[Oh dear, make that "yesterday", as I didn't get this post finished before midnight.]Â
My Secret Santa Sister’s present arrived, and I was persuaded to open it a little early – oh, they had to struggle as I resisted bravely.Â [You do believe me, don't you?]
Â First there wasÂ the big box …
… then inside it, there was a huge tote bag tied with pretty glittery ribbon ..
Inside that, there wereÂ Â …
… two small gift bags, a knitting calendar (a pattern a day, I think), the two latest issues of Interweave Knits, a hardback notebook with an embroidered flower on the front (not as shiny as the flash makes it seem) and a bag of gorgeous wool roving.
In each gift bag, there was a Polish mug [my SS and my DH share a Polish background] with some Hershey Kisses in it topped by an angel ornament
But the best of all were …
… warm socks with cabled cuffs, matching fingerless mitts and an earflap style hat in Noro, which fits very well.
I tried to get a picture of the cable detail, butÂ it still doesn’t show well.
Last but certainly not least, theÂ tote bag itself, which is enormous, with 3 huge pockets on the front – very useful in a tote bag for crafters.
Didn’t Nancy … I mean Secret Santa … do well?Â She really spoiled me!
I did a lot of swatching for this KAL, including Zephyr, but I decided in the end that I don’t want a stole, so I’m going to knit it as a scarf. I was given some Skacel Merino Lace by an online friend and hadn’t found the right project for it. It is nearer cobweb than laceweight, so I swatched with 2.50 mm and 2.75 mm needles (US #1.5 and #2). I’m going to go with the 2.75 mm, which will give a scarf about 12.4″ by 58″. That seems a good size for a cobweb scarf to me.
So here are the swatches. They are lacier in real life than they look here.
I scored 4 free Blue Faced Leicester fleeces last month, and I finally got around to washing one. Then I felt a need to dye some of it, so …
When I saw this Quantum Spindles Floater on eBay, I couldn’t resist it. The 3.4″ carved whorl is black walnut and the 10″ shaft is Peruvian walnut. It weighs 21g, so it is great for fine spinning and is very well balanced.
I’ve reached the border of the shawl so I hope to have a picture of it finished and blocked by next weekend, but at the moment I’m trying to finish braid samples for an exchange,
… from my generous DH – a Baby Butterfly spindle from Quantum Spindles. It is in ambrosia maple, weighs 30g, has a 2.7″ diameter whorl and is 11″ long. It looks beautiful, but just as importantly, it spins very well too. Here are some pictures:
The only fibre-related present I got this birthday is a Bosworth Moosie, but I’m not complaining as if I’m going to get only one, a Moosie is a good choice!
Mine is 28g (1 oz) and has a Cochin rosewood shaft. It isn’t easy to get pictures that show the markings well. Click on the side views for larger pictures.
Most of my other presents were paperback novels, plus one DVD set, but Rys also gave me this beautiful little fossil, only 1.2″ across:
Lastly, I have a better picture of the mini-socks, which shows the colours better. I’m still trying to decide whether to make them into earrings or just add cords to make them into ornaments.
I’m still working at them, between knitting shawls. I have one glove past the end of the thumb gusset. Please excuse the bad picture, but you can see a larger version if you click on this one:
Although I am enjoying knitting these gloves and I do like the way the pattern is developing, I really, really want to knit one of the more famous grid-based Sanquhar patterns like Duke. I couldn’t make them for myself because I’d have had to mess around with the pattern too much to make it fit my narrrow hand, or aim for a gauge of 15 or more sts/in. Fortunately, Rys has volunteered to let me knit him a pair, which with his big hands will only be about 11 sts/in, and he has even promised to wear them if I get the fit right.
We happened to be in John Lewis yesterday. Our friend Diana, who works in their yarn department, had told us about a yarn that might be suitable for his gloves, Rowan’s 4-ply Yorkshire Tweed. I think she is right, as it is not machine washable so although it is not as ‘clingy’ as the Shetland I’m using for mine, I think the floats will bed down nicely once it is washed. Rys chose the combination of Oceanic and Dessicated. ["dessicated"? what kind of name is that for a yarn colour?!?!]
While we were in John Lewis, two little fellows followed us home:
… and talking of being followed home by sheepies, my friend Jan, who was also my first formal spinning tutor, picked up some interesting fleeces while at the 6th World Congress on Coloured Sheep in New Zealand last November. I bought 500g of moorit Polwarth from her:
The speaker at the meeting was Annabelle Spencer of the Falkland Islands Agency in Wells. She brought along a good selection of pure Merino fleece from the Falklands, and I couldn’t resist getting a pound of this superfine ‘silver’ which, as you can see, is actually more brownish than the description would suggest.
… that we go to a Wingham Wools sampling day. Well, that is our excuse for buying so much in one day. Wingham bring a vanload of fibres of oh-so-many types, some yarn and equipment and various other stuff, enough to fill a hall, and then a horde of avid spinners descend on them and strip the place almost bare.
We bought a lot of natural silk tops to dye, replenishing the stock I’ve gradually used up over the past year, and some silk filament for experimentation. Most of the other fibre I bought was as presents for friends. I got some merino/silk top (back and centre) and space-dyed silk top (front and right):
and merino top and pencil roving:
and Rys bought some merino pencil roving for himself:
That brightly coloured tangle of merino top is for teaching at demonstrations. It is easier to get kids (and many adults) to have a try if we have nice bright roving for them to use, so we rummaged among the balls ot top and pulled off arm-lengths of the brightest ones. It was fun!!!
