Saturday, December 30, 2006

This is the season

This is the season to work on all sorts of projects! These two displays are of fleeces that won prizes at a fair this year. The idea was to present an idea of the raw, washed, spun, and knit fleece. The pictures aren't great, put you can see some of the bits.

I didn't take a spinning wheel on vacation this year. I figured that if I really needed it I could borrow one. But I didn't. I finally picked up my Mom's old CD-drop spindle, added some fiber and spun. And it worked! I can now say I know how to drop spindle! And then, of course, I had to try and improve the spindle. The rubber had hardened and cracked, so it really *needed* to be fixed.... Ok, so perhaps I'm just a tinker-er searching for a project! At any rate, I made some salt dough and formed some whorls, used the dremel (spelling?) tool to get the center hole the right size, added some wood glue, and viola! New drop spindle!

The spindle, and a bit of roving, were left in my mom's capable hands. She showed me her first bit of yarn....about 2' of nice, thin, even spinning! Way to go, Mom!

Thursday, December 21, 2006


I was giddy with success last night--one of my rovings sold within 24 hours of being in the shop! So I celebrated by trying some more dyeing techniques.

Most of these were vat dyed in my "for dyeing only" canning jars. I put about a cup of liquid in the bottom of the jar with the dye then added the wool. This sat for a few minutes, then I topped the jar off the water and steamed it.

I like the way the pink roving turned out. It reminds me of cotton candy!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Somewhat Random Finished Objects

Remember these? As a girl my mom taught me to make these simple braided toys as gifts. Now my daughter is learning to make them. This one was mine (I had to see if I remembered all the steps to make them!).

And these are my almost perfect "Magic Stripes" socks. I checked my positioning in the repeats as I started, but I was off--perhaps by less than 12". Ahh, well. I was just glad to get them finished and washed, dried and in the mail. For the record, socks amaze me! The first sock took days, maybe even a full week or two. The second sock was done (start to finish) in two days! Deadlines help, but I still believe that second socks knit faster than firsts!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Remember this?

I tried. I really tried.
But it didn't work.

The beautiful hot pink/variegated yarn will have to wait. I even tried knitting it into a hat, and that didn't work...yet! I may try a different pattern soon.

With a pair of helping hands, I re-wrapped the warp threads around the back beam. This time I carefully inserted stiff paper spacers. Do you remember all those times people have told you to use spacers to keep your tension even? Well, it's true! The tension was much more even with the paper wrapped in with the warp.

This time, I chose a 2/1 (or is it 1/2 ?) twill for the weaving structure, hoping to show off more of the warp threads. The twill weave worked ok. I was using the extra yellow shuttle to pick up the warp threads and make a shed for each pass of the weft. It wasn't so hard.

But, the purple weft looked grey against the colors in the warp and I didn't like it enough to continue for the 2 yards of warp.

So, on to other projects! The best part about this experiment was that the warp was never cut--this is a peg-type loom--so all I lost was some time, and I gained a better understanding of warp and weft color interactions! Hooray for experiments!

'Tis the Season

It's getting close to Christmas and little by little we are decorating the house and doing all the special Traditions that we've developed over the years.

This display is of interest, not because of the block pieces, but because the pieces look so good on my table runner! This runner was the first project woven on my loom.

The second piece, made from the same warp, resides on my husband's dresser. It's a looser weave that shows more of the warp colors.

This runner is tightly packed--pretty much weft faced. I didn't really like it, until just recently when I realized how nicely it's plainness shows off the colors of the nativity set, and how well it protects my end table against the extra bangs and scratches that come as my children stack the pieces up!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

A little bit of this...

It all started out with wanting to do some dyeing the other night. So, I dyed. Then I dyed some more. And some more! The yarn is from a single roving wound into a ball and dyed in a ziplock bag. Blue dye was poured into one corner and heated. The excess dye liquid was poured off. Then magenta dye was poured into the other corner of the bag. The roving was steamed in the microwave to set the dye.

