Sunday, 25 October 2015

Lots on the Go

I finished the first Climbing Vine Mitten (except for the thumb) with the Hope Spinnery yarn I got last weekend at Rhinebeck. I'm about half done the second. It's a very straight-forward stranded pattern, although the directions for the rows just above the thumb are open to interpretation. I'm also doing 2 x 2 corrugated rib on the cuff rather than the 1x1 stranded ribbing the pattern calls for.
The striped socks turned out very well, It was pure luck that I didn't interrupt the striping on the instep very much with the heel work.
I did my usual toe and eye of partridge heel flap.
I started the Laura Aylor 'The Woods in Winter" shawl. We saw it at the indie trunk show before Rhinebeck and in our goodie bag was a coupon for a free pattern for one of her designs. She has designed many lovely shawl patterns. There is a chart but I'm following the row by row instructions. The yarn? Some mystery yarn that I unravelled from a Value Village sweater.
I first tried to use this yarn for Sally Melville's "L'enveloppe" but I just couldn't get the gauge with this yarn unless I used a ridiculously large needle. I'm searching in my stash for the right yarn in the right quantity for that project.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Rhinebeck 2015

Two of my friends named Jennifer (let's call them Jen1 and Jen2) and I travelled to the Hudson Valley last weekend to attend the NY Sheep and Wool Festival at Rhinebeck, NY. It was their first time (much akin to taking children to Disneyworld for the first time) so they were in for a jaw-dropping, yarn encompassing, fibre-ly good time.
Jen1, Jen2 and Geri
Jen2 wore her recently completed 'Les Mis' scarf for the occasion.

Upon arrival at our hotel, we checked in and lined up for the indie trunk show that was to take place in the ballroom from 5 to 9. Here we are at 4:32pm. The first 100 people got goodie bags. All of us got draw tickets for the doorprizes that had been donated by the vendors.
We met lots of nice folks in line - all as excited as we were. One yarn shop owner from NJ organized a bus tour and had special bags printed for the occasion.
The door prizes were on tables outside the ballroom, each with a bag where the attendee deposits the door prize ticket. Half the items were drawn at 6:30 and the other half at 8pm. We went for dinner between drawings.
Inside the ballroom were many vendors with many lovely items. Here is a sampling of what was available:

Color Purl hand-dyed gradients,
Vivid Fiber Arts had a beautiful display (with no posted prices).
 Each cube had its own LED light.
White Birch Fiber Arts had lots of nifty self-striping sock yarn with samples on display.
This Silver Spun yarn has silver filaments running through it - perfect for knitting gloves or tips of gloves with conductivity for people who like to check their devices without having to remove their gloves.
It was an excellent way to begin our weekend. There were SO many people, however. It is not for the faint of heart or claustrophobe. I'm not sure how the issue can be solved - more ballroom space? It has become a well-known precursor to the Festival in this, only its second year. But it's an excellent opportunity for smaller, independent fibre people to get exposure and reap the benefits of a captive audience.

The next morning we got up early to arrive at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds in time to get a parking spot close to the gate. This is very handy to drop off purchases during the day and in our case, we met there to have our lunch which we'd pre-planned and kept in a cooler in the car.

We were fairly close to the beginning of the lineup. This was the lineup ahead of us at 8:22am. Gates opened at 9. It was absolutely no problem buying our tickets at the gate. We had $3 off coupons, saving the service charge had we purchased them ahead of time online.
It was pretty nippy and windy but we knew to bundle up and dress in layers.
Clara Parkes was going to be giving away 100 copies of galleys of her book, Knitlandia, which will be coming out next February. We knew to make a beeline over to building B to line up for the event.

The other authors are also behind tables along this narrow area. I bet they were glad when Clara's crowd left.
Jen1 sported her Mizzle shawl and I had on my Ruddington cardigan and Travelling Woman shawl.
Jen looked quite delighted as she was about to meet Clara, who chatted with each of us, complimented our knitwear, and autographed our free galleys.
We then fanned out with an agreed-upon meeting time for lunch.

