Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Experiments in Natural Dyeing

After being away from my dear spinning wheel for so long, I desperately needed a crafty day. Today was that day!

Last night, I combed and spun some of the Rambouillet that my friend Marie gave me. I have a dark fleece and a white fleece. I played with combing the two colors together, and made a stripey yarn.

No idea what the yardage is, but I'm happy with the result. I'm going to have to try it again when I'm not planning on dyeing.

My family is a part of a local CSA, which means that once a week we get a crate of fruit and veggies. It's lovely, because we get what's in season and we always have fresh produce on hand. However, sometimes, there is a downside. Like the fact that we have 2 lbs of beets, and none of us eat beets.

So what did I do? Stuck the beets in the crock pot with my wool and dyed it, of course!

I joined the Plants to Dye For group on Ravelry and read a few posts for what to do with beets. Someone had made a gorgeous red using red wine vinegar as the mordant...I only had normal vinegar, so I used that. We boiled the beets, cut them up, and put them in the crock pot with the water and vinegar.

And now we wait.

In the mean time, I decided I might as well experiment. I found these great instructions for sundyeing, and decided to give the weeds in my yard a second chance. I'm really bad at following instructions exactly, so I just plucked as many weeds as I could manage and shoved them in the mason jars with boiling water.

From left to right: Clover, gumballs (from the tree in our yard), random white flowers from a weed, dandelion roots, dandelion stems.

I imagine the clover will give a pale green/yellow color, gumballs will be brownish, the white flowers will give a pale green, dandelion roots will hopefully be pink, and the stems will probably be green. But who knows!

Updates shall follow - for the moment, I need to go put some anti-ichy stuff on the bug bites I got from picking all these weeds! The mosquitoes are fierce in our jungle of a yard!

ETA: Gathered a few flowers on a walk with my parents:

From left to right: Orange day lilies, purple petunias, and Queen Anne's lace. I had *just* poured boiling water over them when I took this picture, and was astonished at how quickly the petunia water turned blue. I hope that the yarn dyes a shade of blue...apparently blue is a difficult color to get!

Thursday, June 24, 2010


I've always wanted a sister. I have a brother who is two years younger than me, and we've been close for most of my life, but a brother is just not the same as a sister. With a sister, you can lay in your bed and talk til the sun comes up and share secrets you'd never tell anyone else.

This week, I discovered that I have more than 1,800 sisters.

It was a little strange at first to hear the women on stage call out to "sisters," but now hearing it makes me feel connected with these other women. At lunch today, three of us from my church sat at a table with women from other churches. Dessert was carrot cake, which I don't really like. I nibbled a little on it but didn't want to finish. A woman across the table, an older woman with a wonderful smile, called over to me and asked if I was going to finish my cake. I told her no, and she said she wanted it. She didn't care that I'd eaten it, because I was her sister. She's probably the same age as my grandmother, but in God's eyes, we are sisters. Small moments like that have made me smile.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Summer Reading Update: Genesis

Finished reading Genesis today.

When I look at the book itself, it's an accomplishment. It's 50 chapters, 51 2-column pages (in my version), and not written in a way that's easy to follow. The people repeat their stories two and three times, and tales are followed by genealogies. The stories are ones I've heard countless times in Sunday School and in church services. Everyone knows about Adam and Eve, Noah and his Arc, Jacob and Rachel and Leah. I went 15-20 chapters without finding a story I didn't recognize.

But there are stories in Genesis that aren't told in church. Lot's daughters get their father drunk so that they can have children by him. Joseph, while he overcomes his brothers selling him into slavery, is kind of a jerk when he sees them again. In church we are taught to forgive one another, rather than seeking revenge, but Joseph seems to have never learned that lesson. Is he special because he is favored by God? But just because someone today is a pastor or a bishop or a priest doesn't mean that he or she has the ability to not treat others kindly. Some of these things just do not make sense to me.

It's interesting that we look to Joseph as a person who overcomes what his brothers did to him, and, later on, treats them with kindness and forgiveness. We remember his "technicolor dreamcoat," and that he was different from his brothers, special and "chosen." But that is not the story told in Genesis. Before embracing his brothers, Joseph puts them through hardships and even plants a cup in his brother Benjamin's pack so that he can detain him. Why is this okay? Why is he allowed to do this? And why have we forgotten this part of the story?

