Thursday, November 30, 2006

Lace Sampler – Spot Bronson

By Leigh

My 4th set of lace weave samples for the Beginning Lace Weaves Workshop, is off the loom. These samples are Spot Bronson which, although aren't technically lace, gives us the background for Bronson Lace.

The draft is from Marguerite Porter Davison's A Handweaver's Pattern Book. It is the Rose Point Pattern in the Barley Corn Weave chapter, page 86. Barley Corn is another name for Spot Bronson. I used the same 12/2 cotton warp, but experimented with two different weft yarns. The rose point pattern has 2 variations, so I ended up with 4 samples.

For the first weft, I used a 3/2 mauve cotton for the pattern and the same 12/2 cotton for the tabby weft.

A spot Bronson sample with white cotton warp and a heavier colored weft.Then I tried it using only the white 12/2 cotton. It's hard to see the pattern......

Another sample of the same pattern in all white...... in fact, I like the backside better........

The reverse side showing a more sculptured look in all white.I used the same weft yarns for the 2nd variation:

Second sample with white warp and colored weft.Front in all white:

The same draft in all white.And back:
The back of the 2nd white sample also looks more textured.What you can't see in these photos is the sculptured effect the white samples have, which I think is very nice! In fact it is this texture which has given me some ideas of where to place stripes of color, giving plenty of experiments to store away for future use.

Posted 30 Nov. 2006 at

Related Posts:
Lace Sampler - Beaming the Warp
Lace Sampler - Huck
Lace Sampler - Huck Lace 1
Lace Sampler - Huck Lace 2
Lace Sampler - Lace Bronson

Monday, November 27, 2006

Rare Breed Sweater Update

I have completed the back of my Rare Breed Sweater.

The back of Leigh's rare breed cardigan.I am a fairly slow knitter, so for me, this is good progress!

It is being knitted entirely of rare breed yarns. The body (both the white and the green) is Ryeland, and the blue in the seeding pattern and peeries is Hog Island.

The sheep are intarsia knit and each one is of a different rare breed sheep wool.

Top row, starting at the left: Tunis, Ryeland, Karakul, Jacob, and Wensleydale.

Bottom row: North Ronaldsay, Hebridean, Soay, Manx Logthan, and Lincoln.

I will embroider in the eyes and facial outline later.

It is interesting to knit a row using 6 different types of yarn. The differences are very pronounced.

Next, I will knit the fronts. I'm entertaining the idea that I might actually finish this before the cold weather is gone, but I know myself too well to take myself seriously. :)

Related Posts:
Winter Knitting Project
Rare Breed Sweater Swatches
TA-DAH! Rare Breed Sweater Done!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Colored Huck Lace

Little Catzee paw on huck.By Leigh

One thing about me and weaving, is that I can't not think about color. As much as I loved weaving the white huck and huck lace samples, my mind was constantly rehearsing "what ifs" with color.

So before moving on to the Spot Bronson and Bronson Lace portions of the workshop, I tied on some colored cotton and experimented a little. These are all in 8/2s cotton, sett at 20 epi. The warp alternates stripes of orange, green, and gold. The weft is black.

Huck warp spots:

Huck warp spots in color.Close-up:

Close-up of the huck warp spots.And I was just as intrigued with the back.......

The back of the huck sample, looking nice too........ as the curves are even more pronounced.

In order to show off the lacy holes, the huck lace was a bit more difficult to photograph, particularly a close-up.

Stepped back:

Colored huck lace sampleFirst close-up:

Huck lace close-up, looking like a solid fabric.Against a solid background, it looks more like solid cloth, but against the window, which allows in the light, I needed to use the flash, which washed out the color:

2nd huck lace close-up, taken against a window.Well, I'll have to add photography to the list of things I plan to study some day. :)

With our American Thanksgiving tomorrow, a house full of company, and a family birthday this weekend, I won't be online much. But I've finished knitting the back to my Rare Breed Sweater and hope to show you that on Monday. See you then!

Posted 22 Nov. 2006 at

Related Posts:
Lace Sampler - Huck
Lace Sampler - Huck Lace 1
Lace Sampler - Huck Lace 2

Monday, November 20, 2006

Lace Sampler – Huck Lace 2

By Leigh

These are the rest of the photos from my huck lace sampler. All are woven in 12/2 cotton, sett at 24 epi.

