes, I love to give people things I have made.  But was there more?  I started reading about alpaca farmers in Peru, and local artisans around the world and I suddenly felt incredibly blessed to be able to create for the sake of art while others do this to survive.  So, I had this idea…

What if I created a business model that meant I would make what I wanted, sell it for the value it was worth as a handmade item, recover the costs for my supplies..and give the rest of the $$ to an organization that was helping other people around the world?  Honestly, my friends thought I was nuts…but I couldn’t shake the idea.  A few years later, I ran across Awamaki, an amazing cooperative for women in Peru that was started by an awesome woman who lives in the Seattle area.  The dots started to connect, but between work and family things, the time wasn’t right for me to dig in.

scarfI’ve decided the time is more than right, right now.  My new SeattleSpinner Etsy Shop opened tonight.  I’ll keep adding to it to my heart’s content, knowing that what I am making will serve two awesome purposes.  People can buy handmade items that also support local U.S. farms and know that the proceeds will go to benefit women in Peru.

So, that’s my birthday present to myself.  Dare to dream…and even more…dare to do it.

Spin on!

The Outrageous Cowl!

First..my day job (aka, how I support my fiber habits) has been sooooo busy! A good kinda busy, but whew. Need a break. I missed a few good blogging moments, but I am making up for it with this.

The Tale of the Outrageous Cowl.

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I still have a couple pounds of my lamb’s wool locks, and I learned early on that this fiber created a Very. Heavy. Yarn. A sweater or vest would have been like a suit of armor. So I started experimenting with tailspinning–the simplest form that I could imagine. Basically, I grabbed a handful of locks, fluffed with my fingers, and spun a single. The solid grey looked something like this:

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Then I spun a couple skeins with color:

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And decided I wanted a simple (in design) warm, statement piece that could double as a shrug or a cowl.

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Gotta admit, while I was knitting it I thought it might be a little much…but once I put it on I was hooked!!
Easy pattern. I will write it up and post it if anyone is interested!!
Spin on!

Why I love my Sidekick

Happy Friday! Wow. It’s been so busy of the past few weeks that I’ve hardly had time to post. That being said, I’ve been uber busy knitting during my car commutes and am almost done with a GORgeous cotton hoodie.

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But for now, this post has been on my mind for a little while. When I was looking for a smaller portable wheel, I didn’t see too much about the sidekick. There were a few good reviews, but now that I’ve had it for about a 18 months, I’m ready to lay it out.

First. I love it. I spin more than I did before because of how well it’s made and how easy it is to take places. I feel like I have had it long enough to give some decent feedback.

Size: Perfect. We live in a condo, so the larger wheel I had was really taking a lot of space. I can pick up the sidekick and sit anywhere without thinking about it. Balcony, bedroom, different spots in the living room..and when I don’t spin, it sits nicely against the wall. I’m also pretty tall, and I think the height for the orifice is great.

20130330-111729.jpgPortability. It rocks. I take my wheel all over the place. Usually by the beach, but I have taken it camping, visiting my mother (small apartment), on an airplane (fits in a 24″ samsonite), and to knitting meet-ups. The strap is a small bit of genius, IMHO. Pop the feet up, throw it over my shoulder, and I am out the door. I do break it down all the way for suitcase trips, and once you’ve done it once or twice, it’s really simple. Takes less than five minutes.

Upkeep. Very good. I haven’t had to replace any parts yet, but I have has two small issues. The first was totally my fault. I dropped the whorl on a hardwood floor and it broke. I emailed the company and they offered to send one out (I think it was about $24), but I glued it with wood glue and it’s stayed put–that was over a year ago. Can’t really even see the split. There’s also been a strange noise that I’ve never had on another wheel, but I finally figured that out too. It was making a piercing squeak….super loud, and I took it all apart and lubed, etc. I do travel a lot and process raw wool, so I figured it was gunked up. Well, what finally worked was to use the same degreaser I use on my bike and wipe it all clean. Then I re-lubricated it and the sound was gone.

Upgrades: I bought the bulky flyer and i love it. Art yarn is easy and the flyer rocks…it provides great versatility!

Parting shots? If you are looking for a durable, portable, smooth running wheel, the sidekick is well worth the money. You might not ever buy another wheel…

Spin on!

