Weaving


Whee! Another project came off the loom yesterday. This material is destined to be a summery shirt.

1.5 Correction on the yarns used.  (I should never write thread content from memory late at night!)
Warp, 4 types, sleyed at 16 epi using 12 dent reed:
10/2 linen, plum
8/2 tencel, deep burgandy
8/2 linen/cotton, red
5/2 cotton garnet
Weft -  2 of the yarns used in the warp: 8/2 linen/cotton red; 10/2 linen plum
Alternating shuttles in straight twill drawn (1,2,3,4…)

Extra warp had been measured on for testing color combos and treadling pattern for the weaving. With a limited supply of three of the colors there wasn’t much leeway for extensive sampling, but enough for both Ed and I to like the pattern of this sequence. I love the very slight slubbiness that both of the weft threads had which adds a bit of character.
Weaving 003(The colors are closer to the real fabric in this top picture.)

Tossed in the washing machine then the dryer with a large fluffy towel it came met all my expectations. Except for throw that left an undetected loop underneath.  I completely missed it, even during inspection before tossing it in the washer. I blame the small child who was here yesterday. She helped me finish weaving the piece then apparently I was too excited about tossing it in the washer. I’ll have to get a needle thread a length of that yarn  along side this errant loop (as seen below) so that it can be cut.
Weaving 002

But for the binding off and sewing on of 12 buttons, Feather’s boot socks are finished! They will be incomplete until they are actually measured against her legs when we see her, and little brother, Gus, on  Wednesday.  Her legs were measured in April. It’s a rare six year old child that doesn’t grow by leaps and bounds during the summer. Despite pleas for length measurement this past month no one has taken the time. So, they’ve been knit an extra inch but am resisting the urge to bind-off and be done, just in case.
(Last row in progress – I didn’t want to once again forget to take a picture. I hope Feather will be willing to model them.)DSC03733
The Never-Ending project that was begun in midwinter has been one dog-gone challenge after another. The one that started out on the Great Wheel. No, it goes back earlier in time. To a retired, slightly built woman who dearly loved her companion Great Pyrenees with all her heart. She often told the community dinner workers of his exploits during the previous week.  Then one week she arrived with bruises and sore muscles. He had almost pulled her arm out of socket dragging her down the sidewalk. It hadn’t been the first time but apparently the most uncontrollable. Her doctor told her in no uncertain terms that if she wanted to live she had to find the dog, which outweighed her, a home that could love him and safely exercise him.  She begged Ed to ask me if I’d spin the hair removed during his weekly visit to the groomer. The next week, even before hearing my answer, she arrived at the dinner dragging 2 garbage bags full of dog hair.  AKA Chiengora. Over 3 pounds of the stuff!
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I separated the dark hairs from the white, dividing the various shades of grey into little batches. Though it smelled a bit doggy, for the most part it was clean and not obnoxious. The spinning commenced with cheerful attitude, curious about how it would spin up and eager not only for the experience of spinning chiengora but getting to know the Great Wheel better.

Except. There were a great deal of short cut ends. Everywhere. The hair in the second bag was quite dirty, though it didn’t seem to have the short bits. That bag was set aside. I tried spinning it alone. Blending it with BFL wool on hand cards and with combs. The cards worked better though I was slow. I’d card during the evening news then spend the next 20 minutes or so spinning it. Night after night. Short dog hairs flew covered the floor around the Wheel and flew through the air. I doggedly carded and spun the small increments.

Several weeks into the journey Dog Lady and I met at the community dinner and I mentioned that it was slow going what with all the short cut ends. Would she be happy with handwarmers? No? A scarf or hat perhaps? No, she didn’t want something to wear. Oh dear.

By the time the Columbia Gorge Fiber Festival rolled around in April Ed knew I needed some serious help if I was ever to be free of the task. He talked with JoAnn Duncan who was set up with their drum carders across from our booth. He returned to tell me that JoAnn will teach me how to use it first thing in the morning. The last smallest one was coming home!

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Even blended with longer staple wool, it wasn’t very cooperative. It wanted to spin either very thin or thick. I never did find that good consistent lace weight that I was aiming for. I finally decided to stop fighting and let it spin fingering and not ply it so that it wouldn’t be too bulky. Hairy stuff!

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Eventually the loose floating hairs started bothering me to the point that it didn’t take long before sneezing and mild itching would occur during the spinning.  By then I’d spun up several cops. It was time to stop. I was plotting to weave a simple tapestry of a Great Pyrenees head against a green background.
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I’ve had second, third thoughts about the decision not to ply. There is so much thin/thick variation that might be evened out, or made more obvious.

