Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Dyeing Self-Striping Yarn

October 27, 2007 North Country Spinners Workshop, taught by Tricia Weatherston

The dyeing peg board with 1/2 of the dyed yarn.

The single sock with the afterthought heel just begun and the leftover skein

Tricia led a wonderful class. She is well-organized and very patient -- and remained unflappable for the four or more hours of teaching. She'd also worked out the design of the dyeing peg board in the top picture. A number of already mixed chemical dyes were set out for us to work with. The variety was quite good but I hadn't a clear idea of how to use them, never having done so. That;s why I decided to use a familiar rainbow palette.

Tricia demonstrated how to wind around the pegs to achieve different lengths of color bands. After painting a section, we wrapped it up in cellophane wrap to keep in from bleeding its neighbors. Some bleeding -- see the yellow parts of sock -- had fortuitous results, creating orange from the blending of yellow and red. The dye was set in a microwave.

I was lucky to be working with some very experienced dyers -- Jean S., Jill W. and the owner of a yarn store who also dyes some of her own yarns. Because of their experience with dyeing, they used fewer colors and instead concentrated on mixing gradations of shades and tones of two or three. But, I'm pleased to have learned the technique. I've volunteered the sock, yarn and dyeing board for use at the Guild's display at Garden State Sheep Breeders. When I retrieve the board I will play with this technique again.

I'm just now finishing the sock -- a plain tube of 64 stitches with an afterthought heel. This is my first attempt at this heel, also known as a peasant heel. The sock is small and the fabric is dense. For a stretchier sock I'd use a #2 needle for the KnitPicks sock yarn for dyeing.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Weaving at Peters Valley Cont'd

My first exercise on the second day was a balanced weave, meaning that the weft threads would be the same number as the warp threads. I measured inch by inch and only achieved the goal as an average of all the six inches. As you can see on the sampler, or "book" as Sarah Saulson calls it, this section didn't hold up so well, not maintaining its structure at the edges where it was pulled.

Here are two views of my first twill weaves. The fuschia is fine acrylic boucle, tighly beaten and doesn't show up the structure so well. With the blue warp I chose, I used weft thread colors that harmonized.

Here's my "book", to be read top down. The first leaf was cut off, (see yesterday's post) so the book is a record of what I did on the second and third days of the workshop. Left photo shows the front and the right the back.

The seventh section down, gold and black, was an exploration of unexpected weaving materials. It was really fun. My goodie bag contained black tulle with gold dots and six 12" lengths of gold cord. I worked out how to cut the length of tulle into one long strip, which I accomplished with only a few minor glitches. Fran, the helpful and knowledgeable studio assistant, suggested I spin it. Great idea. So I whipped out my Golding Spindle and made a tulle yarn. Spinning it intensified the black and "popped" out the gold bits. I began weaving this at around 7:30 and continued the next morning. Some of the tulle pokes out, at Sarah's suggestion. I'd just had the gold cord and loose tulle bits hanging over the selvedges so that added just the touch needed. I thought the regular stripped structure somewhat ironic considering the materials.

We also learned to read and draft patterns. Sarah demonstrated software and introduced us to Marguerite Davison's classic pattern book. I'm glad I took notes on the drafting because it helped me with the drafting homework assigned for the last day. I didn't remember until I was in the shower Monday morning. Eeek. So, I furiously wrote out the pattern on the drive up. In a panic that I wasn't understanding it, I asked Marsha to pull over so I could grab my notebook. The D.B. was laughing -- nay, e'en howling in delight -- because she'd never known me to forgePublish Postt to do my homework before.

The magic of the whole experience was how natural weaving seemed to me. I think I may have some deep physical memories of all the weaving I'd done as an eight year old at the Phillipstown Manor Restoration (it's name in the mid-50's when my father'd been their business manager). It may be that I felt very much at home working with the loom as a machine. It seemed very logical and easy to use. I figured out tricks by myself that a more experienced weaver had to have Sarah show her, which surprised me. There's a very appealing rationality to the craft. Now, I only hope that I can find an affordable loom before I forget everything I learned.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Learning to Weave

This weekend at Peters Valley I took the three day workshop taught by Sarah Saulson, "Adventur0us Weaving.". Although I'd learned on a real (antique, actually) loom when I was eight years old, I haven't woven seriously since. There were four students and a studio assistant, so we each got a great deal of individual attention. I love the way Sarah teaches -- it really works perfectly for me. First she explains the topic, then she allows us to explore for ourselves and finally we discuss it as a class. It's the first workshop at Peters Valley during which I haven't felt stressed or overloaded. Although I've really enjoyed all the workshops I've taken, I do appreciate the feeling of mastery I've come away with this time. My fellow students were all either art students or working artists. A most inspiring group.

Here's my loom with the warp. The first day we learned to dress the loom. It took so much time that I didn't have time to weave much besides the toilet paper. Sarah says her students enjoy this way of filling up the warp until a usable, even warp is reach.

The studio was open after class was over so I was able to get going on my first actual weaving. It's plain weave, experimenting with different beating strengths. It was cut off the loom to demonstrate the effects of wet finishing. It shrank in height more than width. The more tightly beaten sections shrank more.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Sandy Terp's Lace Workshop at NCS

On Friday, May 9 Sandy Terp presented a workshop entitled "Kinds of Lace " at the monthly meeting of North Country Spinners. This is the sampler I made that morning. You can see it hasn't been blocked.

Although I've knit some lace, I've never had a formal class or workshop in the subject. Sandy's approach combines teaching the historical background with clear technical instructions. She has developed a transcription method which replaces the graph -- and saves the eyes.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Baby Micole's Pinwheel Blanket

Baby Present for my dear friend Lucy's first grandchild, Micole. We were at Micole's parents' wedding in April, 2006 in Rome. The next May little Micole was born. When Rebecca, Micole's mother was born, I made her a quilt to which she became very attached. I hope Micole loves this blanket, too.
Pattern: I adapted this from Mielke's Farm's free round dischcloth pattern:
Materials: 2 balls each of Cottontots solids in Pretty in Pink (light), Wonder White, Strawberry and 2 Cottontots Ombre in Very Berry
Needle Size: 7
72 Stitches

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Corkscrew Scarf for Ozzies

Knit during the AJL Convention in Boston, June 2006, displayed here by its recipients in April, 2007. It's always useful to have something tucked away. The D.B. claimed to hate it every minute I was knitting it but once she saw it on Joan and Di, was convinced of its merits. More yarn was acquired for another but forgot to buy the time to make it! It's now in Melbourne and I hope had an outing (as it were) for an Aussie Pride celebration.