Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Rascal Update and Award

The Rascal Update Part

Update 2/1/08 - Pathology report diagnosed a Hodgkins-like lymphoma. Click here for details.

The Award Part

I have to admit that I have very mixed feelings about being tagged for things. Memes can be fun and entertaining, but intimidating. And then there's the passing them on to others. Not everyone likes them.

Awards, on the other hand, are encouraging. Plus, they always include a number of links to new blogs that are interesting, informative, and inspirational to read. The "You Make My Day Award" is exactly that. Awarded to blogs that give "inspiration and happiness" it is encouraging to receive, and easy to pass on. Laritza, Bonnie, Peg, Sue, Amelia, Jackie, Lady of the Loom, and Patrick have all honored me recently with this award, which really made my day, as you can well imagine!

The bad part is being allowed to choose only ten other blogs to pass it on to. I currently subscribe to 101 feeds, and this number is growing all the time! All of them provide happiness and inspiration, so how to decide?!?!!? The blogs below fit the criteria, though not all of them are fiber or textile related. I tried to choose blogs that haven't been named elsewhere already, (though being waaaay behind in blog reading, it wouldn't surprise me if they have.) Also, it is a different list from my Nice Matters Award nominations. I hope you find a couple here that will make your day as much as they don mine!

Listed alphabetically:

A Blip on the Radar
Devon Fine Fibres - Life on a very special Devon farm
Growing Colour
I Can Has Cheezburger
In Stitches
Janet's Thread
Path to Freedom Journal
Pioneering on the Home Front
Sheep Thrills Farm
Yarn in my Pocket

Now, time to get back to weaving and knitting!

Monday, January 28, 2008

WNCF/HG Winter Project

By Leigh

Well, I've been hoping to have word on Rascal, my black cat's pathology report, but there's been no work from the vet yet. It was supposed to be in either Friday or today. Hopefully later.

Have also been busy house hunting this past weekend, so not much weaving or knitting has gotten done. I have done some mental planning however.

One of the guilds I belong to, the Western North Carolina Fiber/Handweavers Guild, takes an annual break for the months of December and January. During these months off, the members work on a "Winter Project" which is featured at February's show and tell. This year, the project is "Game of Chance."

At November's meeting we broke out into small groups according to our interests: weaving, knitting, spinning, or dyeing. Each person in the group was given five cards, each listing some element of the discipline they chose. From these five, each of us was to choose three to use as the inspiration for our Winter Project.

I chose to do a weaving project, and these were my cards:
  • long floats
  • m's and o's
  • red warp
  • pale colors only
  • include some ribbon
Since m's and o's is a weave structure I've not woven before, I decided that this was going to be one of the cards I would keep. When I started to research m's and o's, I discovered that this structure features floats, so there was my second card (and who's to say how long "long" is.) I think for the third, I'll choose red warp, as I know I have some red cottons somewhere.

I admit that I'm a little late in getting this started, as I have a little less than 2 weeks before this is due. However, I plan to be diligent with my weaving time, and see what I can do.

Posted 28 January 2008 at http://leighsfiberjournal.blogspot.com

Related Posts:
M's & O's - The Basics
M's & O's - Weaving Observations

Friday, January 25, 2008

Advancing Twills - Second Verse

Or rather, second warp. This one a worsted weight knitting yarn, sett at 8 epi. In fact, the same pastel space-dyed yarn I used for this Christmas afghan.

This was the draft I decided on:

8-shaft advancing twill draft treadled as drawn in..... which is the same threading and tie-up as some of my first samples (which can be seen here, here, and here.) It utilizes both an advancing threading, and an advancing treadling.

I didn't spend much time on the first two samples with this new warp:

At the top is a solid light blue weft. At the bottom I used the same space dyed yarn as I did for the warp. At the time I was weaving, I felt that the color variations in the warp were were too muted by the weft. Looking at it as a photograph however, I like it better, especially the sample on the top. Too late now though.

