Finished Objects: Wheels spinning, Needles Clicking

I finished up spinning the 16ounces of llama fiber I began working on last month. Love It! It’s a little late in the season to start a project with it so I have decided to store it for later.

I really want to start working on plant fibers now for spring. We’ll see. I still have about 8oz of the golden merino left to spin lace-weight on my Kromski Symphony. Hopefully I can finish it soon. It has been on the wheel forever, like literally years.

I washed up the skeins that were recycled from some ugly knitted projects I made years ago and never wore. The skeins were hung to dry on a drying rack placed in my bathtub. They are now packed away awaiting a second chance at becoming something nice to wear.

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Hand Spun yarn skeins and sweater drying on a rack in the bathtub

I finished my Diminishing Rib Cardigan from Interweave Knits Spring 2009 cover and I like it. I kind of haphazardly spun and chain-plied that roving maybe 8 years ago and packed it away thinking I didn’t like it only to fall in love after it was knit up. I believe it is Ashland Bay merino top in the rose colorway. Sometimes it’s hard to perceive how a yarn will look once it is knitted, crocheted, or woven.

The pattern did not call for a closure however I chose to crochet two pairs of ties on it. I also stabilized the neckline with  2 rows of chains stitches. I am not sure if I did the tubular cast-on correctly but it made the neckline more stretchy than I wanted. This is my first handspun garment. I’m pretty happy with the result.

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Diminishing Rib Cardigan made from handspun merino yarn

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I had not finished spinning my llama roving yet but I wanted to make another winter item. I had  2 skeins of  bulky Noro Kochoran yarn in the color #65 that I bought at a local yarn shop liquidation sale. The yarn was hard on my hands. It was difficult to slide on my needles (Knit Picks nickel plated circulars in size 8). Kochoran has angora bunny in it. It shed a lot as I worked with it however I think that has resolved itself now that it’s knit up. I should have went up to a size 9 as recommended on the yarn label. ouch.  I alternated it with some chain-plied handspun natural white cormo yarn.

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What began as the Welted Cowl published in Vogue knitting  winter 2010 morphed into a pretty nifty poncho as I changed up the amount of ribbed purled bands, completely disregarded gauge, and used up every last bit of the yarn I had. It is super, don’t need a coat, warm.

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Welted Poncho

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Welted Poncho paired with a hanspun angora fichu

Ghosts of Spinner’s Past: Revisiting Handspun Wool after Moth Attack

Long ago…about 7 years ago I discovered that moths had attacked  my beautiful handspun yarn that I had left out for display. Literally pounds of my handspun yarn skeins were in shreds. After obsessively looking for a resolution I found that most people  store cedar chips or lavender with their stash and hope for the best. Both preventative measures had failed me. In my experience I found that this works if the majority of your stash is commercially processed  fiber and yarn. The moths did not touch any of my commercial fiber. The natural stuff that I bought from small farms at various fiber festivals was what they wanted… Why? I asked. I found the answer in one of my industrial textile manufacturing textbooks. Apparently commercial yarns are treated with insecticide. After a little research I found that Permethrin is what they are using. This synthetic material is widely used and can be purchased in large concentrated quantities from farm suppliers. There is a similar product used as the active ingredient in pet shampoos that is an abstract from chrysanthemums. Bugs apparently cannot digest the stuff.

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Insecticide, Permethrin (concentrate 10%) solution used to treat wool for moths

With this newly found information I now had a way to prevent future attacks however I had not figured out how to handle the active infestation. After doing a little more digging I found that I had 3 choices to kill the moths and their eggs. I could use stinky moth balls, freeze, or steam the yarn and fiber. I chose to seal the fiber in 5 gallon buckets with moth balls. I steamed the shredded up yarn skeins in a huge pot in my oven killing anything that could possibly survive then sealed it in 5 gallon buckets. This is where my wool stash sat for about 7 years untouched.

