The Knit Knack's Blog

my handspinning, knitting, natural dye, weaving fibre home


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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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St. Andrew Tribute – twin handwoven blankets

These blankets are for my cousin’s twin boys – a tribute to her, and an extension of The Earl of St. Andrews district tartan to the parish of our birth in Jamaica.

The 1930 design is by A. A. Bottomley.  Having been created for the use of Prince George, it is a ‘royal’ district tartan.  The idea was not just what I thought Cat would like but also to weave a sett from “District Tartans” by Gordon Teall of Teallach & Philip D. Smith Jr.

mercerized cotton weaving yarn for plaid baby blankets by irieknit

Plaid in cone form

In January the Valley Yarns 5/2 mercerized cotton had arrived.  This is not an exact reproduction but I knew the shades would be key for the pattern to work.  The real work took several attempts – I needed to find a way to pivot the pattern, and fit my 36″ wide Schacht Mighty Wolf loom with the 3 lbs of cotton.

The sett that I chose is 18 epi, and I decided (wisely as it happens) to trust my colours without pre-sampling them.  In his “Handwoven Baby Blankets“, Tom Knisely gives a closer sett with this same yarn, so there was a clear choice.

Cotton baby blanket St Andrews Tartan warp on back beam by irieknit

Beaming at last! 

A summer day camp for T made this all possible but not easy.  I happily started winding the warp on Emancipation Day, August 1.  Hemming was completed last night, August 17.

Handweaving St Andrew District Tartan on Schacht Mighty Wolf loom by irieknit cotton baby blankets

Good weaving

The initial impulse was frankly hard to live up to on this project.  It’s not for a lack of feeling but the opposite.

Weaving a wide project that is also exacting stretched me.  This is only my second wider warp, and was 31.75″ under tension (I used a temple/stretcher).  As you may have heard me at nights on Twitter that straight plaid line was only after a re-start.

Rosewood backstrap loom sticks separating warp beam cotton layers Schacht Mighty Wolf loom

Backstrap sticks to the rescue

The warp needed some help on the beam by around the half-way mark.  I added tension in spots, fine-tuning all the while.  The darker sticks are from an Indonesian backstrap loom.  They were long & smooth enough to prevent further trouble.

Cutting handwoven baby blanket pieces by irieknit

Cutting to hem the baby blankets

As I have said before, finishing the weaving often (heh, always until now) gets pushed-back.  This time I paced the weaving better & kept going although T was with me at home this week.

Matching but not quite

The blue-on-blue blocks are my favourite.  The half-tones coming together this well had me practically leaping to give them a hard press right out of the machine.

Tags and hems for handwoven cotton baby blankets by irieknit

More differences!

The twins are fraternal, and so are their blankets.  The 2nd woven on the right has a green hem instead of the pattern blue of the 1st woven.  It is also slightly longer.

Ready for delivery by hand

Dearest Cat,

You have been very patient, and I am happy to be coming to meet your bambinos with our gift.  It all came together.  August has always been your month after all!

Love, Me

Making gifts to celebrate new lives is something I have stuck with through ups & downs.  The blog stopped hearing of them for the most part but this one feels extra-special.  Plus, I learned a lot in the planning and execution.  It wasn’t just booties and a cardigan!


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March handweaving – Two scarves from a Zephyr warp

This is the great use of our March break that I hinted at in past posts – all finished, and one scarf is in happy use.  It is based on a pre-wound pair of warp chains of Fantastic Knitting Zephyr (merino/silk, 5,040 YPP) 6 yards long.

Therein lies a story.

Entering zephyr warp threads on Schacht Mighty Wolf loom by irieknit

Warp sees light of day!

In the last weeks of T’s first school term, mid-June 2017, I was so stressed that I thought weaving scarves would be just the thing.  There I had the most beautiful 2 balls of knitting lace yarn in a colour that a (former) friend thought would be great on me.  She was correct but I just had not wanted to knit that much Suede in lace at all.

Well, I both did and ignored the math.  This led to the correct length, and here is the true quote from my weaving book when winding:

OH CRAP.

