Seeing improvement

I noticed something during my whirlwind Christmas weaving frenzy that really brought home how quickly spinning can improve in a short period of time. Take a look at these two scarves.

Notice anything about them that strikes you, from a spinning perspective?

Let me clarify a bit. Both scarves are woven from SW merino handspun - the first is from fiber that I dyed at Yarn School in 2008, so about a year and a half after I started spinning. I spun it up in December of 2008, and ended up with 185 yds/4 oz of 14 wpi 2-ply yarn (approximately fingering weight). As I said in that post, this is some seriously dense yarn (740 ypp). I also made the comment that I was much happier with this SW spinning experience, as it was a lot less overspun then my previous attempt at a superwash fiber.

The second scarf is also woven from SW merino, this batch from Hello Yarn in the colorway "Peat" (March 2009 Fiber Club). This arrived right before we packed everything up to move to the UK, and might have been the first yarn I spun after we moved. I ended up with 200 yds/4 oz, about 12 wpi, a true 3-ply, coming in at 800 ypp. I loved this yarn so much I hoarded it away until the perfect pattern came along. Strangely enough, the perfect pattern was no pattern at all - just simple warp faced weaving with some brown sock yarn for weft.

After I washed the two scarves and let them dry, I noticed some really striking differences in the feel of the fabric. Note: they were both woven at the same epi and same ppi. But the blue scarf is much stiffer and has a less consistent fabric surface then the brown scarf (which I think you can see in the above pictures). Here's a few more to emphasize:

It's really obvious if you look at the fringe.

Although I may have felt (with my vast experience of 1.5 yrs spinning time) that the Yarn School SW Merino was an improvement in terms of overspinning, it's clear that another 6 months of spinning (and a sweater lot in the middle there) made a huge difference in the quality of the yarn I was making. The brown yarn was much more flexible and pliable, and the resulting fabric was super cozy. The blue yarn ended up making a fabric that, while still lovely, was quite a bit stiffer and crunchier.

Suffice to say that it was desperately hard to let the Peat Scarf go off to it's new home, but it's one of the few times I've finished something and thought: this has to go to Person X. I hope he appreciates it!!! I know the other recipient appreciates his...


I have a hard time getting started with weaving. I think of it kind of the same way I think of going out to ride my bike: the initial activation energy is much higher (getting on the gear, pumping up the tires, etc, etc) so I'm much more likely to through on my running shoes and head out for a run. Weaving is on the same order of effort: there's getting the loom out, finding the right heddle, figuring out yardages and lengths. Then there's warping (OMG warping), which always seems like such a HUUUUUGE deal, that it's easier to do something else more accessible.

Of course, once it's set up, weaving is way faster then knitting or crochet. And I think I've figured out a solution to the activation energy problem: as soon as I finish one project,

I need to warp for the next one.

Finished: washcloths (that is, the weaving is finished), warped: table runner. As a complete aside, I adore hemstitching...

This brings the status of the holiday list to:
one table runner - warped, to be woven tonight/tomorrow
three washcloths - DONE
set of dish towels (3) 
four scarves - one of which is next up

2 scarves - 1 done, one may be woven instead
1 cowl - have yarn, will cast on and start today

one pair of adult socks - cast on, on leg of sock #1
one adult hat
four child hats
one child mittens - now fingerless mitts instead
one child fingerless mitts
two baby sweaters -- DONE

The number projects that have to be done in the next two weeks so they can be shipped to the States?

5/11, with 5 woven remaining (including already warped table runner), and one crocheted. Totally. Doable. 

It's that time of year again...

There seem to be two major events during the year when I go into absolute crafting panic. Event #1: Halloween, which usually sees me creating homemade costumes at three in the morning on October 31th.

Event #2 is now upon us: the end of the school year, and the need for teacher gifts. A few years ago I got all fired up and knit six of the same shawl for all the teachers and babysitters in just under four weeks. This time around, I've left myself (ehem) less time. In the interests of sanity, I've also decided to only do two gifts this year - one for each of the girl' form teachers. And since there is now only two weeks until the end of school, that means it's time to bust out the neglected loom and the pile of packages from Spunky Eclectic to whip up some scarves for teacher.

