I have a ball setting up my dye workshop to teach a series of dye classes on a variety of topics. Sock yarns are always popular (since I teach these at sock knitting machine retreats!) however these can be tuned to worsted weight yarns, spinning fibers, and more. Each class is 1/2 day, so combine two for a day-long workshop on sock yarn dyeing. Taught at my studio, regular workshop fees apply.
I am teaching several yarn dyeing classes this summer at Heels Over Toes, the CSMSA 2009 Conference in June in Tacoma -- you needn't knit on a sock machine to attend! They will be selected from these by the organizers, to fit in the 1/2 day class format I requested :-)
Open dyeing is also fun -- if you'd like me to come and set up my dye pots and be concierge for general wool or protein fiber dyeing, I'm happy to run an open dyeing workshop as well. Dyeing cotton and bamboo fibers? we can talk about that, too!
For dyeing, we need electric power in the room, a nearby water source -- in another room is fine, we can rinse in buckets -- large tables (estimating 2-4 students per table usually works okay), and access to an outside door, so we can safely dispose of exhaust water. I bring plastic for floors and tables, plenty of tape to hold it all down and keep the room clean & dry.
Do you buy lottery tickets? Let's roll the dice with dyes -- turn three colors into a rainbow witht his chance dye method. Bring 4 oz. of undyed sock yarn - wool, nylon, silk, or other animal fiber will take the dye; bamboo, tencel, or cotton will not. All dye tools and materials supplied. If you have a one-yard or two-yard skeiner, pre-skein your yarn; otherwise, bring a center-pull ball or cone. Dye it in class and knit your socks the next day!
Photo shows pencil roving in the dyepot (working on a sock yarn photo shoot...)
Skill level: any.
Material fee: $6 (dyes, dye tools to use during class, handout)
Students bring: 4 oz. of undyed sock yarn - wool, nylon, silk, or other animal fiber will take the dye; bamboo, tencel, or cotton will not. If you have a one-yard or two-yard skeiner, pre-skein your yarn; otherwise, bring a center-pull ball or cone.
Create fun effects in yarn, pool color on purpose, and just plain play with color -- come dye with me! Bring 4 oz. of undyed sock yarn - wool, nylon, silk, or other animal fiber will take the dye; bamboo, tencel, or cotton will not. All dye tools and materials supplied. If you have a 5-foot skeiner, pre-skein your yarn; otherwise, bring a center-pull ball or cone. Dye it in class and knit your socks the next day!
Picture shows shadow dyeing on left, self-patterning sock yarn on the right.
Skill level: any.
Material fee: $6 (dyes, dye tools to use during class, handout)
Students bring: 4 oz. of undyed sock yarn - wool, nylon, silk, or other animal fiber will take the dye; bamboo, tencel, or cotton will not. If you have a five foot skeiner, pre-skein your yarn; otherwise, bring a center-pull ball or cone.
Self-patterning sock yarns
Want to make your own special self-striping sock yarns? Have a sense of color not found in Opal or Regia? Create your own stripes! We'll discuss the "math" of striping and then wind and paint our skeins to make them stripe our way. Bring 4 oz. of undyed sock yarn in a center-pull ball or cone - wool, nylon, silk, or other animal fiber will take the dye; bamboo, tencel, or cotton will not. All dye tools and materials supplied. Dye it in class and knit your socks the next day!
Note: this class is typically best as an afternoon class, so we can take our time winding skeins and re-winding them after dyeing.
Picture above shows shadow dyeing on left, self-patterning sock yarn on the right.
Skill level: any.
Material fee: $6 (dyes, dye tools to use during class, handout)
Students bring: 4 oz. of undyed sock yarn - wool, nylon, silk, or other animal fiber will take the dye; bamboo, tencel, or cotton will not. Bring a center-pull ball or cone.
Become your own Matisse -- dye a tube of sock yarn and watch it metamorphose into art when it's recranked into socks the next day. Bring 4 oz. of sock yarn already cranked under loose tension into a tube. If your machine can handle it and you want twin socks, crank your tube with 2 strands together. Note, wool, nylon, silk, or other animal fiber will take the dye; bamboo, tencel, or cotton will not. All dye tools and materials supplied. Dye it in class and knit your socks the next day!
Skill level: any.
Material fee: $6 (dyes, dye tools to use during class, handout)
Students bring: 4 oz. of sock yarn already cranked under loose tension into a tube. These can be supplied by the instructor, additional fee applies. If your machine can handle it and you want twin socks, crank your tube with 2 strands together. Note, wool, nylon, silk, or other animal fiber will take the dye; bamboo, tencel, or cotton will not.
Turn ho-hum into yum with overdyeing! Bring 4 oz. sock yarn how you like -- already knit socks, knit tube, or skein (we'll skein up center pull balls or cones) plus a few yards of the same yarn, loose. We'll discuss color changes, test target colors, and then overdye for a whole new look. Note, wool, nylon, silk, or other animal fiber will take the dye; bamboo, tencel, or cotton will not. All dye tools and materials supplied. Dye it in class and knit (or wear!) your socks the next day!
Picture shows overdyed skein on left; other dyeing on the right (self-patterning and 3 solid colors)
Skill level: any.
Material fee: $6 (dyes, dye tools to use during class, handout)
Students bring: 4 oz. of sock yarn how you like -- already knit socks, knit tube, or skein (we'll skein up center pull balls or cones) plus a few yards of the same yarn, loose. Note, wool, nylon, silk, or other animal fiber will take the dye; bamboo, tencel, or cotton will not.
posted 28 February 2009 at http://askthebellwether.blogspot.com/
Saturday, February 28, 2009
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Thanks very much to all my readers and commenters ... and to those who also talk about me elsewhere. You all make my days brighter!
These recent happenings really "floated my boat" ...
Leesy made a fan club for my shop, fiber clubs, and blog on Ravelry: Follow The Bellwether. She's so sweet! I'm just amazed. I had promised myself that I wouldn't make my own group, so having one there -- really means so much more. Thanks, Leesy!
Knit-R-Done awarded me with the Helping Hand award, for answering so many questions. My pleasure!
KyleWilliam awarded me with the Kreativ Blogger award and also the praise that he looks forward to my blog posts. Wow -- I make someone's day a bit better. What a concept - I am humbled. His blog is full of such a variety of things -- sewing, pottery, knitting and many wonderful bits. Love the Valentine, Kyle!
Abby once again honored me by mentioning my blog and shop in her blog post Getting Started. She has always been encouraging of me, which is just wonderful, given the depth of her knowledge and time with the spindle -- since she was a wee one! I was in my thirties when I first turned fiber into yarn.
The many contributors to Spindle Shots continue to fill my days with awe over the marvelous spindles -- perfectly turned or perfectly fitting, both have their place in the culture that uses them. Did you see the Seth Golding #1 spindle just posted today by marihana? Wow.
posted 25 February 2009 at http://askthebellwether.blogspot.com/
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Sock machines, by definition, are almost always second-hand. There is one maker of new ones currently, the New Zealand Auto Knitter (NZAK) made in, you guessed it, New Zealand! It is very nice to have a completely new machine -- though they come with the same learning curve as the others (same as a spinning wheel, grin -- ya gotta learn to spin before the machine will make yarn).
Let's call that the first tier. Second tier -- just as good, really, but not brand-spanking-new, is a fully restored machine, restored by a professional. These are often powder coated too, very shiny and clean. My first machine was restored by Pat Fly -- wonderfully perfect. Jacqui Grant, maker of the NZAK, also restores machines very nicely, I've seen some of her restorations at local crank-ins, and on e-Bay. There are other restorers as well -- Donna Peters, Roxana Baechle, John Loeffelholtz, Old Tyme Stockings, Plum Cottage Crafts, and likely others I have not run across or have forgotten (I'm sorry!) So, how do you find these? The most reliable place to find a restored-and-tested machine is on one of the Yahoo group sale lists: Sock Knitting Machine Swap Shop and Sock Knitting Machine Friends (both sales and discussions); or on the Ravelry CSM Sales and Swaps group. Often the restorers have waiting lists, though, so putting an ISO/wanted call out on a list may be advisable, once you know the machine you want.
Which machine should you want? Really, that's a personal thing, just like with wheels. Legare and Auto Knitter are the most-discussed, but there are also Creelman, Gearheart, Beehive (UK), and others. Maybe you want an "odd" one, a really rare one, or simply a mainstream one. Cylinder size might matter to you (number of slots) -- 72/36 or 60/30 works well for most sock yarns and medium sized socks, but if you want kids' socks, you might need to wait until a smaller-diameter machine or one with a compound cylinder comes up for sale. 100 slot cylinders are fairly rare in old machines.
Okay, on with my tiers. The third tier would be a cranker selling one of their working machines. I bought one this way, it was in excellent shape. The cranker was active on the lists, so I knew her comments on it would be accurate and reflect the machine. Again, the lists above are great for this.
