Category Archives: Weaving

Back in the game

I am pleased to report that last weekend’s band weaving workshop was a success!

This is the setup I asked my students to use. It’s not my favourite weaving arrangement (I prefer using my floor inkle or a backstrap), but it worked very well for demonstrating the technique.

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Incidentally, do you like my new-to-me table loom? I do! It’s a Good Wood Slant loom in cherry (the makers of which disappeared from the web the day after I happened upon this one, so I sadly cannot provide the link).

One of the guild members gave me a book of Lithuanian sash designs in exchange for her heddle, so that will keep me busy on this front for a while (say, several centuries). Stay tuned.

In other news, here’s the belated Christmas roundup! I planned to stick to a few small knitted gifts after the woven insanity of last year, and didn’t break my resolution too badly.

First, a griffin hat for my mother:

IMG_1064I used this kit but substituted griffins for the birds. Why griffins? My mother’s dog is named Gryphon, and if you’re interested, she keeps a blog of his sledding, hiking, and canoeing exploits. Also featured in the blog, of course, is…

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HERE, EDGAR THE DOG SAILED.

…Griff’s partner in crime, Edgar! My dad is something of a medievalist (at least, he likes Brother Cadfael) and I thought he might enjoy a little Bayeux Tapestry featuring his dog. This also gave me an opportunity to practice the Bayeux stitch in pleasantly authentic wool on linen. (I did fix the gap in Edgar’s harness, but didn’t take a picture after that.)

Other gift projects included finishing a sweater for my grandmother (pictures to follow), concocting an amigurimi gastropod for my boyfriend (pictures possibly to follow), and whipping up a hat on commission for a friend (picture follows).

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In exchange, she’ll help me make a muslin!

Once all that was done, I made a little something for myself: EXTERMINITTENS!

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Who and a what now?

And then, some socks. This week I made a sock knitting kit out of ah Altoids tin and wool felt to contain my stitch markers, measuring tape, tapestry needles, repair hook, 4″ DPNs, and snips. I’m sure it’s been done before, but I’m  still quite proud of it.

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Happy New Year to you all. Thanks for following the blog!

Northerly

One of the things about writing professionally is that you tend to run out of words by the end of the day. Even a blog write-up is a baffling prospect.

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Fortunately, I’m not weaving for a living!

For my birthday this year, I got a beautiful cherry inkle loom  from SpriggsCreations. It has all of the features I was looking for in a floor inkle loom: easily adjustable tension, sturdy pegs, and that horizontal bar that lets you sit closer to the loom than three-pronged looms like the Cendrel.

To go with the loom, I received a just-as-beautiful Sami shuttle from Ampstrike, which I have long wished for. It’s even better than I thought! Using the shuttle with a rigid heddle designed for supplementary-warp bands, picking out  patterns is almost as fast as treadling a floor loom.

Much more to come on this subject. I’ll be teaching a Baltic band weaving workshop at my guild in January. In the meantime, know that many band warps have been wound and woven: mostly wound, since I’m having so much fun trying out new things!

 

Speaking of new things, I’ve joined the SCA, resulting in a few reenactment goods mysteriously appearing around the house. I wove a silk cap and a wool shawl, and made a leather needle case and sheath as well as a few other goodies suitable for a Shetlandic Norse persona. The only thing I’m not making by hand is the jewelry, because… well, it’s another hobby, and I’m not allowed to start any more hobbies. (Leatherworking doesn’t count, because that’s basically sewing. Right?)

I’ve gotten friendly with several members of my local SCA group, and joined them for a fun workshop in silk painting. I’ve also been practicing the Bayeux embroidery stitch. The resulting projects are less historically accurate, but nonetheless entertaining:

In keeping with the Scandinavian angle that my crafting has taken of late, I dug out an embroidery kit that my mom found at a thrift shop for the grand sum of twenty-five cents. Isn’t it cute?

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It might even be done in time for Christmas.

Well, maybe.

Playing catch-up (and with bobbins)

Crafting has been rampant in these parts as of late, even if the same cannot be said of blogging. I started a two-month bobbin lace course at the end of January, and have spent many hours making tiny samples, learning stitches, and occasionally sprouting side projects to try out my budding skills.

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I have spent an equal number of hours drooling over lace bobbins. They’re the perfect combination and/or perfect storm of small, collectible, relatively affordable (unless you go in for gemstone inlay and elaborate turning), beautifully crafted, useful objects. You can find all sorts of bobbins designed for different aesthetic and functional purposes, and the history of the various types is very interseting. And if you actually make lace, you can justify having a large collection. My biggest project to date called for 19 pairs, but some laces call for hundreds.

