Summer of Dreams Warm Up

I’m getting so excited about starting my Summer of Dreams projects! And I’m also excited about our group! I started a Ravelry group a couple days ago, and it’s grown quickly to 20 members from across the USA and Europe! There’s still plenty of time if you want to join us. Find Summer of Dreams HERE on Ravelry. My yarn is wound for the Waffle Blanket I’m knitting. How about a big pile of yarny goodness? I sure wish I knew where that missing skein was. The last thing I want to do is finish my blanket and THEN find it!

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So, I finished my three fabric projects for Loopy Academy, and I’m so itchy to cast on my summer projects that I can scarcely bear it, so in order to defuse a bit of that energy, I decided to work on a shorter term dream project today. I’ve wanted to play around with some Nuno Felting for several years, and just to get a toe in the water, I’d purchased a couple kits last autumn from Heartfelt Silks. Today I dug them out, along with the other gear I’d collected for the project, and I decided to tackle the “Lightweight Scarf” project. First thing I discovered left me a bit puzzled… I had not one, but three lengths of colored cheesecloth for a backing. My BFF was the one that solved the riddle by discovering online that I should be able to make 3 scarves or one wide shawl. Not sure why that info wasn’t in the package… After trying to figure out what I’d do with 3 scarves, I decided to try to blend them into one shawl instead, but this will definitely be an experiment. Figures I’d end up making my first project harder… ๐Ÿ˜‰

This evening I staked a claim on our large, covered, concrete porch and started to work on part the first, not finishing until it was dark. Sigh… No good photos of “so far” and no part the second. However, here’s a teaser:

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I’m hoping against hope that overlapping the two layers and adding wool will “glue” them together. I most certainly wish that: 1. She hadn’t cut the cheesecloth in the first place, as it’s easier to cut it apart than put it back together again. 2. She’d put in more wool, as my 1/3 of simply didn’t cover the entire length of the cheesecloth, so I ended up shortening it. 3. That I’d not run out of daylight! ๐Ÿ˜€ What I did right so far – watch LOTS of YouTube videos! I think I would have felt totally lost reading the directions if I’d not seen the process demonstrated.

 

 

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Published in: on May 31, 2016 at 5:47 am  Leave a Comment  
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Fiber Adventure Week – Day 7

BLOG CANDY – NEXT POST!

Sigh… So today closed the main event, and I have to go back to being a little more normal person – sorting attics, cleaning toilets, answering email, listing items to sell… But this has been SO much fun! I feel lots more energetic, and I’m surrounded by great projects started and begging my time, so you’ll be getting progress reports from time to time as I work on them. And I already have ideas bouncing around for my next event. All I need is time… ๐Ÿ˜‰

Day 7 of Fiber Adventure Week started with the weekly Knitogether, a small group of local ladies I taught to knit, and one tagalong husband, who endeared himself even more deeply to us this week by bringing a pie he’d made. Yum! This is the first time we’ve had snacks, as we meet at the library. Gathering in the back room instead of out front wasn’t such a bad price to pay for such a treat. ๐Ÿ™‚

Not surprisingly, I slipped quickly into overdrive when I got home. I had about 4 days worth of stuff I wanted to do, and only one in which to do them. After I started a dye pot going, my first order of business was some fulling (aka felting). I really wanted to see what I could expect from the square I wove a couple days back, and since I was going to be filling the washer with hot water and agitating anyway, I decided I should go ahead and toss in my second Angela’s Fabulous Felted Bag, which I’ve christened “Needlenut” in honor of the spruce and hazelnut colored Wool of the Andes Bulky I used to knit it. I’d been holding back on the fulling part, because I needed to have one when the rest of the group gathers to do theirs, but my third is close enough to being finished that I figured it was safe to wash the second.Huge and floppy going in…And a nice sized, firm tote in the end. This one had an artistic nature. I worked and worked on it, but that top edge just refused to felt up as tightly as the rest of the bag, and I have no idea why – unless it’s been considering the overloaded appearance of my oft used first bag and thought a wide fill top was in order. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I finally decided to make it a design element and shaped it prettily. It’s different. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I love these bags! It will take a couple days (or with the amount of rain we’ve had lately, a couple weeks) until it’s thoroughly dry, then I’ll shave the areas that need it, clip ends, cut a board for the bottom, and go shopping for lining. Happy me!Although the bag took 3 full cycles, the square took literally a couple of minutes to reach one version of perfection. This is the same yarn I’m using on my current triloom project – Cascade Eco + – and I dearly love the way it came out of the wash. However, I’m going to have to watch it VERY closely when I full it. My square is exquisite for a throw, I think, but it wouldn’t take much more to turn it into a yurt wall.

Dyeing kept me very busy on Day 7. I found a lovely new way to make beautiful colors with Easter Egg dye, but I took step by step photos of the worst possible pot. They just don’t show enough to make it worth posting them, so I’ll just give you the quick details and then show what came out of the pot that has me grinning so broadly.

  1. Pick two colors that you think would be interesting together.
  2. Put 3 ounces vinegar, 4 cups of hot water, and one tablet in the crockpot. Turn it on.
  3. When dye tablet is dissolved, add 1 ounce of wet wool.
  4. Dissolve the second tablet in a half cup of hot water and soak another ounce of wool.
  5. Watch the first pot. The moment the dye is exhausted – or a couple seconds earlier, randomly add the second color solution. I used a syringe to shoot part of my color in so I knew it was clear through, then I drizzled the rest over the top.
  6. This might happen instantly, or it might take a couple of minutes, but watch your pot again. You’ll see the dye starting to strike and the water beginning to clear. Immediately put the second hunk of wool on top of the first and push it down into the water – but don’t stir. There should still be color in the water, but not nearly as strong. Your top wool will be much lighter than the bottom one, and the color won’t be entirely set in the lower one, so some will drift up into the upper one. Some of mine benefitted by me flipping the top wool over after about the first 60 seconds. Past that, I didn’t touch it. I didn’t want to spoil the mottled color effect.
  7. Simmer for about an hour, cool, rinse, and enjoy your two beautiful creations!

