Friday, December 30, 2016

Progress on a lot of fronts

I went on a trip to San Diego to see my daughter over Christmas. I was hoping for 70s and sunny weather but instead we got 50s and 60s with rain and wind. It was C-O-L-D because we didn't have all our gear with us and we were outside a lot.
I saw a few old favorites - the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park - and a lot of new things. We went to the USS Midway museum. I teared up during the movie on the Battle of Midway, for which the ship is named. It was amazing to see how it all worked and how the sailors and airmen lived. We also went to a few of the Balboa Park museums, a Christmas Day outdoor organ concert at the Spreckles organ in Balboa Park, the Birch Aquarium, did some hiking and then went to the Cabrillo National Monument and Point Loma lighthouse. The best part was spending time with my daughter.
I took along some knitting and got some done. I am up to the lace border on the Shleeves. i stopped because I didn't have enough yarn in the ball I had with me to finish the border and I'd rather join the yarn in the solid stockinette than in the lace. Silk doesn't wet splice so ends will have to be woven in and I'd rather do it in stockinette. I anticipated this so took along the yarn to make a new pair of wrist brace liners. I wear wrist braces at night for carpal tunnel syndrome. They get sweaty and disgusting pretty quickly and many years ago, when I first started wearing them, I made liners from Cascade Fixation that absorbed the sweat and could be washed regularly. That made a huge difference. I made a second set a number of years ago and those are wearing out. It is time for a new set of three pairs.
I was smart enough to write down the pattern the last time I made them. This was an improvement from the first time when I didn't and had to recreate it. I was so proud of myself that I just took the pattern and started knitting. After I finished the cuff, I looked at it and realized it was rather long. Yup, long. The row gauge on the Fixation and the CoBaSi that I am using now is way different. So I ripped and restarted and it still didn't work out. Finally I took out the worn liner and started to recreate the pattern but with an idea of the difference in the row gauge. It is 4 rows on the Fixation to 3 rows on the CoBaSi. The st gauge is the same.
The CoBaSi is 55% Cotton, 16% Bamboo and 8% Silk with 21% elastic. I need a yarn with elastic so it doesn't keep stretching and stretching and wool is just too hot in the summer. The braces are warm to begin with and I need something that will wick away the sweat and let it evaporate, not hold it like wool does. The yarn feels very nice.
I just finished the first liner. I was so bummed at having to rewrite the pattern that I didn't feel like knitting as much as I should have on the trip. I did that cuff on the flight back where I lost a dpn and the little toddler behind me found it. I had extras as this is a common occurrence. I usually use magic loop on flights but I didn't have a 3.25 mm circular needle long enough for magic loop. It is not a size I use a lot. When I go to buy yarn for the remaining liners, I'll pick up a needle also. The other 2 pairs will be knit on my next trip which is in 2 weeks. We are going to Tanzania for a safari vacation.
On my return, I finished up the shawls. I had completed the weaving on two shawls and realized that I didn't have enough warp for a third one before I left. I think I stretched the yarn too much when I warped the loom and therefore didn't have enough length. Oh well. I made a small rectangle that I used to test out the finishing process. I completed that as soon as we got back and took it off the loom to see if my finishing would felt the yarn. It didn't. In the meantime, as it dried, I cut apart the two shawls and worked on their fringes. Yesterday I wet-finished both shawls and pressed them before laying them flat to dry. Today I trimmed the fringe and they are complete.
And this is the bit that was left over on the warp. It is a rather large coaster or a table scarf.

I've also been spinning and am almost half done with the light gray merino/Rambouillet/sparkle top. It is spinning up as nicely as the dark gray.
The reason I've made so much progress is that I am on vacation. It is amazing how much I can get done when I don't have to go to work!

Today I wound the second skein of silk so I can continue with Shleeves and also wound the yarn for the next weaving project. I may try to warp it before I have to go back to work on Tuesday. I have enough for a scarf I think.

It is also some vintage Lorna's Laces in DK that is no longer made. The yarn was called Swirl. I have some partially used skeins and then the 4 that are still intact. I think I will make a checkerboard design with the solid as thin stripes between the multi-colored one.
Happy New Year to all of you and I hope 2017 is a good year in many ways for all of you.

