Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Handwoven Napkins - Chocolate Covered Cherries

I've participated in several weaving exchanges with the Jane Stafford Textiles group on Ravelry - we've done towels, placemats, and this spring we did napkins. The group chose lace as the structure, and 8/2 cotton as the yarn. I prefer a finer thread for napkins myself, but as I have plenty of 8/2 in stash, I decided to go with it.

I chose a light brown and a good medium red, and a 4-shaft draft from the Best of Handwoven: Atwater-Bronson Lace ebook. I wound the entire warp at once on my warping mill - I prefer doing that, rather than winding in smaller bouts.

On the loom and ready to go! This is my Macomber loom from the back - you can see my hanging metal harnesses and inserted eye heddles.

The lace blocks alternate with plainweave in an easy-to-remember repeat. I'm not a fan of changing weft colors so often - those little end tails are tiresome to tuck in over and over!

The draft calls for a hem - I decided to hemstitch instead, and leave a 1" fringe. I think it adds a nice touch. Ready for mailing!

They're on their way to Canada, where the coordinator will sort out all the napkins received and send back an assortment. I'm looking forward to seeing the creativity of my fellow exchangers.

I'm planning to weave myself a few sets of napkins - our household is doing our best to move away from using disposable paper towels and napkins, and it's one step closer to my dream of weaving all our home textiles. My next set will be in finer/thinner cotton, and believe me, it won't have so many weft color changes!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Handwoven SAORI Meadow Scarf in progress

I had an idea for some cloth rattling around in my brain, and went into the studio with SAORI in mind. I wanted to play with color and texture, freeing myself from rules of "you can't combine this with that!" and "too many colors!"

So I grabbed all the yarns in the 'green' family that I could find, without regard for their weaving/knitting category.

And I wound them on the warping mill. I enjoyed the selection of yarns as much as I used to enjoy playing with crayons and paper as a child. A little here, a little there, a bigger section over here...

SAORI is about self-expression and freedom of choice.  Creating this warp was so much fun!

I sleyed it in the order in which I warped it, but I chose how to place the yarns in the holes and slots. You'll notice I have the reed/heddle (they're combined in a rigid heddle loom like my Schacht Flip) clamped to a table - I find this arrangement, sleying by pulling the threads down through the heddle, easier on my back.

You'll also notice that I've got multiple yarns in holes and slots (in some places, 6 strands in a slot!) and I've skipped a few holes. I did make sure to place all the fuzzy novelty yarns in slots so they'd be in the same shed, reducing any potential sticky weaving issues. Here I've taken it to the loom and am ready to tie on the warp to the front and back rods.

And here it is in progress. I chose an olive green to bring all the shades together in harmony. The wild novelty yarns are tamed and calmed by the weft, but still express themselves in texture and thickness.

I'll finish weaving it today, and show you the finished scarf when it's had a bath. I'm so pleased with this project!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Handwoven: SAORI Ladder Scarf

SAORI is a weaving philosophy from Japan. "SA" means "self, inner spirit" and "ORI" means "weaving". So SAORI is weaving with self-expression. It explores a wealth of different techniques and experiments. There are no rules in SAORI except to honor and respect the creativity within each of us.

Last October I took a SAORI workshop from Mihoko from Saori Worcester Studio. She's an amazing teacher, patient and encouraging. The others in the workshop had no problem "letting go" and weaving freestyle, but it was a struggle for me to put aside all the rigid constraints of traditional weaving and just weave in a freeform way. I eventually began to relax and enjoy myself, drawing on childhood memories of creating random freeform art with crayons and paper.

Another aspect of SAORI is the combination of various materials - different yarns, cloth, beads, fiber... anything goes.

I wove this scarf a few weeks ago. I combined several different weights of cotton threads in the warp as well as a novelty ladder yarn. I sleyed the reed in a random fashion - some dents were left empty, some were crowded with many threads. Then I used the novelty ladder yarn as the weft throughout the piece. When I washed it, the ladder yarn created wonderful movement and open spaces.

I really like the wavy undulation, and the chain-like structure in the crowded thread sections. The scarf is soft and drapes nicely.

This piece was a structure exploration. Others will be experiments in color. Looking forward to exploring further!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


The body of the sweater is done! I love it, and it fits nicely. I finished the fronts and connected them with the back via a 3-needle bind-off, and knit and connected the "neck extensions" (really the back of the collar).

Now I need to knit sleeves!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Kraken Sweater - Growing!

The yarn:

And now, big progress:

There is nothing that I don't love about this sweater. The colors are gorgeous, the feel of the polwarth handspun is delicious, the knitting is easy. If I didn't also spin and weave, I'd probably be finished already, but the sweater has had to share time with my other pursuits.

The pattern is the Bailey Cardigan  (Ravelry link) and is very straightforward and easy to understand. It HAS to be - I needed a simple pattern for my first handknit adult sweater! I've knit children's sweaters before, with chunky yarn, but this one has to fit ME, and be useful for daily wear.

