Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Spinning lesson #2.

So, this week's spinning lesson was, yet again, predictably wonderful -- the above photo is only my second attempt at the wheel, but I can't even begin to tell you how much more smoothly it went! Of course, only using three colors instead of a dozen helps to make it look a bit tidier, but I swear the whole operation felt less like a 3-ring circus. It's funny, and fitting, that when you are plying the single yarns together to make a two-ply yarn, you are twisting the beginning of your efforts (in this case rather lumpy and cumbersome) together with the last work you've done (surprisingly consistent!). You can see this result in the center of the photo, where you have the natural/light pink with the dark pink. I like how it balances things out...kind of a compromise?

The second part of this week's lesson was learning to use a drop spindle -- the most affordable piece of equipment I've purchased in ages. I won't get into explaining this method of spinning, because you can look up any number of videos on youtube that would do the trick more efficiently than I could, and a visual helps (here are a few of varying quality). I found it much easier to get a consistent yarn using this as a beginner, because it's a much slower process. Really, really slow.

My greatest excitement about learning this skill is it's major portability! I bet it's the perfect travel companion, though it would open the door for all sorts of annoying conversation (which you could in turn spin your way through, so...perfection?).

Monday, October 18, 2010

Spaghetti Western.

Bad joke, I know.

This was a birthday gift (many months late) for my friend Adam who is a world class bicycle mechanic. I had thought to hand embroider something on the yoke, but it's hard to improve on the Campagnolo logo (and I was already moving at a distracted snail's pace).

I had completely forgotten to photograph it before sending it away, but lucky for me, Becky Drolen took a few shots somewhere along the journey! She is a fabulous photographer and also runs a very charming vintage shop on Etsy.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Autumnal styles in procrastination.

I got caught up in a novel bit of weaving yesterday, while I'm sure I could have been doing something more productive. This leaf was done on a simple cardboard loom with an upholstery needle, some carpet warp and dyed wool. Oh, and one stick from the yard.

However, in the spirit of multi-tasking my distractions, I also watched a great Bette Davis movie called "Deception" while I wove. I recommend it highly -- she's so fabulous!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Spinning lesson #1.

So, (no surprise) spinning is pretty hard and totally amazing -- this is my very first skein! I'm sure it looks frightful to someone who knows, but I love how it turned out (it's quite small and took ages, of course). I used the fleece that I dyed this weekend, some natural and a bit of this great purple that just happened to be around. Apparently, I did okay for my first time, but it felt like kind of like a vaudeville routine, with everything spinning and pulling and curling up out of control. Sarah (Noggle, my fabulous teacher) told me that it gets harder to achieve that random look when you get good, so I am embracing it. Now I just need to get a spinning wheel, so I can obsess at my leisure....

Monday, October 11, 2010

Walnut husks.

And, of course, walnut husks -- sweet memories of childhood messes (a much stronger association than doll hair).


The marigold was the subtlest, obviously, but I'm fond of it. It reminds me of a color I exclusively associate with doll hair.


This one was the most impressive -- the pokeberry:


I got a chance to get do some more experimenting this weekend, this time, with plant dyes. I'm set for a spinning lesson this week, so I dyed fleece to use for yarn. Here's the indigo:

This picture to kind of dark, but I dyed a bunch of other stuff indigo and got a great variety of blues. Perhaps, I'll get some better pictures of those. I dyed a warp and weft for some really simple ikat weaving, which I'm looking forward to trying.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Recycled sweater scarves.

Here are some of the scarves that I've made from the sweater yarn that I've been tirelessly (tiredly) unraveling the past couple of months. I put a couple up on my Etsy site and have more on the loom currently. I am really happy with the results! It's so satisfying to be able to produce something you're happy with without introducing more new materials into the big mix. This has always been one of my greatest crafting dilemmas and I've been spending a lot of time trying to figure out my way around it -- yet another point for weaving (I'm so smitten).

