Sunday, December 30, 2007

Yarns From the Shetland Rovings

I have three more yarns to add to my collection of Shetland colors. You may remember that I had three commercial rovings, leftover from spinning for my Rare Breed Sweater (which is almost done!!!) ....
3 Shetland rovings spun into........ which have become three yarns....

...3 Shetland yarns.I didn't make extensive spinning notes on these, but I can tell you that the black and grey are British Shetland. Their fibers measured five to six inches in length. I got both of these from Woodland Woolworks. The black had some interesting white fibers scattered here and there throughout. I bought the moorit from Paradise Fibers (way back when Kate owned it) and it's fiber length averages four inches.

All three were quick to spin (ah the joys of pre-prepared fiber!) They were spun to match the size of the rest of my Shetland yarns, so that their 2-ply WPI ranges from 14 to 16.

One thing that surprised me was that when I washed the yarns, the water was dirty! I've never had this happen with commercial rovings, but they washed beautifully as you can see.

So, at this point I have 14 yarns, each a different, lovely Shetland color. One more color to go, and then I'm ready to start swatching!

© 2007 Leigh's Fiber Journal

Thursday, December 27, 2007

First Advancing Twill Samples

Advancing twill sampler on the loom.At long last I have some samples to show from my first advancing twill experiments. Even though I initially had a problem with this warp, I finally got them resolved and was able to start weaving.

I put a rather long (six yard) warp on the loom for this, with the idea that I could do a lot of treadling experiments with this threading and tie up. I plan to use the ones I like best for at least one scarf as well.

Both warp and weft are some synthetic yarns that I picked up somewhere for a dollar each. They are both about the size of an 8/2 cotton. I have 288 warp ends, sett at 24 epi.

The first of the samples I plan to keep with my advancing twill drafts and notes. Those drafts along with a explanation of what advancing twills are, can be found at this (click here) post.

Close-up of sample 1.
For all my samples I used the same threading and treadle tie up. This first example uses a straight, one through eight treadling. You can see a copy of the draft by clicking here.

Close-up of sample 2.

The second sample was treadles as drawn in. In other words, the treadling followed the same sequence as the threading did. You can see that draft by clicking here.

(The weft color is off a bit because of the lighting.)

Close-up of sample 3.

My third sample used a straight treadling with reverse: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, etc. That draft is right here.

I really like the way this one turned out, but one problem that it has is the length of the floats. In her workshop notes, Stacey recommended that the floats be no more than three. My weft floats are fine in this respect, but I have vertical warp floats of five at the reverses. You can see this better in the draft I made. (Link in previous paragraph.) This will give me something to work on, and I'll have some more samples to show soon.


© Dec 2007 by Leigh at Leigh's Fiber Journal

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Monday, December 24, 2007

House Socks

Bulky socks for around the house.
I have to admit that I lost these for awhile so that I was a little late getting them done. I had hidden them away Thanksgiving week, as Recipient was here all week. In my general straightening up and furniture rearranging, I put them somewhere and promptly forgot exactly where that was. I finally found them last week, tucked away on my bookshelf. Whew. I couldn't imagine what in the world I'd done with them.

These are the cuff down, the Red Heart worsted weight ones. A lot of you responded to my wondering how well acrylic yarns worked for socks, saying that the problem acrylic is that doesn't allow feet to breathe. Hence sweating can be a problem. Of course I won't mention that to Recipient, who won't wear them in shoes anyway. I'll be curious as to how they wear.

Like my Summer Socks, these are knitted from three different yarns. This time however, instead of cutting the yarn and having a lot of ends to weave in, I took Bettina's suggestion and carried the yarn up the stripes. This did create some rather long vertical floats on the inside, which hopefully won't get toes or toenails caught in them. However it sure did make knitting and finishing faster and easier. A good thing too, since they needed to be done before Christmas.

The stripes are a Fibonacci sequence of 2, 3, and 5. By using three colors and alternating them as you see, I had a pattern that I was happy with.

My family celebrates Christmas, so no matter how you and yours celebrate this season, I want to wish all of you a very happy one!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Preparing To Weave - Problem!!!

OK. I thought everything was going well. My first warp on this loom had been successful, so I had every reason to believe that this one would be even better. Winding on the warp on had gone well and I was ready for the next step: tying up the treadles.

I reviewed the Glimakra set-up video. I re-read Tying Up the Countermarche Loom. I borrowed a nifty idea from Dorothy.....