Next I tried a few inches using a navy blue weft:

With this one, the color stripes in the warp stood out more. I liked that. And looking back at the other two samples at the top of the page, I see a lot of possibility with them too. However, I'm going to set advancing twills aside for now. I've got a project deadline which requires something different. So I'll have something new on the loom soon.

Related Posts:
Twills - The Basics
Advancing Twills - A Simple Definition

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Shetland Fair Isle Guzzintas

Fair Isle swatch from my Shetland yarns.By Leigh

Well, ok. "Guzzintas" isn't a real word. It's something my DH says whenever he's doing calculations for a project. He does his "goes intos," as in, 4 "goes into" 12, 3 times. Anyway, it describes what I'm working on now, as I try to make calculations about all my Shetland yarns.

So far I have measured the yardage of the Shetland yarns I've spun, and have knitted a gauge swatch.

With my swatch, I basically just doodled with my Shetland colors. At first I was concerned about trying to group like colors together, for example grays, fawns, warms, or cools. The more I knit however, the more random I became in choosing the next color. After awhile, I decided that color order really doesn't matter; I like what I see no matter which color comes next! The various natural colors work together very well. I think that overall, I will simply need to focus a consistent ratio of alternating light and dark yarns.

Another thing I noticed, was how the colors from the same color category worked throughout the swatch. For example, the two silvers.......

My 2 silver Shetland yarns.From a yearling fleece on left, and Sass on right.

...... or the three whites .......

My 3 Shetland white yarns.From left: an unknown sheep, Angie, and Aurora.

........ are subtly different when compared with one another. But when knitted randomly in the swatch, one can't be distinguished from the other. The subtle distinctions are lost in the whole.

Next I wondered what kind of yardage I would need in order to knit a cardigan. I found a very handy yarn estimation chart for sweaters at Elann.com (where you can also find lots of great free knitting patterns.) From my Fair Isle swatch, I measured my somewhat inconsistent gauge (after blocking) to average about 6 stitches per inch. (Ordinarily, I tend to knit tightly, but when stranding yarn I consciously loosen the tension to prevent puckering. Often I end up too loose, but hopefully someday I'll be more confident and consistent with stranded knitting.)

Anyway, according to that chart, I would need around 1800 meters (which is about 1980 yards) to knit a pullover or cardigan in my size.

Of the yarns from my Shetland fleece samples, I measured approximately 1809 yards. I also have an additional 4 ounces of Nikki's lovely gray fleece that I can spin if I need more. On top of that, I have the yarns from the three Shetland rovings, of which I've only spun enough to do some swatching. There is still quite a bit more roving left to spin. So overall, I should have plenty of yarn for this project.

My bigger question is, how many yards will I need for cuffs and cardigan bands? Does anyone have a ballpark guesstimate? I have to admit that I am more than a little paranoid after running out of green yarn for my Rare Breed Sweater with only inches to go. I tend favor the black for the cuffs and bands, which don't have to be wide. I may be able to manage enough yardage after I spin the rest of the roving. I'm also considering a traditional corrugated ribbing, but again, how yardage would be required? And wouldn't a corrugated ribbing use more total yardage than a plain one color ribbing? Questions! Questions!

Next, I need to start looking at Fair Isle cardigan patterns. I'm hoping to find something I like using the gauge I'm knitting at, without any further calculations on my part. I made my own design for my Rare Breed Sweater, and I have to admit that every decision was painstaking. I'd like to be able to simply follow the directions for this one. Even so, I usually end up changing something. I'll just have to wait and see.

Comments, suggestions, opinions, and answers to my questions welcome!

Posted 22 Jan. 2008 at http://leighsfiberjournal.blogspot.com

Related Posts:
Gallery page of my handspun Shetland yarns
Dissecting My Shetland Swatch
What I Learned From My Swatch
Technically Not Fair Isle
Shetland Sampler Cardigan Complete!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Surgery For Rascal

Always willing to help.On a personal note, my black cat Rascal, whose picture is often seen on my blog, is scheduled for surgery tomorrow morning at 8 am. We found a lump about the size of an almond in his belly flab. I took him in to our vet, who diagnosed it as a tumor.