Friday, December 16, 2016

I love progress!

It is amazing how much one can get done by committing an hour a day to doing something! Then of course insomnia helps because you can spend more than an hour doing something.

I plied the two yarns I spun over the past few weeks. I finished - skeined, washed, dried all the yarns I've finished in the past few months. How's that for progress? There is a bit more photography and math to do to calculate yardage on the last 3 skeins and to document the grist in my usual way. I measure it on a quarter :-)

 Like this. This is a skein I had finished a while back but had not photographed with the quarter.
 This is one of the skeins I finished earlier this week. It is the first of the Gotland skeins. The wool and the beaded thread aren't sticking to each other so the wool singles is sliding around on the thread. I may have to go back and ply it with a binder thread. But I'll try to use it before I do that. It is a little over-plied because I didn't add some counteracting twist to the beaded thread so it could take the plying twist and be balanced. Not a big issue and one that will be corrected if I have to ply with a binder thread.
 This was the sample fiber that came with the Hansen Pro. Abstract Fibers as a reminder. It is very nice.
 This is the second skein of the Gotland hanging to dry. You can see the plying twist causing the skein to twist to the left at the bottom. It isn't much which is why I don't think it will be a problem.
These are the two skeins from Maine Top Mill. I am thrilled with how these turned out. They are soft and yet I think I have enough twist to hold the short fibers in place. The twist is nice and even and the fibers bloomed beautifully.

I also started weaving the first scarf. This was the result of the insomnia. I had an issue with the warping so I was putting off starting till I figured out what to do.

This is the warp beam with the rolled up warp. I got a wide roll of brown paper but I wasn't very good at cutting it. It was 24" wide and my loom is 20" wide. So there are a few spots where it is narrower than 20 and so warp threads in the last hole and slot on this side were longer because they were over the paper on some turns and not on it for some turns. I knew this would come back to bite me. I also didn't want to put too much stress on the threads. So I ended up taking some scrap yarn and making a loop with a weighted pill bottle. I had this from fixing the broken warp thread on the towel.  The abrasion on the warp thread is not much as it is a soft yarn that is holding the pill bottle in place. and I am advancing the warp frequently so the weight isn't in one place for long.

Now the tension is right and I have had no problems weaving. Eventually that extra length will match up with the rest of the warp as we get to the turns where the paper is more even. I am going to buy a roll of 20" wide paper.

After that I wove some scrap yarn to spread the warp and started weaving. But I forgot to leave a length of thread to hem stitch! I had only woven 3 picks of the weft so I thought I could unweave it. Well, I had loaded my shuttle with a lot of yarn so it kept getting caught in the warp and I had to untangle the weft from the warp a few times. But I did it, restarted with enough length to hem stitch, did the hemstitching, put in some contrasting yarn for a border, and have started weaving in earnest. I will do some random stripes of the border yarn in the body if the weaving starts looking too boring.
 That is the hemstitching on the bottom and the border. The weft yarn is the dark one and the border is the textured yarn that looks lighter in the photo. This photo is to document what I did on this end so I can replicate it on the other. I found that invaluable in working the towels. I can count the picks and match it up.
This is what the body of the shawl looks like . Right now the warp is a gray color. Then it will move through white, gray, black, gray, white, and gray before going back to black at the other end.

I am looking forward to weaving some more tonight. I will probably start another spinning project over the weekend but tonight I will make progress on the shawl. 

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Three fraternal shawls

Now that the towels are off the loom, I warped for shawls yesterday. I had 6 skeins of Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted in Shadow from years ago. Very vintage yarn. I figured out I could get 3 shawls out of the yarn. Lorna's Laces yarn makes great pooling warps where you can make the colors pool deliberately. This is because the yarn is dyed very regularly in repeats. The repeats on this shawl were 29" long.

I did the massive warping session yesterday. i was disappointed by the number of knots that I ran into both when winding the yarn into balls (one non-join so I had to tie the knot) and while warping (lots of tiny knots that were partially or completely across the width of the yarn). There were also some areas where the plies were worn through. I found one that I didn't catch as I was winding the warp and am hoping it will hold till I get there to weave. I can repair it once it is woven. if it breaks before that, well I know now how to fix a broken warp due to the knots on the towel project.

