Friday, December 31, 2010

the cold shoulder of the information highway: or my quest for a tatted frog

I'm beginning to suspect that the internet is not as smart as it pretends to be.

I've spent a good deal of time this week - time that could have been used to more productive ends - seeking help from the internet. Specifically I was looking for frogs.

Not frogs that go ribbit, hop, hop, but rather frogs that help keep things closed.

Weaving Saori fabric is fun, but sewing with it poses more of a challenge. Sewing button holes on my new Saori skirt was a daunting and almost impossible task. I thought maybe a tatted frog would do the trick.

With help from the good tatters over at In Tatters, I found three examples of tatted frogs (one with a pattern, but was too frilly for the project at hand). I even got some tips on how to design my own tatted frog. I didn't have much luck with that.

I almost made one I liked. See the bottom right frog? I like the idea of this, and the overall balance of the motif. I just couldn't figure out how to tat the middle chain for the way back. We argued, the thread broke, and I had to walk away from my tatting for a while.

The amount of time in fruitless search for a tatted frog (not to mention the pointless hours searching for a bloomer pattern - wearing skirts is cold business in the middle of winter - a corset sewing pattern that costs less than $20 after shipping, and the meaning of life, the universe and everything. Spending hours sifting through junk online looking for that tiny bit of information that use to be readily available in the days before computers, makes me wonder if the internet has been getting dumber lately.

It is certainly not talking to me as much as it use to.

Monday, December 27, 2010

SAORI fabric

This Christmas holiday, I treated myself to some Saori style weaving.

I have high hopes that this will become a skirt.

The weft is linen, the warp is a mixture of handspun lace weight and sock weight yarn, with some bits of fibre and thrums.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Thank you

A big thank you to everyone who bought my yarn this month, you really helped make my Christmas special.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Super-Chicken to the Rescue!

Doesn't she look look like some sort of superhero?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Something for the Farm

Anyone want to guess what this is for? It's about 8" square.

I'll let you know in a couple of days.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Another Saori Hat

The fabric is a combination of handspun weft and bits of alpaca and wool fibre.

And the end result is another one of those gorgeous Saori Hats.

This hat is a thank you gift for a woman who comes today. I hope she likes it.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

My very first Saori Hat

I'm told that it is far too formal to wear around the farm.

My reply is that it is far too comfortable not to.

To me the shape of this hat is a bit like a bonnet. There is something really familiar about the shape; like a medieval peasant's hat. I cannot quite place my finger on what it reminds me of.

I'm really surprised that everything goes well together. The warp was randomly striped, and the weft was mostly Thrums with handwoven yarn here and there. It looks so busy that it's hard to distinguish the individual elements, but as a whole, it really works. It is my Gestalt hat.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Warping the Saori way.

I was worried about loosing what I learnt at the Saori workshop. So I got out my little table loom and did my best to warp the Saori way.

I hope that if I keep doing it then it will become permanent knowledge. All those dreams I had about warping really helped.

It took me an entire day (well, with feeding the animals and catching up on all the farm chores, it was more like 4 hours) to warp my little table loom. I didn't realize just how well designed the Saori loom was until I tried to do the same thing on a little wooden loom that fought me every step of the way. But I managed it in the end.

I just made a short warp because I need more practice. I hope it rains today so I can wind another warp and try it again. But, if the weather is good, I have to go and get ready for the llama and alpacas that will arrive early next week. That and go to the doctor, and do running around, and care for the chickens and the ducks, and...well it's a long list.

I sure would like to weave a hat or scarf for the woman who is bringing the llama and alpacas.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Saori warping workshop

Yesterday I learnt about Warping the Saori way at a workshop at Knotty by Nature.

It wasn't until I went to sleep last night that I began to really understand what I learnt.

I had dreams about warping different yarns. It's as if I dressed a hundred looms in my sleep. Each one with different yarn and colours.

When I woke up, I set right to work on warping my table loom.

I'm so inspired by what I learnt and I can hardly wait to show you.

Saturday, November 27, 2010


When I think of madder, I think of rich, earthy reds and deep, mysterious browns. I think of walking into a deep woods and smelling the soft smell of leaf mulch and Grand Fir.

I don't tend to think of madder as being orange.

