Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Weaving With Alpaca

I love alpaca! And at this year's Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, I purchased some alpaca yarn with the intention of weaving a scarf for my father for Christmas. I was a bit leery about weaving with it because I've heard many stories of how difficult alpaca can be - it has no memory, so you must be careful otherwise it won't bounce back - it will stay stretched. Also if you stretch it too much you could pull the yarn to shreds.

I had luck. Well, some luck.

I used just enough tension to be able to weave the scarf off and not one broken warp thread! Whew!!! But, it did stretch. One would think the whole warp would stretch the same, right? I guess my tension was not 100% perfect as the left side of the warp stretched to the point of being loose while the rest of the warp was just right. How to fix this issue? Weights? I guess not. The problem was this loose side just kept stretching under the tension of the weights. The solution? Stop weaving - finish the scarf - call it a day!

The scarf itself is quite attractive. Not as long as I had planned, but not bad either. I think dad will enjoy the fact that he won't have to wrap it around his neck 5 times (alpaca is so, so warm)! Off the loom it measures 55" x 10 7/8", not including fringe.

I used an 8 dent reed, sleyed at 16epi.

On my way now to finish the fringe and then pop it into a cool Eucalan bath (I think I'll skip the washer for this one).

Thursday, October 15, 2009

New Colors / New Yarns

This is very exciting to me! Being able to create wonderful colors for yarn and fiber. I'm in the mental process of hunkering down and creating a few permanent colors that I'll keep on offer in my Esty Shop: Fjola Maxwell Yarns - named after my two cats!

Two of my favorite colorways so far are FINCH and SEA GARDEN. I'll have to get some roving/top dyed up in these really soon. In the meantime, it's back to the loom for a few more scarves.

Knit Sock 101

So many others things have come up, but I did manage to get one sock knit. Instead of the long sock it was supposed to be, it wound up being a sockette - for running around the house. When I finish the second one I think I'll give them to my sister - they are a bit small for me. Haha.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Sock It 2 Me

What can I say? Once again there is something in Fiber World that I've wanted to do for so long.

Post it here for inspiration.

Sock knitting, a craze? Yes, I think so. But who could resist wearing a fancy pair of hand-knit socks? This first pair that I'll attempt (I admit, I took a sock class a few months ago. I was not impressed with, well, I won't say) is very basic. Using size 7 needles and Aran weight yarn they should knit up in a breeze (or maybe a small thunderstorm).

The sock pattern is called Irish Wellington Socks, by Aileen Cahill. Her site can be found at I found the pattern at Ravelry.

The yarn is from my stash. I've had these 3 skeins of Rowanspun Aran for years now. I don't think they even make it anymore. Perhaps not the total best choice for socks, but they can be hand-washed. I think of these as 'around the house' socks. I doubt I'll ever put them into a pair of boots. But who knows?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Playing With Yarn and Color

It was time to get some more stock listed on my Etsy site. I had two orders of undyed yarns that needed attention - so I got started - and this was the final outcome:

Final Soak In Eucalan Wool Wash
The way the yarns absorb the color right from the dye bath, leaving the water crystal clear is so amazing! But if you think about it, it makes total sense.

Colors Drying On The Rack



Friday, September 11, 2009

Rag Rugging II

Here it is. My very first handwoven rag rug. I put a lot of work into this one. The next one I make, in browns, greens and blues, will be a bit less tiresome. I do not plan on binding the edges like I did with this one. It'll be a true 'Rag Rug' :)

I had extra material so I just kept on stripping/sewing until it was all gone. Then I continued to weave until I ran out of warp. The width came out at 22.75 inches. The length finished out at 44.25 inches. Nice!

The 5 Pieces Of Fabric For The Next Rug

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Rag Rugging

My back is feeling better - good enough to weave - maybe not good enough for the hard beating that's required to weave a sturdy rug, but I'm doing it anyway. I've wanted to do this for a long time and I finally got down to it. I think the fact that my Chiropractor asked if I could weave him a rug had something to do with it...

I used a warp of burnt orange and burgundy 8/4 cotton carpet warp. I also have orange and white, but they were a bit too bright for the material I was using.

Carpet Warp, Wound and Ready

I purchased the material at the JoAnn Fabric store in Bowie, MD - they were having a going out of business sale :(

When I started to cut the fabric into 1 1/2 inch strips, the fraying was way too much so I decided to roll each strip and sew the edges inside. This way I get a nice clean rug without the frayed edges sticking out. Yes, I know, it's a rag rug, but hey, it's for me and I wanted it 'clean & neat'.

