Saturday, March 29, 2014

March Goes Out Like a Lion

This is the other skein I had spun for knitting.  The fiber is 50/50 wool silk.  I wasn't crazy about the colors but this was yet another gift from Melissa last summer.  It has a wonderful hand - it just looks weird.  I mean yellow and salmon - really?  I sampled two colors for weft.  I thought all along that I'd like the bassy yellow but it dominate the warp.  I sampled the "straw" that came in my recent order.
It really seemed to be the better fit so I tore everything out, including the hem stitching, and started over.
Here are both of the scarves from handspun knitting yarn. Weaving is a far better use for these than knitting. The most recent is the one on the left.
I spun up the last two of my blended batts and started with the crazy one first.  Once I got the yarn on and was ready to weave, I had no idea which of these two yarns would be a more fitting weft.
I was leaning towards the green but decided that this was the perfect time to sample.  I was started by how my beautiful handspun yarn just kind of faded away behind the green.  But when I stopped to think about it, I realized that green and red are opposites on the color wheel.  Blended together they make brown.
The yarn is mostly reds and the magenta is the winner.
This is the other of blended batts and I'm planning to weave it next, probably sometime next week  Again, I'm just not sure which color to use as weft.  This might be another case for sampling.  
And next behind that one will be another scarf from my shades of black.  I've already woven a scarf from this blend and passed it around for show-and-tell at the last guild meeting.  It was well received and they all said that it looks like granite.
Yes it does! Just a few days later a friend who is visiting the Anza Borrego State Park posted this picture on Facebook. 
I have a lot of skeins ready to weave as scarves so I decided to switch gears and try making knitting yarn.  I spun up 3.5 ounces of Ollie, one of our Shetland wethers.  He used to be brown and now his color comes and goes with the year.  Our shearer will be here in the next several weeks and we will have yet more fleeces.  My goal now is to see if I can find some way to employ our own fleece and use up some of the pounds and pounds that we have in the garage.  I talked to Laura about plying wool with bamboo and then dyeing it.  The bamboo won't take acid dye but she thought it would be really pretty.  

It's still gray and blustery here.  My neck rehabilitation has seemed to have hit an impasse, even with the yoga.  My daughter Chris arranged for me to have a 1 1/2 hour deep tissue massage last Sunday.  My son-n-law is a fencer with the Reno Silver Blades and Arik Shapiro is the their team masseuse.  The massage was successful and painful.  I told my neurosurgeon about it and he approved.

The plan now is to do an hour in the yoga studio and then pop over to Arik's for an hour of massage torture once a week until there's some improvement.  Yesterday was my first double-whammy.  That which does not kill us makes us stronger said Friedrich Nietzsche. He was a pretty smart guy and I'm about to find out if he was right.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Getting Ready for Outreach

I have known since last August that our guild had a weaving outreach on March 22nd.  I wound the warp a couple weeks ago but never could seem to get around to warping the loom.  Ian set aside last Tuesday so I could use the whole day.  I've never warped this loom before and didn't want to feel hurried.  I was in town all day and it was just Maddie and me.  The problem was that it was yet another gray day and I had next to no available light.  I fought with this until Ian got home late in the afternoon.
I had him carry it downstairs - I'm still limited on how much I can lift.  It's very hard to thread Texsolv heddless in a low light situation, very hard to see.  The light from the big windows made all the difference in the world.
I could see all my mistakes, and boy howdy, there were many.
One of the beauties of this little Dorset is how small it folds up and how easy it is to carry.  Just the same, I'm unable to carry it at this time and would need to get it across a parking lot.
I have looked for rolling wheels for the past couple of weeks and have drawn a blank.  I finally decided to stop at Walmart and browse for some.  But the thought of trying to find something in Walmart made my heart quail and I kept putting it off.  Finally I stopped at our little independently owned Ace Hardware.  They had this wonderfully sturdy, little folding dolly.
And just like that I was in business.  How did our weaving outreach go last Saturday?  You can read about it here on the guild blog.
My order from Yarn Barn finally arrived and the two things that spurred this order are still back ordered.  Sigh.  Because the UKI cones are so big, I could only afford to order these five colors. The two small bright cones on the right are 8/2 bamboo, which I'm going to try as scarf weft.  The small beige cone in front is 16/2 bamboo which I will use to ply with my handspun singles.
These are the last two colorways I've blended together.  Plying with the neutral bamboo doesn't add color but keeps the yarn very light and textured.  

