Merry Christmas Eve!!

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Hello Friends!! It’s been a while since I blogged, but most of you know it’s been a year of healing for me after losing my mom…and I am starting to feel like “me” again. A slightly different “me” but good, nonetheless. In all this processing time, I have still been very fiber busy. Here’s a few updates from finished products. The pic above is my newest muse..free form tapestry weaving. I. Love. It. Here’s another:

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And a knit/woven scarf:

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A hoodie for my nephew for Christmas:

IMG_8255.JPGAnd a sweater I made for myself:

IMG_8314.PNGOh, and one more weaving:

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And, probably one of the biggest decisions I have made..in January I’m starting the process to become a certified Holy Yoga Instructor. In a nutshell, it’s all the benefits of yoga but connected to the Christian faith, which is how I have been practicing anyway. I love the idea of helping others discover that path. And I have mentioned before how much yoga and knitting are such a great combination..I truly believe that yoga has saved my wrists and improved my posture. So, you’ll be hearing more about that adventure on this blog as well.
I hope you all have an amazing and beautiful Christmas!
Leah

Are you a monogamous knitter?

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I think I’m getting my groove back..and it feels good. One of the consistent things I’ve had to help me process my recent loss has been my Channel Cardigan . (I’ve just got to attach the collar and front band now. Full report when it’s a real FO). During the past several weeks I’ve realized I am much more of a one project knitter than a “mix it up” sort of girl. In fact, having several projects on the needles stresses me out, and I usually end up not liking one of them.

I do have a running wish list in my head though..of what to do next, and that choice is a constant battle! I’m really smitten with Arabella from Brooklyn Tweed’s Wool People 7. What’s not to love?

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I am, however…NOT a monogamous fiber artist. Here’s the list of what’s going on in that world..Yoinks!
1. Two fleeces a-washing..
2. Spinning said fleeces…
3. A pattern in my head that needs to get out..
4. Warping the loom for a special project…

How about you? Are you monogamous in your creative pursuits or do you thrive with more projects going on?

Spin on!

My visit to Cooke Creek Sheep Company!

  

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     Most of you know that a year ago I started a quest to get my yarn as locally as possible and them learned how to wash it and process it, which led to this epic tale.  In the process of this, I really wanted to connect with a local farm that I could get to know and trust so that I could share stories about where the wool came from. I had some disasters along the way, because just showing up at a farm isn’t quite as simple as it sounds. I would research different farms, and look for ways to get a sample if their wool. All the things that you need to do when you live in a small two bedroom condo. I had sheep fleeces that were shipped to me that weighed more in poo than they did in wool, fleeces that were just low grade quality, and fleeces that were really nice. I learned that for the urban lifestyle, washing a full fleece at once can put your marriage on shaky ground. (just kidding, my husband is super supportive, but I do think he winced the first time he saw a murky brown mess in the bathtub!)

     All that to say, I finally found an amazing farm about two hours from where I live, so I visited last weekend to see where this awesome wool was coming from. 

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     Cooke Creek Sheep Company is run by Jami and her husband Larry and they are amazing, welcoming people who are passionate about what they do.  They are in lambing season right now, so as you can see from the top picture, (my favorite picture in the whole world), I got to hold a 4 day old lamb. I posted that pic on Facebook and one of my friends immediately added the thought bubble..which as quite appropriate.

     If you are looking to do the whole fleece thing, I can’t recommend them highly enough. And, if you are more of an urban spinner, I’m going to create test spinning packages for my etsy shop, so stay tuned. I’ll do it at cost and anything I add on for labor will go to support Awamaki like the rest of my products on the site. 

I’ll be starting that project with wool from this sheep..meet “Socks.”  He’s a Border Leicester sheep and I just started washing some of the 10 pounds of fiber I bought! 

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     As a final lovely picture, Jami also has yarn that she has from their sheep. It was from a similar fleece that I spun up last summer, and I was thrilled to see that the millspun looked like mine! Definitely a good confidence booster. It’s quite sturdy yarn, so I dyed it to create a weaving pattern for the farm. Here’s a sneak peak at the dye job:Image

     So, that’s a full post with tons of fun info! If your interested in learning more about the urban spinner packages I will be assembling, let me know below. 

     Have a great weekend and spin on!

 

Oliver, spinning, weaving…so much going on!

So…my blogging has been a little slow because of this sweet distraction.

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Can you blame me? Oh. My. Gosh. Meet Oliver, my new little sidekick. He’s 5, a rescue, and a mix of Shitzu and Maltese. He’s like a cuddly teddy bear. I confess I have missed a few spinning evenings because he’s brand new to us and I couldn’t stop holding him!
Stay tuned for more Ollie stories… But for now, back to spinning, knitting and weaving!

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Fall colors…and a cabled yarn.
If I had to choose my favorite type of art yarn to spin, it would be yarn with beads in it. I’m fascinated with the combination of yarn colors and textures with various beads..and the possibilities are endless! This yarn is a 4 played cable, which was tons of fun, but I worked beads in like this:

20131118-184252.jpg It’s a pretty simple technique and I love having the beads spun directly onto the yarn. I’ll write up the pattern soon–it’s a very simple cowl that makes a sweet neck warmer–and with the beads, who needs a necklace?
My other big project was a shawl I wove for my mom..she requested one large enough to wrap around while sitting on the sofa watching a movie or reading, but not a bulky as a blanket. I think she’ll enjoy it! I do love weaving..it’s such a different stride from spinning and knitting. I just have to get over the whole warping thing..not my favorite part! But still..a fun project! 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!

Cornwall, hiking, and (of course) wool!

Cornwall is amazing. We’ve had fabulous weather (so far) and amazing, breathtaking hikes along the coast. I can’t even describe the beauty of the English countryside, but it has been breathtaking. And steep. You hike up to the cliff, and down to the port. Repeat a gazillion times. So far, 34 miles!!
Windswept cliffs..

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Beautiful beaches…

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Flowers galore…

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And SHEEP!!! Along the path. Glorious.
As you can see..it’s pretty amazing. Three more days in Cornwall. I have a hilarious sheep story for my next post. Until then…

Spin on!

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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!

“Perfect” is self defined

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Up until about six months ago, my focus on spinning was to get my yarn as even, smooth, and consistent as possible. Sometimes I would go for a sock weight, sometimes bulky, but mostly I aimed for the best worsted weight I could muster. After about 7 years of spinning, I found myself being less and less satisfied with the finished product. Not that there was anything wrong with it..but I began to feel like I was just “producing” yarn.

Then I started spinning art yarn, and while it’s a new path of discovery for me, I realized that I had gotten pretty good at technical skills but was confining myself to that box that equaled “the perfect yarn.” (PS. There us no such thing..!)

The ability to find joy in thick and thin and suddenly consider slubs as neat and random elements of texture lead me to the project posted above..my Mardi Gras scarf. Rules broken.

I also found that when spinning from one of my recent raw fleece projects, I could rely on my technical skills to keep the overall weight of the yarn even and enjoy the fact that slubs and bumps were incorporated in. The pic below is 3.7 ounces of what I’ll call “freshly spun” from the Dorset fleece I got a few weeks ago.

All in all, this little lesson reminded me that in life, work, and projects..if we focus to much on what we consider to be the “ideal” result, we might miss something amazing in the process.

Spin on!

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