The final places to look are a mixed bag: may be terrific, may be disfunctional. Those are eBay, your local craigslist, estate sales, and old barns.
I've heard of sock machines showing up "in wooden crates" (which is how they were shipped when they were made back in the late 1800's, early 1900's) in antique shops, estate sales, and old barns -- but not here, all the stories seem to come from Canada and the east coast. Those may have been in the crate a loooong time, so check for true roundness in the cylinders, that the cylinders come out of the machine, and the quality of the metal. Some machines were made from cheap metals and will be corroded or have bent off-true.
Craig's List may be somewhere to watch for them too. Check out your local Craig's List or use http://www.craigshelper.com/ to search all of the ones within 250 miles of you. I'd tend to stick to local machines where the seller can show you how to use it -- that will show you also that the machine works. If they don't know, then you are taking a risk. Bonnie Smola offers a wonderful interactive book on CD, that shows you the ins-and-outs of taking a machine apart, cleaning it, putting it back together, and knitting on it. Very worth while when purchasing an unknown machine.
Sock machines show up all the time on eBay. These can be a pretty mixed bag. Some are being sold by professional restorers, in restored and working condition. Some are cleaned up but not knit on -- remember, if the seller says the crank turns easily, they may or may not be actually knitting on the machine. They may simply be cranking the gears without even a cylinder in the machine. The machine being sold may actually be a mixed set of parts from different machines -- that might be okay, if the parts are, say, all Legare parts; but if they are from different models or makers, that may or may not work.
For both craigslist and eBay machines, I'd recommend that you ask for advice on one of the Sock Machine lists -- there's a specific thread on Ravelry's Circular Sock Machine group for eBay and craigslist help. The folks who track that discussion can let you know if they see parts missing, mis-matched parts, or anything else not normal and expected.
I'd also recommend going to a crank-in near you (these tend to be announced on local CSM groups -- look for one near you on Yahoo -- and occasionally also the bigger CSM groups on Yahoo). The Circular Sock Machine Society of America has an annual conference that moves around the USA, if it's near you, that is a must-see event, almost always with machines for sale available. With a room full of crankers, you can be sure they will be demo'able, working machines. These events will let you see a variety of models and ask questions to help you decide what machine is right for you.
What does a sock machine come with? Some come with ribbers, some do not. It's very difficult to find a ribber for a ribber-less machine, so if you think you'll want to rib, find a machine with a ribber. There are many things (including socks!) you can make without a ribber, so you decide. Ribbers add to the value (and cost) of the machine. Some have multiple cylinders and ribber plates. They should include a weight stack, stitch picker-uppers/heel weight hangers, setup basket, buckle, and needles (though often with old machines, not restored, they are original and not in great shape). Complete original machines may include a cone winder, wooden cones, skeiners, and possibly sock blockers. Restored machines often come with heel forks and may have replacements for things like setup baskets and buckles if the restorer has built a better mousetrap -- I personally prefer big blue laundry clips over the original metal buckles, and knit my own setup baskets instead of using the original metal one.
There are plenty of original manuals online in Pat Fly's archive -- even if it's not your machine brand, it can provide you with basic instructions. The variety of books available has been increasing: Jenny Deters has written two, one on lace structures for detail work in socks and one on socks & more (non-socks!) to make on your machine; Donna Peters and Laura of Handwerks have both written nice introductory books on using sock machines without ribbers. Richard Candee has written a thorough historical e-book about sock machines, The Hand-Cranked Knitter and Sock Machine.
Videos also exist -- the NZAK video is available on youTube. Roxana Baechle and John Loeffelholtz have both produced videos. Roxana's series shows a wide variety of techniques for socks and a good collection of non-socks. Check the sale lists and eBay for those.
It's possible sock machines could turn up on the same websites that I listed for second-hand spinning wheels; though honestly I don't recall seeing any on them when I've visited them in the past.
The machines shown here are: (1) My Black first-model-year NZAK; (2) a Legare 400 - possibly from eBay, that I bought and cleaned up (3) a Creelman I bought from eBay and cleaned up. I've had machines from Pat Fly, John L., and other crankers as well along the way, very happily, as well as some eBay machines that didn't end up functional, but luckily I didn't bid so much that it was painful to turn them into spare parts for other machines. I'm currently down to "just" my NZAK, with a very nice set of cylinders including a compound cylinder.