I read that if you mix madder with ox blood, the lining of a cows second stomach, and a whole host of minerals, than you might be lucky enough to get Turkey red or a red-orange. I never imagined that I would manage it by accident.

The yarn is handspun Cotswold, true-worsted singles. I used 20%weight of fibre (WoF) for the alum mordant and 100% WoF for the madder dye stuff. I didn't heat it much about 50C, and cooked the yarn in the dye for 1 hour. I should have heated it up more to get a browner colour.

I dyed some other stuff after to exhaust the dye vat.

Now it is very pretty; but, sadly, this colour is totally inappropriate for the project I have planed. I think I'm just going to give up on the whole thing and stash this orange yarn.

I have just enough fibre left to try spinning another warp. But to be honest, I've lost my enthusiasm for this project. Natural or synthetic - dye stuff never seems to do what it promises.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Knotty by Nature - 2 years and counting

The snow is suppose to let up this afternoon and transform into a cleansing rain. It is entirely possible that I won't have to shovel my driveway tomorrow morning. Still have to get the snow shovels out today, though, with an extra couple of inches of snow overnight.

If the driveway is clear, I plan to spend most of tomorrow down town at Knotty by Nature. It's their second anniversary celebration.

Here's what Stephanie has to say about it:

Buy Nothing Day-ngerous, Friday November 26th! And….2nd anniversary celebration for Knotty by Nature!

Shop smart: challenge yourself to buy nothing that is harmful for the planet. Car pool, take the bus or ride your bike. Bring your coffee cup to you local coffee shop. Or bring your own bag to your favorite local yarn store. Bring your own yarn or maybe buy a that skein you’ve been wanting and knit for the day atKnotty by Nature.

The natural, sustainable and environmental qualities of wool were recognized last month by even His Royal Highness. The English have been quite innovative lately developing techniques to expand the uses of wool in order to try and save their local wool industry, which at risk of encroachment from petroleum based fibres like “polar fleece.”

If your interest is piqued, the latest Selvedge , Issue 36, has an in-depth and thought provoking article on HRH Campaign for wool an all the things Brits are doing with wool. We have a copy at the shop and you can read it anytime, or come and read it at the “Buy Nothing day(ngerous) Knit-In”, Friday November 26th!

Come join us for a day of woolen activities!


More details for our 2nd anniversary day! Friday November 26th! Fund raising in the community of fibre artists.

Who should come: everyone, even if you have never tried spinning, carding, weaving….

                     People who are curious but are shy to participate 
   (bring your knitting/spinning and hang out, etc...)
                       Knitters, weavers, spinners, felters....

Free projects to participate in:

                     1. Sheep to shawl - Carding, spinning and weaving a shawl. 
   The resulting shawl will be raffled off on
                 Distaff day, January 7th. Proceeds will go to the Madrona Farm.
                      2. Wet felt a bike - we are growing our bike family!

Cost: Free

Please bring your own mug, if possible, and if you feel like bringing a tasty treat to share, I am sure it would be appreciated by everyone!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Stir crazy?

It's snowing again today and I tell you, my toes are mighty cold.

I really need slippers. But, in spite of my mighty knitting skills, I suck at making slippers!

Even so, I decided I'd give it a try. I have a small collection of sweaters that I've shrunk over the years. Lovely nice warm wool sweaters that lost the never ending argument with modern technology. I thought they would make some great slippers. So I cut them up.

While I was cutting, I noticed something that caught my attention.

That looks something like a vest. I like wearing vests in this weather. Hmm... I wonder... what if I cut a little bit more here and make it a V neck and I wonder....what if I crochet the edges with a light blue yarn.... and then full it a bit more to make it just the right size?

Stunning! I love this! Once it was fulled, I brushed the fabric to make it look and feel like it was always meant to be this vest. The fabric is so strong, and soft, and warm. I love it!

Only... I decided to cut corners and instead of fulling it by hand like I would usually do, I gave my washing machine a chance to redeem itself....What is it said about solving problems with the same level of thinking that created them?

This lovely vest is far too small for me. Sigh. Now what am I going to do with it?

I have the joy of making a beautiful vest - a real work of art - but my feet are still cold.