This is how I learned that stress weaving is not yet my thing.  I was short by half of the bouts I wanted for comfortable twill scarves.  It needed re-working but my mind was not to be trusted with anything but knitting needles at that point.  Clearly.

There is a literal inked-in note of the yardage requirement for my first idea:  1,728 yards of Zephyr.  The rub?  I had 1,260 yards, and ignored the shortfall at my peril.  But wait.  It ends well!  No to twill!

Handspun camel/silk weft on zephyr warp handweaving by irieknit

So many breakthroughs in one picture – handspun camel/silk on zephyr

What captured my imagination was Erica de Ruiter’s 1 block M’s & O’s in her new “Weaving on 3 Shafts” book, p. 30.  The chapter starts,

This weave, found more or less by accident, was the direct cause for my three-shaft passion.

Passion is understating Erica de Ruiter’s work in this area but I digress.

This effect proved wonderful for showing-off my handspun camel/silk that is 3,560 YPP and only 2 ounces from Schafenfreude Fibres.  It was spun as long ago as July, 2013.

Handspun camel/silk yarn by irieknit dyed by Schafenfreude Fibers

Shopped the stash – camel/silk handspun

Another breakthrough was weaving with my new Bluster Bay end-feed shuttle (Honex tension) in black cherry.  Now that was a splurge worth making!  I wound the pirn using my Leclerc electric winder.

Weaving with end feed shuttle by Bluster Bay on Schacht Mighty Wolf loom 3-shaft Ms and Os

New Bluster Bay EFS in action!

The weft now showing is Aura Lace (35% alpaca; 55% tencel; 10% nylon; 4 oz = 568 yards).  It is sold by Sheepytime Knits, and the colourway is “Elven Cloak” from their now discontinued & glorious Hobbit Club.  The second scarf is a gift for a friend.

Details are that I sleyed the zephyr 20 ends per inch for 9.3″ width in the 12-dent reed (1-2-2 sley).  The handspun scarf’s finished width is 7.75″ x 73″ long; 4″ fringes.  The Aura Lace scarf measures a cool 8.75″ x 6.25″ with the same fringe length.  It has an extra plain weave repeat, and I think this held it more open.

Soaking handwoven scarves for finishing by irieknit

Wet finishing my zephyr blend scarves

Weaving time for me was 7 days (nights, really!) from March 10 – 17, 2018.  The for-me scarf is lovely, and with our late spring I have been able to wear it several times.

Wearing freshly finished handwoven zephyr and handspun scarf by irieknit

New scarf happy!

The differences between the 2 scarves after finishing are striking.  Not only by measurements but also by looks.  The “Elven Cloak” was more grey-green in the skein, and lightens the gift scarf considerably.

Two scarves from one zephyr warp side comparison by irieknit

Side-by-side – weft made such a difference!

There are more detail pictures that I will move to my (irieknit) Weaving album on Flickr, and the Ravelry weaving project is already up.

Finished handwoven zephyr scarf with handspun camel/silk weft yarn 3-shaft Ms and Os by irieknit

Full scarf – first woven with handspun weft

Although my floor loom is empty again, I am weaving a Tattersall check in 5/2 cotton on my table loom now.  We have guests visiting next month, and a lot going-on in the school time before then.

It’s not just a time crunch but things like windstorms and new after-school activities that we have on the go.

Finished handwoven scarf handpainted Aura Lace yarn in Elven Cloak on zephyr warp in 3-shaft Ms and Os by irieknit

Elven Cloak weft on Zephyr for a gift scarf!


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Months of making… quietly

It is fabulous to sit down placing words in TKK’s editor this morning.  Over the long stretch we did live with those new challenges I mentioned (words “cancer patient & break-up”) but were knocked back by a sudden loss mid-November also in our immediate family.  That side had just buried another older family member the month before.

Kingston 8 sunset Jamaica

 

This is one of the new views we enjoyed from a balcony overlooking St. Andrew & Kingston but after the most difficult day.  The grief meshing with a long-delayed trip was tough, and we all have needed the comfort of time to reconcile these very different feelings.

North Coast shore, Jamaica

At the North Coast, briefly

One night on the North Coast was with rough seas.  The reason for leaving Kingston at this point was also a painful but necessary chore that was handled well in the end.

