Monday, November 20, 2017

Yarn dyeing, triloom weaving, and studio arranging

Well, I've got sausage and potatoes cooking upstairs, and yarn cooking downstairs. As long as I don't mix them, I should be ok! This is Platinum sock yarn from Wool2Dye4, that I'm dyeing with Jacquard acid dyes in my crock pot. The colors look all sorts of tasty, but I think I should eat this with my eyes, and stick to my potatoes for dinner, no?

So, dinner, watch the sunset...

....and then get back to weaving, I think. I just finished this grey and pink triloom shawl, and have another of the black and jewel tones on the loom now.

I did rearrange my studio a bit between that picture and this next one.

I'm only using one of my floor looms right now, so I folded the dobby loom against the wall and moved my triangle loom over to that corner. That means I can set up the antique sock knitting machine over where it used to be. So, I have 4 work stations currently: the floor loom, the triangle loom, the sock knitting machine, and the work bench where I have the dye station currently up. That ought to keep me busy!!

I want a bigger studio. I always want a bigger studio, no matter how much room I have. But I'm making better use of the space that I have, and that is a good thing.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Shawls, carding wool, and setting a crafting schedule

I finished up this shawl today! It is made of my new favorite yarn for my triloom: Lion Brand Homespun Thick and Quick. This particular colorway was their Tartan Stripes. The yarn works up soft and fluffy and cuddly, and I'm really pleased with it. And I love the self striping yarn that does the color work for me. Anyway, this beauty heads out into the mail tomorrow for its new home.

I've got some felted juggling balls heading out tomorrow too, which means my stock of those is getting low. Time to make some more! Especially with the holidays coming up, they are a good seller for gifts. I like to use a more inexpensive wool at the core of the balls, and then cover that with the more expensive colored wool. I had a bunch of roving tag ends from the last batch of mill end stuff I got, and it wasn't really in a form that was usable to me. Luckily, I have hand carders, and know how to use them. A few hours of work later, and the mish mash on the right all turned into the lovely fluff bits on the left. Satisfying.

In other bits, I'm trying to set a more regular studio time for myself. I work in my own home, and it is so easy to let housework, or kids calling, or the husbands home to hang out with, or the internet (Facebook is my downfall) luring me into spending time looking at craft things instead of making craft things, or...or.... My art work was taking a back seat to just about everything else in my life. I figured I would fit in some fiber time after the busy times of the day, but then the evenings would be taken up with other things until I just wanted mental down time. As a result, very little was actually getting done.

So, I am a serious night owl. I love being up until 4 or 5 am (yes, am as in morning), and then sleeping until noon or 1 pm. But, by doing so, I fell into the pattern I just outlined. So, for the last few weeks I started moving my bed time back to 2 or 3 am, and setting my alarm for 8 hours after that. And, I've told everyone that I've set aside the hours of noon to 4 as my studio time.

So far? I'm easing into it. Facebook is still a danger. And Twitter. And Pintrest. And YouTube with the craft tutorials. (I feel kind of virtuous watching those, because I'm learning stuff. But I'm not doing stuff, so it is mixed there.) But, for the last bit I've actually gotten things done. Two triloom shawls, some experimentation with finding yarns for the sock loom, and I've got a warp painted project on the floor loom. Juggling balls are on tap for tomorrow, and I have dye on the way for the next warp painted ruanas. Now, if I can keep this momentum, and really form a habit of taking time for the creation! It is so easy to get in my own way...

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Yarn review: Franklin sock yarn

Well, that didn't work as well as I hoped. I was experimenting with Franklin sock yarn from Webs. It dyed up beautifully! But it is a little thick for my antique knitting machine. And, when I got a sock made up, it felt kind of dry and crunchy to the touch. I think this sock yarn is a little coarse for my sock making needs.

Come to think of it though, I think this yarn will be beautiful for making coiled basketry, where the feel against the skin won't matter as much. It seems nice and sturdy, and should hold up nicely for that use. (This picture is from a different brand of yarn, but you get the idea.)

Yup. Need to keep experimenting!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Crock pot dyeing sock yarn.

So, time to learn something new to me! I've been making socks with my antique sock knitting machine, and that led me to itching to want to dye my own sock yarn. I went hunting around the internet, and found a couple of inspirations. This blog entry ( and this video on YouTube ( both used a similar technique of sprinkling dry dye powder on hanks of yarn in the crock pot. That looked like a great way to get my feet wet (so to speak). I decided to go with Jacquard acid dyes for their light fastness and color selection, and made myself an order from Dharma Trading Company.

I went ahead and got a rainbow of colors, plus brown, black and gray. And, I decided to go with the citric acid crystals rather than just using vinegar, so my project wouldn't smell up my house. Then, I had to figure what yarn to use. My antique knitting machine really works well with the Serenity sock yarn from JoAnns, so I picked up some white skeins to start with. I have an antique clock reel that I rescued from a second hand store (it had been turned into a plastic flower planter, poor thing!), and used that to turn two skeins of yarn into one hank of yarn. Each skein is enough for one sock, and this way I could get matching socks from a dyed hank. Though, come to think of it, it might be fun to dye related but slightly different hanks, for the non-matching fraternal sock craze that is going on. Hmmm.....
Then, more or less following the directions on the two sites, I got to playing in the color. I have three hanks of yarn in the crock pot tonight. The bottom skein started white, and used the figure 8 way of putting the yarn in the crock pot. (Twist the big loop once, so it looks like an 8, and then fold the two loops over onto themselves. Put that in the crock pot.) The second hank is also done in the figure 8 way of laying out the yarn, but it started purple. I wanted to see what it looked like to overdye another color. The top hank is just scrunched in one big circle, and started white. I've used purple, fire red, and brilliant blue dye colors, in approximately equal proportions around the ring. it simmers over night. I put on high for the first hour, and then popped it down to low until I wake up tomorrow. I'm finding the biggest challenge so far is Not Messing With It. I want to poke at it, and that will just disturb the water and muddy the colors. But....I want to play!!!