On the loom:
After washing:

On the loom:
After washing:

This last one was a bit of a challenge for me. One of the lessons in the workshop involved an introduction to designing huck lace. The assignment included figuring out the treadle tie-up for a couple of drafts. Having never learned how to do this, I was stumped! After quick plea for help to the Guild's message board, I was able to work it out and was rewarded with a very nice design. Here it is on the loom:

And after washing.

As intrigued as I am with this weave structure, I can't stop my mind from wondering "what if...." about color. So my plan is to take a brief detour before moving onto the next lace structure, and try a couple of color ideas with huck and huck lace.

Posted 20 Nov. 2006 at

Related Posts:
Lace Sampler - Beaming The Warp
Lace Sampler - Huck Lace 1
Colored Huck Lace

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Lace Sampler – Huck Lace 1

By Leigh

My first lace sampler is off the loom.

As fascinating as it was to watch the patterns appear before my eyes, little did I know the transformation that was in store for me. And all because of ....... washing.

When I first started weaving I was terrified to toss my handwovens into the washing machine. But I gradually got braver, and with much relief discovered that depending on the fiber content of the yarn, things actually hold up quite well.

All these samples are woven in cotton, which responds to machine agitation, and wow what a difference it makes with huck lace.

After weaving sections of huck warp and weft spots, I wove a section of huck lace. Actually I wove two sections, as I was worried that I beat the first section in too hard.

On the loom:
Huck lace on the loom.
After washing:
Huck lace after washing.After washing, I was surprised that my first section (bottom) looks the best. I beat that one as for a balanced plain weave and it definitely turned out better. The one on the top wasn't beaten in as hard, and the integrity of the lace looks compromised and sloppy. Chalk one up for sampling first!

Here are more before and afters.

On the loom:
On the loom.
After washing:
After washing

On the loom:
On the loom.
After washing:
After washing
For the rest of my huck lace photos, click here.

Posted 18 Nov. 2006 at

Related Posts:
Lace Sampler - Beaming The Warp
Lace Sampler - Huck Lace 2
Colored Huck Lace

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Rare Breed – California Variegated Mutant 2

I spent two pleasant days carding and spinning my CVM fleece.

Since the staples were about 5 inches long, I used my drum carder to prepare them. Whenever I prepare fleece for woolen spinning, I automatically think "hand cards," but really, anything over 3 inches in length really isn't suitable for hand carders. Then when I use drum carded batts for longdraw spinning I think, well, this technically isn't prepared correctly for a true woolen yarn. However I never let that stop me!

Most of the 2 ounce sample measured 6 crimps per inch, I decided to spin it with 6 twists per inch. Since I wanted to spin it longdraw, I consulted one of the appendix in Mabel Ross's The Essentials of Yarn Design for Handspinners.

The formula for calculating the number of treadles needed for an 18 inch draw is:

18 (inches) x twists per inch required ÷ wheel ratio = treadles

So in this case that was:

18 x 6 ÷ 10.5 = 10

Well, actually it equals 10.28, but who's going to quibble about that!

The particulars:

* Fiber Weight, 2 ounces
* Fiber length, 5 inches
* Occasional neps
* Spinning ratio 10.5:1
* Spun woolen method
* 10 treadles per 18 inch draft
* Singles, 28 WPI
* 2-ply, 16 WPI
* Yardage, > 112

This stuff was lovely to spin. It is soft, lofty, and delicious; full of subtle variations of gray and just enough luster.

I don't have anything specific in mind for this yarn, but it makes me want to spin more of it. It would make a fabulous sweater of vest. And since Cathy has offered such an encouraging comment nudging me in that direction, I probably won't wait too long to indulge myself!

Related Posts:
Rare Breed - California Variegated Mutant 1
Winter Knitting Project
Rare Breed Sweater Swatches
TA-DAH! Rare Breed Sweater Done!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Rare Breed – California Variegated Mutant 1

My knitting (Rare Breed Sweater) and weaving (huck lace) projects are in progress but without a spinning project, I feel like somethings missing. So with rare breeds on my mind, I have been anxious to work with the California Variegated Mutant fleece I purchased at SAFF.

I really don't need any more rare breed samples for my sweater, and I really don't need any more fleece, but when I saw the baskets of CVM and fondled its luscious softness, I couldn't help but buy a couple of ounces.

My sample contains a variety of staples which show a range of color and crimp. Length seems to be fairly consistent across the sample, about 5 inches. It's not especially lustrous but very clean with no VM or 2nd cuts. The staples are tapered. The crimp is well defined and I have some locks which measure 6 crimps per inch, and some which measure 2 waves per inch.

There is a lovely range of color, from pale gray to a medium charcoal. The tips are light colored and range from white to tan. The tips are sound.

It is soft enough to wear next to the skin.

It had been scoured before I purchased it, so I can't comment on the amount of grease or the percentage of weigh loss before and after washing.

I did a little research about the breed, I learned that it was developed from colored Romeldales. Perhaps someone thought that the Romeldale color genes mutated to produce a wide range of natural colors (????) I'm not sure about that, but I do think it is some of the loveliest fleece I've gotten my hands on recently. I plan to handcard it and spin long draw from rolags. I think it will make lovely yarn.

Related Posts:
Rare Breed - California Variegated Mutant 2
Winter Knitting Project
Rare Breed Sweater Swatches
TA-DAH! Rare Breed Sweater Done!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Lace Sampler – Huck

By Leigh

Yesterday I was able to start weaving on my sampler. The workshop is going to explore five weave structures. Besides huck, we will learn huck lace, spot Bronson, Bronson lace, and Swedish lace. The five yard warp I have on the loom will give me an opportunity to learn and explore these. It will require some cutting and rethreading, but that will be better than dealing with separate warps for these!

First on the list is huck. Huck is not technically a lace weave, but it will lead into huck lace, so it's a logical place to start. Also known as spot weave, it is actually a loom controlled textured weave which creates spots of either warp or weft floats. Harriet Tidball (The Weaver's Book) classifies it as a grouped thread or linen weave.

Helene Bress has an entire chapter on it in The Weaving Book: Patterns and Ideas. From her book and the workshop notes, this is what I've learned about traditional huck so far:
  • It consists of short warp or weft floats on a plain weave background.
  • Warp and weft are the same or similar yarn.
  • It requires a minimum of four shafts; two for the pattern blocks and two for the plain weave.
  • The blocks are treadled the same number of times as there are warp ends.
  • How and where the spots form depend on the treadling.
My first two samples (just to get warmed up). These are 12/2s cotton set at 24 epi.:

Huck woven warp spots.
Huck woven weft spots.And my third:
Alternating spots on both blocks A and B.The pictures are not exceptional. The flash washed the pattern out and natural light doesn't show it off that well either. We've been assured that is will look better once they are off the loom and washed. You can see how the different times of day effect the color.

I really enjoyed weaving these and can't wait to try the next samples. There are several variations to explore. I'm envisioning blouse fabric and curtains. It is fascinating to me to watch the pattern reveal itself before my eyes. It's almost as much fun as experimenting with color! (Oops, I can't believe I said that. Do note the “almost” :)

I admit that I can't help but wonder how color would effect these. But I'll save those experiments for later. For the moment, I'm content to follow the plan.

Posted 9 Nov. 2006 at

Related Posts:
Lace Sampler - Beaming The Warp
Lace Sampler - Huck Lace 1
Lace Sampler - Huck Lace 2
Colored Huck Lace
Huck Towels 1

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Lace Sampler – Beaming the Warp

By Leigh

This month the Online Guild is featuring a lace weaving workshop. Having spent the past several months exploring color-and-weave effects (specifically log cabin and shadow weave), I think it is a timely change of pace for me. Fortunately, my computer problems haven't put me too far behind in the workshop schedule.

Besides exploring color-and weave, I have been learning how to warp back-to-front. After years of warping front-to-back and struggling with compromised warp tension, I am delighted that b2f warping has made such a difference in my weaving. I can't really lament not having learned it sooner, as it seems to me that f2b is pretty much the American standard these days. I've read that the reason for this stems from the American settlers, who didn't have neighbours close by to help with their warping. But b2f techniques have been developed (or perhaps they've existed from the dawn of ages) which allow a weaver to warp this way alone. It's these techniques which I have been exploring, and with happy results.

I think that being largely self-taught claims most of responsibility for my tension problems. True, I did learn the basics at an excellent one day workshop sponsored by The South Mountain Handweavers Guild, and true, I did take two classes from an excellent weaving teacher. But lets face it, the perfecting of any skill is a process which only emerges from hours of diligent practice. It is the fruit of one's own labor.

I'm not saying that I have the whole thing down pat and could warp a loom b2f blindfolded, or in my sleep. No, I still have to keep my reference materials and notes handy. And I'm still fine tuning. In fact, I was tempted to try some more experimenting with this warp, but decided that perhaps it would be best to get one method memorized before I try experimenting any more. Otherwise I will always feel slow and awkward with the process.

So I've gotten the warp beamed and am ready to thread the heddles. Not without help of course.

Rascal, helping me weight the warp.  At 16 pounds, he's quite good at it.
Catzee keeping an eye on things.  She takes care of anything that moves.
The ring works better than a shoe string.I am beaming about 5 yards of 12/2 cotton. It is an unbleached natural color. I did make one small improvement in how I weighted the warp bouts. The ring is so much easier to deal with than doing this.

It is a sampler, so I only have 204 ends to deal with, plus floating selvedges.

That said, I'd better get back to work. Hopefully I can get the heddles threaded and my first few assigned inches woven by tomorrow. That's when the good stuff starts.

Posted 7 Nov. 2006 at

Related Posts:
Lace Sampler - Huck
Lace Sampler - Huck Lace 1
Lace Sampler - Huck Lace 2

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The New Computer

I think a better title would be “A Computer Tale of Woe.”

I am pleased that I finally have my new computer up and running, and am back online. This is a relief to me, especially since it has occupied practically every waking moment for the past three days. This means I've had almost no time for weaving, knitting, spinning, etc., so I confess I am in a state of mild fiber withdrawal at the moment.

When I first started this blog, I determined that since I started it for the specific purpose of being my fiber and textile journal, then I would keep my content relevant to that purpose. I have a lot of interests and a lot of opinions about all sorts of things, but for the most part I have tried to keep this blog on topic. But after a week of living, eating, breathing, and sleeping computer problems, I find that the only way to emerge from it is to climb up onto a soap box. So I am going to break my own rule and blog about the past three days instead. If you're not interested I don't blame you. What I have to say is long winded and probably not of much interest. It's just that I've been frustrated with having to spend so much time on it. Because of it, I have had to set my fiber projects aside. Please feel free to click on any of my webring “next” buttons if you'd rather. However, there is a hard learned lesson here that applies to all computer users, which I'll get to in a minute.

Day 1 – Finding the right computer

This was not as easy as I'd hoped. There are a lot of choices out there, but most of them didn't suit my needs. I'm not looking for all the latest bells and whistles, I don't need a ligntning speed multi-media center, I don't need a hugemongous hard drive and a squillion megabytes of RAM. I don't want to download movies and music, I'm not a hard core gamer. I just want email, Internet, a decent word processor, a photo image editor, and a few other tools. I want enough gigabytes to store information which is important to me and enough memory to work with my digital photos and run my weaving software.

I decided mail order was out, not only because of time, but because the cost of shipping and handling has gotten so high. After scouring Office Depot, Best Buy, Circuit City, Office Max, and Wal-Mart, I finally found a machine I wanted at a price I was willing to pay. It even comes with a free upgrade to Windows Vista next year. Big wow. After that I was glad to be headed home. Whew. Shopping isn't as much fun as it's cracked up to be.

Then came setting it up. This was probably the easiest task of the day, though it could have been easier without two snoopy cats who insisted on supervising every box, wire, wrapping, twisty-tie, and move I made. What a relief to finally sit down and boot up. I was a little surprised however, when the expected Windows set-up screen didn't appear. It went right to the desktop. That's not all that was odd, the recycle bin wasn't empty. Strange. It was full of deleted shortcut icons. Hmmm.

The biggest surprise was when the pre-installed security suite popped up and wanted a password to connect to the Internet. Huh???? This caught me off guard and I was a little confused. I clicked on the “forgot password?” link and was asked for the make and model of my first vehicle. (!!!)

At this point I picked up the phone and made a call to Tech Support. The bottom line was that this was a used computer in a new computer's wrappings. “Take it back,” they said. Which I did. By this time it was late and the store was crowded with the after work crowd. When I finally got home I called it a day.

Day 2 – Transferring my files

Since Day 1 hadn't been as easy as I'd hoped, I assumed that Day 2 would make up for it. I had made back up copies of all my important files about a week before my old computer breathed it's last. So my plan was to simply copy them onto the new computer. The first couple of CD's copied just fine. But the third one took forever to load. Then, no matter what I did I couldn't get it to open. This was a major concern as it contained all my weaving, spinning, dyeing, and knitting notes, drafts, and patterns. It also contained my collection of Online Guild workshop files, as well as the notes I've been writing for the workshop I will be leading in January.

When autoplay didn't work I tried opening it from “My Computer,” and I tried the “Run” box. Then I carefully examined the CD itself . I didn't notice any scratches or flaws, but I did notice that the CD seemed thinner, i.e. lighter weight than the other CDs. So I stuck a label on it, thinking that this might help. But no matter what I did, I couldn't get the computer to read that disk. It recognized that something was on the disk, but it couldn't tell me what.

Not to worry, we have two other Windows computer's in the house, I'll try another one. I'll hand copy those notes if I need to! Computer number 2 couldn't open it either. And the third computer? Being older, it balked stubbornly at the whole affair.

My conclusion? - The CD was defective and I didn't know it! It never occurred to me to check my CDs after I burned the files onto them. I assumed that they were good to go. WRONG! It is bad enough to lose information which I couldn't copy, such as my email address book and browser book marks. It's even worse to lose information which I had taken care to back up! A hard lesson learned.

Day 3 –Dealing with the pre-installed software

The other thing about new computers is all the pre-installed software they come with. This is fine for new computer users, but I find that most of it doesn't suit my needs. Several programs are trial period based, and then I'd have to purchase them. Well, I've already spent enough on the thing. And besides, over the years I have found so much wonderful, free, open source software. I have come to develop preferences in regards to not only my browser and email program, but also firewall, anti-virus, anti-spyware, and office suite. I would honestly rather have the computer come with just an operating system and forget all the other stuff. I'll install it myself.

So replacing what I don't want, with what I do want, was quite time consuming. Some things refuse to exist peacefully side by side, such as anti-virus programs and firewalls. Other programs push and shove to be first, trying to open themselves instead of my preferred choices, such as web browsers and email programs. Some stuff I don't want because it serves no purpose for me, but it wants to report home for updates every time I connect to the Internet, clogging up the works and slowing down my surfing speed. And why should I download updates for something I don't use anyway? Some programs I'll never use, they just sit around on my hard drive and take up space which I'd rather have free for something else.

It wouldn't be so bad if the day had been simply time consuming, but darn it if some of the pre-installed stuff didn't put up a fuss. Some of it stubbornly refused to give way graciously, and some of it blatantly refused to cooperate at all.

Such it is with computers. My next step will be to partition my hard drive and install Linux on the second partition. My plan is that by the time my Norton subscription expires, I won't need Windows anymore at all.

Even so, while waiting on the computer to go through it's paces, I did manage to get a little knitting done on my Rare Breed Sweater. I was also able to measure the lace sampler warp for the Online Guild's Lace Weaving Workshop this month. Now that I'm finished messing with the computer, I can print out the instructions for the threading. That is, I'll print it as soon as I can figure out how to make the pre-installed Adobe Reader recognize my printer instead of "Microsoft Digital Image Starter Edition 2006", whatever that is.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

My Computer Died

Unfortunately my computer died last night. I am posting this from the public library. Actually I had a heads up on this about a week ago, and fortunately made copies of all my files. So the only thing I'll lose are the few kitty blog photos I uploaded to the computer (and then deleted from my camera) over the last week.

I probably won't be posting on my blog until I get a new computer. You all are an important part of my life, so I hope it won't be too long.......

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Last Shadow Weave

That's “last” as in for awhile, not “last” as in forever. :)

I wanted to try one last shadow weave idea before setting shadow weave aside for awhile. This one further explores texture.

I chose these two yarns:

2 white yarns for shadow weave, chosen for texture contrast.

A mercerized 5/3 cotton and a mill end novelty yarn made of who knows what , from who knows where.

I tied on to the same warp as before, keeping the same sett of 16 ends per inch.

Shadow weave design in whites.This is fresh off the loom. Somewhere along the way I had a warp thread disappear, which I didn't notice until I was quite a ways along. This is a distinct disadvantage to working shadow weave in only one color; it's difficult to see mistakes. The lighting makes all the difference in being able to see the design.

I am intrigued enough to be willing to explore this idea more, at a later date. Today however, I begin the Online Guild's Lace Weaving workshop. Something I've been looking forward to for awhile. It will be a pleasant change of weaving pace.

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