Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Spinning dervish

Ever since renewing my spinning skills (such as they are), I have been trying to cement them to memory. Now I can say, "I am a spinner" instead of "I have a wheel and lots of roving". Just in time, as I have been invited to a "spin in" this Friday.

Most of this is mystery yarn, meaning I can't recall where the roving came from. The first two I spun about halfway through the roving before abandoning it for some reason. The white is quite soft.

The brown is quite course. It might be from Audrey and Duncan.

This taupe came out kind of fluffy.

These three natural colors go quite well together, I think.

I know where the roving for this one came from: the Big Red Barn. They combine roving of pre-selected colors for the color-challenged (like me) into "roses", to be blended by the purchaser. I actually blended and spun the yarn a while ago but didn't get it all plied. I took it with me to the remedial spinning lesson, to refresh my plying skills.

My pledge going forward is to do a better job labeling roving so I know what it is and where it came from. This also means labeling the yarn after it comes off the spool, so I know how much is there, in both yards and weight and (ideally) wraps-per-inch. Record keeping is all part of the fun and creates a story behind the yarn.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Neverending scarf

At least that is how I felt while weaving this pink, gray, and black scarf. I was aiming for about 72", it came out 83", not a ridiculous length. I was also aiming for something more plaid instead of checkerboard, but I'm satisfied.

Loom: Ashford SampleIt
Yarn: Green Mountain Spinnery New Mexico Organic (gray), Lion Brand Lion Cashmere Blend (black), Manos del Uruguay Maxima (pink)
EPI: 7.5
PPI: 8
Warp: 8 pink, 2 black, 8 gray, 2 black, 8 pink, 2 black, 8 gray, 2 black, 8 pink
Weft: same pattern as warp

This project is the first time I tried hemstitiching, which I think worked out well. It is also the first time for twisted fringe, which turned out... odd. I twisted and tied the ends before washing when I think it might have been better to do it after, as the different yarns ended up different lengths.

The only error I could find was midway, where I duplicated the gray block instead of alternating with a pink one. Also, I missed one pair of black weft rows, but I was able to weave that in after it came off the loom. I thought I saw a float but can't find it now, so it must be invisible.

I've been busy, busy, busy lately with a new dog and with SPINNING! I returned to my spinning teacher for a remedial lesson and Betty got me going again. I'm really enjoying it.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Had to try it

While perusing The Weaver's Inkle Pattern Directory, by Anne Dixon, I came across a description of tubular inkle weaving. Most knitters are familiar with idiot cord, or i-cord. This is basically the same thing: the shuttle goes in the same side instead of back and forth between sides, creating a tube or round cord. Of course, I had to try this out.

I wanted three stripes of equal width, and thought I needed the same color on both sides of the tape in order for the weft to be invisible. I warped 2-5-5-3 in green, yellow, pink, green, all in Maysville 8/4 carpet warp. This worked out great, although splitting the green may have been unnecessary since I was wefting from only one side.

I chose a short warp length, which still produced almost five feet of cord. The colors spiral naturally, although part of the "rhythm" of tubular weaving includes giving the tape a little twist. One can do an S-twist or a Z-twist.

A possible use for tubes of weaving is as shoelaces, although I think 8/2 would be a better yarn size to use for this purpose. Other uses I can think of off the top of my head are spiral bowls and round coasters. Any more ideas out there?

Monday, August 14, 2017

It's addicting

I started my first inkle project on August 12, finished it the next day. For one thing, once one develops a rhythm, the weaving goes quickly. For another, it is SO addicting!

I thought maybe I had made a mistake warping such a long project, but now I have 96" of inkle tape, to do something with. I think it is enough for a dog collar and leash. I haven't washed it yet, so it may shrink a bit.

Can you tell which end is the beginning and which the end? To vary the width of a tape, one can tug hard or not, depending on what one's aim is. My aim was to be consistent, and I eventually achieved that. More or less.

A question in the back of my mind right now is, Will I ever return to knitting? It's not unusual for me to fall off knitting during the summer, but now I am wondering if I am on the cusp of abandoning it in favor of weaving. Time (and the arrival of winter weather) will tell.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Inkle dinkle doo

I belong to the Fort Wayne Weavers Guild, a great bunch of talented and generous people. By talented, I mean I spend a good part of the each meeting with my mouth hanging open, stunned by what they produce with their looms. It's both inspiring and intimidating. By generous, I mean they are very welcoming to newcomers and eager to help and share their knowledge. Part of that transfer of knowledge occurs during what they call Super Saturdays, when those interested meet at a member's house and learn something new.

I haven't been able to attend any Super Saturdays until today, when the subject was how to weave on an inkle loom. I've been very interested in learning this because it looks like fun, is a great way to create fancy strips of cloth for a wide variety of uses, and hey, I need a new loom (like a hole in the head).

Like most learning experiences, we exhibited awkwardness and confusion, but once we got our looms warped and started the actual weaving, it became easier and fun. There are a few tricky bits to achieving a consistent looking result, but that comes with practice.

I used Maysville 8/4 Cotton Rug Warp, in colors 'Tulip', 'Yellow', and 'Light Jade' (my granddaughter picked them out). My loom is an Ashford Inkle (not the Inklet which is very compact and portable). I had no problem assembling the loom, but still need to apply a finish. That will have to wait until I complete my practice project. I warped the longest way possible, so I'm more likely to end up with a bunch of somethings that are usable.

Inkle looms are good for making all kinds of things, from bookmarks and bracelets and shoelaces to dog collars and leashes to guitar straps and tote bag handles to tote bags themselves. I see lots of fun in my future.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Not what I was aiming for

When I decided to move the rhubarb patch in my garden, I also decided it was a good time to try dyeing with rhubarb roots. It was a bit of a hassle and I did not get the results I wanted, but that seems to be beside the point when it comes to dyeing with natural materials.

One surprise was this black gunky stuff on the roots. Or I should say, at one end of the roots, as I eventually figured out it was the crown of the plant. (My pix of it came out blurry or I would show you what it looked like.) I chopped up enough root for my dye bath, and then some more, to dry. I chopped until my wrists gave out.

Again, I relied on Jenny Dean's book Wild Color. The yarn this time was a skein of Happy Feet Dye for Me (90% merino, 10% nylon) fingering weight, divided into five mini skeins. The idea was to apply an alkaline modifier to produce a range of colors on the red side. I used ammonia for the modifier, which is strong enough to change litmus paper to its most alkaline color with just fumes. That should have been a clue that my goal was not going to be achieved.

I wish I had saved a skein so you could see what the color looked like before the afterbath. The ammonia altered the color but did not turn it as rosy as I had hoped, and all five skeins are basically alike. It's not a bad color, but again, I was hoping for a range of colors. I may overdye this yarn.

Now that I have tried my dyeing hand several times and with different materials, I am becoming more comfortable with the whole process. Part of me would really like to work in a more controlled and scientific way, but another part of me likes to be surprised by the outcome. Either way, there are no failures, just lessons learned.