That is the long warp. You can see the stripes of black across the width, especially at the far end. The yarn is quite stretchy so I have to be careful when weaving. I can't tighten up the tension too much.

This is all the leftovers that I had to cut out as well as the ends from 4 balls. I should have had 4 little balls like this. The rest is all from knots. I have enough to fix broken warp threads!

Here it is all wound on and ready to weave.

I think this warp length is close to the maximum the loom will handle. There is not much room between the cross beam and the warp in the back. I am using an 8 dent heddle even though the wraps per inch indicated a 5 would work. The yarn seems to be between a worsted and Aran. it is listed as Aran in the Ravelry database but the name is Shepherd Worsted! Also, mine is pretty old and predates Beth Casey as the owner so they might have changed the base yarn since then. I want this to be more warp-faced due to the pooling so that is also why I went with a more dense warp.

As for the weft, I have many choices. One is some white handspun with sparkle in it. I have enough for 2 shawls but I may only use it for one. I haven't decided yet. This is a photo of the yarns I think I might use except for the handspun.

At the bottom right is some yarn I won as a raffle and some novelty yarn that goes with it. That is one option for one shawl. I'll have to see how it looks when I weave with it. Next to it is the leftover Lorna's Laces. I have to weigh the partial skein to see if there is enough to weave a shawl but I can combine it with the natural Cascade 220 that is on the top right. There is also some mohair that I can use to add texture. But I don't know if I like the natural with the white.

On the left there are two novelty ribbons that go with each other and might be nice as stripes in the white handspun warp. The red on the bottom left is out as it is a yellow-red that clashes with the other two. The black and yellow Cascade 220 in the middle might be nice as stripes on another of the white handspun shawls if I use it for 2 shawls. The yellow might be nice just at the ends of the shawl if I end up weaving one with the Shepherd Worsted. I'll make decisions based on how the fabric looks after I weave an inch or so.

I am done with spinning one half of the dark gray top. I started the other half last night. That fiber is so lovely as it looks different in various lights.

It is a breeze to spin and is spinning up beautifully. Those photos are of the bobbin with half the fiber on it.


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

More spinning!

I have been spinning about an hour a day and it is amazing what one can get done by doing just that.
I finished the merino/yak.
I haven't plied it yet because I started spinning the dark grey and I am loving it.
 This is a dyed merino/Rambouillet/sparkle nylon top.
 Beginning the spin and without the flash...
With the flash to show the luster of the fiber. I am almost done with the first singles. I have 4 oz of this so each bobbin is slightly longer. I am spinning a light fingering weight to fingering weight and think I will use it in a weft.

I wound off 2 skeins of plied yarn but i haven't washed them yet. I still need to wind off the larger bobbin of the beaded Gotland yarn.
 That is the beaded yarn.
This was the pretty sample that came with the Hansen Pro.

These are the possibilities for the next spin. Weigh in if you have a preference on what I should do.
 This is from Into the Whirled. I am thinking I might do this as a fractal because the colors are so bright. It is a club shipment that I got as a gift.
 This is the Autmnal Dawn color way from Fiber Optic. It is easier to see the colors in the link because I photographed these at night and they are still in plastic.
 This is a One-of-a-Kind dye from Fiber Optic.
 A Chocolate Alpaca/silk from Gale's Art.
 Two bags of random odds and ends from Into the Whirled. These are fun to spin. I would have to decide if I was going to spin them separately, sort them into similar colors and spin or just spin them into one long yarn. I tried to pick two bags with similar color and Chris (of Into the Whirled) sorts by  colors that go together anyway. So they will all go together.
A Espresso-Crimson-Gold gradient from Fiber Optic. Again, better picture at the link.

Decisions, decisions. I want something bright but I was picking variegated fibers. I have some semi-solid in a pretty bright red. I also have a couple in spring-like colors so maybe I will do those. They are the Cyprus and the Wild Thyme colorways from Fiber Optic. The purple and the blue are slightly different on the two but I thought I could blend them as I moved from one to the other and spin them as one big gradient.

