Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Mohair For Kay

Here are the mohair scarves/shawls for Kay. They're quite huge. The blue ones are 21 inches wide - by 72' long. The pink/yellow ones were both supposed to be 18' wide by 72' long, but one came out being closer to 90' long. I know how it happened though, so I promise, it won't happen ever

This project was quite a challenge. I have never used mohair before. It's quite messy - it loves to grab hold of itself and does not like to let go. I had a few broken warp ends, but thank God they were just inches from the fell. I pinned them in place and when I took the scarves off of the loom I just took the long end and threaded it next to the short end and then took the short end (fringe side) out. Voila! No one will ever know. shhh...

I'm supposed to deliver them to her on Tuesday Dec 16th, along with three bamboo scarves for her husband. The warp is wound for the bamboo and I'm heading downstairs now to dress the loom and start weaving.

And here are a few pics of the bamboo scarves - they are all the same.

Monday, December 8, 2008

They're Bugs, They're Dye, They're Gross!

They're Cochineal, a type of sap-sucking bug (actually a scale insect) from Central America, and other warm regions of the world. They are a parasite - and their host is a type of cactus. Interesting, huh? Well, I do feel a 'little' sorry for the buggers, but I gave it a try, and... I love it! Beautiful reds and oranges. I used a method which does not require a mordant - a small amount of white vinegar in the dye bath to bring the color to an intense orange/red. As I was heating the fibers in the bath the smell from the cochineal was roaming through the house - not a horrible smell mind you, but different.

The fibers in the dye pot are a yarn of 80/20 Alpaca/wool and some silk roving. The instructions in the book said this method was for animal fibers so the silk should be able to take the dye as well.

I'm loving this. The yarn and silk are now 'resting' in the pot. I'm leaving them overnight and will rinse/wash/rinse them in the morning...

Here are the results of the dye bath:

The Alpaca/Wool blend is a deep burgundy/wine color.
The silk absorbed more purple. I like them both!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Great Scarf Exchange

I am a proud member of the Weavers Guild of Greater Baltimore (WGGB). This year is the guilds 60th anniversary and we're hosting an "inside" scarf exchange at tomorrow evenings meeting. Basically we've had a year to work on at least two scarves each (they want to receive at least 60) and we have to turn them in tomorrow night along with the paperwork with all of the details (yarn requirements and sources, patterns, warp length, shrinkage etc.)

After we turn them in, they will be photographed and the top 60 will be featured in a book. Then the scarves will be on exhibit at the Howard County Center for the Arts. I'm not sure how long they will be there, but after that (Jan 2010, whew!) we'll then get the scarves back - but the scarf I get won't be the scarf I wove - scarf exchange! Exciting, huh?

The first scarf here is a bamboo warp (crocus purple) and rayon weft (natural). I came up with the pattern using a demo version of a weaving pattern program. It looks rather complicated, but the threading and treadling were pretty easy. I was able to divide the treadling into 8 sections per repeat and then weave from that. After each 'section' I would check my work for mistakes. I had to unweave a few times, but not too often. It took about 2 nights to weave it off.

The second scarf is a warp of Jojoland Superwash Wool and Bambu 7 for the weft. You may remember the Colorful Warp posting... And here is the finished scarf:

Thursday, November 20, 2008

sweetgeorgia - sweetsuccess

Felicia of SweetGeorgia Yarns and Me

The weekend of November 15, 2008 I had the fortunate opportunity to visit one of my favorite fiber artists - Felicia Lo, of SweetGeorgia Yarns. She was having an open house for her recently opened weaving, dyeing, spinning, all-around-fiber studio in Vancouver, BC, Canada.

The space is open and full of light and, well, see for yourself...

I purchased my fare share of yarn and spinning fiber - oh so exciting - and I can't wait for the holidays to be over so I can start playing. In the meantime, the work on scarves for friends and family continues... More later!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Colorful Warp

So here is the Woolly Warp beamed on the loom. Just a few rows completed, but I can see already that I like the look. I decided on a deep navy bamboo weft. It will give the scarf a bit of sheen. I like how the colors show through with the simple twill design.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Oh I Can Cook, Too

Apple Pie Before Baking

So, yesterday afternoon I had starting making an apple pie from the October '08 issue of Martha Stewart Living. I had the dough all prepared and chilling in the fridge, so I decided to lay down for a few minutes. Hehehe. I woke up, it was 4am! The lights were still on and the windows were still open, and gee, was it chilly.