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For now, when I come to a too thin area I remove the thin spot entirely, skipping ahead to where the yarn is thicker.

It’s not the wisest, speediest course of action to not only tackle a new, temperamental fiber, but a brand new loom. A tapestry loom. Something I haven’t touched since we moved from the Navajo rez when I was 17 and didn’t have the space to lug the huge loom my brother had built for me after I fell in love with weaving in 8th grade home ec.

With pamphlet manual on the table I warped the loom. With a limited amount of spun Chiengora (indeed, there are still pounds in the bags) I didn’t want to take the chance of using it for the warp, nor does it have a high twist. The cotton that I’d spun on the Great Wheel before embarking on the dog hair seemed perfect for the job.  Setting the dog picture behind the loom the weaving commenced and all was looking acceptable as it progressed to under the chin where I started introducing some greys. (Doesn’t this sound good! In reality it looks quite elementary!) Thrilled at how quickly it was coming along I  entertained the notion that I’d be done with dog hair within a week.
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Oh. But. Do you see that wispy bit of white curling up just above the green on the left? Note the sagging bits over to the right, just about the working line. Nope, it didn’t do any good to tighten the warp. To my horror the cotton warp was unraveling with each beat of my little hand fork. There weren’t enough tricks up my sleeve to stop a weak warp from stretching and separating. The cotton had been spun and plyed without thought to what it might be used for. There was not enough twist to handle the beating that a warp must endure. Scissors were brought out, the warp and partial tapestry cut off. Digging tencel yarn out of my stash the loom was rewarped and the weaving begun again.

The execution is so vastly slower than the telling it’s hard to believe that I’m only up to the nose. The set-back  dampened the remaining  scent for the hunt that developed when I could smell the end coming. For now I’ve been playing with Ed’s GW #3, trying to pinpoint that sweet set-up for a good sustained spin of the wheel. Once OFFF is over I plan to tackle the loom again and complete the task once and for all. We won’t be selling at OFFF but we plan to demonstrate GW3 at the Aurora Colony Handspinner’s Guild booth on the lawn on Sunday. Saturday afternoon, the 28th we’ll be demonstrating spinning, with spindles and GW, at the Marquam Hills Alpaca Ranch which is only 4 miles from us, and 16 miles from Canby (OFFF). They will be having an open house /barn that afternoon and invited us to demonstrate. They have a wonderful Alpaca set-up, friendly Great Pyrenees dogs, lots of friendly alpacas and a store area with their products.  The winery/vineyard next door to their place is also have a wine tasting event that day.

The magnificence and memories of the two Sock Summits are a highlight of our life tied with fiber. We’d been looking forward to SS14; seeing so many people from around the world, selling our spindles to the happy throngs of people. It’s not possible to put into words what Sock Summit encompassed. This evening I read on both Yarn Harlot’s blog and Tina Newton’s blog that they made the very hard decision to dissolve their Knot Hysteria Productions which was responsible for Sock Summit (and other fiber retreats). Both of them worked tirelessly, along with their two teams of helpers and the numerous people behind the scenes, to pull off two incredible, fantastic Sock Summit events. It staggers my mind to even think about the myriad of details that had to come together almost seamlessly, working from two ends of the continent while juggling their own full time successful businesses and families. As a team they were formidable. I have no doubt that they will each continue on to be major players in the fiber world.

One of the things that makes me the saddest is that we won’t get to hang out with Jocelyn, the Knitting Linguist. Not only was she a hands-down terrific helper in our booth but Ed and I both enjoyed her companionship. (Oh my! You must see what she’s up too!)

It will be interesting to see what might rise up from the demise of the Sock Summit, as we know it. I suspect there might be some other event that gathers forces to fill the huge void that is left. With time a hole is almost always filled by something. (‘cepting holes in sock (clothes)! We know how those progress.)

On to happy news! 009
(Violet didn’t want to wait for the  cookie to have a pretty coating of Easter icing! I made royal icing for the sugar cookies that were boxed up and mailed to the grandkids in Idaho where they landed without nary a crack or break.)

Violet’s shirt fits! :) As planned for room to grown, it’s a bit big.

