Thursday, May 29, 2008

Tagged By Sharon

I got tagged for this meme by Sharon. I'm usually a little shy about participating in these things, but here goes.

1. What was I doing 10 years ago?


I was just learning to spin on a drop spindle and saving up for my first spinning wheel. Most of my time was taken up with homeschooling and the garden, but in the evenings I would crochet and spin.

2. What were five things on my to-do list today (not in any particular order)?

Start working on that Polwarth
Finish measuring the warp for my napkins
Start warping the loom
Bake bread
Finish cleaning out the closet

3. What snacks do I enjoy?

To be honest, I really don't snack much. If I do, it'll be an apple (out of duty, not enjoyment) or popcorn. I used to love a cup of coffee with the whole wheat graham crackers I used to buy through our food co-op, but that was before we moved here. I do like a bedtime snack of a small bowl of raisin bran and yogurt (homemade, not too sweet.)

4. Where are some places I've lived?

Illinois (grew up in Chicago suburbs); Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, Florida, Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina (but not in that order).

5. What things would I do if I were a billionaire?

Well, a billion dollars seems like a bit much, but what I'd really like to do if I could afford it, is to buy a farm. And I'd have a garden (one for vegetables and one for herbs), and an orchard and goats and chickens and rabbits. And I'd get sheep. Shetlands (surprised??? ;) And alpacas. Since it would be paid off, DH wouldn't have to work much, so he could stay home and build his log cabin. I'd also really like to set up an anonymous scholarship fund at the university my kids are attending. There are also a couple of non-profit ministries we like to donate to, so they'd be on my list. Then too, DH would probably want a new pick up truck.

OK. Here comes the part I'm not good at; tagging other folks. However, if you've managed to hang in there until the end of this post, consider yourself tagged.

And, speaking of "me," we just got back from a short trip. If you're interested in that sort of thing, you can read about it on the Rascal Report.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Calculating Sett

By Leigh

When it comes to calculating sett, I am a great fan of using charts. My favorite sett charts are found in the appendix of Peggy Osterkamp's New Guide to Weaving Volume 1: Winding a Warp and Using a Paddle. (You can see samples of these charts at her website, here.) Usually I can find what I need on one of these charts, however, I do have some oddball yarns that I've picked up here and there, which sometimes aren't listed.

Such is the case with the 16/3 cotton I want to use for my next multiple tabby weave experiment. So far, I've mostly used 8/2s cottons, because that's what I have a lot of. But I want to weave some everyday table napkins in navy and white, and I need a lighter weight warp yarn to go with the heavier navy weft.

Peggy's charts don't list 16/3 cotton, so I'm going to have to resort to another method to calculate the sett. I've decided to try something new, so here I am, thinking "out loud." Trying to explain concepts to others always helps clarify them for me. I only hope that in the end, all of this makes sense to you too!

The first step for any method is to figure out the wraps per inch.

Wraps per inch (WPI) can be calculated in one of two ways. The first way is to physically wrap the yarn around a one inch measure and to count how many wraps it takes to achieve a solid inch of yarn. A more detailed description of how to do this is here.

The second way is by using the Ashenhurst Rule.

The Ashenhurst Rule calculates the wraps per inch without doing the wrapping. This is especially helpful for fine or slippery yarns. This method is found in Winding a Warp and Using a Paddle, on page 90. If you don't have that book and would like to read a more detailed explanation, you can find the excerpt here.

Here's the formula:

WPI = 0.9 x √ of YPP

WPI = wraps (diameters) per inch
√ = square root of
YPP = yards per pound

The key to this one is knowing the yards per pound of the yarn. Sometimes this information is readily available, sometimes not. In my case I have absolutely no idea. However, I can figure it out with a McMorran Balance.

I considered doing a tutorial on how to use the McMorran Balance, but Laritza at Yorksett Arts & Crafts already has a good one, so I will refer you to it; just click here.

Using my McMorran Balance, I discover that the ypp is 5250. Grabbing my calculator and plugging that number into the formula, I get:

0.9 x √ of 5250 = 65.25 WPI.

Okay. So 65 and a quarter wraps will give me a solidly covered inch of my yarn. However, I need to make room for the weft, so that requires another calculation (this version also from Osterkamp):

Sett = WPI x weave firmness

This is how I learned to calculate sett.

WPI ÷ 2 = epi for balanced plain weave
WPI x 2/3 = epi for balanced 2/2 twill

Where WPI = wraps per inch and
..............epi = ends per inch

This gives what Peggy calls "maximum sett" for a balanced weave. If the sett is closer, then the fabric becomes warp dominant. One the other hand, the weaver may want a softer fabric. We have two choices here too. One can either weave a bunch of samples to decide what is best, or one can try ....

Allowing for the Purpose

This is something else found in Peggy's book. She lists suggested percentages to use depending upon the weave firmness wanted. This is based on the purpose for which the cloth will be used. You can find the box chart on page 93 of her book, or read the excerpt online here.

The threading draft I am planning to use is a broken twill, and my yarn is 65.25 WPI, so here are my calculations:

65 WPI x 2/3 (or .67 on my calculator) = 43 epi maximum sett

Taking Peggy's recommendation for 80% of maximum sett, (see "Sett: Making Your Weaving Easier").

43 x .8 = 34 epi to start.

So there you have it. The art and science of calculating sett. The science is in the math, and the art is in the weaver's choices based on knowledge and experience.

There are a couple of other methods, but these are the only ones I have experience with so far. I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences, so please leave a comment if you feel so inclined.

Posted 26 May 2008 at http://leighsfiberjournal.blogspot.com

Related posts:
Another Way to Calculate Sett
Measuring Wraps Per Inch (WPI)
How to Use a McMorran Balance (Yorksett Arts & Crafts)

Friday, May 23, 2008

Shetland Sleeve Update

By Leigh

Due to Life getting in the way, there hasn't been any weaving or spinning going on for about a week now. I have been knitting however. Here is how my Shetland Sampler Cardigan sleeves look now:

You can see the checkerboard steek up the center of the sleeve.Less than two weeks ago I posted about just getting started on them, so this is a lot of progress for me! This is 92 rows worth and it measures 12.5 inches, so I'm roughly 2/3 of the way done.

If you're just dropping by for the first time, there are actually two sleeves here, as I'm using Lucy Neatby's Siamese Sleeves method. If you look closely, you can see the two stitch markers on the circular needle at the top of the photo. These are marking one of the two 6-stitch steeks which separate the sleeves. The increases on either side of it help create the odd looking pattern.

The cuffs will be added after the sleeves are cut apart and seamed.

I'm such a slow knitter that it never occurred to me that I might actually finish this thing this summer. I will definitely set it aside when the weather gets too hot to have a wool sweater in my lap. But so far our weather is very fine so who knows, I may have it done before you (and I) know it!

Posted 23 May 2008 at http://leighsfiberjournal.blogspot.com

Related Posts:
Ready to Start Those Sleeves - Discovering Siamese Sleeves
Starting the Sleeves - Sleeve Increase Calculator
Siamese Sleeves Done!
Wound Neck Steek

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I'm Getting Bored With This

This is the latest batch of multiple tabby weave samples, just off the loom. I feel like I'm spinning my wheels because I'm not achieving anything I'm happy with.

I tied on about a yard of 8/2s cotton warp in three new colors, using the same Fibonacci stripes as the last sample warp.

Of the samples shown in that earlier post, I liked the ones with the heavier, sport weight knitting yarn as weft best. I wanted to experiment more with this, using different weft colors. I thought that I had a heavier black cotton yarn to work with, but it turned out that it wasn't as heavy as I thought. I used it anyway.

I really had a lot of trouble with getting an even beat as you can seen in the above photo. The goal is an balanced weave with as many picks per inch as ends per inch. Quite disappointing.

Then I found a 6/3 cotton in a medium gray and used as weft with my 8/2 warp. I still had the same problem with getting an even beat. I did try though . However, you're going to have to tilt your head to the side to view this photo properly....

..... as Blogger insisted on rotating the photo when it uploaded it. I tried several times but couldn't get it uploaded the way it is supposed to be. I searched Blogger Help Group to see if I could find a solution for this problem, and apparently others have had it on occasion, but none of the discussions helped me. So there it is anyway.

Here is something similar in a different color weft (and not rotated)....

The weft packed in a little more evenly, though not consistently. I am puzzled, because the sett is the same as all the other samples, 20 epi. I'm not sure why I'm having issues this time when I didn't before.

And lastly I decided, what the heck, I'll just let it do what it wants, and beat it hard.

The weft is the same 8/2 cotton as in the yellow warp stripe. This was interesting because packing down the weft distorted the horizontal lines with washing. This sample has a little more potential than the first three, though I think a contrasting weft would have been better.

