The Woolful Podcast

I found out about the Woolful Podcast through an article on the ravelry homepage a couple of months ago. The article featured a blog post by Karen Templer of Fringe Association, discussing sustainability and making your own clothes. It evoked some emotions within me because I felt that making your own clothes wasn’t necessarily synonymous with sustainability, and it got me interested in what Karen had said in her interview on Woolful. I then fell in love with the Woolful podcast.

For those of you who haven’t heard of the Woolful podcast, I would highly recommend it. Subscribe to it on your smartphone using the Podcast Addict app or any other app for listening to podcasts, or listen to the episodes directly on your computer. I like to listen when I’m knitting at home, or taking a long drive by myself.

Ashley Yousling has a dream that she is fulfilling – to live on her own farm and raise sheep, dye yarn, and establish a fiber mill there. She is wisely reaching out to various people with knowledge about farming and about fiber and she shares this knowledge with us in the interviews on Woolful. I love how each person gets to tell their story and I can feel as if I meet the people and see them. Ashley’s husband is a photographer, and the photos on the site are beautiful. I also recommend the video of natural dyeing on the farm also by Ashley.

Ashley Yousling of Woolful with the irresistibly adorable puppies on her farm in Idaho

I’m almost caught up with all the podcast episodes – there are only maybe 3 that I haven’t listened to. My favorite episode is Episode 16: Vermont fiber farming and milling, Shetland sheep and overcoming fear. I love Michael Hampton’s story and candor about his fiber mill. I love that he was once an engineer, working in a non farming world and then he decided to make a change and establish a mill. I love Tammy White of Wing and a Prayer farm – she is one inspiring lady, who basically takes care of maybe 150 animals on the farm on her own. You can tell that she loves the animals and takes good care of them. I love that her animals run to her and love to be petted. Tammy’s instagram feed is full of cute lambs, funny alpacas, cats, dogs, scenery, natural dyeing and more.

When I listen to the Woolful podcast I feel that I want to be there – with the sheep, in the countryside, in the pastures, away from the city and the office. To be with the wool from sheep to mill to spinnery to sweater. In a way, I feel that I am there. I’ve learned about the various types of sheep and what goes into making wool. It has complemented my understanding of the fibers I spin, and has given me so many pointers on where to learn more.

Gotland Sheep

Merino Sheep on White Gum Wool farm, Tasmania. Nan Bray is of the most inspiring farmers I’ve heard about.

more spinning, and a ball winder

I’m having so much fun spinning this fiber. I plied (2-ply) the Gotland green yarn, washed it, and now it’s hanging up to dry. Luckily, in this weather, it should dry pretty fast.

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I’m spinning the second ply of the “Brighten Up!” hand painted Targhee wool.

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Targhee fiber is so awesomely crimpy and bouncy. The fiber reminds me a bit of foam.

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Targhee feels to me relatively easy to spin, maybe a bit more difficult than the Gotland. The Gotland spun up very fuzzy, whereas the Targhee actually spun into a tidy single. They’re both beautiful and wonderful fibers to work with.

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Each ply should be about 34 grams – I find this to be a comfortable amount of fiber to have on the spindle as a single and to ply. My issue is mostly with plying on the spindle – it gets cumbersome and hard to wind on at some point. But since much more time is spent spinning as opposed to plying, that’s okay. Ending up with about 70 grams on a skein is fine for me, for now.

I wiped off my grandmother’s old yarn ball winder with some disinfectant, and saw that it was pretty clean and ready for use. It’s nostalgic to see how things used to be made: with wood and metal.

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I’m glad my mom kept it and gave it to me. My grandmother was an amazing knitter, and she also sewed and appliqued and even wrote a book about applique. I feel like she and my mom passed the love of craft to me. My dad is also very talented at making things with his hands. I’m lucky to have creativity, craft, and resourcefulness flowing through both sides of my family.

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spinning Gotland and Targhee

My boyfriend got me many gifts for my birthday, one of which arrived in the mail Thursday: a LOT of spinning fiber from Spunky Eclectic. It’s my first time spinning colorful (dyed) fiber and I’m enjoying it immensely!

I started off with this lovely Gotland wool in an alien green:

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My spindle weighs 54 grams (1.9 oz) according to my scale, so I spun until it weighed 90 grams (3.17 oz), wound off a single ball of 36 grams (1.26 oz) around a coin, then repeated. So I now have two balls of single yarn, which I will let set and then I will ply (2-ply) on my beloved drop spindle.
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I love seeing the variations in color, and there also seems to be some dark brown fibers in there as well. Spinning this wool was a joy.DSC02119

I’m going to spin the same amount of fiber from this hand dyed Targhee wool (oranges, yellows, greens). I love seeing the colors change as I spin. The Targhee is super crimpy, and it looks sort of like foam! It too is a pleasure to spin.

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cat survey results are in

96% of survey participants spin yarn and and 92% knit.
27 participants overall.

First Question: How do you feel about cats?

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Who doesn’t like cats?! That must be one of the non-spinning, non-knitting people, who accidentally selected the wrong answer and was just having an off day.

