Thursday, December 31, 2009

Well, I'm not much for year-end wrap up posts, but tonight as I was tidying up my books for my contract spinning gig, I realized just how much yarn I have spun for Tanglewood Fiber Creations this year.

I spun a total of 689.5 ounces.

That is 43.1 pounds.

And that doesn't even include my personal spinning projects.

Holy guacamole.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Now see, this is why I need to keep up with the blogging. I finished another big weaving project this fall, and I can't even remember what month it was. I think it was mid October. Could have been November. Honestly, the past couple months have been a gray blur.

One fun thing about this project was that I finally got to use my end-feed shuttle, which I bought two years ago and haven't done more that play around with. I tried it a couple times, but either the weft yarn was too thick, or the warp was too narrow, or I was scared of winding the pirns, or whatever. I finally worked out some of the kinks with this project. It really does help with the selvedges, especially in combination with using a temple. In this case, my high-tech temple consisted of a weight tied to a string, hanging off a paperclip, hooked into the edge of the web. Worked a treat.

Anyway, here are some pictures. This was a two-shawl warp, of 2/18 super fine merino, threaded in a point twill pattern of my own devising. Both shawls used the same threading, but had different treadlings. The warp sett was 25 epi, and the weft about the same. The weft was mostly the same 2/18 wool as the warp, with accent stripes of handspun, the hand dyed merino/silk singles I spun a couple years ago and named Sapphire and Amethyst.

The first shawl used the Sapphire singles, that I first used for the fancy twill shawl.

I put five stripes of the blue, of varying widths, at each end. A bit fiddly to change weft yarns that often, but I like the results.

The diamond pattern of the twill is the same across the entire shawl, I just placed the stripes at different points in the treadling to take advantage of the parts of the pattern and create variation in how the stripes look. Overall, a success.

The second shawl used the Amethyst singles, first used to make the triple bird's eye shawl.

For this shawl, I took a little different approach. There is a ground pattern of a fairly simple diamond twill, but the wider accent stripes use a different treadling. The tie-up is still the same, just the treadling changed. I also made the accents different at each end, just for interest.

The left side has three stripes, the narrower of which are the same treadling as the background diamonds, with the wide center stripe using one repeat of the modified treadling. The other end of the shawl has two full repeats of the modified treadling.

I wasn't sure how this would look, but I think it works. I really like it.

And here's the commercial:
These will be available in my Etsy shop, once I get some better pictures.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

So here I go. I'm working through the backlog of photos from the past couple blogless months, and I think I'll start with the earliest ones.

In early October Emma and I went with my dad to a family reunion in Phoenix, Arizona. My great-aunt (my maternal grandmother's sister) was celebrating her 90th birthday, and family from near and far gathered. The familial relationships were complicated- there were first cousins, first cousins once removed (two different sets, different generations, from different branches), second cousins, aunts and uncles, and great-aunts and great-uncles. I haven't seen some of these people in thirty years, and some I had never met before. It was fun. There were a lot of us there, about 30 I think, and it was tricky to keep everyone straight. There were four generations of my mother's extended family line represented. I so wish my mom and grandmother could have been there.

Emma and I drove to Salt Lake City and met Dad, then we drove together in his car to Phoenix. I've never traveled in the Southwest at all, except fast along I-40 when we moved to Washington, and was awed by the scenery. We drove over the Hoover Dam, which was quite impressive,

and we got a good view of the construction of the new road bridge downstream of the dam, too.

Salt Lake to Phoenix was a VERY long day, through very pretty country. I've said it before, and I'll say it again - the United States is a beautiful land of incredible variety. I regretted the fact that this was to be such a flying fast trip, just a long weekend, and there was no time to stop and look at things more closely.

The most exciting thing for me about Arizona was the cactus. Prickly pear, barrel, cholla, organpipe, and I don't know what all. Very cool. And you know what?

Saguaro really exist!! They are tall and they branch, and are fantastically real. Did you know that they have to be 50-75 years old before they branch for the first time? Amazing. And sobering. The desert is a fragile ecosystem.

After the birthday party/reunion, Dad and Emma and I took a different route back to Salt Lake City. We went north to check out this famous landmark of the southwest we'd heard about a time or two. You may have heard of it as well....

After we'd been driving a while, we started noticing this big crack in the ground.

It just kept getting bigger and bigger, and was joined by more and more cracks, and eventually we saw this near a parking lot.

We got out of the car to see what we could see, and...


Great merciful heavens.

