Damselfly’s Delights

Being the continuing story of my creations and curiosities.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Done and Dusted

I did it! (I sound just like the Littlest Grandbeastie, Rosebud, there. Heh!) I finally and with Great Perseverance have finished:

The Surprisingly Difficult Waffle Weave Tea Towels

clip_image001

Date Begun: June 22, 2014
Date Completed: July 29, 2014

Project idea: from “All-Purpose Waffle-Weave Towels” by Marilyn Murphy, from Handwoven’s Design Collection 18: A Treasury of Towels.

Warp Yarn: New World Textiles 16/2 hemp/cotton, 55% hemp/45% cotton, natural (off-white).

Stripe Yarn 1: Blue Blazes (hemp/recycled blue jeans cotton) from New World Textiles, light denim blue, handspun on the brass tahkli and plied on Louet Victoria wheel, approximately 2/8.

Stripe Yarn 2: Organic cotton from Sally Fox, New Green (natural green), handspun on the brass tahkli and plied on Louet S-90 (?), a little finer than 2/16 cotton. Simmered in soda ash solution to bring out and stabilise the colour.

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Warp length: 4 yds (4 towels @ 30” each plus loom waste)

Warp width: 20”, 601 ends sett at 30 epi (2 per dent in 15 dent reed) plus floating selvedges

Weft: same as warp. 2 towels woven with plain hemp/cotton and 2 with stripes at each end.

Partial Draft: 

WaffleWeaveTowels draft

Finishing: Towels were cut apart, hems pressed, machine stitched with the same cotton sewing thread as used for the hem weaving. Finally machine washed and dried, both hot.

Comments: The original pattern used New World Textiles 10/2 organic cotton sett at 24 epi. My yarns were finer so I sett them closer. That was a good call, at least for the natural hemp/cotton.

I had GREAT difficulty with this project! I had to separately weight the jeans/hemp yarns, spritz frequently with water and slather everything with flax-seed sizing (aka snot!) to make them behave. Still ends broke constantly! (Mostly the jeans/hemp on shafts 1 and 4 which didn’t interlace as much as the other ends.) Lots of repairs to make. The last towel was 2.5" short but didn't want to chance trying to weave further. The shed was getting very small because of the heavy weights hanging off the warp bar. I even had to make string slings up to the loom frame to support the bar near the end.

After cutting off the loom it took 2 long sessions to finish repairing all the broken ends. However, the final results are quite lovely! They feel soft but crisp at the same time and are very absorbent. The finished towels ended up 14.5” wide by 23” long (except the last one which was only 20.5” long) – a nice hand size. You can’t even tell that the tension was wonky and there are many repairs in there! The hems are not too rippled and are in scale with the rest of the towels. I guess it was worth having nearly INFINITE patience with these things! I think I deserve a medal for sticking with it despite everything that went wrong.

I currently have the littler towel hanging in the bathroom and one of the others hanging on the oven door handle. In use already! Surprisingly, now I want to weave another project! Hopefully a much quicker and easier one. I even have it all picked out and ready to start. Kind of like getting back up on the horse that threw you, right? More on that soon.

Meanwhile, I want to tell you about 2 of the new books that I got. They are kind of related, both of them being about natural dyeing. First up, we have the latest by Jenny Dean:

A Heritage of Colour

This is quite a small book but it’s packed with really interesting information on the dye plants that have been used in Europe, in particular Great Britain, for hundreds of years with great success. Jenny is a really good writer and has a way of making the complex subject of natural dyes accessible for nearly anyone. Most importantly she combines the necessary information with encouragement to do your own experimentation. I find it the perfect middle ground between the rote “follow this exact recipe” and the airy-fairy “try anything and see” approaches. I’ve learned a lot from all of her books and this one is no different. The text is pretty dense so reading it carefully is most rewarding.

Unfortunately, I was a little disappointed with the repetition of much dyeing information that is already available in her earlier books. Though I suppose it’s really helpful to have it all in one volume especially if this was your only source of information. Jenny explains everything you need to know succinctly but thoroughly. Included this time is info on contact dyeing (sometimes called eco-printing) and on using lichens and fungi. The fibre of choice for the dye samples in this book is wool, including dyeing over natural shades of grey and brown wool. The abbreviations used in the photo captions were somewhat annoying until I finally found the key in the text on p.48.

