Fiber Adventure Week – Blog Candy Time!

I just spent some time reading back over the lovely comments you all have been leaving for me over the past week, and I wanted to thank you for the compliments, kind words, and encouragement. As much fun as I had, I think it was enhanced by sharing with you all, and it was great knowing that there were so many people out there reading the posts each day. I love blog stats. πŸ™‚ I’m really wondering how many of you noticed I managed to twice publish my post without putting the pix in and hand to go back to add them…

So, I’ve been rounding up treats! I thought about putting together just one big package, but decided it’s more fun for everyone if more than one person gets a something, so I have lots of smaller packages instead. πŸ™‚ First, though, I want to tell you how to get into the drawing. It’s easy, but if you don’t follow the rules, you won’t be included!

  1. Look back through the Fiber Adventure Week/Weekend posts and scroll down this entry to see the prizes.
  2. Post a comment at the bottom of THIS entry answering these questions:
  • If you could have come to my house and joined me for ONE activity, which one would you have chosen and why?
  • Were you encouraged to do a special project this week? What was it? (This is an extra credit assignment. πŸ˜‰ )
  • What candy do you want to have the most? Prioritize first, second, and third choice.

That’s all there is to it! Post and answer the questions, and your name will go into the drawing! Since this is a holiday weekend, I know many of you will be busy for the next few days, so I’m going to make the deadline for entering the drawing next Wednesday, April 27, 2011 at midnight EDT. That gives you 4 days to see the post and enter.

I’m going to show you all the candy options, BUT the actual number of recipients will be related to the number of entries I receive. For every group of up to 3 entries, another winner will be chosen – up to the point that I run out of gifts. So if there are 1-3 entries, one package goes out, and if 4-6, there will be 2. 13-15 would mean 5, and so on. Hopefully that makes sense.

So without further ado, does anyone want one of these?

  • About 18.5 grams of hand-dyed, soft yellow and green mawata (silk hankies). Should be enough to make a little pouch or similar sized item – or to just play and learn. Remember, although you can spin lovely, fine yarn with this, you can knit straight from the hankies as I showed in a post a few days ago. I’m eager to start on my part of the stack. These are really pretty in person.
  • A small stack of mawata (silk hankies) and a 6-color Paas Classic egg dyeing kit. Again, this should be enough silk for a small project.
  • My second rug mug, entirely handmade from braided wool roving in sand, brown, and teal blue. Sorry, my first one is not up for grabs, but I think I did a better job on the second one anyway. πŸ˜‰
  • Six ounces of Corriedale roving and a 6-color Paas Classic Easter egg dye kit. Dyed and spun, you can do a lot with this much, but it is also enough to make at least 4 rug mugs.
  • A skein of unbranded, worsted weight wool yarn, ready to dye and a 6-color Paas Classic Easter egg dye kit. Best estimate is that this is about 220 yards, but that IS a guess! It might be fun to weave with this on a small loom after it’s dyed, but of course, it’s great for knitting or crochet or whatever else you love, too.
  • No photo for this one, but you can look on Ravelry (link in sidebar) to see them all – one download copy of your choice of my individual patterns or $10 off the Concerto Tutorial book download.
  • Lifetime supply of Easter stickers and egg wraps and such. This is just a small sampling of what there is. Nope, I don’t have grandchildren… πŸ˜‰

Okay, I think that’s it! I need to get this published and go check on my dye pot! Thanks again to you all for joining me in this incredibly fun week!

Fiber Adventure Week – Day 7

BLOG CANDY – NEXT POST!

Sigh… So today closed the main event, and I have to go back to being a little more normal person – sorting attics, cleaning toilets, answering email, listing items to sell… But this has been SO much fun! I feel lots more energetic, and I’m surrounded by great projects started and begging my time, so you’ll be getting progress reports from time to time as I work on them. And I already have ideas bouncing around for my next event. All I need is time… πŸ˜‰

Day 7 of Fiber Adventure Week started with the weekly Knitogether, a small group of local ladies I taught to knit, and one tagalong husband, who endeared himself even more deeply to us this week by bringing a pie he’d made. Yum! This is the first time we’ve had snacks, as we meet at the library. Gathering in the back room instead of out front wasn’t such a bad price to pay for such a treat. πŸ™‚

Not surprisingly, I slipped quickly into overdrive when I got home. I had about 4 days worth of stuff I wanted to do, and only one in which to do them. After I started a dye pot going, my first order of business was some fulling (aka felting). I really wanted to see what I could expect from the square I wove a couple days back, and since I was going to be filling the washer with hot water and agitating anyway, I decided I should go ahead and toss in my second Angela’s Fabulous Felted Bag, which I’ve christened “Needlenut” in honor of the spruce and hazelnut colored Wool of the Andes Bulky I used to knit it. I’d been holding back on the fulling part, because I needed to have one when the rest of the group gathers to do theirs, but my third is close enough to being finished that I figured it was safe to wash the second.Huge and floppy going in…And a nice sized, firm tote in the end. This one had an artistic nature. I worked and worked on it, but that top edge just refused to felt up as tightly as the rest of the bag, and I have no idea why – unless it’s been considering the overloaded appearance of my oft used first bag and thought a wide fill top was in order. πŸ˜‰ I finally decided to make it a design element and shaped it prettily. It’s different. πŸ˜‰ I love these bags! It will take a couple days (or with the amount of rain we’ve had lately, a couple weeks) until it’s thoroughly dry, then I’ll shave the areas that need it, clip ends, cut a board for the bottom, and go shopping for lining. Happy me!Although the bag took 3 full cycles, the square took literally a couple of minutes to reach one version of perfection. This is the same yarn I’m using on my current triloom project – Cascade Eco + – and I dearly love the way it came out of the wash. However, I’m going to have to watch it VERY closely when I full it. My square is exquisite for a throw, I think, but it wouldn’t take much more to turn it into a yurt wall.

Dyeing kept me very busy on Day 7. I found a lovely new way to make beautiful colors with Easter Egg dye, but I took step by step photos of the worst possible pot. They just don’t show enough to make it worth posting them, so I’ll just give you the quick details and then show what came out of the pot that has me grinning so broadly.

  1. Pick two colors that you think would be interesting together.
  2. Put 3 ounces vinegar, 4 cups of hot water, and one tablet in the crockpot. Turn it on.
  3. When dye tablet is dissolved, add 1 ounce of wet wool.
  4. Dissolve the second tablet in a half cup of hot water and soak another ounce of wool.
  5. Watch the first pot. The moment the dye is exhausted – or a couple seconds earlier, randomly add the second color solution. I used a syringe to shoot part of my color in so I knew it was clear through, then I drizzled the rest over the top.
  6. This might happen instantly, or it might take a couple of minutes, but watch your pot again. You’ll see the dye starting to strike and the water beginning to clear. Immediately put the second hunk of wool on top of the first and push it down into the water – but don’t stir. There should still be color in the water, but not nearly as strong. Your top wool will be much lighter than the bottom one, and the color won’t be entirely set in the lower one, so some will drift up into the upper one. Some of mine benefitted by me flipping the top wool over after about the first 60 seconds. Past that, I didn’t touch it. I didn’t want to spoil the mottled color effect.
  7. Simmer for about an hour, cool, rinse, and enjoy your two beautiful creations!

