I have been in a binge of preparing fiber, attempting to clear out and make yarn from all the little bits of fiber odds and ends I have in my closet. With this batch I am refining my “one + one” blending method, where I blend a batt on my blending board, then blended that batt to another batt, and so on (original one + one tutorial) Also, using hand mix method (original Handmix tutorial) to divide up the batts with new fiber helped me get everything fairly equally portioned, and I just kept adding while the batts were building and then the final brush strokes of accent. Here’s how it all stacked up and blended together, pretty much exactly . . .
♣ ♣ ♣
Techy Stuff for Odds & Ends #2, entirely on blending board.
Beginning with 21g of a BFL hand-dyed braid, I mixed together on the blending board, and the blue, yellow, green, orange, red all turned into a mix of dull dark brown = batt #1 — see color saturated neutral tutorial here.
To the batt#1 color mix I blended with about 30g of some (what I think was) Rambouillet white wool that was in the mystery bag of fiber = 1+1 batt #2 = 51g.
To batt #2 I blended with 97g white alpaca = [1 + 1] + 1 batt #3 = 148g.
To batt #3 I blended with 80g part braid of blue-faced-Leicester/Shetland/Manx blend which was tan and white wools = [[1 + 1] + 1] + 1 batt #4 = 228g — shown in the big fluffy beige batt below.
I brushed on to blending board 72g part braid of Malabrigo Nube (Merino) in colorway “Solis” (blues & greens) for a batt to mix in.
To batt #4 I mixed in the teal batt = [[[1 + 1] + 1] + 1] + 1 batt # 5 = 300g.
Last brush streaks of ‘turquois veins’ = topaz bamboo.
Pulled off rolags!
Making batts of all the fibers first, which is kind of like combing them and making them easier to blend on the blending board with the next fiber, sequencing the process with another fiber, then another, instead of all fibers at once. This homogenizes the first fibers more and more throughout.
After batt #3 I decided to not blend in the 30g of white Cheviot or extra (much coarser) 72f BFL blue-green hand-dyed braid, and left it at the 300+ grams batt #5. Batt #5 got two blendings on my blending board, in attempt to finer homogenize the colors, but it became and overwhelming project at 300g total, and I still had the last brushings of color to do, before drawing off rolags. I am considering getting a wool picker for future big projects!
Final blend I added about 10g of bamboo in color “topaz” for the gold streaking affect, thinking I might end up with a look of veined turquoise. However, I can never tell until the final handspun is finished and plied before I can be certain.
Watch this space for the spin-up of these lovely rolags.
♣ ♣ ♣
the Odds & Ends #1 batch that is all spun up and I almost forgot about!
I actually did forget to post this, from weeks ago the finishing of the project, and it was the first of my Odds & Ends series of stash-busting projects. It is Early Morning Blend from inauguration day. has finally been spun & plied. This also is the first on-purpose bulky weight yarn I have made that I can remember, in all the years that I’ve been spinning; that is, not accidental or “it is what it wants to be” kind of handspun. I have pretty much a default thickness of yarn I spin now, so, needing some bulky weight yarn to knit up a little something, it occurred to me to ply 3 together of the singles bobbins that were storing in my wool closet. I absolutely am raving about on-purpose 3-ply, as it makes a very balanced round yarn. Which incidentally, is ideal for textured knitting. Hmm, maybe next I shall cast on for the smallest size of my latest Fisher Vest, hoping I don’t run out of yarn!
A lovely piece of art reached me yesterday. The moment I saw the pastel, I was cast out into an intense longing, a reverie, washed over with love of what was before and what I profoundly miss . . . walking in the long shadows either sunrise or sunset, with Emma, with the beautiful healthy landscape of the oaks before they were assaulted by the wildfire, and Mary Ann has captured the true heart of it all in this pastel she made for me (perhaps after enjoying knitting some Walking With Emma socks?) Surely the artist is completely unaware of the fact that in two days it will be the four-year anniversary of the wildfire, for the timing is so mysterious, and although I am not sure why she has bestowed upon me such generosity, that aside, it is the miracle of the heart and mind and of strong emotions which have completely touched me. Thank you Mary Ann, I am so very honored to have this piece, and of course, I am certain Emma feels it too.
