Monday, December 19, 2011


I came across these "evolutions" at Twisted Fiber Art's website the other day.  I love the transitions from one color to the next and I love how the overall color progresses without returning to the original color.  This particular colorway reminds me of the blue sky over sand hills.
I'm not sure how I want to use this ideas in my own dyeing.  I usually dye rovings (which Twisted Fiber Art will also dye into evolutions), but I'm not sure if I really need to put all those colors on the same roving to get this type of end result.  In theory, I could just spin light blue and then purple and then dark brown and then tan and then yellow without having to have dyed them together.

Sarracenia leucophylla hybrid (aka Pitcher Plant)
While I think about that, here is a photo from KathyW's Web Space.  Check out the color evolution/gradation in the flower petals!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Alpaca Scarf

 This looks like the start of a weaving project.  Technically, it is the middle of a much larger project.  You see, a friend of mine owns alpacas.  Black, white, tan, beautiful alpacas! A year or two ago I talked her into giving me a bag of fiber so I could show her what could be done with the soft, wonderful stuff!  So I did.  I combed and carded and spun and knit and wove and gave her an idea of what could be done with her fibers.  This year, she sent the fibers off for processing.  The roving is luscious!  I spun 4oz of the tan and roughly 2oz each of the black and the white for this project.

 The scarf wove up quickly and I am pleased with how it turned out.  The tan yarn was set at 14 epi and the black and white together at 12 epi.  The structure is a simple 2/2 twill.  The ends have a twisted fringe, but no hemstitching.
I tried the scarf on and discovered a problem. It was scratchy!  See the culprit in the photo?  There are thicker hairs in the alpaca that I hadn't paid much attention to while I spun.  I should have paid attention!  I was able to pull many of them out of the finished scarf--which is a little disconcerting....can the whole thing be pulled apart fiber by fiber?  I think that these thicker hairs were easier to pull out because they were thicker and less tightly twisted into the yarn.  I hope so!

The alpaca scarf has gone to its new home where it will be loved by a mutual friend of both the alpaca owner and the weaver/spinner.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

The Emperor's New Clothes

 I feel like I am weaving the emperor's new clothes.  There is a pattern in this piece, but I can't see it!  More realistically, I can see that there is something there, but I can't see the pattern I was expecting to see.  After trying two different packing densities, I gave up, checked my draft on the computer and went to bed.  I'm debating cutting this off the loom and seeing if wet finishing will make the huck lace patterns show.

Check out this photo of me threading the heddles.  As I sat down to work at the mighty wolf, I realized that the reed was going to be in my way.  So I unscrewed the top bar and took the reed out.  Now why didn't I think of that long ago with my baby wolf?  It worked great to reach forward without reaching over the reed!

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Mighty Wolf 8H loom

 Thursday night as I was looking at various things on-line I checked the classifieds at Weaving Indiana.  Lo and behold, a friend of mine was looking to trade looms--her 36" wide Mighty Wolf for a 26" wide Baby Wolf.

A few emails later and my Baby got packed up for moving and was replaced with this beautiful 8H Might Wolf!
I am thrilled!  In fact, I'm off to my books to decide which project goes on the loom first! :)

Friday, December 02, 2011

Skeinsgiving -Strauch Petite

This "red, white, & blue" batt was my favorite.  The main fiber is a super soft wool.  It came out of Beth's huge fiber baskets and I didn't ask what was in it.  It is soft enough to be merino and I wonder if it has some angora in it.  I blended it with a tiny bit of white silk and added a touch of a blue wool and a touch of a pink/maroon wool.  It was so pretty!

The carder that I used was my favorite too: a Strauch Petite.  It was easy to crank, easy to clean, and made lovely batts (I fed the blue and pink through prior to adding them to the blend).  Ahhh.  It was very nice.  Guess what I've added to my wish list?

Thanks again to Beth at the Spinning Loft in Howell, MI for "Skeinsgiving" and the "Batt Bar".  It was great fun!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


 Today I tackled the collection of handknit socks that were in need of repair.  Darn.  Darning isn't hard.  It isn't exciting either, but it takes less time to darn my socks than to spin and knit a new pair.  So, here's to darning.