And this is just how I did it in my very little crockpot. You know by now that I hope you consider this just a jumping off point. Play! After all, that’s what I’m doing! πŸ˜‰First used yellow, then brown second. I almost chickened out of doing this one, but I’m really glad I didn’t!First used hot pink, then used orange. Subtle color shifts, but not so subtle colorway!First used strawberry (lighter pink), then purple. See? I finally managed to get a primarily purple dye job out of an Easter egg dye kit! πŸ˜€ Interestingly enough, the red part of the purple tablet struck at such lightening speeds that absolutely none was left for the top roving, and it came out a gorgeous pastel blue! This was the first one I did, and I didn’t have my technique quite down at that point, so the results might be slightly different if done over – though I doubt it would make a whole lot of difference. Even with 2 ounces of wool in the pot, there was a little bit of leftover blue dye in the pot.And this is my very favorite! I’d not mind having a LOT of this set. πŸ™‚ Dyed electric blue first, then teal (which, remember, looks more like grass green). See? I actually got something that LOOKS like teal in this bargain!

I reserved just a bit of the yellow dye and still had the chartreuse (so called spring green) tablet, and I decided to test drive dyeing some of the mawata I bought Monday. The first big discovery I made is that silk might be a great candidate for Kool-aid dyeing; it stinks when wet!!! 😦I’m rather surprised at my results, as silk usually dyes brilliantly. I suspect I may have needed more vinegar? Or there’s a magic trick I have to discover somewhere that needs to be used when dyeing silk. I have lovely silk, but I also washed a lot of dye down the drain rinsing them, and they left enough dye in the pot to turn another ounce of wool this beautiful pastel yellow.While dye pots were simmering, I was doing some other little projects. I braided and sewed another mug rug (Yeh, I haven’t sewn the second braid yet, but…), then steamed the 2 that are finished. Nice? πŸ™‚ I did a lot better job on this one, I think. This is a good thing, since ultimately I’d love to make a rug…And after watching Judith MacKenzie spinning from a mawata on the Luxury Fibers DVD, I was curious to try doing it. Definitely an interesting and fun experience, and not so hard as I’d expected, even though I was using my Peruvian spindle instead of my otherwise occupied wheel. It takes a LOT of twist, and the fact that I achieved a reasonably consistent yarn pleased me greatly.Because of the nature of mawata, spinning from them doesn’t create the quintessential sleek silk yarn that comes from reeled silk or even tops. There are built in slubs and inconsistencies, but they make a very pretty, strong, fine yarn with relative ease. Out of just one layer of silk hankie, I spun 3 yards of 2-ply yarn at approximately 36 wraps per inch. How fascinating it is to compare the appearance of this yarn with the project I’m knitting unspun straight from the hankies. It was a good experiment, and I want to do more of this, but next time I’ll use either my wheel or a little heavier spindle.I wondered if I could finish my first Fiber Optics roving tonight, but it was not to be. I did make good progress, finally reaching the first of the black. I’m still enjoying this project for the most part, but whereas the first half of the roving spun like butter, somewhere around halfway, I began to be plagued by nepps and rough spots. That’s slowed me down a lot, as my goal – and initial success – was a fine worsted spun yarn. These irregularities are enough to throw off the balance of this still newbie spinner, but I suspect I will still be pleased enough in the end to forget my current irritation with the roving. I guess that’s one benefit of not being good enough to even imagine perfect spinning yet. πŸ˜‰I only got to watch the first DVD of tonight’s review set, but WOW! Deborah Robson’s Handspinning Rare Wools; How to spin the, why we should care is destined to be another of my favorites. I’ve always been drawn to the unique and unusual rather than automatically being part of the flock, so when I started looking at fleeces, I quickly found myself more drawn to Racka and Black Welsh Mountain than Corriedale and BFL. I also have a collector’s nature, so love to gather variety instead of getting into the rut of having one or two favorites. This DVD set was made for me, I think! I’m really enjoying the breed stories and watching her spin some of the challenges she’s explaining within the fleeces. And she’s full of wonderful ideas for using some of the “sturdier” wools – ideas I’d not come up with yet. This is another video set that’s going to get some regular use. I’ve not explored it yet, but there is some sort of printed material on the disks as well. I’m curious to see what it might be.And tonight, one last thing. My audiobook this week has very fittingly been Bellwether by Connie Willis. It was very enjoyable – a little predictable, but quite the pleasant read, as it was written with a sense of humor. Personally, I’m rather amused at the science fiction designation on the book. It’s fiction, and the primary setting is a science lab, but that’s as far as the connection goes. If you find yourself looking for a light, enjoyable read with a gentle romance interwoven with a few laughs, in a not so ordinary background fabric, I’d recommend it.

And so, that’s the end of my week – and the beginning of who knows what next! My next post will have the details about how you might win some blog candy… and prizes are, not surprisingly, related to this past week of my adventure. πŸ™‚

Fiber Adventure Week – Day 6

Don’t forget – Blog Candy this weekend!!!

Oh, did Day 6 of Fiber Adventure Week ever whiz by! It definitely didn’t play out as I’d planned, and now I’m feeling a little frustrated as I look at Day 7 and try to prioritize what’s left on my list. I was on the phone a very long time yesterday, so although my hands stayed very busy, it wasn’tΒ  necessarily the way I’d expected them to be employed.

