Friday, May 31, 2013

Spinning Silk Bibliography

When I did the knitting with Mawata demo for my spinning group, I put together a bibliography that I thought I might as well share with all of you.  These are just the resources that I know about at this time - I'm sure there's more out there!

Spinning Silk Bibliography (with emphasis on Mawata, but a little of everything else, too)

1.  Spinning Silk: Sensous, Successful Yarns from Luxurious Silk (DVD) Sara Lamb
Great process video – she spins (and you get to watch closeups and spin along with her) the whole time she is talking about what she’s doing.  Excellent for learning/practicing.  Not a great source for mawata spinning (she even says that she doesn’t like to spin mawata) but fabulous for everything else about silk spinning.

2.  Spinning Luxury Fibers (DVD) Judith MacKenzie – 3 disc set - disc one is all about silk
Always relaxing and fun to learn from Judith (a wealth of lore and a lifetime of experience) – includes a great section on spinning mawata.

3.  Spin-Off Presents: All About Silk (eBook)
Silkworm lore (wild and cultivated), mawata spinning and dyeing, spinning fat silk singles, spinning for weaving, spinning embroidery thread

4.  A Guide to Spinning Silk Fibers + Free Knitting, Weaving, Crochet, and Embroidery Projects Using Silk Fiber (free eBook)
Spinning silk for knitting (hat project) and weaving (pillow project) in the same colorway, spinning and chain ply/Navajo ply for crochet and beaded rope (necklace/bracelet) project, spinning embroidery thread and small embroidered badge/medal project.

5.  Spinning Silk Hankies photo tutorial

6.  Knitty and KnittySpin index to all their silk related articles

7.  Spinning Silk caps (like mawata, only a different shape) tutorial

8.  Spin-Off magazine
Winter 1999 “Wild Silks Part One”
Spring 2000 “Wild Silks Part Two”
Summer 2001 “Learn to Spin Silk with Sara Lamb”

9. YouTube (only one of many available videos – this one is recommended by Blue Moon Fiber Arts and WormSpit)

10.  A great reference page on spinning all kinds of silk preparations, with info on spinning mawata (though I predraft more than they do) and links to more videos!

11.  Silkworm rancher and silk reeler/weaver – tons of info about the dear wee beasties that make silk (domestic and wild) as well as tons of info on how to process their product.

I have not used this book, nor do I have it yet, but include it because it is referenced by many who work with silk (especially dyers). 
Her current website (below) has mostly fabrics and yarns and natural dyes, including kits for dying silk, plus organically raised in the US “peace silk” cocoons (no silkworms were killed, but were instead allowed to hatch out).

Shopping: (these are just a few of my current favorites – mostly local Pacific Northwest-ish vendors, though the silk probably mostly comes from China or India)

Chasing Rainbows Dyeworks – silk mawata, silk top, blends, and other natural fibers (available from Carolina Homespun),

(edited 7/13/2013 to remove Crown Mountain Farms links - unfortunately Klaus has moved back to Germany and his wonderful fiber resource no longer exists) (Carolina Homespun is also pretty wonderful, though)

mawata, silks, blends – in solid colors (do your own color blending)!  lovely stuff, great colors

above is the link for mawatas, but she also has lots of silk top and silk blends (below)
in lots of colorways (color link below)

Great source of silk and silk lore, plus beautiful hand-dyed colors in fibers, yarns, silk ribbon, and kits.
Also undyed silk of all kinds (Bombyx, Tussah, Eri, Muga) in different preparations (sliver, bricks, noil, laps, etc., including undyed Bombyx mawata) as well as yummy blends (with camel, cashmere, yak, etc.)

source for undyed silk hankies (mawata)
Seattle store with lots of spinning fibers including silks, blends, mawata, noil, etc. – natural and dyed
(edited on 6/27 to change link to new, updated weaving works website)

Monday, May 20, 2013

Of Swans and Springtime, of Love and Migration

Lara is gone again.
But wait, you need to hear the story from the very beginning! 
We have a swan.  

Or the swan has us, it's hard to say how these things go.  At any rate, his name is Boris, and he lives on the pond down on our wetland - he came with the property when we moved here 13 years ago (it was a condition of the sale that we take care of him - he's not a native, and so his wings are clipped and he is confined to our property - and we have to supplement his diet since he is unable to leave to look for food elsewhere).

