Monday, April 29, 2013

High Fiber—Progress on All Fronts

I've been spinning some Knit Picks Full Circle Spinning Roving in various colors. Currently, I have "Pigeon" on the wheel. Here are all the colors together:
All that's missing from the photo is the fiber currently on the wheel (although you can see some of the pale-gray "Pigeon" already spun in the basket), and the "Fawn," that was drying while I took this photo. Here's the finished "Fawn," all washed and dried:

There has also been progress on the Ocean Placemats:
I'm making four in a row using the same warp and using a stick shuttle as a spacer:
The third placemat is almost done. I'm so happy with these, I decided a few days ago to make another set using Dishie in "Fiesta Red," "Clementine," "Conch" and "Creme Brulee" with just a touch of white in the same pattern as the Ocean Placemats. Then I learned about the Dishie sale! Well, I had planned to wait until I finished these to order more yarn for the other set, but you can't pass up a sale, so I ordered more Dishie for more placemats and some for a bath mat for the new master bath. What's a girl gonna do? It was on sale!

While I'm waiting for the yarn to arrive, I can be working on the blocks for my "Delectable Pathways" quilt. I made some progress this week, although I realized I had more blocks to make than I thought. Back to work:
I'm getting anxious to finish this quilt and get it up on the wall that it was planned for.

Speaking of quilts, the charity quilt is finished, all except the label. 
Here's the story to this quilt: While we were living in Indonesia, I asked a group that teaches women how to sew and markets their quilts to the public make a quilt top with these colors. I was going to hand-quilt it. When it was delivered, I didn't like it enough to put the time into it. Partly it was because the fans are light and the bases of the fans are dark, and the background is dark. The bases stick out too much. Part of it is the texture of the fabrics and the fact that the dark fabrics are too thick to hand-quilt through easily. Partly it's because it looks too coordinated. That was about 14 years ago. About three years ago, I decided to offer it for a charity project and enlisted three friends to help. Our now-extinct quilt guild has some batting to use for charity quilts. Ellen bought the backing for it at a garage sale. Julie did the quilting on her long-arm and did the machine sewing on the binding. I finished the binding by hand. Now Karan is going to make a label for it. We have a charity in mind for it. I'll try to get a photo of the entire quilt when someone can hold it up for me.

Miss Daphne is getting a little big to provide a "gratuitous baby photo." I can't believe she will be three in a couple of weeks. You might get a kick out of this, though. Her mother got out her flag from her days in the Pageantry Corps. Looks like Daphne already has the technique!
What's on my needles: Daphne's Bunny Suit, front done through part of the bunny pattern, and Dogwood Blossoms. 
What's on my loom: "Ocean Placemats," third placemat nearly done.
What's on my iPad: Listening to Katherine's Marriage by D. E. Stevenson from Audible, and various podcasts, including Seyne Mitchell's Weavecast and Benjamin Levisay's Fiber Hooligan podcast, new episode available today.
What's on my wheel: Full Circle Roving in "Pigeon." Well into the first bobbin.
What's on my Featherweight: Delectable Pathways, some progress this week, and finished the binding of the charity quilt.
What's in my wine glass: Charles Shaw (Two-buck Chuck) Chardonnay, a white, to celebrate spring, which we have had already for a few hours.
Note: This blog post was produced entirely on the MacBook, using the iPad for photo processing. No other computer was used in any stage of composition or posting, and no Windows were opened, waited for or cleaned.

Monday, April 22, 2013

High Fiber—Signs of Spring?!

