Wednesday, February 28, 2007

First Rare Breed Sweater Sleeve

The past several days have been busy with family doings and little time for computer. However, I did get some knitting done.........

1st sleeve to Leigh's Rare Breed Sweater.Ta-Da! I have finished the first sleeve for my Rare Breed Sweater!

Sleeves always make me a little nervous as they often end up a tad off. So far all seems to be going well. It wasn't as quick to knit as I'd hoped as I had to unknit a few times. I'm not convinced I'll have it done in time to wear this winter, but at least it won't be my longest sweater on record (2 years.)

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Another Warp for Huck

After losing my last warp, I decided to make the best of it and make a few changes with a new warp. My first set of huck dish towels proved to be smaller than I'd planned after shrinkage, so I increased the warp ends to 400.

Also, since I am still fine tuning my back to front warping, I decided to secure the lease sticks to the raddle, to keep them in place while weaving.

Lease sticks in place behind the harness.
I don't know yet whether or not this is a good idea. I've tried weaving without the lease sticks, which can be a nuisance if I break a thread, or want to tie onto that particular warp. I've also used some narrow dowel rods in place of the lease sticks while I wove, these being free floating so to speak, so that they worked their way toward the castle as I beat the weft shots in. I would have to push them back every time I advanced the warp. I usually don't leave the raddle in, but this seemed to be the best way to secure the lease sticks. Time will tell.

I also discovered a threading error as I was weaving my header.

A double threading error.It doesn't seem to matter how carefully I check the warp as I thread, I often end up with a threading mistake anyway. In the past I'd have untied the whole thing in order to correct the mistake, then having to re-tied and re-tension. This time I didn't feel like doing that.

Clipping the wayward threads as close to the knot as possible.So I isolated the erroneously threaded ends and cut them.

Weaving each end back in.Needle wove them back through the header in the proper spot......

Wrapping the ends around a t-pin to secure them....... and secured them with a t-pin. This has worked very well! After I wove the first few inches, I removed the t-pin and the ends were secure.

Of course, I'm sure I'm not the first weaver to do this. In problem solving there are usually only so many reasonable solutions. As long as I can find at least one of them I'm happy.

© 2007 Leigh's Fiber Journal

Thursday, February 22, 2007

RBS - A Little Help on Those Sleeves

Hmm. Well, after a little floundering around on the sleeve increases for my Rare Breed Sweater, and a miscalculation on my part, I finally recalled a link I had found for the Computer Design Workshop.

Lucia Liljegren's free online knitting calculators are a godsend for those of us who love to knit out of our own heads, but don't have the knitting guru background to match. I used her sleeve stitch increase calculator, but you can find more of them here.

© 2007 Leigh's Fiber Journal

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

A Nifty Gadget for Weaving

I found this nifty little gadget at Advanced Auto Parts. At 68 cents each, I bought two. I love gadgets anyway, but this one looked as though it might come in very handy for things around the loom.

Here's the first thing that came to mind. Any other ideas as to what I could do with it?

© 2007 Leigh's Fiber Journal

Monday, February 19, 2007

Dabbling With Yarn

I like the idea of a day of rest. Not 'rest' as in doing nothing. But 'rest' as in taking a break from one's normal pursuits and activities. So yesterday I abandoned all my unfinished works in progress, and indulged myself in sampling some new things.

One thing I tried was a new crochet technique. The Online Guild is doing a crochet workshop this month, and though I've not participated much, the photos of what everyone is doing were too irresistable to not try myself.

This swatch is done in weaving crochet:

It's a lovely way to show off a novelty yarn. The green is Red Heart and the novelty yarn is Yarn Bee's Icelandic Jewels. I can see quite a few possibilites by varying the 'windows'.

I also have been wanting to try some modular knitting. I got Modular Knits by Iris Schreier awhile back. I first dabbled with it a couple of weeks ago, but decided to really focus on the first couple of exercises in the book yesterday. I had several false starts, which was beginning to get a little frustrating because I couldn't 'see' what was happening. So I couldn't simply unknit a mistake, because I wasn't sure where exactly I was in the process. After several disgarded swatches, I eventually developed a rhythm and it began to get easier.

Here is my vertical and horizontal side squares swatch.

And here is my alternating squares swatch.

A little cattywampus, but looking better than my first tries.

These were fun to do and I will have to experiment more at a later date. Today it's back to sleeve knitting for my Rare Breed Sweater and finishing sleying the reed on my loom. Even though my change of pace still involved yarn, it is refreshing to try something new. It gives me a renewed appreciation for the projects I am working on, and the motivation to get them done so that I can look forward to new ideas to work on.

