Thursday, December 31, 2009

Surprise! Knitting Content!

This was a great photo shoot! My six, almost seven-year-old was thrilled to get new mittens (especially wool ones--they are good for keeping the hands warm while playing in the snow!). Here he is expressing mock surprise. I haven't knit for months!

The yarn: hand-dyed, handspun wool, Navajo plyed into a three-ply yarn.

Gauge: 5 sts/inch
Pattern taken from Ingrid & Inger Gottfridsson's The Mitten Book. (I used their directions for making the mittens, not any of their beautiful two color patterns.)

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Introducing Emilia

Here's my newest little loom: an Emilia rigid heddle loom by Glimakra.

These first few weeks of our relationship (is that the right term for a human/loom interaction?) have been bumpy, but seem to be resolving.

The biggest challenges have been the way the uprights sit (or don't sit) on the table...see how they are resting on the point, not flat on the cut angle? ....and getting a decent shed.

The shed issue has been mostly resolved by increasing the tension on the warp. The angle of the uprights on the table hasn't been resolved yet, but they work and don't mar my table, so it will be ok.

The warp on the loom? That is my next attempt at collapse weave. It's stripes of mercerized cotton and handspun wool singles. It's completely experimental--I'll let you know how it works out! :)

Wednesday, December 09, 2009


I was needing to make some mittens (fast) and went searching for an old humanitarian aid pattern...that I couldn't find in the wonderful, many towered, layered space (aka mess!) I call my craft room!

Google helped and provided a link to a webpage that had a link to a pdf file of the pattern! Hooray!(if you want to find it, here's the link!)

I added a step to my mittens by putting a layer of quilting fabric on the outside and quilting two simple lines down the center to hold them together. They turned out cute...a few quirks, but cute.

Quirk #1. While I can get my hands into the mittens (size L pattern), they are a bit tight. The next pair I make will have the quilting cotton on the bias to give it a little more stretch. These fit my 9 year old just fine.

Quirk #2. The thumb gusset got caught oddly in the side seam. It's not uncomfortable, it just doesn't lay pretty. I'll need to play around with that seam construction a bit before I give any away.

Monday, December 07, 2009


Jacey Boggs has an article in the winter 2009 Spin-Off magazine on making coiled yarns.

I've tried this sort of thing before--the basic idea is to spin a thick/thin single and ply it with a thin single--but I really enjoyed Jacey's detailed instructions.

More than anything I liked her instructions on re-training our hands. Here is one of her quotes: "It reminds hands that are so used to drafting and spinning evenly that they are doing something different." I appreciate built in reminders that I am doing something different!

My yarn is nice. It's slightly over twisted, but not too bad. It's slightly more lumpy than coiled...the last technique along these lines that I tried was a lump technique and old memory plus a weak plying single (poor thing kept getting unspun and pulling apart!) lead me to do more lumps than coils! That's ok though. This is a learning experience!

And I got to spin cool yarn! That is awesome!

Saturday, December 05, 2009


Two bits of information landed in my brain at just the right time this week. First a WeaveZine interview with Sharon Alderman, where Sharon mentioned her method of sampling with different setts. Second, a post on Fibers of Being called "Silk Chenille Sampler" which also made use of various setts in the same sample warp.

I am getting ready to do some weaving with my "yard sale yarns". This particular yarn is a 16/2 cotton/poly (50/50) blend and it is finer than my typical 10/2 cotton warps.

I needed to sample, but I was not looking forward to putting on multiple scarf type warps to play with appropriate setts, etc.

The answer, from the above mentioned sources, is do use multiple setts in the same warp! Go figure!

Based on an estimated sett from the measured wraps per inch divide by two, I chose a sett looser than the estimate, one at about the estimate, one at the estimate plus 1/4 and one at the estimate plus ~1/3.

I'm weaving tabby--one for each sett--and twill. The sections are threaded for both straight twill and point twill. Hooray! I'm learning lots and will have an amazing sampler to keep when I'm done! Thanks, weavers, for sharing your techniques!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Pleated Scarf Journey

This is a journey in reading a printed project draft and modifying it to use with yarns on hand. I tried weaving the pleated scarf from a recent Handwoven magazine, and learned a few things:

Thing #1: Hairy crosses are annoying. This draft had a total number of ends divisible by three. I planned on using three ends per dent in my 10 dent reed. Unfortunately, the color changes were not divisible by three, so I cut and tied new ends across the entire warp to keep the colors in order.

