Monday, July 31, 2006

Socks Finished !!!!!!!!!

I've just returned home from the post office where I got my Dad's socks off in time for his birthday. What a relief. The photo isn't too impressive, but the socks are pretty plain anyway, at his request.

Leigh's dad's handknit birthday socks.

And his birthday card:

Handcrafted birthday card using a twill sample.

The inset is a twill sample I wove for a design board.

It was an even greater relief that there was a few extra yards in the second skein, and so I could finish both socks. I was very happy to have m's suggestions, but was just as glad to be able to graft the toes without any further fuss. I'll remember her idea for the future however.

I stayed away from both loom and spinning wheel in order to finish the socks, but I confess that I did take an occasional break from knitting to try my hand at kitty song writing, which is popular amongst cat bloggers at the moment. I don't reckon it will be my claim to fame, but it was fun.

Now..... on to other fibery things.

© 2006 Leigh's Fiber Journal

Related Posts:
Gallery Photos: Greeting Cards
Gallery Photos: Socks
Making Christmas Cards - tutorial on making greeting cards
Q & A: Trifold Aperture Card Blanks

Friday, July 28, 2006

Weaving Yarn Details & Record Keeping

Valerie asked about grist and sett for the yarns I’ve been using for my shadow weave samples. I had to stop and go look for this information, in fact I even used my McMorrin yarn balance for the first time.

I doing this I became aware of two things:

Firstly, I realized that grist doesn’t really mean anything to me. I know the definition, but that is only intellectual knowledge. Experientially, I don’t know what to do with that information.

As a handspinner I am most familiar with WPI (wraps per inch), so this is what I apply to both knitting and weaving as well. Gauge and grist? Well, I have to stop and think about them. I have to reason through what they mean to me and the project I want to work on. WPI? I can run with that.

Secondly, I realized that even though I am trying to keep better records with my shadow weave samples, there are still informational gaps in what I record on my worksheets. I am writing more things down and doing a better job of recording all the information in the same place, but , I have been realizing that I rely on my memory way too much. For some reason when I look at a weaving sample, or a handspun skein, or knitting pattern, I assume that I’ll remember more than I actually do.

Consequently I have a dozen or so oddball sample skeins from fleeces whose breed and origin I don’t remember. I have several cones of weaving yarns with the labels misplaced. And I have several pairs of socks with mates which don’t fit the same because I couldn’t remember the exact modifications I made, or number of stitches I picked up. (Or, more likely, I misplaced the scrap of paper I jotted the information down on.) And to all this I’m now adding weaving samples with odd bits of information missing.

I’m not consistently scatter brained. I do have a nice file box of spinning cards with control yarns and notes on them, and I have learned to keep a sock knitting notebook with a page for each person I knit socks for. And most of the time I manage to jot down all measurements, calculations, and changes.

Weaving is a little easier because I have to write everything down in order to calculate yarn amounts for warp and weft measurements. And recently I purchased a 3-ring binder for my weaving notes and samples. So I am making progress, though at times I don’t feel like it.

Anyway, if you’ve gotten through all that and are still interested, here is the yarn information:

The yarn for the scarves:
590 yds per lb
Sett 5 epi

Worsted weight knitting yarn samples:
832 yds per lb
Sett 8 epi

The sock yarn samples:
2000 yds per lb
Sett, I'm not sure. I thought I used 10 epi for the red and white samples, but I wasn't happy with it. So for the orange and fair isle sock yarn sample, I used a sett of 12 epi and it made a much denser fabric. I liked it better, but it is hard to believe that only 2 ends per inch could make such a difference in the fabric. So I'm wondering if the specific shadow weave drafts make a difference. Does anybody have any experience with this?

8/2 cotton
3360 yds per lb
Sett 16 epi (fabric too loose, structurally)

16/2 cotton
6650 yds per lb
Sett 24 epi

After all that, I realized that the only way I will ever be able to use grist intuitively, is to pay attention to it and faithfully keep a record of it for the yarns I use. It may seem like more work right now, but I have faith that it will eventually pay off.

© 2006 Leigh's Fiber Journal

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

No Weaving, Just Sock Knitting

I confess that I haven’t been at the loom for several days as I’m knitting furiously in hopes of getting a pair of socks off to my Dad in time for his birthday.

I am a slow knitter, so in some ways knitting to a deadline is a bit frustrating for me. In my mind, knitting is a relaxing activity. So while I'm impressed with fast knitters, I have deliberately remained leisurely about my knitting. However, when I have a deadline (like now), I put pressure on myself which I don’t enjoy, and I end up kicking myself for not starting earlier. Which is the case here.

This is the progress on the 2nd sock:

Progress on the 2nd sock, heel flap about half done.

The yarn is Knit Picks Essential. I’ve not knit with it before but they had the color my Dad wanted. My only problem is, that because of the size of the sock and length of the cuff, I only got this far with one skein:

The first sock of this pair, just short of yarn to finish the toe!

That tail is the end of the ball! So, I’m wishing I’d either made the cuff a row or two shorter, or knit toe ups. A short row heel takes less yarn and knits up faster.

I knit toe ups for myself, but somehow don’t have the confidence to knit correctly fitting socks based on measurements alone with a toe up pattern.

Initially, I wasn’t sure what to do about that first sock. I finally decided to go ahead and start on the second. Who knows, there may be a few extra feet of yarn in that skein and I’ll be able to finish grafting the toe on the first.

Then again maybe not and I’ll have to come up with something else. The men in my life say just use another color. Their reasoning is that the toes are hidden in shoes or boots anyway. But to me, these are a gift so there is no room for flaws, cosmetic of otherwise! Not that I think my Dad would mind, but somehow “design element“ just doesn‘t fit the bill here.

At any rate, no decision has to be made yet. So I’ll wait to see how far I get with the 2nd sock to make it. ; )

© 2006 Leigh's Fiber Journal

Related Posts:
Socks Finished!!!!!!!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Shadow Weave Samples - 3

handwoven shadow weave scarf
Two more samples.

The first (on the left) is another scarf actually. The pattern is the four block 2 by 2 shadow weave draft from Madelyn van der Hoogt’s “Color-and-Weave Basics” article in the March/April ‘05 issue of Handwoven. I did adjust the number of ends per block according to my desired project width. I followed the treadling order for the scarf (as drawn in), but can imagine a lot of treadling fun with it.

The yarn is the same Yarn Bee Icelandic Jewels that I used for the green and orange scarf. Red and black was the other color combination that I couldn't resist buying. I think what attracted me to these yarns was the ribbon plied into it:

handwoven shadow weave detail

handwoven shadow weave in sock yarns
My other experiment with this draft was to tie on some sock yarn leftovers. I used orange (obviously) and one of those Fair Isle space dyed sock yarns.

So this is the same pattern as the scarf but, as you can see, the effect is very different. I found the results intriguing, not only for the ikat-like pattern in the lower sample, but also because of the textured look added by the overshots. More design possibilities!

A couple of close-ups which I scanned in are below.

close up of  shadow weave in sock yarns

close up of  shadow weave in sock yarns

© 2006 Leigh's Fiber Journal

Related Posts:
Shadow Weave: Doing the Triple S - my introduction
Shadow Weave Profiles- how to interpret
Shadow Weave Samples 1 - Begins a series of samples

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Merino/Silk Mess Update

Well, I've gotten this far with this:

Less of a mess

And still have this on the wheel:

Still a mess

So at least I'm at the point where it appears salvageable.

Many thanks for the encouraging comments! It's been a comfort to know I'm not been alone in this type of problem.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Merino/Silk Mess

I didn’t do any weaving over the weekend, but I did get out the merino/silk blend from my silk goody pack. Spinning was a breeze. Then came plying. Look what happened:

handspun merino silk blend yarnTalk about discouraging! I usually ply from a center pull ball without any difficulty, but this one got away from me. Somehow the innards of the ball pulled out and commenced to twist back on themselves. The more I tired to fix it, the worse it got.

What to do.

Chunking the whole thing is not an option. Merino/silk is not a blend I often get my hands on.

I could pop the whole mess into the washing machine and make a felted pin cushion.


I could actually try to unravel and unknot the mess.

Hoo boy.

I could try and auction it off on eBay as Rubik’s yarn ball.


I could cut and tie as I ply in hopes that I could salvage enough to knit with.


I’ll have to let you know.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Shadow Weave Samples - 2

For my second set of shadow weave samples I used one pattern with different types and colors of yarn. I chose figure 30 from page 43 of Powell’s 1000 (+) Patterns. The main reason I chose it was because the pattern repeat had only 16 ends. This was desirable as I wanted a fairly narrow sample on which I could experiment. All the samples were treadled the same.

Upfront I have to say that I’m not especially happy with the pix, specifically the color representation. I like to photograph in natural light but wasn’t able to do so with these. So I’m making do! And of course I had supervision:

My kitty cat with handwoven shadow weave sampler.
Handwoven shadow weave.The first samples (on left) are shadow weave and a switch drawdown. In the (regular) shadow weave sample, the weft colors follow the warp sequence of dark, light. In the switch sample, the sequence is switched. Looking at them now I couldn’t tell you which was which, so I'll leave you to guess on your own.

I used green and purple yarns of similar value, so the patterns are not especially easy to see. In fact, while weaving, I couldn’t see the pattern at all! It wasn’t until I took it off the loom and stepped back that the pattern emerged.

handwoven shadow weaveWith this same warp I next wove the samples on the right, replacing the green weft first with a light brown and then with a dark. I really like the look of these, especially the light one. I also tried a couple of variegated wefts, which you can see in Rascal’s picture above. However I didn't care for these.

This first warp was an acrylic worsted weight knitting yarn. I'm not sure why I like to use this for weaving samples. I know I definitely don't like to knit with it. But it's thick so it warps and weaves quickly. Plus it's inexpensive, readily available, comes in lots of colors, and gives me a chance to decide if I want to weave the same thing in a serious yarn.

handwoven shadow weave swatchContinuing with this same threading, I next tied on some cotton yarns next, using an 8/2 black and a 16/2 green. I chose these because they are the only cottons in my stash which match some large scraps of store bought fabric I have on hand. I thought perhaps I could weave fronts for a jacket or vest and wanted to see if I could use these two sized yarns together.

Again I couldn’t see the pattern until I stepped back. Happily, the two yarns worked well together, though I will choose a different pattern if I ever do weave anything with them.

Lastly I tried some bulky designer type yarn I found on sale at Hobby Lobby; Yarn Bee’s Icelandic Jewels. I’m not sure why I chose these colors, the orange is very unlike me. I tied on again, this time with enough to weave a scarf.

The close up shows what I’ve meant about not being able to see the pattern:

Handwoven shadow weave close up.Stepping back doesn't help a whole lot:

Handwoven shadow weave scarf close upAnd here’s the scarf which I’m not much impressed with. From a distance the colors (which aren't very accurate here) muddy each other out, though someone who likes brown might not mind.

Handwoven shadow weave scarfSo far I like my first shadow weave samples from the previous post best. Partly because of the colors and partly because I like the drafts better. Even so, these samples are valuable to me. Perhaps not so much for what works, as for what doesn't work. I've learned some things about color and I've learned a little more about shadow weave patterns. Hopefully, I can utilize this new knowledge as I decide which patterns and yarns to use next.

Next - Shadow Weave Samples - 3

© 2006 Leigh's Fiber Journal

Related Posts:
Shadow Weave: Doing the Triple S - my introduction
Shadow Weave Profiles- how to interpret
Shadow Weave Samples 1 - Begins a series of samples

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Shadow Weave Samples - 1

By Leigh

My first set of shadow weave samples is off the loom. I don't have anything profound to report, but weaving these has given me an opportunity to do some experimenting as well as get a feel for it and an idea of what to consider next.

I wove three identical strips of five samples each, choosing different sizes of yarn for each sample strip. In my stash, I found the following of similar color: 8/2 cotton, sock yarn, worsted weight knitting yarn. This gave me an opportunity to experiment with sett as well as yarn size.

The draft (profile actually) was taken from Marian Powell’s 1000+ Patterns. I started with the 4-1 threading on page 66. This is a 4 shaft shadow weave in point twill development. I chose five different treadling sequences to weave the strips, using the same sequences for each strip.

It was the first time I'd worked profiles and since I was unfamiliar with them, they are quite puzzling at first. Here is an excerpt from the page I worked from:

I found that the best way to interpret these was to work them out as a more familiar drawdown on my simple weaving software program, WinWeave.

The next pic compares 3 inch segments of the same pattern from the different sample strips:

And here are a few more examples:

I also discovered how easy it is to make treadling errors! Can you see it?

In re-reading Powell's "this and that" (page 5), I learned to use a shot of sewing thread after completing each treadling sequence, thus giving me a starting point to count from in case I got lost (which more often than I care to admit. :)

Now, on to weaving more samples.

Related Posts:
Shadow Weave Profiles
Profile Drafts

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Shadow Weave: Doing the Triple S

By Leigh

Sounds like a dance step. But, every fiber artist knows what I’m talking about when I quote those three often disliked words, “Sample, sample, sample.” That’s what I’ve been doing.

Now if one is basically an impatient person, like me, then the idea of sampling isn’t very appealing, whether it’s weaving, knitting, or spinning. However, it doesn’t take too many disasters before the wisdom of sampling is exquisitely revealed.

While I was weaving my log cabin scarves, I couldn’t help but think how much log cabin reminded me of shadow weave. Not that I have much experience, but I did make one shadow weave sample for a design board several years ago and have been intrigued ever since:

Shadow Dancer

This is the “Shadow Dancer” detail from one of my design boards. It is woven in Brown Sheep Company’s Nature Spun. It was not only the first time I’d woven shadow weave, but also the first time I’d woven with knitting yarns. I liked it and made my dad an eyeglasses case from it for his birthday that year.

To begin my shadow weave study, I first dug out all the resources I could find, including the March/April ‘05 issue of Handwoven, 1000 (+) Pattern in 4, 6, and 8 Harness Shadow Weaves by Marian Powell, and Color-and-Weave II by Margaret Windeknecht.

As I read Madelyn van der Hoogt’s “Color-and-Weave Basics” article in Handwoven, I was surprised to learn that shadow weave was actually developed from warp rep drafts by Mary Meigs Atwater. (I would have loved to get a hold of some of her shadow weave articles, but those old 1942 issues of Shuttlecraft don’t seem to be widely available, not even on, nor Ralph Griswold‘s Digital Weaving Archive.)

The technical definition for shadow weave? It’s essentially a plain weave structure, but the blocks follow a twill step sequence so that there are 2 thread overshots at the block edges. Light and dark threads alternate in both warp and weft. There seem to be no strict rules regarding threading and tie-up, as Atwater and Powell approached these differently but achieved identical interlacements.

So, samples are on the loom. Next - Shadow Weave Samples 1

Related Posts:
Shadow Weave Profiles

Friday, July 07, 2006

My Friendship Scarf on Display

Last weekend was Woolfest 2006. It was held in the UK, in Cockermouth, Cumbria which is on the North Western edge of the Lake District. No, I didn’t get to go (dream on, Leigh) but I was affiliated with it through the Online Guild of Weavers, Spinners, and Dyers of which I am a member.

Association stand at Woolfest 2006

The Online Guild is was formed in May, 2002 under the umbrella of The Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners, and Dyers in the UK. It's purpose is to provide a community for fiber and textile artists worldwide, who aren’t always able to participate in their local, regional guilds.

Part of the OLG display at Woolfest.

I joined in July of that year and quickly became involved. One of my contributions was to lead a spontaneous knitting workshop in January of 2005. It was based on our new year’s resolutions to clean up our yarn stashes and use up odds and ends. This lead to a Friendship Scarf exchange a few months later. I knitted and sent my scarf off to Scotland and received a beautiful double fringed inkle woven boa from England.

This year a number of these Friendship Scarves were displayed at the Online Guild’s booth at Woolfest, and mine was included!

Display of OLG friendship scarves.

And a close up from my computer photo files:

Close up of my handknit scarf.

The pattern is a self fringing, sideways garter stitch pattern from the Winter 2002 issue of Spin-Off. I used both handspun and commercial wool and mohair yarns.

The Woolfest images are used with the kind permission of the Online Guild's photographer, founder, and convenor, Margaret Parker.

© 2006 Leigh's Fiber Journal

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Toe Up Socks

Not too long ago I joined the Southern Knit Bloggers webring. Ever since then I’ve been acutely aware that I’ve made very few knitting posts! :o So here's another.

I really and truly love to knit; I just don’t do it much in the summer. It’s too darn hot to have a knitting project in my lap. I always keep a pair of socks on needles however, just to pass the time and keep my hands busy. This is what I have to show today.

Handknit toe up socks

The handy dandy wire hanger sock blockers are an idea from The Knitting Zone. The pattern is quite different from any toe ups I‘ve knit before, as it features a Turkish cast on toe and a reverse Dutch heel.

The toes were quite a trick as they required 2 circs to cast on with. It took me several tries, but it does make a nice toe. I would have taken pictures of the process, but I started these socks before I started blogging.

The reverse Dutch heel was new for me as well. Usually I work short row heels, but for these a flap was knitted and then a gusset.

detail of handknit sock gusset My only problem was a gape. I call it a gape rather than a hole because it is actually an enlarged stitch rather than a space between stitches. I worked the socks with 5 double points and suspected that the gape was because I wasn’t circulating the stitches around the needles as I was working the gusset. I did this on the second sock and sure enough, no gape.

The pattern is by Fiona Morris. She told me she planned to put it on her website eventually, but I haven’t checked to see if she’s been able to do that yet. I knitted them with Bernat Sox Nouveau! using solid royal blue and a variegated yarn in those lovely jewel tones.

Next up is another pair of socks, these for my Dad’s birthday next month. I also need to start planning my winter knitting project. I usually manage one sweater or vest each winter, most often with my handspun. 

© 2006 Leigh's Fiber Journal

Related Posts:
Gallery Photos - Socks

Monday, July 03, 2006

Evaluating My b2f Warp

By Leigh

With my log cabin yardage off the loom I am ready for a new weaving project. My first (second actually, the first was a disaster) attempt at warping back to front was successful, so I am ready to use it again. Two major reasons stand out in my mind:
  1. I definitely happier with the tension. Was it consistently perfect? No. But now I have some things to work on.
  2. It was so much easier to thread the heddles from back to front.
So, I’ve been re-reading my resources and also the blog comments, many of which offered practical help as well as encouragement. I plan to follow the same steps as before (basically Deb Chandler’s one lease method), but pay attention to improving warp tension.

Actually the tension was pretty consistent and weaving went pretty well with my yardage until I got towards the end of 5 yards. At that point the sides were looser than the center of the warp. It didn’t effect the end result, but of course my question is, why? Did it have to do with how I tensioned the warp as I wound it on? Did I not tie my 2-stick heading onto the front apron rod evenly? (see Peggy Osterkamp’s Warping Your Loom & Tying On New Warps chapter 6.)

One thing I want to experiment with is weighting the warp as I wind it on. I have milk jugs filled with water in mind at the moment. And this time I will not cut and re-tie the header sticks again.

At any rate, with Rascal’s help (which he insisted on giving) I’ve begun preparing my warp.

Oh no you can't

Related Posts:
f2b Versus b2f - Beginning of this series
b2f Log Cabin Weaving - finished fabric from this series
B2F Warping - Still Tweaking
B2F Vs. F2B - Why I Switched