Madrona & Friends

Madrona was a blast, as usual. It was great to get away, spend time with your friends, both old and new, and learn something new that is totally unrelated to your every day work life. My work life is completely consumed with computers, so it’s nice to go off line for over a week and interact face to face with people.

What did I do at Madrona? Lots of talking, eating, drinking, and laughing. Oh, and a little bit of learning here and there. My biggest accomplishment? I finished these:

Cai and Cael Sweaters

What does this have to do with Madrona? Nothing, except I have really, really good friends. These 2 sweaters are for my new grand nephews (I think that’s the right term — they are Martin’s niece’s new twins). I bought yarn back in September to make two of the sweaters on the right. It’s a Debbie Bliss baby sweater pattern (sweater on the right). It’s adorable. It’s garter stitch. It’s baby sized. How difficult can it be? But I lost interest in the sweater by the time I got to the arm pits. Not that it was boring. It’s only a baby sweater after all. Boredom will last only so long. No. It’s these that gave me nightmares. All those fiddly little ends.

When I first hit the roadblock, I whined to my friend Penny, who said that she loved to weave in ends, and she’ll help me with these ends. Upon seeing the finished garment, pre-weaving and seaming, she claimed that she must have been weak with some illness or another and she really didn’t mean it. So, I was left with 4 days before I first see my grand-nephew, all these ends, and a second sweater to be made.

I quickly switched tacks and casted on for Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Baby Surprise Sweater (the sweater on the left). This sweater zipped right along. There were only color changes when I felt like it.

What do friends have to do with this? I didn’t finish weaving the ends by the time I saw Cai and Cael for the first time. But since I was passing through their house on both ends of the trip, I availed myself to the grim reality that I will be spending all of my free time at Madrona weaving in these stupid ends.

While at Madrona, Eva sat down with me and helped weave in ends for a bit every evening. Kathleen made us cocktails and brought us wine while the weaving and swearing continued. This continued every night until the last evening, when I finished sewing on the buttons.

Oh, you wanted to hear about the classes. I didn’t take many pictures of those, but I took 3 classes: Weaving With a Stick and a Handful of Stones (warp weighted loom), Two Color Patterns of Marta Stina, and Scottish Wools. First class was with Judith MacKenzie McCuin, and the second 2 were with Carol Rhoades. They were all wonderful classes. I leave you with some pictures. Click to enlarge.

Warp Weighted Loom - Warp tie up
Warp tied on to a dowel. The ladies in the background are tieing up little packages of aquarium rocks for the warp weights. The yarn is my own handspun — shetland and silk, I think.

Warp Weighted Loom - Weights
Warp weights — these are little pouches of aquarium rock wrapped in plastic wrap and tied up with yarn. I only tied up my warp in pairs. Most people chose to tie up each warp separately. I was too impatient (surprise!) to get started. When we ran out of aquarium rocks, peanuts from the gift shop were put into service. And when we ran out of that, I saw someone using rock salt.

Warp Weighted Loom - Weaving
Mid-weaving. Morning of the second day. I did finish weaving the scarf, but I haven’t woven in all the ends yet (the story of my life). It’s not the best weaving job I’ve ever done, but I’m still happy with the results.

New Stuff!

What’s the best way of moving through the doldrums? New projects!

Like I said, I haven’t much felt like knitting lately. Nothing seems to be able to grab my attention for very long. I started a new shawl on my 6′ tri-loom last month, but it lanquished on my loom for a month without any additional work. I started it up again on Friday, when I realized that it really wasn’t me. The yarn just didn’t want to used on a loom.

It’s a beautiful German yarn. Horstia Maulbeerseide-Schurwolle. That’s a 50/50 silk/wool blend in a deep royal blue. Absolutely lovely against the skin with a beautiful sheen. Unfortunately, the softly spun single just wasn’t holding up well to the rough handling. The yarn is very sticky. And I can’t but help feel that the act of opening the shed and weaving the yarn will shred the yarn. I only got through about 10 pins of the yarn before I decided that this is just not the right project for the yarn.

