Monday, December 22, 2008

Warm Holiday Wishes For My Readers

By Leigh

I have to admit that I didn't get many fibery things done over the weekend. No knitting progress on my Shetland Sampler Cardigan. On the weaving front though, I did start to measure a new warp to replace the yucky one I cut off my loom .

Actually, the entire week ahead looks to be busy with holiday traditions and their preparations. I may not get much blogging done.

Our holiday tradition in December is Christmas, though we've made some changes this year. We went "green" with our Christmas tree (see Catzee's report on that right here.) Some things are long outgrown (see Rascal's report on one of those things here.)

We've also declined to get caught up in the shopping frenzy. Christmas as a retail holiday just doesn't cut if for us. This year we put a spending limit of $5 per gift. Rather, we choose to celebrate Christmas as a birthday, with the focus on the gift that can't be bought.

So, at this time of reflection as the year draws to a close, I want to thank you, all my readers, for visiting and commenting. You are such an encouragement to me. And I want to wish you the very best of whatever holiday and tradition you choose to celebrate. Or not celebrate.

And last but not least, Catzee and Rascal want to share their holiday greetings with you. Just click on their pictures below.

Friday, December 19, 2008

SSC Shoulders

By Leigh


Ready to start on the bands.
Front and sleeve steeks are sewed and cut, and the shoulder seams are finished.

I used the "knit and bind-off technique"on the shoulders

K&BO step 1Front and back of shoulder are placed on needles one size smaller than those used for body of knitting. Using a needle of the larger size, the front and back shoulder stitches are knitted together. Right needle through both, then knit together.

K&BO step 2After two stitches, bind off one and continue until seam is complete.

Someone else can probably explain that better than I, but hopefully you get the idea.

Here's a view of the inside of the finished shoulder seam....

K&BO inside view
And here's what it looks like from the outside.....

K&BO outside view
I didn't plan it to look this way, but I'm not dissatisfied. At least both shoulders turned out the same!

One thing I didn't do was shoulder shaping, as I don't have a clue of how to do that in the round.

Related Posts:
Sewing & Cutting the Steeks
Shetland Sampler Cardigan Complete!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Abandoned Warp

By Leigh

What could have been a good project, if it wasn't for the warp.I have abandoned this project. In less than six inches of weaving I've already had five warp ends break. That's going on one repair per inch! With an intended project length of about 48 inches (times two), that is not acceptable.

This was to be a Pine Tree Table Runner in summer & winter. I adapted the draft from Carol Strickler's A Weaver's Book of 8-Shaft Patterns (#549 page 155).

I bought the warp as a mill end, about 7 or 8 years ago at Holly Bee in Valdese, North Carolina (back in the days when they had a shop and sold weaving yarns). It's an 8/2 unmercerized cotton, and I think I paid only a dollar or two for it. It would be okay weft, but it is too weak to be warp. And there's only so much frustration a body can endure.

Posted 16 Dec. 2008 at

Related Posts:
Summer & Winter: A Basic Definition
Summer & Winter: Structure & Theory

Saturday, December 13, 2008

More Weaving Software That Can Run On Linux

By Leigh

I've already blogged about ArahWeave and WeaveDesign. The other day, Laritza passed this one on to me; another weaving program that runs on WINE. It 's freeware, it's from Brunold Software, and it's called DB-WEAVE.

I was doubtful at first, because the initial blurb states that it is for designing dobby loom patterns, but as I read on, I was delighted to discover that it also has a tie-up mode.

I got it up and running in WINE in no time. Like a lot of freeware, the help files are pretty much nonexistent.

[UPDATE 14 Dec 08 - Many thanks to Frida, for alerting me to a pdf manual for DB-Weave. You can find it here.]

To explore the program, I inputted a draft from Shelp & Wostenberg's Eight Shafts: A Place to Begin.

You can click on almost any photo to enlarge.

A 1st look at DB-Weave
I have figured out that the red lines indicate the basic threading and treadling units. The drawdown highlights the intersection of these in red at the bottom right hand corner.

I found "Options" under the "Extras" menu.

The options box
These can be set as your default settings, or for individual drafts. You can see that "Sizes" sets the number of shafts, treadles, epi, and ppi. "Grid" overlays a grid on the draft, making it easy to keep your place. "Settings" allows you to choose single or multiple treadle modes (which I need for skeleton tie-ups and treadling!), and rising or sinking shafts. "Symbols" is for how the grid squares are filled in, and "View" lets you choose how draft is viewed on the screen.

The fun part is playing with the "Threading," "Treadling," and "Tie-Up" menus. (Click on any photo for a closer look-see.)

