Archive for the ‘spinning’ Category

Hats & Guild Sale

I have sold several of my Mosaic Mojo hat patterns recently (on Ravelry and hard copies at Winthrop Gallery) and it reminded me to post some pictures.  Over the last few months I had spun up a number of small carded batts from a carding class I took years ago.  I plied them together in different combinations and wound up with small amounts of yarn in a variety of colors.  Since we can only sell knitted items at our annual guild sale that incorporate handspun yarn, this is what they were used for.  The ones below have handspun for the variegated yarn, and Cascade 220 wool for the solid color.

I sold 3 of these at the guild sale and took the rest up to Winthrop Gallery, where 2 have sold already!

Speaking of the guild sale, it is always the Friday & Saturday before Thanksgiving and held at our meeting room between Twisp and Winthrop.  One of our members does a great job of curating the show, and the room looked great.  It was well attended and we did well.

Here are the three cotton scarves I made using the “turned M’s & O’s” technique.  I hadn’t gotten pictures of them before the sale, but I am happy with how they turned out and will probably make more in a different color next year.

Now I am scrambling to make some more things for the galleries before Christmas.  I am almost out of scarves and just finished some yesterday, so pictures later.  I am almost out of rugs too but need to put a new rug warp on my loom before I can resume those.  Yikes!

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I had a number of ongoing projects come together in the last week or so, or at least ready for photography.

Extended manifold twill shawls – 20/2 mercerized cotton warp, tencel wefts in 6 different colors.  The pattern weft is WEBS 8/2 variegated tencel used doubled, with a 10/2 tencel tabby weft in a solid color.

5 shawls in a drawer

Mountain Stream with gold tabby

Lake Combo with emerald tabby

Wild Grape with adobe tabby

Sapphire with herb green tabby

Northern Lights with dark red tabby

Mountain Stream with moroccan blue tabby

I also finished two more small blankets or throws which have Jaggerspun Green Line organic wool for the warps, and my handspun yarn for the wefts.  I had enough of a teal Corriedale/alpaca handspun to do two alike.  Some of this had been languishing as a half-knit sweater for a couple of years, so I pulled it out, re-skeined and washed it, and made a better use of it!  This pattern is called a 2-line twill.

And finally I have been processing some of the unravelled cashmere sweater yarn into an 8-ply cabled yarn which I plan to use as weft for some scarves.  This process is greatly facilitated by the use of my Hansencrafts electric spinner with the WooLee winder.

It is so yummy and soft!

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Spinning for Weaving

I have been doing a lot more spinning lately, and got into the box of rovings from Taylored Fibers in Quilcene, WA (which I last blogged about here in March 2014 when we visited Barry and saw his big carder in action).  I quickly realized that I didn’t have enough of each roving to do a sweater quantity, and wasn’t sure that was what I wanted to spin for anyway.  I am gearing up to weave new work for a fiber-arts show at Confluence Gallery in the spring, and want to do some small blankets or throws.  So I thought, why not create handspun yarn for wefts using various combinations of these rovings?  It would be similar to some twill shawls I did a few years back using handspun wefts, so I already have an idea of how much yarn I will need for a small blanket.

Here are the rovings:

Roving A – 50% BFL (blue-faced leicester wool), 30% silk, 20% alpaca.  I have a total of just under 1 lb.  This one has a lot of VM (vegetable matter) and some other hard bits, I think from the silk noils, so I am having to pick out quite a bit of that and the singles still turn out a little prickly.  I think it will be better combined with other fibers anyway, to tame this a bit.  It is a lovely warm honey color, though.

Roving A

Roving B – 45% lambswool, 35% alpaca, 10% angora.  I have 15 oz and it is light gray.

Roving B

Roving C – 45% merino. 30% alpaca, 10% kid mohair, 15% silk.  I have 18-1/2 oz and it almost black with some white streaks, presumably from the kid mohair and silk.

Roving C

Roving D – 65% Shetland lamb, 35% alpaca.  I have 2 rovings, each about 1 lb, and it is a medium gray, somewhat darker than B when spun up.  Since I have 2 lbs I can use 1/2 lb in a combo yarn and the rest of it as a solid 3-ply all by itself.

Roving D

Roving E – 1/3 each of merino, alpaca and BFL.  I have 17 oz and it is a dark blue.

Roving E

I have spun up some of this into singles and begun sampling 3-ply combinations, all about worsted weight (if I was knitting it).  For blanket warps, I have cones of Jaggerspun Green Line organic wool in a number of colors, which should be about the right weight.  I also have ecru (undyed) yarns from Ashland Bay that might work well, for example, the “Argentina” which is Polwarth wool and silk.

