Monday, June 19, 2017

Yarn Dyeing Experiment: Lupine

I've been plotting and planning to create my own line of naturally dyed yarn, and I'm now in the experimental phase.  I'm not going to go into too many details yet until I have a better feel of things, but I'm sure I'll share more here as I learn more.

Lupine Dyeing Experiment
Today's post is about my first attempt at dyeing yarn with lupines.  They grow thick and beautiful here in the late spring/early summer.  I spent a lovely evening gathering a bunch of it the other night with a friend, and have gathered more since to freeze for future dyeing days.

Lupine Dyeing Experiment
I only collected the flower stalks, and used only the flowers for the dye bath.  If you had to guess what colour that would produce, you'd probably guess blue or purple.  You'd be wrong.

Lupine Dyeing Experiment Lupine Dyeing Experiment
While the dye bath was a lovely burgundy/pink shade, the yarn initially came out looking a sad shade of greyish-green after steeping overnight.  I was disappointed, but figured I'd overdye it with something else.  I toss the first dip yarn into a bath with pH neutral wool wash and an extra skein into the dye bath to exhaust the dye.  I left for work and left it be.  When I got home, the exhaust bath yarn was a paler sad shade of greyish-green when I pulled it out and into a rinse bath.  So imagine my surprise when I reached into the wool wash bath and pulled out a skein of lime green yarn!

Lupine Dyeing Experiment
First dip yarn on left, exhaust bath yarn in middle, undyed yarn on right.
I'm not entirely sure what caused the change, but I suspect the soap adjusted the pH and affected the colour of the yarn.  The chemistry is fascinating!  I'm so happy with the results - even the exhaust bath yarn.

For a bit of background here, I used Briggs and Little Sport yarn, divided into 25 g skeins for experimentation.  I premordent the yarn with alum, with cream of tarter as an assist.  I forgot to rinse the yarn before moving it from the premordent pot to the dye bath, and I thought that was why the dye seemed so disappointing.  I suspect that my water isn't a pure as I'd like.  I'll probably have to get bottled water to get more control of my results.

Lupine Dyeing Experiment
I already have a couple baskets worth of yarn in the freezer for future dyeing!
I want to play a bit more with lupine, see what happens when I modify it with iron and copper solutions.  I can see this one making it into my final line of yarns.

Have you tried natural dyeing yet?  I'm fascinated with the chemistry behind it, and have been consuming all of the books I can on the matter.  Know of any good ones to recommend?

Thursday, June 15, 2017

fo: Gramps Sweater

Back in February, my wonderful, life-saving employee had a baby - an adorably disgruntled-looking little boy that has stolen my heart.  Seriously guys, I've happily avoided holding any babies since my Mom plopped one in my arms when I was 19.  I like making faces at them, and that's about it.  But this little guy?  I steal him as often as I can.  I've volunteered to baby-sit him, ffs.  He's a little pouty grump and I adore him.

So of course I had to knit something perfect for him.  What's more perfect for a grumpy-old-man baby than a grampa sweater, complete with elbow patches?  Nothing, I say!

Fo: Gramps Cardigan and Matching Hat
Pattern: Gramps, by Tin Can Knits (one of my favourite knit designers)
Yarn: Cascade 220 Superwash
Size: 1-2 years (since they have 12 bajillion sweaters that'll fit him up to 9 months)
Mods: Shortened the pockets a bit, and that's it.  What do I know about baby fits?

This is a clever pattern.  Knits up really quickly, but pay attention to the instructions for binding off the neckline.  To pull the shawl collar in and prevent a floppy collar, you need to do a decrease bind-off around the neck.  I didn't do this at first, and then ignored the sweater for way longer than I want to admit before I ripped it back and fixed it.

It took 30 minutes.  Why do I do this to myself?

Fo: Gramps Cardigan and Matching Hat
ISN'T THIS THE MOST ADORABLE SWEATER?!  I can't get over those elbow patches.

Fo: Gramps Cardigan and Matching Hat
The buttons though, they definitely bring it to another level.  These are buttons made by a woman in Scotland that I carry in shop.  They're not super popular, but I think people just don't know what to do with them.  Might have to make another sample with them featured!