Genesis was an interesting adventure, and I'm sure Exodus will be as well. I can't wait to see what the Bible has in store for me next!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Sock Love!

A friend of mine posted these to my Facebook page:

Considering my ADORATION for socks of all kinds, particularly kneesocks (seriously, I think I've crossed over to addiction), I really don't see how I can NOT buy these. They're purple and blue (two favorite colors) and covered in yarn. How could you go wrong? They're also $7. Which to me seems a reasonable price.

Alas. I am poor and spent way too much money on roving at Knitters Connection. I also need to eat come August. And peanut butter is more important than kneesocks.

Maybe they'll still be around when I get a real job...

End: Knitters Connection; Begin: Quadrennial

When you're used to doing something alone, and suddenly discover a group of others who also share the same love as you...wait, that sounds wrong.

I've been back from Knitters Connection for a few days now, but my favorite part of the experience is still the all-day class I took from Amy Tyler, Beginning Spinning on the Wheel. The only other spinners I've spun with were drop spindlers, and so suddenly walking into a room full of people with their own spinning wheels, who understand the love and obsession I have for the art of making yarn, is incredible.

Our class was a beginning class, but I taught myself how to spin, and so it worked well as a way to fill in the gaps of what I didn't teach myself. Such as, when you begin spinning a yarn, you should twist some of the singles back on themselves and make a sample to lay on your leg and match your singles and plied yarn to as you spin the whole bobbin.

All in all, Knitters Connection was thrilling. I took a photography class with Franklin Habit, and was thrilled with the pictures I managed to take by the end. This was taken in a light box with the museum setting, macro, on my camera. I didn't realize that the museum setting would be so useful for taking pictures of yarn. It doesn't flash, and apparently all the settings are just about right. This is handspun yarn purchased as roving at the Hoosier Hills Fiber Festival.

We went home for a few days, and today we were back on the road, this time with the women from my church. We headed through Kentucky to beautiful West Virginia and Virginia through the Appalachians to North Carolina, where we have settled into our hotel for the Disciples Women's Quadrennial. Events don't start til tomorrow evening, so for now we are relaxing after the day-long drive.

I'll post as the week goes along - I'm very excited to be here with other women and cannot wait to feel the spirit move amongst us as we worship tomorrow evening.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

So I tried not to geek out over the Victorian Patterns...and failed.

Yesterday there was driving. Driving and driving for three hours from one Columbus to another. We arrived in Columbus, OH after three hours of sitting and knitting while reading Genesis. I found out that it is possible to knit and read the Bible at the same time, though it doesn't go very quickly. Also, someone's son was named Nimrod. Great name.

Returning to the subject at hand!

Today was the first day of Knitters Connection. I've been once before, two years ago, with my mom. This year we dragged Hannah along (and when I say dragged, I mean that she dragged us). Knitters from all over gather at the Columbus convention center to sit, knit, talk, and generally have way too much fun. I didn't have any classes today, and Hannah didn't have any this morning, so we sat outside the classrooms with a bunch of other non-class-taking-people and generally had a good time.

We met Erin, who is a fellow spinner and is lusting after a Kromski wheel:

Erin spins lovely yarn on her drop spindle, much more even than I was able to achieve. Also, hers is a lot thicker. She's planning on keeping it as a one-ply, and I can't wait to see what she knits with it!

The evening was when the real fun happened. Hannah and Mom got out of their Traditions class and we ran back to the hotel (just across the street!) to drop our things off, then we ran back to wait with the other knitters.

Waiting and waiting...

Hannah and Mom are excited...but for what?


Okay, forgive me: I was so excited at all the yummy fiber goodness that I forgot to take my camera out to get a picture of it. Booths full of wonderfully colorful yarn, stacks of books, racks of hooks, stitchmarkers, needles, and other useful tools. People, people, everywhere!

The first year I went, it was a lot larger, but quantity does not necessarily mean quality. This year nearly every booth has impressive quality. I don't know if I saw any acrylic. And the most exciting thing - there was roving! Lots of it, too. I was very excited to find bison and silk, which I will be purchasing at some point. There was quite a lot of Blue-Faced Leicester, which I like, but a disappointing amount of superwash. I know I've only spun one skein of superwash, but I just wasn't happy with it. Too processed.

