Thursday, December 2, 2010

New Knit Stuff

Lately I've had to get out my knitting needles for some small projects - socks, mitts, and more mitts.
Striped Mitts & Wristlet w. zigzag cables. Both in Cascade 220.

Briggs & Little Tuffy wool in a heavy work sock.
The striped mitts were intriguing to do; to see the stripes emerge like branches on a tree at the thumb gore was very satisfying. I used Patons classic wool with 3.75 mm needles.
The wristlets have turned out to be very nice to wear and should normally be a quick project. I did many restarts on these because of silly mistakes, but finally got something nice. They were done with Cascade 220 wool which is so very soft. These are nice to wear while driving - keeping my hands warm while my fingers remain free. For very cold days I reach for my felted fisherman's knit mittens.

The outdoor socks are on hold currently until I get more of the marled wool. I don't know of a store in my vicinity that has this brand of wool, so I must order it from the mill in New Brunswick. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Handbag Project & Mittens

These are the handbags I wove & made up for the Oxford Weavers & Spinners sale being held Nov. 20, 2010.  The bags are all cotton and woven with tabby & twill. 

Attn: New information on location of guild sale Nov. 20/10:
Guild Christmas Sale
November 20, 2010, 9.00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Oxford Auditorium
Woodstock Fairgrounds
Nelles St, Woodstock

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Cutest Video

This is the coolest video about knitted gifts at this link.

I have sewing I must complete today. I must get the handbags done & get them onto the guild I belong to for their money raising sale in a week or so. I will post a pic later.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Spindle Spinning B & L Batt

I'm using a commercially prepared generic wool batt that I dyed in an earlier attempt to be spun up for some mittens & a hat I suppose.
The spindles are made by my hubby & spin beautifully. The dark one is a bottom whorl & the light one a top whorl. I like them both.
I plan to do the whole batt on the hand spindles.

Last Woad of the 2010 Season #6

Scoured Clun Forest Fleece, wet.

Alkaline frothed & aerated.

After 20 minute woad dip.

Changing colour 1.

Changing colour 2.

Changing colour 3.

Fleece the next day air drying.

Sunday, October 31, 2010


I have been in a whirlwind for the better part of a couple of weeks. Woodstock's (i.e. Ontario, Canada) Fleece Festival took place on Oct. 23/10 with both my husband and friend participating and sharing a booth.

My husband was selling his fine wooden tools for spinning and weaving while my friend was selling her alpaca and shetland fleece and prepared fibre. Both had a wonderful day selling to the fibre loving community, which I must note is growing. It was a wonderful experience to be involved.

The very next day was the start of level 2 in the Master Spinner program from Olds College, Alberta. Once again we had the pleasure and good fortune of being taught by Rosemary Harris, whom had already taken us through level 1 in spring of 2010.

This level we are blending fibres - wool (that being specifically from sheep) with mohair, llama, alpaca, and the different silks. I will from here on be extremely busy with my homework so I can be ready for level 3 in the spring. (If life doesn't throw me any big surprise that is!)

I have fleece to card, comb, blend and spin. Also there are books to read and report on; research on stories involving spinning and songs that are spinning related. This can also include personal stories passed down in families.

So.... if you have any family stories involving spinning fibre, be a dear and email me with them.

Here are a couple of pictures from class:
A beautiful sunrise to start the day on Wed. Oct. 27/10

My Classmates Level 2

A close look at Kanef fibres on a field trip .

A look at Kaneff plants growing at a farm show site. They are the tall  thinskinny stalks, some still with lovely flowers at this late October date.

Kanef stalks

Nostepinne for winding balls of spun wool

Pat Green carder
Ashford carder

Sunset - Thurs. Oct. 27/10

I've been spending the last couple of days scouring wool; one day woad dyeing; and managing to fit in a little sewing. More on the other fibres later. I've some spinning of Cormo to do now.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Dye Results of Woad #5

Woad #5
Woad Dye #5 Results: Quite a bit of colour this time. The curious orange/pink one on the left is from the woad leaves after the indigo was extracted.
I am very curious to say the least to see what these fibres look like spun up & plied. Some of these are destined for my handbag weaving.