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Since Aurora didn’t want shoulder buttons I modified the pattern and instead kitchenered the two should ribbing bands. Without the extra room unbuttoning both shoulders pieces would have given — Violet hates having her head messed with — I decided a boat neck would provide a generous space for Violet’s head wide across the shoulders. Turns out the neck didn’t need to be so wide! There’s no problem getting her head through. 016The overall success of this shirt has me itching to warp up the loom and do some more weaving. Possibly within the next couple of weeks once a couple other pressing items are complete.

Yes, there’s been Walking Wheel spinning, it’s coming along quite nicely.

Ed beat me up three mornings this week. A very happy sign that after weeks of feeling miserable fighting the flu and all the side effects (sleeping endless hours, chills, aches…) he was finally once again waking up before me. He hadn’t been so sick in these past thirty-five years, and he almost always is the first out of bed. He’s not one for lying in bed once it’s light outside. It was almost alarming to be the first one up morning  after morning while he continued to sleep another hour, or more. He’s on the mend and gaining more strength and wellness every day.

Just a short post tonight. Original plots drifting through my head have diminished due to a very slow computer that’s making small tasks into monumental obstacles. So, instead of a long chatty post with tidbits from all that’s happened this past month I’ll pick up where I left off last time and focus on this one thing. The makings of Violet’s sweater.

With optimistic expectation of completing the sweater by Violet’s 1st birthday, confident that there was plenty of time to cut and sew the fabric, the final inches were woven with almost a week to spare.  Tuesday morning I finished sewing the two raw edges, put the fabric into a mesh bag and tossed it in the washing machine with a load of towels.  Violet was sound asleep in her little crib when I removed the cloth from the machine and spread it out on a folded blanket laid across my bed. Smoothing the cloth, thinking ahead about measuring and cutting the pattern from kraft paper I was suddenly stunned to remember the knitting ribbing . Egads! Slow knitter that I am and a full week of responsibilities: work, family from Idaho coming, getting together food for the memorial service for a dear friend, practicing then playing at the annual St Patrick’s dinner there was little hope for finding the necessary time.

Using a carpenter’s square, kraft paper and a quilter’s ruler (I think that’s what it’s called) I drew the pattern using the dimensions given on the Windowpane Baby Sweater pattern by Ann Walker Budd. Deciding to simply hem the bottom of the sweater rather than knit a ribbing I added an extra 1.5″ to the length. Once the paper pattern was cut I traced around the edges onto the fabric with a washable pencil.

Fabric marked I sewed a tight straight stitch all along the outside of the tracings with a double stitching along the edges to keep the handwoven material from unraveling where the ribbing stitches would be picked up. The longer yarn carries (floats) of the windowpane, 3-shaft weave (aka waffle-weave) needs the extra stability than my normal handwoven materials woven with plain or twill patterns.

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Using the pink cotton 8/2 yarn that came in the weaving kit and a size B/2.25mm crochet hook I commenced picking up stitches for the first sleeve and slipped them onto size 4 / 3.5mm circular needles.

233What a patience testing experience. The pattern says to pick up 44 stitches for the ribbing. After the third attempt I finally called it good at 42 stitches. The second sleeve was just as challenging as was the left back shoulder. Even with a fine crochet hook I was challenged by trying to get the correct number evenly spaced through the somewhat tight intersections of weft and warp. The ah-ha moment came on my second try across the left back shoulder: Really now, how crucial could it be to make sure the exact number was picked up? Just go with what looks good and right. Whew, it’s been a bit quicker sailing though I still have the neck bands to do and then stitching front, back and sleeves together.

The little checks of the waffle-weave and the way the intersections of color with white make tidy sun circles make my heart sing with joy. Overall I’m charmed at how well the cloth turned out and with the looks of it as progress is made. I hope to finish it by this time next week. If I don’t get a move on it Violet will outgrow it before it’s worn! She celebrated her 1st birthday last weekend! How the year flew past.

It feels like a Saturday night: Hair freshly washed. Pajamas and robe providing comfortable warmth. It’s early to bed tonight for tomorrow will bring an early morning drive to the far north of the Willamette Valley.

Show weeks can be quite stressful with all the extra work on top of keeping up with normal duties but having taken the month off from accepting spindle orders I actually feel on top of the situation. Another huge annual obligation has gotten underway as I’m slowly organizing and going through bookwork readying for tax paperwork.

The slow down in the office brought time to play: The Julia loom was finally, finally warped! Gracious, I can hardly remember when I first measured out the warp, sleyed the reed then started to do battle with the shafts.

