More Than One Way to Spin a Yarn

I’m absolutely fascinated with the fabric arts. There really is something almost magically about weaving, crochet, knitting, sewing.  It’s just so easy to get lost in spinning or embroidery (yeah, I’m one of those people that can sit down with a cross stitch and 12 hours later still be working on it and only get up because it’s gotten to dark to see the pattern). I’m hoping soon to be able to resume my large scale cross stitch projects, and will be sure to do a post about them when I do. If I can find the few complete ones that I still have in all the moving chaos I’ll probably post a picture or two. I took normal patterns and did them on monks cloth with unseparated embroidery thread. It creates this really great tapestry look to them.

There are a lot of phrases that take things to do with making fabric and use them to describe story telling, such as spinning a yarn or weaving a story or relating a plot line to a thread. Big tales often feel like a tapestry where every time you look at it you see some new detail. Two characters that really embody the wonder of fabric arts to me are Sandry from Tamora Pierces Circle of Magic books and Rose from East by Edith Pattou (I highly recommend both authors by the way, especially the unabridged audiobook versions). East has a kind of epic fairytale quality to the story and the heroine Rose is drawn to sewing from a young age; something her mother encourages as an attempt to keep her wayward child settled. Sandry is a mage with a form of ambient magic that revolves around anything to do with fabric. It sounds really mundane as just a concept, but the way it is used in the stories is wonderful. At one point she even accidentally spins several mages’ magics together. The way Tamora Pierce takes such everyday things and makes them something truly magical is what has made her my favorite author since I was eight.

Something I’ve recently been really interested in is yarns, particularly making them. I thought I’d share with you some videos I’ve come across in my curious wanderings.

Spinning Yarn on a Drop Spindle

There is actually a little mini series from this person that shows how to draft wool, using the drop spindle, finishing a skien, making two ply yarn with a drop spindle and using a wrist distaff; as well as a lot of videos of her cat (hell, who doesn’t like a cute kitty).

How to Make Yarn from Plastic Bags

A great vid for the basics of making plarn.

Plarn – Going Beyond the Basics

Okay so you already know how to make plarn. So how do you spin it for stuff that doesn’t require the mega hooks and needles. (Yes your speakers are working, there is actually no sound for this one).

Plying Plarn

Great info on how much you can actually get out of a single bag, and how much you get once you turn it into a two ply yarn.

How to Make T-ROPE T-shirt Yarn

This video has some great tips for making yarn from t-shirts, such as how to deal with different weights of fabric. I love t-shirt yarn. The stuff you make from it seems nearly bullet proof.

How to Unravel a Sweater for Yarn

These two are really short (probably would have done fine as a single vid), but give some really good tips on unraveling old sweaters for their yarn. There are TONS of knit sweater in thrift stores, and even though the sweaters are usually really ugly, they still have great yarn. So save the poor yarn the embarrassment and make it into something it doesn’t have to be ashamed of.

How to Make Toilet Paper Yarn

Ok, I’ll admit it, this was one of those video titles that I said “what the” and just had to click.

How to Spin Tissue Paper Yarn

Great use for left over packing materials and the remains of sewing patterns.

Spinning Yarn on a Pencil

If your house is like mine a spindle may be easier to find than a pencil, but for everyone else this video is for you.

Here are also some great Instructables I came across:

How to Make a Yarn Baller – Shows how to make a yarn baller using a drill.

Duct Tape Swift – Seriously, is there anything you can’t make out of duct tape? And I thought the cannon they made on Myth Busters was epic.

How to Make a Drop Spindle – Have some junk CDs laying around? Turn them into an inexpensive drop spindle.

And to finish off this post, here is a funny music video with a REALLY big ball of yarn. Next post will be the Dragons to Keep gift guide, see you then.

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SewQuick = Epic Fail

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The other day I purchased a SewQuick. I currently don’t have a sewing machine and was growing a little tired of doing everything by hand. I had been putting off making some t-shirt pillows, saw the SewQuick, and figured it would work great for such a simple project. Boy was I WRONG! I don’t know if there is just some special trick to get this thing to work but thus far it has been an epic fail. In two hours I had not managed to complete one pillow (normally I can hand sew about 4 in this amount of time). Every seam unraveled either while I was trying to pry the fabric loose from the SewQuick without breaking the needle or within moments of being set down. I didn’t have problems with tangled threads as many people mention with this product, but by the end of the night I was ready to throw the thing.