I used a box to support the treadles during tie-up.
.... a put a box under the treadles to support them while tying them up. Very helpful! Not only was it easier to reach under the treadles, but it gave me a height to aim for while tying them up.

Happily, the tie up went much quicker than the first time. The first time took me all day. This time it only took about two hours.

Then I took out the locking pins. These hold the shafts in place while the loom is being warped, threaded, and tied up. This is the "Before" photo of the shafts before I took the pins out.....

Photo before I pulled the locking pins out.
(Shaft number 8 is bowed and does ride higher.)

And this is the "After" shot...

Photo after I pulled the locking pins out.
Notice anything different? They all (except #8) sank!!! They aren't supposed to do this! I couldn't believe it! This didn't happen the first time! I wanted to scream and pull my hair out. But instead, I reminded myself that I always learn more from my problems and mistakes, than from just happening to get a thing right. I was so frustrated at that point, that I decided to sleep on it and try again with a rested mind.

The next day I put the locking pins back in and shifted into problem solving mode. I started at the top of the loom and worked my way down, noting that the warp was centered in the heddle eyes, the upper lamms were slightly elevated at the open end, and that the lower lamms were parallel to the floor.

Next, I re-read Dorothy's "Treadles Again and A Few Inches Woven" post. This time I took notes so I could remember her rules for tying up the treadles and tried to think them through as I followed them. When I finished my adjustments, I held my breath and pulled out the locking pins again. This time they stayed. What a relief!

Next will be to weave about an inch or so of plain weave and then check and adjust the shed.

After that, I can actually start weaving!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Responses to "Preparing to Weave" Comments

The s-hook works better than either shoe laces or the metal rings.This first photo is for Carol, who was interested in how I attached the 1/2 gallon milk jug weights to my warp bouts. I've done a lot of experimenting with this and for me, the slip knot & s-hook method has been the easiest.

The s-hooks are the heavy dutiest (is that a word???) ones I could find at Home Depot. I've also tried shoe laces and the large rings found in embroidery kits. But I like the s-hooks the best.

The milk jugs have worked well, however they are not without their hazards, especially if one has cats. Check out what happened in these posts, "Undulating Shadow Weave 1" and "A Weaving Setback", to see what I mean.

Laritza uses dumb bells as weights, something that is still on my list to try!

Peg commented on the placement of my raddle in my latest warp . . .

Warping set-up for my current warp.
. . . . which is in front of the shafts. This leads me to a true confession - this latest warp hasn't gone on without it's glitches!

Raddle groups as measured on a warping board.This one had to do with which end of the warp I marked my raddle groups. Even though I planned to review the steps to warping my Glimakra, I didn't review the part about measuring the warp (I've done that one a squillion times, right?)

For my Schacht Mighty Wolf, I use one of Deb Chandler's methods, which marks the raddle groups (pictured at right) at the end opposite the threading cross. The raddle groups are dropped into the raddle, which is placed on the back beam. (Photo here) After the warp has been wound onto the warp beam, the cross remains at the front of the loom, ready for heddle threading.

In the Glimakra set-up video however, the raddle groups are marked at the same end as the cross. The cross is positioned at the back of the loom to be attached to the back apron rod. It is held by lease sticks as the warp is wound on to the warp beam. (For photos and details on this, check out my "Warping the Glimakra: Winding It On" post.)

Well, when I carried this six yard long chained warp to the loom, I realized that the raddle groups were at the "wrong" end, i.e. the opposite end from the threading cross. So I had to put the raddle at the front of the loom, where the raddle groups are. At first this worried me, as I thought I needed it behind the shafts to thread the heddles. However, I remembered that, in the set-up video, the raddle is removed completely and the individual warp ends are picked out from the cross for threading. So alls well that ends well.

I realize that this may be a somewhat confusing post, certainly for the nonweaver, but probably for weavers too. Fortunately not a lot of things in weaving are written in stone. We have our preferred ways of getting results, but thankfully there are back-ups if needed. And I certainly needed one here.

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Monday, December 17, 2007

Advancing Twills - Preparing to Weave

Things have been pretty busy around here, a lot of them non-fiber. So I have been slow to make much progress on anything, or so it seems. However, I still have the advancing twill workshop on my mind and have been slowly dressing the loom for my first drafts.