Maybe I should change my approach? Something like offering 100yds of handspun yarn to someone willing to knit me a pair of warm, strong, wool slippers?

Maybe I'm just stir crazy from all this snow.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Mulled apple juice

A whole 6 inches of snow this morning when I woke up, with another inch fallen before I had a chance to finish my coffee. So much for going down town today - even if they only got a light dusting of snow.

Even the chickens won't venture out of their home.

I had to shovel them out as the snow had all blown against the side of the house and blocked their door. I needn't have bothered.

I might as well dress my loom. It looks cold.

Mulled Apple Juice

  • 2L apple juice (the real, cloudy stuff works the best)
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
Heat in a sauce pan on medium until boiling (this cooks the spices and makes it so much better than serving just spiced juice). Reduce heat and serve. Careful, HOT!

If you like, once the juice boiled, then put it in a slow cooker on medium/high, and drink throughout the day. Yum!

Friday, November 19, 2010

caff -een - a - nate!

I wonder...

... am I the only person who automatically thinks Dalek when they see this?

Anyway, I found this darling little coffee cozy at WeaveZine. I think that I might just have to make myself one.

Let it snow...tomorrow night.

The world is beautiful outside and for once in my life, I'm disappointed that it's snowing.

The moon may be almost full, but the night is deep and dark. A slight pink, almost purple glow illuminates the clouds to the south, where the city lives. Already the world is unfamiliar. A dust, ages the grass, like the floor of an abandoned house. The wind has just begun to howl and I plug the cracks in the front door with the welcome mat.

It's all perfect weather to be huddled next to the fire, playing with wool. Hot, mulled apple juice, warms the cockles of the heart while it burns your tong. My favourite kind of weather.

This is the weather I pray for almost year round. And yet, I don't want it today.

Because tomorrow I go on another workshop. Another SAORI weaving workshop to be exact.

I feel like a little kid getting ready for tomorrow. I've packed and unpacked what yarns I want to take so many times this week. Sometimes several times a day. I think I've finally decided on these ones.

A collection of handspun yarns leftover from previous projects.

That's why I don't want it to snow too much tonight.

You see, going to this workshop means more to me than just learning exciting new yarn related techniques. It another step towards participating in the world again. It's a step towards good health.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

And the lights go on again...

It's the longest power outage we've had since we moved here. Almost a whole 24 hours.

Yah, I know, 20 odd hours is not that long a time to go without power. But then again, it's not just the internet and the lighting that that vanish. Being without electricity means that we go without water. We're on a well, which requires a pump, which requires power.

I missed the internet too.

It was an adventure, but I managed to keep myself occupied.

As an early Christmas present, Dad put a table top on my Singer Sewing Base (found free by the side of the road). I thought I would test drive it and do some combing.

Beautiful soft Cotswold.

Some of it I spun up as novelty yarn (singles Boucle - already for sale at Knotty by Nature) and some of it I spun up as a high twist, true worsted single to use as warp.

I really like this about Cotswold wool; it is so versatile.

A Hand Combed Cotswold top sitting atop of a gtst sample of the English Leicester Boucle I spun up earlier.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Inkle strap for Saori bags

Yesterday I enjoyed learning how to use my inkle loom.

Well, maybe enjoyed is too strong a word. Learning how to use the loom was frustration incarnate. but, then, suddenly, I realized I wasn't having trouble with it any more. I was zooming along at an outstanding pace. That's the part of using the Inkle loom I enjoyed.

Suddenly, I had enough handwoven strap to make my two Saori bags.

The strap is deliberately full of imperfections to keep with the general theme. But it is still strong. It always amazes me just how strong warp faced fabric really is.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A symptom of Insomnia

It's November so of course, my insomnia is back.

It's not that my mind is racing with all the worries of the world that keeps me up at night. Instead, it's like I have a broken awake/sleep switch. It's a lot like JetLag, and it doesn't help that pesty daylight savings now lasts until November.

In some ways insomnia is soothing. Instead of lying in bed not sleeping, I get up and do something that is just for me. It's really nice having the entire house to myself. During the summer I did a lot of wool combing.

Winter is for weaving.

I had a bunch of warp left over from the other day, so I tried my hand at some Saori weaving techniques.

