After that first plying adventure on Friday, I wanted to try again, better, so I got a better beginner’s spindle.  I marked it up a little so I won’t spin in the wrong direction again.  (At least not until I get a fancier spindle that I can’t rubber stamp.) 
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It is “s” for spin direction and “p” for the ply direction.  Vocab lesson: Spinning is when you turn the roving into a “single,” or one piece of yarn.  Yarn is made up of at least two singles, or three, possibly four.  Plying is when you spin singles together.  That is done in the opposite direction of the spinning, which makes the whole thing stay together. 
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In this photo, the top sample is the first yarn I spun, and the bottom sample is the second try.  I made an effort to make the singles for this second sample much looser, and I think even in this picture you can tell that it looks more like yarn and less like some kind of trim for the sides of a pillow. 
I still have yet to wash either of these, which I’ve heard is what makes them actually look like yarn, similar to blocking a sweater.  How annoying, to have to block the same fiber twice.  But now I’m trying to think up a simple project, besides just a gauge swatch to make with this stuff, and I’m also thinking how nice it would be to spin some chocolate brown wool.  I think it is good to use this variegated stuff to learn on, because I feel like all my mistakes show, and so I work harder not to make them, but by that same token, it would be nice to use something monochromatic that would be more forgiving. 
As an addendum, I do have a cute little knitted t-shirt with saddle shoulders that I’ve finished everything except sewing up the sides, and I’m just too nervous to do it.  The last time I sewed up sides I did it way too tight and the whole thing didn’t work out.  I knitted this garment in an alpaca silk blend, so it is less stretchy, so I think the problem of the too-tight underarms will be abated somewhat but I’m still scared.  Hopefully I will get over this fear by the next post and take some pictures.
 
Well, I have to say that one of the foremost impediments to my posting is that most of the time I work on gifts.  I guess that, in combination with the fact that I have supportive friends who read my blog.  Therefore I can’t post pictures of projects until they have been received.  Case in point this cute little mailbox. 
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This was a commissioned piece.  A friend of mine who loves the mail and all things related to the mail found this pattern on Etsy and sent it to me right away with heart rendering pleas to make it.  The whole project is comprised of a mailbox, one parcel, and three letters.  I love making toys, so it wasn’t too difficult to sell me on the idea.  We went to Michael’s and looked at every shade and weight of grey, ultimately settling on a combination of a thin silver sparkle yarn from Vanna White’s collection and a nice wooly grey heather.  My friend loves orange, so we made the mail flag bright safety orange instead of the traditional red.  Also, we chose a sparkle white for the letters, just to make them a little more magical.  After all, the fun of a toy is that you don’t have to shoot for total verisimilitude. 
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I was going to do something much more complicated for the stamps, but then in my fabric stash I found a fabric that was printed with stamps with cancelations stamps and everything.  Pretty perfect.  To give them a little more oomph I embroidered little parts of the picture on the stamp, just one color per stamp to keep it simple.  For the name labels I first wrote what I wanted on the felt with a pen and then embroidered over that.  The pen ink bled a little bit, but I don’t think it was a disaster.  My only true regret is that due to the limitations of the skill of my embroidery and the size of the text I was able to embroider, I wasn’t capable of making return address labels.  But I guess perhaps letters that come from magical destinations cannot be returned.  If you are interested in my friend’s musings and more photos she took of the mailbox, here is a link to her blog.  If I had a blogroll, she would be on it.
If anyone recalls those yarn singles that I spun... I typed this and then realized that I had never posted those photos.  So to begin with, here are some photos of the original roving, think like a long dyed cotton ball of wool, and also of the yarn as I spun it and wound it around my spindle shaft. 
To begin again, well, those singles from a while back are now well on their way to being yarn.  At the knitting club meeting last night I got assistance and learned that a.) my singles are spun too tight, and in the wrong direction (for some mystical reason I was told that this would make it better for crochet), but that b.) it was still very nice first yarn.  I still have to wash it, but here are some photos of a 2-ply yarn, made by yours truly.  Pretty exciting stuff.
Finally, though this is not a blog for cats, because my cats do a lot of interacting with craft projects, I’m deciding that it is okay to post cat pictures if they are fiber related.  My younger cat has developed a great affinity for a little leftover ball of sock yarn, and has been doing various art installations around the apartment every time he finds it again, despite the fact that I keep rewinding it and putting it in higher and more difficult to reach places.  I can tell when I’m rewinding it that it is clearly an amazingly fun toy, so I’m not really too upset about it.  Here is a photo of the artist, explaining his work.  He looks a little defensive, so watch out critics of the art world. 
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So much to write about!  I know it has been ages since my last post, and actually I've been quite busy.  Oldest projects come first I guess.
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Here is a photo of a sweater I made for my mom.  A very sweet friend chose to de-stash and gave me the proceeds.  This fuchsia mohair was just screaming my mom's name, so I dug around a little and found this pattern.  I have to say I was surprised how hard it was to find a reasonable mohair pattern.  I mean, I know all the arguments against it, it can be scratchy, and too warm, and sheds, but come on.  This was the only modern pattern I could find for worsted weight mohair.  All other patterns are either from the 80s or the 60s, and in either case most closely resemble ottoman covers.  Like I said, I get why mohair isn’t popular any more, but I also don’t get it.  This was truly a weekend long project, knit on size 11 needles.  It went so quickly, and after blocking, it has a very nice drape.  It has been reported to me that it was a success on its maiden outing. 
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Next are some more little mice.  These little mice, commissioned by my mom for a gift, are the country mouse and the city mouse.  I used the same pattern I've been using from Fuzzy Mitten and then used guess work to create some little clothes for them.  The country mouse wears a little hooded cape.  I did try to make an apron for her first, but these little mouse bodies are not really set up for clothes that cover the waist down.  The city mouse wears a little fancy hat. 
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I'm going to crow about the flower on her hat for a second.  It was done with sewing thread and a 0.75mm crochet hook.  I'm quite proud of it.  The city mouse also wears a string of glass beads.  These little mice represent my favorite type of project, riffing on an established pattern by making changes in yarn and embellishment. 
Next on the agenda for sharing are some repair jobs I did.  Both projects were completed for the same friend about five years ago when I was still pretty inexperienced.  I recently took them back to fix them after being unable to withstand the guilt of turning out lousy product any longer.  As I tell everyone, my projects are guaranteed.  If they fall apart, send them back.  I’ll fix them or make something else. 
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First, pictured above are the ill effects of whip stitching a granny square blanket together that was made from soft acrylic yarn.  The effects are quite ill.  The poor thing was washed once or twice and went all to pieces. 
Now here is my repair job.  I took the whole blanket apart and single crocheted the squares together using a yellow that was pretty close to the original yellow.  I think it looks better than before and I kind of want my own now. 
The second "repair" was blocking this poor scarf.  This is really my first successful knitted garment.  I chose the pattern and the boarder pattern from a book of 500 (or some such number) knitting patterns.  I didn't know doodly-squat about blocking when I made this poor scarf though, and as a result, for the last few years it has existed as a kind of thick neck sock, all rolled up upon itself. 
The blocking was really pleasant because I got to see the lace pattern open up.  Due to the fact that the pattern is knit all the way to the edges though, I'm afraid it will always roll up a little, but it is much improved.  The yarn is a cotton silk blend and was lovely to handle again. 
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Here is a quilt update photo.   I’ve gotten a little farther than this, but not by much.
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And finally, here is one of my kitties reminding me that if it is crocheted, no matter how small it is, it will be sat upon and kneaded by one cat or another.  How could I have forgotten that?