Monday, April 17, 2017

Results of Collapse weave experiments

The collapse weave experiments are done and I have my plan for the Tour de Fleece. As I said last time, I planned to do four sets of samples. Each set consists of two identical samples: one to remain unwashed and the other to be washed and finished.

I hemstitched each sample. I did not size the singles. I think I need to do this because the single got very twisty and was difficult to weave with.

Sample set 1: This was done with a high-twist, very fine, dyed Polwarth single. It was spun with Z twist from top. Spun with a short forward draw. The discrepancy between the thickness of the warp and the weft meant that this became warp-focused and the color variation in the weft is not visible. But I liked the feel of this. With a thinner warp, this would be a lovely fabric.
This is one of the samples on the loom.

This is the completed set. Washed on the left and unwashed on the right. The unwashed sample is curling from the twist I think.

Sample set 2: a thicker, lower twist single spun Z from a cream/taupe striped Corriedale roving. This was spun with a supported longish draw. I striped the weft by packing it down more densely to create stripes. This is my favorite and what I will be spinning for during the Tour de Fleece.  I will weave a scarf with self stripes in the warp and the weft using the same singles yarn.
On the loom.
Completed set. Washed on left and unwashed on right.

Sample set 3: Singles were spun with S twist from gray Corriedale roving. Spun with a short backward draw. This is what the dyed Polwarth would look like if the singles were thicker. The gray makes the colors in the warp pop.
On the loom.
 Completed set. Washed on left, unwashed on right. This is also curling but see how nice the fabric is on the washed sample. I liked this one a lot also.

Sample set 4: Same singles as above but I added stripes of the warp, which wouldn't change in the finishing as it is a balanced yarn.
 On the loom.

Completed set. Washed on left, unwashed on right. This also makes an interesting fabric and something I may try with a different warp at some time.

Overall, I found the process fun and I learned a lot. Sarah Anderson recommends sizing with a xanthan gum solution to control the twist while weaving. It washes out in the finishing. That is what I plan to do. I want to spin a thicker, slightly lower twist singles from the dyed top and do the self striping, which will provide some structure to the fabric. The only question in my mind is whether I ply the warp yarn and just use singles in the weft or use singles for both.

Next, I am playing with spinning stretchy yarns for socks so stay tuned...

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Collapse Weave Exploration

When I spin or work out, I need entertainment. Sometimes I listen to podcasts. But frequently I need something to look at. Spinning and weaving videos work well to entertain me. They inspire me, give me new tips, and reinforce older ones. Things that went right over my head when I was newer to spinning make sense now when I watch those videos again. Some of my favorites are by Sara Lamb, Sarah Anderson, Judith MacKenzie, and Patsy Zawistoski. The first three teachers have videos on Interweave and Patsy Z's are available via DVD on her website.

Anyway, I was watching Kathryn Alexander's video on Energized Yarns and she mentioned that they can be used in weaving. Then I watched Sara Lamb's video on Spin to Weave and she talked about weaving with them. I did some googling and found a book by Anne Field called Collapse Weave and most of the other information on the web was related to her book. There was a few independent blogs and artciles but not much. Knitty had a blog on it. I bought the book and read as much of it as made sense to me. But I am smitten.

The book is mostly about weaving on a floor or table loom and I haven't figured out my floor loom yet. Therefore, that was not an option. But some of the early stuff in the book is simple plain weave or tabby. I felt I could do something with that. The basic concept is that you spin singles and leave them as energized yarns. The energy goes dormant as the yarn sits, or you might have to tame it by wetting and letting it dry with a weight on it. Sometimes you even have to add sizing if you want to use it as warp.

However, after you weave, you soak it in water to finish it and the pent-up energy is released and it makes the cloth turn into a 3-dimensional work of art. I bet there are some works of horror too. But we won't think of that.

The next stage of this journey had to do with the Tour de Fleece. Someone on Ravelry asked what my plans were for the Tour de Fleece this year, and suddenly I thought about weaving singles for a collapse weave project. But I didn't want to spend a lot of time spinning something that wouldn't work. And that led me to the experiments in this post. I need to spin and weave some samples before I plan my Tour de Fleece spinning.

