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Posts from March 2013

Achievement Unlocked: Weaving something spectacular

I've had my riddle-heddle loom for a good number of years now and I've dabbled at weaving every so often when something pretty someone else made caught my eye, or when I needed a quick gift. I consider myself just Okay at weaving--I still struggle with getting my selvedges consistently straight and working with colour can be tricky since things look quite different after they're off the loom and washed.  I confess I haven't done much experimenting and I know there's a lot I can do with this simple machine if I want to jump in and try stuff out.

My knit-pal Therese recently got a loom and jumped in with both feet and her stash.  She's making lovely things.  And she's very good at documenting her ideas, the sources of the techniques and her finished objects.  Her recent scarf really inspired me and I tossed the stash, found some yarn and got warping.

The technique described by Syne Mitchell here as The Painted Skein Warp, really maximizes the qualities of some handpainted yarns.  I say "some" because it all depends on how the dyer adds colour to yarn and the article describes what to look for in your stash.  The idea is that the colours are added in a particular sequence and by warping them a certain way, you can create an ikat-like effect on your piece.  Weavers sometimes achieve this look by painting the yarn once it's warped on the loom.  It's really pretty.

It turns out Blue Moon Fiber Arts uses this technique and I have a fair bit of it hanging around.  I dug out some very pretty Malabrigo Sock in Violeta Africana for the weft which matched nicely with the Socks that Rock Silkie Sock in Alley Oop!.

It took me a bit of figuring and some help from Craig to get the warp started right so that the colours pooled the way I wanted.  But when it was finished, it was WOW:

Awesome warp

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The colours lined up nicely (maybe a bit too nicely--note for the next time) and were just so vivid and lovely.

Then I started weaving.

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I wasn't certain that I picked the right colour for the weft.  I worried it was too similar to the warp and the stripes would disappear.  It's really hard to tell since the yarn is under tension and most of it is wound up on the beams.  I just plunged forward and waited.

I chose the right yarn.

It was pretty nice once I got it off the loom.  It needed a wash, but first I had to twist 270 ends.  I love the look, but the twisting is mighty boring.

Twisting fringe takes forever.

Then I gave the scarf a long soak in Eucalan and warm water and hung it to dry.

It's the nicest thing I've ever woven.  The yarn does most of the heavy lifting, but I'm pretty pleased with my selvedges and the drape and overall look.

Finished painted skein scarf

Even with Emma's new DSLR, this scarf was being tricky with the camera.  It doesn't pick up the subtle bleeds of colours as they transition and the slight tweediness of the Silkie Sock.

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I love the twisted fringe and that strange little dark stripe of purple at the bottom left near the edge.  I must have beat the weft too much, and yet it adds interest.

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I'm already planning my next one.


Parcheesi Afghan and the rapidly disappearing stash

I'm cooking along nicely on my Parcheesi afghan which is good because it's a gift with a deadline.

I'm concerned about my yarn stores for this one though. I don't think I have enough colour diversity left for the striped sections so I'm taking a tactical approach.

Here's what I have done as of last night:

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I've knit the centre strip using the colours I have, which includes some tiny bits where I have enough to use it on a stripe once or twice.  Now I will do the inside striped bits because I believe I have enough to maintain some colour variety.

I'm pretty sure I will be down to 6 colours once I get to the outside section, all of which I've used in the big squares and in the striped sections: yellow, orange, dark brown, natural, dark natural and navy (the colours in the top left square plus navy and natural e.g. the bottom right square).

I should have enough of the red to do all the squares so I can maintain that aspect of the pattern (which is something I really like) but I need to decide what to do with the outer border.

Option one is to buy a few colours of Cascade 220 which creates leftovers, but allows me to add in a few different colours.  Considering I will need about 50m tops of each colour, it seems a bit silly. 

Option two is to buy 2 skeins of one colour and do the outside sections in just that.  I like this idea because it's easier to knit and it really worked out nicely in this Parcheesi .

The issue is what colour to choose?  It would have to be something not used in the blanket already. (I have enough cream colour but would need to change the border on one of my squares and I don't think I have enough of any colours to do that.)

I was considering something like deep burgundy which is the main colour of my Ella coat. (I used this swatch in the blanket!)

Or teal blue similar to this (but not a handpaint) from my Ahni sweater and used up in this blanket.

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But they both seem pretty dark. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing.

I'm also thinking a yellow-green like the one in some of my squares could work. Or a darker natural colour which would mute things a bit.

Any suggestions?

My plan is to knit the rest of the stripes, sew it up and take it to the yarn shop.  But having a good sense of what colours to look for would make me stop obsessing about this!


Doing it all (fibre-fun edition)

There aren't a lot of weekends where I get to do it all.

I just about always knit:

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That's the second sleeve of my Tangled Yoke Cardi in Bugga (Lubber Grasshopper).

A few weeks ago I literally washed the dust off poor Martha Matchless and resumed spinning up some superwash merino destined to be 3 ply sock yarn.

This is the last 3rd of the batt

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And, I found time to warp the loom.  Here's a peek.  This warp is so nifty it deserves it's own post.

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And we were dog sitting Ruby.  Who got lonely and wanted to be right on me while I wove.  She wasn't even very upset about all the movement, she just kept muscling her way back in.

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I didn't get much accomplished on any of these things, but I got to do them ALL so it was a great weekend.