On a whim I searched up how to join yarn ends without knots. I found a braiding technique where you unravel one yarn end and connect it to another end by creating a 3-strand braid. This method created a strong barely conspicuous join. This prompted me to pull out my shredded up wool yarn and test the method out. IT WORKS! To my joy, I realized (after the emotions had settled over the years) the skeins were mostly intact with exceptions to about 6 or 7 strands. The damage just looked far worse that it was. I am so glad I kept them.

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braided yarn join is barely conspicuous

In my excitement I began a project using a black and white hanspun Jacob fleece. The skeins were slightly underspun, but oh- well they are perfect for a crochet project. I had 3 skeins that were 2-ply worsted weight. It has a sort of cloudy, marled look to it. There is 1 skein that was 3-ply chained ( Navajo plied). It is more of fingering weight and has more color definition as the chain plying keeps the colors fairly separate.

 

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Sweater in progress. The chain plied skein is to the left. The 2-ply yarn is already wound for crocheting. I used a  hanspun orange alpaca yarn for accent

 

I will be using up all of this yarn in a crochet cardigan using the pattern book The Crochet Closet by Lisa Gentry. I am making the Carefree Cardigan.

So far so good although I have had to do some frogging. The directions lack key details for the cluster stitch pattern and spacing for yoke increases. It is otherwise pretty simple to make.

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My new favorite crochet gizmo. Boye ergonomic crochet hook cozy. It has a rubbery texture that it warm and grippy in my hand. The shape is perfect. Love it!

 

I may not have enough yarn to finish long sleeves but I’m not really worried. I am happy to be able to use the yarn that I had long since left for dead in plastic buckets.

Double Weave V-Shawl

I tried something new on my Artcraft table loom. I attended my first weaving guild meeting with the Duneland Weavers in January. Someone brought in some left over wool weaving yarn remnants to share. I grabbed up 2 different shades of turquoise and some black yarn wound on cones. I also got a pre-wound ball of a finer (perhaps 22/2) black wool yarn.

The yarn was a very fine Jaggerspun merino/silk blend. This is perhaps some of the nicest stuff I’ve worked with to date. I saw a video on Youtube showing the process of weaving a V-shaped shawl using double-weave and found this the perfect opportunity to give it a try.

The cloth is woven in 2 layers up until the warp has about one wrap left on the back bend. Each end is then snipped from the back beam one at a time and passed through the sheds as a weft. This creates a cool biased plaid effect.

The weaving went pretty simply. The warp was made using random stripes of the colors I got from the guild meeting. The only consideration I made with patterning was making sure that each stripe had an even number of ends so that both layers of the shawl would match. I pretty much used all of the yarn on the cones and am left with a small amount of the black weft yarn.  The loom was threaded as a straight 1,2,3,4 threading and sleyed at 15epi with 2 ends in each slot to accommodate the double woven fabric.  I added some handspun grey wool yarn to lighten the colorway.

This shawl was pretty simple to weave once the layers were established with a (1); (3);  (1, 2,3); (1,3,4) treadling. As a beginner I still don’t know why this works, but it just does. The selvages on the bottom layer were a little inconsistent (but serviceable) because it was kind of out of sight and out of mind a lot of the time.

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Stick shuttles worked best for the narrow sheds. (I taped the end of one so that I would not mix up my weft layers)

I wove this a few hours at a time in the evenings after work and was finished in about 7 days. I found it easiest to use stick shuttles which were less cumbersome than the boat shuttle and let me weave longer without having to advance the warp so often. I also liked that the stick shuttles could hold a lot more yarn than my boar shuttle bobbins. A little tape at the end of one of my shuttle helped me prevent mixing up the weft when weaving the layers.

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Warp used as weft for double woven V-shawl

I thought it was tough to remember which shed was supposed to be opened for the warp-as-weft weaving section. I had to treadle the pattern backwards and remember what shed I was on after walking to the back of the loom to snip the warp threads. I basically wove this part standing up. It might have been more exhausting having to walk around to the back of a floor loom to snip hundreds of threads, one at a time.

