Showing posts with label spinning. Show all posts
Showing posts with label spinning. Show all posts

Tis the season for RSI's

Chances are you're probably in that holiday craft twilight time - the mad dash to get all those projects finished that you have in mind for your handmade gifting this season. I feel your pain, I have a list myself. I am also fortunate in that I get to knit and crochet as a source of income - so that's a lot of time spent with my hands and wrists in repetitive motion which could lead to repetitive stress injury or RSI. Even without the worry of RSI's, working long hours on knit or crochet projects can make for some pretty sore and tired hands, aching shoulders and a complaining spine.

So what can you do to reduce pain and fatigue while you craft?

Use proper body mechanics

I know I've spent some time on my nice comfy couch with feet propped up and needles in hand, in front of my favorite show only to be terribly disappointed when I can't move without pain just 30 minutes later. How is it I can spend hours in my craft room and barely tolerate the comfort of my red cushy leather couch? It all boils down to proper body mechanics.

Keeping your spine in proper alignment will help reduce pain and fatigue. Your grandmother was right - sit up straight. We all have three natural curves in our spine: the cervical (neck), the thoracic (upper back) and the lumbar (lower back). Proper alignment of the spine means keeping these natural curves lifted, not collapsed or held. Picture your spine as a gentle S curve, with each vertebrae stacked gently on top of each other. When you sit, you should feel your ears balanced over your shoulders, your shoulders over your hips and your spine lifted. If you have a chair with a lumbar support, make sure it is in the proper position and uncross those legs! Crossing your legs while you are seated will cause the spine to twist in an unnatural position which will lead to an aching back and shoulders. Speaking of legs, make sure your chair is at the proper height for you. Your knees should be at a 90 degree angle - no dangling feet and no knees pointing up. When seated, you should be able to have both feet comfortably on the ground while maintaining that 90 degree angle. I personally don't use a chair with a back. My favorite crafting chair so far is a padded storage stool. It's the right height, it's comfy and it serves a purpose (it holds my spinning fiber). I make it a point to sit up into proper spine alignment while I work but when I notice I'm starting to slouch I move on to the next point.

Take frequent breaks

It's important to take frequent breaks. If you notice yourself slouching or your shoulders are starting to squeeze in on your neck then it's time to move around. Get up, do a few squats, or a few lunges. Gently stretch your fingers back, give yourself a mini hand massage, lift your hands up to the sky and stretch out your spine. Do anything that will gently stretch those muscles and joints and get the blood moving.

I save my dusting and vacuuming for some of my "break" times. And fortunately with two large breed dogs that like to shed a lot, it's a daily break time opportunity.

De-stress your workspace

The quickest way to sit in a hunched or stiff position is to have a stressful workspace. Try not to have too many projects out at once, especially if you're planning on them all going out the door at once! This is a visual cue of a pile of work that needs to be done. Pull out one project at a time, work on it for a while then put it away before pulling out your next work in progress. This will keep your workspace de-cluttered and will help you remain calm. Stress? What stress, I'm almost finished with this and I see nothing else that needs to be done right now. That's my yarn zen mantra - it's a little simplistic but it works.

I hope you get to enjoy your crafting as much as I enjoy mine.

~Happy Crafting!~


Disclaimer: I am not a physician and can not diagnose or treat any condition. The advice given here is my personal opinion for my situation. If you are having difficulty, please consult a medical professional for proper diagnosis and treatment.

What's trending for Fall?

As a crafter you are also part fashionista so it helps to keep up on the latest trends. We have some amazing colors and textures coming up for the Fall/Winter 2016 season.

Some colors to keep your eye on:


New hand dyed colors for the shop!
Colors for the Fall/Winter season range anywhere from the traditional deep pumpkin and mulled wine to soft prism kissed pinks, purples and blues. And the yarns are just as wonderful. Soft worsted and woolens, shiny silks and fingering, beaded lace weights - it's all beautiful.