Tea time and spinning await me now.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Woad Experiments

With fall officially here now I had to get in my last woad dye day before we woke up with frost. Too little spare time on my hands and too many must do projects. I could not put this off. The weather surprised me by not getting the promised rain and storm, so I went ahead with the woad dye.

I harvested all of the first year woad leaves except the new leaves coming in the center of each plant. This will allow the plant to continue into its second year when it will produce the seeds in 2011.

I followed a somewhat different method of preparation as follows:
1. Gather all the leaves of the woad.
2. Drop leaves into very hot water in large pot on stovetop. Add a little lemon juice or vinegar to have it a bit acidic. Hi heat for 3 min., but keep below boiling point. Simmer for 15 minutes.
3. Drain off dye liquor. Leaves can be used to produce other colours from yellows to pinks to orangey colours with addition of alum and cream of tarter.
4. Now the baking soda is added to turn alkaline. Check with ph paper. It should be at 9 or 10. The temp must be kept at 130-140.
5. Using a stick blender aerate dye bath for 10-15 minutes until you see the indigotin is developing.
6. Add the reducing agent. Thiox or Rit colour remover. (hydrogen hydrosulfite). Dissolve it in some hot water, then add to vat.
7. Let sit 1 hour. It must be a yellow colour, even if it is very dark. Ready now for adding the soaked wool. Soak for 10 minutes, then aerate for 10 min. Repeat.
After addition of Thiox. Ready to dye.
8, Rinse the next day. If the colour is a bit greenish, 1 T. vinegar can be added to the last rinse.
Shetland 2 ply. Woad dye. Not rinsed.

Uncarded wool.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Rag Rug

Here is the finished denim jean rag rug. I know some of you were wondering if it would ever be finished, but it's done; not perfect, but I think charming.
I hope I made all the beginner's mistakes in it & I won't make any more mistakes for a while. It's a learning process and time consuming.

Jasper modeling & being a sweetie with the new rug.
This morning when I couldn't sleep I got up in time for a truly beautiful sunrise and ran back in for the camera before it disappeared.
Sunrise in Paradise
There was much more than pictured above - the sky was filled with blazing pinks and oranges! Spectacular!

Last week I had the pleasure of going on a road trip with two weaving friends for weaving supplies at Camilla Valley near Orangeville and a side trip to Wellington Fibres. The company of my two friends was so very nice and we had a great day out. Lots of driving, but worth every minute. I came home with a few more colours in my cotton 8/2 palette and a luscious blend of wool and mohair roving from Wellington Fibres which I am spinning up in my spare time.

I thought that two nights ago I would be weaving my next project, but as usual the preparations have taken much longer than I anticipated. I now have the warp beamed and I am ready to thread the heddles. This is the first project using the sectional beam with the tension box and spool rack. They work well together and I don't need a helper to beam the warp.

When I am off this weekend I will have to harvest the woad and try again for the indigo pigment. I might try another dyeing method.

Have a good night. 

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Weaving is Underway

But a different project, not the denim rag rug - that's on hold for now.
I have a soft spot for herringbone and twill patterns so I decided to do some tea towels for a first project on the 20" table loom I got a few weeks ago.
I warped it up with a 8/2 cotton in a natural white colour. I have planned a pointed horizontal twill in two shades of orange and a dark turquoisey blue/green.
I am in a learning process and need to see how the colours interact with each other & the pattern chosen.
I warped it front to back following Deborah Chandler's 'Learning to Weave' book. The colours as seen on my monitor do not do justice to the combination. That is a burnt orange with a turquoise green. The lighter orange does not appear yet.
Pointed Twill
Having fun, but looking forward to when I get a rhythm developed when throwing the shuttle across.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Clun forest. Natural & Sumac dyed.

Spinning Clun Forest 2 ply for future weaving project. This is 61 grams natural and 81 grams sumac.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Items of Note

I have finished my Level 1 Master Spinner workbook/project. Here is an item from it:
Coreopsis dye with alum mordant. Sumac dyed decoration w. more coreopsis.
It is knitted with homespun marled wool yarn made from 2 plies of Clun Forest & a single of dark grey Romney. I am so happy to have my project finished and on it's way to my teacher for marking. I will have some free time to get back to weaving. 
This is what I did for 2 hours after I mailed it.