We decided that, though market was fun, dinner was a little necessary. Also, it gave us the chance to show off our purchases...

The Opal is Mom's. She's a little obsessed. First day, and she already bought five balls. Silly Mom. What are you going to do with all of it? It's not like you knit socks or anything.

(This is a joke. My mother owns almost solely handknit socks. They like to take over the laundry room. It's a little frightening.)

Mom also got the beautiful maroon yarn, which is Araucania Nature's Wool, $6/skein. She's making a sweater, which will of course be beautiful. Hannah got a small amount today, but I'm sure she'll be buying more later. The grey and brown Noro is for her roommate. She claims no love for it.

After looking over all of the booths offering roving, I finally decided that my first roving purchase of Knitters Connection 2010 would be Wensleydale. I've never spun Wensleydale before, but who wouldn't want to spin yarn from a sheep with a name like that? Say it with me. Wiiin-sleee-daaaale. Wensleydale! Fun. I also purchased Silk Noils to play with while carding, and a bag of buttons. I joined two other ladies around a tub of buttons to pick out a small bag of buttons for $1. May possibly return tomorrow.

You would think that after all this excitement, there could not possibly be any more. But no. It continues. Franklin Habit, a fabulous knitting guy who writes a column for and writes a blog called The Panopticon, gave a talk on the history of knitting and turning the Victorian patterns into normal people patterns. He is also wonderfully gay and has made stocking caps for himself and his partner to wear in their Chicago apartment, which is just glorious.

Cue major geekout for me. I don't know if I've mentioned this, but I adore the Victorians. Give me a TARDIS and I will go straight there in my jacket and hoop skirt. I'll even wear their corsets and risk many health problems just to sit in the 1880s for a day. Love love love.

And when you combine FIBER ARTS and the Victorians? I nearly squeed. Actually, I think I may have several times. The talk focused on the transformation of knitting from knitting-for-survival to knitting-for-pleasure. Franklin's theory was that this transformation happened as a counter-reaction to the modernization that was occurring, which fits in with what was happening with the literature and art of the time (hello, pre-Raphaelites!). He brought up the Gothic novel and Gothic architecture...and Northanger Abbey. Which is one of my favorite Jane Austen novels (it and Sense and Sensibility are constantly struggling for first). Apparently when he said "Jane Austen" and "Northanger Abbey" I sat up and looked excited. Apparently he noticed. Apparently so did the entire audience.

Needless to say, I think he'll remember me when I take his photographing fiber class on Friday. It probably won't be helped by the fact that, following the talk, I went up to him and said "HI IlovetheVictoriansandfiber. YouareawesomebecauseyoutalkedaboutJaneAustenandNorthangerAbbey. OMGLOVEYOUKTNXBAI."

Or something like that.

One useful thing he did talk about was various patterns he has painstakingly attempted to translate into modern knitting pattern language. In the 19th century, there was literally no consistency between patterns, needles, gauge...anything. Many of the patterns he showed us were along the lines of "Put 25 stitches on the needle. Make common stitch for 5 inches." And on and on except much worse. So he translated a few of these patterns and put them on Knitty. One of which is a lace sampler that looks pretty much like a scarf. I've been wanting to attempt lace, and knitting AUTHENTIC VICTORIAN LACE would just be so much better. And so this is what I will be doing tomorrow.

Because really. Who would not want to knit that beautiful "scarf."

Phew! Sorry for such a long post! I just sort of love the Victorians just a little. I'll try to keep the geek-outs to a minimum.

Tomorrow: Why it is funny to watch Hannah and my mom when Cookie A walks into by. Or is standing in the hallway outside our room.

Also: Spinning Class! In which we see just how terrible I actually am at spinning.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Required Reading

Sometime in the month after I was accepted to seminary, I got a lovely list of books I needed to read before arriving. This list came in November or so, before I even got my book list for the spring semester of my senior year of college. Included in this list is:

How to Think Theologically by Howard Stone and James Duke.
Essays from The New Interpreter's Study Bible, including "as much of the Biblical text as possible."
Essays from Women in Scripture: A Dictionary of Named and Unnamed Women in the Hebrew Bible, the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books, and the New Testament.
Church History: An Essential Guide by Justo González.
Essays from The Westminster Dictionary of Christian Theology.

