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Yoga Cat - Dizzy

Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

New Yoga Position: Downward-Facing Diz

Making T-Shirt Yarn - Recycled Craft Supplies

Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

The holidays are here, and it's time to spread the good cheer. Why not make an effort this year to reuse and recycle as many of your gifts as possible?

Today I'll be showing you how to make t shirt yarn, which is great for creating custom yarns, from slim to bulky weight, that can be made into any number of great home decor or fashion gifts.

First, collect t shirts. Specifically, you want a tube knit shirt with no side seams for the best results. Harvest shirts from your give-away pile, your friends' or family's cast-offs or closets (after asking, of course!), or from thrift stores. If you opt for the last option, this is a case where bigger is better. Hit up the men's sections first, heading straight to the xxxl's if possible. Bigger shirts will get you more yardage for the same amount of money.

Wash and dry all shirts when you get them home. Next, we dissect.

Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

Begin by cutting off the hemmed portion of the t shirt as close to the stitching as possible. From there, cut a spiral strip from the bottom edge of the t shirt all the way up to either the armpit area of the t shirt or to the printed design, whichever comes first.

The thickness of your strip will determine the thickness of your yarn, but be careful not to cut down to less than a quarter of an inch strip or you won't be able to stretch your strips into yarn.

Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

Here's one 3xl shirt, cut into 1 continuous strip, before stretching.

Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

Begin stretching the strips between both hands by pulling the strip lengthwise. This works with the properties of a knit stitch to curl the cut ends of the fabric in on the strip, creating a rounded piece of fabric that is easy to work with and looks smooth. Continue pulling the strip until the entire length of the fabric has been stretched.

Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

Here's the same 3xl t shirt after being cut and stretched, waiting to be rolled into a ball.

Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

Here's my original pile of t shirts after being cut, stretched, and wound into balls. As you can see, I've already started crocheting them into a Christmas-colored rag rug. The rag rug was raffled off at the Our City Forest Eco-Holiday Craft Fair, and now has a happy new home!

Enjoy your new yarn, and enjoy making a green impact on our world!

Teaching Alissa to Spin Cotton Yarn

Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

On Thanksgiving I finally got a chance to crack into my cotton spinning kit that I ordered from The Woolery. I brought it to my in-laws' place and after dinner my step-niece Alissa and I played with the kit together. I taught her how to brush a rolag with my new 120 pt carders, and then we started to practice spinning.

Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

Here's the carders after Mark assembled them for me. I just cut a flap in the box to accommodate the handles for now, until I can find a more permanent storage solution. Below the cards is my handy dandy cotton spinning kit, complete with tahkli spindle. I like the weight and balance of it. It spins like crazy.

Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

In no time, Alissa was spinning on her own. She got the principles down really quickly, and I think if she had the opportunity to practice she'd get pretty good at it.

Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

Here's the payoff: somewhere around 3 yards of her very own handspun cotton yarn! Cotton isn't easy either, so I've gotta hand it to this kid. She picked it up quick, and she seemed to enjoy it the whole time. I know I had fun helping her learn!

Plying Two Single Yarns on a Drop Spindle - Spinning Tutorial

In this video, Megan LaCore demonstrates plying two single-spun yarns together on a top-whorl drop spindle. Spinning two or more yarns together is a helpful and versatile technique that every spinner should have in their knowledge base.

Leaf Crochet Embellishments - Crochet Pattern

Main Color (MC), Contrasting Color (CC) in worsted weight
crochet hook in 2 sizes between E-G
Tapestry Needle for weaving in ends

Large Leaf:
Use largest hook.

With MC, ch 11, turn to back, skip 1 and sc 10 into single back loop of chain
sl st across short edge without turning
ch 2, sk 2, tc inc 2, dc 2, hdc 2, ch 2, sk 2, ss 2, ch 3, ss 2, ch 2, hdc 2, dc 2, tc inc 2, ch 2, sk 2, ss into beginning st of the row
cut end, pull up through working loop to tie off, leaving tail long enough to sew with or to weave in, as desired.