I am also disappointed at the low percentage of being absolutely crazy about cats. But at least over 75% feel positively about cats. I can live with that. Somehow.

Second Question: How many cats live with you today?

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Well, there’s potential for growth! 18% might get a cat. Yay!

Thank you for participating in the survey! :-)

felty Finn

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Out of the wash. Starting to notice the felted-together strands, attached to each other like velcro DSC02094

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Dry skein, after having pulled apart each strand: DSC02088

And in familiar rolled up skeiny form: DSC02106

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Here’s the swatch. 14-16 wpi, 3.5 mm needles. Perhaps I should move up a needle size. It’s not extremely soft, but it’ll definitely do for a warm not-next-to-skin sweater. DSC02111

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overcoming knitting fear

Take the survey!

This is going to be a rectangle.

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Its width is 60 cm (23.5 inches). If it were a a bit wider or narrower, that would have been fine.

The 1×1 rib at the bottom is so and so rows, it doesn’t matter really how many, as many as I thought looked nice at the time I was knitting. If I knit up less, or more, that would be just fine too.

The height up to the armhole will be 50-55 cm (19.5-21.5 inches), so that it’ll be a nice tunic length. I measured this length off of a tee I already have. But a shorter or longer length will do as well.

That’s the plan for now: to knit a rectangle.

At the armhole, I’m just going to continue knitting up straight and figure out how to make the neckline. I’ll think about it when I get to it.

Knitting without a knitting pattern terrifies me. It doesn’t matter that I know it shouldn’t be that hard, or that I know how to draft sewing patterns from scratch. I don’t know why, it’s like I think that if I don’t follow a pattern, instead of a tee I might create a monster. It’s an irrational fear.

source: Danger Crafts Maddox Monster Actually, creating a monster might not be so bad.

It also doesn’t matter that I majored in Math in HS and that I have a bachelors degree in computer science, so the arithmetic should be simple for me. Or that there are a million helpful explanations out there in blogs, books, videos, and what not. I am scared like a cat at the sound of a rustling plastic bag at the thought that I have to make actual decisions about measurements and “design elements”. I am scared to the point that I can’t do it.

So I decided to take it one step at a time. Step 1 – make a rectangle. Actually, step 1 was to make the swatch, so that I could tell how many stitches are needed to make a 60 cm wide rectangle. In my case, the answer was 144, because in my swatch, there were 24 stitches in 10 cm. More or less. So there are 24×60/10=144 stitches in 60 cm. This is knit fabric, and an oversize tee. It will forgive me my mistakes. I keep telling myself that.

I might knit up the top part (starting at some point above the armhole) in a different pattern, maybe something like this one.

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I’m knitting the back and the front separately, and I will seam them together. At least I’m not afraid of seaming knit garment pieces! Thank wool for that. There are several reasons why I’m making this a pieced tee:

  • because breaking up the garment into its constituent parts makes it less scary.
  • because the book I got from which I want to learn more teaches how to make knitting patterns using pieced knitting, and when I am less scared I want to follow that book.
  • and maybe most importantly, because you can make the same knit garment in a variety of ways: top down, bottom up, side to side – and I want to take that complexity out of the equation. After I’m comfortable with pieced garment making, I think it’ll be easier to tackle different ways that that same garment could be constructed.

Are you intimidated by some aspect of knitting? Do you want to join me in overcoming at least a small part of that fear? If so I would be happy to support you, and to have your support. To know that I’m not the only person out there with this irrational fear. Maybe we can help each other through it. Leave me a comment, or drop me an email, if you are so inclined.

More Drop Spindle Spinning

Good morning, readers! I’m whipping up a short update post before getting ready and heading for work. I promised myself I would get better at taking photos which I put up on the blog, instagram, etc. I will make an effort! But that effort has not yet been made, so please excuse the blurriness etc. I do promise better photos soon! Here’s another look at Jessie’s girl. I wore it once to work so far and it’s a comfy and flattering tee. Nowadays, I wear tunics and tights most days, dresses other days. Which is why I lengthened the tee a bit to make it more of a tunic. I’m happy with it. DSC02060 I’ve been spinning on my drop spindle quite a bit. Here’s my re-spun (I spun it badly, then fixed the slubby parts) and two-plied Corriedale, I think it is: DSC02036 DSC02050 It’s amazing to see the transformation that happens after washing. People say the yarn “blooms” and I see what they mean! My latest spinning is approximately 3 oz of Romney undyed combed top – my first ever 3 ply. This office chair was used as a makeshift skein maker: DSC02062 and here is the 3-ply hand spun (spindle spun!) yarn: DSC02064 It’s not easy to ply such a length on a drop spindle, just because of the weight of it all. But I am proud of myself for doing it. I’ve been spinning more consistently and drafting flows much better now. This is the above 3-ply yarn, before plying – I spun it into a 3-ply ball as Abby Franquemont suggests. 17341473861_03a31f8727_k Here’s one of the singles being spun: 17141724690_d30f4aba3b_k I am contemplating getting a Hansen miniSpinner. It’s so expensive, but it seems like a great tool. Gotta run!