Actually, this is only the second completely new warp I've put on my Glimakra. In the seven months I've had it, all of my afghans and blankets were woven by tying on more warp for each one. This enabled me to weave six projects, and only thread and tie-up once (my way to go!)

So, since it's been awhile, I had to go back and review each step.

Warping the loom for my next project.
I also took time to double check the shaft and lamm tie-ups that I did the first time, and to do a little tweaking.

One resource that has been very helpful this go-round, is Dorothy's Dot's Fibre To Fabric . Dorothy has an amazing ability to analyze the mechanics of the countermarche loom; something that I cannot clearly fathom. In this (click here) post, she gives a lot of good information on tying up the treadles, which is my next step.

My first tie up of the Glimakra treadles was quite an ordeal, so I am hoping that it goes a little better/faster this time. I confess that I've been procrastinating on this step, but the time has come and today is the day. If all goes well, my next weaving post will have some weaving to show! If not, then you'll get something else.

Related Post

Friday, December 14, 2007

Last Minute Shetland Additions!

Looky what I found in my mail box this morning!

Two more Shetland fleeces!
These are from two different silver and grey Shetland fleeces, all washed and waiting to be spun!

These, of course, came from Cathy, whose contributions are largely responsible for my Shetland Yarn Collection (soon to be a Fair Isle something or other.)

The sample on the left is a little more of this lamb fleece, and the one on the right is either lamb or yearling from another source. Hmm. Which means I'll have one more yarn for another thumbnail to fill out my yarn collage!

These will keep me busy with spinning, as I still have Christmas weaving and knitting to finish. Plus, my Rare Breed Sweater needs to be finished too. Still, I'm excited about all the Shetland colors I have to work with. :)

© 2007 Leigh's Fiber Journal

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

My Shetland Yarns (So Far)

Here are thumbnails to give an idea of the Shetland yarns I have so far:

Thumbnail photos of all the Shetland yarns I've spun so far.
In real life the sizes (WPI) of the yarns are pretty close; the size discrepancies you see here are due to my scanner and camera.

All of these were spun from the Shetland fleece samples from Cathy, the enabler, who is generously offering to nurture my Shetland addiction with more samples if needed. However, I also have three Shetland rovings.....

3 British Shetland rovings
... all of which are different colors than the yarns. These are rather generically labeled grey, black, and moorit. I have about eight ounces each of the grey and black, and about four ounces of the moorit. So including all the previously spun samples, I can have enough yarn for just about anything I want to make.

However, first things first. After I spin some of the rovings I may succumb to the temptation to knit a swatch or two, but I still have those socks to finish and also my Rare Breed Sweater. So you know what I'll be thinking about while I finish those two projects!

© 2007 Leigh's Fiber Journal

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Last of the Shetland Fleece Samples

OK. This is the last of the Shetland fleece samples from Cathy, and I have loved working with this one. True, it has had quite a bit of VM and a few second cuts, but it's softness has been heavenly and it's color variations a delight to the eye.

Photo showing the variety of colors in this Shetland fleece.
If I had the entire fleece, I would want to either just tease or pick it, and then spin it by the handful, the way I do angora rabbit. This would have mixed the colors as I grabbed them randomly, and created a lovely variegated yarn. However, with just a little over 3.5 ounces to work with, I wanted to use it with my other Shetland yarns in a project. So I decided to drumcard the fiber to blend the colors.

3 sample staples.
This closeup shows the lovely range of light to dark brown, all with champagne tips. A single coated fleece, it was the softest so far. Below is the color they all blended together to become.

The yarn:

This is the softest fawn yarn so far.
The particulars:

* Weight of clean fiber - 3.6 ounces
* Staple length - 1 - 3 inches
* Crimp - 6 per inch
* Wheel - Kromski Minstrel double drive
* Spinning ratio - 8.5 to 1
* Twist angle - 28ยบ
* Singles - 28 WPI
* 2-ply - 13 WPI
* Yardage - 254+ yards

So I now have three shades of fawn yarn:

A color comparison of my 3 fawn Shetland yarns.
Even though I've finished spinning all the fleece samples, I still have some Shetland rovings that I bought for my Rare Breed Sweater. My next step will be to take an inventory of my Shetland yarn collection, start spinning some of those rovings, and think about possible knitting projects. I have something Fair Isle in mind, I'm just not sure about any of the details yet.