© 2007 Leigh's Fiber Journal

Friday, February 16, 2007

Rare Breed Sweater Progress

We interrupt this spinning discussion to bring you a Rare Breed Sweater Update! I have slowly but steadily been working on completing the right cardigan front and am pleased to announce that I finished it last night.

Pictured below:

The bottom row is my Shetland row, featuring yarn from black, morrit, and grey Shetland fleece.

The top row features two colors of North Ronaldsay on the left and right, and Teeswater in the middle.

The body of the sweater is in Ryeland, and the blue seeding and Fair Isle details are from Hog Island roving.

Here are the three main pieces laid out together:

The sleeves are next, which shouldn't take so long. I've used up all my rare breed samples and so the sleeves will be simpler in design. I'm planning to knit the ribbed cuffs in the green, and the rest of the sleeve in the white and blue seeding pattern.

I am very relieved that it's turning out so well.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

A Theory of Types of Spinning

By Leigh

I have found the comments to my last several posts, especially Spinning the Cheviot, very interesting for two reasons. First, the experience others have had with Cheviot. Since this has been my first encounter with it, I find your opinions very informative. In my research about the breed, I noted that Cheviot are a white fleeced sheep, so it is interesting that my sample was light gray. Considering the softness of the white fibers in the sample, I have made a mental note to explore the fiber more at some point in the future.

The other comments which I find interesting are those about spinning itself. I have long held that there are different types of spinners. My theory is that there are those who spin by feel, intuitive spinners. There are those who spin from habit, rote spinners. And then there are those who spin according to specifics, technical spinners.

Intuitive spinners amaze me because they simply spin by “feel” and consistently create beautiful, appropriate yarns. Rote spinning is something I think we all have a tendency toward, because it is easy to simply spin out of habit, the result being the same yarn no matter what we're spinning. Technical spinners pay attention to things like fiber length, crimps per inch, twists per inch, twist angle, etc to create their yarns. Of course, in the end it's the yarn itself that matters, so who is to say that one way is better than another. I think it depends on what one wants out of spinning that makes the difference.

I didn't know any of this when I first learned how to spin. I purchased a spindle kit via mail order, which included so many ounces of roving and a how-to booklet. I set out to learn as soon as it arrived, following the written instructions as best I could. I really struggled with drafting and the resulting size of the yarn. This is my first handspun:

It is Lincoln, and as a singles yarn, it averages about 4 wraps per inch. It never did get plied. It sat around in a box for a number of years because I had no earthly idea of what to do with it. Eventually I made a braided wrist distaff with most of it.

This first yarn left me discouraged and feeling that I just wasn't getting the hang of the process. So I decided to purchase Melda Montgomery's drop spindle spinning video. What a revelation that was. I learned that I could actually pull the roving apart into narrower, more manageable sections and predraft them. This gave me the beginnings of the much needed control I had struggled for. I started to relax and enjoy myself. Once my singles were more manageable, I learned to ply.

This is my first 2 ply yarn and it became my first ever project from my handspun, a winter weight crocheted vest, which I still wear.

Once I got a taste of successful yarn, my appetite was whetted and I ordered more videos. This was where I was introduced to Patsy Zawistoski and Mabel Ross. From them I began to realize that it was possible to use the characteristics of the fiber and my spinning wheel in order to control the process enough to create whatever type of yarn I chose, for whatever purpose I wished. This appealed to me and I started to hunt out Mabel Ross's books.

It seems that there is a tendency of new spinners to try to spin finer and finer yarns. As I gained control of the process, I wanted to do this too, I think because somehow I felt it would prove that I was no longer a beginner. Much to my dismay however, I found that in spinning fine yarns, it took a very long time to fill the bobbin. Then it took another very long time to ply it. And after all that, it took a very long time to knit. This didn't suit my personality. I wanted quicker results! So much for fine yarns.

Soon I settled into a comfortable worsted weight size yarn spinning and I became pretty much a rote spinner.......

These were comfortable to spin and comfortable to knit.

This was fine until I got Angora rabbits. Yes, I could spin their fiber the same way I was habitually spinning, but the very nature of angora demanded something different, so I had to renew my acquaintance with the technical aspects of spinning.

As I gained more control of my spinning, I began to experiment with different sizes and styles of yarns. Eventually I dabbled some with designer yarns....

.... though I really think I'm a plain vanilla spinner.

Interestingly, the more attention I pay to the technical aspects of spinning, the more intuitive it seems to become. Perhaps this is the familiarity of experience? Now, if only I could make the same transition with my weaving!

Related Posts:
Spinning The Cheviot

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Spinning The Cheviot

The Cheviot tops from Judy was next on my list of things to do. When I pulled it out and took a close look at it, I was surprised to find that it contained a mixture of fibers. It was mostly very soft, but had quite a few smooth, black or white hairlike fibers, as well as kinky, stiff, kempy fibers of black or white.