This sock got two repairs:  a knit-like stitch up near the toes and a replacement flap knit to cover a gaping hole at the heel.  I didn't have any more of the original yarn, so I used  a chain-ply (3-ply) sample in bright yellow and orange. The flap was knit on 6 stitches that I picked up from the heel, increased to cover the hole and then sewn to the sock. We'll see how well this works.

The knit-like stitch is basically a duplicate stitch where I used a needle and the yarn to re-create the knit stitches.  The 3-ply patch yarn is bigger than the original yarn and it looks a bit odd.
 Here is the same type of repair on a different sock.  (Did I mention that I had a stack of these to do?)  This repair was done with the same yarn as the original and hides nicely.  The photo to the left shows how the original knitting was hanging together by a thread.  It's easiest to do the duplicate stitch repair on holes like this.

 There was a big hole in the heel of these socks too, but I wasn't willing to do another knit flap so these socks got the "weave across the hole" type of patch.  Yarn was sewn across the hole and then woven the other direction to cover the hole. --These are my acrylic house slippers. I don't really care about them as long as they keep my feet warm.  If they were handspun, I might have knit another flap.

 And here is the trio of non-holey socks (well, except for the hole for my foot!) Ready to be returned to use!  Whew!

Skeinsgiving-Fancy Kitty Drum Carder

These photos are from the batt I carded on the Fancy Kitty drum carder up at The Spinning Loft at Beth's "Batt Bar".   The dark green fiber is bamboo.  The glitter is firestar and there is a tiny bit of pink wool.  The bamboo behaved very differently than the wool that day.  When I pulled off pieces of the bamboo roving the ends splayed out away from each other (like fine hair with tons of static electricity).  The wools didn't do that!

I used the Fancy Kitty drum carder at the table.  It wasn't my favorite of the three drum carders, but it worked just fine. (Sorry.  I know that's not a great endorsement....but, it worked.  It didn't wow me. It just worked.--Go to Beth's and try it out.  And then check out the Ravelry Fancy Kitty Lovers group because they are having a drawing for one of their carders for Christmas.)

This is how the mini-skein and tiny bit of reserve batt looked on Monday after I finished spinning.

 This snarl is what it looked like today (Wed) when I found it to take more pictures!  What happened?  I think the fiber and the skein got pushed aside together and the staticky bamboo fibers had a party.  (I also think I got a lesson about the importance of putting things away and not leaving them out on the desk to be pushed aside by the next person who needs the desk.)

The skein is now wound up nicely and the bit of batt tucked into a tiny ball.  One more fluffy batt to spin! (Thanks again, Beth.  The batt bar was loads of fun!)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Skeinsgiving Batt--Cotton Blend-Louet

 The day after Thanksgiving, Beth at "The Spinning Loft" in Howell, Michigan had a sale on fibers and a "batt bar".  At the bar were three different drum carders and four huge (bigger than bushel size!) baskets of fiber to play with. The name "Skeinsgiving" is what Beth called the day.

This batt was my third dip into the baskets.  It is mostly cotton--a blue turquoise and a darker blue turquoise--with some dark green bamboo and a bit of firestar/nylon and pink wool.  I carded it on the Louet carder that Beth had out.

 I played around with the batt a bit as I spun it.  The cotton was not well carded prior to my blending everything else with it.  I tried putting it through the carder first (so it got at least two passes) but it is so short that it didn't get carded very well!

The Louet carder did have a very nice adjustment knob for the licker in drum that made it very easy to adjust!

I ended up just attenuating or pulling on the batt to make it spinable.  Spinning it without attenuating left too much texture for my taste.  Hand carding it blended the colors too much for me. When I spin dyed cotton slivers I usually do this same sort of attenuation.  Pinch the fibers with the pinching fingers about 2" apart and pull gently.  Do this along the length of the fiber prep.