I've been a little busy lately. Last Friday was my first day back as a school library sub since my accident. It felt great to use my brain and skills again. I had six class visits, six storytimes plus lunchroom and crosswalk duty. They got their moneys worth out of me for sure  

Today Ian and I drove in for my six month check-up with my neurosurgeon. He did a thorough exam and pronounced me released. He clarified that my break was not a hangman's fracture but an odontoid fracture type two with screw. I was especially gratified to know that he didn't consider it to be a head injury. I see him again for the last time in six months. We went to our favorite Indian restaurant afterward for lunch to celebrate. 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Color on a Sunny Day

I realized about half way through my second towel on this warp that the fourth stripe in from both edges is wider than the others.  I got my stripes turned around - those should be on the edge so that the edge strip isn't more narrow than the others.  Now it's a design element.
I'm weaving another scarf on Maudie Mae.  I have two skeins I spun that are wool in both ply.  I made them before I started thinking about scarves and haven't known what to do with them, so today I warped and started on this.  It's going to be pretty.
This is the other skein and I'll weave it next.
I wound this yarn into a warp and ordered a teal Tencel from Yarn Barn for weft, but when a week passed by and I hadn't heard anything, I gave them a call.  That's about how long our answering machine had been turned off and there were some problems with the order.  For one thing, the teal has been back ordered since January.  I'm looking to maybe using this green silk instead.
I decided to dye some BFL/silk yesterday. These are the primary colors that I've used ever since Charlene Schutch's dye workshop a decade ago.  She called them warm and cool primaries so that's what I've always called them.  Mim also still uses these dyes, though she's supplemented them with some other hues.

I was dragging my feet about dyeing since I couldn't figure out how to get magenta and I really want to add that in my blends.  I learned that magenta and fuchsia are the same thing.  In fact, what was originally called fuchsia was changed to magenta in 1869 to celebrate the victory of the Battle of Magenta, near the town of the same name.  I also learned that Charlene's "cool red" is magenta.  I had it all along.

Ready, get set - steam!
I decided to keep the cue-tips for future color reference.  Mim has told me forever that when you blend three or more hues, the colors break out during the steaming process.  You can that they separated right on the paper towel when I was testing my mixes.
And these are my results today after I fluffed the dried roving this morning.  I got much more complex results and am really pleased even though while I was dyeing yesterday, I was nothing but frustrated.
And this is the full palette I'll be working with.  I have no stash anymore so my blends will be variations of these eight, plus black and white and some extras.  I meant to add some silk noil to the roving I dyed yesterday but my intentions were left at that - intentions.
 I had company in the studio this morning.  I think she was just exhausted from being naughty.  

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Color on a Gray Day

I calculated that I had enough yarn for an 8" scarf but discovered that I actually had enough for 10" and kept winding.  Once I saw it in the reed I realized that 10" is a *really* wide scarf and I couldn't imagine wanting to wear it so I tore out enough for 7 1/2" and tossed it over the back.  I thought I'd wind it onto a spool and use it for something later but I wasn't quick enough and Maddie turned it into a cat toy.
Once I started weaving I could see I was right.  I was a little concerned about the hairy alpaca yarn but the tencel weft seemed to tame it nicely.
I decided that the fastest way to get more roving for blended batts was to dye up the 8 ounce bump of BFL/silk that's been sitting around here.  Cindie Kitchens had sent me a great link to Design Seeds, a color inspiration web site.  I chose these colors from one of the palettes but didn't like the options for a fourth color.  I had enough roving for one more color but was stumped.
 It's probably been two years since I've dyed anything and I felt really awkward.  I had asked Nina at Odette's Obsessions for help on kettle dyeing roving and in response she sent me a chart of dye strengths to WOG (weight of goods).  I followed her chart but decided to steam packets so I could get four separate colors.   I had the perfect ratio of dye to wool as the dye completely exhausted and there was nothing to rinse out afterwards.
These are my results.  I only blended two colors together, as though I were blending to paint.  I can see that on my next set I need to blend at least three colors to get more complex results to tone these down.  This is a good starting point though.
 The scarf is finished and I absolutely love it.  I have come realize that patience is required throughout the entire process because it a scarf isn't a scarf until it's wet finished. It looks horrible until then. After a press on the mini mangle, it's an entirely different thing.  Between the alpaca and tencel, this is all about drape.
I finished spinning the last of my blended batts.  I don't have a good color to use as weft so finally took the time to put together an order of weaving yarns.  When you order more than $200 from Yarn Barn of Kansas, you get a 20% discount which saved me over $50.  I ordered teal tencel for the weft on this and I'm sure I'll use it for other things later.
Maddie discovered yesterday how to get up on the counter.  I was sitting there, eating breakfast, when suddenly she hopped up on the stool next to me.  She sat next to me for about five minutes and then curiosity got the best of her.  As you can see, nothing will ever be safe again.  I was trying to full my yarn and she wanted to help too.  Actually, she's fussed at me all morning to go up and work in my studio.  I've made it a routine to weave mornings and if I don't get up there as soon as she thinks I should, she turns into a complete feline nag.  She goes up to the balcony, sticks her head through the posts and mewls at me.