All went well until after the reed was sleyed (the warp threads placed through the correct dent (Slot)- this pattern calls for 18 warp ends per inch (wpi), I have a 12 dent/inch reed so threaded one warp in a dent followed by two warp ends in the next dent across. The trick is to keep the order correct when threading the heddles so there are no crossed threads.
Warp sleyed

Some time ago I bought the  kit to convert the loom into a 4 shaft, 6 treadle counterbalance. The kit included 4 horses which are what toggle the shafts on the counter-balance rod. (How does one explain that action!) Wooden brackets  hold the shafts in place while adding heddles, tying the horses, the lamms and treadles. First I had to equalize the texsolve heddles from between 2 shafts to the 4 shafts. I lost count of how many times almost all the heddles were in place when a shaft would work lose from the bracket and suddenly crash down spilling all the heddles. In a tangled heap. Of course, when one shaft fell others followed. More than once I wanted to do violence to heddles and shafts. After the heddles were subdued with lines run through from one end to the other to keep them on the bucking shafts the warping fun began.

Insane. Simply insane. Using a 4 shaft counter-balance loom that has resisted every step of the conversion from 2 shafts and threading a 3 shaft waffle weave pattern. The empty fourth shaft wanted to dance with freedom as the other shafts were slowly threaded; 1 of them getting twice the threading as the others, making them hang at crazy angles and levels. Weights on the ends, cords on the ends, adjusting and readjusting the horses to get them to hang evenly as I slowly threaded my way across. Several times I reached the point that I couldn’t bear to even look at the loom for days on end. (Hard to ignore when the loom is next to my chair in the living room.) Determination and the desire to get on with the weaving would take me back to coaxing sense into the beast.

Threaded Heddles

What sweet blessedness when the warp was completely on the loom and the last knot was tied into place. Eagerly the weaving commenced.

Except. Stepping on each treadle in turn showed there to be 3 sets of crossed threads between the reed and the heddles. sigh. In the years of weaving this was a first. At least it was a straight forward fix.
Except. The empty back harness and the second harness with twice as many warp threads weighting it down continued to bob and shuffle off-balance resulting in narrow sheds on one treading. At one point Ed commented that he was surprised I hadn’t hurled angry words at the loom or thrown something. What? A little loom conquer me? Ha! With weights judicially placed on the 4th harness, the horses carefully retied higher, the distance to the treadles readjusted we finally reached a happy partnership with the harnesses moving in sweet harmony.

The waffle weave is a fun pattern. Once several inches had been woven I could see my place in the pattern and no longer had to single mindedly focus on counting. The rhythm is relaxing and soothing. Don’t let my experience turn you away from either weaving or the sweet little Julia loom, which I do enjoy. I could have stopped anywhere in the process and plugged in the dvd which came with the loom. It shows how to warp back to front, the recommended method for this loom. The stubborn person inside obstinately said, “I can do this my way and, by gum, I will.”

Our dear little Violet was fascinated with the weaving and wanted to lend a hand.
Violet & Bobbin
Afterall, this material will become a shirt for her first birthday!

Violet Weaving


After two days of snow the storm winds have blown in a warm front from the Pacific Ocean bringing torrential rains. The sound of water penetrates every moment. I can hear the creek roaring 2 blocks away. Our front yard is flooded despite the sump pump with a drain hose extending across the property to the drain ditch. Ed  walked around this end of town looking at the water levels and talking with neighbors. Our neighbors to the west have several inches of water in their basement so Ed took a length of pipe to extend their pump line towards the back of their property.

June was also a wet month, the month I set forth on a spinning and weaving path with the end goal of a light vest for Ed. The yarn on the big bobbins above was spun from Sweet Grass Wool Top comprised of 50% Targee, 25% Bamboo, 25% Silk, colorway: Black n Blue. A real joy to spin. (A quick glance through Patty’s website didn’t bring up this particular combo, sadly it seems no longer available.)

The small bobbins contain the two shades of blue linen, and the grey cottolin which were used for the 15″ wide warp, sett at 18epi.  The Linen was also alternated with the 497 yards of handspun in the weft. I started out throwing the four shuttles alternating between wool and linen: one pick aqua blue linen, pick wool, pick grey, pick wool, pick med blue, pick wool, and so forth. Three inches of woven web proved the grey cottolin too dominant. Unweaving those inches I commenced using three shuttles with the two blue linens and the handspun.

Linsey-woolsey (known as wincey in Scotland, and used several times in the Anne of Green Gable books) is a material that dates back through the ages. The warp is made with linen with wool used as the weft, thus Linsey-woolsey. In the American colonial days this was a very common material, with cotton often substituted for the linen in the South. Many considered it an inferior, cheap, ugly material and despised wearing it. How perceptions change.  I’m not forced to wear a dress or two made from this material day in and day out for lack of any other choice,  thus Lindsey-woolsey is appealing.

