Friday, August 27, 2010

Skuld Spins Stuff

My week at home has happily coincided with a series of spinning workshops run by Seema and Janelle of the Carbon Footprint Workshop. I find the inspiriation for and behind the project really interesting - using local wool and the spinning thereof as a metaphor for climate change and how economics has changed. Wheras Donegal wool and the products made from it are sought after commodities around the world, in Donegal the wool is virtually valueless, with farmers using the raw fleece from their sheep for soaking up tractor oil. By spinning and knitting, felting, crocheting with our own local wool, we are avoiding the heavy carbon consequence that might otherwise be incurred turning this raw material into something deemed to be of "value", for example by flying to the Far East for cleaning, spinning and making into a garment, before being flown to North America for retail You can read more about this project, as well as it's goals and inspirations, over at the Carbon Footprint Project blog. The upshot of all this is that Seema and Janelle are teaching the people of Inishowen to spin, huzzah! I've spun with a drop spindle before, having got my first for my birthday nearly exactly a year ago (you can see some of my spinning here. Last Saturday I got to fulfill a long time ambition - to spin on a wheel!

I really really enjoyed spinning on the wheel, and it didn't take that long to get the hang of....well, kind of! What I did find much harder to get the hang of was using the raw fleece, as is Seema's preference. When spinning with my drop spindle, I've always used fibre which has been carded. Carding is taking the raw fleece, which is an bit of a jumble, and either carding it on hand carders or using a drum carder, to literally comb the fibres to all the strands lie along the same direction.Also, previous to this I've always pre-drafted my fibre. Drafting is a little tricky to describe....Well, if you imagine you have a big thick hank of your carded fibre - you're not going try and spin that all in one go, are you? Your yarn would be as thick as your wrist, and also would be far too thick to hold much twist, which is what makes yarn different from roving (the carded fibre). Drafting is the process whereby when spinning, you tease out a few strands form the mass, and spin these, achieving a much thinner yarn which holds a lot of twist. When spinning on my drop spindle, I always did this teasing before hand, as I couldnt' seem to acheive the knack of doing it while I was spinning. And this seems to hold true for spinning on the wheel also - I just couldn't really seem to get the knack of drafting as I spun, and as a consequence, my spun yarn is pretty bumpy with big bits of fluff in it. I think I could get the hang of this drafting malarky with more practice though.

I'm delighted with my first wheel experience. The trouble now is that, while previous to this, I wanted a wheel but knew it would be crazy to buy one when I had no idea how to use one, now I have just enough competence to maybe (but not really) legitimately buy one. I guess in some ways it's lucky for me that they're so darn expensive! I doubt I'll be getting one for a while, but I'll defiantely be keeping my eyes open in used furnitures shops and of course, the best website ever.

Right now I'm on a bus back to Galway, just sobering up from mini-birthday celebrations last night (it's my birthday this Sunday but Galway is awful far from Donegal). This week I have also been crocheting a cardigan, but in my drunken rush to get the bus this morning, I left my camera behind. Boo! So pictures of it and the other spinning workshop I attended will have to wait. 

Be good y'all.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Groggy but good.

It's 11am Thursday morning....and I'm not at work. Huzzah! Holidays! Yes, yes, now that my big-ass presentation is over (it went very well, thank you for asking) I'm taking some time off to go home to Donegal and relax with my friends, my mum, her cat and bad daytime tv. Hence the early post - my mum's house has no internet, believe it or not. This weeks post is a little light, as the majority of crafts I was working on this week are intended as someone's birthday presents, so I don't really want to give the game away. The upshot of this is that when her birthday passes, there'll be a bonanza post.
I really like this first necklace, though I can't take credit for attaching all the lengths of chain like that. I bought it in some shop, H&M or the like, because it was 75p and I'm always on the lookout for cheap craft supplies (chain can be pretty hard to find). When I got it home and opened it up there were two collections of chain like this, with big catches on either end, and I eventually figured out that they're for putting around your ankles when you're wearing high heels. Sometimes I think just because they have thought of everything doesn't mean they should necessarily continue to.
The second is just another simple heart locket, but I do like it. I seem to have a big of a "heart on" for hearts lately. Counting up the various ones in my jewelery box, between anatomical, lockets, hearts and crossbones and just plain heart, I have....ten heart necklaces? Too many?

