It’s All Pumpkin Spice!

It’s been a few weeks since I did my YOP post and for good reason. Deadlines at work which had me working on the weekends (being a 1 person department can do that to you) and working on a craft article deadline — more on that in the future. Let’s just say with all that, I was pretty swamped. Things are beginning to calm down now, Friday was my birthday so this is technically my birthday weekend and I figured a great time to get a post up. Although I’ve not posted for some weeks, I’ve still been getting crafting in when I could. Mostly spinning (until both my wheels needed replacement parts — I told you the weeks were eventful, LOL) but some knitting too. Let me get into that knitting story …

One night in late Sept I had a crazy headache. So much so I couldn’t sleep. What does this girl do for relief? She decided that she needs to complete her first adult sweater! Notice I said complete because over the years, I’ve started and just never had to urge to finish. Sure, I’ve knitted baby sweaters/cardigans, but those are quick, cute, adorable so what’s not to finish! But the adult ones just seems to go on forever then I get bored and chuck them to the side. I know … the shame! LOL!

Not so with the current make — cue angels singing! I’ve been blazing through the Fast Fashion Sweater by Safiyyah Talley (aka Drunk Knitter) like a wildfire. The first night, I finished the neck and the first part of the yoke. Within a few days I’m at the bottom band. Once the band is done, it’s off to what I hear knitters call “sleeve island” … let’s see if I get stuck there.

I understand now what knitters mean when they say that patterns speak to them. I haven’t been able to put this knit down and am thoroughly enjoying myself. So much so, I bought two sweater sized project bags AND I’ve already lined up about 7 more projects — 1 cardigan, 4 sweaters and 2 ponchos. The fourth make on this list is a bottom up sweater so I can see which method I like best between top down and bottom up.

I wasn’t sure how much I’d like making this adult sweater much more finishing it so I used acrylic yarn for it. It’s Lionbrand’s Pound of Love in Pumpkin Spice. And boy is this sweater turning out to be just that — pumpkin spice and everything nice!

Happy Fall, Autumn, Spring depending on where in the world you live! Happy Sunday and I’m so looking forward to catching up with your makes.

Palette Cleanser … and Value …

Weird title today … but you’ll see what I mean in a minute.

After my last couple of spins, I needed a palette cleanser. I needed a quick less intensive spin AND I needed to see if I could still spin thick so I picked a Polwarth blend to try and accomplish this goal. It wasn’t as easy as I thought! You see, my brain, hands and feet seemed like collectively, they’d forgotten how to spin thick! What in the world?!!!!!

I’ve been spinning thin so long it’s like my faculties forgot how to spin thicker, so I decided to do a little experiment! A few years ago, I received this braid from a friend. I’ve been trying to use fiber exclusively from my stash so I took it out to play around with.

My goals were to spin thick intentionally, do some barberpole colorplay and spin without over-twisting. My first efforts proved interesting — while I did spin thick and got the barberpole placement I was looking for, the fiber was horrifically over-twisted. The likes of which I haven’t seen since my early days of spinning. I stopped spinning on that bobbin then split the remaining fiber into 2. The fiber on the bobbin is so over twisted, I didn’t even wind it off.

Then I tried again …

With the second fiber bump, I was able to spin thicker, not my most consistent spin but with faster uptake and slower treadling, I did it.

The third bump was even better, although the yarn weight turned out to be worsted/aran weight. It was much more consistent, I got the barberpoling I wanted, and there were no over-spun, squiggly bits!

Overall, the experiment was successful (see project notes here) but it seems like for some, tenacity, education and expertise isn’t worth the cost. Let me explain …

I posted this skein and the experiment on instagram. Last week, I received a text message from someone I know indicating that she would like to purchase some of my handspun. She asked me to send her some pics of my recent spins so she could tell me which she was interested in. She was interested in this bulky spin. I gave her the specs on the skein in terms of weight and yardage but there seemed to be some disconnect. According to her, she wanted to purchase skeins for someone who is a knitter and that person wanted to knit a sleeveless sweater. I saw where this convo was heading and was transparent. No, I don’t have a sweater quantity of this skein. No, I can’t estimate how much you would need, your knitter needs to look at her pattern then tell me what weight and yardage she needs. No, I can’t immediately serve you up 6 skeins of some undetermined yarn weight and yardage. And no, although she might have convinced you that she really wants handspun, your knitter has to be willing to pay at least $50 per skein for this work. Handspun doesn’t mean cheaper, actually, it costs more than even a custom dye job. I even offered that alternative: I’m a pretty decent dyer, if your knitter likes the colorway, I’m willing to mix a custom dye color for her but that’ll amount to $28 per skein. After providing this information, the conversation dissolved into multiple reasons why we couldn’t connect on the phone to discuss final details once I was done with my 9 to 5 job.

Why am I writing about this?

I feel the need to because most non crafters continually underestimate the skill and effort it takes to create anything that is not mass produced and the cost factors to be considered when pricing these items. The initial fiber was a gift, but if the purchaser bought it at the going rate for a polwarth silk blend, at the low end that’s a minimum base of $25. It took me about 4 hours to spin, test, ply and if I use the awful $7.25 an hour minimum wage benchmark (U.S.), the skeins already amount to a pre-profit base of $54.

I’m not one for price gouging, but this thing we do — the skeins we spin, the gifts we weave, knit, crochet, the macrame projects we make, the project markers we create, the projects bags we sew — they have value and value far beyond the mass consumed offerings from large corporations. We are not machines and all these items we make, especially the gifts are truly, truly labors of love. Love of the craft and love for the recipients. So to have someone want a handspun skein for the same price as a mass produced skein is a bit of an insult and rather disrespectful.

Don’t let anyone undervalue the work you do, even if you have to walk away from a sale.