Knit Picks had a sale I couldn't pass up! I've been spinning their Full Circle Spinning Roving for some time. I've started on the second bobbin (out of two) of "Fawn."
My plan is to weave a blanket out of all the different colors, but mostly "Caramel" and "Fawn." It will include quite a bit of "Wolf" and "Pigeon" with a little less of the "Quarry" and "Espresso." (I have images of a wolf sitting in a quarry, eating caramels and drinking espresso, and I'm hoping he isn't also feeding on fawn and pigeon!) 
Since I was almost finished with the Evil Stepmother shawl, I decided to get some cotton yarn for placemats, and picked up the Dish Towels Kit in "Ocean." (I can't provide a link to it, because it isn't on the website right now, but it's in the April catalog, p. 11, and the item number is 41183. The "Soft" colorway is out of stock. You can see it in the Dish Towel Pattern, however, and am using the yarn to make the placemats. The five skeins of Dishie were cheaper in the kit, and I still have the pattern to use later if I want.)
The sale is on until May 1st, but the "Evil Stepmother" shawl is done and blocked, leaving the loom bare. (Can't have that! It's in the living room!) So I had to order right away!
I warped for the placemats on Saturday:
The colors of Dishie included in the "Ocean" colorway are: "Blue," "Azure," "JalapeƱo," "Kenai" and "Swan." The pattern is for four towels, each of a different color with white bands. I'm using all the colors together. The photo shows the warp between the beater bar and the heddles. Pretty easy warping, even with the complicated pattern. I prepared a different warp chain for each section.
I should be able to order more Dishie in different colors for more placemats, if I like how the project goes. I should have enough of the white ("Swan") for another set, so I'll save some money that way.
Even though spring is "here" technically, we're still getting snow. However, Lynda and I are making plans for my llama fleece, a job that will have to be done outdoors after it warms up:
I have the fleece of three llamas, two huge lawn trash bags full, so too much for just myself. Lynda is going to help me clean it, and I'm going to split it with her.
She was at my house for Common Threads on Thursday. Sunny and Rocky like Lynda's lap. She can't even work on her Dogwood Blossoms sweater:
She brought her neighbor Lone with her. Lone is becoming a regular member of the group. Here's what she's working on:
Georgette's needlepoint is done. It's a present for a friend:
Julie finished another wedding quilt:
Here's the label:
Lone and Lynda made some birdhouses for their yards:

Not only did I finish the "Evil Stepmother" shawl, but I also finished the chemo hat:
It will be on its way today.

In the meantime, we had snow almost every day last week. Yesterday was the first day in a while we didn't wake up to snow coming down. How long can it keep up? Stay tuned.

What's on my needles: Daphne's Bunny Suit, front about half done, and Dogwood Blossoms. Ready to CO for Christmas Waffle Sweater, Part Deux, as soon as I finish the Bunny Suit.
What's on my loom: "Ocean Placemats."
What's on my iPad: Listening to another Audible audiobook, Katherine's Marriage by D. E. Stevenson, and various podcasts, including Seyne Mitchell's Weavecast and Benjamin Levisay's Fiber Hooligan podcast, new episode available today.
What's on my wheel: Full Circle Roving in "Fawn," second bobbin.
What's on my Featherweight: Delectable Pathways, some progress this week, and more of the hand work done on the binding of the charity quilt.
What's in my wine glass: Twisted's Zinfandel.

Note: This blog post was produced entirely on the MacBook, using the iPad for photo processing. No other computer was used in any stage of composition or posting, and no Windows were opened, waited for or cleaned.

Monday, April 15, 2013

High Fiber—Back in the Harnesses!

Common Threads met on Thursday. Brenda has two new grandchildren coming. This quilt is for the boy:
And here's the back:

Barbara was sewing binding on a new quilt:

Julie's working on a cross stitch for her bird-watching MIL:

I took the charity quilt to work on. I'm still sewing the binding on.

In knitting news, I've finished the knitting on the chemo hat:

I'm blocking it now. The pattern is the "Not-Just-For-Chemo Reversible Cloche" by Mary Keenan. Yarn: Lion Brand Superwash Merino Cashmere in Charcoal Heather.

The back of Daphne's Bunny Suit pullover is finished, and I'm starting on the front.
I'm getting a lot of weaving done. [Warning! This description contains a lot of weaving jargon!] Monday I sleyed the reed for another scarf. This went more smoothly. I'm grateful to Margareth for telling me about using a C-clamp to make your reed stand up, so you can sit at the table to sley it. 

For warp, I'm using Imagination Sock Yarn in "Evil Stepmother" and a tiny bit of "Damsel" I had leftover from DGD1's Hooray for Me Gloves several years ago.

This time I'm using crochet cotton along with the first and last ends to protect the selvedge. I sleyed the crochet cotton along with the end at each selvedge. I've found that the crochet cotton stretches and doesn't lie flat after I've been weaving for a while, so I weighted them behind the heddles using the pups' old nylon collars.
 A "dent" is a slot in the reed. Here's the reed installed in the beater bar with the ends sleyed one in each dent, except two in each dent at the selvedges, one sock yarn end and one white crochet cotton.

In this photo, the reed is the dark area in the upper left-hand corner, and you can just see the warp coming out of it, in this case, one end per dent, although you can sley two or more ends in one dent. 
The warp goes through the reed, then the heddles, which are hanging in the harnesses, and finally wraps around the warp beam in the back of the loom:

For weft, which is the yarn you weave with, I'm using Palette in "Majestic," "Aster," "Lady Slipper," "Rouge" and "Edamame."