And he is in love with a Canada Goose.
I figured this out some years ago when I saw them gently twining necks out on the pond!
Since he is Boris, we call her Lara.

He shares his food with her and he protects her while she eats (that puffed neck and head down posture is warning me to keep my distance or else!), 

he swims with her, 

he walks in the orchard with her (he also has a pair of Mallard minions that follow him), 

and he takes romantic baths with her (sorry about the loud wind sounds) . . .

There's only one problem - (cue up Lara's theme from Doctor Zhivago)
She migrates.
Every Spring and Fall, she stops by for a few weeks, but the urge to travel on must be strong and she always leaves.
Every Spring and Fall, when the skeins of geese fly by, he cocks his head and watches, looking for her, waiting for her.  

In the spring he builds huge nests to tempt her to stay.
He even sits on the nests to prove his willingness to co-parent with her!

but she always leaves, eventually.

People on the island have commented to me about seeing one large white goose in a flock of Canada Geese (swans and geese can produce offspring, but their offspring is infertile) and yes, we are just a little way south (80 miles or so) of a major snow goose and native swan winter habitat, so it could be a stray, but still, 
it makes us wonder.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Problem with UFO April ~or~ "What I did Instead"

Well, honestly, April was not as good for UFO's as I had hoped!  This is what happened:

1.  The sun came out.
OK folks, this is the Pacific Northwest and when the sun comes out, the siren call of the garden is irresistible.

(please ignore the hundreds of volunteer kale plants that are about to smother everyone else.  They are destined for the salad bowl.)

2.  Hung out with the barn beasts.  And everyone.
It got too warm for the alpaca boys, so spent some time cooling them off.  

And collected brambles for the goats.  And took walks with the kitty.  And looked for tadpoles in the pond (still too early).  And did some birdwatching.
( a flock of 15 crossbills stopped by for a snack on their way to wherever they were going)

3.  Hurt my back.
Well, I thought I was taking it easy on the gardening, but there was a lot of remedial weeding (garden never got tucked in last fall, so the weeds took over) and I guess I overdid a bit (resulting in not being able to do the slightest bending, reaching, or twisting for about a week).  All better now.  I hope.

4.  Played guitar and banjo.
My dear husband and I are planning to attend a music retreat and I have not been playing much, so really had to put more time in (and get my calluses back!).

5.  Practiced spindling.
Thinking about going to the retreat made me look for extremely portable fiber projects to take along, and though I'm pretty confident on my spinning wheel, it's too much to bring to camp, and since I'm not very proficient with spindles, I watched Abby Franqemont's "Respect the Spindle: The Video" (Interweave Press) and played a little.  (the spindles are all Ed Jenkins Turkish Spindles)

The small spindle is 28 grams, Burmese Rosewood, with some 70/30 finewool/tussah from the Spinning Ewe (got it at the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival).  A challenge to spin with irregular silk noils and cut silk strands - some long and some short - but it makes a fun little yarn.

The larger spindle is 53 grams, Honduras Rosewood, with some of Fantasy Fibers Naturale "mystery" roving (OK, we all know that it is random leftovers from the carder, all smooshed together in one new blend, but it's fun and pretty) (also from OFFF).

6.  Wove some on my Rigid Heddle Loom.
Continued the unbalanced weaves study for my Rigid Heddle Study Group with a little warp faced "mug rug" (weft is wool, mostly Cascade 220, warp is 8/4 cotton carpet warp, reed is 8 dent):
This first one is just one of the patterns that's in that little project book that comes with a Cricket loom, but I've got lots of plans for this little warp - tapestry, knotted pile, soumak, twining, and more!
Definitions for the weavers here:

warp emphasis - warp sett slightly closer than usual and paired with a smaller/thinner weft, lightly placed - to emphasize the beauty of the warp yarn
weft emphasis - warp sett slightly farther apart than usual and paired with a bigger/thicker weft - to emphasize the beauty of the weft

warp faced - warp sett much closer than usual and paired with a smaller/thinner weft, lightly placed - to hide the weft completely and only show the warp yarn (mostly)
weft faced - warp sett much farther apart than usual and paired with a bigger/thicker weft - to completely hide the warp and only show the weft 

7.  Gave a silk demo to my spinning group.
We cooked cocoons (used baking soda to soften the seracin - it worked great), opened and stretched cocoons over a frame to make mawata (silk hankies), stretched commercial mawata one by one and knitted them without spinning, and had some fun.  Here's our stack of handmade stretched cocoons (photo is before washing - they're whiter and softer now).
and here are my unspun mawata mittens  - the dye work is my own, from the Knot Hysteria silk retreat several years ago - the pattern is the generic mitten pattern from The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns by Ann Budd (Interweave Press).