The month is Socktober as many of we knitters know it, a time where big projects get put aside and sock knitting gets the focus, and so I too am running with the herd this year! Nothing very sentimental, poetic, metaphorical, or research-laden here, just another pair of whimsical socks rattling with a dull roar through the rounds, and with a wonderfully Autumnal colorway “copper”. I am working the chart A of Walking With Emma socks, with a mini one-over-one squiggly cable, further exploring the alternating cable crossing. Hmm, maybe though I have reached a limit, finding that perhaps 1/1 crossing is a bit too wee to even notice, but fun and playful if one happens to . . .
Oh! And I managed to finish a pair, finally the second sock to the original first sock posted last July! As I write this, these socks are in the post, in a birthday parcel to my youngest niece at university, she’s going to really love them I hope !
Sun has entered Libra, and I imagine rains coming, with a frantic sort of glee. Even though this year is like recent years, the dryest time, and most wildfire prone place on earth it seems to me, yet my mind remembers Autumn to be an awakening of moss, of first soft rains, of dewy grasses on the wayside of morning walks, and the papery leaves falling to the ground, speckled. I hope very soon a cooling trend, and I throw the memories of seasons passed into the compost as dried flowers. My mark of the equinox seems to be well expressed by the light & shadow in the posts & beams, and so I have gotten into an Autumn Equinox series I suppose, by recapturing the same scene every year. My favorite Autumn, and wishes for everybody a happy time!
Revisiting one of my original Tweed Chronicles recipes, posted four years ago nearly to the day, before I even thought of doing a fiber blending series and calling it Tweed Chronicles. But this time I wanted to expand the project up to at least 300g of fiber so that I could make something from the spun yarn (oh, like a small vest). Admittedly this time of year brings heartful memories from that time of intense creative discovery I ascended to with fiber & color on my newly made blending board. The time was just before the wildfire, so I suppose that it feels good to return and pick up where I left off , celebrating Tweed Chronicles and the coming of Autumn. I am especially keen on refining ” the hand-mix ” recipe, a preparation of multiple fiber & colors and textures, which uses mostly hand manipulation and minimal work on the teeth of the blending board or carders. Its actually quite satisfying to split a color into halves, then half again, and again, quite relaxing, and works so well to homogenize everything. So from the original tutorial, which has the slide show and I recommend checking out, in this post I am merely refining the method. Here is what I did…
♣ ♣ ♣
First I weighed proportional amounts of the colors and main grey alpaca…
Then divided each color into six equal weighed piles, weighing 54g each.
Then I put the scale away, and the rest was by eye; dividing each color/fiber in each sixth into approximate fourths, then again, each fourth into four more piles of approximate eighths.
I took each little eighth pile and hand-mixed loosely (see original tutorial slideshow) , then gathered all the hand-mixed bundles ready for the blending board.
I guess you could say I made 6 piles into 94 little wisps of approximately the same proportions. But I stopped there, because the fiber really benefits from being combed over the teeth of the carding, to comb through all of the fine “strips” of color, and that will homogenize the fiber even more, and I didn’t want to lose the splashy separation too much, keeping in mind spinning, plying, then knitting will all homogenize the colors more with each step.
Also the carding step is essential so that I can make rolags to spin woolen spun!
When brushed over the blending board , as many of the little prepped piles as will hold comfortably . . .
then draw off the rolags.
I think this method is great for integrating multiple fibers while still keeping separation of the fibers so that they pop out beautifully in the rolags, so artfully, and ultimately to give the real handspun look. Just look at all these tasty candy rolls . . .
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got quite a lot of spinning to do!
A little film we shot after we photographed Solo Sweater Success last week at the castle. The film is a little rough around the edges, and a bit too dark, but my niece is completely natural, totally unpretentious, and of course, so artful. I guess just like our photo shoots usually are. Enjoy our first little film! In order of appearance, she models . . .