 Here is my very pretty, very nicely textured three ply yarn.  I like this!  It does a good job of showing color and texture and looking like a solid yarn.
Here is the two ply yarn.  I ran out of one spool of singles before the other two, so I made a two ply.  I don't like it as much as the three ply.  It looks scrawny--kind of underfed--compared to the three ply.  The bumps in the singles stand out more in the two ply than in the three.

It's too late to spin any more tonight....but I have two more batts to play with...Thanks for the Skeinsgiving, Beth!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Quilt Blocks--November

Two blocks of one orientation; one of another.  Guess who goofed.  Yup.  Me. 

I was considering making the blocks different by changing the orientation of the green hour-glasses, but this change was entirely by accident (shh!  Don't tell anyone!).  At least it will help make the three quilts distinguishable!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Scherenschnitte aka "Chicken Soup"

 My good friend Marybeth called this morning.  "I've got some chicken soup for you.  It will help you feel better.  Will you be home this morning and I'll bring it over?"

Now, I'm not sick, but we've been dealing with a whole slew of interesting challenges and I have been a bit under the weather.  And, I know Marybeth enough that when she has something to bring over, the correct answer is "sure! come on over."

Today was no exception.  I didn't need any soup, but Marybeth is a wonderful cook and an excellent canner....and I really expected soup.

 Instead of soup, I received three beautiful, framed scherenschnitte or paper cuttings.  Where Marybeth finds the patience and the steadiness to make these beautiful things I will never know, but I am so awed!

Before she had even left I was staring at my walls trying to decide what to take down to make room for these when she said, "They are for your shop."

I don't have a shop....yet. Maybe someday.  I'm seriously thinking about a shop.  Wouldn't it be fun?  Do you think anyone would drive to Crawfordsville to take weaving, spinning, & dyeing classes or to buy yarn?

Until my "real" shop is open I'm going to have to find a place for these three bowls of chicken soup.  I feel very loved!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Handspun, Handknit Mittens

Just about the time I finished his new green striped hat, my son lost his mittens.  That was after we discovered that the hat was just a bit too short and added earflaps.  What were the chances that I would have enough handspun left to make two (matching) mittens?  The mittens are the "Kennebunk Wooly Bear Mittens" by Robin Hansen from the 1987 edition of Homespun Handknit.  I like the pattern (this is the third pair I've made) and usually make it without the loops of yarn inside.  And, yes, I did just have enough yarn!
Here's my "ninja" mitten man--he says they are ninja mittens because it's hard to make a fist when he has them on, so his hands are in ninja form.

Friday, November 11, 2011


It followed me home, Mom.  Can I keep it?  Please?

My Mother-in-Law tells the story of watching my husband half carry, half drag a cat up the walk and into the house.  He may have been four or five.  Once the cat was inside, he turned to his mom and said, "It followed me home.  Can I keep it?"

Well, I went to my local weaving store and test drove a Matchless.  Then I placed an order for one.  Then I drove out to pick up the wheel.  "It followed me home."  I think I'll keep it!

Cotton Intensive

This is my last set of samples for the cotton presentation next week.  The lower three samples are plain weave; the upper three are twills (it's hard to see that in this photo).  Each sample has a different thread density or sett.  My favorite?  Upper right--it's the twill at the closest sett (36 epi for 10/2 cotton).  I love how it shows the warp colors! 

Monday, November 07, 2011

Wool Preparation for Spinning

Preparing wool for spinning
This started out as an experiment to see how well I liked Judith Mackenzie McCuin's methods for washing fleece (from Teach Yourself Visually Handspinning).  It turned out to be an exercise in what not to do with fibers of multiple lengths!

The wool is from a sheep named "Lambert".  I believe he was a Cotswold lamb.  His wool, being just a lamb, has a short staple--about 2" long--and there are lots of shorter bits in the fleece.

After soaking and washing the wool per Judith's technique, I let it dry and then started to prepare it for spinning.

Here is what you should NOT do with a fleece like this:  Don't put it through the drumcarder and expect a nice, smooth, fluffy batt.  What I got was a very textured batt.  The little pieces didn't get carded smooth.  I think there were just too short to get caught properly on the teeth.