I figure I will need about 1-1/2 lbs of each yarn for a small blanket and have come up with a plan for combining my singles in different ways to achieve this.

Here is a 3-ply made from A, B and C above, with some colors in Green Line that I may use for warp:

3-ply using rovings A, B & C

Here is another one made from A, B & D with the same warp colors, but I think it would also work well on plain ecru yarn warp:

3-ply made from rovings A, B & D

I also have some teal handspun which is 2/3 BFL and 1/3 alpaca (dyed and blended for me at Taylored Fibers a number of years ago).  I started a sweater but it is languishing, so it may turn into a blanket or two instead:

I am also going to spin up roving E and plan to sample a yarn with one ply of C (the black) and 2 plies of E (the dark blue).  I have Green Line in some nice blue colors so that should work.

I am having a lot of fun with this, and have a lot of spinning to do!

Hansencrafts mini-spinner at work

I also have finished a couple more of my Mosaic Mojo hats.  This is the time of year when they sell well at the Winthrop Gallery, the only place I have them for sale.  So I need to replenish my stock!  A friend of mine gave me some yarn from Knit Picks to try for these.  The solid evergreen is their “Wool of the Andes” and the variegated a new yarn, called “Galerie” that is supposed to be Noro-like with color transitions.  Both are nice quality wool and inexpensive.  I used a fine kid mohair held with the Galerie.  The second one turned out better (in my opinion) when I made more conscious choices about how to use the Galerie, pulling apart the ball and selecting certain colors.

hat 1769

hat 1770

and this one is using good old Cascade 220 and a Noro yarn called Shinryuoko which is wool and silk:

hat 1771

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We know spring has really arrived, and not just because it is greening up and the wildflowers are coming out on the hills.  Many of our nesting boxes have new residents!  The bluebirds are back, third year in their chosen box – ditto, nuthatches.  There are lots of swallows around and we moved the “duplex” to a better location and think we have takers there.  A Say’s Phoebe is nesting on one of the rafters in the carport.  We aren’t true birders but we do so enjoy sitting out on the deck with the binoculars, watching all the activity.

I finished off the handpainted warp from the Kathrin Weber workshop with a couple of table runners using the repp weave.  I am supposed to give a presentation tomorrow at the guild meeting about my experience, so it was a good motivator to finish these and then clean up and put away the workshop loom.  I didn’t know how much warp I had left so that is why one came out shorter.

Also finished the first 3 scarves using the ombré color transition idea and WEBS merino/tencel yarn.  I am very happy with these (they feel wonderful) and have tied on a second warp and have started another set.  It may be hard to see in these pictures, but the front and back are both attractive.  On the front, the black warp yarn forms the predominant pattern, and on the back it is the weft yarn that predominates.

The colorways below are:  Plum & Elderberry, Whipple Blue & Silver, Grey Teal & Grey Olive.











I also finished spinning up two Polwarth/Silk handpainted braids I bought at The Artful Ewe (Heidi Dascher) in Port Gamble last November.  One of the braids I split in half lengthwise, the other one into quarters (so the color transitions came more frequently).  Those 2 singles were plied with fine kid mohair, also hand-dyed by Heidi.  I have 2 skeins, with a total of about 600 yards.



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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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Rick just finished a walnut coffee table using a plank of Oregon claro walnut that he had kicking around the shop for about 25 years.  For the legs he used leftover pieces from a kitchen he just did for a house in Twisp.  These were from a homestead tree down in Wenatchee that had been through a wildfire.  One of the pieces had a big split down the middle which he had to separate to keep the leg stable.  When he did that, he found an actual walnut embedded in the crack – the tree must have grown around it.  He managed to glue it back in there when he fashioned the leg!



P1000830Our friends in Wenatchee stopped by last weekend on their way into the valley for some skiing.  They fell in love with this table and are buying it, so it will never see the inside of a gallery.  We are taking it to them tomorrow when we go down for a medical appointment.

On the weaving front, I put a warp on Kingston, the 32″ Macomber at home, to do my guild “challenge” project.   It needs to be finished by the April 15 meeting and this year it is a color challenge.  We each drew an envelope with a color photograph, and the challenge is to weave something using at least 4 colors from the photograph, and no others.  My picture is of cherry tomatoes on the vine, laid out on a wicker basket.

I had colors in 8/2 cotton from WEBS that worked but it took me a while to decide what sort of thing to weave.  I didn’t want to do a towel for some reason.  Then I remembered a project in Handwoven magazine last Nov/Dec that used a Bateman Boulevard draft to make fabric for a tablet sleeve.  I really liked the mid-century modern look of that fabric and decided to accomplish 2 things – my color challenge, and an exploration of the Boulevard weave to see where it might lead me.