The postman and my friends have been really good to me over the past few days. I have been sent fine lace knitting needles (US #00) by Sharon, and beaded stitch markers from Tricia, who makes lovely markers and also row counter bracelets:
The blue ones were a gift, and fit sock needles and fine lace needles. I was so impressed I bought the red ones (with that lovely bonus one) to use with thicker needles.
Then yesterday, the postie brought a package of hand-reeled silk from Michael (a.k.a. Oaken King) You can read more about the different types he sent.
If you are at all interested in silk fibre or silk moths, you must explore Michael’s web site.
As for what I’ve been doing since my last entry, I finished the corrugated ribbing on the first Sanquhar glove, but it is on hold while I try to come up with a chart I like for the initials block. I realised that when I put my ALF aside weeks ago, I was actually within 20 rows of finishing it. I’ve decided it makes sense to finish it before getting back to the shawl I started more recently. ALF was intended for me, but it will also serve as a fall-back for hte scarf exchange if I can’t finish the other shawl by the deadline.
Now I have to eat some Haagen-Daz Chocolate Midnight Cookies ice cream, so I will get back to blogging another time …
Well, that got your attention, didn’t it?
Actually, I don’t think we will be having an orgy on Saturday at the Open Day at Silchester, where the Roman town of Calleva Atrebatum is being excavated, but I hope it will be fun anyway. As I mentioned last week, the Berkshire Guild will be demonstrating Roman weaving and spinning, or at least doing our best to do so. We will be weaving on a warp-weighted (WW) loom, tabletweaving (TW), and spinning using spindles based on whorls found on the site.
I hope to get a chance to spin there, but my main involvement is with the tablet weaving. I’ll be demonstrating TW on the day (using ‘authentic’ wooden cards if I can finish them in time, plastic ones if not), but I have also been weaving the starting band for the WW loom warp. [If you aren't interested in the more technical details, skip to the pictures near the end.]
Later, WW loom warps were made over a cord which was attached to the top beam, but in the Iron Age and Roman times they were made by weaving a narrow band with a long fringe on one side which formed the WW warp. This serves to space the warp threads, which the later simple starting cords do not.
When I had read about these bands before, I had assumed that they would be woven with an ordinary weft and that the WW warp would be a supplementarty weft, but reading the ‘bible’ on WW looms, by Martha Hoffman, I found that the WW warp is the only weft used. The band warp grips the weft (= WW warp) well enough to stay in place while the warp is mounted on the loom (at least for wool, I don’t know how well it would work with silk).
Some of these bands are plain weave, but the majority seem to have a twisted structure which suggestes that they were made by tabletweaving. Some could possibly have been made by manual warp twining, but there are some wider borders for which this would have been very unlikely. A tabletwoven starting border with tablets still attached has been found in Spain in a 5th century BC grave, so we know the method was defintely in use well before Romano-British times.
I’ve been collaborating with Elizabeth, a very skilled tapestry weaver who has taken primary responsibility for the weaving, Janet who is producing the weights, and her friend Ken who has built the loom for us. Unfortunately, I don’t have photos of the loom yet, but I will be taking lots of pictures at the event and hope to have them here by Sunday (if I’m not exhausted), and there will be pictures on the guild site too.
My task was to produce the warp for the loom. We didn’t want to use a fine warp as that would make it harder for visitors to see what we are doing, so we decided on a well-twisted 2-ply wool yarn that will weave balanced plain weave at 8 ends (threads) per inch. Because of space restrictions our loom will only weave cloth about 24″ wide, but for this first attempt, our warp will only be 15-16″ wide.
The WW warp ‘fringe’ needs to be about 6 foot long and as consistent as possible. It is created by pulling loops of thread through the TW band, so I needed some way of measuring the length of those loops without having to keep walking across the room. The pictures below give an idea of how I set it up – as usual, click for a larger version.
Here is a better picture of the band and ‘fringe’ in progress.
I found it much easier to weave the band than I had expected. The biggest problem is that using the same yarn for the band and the WW warp and beating in the usual way for tabletweaving gives a warp spacing that is too close for plain weave. We had already decided that we didn’t want to weave twill as that would require multiple heddle rods (if you have no idea what a heddle rod is, later posts here or on the guild site should have a proper explanantion of the construction of the loom). I found just pressing the weft into position with my fingers once I had turned to the next shed was enough to give the right warp spacing. If we decide to weave twill for the second Open Day (yeah we might be that crazy!), I’ll probably need to beat that band in the usual way.
The next stage of warping will be to attach the band to the top beam. Elizabeth and I are meeting to do that tomorrow evening, so I may have a report (and pictures) on Friday.
Well, quite a lot has been happening since my last blog update, but most of it involves sorting stash before we move out, and that would be a boring blog entry. I’ll just say that I have a LOT of yarn and fibre and fibre-related books, and even though I’ve parted with some, it has hardly made a dent in it. Deciding what I need available over the summer and autumn and what I can take to the storage unit is .. well .. difficult.
However, I have managed to get a little knitting done, and some spinning on my amazing birthday present, a Bosworth book charkha. Rumour has it that there is a birthday spindle on its way too :-). I won’t display my attempts at cotton spinning at this stage (maybe soon), but I’m finidng it a struggle even with such wonderful equipment.
As for the knitting, I’m making slow progress on a pair of boring socks and I’ve just finished and blocked a scarf in purple Jaggerspun Zephyr (wool/silk). It is a standard seaman’s scarf with a stitch pattern taken from the centre of the Fiber Trends’ Estonian Garden pattern (see March archive). I love knitting lace in Zephyr!