We're already a week into September, and the weather here is finally starting to cool off! The zucchini is still going wild in my garden and some of the other veggies are finally starting to grow again - I think the extreme heat sent us all into dormancy for almost all of July and August. Cooler weather means wool is bearable again too - not just to wear but also to work with.
In September, I've already got a lot on the schedule - check it out here - plus, I get to go home for a week and see family. Better think up a travel knitting project!
What are you working on this month?
In July, during Tour de Fleece, I had a blast playing with making mud on purpose. That sparked an idea for a bigger project - blending together a lot of leftover and stash fibers to make one big gradient. I balked at using hand cards for the whole project, and instead used my blending board.
I love the effect I get on the blending board - a little nubbly, a few random pops of color, and an overall heathery feel. Plus, I've learned that I really love spinning from a rolag, which is really easy to make on the blending board.
For this project, I used a variety of wool braids, an alpaca/wool blend leftover from this project, sari silk cloud, and some alpaca. If I had to guess, I'd say each skein is about 80% wool, and 20% alpaca/silk.
Once I'd done all the fiber prep, the spinning more or less took care of itself - an hour or so each day, and then the plying. I'm 100% a plying procrastinator, so that's rarely something I want to do. But ALL my storage bobbins are currently full, so when I wanted to spin some more, I HAD to ply. That's one way to make sure it gets done, I guess!
I'd initially envisioned using this yarn for a sweater, but I think of sweater designs faster than I can knit them, so I think this yarn is going to be destined for my loom. There's about 20 ounces, and I've got an average of 12 WPI, so I'm guessing there's around 1300-1500 yards there. This yarn will be all warp, and I'm hoping to spin up some weft too...but that will depend on sampling once it's on the loom!
What are you working on these days?
There's a ton of stuff in the works! If you're in or around Colorado, I'd love to see you at one of the following events I have coming up in September:
This article on ancient Artic spinning was really interesting. I really wish I had been more aware of the intersection between textiles and archaeology when I was younger.
Speaking of archaeology and totally not fiber related, I'm in love with this. Basically anything with someone in one of these t-rex costumes brings a smile to my day.
These three videos from Bobbin Boy are on my watchlist. One, two, and three. (Flax is so fascinating!)
And last, but definitely not least. I've been sitting on some thoughts on "CRAFT," based on my readings of Folk Fashion* and Craeft**. Felicia, as always, has an insightful post here.
Today I want to share a different kind of "link love." I want to talk about our hands, and how we can take care of them. But first, a little bit about why this is so important to me:
Did you know I have a whole 'nother business? It's over here. Or, if you prefer Amazon, we sell there too. In 2016, we quit our full-time jobs to work on our business. In February of this year, my husband was asked back to his old job, and he accepted. (Health Insurance! 401(k)! Adulting!) Of course, that has meant a lot more work for me in our business. There has been all sorts of new stuff to learn that I hadn't really needed to do before. Paperwork. Emails. Navigating the different selling platforms. Figuring out the post office. The hardest part? Packing boxes.
All those products that come from Amazon or our website or even eBay? They're packed by human hands. From February to July, they were packed by my hands. I knew right away that this was no small task for me. All of the motions were small and simple. I rarely spent more than two hours packing boxes. I knew I was generating a lot of income for my business every time I packed boxes. I knew this should be easy.
But still, my hands were sore. So sore that knitting was almost impossible. I'd hold knitting needles in my hands for about five minutes before everything froze up. At one point, the pain in my hands was so bad that all I could do was clutch a mug of hot tea, because the heat was the only thing that felt good on my hands. One night, I was in so much pain that I laid down in bed with a mug of hot tea in my hands, balanced on my belly. I woke up soaking wet and cold after having rolled over and spilling the now cold tea all over my bed. I lived in a constant state of worry that I would develop De Quervain's tenosynovitis, something that has bothered my mom's hands for years.
Unmoored from fiber art as a refuge, I had to figure out how to keep my hands healthy so that I could work and play with my hands.
The biggest thing that helped me was to hire someone else to do the work. Seriously, if you have a task in your business that's causing you pain (mental or physical), it's so worth it to hire the work out. My employee is much faster than I am at packing boxes, and has even come up with several innovations to make it faster and easier. I can still jump in and help if I have to, but most days, he's got it covered, and I have more time to work on other bits of our business, plus write to you all!
So - I promised links, and here they are:
This video helped me a ton. And I wish I had incorporated the exercises from this video a little bit sooner.
Esther Rodgers (aka Jazzturtle) has a great Craftsy class called Fiber Preparation for Spinning. Don't let the title of the class fool you - she shares lots of ergonomical tips and exercises for taking care of our most precious equipment - our bodies.
We Are Knitters has this handy infographic. It moves! (Is gif-o-graphic a word?)
If you're more into the written word, Carson Demers is the expert on ergonomics for knitters. He has this fantastic book, and he's written a few great articles for Ply Magazine, too. He also has an interview on the Fruity Knitting Podcast. (Interview starts at about the 41 minute mark)
Everything we do with our bodies has a cumulative effect, which is why I love "spoga," aka Spinners' Yoga. Also great for knitters, weavers, crocheters, rug hookers...basically anyone who sits down and uses their hands to craft.
I'd love to know if there are any other resources you find really helpful for keeping your hands in tip-top shape!
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