And this is just how I did it in my very little crockpot. You know by now that I hope you consider this just a jumping off point. Play! After all, that’s what I’m doing! ๐Ÿ˜‰First used yellow, then brown second. I almost chickened out of doing this one, but I’m really glad I didn’t!First used hot pink, then used orange. Subtle color shifts, but not so subtle colorway!First used strawberry (lighter pink), then purple. See? I finally managed to get a primarily purple dye job out of an Easter egg dye kit! ๐Ÿ˜€ Interestingly enough, the red part of the purple tablet struck at such lightening speeds that absolutely none was left for the top roving, and it came out a gorgeous pastel blue! This was the first one I did, and I didn’t have my technique quite down at that point, so the results might be slightly different if done over – though I doubt it would make a whole lot of difference. Even with 2 ounces of wool in the pot, there was a little bit of leftover blue dye in the pot.And this is my very favorite! I’d not mind having a LOT of this set. ๐Ÿ™‚ Dyed electric blue first, then teal (which, remember, looks more like grass green). See? I actually got something that LOOKS like teal in this bargain!

I reserved just a bit of the yellow dye and still had the chartreuse (so called spring green) tablet, and I decided to test drive dyeing some of the mawata I bought Monday. The first big discovery I made is that silk might be a great candidate for Kool-aid dyeing; it stinks when wet!!! ๐Ÿ˜ฆI’m rather surprised at my results, as silk usually dyes brilliantly. I suspect I may have needed more vinegar? Or there’s a magic trick I have to discover somewhere that needs to be used when dyeing silk. I have lovely silk, but I also washed a lot of dye down the drain rinsing them, and they left enough dye in the pot to turn another ounce of wool this beautiful pastel yellow.While dye pots were simmering, I was doing some other little projects. I braided and sewed another mug rug (Yeh, I haven’t sewn the second braid yet, but…), then steamed the 2 that are finished. Nice? ๐Ÿ™‚ I did a lot better job on this one, I think. This is a good thing, since ultimately I’d love to make a rug…And after watching Judith MacKenzie spinning from a mawata on the Luxury Fibers DVD, I was curious to try doing it. Definitely an interesting and fun experience, and not so hard as I’d expected, even though I was using my Peruvian spindle instead of my otherwise occupied wheel. It takes a LOT of twist, and the fact that I achieved a reasonably consistent yarn pleased me greatly.Because of the nature of mawata, spinning from them doesn’t create the quintessential sleek silk yarn that comes from reeled silk or even tops. There are built in slubs and inconsistencies, but they make a very pretty, strong, fine yarn with relative ease. Out of just one layer of silk hankie, I spun 3 yards of 2-ply yarn at approximately 36 wraps per inch. How fascinating it is to compare the appearance of this yarn with the project I’m knitting unspun straight from the hankies. It was a good experiment, and I want to do more of this, but next time I’ll use either my wheel or a little heavier spindle.I wondered if I could finish my first Fiber Optics roving tonight, but it was not to be. I did make good progress, finally reaching the first of the black. I’m still enjoying this project for the most part, but whereas the first half of the roving spun like butter, somewhere around halfway, I began to be plagued by nepps and rough spots. That’s slowed me down a lot, as my goal – and initial success – was a fine worsted spun yarn. These irregularities are enough to throw off the balance of this still newbie spinner, but I suspect I will still be pleased enough in the end to forget my current irritation with the roving. I guess that’s one benefit of not being good enough to even imagine perfect spinning yet. ๐Ÿ˜‰I only got to watch the first DVD of tonight’s review set, but WOW! Deborah Robson’s Handspinning Rare Wools; How to spin the, why we should care is destined to be another of my favorites. I’ve always been drawn to the unique and unusual rather than automatically being part of the flock, so when I started looking at fleeces, I quickly found myself more drawn to Racka and Black Welsh Mountain than Corriedale and BFL. I also have a collector’s nature, so love to gather variety instead of getting into the rut of having one or two favorites. This DVD set was made for me, I think! I’m really enjoying the breed stories and watching her spin some of the challenges she’s explaining within the fleeces. And she’s full of wonderful ideas for using some of the “sturdier” wools – ideas I’d not come up with yet. This is another video set that’s going to get some regular use. I’ve not explored it yet, but there is some sort of printed material on the disks as well. I’m curious to see what it might be.And tonight, one last thing. My audiobook this week has very fittingly been Bellwether by Connie Willis. It was very enjoyable – a little predictable, but quite the pleasant read, as it was written with a sense of humor. Personally, I’m rather amused at the science fiction designation on the book. It’s fiction, and the primary setting is a science lab, but that’s as far as the connection goes. If you find yourself looking for a light, enjoyable read with a gentle romance interwoven with a few laughs, in a not so ordinary background fabric, I’d recommend it.

And so, that’s the end of my week – and the beginning of who knows what next! My next post will have the details about how you might win some blog candy… and prizes are, not surprisingly, related to this past week of my adventure. ๐Ÿ™‚

Fiber Adventure Week – Day 4

I’m going to start off with “business” today, but will make it short – promise! First, don’t forget that there is going to be some blog candy available at the end of the week, so stay tuned! I’ll be posting details Friday, assuming things go as planned, but I will tell you that the amount of candy passed out will be directly related to the amount of participation in the end. ๐Ÿ™‚

Secondly, I’ve received some comments that people can’t find how to post comments on my blog. It’s easy – once you know the trick! ๐Ÿ˜‰ If you are on the main blog page, scroll to the bottom of the post and look at the small print. You should see either “Comments” or “Leave a Comment.” Click on that, and you are set. The other way is to just click on the title of a post. That brings up a page that shows only that day’s post, and at the bottom of it, there will be a comment box.