With CC, pick up a loop at the base of the leaf and sc a decorative line up the foundational center chain of the leaf. cut end and pull up through working loop, then through top loop of leaf. Weave in end on the underside of the leaf.

Small leaf:
Use smallest hook.

With MC, ch 7, turn to back, skip 1 and sc 6 into single back loop of chain
Sl st across short edge without turning
ch 2, sk 2, dc inc 2, hdc 1, ch 2, sk 2, ss 2, ch 3, ss 2, ch 2, hdc 1, dc inc 2, ch 2, sk 2, ss into beginning st of the row
Cut end, pull up through working loop to tie off, leaving tail long enough to sew with or to weave in, as desired.

With CC, sc all the way around the edge to tip of leaf, ch 3, then sc around to bottom edge. Ss into first CC st, then cut end and pull through working loop. Weave in end.

With MC, sc all the way around to the tip of the leaf, ch 4, then sc around to bottom edge. Ss into first MC st, then cut end and pull through working loop. Weave in end.

Button Closure Contrast Edge Plain Headband - Crochet Pattern

Worsted weight yarn,
(Here I'm using Knit Picks Shine Worsted in Laurel for mc, Grass for cc)
Size G hook, or necessary hook to achieve gauge of 4.5 to 5 sts=1 inch
Tapestry needle for weaving ends
Crochet Embellishments (optional)

Body of Headband:
ch 5,skip 1 and sc 3 into the back of the chain
ch 1, sc 3, catching the last loop on the row below into the final sc (continue this at the end of each row), 4 rows
ch 1,sc inc 1 into next 2 sts, sc 1
ch 1, sc 5, 2 rows
ch 1, sc 1, sc inc 1, sc 3
ch 1, sc 6, 2 rows
ch 1, sc inc 1, sc 3, sc inc 1, sc 1
ch 1, sc 8, 2 rows
ch 2, dc 8, 3 rows
ch 2, dc inc 1, dc 5, dc inc 1, dc 1
ch 2, dc 10, 20 rows
ch 2, dc2tog, dc 5,dc2tog, dc 1
ch 2, dc 8, 3 rows
ch 1, sc 8, 2 rows
ch 1, sc2tog, sc 3, sc2tog, sc 1
ch 1, sc 1, sc2tog, ch 3
ch 1, sc 5, 2 rows
ch 1, sc2tog into next 2 sts, sc 1

Button Hole:
ch 1, sc1, turn, 6 rows, pulling final loop big so to not drop stitches while working on other side
Using other end of the skein of yarn and starting on the outside edge, attach to row below by pulling up a loop, leaving enough tail end to weave in later
ch 1, sc 1, turn, 6 rows, cut tail long enough to weave in and then pull through the final loop
Pick up original loop
Ch 1, sc 3, 4 rows
Cut tail long enough to weave in and pull up through free loop, pulling tight.
Using one of the lower tails of yarn, weave to the inside edge of the button hole and up the inside edge to the center. Stitch one side at the center to the other inside edge of the button hole, turning one long hole into 2 button holes.

Contrast edge:
Pick up cc and sc all the way around the edge, sc inc 2 into each corner.
ss into first st, then cut tail and weave in ends

Match up ends to fit head, then sew on two buttons to tab end for closure.

Sew on crochet or fabric embellishments in a complimentary color scheme if desired.

Drop Spinning Yarn with a Wrist Distaff - Timelapse Video

In this timelapse video, I'm working with superwash wool, a top-whorl drop spindle (The Babe) and a handmade felted wrist distaff. A distaff is designed to help keep fiber clean and neat while spinning, and keeps it from catching in the yarn as it is being spun. It also helps limit fiber shedding onto clothing and furniture, and minimizes collection of particles, pet hair, or random fuzz into the fiber.

Reading Shawl - Knitting Pattern

Reading Shawl
Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

Last night I finished a new pattern I designed for a birthday present for one of my best girlfriends. It's a big shawl, perfect for the cool fall days in the bay area, and great for curling up on the couch to read with.

I have a feeling I'll be making a bunch of these this year, because they're fast, easy, and knit up with huge needles and only 3 balls of yarn. Can't go wrong there!

