Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Few New Things

I started weaving a scarf today. My project on the 8H loom is progressing....slowly due to shoulder considerations, but progressing...but, of course, I have other projects dancing around in my head and there comes a time when I need to finish something.

The yarns: three different weight handspun yarns. I had hoped the three weights would be closer, but I'm ok using them. All three are more or less DK weight.

The Sett: 10 epi.

The warp is threaded in straight twill...four threads of dark blue alternating with four threads of light blue. The weave structure is supposed to make cool, curly edged checks. If you squint at the photo and focus on the light blue sections you can almost see the curls.

So, now, the "new" stuff. The weaving pattern is a new one for me. Using handspun yarn successfully as a warp and weft is still new to me (and probably will be for some time!).

In warping the loom, front to back (my usual), I tried a new method of tying on to the front apron. The idea is to avoid having to adjust the tension of individual warp thread groups by tying them on in pairs of groups, and advancing the warp. So, I tied on the outermost bundles of threads first, in a square knot. Then, I advanced the warp one click. Then I tied on the next set of bundles, and advanced the warp. As I tied on the bundles, I made sure that each pair of bundles was as evenly tensioned as possible. And, it worked!

Lastly, I actually took a sample off the loom, cut it in half and washed one of the halves! I must be growing up or something! Sampling? Me? (I even wound extra warp so I could do this! Go figure!)

So far, I like my blue creation. I have no idea how it will end up, but it's good to have new projects and new techniques to try!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Time for Fiber?

I enjoy reading Abby Franquemont's comments on life and fiber. She was raised both in Peru, where her parents did all sorts of research, and in the US. She recently posted this breakdown of her typical work week:

"For a typical work week, I generally try to stick to a breakdown of “Production: 12-24 hours; Operations: 10-12 hours; Development: 12-20 hours.” Total work hours in a typical week: 32 - 56.

Production is things like dyeing silk, or producing yarn and fiber for sale.

Operations is stuff like packing, shipping, inventory, accounting, routine correspondence.

Development is writing, patterns, product testing, market research, and some correspondence."

I wonder what my typical work week breakdown would look like?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Survival of the Fittest

Remember theses? My just finished (ok, finished last month!) handspun, handknit cabled socks?

Well they went on an adventure this week! With the pain in my shoulder, my husband did the laundry this week. He's pretty good at stuff like that. But guess what fell out of the dryer as I was getting things out to fold...

Gulp! My socks. I almost cried. Not my brand new handknit socks. They looked a little crumpled. I had visions of them being felted beyond repair.

But, guess what! They still fact, they fit better now than before their adventure in the washer and dryer! Who would have guessed? I'm attributing their successful navigation of my laundry system to the fact that they were spun from Cotswold wool, a longer wool that doesn't felt well. Whew! I'm so glad they still fit!

Here are the amazing socks--a little wrinkled, but still the right size!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

A Little Something Extra

The Macomber 8H loom has some pre-drilled holes on the back beam supports. With a long dowel, some metal brackets, and some bolts we created a holder for the roll of brown paper that I put between layers of warp threads. Now the paper is up off the floor--hooray!

My weaving progress ground to a crawl this week due to a shoulder injury. I am getting better, but will be weaving very slowly for a while.

Monday, April 14, 2008

A Little Lace

This is my first "real" lace scarf. I'm really pleased with it! In some ways it was very hard to do (mostly because it wasn't brainless knitting!), but once I caught on to the pattern and learned how it was supposed to look it knit just fine!

The pattern: Oak Leaf & Acorn Scarf by Fiber Trends
The Yarn: handspun by me -- batts from Abby Franquemont ("pond scum" colorway!)

Hooray for accomplishing new and challenging things!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Happy Classes!

I'm so happy. The Fiber Event was this weekend and I spent two wonderful days taking spinning classes. Stefania Issacson (of Handspun by taught "Spinning Exotic Fibers: Alpaca, Llama, Mohair and More!" I had my hands on yak, mohair, guanaco, llama, alpaca (both suri and huacaya), great pyreenes dog, camel, and cashmere. My fingers are still on cloud nine from the cashmere!

Amy Tyler, of Stone Sock Fibers in Interlochen, Michigan taught "Creating the Yarn You Want"--a class on spinning any type of yarn and not letting yourself get stuck in a rut. It was amazing! We worked with at least 6 different types of fiber (mostly wool) and fiber preps while we went through a series of exercises designed to help improve our control over the end yarn. The best part of the class was the final challenge--we each spun a yarn (thick or thin) and passed a sample to our neighbor. Then we had to match our neighbor's yarn--size and twist! The trick was that none of the neighbor's had the same type of wool! I was using a Romney wool (mid-range) to match a Cormo (fine and springy!) wool. It was a challenge of the best sort and I loved it!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Warping Front To Back--The Begining

My warping board was a gift from a weaving friend a couple of years ago (Hi Nancy!). The pegs at the top of the left side are my favorite spot for the cross. See how the warp angles up to the pegs on the right side and zig-zags across? The angle seemed to work really well (I usually go straight across)...I got 233 ends wound in two sessions and my arms didn't fall off! :)

This warp is for shadow weave towels. One black thread and one cream thread were wound together. Here are the threads threaded through the reed:

Friday, April 04, 2008

Plied Sunshine

My sunshine fiber finally saw some spinning action today. It's cool (40's) and damp and grey out. The perfect time for some inside sun!

The yarn on the upper left is Navajo or chain-plied. The lower right yarn is a two-ply. I love seeing the yellow in the upper yarn. It's presence is sorely missed in the two-ply.

Next week is the Fiber Event in Greencastle, IN ( and I am signed up for some spinning classes. I can hardly wait to see what sorts of samples I bring home and what new techniques I learn. Spinning is soothing; spinning is amazing!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


The sampler is off the "Mac". The black/cream and black/white combinations at the top look good. I'm not fond of the dark, black/grey stripe. The blue/cream and blue/white combos look ok too. The washed out stripes at the bottom of the photo are the light blue combinations. They don't have enough contrast to show the patterns well.

Hmm. It may take a day or two to reach a decision on this! If you were making towels, what colors would you like?

(The warp stripes run from left to right in the photo. The weft color combinations from far left to right are: purple/pink, burgandy/pink, and then blue with grey, cream, and's hard to tell what order the blue combos are in from the photo!)

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Sample Warp Exploration

"Mac" (my new 8H loom) needs a project! :) Hmm, perhaps it would be more accurate to say that I need a project for Mac! At any rate, my first 8H project is a series of shadow weave towels from Handwoven magazine Nov/Dec 2007. The six towels use the same warp, but six different weft combinations.

The trick is (according to the designer Vicki Tardy) to use the right warp colors....none of which I happen to have! Well, what I have is close, just not exact. So, what do you do when you are unsure? You test things!

The photo shows my nine combinations of light/dark warp threads. The lights: white, cream, grey. The darks: light blue, a blue/lightblue twist, and a black/grey twist. I have these 9 combinations plus another 9 or 10 to test as wefts!

Hooray for explorations in weaving!