Fabric and Rolled Weft Detail

This little baby, 24 x 36, will sit in the upstairs bathroom right in front of the sink. Something to dig my toes into while I'm brushing my pearly whites (Eh Pearl). It's nice and firm, well, it's still on the loom, but it feels awesome. I'll shoot another image once it's on the floor in it's final resting place :)

Saturday, August 8, 2009

High & Dry

I called a different Chiropractor from the one I was waiting to hear from, on the referral of my natural doctor. I got an appointment for the same day (Aug 7) - and, it was free, X-rays and all!

One of my concerns since hurting my back was that I started having massive night sweats. Sheets soaked to the max. Nasty! My doctor said that it sounds like I could have a pinched nerve. See a Chiropractor!

Went for my initial consultation: I got an electric treatment with cold packs, then a warm back roll. After that the doctor got me on the table and cracked this and cracked that. Weird. He then readjusted my hips and asked me to walk down the hall. I felt light.

I'd say just from the initial visit that 60% + of the pain in my arms and legs was gone. It wasn't painful driving home. The radiating spasms in my back that would pulse into my arms and legs had been diminished to just the area in my upper back. By the time I got home, my hands were warm and dry. I could move more like 'normal'.

I went to sleep.

I woke up, dry.

Friday, August 7, 2009

No, Not Knots Of Yarn

Sunday, August 2, I threw out my back. Not into the garbage or anything like that. Although that is sometimes how it feels. On Tuesday, I was able to get a quick 5 minute massage from a good friend who knows what she's doing. She was able to find the kinks in my back and smudge them away. Been drinking plenty of water all week, pray I don't float away.

Wednesday night I was not able to sleep much - had a coughing spell that messed up my back, again.

I'm waiting to hear back (hehe) from the Chiropractor to see what can be done. I'm not much for taking synthetic meds created 'en masse', but I'll say this - I did break down and took some Bayer: Back & Body (Dr. Sullivan would not approve). I only took 1 tab at a time instead of the recommended 2 and I only consumed a total of 4 over a 16-hour period and they still made me a bit loopy and hazy in the head so I decided to stop taking them.

I usually use a product made from Arnica gel to ease away muscle pains/sprains, but this time I think things were too deep in my back for it to reach.

Patiently waiting, by the phone.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Back On Track II

Things have been a little rough:

Cash has been tight and then I find out that I'm being laid off at the end of August, but there are sunny skies:
  • Kay emailed me yesterday for 4 scarves for the holidays
  • I received another order from SweetGeorgia Yarns
  • I have a whole list of things I wanted to do even before Kay and SweetGeorgia
So time to get off the bum and get back to work. Summer is not my favorite fiber season but the inspiration will follow - it always does.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Marigold Garden

The little marigold seedlings with moonflower in the background

I have a growing interest in dyeing fiber and natural dyes interest me a lot! I'm all about natural. I even take natural remedies for my allergies. So this year I decided I was going to grow as many marigold plants as I could (along with an indigo plant or two, just for the fun of it).

I plan to harvest the flowers all season long, weigh them and then either freeze or dry them, and then have a marigold dyeing party in the fall. I think I may even ask my parents and sister if I can plant some marigolds in their yards too.

I love the orange and yellow tones that can be extracted from the marigold plant - and not just from the flowers, but from the green leaves and stems as well. I'm not so sure about the roots. They can stay in the ground as compost for next years garden.

On the left:
: A pack of marigold seeds
On the right: Indigo plant (in front of an orchid)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Superwash Merino From SweetGeorgia Yarns

Last April, yes, that's April '08, I ordered some hand-dyed fiber from SweetGeorgia Yarns, located in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. SweetGeorgia Yarns is all about color, and more color, and then, add some color. I'm totally amazed each time Felicia, the owner, posts new yarns or fiber in the online shop. The colors explode on the screen. My camera is very old so these photos do not do it justice.

Fiber: Superwash Merino
Colorway: Spring Rain

Anyway, I must admit, I just got around to spinnng it last week. It was just one package that I purchased since I wasn't too up on my spinning. I'm quite pleased how it turned out (now that I've taken a spinning class with the approval of my instructor ;)). And it's of a high quality fiber - after spinning and setting the twist, the yarn has a squishy-springy feel to it. Just how it should be.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Post From Canada

I love receiving packages in the mail. Especially when I know there is fiber inside!
CashSilk Lace

My SweetGeorgia Yarns order arrived today. Just in time for my birthday! There is plenty of fiber to spin and two nice skeins of CashSilk Lace yarn to play with. CashSilk is a super soft blend of 55% silk / 45% cashmere. I'm thinking a nice soft slinky scarf. I ordered the Logwood and Gunmetal colorways. I think they'll go nice together.

