Spinning for Feral Beginners

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Poor Neglected Hobby

That's right, except for some clandestine plying on my drop spindle, I've done nothing to further my spinning hobby pursuit. *sigh* Work has intruded on my playing with fuzz.

I did manage a quick trip to the local guild to see what was happening, but besides that, nada. Will have to go on the new year's resolutions list.

I have this to spin:

Or this, some South Australian merino/corriedale cross carded sliver 8-):

Thursday, November 13, 2008

And the fibre keeps coming!

Angel -- The cutest Angora bunny in the world!

Check out Aboundingful Farm -- Ellen Hanson Anderson - Shepherdess and Spinner, and breeder of the most beautiful Angora Rabbits you've ever seen! My sister, Beth, bought Angel from Ellen. And yes, since the photo was taken, Angel has had a haircut! Ellen breeds Icelandic and Jacob sheep and keeps angora goats too. Her kid mohair is spinning heaven.

Look out for Nancy and Lili Weik's Overlook Manor Farm -- home of fabulous Cormo and Border Leicesters. And they breed gorgeous guard dogs too! And you know I'm loving that.

Both of these farms are happy to email you with information on which fibres are in stock. Look for them at the fibre festivals too. Be sure to tell 'em Melissa from SIOz says hello.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Fiber Links

Ok -- I've confirmed the first 2 links for some unbelieveably wonderful fiber-sellers in the US.

Roclans -- Kate grows the most unreal Ramboullets you'll ever see! And her fiber is worth emailing and ordering. She dyes the fleeces then has them processed for spinners -- the result is the softest, most wonderful spinning fibre you'll ever feel. Well, I'm biased, as in addition to having great fiber, Kate is an ACE person and so is her husband, who runs the farm and keeps her Rambos in good shape. Email her and ask her what colours and types of fibers she has in stock. It's worth the extra effort.

Flying Fibers: Jeri stocks rare UK sheepwools. I've stashed a variety to take back home with me. I'm particularly taken with her Manx batts. They're so kewl. Jeri is a talented fibre artist -- and I now am the proud owner of one of her wild hats -- PURPLE of course! I love it so much that I'm sad it is summer in Oz and can't wear it for a while. Buggah!

I'm sorting through what I've hoarded and will post more links as I get to them.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The woolpile

There are several bags of fibre here -- all waiting to be worked with... and I'm under deadline, so no fibre fun for me til the work is finished. It's terrible torture.

Awaiting details from several wool producers for weblinks, so please stay tuned for those!

M, in Easton, MD

Monday, October 13, 2008

Miscellaneous Yankland Madness

Thought I'd post some fun photos from my outting with some like-minded dyer fanatics. Some old wine jugs with the lovely distilled brews -- goldenrod, grape, black walnut, and other fantastic dyes.
Then, a shot of cedar, which, um, kinda overboiled on the la stove. Smelled nice tho'.

We had so much fun getting filthy all day -- lots of pots on various burners and even a live flame camp stove ring (that was fun to light) WATCH OUT FOR YOUR EYEBROWS!
Managed to make a nice mess with some Starbucks espresso grounds. Not for the tidy types -- we didn't have a fine strainer so the fibre was nice and gritty. Didn't mind it myself, as the yarn was nice to smell if you are coffee addict like me.
Lots of discussion of the benefits and limitations of natural dyeing. Some seemed to argue that it wasn't a commercial venture -- consistency of colour/product, etc... I would argue, well, you don't get much colourfastness with most commercially-produced clothing, so why should it matter with hand-dyes.
While I'm a commercial hand-dyer who uses synthetic dyes -- my customers expect a colourfast, lightfast product, I think there is room for natural dyeing on a larger scale. I mean, why can't the yarn fade and colour change over time? I'm getting older, changing colour, etc... a natural process.... *laugh* So why not the things I make with my hands? I'd be interested in your comments regarding.
On a completely different note, here are some of my non-fibre-related items from my travels:
Run to: www.target.com and check out the Nick and Nora pajamas. Don't miss the curious kitten jimjams. I've stocked up people! This is the USA target, not the Aussie one. Alas, I don't think the Aussie one is stocking winter jammies at the moment. I love all of them and yes, have purchase a matching set, including the slippers.
What to do? Do I splurge and get the sock monkeys as well????? OMG.
I'm homesick for Australian food and my bestest girl, Lyta, the love of my life.
melissa, in Yankland

Monday, October 6, 2008

Back from NJ and PA

I first have to add the following photos: Vellan has spun some sliver from BWM that I left with her before I headed overseas. I want to grab that yarn through cyberspace!
Eh Voila!

