Random thoughts of a fiber enthusiast - mostly fiber related, sometimes coherent

Month: January 2011

Silk and Quills

Foreground: 2-ply tussah silk. Background: 1 ply tussah silk, 1 ply baby camel down.

Done. I plied the leftover silk singles from the baby camel project on the miniSpinner. There is approximately 460 yards of lace weight 2-ply silk. I will put this aside with all the other handspun silk yarn. Eventually, I will use them to weave some silk ribbons.

Just for fun, here are the silk singles on paper quills, waiting to be plied. They are resting on a Jenny Plyer. I haven’t quite got the hang of plying from the Jenny Plyer when the singles are threaded through the pigtails without making a huge tangled mess, so I bypassed them completely.

I’ve been turning my office waste paper into paper quills. Why? Because I wanted to use my Swedish-Styled boat shuttle a month ago and found that I didn’t have any quills. I made some larger ones to test out my method and found that they were perfect for winding my stash of singles. Each quill holds one spindle full of singles perfectly!

Quill Specs:

For general spindle spinning/plying use, I cut a 8.5″ x 11″ paper in half width-wise into 2 8.5″ x 5.5″ sheets. For my Swedish Styled boat shuttle, I cut them into 3.5″ widths. Check your shuttle size, if you plan to use it for weaving.

I rolled it around a 1/4″ dowel and glued the edge. I’ve since shifted to a 3/8″ dowel since the shuttle rod is 1/8″ diameter. (The dowels for all of my assorted kates are 3/8″.) When you are talking fine yarns, 1/8″ diameter difference can turn into quite a bit of yarn. And since I changed to a smaller dowel, I also changed the paper blank size to 3.5″ x 5.5″. Why? I found that you lose some of the extra diameter gained to the additional layers of the paper as it is wrapped around the dowel. (Yes, I do have AR tendencies.) I can now get 4 quills out of each sheet of paper.

Helix Scarf

Helix Scarf

The Helix Scarf is finally done. I took this along with me to Hawaii dive trip as my mindless knitting. Who knew that I’d be too exhausted on the trip to knit? So this became my on-the-go and mindless television knitting. Even so, it took me 2 months to finish this scarf.

I finally got into the rhythm last week and was able to zip along to finish this scarf. In this green, it actually looks a bit like sea kelp, doesn’t it? I think a bronze colored one to wear with it will make a nice kelp bed effect. Of course, I’ll look like I’ve been strangled by the sea kelp.

I knitted the scarf as a much denser fabric than the scarves on Interweave’s website. I wanted it to be drapey, not limp. The silk content gives it the crispness it needed and the yarn has quite a bit of bounce. I’m very happy with this scarf. And, yes, I would like to make another one.

Cabbage Rose

Here it is, all rolled up. Doesn’t it look like a cabbage rose? In fact, I’m thinking about dyeing some yarn (or fiber) that slowly gradates in a single hue to white. When rolled up, it really will look like a cabbage rose that slowly fades to white. Wouldn’t that be pretty? Yes. I am easily amused.


  • Handspun from Abby’s Batt Club October 2007: First Frost (33% extra fine merino/33% baby alpaca/33% silk/1% firestar)
  • According to the McMorran Balance, I used about 325 yards.
  • Finished length along the spine, relaxed: 34″
  • 2.25 mm needles.

I still have a little over half of the skein of yarn left (about 350 yards). I’ll be digging around for another little scarflet/shawlette pattern.

On Notebooks

I love notebooks. I love all the possibilities that a new blank notebook represents. When it comes down to actually writing in a new unblemished notebook, well…I get performance anxiety. What if what I put down doesn’t meet the expectations I have of all those possibilities? What if my ink splotched on the first page? And a misspelling or grammatical error on the very first page casts a pall over the rest of the pages? It’s better to leave them blank and dream of the beautiful notebooks that they will become…someday.

I started to use the little Moleskine Plain Cahier Journals for my project and class room
notebooks (4th one from the top in the photo). I take a new one of these each time I head for a retreat (SOAR, Madrona, CNCH, etc.). Notes from all my classes go into these, along with random thoughts or phone numbers that I pick up along the way. At $8 for 3 notebooks, they aren’t too expensive. They are plain. Very plain. You can decorate it as you wish. Or glue the name tag from the retreat on the front as a momento. Whatever. There is no anxiety involved in scribbling in these.

I started to use these for projects too, but I find that there are too many pages for a single project. I can collect multiple projects in a single notebook, but I often can’t find the most recent working notebook so I start a new one. The cost for the project notebooks can quickly start adding up.

There was a discussion at Janine Bajus’ Feral Knitter about Project Journals that got me thinking. I like the idea of using blue books. There are only a few pages so that it’s extremely conducive to tracking a single project. My only problem is, aside from being to lazy to head down to the University Bookstore, that I really like grids, not lines. I like grids because I can use the grids for designing color work or weave structures and scribble and color away. I looked at how blue books are made. Have you? It’s just legal sized paper, folded in half and stapled in 2 places. I’ve got some legal sized paper in the house. So, I present to you my version of mini project journals.

My inaugural use for one of these was for the yoked sweater sloper, based on notes from Janine BajusFair Isle Yoke Sweater Design class at Madrona last year. It seemed fitting, doesn’t it? I’ve created a little tutorial on how to make these mini-journals, including a template for the grids. (You can also get to the tutorial from the Tutorials tab above.)

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