Ready for Autumn coming soon, I proudly bring forth my latest design, the long-time-in-the-making Fisher Vest! It is indeed a seaworthy classic buttoned vest with a modern twist for fisherwomen, fishermen, fisherteens & fisherkids!
With choice of crew or v-neck shaping, and four variation charts to choose from, you can make a traditional fishermen’s style vest in your favorite heirloom yarn, or handspun!
Youngest niece and I met at the castle today, we took some photos, and then had a picnic in the dappled shade of the oak trees. It was a lovely last summer visit before she leaves to college. The Sol Inca sweaters have been tucked away for over a year waiting for the day both my nieces could model, but today only my youngest was able to make it. I hope to get another duo photo shoot of them over next winter solstice, but these shall have to suffice for now . . . just a hodgepodge . . . Sol Inca, Calidez Vest, and also a sneak peek at a brand new design that is not quite ready for it’s debut, that is coming just around the corner. Ok, now click 1st image in mosaic and go see the slideshow!
Virginia from Pennsylvania, generous friend and trekker (aka “Moab Walker) knit these for me, and I am ecstatic! Thank you Virginia, I am so grateful and can not thank you enough for knitting so many of my patterns, but I am pretty sure this is your 19th pair of Wild Wool socks alone that you have knit (so surprised that my socks have blown off!) The yarn colorway is a beautiful rich rust contrast color against a delightful hand-dyed yarn, these couldn’t be more gorgeous and am totally tickled that the colorway of the yarn is named ” Arches National Park”, where you were just visiting. Did you in fact, find the yarn in Moab???
Juno bombed the photoshoot, demanding an inspection; she has agreed with me that they are every bit as beautiful and comfortable and well-fitting as they look, and is crazy with excitement about all the hikes we’ll go on together involving these socks, and many sticks flying through the air for her to chase. I love…. WE LOVE …. these socks SO MUCH , and I will wear them a lot, and cherish them !!!
In May I finished a first sample of a jumbo sized Maiya’kma , three yarns held together for a very sturdy “market bag”, and now I’ve finished my second. Its not huge, but a nice thick bag. This bag is so cool , for a couple of reasons; I started it when we were driving all the way to Stockton to meet Juno the day we brought her home, and I just think that’s such a sentimental thing, so I’m calling it my Juno Bag.
Also its shape is a wedge, with decreases in the body and oblong shaped bottom, is a bit perky and holds its shape well. I washed it inside out for 2 hot wash cycles in our washing machine, and spun at high speed for a long time. Still a little damp the yarn is very stiff, just look at how the handles stand up on their own, I love that! But most of all I love how the massively thick felted tweedy fabric looks with three yarns held together the whole bag.
A little frothy tasty treat, and so serene, this little Nantucket Looms weaving video popped up when I searched youtube for ‘ weaving on a flying shuttle floor loom ‘. Not that I’m going shopping for a floor loom anytime soon, but while I knit I find so very much pleasure and inspiration in watching short films about mills and weaving in general. The relationship between the fiber and the wood, loom creaking, swishing, clacking, sighing, wheezing into action. Any form of it, industrial or indigenous, slick linen or fuzzy mohair, I could watch for hours and forever the yards of warp inch forward, shifting on the heddles and the weft unwinding in the flying shuttles, interlocking in finality, growing and then winding up again, as purposeful useful thing… it just tickles a spot for me. I’m a dream weaver for sure.
Autumn Things all ready and waiting for my nieces to show them off. Next week we are meeting, and I can’t tell you how relieved I am that these turned out better than good enough. I was really worried there for a bit, but they are the perfect sizes, and as experiments go, a real success. I am hoping by the time my nieces are taking them home, I’ll have everything ready to go, I only need to double check and submit the pattern now, so watch this space!