There really are no words.

The Grand Canyon is something that everyone should see at least once in their lifetime.

We saw a tiny little piece of the South Rim (that's the Desert View Watchtower, above) for a tiny short time, and it was still a breathtaking sight that I will always remember.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Nothing since OCTOBER? Two and a half months since I posted? Really? I think this is the first time in my five years as a blogger that I have actually missed an entire calendar month.

Bad blogger.

I have been doing things, really I have. November was a weirdly disjointed and apathetic month, as was December, and though I was doing things I mostly felt like hibernating. I'm kind of glad that we're almost to a new year, a new decade, and a fresh start. Even though December 31 to January 1 is only one day following another, it seems like it should be a time to take a deep breath and start again. Or whatever.

There has been weaving, and spinning, and knitting, and crocheting, and even traveling. Lots of good stuff, eminently bloggable, I just haven't done it.

Baby steps, right? Posting tonight is a start. Not every post has to be in depth and profound. I just need to overcome inertia and go.

See you tomorrow!

Monday, October 05, 2009

I finished weaving off the 8-yard bookmark warp, plus another 2-yard warp. Actually, I finished these more than a week ago, but just haven't gotten around to photographing them. I've been busy doing contract spinning and trying to live with and around and through sorrow. Thank you to everyone for the kind comments on my last post.

Weaving these was so much fun. They're relatively fast, and varying the treadling with almost every bookmark meant that there was always something creative going on.

They looked so pretty all rolled up on the cloth beam, and then there was the delightful moment when I cut the warp off the back beam and saw them all together.

If you want to practice your hemstitching, put a bookmark warp on the loom. I got 29 bookmarks (of varying lengths, depending on the treadling pattern) out of the 8-yard warp, and another five out of the 2-yard warp, which means that I hemstitched 68 ends. I've always enjoyed hemstitching, and I got very fast at it.

Much of the warp used various colors of mercerized cotton as weft. I have five colors of fine cotton, and used them alone and in combination:
  • red alone
  • orange alone
  • alternating picks of red and orange
  • blue alone (doubled as it's very fine)
  • gray alone (doubled as it's very fine)
  • alternating picks of doubled blue and gray
  • single strands of blue and gray held together
  • brown alone
  • alternating picks of brown and red

I also did a batch with silk weft, some plain white for elegance (I just love the white on white patterned shine)

and some with a bright kelly green that I dyed. I also overdyed some of the finished bookmarks.

Left to right, these are white on white silk overdyed deep forest green, gray cotton weft overdyed purple, kelly green silk weft overdyed turquoise, orange cotton weft overdyed scarlet, and white on white silk overdyed scarlet.

The overdying worked just as I planned. Since I use Jacquard acid dyes, the cotton wefts didn't change color, only the silk warp. The gray cotton stayed gray, and the orange cotton stayed orange. The colored silk weft, the kelly green one, did change with the overdying but it is still greener than the turquoise warp, as planned. The finished bookmarks look beautifully rich and glowing. I especially like the purple and gray one.

I also did a batch with the green singles linen that I used before. I finished them the same as before, with a hot hot soak until the dye stopped leaving the linen, then setting it into the silk with citric acid and the microwave. I really like this look.

After I finished the 8-yard warp, I immediately measured out another out of the same 20/2 silk yarn. This one was only two yards but I dyed it a lovely medium forest green. I measured the warp before dyeing, and also put a skein of the same yarn in the dye pot to use as weft. Actually, I put the weft yarn in first, so that it would go slightly darker than the warp, then left them both in the kettle overnight to cool down and fully exhaust the dyebath.

These five bookmarks from the 2-yard warp are all 100% silk, and I think they are my favorites so far. The three on the left have the slightly darker forest green silk as weft, and the two on the right have white silk as weft.

(Photographing all this shiny silk has been a challenge.)

I had a thought as I was weaving all these bookmarks, especially the green warp. I'm making ribbon. This actually looks like ribbon! Handmade ribbon!

The commercial: These will all be listed in my Etsy shop. If you see one you want, email me, as they will be listed over several days.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Today is a sore heart day.

My mother-in-law lost her battle with cancer and passed away early this morning. A year and three months from diagnosis.

I don't know what to say. It's not fair.

Everyone hug someone you love today.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Dear metastatized melanoma cancer cells that today were declared untreatable and are killing my mother in law:

You suck.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

OK, so I've not been in a blogging mood recently. Obviously. I even missed my own 5th blogiversary back on the 18th. It's been a stressful little while here, what with the severe reduction in my hours at work, and Shaun's nine-month University contract schedule which means that he doesn't start getting paid again until Oct. 1. Next week can't come fast enough.