If I were the kind of person who named my projects, this one would be called Symptom of Insomnia.

I don't have very good light, so I ended up choosing colours that I probably wouldn't have choosing in the daytime. But I love it! I was going to put it into storage, but now, I am thinking about sewing up a couple of hand bags from it. If only I could find my blasted inkle loom to make a strap for them.... maybe I could learn that Japanese braid thing that everyone in the Guild was doing last year...

Monday, November 08, 2010

What a totally awesome kid!

I mentioned before that taking a Saori workshop taught me that weaving doesn't have to be all about planning and rules and ridged edges. Saori inspired me and got me thinking that maybe I could set up a little loom for my 3 year old friend to play on.

I don't know if this qualifies as any specific style of weaving. What I wanted to accomplish was to show the little girl (and her mummy) that weaving and other fibre arts can be easy and carefree.
I think they liked it.

I just love that photo.

And here, some of the fabric that they wove together.

And take a look at this white yarn. When the attention span of a 3 year old has enough weaving, she wanted to help spin yarn on my wheel. She usually just sticks to drafting, but today she focused on treadling with a bit of drafting.

What a totally awesome kid!

Sunday, November 07, 2010

an idea for Lyme

This is cross posted from my Lyme blog. Since it's fibre related and has a positive tone to it, I thought that maybe you guys would like to read it as well.

Knitting, spinning, weaving and crafting in general has done so much good for me over the years. Especially since I became really ill, it has provided me with nourishment that no medicine or food ever could.

Being a member of the yarn related community, both local and online, provided me a link to steadfast friends and wonderful support.

Yarn encourages me to accomplish something in my day. I'm not just wasting time waiting to get better, I am making socks, or a skirt, or something else. I create something tangible - and I know that's nothing to most of you who can do that any day, but to me, that's a huge accomplishment! It means the world to me to be able to pull on a warm sweater that I knit myself, or to adorn myself with vibrant socks that I not only knit myself, but I spun the yarn. It fills me with a sense of love and self worth that otherwise leeches out of someone with a long lasting illness.

But it's more than that.

When I am so ill, I'm nothing but a useless waste of space, I can still create something. I can knit a few stitches, or pull myself out of bed to lay on the couch and spin yarn. Even if my arthritis is so bad that I can only manage sparse five knitted stitches, it is still a contribution. It's marks the difference between being a worthless waste of skin to being human.

I wish I could explain it better.

Lately I've been spinning some yarns for sale. I want to make a bit of money so I can afford Christmas. One particular yarn, is rather challenging. It is involves making two yarns at once and plying them together simultaneously. I feel like an overtaxed octopus trying to do all this at once, but the results are gorgeous. And, it gave me an idea.

Now, this is just an idea at the moment. As I said yesterday, I'm not an organizer of big things. I realize that of myself. Give me grunt work, and a task I can do in the background, and I'm happy!

The idea:

It began by thinking that making yarn and other crafts to sell is one of the few things I can do to make my own income. I don't make very much - just enough to buy more supplies for my hobbies - but even that little bit says to me that I can one day become a functioning member of society again.

This got me thinking about how much better things will be when Lyme is understood. When the political controversy no longer governs treatment and an accurate diagnosis method is available. Organizations like CanLyme are working towards this, and wouldn't it be great if I could donate money to help them help people like me?

So I imagined myself spinning a special series of yarns, all different kinds and colours, all with at least a fleck of Lime Green in them to symbolize Lyme. And I take this yarn and put a little write up about Lyme in Canada and how lack of research is causing harm...stuff like that. I sell the yarn, and take a good percent of the profits and give to CanLyme (or the like) and a percent to pay for my health care. (note: most Lyme patients in Canada have to pay for their own medical expenses!)

That could be a nifty idea and a great project for 2011. It would help raise Lyme awareness, help support my health care costs, help raise money for charity, and most importantly, make me feel like I'm doing something to both help my state in the world and help the greater cause.

I think I might do this. I know I can usually get fleeces for free, and I don't mind washing and preparing the fibre for spinning. Dyeing the fibre might be an expense and it's beyond my skill set, but perhaps someone might volunteer their time and facilities? If I want a long wool like Cotswold, Romney or a Leicester, I might have to pay for that. But all in all, it's a low cost investment as all it would take is my time (something I have plenty of) and my energy (a resource that waxes and wanes) .