I haven’t quite finished reading every word yet, but I’ve already discovered a couple of dye plants from my garden that I haven’t tried including buddleia and willow. And I’m quite excited about the 1-2-3 vat (aka the lime/fructose method developed by Michel Garcia) as used with woad (powdered extract). I have yet to experiment with this. Ah, so many plants – so little time!

The second book I got is this one:

A Garden to Dye For

The author here is a garden writer as well as a hobby farmer who includes fibre animals with her plants. Chris lives in Placerville, California, so she has a more North American viewpoint including woad as a noxious weed! However she has done her dyeing homework. The result is a gentle and easy to understand introduction and even though Chris insists she’s not scientific, there’s definitely enough clear info to be useful. This book will help even a beginner dyer get good results from plants that you can grow in your own yard and Chris happily gives reasons to play with the more fugitive colours, such as for dyeing eggs or play-dough. There are also instructions for watercolour dye paints, play silks and eco-dyed scarves as well as the usual fibres and yarns.

This little hardback book is a lovely production with lots of enticing photos and an interesting layout. It could benefit from a more comprehensive index rather than just the plant names though. Otherwise I thought it was pretty comprehensive as a way to get started with natural dyes and, as I already do, to grow them in your own dye garden. I enjoyed Chris’s personable friendly style.

Both Jenny Dean and Chris McLaughlin are careful to discuss environmental and safety issues in their books. This is a quite different approach to the “olden days” when natural dyers were flinging around the more toxic mordants and using the less nasty ones in much higher proportions than necessary. My Guild has even gone so far as to put a disclaimer sticker in all the older dye books in our library as a warning that the amounts and types of mordants are not now considered environmentally safe. We live and learn, right? Assuming we survive our original follies!

I have several more books and videos to review. More soon! Right now I’ve got dinner to get. Hungry…

Monday, July 28, 2014

Heating Up Again

So where did I leave you last? Oh yeah. My thumb is feeling totally fine again. No idea what the problem was but I’m so glad it didn’t linger. I’ve had tendinitis issues in the past that were extremely long-term and debilitating. I’m always doing my best to avoid that happening Ever Again! It’s kind of hard to do though if I don’t have a clue what caused it in the first place.

So finally I’m partway through weaving the last Waffle Towel. I found the secret is to keep spritzing the warp with water to counteract the dry conditions in my studio right now. Oh, I will be so glad to cut this particular demon off my loom! I have given myself permission that if this last towel gives me any more serious trouble I’m going to hack the darn thing off and call it done. Life is too short to put up with struggling to finish weaving a few bucks worth of yarn, even if part of it was very fine and time-consuming handspun. Moving right along. I already have an inspiration for the next warp. Which was one of the original purposes of this first project – to jumpstart the weaving mojo that has been missing for the last number of years. Of course I haven’t been doing any sewing while I’ve been weaving. Hmmm…

The weather has been heating up again. I was so enjoying some cool days and even a spot of rain to ease the constant garden watering. Speaking of the garden, the peas are done but the beans are coming on strong even though the scarlet runners have barely even started yet. I’m quite liking the French-style filet beans (pole) that I’ve been growing for the last couple of years. They seem to be quite productive with their long skinny pods. Must get a photo to show you. I’ve pulled out the garlic which is currently curing on the deck. Also the Juliet and Black Cherry tomatoes are starting to ripen. They are so big this year! The plants have already reached the roof of the greenhouse and fallen over because I didn’t tie them up well enough. It was a chain reaction with the weight of the bunches of tomatoes bringing several more stems down with them. I’ve since tucked them back to clear the pathway into the greenhouse and hope they will keep producing anyway. Oh well. We get what we get.

I tried to fill in some of the bare patches in the garden with some more greens: lettuce, arugula, mizuna and red komatsuna. Sadly the lettuce totally got eaten off by slugs. The mizuna only has a few survivors but the komatsuna has more and the arugula did very well. We’ll see if I can get them big enough to eat before we go away in September. Otherwise there’s not much point in planting new seeds because they wouldn’t do much before we leave. Nobody will take care of them while we’re gone anyhow.