More dyed wool...mmm, autumn.

I'll post an actual, complete project again soon, but here's more for the list of "things I'm excited to start messing around with when I get done with...".

I spent quite a lot of time thinking about sheep yesterday and turning my hands kind of grey. Enjoyably.

Monday, October 4, 2010


I don't know. I'm just feeling it today.

Yarn forests (or waves, perhaps).

I've never been much of a photographer, but I have been so crazy about taking close up weaving and yarn photos lately. It all looks like something to dive or get lost in. Not a lot can go wrong at that short distance, I guess.

(This is the warp of recycled sweater yarn that I'm putting on the loom this afternoon.)

...and the blanket.

I was trying to tack several, good-sized pictures onto this post, but either the site or my computer wasn't being very agreeable, so I had to settle on this one tiny picture. This is the blanket that appeared from the same warp as the sleeping mat below (which is delightful to sleep on). I am continually surprised and pleased at the variety of looks you can get out of a warp -- these things look nothing alike. This one's cotton, mostly chenille, with the green stripes being something more cord like (I don't know what you'd call it).

So, this blanket is a little short because, amazingly, I broke the loom while I was weaving it and had to cut it off -- the screws that connect the gear-looking crank thing to the beam completely sheared off! Fortunately, it was fixable (because it was not my loom either, yikes). It's a very nice loom, but it has seen a couple decades of serious action.

This did, however, make me feel like I was some sort of crafting powerhouse. Meaning, it made a big cracking noise and the crowd went wild.

Friday, October 1, 2010

I'm weaving to move into a yurt.

Well, I wish -- wouldn't this sleeping mat look good in a yurt? Maybe weaving it is the first step in making that move a reality.

Um, anyhow...this was my very first double weave project (it was kind of exhausting)! It's woven out of cotton rug warp and stuffed with that green foam that you stuff into things. I haven't tried sleeping on it yet, but the cat seemed into before I even finished sewing up the open side. (Yes, just a weak excuse to talk about my cat. He's handsome.)

I used the same warp to weave a cotton chenille blanket that I'll post as soon as I put the binding on -- it's interesting how completely different they look.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Dyed warp experiment #3.

Dyed warp experiment #2.

Dyed warp experiment #1.

So, I took that dyed warp off my loom a couple of weeks ago, but only just got around to washing the pieces yesterday. The whole thing was a big experiment, the pattern is a variation on "Simplified Damask" out of Marguerite Porter Davison's green book and I used several different yarns in the weft -- I will reveal them in order of appearance (when they're all up #1 will be at the top, #7 at the bottom, hopefully it will be obvious)....

1. 100% cotton, recycled from a sweater -- beige
2. cotton chenille -- grey
3. rainbow-dyed wool
4. wool -- turquoise and black
5. recycled cotton (navy), linen (turquoise), bamboo (grey)
6. 100% acrylic -- beige and black
7. cotton carpet warp (plain weave) -- blue

In the end, I think I liked the plain weave best. I felt like the pattern detracted from the warp and vice versa. Now, what am I going to do with all these pieces?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Humble Beginnings.

I don't think it's a great stretch to relate this 5th grade class photo with my dealings in the fiber and fashion realms. I won't insult anyone with that obvious explanation...and why wouldn't I share this sweater with the world?

Now, who's going to crochet me a new one?


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Breakfasts I Have Loved (and set my coffee on).

I am known, by many of my companions, as one who loves breakfast to a fault. Putting your most cherished event at the very beginning of the day could be viewed as a flaw, leaving you little to look forward to post-meal. Lately, I've been remedying this oversight by eating breakfast on several occasions throughout the day, regardless of the hour.

I tend to be inevitably dissatisfied, in the long run, with any work that is representational (too literal?), though that never keeps me from returning to it. This past week, I started working on these quilted coasters of those breakfast classics: the egg and the toast. They are offering up some amusement, so I'll allow this overwhelming novelty in my studio (for now). I'm gearing up for the Bloomington Handmade Market, so they'll surely make an appearance there and probably on my Etsy page in the nearer future.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Last Call For Unders.