The ends of the v-shawl were finished by hemming them into a V-shape.

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Hemmed ends of v-shaped shawl

The trimmed fabric was used to make a slouchy hat to match.

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woven slouchy hat

All in all I’m pretty happy with the result although I don’t know if I’ll weave another any time soon.

Spinning My Wheels

I have been in a crafty frenzy lately. Every since Winter break I have been pulling out all of my fiber stuff that had been hibernating in the basement for years. I have since put my dining table in a closet (heck, I only host people twice a year) so that I can have a workspace in my well lit dining area. Yes..I am back in make-mode.

My spinning wheels are back in motion.

On the Ashford traveler I have some bamboo fiber which I carded up to spin. This is my first time spinning a significant quantity of it. I have found that it is best to open up the fibers, which are quite compressed in raw form, with a drum carder. This makes it easier to card it into a spinnable cloud with 120 point fine hand carders. I do not make punis with the bamboo like I do my cotton. It tends to be sticky and somewhat hard to draft when compressed. I just recently discovered that the uncarded fiber is being sold rather cheaply as a pillow stuffing at JoAnne Fabrics. If I like the finished product I will certainly be getting more.

The Kromski Symphony has some golden merino top on it. I bought about 16oz of this fiber maybe 3 years ago in hopes of making a sweater with it. Perhaps it will finally make its way into a finished product. We’ll see. First things first, gotta get the yarn spun. It should be about 24wpi when I finish plying it. I am not terribly worried about the final yarn weight. I usually just let the fiber do what it wants.

I finished up 4oz of spot dyed merino top on the Kromski Sonata. It had literally been on the bobbin for years. I ended up with about 450yards of 2ply fingering weight yarn in a surprisingly pastel skein. I’m not sure what I will do with it.

I visited Baker Studios in Allegen, Michigan over winter break. I liked the shop owner so much that I decided to buy some locally produced llama roving. I have avoided purchasing a lot of wool since the major moth attack that nearly wiped out my entire stash of handspun yarns back in 2010. The roving is really soft to spin and has a grayish, magenta, purplish, with a little sparkle vibe going. I have 16oz. So far I have 8oz plied and am working on the rest. It takes me about 3hours to spin 4 ounces of singles. Plying takes me about half the time.

With all the spinning and carrying on I was inspired to get my knitting needles clicking again. I have a set of Knit Picks nickel-plated interchangebles.  The project I chose is the Diminishing Rib Cardigan from Interweave Knits Spring 2009.

I actually had 3 sweater quantities of yarn spun up at the time of the moth attack. The one yarn spun from commercial roving was spared by the moths. I believe commercially produced wool is treated with insecticide.

Anyhow, I had  bought about 16oz of Ashland Bay merino top in the rose colorway and spun it up. It has some blues and purples going through it. I didn’t really like it that much at first but now that I have begun to knit with it I think the different colors blended in give it a painterly effect. One of the skins has some dark pink/red splotches on it from when I washed the skins with other yarns during the moth recovery effort. Oh well. We’ll have to see how it works with my skin tone.

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I Navajo, or chain plied this yarn so it’s a 3ply. This was my first yarn plied in this way and it has lots of thick and thin spots and overspun curly pigtails sticking out here and there.  So far so good on the knitting. Please let this thing fit! It is my first hand knit cardigan.101_1763

Just off the loom: hand-dyed wool, natural colored cotton yardage

So, I am just having all sorts of fun weaving these days. I am really happy with how my handspun, hand dyed/ natural grey wool wrap turned out. It is really soft. I ended up braiding the fringe and adding beads. I left little loose tufts on the fringe. I think it adds character and reminds me of the playful nature of the yarn.

I warped and wove the full 15″ width of my Leclerc Dorothy loom with most of my remaining handspun colored cotton. Oh my goodness!! I love, love, love the feel of the fabric. Believe it our not I have never handled handspun, hand woven cotton fabric before. It has a certain wild yet lush quality to it. I plan to use it for clothing. It was fun just weaving bobbin after bobbin not worrying about the pattern. I just pulled random colors out of my basket and wove till I was finished.