Speaking of going away, we decided not to go to Kettle River this coming weekend to meet up with bro and sis-in-law. Too far, too hot, too risky. Provincial campground rules say no second RV in a single campsite and even though we seem to be able to get away with it at Manning Park, Kettle River is fussier and their campsites are smaller. Our van is no bigger than an SUV which would be allowed but some parks managers are sticklers for THE RULES. I’d hate to drive all the way there (6 hours) and find out there’s no place to stay on a crazy-busy BC holiday weekend. Not my idea of a good time.

In other crafty news there’s not much to report since not much got done. I’ve been happily spending some of my earnings from the Kumihimo Classes though! I bought a few books, a video class, some yarn:

Elann sock yarn

This was my first order from Elann and they were very prompt. The box was really well packed – even the receipt had its own plastic bag! I’m quite pleased with them. The company is actually within driving distance of me in Delta, BC so I could conceivably get Thom to take me out there to pick up an order and save a bit of postage but it wasn’t really expensive to get it delivered. At least there were no Canada Customs involved which always slows things down! So what did I get this time? The new A-Series F05 sock yarn: a dozen balls. The A-Series yarns are knitter-influenced and made especially for Elann. The whole fibre content and their sources are right on the label. This one has South American and European wool and nylon and is spun in Italy. The price is very reasonable (less than $4 per 50g ball) and there are quite a few single colours including white and natural that I especially like for overdyeing. This lot is going to be either a sweater or 6 –8 pairs of socks. Don’t know how it will wear as socks but I guess I’ll find out, huh? It doesn’t seem as durable as say DGB Confetti or Regia to my fingers though.

I also ordered a couple of extra items in my Elann box: two more connectors and a pair of Heartstoppers (end caps) for my Addi Lace Clicks (short tip) set. I never understood why the set doesn’t include these items in it in the first place! These will give me more options to keep stitches from falling off if I need to detach the needle tips. Also to create stitch holders for armholes etc. So convenient. I love my Addi Click system so much that I’ve completely ignored my original Denise interchangeables since I got them. No contest. Although if I needed larger sizes the Denise has some really big tips! For smaller circs though I need the regular Addi Lace fixed circular needles. Clicks don’t size down past 3.5mm due to the connectors. Next time I order I’m thinking of adding to my cords as well. Can’t have too many of these great tools, can we?

So guess I’d better get a wiggle on and get my next instalment of the Summer Woolie Wash out. Yesterday I did this many shawls and scarves:

WoolieWash2 WoolieWash1

I ran out of blocking wires, foam mat space and room on my deck for any more! Most of these are sock yarn except for the Black Rock Shawl (Jared Flood’s Rock Island) in Zephyr wool/silk and Galloping Gail (Gail or Nightsongs by Jane Ara├║jo) in handspun bison down. There’s a bunch more waiting their turn in the warm soapy water today. It’ll be so nice to snuggle into clean woolies come the cooler weather!

More soonest. I have several crafty books and videos to review.

Friday, July 25, 2014

A Quick Upadate

Oh, man! This has definitely been the time for car repairs around here! Our MINI Cooper, Velvet (a whole 12 years old now!), needed an oil change but what she got was a new water pump, timing belt and a wash and brush up as well. Ouch. Though a lot of it was on warranty and such so it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. She’s good to go now and the best part is we aren’t at all seduced by a new one – even though they have all kinds of mod-cons like a fob instead of a key and a push-button instead of a key-start. Who cares? She still works just fine. They don’t make her beautiful burgundy red anymore. And the new ones are tinny and cheap in comparison. So there. We loves our Velvet.

But really the best auto news is dear brother-in-law’s Westie is fixed now and they are back in search of the vacation that was sadly truncated by a breakdown in sweet little Pincher Creek, AB. Yay! We’ve been invited to catch up to them on their way back home at Kettle River Provincial Park next week for a few days of camping in tandem again. I think they were very happy with the repair shop we sent them to (a pleased shout-out to Bert’s Automotive in Vancouver!!!) that allowed them to get back on the road before they lost all their campground reservations and vacation time. They fixed our Westie recently too and she’s really good now. Oils well that ends well, yeah? Stuff happens. Wish it didn’t but that’s life.

