Sunday, October 25, 2009

The long haul

Marshalling patience, I have begun the long slow process of weaving a 9 foot stair runner with a handspun weft. The loom, shown at top, is ready. This is my first project on this new-to-me loom and I’m using the 8/4 linen warp that happened to come with it set at 5 ends per inch. I’ve wound on the warp and have now threaded the heddles and sleighed the reed—which for you knitters, just think of the loom being as threaded and almost ready to go.
What I need now is weft, and that will be an entire process of its own and much more time consuming than putting the warp on. Over to the right you can see a bag of gray wool that has been picked and is ready for the carder. As I pick, I keep the fleece in old zippered bedding bags—they are great for this purpose.
To the right is a pot of wool being dyed deep green using my own dye recipe. I’ll need a lot more pots of green and all these dye lots will need to be blended to create a single consistently colored lot before I begin picking, carding and then spinning. The rug will be woven in three colors using alternating shuttles of light gray, a darker gray and dark green. Since all of this is to be handspun, I have a lot of work ahead of me before I can even start weaving. The whole project represents a long haul.
Knitting and spinning for knitting projects ought to fill in the cracks in time quite nicely. My last picture is the socks I just finished on sock blockers. I showed these socks in progress in a September blog and now they are done and ready to go to the wearer. They are a blend of gray Corriedale and a couple of ounces of Cotswold dyed deep blue and purple.
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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Knit n' nap

Being under the weather for the past few days fighting off the latest seasonal crud has caused me to develop a new crafting skill, the “knit n’ nap.” This is where the avid knitter cuddles up in a comfy chair with a cup of hot tea and a nice project and intersperses sips of tea, with a few rounds of knitting and a whole lot of napping. I pretty much snoozed and knit for a good part of three days and looking at what I accomplished, I did mostly snoozing.

I think knitting is a good sick day activity because it is so soothing, and, as long as your project isn’t too complicated, very good for dosing off. I don’t recommend lace projects which might keep you awake. The idea mostly is to get plenty of rest.

I didn’t get much done this week. The picture above is the project I am working on currently—and I was doing the sleeves in my half-waking state. It’s all plain stitch down from the shoulders and fortunately, I had already started it last Sunday so the “hard part” of picking up stitches was done.

The project is spun from a fleece I purchased at Elihu Farm some years ago, carded and spun into yarn that has been sitting around waiting to be knit. The ram providing the fleece was named Champ, a romeldale cross. It is a lovely soft light moorit fleece and I spun a two ply yarn at 11 wraps per inch. The yarn is shown below.

The sweater will be a traditional Guernsey style inspired by books I have in my library, Patterns for Guernseys, Jersey’s and Arans by Gladys Thompson (Dover Press) and Knitting in the Old Way by Priscilla Gibson Roberts and Deborah Robson (Nomad Press). This is the kind of Guernsey made with simple knit and purl patterns. The sleeves are started from the shoulder and knit down. Gladys Thompson has one particularly lovely Guernsey I want to try someday. It is a good book if you like traditional knitting.

One reader was curious about what happened to my weaving project. Oh, it is still sitting quietly, awaiting threading. Last weekend, I did rewind the warp and added the warp sticks I’d forgotten and also began threading. As I feel better this week, I hope to finish the process and be able to show you some progress.

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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Weaving in Woodstock

Searching for a weaving guild, I drove up to Woodstock, IL, with spinning guild friend Pat to find out what Woodstock Weavers is all about. Woodstock Weavers is having their annual show this October, and you can find out more about it at their website This year’s show is judged by Robyn Spady and at the meeting I attended, she gave an abridged version of her workshop “There’s Two Sides to Every Cloth” about double weave.

It is fascinating to me all the things that can be done with weaving. As a new weaver I don’t expect to be doing double weave anytime soon. I’ll be glad just to get the warp properly on my loom! One thing I learned is double weave can use twice as many warp threads--so you can see why I'll leave that for a future experiment.

Woodstock, by the way, is a lovely little town and would be a nice destination for a fall weekend, even without a weaving exhibit to visit after lunch.

Since we were up that way, Pat and I stopped at The Fold. I have a picture here of all the different colors of roving available—there’s plenty of lovely stuff! Though I generally like to do my own carding and dyeing, I don’t mind purchasing some nice roving every so often. I found a merino/bamboo/nylon blend that I want to experiment with, and a small bag of coral merino that will make a nice accent color in the Fair Isle yoke I want for a sweater.

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Sunday, October 4, 2009

Creative synergy

There is nothing quite like driving up to one’s knitting Starbucks to find it swathed in yellow crime scene tape. Upon closer inspection, I realized I’d let my imagination run away and it was merely construction scene “caution” tape. Inside, the Starbuck’s had been gutted and stripped back to its aluminum studs: closed for renovation.

Not wanting to miss the meeting, I rushed home and checked the Raverly group—all the while kicking myself for ignoring the premonition to check for news before I left in the first place. Fortunately, it had moved to the next Starbucks over. I was relieved to get there with still an hour or more of knitting comradeship to go.

Which has me thinking that I can’t underestimate the importance of the knitting group. At this meeting, I showed off the pretty new yarn I purchased at Neota Designs in Estes Park, Colorado. I really had no idea what to make with it. I had thought socks when I purchased it, then later maybe a pretty hat. As I sat knitting with my group, Dana pulled a lovely lace scarf pattern (Knitpicks Gust) from her portable stash and Lorna remarked it would be perfect. They and others agreed. Looking at the design, I had to concur. The design is perfect for my yarn and once finished, it will look great with my wool “go to work” winter coat.

A creative synergy develops when knitters get together. I know the encouragement of my knitting friends will help me try something new. I don’t often knit from patterns, and I rarely knit lace as I like sturdy warm woolens. Without the momentum of the knitting group, I’m not sure I would have thought of it.

Thank you for visiting my blog. If you aren’t a member of a knitting/spinning/weaving guild or group, look for one in your area! You’ll be glad you did. Have a great week!