I pulled the tops into foot long sections, and split them lengthwise to spin. It took longer to spin than the Massam, because I found myself picking as much of the kemp out as I could with a pair of tweezers.

Fiber weight - 100 grams
Fiber length - 5 to 6 inches
Wheel - Kromski Minstrel
Spinning ratio - 8.5:1
Spun worsted
Singles - 32 WPI
2 ply - 14 WPI
Yardage > 198

The color was labeled 'light grey' though actually this was due more to the salt and pepper effect of the soft white fibers and the black hair fibers. I don't think this is very visible from the above scan, but you get an idea of it in the singles yarn on the left. Overall, the color of the yarn is lovely.

In the inconsistencies of my spinning, I can see that lower twist would have been a better choice for this fiber, as the sections with less twist are indeed the softest. Even so it would never be suitable for next to skin wear.

According to Nola Fournier and Jane Fournier in In Sheep's Clothing, Cheviot is classified as a down-type wool, though I would never have guessed this from working with it. It is most commonly used for Tweeds, blankets, knitwear, socks and carpets.

For the time being, I'm going to add mine to my handspun yarn collection. Perhaps once I have enough, a project featuring British wools will be in order in the future.

© 2007 Leigh's Fiber Journal

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Rambouillet - From Fleece to Yarn.

I have had the opportunity to do a lot of spinning lately, and it has indeed been a pleasure. I think that deep down I am a handspinner first. All my other fiber and textile interests seem to follow this. One thing I like about it is that it doesn't require a lot of concentration like knitting and weaving sometimes do. It is rhythmic and meditative. As I've been contemplating what to do with the last row of sheep on my Rare Breed Sweater front, and planning my next weaving project, I've been spinning. Yesterday I finished the Rambouillet.

I started with 9.2 ounces of raw fleece. My first impression was how soft it was. I liked the color, which was consistent throughout the sample except for the lighter, sun bleached tips. The tips were sound. The luster is low.

I noticed that it had some VM (vegetable matter), some kemp, and some second cuts. The length of the fibers was 2 to 3 inches, and I measured the crimp at 20 per inch. After washing it weighed 5.7 ounces

Initially I planned to drum card it. But as began to tease the staples, I realized that there was an entire layer of second cuts in much of the sample. So I resorted to combing most of these out with my dog comb and handcarding the fleece into rolags. I laid these out in a shoe box, which possibly wasn't the best place for them as the bottom layer did get squashed.

Unfortunately, I seem to have lost my sample yarn card, but I can tell you that the singles measured 25 WPI, and the washed yarn 14 WPI. It weighs 4.0 ounces after removing 2nd cuts. It is very elastic! Lying loosely on a flat surface, the two skeins are 15 inches in length. However, I can stretch them out to 21 inches. I wasn't successful in getting all the neppy bits out, so my yarn is quite textured in some places. My total yardage is 140.

For the moment, I am trying to spin most of my sample tops and fleece to about the same size yarns, in hopes of combining the various colors and textures in a future project.

Best of all, I've made decisions about both the sweater and the weaving. More on these soon.

© 2007 Leigh's Fiber Journal

Monday, February 05, 2007

Some Polwarth Fleece

By Leigh

Look what my friend Heather in Canada sent me!

(I am very excited about it.)

It is a luscious Polwarth fleece. I have never worked with Polwarth before.

She also included a sample of another color, inspected and approved by Rascal, though he didn't do this with it.

At the moment, though I'm still working to finish spinning my Rambouillet sample. So many lovely things to spin and not enough time to spin them in.

Related Posts:
Next Spinning Project - Polwarth
Polwarth - Experimenting With Preparations
Polwarth - Experimenting With Blends
What's On My Wheel? Pol-paca

Friday, February 02, 2007

What's Not on the Loom

By Leigh

I can tell you what is supposed to be on the loom. Another warp for huck. My plan was to tie on another 5 yard warp and weave several more huck variations, each as a different dish towel.

With 360 ends to measure, I decided to make 3 warp bouts of 120 ends each. I measured the first bout, which was a feat in itself, as Catzee was desperately wanting to 'help.' But you all know what kind of help a young cat is when it comes to weaving. Usually I wait until she's asleep, but after being told 'no' about a million times, and being repeatedly removed from the premises, she finally resigned herself to simply watching.

So I measured the first section of warp, chained it, and brought it to the loom. I untied the warp which had been left on the loom, and secured the beater in it's upright position. Realizing I had forgotten my scissors, I left the room to get them.

CRASH! !!! What was that!?

Here's what I found

So much for tying on to that warp.

Oh well, I kinda wanted to try a different threading anyway. Sigh.

Related Post:
A Weaving Setback