Playing with threading possibilities
Threading options include mirroring, normal or straight rising and falling, 2 choirs (above), 3 choirs, fixed, user defined, and copied from treadling.

Exploring treadling
The Treadling menu includes mirror, normal rising and falling, crossed, fixed, and copy from threading (above, aka "tromp as writ" or "as drawn in."

Design fun with the tie-up menu
Tie-up menu allows invert, roll (up, down, left, or right), and slope (increase [above] or decrease), or make central symmetric.

The draft view (above) can be with or without the drawdown. In addition, there is also.....

Color view of the draft
... color view, with the weaver's choice of warp and weft colors.

Fabric view of the draft
This is fabric view.

Overview of the draft
And overview.

Another feature I like is the undo and redo buttons! I don't have those with WeaveDesign. DB-Weave also imports and exports wif files (the standard format for most weaving software.)

Under the "Extras" menu, I also found .....

Dobby pegplan of the draft.
... pegplan mode. There's also a "weave" option in that menu which apparently tells the computer to talk to the loom. However, I don't have a dobby loom, nor are my computer and my Glimakra on speaking terms, so someone else will have to tell us all about that.

"Extras" also lets the weaver change the warp/weft ratio, and base setting for the program (choice of American, Scandanavian, or German/Swiss). Language options are English or German.

I haven't figured it all out yet, but I do find this program easy to experiment and play around with. I'm sure some of the menu options are dobby features. To me, it's the easiest free weaving software I've worked with so far. So for the moment, it's the one I'm going to stick with.

Related Posts:
Hurray for Hardy! Hurray for Wine! - WeaveDesign
Weaving Software for Linux - ArahWeave Part 1
ArahWeave Continued - ArahWeave Part 2

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Sewing & Cutting The Steeks

By Leigh

Do I need a drumroll for this? Here are photos of sewing and cutting the neck and front steeks of my Fair Isle Shetland Sampler Cardigan.

The first thing I did was to test stitch tension on my sewing machine with a small knitted swatch. When I was satisfied with that, I sewed the actual steeks.

Machine sewing the steeks
I followed the instructions in Peg Arnoldussen's Essential Techniques for Serious Knitters (see my review in this post). The stitch is straight and small. I think I set my machine at about 20 stitches per inch.

Close-up of stitch placement.
The line of machine stitches had to go either down the middle or between stitches.

Stitch lines on either side of where opening will be cut.
My front steeks were six stitches wide. For these I sewed three rows of machine stitches on each side. For the wound neck steek (which I actually did first), one row of machine stitches went down the center of the edge stitches, and another along the outside of the edge.

Cutting the steek.
Then came the cutting between the stitched lines. It actually wasn't as scary as I thought it would be. I just reminded myself that this is only fabric after all.

Finished neck (wound) & front (checkerboard) steeks.
Here is the left upper front of the cardigan. You can see how both steeks turned out. I'll repeat this process the sleeve openings and my Siamese Sleeves.

The next step is to block this piece. Then I'll sew and cut the armhole steeks, stitch the shoulder seams, and then I can begin on the bands!

Related Posts:
Spinning & Knitting Update
Steeking So Far
Wound Neck Steek
Shetland Sampler Cardigan Complete!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

What's On My Wheel? Pol-paca

By Leigh

Okay, so technically there isn't any such thing as "pol-paca," but it does seem the easiest way to describe the Polwarth and Alpaca blend that I'm spinning. Here is one of the finished skeins...

I'm spinning an eyeball 50/50 blend of the Polwarth (a gift from a friend a long while back) and Huacaya Alpaca (the same that I used for my Teddy Bear Shawl).

You may remember the next two photos from an earlier post. In the next one, the Polwarth is on the left, the alpaca is on the right.

Staple length is 4 to 5 inches for both. You can read my complete assessment of the Polwarth in this post.

I am blending the two fibers the same way I blend colors on woolcombs as seen in this post.

Spinning off the combI find it faster to simply spin it off the comb rather than to diz it into top.

My plan is to use this to weave fabric for a winter jacket or coat. I don't have the details figured out yet, but I do think about it while I spin. Since I want the coat to be solid color, I'm thinking that the interest will have to be in the weave of the cloth, as well as the garment design.

I've only got three skeins finished so far, and while I don't know the exact yardage I'll need, I know it will be a lot. So this will be my spinning project for this winter. Hopefully by spring, I'll be ready to move on to the serious planning stage.

Posted 6 Dec. 2008 at

Related Posts:
Color Blending on Woolcombs
Next Spinning Project - Polwarth
Polwarth - Experimenting With Preparations

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Photo Meme

By Leigh

Okay folks, we have Sharon to blame for this post ;) (just kidding). She tagged me for a photo meme. The directions are:

*Go to your sixth picture folder and pick your sixth picture.
*Pray you remember the details.
*Tag five others.

