Thursday, August 31, 2017

Crock pot dyeing sock yarn.

So, time to learn something new to me! I've been making socks with my antique sock knitting machine, and that led me to itching to want to dye my own sock yarn. I went hunting around the internet, and found a couple of inspirations. This blog entry ( and this video on YouTube ( both used a similar technique of sprinkling dry dye powder on hanks of yarn in the crock pot. That looked like a great way to get my feet wet (so to speak). I decided to go with Jacquard acid dyes for their light fastness and color selection, and made myself an order from Dharma Trading Company.

I went ahead and got a rainbow of colors, plus brown, black and gray. And, I decided to go with the citric acid crystals rather than just using vinegar, so my project wouldn't smell up my house. Then, I had to figure what yarn to use. My antique knitting machine really works well with the Serenity sock yarn from JoAnns, so I picked up some white skeins to start with. I have an antique clock reel that I rescued from a second hand store (it had been turned into a plastic flower planter, poor thing!), and used that to turn two skeins of yarn into one hank of yarn. Each skein is enough for one sock, and this way I could get matching socks from a dyed hank. Though, come to think of it, it might be fun to dye related but slightly different hanks, for the non-matching fraternal sock craze that is going on. Hmmm.....
Then, more or less following the directions on the two sites, I got to playing in the color. I have three hanks of yarn in the crock pot tonight. The bottom skein started white, and used the figure 8 way of putting the yarn in the crock pot. (Twist the big loop once, so it looks like an 8, and then fold the two loops over onto themselves. Put that in the crock pot.) The second hank is also done in the figure 8 way of laying out the yarn, but it started purple. I wanted to see what it looked like to overdye another color. The top hank is just scrunched in one big circle, and started white. I've used purple, fire red, and brilliant blue dye colors, in approximately equal proportions around the ring. it simmers over night. I put on high for the first hour, and then popped it down to low until I wake up tomorrow. I'm finding the biggest challenge so far is Not Messing With It. I want to poke at it, and that will just disturb the water and muddy the colors. But....I want to play!!!

Hands off.

Go to sleep.

Dream of color.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Snake Bay, Lake of the Woods, Ontario

I'm back! I had a week away, on Lake of the Woods in Ontario. The first time I went to this lake was 50 years ago. I was teething, and evidently screaming my fool head off. My folks had had enough of car travel with a cranky baby, so they pulled into a random camp ground to stop for the night. Well, they liked it enough, and the lake enough, that they stayed. And came back. Again, and again.

I grew up on that beach, running in the sun and playing Kick the Can, or sitting in the store there on the right during rainy days, doing jigsaw puzzles and giggling with the other kids. I had my honeymoon there. Around that time, the camp changed hands though, and the feel of the place changed too. So, my family started going to a different camp, further down Snake Bay.
A change...but the lake stays the same. This place has been the one constant in my life. 50 years now, and it still draws me back.

I didn't want to leave. I've spent almost a year of my life there now, a week or two at a time. In my heart, it is eternally summer, and full of layers of memories. I am a child, I am a newlywed, I am a young mother, I am 50 years old and greying, I am...whole.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Baby wraps are done, and I'm packing for vacation

Done and mailed off! The "Lotus" baby wraps are on their way to their new home, and I am packing packing packing for leaving for vacation tomorrow.
I've got my fishing hat and everything. Is it time yet??? Oh yes. Got to shut down the Etsy shop, and do a few more last minute things. I've got someone here watching the place (or I wouldn't be blogging about it), but they won't be shipping for me.
Another one of those last minute things will be visiting the foot doctor tomorrow. I tripped coming out of my front door two weeks ago. Turns out, my foot is broken in two places. Oops. Ah well, luckily the wraps were plain weave. I re-set the treadles under the loom to be both done by the right foot. No problem. A complicated twill might have been more of an issue, but I had this one covered.
Except, no swimming on my vacation on Lake of the Woods. Ah well, I can still get in and out of the fishing boat, so I'll be fine.

Is it time yet???
Yes, that is me. I've been going to these waters a long, long time.

Time to go to my heart home.

You all be good to each other while I'm gone, ok?

Friday, June 23, 2017

A tip for tying onto the front apron rod in weaving

I don't know where I picked this tip up, but I'd like to thank that person. Tonight I tied my warp onto the front apron rod of the loom, and I remembered the tip I had heard to swap the edge threads in the sections when I'm tying on. Like so:

Why? When you go to weave the header, look how quickly the warp arranges itself into place!!