I wound up with 4 napkins for the challenge part, and have warp left on the loom to try some variations.  There are 4 colors in the warp – 2 greens, a warm brown, and tobacco.  When weaving, I used the red-orange for the pattern weft and one of the warp colors for the tabby weft.  So the four napkins are each a slightly different color, and it was good to see what changing the tabby weft did to the overall color of the fabric.



I have also kept up with spinning, inspired by my time up on Orcas Island in February.

A 3-ply yarn using 3 rovings from Chasing Rainbows Dyeworks.  Two of them were merino/tencel and one was wool/bombyx silk, but all three were dyed in the same Autumn colorway.


A 2-ply yarn using 4 oz. of Bluefaced Leicester purchased many years ago from Chameleon Colorworks.P1000833

On Saturday we are off for a week-long vacation to Lake Quinault on the Olympic Peninsula, and then to Port Townsend and LaConner.  Can’t wait!!

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Spinning Camp 2016

I spent last week on Orcas Island at “spinning camp” with Judith Mackenzie.  Like last year, I went with 2 friends from the Methow.  We somehow managed to get 3 spinning wheels and our personal luggage into my Honda CR-V, and did our grocery shopping up on the island (they give us one meal a day at lunchtime, but we are on our own for breakfast and dinner, and the cabins have kitchens).

3 Methow gals at camp

3 Methow gals at camp

Judith in the meeting room

Judith in the meeting room

The theme this year was “Let’s Spin It Right”.  Basically she gave us a lot of different kinds of fibers to spin and showed one or more ways to make the best use of it. Her new book is out and I would say a lot of things we tried drew on the book.  I did buy a copy as there is a lot of great info in there, not just about the various fibers.

“It’s time to look beyond wool, with The Practical Spinner’s Guide: Rare Luxury Fibers!  The go-to expert for fiber artists, Judith MacKenzie shares insights into working with uncommon (but readily available) luxury downs in this comprehensive, yet practical, guide for today’s spinners. With her natural voice for story telling that is both engaging and informative, she discusses the history of each of these downs, how they are used today, characteristics unique to each, and where to find them. She also dives deep into the specific spinning techniques for each fiber, knitting and weaving rare fibers, and dying them once spun.  From angora to bison, camel to cashmere, there’s a whole world of rare luxury fibers just waiting to be spun!”

The first day she gave us 2 oz. of 60% Polwarth/40% silk roving she had dyed.  I wound up buying a second one in a close but more blue color and over the course of the next day or two made this 2-ply yarn which I will use for a lace project:

JM's dyed roving spun into 2-ply

That day we also played around with spinning silk and ways to combine it with other fibers.  She had just received some beautiful darkish red eri silk from India.  She showed us a way she had just come up with to combine it with yak fiber.  The yak has quite a short fiber length and the silk is much longer, but she laid a light “frosting” on top of the yak and just added some in occasionally.  The final effect is a gilded yak singles that you can ply.  My sample is so small it isn’t worth photographing (and I need to practice to get it to look better!) but I was quite excited by this idea and intend to pursue it.

She gave us some washed camel undercoat which has all the lengths of fiber, the shorter of which are lost when it is made into top.  You can spin this directly, but she also combined it with silk on handcards, which requires cutting the longer silk fiber into shorter lengths.  I brought that project home with me as I am not that good with handcards and want to take my time.

They set up the dye cabin towards the end of the week and I did a fair amount of dyeing this year.  Several folks were interested in gradient dyeing of skeins of yarn.  This involves starting with a low water level, then gradually lowering the fiber into the bath as you add more water.

gradient dyeing 1

gradient dyeing 2

gradient dyeing 3

From home I had brought 8 oz of 60% Polwarth/40% silk roving and Judith helped me dye it in the steam table tray.  Basically I assisted and she did the colors!

roving dyeing 1

roving dyeing 2

roving dyeing 3

She has so many years experience she can just pour the dye stock solutions on and get wonderful results.  The challenge for me will be doing this on my own and not making a total mud pie out of it.  But look at my beautiful roving!

polwarth&silk roving dyed

I also did some immersion dyeing of 6 skeins of wool I bought at camp in 2007 from Island Fibers on Lopez Island.  Maxine always brings her wares (whole fleeces, dyed rovings, undyed rovings, etc) to camp.  They had sent Lopez-Island-raised Coopworth and Romney fleeces to be spun into yarn and after 8 years I had done nothing with it and it was still white.  Now with Judith’s help it is a lovely moss green and I have started swatching for a sweater.

It was another inspiring and informative camp with our lovely Judith, teacher and mentor extraordinaire.

Judith with Abstract Fiber

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