Thursday, September 22, 2011

Autumn, How I Love Thee

Autumn - the word conjures images of swirling dry colorful leaves and brisk chilly air. Sounds lovely, and many parts of the country experience this when the season changes in late September.

Not us - we still have temps in the upper 80's, high humidity, and green leaves firmly affixed to trees. We won't experience much in the way of Autumn until late October, and perhaps even early November.

So I wove some Autumn instead. :) Here's a lovely scarf I finished this week, handwoven on a Schacht Flip rigid heddle loom. It's 70" long, 6.5" wide, with additional handtwisted 3.5" fringe on each end. Warp (lengthwise yarn): Enchanted Knoll "blissful" yarn (merino/silk/tencel) in "Sunflower Sampler". Weft (widthwise yarn): 8/2 tencel in "spice".

It's available in my Etsy shop.

I'm attending a weaving workshop with friends this weekend - we're weaving finnish-twill breadcloths in cottolin (blend of cotton and linen). I've not woven with cottolin before - I look forward to learning its unique quirks. I hope to end up with some Christmas gifts for family, and if I love the material and the structure, a new item for the shop. We'll see!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Custom Confetti, and Another Scarf

Remember when I talked about designing a handspun yarn, specifically the rainbow yarn that my customer friend requested? Here's the resulting yarn (remember, she chose the "confetti" option):

Rainbow colors with black accents. I'm happy with the way the two skeins coordinate, considering the original braids of fiber were slightly different. They're 400 and 380 yards of 16wpi fingering weight 3-ply.

And I finished another of those fun scarves on my Cricket loom - this one is the mirror image of the Rainbow Waterfall scarf, which had a purple center that flowed down into red fringe. Instead, this Rainbow Cascade scarf has a red center flowing down into purple fringe:

50" long, with additional 4" handtwisted fringe on each end, 6.5" wide.

I'm really pleased with the way these scarves turned out - they're soft and drapy, colorful and fun. I see more in my future!

Today is World Wide Spinning In Public Day - I'm taking my Matchless to the library. We have a guild meeting, which is usually just us sitting around a table discussing weaving/spinning and passing around FO's. Today I'll demo for passersby and see if we can't attract some new members!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Handwoven: Rainbow Waterfall

How cute is THIS??? And so much fun to weave. The warp yarn (Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sport) does all the work - its regular repeat gives the illusion of faux ikat without cutting and tying individual strands.  I direct-warped it on my Cricket loom and wove it off with a bright red 8/2 tencel.

50" long (not including the handtwisted 4" fringe on each end), 6.5" wide, fully reversible.

And did I mention "cute"????

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


"I love this yarn, but I need more for my project!"

"Do you have a second skein of this lovely silk yarn?"

I often get requests for larger skeins of yarn, or more yardage of the same color blend.

As a spinner who loves fiber and color, I'm in several fiber clubs, plus I scoop up delightful colorways in Etsy updates - my fiber stash is quite large and quite lovely. These beautiful offerings are almost always packaged in 4 oz lots, and since I enjoy variety, I rarely purchase more than one lot of any single colorway.  A skein of yarn spun from 4 oz will be limited in yardage. The limits depend on several things: the grist of the final yarn, the ply structure of the final yarn, and the method of spinning used.

The grist (the wpi, or wraps per inch) refers to the thickness of the strand. Knitters think of this in terms of "bulky, worsted, sport, dk, fingering, lace" and weavers think of similar weaving yarns, such as mop cotton, carpet warp, 8/2 cotton, 22/2 cottolin, 20/2 silk, and so on. The thicker the yarn, the more fiber it consumes in its creation.

The ply structure deals with the actual number of threads that make up the strand. For instance, most handspun is either singles, 2-ply, 3-ply, or navajo-ply (chain-ply). The more plies involved, the more fiber is used.

The methods of spinning include worsted (the method, not the yarn weight), woolen, and variations between the two. Worsted spinning methods keep the fibers aligned as much as possible, making a denser strand that takes more fibers per inch to maintain structural integrity. Woolen spinning methods jumble the fibers to greater and lesser degrees, making a lighter and loftier strand that takes less fibers per inch while retaining structure. My preferred spinning method is more of a woolen technique, giving loft and softness. Worsted-spun yarns consume more fiber in their creation than woolen-spun yarns.

