Breaking in and Breaking out: My New Loom and West Coast Adventure.

With school out I have had more time to craft and boy have I been busy. Firstly, my Emelie cardigan is finished. This was my first time knitting a garment with size 3 needles. It was pretty time consuming but made a fine fabric. The yarn I used  came in 739 yards skeins. The entire body of the cardigan and half of the sleeves (I divided the remaining yarn equally between the two) were knitted with one skein.

A small amount (maybe 200 yards) of the 2nd skein was used to finish the sleeves, button, and neck band. The 2nd skein was slightly more yellow than the first but the color variation did not cause too much of an issue I think, since it is distributed evenly in the sleeves.

I never really figured out how to work the lace pattern correctly. The chart has you do a SSK using a yarnover stitch on the purl side which was fiddly to me. My lace does not look like the sample picture. Oh well, I did it consistently wrong so I guess that makes it a design modification. I lucked out and found clearance button at JoAnns.  They are normally so stinking expensive. This cardigan ended up with 12 frosty green shank buttons.

I acquired a Leclerc Artistat 36″ floor loom back in February but have not warped it up until now. I was just as happy admiring it in my dining room. I had warped a floor before however this was the widest warp I’ve done at 30 inches to-date. The warp is only 4.5 yards long which is the max I can do with my warping board. It is finally being broken in.

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Everything went fairly smooth with the warping although it was quite tedious. I accidently skipped threading 4 reed slots but the heddles were done correctly so I won’t bother to re-sley the reed. I plan to use this first un-mercerized 8/2 cotton warp to play around with my handspun colored- cotton odds and ends and some flax singles I wove a few years ago.

Being summer break and all I decided to take a little getaway. In an internet search I found that the Black Sheep Gathering was happening in Eugene, Oregon. This was the perfect excuse for me to explore the pacific coast. It was so beautiful! I was in love from the plane’s decent into the state. It is so majestic. Those mountains, gah!

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sky view of the plane decent to Oregon

The Black Sheep Gathering was a real treat. I loved the vendors. They were so engaging and talented. This festival did not have many if any commercial vendors which is great. I was shocked to discover there is no sales tax in Oregon. Whattha! so yes, I bought stuff even though I had no room in my carry-on bag for more stuff. I figured I’d get rid of some clothes if I needed to.

I met my spindle craftsman idol Ken Ledbetter  of KCL woods who produces modular spindles. He had beautiful modular Turkish spindles with glass insets. I had to have one. It was cool to be able to choose my own shaft. He uses all kinds of exotic woods. In addition to the spindle I bought a modular spinning bowl. It has a bowl that can be screwed onto a shaft for chair spinning and a mound for table and floor spinning. Brilliant! I love it so much.

I also of course bought some fiber. I found silk roving and bright colored braids that I “needed”.

Another cool textile find was a pleated skirt made in by artisans in Laos Vietnam . It has extremely intricate ikat patterning in indigo woven on a handspun cotton singles warp. The skirt also has cross stitched motifs done in brightly dyed cotton singles. It is a real masterpiece and a humbling reminder of how far I have to go in acquiring this level of skill and expertise.

I honestly have mixed feelings about these sort of purchases. On one hand I know the artisan may have needed the proceeds from the sale. It seems, however that when these items get sold for profit a decline begins. A craft that was once an expression of one’s pride in culture, skill, and love becomes a mere means to an end, a meal ticket. It brings me to the question of whether we are progressing or regressing. Perhaps these artisans will one day be like myself, struggling to regain lost knowledge of our textile traditions sold out for cheapo mass produced clothing.

Fortunately everything kind of smooshed into my suitcase with a little wrestling. I did not need to check my luggage. phew.

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my carry-on jammed with fiber goodness

It was a very refreshing trip. I drove about 250 miles along the pacific coast on the scenic Highway 121. It was so cool to weave through the Redwood forests and see all the rock formations in the Pacific ocean.

There was also a little mountain driving on this trip. I drove up to Enumclaw, Washington. At one point my GPS said I was 4,500ft about sea level! It was an intense drive but the view was well worth the stress. I took a gondola ride up Crystal Mountain and saw Mt. Rainier. It was spectacular beyond words.

In 4 days, I had seen a lot but there is so much more I would like to explore one day. The trip was a nice blend of excitement and relaxation. I even struck up a new spindle project (an old 3-4 oz mystery braid I had in my stash) and the infamous crochet Virus shawl that everyone has made on Ravelry. I am using a gradient Zauberball lace yarn that I bought a few years ago.