Fo: Gramps Cardigan and Matching Hat
The matching hat was thrown together last minute from left over yarn based on Tin Can Knits Barley Hat, though I just knit the body of it in stockinette.  I love the floppy loose pompom!

Seriously, I'll be knitting this pattern again.  It turned out soooo good, and is a breeze to knit!

Fo: Gramps Cardigan and Matching Hat
Do you have a go-to baby pattern you make up for friends and family when they have wee sprogs?  Haha have you ever had a baby charm you despite your nature?  I can't wait to see little sprogy in this sweater...once he grows up a bit.  :)

Saturday, May 27, 2017

fo: Welcome Home Tapestry

Tapestry
This project has been done for a while now, and the pictures taken nearly a month ago.  It's about time I finally shared!

A while back, I mentioned that I'd learned to weave on a frame loom.  I took a class a friend of mine taught at the store, and I'm so glad that I did it!  We built our own looms, and learned a few different stitch techniques.  Or I would've if I hadn't plowed on through and finished my tapestry ahead of everyone else.

First Tapestry

This is the one I wove in that class.  I gifted it to a friend that let me stay at her place for 3 weeks while she was out of town and I was homeless after the breakup.  She's a wonderful friend, and volcanologist to boot (that will make more sense when you read the description below).

It's mostly Icelandic wool, either commercially spun (top white and bottom black) or handspun (dark grey and bobbly cream), but the medium grey was Briggs & Little Heritage yarn.  The item attached to the medium grey is actually a piece of vesicular basalt (volcanic rock with gas bubbles) wrapped with silver and sewn onto the tapestry.  I was really inspired by the gorgeous shades of the Icelandic and of the layering that can occur with extrusive volcanism (lava flows).  The whole thing was an ode to Iceland's geology, really.

I really love how this turned out, but the bobbly handspun second from the top intrigued me!  See the little hill in the contact with the white?  That formed naturally from larger bobbles stacking up as I wove.  I really wanted to play with the nature of this yarn, and so the inspiration for my next design was born.

Tapestry details
For this one, I just wanted to play with the thick-thin texture of the cream handspun, so I paired it with an evenly spun black commercial Icelandic wool and alternated rows of each yarn.  I messed up the first part of the tapestry since I initially tried weaving the handspun over and under every two strands (called the warp threads), but this really affected the texture and smoothed out the effect that I wanted.  I'd also planned to use some white commercially spun Icelandic wool to try to show off the distortions, but I didn't like the effect (and only realized well after it was too late to pull it out).  Ah well.

Tapestry details
It was fun to see how the handspun would stack up.  There was actually a lot more extreme waves in the fat white section above, but the thick sections started to line up to fill in the thin sections, and I wound up with less extreme waves.

Tapestry details
On the other hand, there was less chance for the handspun to "fix" itself in the narrower bands, and they formed some cool waves.  I love the texture of this tapestry.

Tapestry details
And since it's one of my favourite features of my previous tapestry, I made sure to include a thick rhya at the bottom.

Tapestry details
I was a bit lazier with this tapestry though.  On the previous one, I weaved in all of the warp threads at both the top and the bottom.  This time, I just wove in the ones at the end so they wouldn't protrude and hid the rest behind the rhya.  Haha GO LAZINESS!

This tapestry was started before I moved into my new apartment in March, and was made as a "welcome to your new home" for myself.  It was an essential thing to focus on when I was feeling so lost, since I find weaving really captures my focus and attention.  Especially one like this, where I was really experimenting with the material and engrossed in the results.

Expect to see more tapestries from me in the future!  They're so fun to do.  I do need to make some for the store, since my friend has really hooked people into this art form.

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As an aside, this is the first time I really felt artistic in a long time.  Unlike with the majority of my knitting and sewing, I felt like I wasn't just following instructions but actually using my artistic spirit to create something unique.  Not that knitting or sewing can't be artistic, nor that others haven't created works of art in those mediums, but I never felt that way in regards to my own work; I don't consider myself an artist when it comes to sewing or knitting, but I definitely felt like one with these tapestries.  What do you think?  Do you feel like an artist, or at least, artistic when sewing or knitting?  I always feel like I'm making pretty but practical items.  I guess practical can be artistic as well, but I guess it comes from a prairie farming background, where you make what you need because it's necessary - hard to look at those skills as artistic as well.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Briggs and Little kal

This post is probably a little incoherent.  It's late, I'm tired, and I just want to blog, dammit!  Also I swear I wrote a blog post about this, but obviously I just daydreamed that one. 

