Friday, December 25, 2015

Fiber Arts Friday: Palindrome Scarf, part 8

Two years and three months later, I have a finished Palindrome Scarf.

There was a time where I was knitting 1 inch each week but back in September I was just picking it up after it had been sitting for a (long) while.

The final length is 90 inches after blocking.  It wraps around my neck once and hangs at a favorable length,

which means it also wraps twice on a really cold day.

I ultimately made three stripes with the 15g of black.

I really, really like this pattern.  Simple and easy, but not boring... and no wrong side. :-)

I had lots of purling practice and used up all of my left over yarn (the point of this project) ..... and almost half of the supplemental yarn.  So I still have left over Yak+Merino yarn, which was not the point.  :-/

I used the Miraculous Elastic Bind Off which is quite stretchy, but not crazy stretchy.  I will definitely use this one again.

Happy Fiber Arts Friday and Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Happy Holidays

It's a beautiful, frosty, Christmas Eve Eve morning here in Northern Colorado.

Happy Holidays from Alpacamundo, Colorado Tibetan Mastiffs and Kathryn's Brain.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Happy Solstice!

It is beautiful and sunny on this, the first day of winter.

Tomorrow, the days get longer. :-)

Friday, December 18, 2015

Fiber Arts Friday: Joining Yarns

For my handspun Tibetan Mastiff Scarf I have two skeins of yarn.  When I finished using the first skein I had a few thoughts about how to join the yarn... Russian Join, Spit Splice or knot.

Because there is so much halo with this yarn, I didn't want the felting of a Spit Splice to show in the finished fabric.

The last time I used the Russian Join technique there were a few stitches that were bigger than the others.  Most likely this would not have been noticeable since the hand-spun is more irregular and heavier gauge and I'm knitting more loosely than last time.

Ultimately I decided to knot the yarn because I thought I would be able to hide the ends well-enough later.

After I had enough fabric on both sides of the join, I untied the knot and started working to hide the ends.

First twisting the yarns to close the hole and then hiding the ends in the purls.

I had to pull the stitches around on the front side, but I think this is pretty close to invisible.

Happy Fiber Arts Friday.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Fiber Arts Friday: Spinning Yak, part 2

I have finished the two ounces of Yak Roving that I've had in my stash since 2011.

Yak is one of those fibers that I spin because it's more difficult.  It's a shorter staple, slippery and doesn't hold the twist very well, much like cashmere.

Last time I had spun just over an ounce and had a lot of over spun areas.  Adjusting my speed and tempo, the yarn improved as I continued to work on it.  I broke the the single a few times while winding off the bobbin.  Something I'm still struggling with on the finer gauge singles.

Another thing I'm struggling with are the small cakes going insane toward the end of plying.

This last bit took quite a while to recover.

A toilet paper tube will fit over the stem on my ball winder, so I will try to wind onto a tube and find a way to secure the inside end so it's findable toward the end of plying.

I'm happy with this yarn.  I like that it has a little bit of a sheen along with being so white, which isn't apparent in this last photo.  I also like that you can see the inconsistencies in gauge and twist.... and if you look closely, there's an over-spun bit toward the left.

These variances should translate into subtle interest on a finished object.

This will most likely be going into a weaving, but I've had a lot of thoughts about it.  I never really know until I've finished using the yarn.  ;-)

Happy Fiber Arts Friday.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

One Year Later

One year ago today, we were welcoming our premier litter of Tibetan Mastiffs into this world.

Noodle was a great mom and all nine of the puppies made it.

Nobu (Colorado's Leap of Faith)

Today the puppies are Livestock Guardians and Family Pets.  They weigh between 90 and 120 lbs and their families tell us that they love their dogs.

Ramen (Colorado's Big Bowl o' Ramen)

We could not be happier with how this litter is maturing and the homes they went to.  We are looking forward to doing it again next year.

Monday, December 7, 2015


If you know me (or other Tibetan Mastiff people), sooner or later you will see photos of the gigantic TMs.  There are Leonberger and Caucasian Ovcharka versions out there too.

While I know for certain that some of the Tibetan Mastiffs photos have been altered (I have seen multiple versions).  I can't say the same for the Leo or CO.  But I can tell you that perspective has a lot to do with making big dogs look even bigger.

Here are a group of photos I took yesterday with Nobu and Hubba.

No photo editing has occurred.  She didn't suddenly get much larger.  The only difference is where Nobu is sitting with respect to Hubba.

Nobu will be one year old on Wednesday.  She is a little over 100 lbs and about 27 inches tall.

She's a big dog, but not gigantic.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Fiber Arts Friday: Art vs Craft

I've been posting on Fiber Arts Friday for several years and only now am I really thinking about Art vs. Craft which seems odd to me.  I think it's because I've been so focused on the craft/skill part of it.

I feel I've reached the point with my skills where I have a reasonable chance of executing the ideas in my head.  Which is both exciting and scary.

In no way does that mean that I think I am an expert.  I am knowledgeable.  I am skilled.  I have a lot (A LOT!!) to learn.

For example, when it comes to spinning.... I am continually trying different fibers... yak, cashmere, cotton and chiengora to name a few.  I spin these (shorter, slippery, unusual) fibers so that when I spin sheep's wool and alpaca it seems easier.

It's about learning how they they become yarn and then work in finished objects.  But it's also about the pursuit of the perfect yarn.... stable, even, consistent and not over spun.  Pursuit is the key word here, I very rarely produce a yarn that meets all of these criteria as a single.

Even with knitting and weaving (though that's been a while) it's about consistency and learning different techniques.

At the Finished Object level, I've always been more interested in the details.  Something that is simple but flawlessly executed is more beautiful to me than pattern, complexity or color.

The wonderful thing about it is that handmade things are almost never flawlessly executed.  There's always at least one bit that is not quite right.  I love that part.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Art vs. Craft

A few years ago I was wrestling with whether I was a farmer or a rancher.

I am also an artist (among other things)... and currently wrestling with the idea of art vs craft.

I think it's another pair of words that mean almost the same thing, but evoke different connotations.

There seems to be more value placed on art... unless you're a craftsman, like a cabinet maker.  But what about artisan welders and bread makers.... or since I'm in Colorado, crafted beer and spirits?

Craftsmen seem to go through an apprenticeship period, but several artists I know continue to take lessons to improve their skills or learn other techniques.

Apparently this is not a new question:
Bernard Katz Glass (3 part series)
Tate Debate
One of the commenters on suggested that how it was made was the craft and the ideas it represents is the art.  Essentially, one piece could be both.  But another said "all art is crafted, but not all craft is art."

So I went to Merriam-Webster:
Art: (1) skill acquired by experience, study or observation.  (2) a branch of learning ie, humanities and liberal arts. (3) an occupation requiring knowledge or skill. (4) the conscious use of skill and creative imagination especially in the production of aesthetic objects or works produced. (5) a skillful plan. (6) decorative or illustrative elements in printed matter.
Craft: (1) skill in planning, making or executing. (2) an occupation or trade requiring manual dexterity or artistic skill. (3) skill in deceiving to gain an end. (4) the members of a trade or trade association. (6) a boat, especially of small size
Both definitions talk about skill.  Both talk about implementing that skill.

I think we could argue that paintings, photographs, sculpture, furniture, weavings, carvings and literary works all meet both definitions.

So I think I agree with both commenters quoted above.