I just finished dyeing up two new colorways for the store and of course it had to be Poe inspired - my little nod to the Halloween season.

Annabel Lee is a beautiful wool and tussah silk blend, hand dyed in soft shades of silver that blend into cool blue and purple before transitioning into a soft pink. Edgar is 100% polwarth  in shades of rose, purple, and steel grey handpainted on a creamy background. Both are wonderfully soft and ready for your needles.

Accessories as always will run the gamut from hat to fingerless gloves. The wonderful thing about accessory patterns it that they are usually quick so it is possible to punch out at 5 on a Friday and have a neat new hat or cowl by 8 AM come Monday morning. The other thing that's great about accessories is that you can splurge on a slightly more expensive yarn - always a fun thing to do.

Dropping Daisies Crochet Scarf


Adirondack Knit Hat
A few quick accessory patterns for you to try:


Adirondack Hat (Free through the end of September!)

Dropping Daisies Scarf

Fearcorbda Capelet






Spinzilla 2015!

Handspun yarn by Color Energy Designs
Spinzilla 2015 - already planning for 2016!
 
This year I finally joined the Spinzilla event as a rogue spinner. For those that don't know, it's an annual global event to see how much yarn you can spin in one week. I thought about it in previous years but never did it - always with the excuse "I'm not good enough" or "I'll wait until I'm good enough". But then I read one of those meme's: if you wait until you're enough, you will never get started. So, with that thought in mind I signed up. I'm so glad I did.

I had set a goal of spinning a mile, I fell short at 1720 yards but I learned so much and the spinning exercise was worth it. The first thing I learned? I did not prepare nearly enough rolags for spinning. What seems like a mountain of fluffy, prepared wool is deceptive. The mountain disappeared quickly. But this did lead me to my second challenge: respinning my first ever spinning attempt into something nice.


Handspun yarn
Angry caterpillars!
 
The respinning adventure! To be honest, if I hadn't stopped to do the respin I would have been able to meet my goal but then I wouldn't be looking at a nice hank of burgundy BFL right now. Priorities? My first attempt was terrible! I gripped the fiber too tightly, my rhythm on the wheel was akin to Steve Martin's in The Jerk and the result was a ferocious row of evil caterpillars. I left it hanging in my craft room as a reminder of how spinning should not look. But midway through Spinzilla I decided to see if I could save that beautifully dyed fiber.
Saving the BFL

The 'unspin'
 
Handspun yarn
The 'respin'
As difficult as my first spin was, unspinning it proved to be just as difficult. At first I tried to unspin it on the wheel - I don't recommend it. The poorly spun fiber was already unfriendly and it definitely did not like being twisted in the opposite direction running along the flyer hooks. Then I decided to use the drop spindle - much better. All I really had to do was let the spindle hang in mid-air and let gravity do its work. It was time consuming but after a few hours, I had all 180 yards unspun and waiting to be fluffed, drafted and respun. I did save a bit of that first attempt though - it's always good to have a visual reference for progress.


Handspun yarn
Much better!

 My surprise of the week was the 'crazy' skein. I took all the odd bits from the previous plied skeins and put them all together. I love the end result, in fact it's probably my favorite skein from the week. The mix of colors has me rethinking the way I plan out my colors for future yarns. I plan to play around with some more 'crazy' skein ideas.

The week was a huge success for me, not because I think I'm a great spinner....yet, but because I gave myself the opportunity to experiment and to grow as a spinner. It's amazing what you can accomplish when you challenge yourself - true for spinning, true for every day life.




Handspun yarn
The 'crazy' skein <3
If you'd like to see what Spinzilla is all about, please visit www.spinzilla.org. Fair warning though: once you get the spinning bug, it's hard to get rid of (but really why would you want to?).

The only thing better than surrounding yourself with yarn is surrounding yourself with yarn you've dyed and spun.

