Thursday, 27 September 2012
Monday, 20 August 2012
Wednesday, 25 July 2012
Well, it seems that summer is here at last! I feel as hot as the colours of my yarn. We are off for a couple of weeks holiday and dog sitting near Leamington Spa. So I need some projects to take with me. I managed to visit Woolfest in Cumbria last month and just had to buy one or two fibery things.
Saturday, 26 May 2012
Usually each May I rear a batch of Bombyx Mori silkworms and this year is no different, it just happened later than usual. I have to watch my mulberry tree in early May to see if there are any leaf buds showing. That is the sign to put eggs to warm so they will hatch 10 days to 2 weeks later. The weather conspired against me and I realised that was was going to be unable to rear a pure strain of Bombyx mori in time to take them to Hatfield House Living Crafts event, So.. I ordered some medium sized silkworms from an online company along with some ready made artificial food for them to eat. Problem solved! Now I am also hatching some eggs in order to take them to Birmingham Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers in 2 weeks time.
Wednesday, 18 April 2012
After spinning my own dyed silk bricks for several years I have become dissatisfied with the lengths of the fibres in the brick. It seemed to me that there were/are more batches of shorter and varied length fibres that were making the dyeing process difficult, caused by wastage because fibres along the length of the brick were breaking away, making it look very untidy and fibre loss.
At first, because I had spun little silk over the winter, I wondered if it was my technique at fault. Then I had reason to spin a brick that I had dyed some years ago. I found the fibre to be of a more consistent length and could control the style of yarn more easily. So, I hadn't imagined the change.
After trying two or three bricks I ordered silk tops. I spun a sample un-dyed and found the fibres to be more consistent and it was much easier to control the style/smoothness of yarn. Maybe I had hit on the solution to being disheartened about spinning my favourite fibre. Then came the test dyeing the tops.
I wound the very long length, 100g, of fibre on my niddy noddy just as I do with woollen yarn, put 4 figure of eight ties in the skein, soaked and dyed it.
It took less time to soak than a brick of 125g. First plus point. There was less fibre disturbance through the processes of dying rinsing and drying - second plus. It dried quicker because I was able to hang the length of tops across my dryer- third plus. Spinning was much more satisfying because I could spin a smoother,finer yarn without having to deal with batches of short fibres - plus four.
I have spun 100g of the 200g dyed and I am vey pleased that I can now resume a relaxing, satisfying process that I had enjoyed for so long.
I have woven several silk items since my last post and I am waiting for a bright, dry day to take photos. As soon as I have managed this I'll be posting again.
Monday, 5 March 2012
At the weekend I finished knitting this triangular shawl. It is my first completed project having spun the yarn on a drop spindle.
I have been drop spindling on and off for years but have never attempted, let alone completed, a project before.
Inspired by my friend Martina, also a member of Bedfordshire Guild Weavers, Spinners and Dyers, who carries her drop spindle almost everywhere and uses her spinning wheel rarely, I decided that I must complete something.
I began last autumn. I dyed 200g of wool tops with acid dyes and began to spin with the beautiful drop spindle bought at Fibre East last summer. Well, you can't spend over £30 on such a tool and just admire its beauty! It's so much more satisfying to make use of it.
The skeins above are the result. I was a little frustrated by the weight of plied yarn I could get on my spindle but next time I will follow Martina's advice and use a larger spindle on which to ply the singles.
The pattern is a free one from Ravelry 'Azzu's Shawl' published by Emma Fassio. Thank you Emma. I increased the number of rows, and therefore the width of the shawl, to use as much of my yarn as possible
Friday, 24 February 2012
Our son's wedding has delayed my posting the finished socks.
I am quite pleased with the results of the project. Machine knitting with a double 4 ply yarn to be able to knit two perfectly matching socks seems to be a way forward.
I did knit the first sock straight from the dyed piece but it knitted with a texture and I was not entirely comfortable with that in case it meant uneven knitting which affected the wear and tear of the fabric.
One the first sock was knitted I skeined the second half of the yarn and steamed it. The resulting sock fabric was much flatter, looking much as you would expect from a washed skein of yarn. The sock in the front of my picture is the one straight from the dyed length.
I washed the finished pair and there is very little obvious difference between them, so maybe the skeining was not absolutely necessary.
Friday, 13 January 2012
Frustration has set in because I am unable to get on with spinning and weaving since I hurt my back during the Christmas holidays. I probably have plenty of projects to get on with, but which one inspires me to start?
Having bought a quantity of sock yarn at Alli Pally last autumn I have decided to make use of it and try something which comes a a result of my dyeing some self striping yarn for cushions last February, self striping, hopefully, sock yarn. Again I have used the knitting machine to knit up 100g of the 4ply Bluefaced Leiscester and Nylon sock yarn. First I wound 2 balls of 50g each. Then knitted them together using alternate needles on the machine. This time I mastered the cast on and nearly a neat cast off.
After thoroughly wetting the yarn overnight I used acid dyes to colour it, put it to set in a steamer kept for dyeing and when thoroughly cooled, rinsed and hung it to dry.
I wonder how many machine needles wide it needs to be to make one hand-knitted row? I know 30cms is needed to handknit one row but I will need to experiment to get it right on the knitting machine. At least I can have a colourful time trying.
I wonder if I could sell such things on Ebay or an Etsy shop?
Wednesday, 4 January 2012
I have just finished a challenge I set myself back in August.
I was at the Association WSD Summer School in Musselborough and just had to buy something at the suppliers' fair. One stallholder had some dyed tops in colour combinations that I loved. I don't usually wear wool but have been searching for sometime for a 'woollen' fibre that I can wear close to my skin without irritation. There seemed to be little available that I hadn't already tried. What to choose? I decided upon something in merino and nylon, great for socks! I do wear woollen socks over my cotton ones when I am demonstrating weaving or spinning as I hate wearing shoes for this.
The yarn was spun soon after summer school but other things had priority.
I also wanted to see if I could produce a yarn similar but different to commercial ones that are self striping.
I separated the length of tops into its shades of pink, mauve and grey and then into two batches of equal weight so that I could spin the yarn in two skeins, one for each sock. I spun the colours in turn until the batch was finished, then Navajo plied each bobbin full of approximately 50g. I have found it easier to spin thinner singles lately and the yarn on the bobbin was going to give me a thinner yarn than I really wanted, so 3ply it was meant to be. I was able to keep the colours separate without any marling so I was confident that the stripes would be fairly well defined.
Two skeins of yarn spun, they were duly washed and dried, lovingly stroked and put with other skeins awaiting attention. They stared at me for 3 months! Then...
Over Christmas to New Year holidays I have found the time to tackle knitting the yarn.
Having worked out Wraps per inch, knitting a swatch with suitable needles, I had to find a pattern. Nothing I had was 100% suitable. So, I delved into 'The Twisted Sisters Sock Workbook', measured my feet, used their charts, adapted numbers of decreases/increases to suit and knitted my socks. They are comfortable and I am pleased that the stripes are comparatively even, sock to sock. I will not use their method for an hourglass heel with such thick yarn another time, as there seems to be lacy holes where three stitches are knitted together, but hey-ho! a girl likes to wear lace now and again! They will be keeping my tootsies cosy in the evenings now that winter has found us.