I got a lot of work done on my triloom weaving, which is a perfect occupation while talking. Now that I’ve doubled my tool inventory by adding a hair pick to my crochet hook, I’m finding it much faster and easier to even and beat my weaving. πŸ˜€ Along with pretty much everything else, this is NOT going to be a finished project by the end of the week, but I knew that from the start. It’s actually only well begun, but that’s enough. πŸ™‚The dyeing was sadly lacking today. I couldn’t think through what I wanted to do with my next kit while I was chatting, so the only thing I did was finish up the last two pots from yesterday’s dyeing. The dusty rose was achieved by mixing the last quarter of the brown with the lighter pink, which I believe they are calling strawberry. It’s a nice color, and I’m happy with it. As for the other… I decided to try the purple solo again, this time knowing more of how this obstinate color worked. Well… it’s better than it was the first time, but it is still multi-colored. There doesn’t seem to be enough red/pink in the tablet to color the entire roving, so it’s gone quickly. There’s oodles of blue, though, and even the areas that get the pink tones are a lavender blue. Camera has even more issues with the pink tones, so this isn’t an accurate color rendering for the purple.Another good phone time project was deconstructing the other of the sweater twins. I now have a total of 22.5 ounces of 50/50 Shetland/merino wool to play with.I did some finger twisting to see what this would look like if I did some spinning. It’s 3 strands of fine 2-ply as it is, and I spun that into both a two and a 3-ply – the 3-ply technically being 18-ply, I guess! It’s a mighty enticing bit of yarn done that way, and I’m thinking I may cave in. πŸ˜‰I’ve been collecting an assortment of small looms, but other than doing a couple of little squares on a Weave-it style loom, I’d not done anything with them yet. Tonight I decided to try out the 12″ square as a bit of a fact finding mission to see precisely what I can do with it and decide what I WANT to do with it. This lovely loom was made by BigFam15 on Etsy, who has satisfied my idea saturated brain by producing looms on special order in the exact sizes I wanted. I’m also impressed with the value and the great service. πŸ™‚I was weaving each row for a while, then I realized I could simplify things for myself by creating one of the sheds permanently. I moved the yarn on every other nail down, and the remaining ones to the tops of the nails. VoilΓ ! Now I only have to pick every other row! πŸ˜€ That really sped up the work!I wove this by pulling a loop through the shed to the nail on the opposite side, so it was effectively weaving double stranded, though easier to keep smooth. It also saved a lot of wear and tear on my weft and eliminated the need to add new pieces as I worked. Ultimately, I didn’t cut off the yarn until I was done, warp through finished project. The resulting square, woven with Cascade Eco + is smooshy and soft, and it has a nice drape. In short, it’s just perfect. πŸ™‚ Since the yarn has a lot of bounce to it, the square came off the loom at 11″. It would be a lovely texture for an afghan just as it is.I did play around with the square for a while after I finished it last night, but I didn’t accomplish anything remotely satisfying, so it’s back to “just as finished.”It seems that I saved my favorite Judith MacKenzie DVD set for last. πŸ™‚ Tonight I watched the 3 disk set Spinning Luxury Fibers, and my head is what is actually spinning! This set has enough material to keep me in learning mode for years, I think, and it contains a lot of bits and pieces of things covered in the other sets, too. If I was allowed to keep only one of the 4 of hers that I watched this week, this would be the one. It’s the one which will stretch me the farthest and serve me the longest, and it had the most information that I didn’t know. She covers numerous ways to play with silk, using the entire first disk for that topicΒ  (hmmm… I could have an all silk FAW someday…), then goes on to camelids in the second and down fibers (qiviut, cashmere, bison, etc.) in the third. Now, whereas this is the “one” I’d keep, it’s definitely not the “one” for a newbie spinner to buy. This is the one to add to your collection once you can comfortably spin wool and are ready and eager to explore more territory.

Fiber Adventure Week – Day 5

For some reason, hitting the midway point on anything – event, vacation, etc. – seems to make the time suddenly being to fly, and that’s how I’m starting to feel about my Fiber Adventure Week. Perhaps this is magnified by this posting being done much later than expected. I’m well into Day 6 as I write this, having been on theΒ  phone literally non-stop since I got up. I love my bluetooth! Hands free to weave and knit while I visit with friends and family or take care of business. πŸ™‚

Don’t forget… Blog candy coming this weekend!

Day 5 started out with what has been my least favorite activity of the week, though it was quite needed. My trunk has become a bit of a storage unit, primarily for fleece, and I couldn’t find a thing. In fact, I wasn’t even sure what was out there in the jumble, and I needed to do an inventory as I start into working on my MSP (Master Spinner Program) certification.It looks a lot better now, I have a written inventory, and I even found a few treasures I’d forgotten about. πŸ™‚The day I raided the Easter egg dyes at the Goodwill, I’d also gone yarn shopping – in the sweater department, of course. πŸ˜‰ The big white sack in the photo is full of some really great yarn, and it cost me next to nothing. While I was folding them (The guy at the check out had stuffed them unceremoniously into 2 large sacks.) so they would fit into one bag, I was drawn to the amazing twin sweaters I’d discovered. They’d both been worn. One was a medium and the other a large, and they were near each other on the rack, though not side by side. This is the first time I’ve ever found litter mates, and that was exciting! Obviously,Β  it takes ridiculously little to excite me. πŸ˜‰ I checked the seams and found they were chain stitched rather than serged, so that meant they would deconstruct just fine, and the best part was that they were a lovely shade of 50% merino and 50% Shetland wool – and less than $5 total. Any wonder why they came home with me?I have a stash of sweaters to ravel, but I’ve not done any for ages, so I decided pulling apart twins would suit for a FAW. In less than an hour, I had the first one apart. These are exceptionally nice for pulling apart, as even the raglan sleeves are shaped with knitted decreases clear to the top instead of being cut and serged. I had well under 10 yards of “waste” yarn from short bits at the very tops of the shoulders, and that was it. I wrapped the longest of these on a nifty cardboard tube I spotted in the bathroom trash, so I’ll have them for seaming if needed later.

Fifteen minutes later, the sweater had become 4 yarn cakes, weighing in at just over 11.25 ounces. I don’t wash the sweaters. I’d far rather wash the yarn so that it can relax and fluff. I’m holding off on this stuff, though, as I’m toying with the idea of respinning it. My finger spun samples were enticing, and I don’t think this fiber is reaching its full potential as three laceweight 2-ply strands knit together. It doesn’t seem to have the energy that it should, so why shouldn’t I add some? πŸ™‚My next bit of business left me annoyed! Remember the A&W mug full of run off dye from the day I wet finished Nechama? I’d never gotten around to dumping it down the drain, though the other 10 or so gallons of it was long gone from the washer. Since I had the roving out, and since the crockpot and vinegar are on the kitchen counter at the moment, it was sort of inevitable that the mug of grape colored water would find its way into the crockpot…And look what I got out of it! I could just kick myself for not tossing a fleece into the washer when it was filled with this stuff! What a waste… sigh… But, yes, I’m glad I tried it. It’s really a beautiful color – and the perfect dye project for a day when I had already recycled a sweater into yarn. I never EVER thought I’d be recycling dye from a commercial yarn. πŸ˜€The rest of my dyeing for Day 5 was really exciting for me! Don’t get me wrong; I love the beautiful, vibrant colors I’ve been achieving with the Easter egg dyes, but I’m not normally a neon/brights sort of person. Besides, I do like a good challenge. πŸ˜‰ I decided I really wanted to see if I could use the exact same dye tablets to produce colors that were more my style. So, I popped open the third kit (Anyone have a use for a bazillion Easter stickers and egg wraps?) and went to work. Without using any dyestuff beyond the tablets in the kit, here’s what came out of my pot.Needless to say, I’m thrilled with the results! Thought you might want to experiment a bit – with wool, eggs, what have you, so here are the “recipes.” I did dissolve the tablets in a half cup of water today. First and foremost, I wanted to be sure I knew what colors I actually had, and secondly, I wanted to have some control of how much went into the mix. The pictures show the blended results along with samples of the solids I dyed. On my monitor, at least, the group photo above seems a little bit more accurate for the actual shades of the finished roving.The olive green was precisely the color I was seeking, and I could have quit right then and been happy. I used the tablet that was apparently considered teal, but just looked like the more green of the two greens, and about half of the orange.I was hoping for burgundy from this, but I’m pretty happy with the deep rose. I used all of the brighter pink and about half of the brown to achieve this color. I’d have tossed in some blue, too, which is probably what this needed, but I had other plans for that.This was probably my biggest disappointment, and not because it’s not a beautiful shade of green, but because the dyepot exhibited the precise shade of teal I was trying to make, and utterly gorgeous. I tried every trick I could think of, but there was some blue that just refused to strike. I still think it’s pretty amazing to see a color like this come from chartreuse (spring green) and electric blue. πŸ™‚And my last color was another bit of perfection, so I started and ended with totally satisfactory results. This pot was dyed with a yellow tablet, the other half of the orange, and half of the remaining brown – in other words, about a quarter of the brown. (That would be your clue that I’m not quite done with the blending experiments. πŸ˜‰ ) It came out a gorgeous golden shade, and I’m delighted! All in all, this was a very satisfactory part of the dyeing experiments. πŸ™‚