Thing #2: Thinking about details: After I had 3/4 of the reed sleyed I realized that I could have used my 15 dent reed, sleyed at two ends per dent, had an easier time winding the warp, and sleying the reed! I will pay more attention to "little" details like that in the future!

Thing #3: Perserve. I intentionally wove two sample sections--one to wash and one to keep in off-loom condition. The pleats are formed by the natural curvature of 1/3 vs. 3/1 twill. My off-loom sample showed only a tiny bit of curvature. My washed sample showed a little pleating, but not much.

It was hard to return to the loom after seeing my samples fail at pleating. I debated cutting off the warp, changing the threading to plain weave, and a few other things, and finally decided to try weaving the scarf as planned.

Thing #4: Success is sweet! The real scarf pleated when I washed it! Wow! I was amazed and thrilled!

The fabric has less drape than I would have liked, but still, it pleated!!

The cream yarn is 10/2 unmercerized cotton. The blue is an acrylic (of some sort. I did a burn test!) and is a little finer than the 10/2. Weft is the 10/2 cotton.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Red Towel Soup

Check out the dye off these red towels! It's like soup or red gelatin! (Ewww!)

Migratory dye issues aside, these towels look good! Tomorrow it's on to the finishing touches--ironing and hemming!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Alpaca Roving

A friend of mine won 4 oz. of alpaca roving at the fiber festival in Greencastle one year. She invited me to do some spinning for her and share the fiber.

It is a super soft fiber, with a slightly orange-y, tan color.

This is the yarn for my friend. I plied a single strand of the alpaca with two strands of a blue silk yarn.

I'm excited to see what she will weave with this!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I Can Count

Check out this warp. It's going to be a red towel with black accents that make squares. Note how uneven the empty dents are spaced in the reed?

I wound the warp with three ends together, and as I put the first set through the reed I counted. 3, 6, 12....24! Great! That's just how many threads I need!

And then I decided it would be a lot easier to just count 1,2,3...etc. and treat each group of three as one. No problem! I finished the first bit of warp threads, made a correction, and continued on.

Halfway into the last group of warp threads I realized something was a miss. I had miscalculated! 24 divided by 3 is eight...not six. Oh dear! Time to re-sley the reed!

In this photo I have about half of the first set of warp threads re-sleyed. The whole fix has been made (including fixing a later error...probably caused from catching pretend marshmallows that my 3 year old was toasting over a pretend fire....hmm. Maybe I shouldn't be trying to count when I'm playing with my kids! :) and I'm working on the threading!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Play after Work

I've just finished weaving two towels on a honeycomb warp. The first one I wove was actually a monk's belt pattern on the honeycomb threading. I used the dark green warp as a the background weft and cream perle cotton (5/2) as the pattern weft. It looks classy! The second towel was woven with the honeycomb pattern. Dark green weft for background and a slubby, cream yarn as the outline weft.

And now, with the two "real" towels done, it's time to play!

Many moons ago I overdyed a light blue cotton yarn with yellow. In many ways the result was a sickly color--not a true yellow, not a strong green...but look at it with the dark green warp! Isn't that great!

Now I'm trying to find a good outline yarn (and yarn color) to make one more towel with honeycomb and the sickly green yarn as background weft.

I'm leaning towards the brown/tan chenile. I may need to walk away for a while and see how I like the colors later!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Bazaar or Bust

This weekend was a hand-crafter's bazaar here in town. I like to set up a display, just because it's local.

Attendance was low this year, but there were some good conversations and lots of interesting art connections!

Thanks to all who came out!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Kumihimo Stand

After a presentation on kumihimo (a Japanese form of braiding) at the Wabash Weaver's guild this morning, I came home and made my own stand. My nine-year-old daughter 's hand is in the picture. She's holding the cardboard "disk" that we practiced the technique on. The raisin box is my stand. The finished braid is pulled through the hole by some clamps that are acting as weights.

The stand was much faster than the card!

