Thursday, May 31, 2007

Mama goes "whoosh," Charlotte goes "bang."

Last week we finally got to weave off the warp I've been struggling with for months. It was about 5 yards of 8/2 cotton, intended for dishtowels, and it was just exactly the weaving experience I'd hoped for. Both my six and three year old were able to experiment with it; the warp was long enough that we could stretch the weaving out over several days; and the end result is recognizable to them as Real Cloth. We really had a lot of fun.

Here George is treadling and beating.

He wanted to know about tie-ups, and also why you push down on the treadle to make the harness go up.

He was able to weave all by himself!

Here Charlotte is treadling. I had the middle two treadles tied up so she didn't have to stretch to the outside. Turns out she really knows her right and left!

But what worked best for us was having her beat. We had a little chant worked out: Mama goes "whoosh," Charlotte goes "bang!" Mama goes "whoosh," Charlotte goes "bang!" .... ad infinitum. She was even able to see whether she was getting consistent placement of the weft, and beat a few more times if necessary to make it match.

We invited non-weaving friends to help, and they picked it right up, too.

I must say, though, that I found it a little hard to share. I really wanted to spend more time weaving by myself. If I had managed to get the whole warp on, I would have been able to weave at night and still have had plenty of warp for the kids. As it was, there were a few undignified moments when I found myself saying, "Now it's MY turn!" I'm already planning the next warp.

One last thing: here's how the row of knots wove up. I had thought it would be all spiky, but actually all the loose ends got woven in. Who'd have thunk?

Next up: from cloth to towel.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Green socks finished

Yarn: Knitpicks Essential in Grass (why not Grass Green? Is it just too obvious?) These socks used much less than two skeins.

Pattern: basic top down, pretty much taken from Charlene Schurch's Sensational Socks. The pattern stitch is a two-stitch cable twisted every four rows. Next time I'm going to try Sylvia's trick of staggering the twists so that half of them are twisted every two rows.

Fit: okay. I've just caught on to the fact that my high arches might best be served by a deeper heel. Next pair will have heels done on 60% of the stitches.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Spinning meme

My first meme! Got this one from Maia:

Bold those things you have done, italicize those you wish to do, and leave plain the ones that are of no interest to you.

Fine Wools (i.e. Merino, Cormo, Rambouillet, Polwarth, CVM, etc)
Longwool & Crossbreed Wools (i.e. BFL, Cotswold, Lincoln, Romney, Coopworth, Teeswater, etc.)
Down-type Wool (i.e. Black Welsh Mountain, Dorset, Cheviot, Shetland, etc.)
Double Coated Wool (i.e. Icelandic, Navajo-Churro, Karakul, etc.) (Just bought an Icelandic fleece!)


Silk Caps/Bells/Hankies (have some on hand)
Silk Sliver
Cotton (prepared)

Cotton from the Boll
Engineered Fibers (Rayon, Bamboo, Soysilk, Ingeo, Ecopoly, etc.)
Recycled Fibers (Sari Silk, Jeans, Garnetted, etc.)
Holographic Fibers (Angelina, etc.)
Commercially Combed Top
Commercially Carded Roving
Hand Combed Top
Hand Carded Rolags
Hand Drum Carded Batts

Hand Cards

English Combs
Drum Carder
Niddy Noddy
Yarn Meter
WPI Tool
McMorran Balance
Top Whorl Spindle

Mid-Whorl Spindle
Bottom Whorl Spindle (includes Turkish)
Supported Spindle (Navajo, Tahkli, etc.)
Castle Wheel

Saxony Wheel
Great Wheel

Portable Wheel (Little Gem, Joy, Lendrum, Hitchiker, etc.)
Electric Spinner

Tensioned Lazy Kate

Worsted Spun
Woolen Spun
Long Draw
Short-Forward Draw
Spin Over the fold

From the Lock
In the Grease

Double Drafting
Energized Singles
Andean Plied 2-Ply (Wheel or Spindle?)