Rib WarmerSo I took it off the loom, and casted on for a rib-warmer. This is using the modified rib warmer in Fall 1997 issue of Knitters. I’ve been wanting to make a rib warmer, but just haven’t gotten around to it yet. I’ve seem some really beautiful ones in the past few months. There seems to be some sort of renaissance of these things lately. I love wearing vests, especially with the unpredictable indoor climate at the office. There’s nothing worse than sitting at your desk all day and have your shoulders creep up to your ears because your back is cold.

pink and white mohair shawl on tri-loomBut I didn’t leave the loom empty. I started another shawl on it with Classic Elite La Gran Mohair. It’s a bulky weight yarn, which is better suited to the tri-loom than worsted weight. It’s not the easiest thing to weave with because it’s so sticky. But with patience, it’s a lot of fun. I’ve learned that if you rush it, the worse the problem gets. Plucking a few warp threads at a time to open the shed. Once you’ve opened the shed for the entire length, the shed stays fairly open/distinct even without a shed stick. Actually, I found that any type of tools, other than your hands, is a waste of time. I’m planning on giving it to Sandy for her belated birthday when we take Ian & Sandy to dinner next Friday night.

But I haven’t forgotten this. I now have a lovely little stack of woven squares, made with my square quilt weaver loom. It’s still not enough to make a couch shawl, but I still have a few skeins to go. If it’s still not enough, then I’ll have to dye some more from my stash of Kool Aid.

Oh, and this came in the mail this week. It’s a jumbo pack of Earthues natural dye extract, enough to dye 160 pounds of fiber. More than enough to play with, wouldn’t you say?

Weaving

I’ve been weaving little squares on my Hazel Rose Looms. Martin gave me Quilt Weaver’s Set in lace wood maple around Christmas. I’m using the pink kool aid dyed yarn that I spun up a while back. There’s a pretty little stack of them right now. When I’m finished, I’ll piece them into a TV/couch shawl for Martin. Good thing Martin’s not afraid to wear pink. But, then, who really cares what color it is when you are all snuggled up with your favorite book or the remote control?

I was disappointed to find out today that my Navajo Weaving lessons will need to be postponed. The next weekend that Hannelore and I both have free will be the end of July. Darn. I was so looking forward to it. I’m thinking that I will build myself a simple frame loom and try some tapestry weaving in the meantime. I want to weave, darn it.

I also have some ideas floating around for some card weaving samples, so there’s no shortage of things to do.

I don’t know why, but knitting just hasn’t been high on my list I want to do right now. I started spinning more silk/wool. This time, it’s a bombyx/merino from Chasing Rainbows Dyeworks that I purchased at Stitches West.

Card Weaving

card woven band

Not much has been happening here. Things have been crazy at work, so you’ll just have to whet your appetite with this little bit. It’s a card woven band that I was shamed into finally finishing this past weekend. I took a card weaving class from Gundrun Polak of The Loomy Bin back in March. I attended the TWIST meeting at CNCH this weekend. There was a young man (middle or high school) who took the same class a month later, showing off his beautifully finished woven band. I’m such a slacker.

But finishing this piece, I remembered all the fun I had with this technique. Doing something new is always exciting. That thrill of discovery with every turn (literally!). But there’s also something mathematically challenging that appeals to me. I find that there more interactivity with card weaving than with weaving on a loom. The planning doesn’t stop after you warp the loom.

Finished Shawl

12-tri-outside.jpg

Here is the fulled shawl. Click on the picture to see additional pictures. This was fulled by soaking in hot water for 30 minutes or so, and spun dry. The weave is still a bit loose for my taste, so I’ll probably wash it again. The length (from top edge to the tip of the triangle) shrank at a much higher rate than the width. But that happened when I took it off the loom, even before it was fulled. How do you correct for the tension when it is a continuous thread? Hmm, more experimentation is required.

12-tri-corner.jpgI actually like the unfinished side edges. The edge is fairly neat and tidy. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for the top edge. It’s a bit too ragged for me. Does anyone know if this is normal? Or was this because of my nail spacing error that I corrected after the shawl was 50% complete. Per my yesterday’s post, I had a 25 cm gap up in the corner to start with. I pounded in a couple or more nails and then moved the rows up, one by one.

(And to the eagle eyes out there, yes, it is an oopsie near the point. I didn’t notice it until much later, and I didn’t want to rip it out. And due to the nature of the triangle loom weaving method, there is a matching uh-oh on the other corner.)

I wore it to work today as a scarf. It is nice, soft, and warm. And, it doesn’t add a lot of bulk under a jacket like a knitted scarf can.