The Knit Knack's Blog

my handspinning, knitting, natural dye, weaving fibre home


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Scissors meet handspun – a twill scarf

The year is unfolding in tough & unexpected ways.  As we work hard to adjust, meet these challenges, I have been pressed out of regular posting as just one result.  By Eastertime, I wanted to pivot and weave something beautiful.

Out came Sarah Jordan’s stunning handspun merino/tencel that I won from her summer 2015 Shawl for All knit-along.

Handspun skein of merino/tencel yarn made by Sarah Jordan Fluvial Fibers pic taken by irieknit

Prized! Handspun yarn by Sarah Jordan, PAKnitWit

Four years ago!  The KAL was hosted in Sarah’s Ravelry group, Knit/Wit Designs Fans and this was not just a happy prize but a real honour to have Sarah’s yarn.

Plastic knitting ball winder with handspun merino/tencel yarn spun by Sarah Jordan and pic by irieknit

Sarah’s yarn on its way to the loom

Close examining with a yarn wrap & Ashenhurst calculation led me to a sett of 16 ends per inch.  Sarah’s yarn is 3,154 yards per pound.  The plan was simple – to warp along plain weave lines for a finer (4,480 YPP) wool weft and weave a 3-shaft point twill structure.

Threading handspun merino/tencel warp on Schacht Mighty Wolf loom by irieknit

An Easter improvement plan – threading Sarah’s yarn

There was enough to wind a 3-yard long warp, go 14.5″ wide in the reed, and proceed to sample wefts but carefully!

Weaving 3-shaft point twill on Schacht Mighty Wolf loom with handspun merino/tencel warp using Bluster Bay end feed shuttle by irieknit

Can you see me smiling – scarf start!

The weft experiments in the header led me to the 2/16 light grey lambswool from WEBS.  The draft itself is from “Linen Heirlooms” by Constance Gallagher, p. 54 taken from a 19th century linen cloth.

Erica de Ruiter’s voice is what carried me through to using this draft, however:

Three-shaft twills have a better drape than plain weave but their structure is slightly tighter, and they have less take-up than four-shaft twills, thus producing a lighter weight fabric (see “Weaving on 3 Shafts“, page 5).

That was convincing enough for napkins let alone this handspun project, and I was well & sold on the idea.

Finished handspun handwoven 3-shaft point twill Lucea scarf by irieknit

Sheen, drape, pattern YES!

This below is the face of the cloth as I wove it.  After wet finishing the wool weft has receded to the reverse leaving the beautiful warp colourway dominant on one side.

Detail of right side wool/tencel handspun handwoven scarf by irieknit

Pattern shows as texture on right side with warp stripes

The fringe buckled when I finished the scarf before twisting.  Ty strongly suggested that I should not trim the ends.  They are scraggly but soft!

Irieknit wearing new handspun handwoven 3-shaft point twill by Lake Ontario

Weaving selfie smile

One small detail is that I threaded the full 12-end repeats, and this gave double shaft 1 ends that I wove in the same way (tromp as writ).  It modifies the twill to a little basket, and that probably has helped the drape.  It gave the weaving a good rhythm for this small motif.

Cutting Sarah’s yarn was harder than cutting mine but I am glad that I braved the process!

Life goals

Inn on the Twenty, Jordan, Ontario

Weekend before last, N & Ty took me to visit the Fibre Garden in Jordan, Ontario.  After lunch at the local cafe, I fell in love with the Inn on the Twenty’s window boxes.

Spinning is getting a lot of love right now – the tv-room is crowded with my wheels & spindle projects are also moving forward.  The Falkland wool top that I got from the Fibre Garden is already improved with Logwood.  The kitchen is a crowded mess but purple!

Two dyed braids of Falkland wool top with Logwood by irieknit

Logwood dyed combed Falkland wool top

The darker purple fibre will hopefully play well with my recently (May 3rd) finished sequence of Blink from the 2019 Female Heroes Fiber Club + Paint It Black by Sheepy Time Knits.