It's so beautiful!!!! Now I'm dying to see what she does with the hand-painted Sherwood Forest I did with some of Wendy Dennis' top! WOWEEEE.

This was an experiment to see if I could dye a floral -- there are photos of this hand-paint, undyed, in a previous blog entry. Her spinning is amazing.

Speaking of amazing spinning -- I've spent the last 2 weekends in the company of the North Country Spinners, NJ -- an fab group of spinners, weavers, and knitters. Survived a very sleepless, but enjoyable retreat, then followed that up with a workshop the following Friday -- topic? Freeforming and the roll/bullion stitch. Of course, I couldn't help but insist that they purchase Prudence Mapstone's Bullions and Beyond -- a must if you want some inspiration on freeform crochet. Most, however, hadn't looked at the book. No worries, as it wasn't required, but I expected 10-12 people would be interested. Imagine my surprise when 30+ showed up, with hooks poised. It was a bit like herding cats, but we had a lot of fun negotiating the hook gymnastics as a group. Some very groovy patches started already!

So it's back to Maryland to prepare for the next SIOz outting!
Catching you later, m

Thursday, September 25, 2008


What a time to be in Yankland. Typical -- the sky is falling and I'm here for a spell. Nevermind. As soon as I am able, I will try to upload a photo of my prized USA purchase -- a pair of Converse One Star gymshoes -- in pink, with skulls, hearts, flowers, and all things girlie on 'em. I bloody love them. Truely.

Funny: one of the cable film channels has been showing Australian films all month. HA! At least that's one channel worth watching, at least for now. Family has 700+ channels on the digital tv and still... NOTHING WORTH WATCHING when SciFi isn't showing a new programme. FIE.

Spinning: sneaked my very pointy drop spindle on the plane -- whorl packed separately from the shaft (shaft has a notch, not a hook) and spun happily on the plane (aisle seat) for a while. The flight attendant was quite intrigued. Or maybe just polite!

Still, not a wasted flight. :-)

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Hand-Painted Sliver

A new batch this week:

I admit it -- I really hate to part with the reds with green. I've been painting garden colours this week and this once just had to be painted.  The top photos -- colours not as accurate as the reds/green floral.  Both lots are hand-painted Bennett and Gregor Sliver. Real South Aussie Wool.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

coloured snakes? wool scrolls?

Painting sliver -- again. The scrolls are my favourites -- some coloured sheep wool from Wendy Dennis.

Ok -- nice wool to spin. Check. Time to spin? *sigh* Never mind. It's nice to look at. I'm especially STOKED about the outrageous scarlet red and the sapphire blue that blended with it. (at right in photo) The sliver at the left may be 2 different yarns. The purples and blues go. But the bloodread and paler mauvey colours seem to belong somewhere else. 2 different dye patterns were used for the respective lots. Both colourways are spring florals. And it was 5 degrees last night. 

When coiled, the sliver at the left resembles a fairy's dragon dropping.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Hand-Painted Sliver

A coupla miles of sliver I painted this week:

Wild colours, some monkey in the jungle (?) and 3 blues and a purple featuring a new sapphire blue I've been mixing. Ooooh purdy.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Handspun Heaven

I'm so happy! Vellan swapped yarn with me and I ended up the BIG WINNER! I mean, it hardly seems fair to trade commercial yarn for handspun, but I wasn't going to argue. The purple, teal, light blue hs is merino/soy. *sigh. I just want to look at it.

PURPLE and PINKS for socks? Scarf? sumfin really narce! oooooooooooooh.