I ended up taking the very textured batts and combing them with my Louet mini combs.  There was a lot of waste, but the resulting fiber is smooth and looks like it will spin well.  It doesn't have much luster, but at least it is not full of bumps and unexpected stuff.

In the photo, counter clockwise starting at the bottom right corner are (1) drumcarded batts, (2)-in the yellow tub--combed fiber, and (3) -to the upper left--the waste from combing the drumcarded batts.

I think I learned a lesson.  Don't try to card a mix of fiber lengths and expect a smooth result.  (This might be a great technique for making a textured yarn!)

Conner Prairie Textile Studio

Glimakra loom at Conner Prairie
 I have been doing some new things lately.  I started volunteering at the Conner Prairie Textile Studio.  This isn't one of the areas open to the public, but rather a building tucked off to one side of the property and filled to the gills with looms, spinning wheels, quilting frames, etc.

I just finished weaving some linen yardage, intended for towels, on a Glimakra loom.  Compared to my Baby Wolf this loom is huge!  It has been a treat to learn to weave on it, though!

The toweling is in 20/2 linen and is a 2-2 twill/basket weave pattern.
Linen toweling --2/2 twill & basket weave

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Handspun Alpaca Lace Scarfette

blocking the scarfette

After a few weeks of work, most recently while listening to "My Antonia" by Willa Cather, the last of my raw alpaca fibers were transformed into yarn.  Last year I had processed the better part of a grocery sack of fiber into yarn and made scarves for a friend.  She owns the alpacas and (gasp!) just had the fiber languishing in her living room!  Most of that fiber was prepared with a dog comb or my mini combs (it's been long enough that I don't remember which!) and this fiber was the stuff that was too short from that original processing.  I carded this and made a sport-weight two-ply yarn.

Once the yarn was spun & wet finished, I started knitting lace.  The first pattern I tried had four or five pattern rows.  By row three or four I had made a mistake, and found a one-pattern-row lace.  Whew.  I can do one row of lace patterning!

Alpaca scarfette
Here it is, carded, spun, knit, blocked and ready to be worn.  The little pin is a handcarved do-dad that I whittled just to have something to hold the scarf together.  Alpaca is a wonderful fiber--so soft! 

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Applesauce Spoons

It's applesauce season at my house.  Each year we make as much applesauce as we can.  We love to eat the stuff!

The last few years as we have stirred the gloriously hot, sweet applesauce we have burned our fingers.  We have learned to use the glass lids to our big pots as face shields so the applesauce volcanoes don't get us, but with our little spoons we have not been able to protect our fingers.

New spoons and old spoons together.
Check out our new applesauce spoons!  These new spoons are bamboo, just like the other spoons we like, but are at least 8" longer.  They work wonderfully!  Lots of leverage for stirring the full apple pots plus lots of extra,outside-of-the-pot space to hold the spoon.

Hooray for wonderful utensils! (And for a wonderful Ace Hardware store that stocks "oddities" like these!)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

September Quilt Squares

September is almost done, but I did it!  I got my three quilt squares cut out and sewn together.  The two on the left are made the way the pattern is written.  The one on the right is my error.  I sewed it wrong and decided I liked it enough to leave it the way it is.

There are a few squares like this one "odd" one that I think will help personalize these quilts.  I need a way to distinguish between the three quilts, and I think my children will appreciate having unique things in their quilts. 

I am again thinking about when I will finish these and give them to my children.  By December all the squares should be done, but then the sashing and quilting will need to happen.  The kids may not get these this year!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Scarf Contest

The Indiana Sheep Association held a scarf contest in conjunction with their recent meeting. 

As judge for the event, I got to handle the scarves.  It's one of the things a fiber addict loves to do--touch the fibers!

There were three categories:  knit scarves, crocheted scarves, and 100% Indiana wool scarves.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Picking Wool-Cotswold Lamb

 Most people know that wool doesn't grow on a plant and that to harvest wool it must be sheared from the sheep.  However, after the sheep has been sheared and the wool washed, it helps to "pick" the wool --essentially tease the locks of fibers open--to make it easier to card or comb.