Since I'm knitting it in a light fingering-weight polwarth wool yarn, it will be lightweight, yet warm. I can see wearing it in the fierce air-conditioning of our local NOLA restaurants even in summer, and as daily wear in the winter. It will serve as indoor warmth in Montana, as well - and as a layer under a jacket.

I've used a little more than half the yarn spun - I'm thinking I'll need to spin more for the sleeves. I have a few more ounces of the fiber, no problem! Oh, the joy of being able to spin my own yarn - a dream come true!

Here's the post about the beginning of my sweater.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


I am not a beach girl myself, being extremely pale and susceptible to lobster-like sunburns, no matter the SPF. But I love to look at beach pictures. Here is a link to Flickr's search and a lovely collection of beach scenes. (I didn't want to swipe someone else's picture and violate their copyright!)

Thinking about upcoming summer, and fun beach opportunities (for others... PALE, remember?) I pulled this lovely handdyed fiber from my stash:

It's domestic wool, from Spunky Eclectic Club July 2010 in her "Retreat" colorway. It spun so nicely and turned out nice and soft. I chain-plied it so it would become a self-striping sock yarn:

 I see the water, sand, rocks...

...everything but the sunburn. Aaaahhhh. :)

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Another One Bites The Dust

So I've told you that we want to move to the mountains of Montana, right? In order to make that happen, we have to sell our current house. The last time I checked, neither of us was made of money... The house is 50 years old and in need of a fresh coat of everything - and it will all have to be DIY.

Our younger daughter moved out on her own in February, and I claimed her bedroom for a Studio. We pulled up the carpet, painted the walls, installed nice laminate flooring, and replaced the bedroom door (full of pushpin holes from her teenage poster phase). Now it's a lovely bright space for my looms and supplies and stash - I'll take pictures for you when it gets all set up (not yet, too many other projects going on!)


Keep in mind that we've lived in this house for 25 years, and we're all what is lovingly referred to as "packrats." Not "hoarders" - we don't have skeletons or mushroom farms in the house - but we HAVE collected a lot of STUFF over the years, and since we don't have a garage or a shed, a lot of it accumulated in our extra bedroom.

Now that I have my Studio, the husband wants an Office. I want him to have an Office too, because otherwise there is clutter in various places throughout the house that would be better stored in an Office. He's not the "Man-Cave" type, being a computer geek, but he's got pieces/parts/tools/supplies that need a home.

Enter the spare bedroom (or rather, don't!) It was full to the brim with storage boxes and bookcases, all bursting with STUFF. Today we emptied it. (Whew!) I have a huge pile outside for the garbage collection, another huge pile of boxes for donation (the Vietnam Veterans of America have a pickup service that comes right to my door, bless them!) and a third (much smaller) pile of boxes for storage in other places in the house.

The carpet is old and tired and dusty - tomorrow we'll rip it up and add it to the garbage pile. Then we'll put down underlayment and the same laminate flooring as in the Studio. The walls will get a fresh coat of paint, and then we'll start moving HIS stuff in there and all the clutter will be gone! OK, it probably won't, but don't disillusion me.

Then I'll be able to say TWO ROOMS DONE. Only 8 more to go!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Handwoven, Handspun: Sydney Harbour shawl

Where was I? Forgetting to blog, that's where I was. :\

OK, let's just pick up anywhere... I've been busy spinning and weaving and knitting, and I have lots of things to show you. I'll just pick one, that I happen to be quite proud of, and that's my Sydney Harbour Shawl.

My friend David at Southern Cross Fibre started a line of semi-solid colorways, designed to stand well on their own or to be used with others in stripe work or colorwork. He offers them as singles or in combo packs. I got one of the Sydney Harbour combos, and was inspired by the beautiful colors (and egged on by David) to spin and then weave a striped warp shawl.

The colors are so lovely together:

The fiber base is polwarth, a beautifully soft wool with a lovely shine. It's a Merino/Lincoln cross, so it has the softness of the merino with the strength and lustre of the lincoln. I spun each color separately, and navajo/chain-plied to give me a nice round soft yarn in a heavy fingering weight.

Then I spun some undyed moorit (a term used for non-white wool, usually tan to light brown, but more of an oatmeal color in this case) polwarth to pair with the colored skeins so I could make a wider shawl. I also spun some of the same moorit polwarth into a 2-ply laceweight to use as my weft.

I warped it on my 25" Schacht Flip rigid heddle loom. I knew I wanted it to be plainweave, and I wanted to minimize loom waste. The rigid heddle looms are great for this - I ended up with NO loom waste, as my tie-on lengths became my fringe.

I had great fun planning out the striping, and the weaving went all too quickly.

A hand-twisted fringe and a bath, and it was done.

I believe this is the first project I've taken from fiber to finished handwoven piece, and it was immensely satisfying. It's very soft, wonderfully warm, and I'll definitely use it in cold weather.