Monday of my Fiber Adventure Week was just as busy as my previous 3 days, but I have a little less to share, because I spent a large part of the day away from home attending my knitting guild meeting and making my once a month pilgrimage to Fiberworks, my LYS that is actually an hour from home, to see if there happened to be any mandatory stash augmentations. Of course, since this time I was there with a shopping list, I didn’t have a lot of trouble spending too much…There’s a pile of Cascade 220 in dark green, brown, ivory, and pink for a weaving project – a throw, I believe, and some already caked (compliments of store employees) Cascade Eco + in blues and greens for another weaving experiment – a tote. The thick mawata stack is indicative of how fascinated I am with knitting from the hankies. ๐Ÿ™‚ There’s a bulk sack of generic undyed wool, bought primarily for sampling and class projects. I want to be able to use the same fiber consistently for as long as possible, as I feel that will keep my records more accurate, not to mention make my books more attractive to me. The bulky Mini Mochi was an “accident” – not on the list, but on clearance for 25% off. ‘Nuff said? And the yarn laying on the mawata is some Cascade Ultrapima and Noro Tanabata. These were an impulse buy, and I’m picturing them together, woven, and for a garment of some sort. The reason for the 3 roving nests will be explained later, and perhaps another day, also the felting tool… And I just realized, much to my shock, that the only thing I purchased to “probably” knit is the muwata. Oh dear…

The only one of my major continuing projects I worked on is the spinning. I’m now firmly entrenched in the red. The color makes me think of the flavor of my favorite cherry juice, if that makes sense. Is it possible to taste a color?Oh, and look how far I got on my Angela’s Fabulous Felted Bag! I was knitting like crazy during the guild meeting, and I think I put 4 stripes on it. Just imagine where I’d be if I’d not been late due to… ummm… checking out at the LYS… Ignore the colors. The real burgundy and mustard are a lot prettier and much more “me,” though I must say that the red and yellow I’m seeing on my screen would make an attention grabbing tote! Today’s real adventure arrived in the morning’s mail with decidedly good timing. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve wanted to make a braided wool rug, but it’s just never happened. Last week I made a serendipitous discovery on Etsy. ShepherdsRug has an intriguing spin on the braided rugs that grabbed my heart instantly. Instead of braided fabric strips, they use wool roving, making gorgeous rugs without the tedium of cutting and turning in edges, and decreasing the number of tools necessary for the project.ย  They sell gorgeous finished rugs, but they also have published a great book full of instructions and inspiration, along with some great background info on wool in general (great reference source for my MSP reports!) and information about working with the wool from various breeds when making braided rugs. Definitely recommend the book!I also recommend something else they sell – a mug rug kit. For $20, I got absolutely EVERYthing I needed to make two mug rugs with the braided roving technique, save for a pair of scissors to cut the lacing thread. The roving, sewing and felting needles, clamp, felting pad, instructions, linen thread, and even rubberbands are included. It’s one of the most complete kits I’ve ever seen. If you wonder if you’d enjoy this, get the kit and try it out. Look at the rug photos in their shop. You’ll know by then if you want the book. ๐Ÿ™‚ The basic concept is the same, but there are a few special techniques needed for the full sized rugs. BTW, those two full spools of thread aren’t part of the kit. I bought those extra. I believe in being prepared for all eventualities. ๐Ÿ˜‰And I spent the rest of my fiber time Monday night proving it works. ๐Ÿ™‚ And this would be why I picked up a few bits of roving at Fiberworks. I figured if I was going to be out anyway, I may as well take advantage of having some more colors to work with, so I took the kit along with me and plotted 4 rug mugs with the 6 included colors and 6 more yards from the store.

  1. Braid the roving.
  2. Taper the ends.
  3. Lace into a circle.
  4. Finished and fabulous!
  5. Then start another one… ๐Ÿ˜‰

Okay, so this is fun! I need to make a rug for sure now… ๐Ÿ™‚ I think I might need to check into how much it costs to have fleeces processed at a mill…Whilst braiding and spinning, I treated myself to another DVD by Judith MacKenzie – The Spinner’s Toolbox. I love this set! The focus is drafting, first an overview, then an in depth discussion of each of 6 basic techniques, with loads of examples and hints and even demonstrations of what NOT to do! She covers the strengths and weaknesses of each, and explains exactly why you need to have each of them in your repertoire.ย  I can see myself watching this repeatedly through the next few years, as it’s going to take a while to absorb, then execute everything she shares in these DVDs. After two evening of watching Judith’s instructionals, I’m seriously addicted, and I’m really glad I have two more of hers yet to go. ๐Ÿ™‚ My newest fantasy is for her to come teach somewhere in southern Ohio… soon… ๐Ÿ˜‰

Fiber Adventure Weekend – Day 3

I think today was too short. I lost track of time and was up way too late, not the least bit sleepy. I was trying to decide what to do next when I caught sight of the clock and gasped in horror. How I hated to go to bed! However, I’ve also made an executive decision. I’m enjoying this far too much to stop just yet. I have a big list of things I want to play with yet, so… drumroll, please… I’m changing this to a Fiber Adventure WEEK – 7 full days – AND…

At the end of the week, there’s going to be some blog candy to be had! Work for you? ๐Ÿ˜€ Total amount of candy to be disbursed will be based on the amount of participation. I’ll be posting details later in the week, but for now, you just may want to think about which activities or projects look like the most fun to you…

What was on the schedule for Sunday? Well, first, I managed to convince myself that laundry was a fiber project, though not so very adventurous. Since the decision to wash clothes or not was directly related to whether I could attend Monday’s meeting of the Dayton Knitting Guild and canvas my LYS, Fiberworks, for stash candidates, you can probably guess what I decided. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Then there were my continuing large projects, of course. I had a nice chunk of phone time, so the knitting on my newest Angela’s Felted Bag made some great progress. However, I forgot to take a picture of it before it saw Monday activity, so just use your imagination for this one. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I didn’t get a whole lot done on my triloom weaving, as my back was bothering me some, but still some progress.And the spinning is coming right along. The deep orange is starting to give way to red now, and I’m eager to see the full changeover soon. I would love to be able to fast forward to see the finished yarn, but that’s a while in the future yet.And a little bit more dyeing, as I finished the last three solids from a Dudley’s Easter Egg dyeing kit. I didn’t go beyond this today, because I’m plotting what comes next. ๐Ÿ˜‰I’m a bit baffled by the color names listed on the back of the package. The best I can figure, the green is teal and the neon chartreuse is the green. Who knows which is the pink vs. the strawberry… But the colors are fun, and I’m full of ideas. ๐Ÿ™‚A very important project for today is part of an ongoing adventure. I have cotton seedlings started, a total whim. I have no idea if I can actually grow and harvest cotton here, but I’m giving it a try! I started them indoors a few weeks ago, but I have no plant lights and not the best conditions, so despite them having their little heads above ground for several weeks, I’m still not seeing the first “real” leaves, and they (along with all my other seedlings) have really been struggling. Today I put 5 of the 8 into pots, hoping this will be better conditions for them. The weather was pretty, so they got a little sunshine and fresh air as well. I need at least one more pot and more soil, so I can get the rest of the cotton potted. I’m not sure any of my other seedlings will survive at all, and there’s probably going to be a lot of direct seeding in a few weeks as I start over. It’s been so sad to watch them struggle indoors. ๐Ÿ˜ฆMy biggest adventure today was knitting from silk mawata (aka silk hankies). The evening that Tyg died, I was online noodling around on Etsy, and Wooliebullie had just listed a 42 gram package of hand-dyed mawata, colorway “Broken Heart.” I sort of felt like she’d put them there just for me, and I bought them without hesitation. Though I’ve bought several silk cocoon hankies in the past, I’d yet to actually do anything with them, and since this is a Fiber Adventure Week, what better time?! ๐Ÿ˜€ It’s turning out to be a fascinating process, and I’m enjoying it a lot. That would be why I didn’t get as much weaving done today as I’d expected. ๐Ÿ˜‰ If you’ve never worked with this fun fiber presentation, I’d definitely recommend you try it at least once. It’s a great way for a non-spinner to still be able to produce their own one-of-a-kind yarn, with no equipment required!