I managed to finish my nieces’ Autumn Thing 2021 ahead of schedule! Needing only to sew on buttons and labels, before I meet them next week, and then I’ll be finished with their knitted things really early this year. Soon I’ll be able to settle into a calm work storm toward what is an upcoming new design, while I dream of cool rainy weather ahead. Intermittent knitting of socks is necessary I have discovered, to take a mental break from the bigger looming projects, and I find myself collecting balls of Kroy sock yarn, and excitedly squirreling them away like acorns in branches, on the hutch in my loft room. Presently the sky is cast orange from fires in distant counties, but if I bear down and work hard on the knitting, I can distract myself, getting through the remaining smoky weeks, hoisting up the sock works-in-progress on my blockers & posting. For now I’m rattling through these green socks for Mr B, and then will mail them off to their new home perhaps (if I time it right) stopping at Oakville Post on my way to St Helena to photograph my beautiful nieces at the castle, before they sail away to school.
Originating possibly on the Aran Islands, spreading wide through Europe, wherever the men were fishermen by trade their wives and sweethearts knit for them the iconic Fishermen Sweaters to weather the harsh conditions at sea. I find myself once again revisiting the elemental seascape through knitting, to stroll the sands of my creative imagination, collecting sentiments washed ashore, and above all, inspired from these iconic Fishermen Sweaters, I am working my needles to produce at long last, my own version. Just off the needles and blocking to dry, is the first of my own Fishy Thing . . .
How is it even possible that Juno can change from a 15lb tiny puppy to a 40lb “teen” dog in a little over two months? Juno is growing like a weed, getting lots of outdoor activity, and I suppose is being fed super well, all her vet requirements up to date, and lots of pampering, so I guess it should be no wonder or amazement. Yet, still I am mystified!
In last post Squiggly I discovered how much I am fond of whimsy. Traditional cables that do not twist around in the same direction of crossing, but alternate, makes a fun snaking variation of a traditional fishermen gansey pattern. In fact , this charting was going to be a variation of a theme, but now I’m considering making it the showpiece. Actually, this one and another in the pile of knits, are going to be bon voyaging in a couple of weeks with my nieces, for some big life adventures (oldest moving to the big city of Santa Rosa all on her own, and younger off to UC Santa Barbara for college) and we recently decided to plan our traditional Autumn Sweater photo shoot at the castle before they take off. Stress! I have had plenty of time to knit and design these at leisure over the last couple of months, but I hadn’t really figured out the upper body shaping yet, knitting the lower bodies to get them out of the way, and all the while thinking my nieces would be back home for a November Autumn photoshoot… um … but that likely will not happen. So now I have got to get going and get the two finished, for it is nearing August already. I don’t think it will come to panic knitting, and I am confident I’ll have them finished for the deadline, but lets get to work then!
Taking a break from all-consuming things, to find some joy in knitting a quick pair of Walking With Emma socks for a friend. These socks will have two fine merino yarns held-together, for speed of knitting and plushness for wearing, but this time I am experimenting with a bit of a fun variation of the cable, and that is to alternate the direction of the cable twist ~~ 1/2 LC & 1/2 RC ~~ the result creates a snaking line up the cable column, and is quite whimsical, and … squiggly ! I love doing this so much to cables now, I have even added the option to the pattern and updated it, and in a few days hopefully I’ll have this finished pair of socks to sample for the pattern. These socks are giving me a lot of entertainment, and I’ll look forward to posting more details next time, when I will show off the finished pair.
It has been a long while since I posted a weaving film, and about time I did. This is one I have been enjoying as I have been learning a little bit about the Mayan weaving and making of the women’s traditional blouse, the huipil. Just like the weavers in Peru which I have posted about a few times, these Mayan women weave on a backstrap loom, for the clothes which keep their ancestral roots alive, but in the modern age, there are concerns about losing this indigenous tradition of weaving, therefore their culture is threatened (read more about this: The Huipil in Danger) . Guatemalan Maya weaving, although on the same type of loom as the Peruvians, and the same simple loom as in many parts of the world, it is their elaborate brocade style that is so very distinctive and original. It is especially when I find these treasure nuggets of weaving films, that I just wish I had another whole lifetime to devote completely to weaving, in particular backstrap weaving ! I hope you enjoy this little weaving story as much as I do.