3-ply handspun Falkland wool yarn dyed by Sheepy Time Knits spun by irieknit

Blink met Paint It Black for a sweater spin (3-ply)

Mandie’s club continues to delight.  That I also got to cook-up Logwood dye liquor is a wonderful bonus!

Forsythia blooming in Ontario spring

Early spring Forsythia

Spinning, weaving, even prep work is happening thanks to walks that I have started to take after dropping Ty off at school.  There’s been fatigue, crowded thoughts, and the walks help a treat.

Hand prepared Olde English Babydoll Southdown wool rolags and 4-strand cable handspun by irieknit

Four-strand cable creation with Babydoll Southdown wool

Should my mojo for sharing ‘impossible yarn’ production that takes place around here, I would like to explain about this ongoing 4-strand cable idea from the Olde English Babydoll Southdown fleece.

For now we have these rolags that were a delight to spin against prevailing ideas that I hear being (wrongly, strongly & ever so cutely) offered to new spinners as our placeholder.

 


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Handspun hello – big finishes

Fresh out of the blocking pins is my Lacymmetry shawl reveal.  It’s come through an antique flax wheel, madder dye bath, and knitting with 4 posts here on the Knit Knack, phew!

Handspun knitted lace asymmetrical triangle shawl Lacymmetry in BFL/silk yarn dyed with madder by irieknit

Lace selfie

Wireless headphones on during Ty’s ‘quiet time,’ and I was smiling along to Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn’s music.  More solid FO pictures may yet happen but this was a busy weekend and now we are getting our roof replaced.

Handspun asymmetrical triangle knitted lace Lacymmetry shawl in BFL/Silk madder dye by irieknit

Warm but light BFL/silk knitted lace shawl

The dots of shine in the larger lace holes (double yarnovers) are the gold 8/2 Miyuki beads that I mentioned in my post last month.  In this design they are on 1 side of the asymmetrical triangle.

While still pinning the wet shawl on my mats, Ty came in, approved & added, “… it’s just like a pizza slice!”  Kiddo sees negative space as pattern!

The beads are the cheese, and the big holes are the pepperoni.

Ty, age 7

Project is forever to be a.k.a. irieknit’s Handspun Lacymmetry aka Pizza Slice shawl.

Blocking handspun BFL/Silk knitted lace triangular Lacymmetry shawl madder dyed by irieknit

Creative licence says it’s a wearable pizza slice and who are we to argue?

In the last beading stitch, I used a ceramic starfish.  It is pink and sits to the upper left of this image.

Blocking finished handspun Lacymmetry BFL/Silk madder dyed shawl by irieknit

Wet blocked for length

It took around 1.5 hours to secure the wet shawl in this hard blocking.  The triangle type is different from the pattern sample for 2 reasons.  First, I ran out of yarn with more than the recommended stitches remaining to the left of my marker.  Those vertical stripes changed things.  Second, I blocked for depth and did not match the pattern’s schematic.

Blocked to this obtuse type of triangle my Lacymmetry is a similar width at 61″ and much deeper at 49.5″ compared to Naomi Parkhurst’s sample.  I used all of my yarn at around 646 yards.  The pattern sample uses less at 610 yards.

Detail of blocking beaded handspun knitted lace triangle Lacymmetry shawl by irieknit in madder dyed BFL/Silk

A shimmer of gold beads, why not?

Working with one-of-a-kind handspun also changed the ‘pepperoni’ side’s edge.  In the grips of yarn chicken, I did a basic cast-off.  It is straight and not scalloped as a result.

Handknit love: a handspun baby gift

A little over a half of the Mother of Dragons BFL yarn (mid-September 2018 TKK post in link) is for a bouncing baby boy cousin.

Handspun handknit Baby Surprise Jacket in Blue Faced Leicester yarn by irieknit

Stormborn Baby Surprise Jacket in handspun BFL

With 3.5 mm needles, I had 5 stitches per 1″ of garter.  It was a big decision to use this yarn.  Knitting a gift is a personal dicey affair for me the knitter with millspun let alone handspun yarn.

Back of handspun handknit Baby Surprise Jacket in BFL wool by irieknit

All of the ideas were good here. Handspinning win!

The subtle shift of the blues in Mandie’s colourway that I spun as a 3-ply yarn more than convinced me that this was a great use of my yarn.  The new parents of baby E are thrilled but maybe on less geeky grounds!

Knits mostly but also some handwoven for babies/ kids has spanned the last decade here.  Responses are all over the map, and I found there is nothing for it but to make them when prompted to make.  Four days of avid knitting, more to get a card + cute HBC mitts for these US-based folks, packaging, pictures together and all for a baby you wish dearly to outgrow the jacket.  It’s bananas!

When the parents weren’t really staying in your circle anyway (e.g. last December kid’s wool hat effort, sigh) the heart of it is that a little person has value added in the hands to use for that time of their childhood.  If not lost & preserved for the memory of it as well.  That’s the point.  You hope for more but know it’s fleeting at best.

Handspinning Zwartables wool top on Jenkins Lark Turkish-style spindle by irieknit

Zwartables wool gracing the Lark Turkish-style Jenkins spindle

Let go; make more!

 

 

 


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Mid-winter morning and two types of lacework

Yesterday brought our 3rd winter storm in as many weeks.  It’s been a mess of snow days in already shorter school weeks that has knocked my craft life for six.

For several reasons Ty & I have needed time-off for more unstructured time together, however.  This boon has kept the cabin fever feeling from setting-in but I hope there are no other Colorado lows on the way!

Ice and snow on yew shrub after winter storm in Ontario by irieknit

Prettier than the car

The impact of 24-hour long winter storms hitting mid-week each week aside we are safe & warm through it all, so far.

Ice filling Easter Lily plant the morning after a 24-hour Colorado low winter storm by irieknit

Ice upon ice this morning

All-over lace shawl update

The Lacymmetry shawl only saw the inside of a project bag between early November and 3 Saturdays ago.

Knitting an all-over lace shawl in handspun Blue Faced Leicester Wool/Silk blend yarn handdyed in madder by irieknit

A growing Lacymmetry handspun shawl

The shawl transitions once 2/3 knitted to a ‘diamond’ lace motif that shows strongly with its double yarn-overs.  I paused at the transition point, and am now 7 repeats into this second, final section.

Starting at the 2nd of these repeats, I decided to add gold duracoated 8/2 Miyuki beads on a single return row in the ‘diamond’ lace motifs.

Unblocked and on knitting needles Blue Faced Leicester/Silk blend handspun yarn handdyed madder making all-over Lacymmetry triangular shawl by irieknit

Forming diamond lace with beads hidden

The designer is Naomi Parkhurst of String Geekery, and I love how she advances the diamond lace 3 times evenly in each ‘diamond’ lace repeat.  The beads are highlighting this diagonal advance sequence.  It’s fun to knit!

How I place these beads is with a 0.6 mm metal crochet hook.  My handspun BFL/silk yarn is gently thin to thick, and it can be slower to fit the beads.  They are getting on there with persistence so far… fingers crossed?

Working with this madder orange dyed yarn is also a push back to the dyepots… hopefully soon!

Another kind of lace update – weaving Swedish Lace sampler

Shortly after my last TKK post, I did wet finish the table loom Swedish lace sampler.  I am not quite done gasping but can share the results.

Handwoven Swedish lace sampler white cotton 8/2 warp with weft float checks in dark blue cotton 8/2 yarn by irieknit

Test of contrast weft in Swedish lace (weft floats)

This 1st section of the sampler is better than I expected while weaving.  That said, it is really much more appealing with white on the white warp.  They (every book & my workshop teacher) told me so!

Swedish lace weaving sampler white cotton unmercerized 8/2 yarn in weft floats

Okay, traditional, I see why now

The sampler was not finished schooling my(over-excited)self.  Oh no, it was not.

Weaving sampler for Swedish lace turned lace in contrast and white on white cotton 8/2 unmercerized weft by irieknit

Woah Swedish lace windows, and maybe never with contrast weft then.

Not for napkins was coming through very clearly by this time.  This is the section where I wove turning the weft and warp floats regularly in their A-B blocks as writ.