I haven't started any of these books yet. Actually, I've misplaced all of them except the Bible. They definitely arrived here when I moved home, because I remember putting them somewhere special. I just don't remember where.

I told my pastor today that I needed to read the Bible this summer, but obviously there wasn't time. Did he have suggestions for what to read? Of course. The Pentateuch and the New Testament. That's 483 pages out of my NRSV bible. Not the study Bible, just my normal Bible.

It's not that I'm not interested in reading it. I'm excited to read about the Israelites and all of those stories I learned in Sunday School when I was little. I just really didn't realize that I should have started this way back in November when I thought I had all the time in the world to acquire and read these.

I am not complaining, I swear. Maybe I'll make Sims out of the genealogy section of the Old Testament. That could be pretty interesting...

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Roving --> Yarn --> Project!

I've been spinning a lot of thin yarn lately (I blame Hannah), and I really love the result I've been getting. However, when I try to go back to worsted or bulky, my fingers get really confused.

I traded some old yarn for new roving with someone on Ravelry and got this lovely grey Icelandic wool. I got two bags of it (8 oz total, I believe), and last night I spun one bag, which was all that would fit on my bobbin.

The second picture is more representative of the color.

I'm really happy with the result! 4 oz gave me a little over 100 yards. It is fairly even from what I can tell, and should knit up nicely. The Icelandic (which I've never spun before) apparently has a long fiber, and so there are bits of little white hairs sticking out here and there, which give the yarn an interesting look.

Now that I'm knitting, I can actually make something with this yarn! After searching Ravelry, I think I've settled on this hat.

Whenever I knit/crochet something from yarn I've spun, I try to pick something without a lot of pattern in it, so that the finished project shows off the yarn instead of a pattern. Does that make sense? It could just be an excuse to not make complicated patterns... :P

Next time...spinning angora rabbit fur!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Meet Charlotte

(Charlotte is the spinning wheel. I'm the one spinning.)

Charlotte is my baby. She is a Schacht Ladybug, a birthday/graduation/in-debt-to-my-mother-forever present. I came home for spring break in March and a few days after my birthday my parents took me to Sheep Street, a wonderful yarn and fiber shop near Morgantown, IN. I was told that when you pick out your wheel, you should go somewhere you can actually try them out, and I had a blast going from wheel to wheel. The shop carries Schacht, Ashford, and Louet wheels. I fell in love with the Ladybug. It's a great wheel for someone just starting out, with the ability to upgrade as you go. The parts for the Ladybug are pretty much interchangeable withe parts for their Matchless wheel, a higher-end wheel made of nicer wood. But the red wheel of the Ladybug caught my eye. Plus, that was the only wheel they carried in stock. The Schacht Spinners group on Ravelry also answered any and all questions I had...they're a great group of spinners!

I bought 4 oz of Shetland wool at the shop as well, and finished spinning it that night...

As well as everything else I had in the house for spinning my drop spindle...

I think I was hooked from the start.

Beginnings Ramblings

It seems like everyone has a blog these days to talk about themselves and their daily doings. Since I'm starting a new part of my life, I felt that this warranted a new blog!

I chose the name "Spiminarian" because I'm a spinner...and also a seminarian. Well, I will be in August. I don't claim to know anything special about faith or spinning, so this will be a place to share my struggles as I try out new fibers (bamboo is hard to spin!), read new theological books (there's a stack waiting on my desk), and try to figure out what I am really going to do with my life. Hopefully my struggles will be interesting, or at least amusing, to others!

What do spinning and faith have to do with each other? Well, my lovely subheading says that I'm "spinning my own threads of faith," which is a nice little metaphor. However, since getting my spinning wheel (a Schacht Ladybug named Charlotte) in March, I've found that the act of spinning is incredibly soothing and meditative. I've tried meditating before, but I'm not very good at sitting still. When I'm spinning, my feet are moving and my hands are helping the fibers to twist. The act itself is repetitive, so my mind is able to relax.

I won't lie though; most of the time I just spin and watch TV.

So to end the ramblings, I'll post a picture of something I recently spun for my friend, Hannah, who is an awesome knitter. Hannah loves thin, thin yarn, and so I tried my hand at laceweight yarn. She bought 8 oz of Louet Blue-Faced Leicester, undyed. Here was the result: