Archive for the ‘Fiber Arts’ Category

Ta Da!

Monday, November 5th, 2007

7 evenings of knitting, bronchitis one evening of finish work, and I knit myself a nifty sweater.

I didn’t keep track of how long it took to spin the roving for this sweater, so I’m firmly sticking with my One Week Sweater stance here.  In any case, I have new clothes!!

When this gal is sick, she knits.

Saturday, November 3rd, 2007

I really kind of hate bumping the handsome picture of my husband off with a new post!

Last Friday night I decided to knit a sweater. I had some yarn I had spun up a while ago that needed a project.

This was one of the first things I spun up and I got it because it felt soft and the color was so pretty, surgeon being made up from several dozen shades of blues, website greens, here and greys. The owner of the shop gave it to me at a great price because she didn’t know what it was (cotton and wool of some sort) and it had been there a while.

Well, I spent most of Friday trying to choose a pattern to try, but everything I liked needed more yardage than I had. I went to bed feeling rather frustrated. Brian insisted I just sleep on it. And sleep on it I did. I kept looking at this pattern from Knitty:

In the morning, I wound it up into balls and grabbed the extra I had from the sweater I just made for him. The guage was the same and I liked the way the two colors worked together. Then I sat (did I mention it was about 6 am on a Saturday? My head was preoccupied with health issues and I needed to stop thinking for a while) and photoshopped a little color into the patter to decide on some striping.

The concept came out a bit like this:

I liked it, so I grabbed my needles and threw myself into a project.

I just finished blocking all the pieces.

I have never finished a sweater this quickly. After it dries tonight, I’ll sew it together and create the simple neck edging. I’m really rather pleased with it at this stage.

If anyone who reads this journal is on Ravelry, I’m there as well as Jvar. Feel free to look me up there. I have additional notes on most of my recent projects there for anyone wanting more knitting detail.

[Place Holder for Finished Sweater – Check back soon]

For the love of a finished project!

Thursday, October 25th, 2007

I am pleased as can be to say I am 100% finished with Brian’s shaker sweater with the shawl collar. I’m ever more thrilled that he really likes it. He was amazed at how soft and warm it is. The Babydoll Southdown wool is super springy. It holds it’s shape and has an elastic nature to the yarn. Where cotton would stretch out of shape, physician this sweater will hold its shape really well. (click pic for larger detail)
Brian's finished Sweater

This project took me a year to complete for a couple of reasons. The first was the dumbest mistake. I knit the second arm on the wrong size needles and had to frog it. Threw me off my game so I threw it to the side for months since the weather was turning to spring. Then I ran out of yarn and had to find the vendor who just -happened- to have more of the roving from the show where I got this batch, which is nothing short of a miracle. While it’s a natural color (not dyed) there was no guarantee that I could color match, but having some from the same show/same batch was exactly a perfect match! These are some thumbnails of the roving turning into the yarn I used taken from previous postings.

I have more of the babydoll southdown wool in white that I want to spin and then dye. I really like this wool a lot. It isn’t scratchy and the springy-ness of the fiber will help keep a garment’s shape like a pro!

Another project that I just finished for a sweet friend who is about to have a baby is a baby blanket that matches the gloves and scarf I made for her last year. I never took pictures of the scarf, but she really loved this silly muppet looking glove.

So, I used the same Lion’s Brand Fun Fur fringe on a blanket with an ultrasoft butter yellow boucle for the rest. I also need to have her get a picture of the cap I made for her baby from the same combination. I made the band from the boucle and the cap from the fun fur. She’s excited about matching when they go out now! (click pic for larger detail)

I have more spinning to do so that I can dive into some more knitting projects. I’m currently knitting up some holiday presents, so everything is in various states of completion.

Blanket adapted from this pattern.
Brian’s Sweater pattern available here.

Happy 1 Year, Craft Blog!!

Sunday, September 30th, 2007

I started this journal after returning from the Sheep & Wool Festival at Mt. Bruce Station in 2006. I returned for the fourth year in a row yesterday and left with 3.5 lbs of fiber and about $144 less in my bank account.

I imagine when I’m through, salve I’ll have been able to make 3 sweaters and some extra for striping in other projects.

On to this year’s stash:

Tops on my list was an Alpace 50%/Mohair 30%/Wool 20% with sparkly bits. This is soft and the colors are incredible. The best way to explain it is that it looks like flame. I got 16.3 oz for $46 I ended up spinning one bobbin of it last night and I’m planning on spending the better part of this afternoon with it. If you click this pick, pharmacist you’ll get the original size so you can see the detail, viagra order it’s really gorgeous.

China Town Roving

Wiley Woolies had their angora rabbits which I am always fond of wishing over. This year they had bags of batts for felting or spinning. I picked up 15 oz of a 50/50 angora/merino blend for $45. There are actually 2 batts, one pale grey, one charcoal grey. I seriously want to wrap my body with these batts, they are so soft!!

Mohair batts

I fell in love with the rich olive color of this next roving. It’s not my favorite wool to blend, being 100% Border Leicester, but the color really got to me. I have a wonderful sweater I want to make in charcoal with scalloped stripes of this olive wool. I got 8 oz for $18

Olive Leicester Roving

And my final score was 21.8 oz of a heathered grey Jacob that is about as fluffy as summer clouds for $39. I want to make a thick sweater out of this that either I or my husband can wear during the winter. I’m searching out just the right pattern. I have enough of this to do a triple ply if I want! These are the same local folks that provided me with the amazing babydoll southdown that I used to make Brian’s sweater.

Grey Jacob Roving

The show wasn’t as big as years past, but it certainly provided me with some fiber that make me very happy. And speaking of which, my break is over (I also ran out to make a 3′ grapevine wreath with some wild vines Brian found while prepping wood for the winter’s heating), now it’s time to go back to spinning the pretty things I have!

Protecting the tools

Sunday, July 22nd, 2007

Inspired by Berrocco’s Kable and Kluster, and I set about to design something to store my growing stash of double pointed needles.

I started by finding some gorgeous, more about bold purple felting wool roving (about a pound of it).

handspun yarn

I spun it up and knit a large rectangle with a ribbed border. Then I felted it in the washing machine until it shrunk up to the size I wanted, treatment which was a little wider than the biggest double points I might keep. The final measurements were 24.5″ x 11.5″ I probably shrunk it down by nearly 2.5 inches to a nice tight felt.

The idea was to have a roll that would store and travel nicely. I want to eventually finish the outside with two attractive buttons with loops, but I am waiting until I get a few more of the larger DP needles to see how tight/loose it should be when rolled up.

I went looking through all my lace patterns and found one that worked with just a little modification. It’s a vine and cable mix that allows two areas to encase the needles with makes the whole thing far more stable and secure than a single cable would. I used an acrylic worsted weight yarn which has a wonderful grip to it. The needles don’t slide out at all when held on edge.

What I love best about this carrier is that it holds any size DP needles comfortably. I didn’t have to make adjustments for my size 11 needles or my size 2’s.

This is the finished DP needle case. It was fun to employ a lot of different techniques and styles to make a fun case to protect my DPs and keep them all in one place.

My next toolcase is going to be a similar style, but instead of the cables, I’m going to make a series of pockets to store all of my circular needles in one place. I’m still working on the dimensions for that.

Clicking on most pictures will display a larger picture for detail.

Paying homage to the muse of color and soft yarn

Tuesday, December 26th, 2006

I posted this picture of the yarn I was spinning back in September.

With all the glove, public health sweater, neuropathologist and snake making for the holidays, hemorrhoids I didn’t have time to get back to spinning and being the addict I am about it, I’ve really been jonesing to get back to working with raw fiber.  After going to the fiber festival in September, I had this grand idea of using my hand carders to blend my own mix and spin something quite unique.

I had 1 lb of gorgeous smoky grey mohair roving, 8 oz of jet black alpaca roving, and 3 oz of various source dyed wool locks in a rainbow of colors.  I wanted to blend the mohair 2-1 with the alpaca, and then add a shock of color.  The idea was to roll up a bunch of rolags with varying colors and spin them randomly together.

This picture shows a close up of the spun single with at least 3 colors.  You can see the color fibers shot through, with the occasion deliberate small nub of color.

The last little bit of the rolag is on the left and you can see how the color blends in.

I did a small photo montage of the process I used to make the rolags.

  1. shows the 2-1 blend of mohair to alpaca.
  2. gently holding on to the rovings and dragging them across the carder to cover it.
  3. some of the color locks on the coated carder.
  4. the locks combed out and positioned near one end
  5. picking up the fiber from the teeth on the carder.
  6. rolling the fiber into a rolag

Here’s what that rolag looks like finished:

You can see a little bit of the color fiber peaking out on the near end.  When I spin this, I get a nice mix of the mohair and alpaca.   I put a concentration of color at one end, which ends up being most of the first part that gets spun.  The color doesn’t span the entire length of fiber, but gets slowly more concentrated and then blends back to the mohair/alpaca.  This gives more distinct color to parts of the single and the blackish grey to the rest so that the color ebbs and flows.

And this would be the entire 1.5 lbs of fiber rolled up.   I sorted them by colors and then hands mixed the colors and bagged them up for spinning.  There are 139 rolags in this picture, plus 10 already spun.

The current plan is to ply these together to a 2 ply.  If I decide to attempt a 3 ply, I might try to use Navajo plying to maintain the single color.  I haven’t decided yet if multiple colors in a strand of yarn would be more fun than keeping the colors more distinct.  If I try Navajo plying, it will be my first attempt to learn, so that has an appeal as well.