Center-Pull Ball 2-Ply (Wheel or Spindle?)
2-Ply from Bobbins/Cops
3-Ply from Bobbins/Cops
Navajo Ply 3-Ply (Chained Singles)
4+ Ply from Bobbins/Cops

Bulky/Super Bulky Weight (on purpose!)
Worsted Weight
DK Weight
Sport Weight
Fingering Weight
Lace Weight
Cabled Yarns
Fulled Yarns
Slub Yarn
Marled Yarn (Barber-Poled Colors)

Seed Yarn (1 Thick and Soft Ply, 1 Firm and Thin)
Wrapped Spiral Yarn
Flame Yarn (Like Seed Yarn, but with Slubs)
Turkish Knot Yarn (not sure what this is, but I probably want to do it)(--me too -- Cynthia)

Boucle Yarn
Beaded Yarn
Coiled Yarn

Encased Yarn (Fabric, Flower, Feather, etc. Captured Between Plies)

Buy a Fleece
Wash a Fleece
Blend Fiber Types (Combed or Carded)
Blend Colors (Combed or Carded)
Dye Handspun Yarn
Dye Prepared Roving/Top
Dye Locks

Solar-Dye Fiber
Kool-Aid/Food Coloring Dye Fiber
Natural Dye Fiber
Commercial Dye Fiber (Gaywool, Jacquard, etc.)
Attend a Wool Festival

Take a Spinning Class
Take a Dyeing Class
Spin in Public

Teach Children to Spin
Teach Adults to Spin
Knit with Your Handspun
Crochet with Your Handspun
Weave with Your Handspun

Design a Project to Match Your Handspun
Design a Project from Fiber to FO

Spin Yarn to Match a Commercial Pattern
Make Socks from Handspun
Make a Scarf from Handspun

Make a Felted Project from Handspun
Make a Large Project from Handspun (Shawl, Adult Sweater, etc. >1000 yds) (a couple of projects have been right on the edge)
Keep a Spinning Journal (only to the extent that this blog counts)
Use A Reference Card to Aid Consistency
Spin Yarn for Pay (maybe)
Dye Fiber for Pay (maybe)
Write a Book on Spinning
Write an Article on Spinning
Make DIY Spinning Tools (PVC Niddy Noddy, Lazy Kate, CD Spindle, Hackle, Wrist Distaff, etc.)


What does this show? Why, that I'm a dilettante, of course! I've tried all sorts of things but haven't finished a major project. That's my biggest goal right now. I'm spinning for a vest for me right now, and intend to spin & knit a sweater for next winter. I have about two thousand yards of sport weight yarn that I think will become a shawl, but I can't decide if I want to knit it or weave it or maybe even crochet it (I am fascinated by the construction of the crocheted shawl in the last SpinOff). Or maybe it will be something else. Anyways, I've been spinning on and off for 14 years; it's time I had some BIG THINGS to show for it.

I'm going away for the weekend -- just me, no spouse, no kids. I'm really hoping this will give me the chance to make some serious progress on my Pi Are Squared shawl, as long as the TSA cooperates.

Have a nice Memorial Day weekend.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

I've reached Acceptance ... but it took a while.

Anyone remember my weaving project? The quick & easy dishtowels that I started, oh, around the middle of February?

Probably not. The last time I mentioned them was in mid-March, when the warp was completely screwed up and I was begging for help on the weaving email list. It was completely impossible to wind the warp on -- I had wound the warp holding two threads together but WITHOUT a finger in between to keep them from tangling.

Won't do that again.

So I rethreaded the whole thing to put two threads into one heddle, to make a sort of fake basket weave. I think this would have worked out just fine if I had cut off the yard or so that Dean and I had forced onto the loom with the old threading. But instead I had wound that back off the beam before rethreading .... which meant that I had to guess which two threads when with each other.

There are two groups of two threads in each slot of the reed. If you think of the ways that they could be mixed up or tangled -- that is, if I had thought about it -- you'd realize that this might not work out so well. And, indeed, that first yard or so wound on quite easily, until I reached the fresh warp where All Tangles Were Revealed.

Oh, my.

After giving it some thought, I decided to cut threads as necessary to sort it out all at once.

Lovely, isn't it? By my calculations every fourth group should have been just fine but I had to cut and retie at least one thread in each group of four (usually two) in all but about a dozen cases.

Here's a close up:

Despite the fact that the threads are all different lenghts now, I did manage to wind quite a bit of warp on until the remaining tangles and the tedium of combing, combing, combing got me down. When coupled with the paper problems I was having on the warp beam (if I warp the full width of the loom it's just a titch wider than an unfolded grocery bag....) and I just stopped for a while.

Turns out it took about two months for the remaining warp to mutate from That Headache I Need To Deal With Because I Spent Forever Winding the Warp to this:

Whack! Problem removed.

When I measured it I was quite pleased and surprised to discover that I had wound about 5 yards onto the loom, so we ought to get three or four towels out of this after all.