My new dye garden has some dye plants in it now too - alkanet, madder, dyer's broom, golden marguerite. More later.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Dyeing Lately

I harvested some woad on Tuesday with the intention of dyeing my project toque & a homespun skein of Shetland 2 ply wool yarn.
This was my first woad attempt & I have to say it was unsuccessful. I got a dull pink colour. Here is what I mean:
Woad unsuccessful attempt.

That is the undyed leftover yarn between the hat & skein. The hat is made of Clun Forest wool & a dark grey Romney wool. The skein pictured is a 2 ply homespun Shetland wool.

I also took the leftover woad leaves, after the extraction & simmered the dye liquor with sample skeins mordanted in alum, iron, and alum & iron. This is the result:
Dyed with mordanted wool in woad leaves after indigo extraction.
From the left: no mordant, alum mordant, alum & iron mordant, iron mordant.

Today I picked 2 lbs. of woad again & tried one more time:
2nd Woad dyeing attempt. A very pale blue.
These are the same articles dyed again. The sample skein on the left is Clun Forest 2 ply dyed on the natural white base. The 2 on the right were pinkish to start. I have to say it is again only a small success.

On a better note, my wonderful husband prepared my new dye garden which is a raised bed behind the building where we house our hobby shops. The size is 6'x24'. I have new plants started just waiting to go in.
New Dye Garden (no soil, no plants, just building it)
It should be finished & planted next week.

That's all for now.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Basketful of Blooms

I gathered more blooms today. Aren't they pretty?
Then I went to the guild and helped a couple of friends warp a loom. It was a very nice evening.

Friday, July 23, 2010

A Full Day

Little bit of sunshine today; some heavy rain and a lot of activity.
Andean Plying Tool

Toque, my spinner's project

Newly Baked Bread

Carding Romney fleece

Coreopsis, a dye plant
I did some heavy weeding in my side garden (the one I see everytime I arrive home from work), sewing for a customer, knitting on my spinner's project, baking bread, preparing cinnamon buns for tomorrow, vaccuuming the car and carding more Romney fleece.

Rearranged and Weeded
Marigold, a dye plant
I'm pleased with what I accomplished. I wish I could say it's all done so that I can get back to the weaving, but not quite yet. I must get this project finished and mailed away before I can allow myself to pursue my weaving.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Finally Weaving!!

Here is my very first weaving project: It is a denim rag rug in a twill pattern. This is being done on my Varpapuu Countermarche loom. The warp was already on it when I bought the loom, but I redid the warp (as a learning process).

I am using Laila Lundell's Big Book of Weaving to guide me through the process.

I really got very tired of crawling inside the loom to play with the treadle tie ups, so I changed it, with my hubby's help - he made what I needed and it works wonderfully. Now when I change the tie up, I just go around to the back of the loom and make the changes in the TexSolv cord on the tie up board at the back. It cost me a few dollars, but to take the hassle away made it worth it.

The following is showing the box at the back. Each group of 2 vertical rows represents a treadle. The left vertical row in each group of two vertical rows are for the top lamm adjustments and the right vertical row are for making changes to the lower lamms. The horizontal rows represent the harnesses. The wooden pegs just hold the unused cords so they don't slip out the back of the board. The sticks are old knitting needles being used to hold the treadle tie up for the rug I am doing.

I'm going to label the board and in another post I will show a different picture which should show things more clearly.

Another change I made to the loom is on the warping beam. It is a 1" sectional beam, but the sections are made up with sharp pointy nails. Everytime I crawled in the loom I was scratched & jabbed by the sharp nails. I kept looking at it and kept thinking about the problem and came up with the idea of vinyl tubing cut to bend over two nails. My hubby and I went off to the local farm store and bought ? metres of tubing. He kindly cut and installed it all for me over a couple of days when I was working. It works just perfectly.

Here is a view showing the treadles with the guides for the TexSolv cord as seen from the front of the loom.

Varpapuu Countermarche.
Denim Rag Rug.