Bijou Ranch had the most expensive ball of yarn I had ever seen. 1 ounce of vicuña yarn @ $300US! They also had 100% qiviut one-ounce balls for $167US. Eeek!
These rugs were crafted from felted balls of roving. They'd be very squishy to walk on I suspect.
Between buildings, I took an iconic autumnal shot.
And more autumnal shots.

Another fibre artist specialized in needle-felted works. This is one she did with trees.
And a closeup.
Back outside, I took a shot down the hill towards the vendors. It was a mass of people.
While at the Bitsy Knits booth, I found Mo! She was helping out for a couple of hours.
There are always pithy, fibre-ly sayings:
This one, I believe, is true.

We had a full, busy day and were very glad to get back to the hotel.  Then we spread our respective booty out on the bed. I didn't buy a lot of stuff - mostly hand crafted fiber or items. But was very happy with what I came away with.
Our drive home the next day was uneventful. Lots of comfort stops and a bit of shopping in Watertown before crossing back onto Canada. We got Jen2 back home in Kingston and then got ourselves home to Whitby.

And then it was all over. The Jennifers were very easy to travel with, get along with, and were lots of fun.

Jen2 is already off on another adventure for a couple of weeks and Jen1 and I are looking forward to a knitting retreat in November.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

...More of a Check

I was inspired by a weaving blogger, Amanda Cutler, to weave a houndstooth scarf. I used some acrylic worsted weight yarn as she had done. First I warped the loom with 6 epi and it was WAY too loose so I re-sleyed the reed for 8 epi  (1 1 0 1 1 0 in a 12 dent reed). It looked a little better until I started weaving again.

I realized I was going to have to do 8 picks (horizontal weft) of each colour to get squares with 6 threads (vertical warp) of each colour. And that was with a very light beating.
6 warp threads, 8 weft threads
Happily I wove the rest of the scarf which came out much narrower than I would have liked. There is quite a bit of draw in on the sides when weaving a twill pattern.
I thought it looked pretty darned good until I realized, by adding the extra weft threads of each colour, it was no longer a houndstooth scarf but more of a check.
Lesson learned - with worsted weight try 10 or 12 epi and the same number of picks. The only problem with using more ends per inch (epi) in the warp is it will make a stiffer fabric.  Not the greatest feel for a scarf but it would be excellent for place mats or a pillow cover.

I also learned that if you can do twill, you can do any size houndstooth [or (ahem) check] on 4 shafts or more. Initially, I just did 43214321 threading and wove 12, 23, 34, 14. Initially I thought I could only do 4 x 4 check on my 4-shaft loom as most 4-shaft houndstooth weaving draft only showed 4 x 4 check. I then realized that the size of the check is solely determined by the number of threads of each colour are warped and woven.

I like the way weaving (done consistently) looks so even and orderly. I think several cushions and pillows in the house are going to get some makeovers with the fabric I'm going to be weaving in the future. And I'm getting much faster winding the warp and dressing the loom. I did all of this last night including twisting all the fringes on one end and a few on the other - finishing up this morning.

The learning curve in weaving is pretty steep. I learn so much from every project I do. I don't think the quality is yet there for gifting of the projects but I'm having a lot of fun with my experiments.

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Just Don't Look Too Closely...

I finished weaving on the second warp. It was only 2 yards long so I only did 4 dishcloth-sized pieces.

But first, I hemmed the pieces from the first warp. This tabby piece (plain weave) is one of the two I am willing to show.

The warp was some white linen I found in my stash but I miscalculated and didn't have enough threads per inch. The weft is some pink cotton (2 shots) alternating with a shot of the beige linen/hemp? fibre. All of the pieces have been machine washed on delicate and line dried.

The first photo really shows how little the fabric draws in with tabby. When calculating how many threads you'll warp, one needs to not only take the natural shrinkage of the fibre into account but also how much the style of weaving draws the sides in.

I then used up the rest of the warp with a mixed twill pattern. This could be a table runner as is. With a better warp, This fabric would make great fabric for cushion covers or the backing of a needlepoint pillow.

A closeup. (recognize my new blog background?)