I ran across a fun new-to-me blog today, Circular Sock Machine FAQ. Nice way to keep up with CSM community announcements and useful pointers to posts in other blogs ... like I Frogged It, who has had some fun patterns up recently, for leg warmers and cup cozies.
posted 24 February 2009 at http://askthebellwether.blogspot.com/
Friday, February 20, 2009
The re-spun yarn sweater, progresses. But at Madrona this last weekend I was stunned to learn there's a way to knit not taught in books. Eeek!
And to make matters worse for Ms. Efficiency (that would be me), it's faster -- once you've really learned it -- than all my efficiency-in-motion studies on my own knitting. Me -- 32 stitches a minute, throwing (English style). Picking (Continental), about the same, really. I knit whichever way my wrists say is less stressful at the time, which means 10 minutes in, I switch styles. That helps keep both wrists limber and happy - yay!
You know, I did my homework:
North America's fastest knitter (Canadian), just 1 stitch a minute slower than the world's fastest knitter (oh so close!)
UK's fastest knitter ... seeing anything in common yet?
And, drumroll please,
The world's fastest knitter, from the Netherlands, 118 stitches a minute.
Notice, they are all holding one needle steady. And all have minimized their movements. Miriam Tegels has her yarn in her left hand while the others have their yarn in their right.
This style of knitting has a name -- Lever Knitting. Also sometimes called Irish Cottage Knitting. And, I'm learning it.
The class at Madrona was taught by none other than Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, who very graciously showed us how to do this, and in the process gave us tips for improving our regular knitting (an SSK in one stitch? wow! and it's prettier, too!) Her basis is the yarn in the right hand. If you want to try an on-line lesson, KnitPicks has Miriam Tegels showing her yarn in the left hand version here and teaching to a student here.
Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's advice was to keep at it every day for 28 days. I'm now 4 days into my own lever knitting journey -- only 24 left to go -- the motions are getting smoother, I expect to see them getting smaller soon as well.
50 stitches a minute, here I come!
posted 20 February 2009 at http://askthebellwether.blogspot.com/
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
I gave an overview of reading weaving drafts in my last rigid heddle post, to help you identify 2-harness (or if you prefer, 2-shaft) table/floor loom drafts and figure out how to thread them on your rigid heddle loom with just one heddle.
When you add a second heddle, the possibilities multiply.
For starters, you can use a yarn that is twice as fine -- warping both heddles as described by Ashford here and by Schacht here lets you use both together. So, if you have 8, 10, and 12-dent reeds, besides being able to use yarns that are 16, 20, and 24 wraps per inch (plain weave sett/ends per inch is typically 1/2 the wraps per inch of the yarn; thicker will be more tough, in both senses of the word, and thinner will be more gauzey -- the technical term is sleazy, as the threads on too loose a sett will slide over one another), you can now use yarns that are 32, 40, and 48 wraps per inch -- that would make a wonderfully thin, drapey stole or fine silk scarf. Aaahh.
But it turns out, there are a whole host of interesting 3-harness (3-shaft) patterns out there, with names and everything. I was flipping through the May/June 1989 Handwoven (thanks to blogless Kathy, a local weaver extraordinaire), and lo-and-behold, an article about 3-harness weaving!
My first foray into 2-heddle weaving on my Glimakra Emilia rigid heddle loom was a basic 2/1 twill, though I turned it into a point and reversed treadling order half way through, so it looks like the wave-echo of a center diamond, a bit like this: <<<<>>>>
Of course, given it was woven at a very loose sett and fulled, and I used a multi-color handspun 2-ply, that diamond design is a bit lost. But, it's there, and if I looked closely I could see it.
Now, the draft of a 2/1 twill looks like this:
You can see that it uses just three harnesses, and has a straight tie-up.
So, when I threaded the heddles, I threaded the front slot (to match harness 1), the front hole(to match harness 2), and the back hole (to match harness 3). Anything threaded in the front heddle goes through slots in the back heddle, so they are only raised and lowered by the front heddle. Also, anything threaded in the back heddle's holes must go through a slot in the front heddle. See the Ashford and Schacht writeups mentioned above for good pictures of threading the front heddle's threads through the back heddle's slots.
For the treadling, first I had to lift harness 1; since it was the slot thread, I "lifted" it by lowering both heddles to the down position. Second, lift harness 2, which is the front heddle. And third, lift harness 3, the back heddle. So, it was both down; front heddle up/back heddle neutral; front heddle neutral/back heddle up; repeat until woven.
