The Knit Knack's Blog

Better living through fibre


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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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Weave on: First handwoven Towels in asymmetrical plaid

Handwoven cotton asymmetrical twill towels

First stack of kitchen towels!

Weaving is here to stay, friends.  The 3+ months as a student with MargaretJane Wallace & Joyce Newman have been wonderful.

The awe is a little less immediate a few weeks into having made useful somethings – now I can write about the process.  It’s time, and then I will pack Mom’s towel up with another special project, and mail all to Jamaica.

Sewing machine stitching handwoven cloth

Why yes, I do own a sewing machine.  It came down from the closet shelf for the occasion of sewing 3 lines of stitches to secure the cloth for later cutting.  I would not call any of these lines straight but no needles were broken that cold January day!

Handwoven kitchen towel unwashed

First woven end of the towels

The first weft was protected by my machine stitching here.  It’s the edge with my sampling for the towels.  Peggy Osterkamp says in Weaving for Beginners that the cloth at this stage is called “greige” or “gray goods” or in the loom state (p. 137) as it is still unwashed.

Handwoven towel warp unwashed

Unwashed, and uncut – this part is for Mom

Even at this stage, I could tell that Mom’s towel would come out well.  The sewing-in of the ends process took a good long while but it wasn’t too tedious.

As instructed by MargaretJane, it was fine for the washing machine (cold water) & dryer.

The Finished Goods

Little did I imagine that hemming would be its own learning process but it was!  Mine are hand-hemmed with a slipstitch.

Handwoven asymmetrical plaid cotton towel

Plaid to the left

When hemming went correctly as it did for Mom’s towel the plaid is on the left.

Handwoven asymmetrical plaid cotton towel

Plaid to the right

Same day, same person sewing.  All I can say is thank goodness for the balanced twill – it really does not matter which side the hems swung.  Except to yours truly who will always know.

Handwoven cotton plaid

I love the plaid

My twill lines (45° angle) show the merit in practice making perfect.  I used my protractor in the first towel, and it helped me pay attention to my beat as I wove.

Handwoven blue cotton broken twill towel

Last past the post

The last towel is a shorter 19½” x 15″, and is woven in broken twill.  It has the most mistakes because I was so anxious to finish weaving.  I really like the left-side stripe.  There is no plaid in this towel but I like it lots.

Hemming the second towel showed me the weave is slightly looser at the bottom edge.  When folded in half you see the exact spot where I adjusted my weaving beat – the selvedges are not even end-to-end.

It’s great to see the mindfulness in the cloth.  After using the protractor, I kept an even beat for the rest of the warp.  There are also some treadled mistakes in the twill sequence.  What does not show is the early struggle to even throw each shuttle 22″ across the race.

Cat climbing into Schacht Mighty Wolf weaving floor loom

Melvin the weaving keener

My class warp is for a gamp – 4 new twill threadings are now done and all 5 are almost sleyed.  The warp that Tuesday Melvin was admiring is a small sampler.

It’s still very much a learning curve but I am so happy with these towels, and proud to send one to someone who didn’t laugh but sent me a book and wrote, “Weave on!”


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An irie snowflake, and January is happening

organic cotton handspun knit snowflake

Civilized Snowflake

Oh, January, I see your cold and raise you a handspun, Paper Snowflake.  This wonderful knit pattern is by Naomi Parkhurst was ideal (ideal, I tell you!) for my many hours-worth of 3-ply cotton yarn that I made with coin takhli spindles.

organic cotton handspun knit snowflake

A very wet Snowflake

As the pics show, this was made a while ago in better weather.  It hangs on my studio bulletin board, and is an awesome reminder that small amounts are not useless.

cotton handspun supported spindle coin takhli

It has taken time but cotton seems to be here to stay.  None of my cotton spindles is ever empty, and I gradually spin more.  Spinning with the seed attached is amazing but I also figured out that if the Turkish distaff holds a length of top then I can spin it that way too.

The fact of the matter

I am still getting used to this loss.  The tree had to be removed after the ice storm damage, and was a better candidate for the estate of my dreams than our suburban back yard, it’s true.

ice storm Norway maple tree removal

Hard work underway in bitter cold

I had a full two deleted sentences re: neighbour activity.  Let’s just say salt was rubbed in the wound shortly after I took this picture.

A woodpile from a giving tree

It has been a wrench.  Our home feels different with the new outlook.  We can work with it (new window treatments, please) but first there’s that unwanted bill to take care of.

N has made promises to chop the wood for the fireplace.  Now that would be a fun development and a first!

Bright spots

Of the many (as yet un-processed) things happening this month, I have a few to share.

handwoven cotton kitchen towel floor loom

A third woven twill kitchen towel!

Level 2 of weaving class started last week.  I am using all spare moments to get my twill towels woven.  For this third towel, I kept the yellow weft but learned how to carry the slate blue up the selvedge.  Most of the windowpane is 24 shots of yellow.  I am carrying up by twisting in every fourth pick.

Fourth and last twill kitchen towel!

The fourth towel is underway.  The weft is now light blue, and I am weaving it in broken twill.  It is nice to not be as concerned with keeping an even beat.

Wee Peggy spinning wheel handspun yarn Polwarth wool

Wee Peggy the friendly wheel

In between weaving sessions, I treated myself to a spin-in day at the Fibre Garden in Jordan.  My Wee Peggy wheel is perfect for these events – she travels well, and is easy for me to spin and participate.  I am spinning Waterloo Wools polwarth hand-dyed top in the Tidepool colourway.

There is also much spinning here at home.  This yarn is now all plied up & finished.  It is one ply of a lovely Entbatt, and one ply of bombyx silk – all spun on spindles.  I will give better detail and yarn pics in a later post.