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Two Knitted Scarves

I have been away from home quite a bit so wanted some small knitting projects to have with me.  Plus, I just didn’t feel like launching into another sweater right away, although I have the patterns and yarn selected for a couple that I want to do.

First up was another Squirrel Cowl, which is my own pattern and available on Ravelry.  I used some hand dyed yarn that I bought a couple of years ago up in Vancouver BC at Sweet Georgia Yarns.  This is the dyers’ studio and operations office, but they do have a retail storefront there as well.  You can also get their yarns at many retailers in the U.S. and Canada.

The pattern calls for fingering/4-ply yarn on a US 5 needle.  I wanted to verify that the yardage I used was consistent with the pattern (as well as to have another cowl to wear), so I weighed the balls of yarn before and after and used that to calculate the yardage used.  I wound up using about 260 yd/75 gm of their Cashluxe Fine as color A – 70% superwash merino, 20% cashmere and 10% nylon in a dark teal semi-solid called “Riptide”.  For color B I used about 200 yd/62 gm of their Silk Crush – 50% superwash merino, 50% silk in a variegated colorway called “Stormchaser”.  So I think I am safe to stick with the requirement of 250 yds of each color for yarns with about 180 yds to 50 gm in the pattern.  This was Variation 2 of the pattern charts.

I also wanted to make the Reverse Psychology scarf by Mindy Ross after seeing the one a friend made.  It is written for a color gradient yarn and has bead placement on both edges and sometimes across the scarf.  My friend just used 3 different colors of fingering weight yarn and no beads, and it looks great.  So I did the same, using 3 colors of Koigu PPM that I had in stash.  Just change to a new color when running low on the old one (we both did this after doing one of the partial bind-offs with the old color, and then joining in the new color to finish that row).

Very fun and interestingly shaped scarf, here it is on the blocking mats and then draped on a mannequin.  It seems to drape a little differently depending on what edge you put against your neck, but I think they both look good!

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Spinning Camp 2017

It’s been almost 3 weeks since I got back from another wonderful week on Orcas Island, immersed in spinning and dyeing with Judith MacKenzie and about 20 participants.  For the third year in a row, I have gone over with 2 friends from the valley.  Somehow we manage to squeeze our spinning wheels, tools, fiber, personal belongings and ourselves into my Honda CR-V and journey across the mountains and onto the ferry at Anacortes.  There you are, you know who you are!

The theme this year was “Colorful Ewe” and this meant exploring many ways to bring color into our spinning, with and without a dye pot.

On the first day we each chose a bag of “scrap fiber” that Judith had put together – bits of spinning fiber, both commercial and JM-dyed, mostly wool or wool/silk blends.  We were asked to spin a singles, using whichever method worked for the fiber prep, and changing colors fairly often.  Ideas of what to do with the singles:  (1) ply off multiple bobbins to even out the color and diameter, (2) spin to the left and then make a boucle onto a silk or rayon thread, then make a compound boucle in the opposite direction, (3) ply with a solid color.  I chose the latter and she had merino top in a variety of colors to work with for the solid.

My bag of “scrap” fiber

Finished the skein after returning home

On Day 2 she laid out a circle of dyed merino tops (see photo above) to show us a technique for making a marled yarn from 5 colors.  You hold 3 of the colors at a time across your hand and spin back and forth, from side to side, making sure to spin 2 colors together for a bit at each transition.  Then drop one of the colors and add in a new one at the other side.  You can make a 2-ply, and optionally overtwist the 2-ply to make a cabled yarn to get even more color mixing.  I have done this exercise in the past so skipped it (worsted spinning also not being my strong point…) but she did suggest lashing the 3 colors onto mini-combs to open up the fibers and make it easier to hold for spinning, if it is a struggle.

This day she also had us do an over-dyeing exercise to explore “The Harmony of Dominant Hue”.  We made pigtail bundles of a variety of commercial yarns (different colors and textures but all  protein fibers) that absolutely did not go together!  They set up mason jars with different dye colors to drop our bundles into for overdyeing.

