Last week I started knitting on a Weekender. I've resisted knitting this pattern for a while for no good reason, and decided that it would be a good way to knit up this handspun. I also decided that it would be a good project to practice working on my knitting machine. I got my machine more than a year ago now, and haven't used it as much as I want to, mostly because of the learning curve.
I'd already knit a small swatch by hand, and had an idea of the fabric I'd be making. This yarn is sturdy - tightly twisted and tightly plied, but the merino and silk keep it soft. I reverse engineered that gauge on the knitting machine, and then picked a size based on that. My gauge is a little bit bigger than the pattern gauge, so I went down a size.
Since I'm knitting this on the knitting machine, I'm knitting it flat instead of in the round. Honestly, a sweater this big and this heavy needs seams, so that's not a big deal. (To the designer's credit, the pattern was designed for a light and lofty yarn that can do without it - my yarn, however, calls for more structure.)
I haven't been working on this at a breakneck pace. One day I'd do the ribbing by hand, then the next I'd do the machine knitting on one side of the body. Then a couple of days to do the other side. Then a day or two to do the neck ribbing and shoulder bind off.
This morning I picked up the stitches for the sleeves, which was a project in itself. Because I alternated skeins every two rows, the little loops that carry up the selveges confuse which stitch is the next one to pick up. And since a lot of people on Ravelry said the sleeves are little bit on the tight side, I added a couple of extra stitches (plus a stitch for the seam).
Now it's time to hang it back on the knitting machine and knit the sleeves!
When I first had the idea for this blog three and a half years ago, I knew I wanted it to be about fiber. I had a few blogs before it,
This year, the spinning group in my guild decided to do a fiber exchange/challenge. The rules were simple: each person would bring in four ounces of clean, unspun fiber, we'd swap it, and make something with it by the end of the year.
I got a mystery wool, along with some light tan alpaca. I tossed it all in the dyepot along with some mohair that had been lingering in the stash. Once the wool was dyed, I blended everything on my drum carder, and spun it into fine singles. Then I 3-plied it, resulting in this yarn:
The mohair and wool give it a lot of shine, and the alpaca gives it a little bit of softness. Initially, I'd loved the color, but by the time I'd finished, I felt like I'd gotten my fill of that shade of pink.
So, back to the dye pot I went. I used a tye-dye method that I read about in the first issue of Tiny Studio Magazine. The result is a variegated yarn with pink, purples, and oranges.
Now to the next part of the challenge - actually making something with the yarn!
Just a quick post today to share some upcoming classes! I've been having a blast teaching at Black Sheep Handworx Studio - there are so many talented artists there from so many fiber arts backgrounds, that I always learn something new! AT the end of the week, I'll b e teaching in Montrose and Ridgway (there's still time to sign up!), and in June I'll be teaching at Estes Park Wool Market. Head over to my Calendar page for more information!
I've been working on warping up my Leclerc loom. It lives in my basement loom room, which is quite dark, meaning that it has probably been neglected for too long. (This was the last thing I wove on it.)
The warp for this project is silk from Redfish Dye Works - purchased at last year's Interweave YarnFest.
I warped this piece back-to-front. I learned to warp by warping from front-to-back, so going back-to-front is still something that I'm getting used to. This tutorial is very helpful, and I find that I reference it often.
After measuring out the warp on a warping board, it gets spaced out in the raddle, shown in the top picture. The raddle keeps the warp the right width as it gets beamed on.
After the warp is beamed onto the back beam, all the heddles are threaded. This piece has about 500 warp ends, all threaded in the pattern below. As you can see in the image above, I tend to tie each section into a loose bundle. This helps me keep track of where I am in my threading, as well as helps me double-check for errors. Catching an error at this stage is much easier to fix than once the whole warping process is finished!
This pattern is a twill pattern. There are lots of twill patterns out there, and this one combines a couple. When I'm doing this, I usually play with design software like WeaveIt until I have a pattern that I like. In this instance, I had a specific number of warp ends that I was trying to design around, so I played with ideas until I got a number that worked.
After threading the heddles, I untie those bundles one by one and pull warp ends through the reed. This particular yarn is a 20/2 silk, which a lot of people set at 27 ends to the inch. Since I don't have a reed that has 27 dents to the inch (most people don't!), I use a reed substitution chart to figure out what to do. I have reeds that are 8, 10, 12, and 15 dents per inch. Looking at the reed substitution chart, if I used the 12 dent reed, and sleyed in a sequence of 2 per dent, 2 per dent, 2 per dent, then 3 per dent, I would get 27 ends to the inch.
This was the first time I tried threading the reed laying down flat instead of upright in the beater. It was a lot easier than the way I learned and led to a lot less neck strain than the methods I'd tried before. (A description is in the tutorial I linked above.)
Of course, because nothing is ever as easy as it should be, I grabbed the 15 dent reed instead of the 12 dent and was almost halfway through the task when I realized what I'd done. (It was early, and my coffee apparently hadn't kicked in yet!) This mistake needed to be fixed, otherwise I'd end up with a narrow scarf as stiff as cardboard!
To fix the mistake, I could have pulled all the threads out of the reed and started over with the correct one. But because I had already done a lot of work grouping the threads together correctly, I improvised an easier and faster solution. I pushed the incorrect reed back, and then put the correct reed in front. Then I pulled each group of threads out of the incorrect reed and placed them into the correct one. It was a process all its own, but much faster than starting from square one! Once I was finished, no threads remained in the incorrect reed, so it was easy to just pull it away.
After sleying all the ends through the reed, I tipped it upright and put it into the beater, then tied on to the front beam and checked for errors. All ready to weave!
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