Sunday, July 10, 2011

Tour De Fleece

     Its day 8 of the Tour De Fleece and the teams are well on their way to spinning through their fiber piles. This year I'm spinning for the Lantern Rouge team. Its the team for people that are too lazy/busy/tired to spin everyday. I fit in here well. I've been preoccupied with lots of other things so my spinning has been coming along slowly.

When I was first learning to spin, this video helped a lot. Megan from gives a pretty good demonstration of spinning with a drop spindle, and sprinkles her video with some really good tips. This is a great video to start with for anyone interested in learning to spin.

3 years ago when I first fell in love with spinning I found, what I thought would be my perfect drop spindle on etsy. Jumping ahead to today, I still love my little stained glass spindle, but am ready for an upgrade. This time I'm looking for something a little bigger and a little heavier. I have found that I prefer to spin lace weight threads during the summer (and most of the tour) but as the days grow cooler my yarns get bulkier and my tiny spindle is quickly overwhelmed. Etsy is a great place to find some really unique and reasonably priced tools and is usually the first place I look for new toys.

This is what I've got on tap for the rest of the tour. The two colored braids are both 100% merino and the white one is bamboo top. I had so much fun spinning bamboo top during last years tour I bought another 8 oz.

Some tips for spinning bamboo top:
  •      Lay a blanket or towel down in the area where you sit while you spin. The fibers get all over everything really fast and it takes several round of vigorous vacuuming to get rid of it all. Its much easier to just have a towel over you lap. When your done just scoop up what you can by running your hands over the fabric and toss the towel in the wash. Just make sure not to put anything important in the machine with it. You'll have bamboo fibers all over your clothes forever.
  •      Use a thinner strand of fiber than you would for most other fibers. Bamboo top is very dense and you may find that even after its been drafted a couple times, your yarn is still too thick. 
  •      Break up your fiber into short lengths. I find that, unlike merino or other wools, bamboo top will break easily and get tangled. Shorter lengths of fiber have been very helpful in preventing this.
When your done spinning, bamboo top will give you a beautiful, silky yarn that is very very strong. The finished product plies easily and dyes very well. When you do dye it, just keep in mind the density of your strand. For me, my bamboo yarn is usually pretty heavy so I allow some extra time for the yarn to soak up the color. Give bamboo some extra time to dry too.

Merino is usually pretty easy to spin. I'm sure most of you have spun merino at some point and as you know, its typically very manageable and takes color very well.

Both of these colored braids were etsy finds. I think I talked about them in an earlier post. I love the coloring in both of them. I can't wait to really get into spinning these. I think I'll do an official spinning tutorial sometime in the coming week.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Back to work!

I know its been a while since I posted, but I promise I've been busy. I had lots of family visit over the holiday and got to spend some serious time with them all. I guess we'll start with the 4th of July and go backwards.

My 4th of July crafts were these beautiful spray painted candle holders. I saw them on Martha Stewart's website and just fell in love with them.

I took a quick trip to Wal Mart and picked up some clear mason jars, flat red exterior spray paint and some star stickers. JB thought I was crazy, but I trust Martha to hook me up with some ingenious holiday crafts.

I stuck the star stickers on the jars in a random arrangement. I found out later that the best results came from the stars I gave a little extra attention and made sure they were stuck down really really well.

Here are all my little jars lined up. I kept the the lids on them because I really liked the look of the clear jar tops. After spray painting I found that the clear top and the red body of the jar blended together really well.

Here are the jars after their little makeover. At this point I was very excited! I couldn't wait to peel off the stars and see the finished project. Unfortunately I got very distracted right about here and found this pretty plant on my patio that I felt NEEDED to be replanted into a nicer pot.

Aren't the lilies pretty!? They look so nice on my patio. I put them on the table I have out there so I can see them from the sun room inside. So, hours passed and suddenly my house was cleaned and my computer was organized and I even got a little bit of knitting in. The 4th of July candle holders were forgotten about. But suddenly, as the sun was going down, "OH MY GOSH! I GOTTA GO GET THE CANDLE HOLDERS!" and I ran outside, gathered them up, and brought them into the house, only to be distracted by something else. Boo. The next day I finally got my act together and peeled off all the stars and added the vanilla scented tea lights to each of them. I brought them all to my mom's house for her 4th of July party. She used them to line her deck and they ended up looking beautiful at night!

The finished product!

This was a super fun and super easy project. Really you could adapt this to just about any holiday. I used a few of them to stuff with small goodies and use as gifts for JB's mom and one for the hostess of another party we were invited to. 

Along with my candle holders I also made these cute little party favors out of card stock and tissue paper.

They are little rockets filled with candy! The little ones loved these things! I used a potato stamp carved into a star shape to decorate the card stock. Potato stamps are so much fun! I havn't used them since I was little, but man are they smart! I was going to buy a star stamp and it was like $10! I just could not bring myself to spend $10 on a piece of rubber shaped like a star.

These little rocket party favors were so easy and made a big impression. You just cut a piece of cardstock, glue a strip of white paper to the bottom, glue a rectangle of tissue paper to the bottom edge of the white strip, then roll up and glue it together. The top is made of a circle of paper with a small notch cut from the edge to the middle and then the two sides are overlapped creating a cone shape. I used hot glue to attach the top to the body of the rocket. After the top was on, I filled the rocket with candy and tied the tissue paper with some pretty blue ribbon.

JB and I went to 2 different Independence day parties. Both went spectacularly and all my little goodies were received extremely well. The second party doubled as a birthday party for my 2 year old cousin and my 5 year old cousin. We had 2 pinatas, and 2 cakes and twice the fun of a regular party. My dad picked up tons of fireworks, we didn't even have time to use all of them! I bet we'll have fireworks left over for a month! The bulldog in the picture is named Sam, he was my buddy the whole evening. How cute is he?!