Lastly, I wanted to show you what I did with the basil salt. I've given away most of it but I packaged it in bottles and decorated it with washi tape and a label.
I ended up with two different bottles because I bought some and then went back to get some more and they were gone. I've been using mine a lot and love it. It is going to be a standard summer product from now on.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Fiber that drafts itself

Vacation is a wonderful thing. I took last week off which is why I was able to finish the towels. I also gave myself Sunday to work on whatever I wanted before I had to go back to work yesterday.

I started spinning the 14.5 micron merino/yak top that I got from Maine Top Mill. I bought this at Rhinebeck this year and didn't want to store it as it was so beautifully combed. I was afraid I'd compress it by storing it.

But first I spun the 15 micron merino sample I got from It's Ewe!. Ash (the owner) was in my dyeing class at Rhinebeck and graciously gave us samples of fiber. She is a wonderful natural dyer. I divided her sample in half and spun it in the beginning of the single before spinning the merino/yak mixture. I'll spin the other half at the beginning of the other single. The mixture has a bit more halo and sheen compared to the plain merino but both are dreamy.

Both were so beautifully prepared that it just sort of spun itself. I put a good bit of twist in because they are short fibers and I want a sturdy yarn. It will be soft no matter what at that micron range so I can afford to make it firmly twisted.
That is the merino/yak and the single partially spun.

A close-up of the completed single.

And since then I have had no time to spin because my work is suddenly very busy and I've been working long days. So there will be a bit of a gap before I have more updates!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

WIPs and problems and a Happy Thanksgiving to all!

I was tired of all the WIPs hanging around and cluttering up my workspace. I find that if I have too many WIPs, I feel stressed and distracted moving between them. So I made a concerted attempt to finish as many of them as I can. Spindle WIPs don't bother me. They go on for years and I work on them when spindling is the right thing to do. But wheel WIPs, knitting WIPs and weaving WIPs bother me.

Finishing up the Gotland fleece was one of the items on the list. Another was a weaving WIP that has been hanging out for a year with no progress. I started it 2 years ago and wove 3 towels. I had warped for 3 because I miscalculated and thought I had enough yarn for 6. But no, I didn't. I only had enough for 4. So I warped the loom for 1 more and started weaving. That is when things went south.

The yarn I was using was Elann Callista. It had tiny knots in it. Knots that didn't show up when I warped the loom. They went through the heddle in one direction without any problems. On the first three towels I ran into a couple of them. They wouldn't go back through the heddle in the other direction as I advanced the warp. But I managed to somehow squeeze them through and finished weaving. They didn't come apart in the tension put on the warp and you can't see them in the finished towel.

However, on the 4th towel I ran into one that just wouldn't fit back through the heddle. So I had to research what to do with a broken warp thread because I had to cut the thread to get rid of the knot and advance the warp past that point. I guess it was a good learning experience but I was so frustrated that I put the whole thing aside and it has been sitting for a year. I picked it up on Monday and finished weaving it yesterday. Exactly! a few hours worth of work and it has been sitting there for a year!

Here is the finished set of 4 towels
The bottom most one is the one I just finished. The other 3 were done a year ago. I used some leftover Reynolds yarn for the embellishments. They are called Danish medallions (scroll down to see the Danish medallion instructions) and I did a different variation on each towel. The two ends of each towel are the same.

I also broke through a problem area in the silk shawl. I had worked the pattern up to where the sts are set aside for the sleeves. But I had different st counts on either side of the center! After much counting, I discovered that I had 3 extra sts on one side and 3 missing sts on the other. Somewhere I must have shifted the center section by 3 sts. I decided to just decrease 3 evenly spaced on one side and add 3 evenly spaced on the other. I did this and re-counted - getting the correct number on each side. Then I used the EZ thumb trick to set aside the sleeve sts. The pattern has one put sts on scrap yarn and provisionally CO for the sleeve opening. EZ's trick is much simpler.

After the sleeves are set aside, there are 6 more repeats to do before the lace edging. I have completed one of the 5 and will work on the others over the weekend.
The white lines are where I've set aside the sleeve sts. As a reminder, the pattern is Shleeves and the yarn is silk that I bought in India from SilkIndian.

