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.