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.