This roving was handpainted. I didn't have as much time to paint as I would have liked, so there is a lot of unpainted roving! However, the dye set well with a 30-40 minute steam session in the dyepot. (The last set I painted left my fingers blue after spinning.)

And this....well, this is about ready for the "frog pond" as they say in the knitting world! I'd like to be able to use this little loom to make a scarf or two, but this initial attempt isn't going to cut it. The tension across the warp is uneven. The weft looks ok in this picture, but it really hides the colors in the warp. So, attempt #1, farewell. We'll see what attempt #2 brings!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Painting a Blue Sky Roving

This project started with a view of the winter sky:

I tried painting some rovings to reproduce the various intensities of blue:

And I learned a few things!
1) It's easy to put too much dye on the roving. I did let these rovings sit 10-15 minutes for the fibers to absorb the dye, but there was a lot of dye left to be absorbed by my blotters (see the roll of paper towels in the center of the above photo? The roving on the left has been blotted. The one on the right still needs blotting.)
2) The end results only vaguely resemble the painted roving. This may change with experience!
3) Painting rovings takes much more time than vat dyeing!

The final result:

The two rovings on the left are the ones I painted. The other four are different microwave dyeing experiments using the same dye.

The end results are cool--I think they'll spin up beautifully--but I'm not thrilled with either of the processes I tried! Good thing they're just experiments!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Just for fun

This hat is patterned after one in "Yarns to Dye For". It is made in two steps. Step 1: on straight needles work the brim with cables in the center and garter stitch at each edge. Join the beginning and end to make a circle. Step 2: with circular needle or double points pick up stitches around one of the garter stitch edges of the circle. Knit a few rows, then decrease 6-8 stitches each round to make the top of the hat. I added an I-cord knot at the top of this hat. The large yarn and needles made the project go quickly, and it was the perfect "just for fun" project after a pair of lace socks!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

One Step at a Time

No pictures today. Instead, check this out:

It's my new shop! My own little, fiber-holic, garage sale--and all from the keyboard of my own computer!

My current listings are all fibers that I have been playing with--Cotswold and Romney rovings from my parent's flock of sheep, commercial and natural dyes.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Blue Lace Socks

This is the detail from the socks I finished knitting over the Thanksgiving holiday. It's a lace knit/rib over six stitches from Homespun Handknit. It looks nice--even better when it's stretched out to show the lace--and I even had enough yarn spun to knit both socks!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

While this doesn't look like fiber, it is related to my fiber interests! I have been introducing two friends to spinning. One has her own wheel, a nice Ashford; the other has none, and no extra funds to get one. Spinning with a wheel is too amazing to let a simple thing like money get in the way! So, I've been planning and concocting, and my husband has listened to iteration after iteration of this, until I finally hit on something that had the potential to work.

The hardware (wood, bolt, washers) cost me less than eight dollars. The work involved required a hacksaw and a drill. The flyer is an extra that I don't use very often. Viola! A second, inexpensive spinning wheel.

But don't call the press yet. I haven't found a drive band that I like yet. And it's tough to treddle. And I wouldn't let my friend take it home with her today. Having to fight a wheel would take the fun out of spinning.

Saturday, November 11, 2006


This "pink candy" yarn what came of plying the bright pink and the striped singles from the last post. It's a pretty intense pink--perhaps not my favorite color, but fascinating to see what happens when the solid and stripes were plied together!

Here are some deeper shades. This roving looked very fall-ish with deep oranges and reds, but the overall effect now that it's spun and plied (I wound a center-pull ball and plied it on itself) is almost "autumn at dusk" because it's so dark.