There was another weaving mishap with this project (always something new). When I finished warping, I discovered one end that didn't get tied to anything at the warp side of the loom. I looked and with no glasses (which were getting new lenses and came the next day), I didn't see any empty dents, so I just pulled it out and went, "Oh, well, I guess I'll have 159 instead of 160." I was weaving away and noticed that there was one really thick vertical streak going through the weaving. I looked closely with good light and realized there were two ends being knitted together. You can do that, but that wasn't my plan, and in this case, it didn't look right. First I thought I'd just pull one out, but I thought I should investigate the heddles. The two ends were both threaded into the second harness, although separate heddles, so of course, they were getting lifted together. I was thinking about taking out the warp from the back of the loom and moving all the ends, threading them into new heddles, when I thought to have another look at the reed. Voila! I had an empty dent between these two ends. That was where that extra end came from. Fortunately, I hadn't thrown it away, slovenly person that I am, and I was able to use a needle to run it up through the weaving between the two ends that were snuggled up together, and reattach. I picked out some of what I had woven, but between the Imagination and the Palette, they just didn't want to let go. I'm going to have about 1 1/2" of waste, assuming I can undo it when it's off the loom and get the extra weft out and use the extra warp for fringe. Yikes! I'm back on track, though, and each end is being woven separately, as planned. There's a lot to learn, but it's fun!
Here's my progress, about 42" long now:

I've decided I like the touch of Edamame along with the pinks and purples.

Wednesday Lynda came over to spin with me. When we planned this, we thought the weather was finally warming up and we might be able to spin out on the deck. Ha! Well, we did our spinning inside, and I got some more of the Full Circle "Fawn" spun up. It's going very slowly, though, because I'm working on getting my singles as thin and even as possible. I'm inspired to get more spinning done now, because I have plans for my Full Circle Roving yarn, once it's all spun up. I have all of the colors, and just bought more (on sale until May 1st). I'm going to use them all in a woven blanket.

Anyway, while Lynda was here, I had her look at the llama fleece (from three animals) a friend gave me. This friend doesn't spin, weave or knit, but she keeps the llamas as pets. The shearing wasn't done with any regard to keeping the fiber nice at all. Lynda thinks we should be able to get about half of it as useable fiber, once we remove the guard hairs, vegetable matter, dirt and short cuts. I'll try to get photos when we do that. She's going to help me process it, and we'll split the fiber.

There's a lot to do this coming week! Busy, busy!

What's on my needles: 
Daphne's Bunny Suit, back done, and Dogwood Blossoms. Ready to CO for Christmas Waffle Sweater, Part Deux.

What's on my loom: The "Evil Stepmother" scarf.

What's on my iPad: Still listening to another Audible audiobook, Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear, and various podcasts, including Seyne Mitchell's Weavecast and Benjamin Levisay's Fiber Hooligan podcast, new episode available today.

What's on my wheel: Full Circle Roving in "Fawn." Making progress.

What's on my Featherweight: Delectable Pathways, some progress this week, and more of the hand work done on the binding of the charity quilt.

What's in my wine glass: Foxhorn Vinyards Merlot. Very nice!

Note: This blog post was produced entirely on the MacBook, using the iPad for photo processing. No other computer was used in any stage of composition or posting, and no Windows were opened, waited for or cleaned.

Monday, April 8, 2013

High Fiber—Mat Finish.