So, I have this ever growing pile of Easter egg dyed roving, and I want to use it somehow, but the bright colors mean I’m going to have to put some thought behind how to use them in a way that will make me love them long term. Tonight, I tried out one of my ideas, and I ended up with something else that made me a very happy person.This was my brilliant, sunshine yellow and the sherbet orange solids I dyed a couple of days ago. If you’d like to try making this gradient spinning project, here’s how I did it.

I broke the rovings into 6 equal pieces and lined them up side by side. I tore one of each color in half and put them in the center, holding back the other half of each. (Save a piece of this for samples for your dye records!)Next, tear off a small piece of the second yellow and replace it with an equal sized piece of the second orange. Continue this along the row until you have an even progression along the row, augmenting a bit with the reserved pieces as needed. If you are really feeling precise, use your scales. I decided to just wing it this time around – unusual for me, actually.I love to hand card, and these were small amounts, so that’s how I blended my strips. I tore them in half lengthwise, blended the two colors, then split those two little batts in half and blended half of each together to make my colors even. I (bravely) prepped these to be spun woolen. It’s important to keep these in order as you work. You’ll likely find that you can’t really see a difference from one batt to the next. I had two places where there was too great a jump between colors, and in those places, I took one finished batt from each side of the line and carded them together. Sorry I forgot to take pix. I was having so much fun watching this magic happen that I totally forgot about the camera.I’m really looking forward to seeing how these look spun up, but I’d like to improve my woolen spinning before I try them, so I needed some way to keep them in order. I strung them like beads on a strong sewing thread, running one up each side and tying them together. I can now roll the bundle up and handle it easily, and they will be ready for me when I’m ready for them. πŸ™‚

Even with all this, I still found time to spin, and I’m well into the dark red now. My bobbin is pretty smooshy, and I’m getting very concerned I won’t be able to get all four ounces onto one. I really don’t want to break this single, and I’m a new enough spinner that I don’t really have a lot of good storage options for larger spinning projects. Doing 12 ounces for one spin when it has to all become singles before it’s plied is really pushing my resources if I don’t put all 4 ounces on a bobbin. :S I didn’t do much on the other ongoing projects – one pass on the triloom, and one hankie into the mawata project – so no pix for those. However, I did watch another Judith MacKenzie DVD set – Popular Wheel Mechanics. As I’m coming to expect from her, I found there was much to learn on this set, but I did find myself a little bit annoyed, too. It’s just my opinion, but I don’t think this set should be as expensive as the others. It was sponsored by several of the major spinning wheel manufacturers, and there were more than a few times that it felt more like a commercial than a class. Perhaps that was even more annoying to me since I own Kromskis, and they apparently didn’t buy into the program. The infomercial feel got in the way of the enchantment I’ve felt while watching her other DVDs this week. Yes, I did find it very fascinating to see how even small adjustments on a wheel can dramatically change the yarn one can spin on it, but I found it tiring to hear repeatedly about what a wonderful thing Ashford or Louet or whoever had done when they did this or that to the wheels they manufacture, or to hear that “on a Lendrum…” I’d have been a much happier student if the advice hadn’t so often felt “breed specific” and had been stated in more generic fashion. Too much of the presentation felt like it didn’t relate to me, even when it actually did if I turned on the mental filters to remove brand names. I hope Interweave isn’t going to make it a habit to do this in their DVDs.

Fiber Adventure Week – Day 4

I’m going to start off with “business” today, but will make it short – promise! First, don’t forget that there is going to be some blog candy available at the end of the week, so stay tuned! I’ll be posting details Friday, assuming things go as planned, but I will tell you that the amount of candy passed out will be directly related to the amount of participation in the end. πŸ™‚

Secondly, I’ve received some comments that people can’t find how to post comments on my blog. It’s easy – once you know the trick! πŸ˜‰ If you are on the main blog page, scroll to the bottom of the post and look at the small print. You should see either “Comments” or “Leave a Comment.” Click on that, and you are set. The other way is to just click on the title of a post. That brings up a page that shows only that day’s post, and at the bottom of it, there will be a comment box.

Monday of my Fiber Adventure Week was just as busy as my previous 3 days, but I have a little less to share, because I spent a large part of the day away from home attending my knitting guild meeting and making my once a month pilgrimage to Fiberworks, my LYS that is actually an hour from home, to see if there happened to be any mandatory stash augmentations. Of course, since this time I was there with a shopping list, I didn’t have a lot of trouble spending too much…There’s a pile of Cascade 220 in dark green, brown, ivory, and pink for a weaving project – a throw, I believe, and some already caked (compliments of store employees) Cascade Eco + in blues and greens for another weaving experiment – a tote. The thick mawata stack is indicative of how fascinated I am with knitting from the hankies. πŸ™‚ There’s a bulk sack of generic undyed wool, bought primarily for sampling and class projects. I want to be able to use the same fiber consistently for as long as possible, as I feel that will keep my records more accurate, not to mention make my books more attractive to me. The bulky Mini Mochi was an “accident” – not on the list, but on clearance for 25% off. ‘Nuff said? And the yarn laying on the mawata is some Cascade Ultrapima and Noro Tanabata. These were an impulse buy, and I’m picturing them together, woven, and for a garment of some sort. The reason for the 3 roving nests will be explained later, and perhaps another day, also the felting tool… And I just realized, much to my shock, that the only thing I purchased to “probably” knit is the muwata. Oh dear…