I don't have time today to start anything as I need to get ready to leave pretty soon.  Today is Tommy's memorial, or Thomas as his family calls him.  I'm stuck in time as he was just a boy when I last saw him.  It hasn't even been a month since he died of pneumonia after catching a respiratory virus, dead at 38.  He leaves two children and heartbroken parents.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

March Forth

Actually, it's March 5th.  I went to yoga this morning for the first time in two weeks.  I had a wonderful session and am getting that much closer to full mobility of my neck.  I stayed indoors for that two weeks and have bested the sinus infection, though I suspect a cough will hang on a bit longer.  I know tomorrow will be a rough day and I'll count on taking a muscle relaxer.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
I had planned to drive to Barnes and Noble for a new world atlas when I realized that our local indie bookstore is right across the street.  After my yoga hour, I walked across the street and bought the only world atlas they had, a National Geographic Concise Atlas of the World.  My old one has a unified German, but it also has Yugoslavia and the USSR.  It's definitely time to update!
On my way home I stopped for a picture of the Shoe Tree, which is once again at about full capacity. Right about now someone will come along and clear it out.  I don't know who that "someone" is, but the tree is in California - a Californian?

I had finished weaving this yesterday, washed it and hung it to dry and fluff up.  After I got home I trimmed the fringe and pressed it on the mini mangle.
The scarves from handspun yarn are turning out better and better so that after each one I say - this is my favorite yet.  But this really is!  I love the pops of white from the undyed silk noil.
I was knitting on this scarf while Ian drove me to physical therapy and finished it quite some time ago. It's from two skeins of a cashmere blend that were gifted to me years ago.  I know I'll never wear it even though it feels heavenly.  I've decided to set it aside for that time when I'm asked to donate an item for a silent auction fund raiser.

I'm getting bold and reckless on scarves.  I spun up some hand-dyed alpaca that I got from Bhakti Banning at Spindle Camp last summer as part of a fiber exchange.  It's really hairy so I plied it with 16/2 bamboo. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Meanwhile, after all the mass of stash that Melissa left behind last August, I'm finally to the bottom of it.  This is the last 2.5 ounces and I blended up everything together.
I'm not truly completely out of stash.  She also left this 50/50 silk/wool roving.  I haven't wanted to spin it until I was sure what I wanted.  She left me another one that spun up last year and plied on itself.  The colors turned to mud and I have no idea what I'll be able to do with it.  I have clear plans for this - it's gorgeous!
Maddie finds the darndest things to crawl into.  I ran into the bedroom to grab that scarf and found her curled up inside Ian's jean for a nap.  I sure do enjoy my kitty, lucky me.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

The Making of a Purse

A guild challenge has been issued for the May Conference of Northern California Handweavers.  We are challenged to make purses with a unifying theme.  When this came up last September, I thought - I'm in!  I've wanted to make a purses from my board stiff scarves that I wove before I understand how to get a good sett.  Today is the 5th month anniversary of my surgery and all of that healing and recovery kinda took precedence.  Now the deadline to submit photos of the finished purses is here.
Friday I set to work.  I can do this, even I don't know how.  Seriously - how hard can this be?!!
Isn't this fun?  My bag is going to be great.  I finished sewing it up and couldn't wait to turn right sides out,  Only there was no way I could and I didn't know how to fix it.  It's like sewing origami, only I don't have the instructions.  Plus the straps were attached weird and the bag wouldn't hang.
And then it was only big enough for a pair of sunglasses.  I want a bag for cash and my phone to wear when I'm working a craft fair.  I cut the straps off, cut another section of the scarf to make a sideways rectangular bag.  I couldn't decide how to close it so installed a zipper.  It looked like a cloth money bag at a bank.  I ditched both in the trash and started cutting on another scarf.
After three hours of thrashing around, I cobbled this together and stopped for the day.  It's the photo I'm required to submit but the straps and pin are just laying there.  I couldn't think how to attach them and was just too tired to think about it.  It's all from rayon including the Kumihimo braid strap.  Our guild theme is winter and all our bags have the deciduous tree pin attached. 

I ended up dreaming about it and I decided, in self defense, I had to finish it yesterday.  The lining is muslin but I had no idea how to machine sew them together so ended up hand stitching it to the bag in teeny tiny little stitches.  I dreamed how to do the straps and it actually worked.  It's a good size and it hangs well.  I'm actually pleased but I won't be making another purse until I get some instruction.
Maddie surprised me by jumping on top of my loom.  She tried it once before but jumped right back down because it's not quite solid.  It's just the top of the harnesses covered by a quilt, there to protect the loom from the sun when I'm not working on it.  At first I thought she was after the warp chains I have heaped up out of her way.
Her interest was actually the tree that I'm trying to keep up and out of her destructive path until I can plant it this spring.  It's a hospital gift and it should do well here in our yard, if I can keep it alive for a couple more months.