Here's a new yarn for you: plastic bags!
(My thanks to Angelkarhu, aka Angel Bear in the Knitting Community, for coming up with this suggestion. Her grandmother made something like this for use in the sauna.) I found the cutting instructions here. You can cut each plastic shopping bag into one long strip for weaving.
First you cut the seamed bottom off as well as the handles. Then straighten out the bag, so the fold at the top is gone (the bottom fold doesn't matter, but you can unfold that, too, if you like).
Next, using a rotary cutter or scissors, cut strips up to about an inch or two of the top edge. My strips are roughly 2" wide.
For this next step, I put a small cutting mat inside the bag so you could see what I'm doing, but you don't need to do that. You want to cut one end of the first slice so it comes free. Then cut from that one to the next, as shown here:
When you get to the last one, you just cut it loose. Don't worry if you make a mistake. If you end up with a short strip, you can just overlap slightly in weaving and it will stay put. Also, don't worry if you end up with skinnier and fatter pieces. It will work out. 
One bag will make an inch to an inch and a half, depending on the thickness of the plastic and the size of the bag. Here it is on my loom:
The warp is 8/4 cotton carpet warp left over from my denim chair mats. (Remember those? See below.) The plastic bags were free, so this project was free, if you consider the carpet warp was going to waste. I'm going to get some synthetic carpet warp, though, for making more mats/placemats/bags, so the warp won't deteriorate with use.
My mat ended up 19.5" X 14.75". The size was determined by how much warp I had left. The shed doesn't open up as much when you get close to the end of the warp. I used a big boat shuttle until I ran out of room for it. Then I used a smaller boat shuttle, and finally I was just poking the strips through with a stick shuttle.
I'm planning on making a bigger mat for use in our trailer. This might also make great placemats. I've also seen beach bags and pillows made the same way. If you don't weave, you could use this same technique to make "yarn" to knit or crochet a beach bag or mat. It certainly isn't expensive! (I may have to go dumpster-diving to get more. We usually use reusable bags for our purchases!)
Remember the denim chair mats that provided this "free" carpet warp? I finished them, of course. This will sort of give you an idea of what they will look like in use:
I'm going to reupholster the arms of these chairs (we have two) and make a slipcover for each. The denim mats will protect the slipcovers from wear. (That's the plan, anyway.)
In knitting news, I've been working on a chemo hat for a friend who has breast cancer. This is my pattern. It has a brim of linen stitch and a crown of stockinette, which may be turned inside out for comfort. I finished the brim (which was challenging!) on Saturday and moved on to the crown. The yarn is Lion Brand Superwash Merino Cashmere (a blend of 72% super wash, 15% nylon and 13% cashmere).
Dark yarn + linen st = impossible to see! In addition to not being able to see the stitches, I found that I had to concentrate to keep from going into autopilot on a 1 X 1 ribbing, because linen st requires slipping a st with the yarn either in front or back every other st. It's so like ribbing, I found myself having knit a few inches of ribbing by mistake. I couldn't listen to an audiobook or watch TV or even hear singing! I put some instrumental music on my iPad, and that helped. But I have a wandering mind, I'm afraid!
I switched to dpns at the end of the brim, which was knit back and forth, but I could only find 4 the right size, and I like to work with 5, so I ended up switching to Magic Loop. It's going better. I had planned on using two circular needles for this hat, but at Common Threads on Thursday, my friend Liana discovered after swatching diligently, that she needed smaller needles to get gauge on her project. Like a trooper, I passed her the circular needle I wasn't using yet. She's still using it. So there I am with Magic Loop. It works great!

Here's progress on the chemo hat:
That's about 1/5" of st st past the brim that gave me so much trouble.

Speaking of Common Threads, Lynda was crocheting a scarf. Everyone else was working on a new project with not much to show, and I was sewing binding on a charity quilt Julie had just finished quilting. Here's Lynda's scarf:
Karan is in the early stages of a bed-size quilt to go with the wedding album quilt she made for her son and DIL (the one using patches people who attended the wedding had written well-wishes on). Sorry, quilters, no photos yet. (I'm fired!)
And a bit of spinning has been done:
This is Full Circle Roving in "Fawn." I've decided to use all of the yarn spun from my Full Circle Roving to make a woven blanket. I have two bumps woven already. After this one, only two more. I'm working on getting my spinning finer and more consistent. I love my wheel!
Last Monday I went to the ophthalmologist, who took my bifocals away so I could get new lenses. I've been living with either my hiking (single vision, distance) glasses, or no glasses at all for close up. It's a struggle. Tuesday, Sunny and I were scheduled to visit the nursing home to give pet therapy, and we woke up to this:
DH got the driveway cleared in time, and we were only five minutes late.
I'm about recovered from my fall. I can still feel it, but can walk normally and am sleeping well.
It really is Miss Daphne's turn to be featured as a "gratuitous baby photo," but Soren just turned 9 months and Master Zachary is one year old today! We shared his birthday party by Skype. (The parents are working today, so they celebrated a day early.) The blocks are from us. Zachary has turned into a great demolition specialist! We could have used him when we tore up the house for the bathroom remodel!

Here's Soren resting up for the next 9 months. He pulls himself up to standing now and crawls like a GI. (The blankie was knitted by Mommy, one of her favorite patterns.)
What's on my needles: Not-Just-For-Chemo Reversible Cloche, working on the crown of the hat. Also 
Daphne's Bunny Suit, back done, and Dogwood Blossoms. Ready to CO for Christmas Waffle Sweater, Part Deux as soon as the chemo hat is done.
What's on my loom: Empty, but planning to warp for a scarf using Imagination sock yarn and Palette. Maybe today.
What's on my wheel: Full Circle Roving in "Fawn."
What's on my iPad: Now I'm listening to Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear from
What's on my Featherweight: Delectable Pathways; no progress this past week, but I managed to get about half of the binding on the charity quilt. I'm getting up and down the stairs better, so maybe this coming week will show something.
What's in my wine glass: Fisheye Shiraz 2011. The big bottle. One of our faves.
Note: This blog post was produced entirely on the MacBook, using the iPad for photo processing. No other computer was used in any stage of composition or posting, and no Windows were opened, waited for or cleaned.