  1. Put on lots of hand lotion, even if you don’t think your hands are rough. Trust me on this!
  2. Peel of the first ethereal layer. Don’t do this in front of a fan…
  3. Poke a hole in the center of the silk.
  4. Put your hands in the hole and stretch the center out to the border.
  5. Decide how thick you want your yarn. You can stop without doing anything else, or you make it thinner by working your hands around the circle and stretching the fibers apart as you go. You will need to have your hands farther apart than you’ll probably start with, and you’ll have to pull harder than you expect. Silk is a very strong fiber! Plan to go around the circle several times, thinning the thickest spots and being careful not to break the ring. Remember, you don’t have to achieve perfection. The variations in thickness add character to handmade yarn.
  6. When you are satisfied with your yarn, break it on one place.
  1. Wind it on something – fairly tightly. This isn’t absolutely mandatory, but it does make a whole lot easier to manage. I’m putting mine on my nostepinne. You can prepare several at a time if you’d like.8. Knit! You don’t need to do anything else to it if you don’t want to. The fiber is so long that it makes a perfectly solid yarn and a lovely fabric with a nice hand

I’ve chosen to stretch my hankies until they are pretty close to 3 yards of total fiber, and I’m knitting on size 2 needles. The fiber is fluffy enough that it actually also worked on size 8 needles, but I found it challenging to work on circulars with it. It didn’t like jumping the hump, and I finally ripped it out. The size 2 needles are the largest metal DPN’s I could find on short notice, so they won by default, and I’m liking the fabric I’m achieving with them, too, so it’s a go. ๐Ÿ™‚ The photo above shows 5 filmy hankie layers knit into a tube with a cast on of 40 stitches on US 2 needles. It’s already over 1.25″ of knitting.

Also, there are other ways to attenuate the silk fiber, such as pulling the hankies from the corners, but I like this circular method. It seems easier to keep the thickness uniform this way. And if you like, there is absolutely no reason not to spin, and even ply, the hankies before knitting them. I’ve not tried it yet, but it seems like spinning them might produce a little bit more luster, but that’s just a theory, and you’ve seen how my theories have been working out lately. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Anyway, if you knit, you definitely need to try silk hankies at least once, just for the experience.While I was spinning and working with the muwata, I watched The Gentle Art of Plying by Judith MacKenzie. What a pleasure that was! This is a DVD I will watch again, and I’m definitely keeping this in my library, as it suits my tastes and needs well. I love the way she shares information and methods, then reminds us that there are always exceptions to even some of the most basic rules. She also is good about giving the “whys” of things, something I truly value in a teacher. I have at least one more set of DVD’s by her, and I’m really looking forward to watching them now. ๐Ÿ™‚

Okay, that’s all for now! Don’t forget to stay connected. Blog candy coming soon! ๐Ÿ™‚

Fiber Adventure Weekend – Day 2

And the fun continues! What a shame I can’t do this EVERY weekend… but I have to say that the house is a total wreck with so much equipment out all at the same time. I’m having a blast, though. :o) You want to know what I did on Saturday? Okay, here goes!

First of all, the triloom project is moving right along. I’ve woven half the pins now, which, although not half of the weaving work, is a landmark point anyway. I’ve also reached the point that I feel like I’m just going to burst if I can’t take it off the loom to see what it really looks like, but I’ve got a long way to go before that can happen. :SThe spinning continues to be utterly delicious. I think I could be stranded on a desert island, and if I had my wheel and about 50 pounds of this stuff, I might not even notice. :o) I’m anticipating the pleasure of working with the finished yarn almost as much as I am enjoying the current spinning. It’s hard to tell from the picture, but I’ve spun through the papaya and am into a rich red orange. Scrumptious!Today’s dyeing adventure was another theory busted, though I can’t call it a total loss, as I have some more pretty fiber to play with now. My concept was to try to create a gradient dark to light by VERY slowly lowering the wet roving into the dye bath, using the same Easter egg dyes I was using yesterday. I put 4 cups of hot water and 3 ounces of vinegar into the pot, dissolved the tablet, and wet down 1 ounce of wool. I then spent about 4 minutes doing the “slowly lowering” part. Despite the good effort I made, the first one came out the same color from end to end, so the rest I put in without wasting the 4 minutes. ๐Ÿ˜‰ It was a good exercise to do these as solid anyway. I’m not sure what to say about the purple, though. I did it precisely as I did the others, including stirring it just as I put the wool into the pot. The water LOOKED blue, and the whole time it simmered, I thought it WAS a blue pot. I was most definitely surprised when I pulled out the roving and found it multi-colored! Still have 3 colors to do. Since it’s only one tablet per pot, even though I’m cooking them for just 90 minutes, it’s still taking longer than yesterday’s process.When my daughter called on Saturday evening, it was the perfect excuse to pick up my current Angela’s Fabulous Felted Bag. This is the third one this spring, and a definite addiction. The first is finished except for the lining, but since the sewing machine died, that’s going to take a while longer. The second is knitted, and I’m waiting for the rest of the group so we can have a fulling party. This will be a new adventure for them. Meanwhile, I’m well onto my third and have yarn for two more. Yeh, I like them – a lot! BTW, the actual colors foiled the camera, even outdoors. Whereas the burgundy isn’t too far off, at least on my monitor, that is NOT tan! It’s mustard, and I think it’s a lot prettier than the tan, even if it does work…Probably the scariest and most adventurous thing I did today was pulling out my circular sock machine – CSM. It’s not been touched since last May, and then there were people who actually understand the little beasties around to help me every step of the way. Although one of my annual goals includes making two pairs of CSM socks, that wasn’t today’s goal. Today I just wanted to actually use it successfully all on my own. The project I had in mind was to take 4 balls of Knit Picks bare sock yarn and turn them into two blanks for dyeing. It turned out that I had a few obstacles to overcome, the biggest of which was that the machine wouldn’t crank. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ I don’t know a whole lot more about sock machines than I do about overhauling a jet engine, so trying to avoid total panic was the first step.I finally figured out that the little metal piece sticking up – the V cam – was not supposed to be like that, and I wondered if it wasn’t supposed to be under the butts of the needles. So, I pulled out some of the needles, dropped the cam down, then replaced the needles… and voilร ! It worked! Now I realize that in the world of sock machines, that was a pretty minor fix, and scarcely worthy of an Einstein award, but I have to say that I’m seriously proud of myself! It’s my first solo trouble shooting success, and I’m quite pleased. ๐Ÿ™‚