It absolutely did not help that N was sick or that almost everyone was overwhelmed.  In addition to explaining this TKK break the pictures are helping me to re-think my assumption that at least 1 image can go in on T’s big school project.  Pausing to reflect is a good thing in such a busy week.

Handspinning cotton on African bead whorl support spindle by irieknit

African bead whorl spindle in the island

The clay bead whorl spindle from West Africa came with me in the carry-on bag.  Cotton is basically what I love to spin in Jamaica but this combination was the best plan yet.  As of today, I have a 12 g plying ball from this project + a fairly full new cop.  The dish stayed behind but is by a Jamaican artist, and was surprisingly awesome as a support bowl.  I have asked for one!

When I started learning to spin cotton, I had no clue that it is SO very good for the exhausting, emotional seasons of life.  That should be said loudly enough for those of us in the back to catch-on.  It’s SO GOOD, everyone.

Looking forward

Irieknit's Kissing Cousins handknit socks in Tiberius yarn by Turtlepurl

Irieknit pulls her socks up

We have now finalised the formal family steps, thrown our first birthday party (T is 6! It went well!), and are planning a new event with family visiting us for June aka the best month.

Of course, the grief is still with us but its edge has lifted a little.  The prognosis for our cancer patient is thankfully encouraging.  The other difficulty of the break-up is still unfolding but as well as can be expected.  I am making my way through the to-do list logically, and that’s also a good thing.

Weaving with irieknit handspun Gulf Coast Native wool yarn on Louet Erica table loom

New year; new small loom!

This January brought the wonderful gift of a new Erica table loom kit from Louet NA.  Shafts 3 & 4 are on order.  The threads for this plain weave are handspun Gulf Coast Native dyed in the wool by Sheepspot.  The combing portion appeared on TKK here and gave a lovely 164 yards of 3-ply.  The warp is 9″ wide in the reed, 2.5 yards long.

Let’s skip my back beam mistake because it worked out, and Warped Weavers’ members were ready with good explanations for me.  The weft was the carded waste (yes, I have a Pat Green blender/carder!) spun on spindles for the Tour de Fleece last July.

Carded wool/silk blend handspinning on top whorl Tabachek in Holly and Wildcraft bracken spindles by irieknit

Tabachek Holly, and Wildcraft spindles in July 2017

The combed waste is blended with white Polwarth X Port locks & Tussah Silk for 151 yards of 2-ply.  It was a great whimsical spin, and I wanted them both together in a project.

Weaving with T on the Erica was the most special part of the weekend project.  This was in January, and tiring but totally joyous.

The Devil has been in the last steps for projects, weaving & otherwise.  This cloth & 2 scarves that I wove a week ago on the Mighty Wolf are in queue for pressing.  I wet-finished all 3, and have other projects working on.

Some WIPs finish quickly, especially the utility knits like mittens, spinning.  The pulling-up of new socks is to tighten that drift, and to write more often.

Handspinning Romeldale/CVM wool by irieknit on a Wee Peggy spinning wheel

Night is the spinning time – Romeldale/CVM from Spirit Trail Fiber Works

Shorter bursts are an option I don’t quite stick… This was after all going to be a short post & look at the time!  We have renewed TKK’s no-ads purchase, and I am considering the angles.

It is true that the fibre work has trimmed itself down but the same categories are full of promise.  Dye gift from N & don’t forget the fleece to be cleaned!

Botanical Colors natural dye kits for home dyeing

Right up there with washing my October fleece!

The larger projects are still WIPs and not sleeping even though I fell behind on sharing as a log of that work.

For today we have a post, and the socks on my feet/in the post are the Kissing Cousins pattern by one of my favourite designers, Sarah Jordan.  They are ingeniously conjoined!


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Getting more patient: up-noting my weaving, and cotton

The Elin towels from my last post were fully finished by the start of June.  This was the last daylight they have seen!

Handwoven cottolin kitchen towels Elin kit from the loom of irieknit

Four handwoven Elin towels – cottolin; 8-shaft broken twill

The gaps in attending to weaving, writing, and the old craft approaches have been wearing on me.  This cliché assumption all spinners hear now has hit a new chord:

You must be very patient!