On average, from a 4 oz lot of fiber, I can expect to get:

75-175 yards of bulky (depending on the thickness)
175-225 yards of worsted weight
225-275 yards of sportweight
275-350 yards of fingering weight
350-425 yards of sock weight
425-500 of heavy lace
500-700 of finer lace

Now, for special spinning projects, like my ongoing supply of Black Magic Woman yarn, I special-order larger lots of fiber. My Black Magic Woman yarn takes 6 oz of fiber, so I order it in lots of that weight from Josette at Enchanted Knoll Farm on Etsy. I take requests, too - if you find fiber that you want custom spun, you can order it in a larger lot or purchase two or more and I'll spin it into a larger skein with greater yardage.

And occasionally I will combine two coordinating yet different colorways or dyelots to create a larger skein with greater yardage. I did one a few weeks ago, combining two different colorways to create "Autumn Sunset" in superwash merino - 580 yds of sportweight 2-ply:

 I produced another one this week - I combined two 4.5 oz dyelots of the same colorway to create "Confetti" in merino - 520 yds of worsted weight 2-ply:

 I loved the challenge of getting all 9 ounces of this yarn on one giant bobbin, to make one continuous skein with no knots:

I could almost hear the bobbin saying, "I can't believe I ate the whooooooole thing!!"

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Thankful, With Cupcake

The storm is still in our area, but mostly it's passed on to the northeast. Tropical Storm Lee hung around a long, long time, moving at 2mph and causing us great concern for flooding. Historically, when a storm moves very slowly over us, it dumps more rain than our pumps can handle, and we have street flooding and home flooding. We were fortunate this time - the storm's bands had enough breaks between them that the ground was able to absorb the water and the pumps were able to clear the streets.

We're so thankful, and hope that as the storm moves away, it doesn't hurt anyone else, either.

And now the cupcake. My daughter made cupcakes this week, with a Harry Potter theme. She made this adorable owl with Oreos and M&Ms for eyes, sliced almonds for feathers, and a piece of a Starburst candy for a beak. He's sitting on my Glacier National Park mousepad - the view is of Lake McDonald.

And yes, I ate him.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Everyone Likes A Discount, Right?

I'm nearing my 150th sale in my Etsy shop, and that's exciting and humbling at the same time. I'm so appreciative of the support that's been given my little indie spinning and weaving venture!

I've decided to reward my friends and customers (and I'd like to see that 150th sale, too!) so I've enabled a coupon code through Labor Day (September 5th) for 10% off any purchase in stock, on all items including handwoven scarves. I originally intended it for Ravelry but am pleased to extend it to any blog readers as well.

Enter the coupon code RAVLABORDAY10 on checkout to get your discount.

And shipping to the US is always free - and reduced to international addresses.

Thankful for the kind support! ♥

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


I finished these placemats this week and mailed them off to Canada. They're for an exchange WAL (Weave-Along) in the Jane Stafford Textiles group on Ravelry.

We chose a color scheme (either blue/green or red/orange) and decided on our own individual design. We were to weave 6, and send 5 to the exchange coordinator, who will send us 5 placemats (all different, but in our chosen color scheme) in return.

I adapted a pattern for a scarf from a recent Handwoven magazine, in a twill/huck lace fusion. I really wanted the twill ribbons to be vertical, which meant that I couldn't fringe my placemats and had to hem them top and bottom. I used 6/2 unmercerized cotton. I'm really pleased with the way they turned out!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Handspun Yarn Design - Rainbow Edition

I chatted with a customer friend today about some rainbow-dyed superwash merino (from Western Sky Knits) that she wants spun into a 3-ply. We discussed the many possibilities, and I thought I’d share them with you.

 Here's what we've got in this "Rainbow Brights" braid: Black/pink/orange/yellow/green/blue/

 What the dyer has done is folded the fiber into 4 equal lengths (in half, and then in half again). Then she painted the fiber black/pink/orange/yellow/green/blue/violet/black across the 4 lengths. So when you UNFOLD the fiber and stretch it out to its full length, the rainbow reverses several times, pivoting on the black at the folds.

When I spin rainbow yarns, I try to arrange the rainbow in consecutive order if I can. Sometimes that's not possible, if the dyer has randomly chosen her colors. In this case, it IS possible - what I can do is to separate the fiber into the 4 repeated pieces, and reverse the 2 pieces that are out of order. This would line everything up into "black/pink/orange/yellow/green/blue/violet", repeated 4 times. OR, I can leave it as the dyer painted it, which would give the order of the reversed rainbows.

I will divide the fiber lengthwise into 3 equal lengths. Then depending on how long the desired color repeats are, I'll either spin the fiber "as is", or split it down further into thinner strips to shorten the lengths of solid color in the strands.

