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Preview: Bitten by Knittin'...

Bitten by Knittin'...

... and other fiber arts, too!

Updated: 2017-12-06T16:55:24.075-05:00


One pair of xmas socks


In (some) previous years, I have knit xmas socks for those near and dear to me. Not this year, as I find myself distracted by multiple fiber projects - dyeing, weaving, spinning, etc. However, my son relayed a request from his SO for a pair. I complied.

Pattern: Sock Recipe by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, short-row heel courtesy of Short-Row Toe and Heel Basic Socks by Wendy D. Johnson
Yarn: Austermann Step, colorway 23, Simply Sock Yarn in black for toes, heels, and cuffs
Needles: US1
Modifications: Besides the short-row heel (to maintain the striping), I rounded the toe by decreasing every other round until 40 stitches remained, then decreased every round until 28 stitches remained

This colorway looked better in the skein than it does knitted, IMO. It's also not very festive. The wide stripes worked out for the length, though.

Still a little tight


As a palate cleanser, I decided to spin the alpaca/merino blend I purchased from the Natural Fiber and Yarn Co. Mindful of the shorter staple, I carefully used the inch-worm method of spinning in hopes of improving the consistency of my spinning. Still not there, but getting closer.

After a previous episode of plying, where I tried to ply from a too large center-pull ball, I had the sense to divide this roving into two parts by weight and to spin each on a separate bobbin. But then I tried to ply it all onto one bobbin. It didn't quite work out.

I told myself I could use the mini skein for swatching, but it is pretty messed up. There is always something new to learn, but sometimes I get tired of these learning experiences.

Angry yarn


I specifically purchased some Cormo top with a plan to spin it worsted, to see how it compared with roving spun worsted. This was the yarn on my wheel when I went to a spin-in. Someone at the spin-in took it upon themselves to tell me what I was doing wrong. And then this person commandeered my wheel to show me the right way to do it. The problem was, she was spinning woolen instead of worsted.

I said something to that affect, but it fell on deaf ears. Which resulted on her advice falling on my deaf ears. Later, when I thought about what she said, I actually found it helpful. However, it took a while for me to not get angry all over again every time I sat down at the wheel because my inner child was whining, She ruined my experiment! Consequently, I spun the Cormo too tightly, then plied it too tightly.

One may not be able to tell from this photo the result of this tight spinning, but one can feel it when one touches the yarn. It feels textured. Nubby. Tense.

My first inclination is to swear to NEVER, EVER spin in public again. At least, not until I am a better spinner. But my better self knows a more mature reaction is to remain open to learning from others, regardless of the situation and the outcome. Besides learning what to do, sometimes one learns what NOT to do.



I started watching Shetland, a British TV series that takes place in the Shetland Islands (duh). I'm not sure which I like better, the accents or the knitwear.

Classic ribbed turtleneck pullover.

Shawl collar, drop sleeve cardigan.

Crew neck, raglan sleeve pullover. With cables!

I'm a little confused about what may be called a "jumper" or "Gansey" or "Guernsey" in the UK. No matter, I like all these sweaters. The show is pretty good, too.

Absorba the Great (sort of)


I got this idea to weave a bathroom rug out of super bulky yarn from here. JoAnn had some super bulky yarn on clearance, so it seemed ordained that I would try this out. Well, after warping, I was not excited by the weaving.

I also wanted thicker material than this was turning out to be. Mason Dixon Knitting to the rescue! Unfortunately, this is one rug that looks better in real life than it does in a photo.

Pattern: Absorba, the Great Bathmat
Yarn: Big Twist Yarns Natural Blend Ombres, colorway 11001 (black and white and grays)
Needles: US17
Final size: 31" x 22"
Modifications: Different yarn, different needles, held two strands instead of three, fewer "logs", picked up more stitches

Knitting super bulky yarn doubled was really hard on my hands (and arms and shoulders), but thankfully it didn't take long. The rug is about a half inch thick and squooshy under foot. Mostly acrylic with some wool, we shall see how absorbent the yarn is.

