Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Inspiration and Fiber Goodies

A few weeks ago, I got a new book. I'm not sure how I missed it when it was published a couple of years ago, but I have found it now. And I love it.

It's called The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook by Deborah Robson and Carol Ekarius. It is an excellent book for anyone who uses sheep or other animal fibers in their work. The authors have taken tons of sheep breeds as well as other fiber animals (i.e., bunnies, alpacas, yaks, etc.) and given histories of the breeds as well as how the fibers are best used. They include a lot of sheep that are endangered as well as the better known ones. There are beautiful photographs of the sheep and the fibers. The authors prepped and spun samples and made knitted and woven swatches (also pictured). They put a lot of work into this book and it is an excellent resource as it is. And super-interesting (at least to a fiber geek such as myself.)

This book has inspired me to seek out fibers beyond my comfort zone of merino, alpaca, or yarns just labeled as "wool". I've found samples of several breeds, including rarer breeds as well as a few cellulose fibers (such as ingeo and soysilk). This bag of goodies and the Zoom Loom are from Spunky Eclectic. I am not comfortable right now processing my own fleeces, but maybe that will come with time. So, for now, I'll be using top or roving.

I'll be spinning up samples (probably mostly on spindles since the wheel is usually in use for bigger projects) and making knitted and woven swatches. I'll be posting pictures and commenting on what I learn from each fiber. I am by no means an expert, but every expert has to start somewhere, right? I hope to learn which fibers are my favorites to work with, which ones I don't particularly care for, and why I like or dislike the fibers.

I'm looking forward to working on this project and sharing what I learn.

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Monday, July 29, 2013

Lovely New Fiber!

So, I've had a woven shawl idea rolling around in my head the past couple of weeks and I came across this lovely fiber on Etsy:

It's merino-tencel in the colorway "Cabbage Rose" from JunePryceFiberArts. I got two braids of it and I think it's going to be perfect.

While I was over there I also came away with this:

Also merino-tencel, colorway "Film Noir" (love that colorway name!). This one I think I may spin to maintain the gradiation (probably using chain ply) to knit into a scarf, possibly also a hat. A friend thought it would be very pretty with a brightly-colored wool coat. And it would, but since I only have a black winter coat (for now), I think I'll have to be monochromatic.

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Thursday, July 25, 2013

My Bald Little Pony

Just finished:

This is from Gnome Garden, bought at the Maryland Sheep and Wool from Cloverhill Farms several years ago (not sure of the exact year on this one). It's merino and bamboo in lovely pinks and purples with lot of sparkle. I have a little over three ounces of it. (And another 3 ounces or so in blues). It is perhaps a little more pink than in the photo, but it's pretty all the same. It ended up being about 310 yards at around 18 wraps per inch. So, it's about a fingering weight. I think it might make a nice hat and small scarf or cowl.

This is what it looked like:

As I was spinning it, the sparkles got everywhere. My husband's comment was that it looked like someone took clippers to My Little Pony. (Hence, the post title.)

Currently on the spindles:

This is a gorgeous blue silk that I've been spindling off and on for a while. I had two braids of the silk, each about 1 oz. I'm finally on the second braid and will continue to take it along with me whenever I have to wait somewhere. I think I may end up plying it with other colors and weaving with it. I got a new book recently called Spin to Weave by Sara Lamb. It is a lovely book with lots of advice about spinning yarns specifically for weaving. She has a beautiful scarf from silk. Several beautiful scarves from silk, actually. But for the one I'm talking about, she spun silk singles from various colors and used three plies. She plied the colors in different proportions - e.g., 3 plies of blue, 2 plies of blue and one of burgundy, etc. She uses these plies for the warp, packing in the warp and using a thin weft to create a warp-faced weave. The scarf shifts gradually shifts colors from blue/purple to burgundy to gold. It is truly beautiful and something I may end up doing.

I also have some fiber coming from Etsy. I'll post it when I get it.

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Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Lovely Spun Corriedale

This is some lovely fibery goodness that I've finally spun up. Apparently, I purchased this lovely Corriedale way back in 2007 at the Maryland Sheep and Wool. It's beautiful with black, reds and purples. It's probably been on the wheel for a couple of years. Anyway, I finally decided to finish spinning it up and plied it. I ended up with two decent sized skeins, one of the skeins is more of a laceweight and one more of a light fingering.

(Click for larger picture)

It's not as shiny as in the picture. It's hard getting a decent picture with reds and purples on a sunny day, even harder when it's been raining for days! It really is a rich mix of cool reds and warmer purples with a bit of black.

Things I learned from this project, if you let a spinning project languish for this long, chances are that your spinning won't match the spinning you did a while ago. I also learned that it is possible to go back and add more twist to the ply before you finish the yarn. I did this with the laceweight skein. I had finished spinning it a while ago and it looked sort of weedy in places, but after spinning it again (by putting the skein on a swift and spinning it on to the wheel), it added enough twist to look better. Still looks a bit weedy though.