I decided to try 3 different types of energized singles. Maybe these distinctions won't make a difference but I have to start somewhere, right?

I spun these three yarns.
 From left to right: dyed Polwarth top spun worsted with a Z twist into a fine, highly twisted singles yarn; cream undyed Corriedale roving spun longdraw with a Z twist into a slightly thicker, highly twisted singles yarn; gray undyed Corriedale spun with a short backwards draw with a S twist into a slightly thicker, highly twisted singles yarn.
 The top 3 cones are my warp. I chose some linen/silk that I had on hand from Colourmart. I wanted something that wouldn't shrink to provide structure in the fabric. I also am not sure which of the colors will look good so i decided to try them all.
 I've warped the loom and put on a header and am ready to go. The warp is 4 yds long. I used a very wide sett - there is a lot of room between the warp threads to give the energized yarn room to move. I plan to weave 4 sets of samples. Each set is 2 identical samples: one will be washed and finished and one will remain unwashed for reference.

  1. A 12" sample with the dyed worsted fine singles as weft.
  2. A 12" sample with the cream woolen yarn as weft but make stripes of more closely packed weft and a balanced weft which will be spread further apart. 
  3. A 12" sample with the gray semi-woolen S twist yarn as weft
  4. A 12" sample with the gray yarn striped with the warp yarn
The objective of the two striped samples is to experiment with differential shrinkage. This is where one yarn shrinks a bit more than another one and creates a gathered or crinkly effect. If you remember seersucker fabric, that is achieved by differential shrinkage.

This is a search for collapse weave projects on Ravelry. This is another blog with some details of collapse weave. I provide these as references in case you are intrigued by my journey and want to follow along.
And now that I've finished that spinning, I am pondering my next project. I want color. I pulled these 4 braids out of my stash but I'm torn as to what to spin. I've asked on Instagram and on Ravelry and so far the Fiber Optic gradient has a slight edge although all 4 braids have received votes. What do you think?

The knitting is also making progress. I've finished the body and need to pick up and knit the pockets next.
Then come the sleeves and the hood. This is a mashup of Giorgia, Cross Pockets, and Rogue. The raglan shaping is from Giorgia because my row gauge matched that pattern more closely than the row gauge on Cross Pockets. The body below the armhole is mostly based on Cross Pockets because I wanted to see how that design looked on me before I went through the effort of figuring out the shoulder and armhole shaping at my row gauge. I also like the hood shaping on Rogue so I am going to adapt that for the hood. The color in this photo is a little washed out as I used the flash to eliminate shadows. It is a bit brighter than this. A rose color. The yarn is Rowan Calmer in the colorway Mandarin.

And that's all for now, folks!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Tarangire - Tanzanian home of elephants

The last part of the safari is at Tarangire NP. Amboseli NP is the park most associated with elephants in Kenya. Tarangire is the equivalent in Tanzania.

Tarangire is wooded and there are tse-tse flies there. So we kept our game viewing to mornings and late afternoons when the flies are not as active. There is no insect repellent that works with these flies and they transmit sleeping sickness. Also the bites itch like crazy. We were still plagued by buffalo flies but they don't bite. They just are attracted to eyes, mouth, nose, ears, exposed skin, etc. which is annoying. I found that the scarf I used to keep dust out of my nose and mouth helped a lot with the annoyance of the buffalo flies. It was just a cheap Target scarf which I dampened with water and wrapped around lower face. I washed it every night and it was usually quite dirty from all the trapped dust. I should have taken a dust mask!

 At the entrance to Tarangire, we had to sign in and sign out. So we had a little time to stand around, take photos of signage, and chat up other tourists. We didn't often have that luxury so it was a nice break.
 We stayed at the Tarangire Safari Lodge, which was an experience in itself. We stayed in tents, with a permanently installed bathroom and shower facilities. But electricity was only turned on in the tent area from 6 pm to about 8 am. If you wanted electricity, you had to go to the common areas during the day. Food was also not allowed in the tents due to the primates (baboons mostly) who had figured out how to open zippers and get into food. We had to put monkey locks on the zippers but there was still no food allowed. Our food either stayed in the reception area or in the vehicles.