I learned a lot on this first faulty warp. I got to practice my edges a lot and am pleased with my progress. I'm limited by the width of the loom (15 3/4" Dorothy) but will attempt a double weave pattern in the not-to-distant future.

On the other warp, I wanted to try a waffle weave pattern. This was quite successful. I calculated the warp correctly with 14 epi (ends per inch). However, the twill pattern really draws the sides in a lot. This fibre didn't shrink much lengthwise - just widthwise due to the twill pattern.
I made a couple of these which will be excellent spa cloths. This pattern is also reversible, with only the hem determining one side from the other.

A closeup.
I then tried it with the pink cotton as the weft. There really isn't much of a contrast with these colours. With more of a contrast (and fewer mistakes) this would be quite effective.
Now, I'd like to try a houndstooth pattern. I'll probably use contrasting sock yarn. Black and grey? Black and white? Red and white? Purple and grey?  

I also have 4 colours of 8/2 cotton yarn to make more waffle-weave dishcloths. 

I can see the need for acquiring a wider loom but need to do a major reconfiguration of some of the spaces in my house before that is possible. There are tons of weaving drafts (patterns) on and a system to save the interesting ones.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Weaving Plarn and Waffles

After my inspiring weaving class a couple of weeks ago, I've had weaverly things going through my head. I thought I'd practice on a few projects and work my way up to something really interesting for me.

My first project was to make 'plarn' - plastic yarn out of milk bags. (Here in Canada we can buy our milk in 4L bags that contain 3 clear 1.33L bags of milk) The outer bag is usually quite thick plastic and is quite colourful.  I cut the bag into 1" strips following this video. I used my rotary cutter on my cutting mat for the cuts and snipped the strips with scissors. It went pretty quickly while watching TV. Each bag created about 10 yards of plarn.

I warped the loom fairly widely (6 e.p.i. -  ends per inch) with a sturdy cotton yarn and wove using the plarn as the weft. Then I'll make bags with the fabric.

This is what the 'fabric' looked like on the loom. I have a 15 3/4" Leclerc Dorothy table loom with 4 shafts. I just did a plain weave (also called 'tabby'). You can see a strip of plarn on the left.
I also cut up a bunch of white grocery bags that were a bit thinner plastic and wove them on the same warp. They came out a little finer. I've also put the loom on my big cutting mat to protect my dining room table.
I then began combing the Internet for weaving drafts. I found a free lesson on weaving waffle weave which intrigued me so I warped the loom with 14 epi with some linen yarn from my stash. I learned a lot with this experience. I learned how to read a draft properly (I didn't thread the loom correctly for this first practice piece). I also learned that because I was doing a twill project, I needed to add extra threads to the number that one would customarily do with tabby. I did practice several patterns with this warp.

Then I warped the loom properly this time using some mystery yarn that was a little thicker and is probably linen or hemp. I did the correct waffle 321234321234 threading and 14 epi, which made for a much better warp. I added an inch of warp width for shrinkage and pulling in. With the correctly threaded warp, I was able to finally achieve waffle weave. I will be very interested to see what this fabric is like after it's cut off the loom and washed.  I'm hoping it will be suitable for a spa cloth. This pattern looks the same on the other side, too!
Waffle weave
I only put a 2 yard warp on the loom but it is more than enough to do 3 or more of these cloths. The second one I did was the same pattern but using a light pink cotton yarn (easier to see on the stick shuttle) for the weft.
With that one done, I scanned for other patterns using the same 321234321234 warp pattern. I found one called birdseye diamonds and started it, again with the pink weft. The plain weaving below it is just spacer which will be cut along the centre and used to hem each piece.
I'm liking how it is turning out and can see how a more contrasting yarn would be quite effective.

The Deborah Chandler book, 'Learning to Weave' reference book has been very helpful.

While at the OHS Central Region Seminar on the weekend, I purchased 4 spools of 8/2 cotton to weave some dishcloths (blue, green, yellow, and white). Sadly, my loom isn't wide enough to do dish towels (unless I double weave them), so for now, my practicing will be dishcloth size.

My edges are getting much smoother and not pulling in as much. I'm far from skilled at this but am encouraged by the improvements I've made in such a short time.