Anyway, the whole taking pictures and downloading them and resizing them and posting them and composing the text of a post has seemed like an ordeal, one that I didn't have enough energy to contemplate, even though I have several projects I'd like to share. I actually finally got to it this afternoon, though, and would like to show you this:

Regular sock yarn, pretty, soft, 75% superwash merino, 25% nylon, blah blah blah. Looks like regular sock yarn skeins. Pretty but seen everywhere across the interwebs.

However, this sock yarn looked like this before it grew up into pretty twisted skeins:

I- me personally- MADE this sock yarn. This is the Fiber Optic pencil roving (colorway Superstition) that I purchased and started spinning at Sock Summit. I spun these skeins on a SPINDLE!

To say that I am proud of this yarn would be an understatement.

It looks like regular 3-ply sock yarn. It is squooshy and soft and has a nice bouncy firm twist. I made it on a SPINDLE!

Each skein is 56 grams. One skein measured at 220 yards, and the other at 230 yards, which in my book is an acceptable variation, given the inaccuracy of measuring yardage on a niddy-noddy. The singles were spun on my Spindlewood square mini, and I chain-plied it on my wheel.

I preserved the color sequence of the roving between the two skeins, since the pencil roving was dyed with two strands held together. I spun each starting from the same end, and since each half of the roving took two spindlefuls, when I transferred the cops to the storage bobbin, I rewound them twice to maintain the proper directionality. I hope to get similar striping patterns when I knit the socks.

I don't know if I'll be able to bear to walk in the socks, though!

Monday, September 14, 2009

I seem to be on a weaving kick right now. I just finished up a batch of bookmarks:

This was a fun and easy project, and quite gratifying. I did this entire project yesterday, all the way from measuring the warp to ironing the finished bookmarks. The warp is 20/2 silk, and the wefts are various. Left to right, they are:
The purple and blue were plied to match the size of the warp yarn. I just did up little bits on a spindle, about 15 yards or so for each. A bookmark doesn't take much! I didn't even wet the yarns to reactivate the singles twist and balance the yarn after plying. I didn't want to wait for them to dry, so I just used them with active twist and the curling bookmark flattened out like magic when I wet-finished it.

The gold bookmark was originally to be green weft and white warp, but when I tested a piece of the linen yarn, it started losing dye (thank goodness I tested!). So I cut it off before wet-finishing the rest. The other four I finished normally (warm soapy water, moderate agitation, warm rinse, blot in a towel, iron firmly) and they came out great. I love the way wet-finishing really completes a piece of weaving. Especially silk- ironing really brings out the shine.

For the green one, though, I decided that if it wanted to bleed, well then let it bleed. I soaked it in a jar of hot water with a drop of dish soap, and shook it vigorously and repeatedly. When the soak water stopped getting darker, I added some citric acid, shook it up again, and microwaved it for three rounds of three minutes, waiting about five minutes in between. I was hoping that the silk warp would absorb the excess dye from the weft.

It worked! After the bookmark was cool, I rinsed it in hot water and no dye came out. Yay! I actually like the overdyed version better than the original white and green. The silk warp turned greeny-gold, and the linen weft turned antique bronze. It actually looks metallic, with the shine from the silk.

These are all from one 2-yard warp, with the same threading, tie-up, and warp sett (34 epi). The white and purple even have the same treadling; the difference in the look of the pattern comes from the density of the weft packing. The white one is very dense, to the point of being stiff (14 pattern repeats), while the purple one is a bit more drapey (6 pattern repeats). The other three each have a different treadling.

The draft is one I made up. The first treadling (white and purple bookmarks) was the one that I came up with at the computer while planning the project, and the other three I made up at the loom as I was weaving. Both ends of each bookmark are hemstitched.

I like them all, but I have to admit that I'm partial to the white one. It's weighty and substantial, and the white-on-white is so elegant.

Because these are made with fine yarns, they are all nice and flat and thin- one of my prime requirements for a bookmark, so that it doesn't damage the spine of the book. I enjoyed doing this so much that I immediately put another bookmark warp on the loom. Eight yards! Look for bookmarks in my Etsy shop...

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I had a quick weaving project on the go over the past couple weeks, to put in my Etsy shop.

