Friday, August 30, 2013

Leno and Random Plaids -- two weaving experiments

I hadn't gotten out the Cricket loom in a while, so I gave a couple of weaving projects a try this summer. The first was something that I'd had in mind for a while -- making a lightweight linen scarf out of some Fibronatura Flax that I had in my stash.

As weft, it's great. As warp -- not so much. It needs a good sizing first because it abrades and the plies break, and -- bit of a mess to work with. Hello, heavy-duty hair spray, it saved the day and washed out when the scarf was done.

After a long wait on the loom, because I hadn't decided yet how to finish it (in the end, hemstitching, plus making a twisted fringe of two strands twisted together), I finally finished the thing:

I did a 2:2 Leno weave, with six rows of plain weave in between each lace bit. I did a lot of lace because I didn't think I had enough warp to do too much plain weave, and I wanted a light, airy scarf for warmer-season wear. A close-up of the weave:

In the heat of the summer, it's still hot to wear anything around the neck, but on milder days it'll be nice to have an accessory, especially when the university is back in session. Seems like all my good work clothes and accessories are cool-season things. I don't have a lot for warmer times. But then again, the way they turn up the air conditioning to "arctic blast" in the summer (seriously, my digital thermometer in my office usually reads between 67 and 69 degrees F), I need cool weather gear when I'm teaching summer courses!

After finally getting the leno scarf off of the loom, I wanted to try the random plaid thing that you get when you weave a handpaint yarn with long-ish color runs in a balanced weave. So happened that Stephania of Three Fates Yarns came to knitting with two giant duffels 'o goodness. Watching her unload yarn and fiber from those duffels is like watching a clown car unload, only better, because it's pretty fiber instead of scary clowns, but you get the idea. So... much... YARN! She was bringing them for someone who won a choice of yarn as a prize for Tour de Fleece, but of course several more of us went shopping through the piles, and I picked out this one:

The colorway is Bird of Paradise, and it suddenly hit me why the colorway appealed so much -- it's a lot like the colorway I came up with to paint a sock blank a few years ago, and I recall Steph asking me which specific colors I'd mixed for that.

So that's what I put on the loom. I used a kitchen scale to weigh the ball as I warped the loom at 12 ends per inch, and stopped when I'd used about half of the yarn. Then I wound the rest of the yarn onto a shuttle and proceeded to weave a plain tabby weave.

Starting the warping process:

I had the peg about 80 inches from the loom, to make the scarf long enough and to allow for loom waste. That's one thing I have to learn to cope with when it comes to weaving: loom waste. I'm so used to taking a pretty ball of something expensive and knitting it until there's no yarn left. This "waste" thing... it makes me cringe and reach for something less expensive.

Belle photo-bombs the picture of loom warping:

Cut the ends, then separate the pairs of warp threads and load one of each into the holes in the heddle. Then the process of winding-on, which is easier with two people, but can be managed alone:

And with the warp ends tied. There's a lashing-on method that I want to learn to use, too, but this works pretty well, and after watching a video on Craftsy (from their beginning weaving course, which was on sale), I had a better idea of how to tie the ends and make sure that all warp threads are at even tension.

I wove several rows with some scrap acrylic to evenly space the warp threads. I just push a loop through instead of going back and forth so it's easier to pull out when I'm done. I hemstitched the end before going on because it's easier to do while the fabric is still on the loom.

The weaving proceeds:

After hemstitching the other end, I cut the scarf from the loom and did a twisted fringe, twisting two strands together and then those twists together to make a 4-strand fringe. Here's how I made the fringe come out even, using t-pins, a blocking mat, and a piece of junk mail.

Done! The colors are pretty true in this shot:

Colors are kind of washed out in this shot, but you can see the whole scarf and the plaid effect going on (and my Turtleheads -- Chelone -- in bloom).

Now I've got an experiment in weft-faced weaving going on. Have to get some pictures!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Midsummer Spin-In and Fiber Fair -- Can we call it a Wren Faire?

Lois Olund of Bellwether Wool Company waved her magic nostepinne and voila! A new fiber faire happened!

Well, maybe it wasn't quite that easy, but it was nearly that magical. Lois has been busy all over Ravelry, posting notice of her new brainstorm, a spin-in that grew into "maybe a couple of vendors of we're lucky, we'll see, hope someone comes..." and blossomed into a full-fledged brand new fiber fair in the tiny community of Wren, Oregon, catered by New Morning Bakery from Corvallis.

No one is calling it a "Wren Faire" yet, but give 'em time...

To help make this new fair a success, two friends and I carpooled in, two of us from Salem, one from Rickreal, and we drove down Highway 99 to Monmouth, went through that town to get to King's Valley Highway... and drove... and drove... and drove... and said, "How far is it to Wren? Let's see, Peedee comes first, then is it Wren or King's Valley? How much farther, do you think? We haven't passed it yet, have we?"

But no problem, we were driving through some of the most beautiful country on Earth. On the way we discovered a covered bridge, decommissioned now and moved off of the highway. It was going to be torn down, but the schoolkids of Peedee said, "No, not our bridge!" and with the community, raised enough money to preserve the Ritner Creek Bridge. We stopped to see the bridge, and found the foundations of an older bridge and the remains of an old road, probably originally a wagon road, near the bridge itself. A few clues about the history of the area.

Pretty soon after the bridge, there it was, right alongside the road!

The Wren Community Hall was all decked out, with vendors inside and out, and parking in a mowed field across the road.

That "couple of vendors, maybe, don't call it a fiber fair yet," had grown into 25 vendors, many of them well-known among local fiber show aficionados, like Stitch Jones, SpindleWood, Creekside Fiber Mill, and more.

Even the little shavers found something to be interested in. Wheels always fascinate them.

As did the animals: some cashmere goats, some sheep, and some llamas for petting.

Inside, more vendors, and of course the spinning circle for the spin-in as this event was originally envisioned:

Our own Stephania of Three Fates Yarn came with her gorgeous fiber and yarn:

The youngest attendee was but seven weeks old, but having a good time. She's a little Welsh Corgi puppy. I never knew they came in "blue," with blue eyes!

LaVelle and Helen, with whom I carpooled, enjoy the spin-in:

As for the buying part, I made out like a bandit! I didn't buy a lot, but boy, I got some bargains. I picked up nearly 20 oz of washed natural black Wensleydale locks out of a "sale" bin for a mere $4.75 -- for the whole bag! I grabbed up seven full spools of cotton warp yarn for future weaving projects. Why not when they're only $1 each? And the book, The Twisted Sisters Sock Workbook, was a door prize! The most expensive thing I bought was lunch, which was $10 and well worth it.

This is definitely going on my calendar for next year!

blogger templates | Make Money Online