My 6th photo in my 6th photo folder would be this one....

This is my daughter, modeling the shawl in this post for a photo for my Etsy Shop (a lost cause) and my Fiber Gallery (seen here). It was one of many that didn't make the cut (as I am by no means anywhere close to being what might pass as a professional photographer). Which one did I end up using? This one....

Plain weave slub shawl

© 4 Dec. 2008 at

Related Posts:
Plain Weave Shawl
Wraps: Shawls, Stoles, & Ruanas

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Countermarche Tie-Up Tip: Lamms

I don't know about you, but for me, anything to lessen my confusion helps to lessen my mistakes. When I first got my countermarche loom, dealing with two sets of lamms, both rising and sinking was very confusing. It took me at least two full days to tie up the treadles the first time. Gradually I've worked out a system that helps me figure out which lamms to attach the ties to.

Most modern threading drafts are for rising shed (jack) looms, which can be adapted to countermarche looms, where shafts either rise or sink. So, since longer lift & smaller sink, I concentrate on the treadle ties attached to the longer, lower lamms first.

1. The first thing I do is to pull off all old ties so that I can see what I'm doing and know what's tied up for the new draft. I'm often tempted to just move the existing ties around, but this can get confusing.

2. Next I use anchor pegs in the upper (shorter, smaller) lamm holes to mark the tie-up draft. This serves two purposes:

a. It gives me the pattern for the tie placement on the lower, longer lamms. I put ties in the corresponding holes in the lower lamm.

b. When adding the ties to the upper lamm, I simply fill in everything that doesn't have an anchor peg in it.

3. I double check the tie-up when I drop the treadle tie down in front of the each corresponding lower lamm. Each tie should have an empty lamm hole directly beneath it.

One benefit of placing the ties on the lower lamms first, is that I don't have dangling ties from the upper lamms to deal with. I find these distracting.

When I tie up the treadles, I use Dorothy's idea of placing them on a box first, to get a height to aim for. Then I start with the ties near the back of the loom, which need to be tightest.

Ikat/Painted Warp Bookmarks Done

By Leigh

And here they are....

Leigh's ikat & painted warp bookmarksA sampling of them anyway. I was able to get ten, 8.5 inch bookmarks (plus fringe) from a three yard warp with only 18 inches of loom waste. How did I manage that? By weaving the warp down to this.......

Actually it never would have occurred to me to try this, except for this photo of Peg's, from this post.

It was slow going to get a clean shed, but I just couldn't stop weaving. My painted warp colors were more defined at the ends of the warp, and more blended in the middle. I just didn't want to lose the color in that section of warp!

The project details for these are in this post. The only thing I can add is to say that there was very, very little draw-in and take-up in this project. I lost one to two eights of an inch in length, but that's it.

Even though these are woven with 20/2s cotton, it is interesting how heavy the fabric is as a warp-faced plain weave. Quite suitable for bookmarks. And other things, though I'm still trying to figure out what.

I need to get different project on the loom, but I plan to do more warp painting and ikat dyeing. These are definitely in my near weaving future.

Posted 2 Dec. 2008 at

Related Posts:
Experiments In Warp Painting - how I painted the warp
Learning Ikat Technique - how the ikat stripes were made
Weaving At Last - project details for these bookmarks

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Weaving at Last

By Leigh
Leigh's 1st ikat & painted warp weaving.At last I have conquered this warp and am finally having fun!

2 bookmarks & spacer.The particulars:

Warp & weft: 20/2 mercerized cotton
Warp length: 3 yards
Sett: 105 epi
Reed: 15 dents/inch (7 ends/dent)
Total ends: 292
Width in reed: 2.75 inches
PPI: 24
Weave: Warp-faced plain weave
Stripes: painted & ikat
Woven length: 8.5 inches per bookmark

Since this is plain weave, weaving is super fast! The bookmarks will be fringed, and you can see in the photo on the left that I'm using card stock in between each bookmark to allow for that.

For the weft, I'm using the same black that I used at the edges. This way the weft thread isn't noticeable at the selvedges.

Also, I'm using a stick shuttle, which has come in very handy. Since the warp is packed so closely together, the threads tend to stick together when I treadle. I'm finding that this shuttle is a great way to open up the shed .....

Clearing the shed with a stick shuttle....... before throwing the next shot .

I did have one "duh" however. The horizontal stripes at the edges are created by threading the heddles with black and white alternately. But notice in the photo below ....