You may notice that I had a warp-wise (threading) mistake.  The napkins were to be in finer unmercerized cotton (16/2).  I am considering keeping blue weft on white warp but changing to an 8-shaft crackle structure.  Exploring crackle is a definite interest.

For now the loom is closed as I dig-out from storms and continue the Jane Stafford on-line lessons when possible.

Handspun single-strand outer-pull balls of Norwegian wool top dyed by Sheepy Time Knits in wooden tray and Jenkins Delight drop-spindle in Carob wood by irieknit

Four ounces of Norwegian wool top in singles form!

These lessons & outings around town allowed me to finish spinning this other 4 oz of Norwegian top dyed by Mandie of Sheepy Time Knits.  The 5 singles balls will probably be chain-plied like the 1st set was.

We are also up a kid-sized Honey Cowl/ down a braid of Rambouillet wool from the 2018 Woodstock Fibre Festival.  Ty announced that it would go with him to school this morning, “… Because you worked so long on it!”

 

 


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Weaving Wednesday and regrowth is important

Happy new year!  We rang ours in with my Mom on a working visit with us, and hit a snare of challenges in the good thereafter.  Having time + head-space to post is a sweet spot in the month.

January in Ontario often feels like this croton coming back from 100% leaf drop.  Let’s not put too fine a point on how I managed to capture beautiful croton regrowth, it’s a metaphor.  She has my apologies.

croton regrowth from severe leaf drop in fall with winter snow through window by irieknit

Croton perseveres

The turn came after I got postponed chores sorted, and declared a Family Day last Friday.  We had a spaghetti & meatballs dinner to cap that suspension of expectations off, and each day has built on that so well.

Winter walking trail along freezing creek with log partially submerged and snow falling by irieknit

Walk before the storm

We all got out in blowing snow the next morning.  Racing with Ty a creek-side trail was still safe fun before the storm really came in.  Later, while N & Ty shoveled snow, I sat with a small sample that I had started weaving.  More about that idea is to come here & now.

Special thanks to those who showed appreciation for my last post.  Hands have reached out, and I am glad that the idea of connecting resonated for you too.  As things straighten again, I will reply to you properly.

Ducks in a row

That which was 34.5″ in the reed is now a finished 30″ x 38.75″ baby blanket on its way to my friends in Jamaica.

Finished handwoven cotton basket weave baby blanket in white cotton slub and plain weave 8/4 cotton pressed and folded by irieknit

Softness – cotton baby blanket

The draw-in + shrinkage (widthwise) in wet finishing was around 13%.  If you didn’t follow the weaving posts, I used a Glimakra temple for that on-loom reed width of 34.5″.

The slub cotton (Monte Cristo, 1,150 YPP) carries up the right side were an issue visually & with wear in mind.  I rolled the 4-end plain weave edges, and all hemming was by hand.

Handwoven cotton baby blanket in white slub basket weave and sage green 8/4 cotton with Ready to Go commercial patch on lower right hem handsewn

Roomy hem came in handy!

The hems are sewn with 100% mercerized cotton quilting thread (Mettler) doubled.  Gail is excited, and I loved weaving for her 3rd daughter due very soon!

Daytime at the loom on this project was such a joy that continuing to sit at my looms & learn is my main 2019 craft intention.

Title page with author Laura Fry autograph of the Intentional Weaver How to Weave Better book taken by irieknit

Laura Fry is helping with this intention

Laura Fry’s work in encouraging all weavers made it easy for me to ask N very seriously for her book as a Christmas present.  Her Preface ends with the same encouragement I knew to expect, and it is to:

… learn as much as possible about all the variables involved in weaving, determine how those variables affect their cloth and choose strategies that will enhance their experience.

The Intentional Weaver:  how to Weave Better” Laura Fry, 2018, p. vii

She didn’t tell me to buy yarn in the year-end sales but I did!  Ty found this book joy a little confusing.  He’s right, I do have other weaving books but understood when I pointed to Laura’s Efficient Weaver video that he watched with me one day, and that she is a Canadian professional weaver.

“Okay, Mom,” may also serve to end the soliloquy but I think he got the drift.