Back in March, Briggs and Little, one of my favourite yarn companies ever, announced a KAL/CAL for any of their sport-weight yarn.  I've been itching to knit a sweater with their B&L Sport, so obviously I needed to join.  Plus I can't resist KALs.

Making progress on my Briggs and Little sweatwr. Doing rhe neckband before continuing on with the sweater was a smart move.
I'm knitting Rolling Rock by Thea Colman, and I'm loving this pattern.  It has an interesting contiguous shoulder line, which is a combination of a set in and a raglan sleeve on a top-down sweater.  I found it mostly flew off the needles, except just before and the first 6 inches after the sleeve separation, which is always ALWAYS a slog for me.  It has a gorgeous lace detail all over the back of the sweater (which I apparently don't have a picture of just yet), and it's both easy to knit and makes the sweater fun to knit.

Body of my Rolling Rock is done!
Haha you can see exactly which section I steam blocked to see how the yarn relaxed.
Now granted, the KAL ends on in a few days on May 15th, and I'm NEARLY THERE.  I have 1.6 sleeves to knit, and I'll probably be pulling a few late nights to finish it.  Like um, tonight.  I hope I can finish, anyways.  Because I literally have 6 other sweaters on the needles and I should probably finish one or two of them before I start the sweater I plan to start this month.  On top of all of the shop knitting I need to do.  AHA yeah, I might have a problem...

Wish me luck folks!

Monday, April 03, 2017

fba on Darling Ranges Bodice


I'm finally sewing up Darling Ranges from Megan Nielsen Patterns!  I always feel like I'm the last to attempt these popular patterns.  I've been half in love with this one forever, but I'm trying to work from patterns I already own (because I have a lot, and am half in love with most of them too).  Except during Me-Made-May last year, I won a prize through a giveaway (more on that next time) that included this pattern.  It's been on the back of my mind ever since, and as the pattern also came with fabric to sew the dress up in, obviously it was the one I reached for when I was considering a new project!

Except as usual, I knew I had to modify the pattern.  A full bust adjustment was definitely in order.

FBA on Darling Ranges Bodice
The first thing I did was trace the front pattern piece.  Since my body measurements are quite different than the pattern sizes, I used my high bust measurement (38", size M) for the shoulders, graded to size L at the underarm after the arm scythe, then graded to an XL at the waist.  My current waist measurement is actually, erm, a bit larger than the pattern fits to, but I also knew that the fba would add some width, so we're going for it.

Since I was pursuing my Fit For Real People (FFRP) book to refresh my memory on how to do an fba, I decided to tissue fit the pattern.  No pics of that process since I was just in my bra at the time, but it showed that I needed a 2 inches added to the piece (1 inch fba on each side).

FBA on Darling Ranges Bodice
There's a tutorial on Megan Nielsen's blog about how to do an fba for this pattern, but it was based on her previous design, which had a dart on the side, not at the waistline.  I chose to just go with a normal fba based on FFRP, while adding a dart to the side to redistribute some of the dart width. You can see that adjustment above, though I forgot to add some length on the right side of the fba.

FBA on Darling Ranges Bodice
I retraced the adjustments onto a new sheet and tried it on.  (I'm using parchment paper because it's what I have on hand.  I love working with this stuff, but scotch tape doesn't stick to it for very long and that's such a pain, let me tell you).  The fit was better, but the side dart I added was too high.  I chopped that sucker out and shifted it down a bit.

FBA on Darling Ranges Bodice
AND here's the final result.  While tracing this version, I raised the neckline by about 1.25 inches as per Megan's tutorial.  I probably should've rotated some more of that lower dart width to the side dart, but ah well.  I think this'll do, and I'll make any further adjustments on the next dress.  If there's another dress.  I hope there is, because this one seems darling - lets see how it works on me!