For a navajo/chain-ply, I spin all 3 of those lengths in the same order onto ONE single bobbin, then chain-ply the strand on itself to preserve the strongest saturation of color.

 For a traditional 3-ply, I spin all 3 of the lengths in the same order, each on a separate bobbin. Then when I ply them, they'll line up colorwise, mostly - the variance is because of infinitesimal thickness variation and the fact that the dyer doesn't have straight lines in her color demarcation. There will be some areas where the colors overlap in the plied yarn.

 For a "confetti" 3-ply, I spin 2 of the lengths in the same order on separate bobbins, but REVERSE the order of the 3rd length. This mixes things up when I ply, and guarantees that there will be a lot of color overlap and speckles, with a few accidental areas where all 3 strands happen to be the same color at the same time.

 Now, for color-length - if I spin this fiber, which has 6" color sections, just as a traditional 3-ply all lined up, I'll get 7-8 yards of each solid color before the color changes to the next one. If I want the color lengths to be shorter, I can split each one of those original 3 equal lengths into thinner pieces before spinning, which will yield around 3-4 yards of solid color before it changes. With a Navajo/chain-ply, color-length becomes even more important – if the fiber is spun without any splitting, it’s going to give super-long color lengths, which may or may not be desirable.

Our 3-ply choices from this one braid of rainbow fiber:

3-ply "confetti".
3-ply rainbow solids, in rainbow order, short lengths of solid colors.
3-ply rainbow solids, in rainbow order, longer lengths of solid colors.
3-ply rainbow solids, in rainbow/reverse/rainbow/reverse order, short lengths of solid colors.
3-ply rainbow solids, in rainbow/reverse/rainbow/reverse order, longer lengths of solid colors.
Navajo/chain-ply, in all those variations.

So many choices! So much fun! (My customer friend chose "confetti" - which would YOU choose?)

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Here I am! Thanks to the dear friends who have emailed and asked for an update. Time passes much too quickly!
The summer is 2/3 gone, and that's a GOOD thing here in the South. It's too hot and humid to enjoy the outdoors - in fact, we rush from house to car to store to car to house, trying to limit our exposure to the heat index and get back into A/C as soon as possible. My family spends the summer longing for October. :)

Garden: Catastrophic failure. The plants COOKED inside the containers. When we watered (daily) we could feel the water coming out the bottom of the container was HOT, hotter than comfortable bathwater. The heat was built up and concentrated in the containers, and cooked the roots of our poor plants. Everything died without giving us more than a few measly peppers. We are planning a fall garden bed IN THE GROUND so it can maintain a constant dirt temperature. No pictures... too sad. :(

Knitting: I finished the Socktopus socks. They were a fun knit, with the sparkles and softness of the wool.

Spinning: Oh, goodness - I can't show it all to you, we don't have time or bandwidth for that. Since last I posted, I've participated once again in the Tour de Fleece and spun 18 skeins of yarn in 3 weeks, a total of 5100 yards of plied yarn (much of it thin 3-ply yarns) in 21 days. That was a concentrated spinning effort, but I still spin/ply an average of a,000 yards a week. This morning I plied a 730 yard skein of 2-ply laceweight polwarth/bamboo. Monday I navajo/chain plied a 440 yard commissioned skein of sock yarn. Spinning is one of the great joys of my life. :)

Weaving: I've woven several scarves in rayon boucle and tencel (one is in the Etsy shop right now), an Overshot runner, and a set of placemats in twill and huck lace for an exchange with some dear friends in Canada.

Personal: After nearly 8 months of retirement, I still love it. :) Today is my dear husband's birthday - he is the joy of my life and my best friend. And our move to Montana grows ever closer. Life (and God who gives it) = GOOD.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

EKF Summer of Socks: 1st Up - Socktopus

The Summer of Socks SAL/KAL/CAL (spin/knit/crochet-along) in the Enchanted Knoll Farm Ravelry group has begun! It lasts from June 1 to September 1. I love spinning EKF fiber, and socks are what I'm most successful at knitting (and actually finishing) so this is right up my alley. Either handspun or commercial yarns are fine, and Josette is featuring sock yarns in her Etsy shop all this month, with free shipping.

I cast on my first pair this morning. I've discovered sportweight socks - they knit up quick, on large needles, and give me a satisfying finished pair in a short period of time. This pair is for Jessica - she appreciates my handspun handknit socks, so she's worthy. :) It's from my handspun, an EKF batt in the "Blue Ring Octopus" colorway, 300 yds of 2-ply sportweight. Size 6 needles, 40 stitches, magic loop, David's Toe-Up Sock Cookbook. We'll call it "Socktopus":

My goal is 3 pair - one per month. I have spinning and weaving to do this summer, so I don't want to be overly ambitious.