Dr. C recommended immediate surgery, because he said tumors usually grow quickly in cats, even if they are benign. He doesn't think there will be any problems or complications, and as long as there isn't a lot of drainage, Rascal should be able to come home by the afternoon. Hopefully the tumor won't be malignant.

Rascal is almost 8 years old and in otherwise good health. Still, I can't help but worry about it just a little. I'm just thankful he is in good hands.

********************
Update!

I just got a call from Dr. C. Rascal is out of surgery and in recovery. Dr. C was very pleased with how well the surgery went. He said it is one of the few times he is happy to work with a fat cat, as they also need to remove as much tissue around the tumor as possible. We will get the pathology report back on either Friday or Monday.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Tying On To A B2F Warp

Last summer I did a blog post on how I tied on a new warp. (That post here.) I like to tie on because it lets me take advantage of a particular threading for as long as possible. Sometimes it involves a re-sleying for a different sett, or sometimes it involves a different treadle tie-up, but even with these it is a time saver.

I first learned how to tie on when I was warping front to back (f2b). When I warped f2b, my warp was tied to the back apron rod in bundles. Warping back to front (b2f) is a little different. The warp isn't cut for the back apron rod, rather the apron stick is slipped through the uncut loop at one end of the warp.

The end of my 1st warp looped around the back apron rod.This makes tying on a little challenging. Once the weaving is cut off the loom, the remaining warp is no longer secured because it isn't tied to the apron rod. It can easily be pulled off. When I tie on a new warp, I'm careful to not pull the old warp ends off, but they do become very uneven from my pulling and tying. No matter how careful I am, I end up with uneven lengths of warp.

I was thinking about this as I finished weaving my advancing twill sample warp. My plan was to tie on a different size yarn and experiment with that. So to secure the old warp, I decided to see if I could weave in an inch or so of waste weft, close to the back apron rod to hold the warp in place.

To do this I needed tension on the warp, so I waited to cut off the woven fabric. First I pulled the lease sticks out, and then from the back of the loom, pushed the treadles down to make a tabby shed. It was pretty awkward, but I was able to weave in about four picks of a heavy yarn. I beat them down with a hair pick and then put the lease sticks back in the same way.

A few picks woven in behind the heddles.I found that this helped stabilize the warp quite a bit; though not enough to prevent it from being pulled out if I tugged hard enough. Even so, it helped a lot. The next time I tie on, I'll weave in a bit more and that should do the trick.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

ArahWeave Continued

By Leigh

OK. Continuing on from my last post ...........

Editing in ArahWeave

Opening up the "Edit Weave" window is as simple as right clicking. It automatically pops up.

Click to biggify.Click on any photo to enlarge.

You can click on the above or any other photo in this post to biggify. Blogger resizes photos to fit the post column. Usually I resize and optimize my photos myself, to save kilobytes. However, I want you to be able see more detail with enlargements.

The editor can show the drawdown in black and white as above, or in color, as below.

Click to biggify.Changes can be made by clicking on the drawdown and treadle plan......

Click to biggify.Multiple editing features can be opened simultaneously .......

Click to biggify.This program has more bells and whistles than you can shake a stick at. But! There's a glitch. Two actually, for me anyway. Take a look at the close-up of the Edit Weave window.

Click to biggify.Since ArahWeave is written for dobby weavers, the tie-up is fixed and there is a peg plan, instead of a treadling sequence. The question is then, can I convert the dobby peg plan to a treadling order? Several other weaving software programs (such as WeaveIt Pro and WeaveMaker) do it, so it must be possible. True, the treadling possibilities would be far more limited, but if I want this software to be useful to me, I'll either have to figure out how to do that, or get a dobby loom (which I don't see in either my near nor distant future.)

So. I have a study project before me.

On another note, we have an ice storm forecast for our early morning hours here. Ice storms are bad in this area, as they often cause power outages either from ice coated tree branches falling on power lines, or from heavy ice on the lines themselves. If it would continue as snow, everything would be okay, but at 2 am the precipitation has already changed to freezing rain. I guess what I'm trying to say is, if you don't hear from me for awhile, it is because our electricity is out!