With a little more effort, along with the dregs of my oil, which appears to have evaporated (can oil do that???), I got the machine cranking fairly decently, though it’s still holding stitches at times and not knitting as nicely as it was last year.And a little while later, I had 7 yards of not-so-perfect-but definitely-good-enough-for-the-planned-purpose tubing knit. Now I need to find out what sort of oil I have to go buy. I can’t do socks on it without that.

Last but not least, I watched the DVD How I Knit by Rita Buchanan while I was cranking out my tubes. It was light and interesting, but not as in depth as I’d expected from it being a 2 disk set. It also isn’t very good training toward my MSP certification. Buchanan obviously loves what she’s doing, and she makes beautiful yarn, but she works rather freely and organically, openly ignoring some of the rules and techniques and even terminology that I have to learn to manage in order to complete my lessons. A large part of this set is also a bit more simple than I need. It was nice to watch her make yarn and to see some approaches that are different than I’ve seen with my limited exposure to other knitters, but I’ll probably tuck this set on the shelf for a while right now and look for something a bit more technical. I’ll try to remember to post what I find.

Okay, that’s it for Saturday’s activities. There’s one more day to go yet, and I’m eager to get with it!

(Almost) Instant Gratification

Early in February, my Thursday night knitting group picked out the project they want to start next, planning to work on it concurrently with their Celtic Totes. Since there is so much new for them to learn on Celtic, they need to do a lot of that project in class, leaving them wanting more to do at home during the week. When we found Angela’s Fabulous Felted Bag, which is available for free HERE, I knew it was the perfect answer. Again they would have things to learn, but it would be a much more independent project. Keeping budgets in mind, we decided to use Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Bulky to knit it, but much to our disappointment, only 3 lackluster colors were in stock – certainly not enough to suit our eclectic group. We waited impatiently all month long until the “in stock” date came around, only to find it had been pushed back 3 more weeks. Being the leader of this group, I really wanted to make one ahead of them, as it seems even the best of patterns seem to have idiosyncrasies, and I like to find them before I teach a pattern instead in the middle of a group project. ๐Ÿ˜‰ That is how I found myself staring at the three colors that had been in stock at Knit Picks all month long, trying to convince myself that I liked one of the three potential color combinations that were available to me.

And then it hit me – I wasn’t limited to those three colors! With a quick and decisive series of clicks, I ordered 6 skeins of Porcini before I lost my courage, and here’s what happened next…

Tuesday, 4:00p – Knitย  Picks order arrived! Porcini is just as uninspiring as I expected. I know colors like this are necessary and useful from my quilting experience, but on its own, it’s just plain icky – about the same shade as those really chintzy corrugated boxes you find sometimes. Not surprising it was still in stock while everything pretty was sold out.

Tuesday, 9:00p – I’m not going to waste any time! I open the first three skeins of Porcini, add figure-8 ties in two more places on each, and toss them in hot water with a dab of Synthrapol to soak. I’ve stewed over color options with my best friend on the phone, and she suggested black and pink. I tweaked the black to Jacquard’s Gun Metal, not sure how that is going to look over the Porcini, and decide to hold off on a final decision for contrast until I see what happens. Pulling the yarn out of the water, I’m amused to see the dye bleed from Porcini is more interesting than the original color of the yarn.

Tuesday, 9:45p – I knew going into this that my dye pot was far too small to get a good, even color on 12 ounces of bulky wool yarn, but for the project I’m doing, I don’t think that will matter. Still, in order to encourage some degree of evenness (I hope), I put the yarn into the dye bath and don’t add the vinegar until it’s been in for about 5 minutes. Instead of just letting it stew, I move it around as much as I can – which is definitely not much!

Wednesday, 2:00a – The pot has finally cooled off enough to rinse the Gun Metal batch.Love it!I decide I want the second color to be a pinky purple, so I mix the dye bath with Hot Fuchsia and Purple 3:1. The Gun Metal has come out with a lovely kettle-dyed look, but I’m wondering if I can get a more even color on this second batch. I squeeze the soaked yarn as dry as I can, and I don’t add the vinegar until 15 minutes after the yarn is in the vat. Loving the color – as in it’s perfect! Of course, my camera doesn’t think so and persists in rendering my colors blue and pink instead of slate and pinkish purple…Wednesday, 8:27a – All rinsed and hanging to dry, and I really couldn’t be happier with my color combination. Camera does a little bit better on the colors with more contrast in the photo. And the purple is definitely dyed more evenly than the gray, though it’s still not perfect. What I have discovered from this venture so far is how to make a rather appealing special effect. ๐Ÿ™‚Wednesday, 5:00p – Finally dry! I wind it all into cakes, eager to start knitting.