Hands off.

Go to sleep.

Dream of color.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Snake Bay, Lake of the Woods, Ontario

I'm back! I had a week away, on Lake of the Woods in Ontario. The first time I went to this lake was 50 years ago. I was teething, and evidently screaming my fool head off. My folks had had enough of car travel with a cranky baby, so they pulled into a random camp ground to stop for the night. Well, they liked it enough, and the lake enough, that they stayed. And came back. Again, and again.

I grew up on that beach, running in the sun and playing Kick the Can, or sitting in the store there on the right during rainy days, doing jigsaw puzzles and giggling with the other kids. I had my honeymoon there. Around that time, the camp changed hands though, and the feel of the place changed too. So, my family started going to a different camp, further down Snake Bay.
A change...but the lake stays the same. This place has been the one constant in my life. 50 years now, and it still draws me back.

I didn't want to leave. I've spent almost a year of my life there now, a week or two at a time. In my heart, it is eternally summer, and full of layers of memories. I am a child, I am a newlywed, I am a young mother, I am 50 years old and greying, I am...whole.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Baby wraps are done, and I'm packing for vacation

Done and mailed off! The "Lotus" baby wraps are on their way to their new home, and I am packing packing packing for leaving for vacation tomorrow.
I've got my fishing hat and everything. Is it time yet??? Oh yes. Got to shut down the Etsy shop, and do a few more last minute things. I've got someone here watching the place (or I wouldn't be blogging about it), but they won't be shipping for me.
Another one of those last minute things will be visiting the foot doctor tomorrow. I tripped coming out of my front door two weeks ago. Turns out, my foot is broken in two places. Oops. Ah well, luckily the wraps were plain weave. I re-set the treadles under the loom to be both done by the right foot. No problem. A complicated twill might have been more of an issue, but I had this one covered.
Except, no swimming on my vacation on Lake of the Woods. Ah well, I can still get in and out of the fishing boat, so I'll be fine.

Is it time yet???
Yes, that is me. I've been going to these waters a long, long time.

Time to go to my heart home.

You all be good to each other while I'm gone, ok?

Friday, June 23, 2017

A tip for tying onto the front apron rod in weaving

I don't know where I picked this tip up, but I'd like to thank that person. Tonight I tied my warp onto the front apron rod of the loom, and I remembered the tip I had heard to swap the edge threads in the sections when I'm tying on. Like so:

Why? When you go to weave the header, look how quickly the warp arranges itself into place!!

Header woven, ready to go. And very little waste of warp. I love this trick.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Warping the loom for a baby wrap

I'm making progress on getting the loom all warped up for the next batch of baby wraps. I'm working a bit each day, so I make sure I can get these completed and out to their new owners before I take off for vacation/family reunion in July. As I'm working, I'm remembering how much I like working with this yarn. It is 10/2 mercerized Valley cotton from Webs, and is just lovely and shiny slipping through my hands.

So, first up is the calculation part. I remember back in high school deciding that I'd never use math again, so I didn't have to worry about it. Boy was I wrong. Weaving is really just visible math. You've got to figure out how many threads, of what colors, at what length to get the effect you want. So each project sees me with pencil, paper, and a calculator in hand.

Then it is time to measure out the threads. I create the gradation of color as I go along, by changing colors every 2-4 threads. That makes for a lot of cutting and tying knots. I've tried other methods, but ended up with nasty tangles when I tried to get the warp onto the loom. This takes me a bit of extra time, but I like the results better.
I'm putting on 21 yards of warp this time around. That gives me enough for 3 five meter baby wraps. One for my mama client, one for the new testing regulations, and one more sister wrap. My client gets first dibs on the sister, so we'll see whether or not it ends up on the open market or not.
There! The warp is all measured out, and the color changes 'programmed' in.
Next up, I work on getting the warp onto the loom. I'm warping front to back, so my first step is to sley the reed. Or, in other words, I hook the threads through the slotted piece of metal at the front of the loom. That spreads the threads to a nice even width. Also? I learned that sley and slay are from the same Old English root word slea, meaning 'to strike'. I'll use the reed, which used to be called the sley, to beat or strike the weft threads into place in the weaving process. Words are neat.
From there, the threads each get their own heddle, which will control when it raises and lowers in the weaving process. 760 threads, hooked one by one by one...
Once they're all through, the end of the warp gets tied onto the back apron rod of the loom.
There! Through the reed, through the heddles, and tied on. I love this part. This is where I get my first real glimpse to see how well the color blending worked out. I'm rather pleased by this one.
My client chose pretty colors, didn't she?

Today's job will be to wind all 21 yards back onto the back warp beam of the loom, to store it until it is ready to be woven. This is a fiddly bit, because it needs to be under perfectly even tension. More later, after I get that part done. But I'm making progress!