Teddy Bear in Handspun Yarn

I have a grand-niece. Of course, that means my sister is a GRANDMOTHER. My younger sister. Well, both of my sisters are younger, and I have no children, so I’ll just be a grand-aunt. Great-aunt? Well I am a great aunt, just ask my nieces and nephews. [Read more…]

I should be weaving

but I’m knitting instead. I am into my second year of stash busting: no new yarn or fiber just for the heck of it or because it’s pretty or because…..I can purchase yarn or equipment or an accessory ONLY and I mean ONLY if I need to finish a project that I am making from the stash. [Read more…]

Handwoven Dishtowel Exchange

I belong to the Jockey Hollow Weavers who meet in Mendham NJ. June first is our last meeting before the summer and until September. We usually have some sort of exchange, and I have really learned a lot over the past few years of participating.

[Read more…]

What’s happening at the “tree”

As easy as blogs are to keep up with, I” haven’t been. I haven’t been doing much fiber-y in the last month or two, trying to focus on building my coaching business. That’s been tough, since I love being a therapist, addictions counselor and a coach, but I hate marketing, so the word isn’t getting out how I can help. Did I say I HATE marketing?????? [Read more…]

The right tool for the job

The stash busting/ufo project proceeds.  I am absolutely delighted that I have woven off the yardage for my guild’s most recent exchange.  All right, it was due 3 weeks ago, but I had only woven about 1/2 of the very ambitious 5 yards that I put on the loom. The project was quite a learning experience.

Here’s how it went: Each participant put up to 5 different yarns (any amount of each, but enough that something could be woven with it) in a paper bag. Also in the bag was a questionnaire about the person. Then each person picked a bag that wasn’t theirs, and was challenged to weave something for the person whose bag it was.

I received an awesome tunic.  That’s me thanking the weaver, Robin!  And modeling.

I am giving 4 yards 22 ” of fabric to Daryl Lancaster, http://weaversew.com/wordblog/.  She has been very encouraging and patient. I am hand delivering the fabric tomorrow.

So on to the next UFO (unfinished object for you non-fiber types).  Bonnie Inouye  http://www.bonnieinouye.com/ came to the guild, Jockey Hollow Weavers jockeyhollowweavers.org, last year, and taught Advancing Twills. It was really a class on designing advancing twills, was very interesting, and right at the tippy tip of what I could wrap my brain around. At the time, I did not own weaving software, but I muddled through the workshop. I did get home and had to resley the loom, as the finished fabric was not dense enough.  I wove a few inches, and the rest of the warp and the loom have languished since.

So I dusted off the loom and decided to weave this off. I read through the handouts, and chose what to do next. In the past, I would painstakingly hand write the treadling, or in this case, the lift plan. With the software, the right tool for the job, I had the lift plan ready in less than 10 minutes. I also learned a few more tricks that the software can do to speed up my paperwork time to give me more time to weave.

Ok, for the non-weavers, this is a pic of the loom. It is called a table loom, and is operated by levers. The lift plan tells me which levers to press to get the pattern that I want.  For me, it is much quicker to use my looms that are operated by pressing treadles with my feet, but that’s another mini-lesson.

Off I go to the studio now, to turn another UFO into a FO. Happy Weaving!

The Great Avocado Experiment (and the more reliable onion skin and indigo)

I just had the most awesome afternoon with my friends from the Essex County Handspinners. I lead today’s adventure in natural dyeing, and I have the indigo dyed fingernails to prove it!

For today’s project, we had an indigo vat; a huge pot of onion skins which members have been collecting for several months; and the great avocado dye experiment.

I love dyeing with indigo. It is so much fun to put white yarn and wool into a murky greenish-yellow pail, and remove greenish yarn and wool that turns blue as it oxidizes or get exposed to the air. It’s a fun and magical process.

Onion skins are a favorite with dyers, giving a lovely golden-yellow. As I went over my notes and books before the ladies arrived, I noticed that onion skins could give a range of colors from yellow or orange to rust.  Today we got the most beautiful rust color, a first for me. Not that I have dyed with onions skins a million times, maybe 5 ,but haven’t seen this beautiful color before.

I almost swooned. Luckily, as the hostess, I get to keep the leftover dyes, and there will be another day of dyeing in my near future!

We also did the Great Avocado Dye experiment. It is a fun idea to think about getting colors from the parts of the avocados that we usually discard, but the results were not as exciting as the idea of it. My personal opinion is that it’s way too much work for not so great color. The colors are nice but so pale!

Over dyeing the pale  color with indigo gave a really nice colonial blue, but I don’t see myself spending too much more time or energy on using avocado pits and peels as dyestuffs. The article that we used as a reference indicated that the author got some deep colors: rust, maroon.  Our consensus is that she used fresh avocados, like 15 lbs that she convinced the grocer to give her since they were past selling condition whereas we saved ours up, either freezing or drying them. I did a pre-dye day experiment with disappointing results, and thought if I chopped the pits up smaller, I”d have better results. Nope. I did manage to strain the resulting mush poorly and leave pit residue all over the yarn that dyed up very pale.

Luckily, my friends are very forgiving, as this is not an irreparable mistake, and we had a fun day together. The onion skins results far made up for it, and the magic of the indigo is, well, enchanting. As far as my blue fingers, the dye binds much better to fiber than skin, so it will be mostly faded after one sinkful of dishes.

I knit socks…

because I can.  That’s what I told my sister when she asked me why I knit socks. It’s not that she doesn’t appreciate creativity, she’s a phenomenal scrapbooker.  Socks are my “take with” project, since I can’t always schelp my loom or drag in and set up a spinning wheel.  Socks are also a good way for me to learn new techniques, like, say…uhm…short row heels and toes.

