Sunday, July 21, 2013

Log Cabin Magic 2

Sock yarn is being put to good use in this project. Set at 10 ends per inch, the log cabin pattern is visible, but doesn't scream at you. I have discovered that you need to choose the right colors in the right values for log cabin to be effective. Log cabin is something i have not tried before, and it was fun experimenting with it. The sett is OK at 10 per inch, but 12 would have been perfect.  Cloth is a bit sleazy, but once fulled, should be fine.....the intended end use is a cosmetic bag, with a lining, so I did not want the fabric to be too stiff, either. Love this little Knitters Loom by Ashford. I bought it through Paradise Fibers in California. Their prices are better than most, and they offer 5 dollar shipping (on equipment like floor looms, too!). They have a rewards system where you can earn points toward credit on future purchases, so I am taking advantage of that, since I am in the market for an 8 harness floor loom (just purchased from Paradise), and a Lendrum spinning wheel (hopefully by end of summer). Their customer service is exceptional, shipping very prompt, and with the specials they offer (such as $200 worth of free equipment and supplies with the purchase of the floor loom, on top of the point rewards) you can't go wrong. I selected a trolley for the loom I bought, so I can transport it with ease, and a shuttle holder that attaches to the front of the loom (indispensable), as well as some weaving yarn and shuttles. Good deal!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Garden Inspiration for Fiber (and other) Artists....

As you can see, the garden is flanked by a male and female holly. They required pruning this spring after the deer munched the lower branches.....these photos were taken on a hot July morning, before I weeded the beds. A storm passed through last week and knocked down the tomato plants, so I have plenty of work to do here this week tending my plants! The coneflowers, tithonia  torch (orange flowers) and cosmos look striking together. I would not have thought about combining pink and orange, but it warrants some exploration in my knitting, weaving and dyeing work.......the garden provides endless inspiration to me as an artist, and is a haven of beauty, a place I retreat to whenever I need to think, relax or just be. I actually prefer gardening to housework, if truth be told....!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Merino Tencel yarn!

Here is a sample skein of 50/50 Tencel and merino wool yarn spun up to a sport weight. Approximately one half pound of top I had purchased at the Ct Sheep Breeders Association Wool Festival last spring in Rockville, Ct, has finally made it to the yarn stage! It was a new experience, as the Tencel was not the easiest fiber to work with. I spun it Z, and plied it S, using a modified long draw, after trying several methods, including a worsted style spin, but I was fighting it the whole time, until I tried the modified long draw. This top had a very distinct direction for spinning. When I tried spinning from one end of the top, it was harder to draw out, but when I flipped it end for end and spun from the opposite direction, it flowed more easily. Can't wait to try some dyeing....Tencel accepts dye very easily, and I am sure it will yield some intense colors! Perhaps a shawlette from this, as it has beautiful drape.

Three Cheers for "Ply" Magazine!

So excited to have stumbled upon the new magazine for handspinners. Entitled "Ply", it is a glossy, beautifully photographed publication. The articles are relevant, and a perfect fit for those interested in spinning and knitting--intrepid individuals wishing to learn more and develop skills. I read it cover to cover, then immediately sent in my subscription! Can't wait for the next issue. Ply magazine has a website, With Jacey Boggs as editor in chief, you can't go wrong! So happy I don't have to rely on the only magazine previously on the market that was so flimsy, you could blow your nose with the pages......! 

Websites, Blogs and Other Interesting Tidbits.......

Visited Maine this past week, a vacation destination favorite of ours. Stayed with good friends at Sebago Lake, just North of Portland, and day tripped into Freeport, home of LL Bean. Took in the sights at Casco Bay, and did some shopping. I found a little yarn shop the next block down from LL Beans, called Casco Bay Fibers. Beautiful upscale yarns in luscious color ways and fibers. My focus was books. With so many freshly scoured tubs of fleece in storage, my spinning wheel is ready to fly, I was on a hunt for some inspiration. Bought 3 books:
The Knitter's Life List by Gwen Steeg
Coastal Knits by Alana Dakos and Hannah Fettig 
Juju's Loops by Juju Vail and Susan Cropper
These books I found to be exceptional. Coastal Coastal Knits has very wearable patterns for shawls, sweaters, hats, cowls and mitts. Not lots, I think there are about 10 patterns in all, but there is not one in the bunch I would not want to make! The authors live on opposite shores, one in California, the other, Maine. They use the surrounding environments to inspire their designs. Naturally, the colors are sea greens and blues, lovely rich browns and grays, and the designs have an organic beauty that is truly inspirational! Lots of photos of the land, seascapes and details of things like mustard colored lichen growing on gray rocks provide further inspiration for us fiber artists. One pattern that I particularly like is called the "gnarled oak cardigan". It is shown in a rich moss green, with a cabled oak leaf design at the neckline. The lines are clean, the details enchanting. The "sand and sea" shawlette has a crescent shape knit up in stockinet with a subtly variegated grayed green and brown yarn. The edge is knit in a feather and fan pattern, with an ocean blue color way, reminiscent of fluttering ocean waves. What I really like about this book is that it gives the yarn information used in the sample, and alternate yarn based on Yarn Council Standards so that you can substitute, or spin up your own yarn to the specifications listed. For example, "1000 yards of fingering weight yarn". Gauge information is also listed, naturally. You could spin up and dye your own color ways for these patterns. Highly recommend this one!
Juju's Loops is a Bohemian themed selection of the prettiest, most feminine patterns I have seen. Mostly shawls, and shawlettes, sweaters, cowls, and mitts, these items are beautifully photographed, with explicit directions. The authors have included a few additional patterns for you to download free on the computer from their website. A visit to the site is not to be missed! Lots of inspirational there, as well, and other free patterns to see, also. The book is small in size, but packed with wearable, charming patterns and gorgeous photography, all presented in a sturdy, glossy quality publication. 
The Knitter's Life List is a hefty paperback book, filled with lists of things to see, do, learn, explore. It is not so much a pattern book as it is an inspirational powerhouse of information collected in one place, to aid intrepid knitters on their search for new avenues to explore. Lots of photos, illustrations, techniques and tips, huge resource section in the back for further reading, fiber personalities to meet, (or at least read up on), articles like "Freeing up your inner knitter", for those who might consider designing their own patterns, or trying free form knitting, also abound. Dyeing, embroidery, spinning, historical knitting, are only a few topics covered in this fabulous compilation. Again, highly recommend this for those with an insatiable appetite for fiber knowledge along the knitting spinning spectrum.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Log Cabin Magic

I have finally finished a rigid heddle sampler, one that I had created on my Schacht "Flip Rigid Heddle Loom"! I explored many different hand controlled loom techniques from Brooks Bouquet to Danish Medallion to Soumak and Rya. This little loom is a powerhouse, and has taken a front seat in my weaving explorations. I am challenging myself to carry on with my personal (and thereby professional) development as an artist, by working with various looms and new techniques and processes this year, to become versed in as many avenues of textile making as I can. This project on the warping board is a 2 yard warp in gray and light blue. The weave, though very simple (plain weave, in fact), looks complex when completed, because the order of the colored warp threads are switched as they are threaded through the reed, to create the appearance of alternating blocks of stripes. I have chosen sock yarn to play with, as I have inherited a large quantity from my mother in law, who, as a sock machine knitter, had scads of sock yarn in many color ways, and I thought, what could I do with all of this? So, I am warping up the rigid heddle loom for some Log Cabin Magic! Can't wait to get started! Will post photos of the resulting experiments soon.....