October is a Baroque month

Summer is finally over. (Whew!) I was sick for the entire month of September with a gross sinus thing that made my ears ring and my head ache. Two rounds of antibiotics later, my sinuses were finally mostly free of gunk. My Super Sekrit Project is slightly less secret, but is taking up a portion of every day (sorry, it’s still Sekrit here for now). So, making hasn’t really been happening.

The autumn brings yard work involving moving leaves around to designated areas. This past weekend also involved moving said leaves, hauling some brush, and stacking up some firewood. Of course, the moment I was done cleaning the driveway, the front yard, and the porch of leaves, a front came through and blew more down. Sigh. I’ll be doing more of that this coming weekend.

I did finish hemming the trousers for J with those chili pepper pockets, and I made a something else for my friend in Indiana:

The Baroque Wrench Roll! If it’s not Baroque, you don’t need to fix it! It’s quilted as well for ultimate wrench comfort.

If anything, it’s absolutely useful, and I really hope it makes my friend laugh. I’ve also given him instructions to open the box while listening to Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 3.

So this happened on Saturday evening:

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Soda pop can camp stove. Almost.

One of my geeky friends (okay, that’s not much of a distinguishing word…all my friends are geeky…) decided to figure out how to build a camp stove out of a soda pop can, aluminum tape, and some denatured alcohol. This is the first try of this particular design variation, which nearly works. In fact, it’s impressive at the level it nearly works.

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This is how PhDs keep warm on those cold, cold nights.

And on the weekends, I’ve been going over to another friend’s house to help repair his pop-up trailer. The whole thing seems to have been sewn together with cotton thread, which has just rotted to bits. (Honestly, who would use cotton thread for something that you use outdoors??) I sewed together most of one end of the trailer so he and his family could go camping last weekend, but as soon as he set up this end, the seams let loose like a zip top bag. Oops. I was using doubled 80/3 linen line thread waxed heavily with beeswax previous to this, but this time, my friend produced a 25% cotton/75% polyester button thread he got from his mom, which we doubled and waxed heavily. I don’t know which will last longer, the cotton/poly or linen thread, but it should be a good experiment. In any case, the whole seam below needs redoing, so I’ll be over again next weekend to finish up the remaining four feet:

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It’s entirely possible that my stitching will outlast the trailer. Heh.

I am still in the middle of measuring a new warp in lovely bright colors for another batch of dishtowels (still!). I’m hoping the colors play well, but even if they don’t, it’ll be a learning experience, and I’ll have Moar Dishtowels. The red and white dishtowel I kept for myself from the last batch is still shrinking, five or six washes later. It’s amazing, and slightly irritating. I’m so interested to see which brand of cotton shrinks the most!

In other news, I went to this yesterday:
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It was great to hear and see a viola da gamba in real life! I had hoped the musicians would come out and speak with the audience after the performance, but alas, they did not. Or, I didn’t wait long enough? Maybe next time!

The plan for this week is to get those dishtowels at least started, and get another pair of trousers at least started! Though, really, this is the start of drier weather here in New England, and I should be thinking about combing and spinning wool. Perhaps it is time to set up the combs and the wheel and unpack the fleeces…

Chilis, cows, stars, and organization

Making is still slow, but it’s all good. I finished the red and white weaving project, and really need to get to the post office to mail the couple out for my friend in Indiana. Of course, a sinus infection turned up and made me feel like Teh Awfuls and I didn’t get that done, or a whole lot of other things for that matter. I’m better now!

I’ve also been working on J’s trousers. I found some really awesome fabric in my quilting stash for the pockets!

Nearly done with them. This particular denim was narrower than I wanted, and the length was not quite enough to cut the pieces when the cloth was folded, so I had to get creative when laying out the pattern pieces. In order to get the grain running the right way for all the pieces, the waistband was sacrificed – this only means that I’ll have to cut out smaller bits and sew them together, which I hate doing because so many seams, but oh well. It is what it is and the trousers need a waistband, right? I cut out a bunch of smaller pieces last night and sewed them together. It doesn’t look too bad, and I think the seams won’t be thick enough to chafe, but man. Next time I’ll be more careful to note the fabric width!