Juno’s got herself a kiddie pool, so its fun in the sun and endless splashing and making whirlpools until she is tuckered out, fingers crossed. Today is an anniversary, two months ago we brought her home (where does the time go?) and just last weekend she turned four months old!
Two years ago I had just submitted my Walking With Emma sock pattern. It actually seems longer to me now, that very difficult time of my life waiting and waiting for the construction to finish on our rebuilt house, and eager to get my post wildfire life going again. I worked hard to distract myself on the sock pattern collection, as well as laboring to make a new place to walk, and together those elements symbolized so much to me at a time when everything seemed in such disarray, it was completely therapeutic! Now, two years later, I am revisiting those sock prototypes, and chose the ocean blue one, a chart D ribbed variation from the one-sock stack, about to cast on for the second sock so that I can not only enjoy a finished pair, but so that I’ll have some small thing to knit while walking along the territory ahead, since I must now be out every day with Juno, taking those steps again, and again, away from sadness and towards gladness!
Oh, and maybe a little explanation about all the boxes? Recently I found this collection of eight beautiful handmade nesting Shaker boxes, which I’ve wanted a set for ages, and aren’t they gorgeous! Outside of just keeping crafty things in them, I hope to use in future as photo props. I don’t have a desk this time around, instead I’ve gathered for my work space (the loft) a drop leaf table, two beat up dressers stacked one on top of the other, and an old hutch I found, and I now have homes for every imaginable craft related bit or bob I should ever want to keep, and must say that however pleased I am with the lovely groupings of vintage sewing boxes, Longaberger baskets, and Shaker boxes, I am admittedly exhausted searching in thrift shops and on Ebay, and am satisfied to say there is not a thing in the world I am in need of, being thoroughly, well and fully, done setting up shop! Kind of an old-timey space . . .
Outside of the sock thing, and another stack of prototypes for a new design, I am oh so busy being a puppy mom again, for that single most element of my life is the best, and find that caring for another being is the surest way to happiness.
Summer is upon us! Nothing is as awe inspiring to me in my life than the play of light & shadow among the posts and beams, and I do love to capture it especially as the season changes, for the light reflection and shadows cast move throughout the day, and throughout the year. I love to be home, to get things done. But! As for getting things done, I am a bit overwhelmed presently with things-going-on that have nothing to do with knitting, so at the same time my life feels chaotic, the slow progress with knitterly things marks a pause in life for now. Well, that’s a good thing maybe. Moving across the day with the shadows on the longest day of the year goes seemingly the slowest. Happy solstice everyone! xx
Juno is thirteen and a half weeks old, and we’ve had her with us now for four weeks, where in it appears she’s doubled in size! Needless to say, life hasn’t been the same since. Having to reinvent my schedule , but that’s a good thing. Juno’s favorite thing is getting up on the bed for a cuddle, which I indulge her in several times a day, wrangling me with her leash (such a shepherd!), chasing the water spray out of the hose whenever I water anything . . . but mostly just lots of misbehaving.
♣ ♣ ♣
During the year & a half we lived in the tiny house waiting for our home to be rebuilt, I was knitting a lot while watching all kinds of knitting as well as cross-stitching podcasts. I just decided one day to become a cross-stitcher, assuming the skill involved to make some nice pieces would to be straight forward and easy enough, but I found it to not be easy at all, in fact it is extremely tedious and quite difficult! Humbling because at one time in my life I had considered myself a pretty good needle worker. I suppose the cross-stitching thing stems from the desire to decorate the our new home with handmade and primitive feeling objects, but like so many things in my life, I am just out of practice. I ought to start another one slightly more perfect soon, as I do think trying new challenges is a good thing for my brain.
1 strand of cotton floss on 32 count linen.
This tiny little piece is not trying to be any kind of great work; the counts are off, and its rather rickety looking, but it is a sentimental thing as it commemorates the move back into our Home Sweet Home October 2019.