Posted 17 Jan. 2008 at http://leighsfiberjournal.blogspot.com

Related Post:
Weaving Software For Linux
Hurrah for Hardy! Hurray for Wine!
More Weaving Software That Can Run On Linux

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Weaving Software for Linux

By Leigh

About the only thing I have lamented with my Linux OS, has been the inability to have weaving software. It's all written for PC's or Mac's! When I mentioned this in one of my Advancing Twill posts (that post here), Laritza suggested that I give the free ArahWeave Demo a try. So I did.

Back in my Windows OS days, I tried two free programs, WinWeave (the home page for which seems to have disappeared) and WeaveDesign. However, I was never able to get these to work with an emulator in Linux. ArahWeave however, installed easily and works like a dream.

I also downloaded the 163 page user's manual, which is very well written and easy to follow. It's going to take awhile to work my way through it, but here are a few photos, to give you an idea of some of the program basics.

The ArahWeave icon opens the program up in one simple window -

Under the "Files" menu, a "Browse Fabric" window can be opened. There are over 600 fabric files in the demo, including 300 tartans. I was even able to find my own clan tartan (Kennedy) -

The above photo shows browsing in the icon view. Hover the cursor over any fabric icon, and tool tip pop-up box appears......

...... with everything you'd ever need to know about that fabric.

One can also select the list view to choose fabrics from.

This contains the same information, across columns like a spreadsheet.

The zoom feature allows examination of the fabric anywhere from 1/16 size, up to 16 times the original (1600%).

Above is 1:1 or 100%. Below is 10:1, or 1000%.

There are also four different ways to view the fabric at any given zoom level. Above is called "shaded integer." Shading helps the eye differentiate between warp and weft, and shows the interlacement.

This one in black and white is called "Weave View."

There are also eight levels of fabric simulation, to give the viewer an idea of the density of the threads. The density (sett), can be changed via the "thread pattern" menu.

Here it is again, with the sett increased by about a third.

When sized at 100%, the simulation mode give a nice three dimensional look to the fabric -

The fabric can also be viewed in the integer mode -

In this mode, one square represents one warp or weft thread.

Next time, I'll talk a little about the editing features. Click here for that post.

Posted 16 Jan. 2008 at http://leighsfiberjournal.blogspot.com

Related Posts:
ArahWeave Continued
Hurrah for Hardy! Hurray for Wine!
More Weaving Software That Can Run On Linux

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Continuing With Advancing Twill Samples

By Leigh

After my last weaving post on advancing twills, my mind set to the problem about the reverses. If you remember that post, then you may remember that the problem with my draft, was the long (5 pick) warp floats when I reversed treadling (draft here):

Close-up of sample 3.I realize that you can't actually see those long floats in the above photo, but trust me, they're there.

So I did a little experimenting with the treadling. I found that by skipping one treadle before reversing, (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 1, etc.) I eliminated those long warp floats. I finally ended up with this.....

Experiment in advancing twill treadling reverses........ which might make a nice upholstery type fabric.

Continuing along that line, I wove a few samples, this time using the blue for my weft as well. The result is a more sculptured look, as the light plays of the warp and weft. It is more difficult to see, but in "real" life I like it.

I tried two treadlings. First this one :

Another experiment, this one with a Fibonacci treadling. The asymmetrical look was obtained by counting treadles with a Fibonacci sequence - 8, 13, 21, 34, 21, 13, 8, repeat.

Then I tried something more regular:

And yet another, more regular looking experiment. 34 treadling in one direction, skip one treadle, and then 14 picks in the other direction.

I'm not sure which one I like better. Fortunately I don't have to choose, because these are all experiments. I may use the fabric for something or other, but the real value is in what I'm learning about advancing twills.

Posted 13 Jan. 2008 at http://leighsfiberjournal.blogspot.com

Related Posts:
Twills - The Basics
Advancing Twills - A Simple Definition

Thursday, January 10, 2008

My Shetland Handspun Palette

My 3 Shetland white yarns.The Whites: an unknown sheep, Angie, and Aurora.