Another astute weaving move is also paying dividends – I registered for Jane Stafford’s online ‘guild.’

Top of Louet Erica 30 cm table loom showing 4 shafts assembled by irieknit

Two shafts become four! Louet Erica 30 cm table loom

The videos demo Louet looms, and I quickly wanted to finish & install my Erica loom shaft extensions.  Two became four!  The aim was to use this 30 cm loom to sample Swedish lace for a small set of napkins.

Handweaving Swedish lace 2/8 cotton sampler on Louet Erica table loom by irieknit

Swedish lace in 2/8 cotton on Louet Erica loom

Several boring mistakes later, I was putting Jane Stafford’s advice into practice with this 2/8 white cotton warp.  It is a traditional 17-end per A, B blocks repeated across 4 times.

Handweaving Swedish lace sampler showing turned lace skips in each block on Louet Erica table loom by irieknit

Turning the lace skips by blocks of Swedish lace

From the blue colour as weft perspective, I much preferred alternating blocks of weft & warp lace skips.  After all the blue is Ty’s special request, and his buy-in is key.  The project threads will be in 16/2 cotton.

Now that I cut the cloth & took all tension off, I saw just how open the full-on lace blocks will be.  Washing is to come but it’s so very obviously in need of more plain weave sections for napkins.

Growth in another also serious sense

The past couple of weeks have been difficult in yarn communities on the internet.  By accident of opting out of a large platform, Instagram, I missed developing stories.  It was this thread retweeted by @DahlingDaughter, Jasmin Knitmore, that both raised my awareness and gave hope.  Much more reading followed but I am not caught-up.

There are relevant stories that I choose not to share publicly some brought to my ears by raw visible privilege.  Others are inherent to my family background in North America & the Caribbean.  None is taken lightly, and I work to grow by not just listening, research but also by stepping all the way back into my feelings.

We can treat the growth factor as having a table loom & letting my son throw the shuttle with me this past Saturday.  However, in this moment it would not feel right.  The impact of racism, colonialism, exclusion in the craft industries is real.  These are serious forces for creators, consumers, business people already operating in niches that are under economic, social pressures.

I do not expect the spaces that I have exited to change on a dime when I am clear about why I am leaving.  They on the other hand cannot expect things of me such as lending support to values of “non-political discourse” that are anything but non-political in the aggregate for example.

Burnout risk in community is also very real.  For the voices that I admire and hear, I hope the joy outweighs cost however you are able to share openly.

 


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Pulling-up Socks and Closing the Fell

To The Knit Knack Blog’s readers and friends:

You too may be feeling a dash of strain sprinkled with sleep deprivation, and sometime fist-shaking.  On a surprisingly mild December day that is also quiet enough for thinking, I have some admin good news & project successes to share.  First the…

Good admin news

In a series of steps this year we have moved more surely towards continuing to create the blog in 2019.  The latest step is to keep working with the photography mostly in Flickr for now.  We were a free member with over 1,000 photos.  Imagine the chill on reading:

Free members with more than 1,000 photos or videos uploaded to Flickr will no longer be able to upload new content after Tuesday, January 8, 2019 unless they upgrade to Pro. After February 5, 2019, free accounts that contain over 1,000 photos or videos will have content deleted — starting from oldest to newest date uploaded — to meet the new limit.

Did I want the grief of meeting the new limit?  Dear readers, I did not.  We upgraded and I am calling it a Christmas present to myself & my 1,422 all rights reserved photos.  Not a final decision by any means but rather a step into the new year.

We have a big anniversary coming… this next March, TKK turns 10 years old!  Possibly the only thing that has not changed about TKK since 2009 is the intention.  It’s simple really, I build posts on work done.  A tidy idea with no room for affiliates, sponsors or senders of swag.  Just right here in the scary & unpaid open, I put out what’s the most compelling.

TKK is a blog about adult learning that I started as a very unlikely, very new knitter.  In some ways it has come full circle – I do know my way around & am less of a novice even with weaving but find myself at home in the same way that I used to be at paid employment… with less community than I would like, and frankly, stressed.