They are soft and silky and warm and yummy!

8. Went to see Seattle Shakespeare Company production of "The Taming of the Shrew"
This is not really one of my favorite plays (in fact, some of the scenes make me grind my teeth) but the SSC is such an excellent group that I took a chance, and their trailer park interpretation was such a clever, wild, and fun way to tell the story, that all is forgiven.

9.  Found some beautiful yarn when I was in Seattle, and started knitting.
Wait a minute - getting this yarn was one of my April goals!  Yeah!  There's one finish!

yarn is Classic Elite wool/bamboo (a little splitty, but lovely soft and a rich color)
pattern is "Wyvern Wrap" by Angela Hahn

10.  Started another pair of socks for dear husband.
Look, he loves the first pair so much that he washes them by hand and lays them out flat to dry.  Such diligence must be rewarded.

Pattern is "Chevvy" by Jody Pirrello from Knitting Socks with Handpainted Yarn (Interweave Press).
Yarn is Malabrigo Sock in the Arbol colorway.

11.  Finished the fingerless mitts and delivered them to my friend.  She liked them. 
(sorry, forgot to take a "finished" photo before they left for their new home).
OK, that was one of my April goals, so I guess that makes 2 finishes!

12.  Did 8 of the quilt pieces for the challenge quilt (not quite my April goal).
Since I need at least 12 in order to have a finished piece, and the quilt is due at the guild meeting next week, there's no hope of finishing in time, so it looks like I will be bailing out of this challenge.  But I'm having fun with the color study I'm working on, so will keep puttering away at this in my own time.

And since absolutely nothing got done on the giant flower quilt this month, that will be my only UFO goal for May and June (months that are congested with other distractions, from weaving conferences to birthdays to more gardening)!

oops, almost forgot to linky up to the UFO challenge!

  Never Too Hot to Stitch!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Finished and Unfinished March

It's time once again to thank Never too hot to stitch! for the 2013 Year of the Finished Project challenge and to celebrate successes (and to confess to what is not really failure, but perhaps an opportunity to experience how things can go astray).

1.  WIP - The granddaughter dress revision - done and sent
Once I got over my fear of not knowing what I was doing and just started putting needle to fabric, it finished up pretty quickly.  Put a matching fabric bias trim on the opening, added some matching bias trim fabric to the neck trim, and put in a snap (couldn't find a button that looked right).
 OK, so I had to do the snap several times since first, I sewed the second part of the snap  upside down (with the bump up instead of the hole) and had to re-do it, and then, I found I had neglected to leave a tab to grab onto to undo the snap and had to re-do my neck trim extension, and then I sewed the second part of the snap on upside down (again!).
And I probably should have made a little bow to cover the snap tab, but the dress has been mailed away already, so that will only happen if mom and dad request it.
Fabric is by Lida Enche (a local artist/fabric designer)

2.  WIP - the "Journey" Challenge Quilt - slow progress, not what I had hoped for this month!
Here's the challenge fabric (only photo I can give until after the guild meeting in May).
Since the study I am doing is a design process, everything is taking much longer than I thought it would, so instead of my 12 unit goal, I have only completed 2 and a half!

I still have hopes for finishing by the deadline, since I can always do the quilting and finishing in May (yeah, last minute, I know, but still an option) and I have a new plan for progress - 

Instead of working so hard to make each unit perfect, I'm going to be more intuitive about it (I've got all the fabrics, they just need to be "arranged") and crank out a lot of units, and then select the most successful ones to assemble into the challenge quilt (the rejects can still become a lap quilt or something).

This will also give me more opportunities to make mistakes and take more risks, and in doing so, to learn more from my study!