After the kids went to bed last night I wove a header and fooled around with the tie-up to see what I could do. (The enormous fringe is part of the tangled warp; normally I'd be anxious to wind on every last inch.)

Toby is making sure that the kitchen chair smells like him even though it is about six feet from its accustomed spot.....

The kids are still asleep. But I can't wait until we can start weaving!!!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Spinning yak

After I read Arctic Lace I started pricing qiviut. But I just couldn't justify the expense when I've got so much fabulous fiber lying around waiting to be spun.

So instead I spun up a bag of yak down that I bought at Rendezvous last spring. No doubt there are differences between yak down and musk ox down but I wonder whether I could tell them apart with my eyes closed.

The fiber is quite short. I tried different draws but couldn't get anything but a long draw to work at all. Then again, that's my usual draw and so the easiest for me in almost any situation; ymmv.

It was fairly well dehaired, and the occasional guard hair was easy to pick out. The more annoying problem was big flakes of dandruff, firmly stuck to the fiber. This made for lumpy bumpy yarn. And on top of that, the white dandruff is not very attractive against the deep brown of the yak. In the finished yarn it isn't very noticeable, thank goodness.

Plied, the yarn feels nice enough but not wonderful. Before it was washed it was stiff and unappealing but it did soften up in washing. An astonishing amount of dirt (or maybe spinning oil) came out. The finished yarn is pleasant but not blissfully soft. Maybe I didn't get all of the guard hairs out. I haven't looked at it under magnification.

(The needle card is there so my autofocus would focus -- otherwise I was just getting big brown blurs. Oh, for a camera with some sense.)

So there you have it. It's a nice skein of soft yarn, it'll make part of a cozy hat one of these days, but I'm not rushing out to order more.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Decision point

No, this has nothing to do with my summer cardigan plans. I've been working on my Pi Are Squared shawl again (last seen here).

Doesn't look much different, does it? But I've finished the center pattern band, with zigzags to match the ones at the beginning of the faggoting. I then did my last increase, and went on to use print o' the wave. I've never knitted this pattern before, probably because I prefer garter-based patterns, and I gave it a lot of thought before I chose it. Using a stockinette based pattern gives the shawl a right & wrong side, and I wasn't sure that was a good idea.

One of the reasons I chose it is that Sharon Miller gives a beautiful coordinating edging, and thought the patterns would look really pretty together. I'm very happy with the way the print o' the wave looks on the shawl, but ...... I just don't think I can do the edging. In fact, I have no idea what I was thinking last summer when I decided on it. The edging runs up the sides of the front of the shawl, and sometimes those might be flat, and other times they will probably be folded over. I need a reversible edging. Phooey. Maybe I'll make a nice triangular shawl one of these days so I can use the two patterns together.

But that's not really the decision that needs to be made -- I've made it, or at least I've decided not to use the matching edging. No, my current decision is prompted by this:

17 grams of yarn: 10+ in one color, 6+ in the other. It takes about 4 grams to do a pair of rows -- I'm alternating the balls every two rows. So I can do 3 more pairs, or 6 more rows, before I'm out of these original yarns. I'd like to do two more repeats of print o' the wave (24 rows total, or about 50 g. of yarn) plus, of course, the miles of edging.

I have more purple yarn, but it isn't an exact match. (This yarn, which is J & S Shetland laceweight from the mid 80's, started out various gaudy baby colors. I overdyed it all in the same dyepot, but the purple is affected by the original color. My main yarns were originally baby blue and a sort of violent lavender, if I remember correctly.) I have 130 g. of assorted purples, which look pretty close but will stripe. If I used 50 g. to do another two repeats, I'd have 80 g. for the edging, which really doesn't seem like enough.

I also have about 50 g. of gray overdyed purple. I might do a stripe of this and then switch to the mismatched purples. But it is quite dark; I wonder if it would make the shawl too somber.

My other options all involve dyeing. I have about 50 g. of the lavender, 30 g. of the gray, and 130 g. of white. Of course, I couldn't match the yarn I'm using now, but I could probably come close (especially if I can find my notes on the original dye job).

So what would you do? Dark stripe across the bottom, followed by more purples? Or just switch purples?

