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.

 

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.

More Rag Rugs Please

Last year I purchased a rag rug to use in my kitchen. I spent about $40 dollars on a colorful 5ftX4ft rug I’m guessing made in India with all the bright polyester fabrics. I love it. Now make it? Dream on sister. My fabric scraps aren’t nearly so colorful and I’m not about to go buy fabric to make a rag rug. So I put that idea away.

A few months ago in October I went to a heritage festival in New Carlisle and found a woman crocheting rag rugs. They were gorgeous. She showed me how to tear long strips from lengths of fabric. Old sheets give the best yield. Just snip and tear and the strips become the yarn.

Later that month I asked my sister if she had some old sheets she wanted to get rid of. Lucky me, she had a huge Spacebag full of old faded comforters in her basement ready to give me.

I started tearing the strips. It must have looked fun because mom started in on tearing strips too. By the end of the day we had a basketful of yarn.

Mom tearing sheets for rag rugs

Mom tearing sheets for rag rugs

I crochet a rug as I saw at the festival. I liked it okay but the crocheting was hard on the fingers. So I put the project away for a spell.

First Crocheted rag rug

First Crocheted rag rug

Fast forward to November, I took a trip to Williamsburg, Virginia. In one of the gift shops I saw braided rag rugs. The strips were first braided then, zigzag stitched by machine into a finished rug. I liked them but the machine stitching turned me off.
I could do the braids then whipstitch the rug together with thread by hand and get a similar look but couldn’t it be done faster?

So the resulting experiment was a rug made by braiding the strips then using the same strips to whipstitch them together. Eureka! A nice, durable rag rug that is fast and simple to make. I have one in front of the kitchen sink and one at the patio entrance for now. We’ll see how long they hold up. So far so good.
I think I will use this technique again.

Fabric braid

Fabric braid

First whip stitched rag rug

First whip stitched rag rug