3. NewFO - Fingerless Mitts - done and I love them (I think these may be for me)

Pattern is "Fluency" by Silvia Harding- in the fingerless mitt variation.  
Yarn is Mini Mochi merino sock yarn by Crystal Palace Yarns
Beads are Toho Metallic Nebula size 6/0

4. UFO - The giant flower quilt - top is done (though I may still add a stem and some leaves) and is now a WIP 

Unscheduled March finishes!
1. NewFO - Beaded Cuffs!
Pattern is Aquitaine by Silvia Harding and uses both prestrung and hooked bead techniques.
Yarn is Malabrigo Sock superwash Merino color 871 Playa
Beads are Toho Metallic Hematite megatoma 3mm, round 6/0, and cube 4mm, and Toho round 8/0 Matte Opaque Gray.

2. NewFO -Color and Weave scarf!
 (the color is not quite right in the finished scarf photo above, but is good in the process photo below)

I wanted another color and weave sample for the beginning Rigid Heddle Weaving class I was teaching, so did a houndstooth and variations (fun). Will blog this later.

3. NewFO -Warp emphasis scarf!
My Rigid Heddle Study Group is doing a study of unbalanced weaves (where the warp and weft are not the same number of threads per inch), and my beginning weaving students saw this novelty yarn and asked if it was possible to weave with it, so I had to give it a try and combined two experiments in one!
It turned out to be a lovely, soft, drapey scarf - and fun and pretty too!  Will blog later.

April Goals

1. WIP - "Journey" Challenge Quilt - crank out those study units so I can quilt and finish this in May!

2.  WIP - Giant Flower Quilt (see photo above) - Quilt and thread sketch
I'll have to whip together a fused quilt practice "sandwich" since I've never done any thread sketching before (I like a good challenge)!

3.  NewFO - beaded fingerless mitts
A friend of mine saw my Fluency mitts and asked for a pair, so here they are. 
They just need the thumb gussets finished, yarn ends woven in, and a nice bath and blocking.
Yarn is Mini Mochi merino sock yarn by Crystal Palace Yarns (color 108)

4.  NewFo - Wyvern Wrap Sweater
Have been wanting to make this for my daughter-in-law, but haven't found the right yarn on my little island (and I don't buy internet yarns unless I know what they feel like and look like and smell like).  
Goal is to make the big shopping trip to the mainland and search for yarn (and get it cast-on if I find the right yarn)

And that's it for now!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

February Finishes and UFO Update

A little late on my posting, but here's my "Year of the Finished Project" finishes and flubs for February (whoa, an alliteration attack!)

1.  WIP - The granddaughter dress revision - slow progress
Got the neck elastic stabilized, the back sliced open, and some matching fabric bias tape made, but that's it.  I now must recognize what my problem really is here - I am not a seamstress/garment maker.  In fact, the only clothing I've sewn since Junior High Home-Ec classes (a loooong time ago) has been puppet costumes, and they don't really count since not only do they not really have to fit well, in most cases they are actually stitched to the puppet body!

2.  WIP - American Girl Doll beaded mitts - finished and in the mail!

3.  WIP - Stepdaughter beaded mitts - finished and in the mail!

5.  WIP - pinwheel weave scarf on Rigid Heddle loom - finished and blogged!

4. UFO/WIP - The challenge quilt that was originally due at quilt guild on March 19 was rescheduled for the May meeting, and it is now completely re-imagined, but in process.

After doing some design sketches, I realized that what I was designing would not fit into the time constraints (firm deadline) or the size limits of the challenge project.  So though I really love these ideas, these sketches go in the idea incubator for a future finish (after this year's quilt show time crunch).  
 (this is not the challenge quilt but has become an incubating story quilt)

So, after briefly considering just dropping out of the challenge, suddenly a new idea popped up that would help me complete 2 projects in one!  I've been trying to work on some "studies", but keep running out of time - but - the studies can be finished in modular units, using the fabric from the challenge, and when assembled as a quilt, will easily meet the theme (journey).

I did select and color sort and wash fabric this last month, so this is now a WIP.
And the fabric will work for the incubating story quilt too, so I have a head start on that one as well!

March challenges (yikes! March is half over!)

1.  WIP - The granddaughter dress revision - (see photo above)
Will try to be bolder and just dive into completing this (before Easter, perhaps?).

2. WIP - The challenge quilt
Cut and piece the study modules (12 to 16 units, depending on how the study progresses) this month (hope to be ready to do the quilting in April).  That's really only one a day, so seems totally doable.
Sorry, no photos till it's done - just in case a guild member happens to see my blog!  So you'll have to trust me on this one!