The more I think about it, the more I feel it's a good idea.

But, what if...

What if it went a step further?

What if several people with Lyme did something similar, all organized under one umbrella? Not just spinning, but knitting and weaving as well? Then we did as above? Sell the yarn, give a percent to a Lyme related charity and a percent towards our own treatment. Could this work? Could, given our illness, we do this? Would a project like this not only raise awareness of Lyme in Canada but also give those victims this this vicious pathogen a sense of purpose and a way to feel empowered?

It's not just the people with the illness who feel hopeless, their family, firends and support network also need a way to help. This might be the kind of thing.

I see problems with this greater idea: One thing that comes to mind is that I'm not a leader of men, woman or children. If we did this, I would need someone to take the lead, but I would still want to be consulted in it's organization and implementation. Not to mention, the leader of this movement would have to have a non-Lyme brain. There are other problems I see already, mostly where money is concerned. And who would do the write up about Lyme awareness and the project? How would it be presented to the public? Free knitting, weaving and spinning lessons would be needed for those who do not yet know how to do these things. Plus equipment: spinning and knitting are affordable, but weaving certainly isn't.

There is a lot to think about.

Thoughts anyone?

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Bouclé singles in Cotswold

In The Intentional Spinner, Judith MacKenzie McCuin states that yarn made with this Bouclé draw is very strong, "structurally sound and fun to work with." She even uses it for warp! Gasp!

Even so, I have to say that spinning this Boucle is very different from my preferred spinning.

I'm the kind of person who takes great joy in spinning hours upon hours, days upon days, and weeks upon weeks of the same, fine, consistent yarn.

This yarn is anything but consistent. But it does have it's own certain joy.

To make a light, fluffy cloud of a yarn, I begin with a light fluffy cloud of fibre:

This is Cotswold that I teased apart with my fingers before spinning.

To spin Boucle singles is... well... challenging. Judith MacKenzie McCuin says it's like spinning two yarns at once. I say, it's like spinning one very fine yarn and at the exact same time, spinning another light, fluffy yarn, and at the exact same time, plying them together in a non-standard way.

The resulting yarn is gorgeous!

This Cotswold is much softer than the colourful English Leicester I was working with earlier. I've worked with Cotswold before and have never managed to make such a soft yarn. It must be the bouclé spinning technique.

Like the other yarn, once it's finished, I'll put it for sale at Knotty by Nature.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Frogging gima

One of the qualities I like best about this Gima yarn from Habu, is that it's good at frogging.

Just a note to you non-knitting readers, frogging refers to the act of dismantling your knitting and seeing all your hard work unravel in a matter of moments.

Normally yarns complain when you frogg them. They get all fuzzy and after too many froggings, start to look totally different from the pristine yarn yet un-tampered with.

Not this Gima, No. It just shrugs it's shoulders, and with great civility, says, 'these things happen, let's try again.' I love that I have finally found a non-judgemental yarn.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Intentionally Spinning consignments

As my energy level increases, I find that I want to participate more in the world.

In particular, I want to take workshops as a way of improving my yarn related skills and of testing myself.

In order to do so, I need to raise some funds. So I've been spinning yarns that I can sell at Knotty By Nature.

I know handspun yarns are expensive to buy, especially when you take into account just how much time goes into creating the yarn. It's not just the spinning, it's also the sorting the fleece, washing, drying, preparing the fibre, and then the spinning. If we asked for minimum wage for every hour spent on a yarn, handspun yarn would be almost $2 per yard.

Thank goodness spinners don't charge that much.

Recently I talked with some spinners and they said that given how much time, skill and energy they put into their yarn, they could never sell it. The yarn becomes like their children. I know how they feel.

But, I need the funds.

So I've been focusing on yarns that I can make and sell for a more affordable price.

Here is some English Leicester that I spun as bouclé singles.

This is a technique that I read about in the Intentional Spinner. A book that is going on my wish list, especially now that I hear there is a version with a DVD included.