I haven’t had a chance to sit down and write a post for weeks, as I’ve been really busy and distracted with things going on. Yes, of course, understandably, mostly now its raising Juno the puppy, but also working out of doors mowing wild grass, nervous as a rabbit in a race against the fire season, hoping to be prepared for the hot drying days ahead. Also I’ve been working on a new pattern that I started to write a couple of years ago when living in the tiny house, and then for some reason that I can’t remember, I put it down and did not follow through. In fact it has been very difficult for me to design anything in the last year, oppressed by worry, but now I feel lifted a bit, and able to focus on the intensive process required to write and knit several prototypes for a new pattern, all the while hunkering indoors being a puppy mommy for the remaining weeks of Spring, and all through the coming months of Summer. Relieved am I to have finally got an idea going again, and so I am putting my stashed yarns to work making samples, one after another, until one day in late summer, I hope to put it all together for Autumn. Until then, I will fill the time with stitches and puppy walks and my usual string of themed posts to entertain myself, wandering through research wormholes on Wikipedia, and of course anybody else who enjoys reading, watching, and listening to what I post, while I slowly but surely head to the finish. Ok! Revisiting of the sea, again, a theme which continues to pull me out with the undertow, and I’ll not put up any resistance. . . how about I kick off with a sea shanty to get in the mood?
Oh, and I am calling attention to all knitters who regularly read this space who might want to take part in knitting this upcoming design with me in the secret test-knitting phase, all in good fun. If you are feeling up to it, please message me over at Ravelry soon, and I’ll fill you in and you can decide if it is something you’re itching to knit. Thanks to all and I hope all are doing well, if not much better, on this flipside of a very dreary fifteen months which has been unbearable but is now nearly past. xx
Day 1: Leaving the litter has got to be a difficult day for a dog. The puppy is disoriented and tentative, and we humans are so overly careful about not making any mistakes, ever, and wake up reeling the next day with a horrible night of little sleep (see previous post) Day 2: Reinventing the wheel and trying to remember the whole art of puppy rearing, like stumbling in the pitch dark through an unfamiliar and messy room, the whole day preoccupied with haphazard attempts to have order and a schedule, humbly aware of the sixteen year gap since Emma was a puppy. Oh! And Juno loves being in the garden! Day 3: Early morning I nursed my cup of coffee, opened my planner with pen in hand, a habit I’ve been forming since the start of the year, with lists of creative ideas and work to do — and I just went blank seeing the irony of it all (of making plans) — I guffawed, closed the planner, and shoved it aside. Day 4: Juno has transformed into her true self, puppy switched fully ON, having her territory established, her humans trained, and being the Queen of Everything. Alternately a shark wiggling all over the place following its teeth, then passed out a tired lump at my feet, and somewhere in between, undoubtedly contemplative moments, where she’s mapping it all out with the finely honed instinct of a shepherd. The first week(s) have got to be the hardest. Day 5: Morning . . . a blur, no photos since day 1, so I thought to take and post a few, as she is 10 weeks old today. This morning I am facing the reality that not much focused or complicated knitting is likely to get done for a while, and grateful I had finished several weighty hibernating works-in-progress up to this point. Also realizing that since Juno arrived I have gotten into a strange divergence of making instant coffee in the day, through measured moments of short puppy walks, lurching interrupted attempts to get things done, but blissful, grateful and satisfied knowing that unrelenting “being busy” is what I need. It is nice to feel the presence of Emma’s things as they are handed down to Juno, her squirrel toy, rolly kibble dispensing (orange) ball, water dish, some bedding & blankets, flexi leash . . . her lovingly used things. And I’m feeling the impulse to get chatty with the commenters, and writing much more than I have felt like doing for a long time.