FBA on Darling Ranges Bodice
In case you're curious (I always am), this is how the piece stacked up against the original.  I lined up the shoulder and the front centre edge since that hadn't changed much.  You can see the width and length added to the piece (I'm a little worried about that added length, but the tissue fitting seemed to sit fine on me so we're just gonna give'er on that one), and the changes to the dart location and end point.  I forgot to mention, but at some point I lowered the vertical dart a bit since it hit above my apex.

Yeah yeah, boring post.  I haven't even showed you the fabric this'll be made from!  Mostly I just wanted to write out my adjustments here for future reference.  Hopefully I actually get to sewing this dress up, because I think it's going to be a great addition to my wardrobe, and I'm feeling like I need a change to my style.  But more on that another time.

Geez these are a pain to do, but it's worth the time to adjust the pattern.  What annoying-but-worthwhile pattern adjustments do you have to make?

Thursday, March 30, 2017

fo: Birch-Newsprint-Clocks-Whatever Quilt : finally done!

So uh, do any of you remember the quilt I planned out and quickly sewed up back in, oh, March 2015?  The one that I stated in this post that only needed to be bound by the bias binding I'd already completed?

I just finished that sucker last night.  Oops.

fo: Couch Quilt
To be fair, the mostly-finished quilt got tucked away for one reason or another ::coughIhatebiasbindingcough:: and then forgotten until I moved into my new place.  And then I got into a fight ::coughinstigateditinafitoffrustrationandheartachecough:: with the Ex and basically cut him out of my life while I heal before I could claim the blanket I bought in Mexico.  This meant I had no blanket for the couch in my often-chilly basement suite.  AND THEN I started using the unbound quilt, so now my couch is full of wee little threads of yarn that came off the edges of the quilt, and the thing was starting to get a little ratty.

Obviously it was time to bind that sucker.  The moment that the sewing machine was unearthed, I did so.

fo: Couch Quilt
Guys, don't look to closely at the binding.  I vaguely used this tutorial and completely machine-sewed the binding on.  But instead of neatly stitching the final side down, I triple-stitch zigzagged that sucker down.  To reflect the triple-stitch zigzag that I "quilted" the blanket with. Yes.

fo: Couch Quilt
Whatever, I don't care how ugly the edging is, because I now have a cozy and bright couch blanket to snuggle under on my evenings off as I knit and watch unending episodes of Last Week Tonight on youtube and read shoddy Star Trek fanfic.  :D

My life is obviously complete.

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Mending Slippers, Mending Hearts

We're nearly a week into March and I still keep thinking it's January; I feel like I've lost February - where did you go February?  Nearly a week into March means that I've been in my new apartment for that long, and while I still feel like I'm couch surfing, it should feel more like mine soon.  I'm hoping to get the majority of my Stuffs packed up and moved to the apartment, and I'm looking forward to getting settled in here.  Some stability will help immensely.

Slipper Mending
I've been plugging away on some projects, but the best one of late was mending a pair of slippers.  Guys, my new apartment - while awesome! - has cold floors, and the slippers I have with me had a couple of holes in the left slipper.  :(  Last night, I grabbed some spare wool yarn and a needle, and fixed that sucker right up while listening to my favourite audiobook (World War Z).

Slipper Mending
I've never mended socks or slippers or anything in this way before - in a cross-hatched woven technique.  I've duplicate stitched a lot of small holes in knitting before, but these were too big to get away with that.  It's a bit rough and probably should've been woven tighter, but I'm proud of how they turned out.  I have a set of leather patches to add to the bottom of theses slippers...somewhere, so I'm not overly concerned about how these will hold up since they'll be covered.

Slipper Mending
The mended patch works for now though, and my feet are snuggly warm in my newly fixed slippers!

Slipper Mending
I don't think I've blogged about these before.  They're a cute pair of bunny slippers from this pattern here, knitted and felted a few years back (my Ravelry project page with no pictures tells me summer 2014).  I never got around to finishing them - the poor left-footed bunny never even got a nose on her.  Maybe once my Stuffs are here, I'll dig up that pink yarn and fix her right up.  Maybe give them both some eyes.

