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