Later in the morning, when the sun was coming through, I took some photos of some of the plants in the garden, with the morning dew (the frost crystals had melted already).

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Woolly Warp

This is what has happened to the Jojoland Melody Superwash. Most people use it for making socks. Today, however, it's been playing on the warping board in anticipation of becoming a nice 10 x 90 woolly-warm scarf. I'm not sure what I'll use for the weft. I'm thinking some black or purple silky bamboo.

Fiber Field Trip

Work has been totally crazy! I have taken Friday and Monday off, and was planning to go to NYC, but I decided I didn't want to spend the cash to get there, stay over etc...

But, I still needed a diversion...

The days have been getting cooler. The nights have been getting cold. The fiber monster, though never asleep, is kicking into full force. I called my "intro to fiber" friend, Dennielle, from work on Thursday, to see if she would be interested in a day of fiber fun. The plan: Drive to The Mannings in East Berlin, PA and then head east/south/east and wind up in Chesapeake City, MD to visit Vulcan's Rest Fibers. You see, I needed some more yarn! Yeah, right! I did need some needles though. I have been on a hat craze and the closest shop to me in Ellicott City does not have the needle sizes that I need - the perfect excuse to drive six hours. Ha!

But seriously, the weather here is gorgeous! The leaves are a changin'. What better time of year to drive through the countryside?

As for Dennielle, she was ecstatic!!! "For the whole weekend?" she asked. No, silly, just for the day! "Well, what about Saturday, Sunday and Monday?" LOL. She is so cute!

So, Friday morning, I picked her up at 8. We had a lovely breakfast (in the car, from McDonald's - Eww, I know...) and were off...

The plan:

  • Drive to The Mannings (2 hour drive)
    We had no real set schedule, but even with a bit of traffic we were able to get there in 2 hours flat, arriving at 10AM. I wound up with 2 balls of Jojoland Melody superwash (to add to the two I already have), a 2oz skein of Bambu 7 in deep navy, 2,800 yds of cotton/linen ($15 for kitchen towels, nice!), natural dyes (henna, cochineal and indigo and some potassium alum [I forgot to get the spectralite, oh joy]), 4oz of bombyx silk top, my needles and locking stitch markers. Whew! We left right at noon.

  • Drive to Vulcan's Rest Fibers (2 hour drive. Ha!)
    I decided I didn't like the planned route because it took us all the way down to the Baltimore beltway and then back up 95N). So, I improvised. We found a main road that would cross us over to Bel Air, MD. From there, just follow the signs that we would see to get us to 95 (pray hard). We stopped for lunch at Cracker Barrel around 1:30 - yum. We were back on the road at 2:30. We found 95. Yeah! ...but got stuck in crazy traffic. Finally when we broke through, it was 3:30. I called the store to make sure they were open until 5. They were. We arrived at 3:55. I wound up with another pattern book, the Jane Ellison Queensland Collection, Book 9, 2 balls of Classic Elite Yarns - Moorland. Color: #2548 Blue Jay (I'm thinking a hat) and a set of cable needles - for this.

  • Drive Home (1.5 hour drive)
    We left the store at 5 sharp and took a few pictures and drove around the town. Most places were already closed. Back on the road at 5:30, I was able to drop Dennielle home by 7:10.

Now it's time to bust out some wood for the fireplace... ;)

That's me!

Dennielle outside of Vulcan's Rest Fibers

Dennielle and me on the deck at the end of George St - Chesapeake City, MD
Hmm, I look like I have a tooth missing. LOL

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Ugly Brown Betty: The First Sweater Project

Okay this is not really the first sweater that I started knitting. It's probably the third. It will, however, be the first sweater that I actually finish. It's pretty ugly, but it's mine. And I knit it all by myself, thank you! The front, the back and the left sleeve are complete. The right sleeve is in the works. I think it should be done by Christmas. A gift to myself, perhaps?

Front, back and left sleeve

Stitch Detail

Yarn: Rowan Yorkshire Tweed Chunky.

Friday, August 29, 2008


Earlier this summer I got some marigolds with the intention of planting them in the ground and nurturing them. Hey, I love to garden, but they never got out of their market packs - well, at least not the majority of them. I managed to get 6 in the ground...