Wednesday, 7:00p – Realizing that my daughter is likely to call tonight, I stop what I’m doing long enough to cast on and make sure I know how the first part of the pattern is worked. Sure enough, she calls shortly, and by the time we hang up, I have the bottom knit. Even with a lot of research time to figure out what the best way is going to be to make jogless stripes when some of them are single row, by the time I go to bed, I’m almost halfway up the sides. This is flying! It was a great night to watch a movie with subtitles, as I certainly didn’t have to watch what I was doing. ๐Ÿ™‚ BTW, I did my jogless stripes by knitting one below. I started the new color at the appropriate spot, and when I came around to that stitch the next time, I inserted the needle into the stitch below that stitch, effectively knitting the two stitches stacked together as one. It’s odd, but it even worked on the single rows of color, despite the fact that I was now knitting with the other color again.

Thursday, 4:00p – I put my project up on Ravelry, christening my colors Regal Raspberry and Slate Roof, then squeeze in nearly and hour of knitting before heading off to the KniTogether, knit like crazy there, put it down long enough to drive home, then knit while I’m reading my email, then talking to my daughter. I’m both driven and excited to be doing something like this in such a compressed time frame. I’ve not done a challenge like this since I did my One Day Wonder a couple years ago.

Thursday, 11:58p – I’m nearly to the top, so I stop to check the pattern to be sure I know where the changes start at the top edge. Something isn’t right. It takes me 5 minutes to figure out that I managed to put one extra row in a stripe just past midway up the side, throwing my count off for everything since. I resist the impulse to cry, deciding it would just waste time, and I frog 30 rows – the equivalent of about 1/3 of the entire height of the finished bag. OUCH! Gonna hear more of this book tonight than I expected! Even worse, it’s midnight, and I don’t have anyone to whine to!

Friday, 7:00a –ย  I do the handles 3 times before I decide to use the cable cast on to re-add the bound off stitches that create the hand hole. (Note: If you do this pattern, the easiest way to achieve this cast on is by turning the bag around so you are looking at the inside when you cast the stitches on. I also made the connection firmer by casting on 19 stitches instead of 18. When I turned the work around to continue knitting the top, I knit the last cast on stitch together with the next knit stitch.) The way the pattern is written, there are two consecutive rows of knitting on the handle section. I do the entire handle in garter stitch, an easy enough switch. Sewing in the ends is fairly quick and painless since this is going to be fulled (felted). All I’m really concerned about is encouraging the stripes to remain jogless and not sewing gray ends into purple areas and vice versa. Grand to be done with the knitting! About now, I shock myself. When I reach down for the Purple ball to put up out of kitty reach, I discover I have just 2 yards left on it. I’d have really been sweating it if I’d bought just two balls!

It looks so impossibly huge and floppy at this point that I have to fight the urge to think I’ve erred. It reminds me of a puppy that hasn’t grown into its feet yet. My measurements, much to my shock, match those of the designer perfectly! I suppose it would be too much for that to happen so easily when I’m knitting a sweater or something…

Friday, 8:15a – I have a love/hate relationship with this part of the process! I’ve hardly had but a few minutes to admire my finished knitting before tossing it into a washer full of hot water and agitating it like mad. I get several chapters read while keeping an eye on it, twice rescuing it from handle around agitator fin distress. After 30 minutes of abuse, it seems to be pretty solid and no longer changing, so I take it over to the sink for a bitterly cold hand rinse, just to harden it up a bit – or to harden me up, perhaps. My hands are complaining loudly before I decree the process complete. I don’t want to put it into the washer for a spin cycle, as I’m concerned about producing permanent fold marks in it, so I squeeze it the best I can and flop it over the sink divider to drip off a bit while I prepare my blocking form. When I get out the tape measure, I’m thrilled to find it’s again a perfect match for the designer’s bag, and even better, it will block perfectly over the box Knit Picks used to send me the yarn in the first place, providing I stilt it. As I suspected, the fulling (what most people call felting these days) totally eradicated any appearance of the uneven dye job, so I’m glad I didn’t obsess over it at the time. On the other hand, I’m somewhat sorry to see it gone, as I really did like the way it knit up. Will have to duplicate the process at some point in the future on something I’m not fulling…

In the photo below, you can see a darker purple area at the top of the handles (which is currently at the bottom of the picture. That is water pooled and dripping, and even 12 hours later, I will find these spots dripping!

Friday 8:30p – Okay, I can’t wait! This is going to take several days to dry. Then I’ll decide what finishing touches to add to it. You really don’t think I can wait that long to blog about this, do you? ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’m definitely grinning from having this neat bag go from yarn to dye pot to knit to fulled in 64 hours! I’m really looking forward to knitting another one of these with the class in a few weeks!

For Everything a Purpose

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you may remember a couple of years ago, I knitted my first Fair Isle project – a felted (actually fulled…) basket, which decided to become tall and slender instead of short and fat as I’d planned. It still looked really neat, but instead of a low, bowl type finished project, I had one that blocked perfectly over my bathroom trash can, and it simply could not perform the same function. It wasn’t quite stiff enough to hold its shape long term on its own, so I sacrificed said trashcan to be a liner for my basket and bought a new one for the bathroom. Thankfully, the trash can was actually one of the colors in the basket, and it sort of looks like it was all intended. However, I’ve been shoving it around in my sewing room every since, having absolutely no idea how to use the thing, despite really loving it.

Meanwhile, my Navajo spindle spinning project has been awkwardly stashed in a plastic grocery store bag – not the best way to keep a long pointy stick, a lot of wool, and a ceramic spinning bowl safe and contained. The current rash of cleaning had everything surrounding this bag nice and tidy, and of course, the bag looked like trash right in the middle of it.

Since I’ve put these two thoughts together, you surely know what’s coming. It only took me HOW long to have that eureka moment???

What do you think?

From this day forward, I think I’m just going to pretend like I made that basket on purpose just for my Navajo spinning project. ๐Ÿ˜€

BTW, the beautiful mums were a gift from my lovely daughter when she came to visit a couple weeks ago. ๐Ÿ™‚

Published in: on October 15, 2010 at 11:19 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Wow Weekend!

This past weekend I had the privilege of attending my first fiber retreat, and what a treat it was! It was awesome to be in this small group of people and see so incredibly much talent in one spot, creating some really special projects, displaying at least 7 different skills. I lost track of how many times I had my mouth gaping in amazement in the four days of the retreat.

I signed up for the event last January, thinking it would be the high point of my spring. It would be the perfect way to complete two of the goals on my annual list, so would be well worth the price of admission. Not only have I achieved my two goals, but I went well beyond! Even though it’s now just one part of an incredibly busy spring, I’m more than glad I went.