Other interesting patterns you can do in a 3-harness weave include:
- point twill: turn the twill around, so you go 1-2-3-2-1-2-3-2-... repeating across, and treadle the same way (1-2-3-2-1-2-3-2-...). Leigh has a nice post on 4-harness twills showing how they turn into point, rosepath, and broken (herringbone) patterns.
- rosepath, which is an extended point twill that looks like a path of roses; this is pretty as a stripe in an otherwise plain-weave tea towel.
- herringbone twill, another extended point twill
- a basic waffle weave -- this is interesting because it does not have a simple straight tie-up, so you would need to work out the lifting/lowering pattern to ensure the right warp threads were up. But you can do that -- read on for advice :)
- summer & winter -- Ashford's 2-heddle writeup shows how to do this, along with its cousin, Taquete.
- Bronson lace -- this lace is interesting because it uses the first harness on a multi-harness loom at the "tie-down"; so you can have lace with just 3 harnesses. Other related laces (huck and Swedish lace) move the tie-down around with the lace pattern. Here's a Margaret Atwater article, The Bronson Weave Four Ways, talking about having 3 spot positions with 4 harnesses -- with our two heddles, we have "3 harnesses" so can have 2 spot positions.
- Spot Bronson, cousin of Bronson lace -- this has a nice texture, I've made some washcloths with it.
- Krokbragd -- a weft-faced weave from Norway, traditionally woven with three colors.
- warp floats and their cousins, deflected warp -- if you put your warp floats on the back heddle's holes, then you can control when they float and when they don't. By weighting them separately from the rest of the warp, you can also deflect them for even more visual interest in your weaving.
- Front heddle slot is harness 1
- Front heddle hole is harness 2
- Back heddle hole is harness 3
- both up: harnesses 2 & 3 up
- both down: harness 1 up
- front up/back neutral: harness 2 up
- front down/back neutral: harnesses 1 & 3 up
- front neutral/back up: harness 3 up
- front neutral/back down: harnesses 1 & 2 up
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
I close my sock-machine knitted sock toes by kitchenering from the purl side; I knit about 10 rows of waste yarn after the sock is done, and leave that chimney on the outside of the sock (so it's inside when the sock is inside-out). I like the purl-side kitchenering, because you are going back-and-forth across the gap. It gives me a chance to see the tension as I pull the yarn up, and "works for me". Sure, you can kitchener from the knit side if you want - here's a great picture tutorial on that, by Karen In The Woods.
One nice thing about the purl-side kitchenering is that your yarn is ready on the inside to be woven in.
I want this to go fast, but not to leave a noticeable bump against my oh-so-delicate toes. So, I take five stitches and weave like a slalom, up through the first one, down through the next, and so on. I pull the yarn up so that it seats itself next to the loops it runs with, and makes loops in the "gutter" between rows where there is no loop.
Then, I turn around and go back for five stitches, usually on the row above as shown here, pulling it through the same way (click picture for bigger).
Once it's also pulled into place, I can snip close to the last stitch I came through (carefully) and the socks are ready for washing!
The yarn in these socks is Superwash Merino/Bamboo, hand dyed by Pat Fly (Angora Valley Fibers). The needle is copper, handmade by Tara Flying Horse; purchased from Crown Mountain Farms at a show; I have several of the same maker's silver needles as well, which I use for Nalbinding.
The pattern for the socks was based on Soxophone Player's mock rib hem and stockinette foot, using the no-hole-heel and no-dog-ear toe reviewed in recent posts.
If you want a terrific knitting blog about all the details of hand knitting (including, I'm pretty sure, weaving in ends), I heartily recommend Tech Knitting. Packed with tidy graphics and clear techniques!
posted 11 February 2009 at http://askthebellwether.blogspot.com/
Saturday, February 7, 2009
The Nalbound Edge is a gentle introduction to Nalbinding, with a fun embellishment technique found on a woven blouse in Skrydstrup, Denmark, dated to 1300-1500BC, and easy for you to learn to edge your own handmade garment, or to spice-up a plain purchased sweater like mine shown here.
This class is being taught at Madrona Fiber Arts Festival, February 2009 and at the NwRSA Conference, June 2009.
Nalbinding has been used since before knitting and crochet to make and embellish garments, and is still in use in Nordic countries. Use this great technique to edge and embellish a garment! Terrific for sweaters, mittens, fingerless gloves and more! Nalbinding creates a cabled edge, done for a few rows on a simple edge or for more layers for a tall neckband. You'll walk away with knowledge of the history of nalbinding and a new skill you can do with yarn you already have.