JM’s samples – all were the same yarns

Project underway

A bonus of this exercise for me was the dye left in the mason jars.  I had brought some washed mohair locks that I wanted to dye in various colors and small quantities, to use in drumcarding wool batts for color and fiber accents.  So I got them soaking in a bucket and later that evening we dropped them into the jars and surrounding cookers.  I also did some later over in the “dye cabin” using up leftover dyepots, and by the end of the workshop I had a nice variety of colors.

Over the next couple of days, Judith also gave us lots of information and samples from lichen dyeing, and we compiled a little notebook with her notes, lichen samples and dyed yarn samples.  I didn’t get any pictures but it was very informative.

Another color exercise was making your own gradient yarn from a multicolor hand-dyed braid, instead of just spinning the color sequence the dyer had created.  She broke the braid up into color groups, from dark to light.

Then split the piles in half and spun 2 singles from dark to light.  When plied in the same order, the 2-ply is your own gradient created from the colors of a braid you loved for the color.

Here’s mine laid out and then the finished yarn.  I added a bit of solid colored merino to augment the color/shade sequence (especially the lemon yellow at the end).  This was fun and I can see doing it again with a full 4-oz or so braid (we only had about 1 oz to play with).

The other dye project I had in mind was to dye some fine 25-micron wool skeins (merino type) to use for weaving.  This we wound up doing in a steam table, and as usual I hovered and Judith worked her magic for me.  I wanted a “semi-solid” effect, i.e. not stripes of color across the skeins, and as it turned out we also got a gradient of color from skein to skein.  We were using Judith’s dyes (weak-acid super milling dyes for protein fibers) and we used lots of vinegar to make sure the colors struck fast and didn’t migrate around and make a mud pie in the dye bath.  She gently poked and lifted the skeins with a chopstick to make sure there were no “white spots” and that the dye worked its way down through all the fiber.

Pre-soaked and laid lengthwise and side-by-side in the steam table tray

Starting to add color at one side

Each one had a transition from the previous one and then went into a new color

My beautiful finished skeins!

It may be a while, but you will see these show up in scarves and/or shawls.

 

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Knitting FO’s

Finished Objects, that is.

I have had a run on my Mosaic Mojo hats up at the Winthrop Gallery, so decided to dig into the box of miscellaneous hat knitting yarn and whip out a couple more.  I knit all 3 of these in the last week or so (they take me about 6 hours each).

These have been kind of fun to do again so I may have a couple more in me before winter is completely over.

The big project last month was finishing a sweater before I went to spinning camp on Orcas Island.  Even though it wasn’t knit from handspun yarn!  I bought the yarn 10 years ago from Island Fibers on Lopez Island (part of the San Juan Islands chain in Washington State, along with Orcas Island).  Maxine always has a selection of spinning fiber and yarn at our event.  The wool was from local sheep on Lopez and had been spun at Taos Wool Mill to a woolen 3-ply.   Then it sat in storage until last year – 2016 spinning camp – when Judith helped me dye it a wonderful moss/lichen green color.  So I was determined to make a sweater out of it before this year’s camp.  I quite literally finished it the day before we left.

The Rainforest Sweater 2017

I didn’t have enough of my green yarn to do the whole thing, so I knit the bottom and sleeve borders with some Koigu sock yarn I had in stash, held with a strand of Jaggerspun Zephyr wool/silk to beef it up a bit.

The pattern is from a new electronic publication from Interweave Knits – knit.wear Wool Studio.  You buy the pattern collection as a PDF file and then can download and print whatever you want.  There are several patterns in there that I like, and this one is called “Truro Pullover” by Amanda Scheuzger.  It is knit in one piece from the bottom up, and the most fiddly bits are up around the short rows for the front neck and beyond.  One thing I really liked about this pattern is the shoulder shaping – besides the raglan line, there are decreases along the top of the sleeve from just below the shoulder up to the neck.  This makes it sit very nicely over the shoulder and is an idea I plan to incorporate into my next top-down raglan.

