Thursday, November 16, 2017

Absorba the Great (sort of)

I got this idea to weave a bathroom rug out of super bulky yarn from here. JoAnn had some super bulky yarn on clearance, so it seemed ordained that I would try this out. Well, after warping, I was not excited by the weaving.


I also wanted thicker material than this was turning out to be. Mason Dixon Knitting to the rescue! Unfortunately, this is one rug that looks better in real life than it does in a photo.


Pattern: Absorba, the Great Bathmat
Yarn: Big Twist Yarns Natural Blend Ombres, colorway 11001 (black and white and grays)
Needles: US17
Final size: 31" x 22"
Modifications: Different yarn, different needles, held two strands instead of three, fewer "logs", picked up more stitches

Knitting super bulky yarn doubled was really hard on my hands (and arms and shoulders), but thankfully it didn't take long. The rug is about a half inch thick and squooshy under foot. Mostly acrylic with some wool, we shall see how absorbent the yarn is.

Now I'm wondering what to do with the warped bit. Maybe unweave the weft and replace it with a contrasting color, like pink or yellow? Stick with super bulky or try something thinner? Hmmm.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Where do you keep your hand knits?

Besides the fiber arts studio conundrum, I also have an issue with managing all my hand knits. A friend suggested rugged antique-ish ladders for blankets. I found some at a new local consignment shop, Rekindle.


I don't like to hang scarves because they tend to stretch. But folded and hung, again on an old ladder, works just fine. (Hats and handwear go into some baskets.)


My wool socks get washed but once a year, just before I put them away for the season. The rest of the time they air out on a drying rack in my bedroom. This takes up a bit of room, but is doable.

But SWEATERS. My hand knit sweaters are too bulky for drawers and too heavy for hangers. During the off season, they rest in a big plastic tub in my closet. But I can't figure out how to manage them during sweater-wearing season besides draping them over a rocking chair in my bedroom.

How do you manage your hand knits?

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Make no mistake - I still knit

Most of my recent posts have not been about knitting. Should I change the name of the blog? Or does the banner picture say it all?

After a summer (and part of autumn) hiatus, I am knitting again, this time with my own homespun. I knit something up with my first ever homespun, but it was basically what we politely refer to as "art yarn" - big and fat but not on purpose (sort of like my body). Now my homespun is more like worsted, but not consistently so.

Since the diameter of the singles was so erratic, determining WPI (wraps per inch) seemed useless. So I knit up a couple of swatches, one on US7 and one on US8 needles. (And just for fun, I threw them into the walnut husk dye bath.)


Yep, I would call this worsted, or close enough. And I think the Lincoln wool took the dye well. But not as well as what I think is Cascade 220, which I finished the bind off with on one swatch.


Then, since my oatmeal scarf disappeared one day last winter, I decided to knit myself another oatmeal scarf.


Pattern: Easy Mistake-Rib Scarf in Three Weights, more or less
Yarn: homespun Lincoln 2-ply, undyed
Needles: US8
Modifications: not really, other than I slip the first stitch knitwise on each row


The uneven spinning gives this scarf a "rustic" look. For length, I aim for a scarf that is as long as the wearer is tall. Even though the yarn was a bit coarse, the scarf did stretch a bit when soaked and blocked.


Besides this scarf, I have a hat in the same homespun in progress, plus a pair of socks to gift (currently turning heels), and a rug on US17 needles, for my bathroom. So, yes, I still knit.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Do you have a fiber arts studio?

While I was dyeing with walnut husks last week, I found myself wishing I had a second kitchen. My microwave is over the stove, so the tall dye pots get in the way of my nuking a cup of coffee. I don't cover all surfaces with plastic wrap like some dye books recommend, but I do try to keep food prep and dye prep separate. Then there are the multiple trips to the utility sink in the laundry room and to the dye cupboards in the garage. It's just annoying.

I decided what I needed to do was SELL my house and BUY a duplex. I could live in one unit while the second one became a multi-room FIBER ARTS STUDIO. Oh, I had it all planned out in my head. Reality is most of the duplexes in this city are in sketchy neighborhoods and/or are smack dab up against their neighbors and/or if in decent shape and in a decent neighborhood and have a bit of yard, get snatched up immediately. I found one I considered move-in ready, and within one day it was off the market.

Other than that SECOND KITCHEN, my house actually has as much square footage as that duplex I coveted. I just need to rearrange and reorganize. Using one of the spare bedrooms as a fiber arts studio has not been working out. It is just too small. And yarn keeps tumbling out of the closet. And roving has to be stored in the closet of the other spare bedroom, where the dresser and the bookcase hold more fiber stuff. Even my diningroom has become unusable as a place to dine because of the inkle loom and sewing machine. Using my entire house as a fiber arts studio is not working out.