This project has really helped me feel like an artist, and not just a hobbyist.  It’s really satisfying to take the raw fiber and make it into something that existed only in my head.   Once I spin up the entire lot and see what my yardage is, then I will decide on a project for this.  I’m currently leaning towards a tunic type sweater to show off the color in a simple knit.

Playing Catch Up

Monday, December 25th, 2006

I was so busy making presents and filling orders that I didn’t get to update much. At least I made sure I got pictures of everything before they got to their intended recipients.

One of my favorite things that I made was a 40″ stuffed snake for Christopher, prosthetic who is 3. He just happens to be about 40″ tall himself. I stuffed this guy pretty full of batting, viagra 100mg so he’s perfect for cuddling, viagra or using as a pillow, which Christopher was happy to demonstrate for me. Little guy was too hyped up on the gift getting that he was moving too fast to photograph.

I found a stash of near antique plastic buttons and lucked out that the best ones were yellow, the right size, and even had a slit cut in them to give the snake even more snakiness!

I got a really nifty knit toy book, but the only thing about that patterns that I don’t care for is that every piece is knit flat and sewn. I’m not crazy about unnecessary seams. Truth be told, I like to avoid sewing as much as possible. It’s my least favorite task, right next to making fringe.

So I made a very easy modification to the pattern and used Double Point needles. Because it was stripes, there is a little jog, but as you can see in this picture, it is a far less noticeable thing than a full up seam.

Another fun bit was the tail. I wish I would have started this about 10 rows sooner. I just alternated 2 knit and then 2 pearl rows to give the tail a rattle like shape. The decreases helped to make that even more evident.

Another modification was crocheting a tongue, which I think will hold up a lot longer than the suggested felt. In any case, it was a huge hit.

My love/hate relationship with eyelash yarn

Monday, December 25th, 2006

The good news is that my niece Britts loved her gloves. She wore them for most of the evening and her friends seemed a tad envious. I was enormously pleased. After I made her gloves, anesthetist Brian liked them enough that I made him a short pair. He wore those to work and one of his coworkers fell in love with them, but she wanted them with, and I quote, “the fuzziest, most obnoxious yarn you can find in jewel tones.” So I found the exact yarn she wanted and made her a pair. They have dubbed them “road kill gloves” 10 days before Christmas, she told me she loved them so much, she wanted a pair for her sister, but she needed them in time to ship. *chuckle* So…I did it.

Without a doubt, these are the most difficult things to photograph since they truly do look like a mop head. Or leftover muppet.

I also made her a matching scarf as a birthday gift. It earned me a big hug.

There’s something totally wonderful about getting paid to knit. But…just as I had vowed to swear off eyelash yarn forever, I got another order. Honestly, this stuff is so difficult to work with because you can’t count stitches or rows, so you have to be very diligent in paying attention to the pattern. Heaven help you if you drop a stitch. If you catch that you did. *rolls eyes* At least I insisted on a new color.

At the Christmas party at Brian’s folks, his mom let me know she’d love a pair in black. *sigh* I will never get away from eyelash yarn.

At least folks seem to love these fun gloves. It takes me an evening a glove, working at an easy pace, and since I combined patterns to get the effects I like, this pattern is now something I can do without grabbing for the instructions.

Mixed Media

Monday, November 20th, 2006

About a week and a half ago I found myself inbetween fiber projects. I wanted something quick and fun to do and none of my current projects were fitting the bill. I also had a lot of yarn left over from the afgan project that I waqnted to use up in something. So I decided that grandson Christopher needed a sweater. I pulled out the scrap yarn I had and made a call to his mother for measurements then got to work. I used a simple pattern from a 1987 Vogue Knitting (it had dinasaurs on it, symptoms I wanted stripes, buy more about mod #1).

I also wanted to use some of the techniques I prefer for finishing, like 3 needle cast off for finishing the shoulders and douple pointed needles to make a seemless collar. (Mods #2 & #3). Mod #4 was making the measurements fit with his measurements and the guage. I can’t wait to see what he thinks and see how it looks on him. At 3, I’m not certain of his taste in clothes, but hopefully he’ll like it a bit. The one thing that I did that I really think makes the sweater less dull is that there’s a texture stripe in the middle of the color stripes. I alternated the purple and green, and the single strip in the middle of each pattern is a purl row so that it has a nice texture on the outside, and nothing amiss on the inside to annoy young skin. I also like the way the colors work together. It took a while to decide how the stripes should match up, and I am very pleased with those results as well.

Brian and I got back to working on our models this weekend, and I finally finished the Cobra I’d been working on. Thanksgiving weekend will be a model working weekend with our friends Jen & Craig. I’m still trying to decide what kind of models I like working on best. This is the first one I’ve finished. I have an anniversary edition of the Lunar Lander that I’m working on, a rubber band engine wood frame Spitfire (a $10 I picked up this weekend), and a Polar Lights “The Witch” to work on. I’ve started the Lunar Lander, and it’s turning out really well. I want to do The Witch with an airbrush. Brian and I are currently researching one that will allow us the best variety of uses. We’re leaning towards a Badger 175.

