Sunday, March 11, 2018

Blue sky baby cables

My old pair of baby cable socks is wearing thin in toe and sole. I knit them in 2011 and they got a lot of wear, so I am not surprised. Also, maybe the wool-bamboo-nylon combo is not quite as tough as wool-nylon. Anyway, it was time for a replacement pair.

Pattern: Short row toe and heel toe-up (Wendy Johnson) and four-stitch pattern baby cable (Charlene Schurch)
Yarn: Simply Sock Yarn Co Simply Sock, in 'Blue Skies' and 'Silver Lining'
Needles: US1
Modifications: Just the usual but with the baby cable stitch pattern

One reason I chose to go with a solid yarn color is to have something that I can wear with patterned leggings. Some people can pull off "interesting" mix 'n match outfits, but not me. A solid color yarn, though, calls for something other than stockinette.

I have tons of sock yarn, but mostly in self-striping or self-patterning colorways which I tend to knit in plain stockinette - fast and easy. The baby cables are not difficult but take some concentration to stick with the four-row repeat error-free. They also took longer because I am such an awkward knitter.

I've been listening to Ron Chernow's Grant on CD while I knit. Up to disk 20 out of 36 (or is it 38?) I'm not really into the Civil War, so it has been a bit tedious, but also eye-opening.

Thursday, March 01, 2018

Big Twist throw rug

My original plan was to weave a bath mat using the black/gray/white 'Cobblestone' colorway for both the warp and weft. Early on, I rejected the combo and unwove the few inches I had worked up. Instead, I knitted Absorba in its place. Still, I didn't want to waste the warp.

I purchased more of the same yarn in 'Redwood' and used that for the weft. I still wasn't quite satisfied, but doubling the yarn created a fabric I was quite pleased with.

The washing instructions for the yarn said to handwash even though it is 80% acrylic and 20% wool. I worked up a quick swatch and threw it in with a load of colors to see if it would shrink. I didn't detect any shrinkage but the yarn did fuzz up a bit.

I fulled the final product by putting it through the "gentle" cycle of my washing machine. Again, the yarn fuzzed up a bit. I would not put this in a high traffic area or where it will pick up a lot of dirt because I doubt it would withstand excessive abrasion or cleaning.

The final dimensions of the rug are 48" long and 19" wide, a perfect size for my master bath. Unfortunately, the 'Redwood' does not go with my decor. What was I thinking?

I played around with the idea of turning this into a big project bag, even purchasing 8/4 carpet warp in black, gray, and white to weave a matching strap on my inkle loom. But the fabric seemed too floppy for a bag.

I asked my SO if he would like it as a rug, and he glommed onto it right away. He has lovely hardwood floors whereas I don't. I trimmed back the fringe using my trusty self-healing cutting pad and circular cutters. (I love useful tools!)

Just when I thought I was done, and after I had taken photos, I noticed the ends of the fringe were coming undone, so I knotted the tips.

Yarn: Big Twist Yarns Natural Blend, ombre in 'Cobblestone' for the warp, solid in 'Redwood' for the weft (doubled)
Loom: Ashford rigid heddle 24", using a 2.5 dent heddle

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Midnight Blush roving rose to yarn

I purchased this "roving rose" at the Jay County Spin-in in 2014. There was an ounce of white, an ounce of navy, an ounce of pink, and an ounce of blended colors, in llama, alpaca, and wool. I grabbed it to take with me to the February meeting of the local spinning guild and spun up the already-blended bit.

I tried to blend the solid colors on-the-fly at the meeting, but that was a FAIL. So later that week, I experimented with blending the three colors at home, using all the tools at my disposal.

A blending board is absolutely perfect for blending roving. You just "paint" the board with the fibers, layering colors as you wish.

The result is a fat sausage of a rolag. If the colors seem too separate, you can re-blend them, until they meet with your approval.

I didn't take notes, but I think I re-blended these rolags at least once, if not twice.

Or not.

I also tried blending on my new drum carder. This worked fine, although it would take some experimenting to get the combination you want.

The resulting batt can be run through again (and again) but from this pic, I think I opted out.

Hand carders may also be used to blend fiber, sort of like a mini-blending board.

I'm not very adept at using the hand carders.