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My significant other and I spent a weekend in Ottawa recently, and naturally, my lace homework had to come with us on the train. Some people bring laptops; others bring lace pillows. However, I discovered that it’s actually rather difficult to make lace with the correct tension while moving. My teacher was not tremendously impressed with the results.

On a completely unrelated note, this was the view from our hotel room: the Canadian Parliament. Amazing!

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Right now, I’m working on some trim, just for fun. It’s up to about twenty inches: we’ll see how long I can go. The Canadian Lacemaker Gazette runs a “five-meter club”, but I didn’t wind anything close to five meters on those bobbins. The weaver’s knot (a brilliant invention) may come to my rescue once again.

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Knitting is also making its semi-annual resurgence. In addition to trudging along on the several thousand projects I started last summer, I picked up a few new techniques (Continental!) and am working my way through the new Free-Sole Sock DVD. So far, excellent; I made a mini-sock and learned to knit backwards. I’ll be spending next month recovering from surgery, and hope to have enough mental capacity available to finish at least a few of the four socks, three mittens, two sweaters, and one shawl that I keep meaning to wrap up. There are also a couple of crochet projects yammering at me to finish them. Plus various modifications to existing items, such as a perfectly respectable hat that the recipient shunned as “not warm enough”. At least that can wait until next year. Hmph.

I imagine that weaving will have to take a short hiatus. I’ll be staying with family for a while after the surgery, and though it might be feasible to pack a simple loom or two, I probably wouldn’t use them (I will, after all, be convalescing). Spinning will be subject to similar constraints, though I might pop a spindle in the suitcase. You know, for emergencies.

Also squared away in advance of my departure: two giant bags containing four stinky fleeces. Since my S.O.’s threats of disposal were increasing in proportion to the sheepy smell, I spent the better part of a weekend scouring wool in the bathtub. (And then bleaching the bathtub so as to render it fit for human use.) These fleeces were free, which as fiber-prep folks will know, is a mixed blessing. In the end, I kept the two best fleeces and disposed of the other two, which were heavily matted and very dirty. The ones I kept are of an unidentified longwool: Lincoln or something close to it, but I didn’t have the chance to ask the shepherd since the fleeces were a surprise present (thank you!). Anyway, I now have one white fleece and one black-brown fleece. No plans for them yet, but maybe I’ll make a two-toned fleece rug this summer, à la Anne Field.

Now, there is fringe to be twisted and hems to be stitched. Or I could act like an adult and start my taxes. Thoughts?

Happy Flu Year!

PSA: Get your flu shot. In addition to its role as a major public health threat, the flu interferes dreadfully with one’s crafting goals. I’m just now getting around to rounding up photos of the Christmas gifts I made for people this year, of which the largest undertaking was the Giant Secret Weaving Project. As not all of the intended recipients have yet received their finished objects, I will have to remain mysterious about the intended purpose of the warp… but not so mysterious that I can’t give you a sneak preview.

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A number of smaller, less mysterious creations have also found new homes lately:

– A woven Kindle case. The fabric for this was woven on my little two-shaft Brio loom, if you recall, and I’m pleased with how well the cloth turned out. I did have to add interfacing– a dense sett being difficult to achieve through the loom’s wooden reed– but it’s a sturdy little case, despite my shoddy job of hand-stitching the seams.

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– A pair of scarves for my parents’ dogs. These still need to be modeled by the beasts, but since it’s taken me so long to assemble this post, I decided not to hold it up any longer. You can wait for cute puppy pictures, right?

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– A crocheted hat.

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– Tea towels. Another on-loom picture, since I wove these at my guild, so I need to wait for them to be cut off. The weft is naturally dyed cotton, since I only had undyed yarn, and my turn to weave came up unexpectedly, and there was no time to mordant, so… out came the cutch!

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It’s actually a very nice shade of brown, but the lighting in the loom room doesn’t do it justice.

On the other side of the gifting coin, I now have my very own sewing machine! (Thanks, Mom!)

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The strange gray object to the left? With the bobbins hanging from it? That is a harbinger of doom.

I whipped up a wool skirt to wear to work, upon which I managed to spill mustard sauce on its second wearing. Dilemma: take the whole thing for dry cleaning, or replace the unfortunate panel with leftover fabric?

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After such frustrations, and despite a long to-do list involving less portable crafts, tatting seemed like a good thing to spend the rest of my winter vacation on.