I've been thinking a lot about these samples, and why I wasn't happy with them. Finally I realized that I am disappointed because I was trying to see if I could get multiple tabby weave to imitate summer & winter, which has been my favorite weave so far. I still think the results would have been better with an heavier weft; such as the sport weight knitting cotton yarn. However, I'm just sampling from my stash, hence the limitations.

I'm not sure what I'm going to try next. Choices include:
  1. Using a finer warp and the same wefts
  2. Using the same warp and purchasing more sport weight cotton for a heavier weft.
  3. Moving on to a totally different draft from Dr. Bateman's book.
While I'm at it, I may as well try a new threading too.

Related Posts:
Multiple Tabby Weaves - the basics

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Something I Said I'd Never Do....

When I started this blog over two years ago, I promised myself that I would be true to the title - fiber stuff only. I said that I would never blog off topic. Like other folks I have lots of interests, but this blog is a journal of my fiber and textile projects and explorations.

I admit that I haven't held to this rule strictly. The one that stands out in my mind is a computer rant I went on about a year and a half ago. Mostly, I just enjoy some of my other interests through other blogs. Gardening is one of those things. I commented to Christine on one of her garden posts, that if I had a garden other than my little balcony garden, then I'd have a garden blog. She responded that I should post about my balcony garden anyway. So in a rare burst of random blogging spontaneity, here it is.

I have always been an avid gardener and whenever possible, I've had a large vegetable garden. For two and a half years now, we've been in a "temporary" living situation of a small second story apartment. Our balcony overlooks a parking lot which isn't very scenic. So our first summer here, I decided to attempt an Old World style balcony flower garden. It was both prettier to look at and gave us a sense of privacy, as it somewhat shields the view into the sliding glass doors.

This year however, I decided to branch out a bit.

For the past two summers I have grown morning glories on trellises. This year, when I found some 10¢ packets of pea seeds, I bought them on a whim and planted them instead. I figured that the flowers at least would be pretty.

But the pods with their promise of fresh sweet peas is pretty too!

I also finally found a bush tomato plant. I've looked for one of these every year, but this is the first time I've found one small enough to plant in a pot.

So far we have one tomato and several blossoms. My balcony only gets late afternoon sun, and tomatoes like sun. So I'm not sure how many I'll end up with, but I figured it was worth a try anyway.

Having cats, I also have the obligatory catnip plant. I cut off the stems and leaves right before it blooms, as this is when it's at it's most potent. My kitties have dried organic catnip all year long. This is mostly appreciated by Rascal.

You can see my aloe vera plants here, which live on the balcony during the summer. Also, I try to keep a supply of cat grass growing. This is another kitty favorite, as Catzee demonstrates. Catzee, by the way, is not usually allowed out onto the balcony by herself because she jumps off. If you're interested in some of her adventures (also non-fiber), click here.

So there you have it. A rare post about something other than fiber. Now. Back to business.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Serger Research & Decision

By Leigh

In my Sewing With Handwovens (???) post, I mentioned that I was researching sergers. I was very interested in all the comments to that post; both the opinions and the advice. I wanted to share with you what I've discovered through my research and what I decided.

I started with the weaving lists I subscribe to, Weaving, WeaveTech, and the Online Guild of Weaver's, Spinners, & Dyers. It was interesting because the different lists had quite different ideas about serging handwoven fabric. The opinions ranged from "wouldn't be caught dead using it on my handwovens," to "use it all the time on my handwovens."

For those of the first opinion, the objection seems to stem from an association of serging with cheaply made, mass produced garments. This group primarily seemed to be those who've woven many years, and started sewing long before sergers became available to home sewers. The second group were largely younger weavers, who seemed to more readily accept serging as common practice.