Reading Shawl
Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

3 balls Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick yarn, 3 colors (pictured: oatmeal, barley, taupe)
1 set size US 19 ( 15.0 mm) knitting needles (or size needed to obtain gauge)

Gauge for 4"x4":
7 sts by 8 rows

Approximate dimensions:
55" width x 35" length

Gauge and dimension are not critical in this piece, and dimensions can be altered by adding or decreasing stitches and rows to create desired length and width.

Reading Shawl
Originally uploaded by theartofmegan


Row 1: Starting with Color 1 (C1) and using the long-tail method, cast on 60 sts. Leave C1 to the side.
Row 2: Pick up Color 2 (C2) and k 60 sts. Leave C2 to the side.
Row 3: Pick up Color 3 (C3) and k 60 sts. Leave C3 to the side.
Row 4: Carry up C1, *k1, yo*, repeat * 58 times, k.
Row 5: Carry up C2, *k1, drop 1*, repeat * 58 times, k.
Row 6: Carry up C3, k 60 sts.
Row 7: Carry up C1, k 60 sts.
Row 8: Carry up C2, *k1, yo*, repeat * 58 times, k.
Row 9: Carry up C3, *k1, drop 1*, repeat * 58 times, k.
Row 10: Carry up C1, k 60 sts.
Row 11: Carry up C2, k 60 sts.
Row 12: Carry up C3, *k1, yo*, repeat * 58 times, k..
Row 13: Carry up C1, *k1, drop 1*, repeat * 58 times, k.
Row 14: Carry up C2, k 60 sts.
Row 15: Carry up C3, k 60 sts.
Rows 16 - 60: repeat rows 4-15.
Rows 61 - 75: repeat rows 4-14.
Row 76: Carry up C3, bind off. Weave in ends.

Here's more knitting shawls I've made in different colors:

Felted Wrist Distaff Tutorial - Spinning Tools

Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

A distaff is an incredibly handy spinning tool. Around here, I have 3 cats, and fiber on my lap or on the couch is just too tempting to steal and destroy! The kitties also leave hair all over the place, and setting my fiber down not only leaves its own hairs everywhere, but tends to collect the hair of the cats too.

There are a few different types of distaffs, but my preference for the majority of my spinning, which is done on a hand spindle, is a wrist distaff. Here, I'm going to show you how to felt your own wrist distaff with left over wool from any scrap spinning or felting project.

What you'll need:

Wool scraps for felting - no superwash here!
A bowl of hot soapy water
A bowl of ice water
A large empty bowl for squeezing off excess water

Lay out your scrap wool in a thin, fluffy line, about 1 1/2 feet long. Longer is ok, but I wouldn't recommend going any shorter. I've layered a few different colors here, but you can do as many or as few colors as you'd like.

Begin wetting your strip of wool with the hot soapy water. Press the fibers down until they begin to compact, focusing more on the middle than the ends at first. Occasionally give the strip of wool a slight twist before continuing to press down, in order to help the fibers hold together for our next step.

Carefully lift the strip of wool by the ends, and dunk into the bowl of hot water, keeping the ends out. Lightly swish to make sure each fiber is in contact with the water. Lift out and squeeze extra soap and water into the large bowl.

Begin rolling the wool between your hands with a good amount of pressure. When all the moisture has been squeezed out and the wool is beginning to felt, dunk the strip into the cold water bowl in the same way as the hot soapy water bowl. Ring out excess water into the large bowl, and continue rolling in your hands. Alternate hot and cold water process until fiber begins to felt into a solid rope in the center.

It's time now to shape the distaff. Place the roped center area around the back of your hand, and create a loop below your wrist. Leave yourself plenty of room to slip your hand in and out of the loop, but don't make it so big that it's hard to keep the distaff on your hand.

Twist the unfelted ends together and begin to process as before, alternating dipping into hot water, rolling, dipping into cold water, and rolling. The ends will begin to felt into a point.