I'm making a few skeins of this colourful boucle and then some of the same style yarn with undyed Cotswold. I'll take it down to Knotty by Nature to put on consignment, next chance I get. Also, I've decided to sell my magic yarn:

I do totally love this yarn - Corriedale, silk noils and soft, soft, angora - but I can make more later on if it turns out that I want to knit something with it later on. It is perfect knitting yarn after all.

Maybe, with Christmas season coming up, someone would love to journey down to the shop and pick up some extra special yarn for that extra special gift.

Monday, November 01, 2010

electric spinner

I saw this add in the local online classifieds for an electric spinning wheel and yarn blocker.

Thinking how it would be nice to buy a yarn blocker/skein winder rather than make one as planned, I contacted them and asked to come see it. Besides, I've never seen an electric spinner like this before and I thought it would be fun to check it out.

When I arrived, they offered both to me free of charge. How exciting!

Of course, I don't exactly need another spinning wheel. But how can I resist? I think this makes spinning wheel number seven.

The motor runs well and very quiet. The wood needs quite a bit of cleaning and lots of little, but time consuming tasks. It has also had a lot of use spinning yarn. It's not an Indian Head spinner like I first thought as the orifice is too small for that.

I'm going to fix it up and get it running perfectly then decide if I am going to keep it.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Saori for 3 years old

I have been teaching this little girl how to spin.

Her parents are members of a regular group who come for dinner every couple of months. Now their little girl is old enough to take an interest in crafts - she's three and a little bit - I've got her spinning.

She loves playing with fleece - making hats, beards, and other decorations for members of the dinner party. Now I have it where she will sit at the wheel and draft while I treadle. She likes to make high twist yarns. I don't know how much she understands of what we are doing (English is her other language), but we both have a huge amount of fun whenever she comes over.

I was inspired by the Saori workshop I took recently and I thought that it would be wonderful to see what a 3 year old can come up with given the total freedom that Saori allows.

The little table loom that I use for making samples now has 3 yards of warp on it (1 yard for each year). It's a 2 shaft loom, like the Saori looms. It's not as pretty as the Saori looms or as easy to use, but I don't think that she could reach the treadles on the Saori loom anyway. This should work well enough for a first weaving experience.

I don't see her for another week but I am super-excited to weave with her. I think that she will find this even more fun than spinning.

Now to find a selection of colourful yarn.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Pocket Monsters are hot

I don't know why, but I'm totally enamoured with these little pocket monsters.

They are not very big and you sew a little sack of rice to put inside them. First you microwave the rice sack and then you put it in the pocket monster. This warms up the monster then you put the monster in your pocket to help keep your hands warm. Cool eh?

Here's what it looks like before it's assembled.

And here is a gang of the little guys planing their next prank.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

My house stinks of duck poo

My house stinks of duck poo...but it's just temporary.

Late this summer, very late in fact, two of my ducks each hatched out a clutch of cute little ducklings. It was their first time being mummy duck and one of them took to it right away. She has nine little ones that play under her wings.

The other mummy duck just wasn't into it. Sure, she made an effort but her heart just wasn't in it. She would rather be wondering around the yard munching on grass and hunting for slugs. She didn't shelter her little ones from the cold and whereas their cousins ran around playing, these five little ducklings just huddled in the corner frightened of everything, especially their mummy.

So we took her little ones away from her yesterday. She appeared very relieved about the situation.

I don't know if you can tell from the photo, but they are very malnourished. I should have noticed their condition earlier but I just assumed that since they had a mummy that they would be fine. They are small for their age and are nothing more than a light dusting of down covering bones. They startle at every little thing and haven't made a peep since their 'rescue'. They do however, seem to appreciate physical contact and move towards you if you start to pet them.

As they are chilled through and through, I brought them inside our house for the night. Just one night to warm them up enough to get back on track. I didn't want to put them under the heat lamp as that would have been too warm and they are actually a lot older than they look. But boy, just one night inside and the house stinks of duck poo. I'll open some windows and air out the place.

Later today I'll put the little orphans in a nice, secure duck house where they will be safe from raccoons and hopefully feel sheltered enough to start acting like ducklings.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Over a pound of wild yarn

I have several large spinning projects planed for the winter.

