Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Farewell July....

Summer has been a blur.....and I still have no finished objects to show you. Nor do I have works in progress that I care to show.

However, there has been progress of sorts.

Vision: I abandoned the Vision Quest with the aggressive optometry practice after neither my ophthalmologist nor the optometrist in my yoga class had ever heard of it. Instead I opted for new glasses with feather weight progressive lenses. It seems the featherweight lenses give a much wider "sweet spot" for reading (and distance) portions of the lens. I know this because the prescription sunglasses ordered at the same time did not have the featherweight lenses. I couldn't see well enough to drive home with them and returned them immediately.

So far, I am very happy with my new everyday glasses and am waiting for the replacement sunglasses to arrive.

Fiber: Spinning and knitting continue on Mystery Stole 3. Dishtowel warp is languishing, waiting for me to return from my wanton fiber ways. There's new warp on the tapestry loom. And the Diagonal Vest continues. The back is finished and the left front is about half complete.

Last Wednesday, Nan and I went here. The exhibit was interesting. I liked looking at the older textiles from other cultures more than I liked some of the current fiber art. Maybe it was the shelf and wall of nothing but white, folded napkins stacked in huge linear piles (can you say OCD?). Or perhaps the wall full of nothing but gray felt with a few cones protruding from it. But there is a whole class of fiber art out there that just leaves me cold. If it's not inviting to look at, not well executed, and it's not functional...then I'm just not interested. You can call it fiber art until the second Tuesday of next week, but to me it's just nothing.

There were some interesting commercial fabrics designed by some of the Cranbrook grads as well as a few interesting current pieces. But chairs with stuffing spilling out of them....meh.

Speaking of fiber art: Nan brought along the most exquisite necklace and bracelet that began with semi-precious stones in a robin's egg blue, some really neat bead embroidery, and wonderful design. They are completely lovely. She does such nice work and I covet most anything she shows me....sigh.

Perhaps August will be a more productive month for me. But I know the schedule and somehow doubt it.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

I've got nothing.....

too many works in progress and too little progress is about the extent of it.

Add to that too much time sitting at the computer, looking at what other people are doing and the situation begins to feel insurmountable.

This little book has been moved from pile to pile over the past few months. It's time to get it out as well as consult Julie Morgenstern once again to see of order can be imposed on chaos.

So, while I do that in my fiber room (studio is too generous a term right now) , you can take a look at this ingenious List Vicki has put together. It might be helpful in destashing. (As if lace weight yarn is what creates the bulk in that stash, right?)

Sunday, July 15, 2007

It all comes back to me now....

as I spin and knit w/ the handspun merino tencel (see previous post), the handle of this yarn keeps reminding me of something. I finally figured out what.... Woolray yarn, which used to be distributed by Plymouth Yarns.

I wove a baby blanket with this yarn ~24 years ago so I pulled my records and took a close look at the yarn sample. It's a cabled yarn made up of 2 two plied yarns, 4 yarns total. The 2 ply yarn going into the cable ply is one strand of fine wool and a fine boucle' rayon thread plied S. Then the two yarns are plied together Z twist. The boucle' appearance of the rayon thread is lost in the yarn construction except for the uneven optical effect of it's shine.

The yarn has the same "crunchy" feel as my handspun.

Berroco made a heavier version of this yarn a few years ago that you can see here.

Now I'm curious about other's experience kniiting with handspun merino/tencel blends.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Pure Speculation...

I started knitting MS3 for a short period last night and it became apparent that there is something different about this yarn:

Look at those YO's....the swatch is lying flat, not under tension. Those YO's just pop open and stand at attention. The last swatch knit from this fiber (which was spun slightly finer and w/ more twist) is rather open also, but that stitch was knitted lace with no solid purl or knit row between pattern rows.

The yarn itself has a little bit of a "crunchy" feel to it....which I attributed to the tencel. It is a balanced 2 ply yarn after wet finishing. I intentionally made it a relatively high twist yarn in order for it to be lively in the stole.

So, I decided to look into things more closely:

The photo's below are taken with my camera looking through the lens of a Radio Shack 30x pocket microscope. (Hmm...I notice they've upgraded to a 60-100x power...perhaps I need a new toy?)

Here is the wet-finished yarn magnified. I'm assuming that the rose colored fiber is the merino and the clear is tencel. Notice how the rose colored fibers tend to wrap around the shiny, clear fibers in each of the plies? That means that even though I spun the singles semi-worsted fashion, the interaction of the fibers have created a yarn that is approaching something more like a 'core spun' yarn. The tencel fibers are bending less and providing a 'core' for the merino to wrap around. (Please note: I know this isn't a true core spun yarn. But it's the best term I have to describe the interaction of the fibers.)