Project Update and request for opinions!

So..I am on my way down the path to knitting a sweater from a fleece that I process. I completed a vest a few weeks back, and now I am finishing my first sweater from my handspun. My next sweater will be 100% raw fleece processed and handspun/knit. But first…I bought some beautiful BFL that is a blend of natural colors and spun some beads into the first 200 yards for the yoke. Here’s a progress pic:

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and a closer look at the beaded yarn (cuz I love it)…

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And now my plea for your opinions. I thought I wanted short sleeves, but when I finished the first one, I really didn’t like it. I’m thinking 3/4 length sleeves so it feels more sweater-like. BUT..I can’t decide how to finish the cuffs.
Do I:
a) Match the current border of the sweater?
b) Try garter stitch again?
c) Do a 1×1 rib?
d) Insert your idea here!

Thank you so much and spin on!

Fiber Friday! A week focused on new techniques.

What a great creative spinning week! It’s funny how the time goes by and it feels like you haven’t done much until you stop and take a look.
First: I sold my first yarn!!!
Wheeeee! This was uber exciting!

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Here’s a progress photo for the rest of the week:

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1. 400 yards of singles. 70% wool, 30% silk.
2. Coreless tailspun yarn: 50 yards, local lamb locks and mohair locks
3. My best ever supercoils and the project from them.

All in all, a great week. How about you?

Spin on!

What to do with supercoils?

I 💜 supercoils!

20130815-094402.jpgBut what do you do with art yarn? I am on a quest..to figure out great and exciting uses for spectacular yarn. Here’s my first recommendation. All it takes is about 70 yards of supercoils and a couple of large beads.

20130815-094541.jpg Hand pull a row of chain stitches, loop around itself three times. Pull ends through a large bead and secure end knot with fabric glue. Pretty, funky, warm..and most importantly, shows off the yarn!

Spin on!

SUPERcoils!!!!

20130813-190644.jpgThis is not just a picture of supercoils. This is a picture of (invisible) me being ecstatic because I don’t have a tangled, overspun, frustrating bundle of supercoil wannabe.
My first attempts at supercoilling have been challenging, to say the least. The core gets over-spun and I have tried LOTs of tricks to balance it..but with no luck..until now.

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Add the little spindle. Sarah Anderson talks about the wrap and roll method, so I had to try it. I started last night, and while it worked, I think I got about a foot done in an hour. Not. Sustainable. Without. Hurting. Someone.

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This morning? Much better. Could be that my beverage of choice was coffee instead of beer (that was last night), but suddenly both hands were spinning independently and I was supercoilling! And talking, and drinking coffee without missing a beat!

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Look how fine and even it is!! I am super stoked. Hoping to finish tonight and post drying pix tomorrow!

Spin on..!

Fiber Friday and Real Life

Last week, I left you all with a happy post that started with the pic on top and made its way to the pic on the bottom.

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Which then became this:

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But in between, there was this:

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And this:

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Followed by this:

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My sweet daughter, who is 24, was driving her motor scooter and was hit by a car who backed out too fast. Her right knee was shattered and she went in for emergency surgery.
Things happen in life that we can’t predict. I’m so grateful that her injuries weren’t worse. That her love of snowboarding caused her to instinctively tuck and roll when she was flying off of the bike. Her head, neck and spine are fine, as is her attitude, despite the fact that she won’t walk on her leg for three months.
Today is her birthday. Mostly, I am grateful beyond words that she is here to celebrate it and continue to grow into the amazing woman she is only now discovering that she is.
Spin on, and hold your loved ones close..

Going a little “batty!”

I love that this:

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Came from this:

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And became this:

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I’ve gotten into carding batts that fit “my perfect criteria.” I had NO idea I was that picky until I realized how amazing batts can be to spin– if they are light, airy, and well combed!! (Clearly I have had some clumpy, squished and not well processed batts in my past purchases) The most recent batch was a wool that I got that was a tad scratchier than I would have liked, so I dyed a BFL, silk, merino, cashmere blend I had, added some recycled sari silk clumps, and carded about 1.5 ounces at a time. Gotta tell ya..it flew out of my fingers and onto the wheel. I spun 4.5 ounces in a few hours. It was awesome!!!

And (as per my last post) very stress reducing. 🙂

Spin on!