Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Snow Day Weave-athon!

IMG_0069 by Craftsteader
IMG_0069, a photo by Craftsteader on Flickr.
Bitter cold air has me home from work today--I work in education and schools are closed! Thank you Arctic Vortex because I am weaving up my own weather system here. Yep, I still have some of that warp on the Fanny. I thought I'd try white this time to see how it looks! I have two inches left on this towel and I think I can squeeze one more towel out of this warp.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Weaving a complicated design

A large shuttle helps me weave the wide width of this loom..
Looking over the Canadian Snowflake pattern sent to me by Laura Fry, I was a little daunted by the complexity and concerned about threading and weaving errors ruining the whole project.  As it turns out, complexity is a good thing in weaving because it forced me to slow down and put into place methods to keep me on track.

With a 73 repeat, I need to be extra careful with threading and treadling
My current project is done in a rayon boucle that is roughly the size of 5/2 cotton.  I threaded it a 20 dents per inch.  Since my project is a throw, I ended out with 1000 ends to make the 50 inch weaving width. With this in mind I was able to include 9 snowflake repeats with the point twill filler pattern done twice between each one.  The snowflake pattern itself take 73 ends each time and the point twill pattern has a repeat of 13.

To keep track during threading I copied the pattern onto some graph paper and used an index card and paperclip to move up the paper as I threaded each bit.  I used two cards, actually so I could blank out one three to four end bit of the pattern.  With 73 ends, I needed to divide the design in half to fit it on the graph paper.  I marked each side of the design so the page was folded in half.  It turned out to be a good method.
Yarn for a future throw. Yes, it is done, all 1000 yards!
I really love weaving this.  I already have ideas for some hand towels.  I'll be using 3/2 cotton which I plan to set at 15 ends per inch.  I would put the snowflake in the center of the pattern and the point twill on each side.  This will make lovely towels!  I look forward to starting it but I have to get the last couple of goose eye towels off the loom.  I must remember not to make such long warps!

Been under the weather this weekend, so I haven't been able to make much progress. Most of this was done earlier in the week.  Can't believe we are getting another arctic vortex tomorrow.  

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Getting warped

A sleighed reed.
 Nothing quite beats the good feeling of getting a warp on.  All I need to do now is to tie the warp on and start weaving.  I would have done that this weekend but I became sidetracked by my spinning projects.  I did lots of fleece picking, and bit of carding and quite a bit of plying, but very little in the way of weaving.
New shelf in workshop.
I did no weaving, unless you count putting a shelf in my workshop so I can see my yarn stash as a sort of weaving.  I suppose if that is so, I can also count drooling over the latest Yarn Barn catalog.  My husband and I finally got around to putting the shelf up.  We purchased it a couple of months ago, but you know how that goes. Other things get in the way.  The promise of three to five inches of snow kept us from going out, so Saturday was the perfect day for small home projects. Shown on my new shelf is my collection of cotton yarns. And yes, the braces for the shelf aren't evenly space.  That's because our stud detector also detected AC power midway along the shelf.

First ply.
My new plying technique for fine yarns will include two passes through the wheel.  Trying to get a good ply the first time around is tedious for me--it takes some fast treadling with slow progress to get the sort of ply I want.  So I went ahead and took ply like that show above and put it back through the wheel.

Second ply.
Then I get the sort of ply I want without he tedium of waiting for the yarn to twist to the level I want.  It also saves me from my major disadvantage, which is daydreaming.  Once I let my mind wander and I stop paying attention, I'm likely to get a few yards of bad ply--by putting it through the wheel twice, I can daydream to my heart's content and still get the ply I want, making me a much happier spinner.

Freshly carded batts.
Carding also took up my attention.  I picked that Jacob fleece I dyed a few months ago and now I'm creating batts.  In February, I hope to start spinning it up for a rug project I have planned. This is carding up very quickly and I am already halfway through the bag.  I hope I have enough for a rug!