Target goal number one was to make one pair of socks on my circular sock machine (CSM) this year. With Jenny Deters’ patient assistance, I had my first pair done by the end of the first evening, then I started a second pair solo. By the end of the weekend, with help, advice, and some generous loaning of various tools from Jenny, Kim, David, Lori, and Myra, I made THREE pairs of socks! I couldn’t have done it without them, and I’m going to be grateful for a very long time for all the help they provided! First pair was plain with hemmed top. I used “my ugliest ball of yarn,” which I’d broken out for practicing tubes last year. I figured that since it had been through the machine about 5 times, it was about time to give it a rest. Of course, that means that although my heart is connected to my first pair of CSM socks, and although they are error free (I believe), I also think they are ugly! ๐Ÿ˜‰ But I love them anyway! I’m sorely tempted to frame them instead of wear them. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Next I did a pair of hemmed tops solo, working from the notes I took as Jenny coached me through my numerous practice heels. She did tell me how to do a picot top edge, then had to teach me how to frog, which, it turns out, was a very valuable lesson. Bad thing about these socks is that I used my favorite yarn, and they turned out too small for me. I could cry! I did make it through the project without having to ask for help beyond my notes, though, so that makes them a triumph. ๐Ÿ™‚

For the last pair I did, I sort of bucked the advice of the experts and insisted on getting my ribber going. It was tough sledding for most of Saturday until Dave discovered an alignment pin that wasn’t properly situated. After that, it just took a few tweaks and I was ribbing confidently! I’m VERY glad I persevered, as I want to make some cotton blend socks, and I know for certain that I’ll need that ribbing to fit my leg correctly. Note that I used my ugliest remaining ball of yarn, and again they fit…

I guess my next goal is going to be to make socks that fit and I like both! ๐Ÿ˜‰ By the way, details about the socks are available on my Ravelry project page.

My second goal for the weekend was to learn how to spin on a spinning wheel. Now technically, based on some very good advice from a fellow Raveler, I was spinning before the retreat, and my first skein of yarn was entirely solo – and definitely not bad for a newbie. Well… at least it exceeded my expectations… Using part of a Louet Northern Lights undyed wool top, I did this – about 164 yards of approximately DK weight yarn:

Then, still at home, I spun the singles for this next skein out of the same top, but didn’t ply it until the retreat, as it was pretty fine and very squirrely, though much more even. I don’t feel like I plied this one as well, but I’m not sure that, if having washed it and all, it would work to go back and try to make it tighter. I do have just a few yards short of 400, and it is 4 ounces of fingering weight yarn, so there’s quite a bit of work here – and enough yarn to make something real!

On Saturday night after battling my ribber all day long, I decided it was time to spin. I don’t know why, but I pulled out a batt that I honestly did not like. I thought it looked like a wad of hair out of my hairbrush. Several people had encouraged me to try spinning it anyway, promising I’d like the finished product. Whereas I can’t believe it will be my all-time favorite yarn, I have to admit that by the time I was finished with it, I had project ideas floating around in my brain. What I’m most proud of on this skein is that I finally managed to spin fairly fat, and I also was able to do a reasonable job of relaxing my craving for perfection, keep the silk noils actually IN the yarn, and produce a creditable novelty yarn. :o) This batt came to me as a freebie with the lazy kate i bought from CJ Koho on Etsy, and it consisted of nylon glitz, mohair, Border Leicester, and the silk. It’s nice and squishy, and weighs in as a bulky yarn.

A smaller goal I have had for several years was to have someone show me in person how to use my hand cards. Jenny stepped in again, giving me a short, but definitely sufficient lesson on Sunday morning, and I produced two rolags – enough to feel I have a firm grasp on the basics. This may well help me toward my goal of fleece to finished project for this year, and if it doesn’t, Maria’s demo and tips on how to use a drum carder will! I found that I love this stage of spinning – moving the clean fiber into an organized form, ready to spin. But then, I’m beginning to think that every stage has its own little bit of magic! This was just the only thing I’d not done at all, so it was especially fascinating to me. I’ve had a tough time since I’ve been home, as I’ve really been wanting to card wool instead of working on catching up my to do list and knitting for my upcoming trip.

In addition to all the things I went hoping to accomplish, there was a last minute bonus. Jenny offered to teach a class on felting hats – and that’s wet felting, not needle felting or fulling. (If you are beginning to think she is extremely versatile and talented, you are right!) Since I’d never tried this art before and had no idea where to even start, I jumped at the opportunity. ๐Ÿ™‚ We started with a stack of alpaca batts, and we ended up with real hats, just needing trim! Me being me, I didn’t do just a plain hat. I decided I wanted to add some color to mine, as plain, dark gray just isn’t good on me. A couple minutes of thought reminded me that I’d picked up some green angora from the sale table and brought some white BFL fleece with me in my spinning tub. Adding some pink wool locks Jenny brought for the class provided me with just what I needed to dress up my batts.

Lots of soap, water, and elbow grease – enough that my pedometer registered over 2000 aerobic steps on Friday afternoon without me moving more than a foot in any direction – produced hats. Felting isn’t for wimps, but what a cool payback for all that work!

This one is mine – dry and ready to trim. Even though I saw it with my own eyes, I still find it hard to believe that I turned a pile of alpaca fiber into this! More fiber magic!

I have some ideas about how I want to trim it, but I will need more time than I have available right now, and since I don’t think I’ll have a good excuse to wear an alpaca hat in the next few months, it can wait. ๐Ÿ˜‰ One thing I’m definitely going to do is to tighten up the edge of the brim and a few other spots that didn’t felt solid, using a felting needle. For some reason, we all seemed to have problems with the layers not bonding well. I have a neat idea for a band. This is definitely a “stay tuned” sort of project!

So you can see that I definitely had a productive and fiber intense weekend. ๐Ÿ™‚ If I did nothing else the entire month, I’d have plenty to satisfy me just in this four days, I think. However, I believe I can pretty much guarantee you that isn’t going to happen!

I Want a Fiber Studio for Christmas

This evening a friend introduced me to I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas, and it took me about 10 seconds to know precisely what my own “hippopotamus” was. Consider this a little Christmas gift to all of you. Enjoy!