Beginner -- no experience needed
Materials fee $10 includes yarn, knit piece to edge, and handouts
Participants bring: blunt yarn needle, scissors
posted 7 February 2009 at http://askthebellwether.blogspot.com/
Friday, February 6, 2009
Dog ears, belong on dogs. Not socks. But, your standard sock machine sock toe -- a short row toe, kitchenered across the top, usually has dog ears.
Why? I think because you end up with an extra row, the kitchenered row, after you've already knit as many rows on the top of the toe as were on the bottom. That pouches out the corner stitches and wa-la, dog ears. Sticky-outie-bits. Not perfect.
You tell me -- which looks better? the ears on the dog above (woof, he says, cookie?) or the ears on the sock below? (sigh). I agree. Mo wins, hands down.
My friend Gay taught me a terrific way to cure the dog-eared-ness of the toe that helps out with the Kitchenering as well.
When you are ready to start your toe, with the yarn carrier over the back in the out-of-work stitches, prepare for the toe by moving the stitch from the last needle down on each side, to the needle next to it. Remove the now empty needles.
Then, put down the two needles out of work on each side, and also move the stitches from the needle by the gap, to the next needle. Remove the now empty needles and re-lift the other needles back out of work. The picture here shows what it looks like when you are done -- there's a gap of two needles at the hash mark, and the stitches that were on them, have been moved to their neighbors. The needles for the top of the foot are out of work while you knit the toe.
You have a gap on each side of 2 empty slots. That's quite all right!
Knit your short row toe as you normally would, back and forth, lifting the first needle each time until you get to the hash marks (or wherever you like to stop - on my 72, I stop one before the hash marked slot), then lowering the first needle each time (letting the yarn wrap the latch as I described in my recent heel post).
When you are ready to start your last trip to the right, lower all of the out of work needles. Knit just until the gap, then take your sock yarn out of play and put your waste yarn in play, so the waste yarn starts to knit after the gap. Remember to save enough length of sock yarn to kitchener the toe!
With the waste yarn, knit 10-15 rounds or however many you like to separate/finish a sock.
If you are separating the sock, after a few rows you can add back in the missing needles. Because they are neighbors, I add one in each gap, knit a row, then add the other in the gap. Otherwise the yarn will knit both needles at the same time, not one at a time.
When the sock comes off the machine, it's ready to kitchener. Because you doubled-up the stitches on the top of the foot as well, the waste yarn shows you the two you need to kitchener as one to match up to the stitches on the short row toe. Perfect! Just the right number of rows, no pouching-out dog ear corners. Put 'em on and have happy feet. Let the dog do the barking, not your feet!
Oh, and just a mention -- with this toe, you have two fewer Kitchener stitches to do, to close the toe. Who wouldn't want to do two fewer Kitchener stitches? It's worth the time to move the stitches over and take the needles out.
Yes, I still have to re-knit those dog-ear toed socks. They were the first in my return to the sock machine. I did them on my 80 slot cylinder, and with the lack of elasticity in the yarn, they're also a bit too wide for my leg (they sag, okay?) so I'm going to redo them on my still-on-its-way-here 72, or maybe try out the 64 that's coming in the same box, grin. I guess there is something to having different cylinder sizes, after all! And yes, they will get reknit -- that's yarn I dyed myself!
Oh, and why am I getting both a 72 and a 64? Because both are regulation stitch counts for Socks for Soldiers. I'm not a Socks for Soldiers cranker, but I expect I may contribute at least a one-time sock leg marathon (the heel and foot have to be hand-knit, to a pattern). I'm told that 64 stitches are regulation for the female sizes, 72 stitches for the male.
posted 6 February 2009 at http://askthebellwether.blogspot.com/
Thursday, February 5, 2009
Who can resist a good fiber (fibre, even!) club. Not me ... Besides running Ring Your Bells and The Rhyme Times, I am having a blast in a variety of other yarn and fiber clubs myself. It's great to keep in touch with things from the viewpoint of the customer, and see how other vendors treat their customers. Keeps me on my toes and making sure I give my best to my own club members!
My newest joining was the Socktopus Fibre Academy (SoFA -- what a great acronym!). If you haven't run across Diane Mulholland yet, she's someone to watch! She blogs as Needles on the Move and is very helpful on ravelry as dianemulholland (pretty clear, eh). She's the spinner behind the Fibre Academy, so I'm really looking forward to this.