Juno is nine weeks old, and came home with us today. She is swiftly jump-starting my life, keeping me busy every minute, and as we’ve all three had a very big day, it is naptime! I am so glad we found her, it was fate, my heart is full. In Greek mythology Juno was the wife of Jupiter and symbolizes undying loyalty. And, did you know also that Juno is a very large asteroid which orbits in our solar system between Mars and Jupiter? But mostly she’s our puppy who’s just arrived here on our mountain, a wild place which will grow with her to be a paradise anew! :puppy woof:
I have been working through unfinished projects since the beginning of the year and finally committed to this long hibernating one. I bought the tweed yarn for it two and a half years ago when we were livingin the tiny house in the charcoal forest , and at that particular time I felt urgency in knitting the same Calidez Cardigan to replace my lost original . Everything was freshly burned, practically still smoking, loggers gone through and the landscape languishing. I had knit 14″ of the sweater body before squirreling it away to hibernate while I worked on other things, as I shifted into Spring and new designs. But March of this year, when I started it up again I found that I might not have enough yarn to finish the sweater, realizing that either I didn’t buy enough, or used a ball of it on something along the way, and too much time had passed for me to remember. So it was an easy decision to go ahead and knit the Calidez Vest instead, and then I rattled it off quick! I am so glad I got this finished because I really am ready to mentally close the gate on that dreadful time. Oh, but I couldn’t help myself finishing off the vest this morning with six “burned wood” buttons I found on Etsy . . . : laughs :
A totally off season finish as well,
I will fold this vest up and store it in the woolens dresser for at least 6 months if not longer.
Did I say yet how happy I am to be finished with this project?
I am revisiting a very personal ambition of blending signature colors from local landscape and spinning into yarn, as is always the genius of Harris Tweed, and it all began for me in this post a few years ago. Soon my own color blending experiments were born, and became a literal obsession with me, and I created Tweed Chronicles on this blog. But also it is about my intrigue of the life of a weaver, particularly the tweed weavers of the the Hebrides, their tradition and industry that has held on through the test of time. Whenever I find an old film about textiles, or mills, I am sure to post it here, and I do look often for the most wonderful ones, and it appears that I have dug one up out of the vast archives of the internet. The film opens with the weavers working their fields, cutting peat, doing the work of island life, but soon gets in to some great footage of the Harris Tweed company making warp bundles to deliver out to the resident weavers of the island, then once in the hands of the weavers, warp is set up on their looms, weft shuttles loaded, and then the shuttles fly. I love how when the cloth is finished, its left out on the roadside to be picked up by the Harris Tweed people. I know you’ll love this little gem as much as I do!
Just a perky large bag, big enough for me to put a whole sweater project into perhaps while I knit-walk for a little while, while knitting a body section . . . or whatever.
Shown on Abelene, a life-sized “woman thing”, this actually is the first prototype of three yarns held together, of three different colors, which in fact give even more of a texture visually, as well as a supremely thick and gorgeously rich color depth of felted fabric.
Just two hot washes in the washer machine made this great thick plush wool bag from a big floppy giant one (( and wouldn’t you know, how dumb was I to forget the before photo )) having shrunk at least 25% and weighing a little over 500g. I cast on 100 sts and very gradually and randomly decreased throughout the body, attempting an improvised wedge shape, with the turned-edge of the shaped bottom being only 80 sts. I must say, I couldn’t be more pleased.
The final plied woolen spun skein, washed & dried, and my nep cloud experiment is finished !
The neps were so subtle and very difficult to get to show on the camera, so I had to intensify the color saturation of the photo just so that you could see them, the blue and green neps. The whole skein looks rather seafoam color when hanging out on the line.
This time of year the Black Oak leaves are budding out a soft fuzzy beautiful crimson velvet!
The landscape by the way, is healing slowly from the wildfire. We’ve had to cut down so many dead & dying old Black Oaks around the house, and since I was outside photographing yarn drying on the clothes line, I want to show you how the young shoots are vigorously growing from their parent trees, from root systems perhaps a hundred years old. I have been shaping the new growth, and now the tallest of these young oak trees is almost 10 feet tall. I’m so proud of these young darlings!
I was thinking of trying another variation of the technique I posted in my first Nep Clouds Recipe on my new hand-carders, but I don’t think I can really improve it, for it seems to do best I think , to achieve the affect of the traditional woollen spun rustic tweed, so drawing off the rolags from the blending board work very nicely ( I have made some more notes in the original Nep Clouds Recipe for those who don’t own hand-carders ). Alternatively one could spin from the batt, worsted technique. Anyway, this method suits me just fine, and I will look forward to blending up some more neppy colorways just as I did this skein, and that about wraps up this nep clouds experiment!