So meanwhile, I’ve been having some trouble with my left thumb. Don’t know quite what I did to it but I haven’t been able to knit or hold a shuttle comfortably. The problem seems intermittent at best. One day trouble – next day fine – next day trouble again. Anyway I gave it today to rest and hopefully I can carry on normally very soon. It’s driving me nuts! I’m so used to knitting whenever I have any downtime. I’m going twitchy without it. twitch twitch

More soon.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Broken Vehicles & Finished Objects

OK, gotta say that yesterday was a weird one. Thom went off in our MINI Cooper to take his mom grocery shopping. The MINI’s battery died in the parking lot. Automobile Association to the rescue but they only had time to jumpstart it so while mom was shopping, Thom drove home to switch to the VW van to go back and take mom and her groceries home. Later BCAA came back to bring a new battery to the poor dead MINI. Crisis averted. Good thing we have two vehicles.

However, that’s not all. While Thom was off being Dutiful Son, I got a phone call from his brother who was supposedly off on vacation with his wife in their Westie. Sadly their van which is exactly the same age as ours did almost exactly what ours did last autumn and a bearing broke in the transmission. Unfortunately unlike ours it didn’t get them home first and died just outside of Pincher Creek, Alberta, not even halfway through their planned holiday. Also a mere 1,177 kilometres away from home! Of course there’s nobody anywhere near there that can repair a 25-year-old VW so they had to have it towed back to Vancouver on a flatbed trailer. So tonight they ended back with it at the same repair place that recently repaired our van and Thom has gone to help load all their belongings, including bicycles, into our van to take them home. If they’re really lucky they can get it fixed soon enough to at least enjoy some of the rest of their holiday time. Or not. If it were me I’d be afraid to get too far away from home again until I knew it was really fixed! Oh wait. We did that already with that little trip to Manning Park a few weeks ago, didn’t we?

Unlike ours, their naughty van didn’t give them any previous warning of trouble. Otherwise they could have had it fixed before they left! Ours was making horrible whining noises after we got back from the Great Cross-Continental Trek of 2013 so we knew not to trust it until we could find a way to get it repaired. At least Thom had already researched the right place for them to take it! They did a fabulous job and ours runs great now. Hopefully theirs will be fixed just as well very soon. Poor darlings! This is going to be one expensive aborted vacation for them.

On a happier note, I finally have photos of my completed Rainbow Dark Cardi that I’ve been teasing you with for the last several posts:

 RainbowDarkCardi front RainbowDarkCardi back

Yes, Debbie Double is wearing it. She wears all my clothes. Although it’s finally cool enough around here so that I wouldn’t melt into a puddle if I put wool on my body, it just is so much easier to take a photo by myself. Debbie is mostly my shape so you can see how well it fits. Yes, I know she doesn’t have arms. Don’t remind her. She feels kind of sensitive about what she thinks are her deficiencies. Heh.

Here’s the toggle button that Thom made for me. The delay was caused by some difficulty getting the holes drilled:

RainbowDark button det

They’re a little wonky but it works just fine and I’m very happy with it. I’ve already given you all the scoop on this sweater in various posts so I won’t go into the details again. If you need more you can click on this Ravelry link. From there you’ll find a link to the spinning deets as well.

So. What’s next? I finished one pair of shortie socks. And there’s enough yarn left for a second pair! Yay.

Toe-Up Shorties Too

Rusty Shortie Socks1

For: me

Begun: July 4, 2014
Completed: July 22, 2014

Yarn: DGB Confetti 100, colour 21.06, dyelot 852 (speckled white/rusts to browns), 75% superwash wool/25% nylon, 420m=100g. Used just less than 50g, enough left for a second pair.

Needles: Blackthorn carbon fibre 5” dpns, 2mm.

Pattern: Toe-Up Socks With a Difference by Wendy D. Johnson, free pattern on Ravelry.