And here are the colors awaiting their turn at the wheel. The multicolored roving will definately get spun as is, but the debate is on to see if I will spin the other four solid colors or if I will use them for blending on the drum carder.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

More than meets the eye

It's easy to take pictures of the pretty stuff! I did a dyeing day last week and have been spinning up the 1 ounce strips of roving. Some are solid colors (like the pink), some are stripped (like the bobbin on the flyer), and one was more motley than anything else. The colors were mostly chosen as an experiment with my new dyes. I needed to see what colors could be produced...And the answer is lots! :)

The non-photo documented work is the sewing, cutting, and washing of my long weaving sample. I cut it into sections based on weft fiber, keeping wool sections together, and rayons together, etc. Half of the sections have been washed and ironed. Half are awaiting the wash!

As an interesting aside, I listened to weavecast this week and they were discussing the use of a group of three threads as if it were a single one for a warp. It supposedly produces a softer fabric than using a single, larger warp thread. In cleaning up some of the stash I inherited, I came across a ball of yarn made up of three threads! I guess I'll be using that as warp sometime soon!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Off the loom

The latest sampler is complete and off the loom! The selvages weave in and out with each yarn change. The warp is roughly 5/2 cotton. My finest weft is thinner than 10/2 cotton, and my bulkiest is a handspun wool 2 ply that is at least a worsted weight yarn.

What is missing in the photograph is the touch and feel swatches. Each of the different wefts produced a unique feel for the fabric. The temperature here has dropped to the thirties, and all the rayon sections felt cold, and all the wools were warm and snuggly. Some of the thin wefts produced a drapey fabric. Some of them, like the grey boucle in the middle are scratchy and unpleasant.

Now it's time to do the finishing...I have to decide if I want to separate the different sections before or after washing!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Sampler City

My sampler is growing! And my experience is too!

Today I was using a tan chenille as my thread of interest. The bottom of the picture has it alternating with a gold boucle type of yarn (one shot chenille, two shots gold). The upper sections have it alternating with a fine red thread.

The interplay of the different yarns is mind-boggling! I like the gold/chenille part. I wasn't sure I would. I also like the pattern that developed with the use of the fine thread and the chenille.

Go Samplers!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Variations in weft

This is the same warp as my last few posts. I've been playing with weft threads and treddling changes. These two have the same treddling (but different from earlier posts) and different wefts. The grey, the same yarn as the warp, looks airy, almost like curtains. The blue and orange (two separate yarns) create a solid fabric with a bit of bumpy texture.

Weaving is awesome!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

The Learning Process

I had a friend over and we warped my 4-shaft jack loom with a twill pattern. The pattern is a neat looking structure, but it was not exactly what I thought I'd see. It turns out I had reversed the tie-up and thus changed the pattern! Oops!

A little later, with the tie-up corrected I discovered this wiggle.

I'm not sure where it came from, and I'm not sure where it went, but it eventually evened itself out! It may have been that the plastic bag strips I used for spacers were uneven. Had the wiggle continued I would have gotten a chance to try modifying the tension on just a few warp threads.... I'm glad it went away! :)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Finished Handspun Object

This shawl came off the needles this week. It's small--just big enough to tie over my shoulders--but it felt wonderful with the cool weather we've been having.

The yarn is handspun from a roving I purchased from Julie at the Spinner's Flock up in Michigan. I miss my spinner's guild. As a group they are an incredible body of knowledge!

But, blogs help! Check out this article at for a cool twist on knitting socks-- /ISSUEfall06 /FEATextreme2in1.html

Monday, October 16, 2006

A full bobbin

I got caught with a bad case of "Fiber Fever" a few years ago. It started with a baby sweater, progressed to spinning my own yarn, and has spread to the extent that my parents now have a small flock of sheep which provide much of my wool.

Fiber Fever is one of those "cool" illnesses. People stop by and chat (or stare) if I spin out of doors. They want to know how it works and if the spin stays in the wool. It looks deceptively easy to do--the foot just goes up and down on the pedal, the fingers just seem to effortlessly pull the wool apart for the spin to catch it. You should have seen my first yarn! Thick as my fingers, then thin, then thick again! I still have it. Believe me it's not pretty! But the spinning has become as effortless as it appears. I spun the bobbin of blue Romney in two evenings. It should be plenty for a pair of socks for a friend!