Thanks, Ryoko, for introducing us to this craft!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Feast of the Hunters' Moon 2009

Here I am in my "Feast" costume. The Feast of the Hunters' Moon celebrates the fall trading periods of the 1700's in this part of Indiana. My weaving guild has had a booth at the Feast for over twenty years.

This was my third year participating. I have typically demonstrated weaving on the guild's loom--weaving and talking to those who stop to see what we are doing. Last year I wove all morning and into the afternoon before I had to stop to get to another meeting.

This year I wove and wove, and talked and talked....I love being at the loom and talking to people! We had a range of interest--everything from the guy who wanted to see how the heddles were attached to this loom (because he is refinishing one), to the gal who is opening her own fibercraft business, to those who were hoping to take their first weaving lessons soon, to those who knew nothing about the craft!

At some point I realized that I really ought to give up the loom and go home. I didn't want to leave, but I had stayed much longer than originally planned. One of the other gals was walking towards the bus line, so I packed up my things and headed off with her. If it weren't for her, I might still be weaving at the Feast!

Many, many thanks to the hardworking guild members who make it possible for us to participate in the Feast. It's work, and stress (especially with all the rain on Thursday & Friday!), but it turned out so well!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Roving Rugs

I switched gears for a bit...instead of bags, I'm making RUGS!

This idea came to me Sunday morning and I had to get out of bed and take notes on it (before I went back to sleep and forgot it!). The warp is 4/2 cotton, doubled and set at 6 epi per doubled thread. The weft is some of my hand-dyed rovings that have been sitting in a box waiting, and waiting and waiting their turn to be spun.

Bwa-ha-ha-ha! Their turn will never come! Their purpose in life has changed!

This yellow roving shows off the point twill (rosepath variation) weave structure really well. I made another rug with a variegated roving and it's harder to see the diamond patterns. Unfortunately, when I wove this rug I didn't pay close enough attention to the note on the draft (this is #164 from A Weaver's Book of 8-Shaft Patterns, ed. by Strickler) to "use tabby". Check out the floats on the reverse!

I'm not sure what I'll do with the floats yet. One thought is to cut them, knot them together and call it done. Another option is to leave them and cover them with a non-skid pad. Option number two is more likely to happen at this point!

Now I have to decide how to finish these rugs. Any thoughts?

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Did I mention sewing bags?

Really, I've only been sewing one or two or...

Last night I took a class from my local sewing store (Caldwell's) from a self-taught sewer, Kimberly Haskell. She sews pet apparel and, did you guess yet? Yup. Bags.

The design of this bag is cute, especially with the button accents and the box pleats. The thing that sold me on the class was the inside of the bag. Check out the pockets! There are pockets on both sides of the bag and there is a zippered pocket!

I love pockets!

The next question is: can I make these with my handwoven fabrics...and what fabrics would I use? :)

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Weaver's Swap Complete!

My package from my Weaver's Swap partner arrived today! I was so excited I could hardly wait to open it!

It's a fully lined messenger-style bag. Right now it is loaded with a binder, a book, and a few miscellaneous things I need for a meeting tonight. I can't wait to see how it wears!

Many thanks to Dave & Benita who organized this swap, and thanks to my partner Lynn for a wonderful bag!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Weaver's Swap -finished object-

Here is a photo of the bag I made for my Weaver's Swap partner. The fabric is an amazing piece of double weave, and I worked hard to come up with a purse design that would work well with the wonderful squares.

After considering many possibilities, I went with a simple bag with dowel handles (they are square dowels! :). All the seams are covered with a fabric binding, so the bag could be turned inside out (the binding would show, but it goes well with the color scheme of the inside) to use the other side of the cloth.

I wish I had a picture of the inside to show you...but I shipped the bag off before I thought of it! :) Maybe Lynn will post a photo of the inside!

Monday, August 31, 2009


Last Saturday, when I found two more boxes of craft things from my grandmother hidden in my son's closet, I was not a happy camper. I thought I had moved all those boxes to my craft room. I thought I was starting to get a handle on things...

Two more boxes. Sigh.

I was a good girl. I took my two boxes out of my son's closet and took them to my craft room. I even opened the boxes and started going through the contents and putting the items where they will get used.

