Friday, June 24, 2016

Cat's Cradle for Grown-ups

I'm LOVING using my drawloom so much that I decided, "if not now, when?" and bought myself 20 more shafts and the parts to make her a combination drawloom. Play time! Remember cat's cradle? Well, this is cat's cradle for grown-ups! 
Funny, on Ravelry people are always complaining about having to get on the floor to adjust their looms. That's never been much of a problem for me. However, when the instructions say to just reach up and thread the cords... Uh huh. Here I am, standing on my bench. Luckily, this set up only happens once.
Do you see the little handles? And now, there are 30.!

At the back of the loom, a tangle...organized chaos.
What with reading and re-reading the instructions, watching and re-watching the video, taking sanity and life breaks, it took me about two weeks to get everything ready to go.
Looking from the back of the loom, you can see the direction the pattern heddles move along the warp threads. Starting at the far left, follow them from left to right, left to right, then right to left, right to left. Scroll five pictures down from here and the same movement is seen in the pattern design.
The locking pin keeps everything still during set up. Finally! Time to pull the pin! 

Here's the pattern. Time to start pulling handles!

Drawing the handles let's me make a repeating pattern across the width of the fabric.

Stepping on a treadle at the same time as the handles have been pulled gives me pattern and ground cloth at the same time. To me, it seems like I'm embroidering on the cloth while the cloth is being made!

Looking from the side of the loom, you can see what it looks like when the pattern shafts (on the left side of the picture) have been raised. The ground shafts (on the right side) will weave the background fabric. These will be raised and lowered as I tap on the treadles.

It's like magic!
And for a footnote *wink*, more socks (stash busting ones at that). Take note of the yellow and pink ones. They're the first ever pair of socks that I've knit from my handspun! They are the rainbows colorway of merino and tussah silk from Anzula.

Monday, April 18, 2016


I just noticed the "kind of" theme of my latest busy-ness. Trees. Mostly. Sort of.
My brother has a huge volunteer of a climbing rose. I decided to try a nifty trick for propagating roses I'd heard about to see if it would work.
Cut potatoes in half. Puncture them in the middle. Then, sprinkle the potatoes with cinnamon and put the end of the rose cutting in the potato. Cover with soil and keep moist for a couple of months. ...We'll see. And I'll let you know what happens!
On a lovely spring day, I went outside with my warping reel to prepare for my next weaving project. All of these "ends" (pieces of yarn) follow the same path over and over. That way each is the same length as the others. Then, onto the loom. 
More specifically, onto Sophie's drawloom! What fun! Trees!!! I just copied this pattern from the teaching video by Becky Ashenden. Then, I took about three days, with the help of the Ravelry weaving community (it's kind of like Facebook for fiber nerds), to work the kinks out.  
Almost. I've been told that weaving with the drawloom is slow going, but the only thing slowing me down is this. Note to self. Don't use newspaper for "quills" (like bobbins, they're what you wrap the yarn around). Way too fragile.  Using the drawloom is  like weaving a simple piece of [ground] cloth while overlaying it with a woven design...all at the same time. It's kind of like two layers, only not. 
There is no "kind of" about this. I taught myself to double knit. Here, I'm actually knitting a separate front and back of this afghan at the same time! In this picture, you can see white for the front and black for the back. Those yarn colors are switched for the pattern.

My youngest son chose this tree design from an old pattern book. It looks like an inkblot of trees to me. The original was only knit as a single layer with a crocheted border. To make the afghan longer, I added more rows in the center area. And I knit the border as I went along.


Tuesday, March 15, 2016


Dobby and Winky wanted to know what were all the goings on, going on? 
You see, we've all been needing a little spinzen.
Gingie and I took ours in the form of some merino/silk fiber. At the same time, I was prepping for a rag rug (that was to be my last mandatory project before I could start playing with my new drawloom).

Rag rugs mean cutting a LOT of fabric strips to be used to weave with instead of yarn. I'd hoped that this rug for our front hall would use up most of my fabric stash. Sigh. Dream on. I am pleased with how well the rug turned out!
The pattern is called Rosepath. To finish the fringe, I learned to do four-stranded braiding. It's supposedly flatter than three-strand. Anyway, since I'd completed the rug, I wanted to get a quick start on dressing the drawloom to show off it's paces to the masses. (I've been waiting so patiently to get started!) Unfortunately, we decided Sophie would need to relocate for a temporary hiatus. Twenty minutes and...

Yep. That's Sophie, relegated to a corner of our bedroom. And "the masses" came in the form of over 60 people in our house for an "Out of Towners' " party. Why 'out of towners'? Remember when I was being cryptic about a secret?

I was weaving yardage using a pattern from Twill Thrills to make a chuppah (wedding canopy) for my daughter and son in law. This is ecru and whipple blue tencel.  