The only one of my major continuing projects I worked on is the spinning. I’m now firmly entrenched in the red. The color makes me think of the flavor of my favorite cherry juice, if that makes sense. Is it possible to taste a color?Oh, and look how far I got on my Angela’s Fabulous Felted Bag! I was knitting like crazy during the guild meeting, and I think I put 4 stripes on it. Just imagine where I’d be if I’d not been late due to… ummm… checking out at the LYS… Ignore the colors. The real burgundy and mustard are a lot prettier and much more “me,” though I must say that the red and yellow I’m seeing on my screen would make an attention grabbing tote! Today’s real adventure arrived in the morning’s mail with decidedly good timing. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve wanted to make a braided wool rug, but it’s just never happened. Last week I made a serendipitous discovery on Etsy. ShepherdsRug has an intriguing spin on the braided rugs that grabbed my heart instantly. Instead of braided fabric strips, they use wool roving, making gorgeous rugs without the tedium of cutting and turning in edges, and decreasing the number of tools necessary for the project.Β  They sell gorgeous finished rugs, but they also have published a great book full of instructions and inspiration, along with some great background info on wool in general (great reference source for my MSP reports!) and information about working with the wool from various breeds when making braided rugs. Definitely recommend the book!I also recommend something else they sell – a mug rug kit. For $20, I got absolutely EVERYthing I needed to make two mug rugs with the braided roving technique, save for a pair of scissors to cut the lacing thread. The roving, sewing and felting needles, clamp, felting pad, instructions, linen thread, and even rubberbands are included. It’s one of the most complete kits I’ve ever seen. If you wonder if you’d enjoy this, get the kit and try it out. Look at the rug photos in their shop. You’ll know by then if you want the book. πŸ™‚ The basic concept is the same, but there are a few special techniques needed for the full sized rugs. BTW, those two full spools of thread aren’t part of the kit. I bought those extra. I believe in being prepared for all eventualities. πŸ˜‰And I spent the rest of my fiber time Monday night proving it works. πŸ™‚ And this would be why I picked up a few bits of roving at Fiberworks. I figured if I was going to be out anyway, I may as well take advantage of having some more colors to work with, so I took the kit along with me and plotted 4 rug mugs with the 6 included colors and 6 more yards from the store.

  1. Braid the roving.
  2. Taper the ends.
  3. Lace into a circle.
  4. Finished and fabulous!
  5. Then start another one… πŸ˜‰

Okay, so this is fun! I need to make a rug for sure now… πŸ™‚ I think I might need to check into how much it costs to have fleeces processed at a mill…Whilst braiding and spinning, I treated myself to another DVD by Judith MacKenzie – The Spinner’s Toolbox. I love this set! The focus is drafting, first an overview, then an in depth discussion of each of 6 basic techniques, with loads of examples and hints and even demonstrations of what NOT to do! She covers the strengths and weaknesses of each, and explains exactly why you need to have each of them in your repertoire.Β  I can see myself watching this repeatedly through the next few years, as it’s going to take a while to absorb, then execute everything she shares in these DVDs. After two evening of watching Judith’s instructionals, I’m seriously addicted, and I’m really glad I have two more of hers yet to go. πŸ™‚ My newest fantasy is for her to come teach somewhere in southern Ohio… soon… πŸ˜‰

Fiber Adventure Weekend – Day 3

I think today was too short. I lost track of time and was up way too late, not the least bit sleepy. I was trying to decide what to do next when I caught sight of the clock and gasped in horror. How I hated to go to bed! However, I’ve also made an executive decision. I’m enjoying this far too much to stop just yet. I have a big list of things I want to play with yet, so… drumroll, please… I’m changing this to a Fiber Adventure WEEK – 7 full days – AND…

At the end of the week, there’s going to be some blog candy to be had! Work for you? πŸ˜€ Total amount of candy to be disbursed will be based on the amount of participation. I’ll be posting details later in the week, but for now, you just may want to think about which activities or projects look like the most fun to you…

What was on the schedule for Sunday? Well, first, I managed to convince myself that laundry was a fiber project, though not so very adventurous. Since the decision to wash clothes or not was directly related to whether I could attend Monday’s meeting of the Dayton Knitting Guild and canvas my LYS, Fiberworks, for stash candidates, you can probably guess what I decided. πŸ˜‰ Then there were my continuing large projects, of course. I had a nice chunk of phone time, so the knitting on my newest Angela’s Felted Bag made some great progress. However, I forgot to take a picture of it before it saw Monday activity, so just use your imagination for this one. πŸ˜‰ I didn’t get a whole lot done on my triloom weaving, as my back was bothering me some, but still some progress.And the spinning is coming right along. The deep orange is starting to give way to red now, and I’m eager to see the full changeover soon. I would love to be able to fast forward to see the finished yarn, but that’s a while in the future yet.And a little bit more dyeing, as I finished the last three solids from a Dudley’s Easter Egg dyeing kit. I didn’t go beyond this today, because I’m plotting what comes next. πŸ˜‰I’m a bit baffled by the color names listed on the back of the package. The best I can figure, the green is teal and the neon chartreuse is the green. Who knows which is the pink vs. the strawberry… But the colors are fun, and I’m full of ideas. πŸ™‚A very important project for today is part of an ongoing adventure. I have cotton seedlings started, a total whim. I have no idea if I can actually grow and harvest cotton here, but I’m giving it a try! I started them indoors a few weeks ago, but I have no plant lights and not the best conditions, so despite them having their little heads above ground for several weeks, I’m still not seeing the first “real” leaves, and they (along with all my other seedlings) have really been struggling. Today I put 5 of the 8 into pots, hoping this will be better conditions for them. The weather was pretty, so they got a little sunshine and fresh air as well. I need at least one more pot and more soil, so I can get the rest of the cotton potted. I’m not sure any of my other seedlings will survive at all, and there’s probably going to be a lot of direct seeding in a few weeks as I start over. It’s been so sad to watch them struggle indoors. 😦My biggest adventure today was knitting from silk mawata (aka silk hankies). The evening that Tyg died, I was online noodling around on Etsy, and Wooliebullie had just listed a 42 gram package of hand-dyed mawata, colorway “Broken Heart.” I sort of felt like she’d put them there just for me, and I bought them without hesitation. Though I’ve bought several silk cocoon hankies in the past, I’d yet to actually do anything with them, and since this is a Fiber Adventure Week, what better time?! πŸ˜€ It’s turning out to be a fascinating process, and I’m enjoying it a lot. That would be why I didn’t get as much weaving done today as I’d expected. πŸ˜‰ If you’ve never worked with this fun fiber presentation, I’d definitely recommend you try it at least once. It’s a great way for a non-spinner to still be able to produce their own one-of-a-kind yarn, with no equipment required!

  1. Put on lots of hand lotion, even if you don’t think your hands are rough. Trust me on this!
  2. Peel of the first ethereal layer. Don’t do this in front of a fan…
  3. Poke a hole in the center of the silk.
  4. Put your hands in the hole and stretch the center out to the border.
  5. Decide how thick you want your yarn. You can stop without doing anything else, or you make it thinner by working your hands around the circle and stretching the fibers apart as you go. You will need to have your hands farther apart than you’ll probably start with, and you’ll have to pull harder than you expect. Silk is a very strong fiber! Plan to go around the circle several times, thinning the thickest spots and being careful not to break the ring. Remember, you don’t have to achieve perfection. The variations in thickness add character to handmade yarn.
  6. When you are satisfied with your yarn, break it on one place.
  1. Wind it on something – fairly tightly. This isn’t absolutely mandatory, but it does make a whole lot easier to manage. I’m putting mine on my nostepinne. You can prepare several at a time if you’d like.8. Knit! You don’t need to do anything else to it if you don’t want to. The fiber is so long that it makes a perfectly solid yarn and a lovely fabric with a nice hand

I’ve chosen to stretch my hankies until they are pretty close to 3 yards of total fiber, and I’m knitting on size 2 needles. The fiber is fluffy enough that it actually also worked on size 8 needles, but I found it challenging to work on circulars with it. It didn’t like jumping the hump, and I finally ripped it out. The size 2 needles are the largest metal DPN’s I could find on short notice, so they won by default, and I’m liking the fabric I’m achieving with them, too, so it’s a go. πŸ™‚ The photo above shows 5 filmy hankie layers knit into a tube with a cast on of 40 stitches on US 2 needles. It’s already over 1.25″ of knitting.