This morning, I started listening to the latest “On Being” Podcast show.  Krista Tippett interviews her friend, Dr. Pauline Boss who floored me when she said:

The treatment of sadness is connection.

Dr. Boss’ area of work is ambiguous loss, and I will be going back eagerly to hear the rest of the uncut interview.  The admin news does allow TKK to go forward with the idea of connecting outside the walled craft gardens.  Let’s see where it takes us.

Pulling-up my handspun socks!

What a good feeling to have finished the Strie Cheviot wool socks this Sunday!  The designer is Lara Neel.

New handknit handspun Cheviot wool socks in Strie top-down pattern

Ever so snug!

These socks were knit pretty evenly split between 2 months this fall.  The foot soles are knit through the back loop (i.e. crossing the knit stitches).  The 2-ply Cheviot yarn is Z-twist direction, and was slightly loose knit through the front loop.

Handknit handspun Cheviot wool sock by irieknit

Points out where I briefly knit as usual in the first sock

For a few rounds on the first sock, I forgot the ktbl plan.  That band shows clearly in the sock – do you see the slight pucker?

New handknit handspun Cheviot wool socks in Strie pattern by irieknit

So, so good! That new sock feeling

The gentle flashing in the handspun was fun to watch unfold on the needles, and I am in love with the finished socks.  Wearing them has put a spring in my step!

Closing the Fell

Nothing is uncomplicated about weaving a week before family visits for Christmas.  If you are going to do that in the guest room then this a good kind of project to choose.

Weaving basket and plain weave baby blanket on Mighty Wolf loom by irieknit in cotton

Ever so sweet baby blanket

The sage 8/4 cotton is 2 ends x 2 picks plain weave, and the Monte Cristo cotton bouclé is 2 x 2 common basket weave.

Blooming phalaenopsis orchid by irieknit

After pausing to water the orchids, yesterday morning, I sat at the loom bench as much as possible.  The short warp is finished!

Handweaving hem for cotton boucle baby blanket in plain and basket weave on Schacht Mighty Wolf loom by irieknit

Wow that was quick – hemmed-stitching!

The basket weave took-up more than I expected over the 2.5 yard warp, and it will be a smaller size baby blanket.  Good thing I am sending it home for the newborn phase!

As I threw the shuttles, I had time to think both about weaving & a knitted olive branch that I mailed mid-week.

Handknit cabled hat for child by irieknit and picture book

Happy birthday

This is a 20″ circumference (small) Téamh hat designed by Jennifer Tepper Heverly for a turning-six-this-week girl.  As Jennifer explains in her pattern, “téamh” is Irish Gaelic for “warming.”  It’s been sent in an icing of relations, and is not her first FO off my needles.  The yarn here is Cascade 220 Heathers, knit on 3.5 mm needles.

One hat led to another!

Handknit cabled child's hat by irieknit

For a very happy kiddo

Both versions modified the pattern from a garter texture to the traditional reverse stockinette.  I also kept the same needle-size for a snug fit.

Handknit cabled hat for child by irieknit in Sheepy Time Knits yarn

Ears are covered!

The yarn is “Glittering Caves” MCN worsted by Sheepy Time Knits.  Now that this hat has T’s enthusiastic up-take, I have learned more about what’s important in a hat for him:

  • Covers the ears;
  • Warm but not with a folded brim because those are weird;
  • Dyed-in-the-wool colour; and super-importantly
  • Pom-pom is awesome.

Who knew?!?

Handspun BFLxShetland knitted monster toy by irieknit

Also meets with T’s approval – handspun Monster

This mid-September start on a Lloyd the Tall Monster by Rebecca Danger (“Knit a Monster Nursery”, p. 57) sat in pieces for oh, a month.  The yarn is my handspun BFLxShetland 3-ply knit on 3.25 mm double point needles.

With craft gifts almost all given, I am hoping to work up a garment for me soon.  As I sat at my loom this week, I weighed a thought.  Be it resolved to weave more in 2019?  That is the question.  Carving time for weaving = sacrificing other more established patterns.  It may well be time to do that because weaving feels like a barrel of potential.