Quick in terms of time actually spent working on it, that is. I did most of it (measuring the warp, sleying, threading, beaming, and weaving) in two days during the week before Sock Summit. I just got around to twisting the fringe yesterday. So it was a three day weaving project, spread over three weeks.

The warp is Jaggerspun Superfine Merino 18/2, and the weft is my own handspun; the Strawberry-Rhubarb laceweight that I spun from top purchased from the Zarzuela's Fibers Etsy shop last year.

Warp: 18/2 merino, used double (4 oz, plus 0.6 oz loom waste)
Weft: handspun merino laceweight, bought as hand dyed top (45 wpi, used 1.7 oz)
12 epi (remember the warp threads are doubled)
on the loom measurements: 14" x 75"
finished measurements: 13" x 70", with 5" twisted fringe

The pattern is one from A Weaver's Book of 8-Shaft Patterns. I quite like the way it came out.

I do like the "right side", the side I was looking at as I wove, more than the reverse, though. It's the one on the right in the picture above, and looks like a diagonal basketweave, while the reverse is a very subtle zigzaggy pattern. They're both nice, but the basketweave pops more.

I also really like the way the weft works in the piece. The marled yarn and its long sections of subtly shifting color intensities is really pretty.

And it's long enough and wide enough to be worn as a stole,

as a regular scarf,

or (my favorite) as a doubled-and-looped-through scarf.

The fabric is lightweight enough that even folded in half width-wise, then doubled and looped, as in that last picture, it doesn't feel overly bulky, just snuggly and cozy.

Using my own handspun is incredibly satisfying.

Monday, August 24, 2009

I've been doing a lot of spinning in the past couple years, and when I sat down to my wheel on Saturday afternoon, I realized that it was getting hard to treadle. I started troubleshooting- it wasn't wood rubbing on wood from the treadle and it wasn't the drive wheel sticking since it would spin freely when the drive band was off. I narrowed it down to the flyer mechanism, specifically the bearing hub that carries the back end of the flyer spindle in the back support. The shaft itself was also a bit draggy and the bobbin didn't spin as freely as I would like.

I took the rear hub off and cleaned it by flushing WD-40 through it. It worked really well to hold it at an angle and use the straw attachment on the can to spray in the top of the front and let the WD-40 run through and out the bottom of the front. I did it several times, and the black gunk and fiber dust that came out was incredible. I've never cleaned inside this piece before, so it's likely that this is the first time it's been cleaned in 21 years.

While I was at it, I also used some 0000 steel wool and WD-40 on the flyer shaft to smooth out any gummy spots.

Then, I figured since I had the wheel in the garage, I might as well clean the drive wheel axle. Since it was there, you know. Before I knew it, my wheel looked like this:

I partially disassembled it so I could more easily access the main hub and bearing. I ended up not taking the drive wheel completely off, since the pin through the hub into the axle was really firmly in place and I didn't want to damage anything, but other than that, this wheel is really easy to break down and put back together. I flushed the brass bearing with WD-40 (more gunk! yay!) and gave all the wood a coat of Danish Oil, since it's been a year and a half since the wood has been treated.

Hello, beautiful...

This is my favorite part of the wheel. The walnut inlay is so pretty.

So that was my unexpected Saturday. I didn't plan to take my wheel completely apart, but I'm glad I did. Sunday, I had a marathon spinning session, spinning 24 ounces (a pound and a half!) of fine cashmere singles in ~8 effortless hours. The time spent thoroughly cleaning the wheel was well worth it.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

I finally finished plying my green sweater yarn yesterday. This was stalled for a long time, but once I actually sat down to do it, I finished all the plying in one night.

Amazingly enough, this is the sum total of leftover singles.

Two of the final three balls came out exactly even(!), and the remaining one only had 7 grams on it, which I chain-plyed into a 10-yard mini-skein.

After a quick swim in the tub, and a swing on the clothesline on a sunny afternoon,

I ended up with this lovely pile of loveliness.

I have 1850 yards (44 oz) of 3-ply, in twelve skeins, which poofed up a bit more than anticipated when washed. I'm not exactly sure why that happened, as I did sample, and I treated the sample the same as the final yarn. I think maybe my singles got just a smidge thicker than my sample, as I was long-drawing with delicious abandon and thinking "not laceweight! not laceweight!"

It's extremely springy and boingy, and will make a wonderful sweater, though I may have to rethink the extensive cabling I had planned. I think that might make the sweater too heavy. Perhaps a plain stockinette background, with one cable up the front and sleeves or around the neck. Must think...