Monday, April 1, 2013

High Fiber—April Fool for Fiber

I've given up all my fiber fun so I can spend the time doing housework and keep my home spotless. Not!

The big quilting news for this week is that Julie finished quilting my Hexagon Quilt. I'm going to use it as a table topper for the little table in our living room, which is currently shoved out of the way to make room for the loom in its temporary home. (Wouldn't you know, the pathway to the sliding-glass door downstairs, through which the loom must pass, will be the last to give up its multiple feet of snow.)

Speaking of the loom, I managed to warp it all in one day, as I said in last week's blog post. However, when I got ready to start weaving the two denim chair mats, I discovered a sleying mistake.

It was fairly easy to fix, though, so soon I was weaving the border for the first mat:

The borders are a basket weave using carpet warp, the same as the warp thread. The thinner, darker threads are just there to spread out the warp threads. They will be removed. I'll machine-sew along the outer edges of the borders and then hem them.

Now I have the first chair mat finished. I have a lease stick placed in between the two mats, and I'm ready to start the second one. No need to cut the first one off. There's plenty of room for a bunch of mats on my loom.

I have a good start on Daphne's Bunny Suit sweater:

This is the back. It's time for the neck shaping. I'm using Swish DK in "Squirrel Heather" and "Lava Heather." I originally planned on using "Dove Heather" for the bunnies, but there didn't seem to be enough contrast. I had plenty of the "Lava Heather" from DH's sweater.

Speaking of which, as I mentioned in last week's blog post, I frogged the Christmas Waffle Cardi. The lovely yarn was pretty kinked up, so I gave it a nice bath. Here it is hanging in the downstairs shower to drip dry:

Then I balled up the yarn:

I'm ready to go on the new sweater, which is the Texture-striped Pullover by Jon Gilliam. I will rename the sweater, but it has a waffle stripe, so I will probably keep the "Christmas Waffle" theme.

I picked up some yarn to make a chemo hat for an acquaintance who has just been diagnosed with breast cancer. I'll be making this hat with this yarn.

Speaking of cancer, our own Knit4Many is walking the Relay for Life on April 5th, an all-nighter! Here's her donation page, if you want to help with the cause. Donors of $5 or more will be entered in a drawing for a $25 gift certificate to Knit Picks!

On the home front, the chute part of the laundry chute was finally finished and installed in the laundry room.

Clothes dropped into the chute in our bathroom closet floor are deposited directly into a laundry basket in our laundry room. No more carrying the laundry basket down the stairs!

And...the pups are enjoying the disappearance of the snow. Here they are enjoying being able to smell the new life in the bare ground:

I thought you would like a gratuitous baby photo, so here's a recent photo of Soren. Enjoy!

I hope everyone had a great Passover and/or Easter celebration!

Don't forget to tune into the Fiber Hooligan Podcast later today.

What's on my needles: Daphne's Bunny Suit, back almost done, and Dogwood Blossoms. Ready to CO for Christmas Waffle Sweater, Part Deux, and the Not-Just-For-Chemo Reversible Cloche.
What's on my loom: Ready to go on the second chair mat.
What's on my wheel: Full Circle Roving, "Fawn," just a little bit done.
What's on my iPad: Finished His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik from, then listened to Golden Days by D. E. Stevenson, also from Audible. (The first book is an imaginative tale about the Napoleonic wars in a world where all sides have access to dragons. The second book is the further adventures of Mrs. Tim, written like a diary, and very funny. It's like being able to visit people in early-mid 20th Century England.) Now I'm listening to another Audible audiobook, Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear.
What's on my Featherweight: No progress on Delectable Pathways this week. It's too hard to go up and down the stairs. However, I hope to be able to get the machine work finished soon.
What's in my wine glass: Lindeman's Bin 50 Shiraz 2011, which made it into the 50+ Best Buy Best Value Awards. Nice!
Note: This blog post was produced entirely on the MacBook, using the iPad for photo processing. No other computer was used in any stage of composition or posting, and no Windows were opened, waited for or cleaned.