Tarangire is lowland. The NP is around the Tarangire river, which I will show you in other photos. So it was hot and humid. There were also no fans in the tents. I was able to get one for the night but it quit working the second night. We were also in the lodge in the afternoons due to the tse-tse fly situation. Therefore, this was one lodge where we actually hung around the lodge and spent time with each other as a group outside of meals.

The view above is what greeted us when we got there. it is the view from the patio outside the lounge area. It was too hot to do more when we got there around lunch time.
 But on our way in, we were greeted by the elephants who welcomed us to their home. The elephant above is stripping bark from the tree to eat it. They also bring down branches when they can't reach the higher leaves with their trunks.
 That was one of the tiniest babies we saw.

 And this one posed for a portrait.
On our afternoon safari, we first ran into ostriches. A group of them ran across the road in front of us.
 We crossed a little brook where we saw zebras and antelope.
 At Tarangire, we finally saw some signs of major rain. Previously, clouds appeared and disappeared but now we were starting to see clouds on a more regular basis. And, of course, when one sees clouds, there is always the possibility of light effects.
 Vultures seem to have staked out this tree as a chill zone.
 A baboon strolls along the road by our vehicle.
 This is the sort of cave lionesses and leopards use as dens to birth their cubs.
 Dik-diks drinking water on the patio at the lodge.
 At the river, we saw many animals feeding and drinking. I was fascinated by how hard it is for giraffes to get down to water.
 The evening light lit up these impala and made their coats turn to gold.
 Here, for the first time, we saw baobab trees. These are the trees that are emblematic of sub-Saharan Africa. In the dry season, when they lose their leaves, they look like upside-down trees. But now, in the rainy season, they look pretty normal. They have big trunks though and are a very useful part of the ecosystem.
 This is a termite nest. We saw them everywhere. But this one had some mongooses hanging around. They eat the termites so the dig down into the nests.
 A lilac-crested Roller on a branch. These are some of the most gorgeous birds I've seen. I want to dye some yarn with the colors of the bird one day.
 Two hornbills on a branch. Hornbills mate for life so you always see them in pairs.
 More elephants hanging out by the water's edge. This was a big group that we watched for a long time.
 Warthogs at their burrows. They build burrows in an area where they raise their young. It is communal living. The one with his butt in the air has his head in the burrow. I caught him going in. But it is only my guess that it is a he. Could be a she, also.
 Even giraffes can't get all the way up to the tops of trees without reaching!
 One afternoon, we caught a snake on the ground and watched as it slithered around on the branch and then went up a tree. It can really move fast. In a matter of seconds, it was gone. These were the smaller wildlife we were able to watch due to the increased downtime at the lodge.
 This is a Superb Starling. We saw many of them but I had a difficult time getting a good picture as they are always moving. You'll see this photo again below in a different context.
 Baobab trees often have these holes in them. This one is large enough for a human to sleep in. Poachers often hide out in such holes. Animals also use them for shelter.
 This is the landscape at Tarangire. Lots of trees and pretty flat.
 We came across this lion family enjoying dinner. Dinner was a wildebeest. But we realized part-way through that it was a wildebeest who was either giving birth or close to giving birth. The lion cubs are eating the baby wildebeest. Situations like these were sad to see. We saw many kills over the course of the trip but this one tugged at our heartstrings the most. However, it is the way lions feed themselves. Those two lives (the mother and baby wildebeest) sustained the 3 lives in the lion family - the mother and 2 cubs - plus the hyenas, jackals, vultures, insects and bacteria that would feed on the carcasses after the lions were done. It is part of the ecosystem. The predators keep the prey animals in check and provide food for other animals, birds and insects who feed on carrion. It is the real circle of life.
 And what is better to lift our spirits than a rainbow?
 The next morning - our last, we were rewarded by more dik-diks on the patio at breakfast.