I should be able to post by next Thursday, and if not, you'll just have to find it in your heart to forgive me.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Glorious distraction

It's a sunny Sunday, barely cusping on the afternoon. I think we'll finally be able to use our 'pool' again. I went downstairs to fill it but I can't figure out how to make the hose connect to the kitchen tap. Hmm. I have a big presentation at work tomorrow which I really should be practicing for. I really, really should. I need more coffee before I think about any of that.
I prepared a whole lot of shrinky's earlier in the week, before realizing I'd left my hold punch in work. Not much point baking them if you're not going to be able to put it on your necklace. This one had a hole in it by design, so I have something to show for the evening.
The words in the background are kind've faded, which I like, but needless to say they're some random lyrics from a song I like.
This week I finally got around to whipping up a cosy for my MP3 player, so I could stop stuffing it in my bra when I have no pockets. Then within 2 days of making it the player broke and I'm back to using my old one, which is a completely different shape and size. Typical.

This post really wasn't the most thrilling. Apologies. Blame the coffee and lack thereof.

Have a great week everyone.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Swapping goodness

This week I've been working on a scarf for a swap I'm involved in over at Swap-Bot. I love Swap-bot. It's a website for those interested in, you guessed it, swapping. There's a forum, in which members can post up swaps, which they will moderate. Clicking on each swap gives the date by which you must sign-up by and the date which you must post your items by, as well as the details of the swap. They will detail how much effort you may have to go into for the swap. For example, say the swap is 'Swap 10 buttons', the moderator will detail whether these can be any ten buttons of the senders choosing, or if you should go to some effort by visiting the recipients profile, seeing their interests, and finding buttons which you think they specifically will like. Some swaps will, obviously, require a lot more effort and sometimes money than others, all of which should be detailed in the swap. There's also a rating system, whereby you rate your partner based on how well they fulfilled the conditions of the swap. The swaps range form simple e-mail swaps to everything else under the sun - not just craft related. So far I've mostly swapped sweets and chocolate, (I like trying ones I've never had before) but this particular swap was a 'Send on your crafts' swap. Join the swap, make something you're good at making, send it off, and in turn, receive something from someone else in the swap - what could be more delightful than getting some unknown craftery in the post?
It was stipulated that you should spend in the region of $7 in this swap, so I used one of the few fancy yarns in my stash, my hank of Colinette Art. My recipient lives in Florida, and while I'm sure they don't have the harshest winters, I'm sure they still have chill Autumn evenings on which you'd appreciate a little something around your neck - nothing too heavy though. With this in mind I crocheted this scarf employing both single crochet and big, airy trebly stitches. I threw in the off row of ribbing along the way, for texture, and this gave the scarf its name - the Spot the Asymmetry scarf.
I think it's just the right length for this type of casual scarf - as modeled by this hungover chick.

Though the items don't have to sent until later this month, the person who got me got stuck right in and on Friday I received this delightful package (sans black rectange, but no need to throw my address around the internet more than necessary - only when  in exchange for goods and services).

Inside, a wonderful bevy of tattoo inspired paper craft. A lovely little card....

...artist trading card....


....and my favorite, a beautiful handmade notebook.

The joys of swapping! Thank you so much Melissa!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Hiatus ends. Everybody cheers.

Hello there! My laptop has been returned to me, complete with new graphics card, and I return to document the piffling offerings I've produced over the last few weeks. As I suspected might happen, crafts got a bit neglected over the last few weeks - with the hassle of packing of all my stuff to move, dealing with mad work stress, and going to Edinburgh for a rocking weekend......well, let's just say I'm glad to be back! The blog is the extra push I need to make time to get creative. So, let's get on with the show, shall we?
One of the things I really love about knitting and crochet is that even if you're unable to set aside a chunk of time to do some creating, as has been my situation lately, you can still pick up your needles or hook for a few minutes here and there and produce something. My best friend made me a kitty hat last year, and much to my sadness it seems to have disappeared without a trace. I made this one with some lovely Blizzard yarn by Tivoli, and it is so warm and soft! Perfect for Winter. It's basically just a rectangle done in stockinette stitch with ten rows of 2 by 2 ribbing on each end, folded over and the sides sewn together. You get kitty ears as a happy by-product of the fact that your head ain't a square. Huzzah, physics!

Apart from that, my craft production has been pretty woeful, as I've already mentioned. Just a leetle bit of stenciling (bad stenciling I know, but I kind of like the way the rough stencils look, as it contributes to the effed up look I'm trying to impart on the garment) and some crude needlework. I don't know what the second bit of needlework is going to go on yet, but I think it'll be something I can leave at work. I've been pretty stressed out work-wise lately....a little positive reinforcement might help me chill out.
One thing that has come from moving is having to confront the sheer volume of things I own. I really hate waste, so I have all these fabric scraps and bits of t-shirts, things I can't bring myself to just waste and throw out, but nothing anyone else would find useful. So hopefully over the next few weeks I'll post some projects in which I've managed to lessen my stash a little. I hope everybody has a great week. Bank Holiday weekends rule!