This is wool from a Cotswold lamb sheared in 2006 and washed this last week.
 The first half or so of the fibers were easy.  I spent about an hour on my back porch picking open these locks.

The unpicked locks are on the right.
My piles are getting bigger.  Unpicked locks on the right; a small pile of very short wool and trash right next to it near the top of the newspaper.  The picked locks pile is growing. Off to the left are piles of locks that need more washing.
 Oh do my shoulders ache.  The original pile was just under 4 ounces.  Will it ever be done?

And, finally, from one unpicked pile to three piles--trash on the right, picked locks in the middle, and locks that need more washing on the left.

Start to finish required approximately 3 hours of work.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

On & Off the Loom

 This little roll of fabric just came off the loom yesterday.  The bulk of it is 10/2 cotton, but the two sections with multicolored stripes are 100% wool (merino, I think!).  I wove and cut off a sample from this warp and the wool shrank beautifully creating soft ruffles of the cotton.  I have yet to wash these.  One scarf is the plaid you see here.  The other is all the darker red/magenta in the weft.

The weave structure is plain weave for most of the width and basket weave for the wool stripes.

This card represents one of the many little steps I hope to take in the next few months.  I have begun working on the Handweaving Guild of America's "Certificate of Excellence in Handspinning" (aka COE or COE-H).

worsted spinning on left; woolen on right.
The COE requires 40 skeins of handspun and each skein is to be labeled with a card that specifies, among other things, the "type of spinning".  I tend to spin a "semi-worsted" style of yarn and not think about spinning type much, so I sat down and read some reference books about types of spinning and then got to work on spinning some "worsted" yarn and then some "woolen" yarn.

I used some commercially prepared Romney wool roving and first combed some of it with my single row mini combs.  The combed wool was pulled through a diz (holes punched in an old yogurt lid!) and pulled into a prepared top.  The resulting yarn is smooth and dense and has a nice sheen to it.  Next I took the short bits from the combing process and carded them with my cotton cards.  After one or two passes on the cards, I rolled the wool into a fluffy rolag and began to spin with a long draw and attenuated the fibers to a narrow yarn.  The result, a poofy, slightly irregular yarn (something for me to work on!) that has more loft than the worsted yarn and much less sheen.

Learning is so cool!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Deflected Doubleweave

This is one of those projects that surprised me.  I have had some worsted weight handspun yarns for a while and have been trying to come up with a way to use them. One is a light pink and the other a dark.  The trick is that they are both irregular--and some of the dark spots in the light pink are very similar to the light spots in the dark pink.  Argh!

I had tried to use these in a shadow weave, but that didn't fly.  Looking through my Handwoven Magazines, I came across the "black & white" issue (J/F 2007) and realized that I could try some of these scarves.  The deflected double weave scarves by Madelyn Van Der Hoogt and Stephanie Meisel caught my eye.  They both use blocks of color (less of a chance for me to loose track of which thread is light and which is dark) and have nice geometric patterns.

I went with Madelyn's pattern, p.68-71, and have now woven my first bit of deflected double weave.  Is it perfect, awesome, exactly what I wanted? But it is a GREAT sample and a good introduction to deflected doubleweave.

And, I remember thinking that I would "never" weave one of these black and white pieces!  Dear me! This isn't the first time this has happened! 

I have two more skeins of yarn like this, but in greens....I wonder what they will become.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Dye Day

Here are my solar dye pots on the front walk to my home. The weather has been hot (90 F) and sunny. Perfect for dyeing.

The colors are turkey red, black, yellow, two little pots of greens, brillant blue, and a big pot of green.

And, just so I remember, this dyeing day was the day we took our Heart Kitty to the shelter to be put down. He was not well, but it's still hard to let him go.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

August Quilt Blocks

Here are my quilt blocks for August. I think they design is called "Martha's Star". I tried two color combinations, one with a green & white center and one with red & white. I prefer the green & white, but am amazed at the change of focus that comes with changing the colors.

This is the stitch length knob for my sewing machine. I took a picture of it to remind me to look at it! These blocks were all sewn with the longest stitch length-4! I usually sew blocks with a 3 or 3.5 stitch length.