Since July, bouts of weaving interspersed with longer bouts of the loom sitting idle. With must-do-now projects completed and a new year beginning I resolved to weave every day until it the warp was all used complete. When planning material for a specific purpose I tend to only warp enough for that one project rather than putting on lots of yardage. Many weavers will put on as much as a loom can handle and thus weave a dozen or more yards from one warp, occasionally changing the weft, tie-up and treadling thus ending up with materials for a variety of uses. Someday I should do that and see what I end up with.  I put 160 inches of warp on the loom and wove until there was little space left for the shuttle to pass: 137″ inches of woven web, 13.5″ wide.
(Close-up before washing)

After taking it off the loom Saturday it was soaked in hot sudsy water then pummeled by hand for about five minutes followed by two warm rinses and thrown in the dryer for about 15 minutes then hung to finish drying. Going over the material and snipping the little bits of ends sticking up here and there I wasn’t completely happy with the somewhat stiff hand so I tossed it in the washer with a couple of towels and gave it a proper washing to help soften the linen. Not a fan of hand washing, I prefer to weave items that can handle the abuse of a washer. Taking the cloth out of the dryer before it was completely dry I then ironed it on the hottest setting while pressing down hard to bring out the best in the linen.
I’m pleased at how well the handspun blends with the linen and yet shows of the variations within the Black n Blue colorway. Now to track down a simple-to-sew dress vest pattern.

By this time next Thursday we’ll have set up the booth and entered the frenzy that is Sock Summit and returned home to sleep, undoubtedly exhausted.

We’ve both been pushing hard this week to get as much done as possible before next Wednesday. It’s helped that the weather once again turned cool and rainy. (When I hear of the heat wave undulating across much of the country I try not to grouse about the lack of summer and temperatures refusing to rise out of the 60′s for more than a few days. It’s supposed to clear up this weekend.)  By 7am Ed is already hard at work determined to get as many spindles made as possible. Monday will be the last day he can make spindles that will be ready to pack up by Wednesday.

He is almost out of all the pre-cut blanks he made last month. Soon he’ll need to take a few days to rough cut dozens more to give them time for a  final dying/curing before he totally runs out of spindle material.

After picking up 200 Learn to Spin books from the printer I spent a few hours punching holes and binding them. While occupied with the Kombo binder (gave my shoulder a good workout!) dvds were being burned. Tomorrow I’ll glue envelopes in the back of the books and insert the dvds. Saturday it’s supposed to be nice so we’re going to layout a 10′ x 10′ square in the back yard and do a mock up of our booth layout. We’re sharing booth space with Cheryl of NewHueHandspuns so need to be certain of how best to utilize our space. We’re so thankful for a corner booth – each business will have a front portion. :)  If you make it to Sock Summit, please stop by and introduce yourself!

Last weekend I was able to warp up the Julia to make a vest for Ed. Er, um… actually, I thought it was warped until I tied onto the cloth beam. Pressing the pedals to be certain there were no crossed threads, the warp – which had looked and acted properly – completely misbehaved.  uh, oh. Now what?

Two mistakes:
#1.   I decided to do the first warp on Julia Back to Front (B2F). I was taught the Front to Back (F2B) method years ago and am comfortable with it. My Norwood loom has a sectional back beam and at the back of my mind (grin) I’ve been wanting to utilize it. Since the warp for the vest is only 15″ wide it seemed like a good time to try B2F.

#2.  Stupid warp measuring error. Having recently woven a couple rugs which used a double strand warp, (the 2 warp yarns are measured out at the same time and threaded two as one unit), it seemed a no-brainer to simultaneously measure out the 3 strands of different colors I was using for the vest warp. (Linen and Cottolin) Brainless! Wanting to weave and sew the vest in time for Ed to debut it at Sock Summit I didn’t stop to analyse the results.  

The result. Carrying 3 separate strands around the warping board pegs – down, around, and back up to the starting peg, caused the 3 strands to be twisted around each other. If only I’d remembered to use a raddle!!!

Maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad if each thread had its own reed slot but I warped it at 18 ends per inch in a 12 dent reed. While every thread was in a separate heddle, every other dent (slot) held 2 threads. When all is perfectly aligned and in correct order there is no problem with 2 threads moving past each other in the reed but if 2 happen to twist or cross even once between the heddle and the reed it won’t work.

