Sunday, September 19, 2010

Fall Colors, Fall Sweater

Yeah! My sweater is finished just in time for fall weather!
My sweater is finished at last!

This is the sweater I started spinning for last year (details in my March post titled "A scarf for Spring and some colorful spinning"). The spinning uses a "fractal stripe" technique I learned from Janel Laidman in class at Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat back in 2008 (see Spin-Off magazine, Summer 2007 for her article). It is fun and easy and gave me some fun (and sometimes unpredictable) striping on this sweater (thanks in part to the fabulous dye work by Lisa of Dicentra Designs).

colorway Cinnamon (my favorite)
Cinnamon fiber and yarn

colorway Madrona (my favorite)
Madrona colorway
(OK, it's true, I love them both)

And this is how it all began
top down sweater begins

I used an "unpattern" - the "Top-Down Pullover with Raglan Sleeves" by Karen Alfke to size, design, and construct the sweater. An "Unpattern" is essentially a generic recipe/knitting sequence, that you plug in your own sweater measurements, gauge, and design details. Then you do a little simple math, follow the clearly structured steps of construction, and away you go.

And now it's done. Cinnamon colorway at the top, and Madrona at the bottom.
I love love love this sweater!
I love this sweater!
Thanks Janel, Lisa, and Karen!

Friday, September 17, 2010

The End of the Summer Blues

Well, this is the summer wrap-up, so it's going to be a long one!
spinning blue (and green, and purple) the banjo strap log cabin weave scarf
This is so weird - blue is not one of my colors, I'm a fan of fall colors - oranges, golds, olive greens, warm browns - but here I find myself with a summer's worth of blue projects! (OK, some of them tend towards green, and there's a bit of gold and purple here and there, but still . . .)

Part 1 - spinning blue
A Crosspatch Creations Signature Blend layered batt with lovely textures of Romney wool, Bombyx silk, and Tussah silk (colorway "Gwen and Her Daughters").
Crosspatch Creations Signature Blend

A Crosspatch Creations Rainbow Roving blended in sweet tweedyness with lovely soft CVM wool (California Varigated Mutant sheep - it's fine, really, they're not radioactive or anything), Tussah silk, and silk noil (colorway "Victoria into the Woods" - OK, it's green - but it's got some blue bits in it!).
CVM fine wool, Tussah, and silk noil

Tussah silk in the "Kelp" colorway by Tactile (love this stuff)
Tussah silk

Bombyx silk in the "Evergreen" colorway by Chasing Rainbows Dyeworks (sorry about the glare, that's the shine of Bombyx silk for you)
Bombyx silk

And a 50/50 blend of Merino and Bombyx in "Scarab" colorway from Chasing Rainbows Dyeworks
Merino and Bombyx silk (50/50)

Now I just have two decisions to make
1. Am I going to ply these or use them as singles?
2. What am I going to make? (I'm seeing some kind of a warm textured cardigan, maybe)

Part 2 - Weaving Blue
Rigid Heddle Weaving (Schacht Cricket loom) - Log Cabin Weave

This pattern is so much fun! I learned it from the Schacht Spindle Newsletter (scroll down the linked page to Spring 2005 - the instructions are for a table runner, but it's easy enough to narrow it down for a scarf).
I used some yummy O-Wool Balance (50/50 Merino and Cotton) in Gold and Teal
Here's the warp threading pattern (bottom shed is just the opposite)

threading pattern for log cabin weave

and when you weave it with the same sequence of colors in the weft, you get this
weaving the log cabin scarf

Because of the threading pattern, you end up with a double color at each block transition, which creates this cool outline/shadow thing.
log cabin weave scarf
Weaving tech -
8 dent reed, 7 inches in the reed, 56 ends (7 groups of 8 ends in pattern), 6 foot warp on loom,
Off loom - shrunk to 6 1/2 inches wide and 5 feet long (including finished fringe - twisted and tied)

Part 3 - Cardweaving Blue
This is a sampler (lesson 1 on Candace Crockett's DVD - it's out of print, but was able to borrow it from the Seattle Weaver's Guild) that turned into my banjo strap. Used 5/2 cotton.
All of these patterns come from the same threading (warp) of the cards!