Grass-fed beef stew.
Something's been cooking around the Craftstead too.  Ever since I started with that slow cooker book, I've been slow cooking up a storm.  Yesterday, I made Shrimp Gumbo and it marks my first time ever cooking with okra.  Okra is an odd looking little vegetable but nice and tasty in Gumbo.  We loved it so much that next time I'm making a double batch. Today, I made beef stew.  That was quite delicious too.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Ambitious plans

I strung a thousand heddles during the cold snap.

Bitter cold kept me indoors for two days and I managed to thread 1000 heddles for my next throw project. The school where I work was closed so I had two extra days to craft! This particular project is using Laura Fry's Canadian Snowflake draft, and is the most complex thing I've put on my loom.  The pattern repeat for my use is 98, so I took extra care in threading.  I used an index card to keep track of where I was in the pattern and a binder clip to keep the index card in place.  I won't really know how I did until I start weaving.  This is the kind of pattern where you don't want to make a threading mistake.

Yak and silk
I am still dreaming of using the natural brown yak yarn I spun a couple of years ago to weave some scarves.  Here is another weft candidate, a richly dyed yak and silk blend form Widdershin Woolworks.  I found this will tooling around Ravelry looking for the right blend.  Spinning this and the braid I purchased last week are next on my spinning roster, as soon as I finish the blue and green I've been spinning for the past couple of months.  I hope to have the singles done by the end of the week.  I have an 8-shaft draft picked out and I'm looking forward to starting this project on the Loomcraft loom I brought home in May.
Farmers market find.

This time of year, I buy my locally grown happy chicken eggs and grass fed meats out of the back of a van.  The food comes down from Wisconsin and is local as far as we are concerned.  Included is the smoked trout shown above made by this small operation called Running Waters that raises and smokes their own trout.  This is delicious and makes amazing sandwiches.  We only get to eat it occasionally though, as smoke products tend to be a bit salty.

I need to get some crafting done.  This was an opera day, so I didn't get to spend much time at my loom. Only half the reed is sleighed, so I'd better get working!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Snow and cold? Time to craft!

Summer is a long time away.
Storm Charged Particle is making its way through the Midwest leaving lots of snow and bringing some freezing cold temperatures. Yep, that means a chance to wear all those handspun wool hats, scarves and sweaters! Yes, an I know the Weather Channel is calling the storm "Ion" but I thought I would translate that silly name. Of course, I could have written Storm Ion Charges Through the Midwest, lol! But I held back. Sheesh, they used to just be snow storms, now they have names.  To be honest, I can't keep up with all the names.

Yummy merino and yak!
Thinking of warm woolens, I just received the braid above in the mail from the Unwind Yarn Company.  They were having an end-of-the-year sale and I figured a luxurious 50/50 blend of yak down and merino would be the perfect way to start the new year! The colorway is Goldenrod and it will go great in a weaving project with all the natural brown yak yarn I have.  Yak is a lovely fiber to spin and is a budget conscious alternative to cashmere.  I highly recommend the fiber!

Handwoven basket pack is re-tasked.
I have a new addition to my spinning gadget arsenal, the handwoven basket fashioned into a backpack shown below.  My late mother-in-law purchased it at the Common Ground Fair in Maine to use in her local foraging activities--she loved to go out and harvest the wild asparagus!  She knew the flora and fauna of her neighborhood and regularly went out to pick berries, fiddleheads and other wild grown things.  We had to clean out the house over the holidays and picked this up, knowing I could find a good use for  it.  And here I have it, the perfect batt holder.  The basket will stand nicely by my wheel and I will be able to keep the batts clean with the waterproof nylon cover.
More to spin.
I have one more braid of the turquoise/purple blend.  I will be glad to have this finished! I have to say, it seems like I've been spinning it forever. And it is only one pound of fiber.

Well, tomorrow, I go back to work after being off for more than two weeks.  It will be a bit of a shock I expect.  I will also appreciate the discipline and structure of the work week.  I will likely get more done! Though to be honest, I'll miss lounging at will.  I would have lounged less had I not come down with a cold, but such is life!