Now I'm wondering what to do with the warped bit. Maybe unweave the weft and replace it with a contrasting color, like pink or yellow? Stick with super bulky or try something thinner? Hmmm.

Where do you keep your hand knits?


Besides the fiber arts studio conundrum, I also have an issue with managing all my hand knits. A friend suggested rugged antique-ish ladders for blankets. I found some at a new local consignment shop, Rekindle.

I don't like to hang scarves because they tend to stretch. But folded and hung, again on an old ladder, works just fine. (Hats and handwear go into some baskets.)

My wool socks get washed but once a year, just before I put them away for the season. The rest of the time they air out on a drying rack in my bedroom. This takes up a bit of room, but is doable.

But SWEATERS. My hand knit sweaters are too bulky for drawers and too heavy for hangers. During the off season, they rest in a big plastic tub in my closet. But I can't figure out how to manage them during sweater-wearing season besides draping them over a rocking chair in my bedroom.

How do you manage your hand knits?

Make no mistake - I still knit


Most of my recent posts have not been about knitting. Should I change the name of the blog? Or does the banner picture say it all?After a summer (and part of autumn) hiatus, I am knitting again, this time with my own homespun. I knit something up with my first ever homespun, but it was basically what we politely refer to as "art yarn" - big and fat but not on purpose (sort of like my body). Now my homespun is more like worsted, but not consistently so.Since the diameter of the singles was so erratic, determining WPI (wraps per inch) seemed useless. So I knit up a couple of swatches, one on US7 and one on US8 needles. (And just for fun, I threw them into the walnut husk dye bath.)Yep, I would call this worsted, or close enough. And I think the Lincoln wool took the dye well. But not as well as what I think is Cascade 220, which I finished the bind off with on one swatch.Then, since my oatmeal scarf disappeared one day last winter, I decided to knit myself another oatmeal scarf.Pattern: Easy Mistake-Rib Scarf in Three Weights, more or lessYarn: homespun Lincoln 2-ply, undyedNeedles: US8Modifications: not really, other than I slip the first stitch knitwise on each row The uneven spinning gives this scarf a "rustic" look. For length, I aim for a scarf that is as long as the wearer is tall. Even though the yarn was a bit coarse, the scarf did stretch a bit when soaked and blocked.Besides this scarf, I have a hat in the same homespun in progress, plus a pair of socks to gift (currently turning heels), and a rug on US17 needles, for my bathroom. So, yes, I still knit. [...]

Do you have a fiber arts studio?


While I was dyeing with walnut husks last week, I found myself wishing I had a second kitchen. My microwave is over the stove, so the tall dye pots get in the way of my nuking a cup of coffee. I don't cover all surfaces with plastic wrap like some dye books recommend, but I do try to keep food prep and dye prep separate. Then there are the multiple trips to the utility sink in the laundry room and to the dye cupboards in the garage. It's just annoying.

I decided what I needed to do was SELL my house and BUY a duplex. I could live in one unit while the second one became a multi-room FIBER ARTS STUDIO. Oh, I had it all planned out in my head. Reality is most of the duplexes in this city are in sketchy neighborhoods and/or are smack dab up against their neighbors and/or if in decent shape and in a decent neighborhood and have a bit of yard, get snatched up immediately. I found one I considered move-in ready, and within one day it was off the market.

Other than that SECOND KITCHEN, my house actually has as much square footage as that duplex I coveted. I just need to rearrange and reorganize. Using one of the spare bedrooms as a fiber arts studio has not been working out. It is just too small. And yarn keeps tumbling out of the closet. And roving has to be stored in the closet of the other spare bedroom, where the dresser and the bookcase hold more fiber stuff. Even my diningroom has become unusable as a place to dine because of the inkle loom and sewing machine. Using my entire house as a fiber arts studio is not working out.

