The owner of my local fiber shop paints the tops of all of her felting needles with nail polish.
For my own needles, I usually wrap the "Handles" of the needles I intend to use loose with a label and write the size/shape on the label. I keep any loose needles that I'll be using in my multi-needle punch tools in the empty tubes from M&M minis in different colors with the sizes and shapes (star or triangle) written on the outside in sharpie. It seems to work well for me.
This is my first Fiber Friday post. My apologies that the photo is such crap. Our digicam is giving us fits so I used my phone.
I wrote about this in the discussion forums. I blended 2 shades of sage-green superwash merino with some natural cinnamon alpaca and then added some mylar threads to give it some sparkle. The end result is 75/25 superwash/alpaca in a beautiful sort of weathered bronze with a hint of flash. I'm thinking of using it to knit a mobius cowl of some sort. I just wish I had more patience. I have enough of the fiber to make several pounds of this blend but there's no way that I'm going to card it by hand with dog brushes.
I actually love blending fibers with my pet brushes. I have two sets, dog brushes and cat brushes. (I found that for the majority of my detail work requires such small quantities of blended fibers that I was wasting effort and accumulating a large stockpile of scrap bits...)
I just blended 2 ounces of custom fiber to spin. I absolutely loved the process. I'm finding that the more involved I am with the fiber, the more I enjoy the end products of my work.
Thank you both for responding, I'd love to hear more about how the fiber artists here choose and work with color.
After looking at the publisher's website, I realized that I actually own several books from this company and have been pleased with the quality of the books in terms of binding, paper quality and image reproduction. All of which is important to me in selecting a craft book to add to my library but may not mean much in the grand scheme of things. Good luck finding the information that you're looking for.
My only input is that the Kromski is breathtakingly beautiful. I'm not sure how it spins, but I could stare at it for hours and caress it for days. Which is to say that sometimes beautiful tools can inspire an artist to work when nothing else can.
I started learning to spin because I've always wanted to. I came to the obsession by way of artifact spindle whorls. After seeing, and handling, some ancient examples, I began reading spinning folklore and seeing the significance of fiber in mythology and history. I really cannot begin to describe the impact that the idea of spinning had on my life even before I picked up my first spindle.
There is a mindfulness in creating threads. There's a sense of connection to countless generations of hands feeling fibers of all kinds transform between their fingers into threads that would keep them warm or catch their food or amuse their children with games of cat's cradle.
I learned to crochet from my mother as a child. I started learning to knit about a week before my first spinning lesson. (Although I knew that I would be learning to spin soon.) Right now, I would much rather spin than knit, crochet or anything else. (I've been having fantasies about weaving, but please don't tell my husband.) I've quite the collection of handspun growing around here.
The strange thing is, almost no one ever asks me about my spinning, etc. I guess that they expect it from me. I'm a potter, a metalsmith, a bookbinder, a papermaker, and I'm sure I'm not thinking of quite a few at the moment. Most people who know me are more puzzled when I say that I can't do something and have no interest in trying it.
Then again, maybe they're just afraid that if they ask me, I'll give them a 20 minute answer, complete with anthropology, mythology, history and folklore. Not to mention visual aids.
I'm currently using dog brushes, which are smaller than regular handcards. This means that I'm ending up with mini-batts. I pull the roving when the stack gets unruly and end up with roughly 6 feet of light, airy roving that drafts like a dream.
Here's what I did. I started with 2 shades of sagey-green superwash merino mill ends that I bought on Ebay. I used my postal scale to weigh out 2 ounces of the darker roving and 1 ounce of the lighter roving. I then weighed out 1 ounce of cinnamon alpaca roving. I started blending using the instructions from Knitty. It's slow going because I have dog brushes instead of handcards, but not a bad way to spend some time sitting in front of the television. (When handcarding, it's important to remember that you blend the fibers better with a light touch than you do if you try mashing the brushes together and "putting some muscle into it." If done right, handcarding can actually be kinda meditative.)
I lightly hand blended before I started carding by pulling a hand-full of each fiber out of the pile and then grabbing the bundles by the ends and pulling them apart before bundling and pulling again. This gives a very, very spotty blend, but it seemed to lend itself well to better proportions on the brushes. I stacked the mini-batts on the table in front of me as they came off the brushes until they seemed to be getting out of control, and then I pulled the stack of mini-batts into loose roving and started the next batch of fibers.
After carding about 2 ounces (which turned out to be about 6 batches of mini-batts/pulled roving) of the fibers that I'd selected, I realized that I just couldn't wait much longer to start spinning. I then blended the rovings using the same rough mixing method I described above and re-carded them. This time, however, I alternated plain fiber and fiber with the fine bronze/copper mylar. I didn't want too much glitz in my finished yarn and since I want to ply this back on itself, less really is more. I made 4 1/2 oz bumps of my blended fiber. Each bump was made by stacking 5 carded mini-batts (layered plain, sparkle, plain, sparkle, plain) and pulling into roving.
I'm about 2/3 of the way through spinning my first bump. I am thrilled. I have some little noils and neeps which are probably a result of my poor carding technique or my pathetically undersized dog brushes, but I'm loving the results. It's spinning beautifully, the superwash/alpaca blend is sooooo soft. The color is so rich. The singles on the bobbin look like I'm spinning weathered bronze, like I've managed somehow to spin from the statehouse dome or something.
I'll admit that I've only been spinning for a few months, but I have never responded quite so well to a commercially prepared roving as I am to this. The color, the texture, everything is just exactly right.
If this is what fiber blending is all about, I may have to rob a bank or something so that I can get myself a drum carder. There's a whole world of fibers out there waiting to be blended and spun.
Hand carding is a lot easier and faster than you might realize. I'd love to have a drum carder but they're so very expensive that I've been making do with dog brushes as handcards. It works great for me because I'm only blending a few ounces at a time. (There are great instructions in the Spring 2007 issue of Knitty.)
If you have larger projects, a lot of guilds have drum carders that members can use. Some shops will even rent drum carders. Ask around, a drum carder is a big investment and not everyone can afford to make it.
My local fiber shop has mylar threads (from Crystal Palace Yarns, I think) for carding into fiber and spinning. I use them quite a bit to blend into little bits of custom colors for felting. They're a lot thinner than the mylar shreds that you'd find at a stationary shop for gift bag filler. More like a lace weight rather than a bulky. I'm about to start carding a blended batch of spinning fibers (sage green superwash and natural cinnamon alpaca) using the instructions from the most recent KnittySpin and want to add just a hint of bronze and/or copper mylar to further emphasize the verdigris impression that i'm hoping to get from the finished yarn.
I'd love to see what you do with the shreds that you purchased from the card shop.