A couple of weeks ago, we had a partial solar eclipse in my neck of the woods. Pretty much nationwide, there was much cheering, travelling, and buying of those special glasses with which to view the eclipse. I am fortunate in that I work very close to a large university that has kind of a kick-ass astronomy department that is always trying to get the public interested in the universe. This meant that they had an event at the Sunwheel featuring a couple solar telescopes where the public could queue up to get a chance to look at the sun through them. I met up with some friends down there about 20 minutes before the maximum, and we watched it through various pinhole cameras and binoculars:

 

SCIENCE!

The lines for the telescopes were soooo loooong. We just stuck with our own indirect methods of viewing.

The best thing was that the place was packed. I mean, there were hundreds of people there, all members of the public. I love this area.

There were some spectacular photos of the eclipse on NASA’s website, lots not copyrighted. One in particular caught my eye, so I downloaded it and had it printed out:

 

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See that little ‘H’? That’s the International Space Station! The other spots are sun spots.

These were growing in a pot outside the frame/print shop!

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EEEEeeevil petunias!

I am continually amazed at the magic that happens with weaving. It still seems like magic! Making something out of nothing, although I know that’s not true – it’s really organizing things so well that the result can wipe up spills and dry off fine china. It also can combat nakedness and cold floors.

 

In other news, I’ve been trying to ride my bike in to work more often, which is to say, more than once this year. Mission accomplished! The bike path is built on an old railway that’s been out of commission for years and years, which means it’s fairly flat and there are no real hills. I like the lack of hills a lot, but I do have to tackle at least one on this commute. The trip is about 9 miles each way, and I get to ride through the most beautiful landscape. This is in Hadley:

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MOOOOOO! Seriously. Moo.

I can’t tell you how in love with this area I am. I have really enjoyed living in other areas of the world, but there’s something about here that makes me so happy and I count myself super lucky to be here where it’s so beautiful and so full of art and debate and conversation and museums and books and music and food.

Speaking of that, I am currently involved with a Sekrit Project of my own devising. There’s been A Thing that I’ve wanted to do for, oh, 35ish years, and I finally took the first step. This first step is very tall and very long. A hell of a learning curve, but strangely, it is fabulously fun. I haven’t told a lot of people because…I am afraid of being judged. I’m doing this thing, and part of it is not expensive at all, but part of it is, relative to my current finances, kind of expensive. Everything else in my life right now is just right for it, so I decided now was the time to take that First Step, because I don’t know if these Just Right Things will stay as they are. I am afraid that very likely everything will change in a few months and I’ll have to put the Sekrit Project on hold for a year or so, which would suck. I want so much to tell everyone, but can’t just yet.

But this Project, while OMG fun, is also eating into my Making time.

Anyway. The only other thing I’ll say about it is this:

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Don’t worry, it doesn’t hurt!! I promise!

Okay. So this blog is about CRAFTURGENCY!, which I have been slacking on. Really slacking. There are SO MANY THINGS TO MAKE! On the list right now:

Moar dishtowels (brightly colored!)

Sweater vest (green!)

Button-down linen shirt

Scarf for myself made from the olive green alpaca I’ve had in my stash for the last two or three years (basically since my first weaving project)

Dishtowels first.

Slow craftiness

And it’s not the buzzword definition – I’m so busy with non-crafty stuff (and tired) that Teh Crafturgency! isn’t going at the speed or quantity one might otherwise expect from me. Alas.

Here’s some of what I have been doing.

I finished the pants – woo! and I managed to use all but about 8″ of the spool of matching thread for top stitching. They have been mailed to J. Behold my extreme luck:

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Whoa. Just, whoa.

This guy was in the backyard. There’s just so much wildlife back there!

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Froggie! He was so very beautiful, with gold eyes. And very quick. I couldn’t get any closer, so the resolution is dreadful.

I continue to be delighted by the bright colored flowers I find in downtown Amherst. The thistle is wild, the zinnia was planted by a landscaper. Aren’t they beautiful?