My 2 silver Shetland yarns.The Silvers: Handspun from a yearling (left), and Sass

The Greys: Nikki (left), and from roving.


The Moorits: From roving (left), and Henna.

My 2 Shetland black yarns.The Blacks: The Iset (left), and from roving.

These are my 15 Shetland yarns. They represent not only a glorious range of natural colors, but many textures as well. In fact, I'd have to say that Shetland sheep appear to offer the widest variety of fleece of any breed I've ever worked with.

Colorwise, my samples are not exhaustive. Shetlands are recognized to have 11 distinct colors, and 30 patterns and markings. That could make endless combinations!

In regards to fleece types, NASSA (North American Shetland Sheepbreeders Association), states that there are three fleece types recognized in American Shetlands: kindly or single-coated, long and wavy, and beaver or double-coated. All of these are represented in my yarns.

My spinning plan was that all my Shetland yarns should be approximately the same WPI (wraps per inch.) While semi-successful at this, it was harder than I anticipated, due to the wide range of fleece characteristics such as crimp, wave, elasticity, and loft.

My knitting plan is something Fair Isle; either a vest or a sweater. I'll start by knitting gauge swatches, which will probably help me choose which yarns I will end up using, as I will want to use the ones closest in grist. I'll also need to figure what kind of yardage I actually have, as I begin to look at patterns. So the planning may take awhile. Hopefully I'll be able to make some progress before our weather gets too warm.

Monday, January 07, 2008

A Silver Shetland

Last night I finished spinning and washing my yarn from this lovely silver Shetland fleece from Cathy. This one is different from any of the other Shetlands I've worked with so far, due to the length of the staples.

A very long Shetland dual coated fleece.The staple length for the sample Cathy sent ranged anywhere from 4 to 11 inches! She had labeled it "... from Martha. Lamb or yearling." Too long to be lamb, I did a little research to find out the average growth of Shetland fleece in a year. According to Fournier and Fournier's In Sheep's Clothing, a Shetland fleece ranges from 2 to 5 inches in length. That would mean that this particular sheep missed a shearing! [Update 1/14/08 - Cathy was able to find out about this. This was from an annual shearing, so it is only one year's growth! And this isn't the only fleece she has like this.]

The fleece was wavy rather than crimpy, with waves varying between one and three per inch. It was dual coated, and the undercoat was lusciously soft. I was tempted to separate the two coats and just spin that inner coat. However, impatience won the day so that I decided to spin the two coats together. The Shetland dual coated fleeces I've worked with have had coarser outer coats, but still not so coarse as other dual coated breeds. And not so coarse as to make them undesirable for knitwear.

The color ranged from white to medium grey, with black fibers scattered throughout. These black fibers were the other factor effecting softness, as they tended to be coarser. I decided to drum card it to blend the color. Due to the fiber length, I cut the staples longer than 8 inches in half.

Sample yarns on card.The spinning particulars:

* Wheel - Kromski Minstrel double drive
* Ratio - 8.5 to 1
* Spinning style - worsted
* Singles - 28 WPI
* 2-ply - 16 WPI
* Plied twist angle - 28ยบ
* Weight of yarn - 4.5 ounces
* Yardage - 214.6 yards


The silver color is lovely I think.

Silver Shetland handspun.Next time, I'll get out all my Shetland yarns so we can take a look at the various colors. In the meantime, I'm going to start swatching and looking at patterns.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Advancing Twills - A Few More Samples

Experimenting with reversing the treadling.OK, as interesting as advancing twills are theoretically, I'm having a hard time being enthused about the weaving of them. I'm not sure if it's because we have a lot going on right now besides my fiber pursuits, or if there is some other reason that this is not holding my interest.

I think it is partly due to the fact that my draft is quite simple and not very interesting (click here for a sample drawdown with the threading and tie-up I'm using.) On the other hand, I really needed to start as simple as possible, because this was totally new for me.