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A Handspun Spring

I’ve been spinning a lot of mostly wool and manufactured fibers these days. Despite the season change I’m still in the mood to spin. I also made garments from the woven cotton fabrics I wove a few months ago. Finished objects include a shirt from the colored cotton fabric and a skirt from the sari silk w/ dishcloth cotton yarn.101_1842

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Hand woven sari silk and cotton skirt (Very dense fabric!)

101_1841The cotton shirt is my favorite. I was so terrified that the woven fabric would fall apart as soon as I cut it. I basted muslin to the hand woven cloth then cut and sewed them together as one piece as a precaution.

The resulting garments are thicker that they have to be but I feel more confident that they will hold up. Perhaps I will get more brave as I gain more experience. Both projects used all of the fabric. I literally only have a 12 inch square left of each fabric and very little waste.

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The Jacob fleece crochet cardigan that I was making from previously moth attacked handspun is finished. I haven’t worn it yet because the weather has been too warm. It still needs a closure in order to keep it from flopping all over the place. I like the outcome for the most part although the neckline sits low.  It’s more like wearing an accent piece to an outfit rather than a cover-up. I have to consider what shirt I’m wearing under it because it will show making the garment less versatile in my wardrobe.

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Handspun Jacob fleece cardigan (Pattern: Carefree cardigan from Crochet Closet)

 

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I ended up chain-plying the golden merino singles I spun. The result was a nice round, high twist yarn that I think would work up nicely into cables. I was a little worried that I had overspun. When I wound it in a skein it was a scary, curly mess. After soaking it hangs perfectly relaxed. phew.101_1848

 

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golden chain-plied merino yarn after soaking

I also spun up a dump bag of naturally dyed wool (mostly mohair) that I bought from a Hill Creek Fibers booth for $8 a few years ago. I basically sorted out the colors. The fiber had to be hand carded first because a lot of it was nearly irreversibly matted. I ran the pre-carded rolags through my drum carder then spun the yarn into a chain-plied worsted yarn. I have not idea what it will be used for. It was a nice ego boost to make a usable yarn out of the stuff.

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Skein spun from Hill Creek fibers mill ends grab bag

 

 

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I went to two fiber festivals this month. The Fiber Event at Greencastle, IN and The Ann Arbor Fiber fest. I bought quite a bit of stuff. Which is okay I guess since well, we have to support our local fiber shed and I haven’t gone in a few years. I won’t share it all here but I did find some materials that I haven’t worked with before. It’s always great to try something new. Here are a few of my finds:

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Fiber Fest Haul: A few art batts, Targhe wool, dyed merino combed top, hand combed angora, sky blue silk, 50/50 tussah silk / wool fiber, and fish leather

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An adorable hand forged sheep head orifice hook

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A sample of various fish leathers. Apparently it is one of the strongest leather available on the market. Whodathunkit! It has a luxurious drape and is quite affordable. Where has this been all my life?

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Salmon leather Earrings

At the moment I am spinning an art batt from Knit Spin Farm on my Kromski Symphony. It literally has everything in it. I think I will ply it onto itself.

I have two spindle projects going. It’s nice because with all this sunshine I want to be outside. The portability of the spindle trumps my folding spinning wheel. I can take my spindle for a walk. My beloved Kromski Sonata can’t do that.

On my drop spindle I am spinning a green bamboo/merino blend. It came as a silver/green braid combo. After spinning the two colors together I realize I do not like them together. For now I’m just spinning the green. My cop got a little sloppy and the spindle was heavy and less efficient after winding on about 2ozs. Thankfully the spindle I’m using has interchangeable shafts so I haven’t had to stop to wind my singles off. Production is pretty good.

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Drop Spindle with interchangeable shaft eliminates the need to wind-off singles right away

I am finally putting my wooden supported spindle to work. It has been spinning lace weight likea dream. It would be nice to be able to pack a full 2ozs onto it without winding off. The fiber I am spinning is one of those new “everything but the kitchen sink” mini rolags prepared on a blinding board. It is so pretty. I have no idea what this yarn will look like when it is finished. There are literally whole chunks of Angelina and icicle that I’m afraid might make it scratchy like a Brillo pad. I may ply it with some bamboo fiber I have.

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art rolags by Hello Purl in loud mouth colorway

 

I thought for sure I would be sewing and weaving right now but hey, I’m just following my bliss at the moment.

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.

 

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v-shaped shawl folded

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finished v-shaped double woven shawk

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.

 

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Back view v-shaped double woven shawl

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v-shaped double weave shawl

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random striping on v-shaped shawl

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.

