Thing-a-Week #49

This week’s Thing is actually three things, the products of the classes I took at Stitches West.

Thing a Week #49: Stitches West classes

At bottom right are the samples from the Embroider Your Knitting class on Friday. Up top is the bag from the Color and Weave Mini Tote Bag class, and all that fiber and the little tiny ball of yarn is from Spinning for Knitting.

My favorite, and the most proper completed Thing, is the tote bag. I haven’t been doing much with color patterns (or much besides scarves!), so it was nice to do something different.

Color & Weave Bag

This class used a basic 2×2 alternating color warp with three different weft patterns. The top of the bag is one pattern (2×2), the middle is another (4×4) and the bottom is yet another (1×1). It’s pretty neat to see the different effects you get by just varying the weft.

Color & Weave Bag

Overall, the classes were great and I learned a lot. Looking foward to next year!

Stitches West 2012

I had the best of intentions. Honest. I was going to post daily accounts of my time at Stitches West, like I did last year, but the days were so packed that I didn’t have the time. So, here’s a recap!

Stitches West began on Thursday. I went to the opening session by Betsy Hershberg, author of Betsy Beads. XRX, who runs the show, is promoting the book. I’d gone in not really interested in it, and by the end of the speech, I wanted to purchase the book (and did!). Funny how that works. Nice job, XRX.

Opening session

After the session was lunch, where the teachers came around to our tables at five-minute intervals. It was a great chance to see what was being offered at Stitches. While there were classes Thursday afternoon, I didn’t sign up for any, choosing instead to hang out and wait for the market preview to open.

Marketplace entrance

I did take three classes at Stitches.

My first was a three-hour class on Friday: Embroider Your Knitting with Anna Zilboorg. Amazing lady, beautiful work. I sincerely hope she comes out with a book on the techniques in the class.

Embroidering class

My second class ran all of Saturday: Color and Weave Mini Tote Bag with Deborah Zarchow. I’d taken her introductory class last year, which led to all of those scarves I wove since then. I wanted to try something different, hence the bag. (I’ll show that off with my thing-a-week, next.)

Weaving class

Finally, I had a class on Sunday morning: Spinning for Knitting with Merikke Saarnit. I already spin, but this class was worthwhile to gain a better understanding of different fibers and techniques.

Spinning class

I purposely didn’t fill my schedule with classes. I’m fortunate to have fallen in with a group of great folk from Northern California and enjoyed spending time hanging out and knitting with them. I also met with relatives for dinner on Saturday and spent an afternoon with a high-school friend on Sunday before my flight home. Oh, and my roomie Sherry bestowed upon me a beautiful skein of yarn that she spun and a knit cowl. What great friends I have!

Prezzies

The rest of my time was spent at the marketplace, which was pretty awesome, as usual. Nearly 200 vendors, thousands and thousands of yarns and books and other goodies. It’s a wonderland. I didn’t get that much, considering how much there was to buy.

Market haul

That’s pretty much it. It’s all a blur, and I didn’t get much sleep, but it was great. Definitely want to go again next year!

Thing-a-Week #47

I returned to spinning this week! Yay!

Thing a Week #47: Handspun

This was spun from a very pretty batt from Becoming Art in the colorway “Spice of Life.” It’s 4.25 oz mixed BFL wool, nylon, milk fiber, and firestar (sparkly!). It came out at 320 yards of roughly sport-weight yarn.

Thing a Week #47: Handspun

It was nice to spin again. It’s been a while.

Thing-a-Week #38

Continuing on from last week, I spun up the fiber I prepared for last week’s Thing. I wanted to do a comparison of woolen vs. worsted spinning, hence the separate prep of batt and sliver. Woolen is on the left and worsted is on the right:

Thing a Week #38: Handspun

What you’re seeing here is a true woolen yarn and a true worsted yarn. The woolen was spun from a carded batt using the long-draw technique, which results in an airy, warm yarn. The worsted was spun from combed sliver using an “inch-worm” techique, which results in a smoother, stronger yarn. The difference is hard to see, however: the CVM fiber I’m using is really probably more suited to the woolen technique and never got really smooth. Still, you can see in the following closeup that the right sample (worsted) is slightly smoother than the left (woolen):

Thing a Week #38: Handspun

Both samples are really springy and softer than I expected. It was an interesting experiment. And I still have several pounds of the CVM left!

