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.

learning-to-spin

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.

spinit-book

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.

Sew Almost Victorian

gatzpI went to another murder mystery dinner a few weeks ago. As with the first one , I saw it as another excuse to sew.Fumbling through my first year of teaching has got me pretty strapped for playtime these days but I was determined to make my outfit. The theme this year was Victorian. I knew I wouldn’t worry myself with making something absolutely historically correct. I figured a lot of people would go with the steampunk style that is so popular right now so I aimed for something in between.

The Vogue 1132 vest I made a few years ago with the ruffle in the back immediately came to mind. It sort of reminds me of a bustle. The plan was to add a long skirt and badabing! I’d be victorianesk.

Peplum vest back

Vogue 1132 Peplum vest back

 

 

 

I found some shimmery, embossed velvety, polyester fabric from JoAnne fabrics for $3 and decided to make the Vogue vest with the flounced skirt from McCall’s 6770.Mccalls steampunk

Embossed polyester fabric. Not bad for $3 per yard.  My sister had these victorianesk shoes in her closet for some reason.

Embossed polyester fabric. Not bad for $3 per yard.
My sister had these victorianesk shoes in her closet for some reason.

I cutout both vest and skirt but ran out of steam after sewing the skirt. It went together nicely, but took me a while.

The skirt was easy to sew with only 3 pattern pieces. Hemming the flounce took forever.

The skirt was easy to sew with only 3 pattern pieces. Hemming the flounce took forever.

The lazy bones in me just thought well I don’t have to have the matching skirt and vest do I? I tried the skirt on with the houndstooth vest I made a couple years ago (it needed alterations on the side seams because whatdoya know, I lost weight!) and thought hey, this looks almost Victorian.20160312_185117

For accessories I pulled out a little ascot I knitted from a yarn of  blended angora and ramboullet fiber I handspun. The pattern is from Interweave Knits Holiday Gifts 2007.

handspun ramboullet /angora blend ascot from Interweave Knits Holiday Gifts

handspun ramboullet /angora blend ascot from Interweave Knits Holiday Gifts 2007

It is still cold here in Indiana (like seriously today it snowed) so I decided to wear my favorite shawl. It is the most complicated and time consuming one I have made to date. I finished it back in 2008-2009. The yarn is a commercial millspun tencel that has a really nice, silky drape to it. The pattern is Pretty As a Peacock by Some Knitting Required.

Showing off my Pretty as A Peacock shawl made from Some Knitting Required pattern

Showing off my Pretty as A Peacock shawl made from the Some Knitting Required pattern

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Until next time..Cherrio!

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

Getting My crochet On

I had an itch to get some crocheting done. It began this summer and I ended up making some hats from one of my favorite books Get Your Crochet on by Afya Ibomu.get your crochet book They work up really quickly and the design possibilities are endless. My hats are a variation of her pattern since I decided to be cheap and substitute elastic for a drawstring.

My fuchsia Kinky Reggae hat with bib variation from the book Get Your Crochet On! The shawl is self-knit from too long ago to remember what the pattern was. I made 2. This version is knit from Noro yarn.

My fuchsia Kinky Reggae hat with bib variation from the book Get Your Crochet On!
The shawl is self-knit from too long ago to remember what the pattern was. I made 2. This version is knit from Noro yarn.

My fuchsia Kinky Reggae hat with bib variation from the book Get Your Crochet On! Holds back the hair lika Pro!

My fuchsia Kinky Reggae hat with bib variation from the book Get Your Crochet On! Holds back the hair lika Pro!

My version of the hat called MC from the Book Get your Crochet On! with drawstring in the back.

My version of the hat called MC from the Book Get your Crochet On! with drawstring in the back.

turqu hat 1

My crochet hat collection

My crochet hat collection

A Gift: Putting My Handspun Cotton to Use

It has been a long time, like 5 years since I’ve done more time consuming needlework such as shawls. Once upon a season I was a knitting fiend and I knit about 30 shawls and scarves over the course of a 2 year span. Many of them were done with yarn I spun myself.