Also, there are other ways to attenuate the silk fiber, such as pulling the hankies from the corners, but I like this circular method. It seems easier to keep the thickness uniform this way. And if you like, there is absolutely no reason not to spin, and even ply, the hankies before knitting them. I’ve not tried it yet, but it seems like spinning them might produce a little bit more luster, but that’s just a theory, and you’ve seen how my theories have been working out lately. πŸ˜‰ Anyway, if you knit, you definitely need to try silk hankies at least once, just for the experience.While I was spinning and working with the muwata, I watched The Gentle Art of Plying by Judith MacKenzie. What a pleasure that was! This is a DVD I will watch again, and I’m definitely keeping this in my library, as it suits my tastes and needs well. I love the way she shares information and methods, then reminds us that there are always exceptions to even some of the most basic rules. She also is good about giving the “whys” of things, something I truly value in a teacher. I have at least one more set of DVD’s by her, and I’m really looking forward to watching them now. πŸ™‚

Okay, that’s all for now! Don’t forget to stay connected. Blog candy coming soon! πŸ™‚

Fiber Adventure Weekend – Day 1

It’s terribly rare that I have an entire weekend off, and so close on the heels of my retreat, perhaps it will seem a bit greedy, but I’ve decided I don’t care! I’m having a Fiber Adventure Weekend – a first of it’s kind event. So far, I’m having a blast. The only thing missing is having a lot of you all here with me! And just for the record, this feels a whole lot different than the retreat of two weeks ago. πŸ™‚

So, what happened here on day 1 of my FAW – Friday? Lots of fun stuff! And true to the event name, there has been a lot of adventuring going on! First up was dyeing. About 6 weeks ago, I stopped by a Goodwill store and much to my pleasure, I discovered they had egg dyeing kits – and check out the price! – and with NINE color tablets each! I limited myself to just 5 of them…I have several ideas of things to try with them, the first being a concept I thought might produce a gradient end product. Not wanting to spend the entire weekend hanging out at the microwave, I got out my little crockpot, for which I actually have two liners – one for food and one for dyeing. Convenient, eh? πŸ™‚I sorted the color tablets into 3 groups of 3 each, because my crockpot is a bitty baby sized thing and can only hold 3 ounces of fiber. I’m showing the groups in case you happen to like the way this comes out. I had – and still have – no idea what color is produced by pretty much any of them other than the bright orangy one being yellow, of course.A few months ago, I got a great deal on some corriedale roving, so I have a very bountiful supply and have been using it freely in playful pursuits. I pulled off 3 strips of it weighing 1 ounce each and wrapped each strip around 1 of the color tablets, making the tablets the “hearts” of the balls. My vision was of the tablets dissolving and oozing color through the ball of roving from the inside out, and by the time it reached the outside layers, it would be nearly used up while the middle remained dark.The dry balls were packed in my crockpot and covered with water and 1 cup of vinegar. I turned the pot on high and left it for 3 hours. After everything was cooled, I removed the balls and discovered that there were bright, undyed areas on the outside layer along with areas of intense color, often showing samples of more than one color I’d used. I was pretty eager to see the inside of the balls!. I rinsed them and eagerly opened them up, and I was tremendously surprised by what I saw! However, first you get to see the second and third pots at the end of their stewing time… πŸ˜‰

And here’s what my roving actually looked like!Yeh, it was a huge surprise! The darkest areas on every single strip of roving was on the OUTside of the ball!Β  But remember, this is a Fiber Adventure Weekend, not a professional dyeing workshop. πŸ˜‰ And there are some really pretty combinations here. I’m trying to think through all the options of how I might spin these now…

Just so I’d have something that was relatively comfortable and predictable, not to mention the loom was still up and tempting me mercilessly, I started a new triloom project using – GASP! – a single, solid colored yarn, Cascade Eco + in a yummy burgundy.It comes in 8 ounce hanks, which are too large for my very average ball winder, but just as I started to moan about having wind by hand, I realized I could use my ball winder to go as far as it would, then finish the rest by hand. Whew! I’m using it double stranded on my 7′ loom from Dewberry Ridge.The next project on the schedule has been dangling for a couple of months. Back when I snow-dyed the one and only time this past winter, I grabbed some of that corriedale roving and gave it a quick baptism in the run off dye in the wash tub, then finished it in the microwave. This gave me some interesting, soft colors and kept me from feeling like I totally wasted quite as much of the excess dye. I quickly envisioned making batts using the soft brown and soft green along with some white silk noil and dyed wool nepps, entitling my creation “Snow in Spring.” It was beautiful in my mind! Of course, I’d sent all of a couple ounces of fiber through my drum carder the entire time I’ve owned it, so I qualify as totally clueless. The night I thought I was going to whip all this up is the night I’d discovered that they don’t call it a petite for nothing. I divvied everything up so that each batt had 2 ounces of fiber, and I quickly found out that my little machine choked to death on half that much. Oops! By the time I discovered my “few” batts were actually going to have to be about 25 batts to use up what I’d dyed, I was done in for the night, and the stuff has been in the tote untouched ever since.First step on Friday was to weigh some of the components down into smaller, even quantities. Next, I started working on the somewhat compacted corriedale I’d dyed, turning into fluffy fiber again. Then I spent a LONG time learning more than I thought I didn’t know about carding, but by the time I tried the third stack of fiber, my education was sufficient enough that I produced a usable batt – half the size of even my greatly reduced version. This would mean a total of 50 little batts from the fiber I dyed. Methinks this is going to take a while… so… before I committed to the other 44, I figured I should spin what I’d just made to see if it’s worth it. (Chanting Fiber ADVENTURE Weekend…)In the spirit of being a good girl, and because I HAVE to learn to spin woolen as well as my much enjoyed worsted if I’m going to pass my Master Spinner Certification, I spun one each way. Suffice it to say, I have a LONG way to go before I master woolen spinning! In my defense, this was the first time I’ve been able to spin since the beginning of November, this wasn’t easy fiber to spin, I’ve only spun a few yards woolen in class, and that reduced me to tears, AND lumpy, bumpy yarn has never been my forte – even when I spun my first skein. I really didn’t need to label which was which, did I? πŸ˜‰ It’s pretty awful! But anyway, what do you think? Make up the rest of the batts? And does anyone have any tricks to keep the nepps in the fiber instead of raining into my lap as I spin?

