Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Stephanie Was Here

I know you all call her the Harlot or the Yarn Harlot but I am not comfortable with that.  I call her Stephanie.

As you all may know, I usually bring teachers to my shop because I want their class.  And I was, again, not disappointed.  I learned a ton.  You know how I know, very few photos.  I was so involved in the classes that I kept forgetting about the camera.

On Friday evening we learned about silk hankies.  More than I expected to learn.  We saw the samples too.
Seriously, we learned about silk, different kinds of silk, where it comes from, the life cycle, and how to get beyond being grossed out about the little guy inside of the cocoon.  

The photo above is one layer of a silk hankie which is one cocoon being stretched by class members.
 We learned how to make the hankies, aka Mawata.  There was a bit of a delay since I never plugged in the crock pot and so the softening of the cocoons was not going as planned.  It all worked out in the end and each of us had the opportunity to stretch a cocoon onto the frame.  Look closely and you can see the hankie on there and ready to dry.

One thing I knew but rarely think about is that there are people touching every process of silk. It's very labor intensive.
 I did begin to knit a bit of fabric from my attenuated silk hankie.  It makes something that is very luscious and I may need my very own mittens.

And here's where the photos kind of go away.  It was Knitting for Speed and Efficiency on Saturday and Sunday.  Saturday we talked about how we got to the place we are now.  So few people know how to truly do production knitting.  We talked about different knitting styles and we all learned how to knit in a different way, picking or throwing.  We talked about ways to speed up our current knitting style.

We used the Wall O'Fleece and a tablecloth as a screen.
On Sunday we worked on Lever Knitting.  It's a different way of holding the needles and a different way of working them.  I have NO photos.  It took all of my brain power.

Here is a video that someone took and posted on Youtube.  She holds the right needle in her arm pit and now I do too.

We did learn to do it on short double pointed needles.  I use the term learn loosely.  I am focusing on the longer needles first and then I will try the shorter needles.

I was having a ton of hand pain while knitting which was making me avoid knitting.  I think this technique is going to save my knitting.  I will practice.  I am already seeing improvement.  I just need to loosen up my left hand and all will be well.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Cormo - My Favorite Fine Wool

So here are my Cormo samples.  All of these samples have been washed using the tulle sausage method that I learned from my spinning teacher eons ago and she learned from Margaret Stove's Spinning Fine Wools book.

I like this method of washing wools I want to flick because it keeps all of the locks aligned and organized and though it is more work at the beginning the spinning prep can go really fast.

Cormo is my favorite of the fine wools for a few reasons.  First, I love the crimp on this wool.  Similar to Merino but even more...hard to describe.

Second, the length of lock is fantastic.  Lots of these fleeces come in at 4-5 inches.  I like to call it the Longwool of the fine wools:-)

And third, this wool is not readily available as a processed fiber.  If you really want it you either have to pay a ton of money for it or process it yourself.  It also need a lot of care in the processing because it can get neppy really easily so I am forced to take my time with it.

so now you want to know about the samples?
From bottom of the photo to the top:
3 Ply Sample was spun worsted (short forward draw)  - 15 wpi
2 Ply Sample was spun worsted (short forward draw)  - 15 wpi
2 Ply Sample was spun worsted to a fine laceweight  - 24 wpi  (32 wpi before washing)
3 Ply Sample was spun woollen long draw  - 9 wpi
3 Ply Sample was spun from the fold -10 wpi
(Click to biggy the photo)

Every single sample was flicked  and spun from the cut end of the lock (except the one that was spun from the fold).  Again I am thrilled with the samples.  Every one of them has a wonderful natural elasticity to it which would make any knit or woven garment comfortable.
The lace weight sample I could imagine as an undershirt or other close to the skin item that should also be warm.

Currently in the works is Corriedale.