We've been asked to post our meme responses to their kick-off meme, "My Top Ten". So here, you all get to see a little bit more about me, and my take on what I like from indie dyers, fibres, and learning about spinning!
- Fibres: cashmere! if I had to downsize my stash to fit in a suitcase, I'd put all the cashmere in it. I could spin happily to the end of my days, and likely never empty the suitcase, spinning laceweight. I love shiny too, so anything with silk in it. My favorite wool is California Variegated Mutant, crimpy-springy and soft.
- Spinning technique: DK weight sock yarns, 2-ply, overplied -- this is my usual yarn, but I think I'm beginning to shift to laceweight weaving yarns (2-plies and singles). I love learning new techniques too, experimenting with boucles, cables, and more.
- Plying technique: 45 degree angle upright kate like my Alexandria Horizontal Kate, when I'm being organized; a center-pull ball on my thumb when I'm rushing.
- Dyers: Crosspatch Creations, Three Bags Full, Come In Spinner, Ewe Give Me The Knits, Pigeon Roof Studios, HollyEQQ ... there are more, but that should be enough to get you in trouble too :-)
- Colours: Shifts with my mood. Purple and green are perennial faves, I love marine tones for calming, rich jewel tones for pepping me up.
- Book: mainly escapist fiction, a good mystery: Dick Francis, Agatha Christie. I read a lot of kids' books to keep up with what my children are reading -- Harry Potter, Twilight. And a ton of non-fiction: if it's about spinning, I've probably read it. My favorite spinning book is Mabel Ross's Essentials of Yarn Design for Handspinners. My current book-stack is weaving books.
- TV Show/Movie: House, The Avengers, Sherlock Holmes -- still the mysteries. We watch on hulu.com, veoh.com and other onlines hooked up to our TV. My favorite movie of all time, remains Gandhi - love spinning to it! Before that came out, it was Lawrence of Arabia.
- Spinning Mag: Spin Off, Spindlicity, KnittySpin.
- Favourite time of day: Dawn -- I love the rising sun lighting up the world, so gradually and yet still a surprise when full daylight finally pops into place.
- Indulgence: chocolate. Or more cashmere :-)
posted 5 February 2009 at http://askthebellwether.blogspot.com/
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
I came to rigid heddle weaving after weaving on 4- and 8-harness looms. So, lucky me, I already knew how to read a weaving draft (also sometimes called a pattern, though it's not a pattern in the sense of being a complete item being made, but a pattern of yarn interlacements on the loom). I could use that skill to figure out if I could apply it to my rigid heddle loom.
This led to the posts about which patterns were usable on the rigid heddle loom. Which led the rigid-heddle-first weavers to ask, "how do you read a draft?"
There are two (or possibly three) parts to that, though -- first, is understanding the parts of a weaving draft, and what makes it feasible to do on the rigid heddle loom as-it-stands. Second, is understanding how to apply it to a 2-heddle loom, as many (Schacht, Glimakra, Ashford Knitter's) can have second heddles. Third, would be the grand finale -- how to use pickup sticks to get more complex patterns. That, could be a fiber arts degree :) but I'll do my best to talk about recognizing what sorts of patterns are straight-forward to do on the rigid heddle loom - in part three.
Weaving drafts are presented in the books I already covered, in a formal type of graph-paper looking thing like this:
There are three parts to that blank weaving draft:
First, we have the harnesses. This section shows how to pull yarn through the harnesses on your loom -- the lowest row is the first harness ~ I've labelled it 1, the next is the second harness, and so on. This diagram is for a four harness weaving draft, since there are four rows.
Then, we have the tie-up. This is used for tieing up the harnesses to the levers on the loom. Now, most table looms have only direct tie-up, harness 1 to lever 1, harness 2 to lever 2, and so on. So, the tie-up in this case is an "abbreviation" to simplify presentation of the third part of the graph (the treadling, but let's not go there yet). On many floor looms, you can do tie-ups of multiple harnesses to one lever, so you'd tie up harnesses to levers to match the diagram. I'm going to completely gloss over Jack vs. Countermarch (or is it counterbalance?) looms, rising vs. sinking sheds, and all that stuff that still makes my eyes gloss over ... I promise to learn it someday, in the meantime see Leigh's Fiber Journal, she's talked about that before.
Third, the treadling shows which lever to pull to execute the pattern of the weaving draft. This operates in conjunction with the tie-up. So, if you have "direct tie-up", harness 1 to lever 1, and so on, you'll have to lift all the levers selected in the first column when the first column's square is ticked in the graph.
