Tuesday, March 30, 2021

In which I sample

This winter I have been spinning large amounts of cotton. I spun a pound of sea green cotton sliver from Sally Fox, a gorgeous easy to spin delightful wonderful fiber to spin. After finishing in an alkaline simmer it turned a lovely olive green. As I was spinning it I knew that I wanted to make a summery fabric that would be cool to wear in the warm summer weather of Minnesota. I love the idea of a seersucker style fabric that has some 3d effect and I want to try and get that texture and so I made a warp with stripes of the green cotton and cream tussah silk handspun, I am hoping that when the fabric is wet finished there will be differential shrinkage in the different fibers to make a seersucker style effect. Instead of weaving an entire shirt's worth I wound a warp that is 9.5 inches wide and am weaving three samples, two will be scarfs; one a plainweave (unpictured) and one plain twill. The last bit of the warp I am playing with different twill treadling and will then be able to choose the fabric I like best. 




Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Cotton Cotton Cotton

 For the past several months I have been spinning cotton almost to the exclusion of anything else, apart from some already agreed upon spinning I did for a friend. It started out as something to do during long work meetings where I had to pay close attention. Keeping my hands occupied keeps my mind from wandering and I started out by spinning some of a large stash of cotton bolls an online friend sent me several years ago, several different colors and variety that had been grown in her garden. I spun singles on a takhli spindle and plyed the resulting singles on a high whorl spindle. 


I begin by hand ginning the cotton and then carding the lint into punis, of a sort. I use cotton carders and then form the rolag around a metal knitting needle, rolling it against the carder surface until the rolag compacts into a puni. I find that I prefer spinning from handcarded punis rather than rolags. 



I also have been spinning large amounts of card sliver from Sally Fox in natural colors using my 
minispinner, long relaxing sessions of spinning while I listened to audio books.



 Once the yarn was plied I skeined it up, on a small one yard niddy noddy for the spindle spun yarn and on a 2 yard skeinwinder for the minispinner spun yarn. Now I could finish the yarn by simmering it in a pot with washing soda and dishsoap, revealing the final colors in the cotton. It is always a fun surprise to see how cotton colors develop with an alkaline simmer. It makes me so happy to see the various shades hanging to dry. 


Some of the cotton is destined for knitting and some is destined for weaving. I will continue to spin cotton until a different fiber becomes my primary focus for a while, knowing that I will return to cotton again sometime in the future. 




Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Finished sweater vest

I was reminded by a comment that I never posted my September Stashdown sweater. 
Here it is and I wear it often! 



Monday, March 16, 2020

(Fiber) love in the time of Coronavirus

It is a frightening time. We are all being asked to isolate for the good of us all and news headlines are popping up minute by minute with terrifying new updates. Those of us who work with fiber have some fantastic resources at hand and we can use these to combat the stress of the global Covid-19 crisis, fill some of the hours and boredom that might come with the need to practice social distancing and isolate, and give us some pure joy on days when we need it.

One thing I have needed desperately as the news changes and unfolds day to day is comfort knitting which I can pay little attention to, but will be pleasant to hand and relaxing. I chose to begin a new top down raglan sleeve sweater in handspun Corriedale cross yarn. Two ply. This is from a fleece I got last spring from Strawberry Ridge Farm and which I had processed into roving at Rach-Al-Paca fiber mill. It was a complete joy to spin (and i have several lbs of roving left, which is a wonderful thing) and It makes a wonderful yarn to touch. Sturdy yet pleasant against my skin and wonderful to knit with. This has been my go to at night when we watch the news or episodes of Poirot, something to keep my hands occupied and it also lets me enjoy the feel of the yarn.


Sometimes we need to focus, to take our minds off of worry and fear and this is where a project that takes all your attention can be useful. A friend of mine is making a new reed to use when she weaves with her backstrap loom. This takes incredible precision and attention and I admire her skill so much. I am spinning singles for weaving. This makes me pay much closer attention to what I am doing as I want a smooth even yarn and so need to pay extra attention to my drafting. My standard default yarn is mostly spun with much less attention but for weft I want to make sure my yarn is as good as I can make it. This attention grounds me and that helps so much to focus my mind on what I am doing, leaving no thinking space for worry. When I am spinning this yarn I am focused on the fiber source, the drafting, the grist, the feel of the wool as it passes through my hands. It is an active meditation. I am spinning Border Leicester from a fleece I purchased from Kate Larson several years ago. I dyed the fleece with various natural dyes and will use it as singles for warp.