The one thing that needed correcting.....that on the left, the white warp is on the top, while on the right, it's the black. This doesn't effect the horizontal stripes any, but it would be distracting at the fringe. This happened because I didn't pay attention to thread the odd and even shafts with the same color on both sides! I ended up unweaving this bit and rethreading the black and white warp on the left side. Once all the blacks were on odd shafts and the white on even, the two sides looked the same.

I don't anticipate that finishing up this warp will take very long. I should be on to the next project after the weekend.

[UPDATE 12/02/08: To see the finished bookmarks, click here.]

Related Posts:
Experiments In Warp Painting
Good Ol' Plain Weave
Learning Ikat Technique
Ikat/Painted Warp Bookmarks Done

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Frustrating Warp

This warp wants to twist together in a Z fashion By Leigh

I had hoped to show you some weaving progress by now, but I can't. And this time I can't blame it on the cat! The problem is the warp itself, or rather, what the warp is doing.

I'm using UKI 20/2s mercerized cottons, which I ordered from WEBS. I've never used this as warp before, in fact I ordered it especially for this workshop.

The problem, which you can see in the photo on the left, is that the bouts want to twist back on themselves. This has created several frustrating problems, including creating a few twist jams at the lease sticks.....

Then the twist jams up at the least sticks.So I've been having to untwist in order to wind on ....

Having to continually untwist is slowing warping down..... and while threading the heddles.

*Sigh* At least I can blog about when I take a break. :)

Before wishing all of my American readers a Happy Thanksgiving, I would like to share something that I am thankful for. If you've been following Rascal's medical saga, you'll be interested as well. You can check out his news on his blog.

Posted 26 Nov. 2008 at

Related Posts:
Preparing to Warp (With Help)
Weaving At Last - project details
Ikat/Painted Warp Bookmarks Done - how it turned out

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Preparing to Warp (With Help)

By Leigh

I've been a little slow with my Online Guild workshop project, but I do have some progress to report.

Leigh's painted & ikatted (is that a word?) warpsThe top is my black and white ikat warp, and the next three are the my painted warps. Actually, the 3rd and 4th ones are the same warp. The 4th sample shows how the colors ran together too much. On the bottom is a blue one that I dyed in a dyebath. For this project I'm going to use all the but red one.

The first step was to put them on the lease sticks and get them to the loom. However, since I had dyed these three yard warps unchained, I decided it would be better to chain the bouts, lest I end up with a tangled mess.

However, moving yarn on the floor never fails to attract attention at my house:

Rascal being attentiveRascal wasted no time in volunteering to "help." Any yarn movement was quickly pounced upon!

Figuring that he would get bored with this pretty quickly, I went off to do something else. When I came back....

Rascal being possessive.... he had patiently parked himself right on top of the unchained bouts.

By the way, the dowel rod running through the top of the warp chains is how I keep the bouts from unchaining themselves when I carry them to the loom. That part I do without "help." :)

Posted 23 Nov. 2008 at

Related Posts:
Experiments in Warp Painting
Learning Ikat Technique
Ikat/Painted Warp Bookmarks Done

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Wound Neck Steek

By Leigh

Now that chilly weather has arrived, I have resumed knitting on my Shetland Sampler Cardigan.

Body of Leigh's Shetland Sampler Cardi
You may recall that I put it down for the summer after completing the Siamese Sleeves. Besides the sleeves, the body of the sweater was largely done. Since it is being knit in the round, it was just too hot to work with in my lap. Now it's pleasant to have such a project on my lap (with or without cat).

I first contemplated knitting this project with steeks when it was still in the planning stages. With the help of a little book called Essential Techniques For Serious Knitters by Peg Arnoldussen (click here for more info on that), I've been able to muddle my way through checkerboard steeks for the front and sleeve openings. Those were fairly easy to master but now that I'm to the neck, a different type of steek is in order; a wound one.

Here's a first look at my somewhat sloppy wound steek.......

1st attempt at a wound steek
At first I thought I'd have to wind yarn the length of the neck opening, but it occurred to me, no I don't. The wound yarn ends up as waste anyway, so only a couple of winds around the needle are actually required. Because of that it doesn't lie flat for a photo, but that's okay too.

Since I'm not following a written down pattern, I'm pretty much having to wing it with just a written description of such a steek. I bound off the top of the front checkerboard steek, and also for the front neck shaping.

Now that I've gotten over the mental effort that the figuring out of this took, it's coming along fairly quickly. Before I know it I'll be ready graft the shoulders. I decided to go ahead and graft them, in keeping with Fair Isle knitting tradition (which this project is technically not.) After that comes the dreaded cutting of the fabric! (Or should I cut first and then do the shoulders? More decisions!)