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I have been gone a lot the last couple of weeks, having experienced two different workshops that were almost back-to-back.  Now home again, a little tired but full of new ideas and with workshop projects to finish up, I thought I would post today about the first one.

This was a 3-day workshop organized by the Seattle Weavers’ Guild and held at the Nordic Heritage Museum in Ballard (a neighborhood in north Seattle).  It was with Kathrin Weber from North Carolina, a professional weaver and dyer since the 1970’s.  More recently she has been teaching a lot and selling her hand-painted warps through her website and Facebook page (Blazing Shuttles).  All of her warps are cellulose fibers.  This particular workshop was called “Focus on the Warp” and was about how to use hand-painted warps in an intuitive manner, composing on the loom – it did not include dyeing.

We brought our looms to the class with a dummy warp to tie on to, and threaded for a straight draw.  I was using my little Macomber model CP “Baby Mac” loom.  300 threads, 2 threads per dent and I used a 10-dent reed so I had a 15″ wide warp.

The first thing we saw when coming in to class the first morning was an array of beautiful warps and many woven samples.  The warps were made for the workshop and had 100 threads each and were 4-1/2 yards long.  Most of the first morning involved a presentation of her method for combining multiple warps on the loom, and how the various samples had been woven using such a warp.

Next we each chose 3 warps for our own project for a total of 300 threads.  I chose two colored cotton chains, and one of dark charcoal rayon slub.

Here is someone else’s choice, which I thought was really pretty:

The warps are tied on in two steps, first all the evens (harnesses 2,4 and 6,8 if you have them) and then all the odds (harnesses 1,3 and 5,7 if you have them).  The first step uses all three warps in a fairly simple stripe pattern (doesn’t have to be symmetrical).  Then the second step is composed relative to what you did in the first step.  Whenever two colors alternate on odd and even harnesses it gives you an opportunity for a block design when weaving.  When the same color falls on both odds and evens, it will be a stripe when weaving.  It was a lot to keep in your head, especially the first time doing this, and not totally understanding the implications of what you came up with.

There were a lot of tips, including how to take apart her warps, hold them in your hand for tieing on, tie on efficiently and securely, separate out the unused part of warp to use later without making a tangled mess, etc.

My step 1 (evens) tied on:

Steps 1 and 2 completed and ready to wind on:

Then came how to wind on evenly and neatly without making yet another big tangled mess!  This was “only” 4-1/2 yards, some of the warps she sells are 7-1/2 or 10-1/2 yards.

Some other people’s warps were more free-form than mine and I admired them:

By the end of the second day, most people had their warps on and and were ready to start weaving samples.  She gave us several things to try: plain weave in two different weft weights, repp weave to bring out the block structures, turned taquete showing block structures, and twill.  Here were her samples all woven on the same composed warp.

Plain weave with a thin black weft:

Plain weave with a thicker black weft (more of a ribbed texture):

Repp weave (alternating thick and thin in black,  switching between blocks randomly, not completely warp faced):

4-harness turned taquete, again alternating between blocks:

8-harness turned taquete:

Twill:

I got through the repp weave sample on the third day, and will have to finish up the others here at home.  Then I should still have enough warp left on the loom to weave some placemats or runners (with the rayon in there, I think not towels).

This was very interesting and stimulating!  Her warps are beautiful and I can see using some of the tencel ones for scarves and shawls.  I will have to work on how to produce some of my own warps from wool and silk yarns.

Here is a shawl woven by a former student/customer, using one of her tencel hand-painted warps (color changes along the length of the pre-wound warp) combined with black stripes and other stripes using a warp wound from hand-painted yarn (color changes around the skein and is more homogenous when wound into a warp).

 

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When it snows…

In a push to finish UFO’s, I completed a knitted scarf that I started sometime last year.  It was about 2/3 done but falling farther and farther towards the bottom of the knitting bag.  The pattern is Noro Knots by the Irish designer Kieran Foley.  I knit one of these about 3 years ago using Noro Kureyon Sock and have found it to be very wearable, so I decided to make another one using Noro Silk Garden Sock in a colorway I really liked (#272).  For both of these I did 6 repeats of the charts, not 5 (well actually, on this one I worked only through chart C on the 6th repeat).  Very happy with it!