Of these three methods, I like the blending board best. The rolags are fat and tight, and I think you have better control of the outcome.

More fun: spinning the blended fiber! The different methods produced different yarn, depending on how the colors mixed and fed into the wheel.

So now there are four ounces of llama-alpaca-wool, enough for a nice cozy pair of mittens, methinks. I have plenty of hats and scarves but not enough handwear.

But first, I'll take the yarn to the spinning guild for "show and tell".

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Daffodil scarf

While I have a regular method for reporting on knitted FOs, I am still struggling a bit with woven goods. It would help if I kept some notes as I go along. Usually I do this in Ravelry for knitting; now I can do the same for weaving AND spinning, if I just get into the habit.

My goals with this scarf were to explore color and color inspiration (hence the "daffodil" theme) and to play with plaid. I think I achieved these goals. An ongoing goal is to create even selvages; while there is less pull-in with this project, the selvages are still rather raggedy.

Loom: Ashford Samplet 10"
EPI: 10
PPI: 10 (actual around 15)
Dimensions: Before fulling: ? x ?; after fulling: 4" x 80" (not including fringe)
Yarn: Valley Yarn Valley Superwash DK, in 'Red', 'Soft Yellow', 'Spring Leaf', 'Green'

I am still beating too hard, so the goal of 10 ppi was not met. I also was a bit confused over which heddle I was using, as at first I thought it was the 7.5 epi one. Like I said, I need to keep better notes, from step 1 on.

Personally, I prefer worsted weight yarn for scarves, be they knit or woven. I just happen to have a fair amount of DK superwash on hand, so that is what I am playing with.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Blew out my felted slipper

I made these felted slippers in 2009. They were for my SO, but for some reason he left them at my house and rarely wore them. This past winter, I reclaimed them. It didn't take long for a hole to open up in the heel.

In a way, I am glad this happened, as I have been contemplating stash busting by making more of these. Now I know that I need to double up on the heels and/or add a sole of some sort.

I've also been contemplating how to fix these or at least repurpose them. Any suggestions?

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Bookmark experiment

I belong to a rigid heddle group on FB. This is a great way to get fresh ideas about weaving. Suzanne de Lugo tried painting the emerging cloth on her loom with fabric ink pens, working on a neutral colored, plain weave, acrylic "canvas". She is quite the artist to begin with, and her experiment was inspiring.

So I wove up an experiment of my own, on the 3-in-1 Swatchmaker. I used wool, linen, and cotton as my yarn and created three pieces for my granddaughter to draw on, figuring if nothing else the objects could become bookmarks.

The linen worked the best, as it creates a fairly flat fabric. Cotton was a close second and probably would work better with a tighter weave. Wool was too fuzzy to work on.

I thought it might be fun to weave up some linen or cotlin towels for Nora to draw on and color. However, her interest in this activity waned rather rapidly. I keep trying to encourage her craftiness but so far no luck.

Saturday, February 03, 2018

Haste makes wasted time

Today I decided to re-scour the two-pound hunks of fleece, as they just did not look very clean. I was aware of my impatience at the time, otherwise I might have picked at the fleece more before scouring and/or stuck with processing one pound at a time and/or soaked the two-pound hunks one or two more times in Power Scour. Today, while I was more patient, I also treated the fleece a bit more roughly, trying to dislodge more of the dirt. Fingers crossed that the fiber did not felt at all.

There was a one-pound batch that I pre-treated by teasing the locks apart before scouring. That bit looked pretty good, so I put some of it through the drum carder. I quickly learned not to feed too much in at a time. Also, expecting to process even one ounce at a go is a bit optimistic, as my drum carder is only 4 inches wide.

The color above is not accurate - the fiber is white. There are also pills or nepps in the fiber, presumably because I did not sort out the second cuts (shorter fibers caused by the shearer making a second pass over a part of the sheep).

Earlier this week, I also hand carded some of the fiber, just for fun. Some people think hand carding is faster than drum carding, and I can see why, but each has its place in the process. I also have a blending board, but I think that works better with fiber that is already carded.

There is more, much more, to do before I am done with this fleece. And by "done", I mean carded and ready to spin. It's a lot of work, but I'm enjoying it. So far.