I am having a lot of fun documenting every step of my Nep Clouds “recipe” . However, I think the improvement I will make on my next nep cloud experiment, I will avoid using bulky weight yarns for the snippet neps ( see first post Nep Clouds ) as I struggled with some of the neps being too stiff and unmalleable, so instead I’ll try fingering, sport, or dk weight. These are the single ply bobbins, and I wanted to show how present the blue and green neps are even at this stage. Next will be plied, skeined, and washed finale!
Nep clouds from last post have been layered on the blending board with more wool, then rolled off into lovely speckled neppy rolags! You can barely see the imbedded blue and green neps in the white cormo wool, but I know when I begin to spin they are going to pop!
Next is the spinning, but first, what I did . . .
♣ ♣ ♣
Techy Stuff . . .
I layered twice, actually with a different wool (undyed white Cormo) layered in-between nep clouds (see last post for how I made nep clouds ), wanting to be sure the neps were well homogenized. It would have been a good idea to use a light grey , to show the blending steps separate from the nep clouds. Next time!
Layered first wool, then blue nep cloud, then wool, then green nep cloud, then wool — taking opportunity to evenly disperse with my hands, clumps of neps, and then l lifted batt off of board.
Layered handfuls of the batt again, to get all nice and well blended.
Drew rolags off with large knitting needles in a slightly tensioned ” combing ” motion.
Rolags ready to spin! (click the 1st image below to go to slideshow)
Hey look, nep clouds ! These are premixes from my new hand carders, and will be blended in with a main fiber on blending board next. They can also be spun ” in cloud ” , made into rolags from the hand carders, or can get layered on the blending board to build up a more complex visual texture. I will try a few methods to see what gives the most pleasing results (for me). For ages I have been thinking about how to go about spinning tweed yarn with colorful neps, and how to achieve the affect I want using the yarns I have in my stash. I am rather fixated on designing a yarn which has the characteristic flecks of color that pop in the final spinning, as in the traditional rustic spun from Ireland and British Isles. Anyway, this is a part 1 of a several neppy posts, and as is customary in my Tweed Chronicles. Here’s the techy stuff . . .
♣ ♣ ♣
Techy Stuff . . .
Decide the background color for your yarn that you want the tweedy neps to be imbedded in (shown in white Rambouillet) and brush lightly on to each carder, to encase the nepps so they don’t fly all over the place.
Choose yarn colors you want nepps to be (shown green in Cascade Ecological Wool, and light blue Alafosslopi). Take considerable thought to how these colors will not only work together, but how the nep premix will work with the main fiber, which may be further layered more heavily on the blending board, before making rolags or batts.
For my first experiment I cut little bits of yarn, at least 1/4″ – 1/2″ pieces, on to the fiber loaded bottom carder, my only thought at this point about how long to cut, is I think the snippets have to be long enough to get pulled into twist or they’ll just fly off, and you’ll have shedding bits of color everywhere. It doesn’t take much to make a statement, and not wanting to over-do the neps, go lightly first trial, I just added a sprinkle– one could certainly go heavily in this step for a very flecked appearance — remember, when plied, the nep color flecks will double in number.
Card, lift, repeat, until the yarn pieces have broken down and blended a little into the fiber and become a little frayed and “fuzzy”. Neps that are not pulled through the teeth in the carders will likely fly off when spinning having no loose fibers to help the neps stick, so make sure the clouds are carded well & fully, and that all the little cut pieces are at least a little pulled apart a little.
I have made a separate cloud for each color, only two, but I should think as many colors together per cloud will be my next experiment. Here’s a little how-to slideshow of what I did ( click 1st image in mosaic below to see steps. ) See next step Nep Clouds 2,where I make a nep batt on the blending board.
Alternatively, if one does not own hand carders, one could ‘fray the yarn’ by combing with an eyebrow or mustache comb, or pet brush, then snip on to the blending board in between the layers.