With the help of my SO, some rearranging and reorganizing went on the other day, in an attempt to turn the spare bedrooms back into bedrooms and to make the den into a studio. Or at least half of the den, as that is also where the TV is. There is still fiber in the bedroom closets and dresser and bookcase, but much of the rest of my accouterments are now in the den. And there is room to spare, even enough floor space for yoga.

I did winnow out some books. And it would be best if I let a few pieces of furniture find their way to new owners. And the inkle loom is still on the diningroom table. I have yet to actually do any fiber arting in the studio, to see how functional it is. But as long as Beau the Feline Destroyer of All Things Nice doesn't wreak havoc out there, I think this may work out. Fingers crossed.

SO my question to you is, Do you have a fiber arts studio? How do you keep your fiber things organized? Do tell!

Walnut husk dyeing


I think my eyes must be missing some rods and cones, as most of this yarn just looks BROWN to me. My artistic daughter, on the other hand, picks out yellows and greens as well as various shades of brown. She obviously does not get her talent from me!Walnut husk dye bathCreating a dye bath from walnut husks is relatively easy. First, soak a bunch of unhulled walnuts in water, for as long as you like. Some sources say an hour, some say a day, some say a week, some say until you get around to dyeing with them. The longer they set, the funkier the smell, but it, and the mold, do not matter.Initial dipWhen you are ready to dye, simmer the nuts for an hour. Then add yarn, mordanted or unmordanted, and simmer for an hour. Then let sit overnight.Gross!If you want, repeat the dye process. Apply modifiers. Rinse. Hang to dry.First samplesI worked with 16 one-ounce yarn samples of Lambs Price worsted. Each one was treated differently. Half were mordanted with alum and cream of tartar, half were not. Half the mordanted and half the unmordanted went through the dye bath once, the rest went twice. Some were not modified, some were modified in vinegar, some in an iron afterbath, some in liquid from wood ash.Litmus paper testBecause previous attempts to modify dyed yarn did not seem to do anything, I tested the pH of the modifiers with litmus, to make sure they were really acid, neutral, and alkaline. (My dad was a chemist - can you tell?)Dyed yarn does not match colors in bookThe yarn colors are supposed to match those four on the left in the picture above. To my untrained eye, they are not even close. Am I doing something wrong? Or is the book (Wild Colors) lying or are its examples supposed to be for illustrative purposes only?Alum & cream of tartar mordantOne dye bathModifiers: none, acid, iron, alkalineNo mordantTwo dye bathsModifiers: none, acid, iron, alkalineAlum & cream of tartar mordantTwo dye bathsModifiers: none, acid, iron, alkalineNo mordantOne dye bathModifiers: none, acid, iron, alkalineOne dye bathTwo dye bathsAltogether nowEven though I enjoy the process, it is a lot of work to go through to get such similar shades of brown, me thinks. What think you?[...]

Pickup sampler


I am trying to teach myself pickup weaving on the inkle loom. My technique is not kosher but it works for me and my old eyes. As one of my computer profs used to say about programming: There is more than one way to skin a cat.

I've been relying primarily on Anne Dixon's The Weaver's Inkle Pattern Directory for instructions. Watching a couple of YouTube videos did not help much, so I came up with a technique of my own, using a US1 double-pointed knitting needle to pick up threads. Also, I pick them up in the just-beaten row, as otherwise I wind up making a LOT of mistakes.

Unweaving pickup is NOT an easy task, as you need to pickup as you unweave as well, and pickup however you picked up wrong in the first place, if that makes any sense. After cursing, the phrase most often muttered by me was "HOW did I do this?!?" But once I developed my picking technique, the mistakes grew fewer.

Initially, I tried to just wing it. But after struggling to the point of tears, I realized I learned to knit by slavishly following patterns; I can learn pickup the same way. Once I started working from inkle patterns, things went much smoother.