The purple, pink, peach, blue is from Ewe Give Me the Knits optim/bamboo. Kaviare and Vellan call it Minced Unicorn yarn. *sniffle* I don't know about that, but I WANT IT and now, ahahahahaha it is mine. MINE I TELL YOU! And the natural corriedale and sumfin is so sorft and gorgeous. *sigh*

Monday, July 21, 2008

SURVIVOR... of Sheep and Wool Show

Well, I've made it back, mostly in one piece, from the Sheep and Wool Show. And... I managed to get away for about 1/2 an hr to stock up on some hobby items: top for my sister from the BunnyPeople, sliver from Wendy Dennis, a bit of top from Lara Downs, and some naturally dyed top from a lovely person who does all natural dyeing. *sigh*

I will post piccies when I am awake again.

I didn't get to spend much time with my ptog buds, which bummed me out, but I was in work mode, not fun mode!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

In defense of energised singles

Ok, I can see I will have to agree to disagree -- my singles sock isn't pilling. That's because I OVERTWISTED the hell out of that yarn and knit it from the drop spindle while it was freeeesh. They are SPROINGY, stretchy happiness and require no stinking nylon or anything of that nature. The only bits that are a bit fuzzy are the nibs that I spun in cuz I suck at spinning. Seriously.

I know this violates some strange sacred rule of spinners everywhere, but it's my damned yarn and I like it this way. I do know how to ply, but that isn't what I was after. So There.


Friday, June 27, 2008

Nepalese yarn

How do I love thee?  Parting is such sweet sorrow. [insert incorrectly quoted phrase from English Lit class] Why didn't I paint more of you, dear skein? Why am I under deadline and not painting you right now? Why am I talking to yarn?
Not good. Noooooooot good at all.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Oooooh Trippy

Spindle photos snarfled from Vellan's flickr:

Rick has outdone himself this week! Aren't they kewl maaaaaaan. Excellent PHOTOS V.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Lyta, and... Squirrelly

Whilst the weekend was spent at market --- and many a person milling around Port Adelaide during the holiday, I managed to sneak in a spinning moment here and there -- as I played with my Chuppah Whorl Spindles to demonstrate. Such a teaser, though, as the needles demanded immediate attention.

*schniffle* not enough time to play. This could turn me into a walking, talking (babbling?) Stephen King character. All knit and no play makes Mel a dull girl. WAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

Pictured above is my babygirlLyta. She is caressing her beloved Squirrelly, who, as you can see, is laid out in the disemboweling position. And yes, Lyta likes to completely mess up the hall runner. It's stuffed now. But do I care? Mais non, as who can resist that face? Those cute little eyebrows? Cheeky monkey. Squirrelly is now a lot skinnier than in the photo, but no less loved. And both squeekers are missing, much to my husband's delight. Notice the holding position? This is how she holds her Dentastix snacks too.


Friday, June 6, 2008

general feralness

Feeling extremely feral under deadline -- no time for spinning sucks. And I'm still having trouble dealing with my colour analysis from the surve (see right). I mean, saddlebag brown? I love browns, but I think of myself as a PURPLE kinda woman. *sigh*

Sneaking in some spinning time this am at the guild... m

Monday, May 26, 2008

That's right - my husband always knew this!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Here are some groovin' photos Dot took of the Monkey Sock Swap 4 pack I sent -- The socks were knitted in Opal Mosaic purple. The yarns were: Jojoland, Knittery Slim Sock, and Lace Wings. I included a monkey (who looks jetlagged!), some jungle (w/monkey) stickers, a banana bunch fridge magnet, The Mingus Sock Pattern, some funky monkey material for Dot to use for patchwork -- she's a quilting fiend, and a bracelet that has a banana and a monkey on it.

I contemplated the contents of the pack and concluded that, after all, knitters probably prefer getting YARN (nice yarn) over any other items, so I went heavy on the sock yarn. I don't think DOT minded!

I really wanna do a monkey swap down under, but don't know who would be game... Any takers?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

They call 'em drop spindles for a reason

Well, if ever there were a reason why I shouldn't practice on my gemstone spindle it is this: I have had the dropsies all week! Good thing my new clay spindles are bouncy. Dropped mine all over the place this week and no damage, except to my pride.