Some things went to my nine-year-old who enjoys sewing. She was thrilled to have her own tape measure (vinyl), measuring tape (metal), and hem marker (is that what the 6" rulers with a little slide are called?).

Some things I just looked at and could not fathom the bounty--Check out my current assortment of sewing needles. Can you imagine life with so many sewing needles? No more looking for the one or two needles in my pin cushion. No more counting needles as I prepare to come home from church activities with the girls to make sure I haven't left behind any of my precious yarn needles. --I remember reading stories of life in England during and just after WWII. A sewing needle was a precious thing--you could do so much, if only you had a needle.

And here I am with a treasure trove of sewing needles!

What am I to do with them all?!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Little Bag

I have never been much of a purse/bag type of person. Yet, here I am, making bag, after bag, after bag!

This one is cute--it stands about 6" tall, and about that square. It's based on a pattern by Lazy Girl Designs (the Noriko Handbag).

The exterior fabric is the block twill sampler (8 shafts) that I made prior to weaving on the Baby Wolf. It's made from fingering weight acrylic knitting yarns. The lining and handles are "scraps" from my mother-in-law. The button is from my grandmother's button collection.

Anyone need a bag?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Huck Lace Shawl

The shawl is off the Macomber! This is a shawl woven from my "garage sale" yarn, and is the same yarn, the same sett, and the same structure as the scarves I wove earlier.
The shawl was wider on the loom than the scarves and it had lots more warp threads break.

Check out the close up photo of the shawl--I finally got a decent photo of the huck pattern! Can you see it? A column of diamonds alternates with a column of "spots".

It's pretty and it's subtle. Perfect for this gift!

I've Been a Little Busy

I was given the opportunity to weave a scarf on an 8 shaft Baby Wolf loom at Tabby Tree Weavers in Arcadia, Indiana.

What an opportunity!

My warp yarn (previously purchased from the shop and hand dyed by me) was wound, my pencil cases with scissors, and pins, and clamps, etc. were packed! I started warping the loom just after 10am (after a 1.5 hour drive!). The loom was warped and ready to weave just after lunch. Good conversation slowed the process, but it was so good to talk with another weaver!

There was one challenge with the warp color changes--a color change occurred in the middle of one of the twill blocks and it was very abrupt. It only took me two moments of staring at it before I took a deep breath, untied the warp from the front beam and set about to fix it!

I am pleased with the end result--the scarf is 100% merino wool and soft and cuddly! The yarn (warp and weft) is "pony" 100% extrafine merino wool --I think it's by Henry's Attic. And, I am pleased with the experience weaving with the Baby Wolf.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Garden Friends

This is the first year we have had zinnias in the front yard. It turns out that the butterflies love them! Yesterday we had a monarch and a zebra butterfly drinking from the flowers--the perched on the petals and went around the flower sipping from each of the little yellow inner flowers (oh, dear! My plant parts vocabulary is significantly lacking!).

Today these two beauties were out and about. I don't know the names of the butterflies, but they are beautiful to watch! We may need to plant zinnias more often!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Weaving Woes

Check it out! I've been having some challenges with my weaving. Do you see the position of the bar that holds my back-beam? It is set at a notch other than the very end. I have never intentionally done that until now! It turns out (thank you very much, Joanne Hall for your tips on improving Jack loom sheds!) that one way to get a better shed with inelastic fibers--rayon in this case--is to raise the back beam.

I discovered I had a problem with this warp (6-ply rayon, 20 epi) when every other pass with the weft was catching warp threads that were supposed to be down! Then I realized that the warp threads were rising (1/4" or so) off the shuttle track of the beater/reed when I depressed treadles.
Things are working much better now with the back beam closer and higher. I can't weave much--I have to advance every 1.5-2", but it works and looks great! There is a subtle check pattern (twill+broken twill) if you look closely at the photo.

Weaving Woe #2.

If you have two looms then you can have two woes, right? This one is a case of too much draw in for the poor selvage threads to handle. They are just getting scraped more than they can bear. I'm at the point where I am just going to weave as much as I can (I've stopped repairing the broken threads!) and cut it off the loom. It is supposed to be a shawl for a friend....but I'm not giving it to anybody until I take a good look at the might have to end up in the "fabric stash" and not in the good enough for a gift stack.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Wow! Weaver's Swap Fabric

My Weaver's Swap partner's fabric arrived today. Isn't it beautiful?!!