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And then, the tatting triggered some memories of things seen at fiber festivals… and I felt that itch… you know the one. The one that signals a new craft on the horizon.

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Bobbin lace!

Housecleaning is overrated, anyway.

It Folds!

Between twisting fringe, washing fleece, learning to crochet, digging through dormant works-in-progress, winding warps, and planning new projects, this past month has been a busy one. A few days ago, I made a happy discovery while idly browsing Etsy*: the manufacturer of my baby loom! It’s a toy loom from Brio, and at least one other adult weaver has succumbed to its charms. I wasn’t able to identify it before because one supporting beam, which would have been marked Brio, is missing. It seems that later versions of this loom used a rigid heddle, but mine is definitely an older model.

In fact, it brings back hazy memories of a toy loom I had as a child. Maybe it’s the same one.

Once I knew its manufacturer, I could find a PDF version of the instruction manual. To my astonishment…

…it folds! When I saw it in the weaving shop, I tried to collapse it for transportation, but when nothing moved, I assumed the loom wasn’t made for it. Actually, it was just that the screws on which the braces rest had rusted, and just needed to be loosened slightly.

Now it can come with me wherever I go. Or, at least, places that my Fanny couldn’t. So, with an upcoming weekend trip in mind, I warped it up again. Using a finer yarn than last time meant tying another 40 string heddles and using two ends per dent, but as a bonus, this made the log cabin threading a piece of cake. The yarn is Lion Brand 1878, which is a new one for me: a review on Amazon compared it to Harrisville Shetland for half the price, and so far it’s very nice, though I did find one knot and one weak spot in the eighty meters I wound for this mini-project.  I’m looking forward to seeing how it turns out.

Meanwhile, the laboratory kitchen was taking on a suspiciously sheepy smell, so I could justify spending time happily washing fleece in lieu of dishes. Below, a smidgeon of California Red and Targhee from the Spinning Loft:

Fresh fleece is so delicious and squishy that I’ve contemplated using it as a pillow. Or just sticking my face in it.

The Targhee has a good bit of VM, so I’ll be spending some time picking by hand while plotting to build a box picker. I think I’m going to card the stuff and spin it before dyeing, but I did toss some commercial BFL roving into the dyepot. Having done all the samples for my gamp at once, now I’m focusing on one dyestuff at a time.

In addition to deepening my knowledge of natural dyes, it’s much easier to coordinate.

Since it’s been a while since my last post, and the holiday season looms, there’s plenty else in the works: a hairpin lace shawl, a crocheted hat, a knitted sweater, and a 600-end Mystery Warp, all to be revealed in due time. But for today, I’ll leave it at that. Hope you’re having a nice November!

*A too-frequent pastime. Help!

Cowling at the Moon

I’m still down with the knitting bug. (This bout is lasting a while.) I made myself a cowl this week out of the yarn rescued from that ill-fated blue mitten:

I really like this pattern.

I grew up calling these “neckwarmers” and thinking of them as fairly hideous cold-weather necessities, but now I can see why they’re so popular in the knitting community. It took just a few days of here-and-there knitting time, and it’s a cozy, useful item. Meanwhile, the knit-along shawl is still knitting along.

This was supposed to be done by the end of September, but I’m, uh, reevaluating my goals.

Otherwise, small-loom weaving has been the norm around here lately. I need to squirrel away my yarn for the winter! Here’s the naturally dyed color gamp that I mentioned planning in my last post, woven on the resurrected table loom:

 

There’s enough warp left to weave a couple more of these.

I also set up the inkle loom for some tablet weaving. This was the first kind of weaving I learned, so it brings back fond memories, and the potential weave structures boggle my mind all the more now. I’m using a threaded-in draft from the Candace Crockett book that leaves some of the holes empty, producing interesting results. Photos to come!

Not much of note in the dyeing and spinning departments, though I picked up some indigo powder at Vermont Sheep & Wool, and I’ll be experimenting with that as soon as I get my hands on some washing soda. I’ve also been fiddling with some of my dyed wool on the spindle. But there’s another new project I’m excited about: learning to make hairpin lace! I got a secondhand Jenkins lace loom and am trying to get my hands used to a crochet hook.

I haven’t done much crochet of any kind before, but there are also a few non-lace patterns I’ve got my eye on. One is for a crocheted guinea pig, because of my new furry friends:

Meet the noble and dignified guinea piglets Archimedes and Sir Gawain!

It would be tough to  spin their fur, but otherwise, these little guys make the perfect pets: they sit tamely on your lap and make endearing noises while you knit. What could be better on a chilly autumn evening?