Saturday, 21 March 2009

beginner weaver....

when I learned how to spin a few years back, I became very enthusiastic and wanted to learn how to weave as well... actually - I always wanted to learn both! as a teenager I was keen to browse through craft books and magazines - but even though I was always busy knitting (or doing crochet) we didn't have enough money or room to buy a spinning wheel, never mind a weaving loom (and no, at the time somehow spindles didn't come up). my mother did own a small rigid heddle loom though - and eventually I asked for a small school loom, but not much came of it. in contrast to knitting weaving isn't something you pick up in passing, I guess! after fiddling about with our first warp and making small mats or runners, the looms went back into storage. I don't know what happened to my very small kid's loom, but we did save the larger RH and I took it with me when I moved to Ireland.
when I saw on the german mailing list for handspinners, that the wheel producer Kromski builds the "Harp", a rigid heddle loom, I eventually bought the widest model. I put it all together - just to hide it under the table in my wool room - with good intentions of course to use it very soon. but nothing came of it - until the RH and backstrap loom workshop with the OLG started at the beginning of march! this finally was the incentive I needed to get started! ok, the harp is still where it was before, but I managed to warp a smaller loom and wove a small table runner on it.
this is it:
the picture isn't great, but it shows the stripes I wove into the white linen and if you look very closely, you can see three blue stripes in the warp as well.
this is the weaving still on the loom, but it shows the warp stripes better. I had planned it quite differently though. being pigheaded I didn't listen - and used fine linen thread instead of thicker wool yarn. that was fine when I measured the warp, but when I finished warping the loom and started to weave, I realised that with a widely spaced fine warp like that I'd end up with onion netting, if I tried to do a balanced weave. instead I beat harder and ended up weaving a weft-faced piece. well, the warp was long enough for a scarf, but feeling the fabric I decided to switch plans to make a table runner. the linen yarn is too hard to wear close to the skin and with the fine yarn I'd probably sit and weave a scarf in 2012!
at first I also had problems with abrasion on the warp threads. I thought the linen would be tough enough, but moving the heddle up and down meant that eventually my first warp thread broke. I managed to fix it, but I became very careful afterwards not to move the heddle too hard! I didn't knot the warp threads or work a fringe, because the plan is to add some bobbin lace on both ends, done with the warp threads, which I left hanging quite long for this purpose.
so - the next project will be done with wool yarn - and I also try out another way of warping to see which one I prefer. I did find however, that weaving is probably nearly as addictive as knitting and spinning. I had problems going to bed at night - because I "just wanted to weave a few more rows" for the last few evenings:)) another bad habit in the making....

Monday, 9 March 2009


after finishing several time sensitive projects I am finally without a terribly close deadline (end of june doesn't count - yet:)) - and I have used the time to do something about all those leftovers flying about after being used in a larger project. I knitted several moebius scarves in a row - one for myself (at least that's how I planned it), the others go into a different kind of stash - the finished present stash. this is usually pretty small, closer to non-existent, but it's helpful to have something like that to hand when a small present is urgently needed. I used up most of my test sample of cashmere/silk blend, which I had dyed for the colibri challenge some time ago. eventually I used a different yarn, a wool/silk blend, but the colours came out nicely on this, too. it wasn't enough to do a larger project though, so I made a small scarf for myself, a "throat warmer" more likely. the one in white in the middle is the same material, but undyed. I used all of it, only about 50 cm were left when I finished the moebius! to be perfectly honest - I wanted to use an i-cord as finish (it gives a nice rounded edge) and after I had nearly finished it, I realised that I'd run out of yarn for maybe the last 20 stitches - so I had to unravel and go back one round to manage the finishing. I didn't want to waste a thing - so I increased from 3 to 4 stitches for the cord!
the last one in mint green is a blend of wool and silk - which I dyed with the flowers of a dark blue delphinium from the garden. this is not a leftover yarn, but I didn't have all that many flowers and only managed to dye a smallish hank in that colour. moebius scarves are a good project for smaller amounts of yarn - you can adapt the length and the width and just knit until you're nearly out of yarn. if you do a simple cast-off, you can manage with only a small amount after the last pattern row - if you do an i-cord, be careful and a bit more generous or you might have to undo your knitting until you're left with enough!
you can of course use any pattern you fancy for a moebius, but I usually knit a pattern that looks at least similar if not totally the same on both sides - because both sides are visible when you wear your scarf! the colibri coloured is knitted in ribs of 3 rounds k, 3 rounds purl. the white one is knitted in a sort of basket weave, which I also used for the "harmonia's rings" earlier. the mint green one is similar to the white one, but instead of the larger k/p pattern I used moss stitch over 2 rows....
all yarns are of course handspun, and I used a long circular needle, 120 cm, size 4 mm, for the knitting. the green one can easily be wound around the neck twice, the white one is slightly tight when worn like this - the one in front only goes around once....
while finishing the last moebius I also started on my "winter jacket" project in grey/white/light pink - at the moment the knitting goes quite fast, but that might slow down, either due to other, more urgent projects or due to the fact that eventually this soft, warm, chunky yarn might not be comfortable to knit anymore - if we do get any summer at all that is!
of course, soon the material for a project in bobbin lace should arrive as well - and then I am going to be off to make a bobbin lace fan in black silk "on the side". and then there is the gardening.... which I should have started weeks ago, but didn't, which means that I have to hurry up a lot now! and the workshop about rigid heddle weaving with the OLG - where I only managed to measure the warp so far and have to try and warp the RH loom, if possible today:)) the weaving hopefully is less fearsome......

Thursday, 5 March 2009

zoo and other animals

shortly after DS's birthday we went for a daytrip to dublin again - visiting the zoo among other things. the weather wasn't exactly splendid, either grey and drizzly or just grey... but we did find a very trusting peacock, who was begging for biscuit crumbs (or better, whole biscuits!), which gave me the opportunity to get a close-up of his magnificent tail.
what a difference between the black and white body plumage and the fantastic colours of the "eyes"...
and I also found nice hints about what not to do - though no hungry inhabitants could be seen in this particular area:

I wouldn't want to be responsible for that:)

this fellow might be able to do serious damage to humans falling into his territory - but every time I visit the zoo (ok, only once a year, not all that often!) he lies around beside the "pool" and barely moves at all! he does have a gigantic head - and reminds me of a certain bavarian politician from some time ago! does that fall under the heading "bigheaded"?

something entirely different now:

yesterday I found two nice new links - the first one is a blog from a spinner/weaver, who lives on one of the Aran Islands - have a look, great pix of the island (among other things - she also weaves the famous belts called criosa)

the other one is a colleague of mine from the Connacht Textile Crafters. Clare is a felter, she offers courses and also finished projects for sale on her new homepage: