Wednesday, September 22, 2010

New weaving and Old Spinning Wheel

Remember when Denny came in May and helped me put that warp on the back beam of my loom? (Warp was wound here) I was a bit overwhelmed by the amount of threading and also was VERY nervous about threads breaking because they seemed to break so easily while we were winding on. There is a very light twist in the yarn and it is also very hairy.

Well, I had threaded about 300 ends and then Evil Michelle and Suzanne warped another hundred or so. Then the light bulb came on and I asked Chelsea if she would do it. She had it done in about 6 hours. Then I showed her how to thread the reed...that was only a couple of hours and all 850 ends were ready to tie on!. Chelsea is the hero of the week!
And so the weaving of the two shawls begins. This is the fabric I have been wanting to weave since I learned to weave a few years ago. Also, I love twill.
Also, today, Jennifer came in with a wheel that she got at a second hand store...or an antiques store...or something like that. That always makes me nervous. She was lucky!

some string and a coat hanger and the thing was spinning along.
No marks. So we don;t know who made it but I'm sure it is over 100 years old.

And it's Irish tension!. It spins beautifully. If anybody has any ideas of the history of this type of wheel we would love to hear.

And finally! The Spinning Loft was voted the Best Fiber Arts Shop in the Detroit Area!!!!!! I am so proud and thankful. Thank you so much to all of you who voted for us!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Knit a Dozen Slippers!

I have a friend and she is the cutest thing. her name is Amy. I met her a couple of years ago because of spinning. It was near the beginning of her current career which has just exploded for her and I am so glad.

She is a terrific designer who has had knitwear designs in every knitting magazine. She is a talented tech editor and so has her name alongside many other gifted designers. Along whith that work she is also a talented spinner and has taught her young daughter to spin too!

And now, along with all of this, she has a new book out and it is all about slippers!

When I saw there would be a blog tour for the book I jumped in. I loved having the opportunity to review the book and ask Amy some questions about the book and also one pattern in particular.

So here goes:

Threesheeps: I know you are a spinner as well as knit designer and lots of other knitting related things and so I wanted to really focus my questions toward the spinners I know. I hope you don't mind.
But first! A slippers book is such a great idea. What made you decide to do a whole bunch of slippers?
[Amy Polcyn] Small projects are awesome, that's why! It's really hard sometimes to have enough time to take on a larger project, and sometimes we just don't want to. Slippers are a nice alternative to socks, and as a bonus they take much less time to complete.

Threesheeps: I'm a little spoiled and have had the opportunity to see you working on many designs over the years. Can you tell me a little about how you get inspiration for your designs? How about specifically slipper designs?
[Amy Polcyn] Generally, my inspiration comes from things I see or "spontaneous brainstorms" that often wake me up at night. I keep a sketchbook filled with little scribbles, pictures from magazines, and even some scraps of fabric. Often I'll see a collar, or a print, or a texture that I decide to save for possible future inspiration, while other times I'll see, say, a blouse in a catalog, even a skirt or a pair of pants and instantly envision a sweater inspired by some element of it, maybe it had cool pockets, or an interesting shape to the sleeves. For the slippers, I thought more in terms of covering as many sizes, ages, and genders as possible in only a dozen or so styles, and also of covering as many techniques as possible (lace, cables, colorwork, different toe/heel treatments, etc). Lastly, I thought about as many types of slippers as possible-- scuffs, pull-on styles, little dainty ballet slippers, slipper socks and boots, clogs... once I had all this in mind I put the pieces together, thinking about styles I or people I know might actually wear. For me personally, it's all about the Mary Janes, but I think you would have guessed that!

I love the Mitered Square Scuffs and think it is a great project for spinners to try. Do you have any advice about the overall knitting of the pattern?
[Amy Polcyn] I agree-- not much yarn is needed, so it would be a great project for those fibers you only have 4 ounces of! The knitting is very simple-- basically you knit a garter stitch mitered square for each toe (which has sts picked up on 2 sides and worked to create a pentagon shape) and 2 shaped garter stitch sole pieces for each slipper, which are then sandwiched around a piece of heavy interfacing. Super-basic crocheting skills are needed to finish the slippers, as a row of single crochet is worked to close the outside of the sole and to trim the front opening, though I suppose you could sew them closed instead if you prefer.