My stock response of no and pivoting to the true family trait of stubbornness no longer sounds even technically correct.  There is a new need to cultivate patience.  Life is catching me behind my natural pace for new skills and challenge projects.

Sewing hem for cottolin Elin kitchen towels from the loom of irieknit

Hemmed 2 months after weaving

In between cutting this warp from the loom, and finishing steps, I learned that a good acquaintance who lives near to us was seriously ill.  We were high school friends, and she had moved to Canada before we did.  Even with overlaps in circles at home, I only realized at the end of April that she had been in hospital for most of winter.  This arc of being able to rise to the occasion has been fulfilling in many ways.  It has also shown the upper-limit of my time and energy is not that far from resting state.

With the new awareness of how slim my margins truly are (as opposed to wishful thinking), I will focus on sustaining my home practice.  This meant answering with a no thank you for a teaching opportunity.  It’s a new and frankly unexpected patience.

Andean low-whorl drop spindle with Corriedale wool

Teaching T to spin with an Andean Pushka!

It has meant that I could participate in the Tour de Fleece even as it crossed both of our mothers visiting this summer.  The guest bed does close my loom… Patience is a virtue, right?  That too passed, and the Mighty Wolf breathes again.  This dug into my brain a little – spring sampling and all – and is a set of 2 rosepath combination twill baby blankets from a 5 yard warp.

Weaving cotton rosepath 2-colour blankets by irieknit

Colour and weave (and treadling mistake) rosepath plus in 8/4 cotton

This is the first with the entered colours reversed as weft.  It is a 14-thread repeat, and was a joy to weave.  I used a new Leclerc temple, and have Beam me Up Scotties finally on the cloth beam.  Black lacing is banished forever!

As patience has its limits, I also bought an electric bobbin winder that I used in weaving the 2nd blanket on this warp.

Time for this post is slipping away, and I best get to the cotton spins.  They are the very soul of a patience I never had.  Good thing that I am both stubborn and thrilled to have something meditative for these nights after navigating the unseen special needs of our home life.

Handspinning cotton three ways Atoni rosewood spindle with brown cotton; Takhli with Egyptian cotton slyver; African bead whorl with Egyptian cotton puni

Atoni rosewood spindle with brown cotton; Takhli with Egyptian cotton slyver; African bead whorl with Egyptian cotton puni

The state of these 3 cotton spins has moved since this June 21st picture albeit slowly.  The Rosewood spindle of the Atoni people, East Timor has not changed much & should be wound-off.  The takhli has a 2-year spin of Egyptian cotton top that sits as singles today:

Handspun singles balls by irieknit Egyptian cotton

Hard won 50g of Egyptian cotton top in singles balls

The loose goal is to perhaps use these as weft singles.

Handspun cottons Pima seed, brown cotton seed on Atoni Rosewood spindle from East Timor and African bead whorl spun by irieknit

Pima seeds and singles ball, brown cotton on Atoni spindle, Egyptian cotton puni on African bead whorl

The goals are even more loose with these.  It starts as ideas to spin with new tools, and I let it lead me.  These are closer to my new pace but also to hearing our friend’s advice to parent for the long haul.  None is overblown – we are going to do well if we can.  This summer it meant 1 short day-camp, 2 house guests, no break from the home, and hitting our prime family outings.  Much like blog posting was left undone.  I am trying to embrace both WIPs and the progress that lives in them.

As tiring as this phase has been on different levels it is helping so much.  We can see new things are possible, and add them as we can.  It’s not just short, silly projects as I feared.  It’s also not going at my own way and pace.

Hibiscus flowering by irieknit

End of summer blooms!

 

 


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Stepping up to 8-shaft patterns

Very quickly because I am in prime weaving time… this is happening!

Weaving two block broken twill Elin kitchen towels by irieknit

All 8 shafts are in use!

A first Elin Towel in the two block broken twill was yesterday’s weaving.  After much care for warping and tying-up to the kit’s instructions, I chose to weave 6 repeats of the first block, and 2 repeats of the second.

The shine on my cloth beam was a happy surprise, and you can see why in this next threading image.