A niggling suspicion that the threads were crossing tried to get my attention as I wound the warp onto the back beam but the cross was carefully maintained and all looked decent while threading the heddles then sleying the reed. Untying the front knots I pulled the warp forward through the heddles and reed, what a mess. Sunday evening Ed came to my rescue, pulling the warp forward whilst I hovered over the back of the loom doing snarl patrol. Once the warp was in a straight line from the back of the loom across the living room and into the kitchen Ed left me to untangle and coax the warp into behaving neatly. Once the threads were basically untwisted and aligned Ed pulled on the warp to keep it under an even tension as I beamed it back into place.

Monday I filled several bobbins with weft yarns. My main yarn is handspun wool/tencel Sweet Grass Wool that I spun last month. Since I got only 497 yards from the 100 grams I will use the blue linens also. (Handspun is on the large bobbins)

I wove a few inches but didn’t care for the additional grey; with grey already in the warp the random shot of grey weft seems a bit too much. The warp tension still isn’t  as uniform as it should be despite tightening the front knots and making it as evenly tensioned as I can. I will unweave to remove the grey then retie the knots one more time. If retying doesn’t work the other option is to weave the front panels of the vest, cut and retie before weaving the back panels. Weaving Ed’s vest is no longer a priority, he’ll get it for his birthday the end of August!

The peas from the walk a couple weeks ago are growing! The oats are still unripe. I except harvest will wait until the oats are ripe and the peas dried.
And for everyone longing for some cool clouds (yes, that’s the oats & peas field in the foreground):I’d put on a rain jacket when I headed out the door for a walk about 8 pm Tuesday as we’d been having intermittent hard rains all day but within five minutes the sun broke through an opening in the clouds on the horizon.

A soft breeze gently herded fluffy clouds easing the brilliance of the blue sky and heat of the sun. Over an hour was spent on my knees early Saturday morning, pulling small weeds from around the vegetable plants. Ed’s been keeping the space between the rows nicely hoed making my task easy.

Taking a hiatus from wholesale orders this summer has relieved Ed of the relentless pressure of working long hours pushing day after day. These days he heads out to the shop around 7:30 to work until around 3:30 then works awhile in the yard and garden. It’s been great to tackle some projects that’ve been on the back burner like conquering the blackberry brambles that were threatening to overtake our home, dig out the space between the grassy bank and his shop, shoveling out the dirt, weeds and brambles accumulating for 24 years since we had the shop built.

After giving the plants a good long drink I headed inside to spend the next couple hours weighing, writing on and recording the spindles that Ed had made last week. Normally this is a daily morning task but last week wasn’t normal.

Finally it was play time for me: weaving and knitting.


The rug is actually a bit more blue than grey. The thing I love about weaving rugs is the speed they’re finished once the warp is on. I started weaving Saturday afternoon. Washed and dried it yesterday, now it’s wrapped in tissue traveling the mail system in a box to be a birthday gift. But for a movie Ed decided to watch this evening, the second rug would be done too. It lacks only 4 inches and the tying of the fringe.

The lovely weather pulled me back outside for another hour late Saturday afternoon where I finished one sock before before fixing supper. Sunday, after services and tying the fringe on the first rug then tossing it in the washing machine, I headed back out to sit under the Montmorency cherry tree and enjoy the afternoon whilst finishing the second sock. The cherries have about another week to ripen before picking and putting in the food dryer. We had such a cool wet Spring that everything is still a couple weeks behind normal schedule.

Bird chirps and chatter and the darting of swooping birds caught my attention. Babies! Three nests full with three sets of parents darting to and fro, the pairs taking turns keeping watch or feeding very hungry little babies.

Action at the Swallow house


Why yes, the socks were completed!
Pattern: Everyone outta the Pool by Artsgal
Yarn: Abstract Fiber Mighty Sock 50/50 Merino/Tencel Sweet Pea Colorway. 382 yds per 100g skein I used 53 grams for the  pair. (I wanted this pair short & summery) Still plenty of yarn to make a small pair for a small grandchild. :-)
Started May 29  Finished July 10
The toe up pattern uses a double-knit cuff which was a new method for me. I like the looks and it’s comfortable although the grafting together is twice as many stitches.  I’ve wanted to tackle a 2-in-1 sock where both socks are knit simultaneously one inside the other for the length of the leg separating them before turning the heel. Doing this cuff has helped me to conceptualize the process.T

This was only the second time that I’ve knit a wrap and turn heel. My technique needs improvement for it’s not the neatest job but with practice and better understanding it will come.
Overall I’m pleased with them.