You can pick up heddled threads and/or unheddled threads. Doing both together is challenging, but that is how you get the most interesting results. Pickup is a lot slower than plain weave, but not that bad (she said optimistically).

I'm going!!!


I just signed up for PlyAway!!! I have attended fiber classes at local fiber fests, but this will be my first experience with a MAJOR fiber event. I'm excited and nervous. But I'm also old enough not to be afraid of making a fool of myself. Also, there will be vendors I have never heard of before. $$$

Many people travel when they retire, but I am not much for traveling just for traveling's sake. And for many, MANY years, most of my traveling involved heading east to visit my dad (may he rest in peace). Traveling for fiber arts is an animal of a different color, plus we will be heading WEST for a change.

If you are interested in PlyAway, better get signed up sooner rather than later. Today was the first day to register and already one class I planned to take was full, probably because it meets on Friday. I thought we might head home a day early, until I learned about the Yarn Barn in Lawrence. $$$

So much for my children's inheritance.

Not Rhinebeck but...


Saturday I met up with a friend in Grand Rapids OH. I've been there before so I knew there would be fiber to buy, at the Natural Fiber and Yarn Co. I am proud of my restraint.

First up, two small balls of dyed merino roving. I saw this color combination elsewhere and decided I would like to invite it home to play. I've expressed lesser excuses for buying fiber.

Next, a larger amount of roving, 80% alpaca and 20% merino. I'm assuming the alpaca comes from the store owner's herd, although they have scaled back their farm since they can source fiber elsewhere. Plus, caring for animals is a lot of work. I love the softness of alpaca but sometimes the resulting yarn is too stretchy for my tastes. I'm hoping the merino mitigates that somewhat.

Finally, some rug yarn. This has a cotton core which is wrapped in 98% alpaca and 2% merino, which is wrapped in nylon or cotton thread. This should be enough to make a rug for one of my bathrooms.

Of course, this wasn't all I bought in Grand Rapids. The downtown is lined with those specialty shops that are taking over small town America, full of everything from antiques to "flea market" deals. My friend even bought a dresser. We ate char-broiled bologna sandwiches and homemade pie, too. A fun getaway for a day.

I sewed something!


I left the dogs at the kennel for a couple of nights, along with their dog beds for comfort. Although they have been there before, Clio must have been bored or antsy or something, as she managed to tear open her bed. I need to board them again this weekend, so I decided to try fixing the damage. I forgot to take pix, but still wanted to document my efforts.

The dog bed has a polysester outer shell that can be removed for washing. It has an inner shell of polyester that can also be removed. Inside is a bunch of woolly looking polyester. Clio damaged the outer shell zipper a bit and ripped it partially off, then tore right through the inner shell. I replaced the inner shell with an old beach towel, sewed into a bag to hold the stuffing (not removable). Then I found the zipper foot for my sewing machine and repaired the zipper in the outer shell. It's not pretty but it should hold unless a certain dog decides to chew through the bed again.

I am the first to admit I am no seamstress. Most of the members of the weaving guild not only create lovely cloth with their harness looms, they transform the cloth into even lovelier items of clothing. No matter how simple one's weaving is, in order to use it for something other than filler for a drawer or closet, sewing is required. While I am not happy about the destruction of the dog bed, I am glad I had something inconsequential to practice my sewing skills on.

Peach? Apricot? Untanned white lady?