Navajo Ply



Handspun yarn by Color Energy Designs
Navajo Plied spun single

I have a confession - I love to spin but I hate to ply. Well, hate is such a strong word. It would be more accurate to say traditional plying is a source of frustration for me - the coordination required for a beautifully balanced handspun plied yarn is beyond me. I've tried (not often I admit) but I usually end up with one bobbin spinning a little too freely and what follows is a cloud of expletives while yet another "art yarn" gets wrapped into a skein.

Terribly frustrating until I found Sarah Anderson's video on Youtube. (I just love Youtube - you can find anything on there)

Handspun yarn by Color Energy Designs
I tried the Navajo ply technique (also known as chain plying)and I am a convert. The process is far less frustrating and the finished yarn looks and feels great. I like the method so much that I have taken some of my commercial yarns and combined them into some great looking combinations.

Have you been to the Knittyspin site yet? If not, make your first visit by reading Lee Juvan's article "Navajo Plying: Spinner's Glossary" (Knittyspin.com, Issue 32, First Fall 2010)

The Navajo ply method is an excellent choice for your multi-colored hand painted rovings if you want to keep your colorways nice and even. For me it is a way to finally finish my spinning in a frustratioon free environment.

Happy Crafting!
~Evelyn

Wool...the Winter Blues Cure!

I'll admit it...I am not a fan of winter and the recent polar vortex did not improve my view of the season. Luckily, I am a yarn enthusiast (or addict - you say pool, I say pond - either would be nice). I like to focus on something colorful, soft and warm instead of the white, cold, frozen water piling up outside.

The nasty weather does have one upside - it gives me the opportunity to work on some wool spinning technique and what better way to learn than to sit right down, pull up some YouTube and get to work.

I found the Namaste Farms YouTube channel and within minutes of watching "Preparing your yarn after spinning" I discovered what I had been doing wrong. You can read it in a book but there's nothing like watching the process. I quickly watched a few more of the videos and discovered not only where my technique needed work but WHY my yarn didn't look as nice as I wanted it to.

Handspun wool © 2014 E. Stilson-Ouderkirk
The photo above shows my spinning progression from left to right. The first two are excellent examples of over-spinning, gripping the wool too tight at times, pushing the wool at the wheel, not finishing the wool properly and not keeping a nice and steady rhythm. The greenish one (2nd in from the right) my technique was a little better - however, the wool was very difficult to work with. I purchased the wool at a bargain price and at the time of my purchase I thought I had gotten the 'best deal ever'. What I got was wool that was partially felted and fibers in every direction possible. Still, it was a lesson on what to look for when buying wool, keeping the hands in proper position and finishing technique. The far right skein is my first alpaca spin and my first dye project. You can see that the technique has improved - the strand is more uniform throughout. I dyed the finished skein using turmeric and used alum as the mordant. I found some of the information on the HGTV Gardens site.

Winter blah's - I don't think so. I have an app for that....it's called wool, wheel and YouTube. Happy spinning!

© 2014 E. Stilson-Ouderkirk

Spinning Day


    Today was a spinning day. I like listening to the steady whirring of the wheel, the feel of soft wool running through my fingers and having absolutely no thoughts rushing through my head. It is, for me, as close to meditation as I can possibly get.
    My first attempts were less than zen for me. My feet treadled faster than my hands were prepared for leading to lots of broken strands and the constant rejoining left big, ugly slubs. It was a frustration! But, I was determined not to quit.
    Little by little, I have been improving. I'm not at lace weight...yet! And I may never achieve that quality but that's not why I do it anyway. I spin for the quietness of thought and for the love of fiber.


Here are a few of the businesses I have purchased my roving from, the customer service at each has been stellar!

Maine Woods Yarn & Fiber - http://www.mainewoodsyarn.com/ 

Susan's Spinning Bunny - http://www.spinningbunny.com/

Knitting, Etc. Ithaca - http://knittingetcithaca.com/