Hurray, I’m thrilled to my toes that I got into my #1 choice of a Sock Summit class! Socks Exotica: Silk, Cashmere and Friends taught by Judith MacKenzie. I can justify taking leave of our booth for one 3 hour class which meant carefully choosing the class that would best meet my needs and as I’m focusing more on the desire to be a spinning teacher I put blinders on for all the so very enticing knitting classes.

Yesterday was the monthly Spinning Group day. I hadn’t been in a few months but decided not to let the noon Sock Summit registration deter my going. The sunshine and soft air seemed to set a glow to the abundant unfurling leaves, grasses and flowers, a day meant to be spent outside, at least enough to drink in the beauty. The day an oasis of calm spinning in the midst of busyness. Happily a new spinning project has been started, one that doesn’t involve hours of picking out vm. Shortly before noon the host, Sharon, graciously let me use her computer to register for the class. Ten minutes and back to spinning, it was that seamless and smooth of a registration.

Llama yarn is spun, dyed with Landscaped Dyes and ready to be woven into a rug. I’d love to warp the loom this weekend. What, is there a better way to spend Mother’s Day?!
Sadly,  Woodland Woolworks is shutting their doors. Though I rarely made the journey across the valley to shop there, I did love being able to select the yarns in person when I had a specific weaving project in mind. More often I access their extensive inventory online and I will greatly miss the convenience. Most of all I’m sad that they weren’t able to hold their own in what seems to be a highly competitive market. Items always arrived within a couple days of placing the order and, as a business we loved working with Diane and her staff! We are terribly disappointed that they won’t be sharing the booth with us at Black Sheep as they did last year. Instead Diane has arranged for Sweet Grass Wool to take her place in the booth. I’m thankful that Diane selected Patty whom I have met and enjoyed chatting with several times, and I love her spinning fibers!

One day Ed was having a non-productive day in the shop where everything he touched either dropped to the ground or ended up in the firebox. Around mid-morning he called it quits and we decided to make good use of the day and drove over to Yamhill to visit Woolworks. At Ed’s encouragement (almost insistence) I came home with far more than I had imagined possible.
If it fit in the back seat of the car I should be able to find a spot in the house for it. Right?

I’d been wanting a Glimakra Julia since testing one at Black Sheep Gathering 2 years ago and when Ed saw this demo loom at the store he knew it was time. I’m looking forward to weaving the generous warp that is on it. Crazy but when we put it back together we accidentally switched the two main bars for the warp and cloth beams. It wasn’t until I tried tightening the warp that I realized the ratchet gears face the wrong way. Another project I’d like to tackle this weekend.

Over two months ago a customer wrote asking if Ed could make her an Aegean using Viking Runes, aka Futhark. She’d gotten the idea when reading Elsebeth Lavold’s Viking Patterns for Knitting. We ordered the book and after looking at the pictures did some online researching and came up with more ideas, including a pre-Greek alphabet (of course that word didn’t yet exist!) which was found on Crete, and an ancient form of Turkish writings which is totally exciting to me. Except that many of the symbols are curved which doesn’t work so well for marking on wood. Last week Ed was finally able to make two of these spindles; one with Viking Runes, the other with pre-Greek symbols.

Holly Aegean Anglosaxon Runes (futhark) reading from middle outward: Joy, Earth, Chalice

Holly Aegean with Pre-Greek, known as Linear B, symbols spelling SPIN

Lately there’s been several projects on the needles and spindles plus one on the loom. Tonight the weaving was cut from the loom ready to be washed and dried tomorrow and possibly sewn on Tuesday. I’ve been greatly assisted by listening to books. Normally I love working in stillness but this summer I pined for books. While I managed read several it wasn’t enough. On a whim, during the weekend Ed was in Idaho, I purchased the audio book Testimony by Anita Shreve to listen to while knitting Ed’s Whitfield Jacket. I’m haunted by the similarity between that story and the news  last week of the death of young violinist Tyler. A heartbreaking, senseless tragedy.

Listening to a book being read took me back to listening to books throughout my growing up years. My mom read to us daily. Teachers read aloud after noon recess almost every day from first grade up through the seventh grade when I had a teacher who was the best reader of them all. He choose books which captivated our attention and imaginations;  A Wrinkle in Time; The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe (this was in 1969); A Bronze Bow, to name but a few. My children could to listen to me read for hours at a time without getting restless, as long as they had a box of crayolas and paper to draw with whilst listening. (Seriously, we read The Wheel on the School for hours on end completing it in two days when they were once both young and quite sick.)