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Weaving smaller

As the pile of small knits grew & yarn production slowed, I have gathered weaving thoughts.  The last month threw-up one challenge after another.  In my role as Head Cook & Bottle Washer, I have been taken-up with navigating us through it all safely towards the holidays.

Since these challenges are of the I Specifically Told You Not to Upset my Apple Cart variety (powers that be are so awesome), I have frayed nerves that needed some attention too.  Pushed back are the spicy projects, and brought forward are some that have the right mix of inspiration + do-ability.

Side Note:  volunteer spinning hat has also been side-lined, temporarily.  I miss Spindlers and other spaces but am trying to herd adult cats as it were, and know that the team is very capable in my hopefully short absence.

At some point as I scratched an apparently strong itch to knit hats, it dawned that a single cotton blanket to welcome my good friend’s baby was the thing that I could make.  The Monte Cristo cone of cotton bouclé had come home with more adventurous napkin-intended 16/2 tubes.  Now that I see the purchase order it was the week before things went sideways!  Good timing that.

Warping cotton boucle baby blanket for basket weave

For Gail

This 2.5 yard warp uses the white bouclé yarn as 2/2 basket weave, and the sage 8/4 cotton will be plain weave if all goes according to plan.  The sett that I chose is 15 epi, and it will fill most of my Mighty Wolf loom’s weaving width.

Threading for a handwoven cotton baby blanket on Schacht Mighty Wolf Loom by irieknit

Super calming to thread

This is a modification of “Tutti Frutti” by Tom Knisely in Handwoven Baby Blankets, p. 24, and I am threading 4 of my shafts.  In planning, I found good advice on setting-up basket weave in Mary Elizabeth Laughlin’s More Than Four, p. 13.  With my sett and 12-dent reed, I will be able to separate the bouclé basket threads at both heddles (shown here) & reed dents.  There is a special place in heaven for weavers who share tricks & tips in their books.

Our friends are already very busy parents of 2 girls, and this has special thoughts going into the weave.  It was a joy to notice the pregnancy on my trip home this summer, and Gail is not only a great friend but her support for all stages of my textiles journey has meant the world to me.  She truly is a rare pleasure to weave for, and I am sharing the project as I go with her.

Even smaller but in its own way BIG

Weaving a Lithuanian-style sash on backstrap loom by irieknit

Such a good step forward

This has been so exciting that I have pretty much live-tweeted the entire band!  This one will have images to spare.  It started this September, and has been good to finally sit with the Lithuanian pick-up traditions that I have read about and so admired.

The pattern that I am building up to here is named as ‘postscripts’ (prierašciai) in Lithuanian Sashes by Anastazija Tamošaitiené & Antanas Tamošaitis, p. 250.  It is for the last section of the band.

Backstrap weaving Lithuanian band by irieknit

At my loom, and very intent on learning!

It was another book before me that started with a diamond over 7 blue pattern threads.  The technique is given as Rinktiné juosta, pick-up patterned sash in the very well explained Reflections from a Flaxen Past:  For Love of Lithuanian Weaving by Kati Reeder Meek, p. 136.

There I was in the next stage of weaving the design given by weaver, Elena Matulioniene in the ‘hundred-pattern’ type, candle burning and all.  The busy area rug was annoying me all the way, and to protests of both N & T it has gone down to the basement where it can’t bother my eyes.

Backstrap and weaving tools for Lithuanian-style band by irieknit

Without me, the loom

The tools are resting on my straw braided backstrap from Indonesia and all work together to make this possible.  The shuttle with yellow weft yarn was made by Alvin Ramer.  Next down is my Andean llama bone beater (ruki) that made it all possible as the blue pattern threads (Cascade 220) pilled & fuzzed like crazy on each successive pick!  Lastly is a mahogany sword that came with Abby Franquemont’s class kit.

Please remind me that the room barely holds me + a 3-yard backstrap warp?  I clamped to the top of the mantle until a lot of the band was woven and on the cloth beam.  Getting back to finish the last of this warp will be a pleasure not a chore.