Header woven, ready to go. And very little waste of warp. I love this trick.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Warping the loom for a baby wrap

I'm making progress on getting the loom all warped up for the next batch of baby wraps. I'm working a bit each day, so I make sure I can get these completed and out to their new owners before I take off for vacation/family reunion in July. As I'm working, I'm remembering how much I like working with this yarn. It is 10/2 mercerized Valley cotton from Webs, and is just lovely and shiny slipping through my hands.

So, first up is the calculation part. I remember back in high school deciding that I'd never use math again, so I didn't have to worry about it. Boy was I wrong. Weaving is really just visible math. You've got to figure out how many threads, of what colors, at what length to get the effect you want. So each project sees me with pencil, paper, and a calculator in hand.

Then it is time to measure out the threads. I create the gradation of color as I go along, by changing colors every 2-4 threads. That makes for a lot of cutting and tying knots. I've tried other methods, but ended up with nasty tangles when I tried to get the warp onto the loom. This takes me a bit of extra time, but I like the results better.
I'm putting on 21 yards of warp this time around. That gives me enough for 3 five meter baby wraps. One for my mama client, one for the new testing regulations, and one more sister wrap. My client gets first dibs on the sister, so we'll see whether or not it ends up on the open market or not.
There! The warp is all measured out, and the color changes 'programmed' in.
Next up, I work on getting the warp onto the loom. I'm warping front to back, so my first step is to sley the reed. Or, in other words, I hook the threads through the slotted piece of metal at the front of the loom. That spreads the threads to a nice even width. Also? I learned that sley and slay are from the same Old English root word slea, meaning 'to strike'. I'll use the reed, which used to be called the sley, to beat or strike the weft threads into place in the weaving process. Words are neat.
From there, the threads each get their own heddle, which will control when it raises and lowers in the weaving process. 760 threads, hooked one by one by one...
Once they're all through, the end of the warp gets tied onto the back apron rod of the loom.
There! Through the reed, through the heddles, and tied on. I love this part. This is where I get my first real glimpse to see how well the color blending worked out. I'm rather pleased by this one.
My client chose pretty colors, didn't she?

Today's job will be to wind all 21 yards back onto the back warp beam of the loom, to store it until it is ready to be woven. This is a fiddly bit, because it needs to be under perfectly even tension. More later, after I get that part done. But I'm making progress!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Finished purple ruanas, and the start of the next baby wrap

I know. I said I wasn't going to do baby wraps for awhile. But, I have a mother who has one of my wraps, and asked me so nicely to make another for her brand new baby. And well.... Here I go again! The yarn got in today, and I'm excited to get working. I'll put three wraps on this warp. One for my mama client, one to be sacrificed to the new testing regulations, and one more to be available to the public. She made some lovely color choices on this one, don't you think?

And in the meanwhile, the two purple ruanas that were spoken for are complete and ready to go to their new homes! The one on the left has the dark purple weft, and the one on the right has the light silver grey weft. It is amazing how much difference that makes to the overall look of the piece!

I have one more purple ruana to finish up today, and get listed for the Etsy shop. And then, it is baby wrap time! I want to get that project done start to finish in three weeks time, so I can get it shipped off before I take off for my vacation/family reunion on Lake of the Woods, Ontario. (Is it time yet??)

I've been going to this particular lake for vacations since I was a teething babe in arms. It is where I went on my honeymoon with my husband Eric. It has been the one constant in my life. And I want to go home...

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Purple Ruanas: three different weft colors

So, the last post left off with the warp for the purple ruanas on the loom, and my weft test stripes done. I was trying to decide which colors to use for the weft. Well, two out of the three ruanas got claimed, and so those clients got to pick their weft colors. One chose silver (light grey), and the other choose a deep purple.

I decided I really liked the purples of the warp, so I chose black for the final weft color, in order to keep them as close to true as possible. I was tempted by a dark pink, but figured the black was a safer choice. Maybe next time I'll get a bit more adventurous.
And so, the weaving part is done! I've cut the fabric off of the loom, trimmed thread ends, zig-zag stitched the beginning and end in order to prevent raveling, and popped the fabric into the wash to wet finish.
I've got it on hot, with high agitation. This fluffs and shrinks and moves threads into their final position. The fabric comes out much softer to the touch, with a nicer drape. I love seeing the transition that this first wash and dry brings!

Now... I often put just a bit more warp onto the loom than I think I need, in case of mishaps. I wove that extra off with the black weft, and ended up with 21" of bonus fabric (pre-washing). I'm wondering what to do with this extra bit. I'm thinking that a handwoven yoga mat bag might be in order, with perhaps a matching inkle woven strap. But I'm not sure. What else would you do with that extra bit of fabric?

EDIT: After washing, the extra bit of fabric ended up 24 1/2" wide from selvedge to selvedge, and 18" long.