Boy, am I burnt out on making men's underwear. I've gotten a lot of positive feedback over the years, but I just cannot muster any excitement for it these days. So, I've put up the last of what I have on Etsy (cheap) and am calling that quits for the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, this also means that I will have no more real excuses for posting these great pictures of Josh and Mark (check out his excellent blog) in the laundromat. They are both real troopers, but might be sick of showing up all over the internet in their undies, anyhow.

Will Claytor took these pictures. He is the best.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Tiny Rug (Huck A Back Warp #2).

When I started getting sick of the Huck A Back, I switched to plain weave and made this tiny rug, laying in white bias tape to make the square pattern. Despite it's absurd smallness (15"x20"), I'm kind of fond of it. Perhaps, what I have pictured would be considered the back? Whatever, I think I have a preference for it. Now, what do you do with a rug of this size...?

Huck A Back Warp

Here's a random warp I pulled off the loom recently. I was just using up some white carpet warp and experimenting with a version of the Huck A Back weave structure. I ending up winding around 6 yards, but it was too narrow to do much of interest with (live and learn). One thing I found was that it was difficult to get a good selvage edge with this structure (as you can see in the picture) and if I used it for something again, I would put a bit of plain weave on either side. Nonetheless, I really liked the way it looked when woven with this dark blue cotton.

And I like the name Huck A Back.

Friday, September 3, 2010

KY Shuttle.

One of my favorite things about getting immersed in new crafts is collecting knowledge about all the trade specific tools and figuring out your own personal preferences.

I had tested out a few different shuttles belonging to other folks and I thought I had settled on my first purchase (a Leclerc slim shuttle, which I did end up getting as a second shuttle), before I came across this one at The Woolery, based out of Frankfort, KY. It is hand made out of Kentucky Maple and Walnut which, of course, sounded too promising to pass up. It has a really lovely feel on top of being beautiful, therefore, I have no regrets about dishing out a little extra cash. I don't know a thing about the company, but since I bought it from a store in Kentucky and it's made from Kentucky trees...they're from Kentucky?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Dyeing Experiments #1 cont.

Here are some shots of the warp....

Dyeing Experiments #1

Yesterday afternoon I got to do some experiments in dyeing at a great studio in Nashville (Indiana). I will give some more info on the studio (and the super helpful/knowledgable woman who runs it) as I get more pictures together, but for now, I just really wanted to throw some pictures of my new yarn up!

It's a two-ply wool that is fairly coarse. I thought it looked kind of like a huge mess while I was painting the dye on the skein, but spun up in a ball it looks edible! I also dyed a warp, that is on my loom now, with a lot of the same colors, so we'll see what the look like when they intersect.

At this point in my weaving education everything is still a huge surprise -- a lovely feeling.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Inspiring trash.

One day this spring, I rode my bike to the pet food store. I parked next to a street sign and locked up. My kibble buying mission proceeded in the standard fashion and when I exited the store and was proceeding to move on out, I realized that the piece of garbage that I had unwittingly parked on totally complemented the colors on my bicycle! (It is most unusual for me to have a camera so handy.) So, nice combination, but for what...? I've been pondering this for months.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Saturday Nights...

I don't have a lot of interests in Saturday nights as a concept, but I feel pretty pleased with this one. I just spent ages taking pictures and getting a bunch of new/old items up on Etsy. I've had my shop closed for about a year and it's been slow getting back into the swing of things. Currently, I'm just listing things I've had hiding in my closet, which isn't terribly exciting for me since I've seen them a million times. However, I'm finding a few things that still interest me upon revision. Mostly, these purses with tiny pillows sewn on them and (amazingly, after all these years) I still have a soft spot for bloomers...I don't know how.