Slipper Mending
It's a little thing, but it's nice to have these in use again.  It's one of the few personal items that I have at the apartment that I haven't had to go out and purchase nor moved around with me from couch to couch these last 6 weeks or so.  A little touch of home in my new one, and it's amazing how much better that makes me feel.  :)

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Sneak Peaks at (some of) the wips

First of all, thank you to everyone who commented on my last post (and those who didn't but thought about it or contacted me elsewhere).  You all are wonderful - I've forgotten how supportive this community has been, and I hope to start finding my way back into it in the coming months.  I suspect a lot of my feelings are going to be channeled into more creative pursuits, because that's my jam apparently.

Also, I have about 10 projects that I'm actively working on right now, never mind everything that's in storage.  Yeesh.  Here's a sneak peak at 5 of them.

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Sneak Peaks
The Lonely Shawl is finished, I just need to get some good pictures of it.  Guys, the hugs it gives me are wonderfully warm and cozy, and I'm so glad I chose it as my coping project.  Also, I think I'm hooked on triangle shawls now.  I'm already plotting more, though I've told myself I have to finish a project before I can start one.

Ugh.  Stupid rules.

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Sneak Peaks
This is my latest weaving project.  No, I haven't shown you my first one.  More on that later, when I've made a bit more progress on this one and get a pic of the other.  I want to tell you all about weaving!  This tapestry is for me - it'll be my housewarming gift to myself. 

Oh hey yeah, I found a place to live!  Great basement apartment with lots of light and a few awesome features I'm not telling you about until I give you a tour when I move in.  :)  I'm so happy to have found a place so quickly - the instability of not having a place to live has been eating away at my mental state big-time, despite all of the wonderful people who have welcomed me into their homes.  It's not the same as having your own space.

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Sneak Peaks
I've also got a few sweaters on the go.  This one is my second Marion sweater (the first is a god-awful shade of green and a bit too short) and is knit from the most scrumptious merino/cashmere blend in the world!  Though I kind of wish I'd picked the burgundy shade after all.  The light brown shade isn't talking to me right now - which is probably why I'm not that far into it despite starting it back in November...

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Sneak Peaks
This sweater is a wee one for my employee's brand-spankin' new baby!  Well, once he's aged a bit - making a larger size because Sproggy's Grandmum knit him approximately 10 bajillion sweaters up to about 9 months old.  He'll be cold once he outgrows them all, so this one should come in handy.

Granted, that's only if I actually finish the darn thing.  I made a big mistake on the collar and now it's in the wip timeout corner until I'm willing to undo the whole bind off.

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Sneak Peaks
And this last one is just a hint at the colourwork sweater I mentioned in my last post!  I couldn't resist starting to swatch the colourwork section - though I suspect I've got the wrong needle size here.

SO MANY BROWN SWEATERS OMG.

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The final wip is, of course, me.  No pic right now though.  Though I think we're all wips - you never really finish you until you're dead!  But ah, I have my good days and bad days, but everyday gets higher up on the slope to doing better.  If today's progress was a little shallow, the steep incline that finding an apartment more than makes up for it.

Thank you again for your support.  I can't tell you how much it means to me.  <3

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

wip: A Lonely Shawl

wip: Lonely Tree Shawl
I started writing this blog post a few weeks ago, but things took a sad turn in my life soon after, and now the subject of this post has come to mean something else to me.

Back in January, I hosted a pop-up shop for Megan Samms, a textile artist out of Atlin, BC who weaves fabric and dyes yarn from Custom Woolen Mills (a wee mill in Alberta, Canada) using natural dyes.  Her stuff is just lovely, and I have all the yarn I need to knit this gorgeous colourwork sweater.  (Keep an eye out for more on this project - I'm desperate to start it.)

Custom Woolen Mills 1 Ply
I also bought a skein of her handdyed 1 ply yarn in this greenish-grey shade dyed from the South American Quebracho tree.  See, I've been itching to add a triangle shawl to my wardrobe, and while black would've been far more practical, I couldn't put this pretty yarn down.

I balled the yarn up (by hand because this yarn breaks like a mofo if you put too much pressure on it, hense vetoing my ball winder set up), and found the pattern I wanted.  But, I've been under a lot of stress lately, between the store, our busy schedules and no time to spend with the boyfriend, financial concerns, and some health issues that are rearing their heads of late.  A tiny spat that got blown out of proportion showed that the boyfriend and I were obviously bottling crap up and lead to a talk that evening.  I wanted us to work on drifting back together after so much time drifting apart.  He didn't want to try.