Can't wait to finish work this week and play with wool.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Chuppah Whorl Spindles

They're HERE! Rick, the polyclay artist from Selonj, designed these whorls with me for Stranded In Oz. My husband named them. A Port Adelaide joint venture!

Thursday, May 15, 2008


V gave me the gorgeous Mauch Chunky yarn she spun!!!!!!!!!!!!! It's too lovely to knit with. Seriously. *sigh. I will just pet it a while.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Feeling less guilty

Feeling much less guilty since sending off my monkey sock swap 4 package to my Canadian monkey buddy, dotty. What a relief. I think they look extra kewl.

Back to work --- and still no time for spinning. Bugggahhhhh.

Still stranded in oz...

Sunday, May 11, 2008

At left is Vellan's gorgeous handspun made from the experimental order of Mauch Chunky ROVING!!!! It's so gorgeous. I LURV it.

*sigh* Eggplant. Kiwi.... Juju Fruit surprise. It was a funky, weird multicoloured puff thrown into the box. How kewl is this?


Thursday, May 1, 2008

Mauch Chunky ROVING

Mauch (pronounced munk) CHUNKY ROVING HERE!!! 20 different colours to spin and NO TIME. There's a funky special colour: grey, eggplant, and light green. Sounds crap, looks so freakin' kewl.


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

coffee near tragedy

That's right -- husband spilled on very first handspun/handknit project last night. Not sure any long-lasting damage done, but he was not happy last night. I growled. If only I could spin today...

Monday, April 21, 2008

No idle spindle

What a relief -- and it's all the alpaca breeder's fault. There it was, alpaca roving, ready to spin. And yes, I just so happened to have my very basic stone spindle I made with a dowel and an aventurine. I was supposed to be knitting, but no, I was at my new stall at the Port Adelaide Market and wheeeeeeeeeee, it just couldn't stay in its bag. And damned fine roving it is.

So I feel better having spun something this weekend. Alas, it was but a tease, as I am back at work knitting something, but for that brief, pleasant hour on Sunday, I was happy spinning yarn. And yes, it is very feral yarn indeed. :-)

Sunday, April 6, 2008

The Idle Spindle

While I'm working, I can see my box of spinning stuff -- no action with that for 2 weeks. It's a bummer. My reward for meeting deadlines this week is spinning on the weekend. Now to keep that promise.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

monkey buddy howdy

Dear Monkey Buds: here's to hoping for a great swap. I've got yarn, pattern and needles ready to go! And thank you to my secret buddy for emailing me -- nice to meet you!


Saturday, March 22, 2008

Preying Manitis?

Digression from knitting! The photo at the banner on this blog was taken out front of my house. I actually TRIPPED over the poor thing and got bitten for my error. I have never seen one even close to where I live!

My spindles lay idle whilst I work, which is making me sad! Spinning reserved for this Monday, my official day off.

Happy spinning and knitting!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Monkey Sock Swap 4 Questionairre

Monkey Sock Swap Questionnaire

The Measurements

Shoe size: 7 US

Foot length in inches: 9.5

Circumference: 7

Yarn Preferences

What are your favorite colors? Purples, Greens (avocadoish), and Ocean Blues

What color clashes with your wardrobe? Yellow

Do you prefer solids or variegated yarns? Variegateds

What are your favorite brand sock yarns? Cherry Tree Hill, Interlacements, & Hill Country

Is there a new sock yarn you really would like to try? Anything from my faves

Cookie A. Patterns

List the patterns you do not have but would like to receive: Gothic Spire or Flicker. Apologies to sock buddy -- I just got a gift of a coupla patterns, one of which was the one I originally put here yesterday!


Do you have any allergies that your pal needs to know about? (animals, fiber, sensitivity to smoke etc.) No.

Will you knitting be exposed to animals? Yes, a dog.

Will you knitting be exposed to cigarette smoke? NO!


What country do you live in? Australia

Are you willing to ship outside your country? Yes.

Swapping Blog

Welcome to my swapping blog and things spindly! Stay tuned for adventures in very feral handspinning and knitting that results.