© 2007 Leigh's Fiber Journal

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Fretting Over That Green Yarn

Firstly, I want to thank everyone for all your encouraging comments and suggestions on my last post. I got some confirmation on some ideas I had already been tossing around, and some things I hadn't considered, but which would be very do-able, if not radical! I was very interested in your different opinions, which helped me realize that the final results are very much subjective.

I did happen to find a 30 inch strand of green, hopefully enough to finish those 20 stitches! But that still leaves the neck band, which I really prefer would match the front bands, so I worked on two possible solutions over the weekend. I figured that I'd start with these, and then move on to another idea if neither one worked.

The first, was to knit some swatches to see if I couldn't come up with a two color band, imitating the Fair Isle stitches I'd used in the sweater. My problem here, was that I couldn't figure out how to adapt Fair Isle to a k1p1 ribbing.

The other thing I decided to try, was to dye some of the white yarn to see how well I could match the green. I realize that the chances of actually accomplishing this were slim to none, but I thought I'd give it a try anyway. My first major at university was painting, and one thing I had was an eye for matching color. It wasn't something I could explain how I did, but by mixing paints on my palette, I could match any color on anybodies canvas. However, I know that dyes don't work the same way paints do, but I still had to give it a try even if only to prove to myself that I couldn't do it.

I knew that the green in the sweater was Cushings, and I seemed to recall that the old dyestocks I have on hand were mixed at the same time. I was out of the Ocean Green, but still had some Lemon and Sky Blue dyestocks leftover. So I set about, adding one spoonful of each at a time, turning up the heat, and checking my progress.

Yarn being dyed by the spoonful.

I kept a small snippet of the yarn I was trying to match in a bowl of water. this way I could compare the colors while wet, as I know that colors lighten some with drying.

When I got to the point where the color values were about the same, my green experimental skein was still a tad too bright. So I mixed a little Scarlet dyestock and added a smidgen in hopes it would dull it enough. Here is a photograph of the results...

Comparison of the sweater & the new green yarn.
And below is a scan of the newly dyed skein with that 30 inch strand of original green yarn mixed in. The scan didn't turn out the same color as the photo, but it is still useful for a comparison.....

Comparing the new green yarn with one strand of the original green.
What do you all think???? Would anyone notice if I used it for the neckband????

One difference I notice is that I did a better job on the new skein. The original skeins were a little spotty, which shows up in the knitting. Still, if was just for the neckband........ maybe it would work?

Saturday, December 01, 2007

So. Whatever Happened to That RBS Anyway?

Ah yes. My Rare Breed Sweater. Last seen about a month ago. Well, I got this far .......

Rare Breed Sweater, progress halted for running out of green yarn.
... and then ran out of green yarn!!!!!

Close-up of the number of green stitches left to go.
That's right, I ran out of green yarn with only 20 stitches to go to finish the right front band.

So. Everything has come to a halt while I am in the problem solving mode.

One other thing bothers me too; the neck band. I don't like the look of the green going up the front and then just ending there like a tall green column leading to nowhere. So I am trying to rethink that as well. I think I would like it much better with the neckband in green, but alas....... I knitted in in white in the first place because I knew I'd be cutting it close with the green. On the other hand, I don't think I'd like the bands to be all in white, either.

Of course, if I kept impeccable dyeing records, I could simply dye some more, as I do have more yarn in the breed of the body (Ryeland.) But I don't keep impeccable dyeing records. In fact, it's been so long ago since I dyed this yarn, that I don't really recall much except that it was Cushings. It occurred to me yesterday, that it might have been 'Ocean Green', as I kept that around for a long time. But then again, it might not have been. I don't have any Cushings 'Ocean Green' anyway.

This cardigan has been in the works for a long time. I first got the idea back in August of 2002. The Online Guild was doing a Hebridean Rare Breed Fleece Challenge that month, and as I worked with my 150 grams of raw Hebridean fleece, I wondered what I could do with it. Being a project person, I wanted to be able to show it off in something. That's when I got the idea for this sweater, with each little sheep being a different rare breed.

The yarn for the body of the sweater was spun in February 2003, when the OLG had a Ryeland Rare Breed Challenge. I was able to purchase an entire kilo for that one, and decided that this would be the bulk of the sweater. For the sheep, I've been collecting and spinning rare breed samples since then.

So, considering that I've been working on this for over five years, I don't reckon a little more time is going to hurt anything. *sigh*