Recently, while mowing, the seat of my pants felt wet. When I finally got off the riding mower to check, I discovered some pokeberries had loosened themselves from their stems, rolled down my back, and got squished under my backside. I treated my shorts and rinsed my underwear, but not before noticing what a lovely color the berry juice produces.Even though pokeberry dye is known to be fugitive (fades fast, washes out), I decided to give it a try anyway. I relied on Harvesting Color, by Rebecca Burgess, which includes instructions for dyeing with pokeberries so that the color lasts. Basically you mordant the fiber in a vinegar bath, but also add vinegar to the dye bath, and hope for the best. The author uses wool, but since I had so few berries, I chose to dye a silk scarf.The dye bath looked almost black, but the initial dunking of the scarf didn't look too promising. Keeping temps between 160 and 180 degrees, I mordanted the scarf for an hour, cooked the berries for an hour, and simmered the scarf in the dye bath for TWO hours. I then left the scarf in the dye bath overnight AND let the scarf dry for two hours before rinsing, yet the color seems rather pallid.What would you call this color? Peach? Apricot? Pale white lady? My gardening tan is darker but the scarf just about matches my untanned belly skin. I think I'll wear it around and if someone comments on it and indicates they really like the color, it may become theirs.I'm not giving up on pokeberries, though. Next time I will use wool for the fiber and gather many, many more berries, to see if that makes a difference. The recommended ratio of berries to fiber is 25:1, and while technically that is what I had, I think one cannot err by increasing the berry amount.[...]

Three bags full


A few posts ago I mentioned volunteer work I did at Salomon Farm. Serendipity struck recently when I ran into the event coordinator, and she mentioned some wool that was just sitting around in an out building. I offered to take it off her hands and now I have three bags of raw fiber.

Two of the bags are labeled as "Butterball" so I know it is Lincoln. The other is from "Lazarus". But to my knowledge, there was no sheep there named Lazarus. It looks similar to Butterball's, though, so I'm hoping for more Lincoln. The only thing better would be to get some of the other colors of sheep.

I haven't pulled the fleeces from the bags yet, to see if they are skirted. I did order some Unicorn Power Scour to clean the wool, although many use Dawn. This will be a new adventure in fiber arts - I'm excited!

Dye with tomato vines? Had to try it


One advantage of having several sources of information on fiber arts is exposure to a variety of techniques. I picked up a copy of Vegetable Dyeing, by Alma Lesch (out of print) because it includes a recipe for dyeing with tomato vines. While I didn't follow her methods, preferring the ones described in Wild Color, I had to give tomato vines a try.

With no tomatoes in my garden this year, I obtained some from my neighbor once he was done with catsup-making; we are still waiting on a killing frost, so the vines were still green. All five 1-ounce skeins were treated with alum and cream of tartar as a mordant. Then I tried four different afterbath modifiers, from none to iron. In the photo above, the leftmost skein is Lambs Pride and received no modifier. The other skeins are Cascade 220 and, in order from left to right, received no modifier, vinegar, ammonia, and iron. The differences are modest, to say the least.

The author of Wild Color makes it sound like one needs only a few teaspoons of vinegar or ammonia to create an afterbath, but next time I am going to up that to at least a quarter cup, as recommended elsewhere, as so far they haven't really affected the color. I'm also going to test with litmus strips, to make sure the afterbaths are truly different in pH.

To create my mini skeins, I wind yarn onto a niddy noddy, counting the number of rounds to come up with the yardage. Then I weigh to result. One side of the label contains this information.

The other side of the label holds the dye information. I am getting better at making AND attaching labels to my fiber products. The story behind the yarn used to knit or weave something is as important to me as the end product itself.

Spun out for a while


Salomon Farm is a city park that simulates a working farm from the 1930's. During the summer, they host a variety of farm animals, from chickens to heritage breed hogs. I volunteered there for two years and as a side benefit received some roving from one of the sheep. Poor Butterball was literally on her last legs, requiring medication and special handling to keep her weight up. Finally, they put her down. Happily, I received some of her roving, which I recently spun into yarn.

I am not an expert spinner by any means. If you are a beginning spinner, too, I highly recommend you start with Lincoln roving. It has a long staple, so the "inch worm" technique is very forgiving.

I filled up four bobbins before beginning to ply, and was hoping for the amounts on each bobbin to be rather even. The mini-skein at the top of the photo represents the bit that was left over and was plied from a small center-pull ball.