Also in the box - 3 packages of dyed spinning fiber. Two in a 50/50 merino/silk blend - colorway, Saffron. The other is a wonderful blend of 60% superwash merino, 30% bamboo and 10% nylon, known as Panda. The colorway is Tulip - a mix of greens, pinks, browns and white. It's already a hit just sitting there in it's braided coil. Just wait until it's spun into yarn. I also have 2 other coils of Panda in another colorway from my trip to Vancouver in October. Spring is my spinning season - they'll be yarn very soon.

And then there's the undyed Panda. Pure white like snow. When dyed the bamboo doesn't take up the color, so it leaves shiny white streaks in the fiber. I'm not exactly sure what colors I'll use, but in the morning I leave for East Berlin, PA for my first spinning class at The Mannings Handweaving School. I'll look into the dyes while I'm there.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Dyeing With Henna

I'm back on the natural dye trail. This time, with henna.

I just recently dyed two skeins, 50gm each, of alpaca yarn (from Blue Sky Alpacas) and one skein, 100gm, of wool yarn (from Lorna's Laces Hand-Dyed Yarns). All of the fibers are so lightly dyed to begin with that they didn't looked dyed at all, so I took it upon myself to change their look. I was hoping that since they had already been dyed that they would have already been premordanted as well. Only time will tell.

Henna powder in the pot - - & - - Simmering on the stove to extract the color

Henna-dyed alpaca yarn

I love t
he color of the alpaca - it almost has a gray hue to it. Nice! The wool looks a little brassy to me, so I'm going to over-dye it with something else. I'm thinking of playing with indigo ;)

Friday, January 23, 2009

More Mohair For Kay

Fuzzy Mohair Meets Loopy Mohair

Here is the last mohair scarf for Kay. This one belongs to her! The warp is the same blue/purple mix as on these here, but she requested that the weft be black. I used Webs Stirling Mohair which is a loop-type mohair. At 500 yards per 8oz skein at $20, well, you can't beat that!

I love how the loops peek out from the colorful warp threads. It gives the scarf an extra fuzzy feel and look. When Kay walked around the corner to my desk she just stopped and said wow! She threw it around her neck and proceeded to sport it around the office. I was able to seize her for a quick photo shoot in the front lobby:

... and this is Kay.

This time around I had no issues with the weaving. No broken warp threads, minimal shedding (even though the reed I'm using is still a narrow 12 dent - I really need to get that 5 dent soon).

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Something For Me

I have been weaving for almost 2 years now and finally decided to take the time and weave something for myself. And here it is:

It was based on the design from this scarf, so again, the warp is mainly 50% bamboo (black) / 50% cotton (black/brown 2 ply) and the weft is 100% bamboo (black). But in the warp I added a few threads of lemongrass and pompeii bamboo with some tweeded silk.

After twisting the fringe, I tossed it in the washing machine, on the hand-wash cycle, and spun the water out. Then I dried it, laying it out flat on some towels. Finished and dry, it's about 82" long :)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Don't Forget To Sample

This scarf is so long. I meant to weave a few samples, but I started weaving and just never stopped until I ran out of warp. When it came from the loom, the fabric was like cardboard. I couldn't wait to see if it would soften up after finishing so I didn't even bother with twisting the fringe. I washed it in cool water and rinsed with a bit of fabric softner - still stiff. A few minutes in the dryer and it started to relax. Then I hit it with the iron and then left it to dry overnight. It's a very dense fabric. Most of it is a silk tweed - pretty nubby - the rest is an acid green bamboo yarn - both from Webs.

I took it to work today and Corina kept it snug around her neck most of the day. I found it back on my desk about 4pm. She may wind up taking it - I promised I wouldn't let anyone else have it until she made up her mind :)

This was one of those 'let me see how this will work out' projects. I should have done a sample first, but everyone seems to like it. I was thinking I'd cut it up and piece it back together for a shabby-chic pillow cover, but I guess today was it's lucky day. The peeps at work convinced me it's a nice scarf worthy of someones neck!

Now I'll start on that fringe. . .