After all that - getting 2 WIPs completed, the combs put away, the yarns used in the towels put away, the place cleaned up - I felt it was time to both inaugurate my new Hansen Pro minispinner and start a new project.

I got a small sample of Abstract Fibers 40% merino/40% superwash merino/20% silk fiber in the Laurelhurst colorway with the minispinner. I have the section near the blue. I divided into 2 and spun both up yesterday. It drafted like a dream. I love this fiber.
I plied them today.

Isn't that lovely? It is a nice fingering weight yarn - my favorite kind.

I am now going to start spinning the Maine Top Mill white fiber. I decided to spin them separately and then I can use them as I wish. There might even be enough to make a sweater and if so, having the colors spun separately will give me the flexibility of deciding where each color goes later. I will do a chain-plied 3 ply as that will give me a better yarn for a sweater or a textured shawl.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family! Enjoy the holiday!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

A textured yarn

I finished spinning the Gotland and plied it. This is only the combed part. There is a lot of combing waste - shorter fibers - that I plan to card and make another yarn. What I did with this one is to ply it with the beaded thread that I showed you earlier. Wow! I have a lot of yarn. I am not sure what I'm going to do with it yet. I was trying to emulate the curl of the Gotland locks so I did a spiral ply where the thicker yarn spirals around the finer beaded thread.

I ended up with 3 bobbins full of singles. At this point, I've plied 1 but left the other two so you can see how full they were. The Tina II bobbins are small.
Part way through plying.

A close-up of the yarn so you can see it better against a dark background. It varies in thickness but most of it is a fingering weight.
This is the beaded thread on its bobbin. I have a lot of it. I bought out everything they had when I went on that yarn crawl in Shanghai. It didn't unwind very easily. I had to pull it with a lot of tension and periodically, the beads would get caught on each other. Then I had to go and jiggle the thread to get it unhooked. It was impossible to see how it was actually caught.

And these are the two final bobbins. 2 of the singles bobbins are plied onto the bobbin with the larger quantity and the one remaining bobbin of singles is on the second, smaller bobbin.

Finally, a closeup of the yarn with a bead visible in the middle near where the 2 strands cross. 

I am not sure what I'm going to do with this yeat. I am not sure how it will knit up. It might work better in weaving. Also, the featured breed at Rhinebeck next year is Gotland so maybe I should plan on submitting a skein and a finished object from the yarn in their contests. Let's see. I will wind it off and finish it and I will sample a bit in knitting. The advantage of having so much yardage is that I have plenty to play with.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

I started spinning again!

I have had a tough time getting going with spinning this summer. There just didn't seem to be enough time to do anything. But I went back to my Gotland fleece the other day and started spinning it again. I really want to get it done.
You can see the two full bobbins on the bottom left and the current bobbin on the flyer. I think I'll end up filling most of that third bobbin by the time I am done.

I also finished the skein I spun on the Spindolyn a while back. I haven't taken the photo with the quarter to show the yarn weight but it is a nice fluffy yarn. Pretty colors. There is another bit of mystery fiber that came with the Spindolyns and I may spin that next.
On the negative side, I tried to wind off the cop on the Nano Trindle and made a mess of it. It is going to take some patience to fix it and right now I don't have it. I have decided to put it away and continue spinning on another small spindle like my Kuchulu. The cashmere sticks to itself and it has always been a bit of a pain winding cops off that Nano.

Lastly, I decided I needed some casual sweaters so I will keep the Schleeves gold shawl for traveling and knit a couple of sweaters out of Calmer. In planning this, I pulled my Calmer stash out of the closet and ended up selling a couple of the colors. Then I went through a few iterations of picking colors. I ran through a bunch of patterns but decided on the Cadenzia Hoodie with a zipper rather than with buttons. I will also shape the hood a la Rogue, rather than the pointed one on the Cadenzia.
The color I finally decided on is Garnet, which is a nice red. I don't have a red sweater and red will be a nice color to knit in the dark days that are coming up. I really want to be done with the grey spinning too and move on to a bright color for the winter. I started the Gotland in March when it felt right. It has been going on too long!

I also did a little bit of clearing of the craft room which is a bit of a mess. I want to finish up these projects and put away these tools and pull out the ones I need for the next set.