I ended up with over 400g of two-ply yarn. The twists from the spinning and the plying came out looking balanced, although I think the finished product looks rather loose. I'm anxious to knit up a sample.

One area of spinning where it is easy for me to fall down is labeling the product. Ideally, the above tag should also include wraps-per-inch (wpi) and whether it was processed and spun worsted or woolen. If I dye any of this yarn, the other side of the tag would include dye information.

Another spin-in


Yesterday I attended the Teasel Hill Fifth Saturday Spin-In. This time it sunk in that these events are not so much about spinning but about eating and socializing. I was hell-bent on spinning some cheviot top that I recently purchased, and while I received some good advice on my spinning technique, I ended up wishing I had saved the fiber for a quieter time at home. No one to blame but myself for the uneven singles.

That is not to say I didn't have a good time. The potluck lunch was excellent, I met some new people, got to know some almost new people better, and managed not to spend any money on fiber goods. The "fiber husband" gave a few of us a tour of the farm, which included chickens (we accidentally let some out of the coop - oops!), angora goats (I wondered why Barry kept referring to the sheep as goats when I realized that those sheep were goats - apparently I didn't know what angora goats looked like), maple trees they tap for syrup, a tire swing, the sledding hill, etc. Twenty acres of rural heaven. I learned that cherry tree leaves are poisonous to goats but they love artichoke roots.

I also brought home a plastic bagful of black walnuts - score! These will be used for dyeing fiber. I'm excited!

While we are on the topic of dyeing (smooth segue, huh?), I have been harvesting dahlia flowers when they are a bit past their peak. This is the first time I have grown dahlias. Initially, the four plants were producing a blossom here and there, one at at time, but suddenly they increased production tenfold.

While I don't plan to dye anything with just marigolds, I decided to harvest some of the flowers to add to other dye baths. Similarly, I won't dye again with only onion skins, but they should be a nice addition to other dye baths, so I'm collecting them as I cook winter soups.

The weather is still iffy - autumn-like today, but more too-warm days to come this week - so the urge to knit has not returned yet. Meanwhile, I continue to play with my inkle loom. So many fibers and fiber arts, so little time!

ArtPrize at the Grand Rapids Art Museum


As I mentioned before, my SO and I took a day trip to Grand Rapids, MI, to partake of ArtPrize. It was unbearably hot, so we limited ourselves to two venues (out of 182!), the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculture Park and the Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM). I posted about the former here. In this post, we'll take a look at some of what there was to see at the GRAM.My first thought upon entering the exhibit was, "Thank God there is some textile art!" The first two below are by Jeana Eve Klein and reflect her obsession with abandoned houses. The materials are acrylic paint and inkjet printing on recycled fabric. It's easy to stop thinking once one has fabric in hand, but there is so much more one can do to express one's creativity. All it takes is some imagination (and talent and skill).Letitia Huckaby used flour sacks as the base for her creations. Just one generation removed from the artist, her family grew, raised, and made everything they needed except flour. The flour sacks became dresses for the girls. Here she superimposes images on the fabric to express the creativity and inner strength of those forebears. Another artist who sparked my imagination is Amy Helminiak. Her "digital landscapes" would make wonderful material for sewing. I'm not a seamstress, but I can imagine imitating her technique to create unique cloth.Kittens and mittens above, milk bottles and miscellaneous items below. Of course, her titles for these works are more personal and political. These pics are detail views, not the works in their entirety.I also enjoyed the works of Leroi DeRubertis, maybe because I can visualize imitating them as well, although I'm not sure what form that would take. Again, these pics reflect only a portion of each installation.The red hands above seemed more two-dimensional, except for the shadows they cast. The faces below felt more three-dimensional, like viewing a crowd. Both reminded me of an exercise in high school Art 101: draw something without lifting the pencil from the page.I can be quite the homebody; it's easy for me to become glued to the couch. But getting out and about and seeing something new can be quite exciting and stimulating. It was a long day but very worthwhile.[...]

