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.