Having struggled through that adventurous (ahem…) little exercise, I thought I deserved to do some spinning I would really enjoy. πŸ™‚ I bought 3 of these rovings from Kimber Baldwin – Fiber Optic – on Etsy a week or two ago, and I still had them out where I could drool over them a couple times a day. They were the perfect victim! πŸ™‚Talk about a delicious pleasure! I’m loving spinning the merino/silk blend in my comfortable “fine and smooth” mode! I’d only spun a silk blend once – a few yards in my MSP class – and I think I’m horribly addicted. It doesn’t hurt that the colors in this roving are so utterly awesome, either… I’m pre-drafting, because I’m spinning the entire roving through in one gradient swoop from beginning to end – and then I’m doing some playing that I’m hoping looks more like what I envision than the egg dyeing did. Now back to work! Day two is in progress, and I don’t want to miss too many minutes! πŸ˜‰ Can you believe I didn’t knit a single stitch all day Friday? Hmmm…

Nechama

I feel like I’ve been sitting on this one forever, and I’m excited to finally have it ready to share. πŸ™‚

Two weekends ago, right before Tyg died, I was being suffocated by stress coming at me from many directions. It struck me on Friday evening that what I really needed badly was a retreat – right then and there! Whereas it was totally illogical to run away from home, no matter how badly I wanted that, I realized that since hubby was going to be gone all day Saturday, I COULD do a retreat of sorts – just do it here at home.

First step was to become an activity director. What should I do on my retreat. I decided that I needed to find something that was entirely outside of my current, normal pattern, so it would keep my brain occupied. On the other hand, it needed to be simple enough not to require TOO much brain, because by that point, most of the matter between my ears was largely marshmallow. And, since I was cheating in a way by running away from so many important things I should be doing, I thought it should be something purposeful. Of course, it goes without saying that it had to be something enjoyable. One doesn’t spend a retreat cleaning toilets and balancing bank statements.

It really didn’t take me too much effort to figure out that my retreat project needed to be either spinning or weaving, and since my new triloom had just arrived the previous Monday, and the week before that, I’d bought some gorgeous yarn that wouldn’t leave me alone, the weaving won. It’s tough to feel impossibly guilty weaving a project that will result in a 2011 goal being marked off my list, too. πŸ™‚ After spending a couple hours Friday night pushing ideas around, I came up with a color balance I loved. I love the ease of planning plaids here. I must confess that despite the fact that this was to be the first thing I’d ever woven beyond baskets and my childhood passion of potholders, I’ve spent more than a few hours designing some lovely fabrics on that tartan site. It really helps me see what I have a tough time imagining otherwise.

Saturday, I had a couple of things to do before I could start weaving. All my yarn needed caked, and my loom needed to be set up. My gorgeous loom was built by Gary McFarland of Dewberry Ridge, and I have to say that after several years of shopping, I managed to make a seriously good purchase. I had this ridiculous fantasy list describing my idea of a perfect triloom, and I knew full well that there was no such thing. After all, I’d spent quite a few hours looking at the sites since I’d first heard of them, and I knew what I wanted was impossible:

  1. Adjustable size from small to at least 7′. I don’t want to buy a different loom every time I want a new size, and I hate making decisions like “which size first?”
  2. Must be attractive – nice color, lovely finish, and well built. I love wood… but I don’t love fake wood or poor quality finish. And this had to be built to last. I wanted to buy it once. Period.
  3. Must have a matching stand. I simply have NO wall space around here.
  4. Should be easy to store. This is where the fantasy bit started. I don’t have a place to store a 7′ triloom, even if it was in three pieces. In fact, this was a very large part of why I didn’t already have a triloom.
  5. And after all this, it had to be affordable. Some of the prices I’ve seen on the larger looms made my eyes water. I THOUGHT I’d like this type of project, but having never actually done it, I wasn’t positive. The less I had to spend, the better. Of course, with the previous four items on the list, this was a total laugh!

Or so I thought! But I’m now the owner of a beautifully and brilliantly made triloom and matching stand, which I purchased at a very reasonable price, especially considering the quality and engineering that went into them. This triloom is heavy and solidly built of red oak, and very nicely finished. It breaks down into a stack of pieces that will fit into a duffle bag or suitcase. These pieces fit together in various combinations to make five different size looms – even feet from 3′ to 7′, and when the loom is built, it’s beautiful no matter what the size – no big chunks of lumber jutting off the corners needing red flags on them. Each size looks like a complete, finished loom. The absolute ONLY problems I ran into were both “me.” First, this is a loom built of solid hardwood, so it’s heavy. Wimp here could hardly manage to get the box in the house alone. Second, my weaving spot of choice was our currently (and temporarily) empty foyer. I underestimated just how large a 7′ loom on tripod stand would be, and to build such a thing alone in a room where it barely fit was more than a bit of a challenge. Thankfully, Gary is a design genius, and it went together without either my loom or myself sustaining any injuries. Whew!I won’t bore you with a blow by blow account of the weaving, but I will share a tip I figured out quickly, which made the project even easier for me. I marked my pattern across the top beam with Post-It notes so I wouldn’t forget when to change colors. I made a few other important discoveries, too. Installing sufficient lighting in the area greatly reduces one’s resemblance to the Penelope of myth. In fact, it might even triple the rate of progress. πŸ˜‰ And, since I was using a combination of Himalaya Tibet and Noro Iro yarns, I was dealing with a serious difference in grist. I needed to use the Tibet double stranded to the single strand of Iro. I did survive this exercise, but I probably wouldn’t recommend it to other newbie weavers. It definitely increases the number of ways one can err in the work…

I had no idea how much time it would take me to weave a 7′ shawl, and I actually still don’t, to be quite honest. I’d like to hope that the next time will be faster now that I’ve learned the benefits of illumination. I never thought about the fact that the farther the weave advances, the slower the project becomes, and that halfway through the nails is not halfway through the time. If you’re trying to puzzle out the “why,” it’s because each pass increases the number of warp threads, so there is an ever increasing amount of actual weaving until the very last strand is woven. And then there was the business of getting to the end and not having the right number of nails left. This would be related to the lack of illumination mentioned previously, and it involved a lot of repositioning and re-spacing of weave before I was satisfied it was as good as I could make it. And by that point, I was totally in love with the way it looked!Other than very short breaks and not so very much sleep, I worked on the weaving for about 36 hours. My back was killing me, but I didn’t really mind. Tyg had deserted his nest and joined me Saturday, and he spent much of that time with me, purring, napping, and watching the yarn as it draped and danced enticingly. And not only did I have the weaving and Tyg, but I was listening to Connie Willis’ Doomsday Book. By the end of the weekend, I was feeling very sore, but about as mellow as I could be under the otherwise lousy circumstances. It turned out, the biggest part of the project was the fringe. Both of my yarns were singles, which meant leaving them dangling was out of the question. I wanted to use all three colors in the fringe, so although I tried it, the crocheted twisted loop fringe didn’t work. In the end, I had to take the 4 strands of each fringe tassel and twist them in 2 pairs of 2 strands. These were twisted back onto each other and knotted 3.5″ below the lark’s head knot that held them on the shawl, and the tails were trimmed. By the time I finished the fringe, I was able to do a tassel in 2 minutes. Assuming (hah!) that I was as efficient when I started as I was at the end, that would mean fringing would have taken me over 11 hours. We’ll leave it at that… πŸ˜‰ It DOES look good, but in future projects, I will know to count the cost before I settle on which yarn I’m going to use.The last step remained – wet finishing the shawl. It’s odd, but I was really nervous about this step. I guess in large part, it was because by this point, Tyg was gone and this had become an even more special project, and I just didn’t want to ruin it. I checked with the yahoo triloom group for information about fulling it, and I received quite a large amount of diverse information. I was actually relieved. It meant that there wasn’t any “one right way” to do this part, so that made it tougher to mess it up. πŸ˜€