 

I went to the mineral, fossil, and gem show in Springfield this past weekend (largest on the east coast!) with my brother, his two daughters, and our friend M and his family. It was just too delightful for words! I got to see beautiful gemstones, uncut crystals, polished stones, pieces of petrified wood, pieces of mammoth tusk, all with my niecesWith my nieces!!! WOOHOO! Part of our adventure also included a trip to Michael’s for art supplies where we found some much needed things for art to happen at their house, and I found a bead reamer set. I had been thinking about buying a set of jeweler’s needle files, but have been feeling oddly cheap about it, so when I saw this reamer set for $5, I snapped it up. When I got home, I applied it to the shell I made into a diz to see if I could smooth out the holes a bit. I think it worked? I’ll have to test it later to see if the wool comes through with less of a struggle. I may end up with a jeweler’s file set anyway.

 

And FINALLY! I got 1100 heddles (thank you, Stephan and Judy!!), put on 800 of them – I’m going to use only 4 shafts for my first warp on this loom and will need a total of 600 heddles. 800 means 200 per shaft. Easy.

I fretted about what warp to measure next, and decided that I need to figure out the actual shrinkage (after many, many washes and trips through the dryer) between the two brands of cotton yarn I’ve been using because J tells me her bathmat has gotten irritatingly smaller (!!!!). AND, I realized I could get two functions out of these experimental warps. The red and white below (one brand) will become red and white dishtowels, a couple for Z in Indiana, and a couple for me. The next warp will be with the other brand of yarn: a couple for someone else, and a couple for me. Everything will be measured and photographed after every trip through the laundry. Then I will have completely useful and pretty presents AND experiment data.

 

Yeah, I’m a crafty nerd. If I win the lottery, I will both set up a massive maker space for my little area and go back to university. Cross your fingers!

Once I get the warp on the loom (and that will be an adventure in itself), I’ll have to figure out how to tie up the lamms. TWO sets of lamms. Upper and lower. I will admit, I’m nervous about the whole thing, which makes no sense. It’s not like I can mess it up. It can take a lot longer if I don’t think about the steps properly, but that’s the worst that can happen. Probably.

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I think this will be the draft I’ll use. I mean, I did figure out where to put stripes so they fall symmetrically down the pattern, but since that’s the first time I’ve tried that, there’s a chance I messed it up. I didn’t draw a draft, and I didn’t use any computer software. I used… arithmetic.

I’m a bookkeeper (among other things). I can totally add and subtract. Uh-huh. Honestly.

 

Just, uh, wish me luck, okay? Please?

Not a lot of making going on

So, for the past few weeks, there hasn’t been a whole lot of making. This has meant that there really hasn’t been all that much to post here. Also, I’ve been crap lately at actually taking pictures, but hopefully at least one of them I have managed to take will make up for that.

I’ve been working on my socks. The second one was well on it’s way to completion after knitting it up a second time, so I ripped out the first one and started that one over. That one, as of yesterday, is now nearing completion. Soon I’ll have another pair of socks I can wear. Woo!

The Gothic Cross shawl is finished and has been tested out – it’s warm, but not overly so. It provides me with a snuggly alternative to wearing a coat in the office when the air conditioning is on (which it really hasn’t because although it’s June, and we put the air conditioners in the windows, the temperature has really been in the “England” zone of “New England”). Everyone who’s seen it in person has commented on the softness and the (extreme) length, all in a positive way.

I have been doing yard work every moment I’m home and it isn’t raining, which, if you live in the northeastern United States, you know is not as often as I’d like. There’s been raking, leaf blowing, brush hauling, tree felling (small ones), branch cutting…wash, rinse, repeat.

When I’m not outside, I’ve been tidying inside, trying to tame the making sprawl in the house. The fleeces are all washed and put away in new bins. I’ve tidied up some errant yarn that I’d bought on sale for knitting sweaters later on. There was a spare bin (after some reorganizing) for filling with weaving yarns. (After filling that, I determined that I cannot buy any more weaving yarn until I start selling stuff!) And I’ve been making pants for my friend. She sent me a box of several fabrics a while ago, which is now rapidly being washed, dried, cut, and sewn into pants. I’m very happy with how they’re coming out!

The foxes trot more often through the backyard these days. There are a bunch of new martins flying around. The owls have been hooting – I’ve not seen them lately, and was worried that they’d flown away, but I’ve decided they’re busy raising little owlets.

I can’t wait to have time to get back to weaving! The embroidery bug has lurking on the horizon as well. I can feel it watching me with its beady little eyes. The mosquitoes and black flies are out, so spoon carving will have to wait a bit.