It's a combination of which harnesses the yarn goes through, and which ones are raised, that creates the marvelous patterns on the loom.
Now, a rigid heddle is just that -- it's rigid. On a harness loom, the heddles move back and forth, spaced where you need them. This lets you do things like thread harness one multiple times in a row, then harness two, then three, then two again, then four, and so on -- getting quite inventive. There's a great writeup on IndieanaWeavers.org, Twills, Twills, Twills by Eleanor Best showing many interesting applications of that concept.
So, how can you determine if a weaving draft can be done on the rigid heddle loom? The first kind that can, are 2-harness drafts. Those are the ones I listed from the books The Handweaver's Pattern Directory, Handwoven Scarves, and Color and Weave.
Spotting a two harness draft can be as simple as making sure that only harness 1 and 2 have a check in them -- no yarns are put on harness 3 or 4 at all. That's the easiest. Shown here is a log cabin threading, tie-up, and treadling, that uses only the two harnesses so it's quite easy to see that it is a rigid heddle pattern.
Sometimes, however, four harnesses will be used, but the tie-up will make the pattern a plain weave. The Handweaver's Pattern Directory did this a fair bit, actually, and I spotted a log cabin draft using four harnesses online here ~ so it's fairly common. A plain-weave tie-up puts the first and third strands on one lever, and the second and fourth strands on the other lever. The simplest case of this is shown here.
There are more complex two-harness weaves than the simple plain-weave and its color and weave variations (log cabin, herringbone, plaid, and lots more). Hopsack (work on loom shown here) is one example.
Its draft has threads repeating in harness 1 and harness 2, and also in the weft. This presents the challenge of deciding how to thread your fixed heddles. You can put 2 threads through a hole, and 3 through a slot -- but you'd want the right number of ends per inch as well, so you might end up with 2 through a hole, 2 through a slot, skip a hole, and 1 through the next slot to get the 2/3 pattern spread a little wider.
This brings up the issue of "reed marks" ... the uneven distribution of yarns through the heddle can leave visible spacing in the final cloth. Sampling would be key, on the rigid heddle, to see if the marks are visible and unacceptable in your final fabric. A fabric that is loosely woven and then fulled, has the opportunity to move the yarns around and remove any reed marks from the as-woven fabric, or reduce their appearance. So adapting some weaving patterns to the rigid heddle -- those that aren't based in a plain weave pattern, but in repeating yarns in a harness -- should be done after sampling and fulling the sample to see how it does on your loom.
Second, with hopsack, we have to deal with how to get two and then three weft shots through on the same heddle position. You could run 2 strands through at a time of one color, and 3 of the other, but they may bunch up and twirl around each other. The "big kids" technique of a floating selvedge can be handy -- an extra end-strand, run through a slot, that you always go around on each side of your fabric. This ensures that your strands will lay next to each other in the weaving, and not wind around each other, since you'd go across, wrap the selvedge, come back, wrap the selvedge, and then do the third pass, before changing the heddle for the other color. That's what we did with the hopsack fabric shown above.
Once you've found a two harness draft, decide how to match the harnesses to your rigid heddle -- make harness 1 the holes and harness 2 the slots, throughout. Decide on the ends per inch for your yarn, and see if you will need to skip or repeat yarns in holes or slots to make the pattern match up to the harnesses in the draft. If the treadling repeats a given lever more than one time, you'll want to add floating selvedges to your warp as well.
Treadle to match the tie-up and treadling, wrapping floating selvedges each time if you've used them. And wa-la! you're now weaving with the big looms :)
Armed with this tip-of-the-iceberg knowledge of weaving drafts and how to spot a 2-harness draft, then, you can tackle any pattern book to see which drafts require only 2 harnesses and thus, could be applied to the rigid heddle loom.
Next up: identifying 3-harness patterns for the rigid heddle loom with two heddles.
The first two woven fabrics are 8 harness patterns, with apologies to the rigid heddle weavers. However, that first one can actually be done on a rigid heddle loom -- David Xenakis has an article in The Best of Weaver's Series: Huck Lace called "Muck" which shows how to make complex huck lace patterns (that would require 12 harnesses or even more!!) on a rigid heddle loom.
See the Weave topic for more articles on weaving.
Part Two is now available, What can you weave with 2 heddles on the rigid heddle loom?
posted 3 February 2009 at http://askthebellwether.blogspot.com/