Also, today is my dear nephew Michael's birthday. He's 19 - how fast time flies!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Zinnias Boucle Yarn

I've always been a smooth-yarns girl. I like a nice round 3-ply, or a tightly-plied 2-ply, consistent and even and smooth. But lately I've been branching out into boucle-style yarns - a thick/thin plied with a fine thread, causing bumps and slubs and squooshy texture. Texture is good! Knitters love to make textured yarns into hats and scarves, and weavers love 'em too.

I spun a few last month, and this week I spun another, with even more texture. It's a strand of fine handspun silk in reds & amber, paired with a thick/thin slubby strand I spun from a blended batt with BFL wool, silk, and sari silk infusion, in pinks & oranges & golds. Both fibers came from Enchanted Knoll on Etsy, one of my favorite indie dyers. I really like the way this one turned out. 145 yards, 2-ply thick/thin boucle - I have two equal skeins. SO SOFT.

Both are available in the shop.

I'm dressing the big Macomber loom for a set of placemats in blues and greens. This is for an exchange with the Jane Stafford Textiles group on Ravelry - the same talented people I swapped dishtowels with in February. Looking forward to seeing what they create using the same color family. I'll have pictures of the placemat warp tomorrow - I hope!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Garden, now with Bee!

Leigh came looking for zucchini flowers and I hadn't posted a picture, so this is for you, Leigh:

And look, a Bee! There were several of these guys flying around, welcome pollinators. How exciting!!

My eggplant is flowering, too - I hope the Bees make their way over there as well.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Garden, Week 1 - and some Handspun

It's been 1 week (and a day, don't judge me) since I took pictures of the Garden. Everything is growing well - and so far, we've been faithful to water every day. Hmmm... there might be a correlation between the two. :)






Zucchini babies!

 And corn babies!

I'm sure we'll make lots of mistakes with our first vegetable garden, but they will be learning opportunities for next time.

I've finished some handspun in this past week, too - one of my rainbow commission skeins is done, and I've spun two skeins of falkland wool, one in lovely blue/green/purple singles and one in 2-ply apricot/peach tones.

The first skein of Black Magic Woman fingering weight yarn sold already in the shop, so I'm starting another one. I'll be spinning up numerous skeins of BMW - Susan Pandorf used it for one of her Lord Of The Rings: Two Towers patterns (Eleventy Seven - a lace scarf in black metallic handspun), and in cooperation with Josette at Enchanted Knoll Farm, I'm making as many skeins available as I can. (If you're interested in a skein, let me know, and I'll spin it especially for you.)

We had a lovely family gathering on Easter Sunday. My brother is getting married May 28th, and he asked me to sing in the wedding. I'm so pleased! I'm happy about the marriage, and so glad to be a part of the ceremony. A little nervous, too - I used to sing solos in church, but haven't sung in a public setting in 7-8 years. Time to start rehearsing in the shower! :)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Can't CONTAIN my Excitement!

Yesterday my husband brought home plants and seeds and started our container veggie garden. I am so happy!

Vegetable gardening is one of the many things in my life that falls victim to my tendency toward perfectionism - "if I can't do it perfectly, it's not worth doing at all." Which of course is self-defeating, but governs many of my actions nonetheless.

DH finally took the bull by the horns and just DID it. And because I wasn't the initiator, I can enjoy it without being critical of myself. Of course, we're first-timers and will make lots of mistakes, but if we get a few veggies out of the venture, and learn a few things, it will all be worth it. I ordered a compost bin this morning, and I've started saving veggie peels, eggshells, and coffee grounds.

Here are some pictures of my babies -


Eggplant (note the invader ALREADY munching on the plant's center - he's dead now):




Zucchini (seeds):

The containers lining the edges of the patio, in full sun:

And for color, on the front patio, Petunias:

In fiber news, I've spun 3.59 miles of yarn this year. (I added a widget in my sidebar keeping track.)  I'm aiming for 15 miles by Dec. 31st - just a fun goal I've set for myself. Now that I'm RETIRED, I have so much more time to spin and weave, and it's such a joy to have the time to dig into my fiber bins and choose bags of lovely soft color to spin.

I just finished this one, 700 yds of fingering weight 2-ply, from Enchanted Knoll Farm's "Black Magic Woman" batts. I love spinning this sparkly, silky stuff.

On the wheel right now, some lovely rainbow fiber for a customer. Bright color for spring!