I do like the look of the fingering weight better in the skein. Not sure what I'll do with it yet, but the two skeins likely will not be used in the same project. Maybe as a weft on a weaving project, but more likely a knitted hat and matching scarf if there's enough.

I have some more interesting stuff in the works. So more later.

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Sunday, June 30, 2013


I know, I'm not a regular poster, but I've been doing some interesting projects lately and I want to start keeping up with my blog again (we'll see how long that lasts).

Anyway, I haven't been knitting so much lately. I restarted the Forest Path Stole for about the fifth time over the last decade or so. I don't know why this particular shawl has eluded me, but the yarn has never been right or something. This time, I found the perfect yarn - Webs Valley Alpaca Silk in Forest - and was knitting right along. I got about halfway when I realized I'd screwed up the pick up starting at about the third tier. I know no one would probably ever realize it unless I pointed it out to them, but alas, the perfectionist streak in me knows that I would see it every time I look at it. So, it's been in time out for about a month while I decide whether to abandon it altogether or start all over.

Meanwhile, I have been weaving. I finished some lovely placemats for my mother for Mother's Day (late as usual, but she seemed pleased with them). I liked them so much that I made some for me in indigo blue (hers were natural). The placemats are done in Webs 3/2 cotton indigo blue from a huck lace placemat pattern in Handwoven. (I'd have to look up the issue.) They haven't been washed up yet, but I'll post a picture as soon as I have.

And I wove a sampler blanket. Here's a picture of the blanket on the loom:

It's woven in 5/2 cotton set at 20 wpi (I think). The warp is white with mauve rose stripes to separate the sections and the weft is indigo blue and mauve. The pattern is from the book Designing Woven Fabrics. It is now off the loom, but I still need to cut and resew. I'll give project notes when I finish it.

I also have some spinning to show, but I'll do that in another post. Hopefully, you won't have to wait another year :-)

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Friday, June 29, 2012

Awesome New Purse

Okay, so I haven't posted in so long, they've totally gone and changed the interface on me. On the odd chance that I might still have a reader or two (you know, besides my mom and my husband who always tells me that I haven't updated my blog in over a year), I thought I'd post pictures of this awesome new purse that I just finished making yesterday. It's the "Bag" from The BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook. I did the variation with the bow. I don't know whether you can see or not, but there are nice roomy pockets on either side. I put similar pockets on the inside. Inside there are also other pockets on the front and back linings.

I love the lining fabric. You can click either photo to "embiggen". It took me about three days of work, off and on, to cut it all out and get it all sewn. I am very happy with it and absolutely love it. It seems comfortable to carry though I haven't had the chance to carry it around for a couple of hours at a time yet. We'll see how comfortable it is then :-) But I love the color and the material was easy to work with. Oh, the purple material is a faux suede and the color in the first picture is fairly accurate (purples are sadly hard to really capture accurately with a digital camera); it is a bit on the redder side of royal purple. The lining is cotton. It's all washable, which is wonderful for someone who carries a bag around until it falls apart :-)

Although, I had so much fun doing this one, I may have to make another bag of some sort very soon. I do plan on making little cosmetic bags to organize all my stuff inside the purse that doesn't quite fit into the pockets. Maybe a vinyl lined one to carry a fountain pen or two (so accidental leaking won't destroy my beloved bag).

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Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Long Time

Yeah, I'm not even going to pretend that I'm going to start back posting regularly. Honestly, life gets in the way, but I'd like to show some things I've finished. And this isn't everything, so who knows, maybe I'll get around to showing the rest of it soon.

I have absolutely no knitted objects to show today, though I did finish a lovely merino and angora Sahara back during the winter. Hopefully, I'll get some pictures of that soon. (But that involves getting the dressmaker's dummy out, so I'll save that for some sewing pictures as well. I have a skirt and a couple of tees to show.) I haven't done much knitting since, but quite a bit of weaving and sewing.

Today is all weaving. After having the loom for nearly three years, I finally convinced my husband that it really needed to be upstairs instead of in the basement. I absolutely love having it upstairs. It takes up half the library, but I've gotten so much more use out of it, and there is a ton of natural light, especially in the afternoon/evenings.

So, let's see if I can remember how to post some pictures :-)

I did a set of towels. The pattern is from Weaver's Craft Issue 17. (Weaver's Craft is a wonderful magazine put out by Jean Scorgie. Lots of wonderful information for weavers in there and absolutely no advertisements!) The towels have twill stripes, and the white background is in basketweave. I used shades of earthtones for the wider stripes and mauve/rose for the narrower ones.

I've also done some snack mats, patter in Weaver's Craft Issue 11. They are done similarly to doubleweave; they're double thick and make nice little mini-placemats.

I used the lightest of the earthtones and the mauve for the warp (vertical threads) and different colors for the wefts (horizontal threads) - starting at the upper left and going clockwise, I used natural/white, the medium brown, the mauve and the same light brown in the warp.