Now I do believe this would be a great product if one single feature was added. The ability to go more than one direction. There is no reverse on this thing, which is the main way you secure stitching on a sewing machine. Some stitch options would be nice as well, but I don’t expect them for $20. It’s just the type of stitch the machine does is VERY easy to accidentally unravel if it isn’t secured, and the only way to secure the stitches with the SewQuick is a needle and thread (kind of defeats the purpose of having it). I was very disappointed because the concept is wonderful and I would love to have something like this that worked for quick projects and maybe for doing the edges of my wings.

Singer, I normally love your products but this is the biggest epic fail to happen to sewing in ages.

Wings, wings, wings

Yes I haven’t posted in a while. The reason is I have been out of town for a couple of weeks. The good news is during that time I had access to a nice clutter free workspace to crack down on my back log of wing designs (Oh how I long for a new apartment).

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This was a custom order for a garden project, and there may be a few more of these to come. The person ordering wanted to see how they worked out before ordering more. As usual I used the 14 gauge fence wire and electrical tape to create the frame work and nylon stretched over the frame to create the canvas. One thing that was different on these is instead of tacking in the points that needed pulled in to creat the overall shape I hand serged all the edges. It gave it this really cool tattered look on the edges oddly enough. Glitter and modgepodge glue was used to do the decorations and a shimmer spray to give it some pop. Then it was MASSIVELY coated in exterior quality spray on laquer. This pair had to be made as weather proof as possible and so I didn’t want to take anything to chance and did several extra coats.

HPIM0585I also FINALLY finished up these blue butterfly wings, which will be going up in my shop soon (if I don’t cave into temptation and keep them. I’ve grown really fond of this pair).

HPIM0578This frame is actually for another custom order from a friend who thankfully ordered early for halloween before the rush. I don’t have a picture yet but this one is already stretched, serged, and waiting to be decorated. When complete this will be a half angel half demon set. The final set (pictures coming soon) will have flames worked on both sides. The demon side will be the more traditional flames in reds, oranges and yellows. The angel side however will have a little more twisty type flames in blues, silvers and purples.

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I have also begun work on this design. It is a dream catcher pair of wings that will probably be more for display than wear (although I fully intend them to be wearable). Now I have only made a dream catcher once in my entire life, and that was in 3rd grade using a paper plate and yarn, so this particular pair is coming along a little slowly as I learn how to make a one for real. Probably not the best idea to learn on such an odd shape, but then again when do I do things simply. I do have the framework completed and the leather wrapped on one of the top segments. I did not realize how much leather it takes however and am waiting till I can go get more. I think I’m going to do an entire post devoted to these later on and include a set by step of it.

Picture 001 resizedAnother set that is currently being serged is a pair modeled off of a mermaid painting I saw at an art show resently. If I can get permission from the artist I will post an image of the tail that gave me the idea. One thing I can show you though is the image I will be adding onto one to the wing segments. This fish I did using henna on a painted canvas. I want to work a similar one onto the wings using a sand painting techique in a fine glitter.

Here is a glimpse into my design book. Some of these have the frames built and even a couple are stretched already. As you can see these wings are developing into a more detailed craft for me. I’m having a lot of fun working on them.

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No worries about the other projects though, I have not forgotten them. The amigurumi dragon is still well under way, although I tend to work on him when I am out and about (I’m one of those people who just cannot be idle, so he made a perfect traveling/commuting/eating out project). I am making the pattern from scratch so there has been a lot of crocheting then unraveling things that don’t work but I’m learning a lot about amigurumi in the process and taking notes so that if he turns out well I’ll make the pattern available. So far both front legs are complete and one back leg is finished. The back leg is what hung me up for a while because it was a bit tricky to get the shaping I wanted for it.

I plan to have some finished pics of the wings I’m working on this week up soon. See you then.