So this is the Cobra all finished. It’s a metal body. A very simple model to paint, and a bugger to put together with a lot of little fragile parts. I want to get the VW Bug from this company, it’s so darn cute. And with the airbrush, perhaps I can finally have The Galloping Grape I saw when I was 16 that I wanted so very badly.

Clicking on the pictures will usually link to the larger version for easier viewing of details.

You spin me right round, baby, right round

Monday, October 30th, 2006

Ode to my Lendrum

I love this spinning wheel. It’s made in Canada. No, order it’s finely crafted in Canada. It folds for travel, it has a modest footprint and it flies so smoothly and quietly. I’ve spun everything from laceweight to chunky yarn with great success. It uses Scotch Tension which is a really fine adjustment with a knob, cotton cord and a rubber band. I can tighten and losen it with small movements for precision. This controls the take-up speed of the fiber onto the spindle.

It’s a double treadle (two pedals, two feet) which I am so grateful I could get instead of the single treadle. Spending a lot of time spinning and only using one foot is not optimal. With two pedals I can stop and start the wheel using my feet on the pedals. The fatigue factor is tremendously reduced and worth the extra money.

• Single Drive, Scotch Tension
• Wheel Diameter 19”
• Regular Flyer Ratios: 6, 8, 10:1
• Orifice 7/16”, 29.75” high
• Double Treadle
• 4 – 4 oz bobbins and tensioned kate
• No assembly, just unfold and attach head
• Maple hardwood with clear lacquer finish
• Weight 13 lbs
• Fast Flyer Ratios 12, 15, 17:1
• Plying Head Ratios 3, 7, 9:1

As you can see in the photos, that’s a lot of equipment standard with the wheel. I purchased four more spindles recently, and tonight I ordered the quill head so that I can try spinning cotton on this wheel. If it does that, then I will never need another wheel. The quill head only works with the double treadle. It spins at ratios of 6, 25, and 37:1. (Ratios are how many times the flyer head spins for every once the large wheel goes around. The more twists, the finer the thread you can spin. Fiber with very short staple length needs fast spinning to bing the fiber, like cotton.)

Here you can see the new bobbins I just got which I ordered in walnut, even though everything else is in maple. This was pretty much everything that came with the wheel (it did include 4 maple bobbins).  The bobbins are on a lazy kate, with a scotch tension cord along the bottom of the bobbins.  The piece to the right is the bracket for the regular flyer heads.  On the pedals are the two flyer heads.  The normal one on the right, the fast flyer on the left (you can see the smaller circles, which is where the band goes to set the ratio.)  At the top of the wheel, the larger plying bobbin and bracket are attached.  There are two bands, on the wheel, one is for the plying head, the other for the regular flyers.  The bracket can also be raised and lowered to adjust tension to keep the bands flowing free.
I have the wheel on a piece of rubber fabric that you put under rugs to keep them from slipping. The wheel is light, so without it the wheel tends to walk a bit. I sit in a really nice padded chair we bought when we got our sewing table. The padded back is a godsend.

I have some thoughts on drop spindles as well. I have two and I still love using them. I learned on a bottom whorl and I believe that it taught me a lot in preparation to moving to a wheel. There’s something wonderfully visceral about using the drop spindle. I tend to overspin a bit on the wheel still, but the yarn I spin on the spindles now is perfectly balanced when I wind them off on the swift into a skein. I can’t wait to get to that stage with the wheel. It’s also still a lot easier to travel with a drop spindle than with the wheel.

The first spindle, on the left, I got from Heritage Spinning in Oxford. The owner, Joan, has her father make these. The channel up at the top is excellent for keeping the yarn balanced and held. It’s a very simple spindle, reasonably priced, elegantly made, and it served me really well in the beginning. The second spindle Brian got for me this past Christmas. It’s a ring spindle from Golding that can be either a top or bottom whorl. I’ve tried spinning from a top and I don’t like it as well as a bottom, which is slower. This has some incredible features, like the notches in the ring to keep the fiber from slipping and the hook at the top works like a champ. It’s beautifully weighted, but because of this, it requires understanding what a fiber needs for spinning. For example, it’s too heavy for cotton. The spindle on the left, my first one, has a little bit of recycled cotton denim I tried spinning. The spindle is still a little heavy and that makes for a very uneven thread. Cotton can easily take 1000 twists per inch and the drop spindle just can’t quite go fast enough.

I am enjoying everything about spinning. It’s easier and often times cheaper to go and buy yarn, but I really love knowing how much a part of the process I’ve been.