For pure joy I have a plan to dig into my stash and pull out the treasures I have been hoarding like Smaug and his stash of gold. The braids of fiber whose colors make my heart sing, the blends that feel like air against my fingers. Right now I am not sure what I will grab first, it could be the box of silk I have been hoarding,  or the indie braids that are so pretty to look at, or perhaps some of the special camel or cashmere blends I have tucked away. If there ever was a time to break something out that we have been saving 'For that special day' or 'Just in Case' this is it.'

For those of use who are able, this can be the time to support our fiber small business and teachers by purchasing that pattern we have looked and looked at, or place an order for that hemp or alpaca or fleece that has always looked intriguing. With festivals being canceled we can use our privilege to both add spice to our fiber life and support those whose livelihoods are so endangered.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

September Stashdown

I like alliteration and for September I have a goal to use up some of my stash and make a concerted effort to move some along from raw fiber to prepared fiber, from prepared fiber to yarn, or yarn to finished object.
As August wound down, I found myself looking through bins of yarn and especially drawn to my bin of yarn which holds my natural dye experiments.
I had a great deal of hog island two ply yarn, spun for knitting, which I had been dyeing over the past three years. It was inspiring me to try and make a fair isle vest and so at the end of August I sat down with colored pencils, a book of peerie and border charts, and some graph paper trying to figure out what I could make with the colors I had.
I ended up with this

Once I had the chart, I knitted a gauge swatch and then took that to the Knitters Handy Book of Patterns to plug it into the V neck vest pattern. I have knit this pattern before and enjoy wearing it. Since I am doing fair isle colorwork I want to knit in the round and will just steek the armholes and vee neck rather than knit flat.
I was too excited to wait until September to begin and so cast on immediately. I began August with two repeats of the chart completed and will definitely finish in September.


In the rest of September I plan to spin up some recently dyed Polwarth/Silk roving, spin up the tunis fleece I dyed last month, and get some cotton spun.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Weaving Lessons Learned

I am thrilled to bits that I DID succeed in weaving cloth from my handspun hemp singles. It was a huge goal of mine to weave more than a sample of singles cloth, and I am so glad I did it! I did learn lessons (as always) and learn more about what I like in handwoven handspun cloth. But. I did it!

I wove this at 24 epi in a straight twill. It was easiest for me to do this with my loom as the tie up is done by rods, adjusted by bolts, which have rusted shut. The plainweave treadles do not open a very wide shed and the twill treadles do. I had a very hard time getting a clear shed with plainweave and an easy time with the twill and so I chose twill. Unfortunately, after finishing the fabric I far prefer the plainweave, which my mentor told me I would. I also had troubles with some ends repeatedly breaking. As I wound the warp onto the back beam (I have a sectional beam and so wind on 2 inch wide bouts on the section before threading heddles and then sleying the reed) some threads twisted and I was not as careful as I should have been. Some ends snapped repeatedly as they were pulled against the heddles and the reed. I need to be more careful about how I wind on my warps.
I also learned, I want to replace the tie up rods and the heddles with texsolv, to reduce the noise.

I had planned to make a new bath sheet from this fabric. To sew three panels together. The twill fabric is a bit too thick for my bath sheet preferences though. I will sit on the roll and try and decide what to do with 7 yards of hemp cloth. Some might go into a spindle bag. I am envisioning embroidering in the negative spaces between the stripes.

I loved having a piece on the loom and immediately wound a warp and dressed the loom with handspun Romeldale/CVM for a scarf for this coming winter. I was extremely careful in winding on the warp bouts and it was an absolute joy to weave. I cannot wait to wear it, though I do need to find my fringe twister now.


I also got on a dyeing kick a couple of weeks ago, and dyed polworth silk roving and Border Leicester Fleece with indigo, dyers chamomile, madder, and walnut. (Walnut not pictured). It will be a joy to have this colorful fibre to play with this winter.




Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Waking up after the winter

This winter was a time for me to hibernate, I did no blogging I know, but I did spin a great deal, and weave. I wove lap blankets for the moms as a christmas present, spun the yarn for a hap on spindles and knit it up, enjoyed carding up my various bits and bobs of roving left over from classes and projects into a fun blend and spun that up, and now I am working on spinning the yarn for a new shirt. I am spinning hemp singles which I plan to weave up, and possible dye in an indigo vat.