Swatches to come. I need to find an edging, and I need to know how much yarn it takes, so I might as well fool around with colors, too.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Rendezvous 2007

I had a lovely time at Rendezvous on Saturday. It's a small festival -- nothing like Maryland Sheep & Wool except for the presence of fiber & people -- but it was just the ticket. There were plenty of spinners to talk to, and enough time to talk to almost all of them. There were interesting things to buy, but not so many that I was forced into tough decisions. There were demos to get me excited and intrigued about some possible new directions, but no classes, so I can still focus on the projects I was working on last week. There were darling alpaca babies, but no animals I might seriously be tempted to bring home. And the weather was perfect.

Here's some of my haul:

In the center is a Spindolyn support spindle. I had been interested in these, so was excited to snap up a used one. At its foot is a little skein of spindle-spun yarn; I bought the batt just to have something to spin at the festival, but ended up quite liking its blend of color and fiber (wool & mohair). I also bought some more of the wool & mohair in different purples, either for needlefelting or spinning.

Behind the spindle is 4 oz. of lovely, lovely alpaca & silk roving. I'm planning to spin a laceweight and knit someone a lovely scarf for Christmas.

Spilling out of the open bag is some Wensleydale fleece; I'm going to try spinning it for durable socks. I am such a sucker for gray fleece and this one is beautiful.

Not pictured: a little Icelandic fleece. I have no plans for this and no real idea why I bought it except that it was there, it was pretty, and the price was right.

I couldn't resist this Turkish spinner, although I need another dust catcher like I need a hole in my head. But I loved all her spangles, and the details of her dress, and so here she is, perched up high in my office / wool room. My three year old has yet to notice her but I know she'll be enchanted.

Did I mention the weather? I know it had a lot to do with my delight in the day. It was warm but not too warm. The sun was out, after a week of rain, and there were plenty of trees giving dappled shade. The light breeze felt great (although it was a pain in the neck during my combing demonstration). I really wished I had brought my wheel so I could just sit there and spin and soak up the peace.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Wonder what I finished?

I still haven't found the chart, or the yarn that I bought for Magenta's nose, but last night I sat down with a picture of Blue & just winged it. Magenta's nose is in a wool yarn that was a little too thin, so I doubled it and now it's a little too thick ... but hey! The top is done! Charlotte's wearing it!

She loves it, except that I make her take it off for every meal. I suppose I'll calm down a little once it has the first stain.

Were I to make it over, I wouldn't flare the hemline quite so much. But otherwise I'm very pleased.

Here's a closeup of the shoulder straps that gave me so much trouble. The left one is untied so you can see more clearly.

On each side there's a dark blue i-cord that goes from the end of one bow, down the shoulder strap, around the armhole, up the other shoulder strap, and out the other bow. The dark pink straps go from one bow, down a shoulder strap, across the front, and up the other strap. The light blue and light pink cords go from the end of the welting to the top of the shoulder. They're connected to each other all the way, but are only partially connected to the two long outer cords. The holes allow for the long cords to be threaded through, then tied in a bow near the base of the strap. It's much less complicated in person than it sounds!

Right now I've got the front shoulder straps and the back shoulder straps snugged up against each other, but I could loosen them up to allow for growth -- I could even re-lace the i-cord so that the bow was higher up on the strap. And even if the bows come untied the cords will probably stay in place unless there's a lot of tugging.

I'm glad I waited until I came up with a shoulder solution that really pleases me, but I'm also thrilled to have this finished.

Yarn used: Reynolds Saucy Sport
Pattern: my own
Chart for Blue: found on the web but now, alas, gone

Monday, May 07, 2007

Frustrated knitter in search of lacy cardigan pattern for summer fun ...

Help me! I am looking for what seems like the most basic summer sweater pattern of all and I can't find it anywhere. I still have about a million magazines to go through but maybe someone else knows just where I should look.

I want a lacy cardigan that I can wear in the insanely cold children's department of our public library, or in over airconditioned restaurants and stores, or wherever.

I want to use some yarn that I have on hand -- Hayfield's Raw Cotton Classics, 121 yards per 50 gram ball, suggested gauge 5.5 spi on #5 needles. I have 20 balls of this so I think I can do pretty much anything with it.

I need a pattern with some waist definition BUT since I am 45 and overweight I really don't want a skimpy little sexy whatever since it won't have quite the same effect worn by me. If the pattern offers the opportunity to insert bust darts (any 2 row pattern works great for this!) it would be nice but it isn't necessary.

Suggestions? Places to visit? I have fallen in love with this vest but it won't work with my yarn and it isn't a cardigan. (I might make it anyways.)