Marigolds In The Ground

The rest stayed in their packs on the deck. As the flowers mature, I pick them off and place them in a zip-lock bag. Then freeze them. I plan to use them to dye some yarn later this year. I just have to do a lot more reading about it. Perhaps I should consult Felicia. She's a major dyer.

Marigolds In The Freezer Bag

The Latest Scarf For Kay

Okay, so Kay is a woman I work with. She is from Brazil and she loves to spend money. Here is the warp and the finished scarf. This one is for her husband, Arthur. He likes color, but not too much color. I still have 5 more to do for her. I will start those soon - they are Christmas gifts, you know.

The warp
The warp

The scarf
It's about 90" long and 10.5" wide. Notice the hand twisted fringe in the lower right corner.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Where Is The Weaving???

I have been weaving for a year now and I have not posted any of my projects online yet. I do keep a journal of my weaving though. Here is a really nice scarf I created from a mill-end cotton yarn that my friend Jason picked out, and from two types of bamboo.

The warp is 50% bamboo (black) / 50% cotton (black/brown 2 ply). The weft is 100% bamboo (black). I love the speckled look that was created from the brown showing in random spaces due to it's being plyed with black. Does this make sense?

My friend Kay at work is keeping me pretty busy too. She ordered 3 bamboo scarves from me that I have delivered already. Now she has 10 more on order - Christmas gifts for four of her friends, five of her husbands friends, and 1 for her. Gotta love her! :)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Merino / Silk

So this is what became of the 2 merino/silk blends. The small sample in blues and the larger amount in the lettuce green. I think they came out pretty good for a novice. Now just have to figure out what to do with them.

The dyed soysilk is on the spinning wheel now. It's colorful, but a bit too colorful for my tastes.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Back On Track

When I started this blog I knew I would be too busy to keep up with it. Let's get back on track, shall we?

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival - pt. 2

Sunday, May 4, 2008
So today, I was ready for the swarm. I had it all planned out. If Route 32 was backed up 3 miles, I knew of a shortcut that I could take to get me in faster - and it would work too! But also in the back of my mind I knew it was supposed to have rained Saturday night into Sunday morning and that didn't happen. So I thought perhaps that a lot of people went on Saturday because of this? Yes. This is exactly what happened. There was no traffic. The parking lot was only a quarter full. I could breathe today. I could talk to the vendors. Yippee!!! This was going to be a wonderful day. And it was.

First stop - the ATM.

Second stop - a little yarn shop (don't remember the name). They were selling Rowan Plaid for $5 a ball!!! What? And I missed this yesterday? Aw, shucks. All the great colors were gone! This stuff usually sells up to $15 a ball. Webs has it for $8.50 a ball (I currently have 30 balls, 3 different shades, 10 balls each, still waiting to be knit into soft squishy sweaters - I'll get to it - I promise!). I decided I didn't need anymore, so I walked away thinking if I remember to go back later in the day and they still have some, I'd then use that as my 'okay, it's okay' to buy more. Tee he he he...

Back to what I needed. I didn't want to get lost in the excitement and forget I needed things, so I wrote it down this time: new bobbins / belt for drum carder / heddles / fringe twister. I went right to The Mannings booth in the main exibition hall. I found Thomas Knisely (who may be my weaving instructor later this summer) and he was able to help me with some of what I wanted. The drum carder was still the problem - it needs a new belt. I found a place whos store is right down the street from where I live. So, I was done with what I needed and now I could play some more...

I found Alpacas. LIVE Alpacas.

My nose is so soft!
Where were they yesterday? In the same place but I couldn't see them for all the people. But the difference today was that I would be able to speak with the breeders and get some valuable information. You see, I have this dream of living on a farm and raising/selling Alpacas. Who knows? It could not hurt to ask questions and all of the people I spoke with were so friendly and helpful. I now have many invitations to visit their farms in Northern Maryland. Imagine that!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival

Saturday, May 3, 2008
Okay so this was a total surprise to me. I have never been. I only knew about it from my friend Maria. What a show! Seriously, it was like Madonna had come to the Howard County Fair. Too bad my camera battery was exhausted...

Cars for days. People everywhere. It was overwhelming, but I had so much fun!