Custom Woolen Mills 1 Ply
So uh, I went into the talk expecting to making plans to work on our relationship, and basically left it homeless and alone.  More alone, I guess.  I was already near the breaking point, and this ratcheted my stress levels well beyond it.

But I've learned that I have an amazingly supportive group of friends here in the Yukon, and I'm so thankful for that.  I'm not good at reaching out for help when I need it, but they've all rallied and are giving me the support I so desperately need right now.  I don't have a home, but I'm not without places to stay.  I'm overwhelmed with the store, but they're covering shifts for me so I can pack up my stuff.  I'm so hurt and lonely, but they're pulling me out of my head and giving me strength.

wip: Lonely Treens Shawl
This is more personal than I ever wanted to get on this blog, but I need another outlet, a place where I can reach out without having to ask, a place where I can write down the good things, but still look at the hard bits without downplaying it to the friends who worry about me.  I'm going to be fine.  I'm a strong and independent woman and I've survived much worse.  This one just pulled the rug out from under me unexpectedly and it's going to take me more time to get my feet under me again, I think.

All of this leads back to my triangle shawl.  I started it a week and a half ago because I needed a more complicated project to keep my brain distracted and my hands busy, but nothing too complicated that I couldn't figure it out with the on-average 4 hours sleep/night I'd been getting.  And this shawl was the perfect project.

wip: Lonely Tree Shawl
It only recently occurred to me that the pattern name, the Lonely Tree Shawl, was probably somewhat apt.  It's become my coping project - the thing I pick up when I need to not think about stuff anymore.  Sad name and what it represents aside, it also doesn't escape my notice that, once finished, I'm going to have this lovely item that will literally hug me when I wear it.

And while the shawl will probably always represent a sad point in my life, I very much appreciate the symbolism here.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

fo: Foxes and Fireweed - My First Handspun Project!

In November, a friend of mine taught a class at my shop.  Only one person had signed up and, despite having a list of things to do during the class approximately 1.6 km long, I abandoned it all to join the class.

What class was it, you ask?

First Handspun Project
A drop spindle yarn spinning class!  I had so much fun learning a new skill, and I got a bit obsessive with it.  I wound up spending extra time at the shop - long after I should've gone home, spinning away on my little drop spindle.

First Handspun Project
It didn't take long before I'd gotten the whole roving braid spun up into a single ply ball.  I'd considered plying it into a 2ply ball, but the yarn changed a lot from start to finish, from short colour changes, over-spun sections, and rapid extremes in yarn thickness, to long consistent colour lengths and generally more consistent yarn thickness (though I still had some really fat sections in it).

First Handspun Project
The yarn ranged from lace weight to super bulky everywhere - it was hilarious to knit up!  And yes, I knit it up immediately.  I wanted to spin some more, but I was itching to see how it knit up.

First Handspun Project
I decided on a simple cowl design and, pairing it with some Briggs and Little Lite n' Fancy in cream to ground the wackidoodle handspun, I knit a striped cowl with seed-stitch edges.  Here's the Ravelry project page, if you're curious. Folks, while my Northman Mittens are my absolute favourite knit of 2016, this cowl comes close to following it.  Probably because I'm seriously in love with my cooky handspun yarn and the lovely Briggs and Little yarn I paired it with.  I wear this thing almost daily - it's nice and warm on our freezing winter mornings, and the combination of yarns are super soft against even the most sensitive skin!  :D  SO DAMN PROUD OF MYSELF.

First Handspun Project
In case you're wondering, I named the yarn (and thus the cowl) Foxes and Fireweed because of the colours in the roving braid itself.  It was dyed by a local artist, and it just makes me think of foxes darting around a roadside teaming with fireweed on a sunny summer day.  Ridiculous imagery, maybe, but a common one here in the Yukon.  :)

First Handspun Project
Now that I'm finished with this project though, my fingers are itching to spin some more.  Though I'm taking another class tomorrow with this same instructor - this time on frame loom weaving - so it might be a while before I do so.

When was the last time you learned a truly new skill?  I feel like it's been yonks for me.