 

 

 

A Spinners Milestone: Weaving with Handspun Yarn

I have been spinning yarn since 2005. My first experience with the luxury of working with natural fibers was after winning a gift certificate to Evelise’s Yarn Shop at the Berrien County Youth Fair . An Afghan that I had crocheted with acrylic yarn won Reserved Grand Champion.  With the gift certificate I bought my first designer yarn, a black cotton, and a pattern for a beaded crochet handbag. The bag was a success and I was in love.

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My first bag made with fancy commercial cotton yarn. Still sparkling after 16 years.

 

Unfortunately I could not afford to buy more natural yarns. I was over the cheapo acrylic and so I stopped crocheting. At college the following year I gained new hope of acquiring “good” yarn when a professor at my university did a show and tell with spinning equipment. I became fixed on the idea of spinning my own yarn.

Online I ordered a kit that came with a book , Spin It by  Lee Raven and 1oz of roving. The book had instructions on how to make a spindle out of a CD. With a pencil, CD, and the small bit of sliver I became a spinner. Shortly afterwards I learned to knit.

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The book that started it all.

I knitted a lot of lace shawls with my handspun. I love making them but that was all I would do with my yarn.  After a while I had way more yarn than projects I wanted to knit up. I kind of got bored.

For the longest time (12 years!) I was so afraid that my yarn wouldn’t be strong enough to weave with, especially my cotton. It was only safe to crochet with it.

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Crochet shawl made from hanspun cotton dyed with tumeric. The pattern is Moondrop by Lori Carlson published in Interweave crochet Winter 2016

A few years ago I had crocheted a ruffled throw with my natural colored cotton  See it here that I wasn’t all that happy with. I just kept crocheting in a round until I had used up all of the different colors of cotton in my stash. After a while it started to come apart  where I doubled the stitch count. I decided that I had nothing to lose by unraveling the throw to reuse the yarn for weaving.

I warped random colors on my Leclerc Dorothy table loom that I bought in my college days. With a simple plain weave I slowly but surely realized that my worries were unfounded. Without any special treatment I was able to weave an eclectic little scarf. Oh the new possibilities!

This week I met a new milestone. I am now using my handspun to weave!

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Finished handspun, handwoven natural colored cotton scarf. I’m in love!

Not wanting to lose momentum I decided to unravel a shawl I knit from handspun wool. I alternated a painted handspun with a natural gray that proved to be scratchy against my skin. The pattern was just mindless, uninspired blah. I wouldn’t miss it. Finding a darker grey rambouillet yarn in my handspun stash that was nice and soft  I began warping my Dick Blick Art Craft table loom. Sadly the loom sat untouched for 6 years. I found it at a garage sale in Amish country for $125 and thought it was too fine of a machine to pass up.

So far so good. I am looking forward to doing more with my handspun.

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Handspun wool weaving in progress. I am using stick shuttles because they give me more weaving space on a table loom.

 

Here I Go Again: Still Weaving

So, now I’m dusting all of my weaving supplies off again. It’s been a long time. I really haven’t used the inkle loom I bought as a college student since I was in college. Sad, sad, sad. Welp, here I go again.

I had so much fun weaving the strap for my new drawstring backpack that I decided to wind  a warp and get weaving. I had been meaning to try out the pattern that came with Jacquetta Nesbitt’s Supplementary warp patterning video lesson so I copied the pattern down and wound a warp with #10 crochet cotton. The technique was still fresh in my memory since it is the same method that I was using to weave the Lithuanian sashes. I love picking up and dropping threads while watching the pattern emerge.  Oh, and that swiping sound the beater makes when I secure the weft thread to lock the pattern in, like music.

 

It’s a work in progress. The yarn I used makes a band only half the width of the sample on the tutorial due to my yarn choice. It is only 1.5inches wide. But hey, who cares? I’m having fun. Lately I’ve been wearing my inkle bands as hair-ties just as an excuse to have them out.

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card woven band as a hair-tie

 

A few days later I thought, well my Kromski Harp Rigid Heddle loom is looking kind of lonely since I cut the bag strap off of it. I saw this as a perfect opportunity for an experiment. I decided to try one of my favorite plain weaves, houndstooth, using (gasp) acrylic knitting yarn. Not caring much about what would happen I didn’t bother overspinning the yarn. Plastic, gah. Every since I learned to spin yarn I have been a total snob against acrylic. I didn’t want to risk ruining my good stuff on an experiment (I have struggle with warping my loom in the past), so there. The rigid heddle loom is great for projects when you can’t afford a lot of loom waste. You can keep weaving all the way to the end of the warp, no problem.

Any how, I think the scarf patterning looks nice. I would use this color combo again. The acrylic made a very dense and stiff fabric. I’m kind of on the fence as to whether I will like wearing it.

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.