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In January I bought a WooLee Winder for my Jensen Tina II spinning wheel.  I like the wheel but was having trouble getting used to having to move the spun singles from hook to hook on the flyer.  I haven’t had a wheel with hooks for a long time.  The Majacraft Little Gem has a sliding eyelet, much like a Lendrum, and for the Hansencraft Minispinner the standard flyers have a sliding eyelet (you don’t even need to pinch and slide, just give it a little nudge with your finger).  I also have the WooLee Winder for the Hansencraft spinner and love it, especially for plying.

I was kind of on the fence about ordering this for the Jensen wheel, as it had gotten mixed reviews on the Jensen Ravelry group.  Some people love it and others have had trouble getting it to work right.  The flyer has a level-wind mechanism in one arm, much like a fishing reel, and it moves up and down evenly feeding singles onto the bobbin as you spin.

Anyway, mine works great in both double-drive and Scotch tension modes and it is making the eternal spinning project go much faster and more enjoyably!  I only bought 2 bobbins as I always wind the singles off onto plastic storage bobbins anyway, for later plying.

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We got a lot of snow the last couple of days, at least 10 inches I would say.

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Cats roasting by the (not so) open fire….

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I decided to put a short warp on my 32″ Macomber and do our weaving guild annual “challenge” project just to put it behind me and be ready when we share our efforts at the April meeting.  The theme this year is Lace and everyone signed up for a different kind of woven lace, breaking into study groups.  Three of us chose to do a project based on an article by Jane Evans in the May/June 2000 Handwoven magazine.  It allows you to weave motifs in Bronson lace using a “split shed” technique on 3 shafts, instead of pickup sticks.  You can either weave a lace motif against a plain weave background, or a plain weave motif embedded in a lace background.

It sounds intriguing and definitely a challenge!  But after reading through the method again I realized I will never in a million years actually choose to use this for a project, so have decided to do just a small sample to try it out and fulfill my obligation for this year’s challenge.  That meant putting on only a 1-yard warp in 20/2 pearl cotton.

These days I almost always warp my looms using my AVL Warping Wheel, which allows me to put a warp on the sectional beam with even tension, and without needing a tension box and multiple spools, then thread and sley from back to front.  But I can’t do that for a warp shorter than a couple of yards.  So I decided to try out Laura Fry’s method for putting a warp (wound on a conventional warping board or reel) onto the back beam under even tension, then threading and sleying from the front as I am used to.  This is shown in her DVD The Efficient Weaver.

Quickly realized that this warp is too short even for that, as it will not be wound onto the back beam at all.  So there seemed no point in trying out her way of rough-sleying a reed to act as a raddle and warp spreader at the front of the loom as you wind on.  I wound up just tieing the cross end onto the back apron rod so I could pull on it as I thread.  The lease sticks are suspended from two string cradles – actually the stick closest to the back rod is suspended, then the two are fastened together so as not to fall out.  Got this idea from Nadine Sanders’ “Warping on a Shoestring” DVD.

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This One’s For You, D.

We had friends over for dinner recently and D. gave me a bad time about the blog, pointing out that my most recent post was from the end of October.  Well OK, I guess you have a point.  It was a busy time up until the end of December, and I guess I have fallen out of the habit!

20 rugs and counting

Since my last post, I have woven 20 rugs.  Mostly these were in a push to have more things for sale at the 2 galleries over the holiday period, for our annual weaving guild sale in November, and also Rick and I were invited to have work up at The Gallery at Sun Mountain Lodge by our friends who curate that space.  Rick had a live-edge walnut mirror up there which subsequently sold, and I have 3 rugs hanging on the walls.  They will be there through sometime in April when the lodge closes for the shoulder season.

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Did 4-5 in these blue & gray colors:

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Got into some black & white and bright colors (more than one rug):

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These 3 are from just last week and are now at Confluence Gallery:r305

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8 More shawls… and some placemats

I finished the 4 purple shawls towards the end of October, then put on one more warp to weave another four of the blue/black shawls that had proven to be very popular….