Threesheeps: The yarn for this is Aslan Trends Kettle Dyed Bariloche. Would you describe it as a medium or heavy worsted weight yarn? Are there any yarns you can think of that would make good substitute yarns?
[Amy Polcyn] I would call it a heavy worsted, since it gets a gauge of about 4 1/2 stitches to the inch. Good substitues would be yarns such as Mission Falls 1824 wool, Manos Wool Clasica, Classic Elite Montera, Nashua Handknits Champlain or Creative Focus Chunky, Stitch Nation Full o' Sheep, or Plymouth Galway Chunky. Personally, when I'm working mitered squares I like the look achieved by self-striping yarns, so that is why I chose the Bariloche. Of course, you could easily use 2-3 solid colors and stripe them, which would be a great way to use up leftovers. I would avoid using a super soft singles yarn, as it might not hold up very well on the bottom of the sole.

Threesheeps: There is a felt or interfacing lining inside the sole of the mitered scuffs. What is the purpose of this? If it is for more cushioning do you think more would be better or is the thin amount called for a better choice?
[Amy Polcyn] Not for cushioning, but more to give the soles some structure. If they are too floppy the soles would flip under your foot, and that would not be nice. I used Timtex, which is a REALLY stiff and thick interfacing, for the scuffs. If you wanted to add some cushioning, a thin layer of quilt batting on top of the interfacing would be a nice touch, but it's not necessary.

Threesheeps: I think everybody is getting slippers for Christmas...probably not handspun (well, maybe a pair for me in handspun)...and these Mitered ones look like just the ticket. Any advice on making slippers as a surprise gift when you can have a shoe size but no good foot measurements?

[Amy Polcyn] Glad you like the mitered ones. I agree that slippers make great gifts, which is why I included conversions for shoe sizes right in the book! Check out page 3, under Sizing, and you will find the shoe sizes that match each of the slipper sizes in the book. The sizing covers a toddler size 8- child size 3 for the children's lippers, women's sizes 5-13, and men's sizes 7-13+, so that should cover pretty much everyone on your gift list.

And now for the review. Yes, I gushed over Amy. Yes, I love her. But this is a book I would have bought anyway. There is a pair of slippers for everyone in here. With 12 different designs I know you all will be knitting slippers for everyone for Christmas too. Short Sweet and to the Point! And don't worry, I will be ordering plenty of these for the shop...and maybe we should do some together. Who's up for a class?

This blog tour is going on for the next 10 days and the next blogger on the list is Kate Oates. Check her out. She's got some really cute ideas for little kids over there.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Michael Cook and the Silk

These photos are a little out of order but you'll get the gist. the gist is, if you have an opportunity to take a class with Michael Cook on how to tie your shoes, SIGN UP!
The classroom was ready on time. Each student got 8 ounces of silk cocoons. Enough to play with for 2 days an even more to take home.
There was a lot of twisting and twisting and twisting. It's actually known as throwing.
There was also a lot of winding and transferring and winding. All to get the moisture out before the twisting (throwing)
But before all of that twisting and transferring and winding there was reeling. This is Michael showing the Lao technique that needs VERY little equipment.
This is my degummed wet skein. It has over 300 estimate was around 100:-)
This is how the silk looks after throwing but before degumming.
The degumming process is a simmering process with a couple of chemicals in the simmering water. But not hard.
After the silk simmers and is rinsed it has a bath in a citric acid solution and another little rinse and then it dries.
This is a medieval reeling machine. I took the photo after the cocoons were reeled but look at the amount of silk on that reel!
My twisting took all day.
From these bobbins. There are about 12-16 cocoons reeled together and then 2 or 3 or 4 or as many as you like of those are all thrown together to make a singles yarn or filament. it has to do with the thickness you want your final filament to be.
This is the setup for the Japanese technique.
And a tiny bit better photo. if you look closely you can see the silk on the aparatus.

Some students brought show and tell....this is a silk worm in the process of spinning.
And we got to keep some of the worms that Michael brought. The kids are thrilled and we have a mulberry tree just over the neighbor's fence. Who knew?!

It was a fantastic class. I learned a ton. Take this class!