Threading for Elin Towels on Schacht Mighty Wolf loom by irieknit

Deep breathing for the threading part

The kit yarn is Bockens Nialin 22/2, which is 60% cotton, 40% flax.  At this point, I saw neither the shine nor the flipping of threads in this section of the warp coming.

Apart from needing to take extra care with threading back to symmetry, I enjoyed having all 8 shafts with these two straight threading blocks.  Having more room to see the pattern take shape on the shafts was very interesting.

Beaming on cottolin Elin Towels on Schacht Mighty Wolf loom by irieknit

Laced-on! Twist kept all behind the heddles.

The adjustments after this point were fairly minor.  No part of this has been speedy but the eight treadle weave has made sense quickly enough.

This kit by Joanne Hall was from my friend Margaret’s stash a couple of years ago.  Finding things like a 3-thread cross, and different warp ties perked me up.  After three months with my loom folded behind a big guest bed, I was itching to weave.  Following the kit let me do that, and then I decided why not go for this new step to using the back shafts of the loom.

In the past a lot of my weaving has gone to others; these may stay in a tighter circle.  The colours are so crisp, and I want at least a matching pair for our home.  Nesting does new things, and it’s good self-worth!

Snow day in March break Oh Canada

An Oh Canada March break helped this weaving happen

It’s cold out but I can hear birds singing & a rabbit crossed our path on the way to T’s school this morning.  For now, I’ll be at the loom!

 


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Season’s greetings!

Best wishes for a happy & safe season to all!

Our Peace and Quiet plans got thrown last Friday when N woke-up with a bad rash.  It’s shingles, and this quickly became a painful week for him.  The treatment is working but his skin continues to be very tender.

Christmas arrangement on handspun woven runner by irieknit

While making do without a tree for Christmas time, the new woven runner & a special delivery are both giving much needed cheer at our place.

A beautiful potted Poinsettia has also been doing a very good job in the living room.  We have traditional ham, etc. looking forward to as well.

Handspun woven Christmas overshot table runner by irieknit

Festive colour splash, thanks to handspun

The winding of my handspun for weft created a regular break for showing the yarn’s colour gradient.  The repeat is enough to bring the break together, and I love seeing the bands as I walk through the hall.

In planning, I allowed 15% extra Harrisville Shetland warp each for shrinkage and take-up after weaving.  This weaving of 55″ with 3″ hems on the ends has washed as a 46″ long runner for our vintage Singer sewing machine.  The width is 13″ (i.e. down 2″ from the reed width after washing).

When not posing for pictures, the table sees good use holding keys, spare change & so much paper.

Reverse woven fabric overshot handspun table runner by irieknit

Reverse – festive bubbles!

The fulling process did wonders for the reverse of the fabric as well.  I love the handspun pops.  The plain weave hems are hand-sewn with some of my late Grandmother’s thread.

The hems’ weft is also handspun that I dyed this spring – the rejected ‘soft’ sand weft in my Colour of Water guild show scarves.  It is 50% silk/25% buffalo/ 25% white cashmere from Sericin Silkworks.  With under 200 yards, I am having fun with it.

Knitting stranded gloves Little Lithuania by irieknit in fingering weight wool

Little Lithuania gloves

Knitting for the sick one is going to be today’s big task.  The incredibly mild weather – hello, 16°C in our town on Christmas Eve – takes some of the pressure off but I would like to finish 3 fingers, and 2 thumbs.

detail of knitting in progress for stranded gloves Little Lithuania by irieknit

Stranded, and his choice of pattern

The design is Little Lithuania, and N chose the Rhichard Devrieze fingering weight yarns in Prato & Cold Pressed.  I have added rounds to the top of the pattern’s chart to get the length it calls for.

Needing to size for N, and correcting an unforced knitting error in the second glove (thumb placement matters!) have made this a race to the deadline but that’s okay.  It is not like he is headed outside or like outside is very cold.

Wishing joy, and kindness

Please be kind to yourself, and to others.  This season can be so full of expectations, loss, strife.  Via Irwin Elman on Twitter, If the holidays are hard for you, doing these 4 things really could help.

Whatever your observance or none, wishing you joy!