Let’s see…oh! I participated in the MA Sheep & Woolcraft fair over Memorial Day weekend as the weaver in a fleece to shawl competition (though, because there were no other teams, it was billed as a demo). I had forgotten to bring a measuring ribbon with me, but knew I’d put on extra warp, so we all decided that I’d weave until the end. This meant that instead of the required 2 yards, we accidentally produced a shawl 120″ long (plus fringe). Oops. The spinners did a terrific job supplying me with yarn! Lots of kids and parents showed up, we talked with them and answered questions, so over all it was a successful demo.

Over this past weekend, I also got to hang with my nieces, which was thrilling beyond description. I hadn’t seen them in about seven years, and even then it was never a real visit, just a brief ‘hi’. Actually, the time I spent with them this weekend was the most time I’ve ever spent with them in my (and their) whole lives. Can’t wait to hang with them again! They’re growing up into really amazing people.

And now for some pictures:

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This poppy and a bunch of its friends nearby opened last week.

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Can you believe I took these with an iPhone? I can’t.

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I uncovered these guys while I was raking yesterday. They didn’t move a muscle, but I’m pretty sure they were just trying to blend in so as to not get eaten.

Fingers crossed that I’ll be able to get the mundane stuff done soon so I can get back to the usual program.

So. Much. Wool.

There’s been a lot of crafturgency going on lately. Frankly, it’s been difficult concentrating at my day job, especially when I work in front of All Teh Internetz, basically. I mean, weaving drafts, knitting patterns, colors, dyes, how to make [insert thing here]… I’ve been fortifying myself with tea and chocolate, quietly determined to cross things off my work diary list, but man. Just… man.

Maybe I should just post some pictures. That should get things started.

The week of Valentine’s Day, I wove two bath mats, washed and dried the cloth three times for maximum shrinkage, hemmed one, and gave it away just last week. The other is for sale! When I get a chance to get some more blue thread, it’ll get hemmed and can be packed up and shipped. It’s 20″x 30″ almost exactly. (If you’re interested, please leave a comment!!)

Sunday, February 19th, I went to visit a shepherd friend of mine with another friend and I bought two fleeces, fresh off the sheep 24 hours earlier. The one on the chair turned out to be huge – that’s from sheep 420. The smaller fleece is from 807. I started washing 420 right away, and you can see the lovely grey locks I got! I was sort of hoping the yellow tips would come off with carding, but they mostly haven’t. Of course, as soon as I had some dry wool, I spun up the tiniest bit – so shiny!

So, this wool. This particular fleece from 420 was large to begin with (5 or 6 pounds?), but after I washed it all, it pretty much doubled in volume:

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The bag in the back is only a tiny bit less full because I combed some.

Which means I had to buy combs so I could comb the wool. Which was fiiiine. I’ve been wanting a pair of combs for a while. For some reason, I’d been taught that a flick carder was all you needed, and I hated that stupid thing so much. No one told me about combs until kind of recently – it turns out that combing not only lets you produce a greater quantity of ready-to-spin fiber, it also gets more of the crap out (you thought your wool was really super clean? Comb it and watch what else falls out!), AND you have much better control over the quality of yarn you’re spinning.

But before I get to the combs… last weekend, I had to go back to see my shepherd friend and buy 420’s sibling’s fleece:

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Yes, 421. 421’s fleece is perhaps slightly bigger, but also greasier, so it was heavier – 7 lbs. I love it so! It’s still waiting in the queue to be washed as I’ve started washing 807:

The fleece on the floor – darker brown, but there were some surprising greys in there too! I am currently very carefully working out of buckets. Two cold soaks, then a hot soak in slightly soapy water, then a hot rinse, and dumping all the water outside so dust, dirt, and dissolved lanolin don’t affect the septic system. I read something about someone using a dash of vinegar in the rinse water to restore the pH to the fiber, which I thought was a good idea. I think it also makes the fiber shinier and softer, which would make sense according to other things I’ve read about shampoo and conditioner for humans. And my experience dyeing silk, which is also a protein fiber, includes a lot about a mild acid restoring the pH. In the same place, I also read that adding a few drops of clove oil might repel moths, though there’s no proof. I liked this idea too, so I’ve been doing that. I love the smell of wool – raw, clean, wet, dry – but this new smell is really good too, if extremely subtle. And hey, if it repels moths, I’m all for it. Plus, I just happened to have clove oil from a previous project. So.