As soon as Gail’s blanket is cut-off, the loom will be closed.  We have family visiting from Jamaica, a very welcome change!


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Spins into November – a tale of 2 wheelspun Shetland yarns

In my last post I wrote about spinning a 2nd Shetland wool top from another dyer.  The spinning tools were the same & the process varied only very little.  As I saw during spinning, yes, the yarns proved to be so, so different.

Now that they are finished, I wanted to come back & compare them.

Handspun handdyed Shetland wool top yarns by irieknit

Tale of 2 Shetland wool spins

Furiosa from Sheepy Time Knits’ Female Heroes Club is on the left.  Its 2 skeins weigh 115 g, and are around 187 yards (748 yards per pound).  The colourway shifted gently, and as a conventional 3-ply lilacs and reds shoot through the darker tones.  There is depth to the 3-ply and the colours never muddied.  I suspect that Mandie kept her painting to the length of the Shetland staples but won’t be asking her to spill her trade secrets!

There was some but not very much kemp in this braid.  How long to wind-off the wheel? 8 days.

Handspun handdyed Shetland wool top yarns by irieknit

Autumn Wedding colourway (Sheepspot), foreground

The Autumn Wedding from Sheepspot at Woodstock was lighter at 104 g.  The handspun yarn measures around 179 yards (1,925 yards per pound).

These were both quick spins, and again I didn’t analyse this fibre’s painting sequence.  This braid had 4 colours in a non-repeating pattern with different lengths between the 4 colours.  In other words, purple was shorter than pink, and there were strong ochre & orange runs as well.  The 3-ply from this braid is also complex but with strong, warm colours.  I will use this handspun in a separate project and not paired with Furiosa.

There was a fair bit of kemp, and the yarn is 5 g lighter than the braid was after the picking out.  How long to wind-off the wheel?  4 days.

The minor difference

To recap the method, both braids were spun on Wee Peggy, plied on Martha (Watson) spinning wheels with the same set-ups.  I divided each in thirds by measuring length, and fished out kemp before spinning.  It was a worsted-style spin across the full width of top in the same order of thirds, 1-2-3 order.

It diverged only in Autumn Wedding when the last ¹⁄3 proved heavier by approx. 11 g.  How I handled that was to stop, weigh, and add the last 5 g of hot pink to the 1st bobbin.  The up-shot is that last-dyed from section no. 3 walked up to section no. 1.  It’s a subtle shift but gets noted as enhancing what we spinners call a barber-pole effect.  It was still uneven but that’s the 2nd skein, 30 yards.

This is just one approach for colour in spinning:  keeping an open mind for what the dyer has created.  Next to each other but not a pair, the new handspun Shetland yarns are:

  1. a subtle, cool, heathery  version with a heavy worsted-weight grist; and
  2.  a bold, warm, multicoloured version with a light sport-weight grist.

A side-note – do not pass over a mill-prepped dyed Shetland if there’s some kemp.  You can easily pick it out, still have a quick spin, and avoid (gah) scratchy (sometimes called rustic) handspun skeins… just ditch that kemp!

Handspun yarns and knitting Drachenfels Shawl by irieknit

Testing handspun yarn choices, Drachenfels Shawl

There are times when combining handspun yarns can seem like a good idea only for it to be you know, not.  My winter 2017 Drachenfels shawl has the (front-to-back) Targhee, Blue Faced Leicester & I substituted a Columbia for that beaded mohair/wool skein.  By fall 2017 it worked so well with Romney for my Starry Stripes Handspun Vest.

Handspun Romney wool with beaded mohair/wool handspun yarn for knitted vest by irieknit

Made a great handspun vest

The details are not important.  This time, I already know that these Shetland yarns may never pair well for me.  That’s okay!  I am already scheming for the new skeins to be Pierogi Slipper Socks by Sarah Jordan and/or a tea cosy.  Both feet & steeped tea cry out for these warm, cheerful colours!

For now the 2 wheels are staying empty for a bit.  Not only am I still knitting the 2 handspun projects but there’s a nicely developed warp plan for Swedish lace 2-tone napkins to grace our home.