Mods: Began with Judy’s Magic Cast-On a-la-Jeny and 24 sts. Used LLinc & LRinc increases on toe and gusset, but KFB on heel turn. Began K1/P1 ribbing right after heel flap was completed, working knits into sl st and purls into k sts. Rib was just over 1” long.

Comments: I think I’ve got this pattern much better now that I’ve done it a few times. It’s the first toe-up pattern that I’ve liked since I need the proper heel flap to fit me and I quite like the shape of the gusset under the heel. They do look kind of odd without feet in them but are very anatomical on.

On to the second pair – which I’ll probably overdye to shift the colours. I’ve already cast on and am working up the toes.

In other news, I’ve finished weaving Difficult Waffle Weave Towel #2. Less breakage but still several more than I would prefer. (Actually I would prefer none at all, but that’s obviously asking too much.) I changed the dowel system I rigged up to weight the blue jeans/hemp warp threads to S-hooks which is working much better. I found I need to keep the air humid (my big swamp cooler helps) and painted on more snot…er, flaxseed dressing. Even spritzing the warp with water if I thought it was getting too dry in the studio. Otherwise several threads at a time popped especially if I hit them too hard with the shuttle. Argh. This beast is never-ending. I’m sticking with it. Even though I’d rather be sewing now that my studio is cooler and my sewing machine not so likely to be affected by high temps. At least the microwave is working now which is also affected when the temp gets too high. Yeah. Weird. Life seems to be like that right now.

It’s supposed to rain some tomorrow. Should save me my daily watering job anyhow. Also hoping to hit the farmer’s market for apricots and nectarines. And herbed fromage frais. Yum.

More soon.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Hot Water On Tap

It’s a luxury! Really. Our hot water heater has been off again/on again for the last several days. We’ve had a repair guy over 3 times and he’s replaced parts and vacuumed underneath in case dust is affecting the controller. It works ok for awhile and then conks out again. Thom even got a minor burn on his arm trying to make the darn thing cooperate. (The aloe plants came in handy.) And I bravely did 3 loads of laundry yesterday in the midst of it all. I figured cold water works fine with modern detergents and I usually rinse in cold anyhow. I refuse to shower in cold water though. I have my limits.

So what is it about mechanical things going wonky? Lately there’s been a few too many of these. Is it the heat? (It was a few degrees cooler yesterday and today it’s downright chilly in comparison.) Or just a fluke? Who knows? Hope that’s it for now though. It’s a weekend and if the hot water tank goes out again Thom promised not to call the poor guy back again until Monday. I’d better get my shower while I can, huh?

Meanwhile, the third (and last!) kumihimo class on Thursday went very well. The weather was perfect, the six participants brought their best brains and much braiding was accomplished. Sadly I only sold one kit, leaving 7 more left to clutter up the attic. Oh, well. I’m not exactly your best high-pressure salesperson anyhow. Maybe come autumn I’ll advertise in my guild newsletter.

So I was back at the loom yesterday and finished weaving the first towel. There are a gazillion repairs to make on it but that’s going to happen after I cut it off. I pulled a few of the broken ends up to the dividing line between the first and second towel so as to start the second as fresh and clean as possible. And promptly broke a green cotton thread! First one too. I hadn’t painted those threads with the flax dressing (aka snot!) because they were behaving quite well. Anyhow I think I’m going to have to cut the whole thing off when I’ve finished weaving the second towel. I have enough warp to retie back on again to weave off the last 2 towels and it would do a great deal to even out the blue jeans/hemp warps. Otherwise the tensioning water jugs threaten to end up on the floor! Simple weaving project this was Most Definitely NOT! But I’m not going to give up. I’m stubborn like that.

Here’s a shot of the cute wee Jenkins shuttle I’m using for the hems:

JenkinsShuttle

In the end I decided to go with weaving the hems in plain weave using sewing thread to see if that would keep them from ruffling quite so much. The spool is shorter than a regular weaving bobbin and was wobbling around a little too much so I used plastic beads as spacers to hold it in place. No idea when or where I bought this shuttle but it might have been at the ANWG conference in Spokane a number of years ago. I always think I’m going to remember these details but I don’t!