One thing I’d done a few days earlier was swatch the purple yarn and wash it, trying to get an idea about how it might soften and how much it would shrink. I have to say here that despite really liking this piece, it did feel more like burlap than anything else. (I also discovered as I worked on the fringe that my finger was prone to go right through the weave – not good…) This yarn has no bounce, and it’s moderately tightly spun out of wool that is definitely not merino. The swatch didn’t shrink much at all, it softened up a little bit, and much to my surprise, it bled like crazy. I’m SO glad I swatched and washed!

I had to wait for what seemed like forever for the weather to clear. My only good drying space is outdoors, and it was raining yet again… and again… and again… but at last there was a break in the clouds. My final choice of how to finish was more abusive than I’d originally planned, but it worked – thankfully! I filled the washer with hot water and some Unicorn Scour. Then I took a deep breath, which I’m not quite sure how long I held! πŸ˜‰ In went my beautiful shawl, and I agitated it on the gentle cycle, checking it every 60 seconds for 7 minutes. The last check showed me that the yarn was starting to bond into a cohesive enough fabric that my finger no longer went through the weave, so at that point, I filled the kitchen sink with cold water and dropped it in, hoping to firm it up just a bit more. I guessed correctly for this yarn and this project, and it was absolutely perfect! Whew! πŸ˜€ The water in the washer was the color of grape juice. For real! See???I changed the rinse water in the sink to lukewarm and gently rinsed the shawl until the water was running fairly clear. I didn’t want the colors bleeding while it was laying to dry. I’d come to far to want to lose it now! The final rinse was accompanied by a very generous glug of white vinegar and a couple squirts of Unicorn Rinse. Then I spun it long enough to get out the worst of the water and laid it neatly on my blocking mats out in the driveway. I ended up pinning the top edge, so I could hold up the edge of the mat and jiggle most of the fringe into place. A little smoothing of the fabric and finger combing of the fringe, and all that was left was the job of the wind and spring air – and whatever draft I was creating by going out to look at it every 20 minutes… πŸ˜‰

It was still damp at bedtime. 😦

But it was dry today when I got up, and WOW! Even handling it fulled yesterday didn’t prepare me for seeing it today. I can’t believe the transformation! I wasn’t kidding about the burlap. I honestly thought I’d knit a shawl only I could truly love. It was pretty, and everyone was gushing over it until they touched it. That’s not a problem any longer. Somewhere in the night, my burlap shawl became soft and smooshy and wonderful! It feels like a nice, cozy wool blanket, and tonight at knitting, everyone was stroking it and smiling – and trying to sneak it into their bags behind my back. Me? I’m grinning like the Cheshire Cat, loving the magic I accidentally performed. πŸ˜€

So, the detail stuff… First of all, no, the difference in color from the early pix to the last few has nothing to do with the dye loss during washing and fulling. The final photos are the fairer depiction of the actual colors. No matter what tricks I tried, I couldn’t get an accurate rendition of the colors indoors. Think royal purple and medium olive in the Tibet, and burnt orange variegated for the Iro. Full details regarding amounts used and other knitty gritty about the weaving are on my Ravelry project page. And since I’ve already been asked several times, Nechama is a Hebrew girl’s name meaning “consolation; comfort.” Making this shawl has served me well in this regard, easing the last few days of Tyg’s life and my first week without him here. I’m happy to have something so special coming out of these twelve days, and I’m glad for the memory of Tyg supervising my first triloom weaving. I’m sure if he were still here, he’d be looking for a way to usurp it for a nest right now! πŸ™‚ And lastly, yes, I just marked the second item off my 2011 goal list. Yippee!!!

A Riddle

Okay, so what has 5 reeds,

6 treadles,

8 harnesses,

a zillion heddles,

and no floor space???

How many of you guessed me? Yeh, I know… Wasn’t too much of a stretch, was it? πŸ˜‰ Let’s just say I’ve had a very eventful week, and part of the eventfulness involved not one, but TWO looms. Having wanted something beyond a rigid heddle loom for years (which I just found out during the last couple weeks is a tool I’ve apparently grossly underestimated), I’d actually relegated that dream to totally fantasy. After all, how long can you wish for something before the thought of having it becomes more fairy tale than possibility? But reality happened for me, and when it did, it happened in mind boggling proportions…

A few weeks back, one of the women on a fiber groups I enjoy on Yahoo posted that she had a LeClerc Dorothy table loom and folding table for sale. Wow! A 4-harness loom at a price I could handle – and with Christmas money in my pocket! No, I simply couldn’t resist. πŸ™‚ I fired a check off to her and settled in to wait impatiently for my new toy. Noodling around online looking for info, one evening I found myself on Craig’s list. I got to wondering if there was any chance I could find the big triloom I’ve been wanting, but instead of that, I discovered a 36″ Harrisville Designs floor loom for sale in the next town north. Dare I? I mean, how crazy would it be to get both? I don’t have room for either at the moment, but… well… I went with a friend to look at the floor loom Wednesday, and it sort of followed me home. It was a great deal, as she sent along the warping mill, a bobbin winder, and two tubs full of warp thread, mop yarn, and fabric strips for rug weaving, too. We spent the rest of the afternoon rearranging things just so I could have it in the house, and thankfully I figured out at last how to fold it. πŸ™‚ Of course, what I want to do is figure out how to weave on it!

Meanwhile, FedEx showed up at my door a day earlier than they’d predicted – late Wednesday afternoon while we were still untangling rag rug fabric strips – with a 41 pound package. Yes, I ended up getting both looms the same day! It’s a bit mind boggling, to be quite honest, and my choice would have been to spread out the excitement over a bit longer time. Little Dorothy folds up ever so much smaller, even with her table, and she’s going to be my first playmate for sure. I’ve got some big work to do before I can work on something as large as a floor loom, but the Dorothy sets up in a space smaller than a card table. That I should be able to manage fairly soon. She brought some lovely yarn along with her, so my biggest challenge at the moment is to arrange space and decide exactly what I want to weave. I’ve been busily ordering books and DVDs to help me get started, so I know what I’m going to be watching during knitting time this coming week.

I do wonder if I’m ever going to get my triloom. I guess it really wasn’t a good idea to buy the yarn 2 years ago for the project I designed to do on a loom I didn’t even own, but… πŸ˜‰

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