3.  NewFO - OK, the whole beaded fingerless mitt thing sent me off on another pair that is actually almost done already!  Pattern is "Fluency" by Silvia Harding - in the fingerless mitt variation.
One, maybe two evenings of knitting to finish.

4.  UFO - The giant flower quilt.
I started this in a class a year ago in January and love it and would really like to finish it for the local quilt show (late June).  My goal for this month is just to finish cutting and fusing the picture.  (April will be for thread sketching and quilting).

This shows the picture I'm working from in the lower right corner - and that's an 8x10 photocopy so you can get an idea how big the quilt is!.
And that is my own photo from my garden too!

And that's enough!

Rigid Heddle 8-shaft Pinwheel Weave!

Thanks to Jeen on Ravelry, I found a "recipe" for 8-shaft weaving on a rigid heddle loom.
This is Pinwheel Weave.  Yes, it is very cool.  
It is also somewhat time consuming (with 6 pick-up rows out of every 8 weft throws), so if you like rigid heddle to be a quick weave, this is not the draft for you!  
It is possible to get a nice rhythm going with it though, and the pick-up pattern is not hard to memorize, so if you do not have access to an 8-shaft loom, give this a try!  

I used a merino sock yarn and a 12 dent reed (wanted more wheels across the width) but I think I should have followed Jeen's advice and started out with chunky on a 5 dent, or maybe worsted on an 8 dent.  This would give fewer pinwheels in a row, but also fewer threads to pick up, which would make a significant difference in the time and difficulty of the pattern.

So here's how it goes (though I do recommend going to Ravelry for Jeen's step-by-step instructions and many examples of this pattern in different color combinations plus other variations and other weaving patterns).  (OK, I like Jeen - she's bold and experimental and likes to try out lots of crazy ideas.)

A.  Warp your loom with 8 threads of each color, alternating 8 thread colors blocks all the way across.

B.  With your darker color, weave a plain border of some kind, at least 2 rows (more, if you like).

C.  Starting with your darker color, begin the pattern.  You'll do all 8 rows of the pattern with this color.

row 1 - Heddle in neutral.  In each 8 thread color section all the way across the row, from right to left, go over 4 threads and pick up 4 threads.  Turn the pick up stick on its side to create a shed and weave your color through.

row 2 - Heddle in neutral.  In each 8 thread color section all the way across the row, go over 3 threads, pick up 1, over 1, pick up 3 threads. 
Turn the pick up stick on its side to create a shed and weave your color through.

row 3 -
Heddle in neutral.  In each 8 thread color section all the way across the row, from right to left, go over 2 threads, pick up 1, over 1, pick up 1, over 1, and pick up 2 threads.  Turn the pick up stick on its side to create a shed and weave your color through.
  row 4 - no pick-up (take a breath) Heddle down, plain weave shot.

row 5 - no pick-up (take a breath) Heddle up, plain weave shot.

row 6 - Heddle in neutral.  In each 8 thread color section all the way across the row, from right to left, pick up 2 threads, over 1, pick up 1, over 1, pick up 1, and go over 2 threads.  (for those who think analytically, this is the opposite of row 3)
Turn the pick up stick on its side to create a shed and weave your color through.
(this shows the pick up stick making the shed)

row 7 - Heddle in neutral.  In each 8 thread color section all the way across the row, from right to left, pick up 3 threads, over 1, pick up 1, and go over 3 threads.  (opposite of row 2)  (sorry, apparently I neglected to take a picture of this one)
Turn the pick up stick on its side to create a shed and weave your color through.

row 8 - Heddle in neutral.  In each 8 thread color section all the way across the row, from right to left, pick up 4 threads and go over 4 threads.  Turn the pick up stick on its side to create a shed and weave your color through.
Repeat this pattern (rows 1 through 8) with your second color.
And that's it, alternating colors to the end of your project.

D. End with the 8 row pattern in your darker color.

E. Put in your plain weave border.

F.  Finish fringes as desired (I twisted mine in solid color 8 thread units)

And voila, a pinwheel scarf (or dishtowel, or whatever project you choose)

So even though it's pretty slow going, it's actually fun!  Really!  
And it's pretty flash, oh yes it is!

(edited post on March 19 - so sorry, I was in a hurry when I first did this, and put all the process photos in upside down!  All better now.)