Ed Jenkins and his wife Wanda are a very interesting couple who live in a very small community in northern Oregon. See an article on them here. Mostly known for his lovely exotic wood Turkish spindles, Ed also makes walking wheels and other fibre tools. It seems as if he isn’t currently making shuttles any more though sadly. This might be the first time I’ve ever used this one and I quite like how it handles though I think it will really be ideal on a narrower warp. The size is somewhere between my regular Leclerc shuttles and my little Glimakra mini-shuttle, which is so small it takes paper quills instead of bobbins.

In knitting news, Thom finally finished turning me a button for my Rainbow Dark Cardi. Still have to photograph it but I’m very happy with how it turned out. Considering how much work went into it, I’d better be! All the measuring, hackling, spinning, plying, setting, recalculating, knitting, finishing and blocking – talk about your Slow Clothes! It had better last me for quite a few years now. Big thanks to Heidi Kirrmaier for her excellent Harvest Moon pattern. It was detailed, clearly written, helpful photos and relatively easy to refit to my size. It has all the elements that I love: flattering collar/yoke, single button closure, back-warming length and, best of all, pockets. The only thing I would change is to include inches as well as centimetre measurements for those of us who don’t quite think in totally metric. To be fair I also prefer patterns to include metric needle/hook sizes too. For instance, I have no idea what a size G hook looks like. But I digress…

I wonder if it’s going to rain today? If not, I need to water my dye garden. Again. And we need to go get some groceries. Hope there’s hot water for a shower first though. More soonest!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Weaving According To Damselfly

I’ve known how to weave for a very long time. I borrowed my first loom (a Cherryville counterbalance) when my son was in preschool. He’s now 40 and even his kids are years past preschool. The reason I remember when I got it is because I borrowed the loom from his teacher, a lovely Dutch lady. Unfortunately she eventually wanted the loom back after less than a year.

So then I borrowed my second loom. This was a Leclerc Minerva jack loom, only 24” wide but a little powerhouse. It’s owner was temporarily moving in order to rebuild her house. I wove a lot on that little beast for the 2 years I had it. I finally bought a second-hand sort-of jack loom, a no-name hand-built job that had flimsy beams and travelled across the floor when I beat very hard at all. It was a piece of junk but I didn’t pay much for it and it taught me quite a lot. Mostly about not buying junk but that was a good lesson anyway.

I borrowed yet another Leclerc counterbalance loom for awhile but then in 1987 finally bought the floor loom of my dreams, my Woolhouse Gertrude countermarche #27. She is large and solid and still my favourite loom to weave on. Her little sister Carolyn, a Woolhouse 12-shaft table loom on a floor stand followed in 1990. I wasn’t giving up on Gertrude but Carolyn, although much smaller, could do some things her big sister couldn’t. Travel to workshops, for instance! I currently also have a 4-shaft Rasmussen table loom but have only used it for teaching purposes. It was given to me by a retiring weaver and it’s pretty good for a table loom. Needs more heddles though. They’re the flat metal type.

I like that my Woolhouse looms were built in BC out of locally milled birch by people I know personally. John & Teruko Low are trying hard to retire but the business is still dragging on for them because they were sadly unable to find another person to take it over. They are promising for several more years still to stock Texolv and reeds and to service existing equipment that they’ve made over the last 30 years. Looms are a large item to house and an expensive investment. No wonder the market is limited! And then there are the skills and know-how to use the darn thing. It’s really only my stubborn will that’s keeping me from cutting off the current project and consigning it to the trash.

None of the problems I’ve had are the loom’s fault. Only my own questionable choice in using my handspun yarns along with the commercially spun hemp/cotton. I’m actually hoping that most of my warp troubles are behind me now. I cooked up some goopy sizing using 1 tsp flax seeds in 1/2c water and painted it onto the handspun jeans/hemp warp threads – and anything else that looked like it might give me trouble. It dried really quickly in the heat and seemed to help quite a lot. I have my resized temple that Thom fixed for me:

WaffleTowel1

Doncha love the cute turned handle on the joining peg? This second-hand temple didn’t have the piece of wire that usually goes through the parts when I got it so he improvised with a nail and a little bit of wood he turned on his lathe. It really helps to keep a consistent width and to avoid abrading the edge threads so much. Waffle weave naturally draws in just by its structure and plumps into deep little squares after it’s removed from the loom and wet finished. I’m nearly finished towel #1 with all its flaws and mending to be done. (The photo shows probably the only area without dangling threads.) I’ll use it anyway. And hopefully (crossed fingers!) the next three go a little more uneventfully. I might even be relaxed enough to add a few weft-wise stripes. So exciting!