I’m not done washing 807 yet – I’m about 2/3rds of the way through. Hopefully, I’ll have it done by the weekend! There’s still so much to get done, but I really would love to have 807 off the floor at last.

Last weekend, I also started a hat (finally). This hat had a very long start. I think I cast on four times and had to rip it out, threw the pattern in the corner for a while, pointedly ignored the hat, then had to finally get a new set of double pointed needles because OMG the circular one I’d tried using, the one recommended in the instructions, was too long. I nearly gave up. I’ve knitted two sweaters, countless pairs of socks, even cabled socks before I learned to read a pattern – I just made the cable up, and fingerless mitts. A hat shouldn’t be difficult. It’s a hat. I should be able to bang one out in a weekend, but noooooo. Murphy and I have a very special relationship. Easy? Then for Kate it will be difficult. I persevered. There’s a mistake in it, but I’m not ripping it out. I didn’t notice until about two inches past it, and this hat needs to go to it’s intended recipient (where it should have gone two months ago, dammit). I have strong feelings about this hat. Strong feelings.

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It’s coming along. I’m calm. Honest. Calm. I’ll knit two or three more after this.

So THEN…

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…there were pancakes. I had a bunch of things that were going to go bad, mostly buttermilk. But also some eggs. And I had the dry ingredients left over from a cake that wasn’t to be (the wet ingredients didn’t make it, but the dry ingredients were set aside for a couple of weeks). And there was a half of a container of sour cream left. And hey, oh, hmm. Here’s some almond meal that’s been in the fridge for I don’t want to think about that. Smells okay. What else? Orange flower water. Sure. Oh! And some fresh blueberries that somehow made it through the week without getting eaten or going bad. Huh. Better use those up. I might have added a bit of cornmeal too.

I literally poured things into a big bowl, added more baking powder, and stirred, then ladled it out onto a buttered sauté pan, and voilà! Pancakes. Some with blueberries. Two with chocolate chips (turns out, I’m not much of a chocolate chip person when it comes to pancakes). There are still quite a few in the freezer. They’re delicious!

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Yeah, so while the hat was happening, this is as far as I’ve gotten on my cardigan that I really wanted to be done for April. Yeah. Um.

Then there was the local Orchid Show! I finally, finally remembered this year and got myself down there nice and early. Alas, I did not buy a single orchid (such restraint, don’t you think?!), but admired all of them, and checked prices for next year. I have three phalaenopses that I have not only NOT managed to kill, but they’re actually growing (one has decided to bloom again from the same stalk it put up last summer without me having to do anything). I think another orchid or two would not be out of place at my abode one day. However, I’m saving to buy a house, and that comes first. sigh

In the meantime, I did a little more spinning. I think this was while 420 was still drying and my hands were just itching to spin some wool. (What about weaving? I know! I wanted to weave too! Such is the curse of crafturgency!) Last year, I bought a couple fleeces – Scottish Blackface, in fact – from this same shepherd, and having done some pre-purchase research, had decided to spin yarn to weave a hearth rug. See, wool doesn’t burn well at all. Linen and cotton go up like crazy (and honestly, you should try dryer lint in the fireplace or woodstove one day – just try it, it’s mostly cotton, it’s pretty and makes you take those warnings about dryer fires a bit more seriously), but wool just smoulders and goes out, which is why traditional hearth rugs are made of wool. (YAY WOOL!) Sparks can fly on them all the want, the wool will save your floor. (Further experimentation is required to see if a burning stick or log can burn the wool, however.) Plastic fibers will melt. Linen and cotton, as I said before, will very happily burn very brightly and quickly. Wool won’t at least where sparks are concerned.