On Saturday I decided to just let myself run wild. I had no plan. I just knew I needed new bobbins, a belt for a drum carder, heddles and a fringe twister. I went from vendor to vendor, looking, absorbing, thinking... What? What do I want? What do I need? Need? I couldn't even remember what I needed. So, I went with what I wanted. My first purchase was very small. Just four fiber samples to spin:

Merino/Silk (80/20)

Dyed Soysilk

Corn Fiber

and Bamboo

Next on the list came some lovely merino/silk (70/30) from Delly's Delights Farm, in Trappe, Maryland. The color is a soft lettuce green, with streaks of brown, orange, blue, red... When I got home later in the afternoon, I started spinning this right away. I'm loving the outcome so far...

Sweet Spun

Next I just walked around a lot in a daze. So many people. So much yarn. I went through the barns where all the sheep were and then I headed over to the main exibition hall. More venders from all over. So many people. Back outside! Use the restroom? Hungry? Forget it. I was not going to wait in line for either of these basic needs.
Walking around more, I wound up purchasing a pound of Shetland roving for $18.00. Not sure if that's a good deal or not, but the wool is very soft. Finally I wound up back where I started. Eyeing some very colorful roving from Persimmon Tree Farm. It was nice because hanging on each of the baskets of roving, they had a skein of yarn so you'd know what it 'could' look like after spinning... I decided on two colors to play with before heading home.


Thursday, May 1, 2008

Spun Kool-Aid

Played around a bit - tried dying wool with Kool-Aid. I was amazed how fast this wool gobbled up the color from the water. The wool was purchased from Vulcan's Rest Fibers in the little historic town of Chesapeake City MD. What a great little place the town is. Too bad I didn't have any time to check it out - so that means another trip for the whole day is planned soon. I hung the fiber to dry, spun it (new to this) and then plied it with undyed spun wool. Here is the outcome... Quite fun!

A little fuzzy it is. Not sure if this is due to my inexperience with wool (felting?) or my inexperience with spinning. In either case I'm sure I'll learn from it and future skeins will be picture perfect!

--- Popsiclelicious ---

Oh by the way - this weekend is the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival. I can't wait to go! I'll fill you in on my adventures!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

In The Beginning - pt. 2

When Dennielle and I returned to the States, I could not wait to get to a store and buy some knitting needles and a book or two to teach me how. Dennielle didn't really have the time and I was too impatient to wait, so, I went online and found a cool site that had exactly what I needed - little videos to show me how... Talk about excited. I learned to knit, purl, increase, decrease all in the same day! I didn't like how my purls were looking and that is why my first scarf was done in garter stitch. I still don't like how my purls look, but that does not stop me anymore.

My first scarf in Alafoss Lopi

Enter Maria.
My friend Maria is originally from Iceland. She knows how to knit, weave, sew - you name it. Right now she's taking a glass class! When Maria found out that I had started knitting, she immediately brought in some of her work so that the two of us could sit in the lunch room at work and knit together. She has since been my 'teacher' and a huge source of inspiration. She is also The source: Right now I have one of her looms and her spinning wheel because she recently moved back home to Iceland and really doesn't have the room for it all. So - I'm saving for the day when the call comes and I have to buy my own - but for the moment I think I'm safe... Keep weaving, Donald!!! ;)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

In The Beginning - pt. 1 - a quick history (me & yarn)

1966 ~
Born March 10, in Washington D.C.

~ 2004
It all started one November, when my friend Dennielle was awarded a trip to Iceland for participating in a usability test-thingie for an airline website. I was the lucky one who was going with her. She was so excited to finally be able to see the Icelandic sheep whose wool she had knitted a few sweaters with... Sheep? Wool? Knit? Who's Pearl?

Alafoss Lopi
Anyhoo, we were in one of the yarn stores in downtown Reykjavik. I was helping Dennielle decide on a color for her next sweater. I touched the yarns. I saw the colors. I wanted to do something with them. Just then, one of the clerks asked if I knitted. "Nope, I'm here with her", was my answer. "Well, why not?", was the reply. In a split second, the question "why not?" resounded through my head. I looked at her, shrugged my shoulders and said, "what should I get"?

I decided to get 3 different colors of Icelandic Alafoss Lopi (quite scratchy). I could get needles and instructions at home. . .