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After I finished the shawls, I put on a warp for more placemats using the “thick ‘n’ thin” method with cotton fabric strips and a slub yarn.  During December and early January I wove 12 placemats and a runner on that warp, but haven’t gotten any pictures yet.

Knitting

Once the weaving push was over, I realized I had only a couple of my Mosaic Mojo Hats up at Winthrop Gallery for the holiday sales.  I hadn’t knit any of these for a year and it was fun to rummage through the yarn boxes and come up with a few new ones.  Well, six to be exact.  I worked on these in December and when in Seattle for Christmas week.

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I also knit something for myself!  Brush Creek Cowlette by Carina Spencer using hand-dyed yarns from Marianated Yarns that I bought at knitting retreat the first weekend of November.  The yarn base is Scrumptious HT (80% merino, 20% cashmere) – she had yarn kits that had been broken up and I was able to choose 1/3 skeins (33 gm) of 3 colors, which was just comfortably enough.  I also modified the pattern by adding 2 more pattern repeats to make the neck opening bigger before joining in the round for the second and third colors.  I love this thing and wear it all the time!

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Annual guild sale

Methow Valley Spinners & Weavers Guild annual show and sale was the weekend before Thanksgiving.  As usual, Sara Ashford did a wonderful job of organizing and decorating and the room looked so colorful.  It was a big success and is one of my best opportunities to sell directly to the public each year.

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Snow!!

It has been a dry winter but very cold (like getting up in the morning to -17F).  But a few weeks ago we finally got a decent amount of snow.  Then it warmed up and melted off the roofs in great thundering WHUMPS!! but we still have at least 2 ft on the ground.

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Squirrel Cowl Published

I finally took the time to publish my cowl pattern for sale on Ravelry a couple of weeks ago.  Last fall I wrote up the pattern, and taught a class down at Twisted Knitters in Twisp.  Just hadn’t gotten around to the final step on Ravelry.  It is a “sequence knitting” project and is called Squirrel Cowl.  Somehow the phrase “sequence spiral” morphed into “squirrel” in my brain!  Now I think of it as watching 2 squirrels chase each other up a pine tree, around and around and upward they go.

and on into 2017…

Still have rug warp on the big loom.  The small loom at home sits empty but I am contemplating a new scarf project.  The loom at the guild room also sits empty but I think I will put a towel warp on that one – just not sure what yet.   I “frogged” (rip-it, rip-it) 2 sweaters that just weren’t going anywhere, re-skeined and soaked the yarn to get the kinks out, and now one of them is in the process of its new incarnation.

Trying to take time for TLC on the old body and its lower back issues!  Enjoy our home in the Methow, cope with family issues that have been ongoing since September and keep looking forward and upward.

Take care, all.

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October already?

I knew I hadn’t posted for a while. but it looks like it has been over a month – good grief!  Some family stuff has come up, but I have been weaving too so here is an update:

Rugs for the “Hearth” exhibit at Confluence Gallery, which ran for about 5 weeks and ended on October 8.  Some of these pictures go back to the last half of August, as I was getting inventory together for the show.  They sold 11 rugs and 2 shawls for me, which was wonderful!  Rick also sold his coffee table with the antique grate in the top.

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Rugs for the “Ponderosa Pine” show at Winthrop Gallery, which just came down this week.  Sold two of these, plus a shawl.

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Custom order rugs, wider at 36″ instead of my usual 32″ wide:

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Another set of mohair & boucle shawls, in a warp colorway I am calling “Blue Parrot”:

Blue Parrot warp on the loom

Blue Parrot warp on the loom

Blue Parrot shawl being woven

Blue Parrot shawl being woven

Woven in Ebony & Mahogany

Woven in Ebony & Mahogany

Woven in Lagoon and Peacock

Woven in Lagoon and Peacock

Here are the yarns I will start putting on today for some more shawls in a purple colorway:

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