Thing-a-Week #37

Back in September I bought 3 CVM fleeces from a farm up north: one white and two variegated. I did actually manage to wash two of them within weeks of getting them (which, come to think of it, could’ve each been a Thing, had I been doing Things at the time), and this week I started working with one of them. Here’s it is, a varigated CVM from an animal named Buster Ram:

CVM fleece - "Buster Ram"

I decided to do both carded and combed samples, to see how the wool behaves when spun. Here is some of the wool loaded on my English combs. To the left is my drum carder, which I had just used to make a batt. In the bin are the locks I was working with.

Combing CVM fleece

Hand carding and combing can actually be quite time-consuming. By the end of this excercise I had only two ounces of fiber to play with, one in a carded batt and one in several combed slivers. The fiber is a bit neppy, on account of me starting with some of the back and neck fleece, which tends to be somewhat tender and short. We’ll just call it rustic. The staples themselves went from dove gray at the cut end through white to cream at the tips, resulting in a light tan color overall when blended. It’s really very nice.

Thing a Week #37: Fiber

I had hoped to finish this week’s Thing by spinning these, going woolen with the batt and worsted with the sliver (two methods of spinning that result in different finished yarns), but I ran out of time. That just leaves me more to do next week!

Thing-a-Week #36

It’s the return of Thing-a-Week*!

Back in August, for Thing-a-Week #20, my friend Ewenique and I dyed some yarn and fiber, all in the same color: “Screen Door Purple.” (There’s a story behind that name, but I’m not telling!) This week, I finally got around to spinning the fiber.

Handspun

The 8 ounces of Corriedale fiber spun up to about 430 yards of yummy, plummy DK-weight yarn. Not sure what I’ll do with it. It’s not soft enough for next-to-skin wear, but I’m sure it’ll make a nice… something. Any ideas?

Handspun

* I know what you’re thinking. There’s no way I’m up to #36. My last Thing was #23 three months ago. I missed 13 (yes, 13!!) weeks due to work and other busy stuff. I thought about it a lot, and I had two choices: pick up where I left off with #24 and add make-up days to the end, or skip them, plow ahead, and end in March as originally planned. Since it’s a miracle I’ve made it this far, I’m taking the easier route and skipping the 13 Things I missed. Sorry to disappoint, but I’m sure I’ll still come up with some good stuff before I’m done!

Thing-a-Week #17

I finally plied those singles from Things 14 and 16. The result: around 200 yards worsted-weight 2-ply yarn, again Spinning Sisters merino, colorway “Boyfriend.” Feels a little anticlimactic, but some days you gotta take what you can get.

Thing a Week #17: Handspun

The yarn actually turned out a little thicker than I’d anticipated. I spun the singles pretty thin, but they fluffed up considerably after plying and wash. It’s very soft and springy, though!

Thing-a-Week #16

Life continues to be a little hectic, so my Things have been a little smaller in scope lately. This week I spun up the other single I was talking about with Thing #14. Didn’t have time to ply, but that’ll give me something to do next week!

Thing a Week #16: Handspun

Both singles are pictured here so you don’t think I’m just posting the same one from last time. ;)

If you look closely, the one I spun this week, at right, has a longer stripe pattern than the first one. This is because of the way I split the fiber. For the first one, I split it in half-lengthwise, making the roving thinner and resulting in shorter repeats of color. The second was spun from the full thickness of roving, so it takes longer to get through each color, and results in longer color repeats. When plied, it should give a pleasing variation of color in the yarn. This method is sometimes referred to as fractal spinning.

Thing-a-Week #14

I totally ran out of time to finish what I planned to do this week, but I did get a component of it done.

Handspun single, from merino fiber from Spinning sisters, in colorway “Boyfriend.” I’ll spin the other single and ply them hopefully this week.

Thing a Week #14: Handspun

Thing-a-Week #11

It was gorgeous this weekend so I decided to do something I’ve been wanting to do as soon as the weather got nice: scour some fleece. I know how to have a good time, don’t I?

This fleece is a Cheviot / Clun Forest cross that I bought for cheap from Craigslist in March. It was pretty dirty, so I gave it several cold water soaks outside in a bin before scouring. Then I scoured it in my washer with some Seventh Generation dish soap. Two washes and three rinses later, I ended up with this:

Thing a Week #11: Cheviot / Clun Forest Fleece

The tips are still pretty crusty. I’ll have to flick them to see if the dirt comes out; otherwise I might have to start trimming. The locks seem sound, soft, and springy, so I should be able to get some nice fiber out of it. I’ll know more when it’s finished drying!