In other news, here’s the socks I’ve been promising for awhile. They’re probably kind of anticlimactic now though.

Grey Tabby Socks

GreyTabbySocks

For:  Thom

Begun:  May 25, 2014
Completed:  July 3, 2014

Yarn:  Ancient Arts Fibre Crafts, 75% superwash wool/25% nylon, colour Meow Yarn Collection Grey Tabby, 437 yds = 100g.

Needles:  Clover Takumi bamboo, 2mm.

Pattern:  Damselfly’s Basic Socks, on 68 sts, eye of partridge heel, toe dec to 24 sts.

This was my first experience with this indie-dyed yarn. The base is very nice, good twist and there was no colour in the washout. It was fun to knit and watch where the colours were going. The results are quite eye-dazzling! Did you notice grandson Stargazer’s Minecraft toys sneaking up on the socks in the photo?

I’m thinking I must have knitted nearly 200 pairs of socks by now, most of them my Plain Socks. I was recently reminded that I should put the pattern on the block and include a link in the sidebar. So I’ll do that very soon. But not today.

Meanwhile, I’m off. More weaving to conquer. Kumihimo class to teach. More soonest.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

My Brain = Fried Egg

OK, that picture you now have in your head is just icky, isn’t it? (Sorry, not sorry.) It’s been around 28C (82F) for days now and I’m feeling rather withered. And I’m not allowed to complain either because in the dark of winter I will be pining for this glorious sunshine. I understand that it’s probably hotter elsewhere. We do not have AC and for awhile there we didn’t even have hot water for a shower. Guess I could have put a bucket out in the sunshine, couldn’t I? At least the water heater is fixed now. Also the microwave is still acting wacky. It hates the heat as much as my sewing machine’s foot controller does. So I am not sewing either. Just waiting for it to cool down. It will eventually.

To catch up, Monday was Ai Dye Day. The Japanese indigo was in perfect condition to harvest some for a dye vat so I invited over 3 friends and we played with the blue:

AiDay3 AiDay1 AiDay2

There was much dyeing and overdyeing and plucking of leaves and flower bits to augment the colours. We dyed silk scarves and handspun wool and sock yarn and gauze. I dip-dyed my piece of shibori-tied wool fabric that had already been dyed in osage/iron. Then yesterday I made a scarf-ish kind of neckpiece out of it:

FucusNeckpiece1FucusNeckpiece4FucusNeckpiece2 FucusNeckpiece3

This wool fabric is woven with over-twisted yarns so that when it gets wet it crinkles up. When it was still flat I tied marbles into it and did a little maki-nui stitching. The first layer of dye was applied at our last Spectrum dye day and then dipped in our indigo vat twice. After it was dyed and mostly dry I took out the ties. Of course I forgot that it hadn’t been properly rinsed and now it can’t be wetted again or it will lose the bubbles! Oh well. I found three shell buttons and used some of my handspun green cotton to crochet a row of button loops on one end. It matches the osage/iron tan-olive quite well! I was discovering a couple of different ways to wear it but it’s too hot to play with. So Debbie Double is sporting my neckpiece which I’ve titled “Fucus” because it totally reminds me of the bladder-wrack seaweed, known in our family as poppers.

So tomorrow is my last Kumihimo Workshop. The weather might even be slightly cooler and somewhat cloudy which would be nice. I have another 5 students and 1 repeater coming. I enjoy teaching these classes but I’ll still be very happy when they’re over. I prefer more relaxed type of get-togethers like the Ai Dye Day. Not trying to stuff a bunch of information in a short time into poor overloaded heads.

I still haven’t shown you either the socks or the sweater I’ve finished. Plus the weaving which is finally going somewhat better now that I’ve got a temple that’s the right size. And I made a flax-seed gloop to paint the breaking warps with. More soonest!