Thursday, January 28, 2010

Supposed Friday Post

I've been spinning more silk on my spindle:
one skein (#2) of spindle silk

This is another 160 yds or so of two ply for knitting. Here are both skeins:

two skeins of spindle silk

The silk top is small bundles dyed several colors:
silk to spin

My original thought was to organize the bundles in some sort of fashion, either darkest to lightest or by predominant color. But I am actually just reaching into the bag and pulling out a lump to spin, so the colors will end up quite random and blended. All of the top has areas of white, which tends to soften the colors anyay.

The knitted scarf will be dyed and painted, like these:
flaming peacock cropped

Flaming Peacock, blogged here, or the Falling Leaves painted silk version:

silk shawl

I'm knitting the prototype, Ballet Lace scarf: (Ravelry link)
ballet lace scarf1

I think this will be fun to paint, and the underlying variegated yarns will make the painting interesting. At least that is what I hope :). Otherwise, the spinning and knitting are a perfectly good way to spend my travel downtime, and if the project is successful, that is icing on the proverbial cake.

The blog post title? Tomorrow is knitting. I get lots of grief from my knitting cohorts if I haven't posted recently. I have taken to posting Friday mornings just before leaving for knitting, so when the verbal abuse begins, I can innocently ::blink, blink:: and just ask them if they did not see *this morning's post*. Patricia has taken to actually leaving late so she could check the blog and say she'd seen it.

So I had to up the ante. What she (and Lindsey) don't know is whether I will post again tomorrow.


Friday, January 22, 2010

8 Years

dye notebooks jan 10

Deb and I finished inserting the last sample in the last notebook and boxed up the remaining binders: 200 dye sample notebooks total, 100 of Book One, and another 100 of Book Two. There are over 1100 samples in Book One, and over 700 in Book Two.

We sent out emails to the waiting list we had, and several people responded, so some of these are already sold (thanks! and hi Di in Tazzie! :). We have just a few of Book One left, and less than 40 of Book Two. If you think you are on the waiting list and have not received a notice, email Deb. If you would like a copy and did not receive a notice, email Deb!

This was a project we thought might take us a couple of years, and provide us with an excuse to get together periodically, plus a product should we decide to vend at conferences like SOAR. We did vend once, but most of the books have sold through word-of-mouth. Most of the books also went to guilds and guild libraries, teachers of dye classes, and shops, which means the information reaches a lot more people than the individual sales would indicate.

It took us a bit more time to complete the project than we anticipated, however. It took 8 years.

We plan to start all over and begin dyeing for Book One, Version 2.0 soon. We're hoping to keep up with orders this way, and not have long waiting lists ever again. Maybe!

In other news:

This is a quick shot from my phone, but there was also weaving! The Cricket fit nicely in my suitcase, and once all the samples were done we had a few days for our own projects. Deb is getting pieces ready for a one-person show in March, so I had weaving time, and a little spinning time:

silk2 jan 10

Deb gave me some dyed silk to play with; this is about 100 yards plied. It's coming out to about 4500 yards per pound, or about the size of 20/2 silk. I think it will be a travel spinning-knitting project, perhaps a scarf: a small amount of silk, but the maximum amount of spinning and knitting time for road trips this year. And it will all fit into one small bag (and soon! the bag will be a woven bag made just for it!)

Can you say Obsessed?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Marking Time

Two airports, two planes and an unexpected layover:


becomes the Ridged Lace Cowl designed by Elinor Brown (Ravelry Link). Handspun yarns, quick to knit, easy stitch pattern to memorize. I cast on waiting for the first plane, I did not imagine that I could essentially wear it getting off the second plane! Luckily I have leftover yarn to knit on this trip (plus I brought the universal *second project just in case*).

The orange and blue yarns are my first spindle spun yarns :). I started the cowl with yarn leftover from this hat, spun by Nancy, and it is the softest of the bunch. The green is spun from my friend Stef's wool, and the (spindle spun!) orange and blue are Northern Lights from Louet ( I think Sunset and Autumn Twilight). The Northern Lights wools are not as soft as the others, but, meh, oh well.

I have enough of the yarns left over for a pair of fingerless mitts, which I will start today but make no sense whatsoever to wear here in Wisconsin (and it's warmer here this week than last.....!).

To answer a question from last post: Yes Alyclepal, that is a Cricket loom I'm using, with a 12 dent heddle. And the other cool thing? The Cricket fit in my suitcase! and I brought that project along with me :)! So next post: further adventures in spindle bag weaving.

And if I run out of yarn? Ahem. I brought my spindles too.....

Friday, January 08, 2010


I'm happily working on the spindle bag:
spindle bag

It is important that the yarns for the knots are sized correctly so that the design is squared. I did a bit of a sampler first, both to check the size and also the color of the yarns:
spindle bag sample

The pile yarn is three strands held together, both for yarn density and to give the colors depth and variation. As luck would have it, though, the "squares" in the sampler are not square: they are 5 knots wide by 5 rows high, and too truncated to be called squares. I also wanted to shift some of the colors.

The pile yarns I am using are handspun mohair. I could easily add another strand, so in the final bag above, the pile yarns are all four strands. I also shifted some of the colors: the red got a bright red strand, and the gold got another bright gold strand.

I was lucky to be taught knotted pile by a man who used Paternayan yarns for his rugs: it is a rug yarn, spun worsted of luster wool, composed of three two-ply strands. It comes in a multitude of colors, and because of the available palette and strand construction, it is used by rug restorers to match for both grist and color in restoring Navajo and Oriental carpets.

Since I spin my own yarns, I followed this model: worsted-spun fine two-ply, stranded up depending on color and grist needed. For a while I tried using a single strand spun to the right size to square the pattern. But if the pattern did not square, or if the color was slightly off and needed to be shifted, adding another strand was not possible: the yarn was already fat. So I went back to the stranded model, which is more flexible.

I have been a weaver for quite a while now, and have learned that the materials you choose determine the quality of the final product. Cheap textiles, or textiles done for sale, are often woven of heavier yarns: it is faster to spin and weave up. But the best fabrics are made of the finest yarns: the hand is more supple, the fabric drapes and is manageable. The best carpets are also made of the finest yarns: smooth, lustrous and close-tied. It simply makes sense: if you were making a superlative fabric, would you use fat yarns? I wouldn't either.

This last photo is for Eileen, Sue and Lindsey:
cabin christmas 2009

S'mores anyone? :)