It is a double weave structure, with warp stripes and weft stripes, and the overall effect is stunning!

Now I have to figure out what sort of bag would best fit this beautiful fabric...and then make it! I love the filmstrip effect of the double weave squares...If camera bags were more fashionable, this could definitely become one!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Flax Seeds

All my flax is out of the ground. This is the batch that I pulled early in the summer. It's dry...I don't know if it's truly retted yet.

I want to keep the seed for next years' crop, so I used my old dog comb (they are such handy tools!) and combed the top of the flax to remove the seed pods.

It's easy enough to get the seeds out of the pod one pod at a time--just roll the pod between your fingers, let the hull and seed drop into your palm, then blow gently and the hulls blow away. I just haven't figured out how to do that on a larger scale! Here's to learning new things! :)

Misc. Fiber Things

My friend was given some llama fiber by her neighbor. She was so excited!! We picked out the longer locks, washed it, carded it, and blended it with some wool roving. I was pretty tired by this point! But the fiber nests spin beautifully!

This is my great aunt modeling her new vest. It's an 8-harness diamond huck lace pattern with bamboo warp and weft.

This was my "short vacation" project. A pair of mittens for my growing three-year-old. The yarn is a commercial wool/silk blend.

And this is a project for a friend. She won some alpaca fiber at a fiber festival last year--it is beautiful and soft!! The goal is to spin the fiber into a yarn that can be woven with the two blue yarns. What kind of yarn will that be? At this point I haven't decided! It may be a straight two ply alpaca; it may be cabled with the blue yarns...

Sunday, July 19, 2009

More Hanspun Thoughts

Sharon Alderman has a chapter on "Crepe Weaves" in her book Mastering Weave Structures. "Physical crepes"are woven with a "very highly twisted yarns woven in plain weave, set openly enough to allow them to collapse and crinkle when the cloth is wet-finished".

That sounds like my handspun yarn--a highly twisted single! And the end result--fabric that was rough and bumpy!

Sharon's solution? "...if the highly twisted yarns were set very closely, tracking did not occur. (The threads had no room to collapse.)"

So, do I have enough yarn left to try a closer sett? I'd love to know if this would work!

As an aside: I can tell that I am growing as a weaver. The first time I looked through this book, it didn't interest me. Now, I am reading it carefully and learning lots!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Handspun Singles as Warp

I left my camera at a friend's house early this week and missed some great photos! This handspun single (natural brown, 36 wpi) was dipped in a gelatin solution while skeined, allowed to dry, then wound into a cone. The gelatin is referred to as "sizing" and helps protect the yarn against abrasion and wear from weaving.

The yarn looks well behaved on the cone, but as loose warp threads it was like a pot of curly ramen noodles!

The warp was slow to thread because of the curliness of the yarns and one thread broke because of a glob of gelatin that wouldn't pass through the reed, but other than that it was straight forward to warp.

My project: the same huck lace that I did earlier with the pale orange yarns and plain weave. I was looking to see how the single would behave as both warp and weft and how the single would effect the final fabric.

I sett the warp at 18 epi, and wove without measuring my picks per inch, but it's pretty close to a balanced weave.

The plain weave looks great! There is just enough variation in the handspun single to make it an interesting fabric (although it's rough and scratchy--maybe it's time to spin a softer yarn!). The huck lace portion (Upper fabric in photo) shows more deflection than the plain weave part, but I can't see the lace! The fabric may need a second wash--or the hairyness of the wool single may keep the yarns from deflecting enough to see the lace! All in all a very successful experiment! :)

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Box Bag II

This is my second attempt at making a box bag. I added a tab at the end of the zipper (a suggestion on someone else's blog) and made the lining separate from the bag. I topstitched the zipper for the outside fabric and connected the lining all at the same time.

I like having the finished seams on the inside. It's much nicer than the first version with raw edges.

But, there are still a few more tweaks I would like to try. 1) Would it be better to attach the zipper to the lining first (rather than to the outside)? 2) What sort of interfacing (if any) do I need? 3) Can I make the bag bigger?

My goal? A box bag pattern that will work with my handwoven fabrics!