I Want a Fiber Studio for Christmas
ยฉ De-De Heeter 2009

I want a fiber studio for Christmas.
Only a fiber studio will do.
No diamond ring.
Nothing from Dior.
I want to card and spin and knit and weave and felt and more!

I want a fiber studio for Christmas.
Hubby surely won’t mind that at all.
He won’t have to fight
The noisy, crowded mall.
Just grab a hammer, nails, lumber, and his favorite saw.

I can see me now on Christmas morning, creeping out the door.
Oh, what joy and what surprise when I open up my eyes
To see a furnished studio standing there.

I want a fiber studio for Christmas.
Only a fiber studio will do.
Eight harness loom,
Kromski spinning wheel,
A tri-loom and a carder and a felt machine – surreal!
And a cupboard full of qiviut fiber, too!

All I’d need’s a bed, and dinner catered in,
And I’d walk in and never have to walk back out again!

There’s lots of room for one, if we fill in the pool.
I’d throw a shuttle, hook a rug, ply handspun made of wool!

I can see me now on Christmas morning, creeping out the door.
Oh what joy and what surprise when I open up my eyes
To see a furnished studio standing there.

I want a fiber studio for Christmas.
Only a fiber studio will do.
Schnact warping mill,
Walnut Woolee Winder,
English combs, an inkle loom, Tom’s spindles, and dye pot.
And a cupboard full of qiviut fiber, too!

Day 6 Ravelympics Update

It definitely pays to have a good sense of humor when felting – or more appropriately, fulling – knits. Today’s finished project definitely left me feeling slightly shell-shocked, but much wiser than before. I now believe that there aren’t a lot of givens in this art.

So, here’s the story… Having had a marvelously successful felting experience when I made my slippers last December, I decided to make a basket for stashing the loose odds and ends on the sofa – A/C remote, Sudoku book, scissors, lip balm, to do list, current reading… Conveniently enough, I also bought Folk Bags at that same time, and it didn’t take much to convince myself that the Shigra Bags were the perfect concept – except I wanted something a little more subtle for my Victorian home. My Alice Starmore Fair Isle book provided just the right fuel for my creative fire, and by the end of the day, I’d ordered Wool of the Andes from Knit Picks in an assortment of subtle colors, eager to begin my first Fair Isle knitting project.

My slippers shrank very little across the knitting, but about half in length, so based on that and the info in the Shigra pattern, I picked the 126 stitch bag, changing it to 128 stitches to accommodate the Starmore chart. After one false start, I was knitting round and round on my circular needles, brown yarn on my left hand and colors on my right, steadily getting the knack of changing colors, but annoyed to constantly have to stop and twist my yarns on the longer carries. The knitting grew steadily until the remodeling began, then it was pushed aside. By some miracle, when I picked it back up again, I discovered a way to lock my yarn into the back of the stitches without missing a beat on my knitting, so the last third or so of the Fair Isle fairly flew, and I actually started loving what I was doing. I turned the corner and worked the bottom, using the sock on circular needle concept to work right into the very center without even pulling out my DPNs. I was even cheerful working in what seemed like a few hundred ends, as they didn’t have to be pretty, due to the felting.

Enter, the washer… I measured the piece before plunging it into a viciously agitated washer, steaming with hot water. Height was 17″ and circumference was 36″. Hmmm… Perfect, I thought! if that goes down about a third around and half the height, I’m going to have a just right basket about 8″ tall. I could scarcely wait to see the end results and load it with the bits of clutter I’m so tired of trying to keep corralled. I went fishing in the water so many times, impatiently checking the progress, that I managed to scald my fingers quite nicely. About the third time I pulled it out, I started to get an odd feeling though. The fabric was getting quite firm, but my basket wasn’t looking anything like my expectations, and after another 5 minutes or so, I had to admit that I was definitely not in charge of the project any longer. A spin and a rinse in cold water, left me with the expected 26″ circumference, but the height had barely changed at all. My short “Stuff Basket” was shaped just like my bathroom trash can, only 4″ taller! In fact, it was shaped SO much like the trash can that I used it for a mold for my wet felt, folding down a cuff at the top, which I stretched out just a bit for the sake of style. Needless to say, it’s not going to be my little sofa sitter basket. I like it very much, but what to use it for??? At least the colors will go with most of the rooms in my house…

Project notes: Knit Picks Wool of the Andes (which I used double-stranded) sheds a whole lot more than the Lion Brand I used for my slippers. This was too big to put into my laundry bag, though I don’t know if that would have helped much. I ended up scooping a substantial amount of fiber off the top of the water, and every time I handled the basket during the felting process, I was instantly covered with fur. Other than that, it was fine to work with, and it felted quickly and easily. Finished circumference is 26″, height with the cuff up is 14″.

Today’s gold medal…

In other knitting, I worked in an entire skein of chenille yarn, so my fuzzy green afghan groweth larger. I believe it was skein 5 of eight, perhaps, so still a ways to go, but I know that if I stick with it, I can do a ball in one evening of Olympic watching fairly easily. I also finished another project, save for a few minutes with a steam iron, and I nearly finished a second one, but I ran into a problem when I couldn’t for anything find a single one of my tiny mother of pearl buttons. I know I have several dozen somewhere, but with the current state of upheaval from all the remodeling work, 45 minutes of searching didn’t unearth even one – and I’m going to need a fair number more before I’m through. I found a compromise for tonight’s project, but will have to start digging again when I’m fresh and less frustrated, or I’m not going to be finishing nearly as much as I’d hoped.

Actually, frustration hit a double high, as concurrent with the button problem surfacing, my book on tape hit a bad section, which lasted for the entire last third of the disc. If anyone wants to take pity on my, I’m reading Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon right now, and I don’t have a print copy. The disc went bad just as Roger and Bri walked out of church on Christmas Eve, thoughts of marriage (and other things) dancing through Roger’s head. The first few sentences on disc 14 involve Jamie and Ian starting to build a shed. I’ve obviously missed more than a little bit that I’d have liked to have heard, but it would really help if I at least knew the basic outline of what transpired between church and a shed being built two hundred years earlier on land that wasn’t even Jamie’s the last I’d heard. If you care to fill me in on that section, I’d be very grateful! Either way, disc 14 tonight, and seams, seams, seams!

Ugh! ;o)

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