Anyway, weaving. So, this particular breed is special because it has three particular types of fiber: tog, thel, and kemp. The tog is the long hairs, the thel is the fine undercoat of squishy, soft wool. The kemp is dreaded by all spinners: it’s a weak, crunchy fiber that doesn’t really contribute (that I’ve found) to your yarn, breaks and gets everywhere while you’re spinning. You can sort of see a bit of it sticking out from the yarn on the bobbin in the picture above, but some of that is also tog. Some spinners separate the tog from the thel and spin them separately, but you can also spin them both together, which is what I decided to do. I experimented spinning both ways last fall, but ultimately decided that any rug I wove would be nicer with all the fibers incorporated into the same yarn. (I might do a whole post on this breed and a bit of history…)

Mostly, I kind of thought I’d try to get this wool spun up before starting to spin 420, but OH! I want to spin 420!! Crafturgency!!

But first? I have to comb the wool. With those new combs I went on about earlier. Behold!

They’re really sharp, and really good at getting all the fibers lined up nicely! I’m so very happy with them! Yes! I did already stab myself and bleed all over them! Here are the results of combing:

The top bag of nests is 420 – I can’t believe how full that bag is and how little of a dent I made in the fleece. The bottom bag is of 807. Because I’m still not done with washing that fleece, I don’t want to get ahead of myself. Though, this morning, I decided to spin a little 807 just to see. That wool is just so soft. And isn’t it beautiful?? I’m surprised at how dark it came out and how shiny and soft the resulting yarn is, though 807’s fleece is a bit softer than 420. Did I mention that 807’s wool is soft? I’m so very happy with it! I’ll take that yarn off and probably Navajo ply it so I can see what a three-ply yarn looks like. Then I’ll likely carry it around with me, taking it out to see it in the light, petting it, oh yes, my precious…

Ahem. Yes. Wool. We loves it.

So, Projects Also Planned!

These four cones are of mercerized 10/2 cotton, and they were purchased for a commission. I am to weave some dishtowels for my friend Lee who needs a gift for someone later this month. I’m not 100% sure how I’m going to arrange the colors or what sort of twill I’ll do, but there’s enough yarn that I could likely do another three sets of four (I think), and that will give me Options. The weaving draft next to it isn’t necessarily related, though it might be interesting to do this pattern (Gothic Cross) with these lovely pastel colors. Otherwise, I’m definitely weaving this pattern with WOOL. I think it would be really beautiful in a single color wool, not fulled as much as that sample from my last post so that the pattern is super subtle, but wows you when you see it. I had thought that Gothic Cross was only for 8-shaft looms, but came across this (the voice in the back of my head said, no! Surely a 4-shaft loom can weave this! It’s diamonds!), and quickly saved/printed it out. I. Can’t. Wait. I want a shawl in a medium to dark spring/willow mixed green. Right. Now.

I told you. Crafturgency has set in pretty firmly these days.

Oh! I nearly forgot! There are a bunch of black birches in the yard where I live. Up until yesterday, I had thought there was only the one huge, tappable one, but once I wandered around in the woods a bit, I discovered at least two more. Three black birches! I have one tap and bucket. I shall buy two more taps and buckets, and just maybe I’ll be able to get some sap and boil it down and make birch syrup. Maybe. Cross your fingers!

 

Wool Success!

When the opportunity came up to learn to weave, my first thought was that I could weave cloth from which to make clothing. Very quickly, I decided the first such project would be wool for a coat, but of course, I needed to actually learn to weave first. Which meant cotton, because that’s easy. (We’ll forget the linen experiment for now.) I did try wool once at the very beginning, reading that it was a forgiving fiber, but there was no instruction how how to to treat it, and I hadn’t any experience weaving much of anything else yet, and there was no real advice on what kind of wool to buy, so that didn’t go well. The result was a stiff, brillo pad-like scarf-shaped thing. The next time was more recently – last September maybe? – but I did plainweave with Jaggerspun 8/2, and beat it a bit too aggressively still not understanding how that was supposed to work, so the result was a stiff, though softer cloth. I consulted with my weaver friend who works at Webs (I am SO LUCKY to live 4 miles from Webs!), and upon seeing the stiff, plainweave cloth, she immediately advised, “You can’t beat it like cotton! You have to squeeeeeeze the weft in place. Treat it gently – just kiss the little lamb with the beater!” I take her advice very seriously.

