Monday, October 25, 2010

Rain-Saturated Colors

A couple of posts past, I ran these photos of iridescent-peach leaves in my garden. This is a dwarf cherry bush, a hybrid from Miller Nurseries in Canandaigua, NY, that we grew from root stock:

This is what it looks like today, a very rainy day, with autumn colors at their peak:

I swear that the leaves are brighter than usual this fall -- perhaps because we had a summer that was not too hot, not too dry, just right for growing things. Look at these hosta leaves!

Still, even though autumn is beautiful, I agree with Emerson.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Spinning a Yarn: Handspun Singles in S & Z Twist

Once upon a time -- this year, in fact -- I began spinning singles in both S and Z twist, planning to weave a light collapsible-weave fabric. I bought roving from Ashland Bay, their merino/silk fiber, in two shades of green (the two bobbins on the left). Also, thanks to good friend Leslie Mendelson who recommended the site to me, I Googled a company called "Briar Rose" and bought Cormo roving beautifully hand-dyed in two shades of darker green (the two bobbins on the right).

Spinning was easy but slow, because I spun the yarn just as fine as I could (to pun on a popular spinning book, it was unintentional spinning, but what the heck). I spun about a pound of yarn, total, two colors in S twist and two in Z twist, about four ounces each. (I wanted to try different fibers because they will "crinkle" differently.) 

The results are highly overtwisted yarns. Here's what the Z twist in the silk/merino does when you release the tension on a bunch of singles:

Here's what they all do, like teenagers if you don't give them any structure:

Actually, I kind of like them that way....

Using the good old McMorran Balance, I calculated that the singles are about the same weight as 8/2 cotton -- maybe 3200 yards per pound -- but who knows how that will translate when it's woven up? It might take up more space than cotton, because it has a lot of loft. 

Next step: Sample. Yes, I was a good girl. Someone asked me, why would you waste yarn on a sample when it's precious handspun? My answer: I could potentially waste more if I DON'T sample. I need to know what I'm doing and avoid mistakes -- or it will ALL be wasted!

Technical details: I created a sample warp about 6" wide, maybe 2 yards long, at 16 ends per inch, with 1/2" stripes in each of the four colors, always alternating S and Z twist yarns, but randomly placing the colors.

I wove up plain weave, using each of the four yarns as weft and also using a commercially spun overtwist I bought from Laura Fry ("Magic in the Water") online. I tried it in a natural color and in a deep rust color that I had previously dyed.

The sample came off the warp looking pretty much like green gauze -- but, just as Laura Fry has written, there is "magic in the water." Washing it with a bit of Orvus paste in hot water out of the tap, the sample crinkled beautifully. Just what I was hoping for. This, below, is a section of the sample viewed with the warp going horizontally, with a pale green silk/merino Z-twist as weft:

Here's the part I like best, specifically the stripes that are grass-green, which are silk/merino in S-twist. You just have to envision these small stripes as if they were the entire fabric.

Now on to the real warp, which will be about 40" wide, 4 yards long, with 640 ends. I've just begun. (Notice the cross at both ends, just in case I make some kind of error, which happens all too often!)

If you read Handwoven magazine, you'll see the most recent issue is all about "Slow Cloth." Well, this is the ultimate in slow cloth, I'm thinking.

More to come in future posts!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Two hats of handspun are better than one commercially done

The trouble with being a handspinner is that you tend to like to spin, in and of itself. It may not mean that you're spinning to create a yarn that will be made into something -- you just like spinning that particular fiber. So, every once in a while I rummage through my handspun and decide that I should make something of it -- hence these two hats! Actually they were intended for my daughter and her boyfriend who will be visiting at the end of this week, but who knows if they will like them? Or if the hats will fit?

The first is borrowed from a Rowan pattern for a man's hat, which I found on Ravelry. I cast on 126 stitches (on 16" #3 circular needles), did a Knit 2 Purl 2 ribbing for six rows, then commenced knitting stripes in stockinette stitch, two rows at a time. When the hat is large enough, I began decreasing, first every 18 stitches, then 17, and so forth. Simple! When it was all finished, I felted the daylights out of it, hoping that it would decrease in size. For some reason, this wool didn't felt that much, but it does have a nice halo and a better density.

The second hat looks like it was designed by the Ministry of Silly Hats, which is pretty much my style. I began once again with 126 stitches on #3 circular needles (16" length). The patterns I created on a graph, based on multiples of 9, until I got to the top and knitted in tone-on-tone red stripes, decreasing every 9 stitches, then 8, etc. No brim: I simply began with 6 rows of stockinette in a navy color, then one row of purl stitch, then I began my pattern. When I finished the hat, I hemmed the navy color under so that the brim would lie nice and flat and there would be a bit more "heft" for a hat band of sorts.

The yarn for both hats was woolen spun, a light worsted weight, maybe sport weight (I'm guessing about 900 yards per pound).

Some  detail shots:

Mother Nature was doing some of her own color work today as well.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Silk Organza Wraps in Bronze and Coral

Recently added to my Etsy shop: two kimono-style jackets in silk organza, the first dyed in a range of bronze tones and the second in coral colors. The pattern is a simplified version of a jacket design from the Sewing Workshop. I chose to eliminate the more difficult French-seam construction (organza is tricky to work with, especially for a novice like me) in favor of a three-thread rolled hem done on my serger, using an accent color for the threads.

Very diaphanous (is that how you spell it?). Someone suggested that I should make lingerie out of the fabric. Believe me, you can find that on Etsy, too!

Thank you to my friend Joan Rusitzky for serving as my model.

What's on the Loom?

More accurately, what's going on the loom? At this writing, I'm in the process of winding on a painted warp for a Jin design on 28 ...