Back at Arusha, before most of our group headed out, we visited a Cultural Heritage Center where artists work and there is a shop of handicrafts. I wasn't very interested in shopping but I found this kitten hanging out among the items for sale. The mother cat was a little suspicious of my photography and was giving me the side-eye as I tried to snap photos of her adorable offspring.

We stayed on an extra night in Arusha. It was cheaper to stay the extra night than to pay for the flights back as they were very pricey on the Saturday night. It rained that last day, a solid rain that was definitely welcome by the animals and the humans. Those of us who remained went to an orphanage. Each of us brought something for the orphans. We took notebooks and some school supplies for older kids. Others brought coloring books, stuffed animals, snacks, etc. We had the joy of taking them and meeting the little kids at the orphanage. We distributed some of the items - toys, coloring books and some snacks - to the kids but kept most of the for the teacher-in-charge to distribute and use as she saw fit. It was uplifting and heart-warming to see the care the children were getting despite insufficient funding. They were clean, well-behaved and were housed in orderly but spare dormitories. The kitchen staff were butchering chickens for lunch when we were there. They have a cow for milk, chickens for eggs and meat and a farm where they grow vegetables.

And with that, we went to the airport and flew home with tons of memories, some new friends, and lots of photographs!

I've been busy on the fiber front, which is why this post is late.

See how the fiber I was spinning mimics the Superb Starling? It hit me as I was sitting there spinning, wondering why the colors in the fiber looked so familiar!
The two bobbins spun up. You can see the skinnier stripes on the second bobbin. Since I divided the second half of the braid into 3 to spin it fractally, the color stripes are much thinner in that half. 
 This is the completed skein. I am in love with it.  The fiber is an alpaca/merino/silk from Into the Whirled. The colorway is called Sentinel and it was a club colorway that I received as a gift.
 I also finished weaving the scarf made of Lorna's Laces Swirl DK. The yarn is now discontinued. I had a multi and a solid that was one of the colors in the multi. So I striped the warp with both and also the weft. I succeeded at using up all the yarn. But I have a very long scarf. I also learned how to carry yarns up the selvedge neatly. The difference between the beginning and the end is dramatic.
I had to try on the scarf to see how it looked on. It is soft but has some structure to it. I think it will soften up more with use. The finishing made a huge difference to the drape.

I am now on to another project which I will describe in more detail next time.

Friday, March 10, 2017

In the Ngorongoro crater

The crater is the caldera of an extinct volcano that must have been huge. The size is really immense. We spent the whole day in the crater and could have spent some more time, if we'd had it.

I had some misinformation about the crater. I thought the animals in the crater were there permanently and the sides were so steep that they couldn't get out. I had heard that the lion prides in the crater were inbred. I learned that the west side is pretty steep but the eastern side is more gradual and animals enter and leave on a continual basis. They might even come in in the am and leave in the evening or vice versa. However, the crater itself is greener than the surrounding landscape and therefore many animals stay there for longer periods of time. It is flat, it is green and there is water. The lake in the crater is salt water though, because it has no exit. But the streams and other small bodies of flowing water are fresh.

 We started off with a baboon sighting on the roof of one of the lodge's buildings.
 There were clouds off and on during the day, making for some spectacular lighting. This is the morning sun through the trees. January is part of the short rainy season in Tanzania but they had not had rains since December and everything was dry. We got a few showers on our trip but the rains really came the last day we were there and everyone - human and animals - were happy. But during our trip. we had days like this - with clouds at times and sunny at other times. You will see that it affects the lighting in the crater because we also have the crater rim to shade the light.
Heading down the eastern rim of the crater.

