Friday, January 26, 2007

Amid the Mess

While our kitchen has been under construction I've been working on smaller projects. This one is mostly a thought process. I am collecting yarn to see if I can weave a color gamp. Somehow or other I am frightened by color in the warp. It's scary. It's strange. It's new. Ahh. New things can be scary and strange. So, it's time to go with gusto and see if I can't make color less scary! I have two yarns I like...but the rest are blocked by my loom! Maybe in another week or two I'll have yarns not only picked out, but on the loom!

Another thought project in the brain is how to use pieces of rag as a warp. Any thoughts out there? I'm thinking of making curtains with a vertical stripe of blue jeans. The only way to get the curtain long enough (60+ inches) without piecing is to put the color in the warp. Can I put the rag in the warp--I'm thinking of laying it in as a second thread, much like gold or silver threads are used with another warp thread? Hmm. Food for thought.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Bits and Pieces

These are my finished object for the week. They are my first pair of toe-up socks! I cast-on with the "easy toe" in Charlene Schurch's Sensational Knitted Socks, worked a 5-stitch pattern, did a short-row heel, and chose to make them anklets before I ran out of yarn! (That's what I get for using up leftovers!) I was pleased with the easy toe start--it was, well, easy. I'm not sure about the short-row heel...I may need to experiment with other types of heels.

This odd looking invention is my newest bobbin winder. I usually use my charka to wind my boat shuttle bobbins--a rubber band on the spindle holds the plastic 4" bobbin reasonably well. But this is better.

On the left is my Grandmother's cone winder. On the right is a cone (that fits the cone winder very well) with a screwdriver taped in it. The cone and screwdriver go on the cone winder. The bobbin goes on the screwdriver. One hand turns the cone winder crank, the other helps the yarn wind on smoothly.

Someday I will probably invest in a "real" bobbin winder. For now, this makes bobbing winding almost easy.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Real Weaving (and more)

While my 4-shaft loom is residing among the boxes in my basement I got out my old "Weave-it" loom. I believe this one belonged to my Grandmother (although I could be wrong). I started using it a few years ago before I got my "big" loom, but haven't done much with it recently. The wool in these samples is all handspun and hand-dyed of varying weights. The poor scraggly thing in the upper right corner is a newly spun single that has not had the twist set. The pinks and yellows were all dyed with "Kool-aid" type drink mixes. The blue/yellow ones were dyed with food coloring.

The second picture is my "pretties"--these were all dyed with acid dyes. I did one batch in my new-to-me dyeing crockpot and one batch in my stainless steel dyepot. Of the four rovings only one came out as expected. The rest are miraculous mistakes! I layered the rovings in the dye pots and added concentrated dye solution to each layer. Once all the layers were in place, I added a vinegar/water solution and let the pot simmer for about an hour. I thought that the dyes would strike quickly and not turn the dye pot into an immersion dyeing session.

I was wrong! However, the dark rovings (both the purple on the right and the green in the back/left) have amazing variations in color! They are not a single solid color, like from a regular immersion dye pot, but blue/black/purple (or green). They looked so beautiful drying in the sunshine! The big question is now can I give these up for sale on my etsy shop? Hmm. I'm not sure. The purple is gorgeous. It might not leave the house. But the green is the color of my old and well loved crewneck sweater. Dooh! Dyer's Dilemma!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Our New Mantra...

Once upon a time, our family moto was "I am not a professional". We would tackle all sorts of projects knowing that we were not professionals and that there would be errors in our work. We did the best we could on those projects (and hired real professionals for some things!).

Now we have a new saying: "Anyone could just spend money." I'm not sure it's a good saying, but it encourages us to make do with what we have and to be creative with what we want.

It is construction season in our home. Contrary to our new saying, we have hired a contractor to come and remove all of the interior walls of the main level of our home and shift the location of the kitchen. It is dusty around here. Most of my fiber is packed away. But I *need* to play with fiber. So, when I tripped over an old wooden clothes-pin I tried using it as a 'not-quite-drop' spindle. And it worked. Slowly.

Then I came across the "Rakestraw spinner" at It's an interesting twist (no pun intended!) on a drop spindle. And so I made one out of cardboard, a nickel, and my daughter's pencil topper! Believe it or not, the thing works! And it's a lot faster than the clothespin!

My other 'don't spend money' project is a spinning wheel. I got a small bike rim from our local bike shop--I highly recommend "Rotten Robbies" in Crawfordsville for biking needs. My husband got his bike there, and I got my spinning wheel rim from them. And when I explained what I was doing and why the guys didn't look at me as if I were crazy! This is the same frame that once had the wooden X, but I've stuck the bike wheel on it. Finding a good way to attach the footman and drive the wheel has me baffled. But I'm still working on it! If nothing else, this project is teaching me the value of a few hundred dollars when they are spent on good equipment! Hooray for all the spinning wheel engineers out there! I like my Louet!

And, lastly, this is a collage of bits and pieces of an almost finished object. As soon as I add a closure it will be my baby's "Quiet Book" full of little quiet things for her to play with. It's cute and I like it. I've sewn most of it by hand--mostly because that way I could work on it and be social. If I knew what I was getting into when I started this project, I probably would have run away! But it's done (or almost done!) and I am glad to see it's nice!