When your distaff is almost finished, wrap a small piece of unfelted wool around the join of the loop. Felt this in with the rest of the distaff as before. This will help the felted joint stay strong and not come apart with use over time.

Rinse your distaff very thoroughly to ensure there is no soap left in the fibers. At this point you have the option to either air dry, which can take a few days, or throw in the dryer. I threw mine in with a load of jeans to help any last bit of felting along.

Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

Once dry, attach a few beads to the bottom of the distaff for weight. This will help keep the distaff from floating around, and will also help keep the fiber on the distaff. I used a hemalyke hoop and a couple metal beads on mine.

Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

To use, pull off a handful of fiber. Draft out a little, then wrap the drafted fiber from the beads to the loop. Either wrap the fiber over the back of your hand, or grasp it under your hand as I'm doing here.

By the way, here I am spinning on my new handmade bottom whorl spindle at the Renaissance Faire at Casa de Fruta, just outside of Gilroy, CA. We had a great time, and my husband is a great sport for taking me!

Hope you enjoy your new wrist distaff, and happy spinning!

The History of Hand Spindles - Spinning Information

erste Spinnversuche
Originally uploaded by amonja

Spinning is a handicraft that evolved out of necessity as population evolved and expanded. Originally, people clothed themselves in the skins of animals that had been hunted for food. As the population grew, it became difficult to meet the clothing needs of everyone, and the need to find other clothing sources arose.

At this point, it's likely that people were already twisting small amounts of grasses or animal fibers for use as pouch closures or tie-downs by rolling them between their fingers or palm and thigh. The production of this twine or yarn was limited and would only stay twisted in short lengths, so when the need arose for a longer yarn, there became the need to wind the twisted fibers onto an object to hold the twist. The stick that the yarn or twine was wrapped onto began to evolve with use as well, and became not only a storage device, but also a mechanism to create the twist while the person drafted the fibers with their free hand. Eventually this basic spindle gained a hooked end or groove to help hold the yarn at the tip of the spindle while rolling it against the thigh.

Simultaneously, as the production of twines and yarns increased, fibers were also being tied around rocks, which were suspended and spun in the air to create twist. This weighted object evolved into the first whorls, which gave the spinning yarn momentum, allowing yarn to be twisted and produced at a faster rate.

Eventually the two concepts were combined, and a whorl made of clay, bone, or soft rock was attached to the spindle. From here, the spindle concepts changed depending on the natural resources, living habits, and teachings of each local community of spinners.

Spindles vary in size, shape, and position of the whorl along the shaft of the spindle. Smaller, lighter spindles are almost always used to spin short, delicate, or thin fibers. Heavier spindles are used to spin heavier, longer, or coarser fibers.

Whorls are often disc-shaped, but not always. Middle eastern spindles can be made from rectangular shaped pieces of wood, with either one center-balanced bar or two crossed bars. Turkish spindles are made from curved bars that you actually wrap your yarn around to create a flat ball of yarn that can be center-pulled for use or for plying, and Indian spindles for spinning lightweight fibers like cotton or silk are often made with a pear-shaped or sphere-shaped whorl. The whorl can be located at the top, middle, or bottom of the spindle, depending on the preference of the spinner or the type of yarn being produced.

Spinning by hand has been existence for over 10,000 years, but the spinning wheel did not become used widely until the middle ages. Hand spindles had been the primary method of spinning for all thread and yarn production for over 9000 years, and in some parts of the world hand spinning is still a widely used method of yarn production.

Recently, hand spinning has begun to regain popularity by a wide range of art-and-craft oriented people throughout the world. Hand spindles allow a crafter to become introduced to the principles of spinning for a low-cost investment, can be transported easily, and worked with in areas where space is limited. Though a slightly slower production method than spinning on a wheel, the production of yarn on a hand spindle is very tactile and satisfying. You have complete control over the yarn you create, and that itself is very exciting!


The Art of the Loom by Ann Hecht

The Evolution of Spinning by Heather McCloy

Brief History of Spinning by Southside Spinners Weavers and Dyers Group of Queensland, Australia

erste Spinnversuche - Image by amonja on Flickr

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