One question that I needed to answer for myself, was what a serger could do for me that a sewing machine couldn't. Some of the appealing points were:
  1. Ravel-free edges and seam finishing - I learned to sew when pinking was enough. Not only is this no longer common practice, but handwoven fabrics especially need something to prevent unraveling.
  2. One step finishing and trimming. A serger/overlocker seams, overcasts, and trims all in one step. This is a big plus for someone like me, who wants to spend time on other things.
  3. Less bulky seams
  4. Rolled edges for things like napkins and fine fabrics.
  5. 2 feed dogs for differential feed - How often have I finished a seam to find that the two layers of fabric didn't finish up evenly! I always thought this was me, but it turns out that ain't necessarily so. It's also the fabric. The speeds of the separate feed dogs on a serger can be adjusted individually to take care of that.
  6. Decorative stitching wasn't so much a selling point for me. Having done a lot of hand embroidery in the past, any sort of machine decoration doesn't appeal to me much.
Now, it may be true that some or all of these things can be accomplished with a sewing machine. Mine is six years old and is a very basic model manual model. This serves me for what I am interested in doing: basic garment construction. Newer, upgraded machines do a lot more and are beginning to imitate overlock features. So, one possibility would be to replace my old sewing machine with a newer, upgraded model. However, those are all way out of my price range. Since I don't buy things on credit and my current sewing machine is still serviceable, I decided it to research inexpensive sergers to see what I could come up with.

Thanks to the customer reviews on Amazon.com, this is what I decided on.....

A Brother 1034D Overlock Machine.

For me, the selling points included:
  1. Compact - a must in our decidedly dinky living space
  2. Can use standard spools of sewing thread as well as serger cones
  3. Uses standard sewing machine needles (some sergers requires special needles)
  4. Choice of 3 or 4 thread overlock stitches
  5. Blind hem stitching
  6. Easy conversion to rolled hem function
  7. Easy threading
  8. Free arm capability
  9. Easy disengagement of cutter blades.
  10. Includes three, easy change presser feet: multipurpose, gathering, and blind hem.
  11. 2 instruction booklets and 2 instruction CDs, with tips such as: one doesn't have to thread from scratch every time; simply tie on the new thread and pull it through.
  12. Price - it was within my budget
  13. Value for cost - this per customer reviews.
Another nice feature is a built in threading chart for the loopers, though it came pre-threaded with sample spools.

... and the color coded tension dials ....

So there you have it. I still have the learning curve to face, but I'm not terribly daunted. Yet.

Posted 14 May 2008 at http://leighsfiberjournal.blogspot.com

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Starting The Sleeves

By Leigh

The Shetland Sampler Cardigan sleeves are officially begun!

The first thing I did was to click on over the The Knitting Fiend's online Sleeve Increase Calculator. By plugging in the number of rows to be knitted and the number of stitches in the first and last rows, instructions for the sleeve increases were automatically calculated for me. Here's what I got (click on the photo for an enlargement).

My next stop was Lucy Neatby's website to double check the instructions for the Siamese Sleeves.

Since I am knitting both sleeves at once, I had to double the number of stitches to cast on and add steeking stitches between the sleeves. This number of stitches was cast onto my 16 inch US2 circs with waste yarn (see "A Shetland COWYAK")

After a couple of rows of waste yarn, I started knitting with the yarn for the sleeves. I decided that I'd better use stitch markers to mark the beginning and end of both sleeves "just in case."

As long as I keep track of which row I'm on to get the increases properly placed, I should have properly fitting sleeves.

The other thing I've started on is the steeks for the armholes. These are technically checkerboard steeks, though as I mentioned before, the checkerboard effect is lost with the one color rows. The blue yarn marks the beginning of the steek, which is six stitches wide.

Wool Enough commented that the pattern appears to have black faced white sheep facing a brown fence. Can you see it? I'm delighted with that observation because like her, I too am rather wool obsessed!

Posted 11 May 2008 at http://leighsfiberjournal.blogspot.com

Related Posts:
Ready to Start Those Sleeves - Discovering Siamese Sleeves
A Shetland COWYAK - Casting on with waste yarn.
Siamese Sleeves Done!
SSC Sleeves & Cuffs
Shetland Sampler Cardigan Complete!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Ready To Start Those Sleeves

By Leigh

I've been wanting to share my progress on the Shetland Sampler Cardigan....

... which now includes these freshly spun yarns from the rovings from Sharon sent....

Three of them are from Sharon's own Shetlands, and the gray is from Mim's.

I puzzled over the sleeves, until Gertieanne sent me a link with the perfect solution to my sleeve problem. It is for Lucy Neatby's Siamese Sleeves.

Why is it perfect?
  1. I can knit both sleeves at once so that the patterns match
  2. Which means I won't have to worry about running out of a particular color
  3. Plus I can use a provisional cast-on and knit the cuffs later
I'll need my circular needle, but now I'm at a stopping place on the body of the cardigan, so the sleeves are next. I'm pleased with my progress so far.

The next two photos are per request. The first one is for Tina, who was curious to see the backside of the knitting...