For Dev's lovely, young, hip Year 3 teacher:
Just Stripes - Dec 2012
And for Boo's also lovely, less young, Year 1 teacher.
Kitten - April 2013
Both of these projects have the advantage of being plain weave (uncomplicated!) and woven using an 8 dent heddle (big yarn!). I spent the afternoon warping for project 1, and have started on the weaving.
Just Stripes - Dec 2012
If the universe smiles on me, I might actually get this whole thing woven up tonight (Himself is away on business and gets back late tonight, so once the girls are in bed I don't have to talk to anyone). And get the second one warped over the weekend. Which leaves me a week and a half of Tour de Fleece craziness in which to weave another scarf.

Fingers crossed that I can actually tear myself away from the wheels long enough to get it done!

PS - Don't forget, you have until 15th July to enter my contest to win a copy of American Sock Knitting. Just go comment on this post and you'll be entered!

PPS - 15th July is also the deadline to buy one of my Travelling Hat patterns (or the full ebook) and have all the proceeds go to One Fund Boston. So far your generous purchases have raised $165 for the fund - let's see if we can get it over $250!

Who knew dish towels could be so much fun?

So, since there isn't already enough going on in my world, I joined the Spunky Eclectic Weaving club this summer. I received my first package in August, and a couple of weeks ago, I figured that since October's parcel had been shipped, it was probably time to get August on and off the loom ASAP.
Dish towels
Yarn: Louet Cottolin, 60% cotton/40% linen in a dark and a light blue (Wind color combo)
Reed: 12 dent heddle
Warp: with alternating stripes of color, 180 ends of each color (double warped, i.e. with two strands through each slot and each eye)
Weft: either light or dark blue, held doubled
Dish towel
I ended up with a larger towel and a smaller towel, as I ran out of warp - next time I'll add a bit extra. New weaving moments in this project: warping with two colors, weaving with anything other then wool, and hem stitching!
I think I now love hemstitching with a deep and abiding passion, and I shall hemstitch everything from now on. Now that this is off the loom, I've maintained a bit of momentum and warped up the October weaving club.
Spunky Eclectic October weaving club
I warped with the white and am using the color fade for the weft.
SE October Weaving Club
So far, so good...

End of school = OMG panic!

Yet again, I have been surprised by the end of the school year. You'd think that, as a relatively intelligent, clearly overeducated, almost 40-year old, I would realize that if it's getting warmer out and the sun is up at 4:30 am and sets sometime after 9:00 pm, I would clue in to the fact that my kids are going to be on summer holidays soon. The panic results not from the imminent prospect of spending loads of time with my kids, but from the fact that yet again, I have neglected to plan ahead on teacher gifts, and I am looking at trying to knit six shawls in three weeks again.

Actually, this year I am bowing to inevitability, a bit of laziness and the need to keep some sort of grasp on my sanity over the next few months, and only making presents for the girls' main teachers (each has a main teacher and 1-2 assistants). And I'm not knitting.

Now that you've recovered from that last breathtaking statement, rest assured that there are wooly presents in the offing. I spent the weekend spinning up some Porpoise Fur.
Xylene Cyanole Targhee
Coomassie Blue Targhee
These are two practice dyelots from last summer, Xylene Cyanole and Coomassie Blue, both on Targhee. I spun the singles at a much thicker wpi then my usual default; I want to take advantage of Targhee's tendency to expand dramatically after washing, so I aimed for a worsted weight 2-ply.
Coomassie Blue Targhee
I haven't spun Targhee in a while, and I really enjoyed it - so springy and soft!  Singles were spun at 9.25:1 and plied at 6.5:1. Today, when I get home, I'm going to skein up the Coomassie Blue (XC is already off the bobbin), figure out the yardage, skipping the yarn finishing step (! - I love this about weaving!) and start warping.
CB Scarf
This is the CB scarf I did for Carroll a couple of months ago, using BFL. I'm going to use the same weft yarn (some pale blue light fingering wool recycled from a Goodwill sweater and dyed with same dyes as the fiber), so that picture is probably fairly representative of what the finished project will look. For the turquoise, I'll use the same weft as well, although in the undyed state. I'm thinking about dyeing that as well, but I will probably try it without first to see how it looks.

So...four days to the start of the Tour de Fleece, and I need to weave two scarves, post a shop update and finish washing my fleece. Good thing Himself is away this week - I can take over the entire ground floor of the house with wool!