Weaving in the wild


My SO spotted this weaving on the streets of Grand Rapids, MI. We were there to visit ArtPrize, their annual self-directed, multi-day, multi-venue art tour. More on ArtPrize later.

Second shoelace syndrome


Sock knitters sometimes suffer from Second Sock Syndrome. They get one sock done but somehow sock #2 never materializes. I avoid this by knitting both at the same time, more or less, alternating between the two socks until done. I haven't figured out how to do that when weaving shoelaces on an inkle loom although I'm sure there is a way. Since weaving a shoelace takes about an hour, though, it doesn't seem like such a big deal.

I'm still experimenting with yarn width and technique. In the photo above, the lace on the left is 8/2 cotton carpet warp, knit tubular, 15 ends; the one in the middle is 8/4 cotton carpet warp, knit tubular, 15 ends; and the one on the right is 8/4 cotton carpet warp, knit flat, 15 ends. Once I wrestle the ends into aglets, I'll actually lace them into some shoes, to see what I think.

Another issue is getting them the same length. I tried comparing one lace off the loom with one on the loom, but there was about a 2" difference. Not a big deal, easily corrected.

Until I get those aglets, I finished off the ends by wrapping them with one of the warp threads, as described in The Weaver's Inkle Pattern Directory, by Anne Dixon. This technique is meant for securing the ends of braids and cords, but it also seems handy here. I may have to undo the wrap when I add the aglets. (I ordered metal aglets through Amazon.)

Today six spools of 8/2 arrived in the mail: red, black, white, silver, orange, purple. The weaving stash groweth. Woohoo!

A day in the country


I went to a "spin in" two Fridays ago, at my weaving pal Peggy's home in the country. There were four of us altogther, and I think I was the only one without sheep of my own. Since I was spinning roving from Butterball, one of the Salomon Farm sheep I tended two summers ago, I could at least pretend. BTW, I *love* spinning Lincoln.We didn't get much spinning done because we were yakking and busy admiring Peggy's devotion to all things fiber. First and foremost was the fiber studio, where we set up our wheels. It's difficult to see but there is a loom on the front porch, which I'll describe farther down.One of the tools in Peggy's fiber toolbox is an antique walking wheel. She demonstrated it for us: the yarn comes off the end of the spindle and twists as the spinner walks backwards, then the yarn is wound onto the spindle as the spinner walks forward. This model has an accelerator, to increase the ratio of turns from the wheel to the spindle.There were also looms in the cabin, big ones, and more looms in the basement (as shown here) because once one moves beyond knitting needles and crochet hooks, a single room is not enough space. Most of the looms were warped with projects in progress.Also in the basement was this large motorized drum carder. Peggy complained that even with the motor, it was not fast enough to satisfy her needs, as she has a lot of fiber to process.Peggy started growing flax a couple of years ago, and sheaves of it drying were drying in the immaculate garage. Flax for linen is different from flax for eating, as the former has a long stalk that encases the fiber while the latter has more branches and seeds. The stalks must be soaked (or retted, for all you crossword puzzle fans out there) to partially rot them and get access to the long fibers within.What you can't see in the photo above is the stacks of boxes that line two walls. I didn't think too much about the boxes - we all have boxes of stuff in our garages, right? - until I realized that the writing on them indicated they contained fleeces, both purchased and from Peggy's small flock. She doesn't breed her three ewes, so we referred to them as the "spinsters".Now, about that loom on the porch. It was difficult to get decent photos of it, but if you Google "weighted Nordic loom" you will find better ones, plus videos of how to weave on them. Key features are the loom is vertical, you weave away from you instead of toward you, and the warp tension is maintained by weights hanging below.Peggy first saw this type of loom while watching a special on TV, and this one was built by her handy husband. She weaves three or four wefts in a row before beating them in place with a "sword". Once enough material has been woven, it is rolled onto the beam at the top. BTW, the fiber on this loom is all from Peggy's flock, handspun by her.If I understood Peggy correctly, the weights were poured using the same mix one would use for a granite countertop, with a straw to provide a hole for attaching to the warp.Besides touring Peggy's fiber dreamland, the four of us talked fiber. It was probably the most fun I have had in a while, not because my life is totally boring (although some might think so) but because it is rare to have the opportunity to share with fiber-centric friends.On a side note, last Tuesday I attended a meeting of the Spinners and Flaxers Guild here in Fort Wayne. The program was a hands-on demonstration of tablet or card weaving. We didn't have time to finish our sample projects, so I'[...]