Listening to a good story made the hours and needles fly! When Testimony ended I searched for an online source and found LibriVox and Elizabeth Klett. This afternoon and evening I listened to the last chapters of Jane Eyre (version 3) as I wove the final inches of the shirt-to-be that was on the loom.Yes, was. It’s cut off and ready for a washing and drying tomorrow then hemming and sewing the sides.The colored yarn is my Limegreenjelly handspun from late last year. When I calculated the warp and weft for the shirt I found that there wasn’t enough handspun for the weft by a couple hundred yards so I also used some black tencel in the weft and silver grey tencel for the warp. After the first dozen inches were woven I wasn’t sure that I liked the results, then Grace came by a couple weeks ago and saw it. Her enthusiasm for the material gave me the inspiration and courage to weave on.

I’d read Jane Eyre as a teen and had only a vague memory of it. Wuthering Heights by Charlotte Bronte’s sister, Emily, was far more to my likening. This time I could scarcely stop and turn away from the story. Listening to Elizabeth Klett’s beautiful, sure voice was as if listening to Jane herself telling her story. I’m now queuing up other books which she has read. No worries about what to do as I listen. There’s still a couple pairs of socks that Feather and Gus are patiently waiting for. Hrmph, more likely they’ve forgotten about the socks I started knitting for them while they were visiting two months ago. They had six skeins of yarn to choose from, I was quite surprised at the yarns they chose.  Last evening as I picked up Feather’s down-to-the-heel sock I realized the pattern was lost in the busyness of the yarn so I frogged it and will make plain 2x ribbed socks for both the grandchildren. Once Ed’s jacket was finished I had planned to concentrate on the socks as Feather’s birthday is this month.

Until the other day when good friends stopped by and Mirth asked if I could make her another throw. Years ago she’d had cancer and the heavy wool throw I’d woven for her became her favorite for snuggling under when she felt chilled and exhausted but too sick to sleep. Cancer has once again attacked, she’ll start chemo tomorrow.  I’m shooting to get the warp measured and sleyed tomorrow evening and the heddles threaded on Tuesday. If I can work full speed ahead, without interruptions, tomorrow — emails answered, paperwork tended to, and packages mailed (eiyeiyei tomorrow’s to-do list is looong) maybe I can free up some normal work time during the daylight hours on Tuesday when it’d be much easier to thread the heddles.

Lots of spinning has been happening too. Often enough I’m asked how much yardage I can get on a certain type of spindle. Of course that’s so relative it’s impossible to definitively say, but I should be able to give people a rough idea of how much weight one can handle. Since the Lark/Jay is the relatively newest one* I’ve been spinning some superfine kid mohair I got from Picperfic last year. I wasn’t sure how I should spin this fine fiber until Jay came along and shouted out that it would love love love to spin it into a yarn for a sweater for Feather. (Yes, I know, the whole Lark/Jay spindle thing is rather confusing. The Jay is essentially a Lark but with a shorter shaft which the crossarms sit lower on than on the Lark. So, if you have a Lark you can get a Jay shaft and then you’ll have a two-in-one. sort-of.) The mohair and Jay have indeed been a happy union and I’ve been having a blast spinning.

My loaded Jay sitting next to an empty Jay of the same size. There are 57 grams of fiber on that Jay, that’s 2 ounces! By the last few grams  I was trying to wind more onto the shoulders and sides instead of upwards since the shaft was slowly disappearing. I could have put a few more grams on it. This kid mohair has been a joy to spin that more has been spun in the last two days. I’m so eager to make a little jacket for Feather it’s hard to stop spinning. The colors are so bright and cheerful that I decided not to take the chance of muddying them when plyed so at the suggestion of Pam of Herndon Creek Farm (she is such a sweet loving woman!) I will be spinning grey alpaca to ply with the mohair singles. Right now the plan is to weave the yarn then slightly full and brush it for the jacket. Half the fun is in the planning!

With all these projects and listening to books (and blogging!) there’s been little personal computer time taking place. I’ll feel like a stranger when I finally make it back to Ravelry. Must do so soon for I have an International Moleskine that’s needing to go forward on its journey so I’ll need to check in there. I’m almost afraid to open Ravelry and get lost down the wayward tunnels of threads.

* the chip-carved one  is still in the wings while Ed is making numerous spindles, hooks and needles for store orders.

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