And so, this past Sunday, I decided to take a little break from cotton and wove another sample. This time with wool, in a bird’s eye twill with very careful beating:

The above pictures are from before fulling – this cloth was fresh off the loom. The purple is 100% wool (Jaggerspun 8/2 Heather), the lighter color (pale, dull pink) is 100% baby alpaca (Hatfield from Valley Yarns). The multi colored yarns are just some handspun bits that were kicking around. I quickly knotted some fringe and continued to the fulling process!

This fulled cloth is SO SOFT. You just want to squish it and hold it and squish it again. I wish it were blanket-sized! You can see after the yarns bloomed that the pattern is now a lot more subtle in the purple warp and weft – I’m not sure I like that. In any case, I think more experimentation is required. The end result will be a shawl for me, and perhaps a shawl or two to sell. Or more. I need to make a couple to test.

Last night I went to the local weaver’s guild meeting and became a card carrying member! (Well, I’m a member – I’m not sure if I get a card…) The benefits are many: a pretty extensive library I can borrow from pretty freely, people I can thrust my latest experiment at without signs of flinching away, wisdom from other weavers, and cookies once a month at meetings!

In other news, this morning I had to shovel a bit of the porch. There are icicles on the roof of the second floor that are dripping onto a section of the porch under which I park my car. Icicles were forming on the underside of the porch right over the car and that was worrying. So I shoveled a bit.

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Since I couldn’t get out the back door to where the problem spot was, I had to go out the front door (which is normally not used in the winter) and shovel a path to around the corner.

We have a lot of snow right now.

Also, it’s going to be 40F today. And I hear 50+F on the weekend. It’s going to be a lot of water.

Also, Monday is a holiday for me, which means MORE WEAVING. I hope to have more cotton stuff woven (bathmats) and another wool sample, possibly a competed shawl. And rip out the 3″ of the cardigan I started knitting so I can do it up correctly. And knit up another hat so I can get that in the mail. And finally just fix J’s sweater so I can give it back to her. But also, housework should get done at some point, and sleeping should also happen, so we’ll see…

 

 

Bath mats

Yesterday was a snow day for me. Finally, it seems winter has come here in western Massachusetts! The snow started about 7am, and I took this picture at about 9:45am. By about 11:00am, there was a foot of snow on the railing. It finally tapered off and stopped by about 4pm or so, and two hours later, the wind started howling.

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So what do I do when I am not at work? Why, I get up early, make tea, and get right to work on a project. In this case, the bath mat warp was on the loom, and all that was left was to sley the reed and tie on. This went pretty quickly (hour and a half?), and then I started throwing the shuttle, which always really exciting. You spend all the time to get the warp just right, and it has to be absolutely perfect, but the only way to be absolutely sure is the when you start throwing the shuttle. So much suspense. Deep breath, throw, beat, throw, beat, throw, beat. And if everything is as perfect as it should be, you see the pattern come alive!

Alarmingly (and perhaps predictably), I’ve got a weaving-related injury: my right foot does most of the treadling, and since I’m treadling for several hours at a time, the muscles in my foot decided to rebel and cramp and be otherwise very unhappy. The remedy is ibuprofen, rest, ice, then gentle stretching and strengthening, which meant that all treadling yesterday had to be done with my left foot. I am not left-footed. Things went very slowly. But I did finish!

So. Two bath mats, all woven, hemstitched, washed, dried, and ironed out (for accurate post-wet finish measuring). I hemmed this morning.

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I am so in love with this green!

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I’m not 100% sold on the edges, but I have Ideas for more mats! And just look at that fringe!

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Can’t decide which I like better: fringe or hem…

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The reverse of each.

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Here you can sort of get an idea of how thick they are.

I tested the fringed mat out this morning – it worked really well! It’s absorbent, and I find the size to be just about perfect. The fringed one came out to be 20″ x 30″ (incl. fringe), and the hemmed one came out at 20″ x 27″ (3″ worth of hem total). I’ll measure again after each wash/dry for two or three weeks to see if there’s any more shrinkage, and to note how they wear. This yarn is mercerized, which means it’s a bit stronger, shinier, and takes dye better than unmercerized, but it also means it’s slightly less absorbent. Mercerized cotton (I believe) should hold up better in the long run.

I am going to try a different treatment to the selvedges (edges) in the next run, too. Should be much neater.