Even though the floats are only three stitches long, I still decided to wrap the yarns to keep them neat. You can find good instructions for wrapping stranded knitting (with photos) at KnitPicks (pdf tutorial here.)

The second photo is for Janet, who asked to see the checkerboard steek that I'm using. Unfortunately, mine isn't a very good example, since some of my rows use only one color, obliterating the checkerboardish pattern...

However, Lucy Neatby has a good tutorial on that too. Just click right here to read it.

Posted 8 May 2008 at http://leighsfiberjournal.blogspot.com

Related Posts: -
A Contemplation On Knitting Sleeves - Trying to decide on the right kind to knit
Starting the Sleeves - Sleeve Increase Calculator
Shetland Sleeve Update - A look at checkerboard steeks in progress.
Siamese Sleeves Done!
SSC Sleeves & Cuffs
Shetland Sampler Cardigan Complete!

Monday, May 05, 2008

More MTW Samples

I've had a lot of ideas about multiple tabby weave and so I've been experimenting. To run through some of my ideas, I put a sample warp on my loom, a little over a yard long and about six inches wide.

For this warp I chose all the various yellow and gold 8/2 yarns that I have; mostly cotton, but on a whim, I added some yellow rayon chenille. I measured and tied them on to my last MTW warp, changing the various yellows in Fibonacci stripes of 5, 8, 13, and 21 ends each. Then I experimented with the weft.

First I tried the same green sportweight cotton knitting yarn that I used for the experiment with the brown striped warp.

I changed treadling in the same Fib sequence too. What I immediately didn't like was the chenille stripes. Up close and personal they are too dominant. However, with almost a yard of this warp still on the loom, I kept on experimenting.

Next I tried the same weft yarn in a different color, purple.

On this one, besides not liking the chenille stripes, I didn't think that this particular purple looked all that well with the yellows.

Next I tried to incorporate the chenille into the weft sequence. The treadling is still in the same 5, 8, 13, 21 treadling sequence. First with green...

Mmmm. Nah. Well, how about that with the purple weft?

Better, but even with narrower chenille weft stripes it is still a no. Next I tried one of the yellow 8/2s for the weft, but still added the chenille stripes.

Boring. Add that to the no list too.

By this time I had used up that warp, so I tied on more. This time I decided to use the chenille only for each of the narrowest warp stripes. The others are still the same yellows and golds as before. For the weft I used the same 8/2 yarns, changing them randomly except for the narrow chenille stripe.

Michele asked about the loose weft ends. Since these are just samples, I left them hanging. After washing and drying I cut them shorter, but didn't worry about them otherwise. If this were for a sewing project, I'd leave them too. I only worry about loose weft ends for something where the selvedges will show, like a scarf or dishtowel.

The following are two samples from that second sample warp.


These were a little more interesting than the first batch, but by this time I was sick of yellow and gold, which are not my favorite colors anyway.

Even though I wouldn't use any of these for a larger piece, I learned a lot from them. For one thing, I learned that I really like the heavier weft for MTW, even though the particular colors of green and purple weren't perfect choices.

While I think the chenille used this way has some possibilities, I found that there was some differential shrinkage after washing and drying. Because the squares were so large, I really didn't like the look of that, so I pressed it out as best I could.

Also, the very nature of multiple tabby weave caused the chenille to create wavy weft stripes rather than straight ones. Again, this has possibilities.

I'm sure every spinner and weaver out there has heard "sample, sample, sample," and for knitters it's "SWATCH!" All I can say to this is, "how true, how true."

Related Posts:
Multiple Tabby Weaves
MTW With Heavier Weft

on
MTW tent copyright 2008 by http://leighsfiberjournal.blogspot.com/. If you find it anywhere else, it's been stolen.

Friday, May 02, 2008

About That Knee Beam .....

I have been weaving away on a one yard sample warp, trying out various yarns and ideas with multiple tabby weave. Things were going pretty well until I advanced the warp. I was surprised that as I treadled, my knees were hitting the apron rod. That had never happened before. Finally, after treadling bow legged for a bit, I stopped to take a closer look.....

That's when I realized that the apron cords weren't going over and behind the knee beam. Somehow I had missed it altogether when I pulled the apron rod up to lash the warp to it.

If I had puzzled about usefulness of that knee beam before, I certainly understand its functionality now. And I won't forget to make sure my warps travel the correct path anymore, either!