Scrumbling – Or How I Feel Down the Freeform Crochet Rabbit-hole

Scrumble in Red Heart yarn. My very first attempt at freefrom crochet.

Sorry I haven’t posted in ages. There was enough family drama to fuel several soap operas, and I felt it was too much trouble to post positive stuff when my entire world fell apart.

The good news is that it has all worked out, for the best. So I’m ready to start sharing my adventures in crochet freeform.

I’m not the kind of person who likes having huge stashes of materials. Fiber or yarn, I want to use it up and get it out into the world in some form or another. For quite some time, I’ve been looking for good stash-busting projects.

I think I’ve found one!

In my adventures of 2014 – I cleared out a great deal of furniture and framed art. So my bedroom walls are quite bare. This little scrumble may end up as part of a very large wall hanging.

Stay tuned, I’m going to share my sources and have some fun.

Alpacas Shorn

I was starting to panic – Grumpy was carrying two bags of fleece on his little body. I knew he was suffering.

But I found a woman who would shear them for us. I helped, and the guys seemed to appreciate that it was me who held them and talked to them. They came back to the barn for food afterwards, which is always a good sign.

We have 4 bags of fleece from three alpacas. Grumpy’s is longer and bulkier than the others.

I’m going to start working on the fleeces tonight. Going to build a skirting table for the fleece and pick the second cuts and fiber out of it. The dirt will need to be washed out. Over and over again.

Trouble in a Sweater


I wanted to show everyone my first attempt at a dog sweater. Thanks to Dog in a Sweater for the instructions.

Trouble has a very thin coat, even for a Jack Russel Terrier. He spends a lot of time under blankets and behind couch covers. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat on him, thinking he was a fold in the fabric.

This sweater is very loose on him. I’m tempted to lace it up the back to tighten it. However, a trip through the washing machine might be enough to snug it up.

He’s much more playful when he’s not cold, as you can see.

Added 2/5/13 –
Trouble really likes his sweater! I can say ‘put on sweater?’ and he will jump up so I can reach him.

However, even after washing, the sweater is loose enough to get his feet through the neck.

I think I’ll need to make him a slightly smaller one.

Hats, Hats and More Hats

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Yes, I’m obessed with hats. I’m taking knitting lessons, and learning to knit hats. Then I’ve been crocheting hats (3 of them) using a simple hat pattern from “Respect the Spindle”. I got three different looking hats out of it. 

Then I saw the log cabin squares that I saw on a blog also made on the PBS channel. I experimented with those and had a great time.

I think I’m starting to lose my dread of making mistakes. LOL

Whatcha Up To?

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I hope this picture looks better than the flashed out one. I’ve been spinning some Silver Romney – about 6 oz so far. And there is an ounce of accent yarn, silver and rose (Coopworth wool). There are 3 more ounces to spin before I’ll offer it for sale.

The rose and silver was just put on the niddy noddy today. I plied it yesterday. I still have to set the twist. It looks to me like someone could knit a scarf, a hat and a pair of mittens from all this yarn.

The fiber spun like a dream. It isn’t dyed wool, it was carded with some grease left on it to make it spin better. Carding the two fibers together was easy once I got Hubby into the act. We knocked it out in a few minutes.

An aside to anyone who has a carding machine – get a wallpaper brush to press down the batt. I used a card for it and got my fingers nipped. The paint brush works just as well and you don’t have to worry about your fingers.

Since the heat broke we’ve been puttering around in the yard. I still don’t have a goose free yard but the girls are penned up in Chicken World. So there aren’t as many chickens jumping on the porch to steal cat food. (Or leave proof they were there.)

Nothing going on the writing front. I’ve got to go hermit again, I guess. But with the weather cooling down I’m able to sleep better at night because I can be more active during the day.

That’s it for today. I’m going to catch up with all the blogs I follow this evening.

I’m crocheting a hat, a very simple pattern, which is good, because I can’t read patterns very well.

Eventually I’ll buy a set of knitting needles, expensive but a good investment since I’m slowly teaching myself to knit. I got a cheat sheet of stitches yesterday which helped me learn to purl and do a stocking net stitch. I tried ribbing, but it became a mess. I’ll try again later when I’m not frustrated with it.

That’s it for me, no adventures at the moment.

Adventures in Plying

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I had a very long and difficult yarn spinning lesson yesterday.

It made me very glad for all those years in Tech Support. (Yes, I’m going to degress a moment.) Because working in Tech Support, I had tremendous amounts of information thrown at me in chunks. I suspect it is the way the left brain works. I said that to say this: my instructor has tremendous knowledge of wool, spinning and all aspects of the craft. It all tumbles out in huge blocks of information that need to be absorbed quickly. That’s not easy to do.

The reason it was a long and difficult lesson is that I had to work with my first few skeins of yarn. I had to correct my own mistakes, and there were a hell of a lot of mistakes in the three skeins we plied into one, two-ply skein of yarn.

She’s the kind of instructor who gives praise, but not pointed praise. She says things on the fly. “I can see you took yor time with this.” She said as we worked over some odd spots in my yarn. “I can tell this was the first skein. The other two were so much better.”

There is no whining in Tech Support, so I didn’t let my own mistakes drive me to distraction. There were some doozies. I sat down at 2:30 pm and finally gave up my seat at the spinning wheel about 6:30 pm so she could run the wheel the last half-hour. My back was trashed by that time.

The first step in plying is to get the yarn (called a ‘single’ because it’s a single-ply) onto a spinning wheel bobbin. Since I had no bobbins at home, everything was in skeins. This isn’t a good idea.

After a couple of days in a skein, the yarn kinks. It twists back on itself and sets that way. Interestingly enough, there are a couple of ways to correct that.

(Fans of ’50 Shades of Gray’ should stop reading now. We’re going to fix the yarn by removing the kinks. Sorry.)

We used an industrial steamer. We put the yarn on a skein winder to stretch it. Then we steamed the yarn until it relaxed and the kinks came out.

At this point, I could re-spin the relaxed yarn, using a spinning wheel. What I learned is that I didn’t put enough twist in the yarn to ply it. There were a few places where it was too thick and yet was barely holding together. There were also snarls, places where the loose fiber got caught in the twist and plenty of breaks in the yarn.

I do not like spinning wheels. Or, should I say, I don’t like THAT spinning wheel. It has one peddle, which puts my back out of alignment. After 3 hours I was in agony. My instructor took over the peddling so I could get the plying finished.

I worked up a sweat, but we got it done.