Spinning dervish


Ever since renewing my spinning skills (such as they are), I have been trying to cement them to memory. Now I can say, "I am a spinner" instead of "I have a wheel and lots of roving". Just in time, as I have been invited to a "spin in" this Friday.Most of this is mystery yarn, meaning I can't recall where the roving came from. The first two I spun about halfway through the roving before abandoning it for some reason. The white is quite soft.The brown is quite course. It might be from Audrey and Duncan.This taupe came out kind of fluffy.These three natural colors go quite well together, I think.I know where the roving for this one came from: the Big Red Barn. They combine roving of pre-selected colors for the color-challenged (like me) into "roses", to be blended by the purchaser. I actually blended and spun the yarn a while ago but didn't get it all plied. I took it with me to the remedial spinning lesson, to refresh my plying skills.My pledge going forward is to do a better job labeling roving so I know what it is and where it came from. This also means labeling the yarn after it comes off the spool, so I know how much is there, in both yards and weight and (ideally) wraps-per-inch. Record keeping is all part of the fun and creates a story behind the yarn. [...]

Neverending scarf


At least that is how I felt while weaving this pink, gray, and black scarf. I was aiming for about 72", it came out 83", not a ridiculous length. I was also aiming for something more plaid instead of checkerboard, but I'm satisfied.

Loom: Ashford SampleIt
Yarn: Green Mountain Spinnery New Mexico Organic (gray), Lion Brand Lion Cashmere Blend (black), Manos del Uruguay Maxima (pink)
EPI: 7.5
PPI: 8
Warp: 8 pink, 2 black, 8 gray, 2 black, 8 pink, 2 black, 8 gray, 2 black, 8 pink
Weft: same pattern as warp

This project is the first time I tried hemstitiching, which I think worked out well. It is also the first time for twisted fringe, which turned out... odd. I twisted and tied the ends before washing when I think it might have been better to do it after, as the different yarns ended up different lengths.

The only error I could find was midway, where I duplicated the gray block instead of alternating with a pink one. Also, I missed one pair of black weft rows, but I was able to weave that in after it came off the loom. I thought I saw a float but can't find it now, so it must be invisible.

I've been busy, busy, busy lately with a new dog and with SPINNING! I returned to my spinning teacher for a remedial lesson and Betty got me going again. I'm really enjoying it.

Had to try it


While perusing The Weaver's Inkle Pattern Directory, by Anne Dixon, I came across a description of tubular inkle weaving. Most knitters are familiar with idiot cord, or i-cord. This is basically the same thing: the shuttle goes in the same side instead of back and forth between sides, creating a tube or round cord. Of course, I had to try this out.

I wanted three stripes of equal width, and thought I needed the same color on both sides of the tape in order for the weft to be invisible. I warped 2-5-5-3 in green, yellow, pink, green, all in Maysville 8/4 carpet warp. This worked out great, although splitting the green may have been unnecessary since I was wefting from only one side.

I chose a short warp length, which still produced almost five feet of cord. The colors spiral naturally, although part of the "rhythm" of tubular weaving includes giving the tape a little twist. One can do an S-twist or a Z-twist.

A possible use for tubes of weaving is as shoelaces, although I think 8/2 would be a better yarn size to use for this purpose. Other uses I can think of off the top of my head are spiral bowls and round coasters. Any more ideas out there?