My crochet itch came back this winter and I found myself pouring over my crochet magazines looking for a shawl to crochet. It just dawned on me that I had never actually crocheted a shawl before this latest project. The majority of my projects were afghans and purses during my high school years. 13 years ago!

The material used for this project is extra special. I was on the SpinOff Magazine website about 4 years ago and found myself chatting with a cotton farmer from Texas. He emailed me last summer and offered to send me cotton and seeds from his farm. What a gift!!! I was so excited when 10 pounds of some of the best quality cotton I have ever worked with arrived at my home. Thanks Jack!! You’re my hero!

Gift from an awesome cotton farmer from Texas. 10lbs of premium cotton

Gift from an awesome cotton farmer from Texas. 10lbs of premium cotton

I immediately got to carding it up and spinning. I just spun a little here and there, only finishing a 2-ply lace weight skein this past  December.

Carding the Texas cotton

Carding the Texas cotton

Nice and fluffy, reading to spin after a little carding

Nice and fluffy, ready to spin after a little carding

Finished skein ready to wind into a ball

Finished skein ready to wind into a ball

winding the cotton yarn into a ball

winding the cotton yarn into a ball

I decided to crochet my first shawl, the Dragonfly by Lisa Naskrent. My version has a HDC border instead of the lace border that comes with the pattern. I didn’t have enough yarn for it and I did not want to halt my project while I spun more. Keep going while you have the steam! I like how it turned out. I think I will dye it eventually.

Dragonfly shawl variation of Lis Naskrent pattern (not blocked) natural cotton color

Dragonfly shawl variation of Lis Naskrent pattern (not blocked) natural cotton color

wearing the hand-spun cotton Dragonfly shawl..with pajamas;-)

wearing the hand-spun cotton Dragonfly shawl..with pajamas;-)

I enjoyed working this simple pattern so much that I started in on another one using a hand-dyed seasilk skein I spun years ago.

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My 2nd Dragonfly shawl in progress using a hand-dyed, hands-spun soysilk lace weight.

Sewing Some More: Simplicity 2246 and Sew Chic View A modified

It’s a new new year and I’ve been really itching to make something fancy. My life however, demands something a bit more practical. I have recently begun working in a 2nd grade classroom as part of my transition to teaching so I decided to make something to wear for school.

Simplicity 2246 has nice, fuss free shirt dresses that work well for the classroom.

simplicity2246 2246line

I sewed View A which has convenient pockets. The little patch pockets over the bust area are a cute detail although they are totally pointless unless you plan to keep a small stash of raisins or something in them. The pattern would have been a little nicer with a back yoke, and a separate collar stand. Either way I will be making it again because it’s so fast and easy to sew.

The fabric is a printed flannel. which makes for a super cozy dress. I used red buttons on it because I needed 9 of them and found a pack of red ones for $.99. I like them, kinda especially since the black buttons were like $3.99 per 5 pack at Joann’s 😦

Simplicity 2246 made with flannel fabric

Simplicity 2246 made with flannel fabric

Ready for school

Simplicity 2246 View A ready for school

In addition to the shirt dress I whipped up another one of my Yoshiko Tsukiori staples. The first one I made See Here has gotten a lot of wear. This one is a modified version of Sew Chic Dress A. with long sleeves, side ties, and patch pockets. The fabric is a novelty quilting fabric picked up a view months ago. Comfy. I have been wearing it like a tunic with pants. The cool thing about the ties is that you can either tie them in the front for an A-line look or tie them in the back for a slimmer look.

I did a little running stitch, doodling on the the pockets and ties with embroidery thread for fun

I did a little running-stitch doodling on the pockets and ties with embroidery thread for fun

Tied in the front for a full A-line look: Sew Chic Dress A with long sleeves, ties, and pockets added

Tied in the front for a full A-line look: Sew Chic Dress A with long sleeves, ties, and pockets added

Tied in the back for a slim look: Sew Chic Dress A with long sleeves, ties, and pockets added

Tied in the back for a slim look: Sew Chic Dress A with long sleeves, ties, and pockets added