With the help of my SO, some rearranging and reorganizing went on the other day, in an attempt to turn the spare bedrooms back into bedrooms and to make the den into a studio. Or at least half of the den, as that is also where the TV is. There is still fiber in the bedroom closets and dresser and bookcase, but much of the rest of my accouterments are now in the den. And there is room to spare, even enough floor space for yoga.

I did winnow out some books. And it would be best if I let a few pieces of furniture find their way to new owners. And the inkle loom is still on the diningroom table. I have yet to actually do any fiber arting in the studio, to see how functional it is. But as long as Beau the Feline Destroyer of All Things Nice doesn't wreak havoc out there, I think this may work out. Fingers crossed.

SO my question to you is, Do you have a fiber arts studio? How do you keep your fiber things organized? Do tell!

Saturday, November 04, 2017

Walnut husk dyeing

I think my eyes must be missing some rods and cones, as most of this yarn just looks BROWN to me. My artistic daughter, on the other hand, picks out yellows and greens as well as various shades of brown. She obviously does not get her talent from me!

Walnut husk dye bath

Creating a dye bath from walnut husks is relatively easy. First, soak a bunch of unhulled walnuts in water, for as long as you like. Some sources say an hour, some say a day, some say a week, some say until you get around to dyeing with them. The longer they set, the funkier the smell, but it, and the mold, do not matter.

Initial dip

When you are ready to dye, simmer the nuts for an hour. Then add yarn, mordanted or unmordanted, and simmer for an hour. Then let sit overnight.

Gross!

If you want, repeat the dye process. Apply modifiers. Rinse. Hang to dry.

First samples

I worked with 16 one-ounce yarn samples of Lambs Price worsted. Each one was treated differently. Half were mordanted with alum and cream of tartar, half were not. Half the mordanted and half the unmordanted went through the dye bath once, the rest went twice. Some were not modified, some were modified in vinegar, some in an iron afterbath, some in liquid from wood ash.

Litmus paper test

Because previous attempts to modify dyed yarn did not seem to do anything, I tested the pH of the modifiers with litmus, to make sure they were really acid, neutral, and alkaline. (My dad was a chemist - can you tell?)

Dyed yarn does not match colors in book

The yarn colors are supposed to match those four on the left in the picture above. To my untrained eye, they are not even close. Am I doing something wrong? Or is the book (Wild Colors) lying or are its examples supposed to be for illustrative purposes only?

Alum & cream of tartar mordant
One dye bath
Modifiers: none, acid, iron, alkaline

No mordant
Two dye baths
Modifiers: none, acid, iron, alkaline

Alum & cream of tartar mordant
Two dye baths
Modifiers: none, acid, iron, alkaline

No mordant
One dye bath
Modifiers: none, acid, iron, alkaline

One dye bath

Two dye baths

Altogether now

Even though I enjoy the process, it is a lot of work to go through to get such similar shades of brown, me thinks. What think you?

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Pickup sampler

I am trying to teach myself pickup weaving on the inkle loom. My technique is not kosher but it works for me and my old eyes. As one of my computer profs used to say about programming: There is more than one way to skin a cat.


I've been relying primarily on Anne Dixon's The Weaver's Inkle Pattern Directory for instructions. Watching a couple of YouTube videos did not help much, so I came up with a technique of my own, using a US1 double-pointed knitting needle to pick up threads. Also, I pick them up in the just-beaten row, as otherwise I wind up making a LOT of mistakes.


Unweaving pickup is NOT an easy task, as you need to pickup as you unweave as well, and pickup however you picked up wrong in the first place, if that makes any sense. After cursing, the phrase most often muttered by me was "HOW did I do this?!?" But once I developed my picking technique, the mistakes grew fewer.


Initially, I tried to just wing it. But after struggling to the point of tears, I realized I learned to knit by slavishly following patterns; I can learn pickup the same way. Once I started working from inkle patterns, things went much smoother.


You can pick up heddled threads and/or unheddled threads. Doing both together is challenging, but that is how you get the most interesting results. Pickup is a lot slower than plain weave, but not that bad (she said optimistically).

Saturday, October 28, 2017

I'm going!!!

I just signed up for PlyAway!!! I have attended fiber classes at local fiber fests, but this will be my first experience with a MAJOR fiber event. I'm excited and nervous. But I'm also old enough not to be afraid of making a fool of myself. Also, there will be vendors I have never heard of before. $$$

Many people travel when they retire, but I am not much for traveling just for traveling's sake. And for many, MANY years, most of my traveling involved heading east to visit my dad (may he rest in peace). Traveling for fiber arts is an animal of a different color, plus we will be heading WEST for a change.

If you are interested in PlyAway, better get signed up sooner rather than later. Today was the first day to register and already one class I planned to take was full, probably because it meets on Friday. I thought we might head home a day early, until I learned about the Yarn Barn in Lawrence. $$$

So much for my children's inheritance.