My goal to reduce my fleece collection to yarn has me combing and spinning up a delightful grey Romney into lace weight singles for weaving. I'll spin it up on my Quebec wheel as the double drive gives such a consistent yarn.

I also have miles and miles of hand dyed silk/bamboo blend to spin lace weight, 2ply on my Ashford. The silk/bamboo will be warp with the handspun cotton singles that I'm spinning on my Charkha for weft.

I don't know yet what I'll do with these fabrics, but I just feel like making them.

Then, it's time to borrow someone's carder (mine is too coarse and out on loan) to card up some baby alpaca which I think will make a splendid 2ply lace. I like spinning lace, it's just a pity that I don't like knitting it.

These projects are quite large and should take me well into the Christmas season to accomplish.

Unless I'm spinning for socks, I like spinning large amounts of fibre into yarn. I'm tired of making a small amount of beautiful yarn and never using it because I don't know if I have enough to finish a project.

So perhaps you won't think me weird to say that before I embark on these larger projects, I felt a need to spin up a small amount of fun fibre - small amount being equal to just over a pound.

I carded up the batts on an Ashford Wild Carder (which works like a dream) and used a Corriedale base of blue with a touch of red. I added white angora and purple silk noils. I put it all randomly through the carder just once, spun it into slubby yarn and plied it on itself. It actually didn't turn out as slubby as I had planed.

There you have it. Over 500g of yarn.

I have no idea what to make with this, so for now it's just going in my stash. I had originally planed to sell it, and I still might. The thing is, it is growing on me and I wonder if I could manage a vest from it. There might even be enough there for a sweater...

Saturday, October 23, 2010

First time for hand towels

Is there anything I should know about weaving hand towels?

There is some 4/8 cot for warp and some boucle for weft. I plan to make a 2/2 twill with a 15 epi. What do you think? Does that sound right?

2 socks in 1

I really am a sucker for new knitting techniques. And to be honest, there is nothing quite so much fun for me than to try them with my very own handspun yarn. I love a challenge.

During the Tour de Fleece 2010, I won a prize of hand dyed Shetland fibre from Waterloo Wools. Right away I spun it up into sock yarn.

I got out my double point needles and cast on a pair of socks. That's two socks at the same time on the same set of double point needles. How you ask? Well, have a read of this article in

Here they are, finished at long last. They are so comfy that I'm tempted to keep them just for bed socks.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


I went to a workshop this weekend. It is the first time in about two years that I've been well enough to spend a whole day out and about with people.

I'm so glad I went. I've been wanting to learn more about Saori weaving since I first saw Terri demonstrate it at the Salt Spring Island Fibre Fest. This workshop I took at Knotty By Nature and they host it on a regular basis.

Saori Weaving is from Japan. It is a way of weaving the moment into the cloth.

There are no rules governing what needs to be done. No structure set up ahead of time where you have to treadle 1, 2, 3, 4, 3, 2, - repeat, and if you make a mistake and treadle 1, 2, 4, 3, 2 then you've ruined the whole thing. Saori is not like that.

We begin with a very simple, two frame loom. I say simple because it has only two treadles, two frames, which make two sheds. The device itself is a marvel of engineering. It's relatively light weight, folds up and it has a qualia of stability and warmth.

I immensely enjoyed trying out the different techniques we were shown. I'm full of all sorts of ideas of what I want to add to my future weaving projects (both structured and free form).

I wish I could say that this heart was my idea. It is the work of one of my class mates. What do you think? Can we assess a personality based on their free form weaving? I think this says, creative, free spirit.

And here's mine:
I'm not going to even attempt to read my personality in my weaving.

But I must say I do like this last technique. I can't remember what it is called, but it creates a wonderfully organic structure to the cloth.

I don't know if I could have managed the day out doing any other kind of workshop. The fact is, I found the process of Saori weaving to be ... What's the word I'm looking for? I want to say that not having to worry about structure and design, that by weaving the moment and putting myself into the cloth - this is an activity that gave me energy and calmness. It was this revitalization that sustained me through the day.

For me, the activity of weaving, absorbed my focus (sorry, words are failing me). My concentration drifted to the activity without any effort from me.

I deeply enjoyed myself.

I think that this is the kind of activity that can really help with the mental and emotional aspects of having a chronic illness.