Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Lucky, Lucky, Lucky

A few years ago I bought some cashmere-silk-wool blend fiber to spin from Morgaine at Carolina Homespun. Morgaine carries lots of fibers, tools and yarns from small fiber producers, dyers and tool makers: she really walks the walk in supporting the people who support the makers (me!) with their products. My fiber was dyed by Jennifer at Spirit Trail Fiberworks. Jen lives in Virginia, and vends her fiber at East Coast fiber festivals and online. In my normal range of travel, I would not get to any place to see and feel her fibers before I buy, but thanks to Morgaine, I can, did and bought:

purple cashmere yarn

I spun this for, I thought, a knitted shawl. I spin tight, relative to most knitters, because I am primarily a spinner for weaving. I can relax the twist, but the yarn does not look right to me, so I generally spin and ply a little tighter than most for knitting, which is lucky in this case....

I went to lecture at my local guild a few months after the buying-spinning of the cashmere silk above. The presenter was felter Carin Engen, who used to be local to this area but now lives in way more Northern California on the Coast. Carin had lovely hand-dyed fiber to sell, and I succumbed to some merino silk in colors of a rose garden, the middle skein here:

shawl yarns sept 2009

When I was spinning the roses, I noticed how nice they looked with the cashmere silk already spun, which generated the idea for a woven shawl, instead of a knitted one. The third skein in that photo above is some tussah-merino, spun in its natural color and later dyed to add a balancing color to the woven fabric. By the time these were all spun and plied/dyed, whatever, I had spun a bit of pygora-silk blend in a fabulous copper color from Terry at Rainbow Yarns, so I added that to the mix:

yarn for cashmere fabric

You can also see the tussah-merino in its dyed state: the deep wine red.

I set up the warp for this shawl, and at the last minute, I added some yarns spun from batts that Abby sent me, two colors, one a pale gold and another a medium dusty rose. Both of these, while two ply yarns, I had spun anticipating knitting, not weaving. Once again, my tendency to tight twist allowed me to switch, but not without some trepidation.

So now I have several skeins spun at different times, containing different fiber blends, although most have silk in them as a unifying fiber, and most of the other fibers were soft and resilient. They were likely to behave similarly, if not identically, in the finished fabric. Therein lies the rub. Sample? Hah! Hold breath, warp, weave:
cashmere-wool before washing

Here is the finished fabric, off the loom, fringe twisted, but not yet washed. Washing may, in fact will, encourage any incompatibilities to show up. The fabric could be wonderful, curious, interesting or a failure. Think uncontrolled seersucker...toss in washer, agitate, full to desired depth, fluff and dry.

My friend Eva modeled it for me:

Eva with shawl

Eva with shawl2

Phew! I was lucky! It worked, worked beautifully, not so much due to skill but grace.

Eva and I, along with 30 of our very best knitting friends, were also lucky enough to be at Lake Tahoe for a knitting retreat last week, where these photos were taken. My LYS, Meadowfarm Yarn Studio, hosts this retreat every Fall in a beautiful private Lodge right on the Lake. This was my first time attending, and I hope not the last:
knitting retreat

dorm wing

And the third Lucky from the post title above? I've been to visit this munchkin again:
marin september 28

For those of you who are weavers or are interested in weaving properly, not by luck or grace like me, you should be reading my friend Sharon Alderman's new blog:. Sharon has years and years of experience with lots of yarns, fibers and weave structures, awards and publications, a fabulous book on weave structures, and is gracious to boot. She walks the walk in the weaving world, and I am pleased and proud ( and lucky!) to call her my friend.


Blogger Barbara said...

Very beautiful.

I'm really starting to like weaving with my handspun.

What is the weft yarn that you used?

12:51 PM  
Blogger historicstitcher said...

You're starting an itch in me to try weaving with my handspun!


I think...

1:14 PM  
Blogger Lynn said...

I know EXACTLY what you mean about leaping in without sampling! Keep your fingers crossed for me! That'a beautiful shawl, and a beautiful baby. And I'm looking forward to reading Sharon's blog!

1:27 PM  
Blogger Valerie said...

Lovely shawl!!

Thanks for the heads up and link to Sharon's blog

4:15 PM  
Blogger Freyalyn said...

Lovely fabric - and still, undoubtedly, one of yours. Lovely baby, too! Buzzing over to Sharon's now.

5:13 AM  
Blogger judy said...

Beautiful! Sounds like you've been doing a lot of continent hopping.

5:26 AM  
Blogger Charlene said...

Yummy! If you find it's sub-standard after washing, I'll be happy to whisk it out of your sight. I'd do that for you. I'm just that kind of generous.

And the munchkin's still adorable. I think that continues until she learns to roll her eyes at you.

Word Verification: outicss: antics that weren't quite funny enough to report on

5:38 AM  
Blogger Charleen said...

I think there was more than luck there! The shawl is absolutely gorgeous!

Following up on Charlene's comment, Jackson rolled his eyes at me when I asked him what he was watching (guess I was supposed to know that was Thomas the Train without actually seeing the train!). But he still is adorable and so is your beautiful Marin.

6:27 PM  
Blogger Hilary said...

I love the fabric....it is lovely

5:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So beautiful, Sara! Both the weaving, and Marin. Love seeing photos of her; what a cutie! And yeah, eye-rolling-girls are still cute (take it from me and my 11 year old).

It was great to see you at SOAR!

5:59 PM  

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