I believe that this is the fastest I've ever knit any sort of sweater. If all goes well with the cutting, sewing, and band knitting, I may actually be able to wear it this winter!

Related Posts:
Sewing & Cutting The Steeks
Steeking So Far
Shetland Sleeve Update - a look at checkerboard steeks
Siamese Sleeves Done!
Technically Not Fair Isle
Shetland Sampler Cardigan Complete!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Experiments in Warp Painting

By Leigh

Warp painting was the next step in the Easy Ikat and Warp Painting Workshop, and this is what I was busy with over the weekend. Other participants had already reported surprise at some of the results they had gotten. So I shouldn't have been surprised that I was surprised with my results as well.

The procedure was basically the same as I used for painting roving (see this post for more on that), except that I this time I was painting cotton yarn instead of wool roving, which meant that I had to use fiber reactive instead of acid dyes.

In the workshop notes, Kaz recommended Hands On Dyeing for amounts of the ingredients needed for fiber reactive dyeing, so I'm going to pass on that recommendation to you. The yarns were presoaked in a warm water, salt, washing soda solution, according to the weight of the yarns. The dyestocks were made up of a 1% solution of dye powder (I used Procion MX) dissolved in water.

Warp being painted on cling wrapI painted them on with those little sponge dabber thingies.

Folding the warp up in the cling wrapExcess dye was mopped up and the yarn folded carefully in the plastic wrap it was lying on.

All rolled up and ready to batch.These were rolled up and allowed to sit for 24 hours. No steaming required. I did find a warm place to let them batch though. The next day, I thoroughly washed and rinsed them.

The surprise? Well,...

1st set of painted warps...... one thing that surprised me was the yellow. I used Procion Yellow MX-3RA, a warm yellow, which looks more orange to me than yellow. I do like these, but not to go with these ......

2nd set of painted warps It definitely has some zing, doesn't it? However I wish I'd used a cooler yellow, because this is not a green I like very well. Besides the color itself, I think that either my warp bouts were still too wet when I started painting, or I got too much dye on them. For example, there are some way too long sections of green in the second set of warps. I'd anticipated shorter sections of color, suitable for a short project like a bookmark.

This has been interesting but it leaves me with a dilemma. There is no way I'm going to use those two colorways together. So I have to decide which one to use. Then I'll try to match that with a second round of warp painting. Actually this has been a lot of fun, so I may just keep on painting until I finish off the cone!

Posted 17 Nov. 2008 at

Related Posts:
Learning Ikat Technique
A Day For Painting Roving - using acid dyes on wool
Weaving At Last - project details
Ikat/Painted Warp Bookmarks Done - how it turned out

Friday, November 14, 2008

Learning Ikat Technique

By Leigh

Karen Madigan is teaching an "Easy Ikat and Warp Painting Workshop" for the Online Guild this month. Both of these techniques are new for me.

Ikat is the one technique that has puzzled me. "Warp painting" seems pretty self explanatory, but "ikat"? What in the world is that? So far I have learned that the word is Malaysian, for a type of tie-dye. Thanks to Karen's well explained lessons, I am getting a better idea of what that actually means.

For this workshop we are combing both techniques to make bookmarks. I decided to measure and dye my ikat bouts first.

First I measured three, 3 yard bouts, and learned how to tie them in the ikat resist technique.

Ikat with CatI cut up plastic shopping bags for the ties. Here is a close up....

Close-up of ikat tiesThe tying is actually quite simple. Not only was it well explained in the lesson notes, but Karen also demonstrates it in a YouTube video. Click here to view that. At first I thought the tying would be tedious, but it really went quite quickly once I got the hang of it.

Karen recommended dyeing the ikat bouts with a dark color, such as black or dark blue. I have heard that dyeing black is difficult, but I followed her recipe using Procion MX's Pro Black 602A (from Pro Chemical & Dye), and was pleased with the results.

Ikat warp dyed & dried.For 11 grams of yarn I used:

  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. washing soda
  • 250 mls warmish water plus
  • 50 mls of 1% dyestock (from 1 tsp of dye powder in 100 mls water)
This is a lot of dyestock, but it did achieve black for me. The yarn sat in the dyebath for about an hour. I stirred almost constantly for the first 15 minutes, and occasionally during the last 45.

The next step will be to measure the warp bouts to be painted, and then do those. Maybe over the weekend?

Posted 14 Nov. 2008 at

Related Posts:
1st Procion MX Dye Experiments
Experiments in Warp Painting
Weaving At Last - project details
Ikat/Painted Warp Bookmarks Done - how it turned out