We did a trial run in the living room to see if it would work. Then, the real thing:

Friday, February 19, 2016

Maiden Voyages

My name is Karen and I'm a fiber addict. You see, there was this trunk show...
And my brand new, just born Pocket Wheel had finally arrived...!!!
Her name is Ginger, Gingie for short. She weighs six pounds. The show side of her wheel is a red wine, copper veneer and her treadles are quilted maple.

Here's Gingie's maiden voyage! She's so petite that, take a closer look at this picture, she fits in the front passenger seat of the car!
Here she is, showing off just outside of our hotel room at Death Valley, CA.
This desolate land was having what is called a "super bloom".
By the time we got home, Gingie and I had spun all four ounces of the tussah silk/superwash merino.

To speed the time it takes and simplify dressing Sophie, here's another first. Do you see the water bottles? They're hanging from a trapeze. Without it, I have to move each of those bottles every time I wind 18 inches (the distance they can rise between floor and breast beam) onto the warp beam. Using this simple tool, two long boards and one pole, extends that distance to as much as six feet!

And I took another step closer to getting to use my new drawloom. I threaded and tied all the strings.

I'm so close to being able to play with my new toy!


Sunday, January 17, 2016

A Little of This and That

I've been busy with a little of this and that. I knitted hats and scarves to help during Boston's chill winter.

And I'm decluttering and reorganizing the house. What do you do with your old and well used and loved quilts?

I made these 15 or 20 years ago for my daughter. They're both eroding (the quilts, not my daughter). For now, I took these pictures. Maybe I'll  donate them (again, the quilts, not the pictures). I think. Maybe. Or not.
After finishing the tallis, I finally gave myself permission to open the boxes we brought home from Glimakra back in July. Here you can see the extension added to the back side of the loom. Luckily, it didn't need to stay this big. I think of it as 'Sophie's bustle'. You can see the drawloom on the chair in the foreground.
Everything had to come down. The countermarch (all the pulleys and string that make things go when I step on a treadle) needed to be taken off the top of the loom. The jacks (vertical slats) had to be flipped 180 degrees and all the strings needed to be moved to the alternate side of the jacks.

Once everything was back in place, I dressed Sophie for our next project. I put enough warp on her to make another sample before the real weaving begins. (And, yes, I'm being cryptic. I'll tell you later. It's a secret.) See the warping stick I "wove" into the cloth? Watch what happens after I cut the sample off: 

Just by lacing the stick back onto the loom, Sophie's dressed and ready to go! Yay! It certainly beats having to re-tie all 1100+ ends back on by hand!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Something New

Remember when I said I'd learned something new?
Lace patterns are written on a grid. (That part, I knew.) For the right side of the work, we knit right to left and read the pattern right to left. For the wrong or back side, we knit right to left and read the pattern left to right and backwards (think black is now white and white is now black). Yeah. That's what I think, too. NUTS!
Well, my experiment worked! I was worried my stitches might be a little wonky, but all is well!

The yarn is a lace weight wool, from Anzula (stash busting). The pattern is from the cover of the book, Curls.
 Knowing that I'd soon finish the red curl, I decided to plan ahead and buy some fiber that could grow up to be another shawl. I contacted Redfish to make sure they would be at WEFF in Torrance, CA. I thought I wanted some more silk/yak like I'd used here.    
But this was even softer!

Times two. I couldn't resist!

And this supported spindle and bowl were just too exquisite to pass up. Shouldn't all spindles look like magic wands?

The base is hand-blown glass. Thank you Mingo and Asho!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Please forgive the reflections on the glass. 
I just brought the next two pictures back from the framer. 
This counted cross-stitch was such a pleasure to work on (think "paint by numbers"). The artist who designed it is a magician. There are only six colors, ranging from black to pale green and pale gray. The unstitched white areas are actively a seventh color. Amazing!
And this needlework was a gift to us from my niece, purchased  when she lived in China. The framer is getting lots of work from me, lately.

I was honored to be commissioned to make this tallis for my friend's granddaughter.

The young lady chose the colors and designed it with me. The bag, reinforcement squares at the corners and atarah (collar decoration) were all made on a separate warp with the same threading.

Here's a close-up. It's woven in tencel and a fine metallic yarn for the thin stripes. The tencel is sett at 24epi. There are 18 of the wide stripes (18 being a 'magic' number, meaning 'Life').

I bought this wool a couple of years ago on one of our driving trips.

Just as we have no idea where we're heading as we drive, I have no idea what this yarn's going to be when it grows up.
So, it's on to the next! This fiber is a hand-dyed merino wool from Malabrigo. I had to (arm twisting) buy it. I've only ever seen them make their pretty knitting yarns (...and bought a few!).