the banjo strap
even the back looks cool
even the back looks cool

So here's some basic cardweaving - You thread your warp through the cards in a pattern, and tie one end up to some immovable object (the knob to the TV cabinet works well) and the other end attached to your own belt like so (OMG, I'm even wearing blue clothes!)
Card Weaving with Cat #1

Spread the cards a bit and turn them one quarter turn - either towards yourself or away from yourself, depending on the pattern (doesn't it look like my hands are turning really fast?)
Card Weaving with Cat #2

Then, after running the cards forward and back to clear the shed, push the shuttle on through
The shuttle passes through the shed

Use the shuttle to press the weft firmly into place, and turn the cards again. Then, with the weft locked in place, snug it up to even out the selvedge edge.

To turn it into a banjo strap, I had to narrow it down to fit under the keys around the "pot", so I dropped out a card (4 threads) on each side every 4 turns (or so, I may have lost count here and there)
narrowed down to wrap around the banjo pot

And here's how that works on the banjo
it narrows down and wraps around the "pot"

then I did a fun little 4 ply braid on all the loose ends
4ply braids closeup

And then you go to American Banjo Camp where you meet a fellow weaver who wants to make a strap, too!
found a fellow weaver at Banjo Camp!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Summer snippets

Wow! Summer is slipping away already, so here are just a few quick snippits of the last month-

shearing alpacas and sheep
Angus gets shorn
Babe finally gets her shearing

finding tadpoles in the frogpond
Polliwogs!

Granddaughter visits
Baker Elizabeth
Elizabeth and Rusty (Rustina) #1

grandnieces and grandnephews join us (they've been in the costume room, as you can see)
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youngest grandnephew rides the tractor with Uncle Richard
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we take a camping trip to the ocean
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mama deer brings her wee baby around
feeding time

flickers feed their babies at the suet feeder
flicker feeds baby

mama raccoon teaches her fuzzy babies to fish for tadpoles!
mama raccoon teaches babies to fish

tadpoles get legs (that's how long it's been since I last posted!)
tadpoles get legs!

the elusive salamander finally lets me get a picture (isn't s/he too cute!)
salamander in the frogpond!

and I do a little weaving here and there, but you'll have to wait for my next post to see what I've been up to.
happy summer!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

finished cardwoven strap and some random nature photos

Here's my first cardweaving finally finished. Not long enough to be a banjo strap, but pretty and easy (mostly) and fun (cardweaving details in April post).
finished card woven sample
The front and the back are really different from each other, and I like them both!

Random nature photos (birds, baby spiders, flowers, trees, and more).

First up - birds:
So I've been going through bird feeder suet at an alarming rate (putting out a new one every day!) and thought I would just do a bird count of suet eaters - this is just in one hour of watching (morning).

One large Flicker
Flicker #2

Two sweet little Downy Woodpeckers
Downy Woodpecker #2

Four bold Black Headed Grosbeaks (males and females or maybe youngsters)
Black Headed Grosbeak Black Headed Grosbeak female/youngster?

Five beeping Red Breasted Nuthatches (this might be a youngster - he let me get really close - I think all the parents are teaching their kids how to use the feeders)
Red Breasted Nuthatch #4

Seven greedy Stellars Jays
Stellar's Jay #2

Many (sorry, too many, too fast to count) fast moving
Chickadees (seen here with Downy)
Downy Woodpecker #3 (with Chickadee)
Well, I guess that explains the suet consumption (yes, I do have 3 of the suet feeders out now!)


Next - Baby Spiders: They are everywhere! Every gate has a little hatching (apparently the gate latch provides nice protection for the eggs)
baby spiders in the gate latch closeup

And this is what happens if you accidentally leave your garden gloves out by the compost bins overnight
baby spiders colonize garden glove


And now a few landscape items:
Vine Maple setting seeds
Vine Maple in the morning sun

Dogwoods flowering
Dogwood

sweet sweet scented monster peonies
Peony!


And finally, what nature photo shoot would be complete without a wee little spotted Bambi
Bambi
His mom just parks him on the back lawn while she forages (notice there are no photos of my rose flowers)
(what rose flowers?)

Well, tomorrow is shearing day for the Alpaca boys. More later.