My Dorothy loom only holds 4.5 yards of warp. I was amazed at the shrinkage of the cotton. My finished cloth was 4 yards 5 inches. After washing it was 3 yards 23 inches!

For what it’s worth, I do not own a bobbin winder and my shuttle only came with one plastic bobbin. Not to be deterred, I made some bobbins out of packing paper and wound them using a pencil with masking tape on one end affixed to my spinning wheel. Works like a charm.

 

I also put a warp on my Kromski rigid headle loom. This one is just some clearance navy cotton yarn I felt like using up paired with a tan/gold recycled sari silk that is too close to my skin color to look good on my without a contrasting color. There was only enough cotton warp for about 2 yards of fabric. The pattern is a very simple weft float using a pickup stick.

 

 

 

I Could Use Another Bag, Maybe Two

I Could Use Another Bag, Maybe Two

I’m not much of a fancy, shmancy purse kind of girl. Usually when I carry a  bag it’s on one of two occasions. For everyday, I wear a small pouch on a long cord, just large enough to carry  my cell phone, keys, and cards. When I am traveling whether for a long walk or on my bike I use a drawstring backpack  for anything I bring along. This summer I realized mines were looking tired. This was the perfect excuse to get crafty.

Back in my college days I attempted to learn embroidery. What I actually learned was that I am not guru material. I haphazardly use a running and chain stitches in order to add doodles of color. It works for me.

For both the pouch and drawstring backpack I used this technique with 3 strands of cotton floss to embellish some denim scraps I had. The cord for the pouch  is cotton knitted eye-cord I made.20161127_112019

Things took an unexpected turn when I was deciding on straps for the backpack. Long ago, like literally 12 years ago, I became obsessed with learning to weave as a college student majoring in Apparel, Textiles, and Merchandising. At school we were learning to weave on a big, elaborately engineered dobby loom. In a search at the local library I stumbled across weaving that was a little more my speed. Apparently I could weave with just cardboard cards, tablets. The cards would act as harnesses to raise the threads for weaving. I was able to weave narrow strips, the first using 10 cards with 40 threads. I never did anything with that sample (or any of the other narrow bands I wove). All these years later it would be the perfect addition to my bag project.

Great! Well sort of great. I only had enough for one strap. I needed to make another narrow band to match my original. This proved trickier than I thought. I remembered the pattern was from the book Creating With Card Weaving by Sally Specht. I found the draft and threaded up my cards with the same #10 crochet cotton used in the first weaving.

In the end I realized that somehow I had managed to mix up the color sequence (not even realizing it). The two straps are different plus my old sample is more irregular with obvious mistakes. Oh well, I still think the bag turned out nice.

As a bonus, I am obsessed with weaving again. Time to dig out my old weaving hoard.

I Just Kept On..another DragonFly shawl

The crochet enthusiasm hasn’t worn off just yet. I finished my second (first dragonfly) dragonfly shawl about 2 weeks ago. I thought I would actually follow directions and make the pretty border according to the pattern but found that I did not have enough yarn.

Loving this yarn. With only 4 oz I had to improvise for the border

Loving this yarn. With only 4 oz I had to improvise for the border

I improvised with double crochet clusters for the edging on this version.

double crochet chain border used for the dragonfly shawl

Double crochet chain border used for the dragonfly shawl

The handspun soysilk that was used drapes nicely and has a luxurious sheen. I spun the yarn from a 4 oz. roving and even without the border the shawl is a fairly large.

the shawl is pretty large. The color patterns is a surprise when using hand painted rovings

The shawl is pretty large. The color patterns are the surprise you get when using hand painted rovings

Enough dragonflies for now.

Wrapped up in the dragonfly shawl

Wrapped up in the dragonfly shawl