Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Shawl from Hell......

This is my first lace shawl. I have been humbled by this experience. As a knitter, I can say that I have been forged by the fires of this experience. I can now consider myself an "experienced knitter"---not an expert, mind you, that will come later! I naively thought, before taking this on, that if I could produce a lace shawl, I will have reached a goal in my development as a fiber artist that I had set for myself. Always try something you have not tackled, and you will keep on learning! I did, needless to say. I began this shawl 5 years ago. Yes, you heard that right--5 YEARS! I started it with a lovely lace weight dusty rose yarn. I had to rip the shawl back so many times, because of mistakes I made and did not detect until rows of knitting later, that the yarn became ruined. That was heartbreaking. I began questioning my mental capacity, and my bruised ego gave up on it so many times......I shoved the mess into my knitting bag for months at a time, out of pure disgust. Began again with a sock weight yarn that was easier to work with, and forged ahead, with renewed enthusiasm! More ripping back, consulted the Internet, books, any and all manner of research.....gave up a few more times, etc., my battered ego in the ditch. With a half done shawl, and some experience about what NOT to do, I learned to "read" my knitting, check every single row for accuracy before beginning the next row, learned how to use a "life line" thread, and swallowed another pill of determination! Needless to say, I am feeling accomplished and very happy and relieved to have this shawl done and on the blocking mats! I can't wait to start another lace project.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Hand Dyeing Border Leicester Fleece

These photos include color ways in blues and orange, grays and purples, and greens and rose, although the photos don't do them justice! They are soft and lustrous and a joy to spin. I dyed these using a low water immersion technique, on my stovetop, and Jaquard Acid Dyes. A very non-scientific approach, and rather freeing, I might add, since I did not follow my customary weighing and measuring of the dyestuffs. I simply prewet the wool adding a bit of soap to break the surface tension of the water and allow the dye to attach more easily to the fiber. Then, once arranged in the pan with water to barely cover the locks, I randomly sprinkled the dye on top, adding vinegar to help the dye strike, until the water cleared. Can't wait to spin these! I will be looking for Wensleydale fleece and Teeswater as well, next weekend, at the Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival.....those breeds are coveted by spinners, and are softer (finer micron counts) than the Border Leicester! So many possibilities......!

Lock Spinning

This Border Leicester fleece, purchased at the Ct. Sheep and Wool Growers show in Tolland this past spring, has washed up beautifully, and takes dye on with richness and luster. I hand dyed cleaned locks with deep reds, smoky grays, and some purple, and then used the lock spinning method to create this soft lustrous art yarn singles. After washing to set the twist, it will most likely become part of a tapestry project I have in mind....I am spending the long Columbus Day weekend in my studio, as time allows, in between other commitments, and I feel like a kid in a candy store! I will post more photos shortly, of the rest of the dyed Border Leicester.....

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Lace Scarf

This lace scarf is on the needles, and uses 2 skeins of Malabrigo Baby Silkpaca in the Frank Ochre color way. It is soft and featherweight, a dream to work with. The pattern is the "Airy Lace Scarf", from the book "Scarf Style 2". Also on the needles is the Pioneer Cuff, a kit by Laura Nelkin, in Anzula Cloud, which is a silk and cashmere blend in the charcoal color way. This is a beaded knitting project. Both are small, and great for summer travel, since they pack easily and don't take up much space. 

CVM Romeldale and Cheviot-Romney Lamb Fleece!

Two fabulous finds this spring at the Connecticut Wool Growers Festival--a beautiful washed Romney-Cheviot lamb, and a CVM Romeldale fleece in a silver gray color way. Both are very soft. In addition, I found a large Border Leicester fleece, perfect for core spinning or lock spinning, with  those lustrous curls. Can't wait to start experimenting with these! The dye pots will be full this summer.....


These tweed batts and the resulting hand spun yarns were so much fun to create. I started with a tweed mixture of silk Nepal that I had dyed to a mustard gold, and some in black, others were left natural cream. I added them as a sandwich, between layers of naturally colored wool fiber, cream, gray and deep brown, on the carding machine, to create the tweed batts. Then they were spun up to a light worsted weight yarn. I discovered that the yarn was too dense for a shawl that I had envisioned, even though I prepped and spun for a woolen yarn. The fiber is too course. It would, however, be great as a a sweater, or a tote bag or some item that does not need to be next to the skin soft and light as a feather. This project requires a finer fiber, perhaps BFL, or a merino wool. A fine cheviot would work, too. It is so important to sample, sample, sample. Next steps--look through the fiber stash to find something softer! 

Weaving Samples

I had many bobbins full of yarn, and this Mountain Loom Company table loom that belonged to my mother in law years ago. She was a also a handweaver, knitter and hand spinner. I decided to put it to use making samples up from Marguerite Davison's work "A Handweavers Pattern Book", with a pattern called "Jewell". It is a Rosepath pattern, with a number of variations. I'm using up yarn leftovers in assorted colors. This is so much fun, and not a huge time or money commitment! I've been spending the winter months playing with art quilting and surface design on textiles, which requires a lot of materials, and makes a mess (in other words, you really need a big space to work in, while creating! Not a bad thing, just a lot of prep/clean up...)---I love getting back to weaving, it is simple and repetitive (great when you don't have a lot of time, and once the brainwork is done, and the loom is warped, you can pick it up and work on it here and there, as time allows in the evening or on busy weekends at home. We are currently setting up this spring to continue painting our house, and that work will continue into the summer. Since I teach, I have the summers off, so I will hopefully have a sample chosen from this pattern set, that I will use to warp up my new Schacht Baby Wolf loom for some summer weaving! That is, in between house painting sessions!