Another factor might be my not having weaving software, which would be useful to work out some of drafts, especially problems like those long warp floats in this set of samples. Well, that's not entirely true that I don't have weaving software. I do have WeaveDesign, but it is on the Windows partition of my computer, which is a nuisance to get to. It would also be helpful in figuring out some reverses, as I'm not too crazy about eternal diagonal lines. My latest sampling is an experiment in reverses.

So, this lone photo is as far as I've gotten lately, because I find myself procrastinating quite a bit on weaving this. However, I've promised myself at least one project from this warp, preferably a scarf. So I shall just plug along until I've either got something I like, or until the warp is all woven. Whichever comes first!

Related Posts:
Twills - The Basics
Advancing Twills - A Simple Definition

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

TA-DAH! Rare Breed Sweater Done!

Can you believe it? And still in time for the cold weather to wear it in!

Rare Breed Sweater front.This cardigan incorporates fleece samples from a total of 17 different rare breeds of sheep:

* The body of the sweater (both the white and the green) is Ryeland.

* The blue for the peeries and seeding pattern is Hog Island.

* The Sheep:
Front top row (from left): North Ronaldsay, Teeswater, North Ronaldsay (to show a different color), Leicester Longwool, California Variegated Mutant, and Whiteface Woodland.

Front bottom row
(from left): Three Shetlands (in different colors) , and a family of four Navajo-Churros.

Rare Breed Sweater back.Back top row (from left): Tunis, Ryeland, Karakul, Jacob, and Wensleydale.

Back bottom row front (from left): North Ronaldsay, Hebridean, Soay, Manx Logthan, and Lincoln.

I have been working on this project for a very long time. The idea for it came during the Online Guild's Hebridean Rare Breed Challenge, back in August of 2002. I only had a sample of Hebridean fleece, and being a project person by nature, didn't want to simply let the yarn sit in a box somewhere. I wanted to do something with it. The idea of being able to show off my Heb yarn as a sheep motif in a sweater came from that.

So I started collecting small amounts of whatever rare breed fibers I could get my hands on. Some were raw fleece, some prepared rovings. Some I purchased, but many of them came as gifts from other fiber folk who simply wanted to encourage me along in this project. I got the fleece for the body of the sweater in February 2003, again from an Online Guild Rare Breed Challenge. This time the breed was Ryeland, and I was able to purchase a kilo of it. I admit that it isn't the softest choice for the body of any sweater, but the amount was enough, and I don't mind wearing turtlenecks with sweaters!

Finally in October 2006, I had enough yarns to actually begin working on swatches and a design. I am neither an expert knitter nor a knitwear designer, but as with most things in my life, I pressed on in the confidence that I can do this, and at the very least, learn a few things along the way.

Actually I have learned quite a bit, as I've had to deal with problems and challenges. Each of this took time to consider the possibilities and make a decision about them. I've had to deal with mathematical challenges, such as trying to work out the sheep motif placement; design challenges, such as choosing the seeding pattern and organizing the yarn colors; and yarn problems, such as running out of green yarn!

Speaking of that green yarn, I took your suggestions and alternated rows of the old green with the new for the button and neck bands. The new green, though an unbelievably close match, still looks "off" in certain lightings. I think if you look closely at the sweater now, you can tell there is a slight color difference between front and neck bands, and the bottom and sleeve ribbing. Hopefully not enough to be too terribly noticeable!(???) Even so, I'm much happier with a green neckband than the white one.

5/8 inch embossed pewter button.Another decision that required a lot of thought was the buttons. The ones I ended up using (pictured at left) are not the ones I bought at SAFF, which, though lovely, just didn't suit the sweater. I did find some adorable pewter sheep buttons at Morehouse Farm, but alas, they were all sold out.

With all that, plus the fact that I am a slow knitter who doesn't work on large projects during the hot summer months, this sweater has been quite the work in progress. There are some knitting flaws, but I'm not planning on pointing those out to anyone. Happily, the sweater is a perfect fit.

So, I've wrapped up an old project on the last day of the old year. Very exciting as I'm looking forward to starting some swatches with my Shetland yarns. And with that I want to wish you and yours a very happy and safe New Year.

Related Posts:
Winter Knitting Project
Rare Breed Sweater Swatches