I have finished the Nutkins socks with short row heels and toes. I am sure I have done much more unknitting than knitting in this project.  They aren’t perfect, but I am quite please with them. Yup, keeping them! 

I sought feedback from some master knitter friends, and both were very nice about my small, even gaps; but gaps they are.  The rather large hole on the right sock in the brown stripe is actually part of the pattern; note to self, be aware pf tension while knitting.  I will have to have one or both of them show me their techniques for managing the gaps while doing short row heels and toes,  just in case I might want to try them again. Ha-ha!

I am in my second year of stashbusting knitting yarn, weaving yarn and spinning fiber.  So I perused the remaining stash of sock yarn. Looks like there isn’t too much left:  seems to be enough fine sock yarn for one or two pairs, maybe a pair of Dobby socks, and a sock knitting blank that still needs to be dyed. If I have withdrawal from knitting socks, I think I have some superwash merino wool that can be spun up and dyed.

BUT, since my new Baby Wolf loom arrived, my time at home will be spent stretching my weaving muscles! Yippee!

short row success!

I was beginning to despair, but victory is finally mine!  This is the test run, in scrap yarn, but I feel confident enough to finally try it with the sock. Who knows, it may even be successful enough for the socks to be a gift! 

NJ has finally had enough rain that the ground has become so saturated that the water is finding it’s way into my basement. So far, towels have been keeping it in check, it hasn’t gotten near the looms. The one storage closet that is damp will survive, as all the items in it are safely in plastic containers. Since I had seepage during the summer, the lowest boxes in the closets are raised off the floor. I can deal with a little water, and am grateful it’s just a large puddle, not completely submerged.

Watching Kelly’s Heros now, what a riot. A very young Clint Eastwood is always fun and Donald Sutherland as Oddball just has me rolling on the floor.  Somehow, I’ve never seen the whole movie.  Shhhh, don’t spoil the ending!

Short row heels and me…NOT good together!

nutkins legs sans heels


Still messing with the short row heels, and have frogged it for the fourth, or is it the 5th time?????  I think I’ll put the sock so far on stitch holders and knit the other leg with I decide how to deal with my heel dilemma. Jeeez, I thought turning a heel and picking up a heel flap were hard. Yes, weaver, not knitter. So, I wonder if the knitmeter folks would be willing to add a widget to show how many yards I’ve UNKNIT this month??       

Still not feeling well, I surrender. I am going to the Dr. tomorrow. Achy joints and muscles, fatigue and muscles weakness, earache and swollen lymph nodes in the neck just can’t be good. And I thought the worst of it was over.  

I am still putting the Lillstina rug loom in order. The warp is ready, but I needed a few more quick links and eye bolts. At least when I sell it, after I weave off the remaining 10 or so yards, it will be working great! Not bad for a loom on undisclosed age, probably built in the 1970’s, and which had not so great care before I adopted it.  And I haven’t put much into it until recently, because it was ridiculously difficult to weave on.  

Thought a bunny pic is in order, this is Sigmund getting ready for his haircut, and Loki deciding if he is a friend or dinner. 


One bunny groomed 5 to go….

Busy few weeks

Journey Wheel

It’s been a busy few weeks, at least until Thursday. Poor me, I spent most of the day sleeping. That is, when I wasn’t in the bathroom with violent bouts of vomiting, or, well, you know, I”ll spare you the details. I managed to drag my aching body to the chiropractor on Friday, ate a grilled cheese sandwich (the ultimate comfort food) that stayed down, and tried to drink as much water as I could without getting nauseous. Lovely.  Today was better, and I got out to the store for Gatorade and ginger-ale, which are settling much better than plain water. The tummy is settling down as well, finally.  The pulled muscles seemed to have settled down, and I am a little weak and wobbly, but mostly upright.  

The bunnies were very patient, as they were not fed at all on Thursday. I did manage to let the dog out a few times, and he got some food, although he would have been very patient also. He laid either at the side of the bed or across the foot of the bed for most of the first 24 hours, and even refrained from his favorite wrestling game which usually greets my eyes opening in the morning. He’s a good egg; not my beloved Merlin, but Loki has managed to work his way into my heart, in is clumsy, hound dog way.  

I thought I would treat myself to a little knitting today, calm, easy. Right. Since I am stashbusting, I dug up some sock patterns I downloaded, and decided to try the Nutkin sock pattern  from Knitzi  http://www.knitzi.com/ again. Tried it a few years ago, and it was WAAAYYYY about my skill level. Been working on it for about 3 weeks, and the leg has come out nicely. Well, aren’t I proud of myself. I just ripped back the short row heel, for the second time this week.  Ok, so it’s still a bit above my skill level. Also above my skill level is to change the heel to another type of heel. I may have to figure it out, because this one is just not working. I finally figured out the yarnovers and the k3tog and SSSP’s, but I am using up the stitches on one end way quicker than the other. Operator error, I know, but I’m just a bit teechy today, and not willing to deal with it. I did find a video on You-tube showing a short row heel with no yarn-overs. I’ll watch it again, and cite it and celebrate it if it works. Credit where credit is due. 🙂  

Baby Wolf

Louet David

With the equipment in it’s new homes, I was able to order my first brand new loom! My dream loom has been an 8-shaft Baby Wolf, with a few bells and whistles, and she’s on her way here; ship date is March 19.  My dear web friend (is that what you call a pen pal these days?) Talia Sommer opened International Fleeces http://www.internationalfleeces.com/ . I know her primarily as a spinner and knitter, and the list-mom for “Productive Spinners” on Yahoo. Over the years, she has shared her journey with list members, and I have  followed her through good times and some very scary times. I felt that I knew her, and liked her, enough to corrospond outside of the list.  I know she is a Schacht dealer, and was able to work out the deal for my Baby Wolf. Thanks Talia, hug, hug!