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my handspinning, knitting, natural dye, weaving fibre home


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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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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!