 Cape buffalo grazing in the morning light. See how the light filters through the mists at the top of the crater.
 We came upon some hyenas finishing up a buffalo kill.
 One hyena grabbed a leg and ran off with the prize, right across our vehicle's path.
 The rest of them surrounding the kill so you can't even see it. The smaller animals are jackals
 This is a Kori bustard. We spotted them all over the place. They walk around like they own the joint.
 This photo is emblematic of the crater. A vast green plain surrounded by hills and lots of animals just grazing peacefully.
 I took a lot of photos of baby zebra but this is one of the smallest that we saw.
 Two lions hanging out. I think the lion was on a date and didn't appreciate our watching him because they got up and walked away.

 Wildebeest with vultures in front of them.
 I believe these are impala.
 Wildebeest, unlike zebras, calve in a two-week period between February and March. This increases the odds of any one baby surviving as there are so many others all at the same time. We caught the beginning of the births. This is a tiny baby that was still a little wet. Probably born shortly before we saw the mother and baby.
 Hyenas hanging out in a river.
 This was one of the two rhino sightings. Those two black creatures in the middle are two rhinos. These are black rhinos. We saw another one but it was further away. I got a good look through the binoculars but this is the best I can do with the iPhone. If you zoom in, you can make them out as two rhinos.

There are elephants in the crater but they are older and the reason they come to the crater is because they are on the last of their sets of teeth. Once that set wears out, they die. The crater has lush grass and water so the vegetation is easier to eat. As a result, their teeth last longer. They are very solitary and tend to hang out by the water where the new growth is not as fibrous and woody. We saw a number of them during the day but I didn't get any really good photos.

One of the thrilling things we saw during the day was a missed hunt. I was too busy watching to take photos or videos but another member of our group did and I am linking it here for you to see. Two lionesses decided to take on a Cape buffalo but the attack was thwarted by the buffalo and his cohorts.

We also saw hippos. See the light above the crater? Just spectacular.
 The hippos had come out of this hippo pool. You should be glad you can't smell the photos. Hippo pools are seriously smelly.
 There they are. All huddled up in the pool
 There was a flock of birds around there, a very large flock, and I got some of them in the air over the pool.
 A lion acting like a big cat.
 This pool also contains a hippo. That is his snout in the water. But the location was so beautiful that I had to take a photo even though you can barely see the hippo.
 This one is a bit tricky to see. Those 3 brown blobs are a lioness with two cubs. In the bushes is their kill and they were walking around the area. I think they had eaten their fill but were hanging around, reluctant to leave it.
 Two warthogs just chilling.
 And not a pushmi-pullyu but two Cape buffalo looking as if they have one body and two heads.
 Another baby wildebeest. A little older, maybe by a day.
 They were part of this giant mass of wildebeest.
 Remember that kill with the hyenas at the beginning of the day? This is all that is left of it as we headed back. The vultures were picking the bones clean. Then the bugs start in and very soon, there is nothing but bleached bone.

After we got back to the lodge, we headed out for a hike along the rim. We had to have park rangers with rifles with us in case we ran into any animals. As we started out, we went through the service area for the lodge. Since these lodges are so far from any town or village, the staff have their own rooms and kitchen off to the side. They are there for fixed periods of time and then they get time off. Staff buses take them back to their homes. In the same area are the lodgings for the driver-guides who accompany us and provide a wealth of information. They are the best part of the trip because they are very knowledgeable and have a library of books with them. They name all the birds and animals and are also able to talk about history and culture, and fix flat tires and other mechanical glitches. They are philosophers and psychologists, knowing how to interact with all the different personalities in the tour.
 The end of our walk on the rim was celebrated by some spectacular light effects when the sun shone down through a few breaks in the clouds.

And finally, a sunset over the swimming pool of the lodge. This lodge (the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge) has a unique location and it was hard to think about leaving it the next morning.

I've been spinning and reading mostly. I am afraid my craft hobby has been eclipsed since I discovered the New York Public Library's ebook app. It is so easy to browse their catalog and borrow books.

I finished spinning the first half the of the fractal spin and am 1/3 of the way through the second half.
This is the first bobbin.

I also wove a bit more on the plaid scarf but it looks the same as it did in the beginning so new pictures are not all that interesting.

Next up is Tarangire National Park.