This fiber was purchased early in the life of tencel when not many colors were available and wool being easier to dye are the reasons for my assumption. The blend is 70% merino/30% tencel.

Above is a magnification of the unspun fiber, not held under tension. Notice that the clear, shiny fibers lie straight...almost ramrod straight. The rose fibers have a bit of a loop to them, but not as much as I'd expect for merino.

At 30x magnification, I've never been able to see the scales on the surface of wool, so can't make any assumptions from that about whether this is superwash wool. However, from experience washing this yarn, my guess is that it is superwash though the label doesn't say that. For comparison, here's a photo of some undyed merino top which I know is superwash.

This photo is taken under the same conditions, no tension applied to the fiber. Notice fibers are inherently bending and looping.

It would be interesting to play with this fiber and see if I can spin it so that it doesn't become like a core spun yarn. There will be a few ounces left over once I'm done with the MS3 yarn. Stay tuned.....

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Late To The Party:

Above please note ~400 yds./1.9 oz. of handspun merino tencel yarn with coordinating beads for Mystery Stole 3.

I became intrigued with the idea first at Sue's then at Judy's blogs. However, I loathed the idea of going out and purchasing yet more lace weight yarn for another project.

Since I had been sampling with this, it seemed like the ideal project to use up this fiber from the stash to spin and knit "into the mystery".

I'll start knitting with this 400 yards and will spin and knit as I go.

This is weird for me...I not a KAL person, nor am I one of the "in crowd" of the blogging world. In fact I almost gave it up when the popularity soared after this post appeared.

The term "mystery stole" amuses me. My mind wants to twist it to stolen mystery....sounds very gothic, doesn't it?

I switched my subscription at the Yahoo group to "special messages" only when the mail box filled with digest messages in minutes. I don't have any intention of reading the all mail on that list...and I don't intend to post. Spinning, knitting, and weaving time are too precious to spend so much time kibbutzing online.

And speaking of kibbutzing online...time for me to go knit!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Report from the Tapestry Workshop:

It's taken me a little while to get a post together, but the workshop was wonderful. Ann is an encouraging, and inspiring teacher. You can see some of her work HERE. There were 11 of us in the class, with a good mix of experience and abilities in fiber and art. But the one ability that everyone seemed to have was the ability to encourage and inspire others.

Those of us who were new to tapestry did samplers:

This piece measures 5" x 11". Ann had us mount and label our work so we'd have a reference piece for future work. The colors for this picture are pretty true on my monitor. Sorry I didn't take the time to be exact in cutting out and aligning the labels...I can see where they may make your eyes go kittywompus as you look at the photo.

Most of the yarn in the sampler was Paternayan Persian wool from cones supplied by Ann. There is a smattering of Ann's hand dyed yarn and some Harrisville 2 ply wool in the mix. The warp is 12/9 siene cotton.

There was also a pretty good representation of portable tapestry looms from Mirrix tapestry looms, to Archie Brennan pipe looms, to wooden frame looms purchased through Ann. Mine was the only 'hybrid' loom and I am very pleased with it.

Those who had more experience with tapestry techniques started out with projects of their own, most from photographs. I didn't notice that anyone was working from a cartoon.

After the sampler, there was still warp remaining on my loom. I had brought a good selection of my handspun yarns because they've been calling out to me from the stash closet. I decided to do a small piece using natural colors romney wool left over from a sweater project several years ago. My plan was to use it as a color blending and color value study:

The colors here are a little yellowed from the incandescent light....and no I didn't switch to black and white photography. Those are the natural colors of the wool.

The woven piece is 3"x5". You can see the yarns that went into the piece on the right. Here's a close up of the weaving:
These two pieces are 3 days of work.

The best part of the class was at the end where we assembled around a table with our work and talked about our work and what we learned through the workshop. Most of us agreed that there is a quiet meditative aspect to the actual process. There's a place where your mind and heart go as you select the next color and the next method of interlacement.

Some of the group were definitely "in to" creating pictoral images with their work. Others were interested in the interaction between line and color in the fiber medium. I'd have to place myself in the latter group.

I found myself to be stretched by weaving in this way. The entire first morning of weaving, I kept looking for something to count and had a terrible time manually lifting the correct threads for plain weave. Not what I'd expected after 27 years of weaving!

Once the picking of the warp and handling the butterflies became second nature, I did well with the linear, angular, and even curvilinear (oval) aspects of the weaving. When it came to the "eccentric weft" weaving, I was once again challenged. It became very clear that I'm a person who often works "on the grid" and it would do me well to step off the grid and be a little more free in creating shapes and unexpected lines.

So what's next? More tapestry weaving. More use of my handspun wools. More color blending. And more eccentric weft weaving! (oh my!)